Heart and Soul, I fell in love with you

Hooking ’em all up

JMJ

The Readings for the 20th Friday, Tempus per Annum (C2)
Memorial of Bl. Jordan of Pisa, friar and priest

Our bones are dried up, our hope is lost, and we are cut off.

Ezekiel 37:11b

WHAT WAS OUR LORD DOING, amending the Sh’ema? You might not notice it if you quickly read through the text in English. Yet, compare:

Deuteronomy 6:5 (RSVCE) You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might.

Matthew 22:37 (RSVCE) You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.

Might and Mind sound close to each other (in English)… but not quite. The Greek in the LXX uses dynamis (might or power) following the Hebrew which uses m’odecha, but in Matthew Jesus says dianoia, mind or insight. All mainstream English bibles follow the text here, although a couple of fringe Bibles adventure a correction (not all, however). Luke retains the use of Mind but adds (back) strength as well. Likewise, Mark. “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.”

Since Matthew was writing to a largely Jewish audience, they would not have missed this change. Even if Luke and Mark have both “mind” and “might” Matthew – with his audience – stuck with only “mind”. What can we see here?

I’m going to stick with the Greek διανοίᾳ dianoia being the important thing.

Thayer’s Lexicon notes that sometimes this word was used in the LXX for “heart” (Hebrew, Lev or L’vav). But we already have a “heart” in this verse so, is there a reason to have “heart” and “heart again”? (Or in the case of Luke/Mark, “heart, soul, strength, and also heart”.)

There is a clue in the LXX, in the Prophet Jeremiah. In Hebrew it’s Jeremiah 31:33. God promises to write the New Covenant on the “hearts and minds”. In The Greek (because of the way the text is laid out) has it in 38:33. It uses the same words, dianoia and cardia. And there, I think, is echo that Matthew’s Jewish audience would hear in this text. Yes, it’s the traditional Sh’ema, the Covenant, but augmented with the promise of a New Covenant being expounded by the Lord and written directly on our hearts and minds instead of on tablets of stone.

The use of dianoia also directs one toward contemplative prayer. To love the Lord (using the Greek agape) is to welcome and to conform oneself to him: to apprehend in the mind and in the heart and then to make all of one’s life to be one with him. We can only achieve this through the Grace of God and the Sacraments.

St John Eudes, whom we also celebrate today, wrote:

Finally, you are one with Jesus as the body is one with the head. You must, then, have one breath with him, one soul, one life, one will, one mind, one heart. And he must be your breath, heart, love, life, your all. These great gifts in the follower of Christ originate from baptism. They are increased and strengthened through confirmation and by making good use of other graces that are given by God. Through the holy Eucharist they are brought to perfection.

From a “Treatise on the Admirable Heart of Jesus” by Saint John Eudes, priest (2nd Reading at Matins for his feast).

Love him with all your being and unite yourself wholly to him. He will draw you deeper into that union until you become one with him.

Then, and only then, will the dry bones rise up as Ezekiel has prophesied. Hope is not lost, but he will restore all things in himself.

Come as you are. But…

Cast Out.

JMJ

The Readings for the 20th Thursday, Tempus per Annum (C2)
Memorial of Bl. Mannes, brother of St Dominic

My friend, how is it that you came in here without a wedding garment?

Matthew 22:12 (AV)

ONE CAN READ the King’s Question as rather snobbish: this is a wedding. Why are you not dressed right? It can be imagined to be clear why this man isn’t dressed right. The servants were told, “Go out, therefore, into the main roads and invite to the feast whomever you find.” It makes sense that some would not be ready, right? No, actually. It doesn’t. There are two possible ways to read this man’s presence at the feast.

Given that everyone else went home and changed clothes, this man came running to grab food and paid no attention to social traditions. That, in and of itself, is a bad show. The King recognized someone who just taking for granted his largesse instead of coming to celebrate the wedding (which is what this is about – the wedding). The second reading, the Fathers all agree, is that a “garment” is a symbol for virtues. Coming to the banquet is not enough, it has to have an effect on us.

There is a great hew and cry among the liberati that “Jesus eats with sinners”. This is true. But the reason he does so is to change them into saints.

None of us can come to the banquet and stay in our normal clothes.

The Eucharist is the meal that consumes us, that changes us. It has been compared to the way metal heats up in a fire: although the metal (our soul/life) never burns the fire “catches” inside and the metal glows red hot with the heat. The fire is there in another form, doing something to the metal that the metal cannot do on its own, nor can anything else except fire do it. The Eucharist sets us aflame, if we but let it, and we are changed.

