‘May the rhythm of the liturgy
be the rhythm of your life’
During this season the Church prolongs the Easter she has just celebrated in each new offering of the Eucharist.
“The Son thanks the Father for having allowed him to be so disposed of that there comes about, at one in the same time, the supreme revelation of the divine love and the salvation of humankind,” as Hans Urs von Balthasar once had it.
and joyous Easter
My Dear People,No one saw the Resurrection. The very moment was given to no eye. What was it like? Was there an opening, a blinking of the eyes? Was there a stirring, a lifting of the limbs? Was there an awkward, a tentative first step?
How indispensable silence and prayer
Pope Benedict XVI visited a group of contemplative Sisters in Rome last week on the feast of their 15th century Foundress, Saint Francisca Romana.
He told them that he and the Cardinals of the Curia had just completed their annual Lenten retreat. And he added that he had felt once again how indispensable silence and prayer are.
He told them how appropriate it was to have their convent located in the very heart of the city. It was a symbol of the need to return the spiritual dimension to the center of the city’s existence, to give the many activities of Roman women and men their full meaning.
He told them your community, together with other communities of contemplative life, is called to be a sort of spiritual lung of society, so that the performance, the activism of Rome, is not empty of spiritual breathing, with its reference to God and his plan of salvation.
He told them Rome needs women and men who are all for God and for their neighbor. Rome needs women and men who are able to recollect themselves in prayer and then give generous and discreet service to their neighbors. If Rome needs it, so too does Dodge City.
On Ash Wednesday, Jesus told us in St. Matthew’s Gospel how to pray in secret. These Sisters do that for the city of Rome. I hope there are many women and men who also do that for the Diocese of Dodge City.
A time for Thanksgiving
We have entered the Lenten season now, and I want to draw your attention to something we no longer do.
In the 1960s most theologians believed in the traditional Thanksgiving after Mass. They did so on the assumption that bread was still bread and wine was still wine until digestion was completed. The substance of Jesus was still there then until the form of bread and the form of wine was gone.
Today I suspect most theologians still believe in the traditional Thanksgiving after Mass. But they do not share the assumption of their earlier brothers. For them the reception of the Eucharist is a spiritual thing mediated by physical realities. The substantial Christ remains with the believer, therefore, long after the physical realities of bread and wine are gone.
But look at what happens after a normal Sunday Mass. The celebrant sits a very short time after communion. The final prayer follows, and the final blessing. He and the servers process out, and the people file out to greet him and one another. It is a festival of fraternity, and hand-shaking, and back-slapping, and coffee drinking, and non-stop talking.
But, whether you agree with the old theologians or the new theologians, what happened to the Divine Guest we have just received? Is he not still with us? Does not what we now do drown the Guest in a sea of distraction? Do we not prefer human conversation to the more difficult Divine Conversation?
The German theologian, Karl Rahner, once related a boyhood memory of a priest who sent two servers with lighted candles to follow a man who left the church right after Communion. It is a scene to remember and to think about.
How can we recover some of that? Perhaps through a longer silence after Communion, though it will be uncomfortable at first. Perhaps through a recommended time of Thanksgiving with the church doors closed. Perhaps through sending those who want to talk to a separate place, the cafeteria, for example.
Rahner’s image is something to remember and to think about.
With deep gratitude
I write this on the Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes. A Church in Pittsburg, KS took that name to itself many years ago. And that parish was the spiritual home in which I grew up.
St. Mary’s, as it is known locally, was where I learned to serve the 6:30 Mass riding my bike from our south side home. St. Mary’s was where the school Mass each day was a Requiem High Mass, complete with catafalque. St. Mary’s was filled by a larger-than-life pastor with ties to our Diocese, Monsignor Alex Stremel.
St. Mary’s was the place then peopled by good and holy priests, and by the devoted Sisters of St. Joseph.
St. Mary’s was the place where my vocation to the priesthood first opened its eyes in Sr. Justin’s fourth grade classroom. St. Mary’s was the place where that vocation was confirmed years later in Sr. Justina’s history classroom during my sophomore year in high school.
Father Bob Kocour, Father Mike Blackledge, Sister Cleophas, Sister Paula, Bob Fleming, Jim Schirk, Chuck Clugston, Herb Krumsick, A.J. Wachter: St. Mary’s was the place that helped to make all of these, and me too.
Pilgrims to Lourdes bathe in the holy waters. This pilgrimage in my mind leads me to bathe in these inspiring waters of memory. I bathe with deep gratitude.