As I say. Not as I do.

JMJ

The Readings for Saturday in the 20th Week of Ordinary Time (B2)

Omnia ergo quaecumque dixerint vobis, servate, et facite : secundum opera vero eorum nolite facere : dicunt enim, et non faciunt.
Therefore, do and observe all things whatsoever they tell you, but do not follow their example. For they preach but they do not practice.

Back when I was an Episcopalian teenager and pretty much everyone was convinced I was going to seminary, I used to find myself in conversations with people that, really, I wouldn’t want to know now. But these were rich and powerful clergy, and they were initiating me NOT into a pattern of sexual abuse, but rather into a curious and double life of another sort. So, for example, one of the most conservative seminaries of the Episcopal Church ended every Sunday with a solemnly sung Vespers service followed by Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament. The solemn repetition of the same content over and over had so bored several generations of seminarians that they did not call this by its traditional Victorian, Anglo-Catholic name of Evensong and Benediction, but rather, “Evenscreech and Cookie Worship.” 

It’s a joke only a religion nerd could get – especially one at a very conservative parish in Atlanta that had weekly the same practice. But it’s also an irreverent blasphemy that should not be repeated by a pious teenager at all, let alone to a Sunday School teacher.

And when I had so profoundly scandalized the Sunday School teacher that she didn’t want to talk to me any more, I thought, this is probably something to bring up in confession.

And I was told by the priest – who had gone to that very seminary – that such jokes were perfectly fine. But shouldn’t be repeated in front of the laity.

See: everyone was making assumptions about my future. This was at a parish where sexuality was not a topic of conscience, but rather of strict adherence to tradition. But some jokes shouldn’t be repeated in front of the laity…

So when I hear Jesus say those guys teach well enough, but don’t do what they do, I realize this has been a problem for a long, long time.

When I hear of Catholic Clergy having sex – but not getting married – and calling that “celibacy” because they abstain from marriage, I’m perhaps too realistic for my own good but I wonder why it surprises folks to learn that people can be that duplicitous. Evidently some of this stuff never got repeated in front of the laity.

We have entire schools of thought (clerical ones and lay ones) set up to tell us why we can use condoms, or why it’s ok to deviate from the sexual teachings of the church as laity “using their conscience“.  We have a “pro choice” Senator who piously goes to Mass in SF. And a Catholic-school educated Governor. Why should it surprise us that some folks in Church-power would claim the same “primacy of conscience” to do whatever they might want as well? What purpose is served by imagining the clergy to be different?

To be fair, the Catholic teaching is not that the Conscience will always lead us right, but rather that a Conscience, properly formed by the Church into conformity with the Law of God will always lead us right. As Catholics, we must submit to the teaching of the Church even if our erring conscience would lead us elsewhere

As Catholics we believe the Church is sinless but she is filled with sinners.  This is one of the contradictions of the Church, one of the mysteries… Here we are where the folks who taught us “conscience should be your guide” then went off the rails dragging the rest of us with them. And we see it.  We see folks who claim to be Catholics and yet rape children. Or kill them in the womb. Or destroy their lives with economies of Greed. We see folks who claim to be Catholics and disagree with nearly everything taught.

If you’ve been following along this last week or so in the readings from Ezekiel you know that Israel went very wrong because his shepherds were very bad. Then God said, “I guess I’ll have to do it myself!” and “I will be Israel’s shepherd.”  Today in Ezekiel, God shows up, walks into the temple, sits down, and says, “I’m here. I’m going to do this job now!”

Christ is enthroned on every altar of adoration even when he’s ignored by the walkers on the street. Christ is lifted high at every mass even when the clergy don’t believe what they’re doing any more. Christ is glorified at every painful turn of a soul away from a sin embedded so deep that it’s become a false identity. And you, my dearest sister, beloved brother, can heal the Church with sincerity of heart.  And love.

And since God is love.

There is hope.



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The Subversive Wedding Feast

JMJ

The Readings for Thursday in the 20th Week of Ordinary Time (B2)

Simile factum est regnum caelorum homini regi, qui fecit nuptias filio suo.
Similar is the Kingdom of Heaven to a man who was king, who made a wedding for his Son.

In this story, the kingdom of God is like the image of a king making a wedding for his son. It implies all the planning and expenditure, all the love and care, all the generosity and all the personal investment. Think of how a mother and father bend over backwards to make the wedding of their daughter the most amazing thing ever. Or, as is often the case in social circles of SF, think of how the children, earning dozens of times more than their parents, might pay to have the entire family carted off to Costa Rica or some other place where they can share the joy of the man and woman getting married. It’s a huge production, it requires more than just a couple and a justice of the peace – and that’s true, even in today’s secular world where for many a marriage is just another disposable commodity and a wedding, per se, just a fun thing to do. How much more so was this the case in the ancient world where a wedding meant an excuse for the entire community to celebrate, sometimes for days on end, and where one’s wealth and position only mean that more people would be expected to come. There were the family, yes, and the invited guests, yes, but also, according to one’s station, all the classes lower down in the pecking order. A king making a wedding for his son had to feed everyone from his nobles to the beggars on the street. 