The Gospel is open to all, but it will leave none of us alone.

We can fight it off, mind you. We can demand our rights. We can insist on doing things. our own way. We can fail in obedience to the Church, the Gospel, and the Holy Spirit. Then we will be cast, “into the darkness outside,
where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.”

Come as you are, but be ready and willing to change on all points. It will do us no good simply to ignore Jesus on this point: Many are invited, but few are chosen.

Pray to be chosen.

What You Need and Nothing More.

Gathering the Manna

JMJ

The Readings for the 20th Wednesday, Tempus per Annum (C2)
Memorial of St. Hyacinth of Poland, friar and priest

Is it not lawful for me to do what I will with mine own? Is thine eye evil, because I am good?

Matthew 20:15 (AV)

THE PAIRING OF THESE TWO readings seems strange, or perhaps funny. The Gospel is about the landowner who – by modern lights – is very unjust and the 1st Reading is about shepherds who treat their sheep unjustly. Not seemingly unjustly by modern lights, mind you: they are actually unjust.

When the Israelites were told to gather the manna, each person in the family could gather a jar full of the stuff: larger families had more jars. But at the end of the day, what was not eaten could not be stored. You could gather the same amount, but no matter what you ate (or did not) you had to gather again tomorrow. Those who gathered too much had just enough. Those who gathered too little had just enough.

Gather one jar full (per person) eat what you want. Tomorrow you’ll need to gather again. God provides a superabundance, but you get exactly what you need.

The landlord in the Gospel paid what he should have paid. He did so for increasingly less work. We are never told what was needed, but, everyone got paid for the day.

I think about Jesus’ parable when people talk about “living wages”. We used to have something like living wages in this country. You see it in old movies: an employee gets married or has a kid and, because of the change in life, he asks. for a raise. We don’t think about this, but a system of “living wages” would do away entirely with “equal work for equal pay”. This latter is not just and ensures only that everyone gets the same wage: not that the wage is “living”. For what a living wage is for a parent of three kids is very different from the same living wage for a childless person. A living wage for a married person is less than that of a single person unless the married person is the only bread winner. A single mother with kids needs more to live than a bro living in a bro house. No one really thinks through the idea of “living wage”: it’s just political manoeuvering. So, notice that what we think of as “living wage” would require the boss to be “generous” and entirely “unfair” by modern standards. He would have to give more to someone who needed more – even if they were doing the same work.

Are you envious because I am generous? (NABRE)

God is infinite life bestowed on us in infinite love. Any sin (no matter how small) is a choice for death over life, for self rather than self-gift, for solitude rather than love. Yet when we return to God his gift is fullness it cannot be otherwise if the choice is made now, later, or even on the deathbed. God’s living wage is always this infinite life poured out on us. We do tend to want that for ourselves, but seeing it given to others can be really difficult, especially if the others have been unjust – even moreso if we have been the target of their injustice.

What do we do when our own forgiveness requires more of us? If yo’ve been given infinite love, what do you do with it? We are envious, sometimes, when God’s love is poured out. This is like the story of the servant who was forgiven – but cannot forgive (Matthew 18:21-35). This is the story of the older son who cannot forgive the prodigal brother (Luke 15:11-32). This is the story of the whole church in dealing with unjust sheperds. What do we do when they want to come back?

This is our Mother

כָּל־מַעְיָנַי בָּךְ

JMJ

The Readings for the Solemnity of the Assumption of Our Lady

Then God’s temple in heaven was opened, and the ark of his covenant could be seen in the temple. There were flashes of lightning, rumblings, and peals of thunder, an earthquake, and a violent hailstorm. Then… a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars.

Hebrews 11:19ff

THERE’S this interesting notation in the Wiki Article on Mary (yes, yes, I know… the Wiki): “Hyppolitus of Thebes says that Mary lived for 11 years after the death of her son Jesus, dying in 41 AD.” That would put her in her 50s or very early 60s, depending on how young she was when our Lord was born, which makes some sense. This would have been a traumatic event for Early Christians, one that a brother in my formation class believes he sees noted in the Apostolic Epistles.

If the Church is the New Israel, then Mary is the new Ark, revealed in the new Temple. The typology doubles back on itself here: for the Temple, the presence of God on Earth is the Messiah, who is also God from whom comes forth his own Mother, who is also a type of the Church.

