Tag Archives: Church

Good Friday: Be the One

Regular readers may recall my review of Dr. Edward Siri’s book, “Walking with Mary”, which I read while spending the day over at the Dominican House of Studies.  One section of the book which particularly struck me was a story about Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta.  It’s not only related to Scripture, but I think appropriate for this Good Friday.

Mother Teresa had a prayer card with an image of Jesus in suffering on the front.  Below the image it bore a verse from one of the Psalms which we often hear during Lent, particularly on Good Friday or at Stations of the Cross.  Psalm 69 is one of those prophetic Psalms foretelling the “Suffering Servant”, as described more fully in the Book of Isaiah; verse 21 of the Psalm, says, “I looked for one that would comfort me, and I found no one.”

Underneath the image and the quote from the Psalms, Mother Teresa wrote, “Be the one.”

There is something disarmingly simple, but also profound about this juxtaposition.  The call from the Cross, as contained in the Psalm, is answered in the to-the-point response of Mother Teresa. Hers is not simply a pious reaction, but a command to herself.  I liked the combination so much, that I created a Lenten laptop wallpaper with both quotes on it, to remind myself on a regular basis during this season of fasting and penance what I ought to be doing more often all the year through.

Maybe you aren’t called to go out into the slums of a faraway place like Calcutta.  Yet there are people you know who could use some love, some attention, and some comfort from you.  Be the one to bring it to them.

Detail of "Christ Crucified" by Diego Velázquez (1632) The Prado, Madrid

Detail of “Christ Crucified” by Diego Velázquez (1632)
The Prado, Madrid

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Holy Thursday: Eating in Silence

Over on the Friends of Little Portion Hermitage (FLPH) site today we have another terrific guest post in aid of the hermitage, this time from Matthew Leonard, author, speaker, and Executive Director of the St. Paul Center for Biblical Studies, on the sacredness of silence.  I hope you’ll take the time to drop by and read his really thoughtful post, on how it’s not just enough to be quiet or place ourselves in quiet surroundings to pray: we also have to quiet ourselves down on the inside, as well.  If you’re enjoying these guest posts from Catholic writers over on FLPH, please be sure to share them, and also please prayerfully consider a donation to help us establish a permanent Franciscan hermitage. We’re happy and grateful for any donations!

Tonight many of us will be going to church to commemorate Holy Thursday, celebrating the institution of the Eucharist at the Last Supper.  For those who have never attended a Catholic Holy Thursday Mass, it is an evening full of symbolism, from ringing of bells to washing of feet, stripping bare of the altars to the procession with the Eucharist to the altar of repose, where it will remain until the Easter Vigil.  At my parish of St. Stephen’s, during the procession around the church the altar boy holding the censer is in the lead, but interestingly he walks BACKWARDS in front of the priest holding the ciborium containing the Blessed Sacrament, so that he is constantly censing the Eucharist.

One of the points Matt Leonard raises in his piece for FLPH is that “the sights and sounds we take in are food for the imagination.”  This is something the Church has always understood.  It’s why we have particular, traditional rituals occur on Holy Thursday which do not occur at other times of year.  It’s also why for centuries the Church commissioned beautiful art and beautiful buildings, to put us into a frame of  mind where we can focus more on heavenly things rather than earthly concerns.

However it’s also why when we take in the Food of God Himself, we do so quietly, rather than boisterously. When we receive Communion, we go back to our seats and remain in silence, rather than standing around chit-chatting like one would do at a normal meal.  We are sharing in a different kind of meal together, which though communal, simultaneously each of us is experiencing in a very personal, intimate way, differing from person to person in its impact.

At the conclusion of Holy Thursday Mass tonight, all will depart in silence. There will be no music, no bells, and indeed no Mass again until the Easter Vigil on Saturday evening, when the Church erupts in song and the ringing of bells to mark the Resurrection.  So for those of you able to make it to church this evening, consider how that exterior silence, as you receive Communion and as you leave to go home, is something you can keep with you over the Triduum, to allow God to speak to your quieted self in a way that perhaps is impossible for Him to do in your busy, everyday life.