So, this king… 

Is making this wedding. 

And the invited guests don’t come. The thing is, they all had perfectly good excuses. “I have business to take care of.” And they were all on the A-list so you know they were important. Cardinals, Bishops, and the like… (There is a faux patristic quote going around that no one really said about some part of hell being paved with the skulls of clergy… but the point is well made.)

The thing is: we all have better things to do, I think. It’s not making light of the scandal to say, “This is not the only sin Christians have.” And, as the priest said on Sunday, the real scandal is that the vast majority of American Catholics (and Orthodox, I’ll add) don’t even darken the door of a Church on the vast majority of Sundays. The further we are from the wedding feast, the more likely we are to be replaced.

I’ve been invited to partake in so many pious actions in the last week: acts of reparation, acts of prayer, a group rosary, fasting… God is putting a new heart into his people.

This is supposed to be normal Christian life. This is the wedding feast of the Lamb. Let’s act like it. Not just now, but forever. Or we’re going to end up with our city burned down. And, to be honest, we can be replaced.

So the invited guests don’t come…and the other folks who – you’ll remember – would have shown up for scraps and morsels anyway – are suddenly turned into the guests. The folks who were the also-ran are now the only show.

And the ones that didn’t come – even though they were invited – get killed. And their city burned to the ground.

That will be us if we don’t get to the feast on time.

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The Final Mystery of the Rosary

JMJ

The Readings for the Memorial of Queenship of Mary
Wednesday in the 20th Week of Ordinary Time (B2)

Alleluia. Vivus est enim sermo Dei, et discretor cogitationum et intentionum cordis. 
Alleluia. The word of God is living and effective, able to discern the reflections and thoughts of the heart.

It’s tempting to take this reading about the bad shepherds and go someplace dark. It’s tempting to take the bit about the generous landlord and the non-union workers and go someplace political.

Even the Alleluia verse about Jesus can be seen as a threat. It can almost sound like “He knows when you’ve been bad or good, so be good for goodness’ sake.”

Yet the very Logos of God – Jesus himself – is alive and present in this messed up place. There is hope. God says he will shepherd his people himself. It is the feast of the Queenship of Mary: and that’s worth so much hope, so much joy…

I’m new here. The whole “convert” moment still has that new car smell for me. Mindful, of course, that my conversion came in spite of this scandal, which was on the front burner when I was leaving ECUSA. Having decided I was wrong then to let my pride keep me away, it was sort of an inoculation preventing such an event. And so I’m thankful that I can celebrate this feast with the titles lavished on her in the Litany of the Blessed Virgin:

Queen of Angels, 
Queen of Patriarchs, 
Queen of Prophets, 
Queen of Apostles, 
Queen of Martyrs, 
Queen of Confessors, 
Queen of Virgins, 
Queen of all Saints, 
Queen conceived without original sin, 
Queen assumed into heaven, 
Queen of the most holy rosary,
Queen of the family, 
Queen of peace.

And this Queen is also mother, Mother of Christ and Mother of the Church, as the Litany reminds us. And:

Mother of divine grace, 
Mother most pure, 
Mother most chaste, 
Mother inviolate, 
Mother undefiled, 
Mother most amiable, 
Mother most admirable, 
Mother of good counsel, 
Mother of our Creator, 
Mother of our Redeemer.

This lady is praying for us in heaven. And she’s concerned about us. Not just abstractly, but as her children, the sisters and brothers of her only son. Is any mother concerned about her children only in the abstract? No. She remembers us each. And so the visionaries at Lourdes, at Fatima, at La Sallete, at Walsingham, at Penrhys, at Glastonbury, and at Knock all remind us. In our sadness, in her sadness for us, she comes to us as your own mother would come to you. Or, perhaps, as your own mother never did. And Francis (and other Saints) have taken God as their Father and this lady as their Mother.

She is the Joy of All Who Sorrow, the sign of God’s triumph, even in darkness. She is the shower of the way, and the gate of heaven, the unploughed field that produced the heavenly manna, the ladder, and the lampstand.

She is the mother of all in the Church and of the Church herself, the bride of Christ as Mary is the Bride of the Holy Spirit. So on this feast I’m joyously letting her pray. For I know she does. And I shall let her reign, too. In my heart as she reigns in the highest heaven.