And since she is a Type of the Church, there is a way in which all that is true of her is also true of us. For as, through her Son, she now enjoys the blessedness of the Vision of God, we too are called to enjoy that vision. We, too, are called to pass through the torn veil into the Holy of Holies and see the very face of God. We only do this by virtue of her son and by her own prayers together with those of all the saints. We come to stand at the foot of the Heavenly Zion, where, eventually, all of man must come.

In the Office of Readings today, the third Psalm prayed is Psalm 87 (Fundamenta ejus). As if often the case, Liturgy of the Hours has more of a free rendition of the text. The older English text (such as the King James and the Coverdale) come closer to the literal meanings of the text:

HER foundations are upon the holy hills: the Lord loveth the gates of Sion more than all the dwellings of Jacob.
Very excellent things are spoken of thee: thou city of God.
I will think upon Rahab and Babylon: with them that know me.
Behold ye the Philistines also: and they of Tyre, with the Morians; lo, there was he born.
And of Sion it shall be reported that he was born in her: and the most High shall stablish her.
The Lord shall rehearse it when he writeth up the people: that he was born there.
The singers also and trumpeters shall he rehearse: All my fresh springs shall be in thee.

Coverdale Psalm 87 (BCP 1662)

To come into God’s covenant is to take Zion – that is Mary – for our mother. She is the city cherished by the Lord. All our “fresh springs” are in her, that is to say, that in her all find their home.

Aretha and von Hildebrand

JMJ

The Readings for the 20th Sunday, Tempus per Annum (C2)

Let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us

Hebrews 12:1b

THE GOSPEL TODAY is one of the Hard Sayings of Jesus. The Prince of Peace says, “I have come to set the earth on fire, and how I wish it were already blazing!… Do you think that I have come to establish peace on the earth?v No, I tell you, but rather division.” People who, by earthly standards, should be together are going to be divided by Jesus. If you think his family list is hard to read, just remember that Jesus’ Gospel sets Americans against each other. Following Jesus’ Gospel sets Russians against each other. Following Jesus’ Gospel sets together Jews and Palestinians, Whites and Blacks, Democrats and Republicans, and worse. Anyone who says they are a Christian first (and everything else second or not at all) is united together. Anyone who puts Christian second… is instantly divided off. You can be a Catholic American. But you can’t be an American Catholic.

I’ve been reading Transformation in Christ by Dietrich von Hildebrand. It’s a bit of a hard slog because so much of what he says strikes home. It started with this episode of the Catholic Stuff podcast. From the opening line, he had me, “Readiness to change is the fundamental precondition to transformation in Christ.” I knew I had to read the book and so I’m doing so. But there is it, the invitation to change.

Nearly 20 years ago, I asked on the blog, “What if the one thing I think I know about myself is the one thing I’m wrong about?” I’ve been wrestling with that question and with the implications of every possible answer for the last 20 years. What is my identity? Is it possible that the thing I call my “identity” isn’t. And is it further possible that the thing I call my identity is one of these burdens that hold me back? What if the one thing I think I know about myself is the one thing that’s wrong?

As von Hildebrand explores his topic, he leaves the reader aware that one can hold nothing back from Jesus. The word “Catholic” means “whole”. One must be “whole” to be a Catholic. One must be wholly whole, and wholly holy as Miss Franklin sang, and to get there one must give oneself wholly to Christ as an offering, as the clay gives itself wholly to the potter and says, “do with me as you will”. And there’s no telling what will come off the wheel then. But holding something back, saying “change everything except this one thing…” is to not be catholic, to not be whole. Everything must be carried to God in prayer. Hold anything back is to fail.

And is not to change.

Von Hildebrand writes that we must make the choice to serve God from our free center. We cannot respond from our fallen nature or from any false identities. This is what St Paul says about tossing aside all this extra weight and the sin that besets us. Baptism has set a free place in our heart and from there we can address our assent to God. But even to get there – away from all our fake selves, our desires for praise, our self-interest – this is an act of God in his all-powerful love giving us the grace to do this. Yet we have to be willing to dance with our lover to the song he sings or it’s all for naught. When we turn it all over to him we can be changed in his fire to a plan not of our own choosing. When we hold back, the dance can’t even start.

Yet by turning it all over is to move from that free place in our heart to authentic freedom in Christ. Jesus will cut us off from the world and make us whole.

Godwin’s Law You Know

JMJ

The Readings for the 19th Friday, Tempus per Annum (C2)
Memorial of Bl Jane de Chantal

For I will re-establish my covenant with you, that you may know that I am the LORD, that you may remember and be ashamed, and never again open your mouth because of your disgrace, when I pardon you for all you have done.

