March 2019

“I will get up and go to my Father and shall say to him:
Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you.”

Luke 15:8

When asked, Mark Twain named Jesus Christ as the greatest storyteller of all time, and when pressed, Twain suggested that the Prodigal Son was his best work. The story is full of the elements of good fiction: family drama, bad decisions, suspense, reconciliation and ultimately, a happy ending. As in any good story, we can relate to each character and find bits of ourselves mirrored in them.

More often than we want to admit we have been the prodigal younger son. We’ve been wasteful and reckless with material goods – we spend too much and recycle too little. While money and possessions are one thing, the ways in which we are wasteful and reckless with the affections of others are more serious. Things can be replaced, but heartache and pain are not so easily overcome and must be honestly dealt with.

Lent is a time for each of us to consider what relationships we take for granted, assuming that they will remain, and also, the hurts we have inflicted on others that require forgiveness.

Just as often as we’ve been the younger brother, we have been the self-righteous older one. We’ve been diligent, sure to do what has been asked. We’ve been faithful to the letter of the law, even if we resented it. We’ve lined up our virtues and accolades and have taken credit for our own successes and salvation. We’ve judged others by our rules and values. We’ve resented second chances and mercy given to others, particularly when we aren’t able to give the same to ourselves.

Lent asks us to shed our close-mindedness as well as the structures of virtue that keep us from loving others and seeing them as children of God and true brothers and sisters.

Many believe, Pope Francis among them, that this story should be called the Parable of the Merciful Father. For it is the mercy of the father that provides all the plot twists, reconciliation and driving action of the story. He runs out to each of his children and is, in turn, consoling and welcoming and affirming and reassuring. The father meets their needs as a loving parent and forms the family around mercy and forgiveness. In our best moments, we emulate the love and mercy of the Father by seeing others beyond their failings or accomplishments.

Lent is long for a reason. The six weeks of Lent give us a sustained amount of time to consider our relationships with God and others.

How are you the elder son, fixated on accomplishments and justice?

How are you the younger son, squandering both material goods and the affections of others?

How are you the merciful father?

Reposted with permission from Catholic Health Association USA.

Reflection for the third week of Lent

Sunday, March 24, 2019

in News

 “Repent, says the Lord; the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” Matthew 4:7

On a cold morning in November, Leigh Ann Tuohy and her husband, Sean, were driving when they spotted a young man walking alone along the side of the road in only shorts and a cotton T-shirt. As they drove past, Leigh Ann said two words to Sean that would change their lives forever. She told him to “turn around,” and he did. The two invited the young man into their warm vehicle and eventually their home and family. The young man was Michael Oher, who with the love and support of the Tuohy family, went on to become a first-round NFL draft pick and Superbowl champion with the Baltimore Ravens.

Turn around …  

two simple words that changed the course of several lives in one moment.

Turn around …

two simple words that call us to retrace our steps and see what we may not have seen before.

Turn around …

a call to change and conversion.

 

Lent’s call to repentance is a call to turn around. When we repent, much like running into our home for forgotten keys or turning around on the interstate due to mixed up directions, we seek something we’ve forgotten and reorient ourselves to get back on track.

The Greek work for repent is “metanoia.” It means “to think differently after,” and indicates a change of mind, heart or consciousness. Repentance requires the willingness and humility to recognize we have lost our way and to change. All of us have something for which we need to repent: a person we have wronged, a good we have neglected to do, a cruel or unkind word we have spoken. We have been less than lovely, less than faithful and less than gracious from time to time with others and with ourselves. And the call gently comes into the muddled space of discord, with a voice that tells us to simply turn around.

Step back into your colleagues’ office and clear up a misunderstanding. Sign up to volunteer. Recommit to your practice of prayer and meditation. Prioritize date night with your partner, family time with your children, weekly calls or visits to your aging parents. Set down old ways of being and doing that aren’t serving you, and simply turn around. Follow more faithfully the path of goodness and love, service and truth. Listen to the still, small voice in your heart and simply, without shame, turn around.

There is a promise in God’s call to conversion. Repent; turn around! For the reign of God is at hand. The reign of God is a time of fulfillment and flourishing, when there is no distinction between heaven and earth. Jesus promised us it is closer than we think; indeed, it is just around the corner. Our repentance and reconnection to God and others brings it about. For as theologian Walter Rauschenbusch reminds us, “The Kingdom of God is not a matter of getting individuals into heaven, but of transforming the life on earth into the harmony of heaven.”

 

What needs to be turned around in your life? What do you need to seek again?

The Birth of Rock ’n’ Roll

Thursday, March 21, 2019

The very first rock ’n’ roll concert was staged on March 21, 1952, in Cleveland, Ohio. It was called the Moondog Coronation Ball and featured guitarist Tiny Grimes and His Rocking Highlanders, saxophonist Paul Williams and His Hucklebuckers, Billy Ward and His Dominoes, singer Varetta Dillard, and Danny Cobb. The concert was the idea of [more…]

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A Shakespearean Mystery

Monday, March 18, 2019

For a week in March each year, the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust in Stratford-upon-Avon, England, celebrates the life of William Shakespeare. From March 18 to 24, fans of the bard are invited to visit the Shakespeare family home and view his many famous works. However, there are some who believe that William Shakespeare did not write
the [more…]

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Sunday, March 17, 2019

“From the shining cloud the Father’s voice is heard: This is my beloved Son, hear him.” Matthew 17:5
How many times have we, upon witnessing a colleague’s or friend’s response to a situation, thought quietly to ourselves of the myriad ways we would have responded differently, or played out what we would do in his or [more…]

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The Patterns of Life

Friday, March 15, 2019

The third Saturday in March has been designated Worldwide Quilting Day, a global celebration of quilters and their fabulous creations. Quilts began not as the intricately patterned blankets we often use today, but as padded clothing. The first evidence we have of humans wearing quilted clothing comes from ancient Egypt. Quilted clothes were uncovered at [more…]

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Lenten Reflection: First Sunday of Lent

Sunday, March 10, 2019

One does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes forth from the mouth of God.Matthew 4:4
On a hillside by the Sea of Galilee, Jesus taught his disciples the only prayer he would teach. It is deceptively simple and familiar enough that most Christians may not even notice the words as they [more…]

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The March of Women’s History

Saturday, March 9, 2019

The month of March is Women’s History Month, in recognition of women and their impact on culture and society all around the world. The movement to establish recognition of women’s history began in Sonoma, California, in the 1970s. A group of women formed the Education Task Force of the Sonoma County Commission on the Status [more…]

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Spirituality and You: Ash Wednesday

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Ash Wednesday begins the Christian celebration of Lent. Forty days of prayer, fasting and almsgiving to prepare believers for the celebration of Easter. A part of Lent is the call to quiet and reflection. A call to still ourselves and consider our faith lives. We cease searching and striving for the external markers of success [more…]

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Mardi Gras: Religious Roots to Raucous Parties

Monday, March 4, 2019

As March arrives, many look forward to the holidays of St. Patrick’s Day and Mardi Gras. Yet both of these holidays are more modern American inventions than age-old religious traditions.
St. Patrick’s Day, as a religious celebration, has a lengthy history. It dates back to the mid-17th century
and was initiated to honor Saint Patrick and his [more…]

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