Most Holy Theotokos, save us!

The Price of Admission

JMJ

The Readings for the Memorial of Pope St Pius, X
Tuesday in the 20th Week of Ordinary Time (B2)

Multi autem erunt primi novissimi, et novissimi primi.
Many who are first will be last, and the last will be first

This is one of those verses like the song of the Magnificat, that needs to leave us trembling more. We sing the Magnificat without so much as batting an eye:

He hath shewed strength with his arm: he hath scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts.
He hath put down the mighty from their seat: and hath exalted the humble and meek.
He hath filled the hungry with good things: and the rich he hath sent empty away.


And, perhaps, if we fail to pay attention, we imagine we are the hungry, or the humble. Perhaps we think we are the Last.

As the kids now (rightly) say, Check your privilege.

Christians in this country whine because we can’t get a Macy*Mart employee to say “Merry Christmas”. Despite the fact that she’s earning $7 an hour and has no benefits because she’s part time and it’s the Holidays so come 5 January she’ll be unemployed. “Anti Christian bias,” we’ll say as we ask for a refund.

We may use our funds to purchase other products, never mindful of the near slave-like conditions that exist in those other countries. I’m no fan of the current administration, but their erection of tariff walls means that some of those slave will have to get laid off, and some of those production lines will have to move back to the states where, at least, the workers will get insurance, we hope. Free trade only benefits us, it’s rarely ever been free for folks outside of the First World.

I used to self-identify as a member of a persecuted minority. But I’ve not been able to justify that since a book that came out in the early 90s pointed out that, as someone living in NYC (and later SF) I was at the upper end of the finances in that persecuted group. And, further, I was actively or passively involved in oppressing others in the same group by virtue of their race, class, or geographic location. What did I care about Egypt as long as I could get their cotton sheets for cheap? We formed our own corridors of power and ran whole industries by virtue of our fiscal strength. This was true in the Church and outside the Church.

Median household income in Kentucky: 46,659
Median household income in SF: $78,378
Median household income in Mexico: $11,700
Gaza: 9,288
Manila: $5,010 

The first will be last.

You might want to say that this has to do with sinners, and prostitutes being in the kingdom before Pharisees, and so on, but the whole passage is about rich versus poor.

I don’t really know how this works, but there are no camels in America. So we might be missing the point. 

But I think for all of us it will be hard to get into the Kingdom.



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Hashtag BernOp

JMJ

The Readings for the Memorial of St Bernard, Abbot and Doctor of the Church
Monday in the 20th Week of Ordinary Time (B2)

Ait illi Jesus : Si vis perfectus esse, vade, vende quae habes, et da pauperibus, et habebis thesaurum in caelo : et veni, sequere me.

Jesus said to him, “If you wish to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”


In the sixth century, St Benedict went to Rome and found corruption and vice. So he moved to the country and started a community of monks to be saved despite all the problems. Benedict, like every great reformer, but salvation, his and other’s, first, before culture, or even before the institution of Church. His order grew, becoming not only the salvation of the Catholic Church, but also of the culture of Europe, storing up knowledge lest it be lost in the final collapse under invading barbarians. 600 years along, however, it was the order that needed saving.

The recent scandals in the church seem a perfect attack: dividing brother against brother and giving ammunition to those who would spread heresy and immorality. It adds fuel to the fires of those advocating both for a change in sexual morality and those who are advocating for a near Donatist purge of the church from all they deem evil and impure; even sometimes including the laity in a sort of “red scare” sort of mentality. At the same time, this is all playing into the hands of those on the outside who would weaken the Church not by virtue of laws or persecution, but rather by attrition, both of population and moral authority. This active inculcation of indifference is as deadly as a “culture war” without any of the blood or emotions.

We have to admit that a wealthy, comfortable, culturally ensconced church, not only embedded in the world, but down right in bed with it, is without moral authority any way. 

So here’s St Bernard, the man who took the Order of St Benedict and spun it back to its roots because it (the Order) had grown fat, powerful, and lazy. This Spiritual Obesity had led to hardening of the arteries, and an advanced case of necrosis in several places. This was echoed in the Church as well: for when the monastic orders begin to fail the Church is unhealthy at her heart. Bernard put salvation first.

Yesterday, Fr Joseph Illo preached a homily I hope will end up online (update: here it is) calling out the darkness in the Church and noting that he would rather sell the parish and the school if it would mean the defeat of the corruption in the Church. Salvation first.