Ezekiel 16:62-63

ABSOLUTION IS A CURIOUS THING. Outside of the Catholic Church the stereotype is that someone can commit any sin at all – even be Hitler – and, if he goes to confession, he would be absolved of that sin. In fact, the stereotype is true. It needn’t be terribly nuanced. Even Hitler, should he repent of his sins, would be forgiven and absolved of them by the authority of the Church.

Thing is, we don’t want it to be that way. Sure, we don’t want it to be that way for mass murders and mega-haters, but we don’t want it to be that way for those annoying people on the bus nor for that annoying driver on the freeway this morning. Many don’t want it to be that way for parents of noisy children in Mass. And, if we’re really honest, most of us don’t want it to be that way for ourselves either. The Holy Prophet Ezekiel understands why, too: the more we’re aware of the sins we’ve committed, the more ashamed we are by God’s love for us.

This requires full awareness, humility, and comprehension: it takes an arrogant fool can think he actually deserves absolution. But being made aware of the infinite atonement, of infinite love, of infinite grace, as well as the need for it means one is weak. God is in control: we are called to let him be so. But it can hurt: there is danger here. Not only our pride can be hurt. This is one time where “asking for help” is a sign that one is not only weak but completely in the wrong and unable to get out of it.

God is Love (1 John 4:16, etc) and this love is a “consuming fire” (Hebrews 12:29). Balance those. The pain that comes from being loved that much is purgative, atoning. The infinite love, in itself, make it possible to bear the love until we, too, are love.

How can you love a thing like me?

Please Stand By

JMJ

The Readings for the Memorial of St Clare, Virgin
19th Thursday, Tempus per Annum (C2)

Cover your face so you cannot see the land, for I am making you a sign for the house of Israel!

Ezekiel 12:6

SAINT CLARE WAS granted a vision of Mass on Christmas Eve so that she could participate without being present. The Mass was projected on the wall of her cell by the Holy Spirit, allowing her to see and hear the beauty of the Mass as it happened. For this reason, she was named the patroness of Television and, later, of computer screens. There is also a patron of the Internet: St Isidore of Sevile. Some also think that, should he be made a saint, Bl. Carlo Acutis may share this patronage. St John Paul picked St Isidore because of his connection to education. There was a time when we kept thinking the internet was going to be good and educational.

Those were simpler times.

I’ve been slowly disconnecting from the internet, at least as far as social media. Twitter is gone. Instagram is gone. FB will go soon enough. I mean, the Blog is still here – been going since 1998 or so. But what else do I need?

Bishop Barron and others are really urging us to engage on the internet, to engage and “evangelize the culture”. Clare and Francis, along with Benedict would say otherwise. I wonder what St Dominic would say. Certainly, he called his friars to be connected in a way – that was the whole reason his friars went to University. But in those days even universities were an arm of the Church. Did Dominic want his friars to go live in Albigensian towns, learn their code words, blend in and hope for the best? Or was Dominic’s strategy more like the yelly-screamy people on the internet today, always trying to win an argument? I think all of these questions are answered with a strong no.

I’ve known a lot of choir directors (pretty much every last one since High School) that can’t handle silence. Every element of the liturgy must be covered with noise – singing or playing. Any movement of the clergy must be “played over” like some 1930s melodrama or soap opera. When the musicians can’t handle silence, the people never learn silence.

When there is no silence, there is no prayer. That’s the clue I want to share: so much of our life is filled with noise and what we need is silence. St Clare used her “television” one night out of her entire life of prayer to help her in prayer. We find it hard to go 2 mins in silence. But without silence, there is no prayer at all. How can we use for evangelism something that literally prevents the one thing needed for evangelism? We can’t: it’s impossible to use noise to evangelize. All we end up making is more noise.

How can we be a sign for the people if we look just like them, do nothing different, show no other part of the world? Should we not, instead, look like exiles from the culture around us, dig a hole in the wall, show the folks around us there is a way out?

St Dominic is said to have always spoken either to God or else about God. This is good advice for his children as well.

Just as an act of Examination, what is the percentage of your words online and off that could be said to be about God or to God?

Do you need more silence before you speak again?

Serve & Follow

JMJ

The Readings for the Feat of St Lawrence, Deacon & Martyr
19th Wednesday, Tempus per Annum (C2)

Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there also will my servant be.

