Fr. Vin – As I See It

“Doubting” Thomas

Some of us are old enough to remember when Japan made only cheap trinkets and laughable cars, while Studebakers and Pontiacs and Chryslers ruled the roads.  (My first car was a ’65 Ford Mustang.)   Now you may well drive a Toyota or a Honda (just as I drive a Mazda) because Japanese-designed cars now have a reputation for quality and long life.  If there’s one man most responsible for that change, most knowledgeable people would cite W. Edwards Deming.  You may never have heard of him, but he’s not only a key player in the turnaround to quality of many industries, but a man after today’s saint’s heart.  His most famous quip can be found on posters in industries from (nowadays) Ford to Google: Read more →

The Paschal Mystery

We who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death.
We were indeed buried with him through baptism into death so that,
just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father,
we too might live in newness of life.

[Paul to the Romans, 6:3-4]

The Paschal Mystery is God’s way of doing things: new-life-only-through-dying. Christ’s dying and rising are a mirror to what God wants to do in all of us, all the time – not only at our physical deaths.  But few except the saints let God love them into the fuller joy and humanity that’s beyond “adulthood” as our culture imagines it. Read more →

The Lenten Gospels – Palm Sunday 2017

I’ve been writing these past weeks of Lent about the Gospel passages that the church selects for us to hear and to learn from.  Each year on this Palm Sunday we get a double Gospel: One at the start of Mass (before the blessing and procession with palms), and at the usual time the story of Jesus’ Last Supper, arrest, and crucifixion.  

Together the Gospels tell the story of Holy Week – and they invite us to see it as our story as well.   At the start of Mass we hold palm branches – for Jesus’ culture, the traditional way of welcoming a hero.  There’s a part of us that does that.

But later in the Mass, we hear the crowds yelling “Crucify him”; and there’s a part of us that does that, too.  Our job during Holy Week is to locate within ourselves those two parts of us, and to learn from each.

Notice I don’t say, “to eliminate the second part.” I don’t say that first, because it’s impossible and damaging, and second because that part of us is there for God’s purposes – it has something to teach us.

There’s a strange and wonderful parable in Mark’s Gospel that makes this clear.  In it Jesus tells the story of a man who sows his field, but at night an enemy sows weeds there.  As they sprout together the workers want to pull the weeds out; but the farmer, wiser than they, says not to: it might damage the good crops.  He tells them to wait until the harvest to do the separating…

When we attack and try to eliminate the part of ourselves that would like to be rid of Christ (like the crowds before Pilate in the Gospel), we run a great risk of damaging ourselves.  I see this regularly in confession, when truly good people torment themselves about things that might not even be sins, but are failures to live up to their own expectations for themselves.  And – beyond the pain – the tragedy is that such people rarely learn – about themselves, or about Christ and His work within them.  “Eliminating the sin” is often  like cutting dandelions in the lawn with a lawnmower: the heads disappear, but the roots remain; and the effort only makes things worse.

The hard work of becoming a mature disciple means, first of all, self-knowledge: We must see clearly before we can act wisely.  Today’s two Gospels invite us to just this seeing: What emotions, habits, and impulses within us want to say to Christ, “Welcome!”?  And which wish to say, “Later!”?  During this Holy Week, take some quiet time for self-observation.  Come to confession, if you think that would help you to sort yourself out.  And certainly, join in worship on Holy Thursday and Good Friday as well as, of course, on Easter.  Until next week, Peace

Don’t miss our Lenten Retreat!  Every Monday evening, 7:30 to 8:30pm, March 6 through April 10!

And don’t neglect Matthew Kelly’s daily Lenten meditation on Resisting Happiness. Sign up for a daily e-mail link at bestlentever.com!

The Lenten Gospels – Fifth Sunday

First, thirst and water.  Next, blindness and seeing.  Today, death and new life.  The church reads these major Gospels for the Elect each year, and every third year (as this year) we all get to hear them.  Today’s story: The raising of Lazarus from the dead.  We’re meant to learn two things from this Gospel. Read more →

“I was blind, but now I see”

That’s probably familiar from the hymn Amazing Grace.  That hymn is the autobiography of a seaman, John Newton, who worked in the British slave trade.  During a frightful storm at sea in 1748 he prayed for mercy, and his conversion was begun.  He left the sea, studied for the ministry, and was eventually ordained as an Anglican priest.  (If you look at the tiny print at the bottom of the hymn in our hymnal, p. xxx, you can see his name as the author.)  But while the hymn and story may be his, he got the line from today’s Gospel. Read more →

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