Guest Post: Worth My Time – Reflections on Holy Thursday

Block print with hand coloring 1991 19.5 x 10.5

By: Brother Will Tarazza, OFM Cap.

Call me crazy, but I love when the Mass of the Lord’s Supper goes for 2 to 3 hours. Yes, I enjoy the high liturgy. Yes, the choirs and the musical accompaniment captivate me. However, these are not the reasons why I would want this liturgy to go that long. When I was visiting Rome a few years ago while studying abroad in Spain, I went to the Church of Santa Susanna for the Mass of the Lord’s Supper. This is a Paulist parish that is designated for English speaking Catholics in Rome. I hadn’t been to an English Mass in months, so I thought it would be a good time to participate fully in my native language. As we got to the washing of the feet, only one chair was brought forth in front of the altar. At first, I was confused. I thought, why would he only wash one person’s foot? As the priest divested his chasuble, the lector explained to the audience that all were invited to approach the center aisle to have their feet washed. Sigh. This is going to take forever, I thought. Only a few people stood immediately to get their feet washed, mostly kids. I did not plan to go.

Since there was some time, I started to reflect on my own discernment to be called to the ordained priesthood. I watched as the priest bent over to kiss each foot that passed through the washbowl. He probably didn’t know many of the people who’s feet he was kissing. He didn’t know the roads those feet had walked or the pains they have endured; yet, he washed and kissed each foot. This was a real witness to the love of Christ who laid down his life for us. It didn’t matter where the apostles had been or what they had done; yet Jesus loved them and washed their feet. They were given a task to love and serve unconditionally likewise. If this service is an unconditional task, I thought, why should foot washing be limited to a select few to save time? Shouldn’t we all recognize our need to be served no matter where we have been so that we too can serve? This really got me thinking about how I would want to live a life as an ordained minister. The ordained priest’s vocation is to lay down his life to be a representative of Christ. It is a life of service to anyone who comes to have his or her feet washed! But sometimes, we have to give the people the time to recognize their need to have their feet washed. Can we give them this time? The Church of Santa Susanna did! So a half hour into the washing of the feet, I got up and had the priest wash and kiss my feet as a response to my desire to serve Christ as an ordained priest. God allowed me to understand that if I am going to serve, I have to know how to be served by Christ himself.

It was only later that the people who jumped up immediately to have their feet washed moved me. In a sense, they were saying, “this life is tough, and I need someone to wash my feet to relieve some of my pain.” I’m not sure if any parish does this in the United States. All I know is that this affirmed the kind of priest I aspire to be. I don’t want to be selective in my love for God’s people. I want to wash the feet of anyone who sits in the chair. This may take a lot of time; however, if it brings people to Christ, isn’t it worth it? May you have a blessed Triduum.

Brother Will Tarraza, OFM Cap is a member of the Province of St. Mary of the Capuchin Order. A native Mainer, Br. Will met the Capuchins at the Catholic University of America. He enjoys liturgical theology and watching the New England Patriots. He currently resides at the province’s formation house in Jamaica Plain, MA as he studies at Boston College School of Theology and Ministry.

Holy (Week) Thoughts: Walking with the Lord

Holy Week for Barb

I went for a long walk yesterday around the campus of Boston College, and I could not go anywhere without seeing all the visiting high school students on their college visits. It is, after all, Holy Week, which means for most: April Break!! And yet I couldn’t help thinking that these young students were walking a path not unlike that of Jesus. They too are looking into the unknown that awaits them in college. They can see the end result, much as Jesus did, but the journey in between will be wrought with challenges, joys, insecurities, triumphs, and failures.

I am especially attuned to their angst as I am currently working with students on the graduate level who are trying to decide between BC and other schools for their theological and ministerial studies. At the end of the day, discernment always comes down to trust. Can a student trust that they will get the education they need? Does a student trust that they will get the communal and spiritual support they need to succeed? Will the student trust that a school is the best fit for them? Only trust will get them to take the leap of faith and dive in.

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Must Read: Scott Postma on 10 Pastors I’m Concerned About

Changing what needs to be changed.  A must-read for all those engaged in ministry.

  1. I’m concerned about the pastor who is better at managing church programs than he is at making disciples of Jesus. Thom Rainer & Eric Geiger addressed this topic somewhat in the book Simple Church, but I’m not sure how many pastors paid attention to the message. The church is not better because it has more programs. It’s quite possible for programs to hinder its real mission.
  2. I’m concerned about the pastor who attracts people with fancy self-help sermons instead of teaching people to be students of the Bible and theology. Sure topical sermons can be helpful teaching tools when used appropriately and in moderation. But to pique interest in the unchurched, church-growth pastors have promoted episodic sermons ad nauseam and to no avail at effectively grounding deeply committed disciples of Jesus, as the statistics provided previously demonstrate.