Detail of "The Last Supper" by Pascal Dagnan-Bouveret (1896) Private Collection

Detail of “The Last Supper” by Pascal Dagnan-Bouveret (1896)
Private Collection

 

 

 

 

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Tuesday of Holy Week: Give Us Your Lattes, Please!

Today over at the Friends of Little Portion Hermitage (FLPH) site, we have our next guest post from author, scripture scholar, and well-known Catholic television and radio host Mike Aquilina, explaining how to go about developing a richer, more fulfilled prayer life: it’s full of terrific ideas that are worth taking to heart.

This is the third in a series of terrific posts, which we’ve asked Catholic writers to donate in aid of establishing a permanent Franciscan hermitage up in Maine.  If you missed the great pieces we had last week from Teresa Tomeo and Shane Kapler, you’ll find those as well as future guest posts archived under the “Guest Posts” tab on the FLPH site.  While you’re there, be sure to check out Brother Rex’ daily thoughts and reflections under the “Inspirations” tab, or ask him to remember your special intentions under the “Prayer Requests” form.  He has been thrilled with all the people asking him to pray on their behalf or on behalf of those whom they know need a constancy of prayer before God.  You can also follow all of this on Twitter and on Facebook.

We were looking at some of the FLPH site stats yesterday, and nearly 25,000 people have already visited the FLPH since we started this campaign and Brother Rex was on EWTN last week.  This is tremendous, and we’re really grateful for all of the visits and messages of support!  From a practical standpoint, if each one of those visitors had donated $2.00, we would have met our startup fundraising goal on this campaign! Unfortunately, we’re nowhere near that yet, and some recent news from Maine is a little troublesome.

So I’m now going to add a little note of urgency, and ask if you can, to please make a little act of self-sacrifice this Holy Week.

Brother Rex is currently living his life of prayer in a small rental property up in Portland.  It’s looking increasingly likely that sometime within the next couple of months, the place is going to be sold out from under him.  We’ve also just learnt that the parish rectory he was hoping to be able to stay at temporarily, to do some couch surfing if the sale of his current, temporary hermitage went through, is now no longer available.

Where do you come in?

Well if you’ve got a little house up in Maine to donate, or some lottery winnings just sitting around gathering dust at the bank waiting for a good project to donate to, we’d love to hear from you.  However barring that, during this season of self-sacrifice and seeking humility in imitation of Christ, I’m going to shift a bit to a more mendicant, Franciscan position.  Which quite frankly, is rather unusual for me given my Dominican tendencies, but needs must.

Could you consider giving up a latte this Holy Week, and sharing what you would have spent on that temporary caffeine high, with someone who will be praying for you and your intentions in gratitude for the rest of his life?

That’s not such a terrible Lenten give-up, it seems to me, particularly since we all have to fast on Good Friday anyway.  Of course, if you want to donate a latte a week, or a month, that would be swell too. On the FLPH site, you can click to donate by PayPal, or find out where to send a check.

We would be really grateful for your support, and please keep us in your prayers!

Detail of "Errand Boy Drinking Coffee" by Christian Krohg (1885) Göteborg Art Museum, Norway

Detail of “Errand Boy Drinking Coffee” by Christian Krohg (1885)
Göteborg Art Museum, Norway

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Latest Guest Post for FLPH from Author Shane Kapler

In the second of our ongoing series of guests posts in aid of Friends of Little Portion Hermitage, today author and speaker Shane Kapler has donated a terrific piece about daily prayer, “When You Can’t Make It To Daily Mass, Pray Like JMJ”, in which he reflects on the prayer life of a Jewish family like that of Jesus’ time.  We’re really grateful for his contribution, and hope that you’ll not only take the opportunity to read it, but also that after dropping by the FLPH site you might prayerfully consider a donation toward establishing a permanent hermitage for Brother Rex and his successors.  For those of you who missed Brother Rex’s appearance on EWTN this Monday, the video is now archived on EWTN’s YouTube Channel for you to watch anytime.

