Saturday, March 29, 2008

Word for the Day Is Potential

Each day this week, the first reading at Mass has been from the Acts of the Apostles and have been focused on what I would call the Adventures of Simon Peter! In these readings (see below for complete list), Peter seems to have found his voice and his courage. He has just cured a man who was crippled from birth and this same man, who now walks on his own, enters jubilantly into the temple! Recognizing the man who once begged outside the Temple, many are astonished. Simon Peter says to them it is by God's grace that he was able to accomplish the healing.

Numerous Sanhedrin, realizing their authority was threatened, plotted against Simon Peter and John, arrested them, but ultimately could not find a way to justify detaining them. Through it all, Peter is courageous, composed, even heroic! Who is this guy? Is this the same person who denied Jesus Christ three times on the eve of Jesus' crucifixion?

Through these stories, we finally see in Simon Peter what Jesus must have seen in the bumbling, imperfect, cowardly, brash, and sometimes foolish fellow all along. He saw that Peter had potential, and in these stories, we see that Peter's potential is realized: his faith in Jesus Christ is strong and surely with a bit of help from the Holy Spirit, he becomes courageous.

What I like best about Peter's story in general is that this man -- so full of failings -- is the man Jesus Christ chose to lead the Church in its earliest stages (Matt 16:18). It is comforting, as a person who is much more like Peter than like Jesus, that Jesus might be able to see beyond my many flaws and help me also realize my potential in, through, and for him.

Monday through Saturday readings 03/24/2008 - 03/29/2008:
Acts 2:14, 22-33
Acts 2:36-41
Acts 3:1-10
Acts 3:11-26
Acts 4:1-12
Acts 4:13-21

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

"I have seen the Lord"

I'm a day late posting about the Gospel story from John (20:11-18) that describes the moment when Mary meets the resurrected Jesus; it's such a beautiful moment I felt compelled to write about it. The story is so abundant with meaning on both literal and symbolic levels.

Mary was utterly beside herself with grief over Jesus' death. Her eyes were overflowing with tears and her mind overwrought with countless and powerful emotions. Maybe her grief or perhaps anger got in the way of recognizing Jesus was there with her. Maybe her disbelief?

Taking this story literally, I can only have a teensy sliver of an imagining of what it must have been like for Mary to experience Jesus' return -- the incredible joy that must have coursed through her at the moment of discovery, the amazement, the excitement, the full realization that indeed, Jesus is the messiah as he had said! Taking the story figuratively, I think about the ways in which I have difficulty recognizing Jesus. Sometimes strong emotions cloud my vision so that I lose sight of Jesus in myself. Or perhaps something makes me, like Mary, not even recognize Christ in the people who are closest to me.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

More Reason Not to Shop at Wal-Mart

Read this story.
"The family's situation is so dire that last year Jim Shank divorced Debbie, so she could receive more money from Medicaid."

While by the letter of the law, Wal-Mart was within its legal rights to pursue the money from the family, why would they risk the bad publicity? All the bad publicity this will generate will cost Wal-Mart much more than if they had let it slide. What a shameful way to treat someone.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Go Tell Everyone!

One of the forms of prayer I use is to try to imagine myself inside the story, especially a Gospel story. What would it have been like to be Mary of Magdala in the story from today's Gospel (John 20:1-9)? It is still dark as she approaches Jesus' grave in the garden. Mary is probably with a friend or family member as she approaches the tomb -- imagine yourself accompanying her. Think about what kind of grief Mary must have been experiencing at Jesus' unjust trial, horrific torture, and barbaric death on the cross. Her pain must have been immeasurable. To top it all off, she discovers Jesus' tomb has been opened. Her reaction tells us she immediately suspects Jesus' body has been removed by someone else. As if Jesus hadn't suffered enough in life, perhaps Mary thought, now her Lord's tomb is desecrated too!

What about Simon Peter? In the Gospel story, John says Simon did not even enter the tomb, but just peered in to see the burial cloths, then walked away with the Beloved Disciple. Was he confused? Shocked? Frightened? In any case, it seems he doesn't know what to do with the thought that Jesus is not in his tomb. Imagine yourself in Simon Peter's frame of mind; the last few days have been a confusing whirlwind of events and emotions, not to mention the shame of having denied Jesus, just as Jesus said Simon Peter would.

The Beloved Disciple enters the tomb, and right away he believes! How does he know to believe? What speaks to him about the empty tomb that leads him to believe? Is it the careful arrangement of the burial cloths that lead him to believe that the body was not stolen, but rather that Jesus is alive somehow? Is he hoping against hope? Then, he and Simon Peter leave.

