Sunday, February 25, 2007

A Lenten Reflection

I just discovered this poem on Christ's passion. While you want to avoid some of the Gnostic influences, it is a thoughtful encounter with the suffering that Christ endured (the writer writes from Christ's perspective). There are many aspects of atonement that would later be severed from each other that are represented here. I recommend reading it slow. Allow it to be sort of a drama unfolding as it is that one is called to reflect on Christ's passion within the context of worship as one approaches the middle of the temple. Reflections are always appreciated here.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

What changes your worldview?

Last night in our Ash Wednesday service we showed two movie clips as a part of the Liturgy. They appear at two separate times and pertained to particular Scriptures of Lent. They fit the moment very well.

Scene One, Schindler’s List: This was the scene where a large group of Jewish people were outside shoveling snow when a Nazi guard pulled one man and shot him in the head. The blood stained the ground as it ran down from his head to the tip of his fingers.

Scene Two, Crash: In this scene the Persian shop owners walks up to Daniel, the Latino locksmith who he thinks has destroyed his shop. There is yelling back and forth as Daniel keeps point at his daughter for her to stay inside the house. Scared, the daughter runs out to her dad with the mom right behind. (spoiler alert). As she gets to her dad the gun goes off right in the daughters back. The father let’s a cry from the bottom of his heart. The mom breaks down. We come to find out that the daughter has not been shot. The parents are thankful. The Persian man is confused.

Did I mention that we watched these scenes without audio?!? Amazing! Powerful! I could hear the cry of the father when he thought his daughter was shot ring in my head from when I watched the movie the first time. I heard it so clear.

Why I am saying this?

I say this because I am curious to know what movies, books, songs, poems, etc, whatever, become those resources that help move us, that help us live faithfully. What helps change our worldview to the kind of worldview formed by the liturgy? What helps us live out our baptisms Eucharistically? These are the questions with which I am curious? These kinds of things do not have to be “Christian” in the manner that we have “Christian music” and “non-Christian music.” U2 for example is a good example of “non-Christian” music. Crash then, in this sense, becomes a Lenten reality for us. I have been considering the Iron and Wine On Your Wings song as particularly Lentful (did I make up that word?).

God, there is gold hidden deep in the ground
God, there's a hangman that wants to come around
How we rise when we're born like the ravens in the corn
on their wings, on our knees crawling careless from the sea

God, give us love in the time that we have

God, there are guns growing out of our bones
God, every road takes us farther from home
All these men that you made how we wither in the shade
of your trees, on your wings we are carried to the sea

God, give us love in the time that we have

So, help me out. Help me think through this.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

"Herein lies the novelty of the Gospel, which changes the world without making noise."

On the Revolution of Love

It "Changes the World Without Making Noise" VATICAN CITY, FEB. 18, 2007 ( Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI delivered today before reciting the midday Angelus with several thousand people gathered in St. Peter's Square.

"Dear Brothers and Sisters!

This Sunday's Gospel has one of the most typical, yet most difficult, teachings of Jesus: Love your enemies (Luke 6:27).

It is taken from the Gospel of Luke, but it is also found in Matthew's Gospel (5:44), in the context of the programmatic discourse that begins with the famous Beatitudes. Jesus delivered this address in Galilee, at the beginning of his public ministry: It was something of a "manifesto" presented to everyone, which Christ asked his disciples to accept, thus proposing to them in radical terms a model for their lives.

But what is the meaning of his teaching? Why does Jesus ask us to love our very enemies, that is, ask a love that exceeds human capacities? What is certain is that Christ's proposal is realistic, because it takes into account that in the world there is too much violence, too much injustice, and that this situation cannot be overcome without positing more love, more kindness. This "more" comes from God: It is his mercy that has become flesh in Jesus and that alone can redress the balance of the world from evil to good, beginning from that small and decisive "world" which is man's heart.

This page of the Gospel is rightly considered the "magna carta" of Christian nonviolence; it does not consist in surrendering to evil -- as claims a false interpretation of "turn the other cheek" (Luke 6:29) -- but in responding to evil with good. (Romans 12:17-21), and thus breaking the chain of injustice. It is thus understood that nonviolence, for Christians, is not mere tactical behavior but a person's way of being, the attitude of one who is convinced of God's love and power, who is not afraid to confront evil with the weapons of love and truth alone. Loving the enemy is the nucleus of the "Christian revolution," a revolution not based on strategies of economic, political or media power. The revolution of love, a love that does not base itself definitively in human resources, but in the gift of God, that is obtained only and unreservedly in his merciful goodness. Herein lies the novelty of the Gospel, which changes the world without making noise. Herein lies the heroism of the "little ones," who believe in the love of God and spread it even at the cost of life.

Dear brothers and sisters: Lent, which begins this Wednesday, with the rite of the distribution of ashes, is the favorable time in which all Christians are invited to convert ever more deeply to the love of Christ.

Let us ask the Virgin Mary, the docile disciple of the Redeemer, to help us to allow ourselves to be conquered without reservations by that love, to learn to love as he loved us, to be merciful as our heavenly Father is merciful (Luke 6:36)."

Benedict XVI

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

"They shall look upon Him whom they have pierced'

A worthy Lenten theme indeed!

I am thankful for Pope Benedict XVI’s Lent message. (Search February 13, 2007).

The Pope calls for the faithful to direct our gaze upon the cross where God's love was fully revealed. We are reminded to consider God's love as agape and Eros. Eros? That seems a bit odd. The Pope reminds us, however, that while God looks exclusively for our own good, He desires to possess our "yes;" and so Mary becomes important for us this season as we seek to follow her first yes with our own. God is Eros. "On the cross, it is God Himself who begs the love of His creature: He is thirsty for the love of everyone of us." And so, let us look upon the one whom we have pierced, drawn to the glory of the God in the face of Christ on the cross and let us confess by the Spirit our sins and receive mercy. Let us receive that Eucharistic grace that we might more fully manifest the reality of our Baptisms. Drawn out of ourselves in Baptism let us spread the love of God as we learn it in the Eucharist.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Your help, please

A pastor that I know is working to help his Church embrace some of the deeper implications of the Eucharist and he asked me to list what books I had read regarding this. I figured that I could provide a few good books but thought that maybe you all who read this blog might suggest some of your own as well. So bring on the books lists! Here are a few of my own suggestions to get us going.

Alexander Schmemann, For the Life of the World
William Cavanaugh, Torture and Eucharist (chapters 5 and 6)

T. F. Torrance, Theology in Reconciliation (chapter 3)
Lawrence Welch, Christology and Eucharist in the Early Thought of Cyril of Alexandria

p.s. Articles are welcome as well.