John 12:26

THE DEACON St Lawrence was the patron saint of the Orthodox monastery where I tested my vocation as a monk. I don’t have one. But it was in conversation with one of the Oblates of that monastery that I learned something important. Sitting on the porch one evening, listening to me give voice to my complaint and struggle, the oblate was supportive. Only when there were guests around to care for did I feel like I was doing my “job” as a monastic. Apart from one or two moments during the year, there were only guests for two weeks during the summer. The rest of the time I felt kind of useless. “Brother,” said the Oblate. “You need to be a friar. The only problem is there are no friars in the Orthodox Church.”

By friar he meant someone who was living out a vocation that was both contemplative and active: present in the world, but in a contemplative way. Even before friars did this, holding in tension the cares of this world with the things of eternity, it was the Deacons of the Church that did this. St Lawrence, holding the wealth of the Roman Church in trust for the poor of Rome is a perfect example.

Lawrence was arrested by the Roman Authorities convinced that he had great wealth. And he agreed that the Church had this wealth and that he (Lawrence) had access to it. When it was demanded of him he gave it over freely: the poor of the Church. The treasure of the Church is the people. Very often even the people fail to recognize this.

It’s not enough to engage in good works – for we must do them sacramentally. Further, for some of us, it’s never enough just to contemplate the beauty of the Lord unless we’re doing so in the active service of others. Jesus says we must serve and follow. Lawerence did both as a deacon is called to do. Friars, as well, do both.

Serving without faith is not enough: for no one is saved by works. But yet, faith without works is dead. If you’re following Jesus you’re serving.

God did not create money in his image. No work of art will ever enter the Kingdom of God. No Church building will be found in heaven. There is no Temple in the New Jerusalem: for the Lord God and the Lamb are, themselves, the Temple (Revelation 21:22).

Man is the image of God. In the Body of Messiah, man is the Temple here. Lawrence knew that the riches of the Church are the poor. When you see man rejected in the world, when you see humanity destroyed by the sins of life in this world, your heart should break. When drugs destroy the brain and sex addles the passions, when anger distorts the family, when greed corrupts the heart of a worker, we should be broken to see the Dwelling Place of God so desecrated.

Yet, by the same token, the Church is not a social services agency. It is not the Church’s place to fix the world. In fact, if the world could be fixed it wouldn’t need the Church: there are many agencies who would do it much better if it could be done. But every political movement has realized, eventually, that the world is broken. A friar, a deacon, any Christian does not move through the world trying to fix it, but rather to heal the human icons of God who struggle through this sinful world, to teach them to bear up manfully the cross they have and to live in love with their neighbors. The world is fixed from the inside.

Be the Light

JMJ

The Readings for the Solemnity of Our Holy Father Dominic
19th Monday, Tempus per Annum (C2)

For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own likings, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander into myths.

II Timothy 4:3-4

These are the readings for the Solemnity of Our Holy Father Dominic as assigned by the Order of Preachers in their liturgy. There’s another set of optional readings for the Memorial of St Dominic in the Roman Missal. In most places today’s readings will be those of the 19th Monday in the C2 cycle.

ST PAUL’s teaching to St Timothy could have been written yesterday. Hardly a day goes by on Catholic Social Mediae when some Self-Proclaimed Teacher doesn’t say something to lure the masses to their doom. That teacher could be trying to marshal up some anger in a political ploy or swirl a vortex of hate around the Pope. He could be offering some Option to escape all this or be offering some liberal mainline pablum to absolve everyone of sins that are politically incorrect to call out. Or any one of these could be unmasked as a hypocrite driving their own ambitions rather than the salvation of souls. Yet St Paul’s words prove this problem is 20 centuries long. More, scripture will show us the Church has been dealing with “prophets” like this all the way back to the Sons of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram. The Church is always splitting into Camps and there’s aways someone willing to listen.

At the time of St Dominic it was the Church’s pride that was causing the split. Another thing that might sound very modern: wealthy cleargy living immoral lives were causing a scandal and driving people out of the Ark of Salvation into the arms of heretics. Think of how many people left the Church over the sexual abuse scandal or Cardinal McCarrick. Think of those scandalaized by politicians not living the faith or those who use the Church as a way to curry votes.

Dominic knew the answer was to double-down on the orthodox faith and the evangelical counsels of poverty, chastity, and obedience. He knew that actually living the faith in its fullness was the only way to draw people back to the Church. To make the faith attractive one needed to live it – thereby proving it was livable – and to live it with joy.