We have the benefit of knowing what happens next -- Jesus Christ is resurrected from the dead into new life as God has promised. But imagine what emotions the three disciples of Jesus in this Gospel story must have felt at this point: confusion, heartache, grief, ill at ease and worry or even wonder about what would happen next, discouragement, excitement, hope, but also disbelief. What would I have felt at this point? What would any of Jesus' disciples have felt?

While I imagine myself in this scene, I am not sure I would have wanted to experience firsthand the tragic, gut-wrenching, and heart shattering events that led up to Jesus' resurrection. On the other hand, being among the first to experience and receive the good news -- the amazing and world-changing news -- of Jesus' resurrection would also have been astounding and even too overwhelming to comprehend!

2000 years later, it's still hard to fully internalize the good news. In our Father's wisdom, perhaps this is why he made the Easter season last for fifty days -- just so we could begin to grasp the fullness of his love for us!

Monday, March 17, 2008

St. Patrick

Today's celebrations go much beyond that which is typical of a saint's feast day -- in St. Louis it's an unofficial holiday! But, remembering that we are in Holy Week, I thought I would share with you this prayer of St. Patrick:

I bind to myself today
The strong virtue of the Invocation of the Trinity:
I believe the Trinity in the Unity
The Creator of the Universe.

I bind to myself today
The virtue of the Incarnation of Christ with His Baptism,
The virtue of His crucifixion with His burial,
The virtue of His Resurrection with His Ascension,
The virtue of His coming on the Judgement Day.

I bind to myself today
The virtue of the love of seraphim,
In the obedience of angels,
In the hope of resurrection unto reward,
In prayers of Patriarchs,
In predictions of Prophets,
In preaching of Apostles,
In faith of Confessors,
In purity of holy Virgins,
In deeds of righteous men.

I bind to myself today
The power of Heaven,
The light of the sun,
The brightness of the moon,
The splendour of fire,
The flashing of lightning,
The swiftness of wind,
The depth of sea,
The stability of earth,
The compactness of rocks.

I bind to myself today
God's Power to guide me,
God's Might to uphold me,
God's Wisdom to teach me,
God's Eye to watch over me,
God's Ear to hear me,
God's Word to give me speech,
God's Hand to guide me,
God's Way to lie before me,
God's Shield to shelter me,
God's Host to secure me,
Against the snares of demons,
Against the seductions of vices,
Against the lusts of nature,
Against everyone who meditates injury to me,
Whether far or near,
Whether few or with many.

I invoke today all these virtues
Against every hostile merciless power
Which may assail my body and my soul,
Against the incantations of false prophets,
Against the black laws of heathenism,
Against the false laws of heresy,
Against the deceits of idolatry,
Against the spells of women, and smiths, and druids,
Against every knowledge that binds the soul of man.

Christ, protect me today
Against every poison, against burning,
Against drowning, against death-wound,
That I may receive abundant reward.

Christ with me, Christ before me,
Christ behind me, Christ within me,
Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ at my right, Christ at my left,
Christ in the fort,
Christ in the chariot seat,
Christ in the poop [deck],
Christ in the heart of everyone who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks to me,
Christ in every eye that sees me,
Christ in every ear that hears me.

I bind to myself today
The strong virtue of an invocation of the Trinity,
I believe the Trinity in the Unity
The Creator of the Universe.son who thinks of me, Christ in the eye that sees me, Christ in the ear that hears me.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Holy Week Begins

Today was Palm Sunday, which marks the beginning of Holy Week. This week is filled with wonderful opportunities to marvel at the sacrifice Jesus made for us. Of the readings today, which were all very powerful, the one that caught my attention the most was this portion of Philippians 2:6-11:
Christ Jesus, though he was in the form of God,
did not regard equality with God
something to be grasped.
Rather, he emptied himself,
taking the form of a slave,
coming in human likeness;
and found human in appearance,
he humbled himself,
becoming obedient to the point of death,
even death on a cross.
(Phil 2:6-8)

The idea of emptying one's self for God is one that I often struggle with. One of the hardest and most unexpected adjustments I made when I chose to become Catholic was to learn humility and obedience to God and his will. I still work on that daily! For 35 years of my life, I didn't answer to any divine authority, so it was/is quite a change in mindset.