I’m a new Catholic. I’m not as familiar with the names of those involved as I would have been if this were Orthodoxy or the Episcopal Church, but I’ve lived through the same sort of thing in both of those Churches. And in both the Bishops stayed in denial. No one talked about the financial and sex scandals in ECUSA, ditto in Orthodoxy. Everyone is talking about it in Rome just now, so maybe it will mean something else. 

And yet, at the same time, as Christians, the world will still try to bully us into following the world’s rules.

The Church is not the 100% Pure Virgin Bride, she is the Abominable Bride. But she is growing more and more pure as this moves. I take great comfort that the report in PA covers events that are nearly all before 2002. The Church can move forward. But at the same time, the Cardinal McCarrick affair is ongoing. Most churches in SF (even the most conservative ones, Orthodox and Catholic) have gay couples in them. In most cases not only the pastors but also prelates are aware. And this article by Fr Dwight was a painful eye opener, but I was already aware of this particular issue by virtue of friends who had dated clergy, and clergy who had counselled me to be sure to use condoms…

It’s all the same culture: the laity have no place to call out the clergy (and vice versa) as long as we each have our own favourite sins. For every clergyman acting out, there’s a couple with condoms, or a pro-choice Catholic politician taking communion from a knowing pastor. We’re dying from the inside – but it’s all of us together, not just from the top down. And I’m not above tying some of this (but not all) to grandstanded, irreverent liturgies partaking of the Heresy of Formlessness. 

So, there we are. That’s the Church we have just now. The Abominable Bride. I’m too new: I don’t know everyone’s names, but I’m not angry, I’m just being realistic. We are Christians and we must save – and forgive – even those who are here with less than honorable intentions, even nefarious ones. We must love them. Fully. In the hopes that some of the weeds can become wheat again. Salvation first. At one time, with her own courts, the Church knew that salvation required honesty about sins and yet avoiding the secular power structures. St Thomas Becket died to preserve the Church’s right to her own courts – even in the case of murder.


Sadly we’re not there any more. And Paul’s counsel not to bring one another before the secular courts (in front of non-believers) fall now on deaf ears. Yet Fr Illo reminded us that God can use even the secular courts as a scourge, as certainly as God used the Philistines, Nebuchadnezzar, and Darius. So we’ve set ourselves up for this one. Fr Illo is right: because a church devoid of riches, social position, and political power would be far less attractive to folks who are not here for anything else. And Pope Benedict XVI agrees:

From today’s crisis will emerge a church that has lost a great deal. It will no longer have use of the structures it built in its years of prosperity. The reduction in the number of faithful will lead to it losing an important part of its social privileges. It will become small and will have to start pretty much over again. It will be a more spiritual church and will not claim a political mandate flirting with the Right one minute and the Left the next. It will be poor and will become the Church of the destitute.

We need a Bernard to loop us back to the very beginning. To pull us, again, towards Jesus’ words in today’s Gospel: sell all you have and come follow me. We need one fast, before God lets the world force us to do so.


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Scribes AND Pharisees


Today’s readings:

Dicunt enim, et non faciunt
For they preach but they do not practice.
Matthew 23:3b
Oh this is so rich. The Greek word play is between “using words” (logos) and “making” (poetas). They use their words, yeah, but they’re certainly not poets…
As a Catholic (and before, as Eastern Orthodox) a common lament heard all over the place from all sorts of people: to my liberal friends, I am too conservative. To my conservative friends, I’m too liberal. The Church can’t fit into modern cultural categories very easily. This thing of “loving the sinner but hating the sin” leaves us sort of stranded a lot. We have to welcome all comers – especially the outcasts who don’t fit into any of society’s power agenda. But we leave none of them unchanged. When you realize the important struggles are not about power, your heart opens to Love.
I hear the word Pharisee thrown around a lot. No one gets called a “Scribe”. But there are a lot of folks accused of being Pharisee. Yet, in Jesus’s time, those would have been the Good Guys for a lot of the culture. They were the liberals. You could play with the Bible in their tradition. You could make up stuff based on cultural guesses. They were sticklers about the rules they made up, but they were way more liberal about it than the other party, the Sadducees. These were literalists – only what was in the Bible, thank you: none of that finagling around! If the Sadducees were fundies, the Pharisees were more, pardon me, Jesuitical.
In one of my favorite stories from the Talmud, the liberal camp – meaning the camp that says they can debate the meaning of words – wins an argument with God who admits defeat by saying “My children have bested me.”

In one way of looking at things, the division between Jews and Christians is simply this: one group of Rabbis says Jesus is the Messiah. Two other groups of Rabbis (both Conservative Sadducees and liberal Pharisees) say he is not the Messiah. In the end the Pharisees win the debate within Judaism, even recasting the scriptures to fit their modes of debate. The Messianic rabbis drifted off and became the Church.

