Thursday, April 9, 2020

HOLY THURSDAY


  

Words seem out of place this year! No public Eucharists, no foot washing, even on Holy Thursday!

Let's just study this picture and imagine ourselves being there, with Jesus and the apostles, seated around the table! 

Let's read the gospel story of today again, paying attentions to the details, letting it speak to us anew. Try to feel what the apostles might have been feeling. How do you react to the central characters? Judas? Jesus? Peter? Which behavior most challenges you? What was "new" about this story to you this year?

Did you find yourself disappointed that the text does not mention the bread and the wine? Why do you think the Church choses the "foot washing" text as the central theme on Holy Thursday? 

Gospel  of John 13:1-15

Before the feast of Passover, Jesus knew that his hour had come
to pass from this world to the Father.
He loved his own in the world and he loved them to the end.
The devil had already induced Judas, son of Simon the Iscariot, to hand him over.
So, during supper,
fully aware that the Father had put everything into his power
and that he had come from God and was returning to God,
he rose from supper and took off his outer garments.
He took a towel and tied it around his waist.
Then he poured water into a basin
and began to wash the disciples’ feet
and dry them with the towel around his waist.
He came to Simon Peter, who said to him,
“Master, are you going to wash my feet?”
Jesus answered and said to him,
“What I am doing, you do not understand now,
but you will understand later.”
Peter said to him, “You will never wash my feet.”
Jesus answered him,
“Unless I wash you, you will have no inheritance with me.”
Simon Peter said to him,
“Master, then not only my feet, but my hands and head as well.”
Jesus said to him,
“Whoever has bathed has no need except to have his feet washed,
for he is clean all over;
so you are clean, but not all.”
For he knew who would betray him;
for this reason, he said, “Not all of you are clean.”
So when he had washed their feet
and put his garments back on and reclined at table again,
he said to them, “Do you realize what I have done for you?
You call me ‘teacher’ and ‘master,’ and rightly so, for indeed I am.
If I, therefore, the master and teacher, have washed your feet,
you ought to wash one another’s feet.
I have given you a model to follow,
so that as I have done for you, you should also do.”


Wednesday, April 8, 2020

THE ART OF THRIVING AT HOME





Hey, folks, it looks like we are going to be "at home" for a quite while yet! We can fight it, we can merely endure it or we can really "get into it!" I am suggesting that we all really get into making our houses even more comfortable homes. It can be either a "family effort" or a "single effort," but let's make our time at home life-giving rather than life-draining. We can do it with just a bit of focused effort. 

   

1. Give the whole house a good cleaning. Make it a total family project. Divide up the tasks. Work as a team. Get rid of junk and trash. Put stuff away. Make your living spaces look neat and orderly. Make them smell good and enjoyable to be in.

2. Plan "sit down meals" (even if you live alone). Take turns cooking something really special for the family. Set the table. Work on the "presentation" aspects of the food like you are eating in a fine restaurant. Get out the napkins. Pour the wine. Let everybody sit down together. Have someone "bless the food" and ask everyone to add a prayer listing "those suffering from this pandemic." 
  
3. Turn off the TV and get out the board games. Play cards. Turn up the music. Read a book - or two! Have everybody read something or watch a serious movie together and then have members engage in a family discussion about them. Have family members make entries in a new "family diary" about what everybody is thinking to be read long after this is over. 

4. Use this time to exercise. You will feel much better if you do. Long walks by yourself are permissible. Personally, I have been on my treadmill daily since this pandemic started. I also have been very careful about what I eat. It's hard to be "locked down," so it is a good idea to do things that help you feel good physically. If you feel good physically, your mental state will be much better too. 


(Actual "selfie") 
See how much good it has done me already? It's miraculous!



5. Make your bedroom a haven for rest. Change the sheets on your bed. Break out the new sheets if you have them. Make up your bed every day. Turn it down neatly each night before bedtime. Dim the lights, put on some soft music and read something relaxing (maybe even something from a favorite prayer book). 

Google searches for “prayer” have surged worldwide in step with the increasing cases of COVID-19, according to a European researcher. (CNS)

6. With a projection of 250,000 possible deaths in our country, it may be time for the family to sit down and discuss "end of life issues" in case they are needed. With so many deaths, what if it happens in your family? What does each person want, and not want, if they end up in critical condition? It might be the most serious and useful discussion you have ever had as a family. It needs to be done in a sober, relaxed and prayerful setting. Putting it off because it is uncomfortable could be a huge mistake.  Don't put it off. Do it now - just in case! You might be glad you did! 






P.S.

Sunday, April 5, 2020

PALM SUNDAY REFLECTION




‘When the  great crowd that  had  come to the feast heard 
that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem, they took palm branches 
and went out to meet him, throwing their coats on the road.’ 

I am convinced that most people do not understand what Palm Sunday is about and I am not absolutely confident that I can explain it as well as it needs to be explained. Ill try anyway! 

To understand it, I think we need to go all the way back to the beginning. Remember, Herod was so paranoid about the baby Jesus being a “newborn king” that he had all the young boys in Bethlehem slaughtered – just in case. Jesus, Mary and Joseph escaped to Egypt for a few years.  

 Even when Jesus came out of obscurity to begin his ministry, we read at the beginning of Lent about Jesus being tempted by the devil in the desert as he discerned what direction his ministry should take – what God’s plan was for him. 

