on love, real life, and the triduum

on love, real life, and the triduum
Behold the Pierced One, by Fr Lawrence Lew, O.P.
Behold the Pierced One, by Fr Lawrence Lew, O.P.

Today is Maundy Thursday, the beginning of the Triduum, the holiest time of the year. For these three days, we walk with Jesus as  he celebrates the Passover with his closest friends, washes their feet, breaks bread and drinks wine with them, goes to the olive farm to pray so hard that he sweats blood, gets betrayed for cash, gets arrested, is denied by his best friend, goes from trial to trial, gets handed off between Temple authorities and Roman authorities and yet different Roman authorities, is mocked by the mob, gets flogged, carries the heavy crossbeam to Golgotha, is crucified, dies, and is quickly wrapped and buried before the sun sets and the holy Passover Sabbath begins.

We know that Jesus does all of this out of love.  God is born into this world as a helpless infant–like all the rest of us–because God loves us. God loves us so much that God gives up God’s godness, to live and breathe and hurt and smile and run and shout and step in donkey shit and kiss babies and love his momma and spend time with his friends. And die. What kind of love is that?!

Continue reading “on love, real life, and the triduum”


the lord is my barista

Good-Barista-ImageJust for @BlaineStewart (and with apologies to King David and to King James):

The Lord is my barista; I shall not want.

He maketh me to wake on dark mornings: he leadeth me beside the percolator.

He restoreth my productivity: he leadeth me in the paths of alertness for coffee’s sake.

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the danger of naps, I will fear no slumber: for thou art with me; thy espresso and thy pastries they comfort me.

Thou preparest a latte before me in the presence of mine auto: thou annointest my lips with steamed milk; my mug runneth over.

Surely caffeine and sugar shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the mermaid for ever.

dear barista

dear barista

We’ve seen each other at the Starbucks a lot, so you’ve seen me on unwashed-messy-hair Saturday mornings and on business-ultra-casual workdays and on Sunday mornings when I’m in my formal habit. So you asked me yesterday about my status in the church, and I told you I’m something like a nun, and then you asked me a really important question.

If a person kills themself, and it is totally and completely by accident, like, they didn’t mean to do it, are they still forgiven?

Yes, absolutely, I said. Even if it was intentional suicide, they are forgiven.

Oh thank you. That helps a lot.

And then I asked if this  had happened to someone you know, and you said that a friend had been careless when working with a weapon. I told you I was sorry for your loss – and I am – and that I will keep you and your friend in my prayers.  You thanked me for that, and I pulled away from the drive-through with my skinny mocha and my (definitely unskinny) lemon cake, and left you behind.

The thing is, I haven’t been able to leave you behind. I’ve been thinking about you for a day and a half now, and I wish I had stopped to offer you something a little more than a promise of prayer. I have prayed, and I continue to pray, but I feel like I should maybe have done something a little more for you. Of course, you were working the drive-thru. At Starbucks. Just outside the military base. At 7:30am. You probably didn’t have the time for me to come in and talk with you and see how you’re really doing.

I picked up a coffee again this morning, but didn’t see you. I’ll try again tomorrow. Because I’m concerned for you, and I want to make sure you’re okay.  Because, as I told someone recently, I love and I pray – that’s what I do. That’s the job of a Sister or Brother: to love and to pray.

I want you to know that you are loved and you are being held in prayer. I want you to know that God grieves for your pain and grief. I want you to know that, regardless of what their life was like here, your friend is in a place of great joy and amazing wonder. I want you to know that they are surrounded by the Great Light that heals and makes whole and gives life. I want you to know that they are cherished completely, loved infinitely, and held to the bosom of Jesus like a precious jewel.

I want you to know as well that you are cherished completely, loved infinitely, and regarded as a precious jewel. And if you need someone to journey with you for a while, to listen and support and to love and to pray, I am willing to be that person for you. You may already have someone like this, but your question made me wonder. I heard the yearning in your voice, the deep desire to know that all is well, that all will be well. Because it will – that has been promised to us.

Now that we have passed the solstice, called Yule, the light of the sun creeps back into our days again, a little bit at a time. And the Light, the Word became flesh who brings life to all people, is with us. We will celebrate that becoming-flesh tomorrow night and Friday, with parties and big meals and gifts for each other. We will celebrate the Light, the Word, the Life. As much as you may miss your friend, they also are celebrating the Light with the great feast that never ends. And one day, dear one, you and I will both join in that amazing celebration. Because you are a precious jewel, reflecting the image and likeness of the God who is Love.

Love and prayers,
sister hedwyg

St. Catherine of Siena
St. Catherine of Siena

My longing for humankind was infinite, but the actual deed of bearing pain and torment was finite and could never show all the love I had. This is why I wanted you to see my inmost heart, so that you would see that I loved you more than finite suffering could show.

When we have spent so many hours on the passion (not that we shouldn’t); when we have spent so many hours on the cross (never enough); when we have said the stations and Alphonsus’ amazing meditations – why did we never get that the suffering on the cross was not the biggest deal, no matter how much it was? That the love could not be contained in even the concept of redemption?

— St. Catherine of Siena, in Dialogues

good friday

good friday

A woman walks, her head hunched,
her coat clutched tight,
on this warm April day.
Her shoes have holes; her coat is tattered;
chapped lips hide her toothless gums;
her words malformed,
she mutters, mutters, mutters.

This April day, so warm, so bright
the Christians meet inside gray stone
hearing the story of a homeless Jewish guy–
always white, always clean,
no matter what he does, no matter whom he touches–
arrested, killed, for saying too much;
he preaches, preaches, preaches.

Sunlight filters through the windows,
throwing rainbow colors onto stones,
thick gray stones dividing pretty Anglo pristine corpus
from muttering toothless homeless woman.

Forgive them, Lord;
they know not what they do.
Forgive. Forgive. Forgive.

jesus, the kyrios

jesus, the kyrios

I’ve been catching up on the reading for my training in Catechesis of the Good Shepherd.  The Catechesis is rich in theology, and it is a great privilege to study this process that gives the greatest truths to even our youngest children.  In today’s reading, I came across something that surprised and enlightened (and delighted) me.

The priest at my home parish teaches that the first creedal statement of the earliest Christians is this:

Jesus is Lord.

This makes sense. It is nothing new to Christians.  Yes, Jesus is Lord.  Duh. Continue reading “jesus, the kyrios”

love or loathe (year c, fourth sunday after the epiphany)

love or loathe (year c, fourth sunday after the epiphany)

I ended up not writing a lectionary post last week, based on the readings appointed for yesterday.  I fully intended to.  I read through the lessons a number of times.  But I kept getting stuck at the same place: I loathe the passage from 1 Corinthians about love.  I’ve come to know that when something really pushes my buttons, I need to look more closely to puzzle out why.

Love is patient;
love is kind;
love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude.
It does not insist on its own way;
it is not irritable or resentful;
it does not rejoice in wrongdoing,
but rejoices in the truth.
It bears all things, believes all things,
hopes all things, endures all things.
Love never ends.

This reading is often chosen for weddings, which, in the twenty-first century western world, are a recognition and blessing of a committed love relationship.  Even when I was a fresh-faced twenty-year-old, long before I fell into cynicism, I knew this reading was not a good one for weddings.  Why?  Continue reading “love or loathe (year c, fourth sunday after the epiphany)”