And so there: they preach and yet they do not practice. Sure, they are using all their words… but they don’t know what those words actually mean.

On the Road to Emmaus, Jesus opens the minds of Luke and Cleopus to his presence in all the scriptures. Jesus wants us to listen to the teachings of Israel. But he wants us to know what those teachings really mean – not the empty words of the Pharisees, or the Scribes, or the Sadducees.  We cannot find our common ground with either the fundamentalist Sadducees of our time who would deny the mysteries of our faith, or with the liberal Pharisees of our time who would deny the doctrines God has revealed. We’re not to fall in the fundamentalist literalism of either the left or of the right. We must hold fast to both words (the logos) and the poetry (poetas) of scripture and tradition, the both/and of Catholicism.  We must follow our vocational call to the poetas, the poetry and dance of the real meanings of the scriptural words.

The poetry of the Logos, the making of all things new, is the rite of the Faith dancing through the world. We spin like dervishes, opening our minds and hearts to the wisdom of God’s Holy Spirit. Bread is made flesh. Wine is made blood. God made man. What is old made new.

God has opened the eyes of the blind. Meanwhile those who claim to see are shown to be liars who walk in darkness.

Populus tuus populus meus

Today’s Readings:

Quocumque enim perrexeris, pergam, et ubi morata fueris, et ego pariter morabor. 
Populus tuus populus meus, et Deus tuus Deus meus.
For wherever you go, I will go, wherever you lodge I will lodge. 
Your people shall be my people, and your God my God.
Ruth 1:16B
Ruth says this after being married to Naomi’s son for quite a while. Ruth is familiar with Jewish practices, Jewish piety, and Jewish oddness by this point. She is, certainly, “the stranger dwelling among” God’s people. She’s willing to make this step because she knows God’s people will care for her, will support her in her journey, but also because she knows Naomi will need her help, will need her support, will need her (Ruth’s) strength on the rest of the journey. This is a conversion out of love for the Jewish people and for the Jewish faith. This was not a conversion out of fear, or out of obligation. This was not a conversion running away from Moabitish religion, but rather a moving towards family, towards community, even perhaps towards the relative freedom a woman might have in Judaism compared to the more pagan sorts of religion practiced in the area.
Adults who come into the Catholic faith, likewise, may come for many reasons: some good, some bad. But once you’re here, there’s some things you need to be honest about, realistic about, truthful about. When you converted you got this – not “also”, not “as well”, but this is what you converted to.

Community: the Catholic Church is huge. I don’t mean large. I mean huge. There are catholics everywhere and in large numbers. There may not be enough to fill up a pew in your local parish right now… but come Easter, there are a lot of Catholics. There are Catholics at work, you just don’t know it. There are Catholics on your softball league, in your bowling alley, at your bank, in your kids’ scouting groups, on the bus in your commute. In fact, the only group noticeably larger than Catholics in all these areas is going to be people who call themselves “ex catholics”. The Catholic Church is HUGE. Cross yourself at a diner. You may project a bit of self-conscious embarrassment, but the largest feedback you’re going to generate will be, “I’m Catholic. Wait, should I/Why didn’t I/I’m glad I didn’t cross myself like that guy.” When I started to cross myself at work for lunch so many Catholics “came out of the sacristy closet” and started to cross themselves too! In fact, I was Orthodox at the time and doing it backwards.  Nobody cared: they started to do it.
Do it, and see what happens: these people are now your people.
Struggles: my church has been classed as one of the “most beautiful in America”. But the parish I worshipped at in Columbus, GA, was compared (by their now late Bishop) to a Pizza Hut. God’s still there. The Holy Father yesterday said that we should celebrate Vatican II by “overcoming unfounded and superficial readings, partial receptions and the practices that disfigure it.” I’m down with that, because following the documents of V2, we should all face East, be using chant and not guitars, and taking communion on the tongue not the hand.
But some people think it means exactly the reverse. shrug These people are now your people. No family is 100% harmonious 100% of the time. And this family is huge and you’re going to need to wear a flame-retardant suit sometimes, online and off.

When you’ve journeyed far and yet have come home, you know, somehow, you may have betrayed someone along the way. Somewhere some person or other may feel hurt at your joy. So what can you do? Ruth knew her obligations were not in Moab. She had to wait. Because this God was now her God. Naomi was a Jewish woman, faithful daughter of Israel. Ruth, though, was a Gentile.

That’s your job now – my job – for the Church is Israel and yet we are those Gentiles recently come in. This God is now our God. Whither the Church goes, whither Naomi goes, we go with her. Where she lodges, we lodge. Her people are now our people. Her God is our God.

