Here is Deep Water


The Readings for the Memorial of Joachim and Anna, Grandparents of God
Thursday in the 16th Week of Ordinary Time (B2)

Obstupescite, caeli, super hoc : et portae ejus, desolamini vehementer, dicit Dominus. Duo enim mala fecit populus meus : me derelinquerunt fontem aquae vivae, et foderunt sibi cisternas, cisternas dissipatas, quia continere non valent aquas.

Be appalled, O heavens, at this, be shocked, be utterly desolate, says the LORD, for my people have committed two evils: they have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters, and hewed out cisterns for themselves, broken cisterns, that can hold no water. 

There are a lot of Catholic Devotions out there! A lot of spiritualities! Each one is supported by the church, approved, and growing. It’s not a case of once-size-fits-all. Do you like to study and underline passages in books as you think about them? You may be a Benedictine. Do you like to do that on your Kindle while you read in a group? You may be a Dominican. Do you prefer to set the books down and picture yourself in them from memory? You may be a Jesuit. Do you prefer to toss the books out the window and live the Gospel in the streets? Franciscan. It’s a thing: there are online online tests about which religious order your personality fits into. 

Coming from a tradition of one-size-fits-all, this has been eye opening to me. Catholic means whole. If there is something of good, of God in a tool, it belongs in here. There’s meditation, chanting, and silence enough to put any ashram to shame. There’s praise and worship music, baroque stringed adventures, a capella vocal harmonies, and Russian four part chanting enough to put the entire world to shame as mute.There’s a myriad of litanies, vocal prayers, novenas, pilgrimages, books on mass intentions, patristic writings, meditations on the Psalter,  teachings on centering prayer, mystical saints teachings on gardening… There’s enough liturgical variation (just on the books, alone) to make us all eschew the idea that there’s one right way to do Catholicism. 

It’s in light of this buffet of spiritual treasures, this feast for the soul, that I’m always confused at folks who need to shun “organized religion”. This is hardly that, save as a library is organized or a hardware store. You can totally mix and match here. Why did shallow wells of your own when you can plumb the depths of humanity’s spiritual treasures here? Each one plugged into the illimitable riches of a 2000-6000 year old tradition. This water is deep and fresh. And the deeper you go, the deeper it is.

Today is the feast of the Parents of the Blessed Virgin, who were the Grandparents of God. And the thing that calls out to me today is the Rosary, for my friend Tim, spoke on this on Tuesday night, and also this Rosary is my spiritual home. This has become a daily prayer. It, too, gets deeper the further in you go, until you’re lost in visions and depths, stars and great abysses of joy. And when I’m in a room full of people praying this together i can hear the echoes of the children at Fatima and Lourdes, of the mobs surrounding them, simply kneeling and whispering

Hail Mary, full of Grace;

The prayer of the entire church from the Archangel to now. Here to participate in freely, by anyone with a hand and a heart/brain/mouth to say the words. 

A podcast (?) or a conversation I heard (?) last week drove home the point: when Jesus says the “gates of hell will not prevail against” his Church, he uses a word that can’t be about gates… overpowering is not something gates do. Gates do not attack they defend. Gates can be overpowered though. And in that war someone might prevail. Jesus means for us to be on the attack in this spiritual warfare! And since this is a great prayer for walking either a lone or in a group, it comes to me that it’s a great way to conquer as well. What if you could walk the streets of your city or town claiming them for Jesus and our blessed Lady as you walked: simply praying the Rosary and fighting off the demons.

What if armies of prayerful folks could leave Mass on a Sunday and  reclaim whole stretches of their city just by walking home and praying the Rosary as they went? What if walking became your regular mode and you might spend your morning and evening walks to and from the office battling demons and waging peace on your town. 

We consecrated the Archdiocese to Mary last year, maybe we should begin to consecrate the streets, one by one, letting the deep waters of God’s grace fill up our city. Or yours.


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Sé do bheatha, a Mhuire, atá lán de ghrásta, tá an Tiarna leat. Is beannaithe thú idir mná agus is beannaithe toradh do bhroinne, Íosa. A Naomh-Mhuire, a Mháthair Dé, guigh orainn na peacaigh, anois, agus ar uair ár mbáis. Amen.

So is the Hail Mary in Irish.

Author: Huw Raphael

A Dominican Tertiary living in San Francisco, CA. He is almost 59. He feeds the homeless as a parochial almoner and is studying to be a Roman Catholic Deacon. He is learning modern Israeli Hebrew and enjoys cooking, keto, cats, long urban hikes, and SF Beer Week.

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