Wednesday, April 16, 2014

#SmallMerciesMiércoles: I'm grateful for... our Catholic liturgies


I've had a busy, non-stop kind of day, which means I'm writing this #SmallMerciesMiércoles post in the evening--as I wait for dinner. I'm not sure what my daughter Michelle is cooking for us tonight, but I can tell you that the smells making their way to my office are pretty spectacular... but I digress!

At our parish tonight we celebrated and prayed together a modified Tenebrae service, also known as "a service of shadows."  To read more about this monastic tradition go here.

I was very moved by this response, which we chanted throughout the readings, psalms, and prayers:


This is the holiest of weeks of the year, with liturgies that are rich in meaning and abounding in beauty, and tonight's service was no exception. It was lovely, reflective, and challenging, a perfect entrance to the Triduum we begin tomorrow. To read more on the Triduum go here.

As I reflect on the richness of our Catholic faith and traditions, what I'm grateful for today becomes quite obvious. 

I'm grateful for... our Catholic liturgies, and how they connect me across time, history, and space with the whole community of believers!

This will be my last blog post until Easter week, so I'll leave you with two thoughts. First, from my dear friend Father Thomas Boyer, a brilliant homilist, now retired:
"The Passion of Christ is not about how Christ suffered, what happened to him, and how awful we might think it was. The Passion of Christ is about his response, not his persecution...  
Watch and learn from the master. Despite his fear and his agony, he is focused on God and on others. He meets women who are weeping for him, and he tells them to weep for themselves. He hangs there with a criminal, and he comforts him with a promise of Paradise. No matter what happens in this Passion, it is never about him. He remains attentive and focused on God and the needs of others…   This is what we can learn from the Passion; not how Christ died, but what he still teaches us through his death about hope, about sacrifice, and about love for others."
And finally, something I wrote last year, published on Good Friday in the New York Times section “Room for Debate.”  The question was,  “What is the purpose of Lent.”  Here's my response:
Ten years after my friend Pat and I walked 350 miles of the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage, we laugh about the vigorous women we were then. Pat is battling life-threatening brain cancer, and I’m learning to function with a diminishing chronic autoimmune condition.
It would be too simple to say our physical circumstances are a metaphor for the struggles and challenges of the Camino. In so many ways, the Camino is a metaphor for our whole lives: I can’t anticipate what struggles today will bring, but anything is doable one step at a time. Every uphill has a downhill. Hardship becomes manageable with a friend. Every single thing that I carry weighs me down, so I must choose wisely. 
In our culture, pain, suffering, worries, difficulties and grieving are all things to conquer — and to anesthetize as quickly as possible. Each of us is an addict looking for a quick fix. Drugs. Food. Exercise. Sex. Shopping. Disposable relationships. Whatever it takes to not feel bad, sad, hurt. 
Thus the question for me is not whether there’s a point to giving things up during Lent, but whether I should ever stop fasting from all that numbs, dulls and deadens me to life, all of life, as it is today — the good and the bad. Fasting makes me willing to try. 
For Christians, Good Friday stands alone in holiness and singularity. The day defines who and what we believe — and what makes us different. Christianity scandalously proposes a God who becomes human out of love for humanity. The scandal deepens when this God-made-man willingly accepts suffering and death out of complete trust. 
The Passion of Christ is not ultimately about how Christ suffered; it’s not a documentary on the History Channel. The Passion is about Jesus’ response. 
In the midst of intense pain, in spite of undeserved persecution and profound discrimination, Jesus keeps his eyes on God, commending his heart and entire being to the one he trusted completely and without reservation. Each Lent, I fast to remember.
Go here if you'd like to read all of the other entries.

wood carving by a Costa Rican artisan, on our home's entryway

God of mercy, make these holy days
a time of hope and promise for your people!