In love you stand up and profess that what the Catholic Church believes and teaches, this is what you accept, follow, and live. You don’t get to dine a la carte, either. You’re stuck with the whole nine yards. (Else, why are you here?) You can’t say you didn’t know. Ruth may have had pork as a child, but I’m sure she gave it up long before saying, Populus tuus populus meus. You need all of the commandments before the two greatest make sense.

We’ve known for a while that this was right, but now we have to live it. We’ve known that this is God’s house and the Gate of Heaven. Loving God and neighbor means living this way now.

Now we are here. On this road of wandering with Israel, we are now home.

The Bible Fulfilled.

Today’s Readings:

“We have found the one about whom Moses wrote in the law, and also the prophets, Jesus son of Joseph, from Nazareth.”

John 1:45b
I wrote the text about the Blessed Virgin earlier this week, using this text as a model; the text, per the NCRegister, of the video I’ve added at the end. There is no book of the Bible that is not about Jesus, not about the Gospel. There may be other stories, sure, but unless you’re reading the only story there is, you’re missing the point.

Jesus Christ is in every book of the Bible.
In Genesis, Jesus is the Seed of the Woman.
In Exodus, He is the Passover Lamb.
In Leviticus, He is the Priest, the Altar, and the Lamb of Sacrifice.
In Numbers, He is a Pillar of Cloud by day and the Pillar of Fire by Night.
In Deuteronomy, Jesus is the Prophet, like Moses.
Come and kneel before Him now.
In Joshua, Jesus is the Captain of Our Salvation.
In Judges, He is our Judge and Lawgiver.
In Ruth, He is our kinsman Redeemer.
In 1 and 2 Samuel, He is our Trusted Prophet.
In Kings and Chronicles, He is our Reigning King.
In Ezra, He is the rebuilder of the broken down walls of human life.
Come and kneel before Him now.
In Nehemiah, Jesus is our Restorer.
In Tobit, He is the Messenger of New Life.
In Judith, He is Weakness Turned into Victory.
In Esther, He is our Advocate.
In 1 and 2 Maccabees, He is the Leader who dies for God’s law.
Come and kneel before Him now.
In Job, Jesus is our Everliving Redeemer.
In Psalms, He is our Shepherd.
In Proverbs, He is our Wisdom.
In Ecclesiastes, He is our Hope of Resurrection.
In the Song of Songs, He is our Loving Bridegroom.
In Wisdom, He is the emanation of God’s thought.
In Ecclesiasticus (Sirach), Jesus is our security.
Come and kneel before Him now.
In Isaiah, Jesus is the Suffering Servant.
In Jeremiah, He is the Righteous Branch.
In Lamentations, He is our Weeping Prophet.
In Baruch, He is the Mercy from the Eternal One.
In Ezekiel, He is the One with the Right to Rule.
In Daniel, Jesus is the Fourth Man in the fiery furnace.
Come and kneel before Him now.
In Hosea, Jesus is the Faithful Husband forever married to the sinner.
In Joel, He is the One who Baptizes with the Holy Spirit of Fire.
In Amos, He is the Restorer of Justice.
In Obadiah, He is Mighty to Save.
In Jonah, He is our great foreign missionary.
In Micah, He is the feet of one who brings Good News.
Come and kneel before Him now.
In Nahum, Jesus is our stronghold in the day of trouble.
In Habakkuk, He is God my Savior.
In Zephaniah, He is the King of Israel.
In Haggai, He is the signet ring.
In Zechariah, He is our Humble King riding on a colt.
In Malachi, Jesus is the Son of Righteousness.
Come and kneel before Him now.
In Matthew, Jesus is God with us.
In Mark, He is the Son of God.
In Luke, He is the Son of Mary, feeling what you feel.
In John, He is the Bread of Life.
In Acts, Jesus is the Savior of the World.
Come and kneel before Him now.
In Romans, Jesus is the Righteousness of God.
In 1 Corinthians, He is the Resurrection.
In 2 Corinthians, He is the God of all comfort.
In Galatians, He is your liberty. He sets you free.
In Ephesians, Jesus is the Head of the Church.
Come and kneel before Him now.
In Philippians, Jesus is your Joy.
In Colossians, He is your Completeness.
In 1 and 2 Thessalonians, He is your Hope.
In 1 Timothy, He is your Faith.
In 2 Timothy, Jesus is your Stability.
Come and kneel before Him now.
In Titus, Jesus is Truth.
In Philemon, He is your Benefactor.
In Hebrews, He is your Perfection.
In James, He is the Power behind your Faith.
In 1 Peter, He is your Example.
In 2 Peter, Jesus is your Purity.
Come and kneel before Him now.
In 1 John, Jesus is your Life.
In 2 John, He is your Pattern.
In 3 John, He is your Motivation.
In Jude, He is the Foundation of your Faith.
In Revelation, Jesus is your Coming King.
He is:
The First and the Last.
The Beginning and the End.
He is the Keeper of Creation and the Creator of All.
He is the Architect of the Universe and the Manager of All Time.
He Always Was, He Always Is, and He Always Will Be Unmoved, Unchanged, Undefeated, and Never Undone.
He was bruised and brought healing.
He was pierced and eased pain.
He was persecuted and brought freedom.
He was dead and brought life.
He is risen and brings power.
He reigns and brings peace.
The world can’t understand Him.
The armies can’t defeat Him.
Schools can’t explain Him and the leaders can’t ignore Him.
Herod couldn’t kill Him.
The Pharisees couldn’t confuse Him.
The people couldn’t hold him. [This is where the clapping begins]
Nero couldn’t crush Him.
Hitler couldn’t silence Him.
The New Age can’t replace Him.
And Oprah can’t explain Him away.
He is Life, Love, Longevity, and Lord.
He is Goodness, Kindness, Gentleness and God.
He is Holy, Righteous, Mighty, Powerful, and Pure.
His Ways our Right, His Words Eternal, His Rules Unchanging, and His
Mind is on me.
He is My Redeemer, He is My Savior, He is My God, He is My Priest, He is My Joy, He is My Comfort, He is My Lord, and He rules my life.

