Watch your fellow churchgoers today as the priest or deacon reads the story of Jesus raising hell (or perhaps he’s raising heaven?) in the temple square. Dollars to donuts, they’ll be squirming.
As Catholics, we have become very uncomfortable with Angry Jesus. He makes us cringe in the same way that the Old Testament God does when He calls Himself “jealous” and talks about punishment. That level of intensity makes us recoil. If it were present in a human relationship, it would be toxic and abusive, because in humanity, fierceness and love rarely coexist in a healthy way.READ MORE
It seems to happen every year, like clockwork: we drag a bit, as we enter into the second week of Lent. On Ash Wednesday, we feel a bit like soldiers banging our shields, rushing into battle. “We’re ready, God!” our hearts cry out. “Transform us through sacrifice! Your will be done!”READ MORE
When I feel down, I sometimes watch the famous “Double Rainbow” video on YouTube to feel better. It’s hilarious. A young man camping in Yosemite Park sees two rainbows stretching across the sky. He bursts into a kind of ecstasy. “Double rainbow, all the way! Oh my God!” he announces. Then he starts to weep. He cries out, “What does it mean?” Beneath the humor of his glorious overreaction is the deep intuition we all have, I think, when we see the colorful bow in the sky. This Sunday, God sends a rainbow to Noah, and to us. What does it mean?READ MORE
“Even now, says the LORD, return to me with your whole heart…” So begins the first reading of Ash Wednesday, a reading from the Old Testament book of the prophet Joel. Just a bit later, the prophet further exhorts us to “[r]end your hearts, not your garments, and return to the Lord, your God”. And so, Lent begins with a call to return to God genuinely and wholeheartedly, a call, perhaps a reminder, which we hear every year at this time. The gospel reading for Ash Wednesday, taken from Matthew’s gospel, tells us of three ways in which we can concretely express our return to God: giving alms, praying and fasting. (You can find the Ash Wednesday readings and all the daily Mass readings at bible.usccb.org.) These three spiritual practices are often referred to as the pillars, or disciplines of Lent. Here are some thoughts about how we can carry out each of these means of returning to and encountering God.READ MORE
When I was in high school, we read “The Metamorphosis” by Franz Kafka. It’s a depressing little novella about a man who (spoiler alert!) turns into a cockroach and dies of neglect, his family gradually ceasing to recognize the creature he has become. “Never underestimate how badly human beings need touch,” our teacher told us. “Without each other, we curl up and die.”READ MORE
Lent is nearly here! Ash Wednesday is February 14 and reminds us that we belong to God and are called to be reconciled to him and to live in his ways.
During the six Wednesdays of Lent, (February 21 through March 27), St. Mary Parish will celebrate Evening Prayer, complete with the Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament and the opportunity for individual confession (Sacrament of Reconciliation). The Lenten Evening prayer will be held on Wednesdays beginning February 21 through March 27, from 7:00 to 8:00PM in the Chapel. Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament will take place at 7:00pm, followed by Evening Prayer.READ MORE
I love movies about exorcisms. Apparently, so do many others. The 2023 movie “Nefarious” features a possibly possessed inmate on death row. Critics were not impressed, but audiences scored it at 97% on the website Rotten Tomatoes. Most people have an appreciation for the demonic realm, even if cultural elites are generally embarrassed about it. As is standard in exorcism movies, the afflicted person (in this case, a man named Edward Brady) thinks and acts like multiple persons. He is someone besides himself. We know what that is like. We feel fake sometimes, not ourselves.READ MORE
There are some things that always come at the worst time. I’ve never gotten a telemarketing call and thought, “This is a really convenient moment for me to listen to a sales pitch.” I’ve never seen the compulsory software update notice flash on my computer screen when I didn’t have a deadline I was struggling to meet. My kids never come down with the flu unless it’s the weekend and the line at Urgent Care is stretching out the door.READ MORE
Those Who Seek the Truth
In my work as a freelance writer, I have a regular column in the archdiocesan paper writing profiles of ordinary people in the local church. Laity, religious, and clergy alike — I hound them all to give me an interview, and when I do, the answer is almost always this: “You don’t want to talk to me. There’s nothing special about me.”READ MORE