Sunday, April 12, 2009

Happy Easter

Easter Serbian Orthodox song_Hristos voskrese

Happy Easter! Last night I participated in the Easter Vigil Mass at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Fort Wayne Indiana. It is a beautiful place to worship. The music was breath-taking, the setting stunning. However, clearly it was the Easter message that made the time with fellow parishioners meaningful. It was the message of the Risen Lord that gives the year and our very existence meaning.

Four Easters ago I became a Catholic in this church. I went through RCIA with my middle daughter. I spoke with her earlier in the day, our schedules did not match or she would have joined me in worship. My youngest daughter did join me. Last fall she was baptized and is a member of the Disciples of Christ Church. I was pleased that she enjoyed this service.

Among the parishioners were so many people I now consider friends. There was Rosie, a student who went to Workfest 2009 in KY with me just last month. Her father was one of the lectors, he was extraordinary. There were the sisters from USF, to my side sat my academic advisor and his family. Throughout the aisles were friends and people I now consider part of my family as we are now brothers and sisters.
The baptized seemed especially joyful and why shouldn’t they be! One member took a longer route and spent two eras in RCIA, a struggle to decide is a good thing!

So the first video I choose for today’s site is an Orthodox song, we are ONE body. The second is a brief documentary on a modern hero of mine, Father Ho Lung, the founder of Missionaries of the Poor. His story is the story of the fruits of a life of conversions.

Joyous Easter everybody.

Called by God: Father Richard Ho Lung, Missionaries of the Poor

Friday, April 10, 2009

Good Friday and Pondering

Good Friday, a time to pause and try to comprehend all that occurred.

Where You There When They Crucified My Lord: 1960 Johnny Cash and the Carter Family

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Holy Thursday and Remembering

Today is Holy Thursday. I was surprised today by how moved I was at our service. I attend the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Fort Wayne. It is a beautiful church. With the bishop, priests, choir and of course the message it is natural to be moved. This is a time of reflection, of attempting to touch the Last Supper, the betrayal, the arrest and the quick slide into the Passion.

However, this time last year I was attending the same service at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Springfield Illinois. I was visiting my ailing mother-in-law. In between visits to the hospital I went to church both Thursday and on Good Friday. I also participated in an out door modern Stations of the Cross.

These are multimodal memories. In the Cathedral it was not only the message but the visual grandeur of the church, the incense, the music that touched me. Outside there was the carrying of the cross, the sounds of the city and the camaraderie of fellow Christians interested in social justice issues. These are sensory memories as well as emotional memories. Last year and today there was the washing of the feet. For me this act of being a servant is one of the most touching lessons of Christianity.

So while I was in church today I listened to our bishop who is probably retiring. I admired his clear and powerful voice and his love for his flock. I listened to the story that gives meaning to the year and the faith. However, I also had powerful memories of my mother-in-law. I did not know it then but those visits would be my last visits with her. I was surprised that the friends I made on the Stations of the Cross were activists she knew. I was comforted by her attitude. That is what I will always remember, that she comforted me!

So today was surprisingly sad for me. The incense reminded me not only of our prayers ascending but of our prayers last year in Springfield. The washing of feet this year reminded me of the simple servants I met last year. The procession after the service reminded me of the procession from the cathedral to the chapel last year but also of my processions to the hospital.

However, if this week says anything it says that death is not the end. It says that communion is also communion with the saints, a reminder that this is hardly all that there is. It reminds me of how I have internalized this woman who was a part of my life for 36 years. It reminds me of one of the most important Easter seasons of my life. It reminds me how much I love and miss Margo. She was an incredible woman.

It reminds me that the suffering of 2000 years ago was real, it was personal and it was profound. This was not philosophical suffering or theological suffering, this was the suffering of the dying, of a mother watching her son die and of friends powerlessly sharing in that loss. Today I briefly touched that pain and the willingness to endure that suffering is truly a mystery. And now, two more days of remembering., participating, and being in thankful awe.

But at this moment it is time to remember and give thanks for a good woman and friend.

I Am the Bread of Life:

Monday, April 6, 2009

Emmaus Ministries Chicago

I will be working at Emmaus Ministries in Chicago this summer. I am very excited about this opportunity. I am not leaving my day job! Rather, I will be doing my graduate field work for my M.A. in Theology. The people that work here are awesome. The neighborhood is diverse, exciting and familiar. I worked in Uptown for six years.

Preparing for Holy Week

This has been a week. A week of sad and frightening events. In Antarctica the ice bridge that held Wilkins Ice Shelf in place and connected to Antarctica has shattered. The ice shelf is the size of Jamaica. At the other end of the globe the Arctic ice has been replaced by new ice, in fact it is the thinnest sheet of ice on record as we move into spring. All of this reflects the effects of global warming and potential problems for life on this planet.

In Italy an earthquake strikes while people are sleeping. The death toll continues to climb. Entire villages have been flattened. A nation that is no stranger to earthquakes is never-the-less stunned. For now the focus must be on search and rescue. Only later will Italy deal with the loss of medieval buildings and lost history.

North Korea launched a ballistic missile and in the process escalated fears in the north Pacific. The Taliban has threatened two attacks a week and America has been struck by a spree of senseless killings.

However, this is Holy Week. Our focus is on death, but one particular death. The focus is not to depress but to remind us of why we believe. In a world of pain we are to remember that death is not the last event, that Adam and Eve did not have the last word in the matter. This is the week we walk with Jesus, Mary and the Apostles. We enter Jerusalem first in joy and then watch the condemnation, the trial, the abuse and the death. However, like our Orthodox brothers and sisters, we share in being a resurrection church. Without Easter we are a philosophy, a Jewish sect, a variation on a theme. But Easter does come, Life triumphs over death. We are called to join our Triune God to celebrate life with a generous Creator, to partake in the good from the Good.

There really is a world of hurt in this world of ours. That is not all that is present. For those with eyes, ears, hands, a tongue and a nose there is plenty to take in. To live sacramentally is to acknowledge the Good and this week we prepare to mark that time in the history of the universe when the Good shatters all suffering. That occurs not by avoiding suffering or going around it. Like all healing, it requires that one go through the suffering. Friday we will witness the "going through" the suffering and then Sunday we will see the triumph.

Our prayers go out to a suffering world and our prayers of gratitude go to a generous God. Have a good Holy Week.

Give Us Clean Hands: Chris Tomlin