Takes a cool hand…

Today’s Readings:

An oculus tuus nequam est, quia ego bonus sum?
Is your eye evil, because I am good?
Matthew 20:15b
We live in very interesting times, do we not? I say that in the style of the infamous Chinese curse, of course. When met with the anti Christian actions of the right and the left, what are we to do, as Christians? What should be our goal? Certainly racism is bad and the Catholic and Orthodox bishops of America have condemned it, not just a little, but a lot. Certainly the anti Christian actions of the Left (did you see the Media gushing over the Eugenics in Iceland) have left us with an inability to take refuge on either side of the political spectrum. When we topple statues of Margaret Sanger as quickly as we topple statues of Robert E. Lee, then I shall think we are on the right path.
But there is no logic, nor is there supposed to be: for both sides have denied the Logos, the plan God has woven into all of the universe, which involves no death, nor hate. It does not allow us to treat different races as impure, nor babies as inconveniences. Nor does it allow us to invent lies whole cloth just to say, “God made a new thing.” When your god just walks around confirming your likes and dislikes, maybe you’ve made up your god too.
But none of these people want anything to do with our God, because he wants to do with everyone.
God’ll have none of your bickering, he wants to save the Abortionists and the Racists, God wants to save the divorcees and the same-sex married. God will save both the transgender and the Duck Dynasty. God will have none of those things you call divisions.
God’s gone fishing and he nets all of us.
But if I have to go to a party with them, then I’m not going.
I used to think them was about hating them, or them hating me. I can’t go to church with them because they hate me.
But, one day, praying for my brothers and sisters in Christ, someone jumped up and yelled “and for their conversion”. And I realized that the issue with inviting “them” to Church is “I might have to admit I am wrong.”  Pure human pride. 
Do we have an evil eye because God is good?
Do I imagine you’re not my brother or sister in Christ based on politics or something else? Shouldn’t I invite you to Church then? Do I have to admit my hatred of you? My assurance you’ll embarrass me, you anti-faith leftist? How will I ever explain you to my “really” Christian friends, you racist, neonazi SOBs? 
This is a failure of love. 
What we have here is a failure to communicate the Gospel.
All of the Gospel is “Taste and see…” but that one person you want to change before they get to Church… that’s where your Gospel fails. That one person that must get (even just a little) fixed before we want to feel good around them, that’s where your God can’t go. I have no problem seeing that some must change before (say) absolution can be given, or some must find ways to live together without sex, or to have sex without fear of God’s blessings… but God doesn’t demand them to to that before they set their foot in the door.
How can they convert if they don’t hear the Gospel? They are not going to hear it on the street. If you’re not going out to the antifa and the minutemen to tell them what time Mass is on Sunday… You’re giving God a long row to hoe.
And you’re doing it wrong.

Hail Holy Queen

Today’s readings:

And Gedeon seeing that it was the angel of the Lord, said: Alas, my Lord God: for I have seen the angel of the Lord face to face. And the Lord said to him: Peace be with thee: fear not, thou shalt not die. And Gedeon built there an altar to the Lord, and called it the Lord’s peace, until this present day.
Judges 6:22-24

In the Extraordinary Form, today’s feast is that of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. In the Ordinary Form it’s the Queenship of Mary. Either way it’s because we have seen the Lord face to face and we shall not die, all generations shall call her blessed.