Read them all here.

Tumbling Under My Skin: Suffering and Response a Year Later

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I can’t quite explain the feeling but I have been very uncomfortable today.

My uncomfortable feeling, a tumbling just underneath my skin, falls somewhere between Reverend Laura Everett’s post on #BostonStrong and Br. Matt’s thoughts on remembering more than evil. I remember April 15 last year. I was working on homework from my office with the window open, the cheering from Comm Ave going past Boston College pouring in and keeping me company. I remember noticing when it became quiet. I felt the same tumbling under my skin. I remember waking up the following Friday and realizing I wouldn’t be going into class or work that day because the city had been shut down for a ‘man-hunt.’ The tumbling feeling got worse every time the word ‘man-hunt’ was uttered – and it still does. I remember seeing my undergraduate students later that night posting photos of  the cheering and partying to celebrate that the ‘man-hunt’ had captured its prey.

My heart hurts for those wounded by the bombings a year ago. For those who were physically and emotionally hurt that I don’t know. For my undergraduate students I work with who were at or near the site and suffered in their own ways. My heart also hurts for those I don’t know who frequently or occasionally suffer violence. Who are not seen as important enough to warrant shutting down an entire city.

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@RevEverett on #BostonStrong: (Someday) The Entire City, That Is

A powerful recollection from the Rev. Laura Everett, the Executive Director of the Mass. Council of Churches:

This past Friday night at St. John’s Missionary Baptist Church on Warren Street in Roxbury, I joined about 100 people, mostly from Boston’s predominantly black neighborhoods to pray for all those who have suffered violence in the year since the Boston Marathon bombing.  We prayed hard. We sang fiercely. The collection was taken up to pay for the funeral for a young man in the neighborhood who had just been killed. A Mother asked, “Where is our One Fund? Why does his death mean less than any other death? What is my son’s life worth?”

Read it all here.  It’s worth your time.

Required Reading: Whither Goes Authenticity?

From Bronwyn Lea at Relevant Magazine:

Half way into my story, I had a choice to make. How was I going to finish it?

There were many details I could choose from, and not all of them were pretty. I told myself I was being “authentic” to tell the story as I did: highlighting the parts with all the drama and disappointment.

In hindsight, I chose wrongly. My “authentic” story was, in truth, less about telling the truth and more about being vindicated in my audience’s opinion—more about telling a dramatic story with me painted as the long-suffering, good-natured one at the end.

Read more at http://www.relevantmagazine.com/god/practical-faith/there-such-thing-being-too-authentic#U7u0pU0GuXbFTlHM.99

Most Timely Post We’ve Read All Day

On Going to Confession from Meg Felice.

I committed the end of my master’s study and my thesis to the Sacrament of Reconciliation. At the time it felt like throwing my pearls before swine, since next to Anointing, Confession – more formally the Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation – is the most ignored of the seven sacraments.

Read it all here. 

All the Single Ladies

beyonce

I’ve always had a little baggage regarding marriage.

As a very single college student, I thought about marriage with real anxiety. I hadn’t dated at all yet and wouldn’t until after graduating. Meantime, I was surrounded by close friends who were all dating their spouses-to-be, further fueling my sense of inadequacy.

In my mind, one thing was certain: if I wasn’t married by the time I was 30, it would mean I was an unmitigated failure romantically—which meant that I would be an unmitigated failure as a woman.

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And Jerusalem Shook: A Palm Sunday Homily

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The people asked, seeing the commotion: who is this? Others answered: Jesus of Nazareth, the prophet. He is mighty in word and deed, they explained. “How so?” came the response. (The people of Jerusalem had seen this story before – a so-called prophet does great in the minor leagues, among the small towns and villages, but is no match when he gets to the biggest city around.)

No, this prophet is different – Jesus does more than talk, he acts too! He makes the blind see and the deaf hear and he casts out demons from the possessed. He’s also taught in a way that has never been seen before. This man, I tell you, is a prophet!

With the news of this prophet, the citizens of Jerusalem, the city of cities, the place where it was thought that God would begin the kingdom that would last forever, come out to get a glimpse of the next big thing. They chant, they sing, they lay down palms.

Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, they yell!

They place cloaks and palm branches on the side of the road – the sign of recognizing royalty.

The more religious among them probably remember the line that Matthew uses to describe Jesus’ entrance: “Say to daughter Zion, ‘Behold, your king comes to you.’” Right in front of everyone’s eyes, religious history is happening.

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Catholics thinking "how"!

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