The secret is in the Gospel reading today. In John 8:12 Jesus says he is the light of the world. However today, in Matthew 5:14, he says his followers – we- are the light of the world. These are not contradictory sentences for, in our baptism, we are members of him. As he is light of light, we are, if you will, light of light of light. We are sons of the Father in the Son of God. Our function is to be light here, wherever here happens to be. As lay folks we can be light in our jobs, in our families, in the subway, in the bodega, in the bars, at the disco, even in internet chat rooms. We are called to be the light. Dominic knew his sons and daughters, in order to be the light, would need to live the Gospel fully.

What would it take to be light where you are? How can the Gospel be lived more fully in your life? I don’t know these answers – only you do. In my own life it’sbeen a gradual awakening to the promptings of the Spirit. When I wrote – nearly 20 years ago now – “What if everything I think I know about myself is wrong?” I didn’t know what the answer would look like. It’s possible you don’t know either.

But be light.

And you will see the way.

Keep Watch

JMJ

The Readings for the 19th Sunday, Tempus per Annum (C2)

That night [The Passover] was known beforehand to our ancestors, so that, with sure knowledge of the oaths in which they put their faith, they might have courage.

Wisdom 18:6

IT’S INTERESTING TO READ THIS passage from Wisdom together with the call to faith (in Hebrews) and Our Lord’s command to “be prepared, for at an hour you do not expect, the Son of Man will come.” It’s the contrast that makes it interesting: the followers of the Son of Man do not know when he will return. But we must act anyway. None of the folks listed in the “By Faith” passage of Hebrews knew. But they were called to act anyway. “All these died in faith. They did not receive what had been promised but saw it and greeted it from afar.” The Israelites, however, before the Passover, were told to pick an unblemished lamb from their flocks on the tenth of the month and, four days later, their redemption would be accomplished. “It is the Lord’s Passover. For I will pass through the land of Egypt that night, and I will strike all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and on all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgments: I am the Lord.” (Exodus 12:11b-12). The Israelites, says Solomon in the book of Wisdom, were thus given courage. They could put their faith in this unseen promise of God.

Why does Holy Mother Church call this to our mind today – these unseen things together with this one seen thing?

Perhaps, in her wisdom, she knows that we grow weary in our watch. The first lesson calls us to see that Ancient Israel only needed to wait four days. The second lesson reminds us of all our forebears who died without ever receiving the promise and yet they went gladly forward in faith. Yet we can – from our vantage point – see that their faith was not in vain: for the promises made to them have been fulfilled in the Messiah.

So we, too, might be strengthened in our watch by being thus reminded and so encouraged in our life – and death – even if we do not see the promises made to us yet come to fulfillment.

When I was in High School there was a promise made by some radio preacher guy that Jesus was coming back in April of 1980. I thought my foster mother was a bit wonky for believing this guy (for no one knows the day or the hour) but the closer we got to the date in April of that year the more insistent she got that he was right. I was surprised to find how many of my fellow students also knew of this preacher guy. As much as the Teenage Me couldn’t be bothered to show an adult that I actually cared about such things, I let her hug me before I left for school that morning. She was convinced we’d be seeing Jesus before I got home.

I had a Math Test at about 3PM that day.

And just in the middle of the test.

A trumpet blew.

My breath caught.

A trumpet was sounding from rom a car in the parking lot.

My friend, Linda, and I looked at each other across our papers and then the moment passed. She silently shook and we finished the test.

I’ve often tried to imagine what it would be like to live in that tension every day. What would matter to me and what would not matter at all? My Foster Mother still made breakfast and coffee that Tuesday. She sent me to school with lunch money. The clothes were cleaned and supper was ready that night just as expected.

We see all the other promises of God fulfilled save this one. How can we manage not to live as if this may happen at any moment? How can we let ourselves fall into sin mindful that at any moment we could die and be called to judgement? How dare we turn the eyes of our soul from our internal contemplation of the Father for even a moment, knowing that that may be the moment of Parousia, and we will not be ready?

St John Chrysostom included in his Eucharistic Prayer (called the Anaphora) thanksgiving for “the cross, the tomb, the resurrection on the third day, the ascension into heaven, the sitting at the right hand of the Father, and the second and glorious coming again.” In the Eucharist, all of time collapses together from both ends of eternity to here. There is only one eternal Sacrifice offered by the Son to the Father. At every Mass, we stand in that one offering at the end of time before the Father where the Messiah is all in all and the Kingdom is handed over to the Father. It happens at every Mass so how much more should we not be ready always?

Pay attention.

Be ready.

A trumpet blows.