In Genesis, Mary is the offspring of Eve that shall bruise the serpent’s head. She is none other than the house of God and the gate of heaven.
In Exodus Mary is the earth on which the Heavenly Manna falls. Mary is Sinai, from which is cut the tablets of the law by God’s own hands.
In Leviticus, Mary is the Tabernacle and the Mercy Seat.
In Numbers, Mary is the New Generation, raised up to replace those who rebelled against God.
In Deuteronomy, Mary is the choice for Life.
In all the Torah, Mary is Faithful Israel, following God’s laws into the promised inheritance, all Generations shall call her blessed.

In Joshua, Mary is Rahab, who saves the faithful.
In Judges, Mary is Deborah, who sings of the victory of Israel and his God over their enemies.
In Ruth, named for Mary’s Ancestress, Mary is the blessing of prosperity on Bethlehem Ephrathah.
In First Samuel, Mary is Hannah, praying for a delivering son.
In Second Samuel, Mary is the House of God which David wanted to build… but God said, not you – but your decendant.
In 1st Kings, Mary is the Temple of Solomon, the wonder of all the world, the glory of God’s worship.
In 2nd Kings, Mary is the Shunammite Woman who was given a son, who lost a son, and had him restored.
In 1 Chronicles, Mary is the Ark of the Lord, whom no man will touch, lost by Israel and restored in glory.
In 2 Chronicles, Mary is the Wisdom for which Solomon prayed.
In Ezra, Mary is the Restored Worship of Israel.
In Nehemiah, Mary is the Restored Law of Israel.
In Tobit, Mary is the restored city of Jerusalem, where “Generation after generation will offer worship in you.”
Mary is Judith, beheading Holfernes, the old serpent.
And Mary is Esther, winning life for her people.
In 1 Maccabees, Mary is the inspiration, courage, and arms to resist idolatry.
In 2 Maccabees, Mary is the Mother of Martyrs who leads the faithful to their crowns.
In all the history of Israel, Mary is the lamp from which the Light will shine forth, all generations shall call her blessed.

In Job Mary is the wisdom of God’s plan from all ages.
In the Psalms, Mary is the Queen standing at God’s right hand.
In Proverbs, Mary is the righteous woman.
In Ecclesiastes, Mary is the Wisdom that illumines the face, that transforms the countenance.
In the Song of Songs, Mary is Dark and Comely.
In Wisdom, Mary is the prosperity of Israel in God’s providence.
In Sirach, Mary is the Godfearing of Little Understanding that is far better than the “smart” who violate God’s law.
In all the books of wisdom and poetry, Mary is the music of the Song of God, the haunting melody of the Logos, all generations shall call her blessed.

In Isaiah, Mary is the Virgin with Child.
In Jeremiah, Mary is the call to Return.
In Lamentations, the grief of Mary is laid bare, but she is also the city abandoned by so many who refuse to honor her.
In Baruch, Mary is Jerusalem, rising up and looking to the East to see her Children.
In Ezekiel, Mary is the Wind of God that brings the resurrection to Israel through the birth of Son.
In Daniel, Mary is the Angel, sent to close the mouths of the temptations that haunt us like lions.
In Hosea, Mary is the Repudiation of faithless Israel in her faithfulness, she walks straight in the paths of the Lord while the sinners stumble in them.
In Joel, Mary is the house of the Lord from which will come a spring that will refresh Israel and all the world.
In Amos, Mary is the Restored house of Israel, rebuilt as in the days of old.
In Obadiah, Mary is the Fire of Jacob consuming Israel’s enemies.
In Jonah, Mary is the prayer of the prophet, giving voice to the whole world, begging for God’s redemption.
In Micah, Mary is the Daughter of Zion crushing the pagans.
In Nahum, Mary is the footsteps on the Mountain birthing the reign of God.
In Habakkuk, Mary is our rejoicing in the Lord, even though all else has failed.
In Zephaniah, Mary is Jerusalem, the refuge of the Strange People.
In Haggai, Mary is the House of the Lord filled with the treasures of all the nations.
In Zechariah, Mary is the Lampstand holding aloft the light of God.
In Malachi, Mary is the Offering of Judah that pleases the Lord.
In all of the Prophets, Mary is the Scroll on which is written God’s word, and all Generations will call her blessed.

Through her we have seen the Face of God birthed into the world.
All generations will call her blessed
We have seen God and yet we shall not die.
All generations will call her blessed
We are her children, made brothers of her Son,
All generations will call her blessed
And we are her servants in Love.

As the Earth offered a cave to be the birthplace of God, we have offered the most pure Virgin to be his mother.
All generations will call her blessed.