So, how do I keep the everyday stuff from getting in the way of God's work within me? One of the tools I have been using throughout Lent is the Examen of Consciousness, which is an Igantian prayer that focuses on finding God in everyday things. It takes about 15 minutes to do this prayer and very naturally leads me to a conversation with God about my day. Some suggest to pray it twice a day -- once around the middle of the day and once in the evening. At this point, I use it in the evenings and plan to continue the practice after Lent is over.

Another thing I have done this Lent is I have gone to Mass nearly every day. I am very fortunate to have been in a position to do that this Lent and I am very much looking forward to experiencing Holy Week more fully than I have been able to in the past. I have never attended a Chrism Mass, and I am looking forward to doing that this Thursday (10 AM) at our Cathedral Basilica.

Saturday, March 15, 2008


I went with a friend to the Ivory Theatre last night to see Assassins, which is a Stephen Sondheim/John Weidman musical. As the name suggests, the play is about people who have either assassinated or attempted to assassinate American presidents. It was an interesting treatment of a tough subject. It is playing until March 29 and tickets are very reasonable.

In addition to my interest in seeing the performance, I was at least as interested in seeing the theatre space itself. Ivory Theatre, opened in 2007, was converted from what used to be St. Boniface Catholic Church. St. Boniface parish was merged with my parish in 2005. While I know many people are still sore over the mergers and some people might be offended at the use of a formerly consecrated space for entertainment purposes, the building has become a fine, tasteful performance space. Given a choice between recycling the church building into a theatre or tearing it down, I think the use of the building as a theatre is a better option.

That being said, St. Boniface was not my parish before the mergers and I only attended Mass there once. It had some stunning stained glass windows that dated back to 1893-1894 and were made in Austria. The windows have since been removed. I believe the windows have been installed in a new Catholic church in the St. Charles county area.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Things to Come

Today's readings are foreshadowing things to come. People are very near to stoning Jesus to death because he is doing things they do not understand, and he has made them afraid. Jesus escapes; where does he go? He returns to the place "where John first baptized" (Jn 10:40) and an amazing thing happens there -- people begin to believe (Jn 10:42). Once Jesus returns to the source of new life -- baptism -- people begin to see more clearly, become calmer, and understand God's works.

This Gospel story reminds us that we should also return to our baptism -- it is our source of eternal life and refreshment.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

More Riding

Went for another ride today. Started at home and rode down to Grant's Trail and back. The weather was great -- 70 degrees and sunny -- so there were lots of people on the trail, which made getting up/maintaining speed difficult at times. Even so, I did just under 25 miles in about an hour and a half. Averaged around 15 mph, which was pretty good considering all the stopping/slowing/starting and people/animal-dodging I had to do. My knees are telling me I have to get better at using the appropriate gearing. ;)

Speaking of riding, I found this video lately, which speaks to cyclist awareness by motorists. Clever and to the point!

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Ride Yesterday

Got in another ride yesterday on Grant's Trail. This time I added the Clydesdale Park loop for just under 18 miles total. Got it done in 1.25 hours, which isn't too bad considering having to stop for traffic/lights and slow down for pedestrians, rollerbladers, kids, and dogs on the trail. Husband had the leg up on me for the first half of the ride, I think because I ate a Clif bar too soon before the ride. The second half belonged to me, however. Top speed was around 24 mph (no one was on that section of trail when I reached that speed--safety first ya' know).

Speaking of rollerbladers, I saw one of our SSP parishioners getting in her workout with doggie along for the ride. Go MR!

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Homeward Bound

Went to my hometown on Sunday to visit family, snap some pics, and get some delicious pizza at Mario's.

Went out to one of my favorite spots for viewing the sky -- I try to get there when there are meteor showers. Got some nice pics -- this is one of my favorites:

Sunset in Patriot's Park in Greenville looks like this:
From Greenville visit

I spent lots of time with Dad at this park when I was a kid. He used to take me out on the rowboat around the lake. There's one in the pic above, but I am sure that is a replacement for the one we used -- or maybe the replacement's replacement's replacement -- since that was about 30 years ago.

It was good quiet time -- just me and Dad.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

One of these things is not like the others

As you might imagine, we didn't get in a bike ride today after all . . .

First Ride of 2008

Went on the first bike ride of the 2008 cycling season yesterday. Just an easy 15 miles or so on Grant's Trail. Felt good to be back in the saddle again.

Weather today is also warm so hubby and I are planning another ride -- probably try Route 66 State Park today, since it is one we haven't done before. This park was created out of what used to be the Times Beach community.