Getting back to Shane’s piece, it’s true that many of us find it impossible to get to daily Mass.  Catholics are not required to go to Mass every day, of course, but most of us do know that we’re missing something.  I can say that when I have had time in my life to make it there, it’s always been a great source of strength.

In his piece, Shane asks what the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph might have practiced in their prayer life at home.  He describes the development of the Jewish practice of pausing several times a day for prayer, and how the Early Church continued this tradition and expanded upon it.  In the life and rhythm of the Church today, this pausing takes place in the praying of the Divine Office, which the clergy, religious, and many lay people pray throughout the day.  For those of us who have less time available, using shorter, modified versions such as that provided in “Magnifcat” magazine are a possible alternative.

For those of you who are run so ragged that even a simplified version of the Divine Office is not possible, you have a wonderful solution that will take no more than a couple of minutes out of each day, and requires little more than a bit of memorization on your part: The Angelus.  Those of you who went to Catholic school, as I did, probably stopped and prayed it before you went to lunch.  Prayed three times a day, at 6am, noon, and 6pm, it is a short way to begin and end the work day, as well as for taking a moment in the middle of your day to reflect on God’s Incarnation as Man, and what that means for your salvation.  If you’re lucky, as we are here in Washington, many churches still ring the bells for the Angelus to remind you to make these prayers.

However you go about it, Shane’s call to take the time to pause during the day is really a great one.  We can’t all get to daily Mass, and God knows that.  What we can all do however, is make it a priority to pause to glorify God, thank Him, and remember that we are not made for this world, but for the next.  If we do so, not only can we build a better relationship with Him, but it can help put everything from road rage to jammed copiers to kids who won’t eat their lunch into better perspective.

"The Angelus" by Jean-François Millet Musée d'Orsay, Paris

“The Angelus” by Jean-François Millet
Musée d’Orsay, Paris

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On Hermits, Friends, and Marmots

I have to say, Brother Rex was terrific on EWTN last night! It was great to see and hear him, not only being thoughtful and serious, but also being very, very funny. I can’t remember the last time I laughed so much watching a Catholic TV show.  If you were not able to catch his appearance on “The Journey Home” with host Marcus Grodi, the episode will be archived to EWTN’s YouTube page sometime in the next few days.  You can also download the audio podcast for free through iTunes.

Thanks to Marcus Grodi, we’ve even come up with a mascot animal – the marmot – for this project as a result: but in order to understand that, you’ll have to watch the episode of course!

Today we’ve kicked off our guest blogging campaign on the Friends of Little Portion Hermitage site, with a great piece on developing a deeper theology for women by Catholic author, speaker, and talk show host Teresa Tomeo.  We’re truly grateful that she’s sharing her time and talent with us, and with all of you, and thank her for this contribution. Teresa’s is the first in a series of posts we’ll be featuring on the site, every Tuesday and Thursday for the next several weeks, to help draw attention to the work we’re trying to do to get this hermitage established.  These posts will be in addition to Brother Rex’s own brief reflections which he posts on the site during the day.

I also want to thank both my dear friend Catholic new media “diva” Lisa Hendey and writer and commentator Mark Shea for the wonderful pieces about FLPH which they each posted to Patheos yesterday.  You can read Lisa’s post here, and Mark’s post here.  Two more hugely talented, gracious people in the Catholic media community, lending a hand in this effort: we’re really blessed!

I hope you’ll continue to keep the FLPH effort to establish a permanent hermitage in your prayers, gentle reader, since above all that is the most important thing we can do.  And again, if you feel inclined to donate or know someone who may be interested in doing so, please pass the link to FLPH along to them.  It’s not often these days that one gets to help establish an actual hermitage, so this is really a unique opportunity to help someone live out his vocation in a life of prayer on behalf of all of us.

Thanks very much for your support!

The Marmot

The Marmot

 

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