From Flickr User Chealion
We all love to fix things. It feels good to make something go from messy and complicated to neat and tidy. We’re naturally inclined to restore order when things run amok; I know I personally get a lot of satisfaction when I can make things right. For the most part, our urge to fix can solve many of the simple problems we encounter daily; what we most desire to repair, however, is ironically what we are incapable of fixing: one another.
Each one of us has deep inside something that needs to be fixed, based on the simple fact that we are human and therefore imperfect. It’s frustrating and saddening when we witness the suffering loved ones experience from their brokenness, and realize that we cannot fix them. We can pray, we can give advice, we can love, and we can listen, but we cannot fill a void in another person that can only be filled by God. We also cannot force another person to experience God, because God speaks directly to our hearts in a special, unique language that we will understand; this means that we cannot always interpret the ways that God is working in the hearts of others.
From Patrick Manning, writing at his blog, “Walking Wonder,” comes this gem:
So then what does this suggest for Lent? Can we speak of a joyful Lent without undermining the very purpose of the season?
I think we can. Lent is a time to remember our mortality and our fallibility. It is a time to remember our offenses and the misery they cause. But in so doing we cannot but also remember that God has forgiven us these offenses and raised us up out of our pitiable condition.
“Let the holy ones of the divine beings declare great the King of glory who declares holy in His holiness all His holy ones!” (4Q403 1 i 30–47)
This reconstructed phrase from the seventh song of the fragmentary composition, the Songs of the Sabbath Sacrifice, a liturgical text from the Dead Sea Scrolls, calls on the highest angels to praise God in the high heavens, to declare Him (the heavenly King) great as He declares holy (in His abundant holiness) all His angels (the holy ones). While some of the verbs are corrections of misspelled words (the Hebrew necessitates these emendations to give the line sense), the meaning of the text which we arrive at is a very good approximation of the actual line.
I need to give a talk at our Confirmation retreat today – I preached already at the 8:00 am today and have the 10:30 in a bit.
The melancholy of the Lenten season and the knowledge that this is my last Lent in South Boston has gripped me – in that wonderfully haunting and reflective way. These are the sorts of the things that shape a homily as one goes about through the day.
I’m wondering if this the temptations of Jesus this weekend in Matthew’s Gospel cuts to the heart of the existential questions: Who is God? Who am I?
In this Gospel about temptation, there is another “temptation” – to dismiss it as a fairy tale, or as something that has no direct relation to us. In a world that makes movies about possession in order to scare us, that dresses us up as devils and angels on Halloween, and uses the word “evil” to describe so many things, the true importance of this Gospel can be drowned out.
But, this Gospel really does cut to the heart of human experience, because it speaks about those things in our lives that are not as they should be:
The tempting of Jesus today, in fact, centers on what seem to be three ways in which we find ourselves separated from right relationship with God.
The three temptations of Jesus: food, using God’s power for his own glory, and the achievement of total power over all the kingdoms of the world, touch on the human need for stuff, acknowledgment of our works and identities, and our thirst for control over our own destinies.
And let’s not kid ourselves: these temptations don’t come in the form of a red man with horns and a pitchfork.
This is the post that hopefully begins to address what evoking curiosity and creating opportunities for encounter with Christ looks like in different aspects of Confirmation preparation. I’ve spent the last two weeks noting the challenges facing confirmation teachers, and then mapping an overarching approach to providing meaningful faith formation to encourage discipleship. So, what does this look like?
I’d like this to be an open forum of best practices. I’ll get the ball rolling with examples of things that have worked for me in each area. If you want to add to an area, or create a new one, just leave a comment below (this is of course conditional on the fact that people are reading this post…). Ok, here we go!
From the Notre Dame Center for Liturgy’s Oblation Blog:
In previous years, I proposed that it would be a worthy goal to fast from a posture of suspicion, ideology, and demonization during the season of Lent. I still think this is a worthy idea–a fast that I hope would effect real social change in politics, education, and in communal life through the gift of the Church’s Eucharistic imagination.
But this year, I wanted to turn my attention to a fast that seems necessary for my own profession: the academic theologian. The danger of being an academic theologian is two-fold. One, you’re an academic. Two, you’re a theologian.
Read the rest here.
I used to think that humility meant loving others more than I love myself. I believed that true service meant giving and giving until I had nothing left for myself. Leaving something for myself would be selfish, I thought. I believed that these ideas stemmed from a sense of humility, but in reality, they came from an incorrect belief that had taken root deep inside: the belief that I was less deserving of love than everyone else. This belief worked its way into my heart, and I let it stay there because it had disguised itself as humility, a quality that God calls us to embrace. Now I realize that anything that tells me that I am not deserving of love does not come from God. In the book Tattoos on the Heart, Fr. Greg Boyle says that we tend to apply God’s love to everyone else, except ourselves. We believe that God loves everyone…but we subconsciously (or even consciously) add one constraint: we deny ourselves the love that we believe God gives to everyone else. I confused this belief with humility, when in reality I think it’s the opposite. What makes me believe that I am so strong that I can survive with less love than my brothers and sisters? How am I capable of filling in the gap left by a lack of love, when I believe that for everyone else, only God can fill that void?