One of the temptations Jesus was offered by the devil was to take the political power road – to become a king. We know that, even though Jesus concluded that this was not God’s path for him, people were always trying to make him a king. Even some of his apostles thought that that option was always on the table. Remember the story where James and John tried an end run around the other twelve by asking for the two best jobs in this new kingdom they thought he was going to set up in the near future. 

We will read tonight that Judas was so disappointed with Jesus over this very issue that he tried to force Jesus hand to “get on with it,” only to see it backfire. When it didn’t work, he ends up committing suicide. 

All this “king talk” among the people, all the dreams about power inside his inner circle and a rising tide of paranoia among the Roman occupiers was about to explode when Jesus arrived in Jerusalem to celebrate Passover. 

When Jesus and his band arrived in Jerusalem, the streets were clogged with religious pilgrims from everywhere. The air was full of tension. Jesus’ own popularity had reached a fever pitch, the religious leaders’ jealousy had reached the boiling point and the government’s worry had become paranoid.  Everybody in authority, as well as Jesus, seemed to know that this trip smacked of a show down.  Jerusalem was indeed tense when Jesus arrived for the Passover - something big was about to happen.  

It was in this tense situation that Jesus came riding into the city, not quietly, but with total fanfare. Everybody noticed. This triumphant entry into Jerusalem was not some harmless little passion play. It was a deliberate move with dark possibilities.  Everybody knew that the very presence of Jesus in Jerusalem at Passover could set off a riot. 

‘When the  great crowd that  had  come to the feast heard 
that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem, they took palm branches 
and went out to meet him, throwing their coats on the road.’ 

Palm waving and the throwing of coats on the road were not just a nice gesture of welcome, spontaneously invented for this particular occasion. These gestures had major political overtones. In the past, when kings arrived to ascend their thrones, people threw coats on the road. Palm waving was a symbol of Jewish nationalism, synonymous with waving a rebel flag. Many in the crowds wanted a Jewish Messiah-King who would overthrow the hated Roman occupation and they thought Jesus could fit the bill. Even though Jesus had fought off several efforts of this kind, the crowds knew what kind of Messiah they wanted. They wanted a powerful revolutionary. 

In response to the people’s misguided reception of him as a political, David-like, Messiah, Jesus deliberately came into the city on the back of a jackass, a pack animal.  It was a powerful counter statement that simply went over the heads of the crowds. While they waved palms and chanted nationalistic slogans, by this action Jesus said, “No! I’m not the kind of king you imagine! My power is a spiritual power, not a political power!” 

This “temptation,” the temptation to become a powerful political leader, had been proposed by Satan at the beginning of his ministry.  The gospel tells us that Satan left him to wait for another occasion. It had been proposed to him, on various occasions, throughout his teaching days. Here it was again!   Satan, in various guises, never gave up, even at the end. Jesus, consistent in his refusal, remained faithful to his call as a humble, peaceful, spiritual messiah to the end. 


Throughout history, the church has sadly from time to time given into the temptation to choose political power as a means to its goals, always with disastrous results. Again, in our own time, not convinced of the real effectiveness of spiritual power, some Christian communities have fallen for the temptation to take the short cut to achieve its mission by courting political power.  What is their rational? It seems that they believe that if people won’tchooseto be good, they need to bemadeto be good! Palm Sunday has a lot to teach the church, even today!  My friends, our power is not a political power. It’s even more powerful than political power. It’s a spiritual power! Pope John Paul II had no armies, but he helped bring down communism just by his preaching and presence. That’s spiritual power!  Pope Francis has no real political power, except in a one-square mile of ground inside the walls of the Vatican, but he has tremendous spiritual power. That is the real source ofourpower as well – the power that comes from authentic Christian living. 

Saturday, April 4, 2020

WHO WOULD HAVE EVER THOUGHT?

  MASSES WITH NO PEOPLE ALL OVER THE WORLD 
Never in my lifetime could I ever have imagined it!

Maybe its absence will help us treasure it more when it returns!
 


A televised Mass, in an empty Cathedral, with Cardinal Collins of Toronto, Canada, presiding.

I spent four weeks with Cardinal Collins and most of his nearly 900 priests a couple of years ago. I led four of his annual priest convocations over two years. He even talked me into sharing what I gave his priests with his seminarians in a retreat at his St. Augustine Seminary in Toronto.  



Cardinal Collins, personally, gave me a tour of his Cathedral (first photo above) as it was being renovated.  Cardinal Collins is a very engaging, and well known,  preacher. When I met him, he was on the Vatican Finance Committee. 


Cardinal Thomas Christopher Collins


One of my favorite stories of his, one he told me over lunch one day when we were sharing stories about being marginalized as children, was the one when he said, citing Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, "Oh yes, I remember not being invited to share in the reindeer games!" 

He is very charming, well-read, personable and down-to-earth. When he asked me to come back for the second year, I jokingly told him I would come back if he would come to Saint Meinrad Seminary. I expected him to be unable to accept such an invitation.  However, I was shocked when he accepted my invitation to present a prayer day for the opening of the school year.  He was a hit with the seminarians.  

I also had the privilege of talking to him alone in my car for about three hours as I drove him to and from the Louisville airport to and from Saint Meinrad Archabbey.  He is very easy to talk to! I'll never forget all my experiences with him. If we had had the time that day, I would have turned south in Corydon and taken him to see Rhodelia, my hometown! I don't think a Cardinal has ever been to Rhodelia! Heck, I don't even know if a Canadian has ever been to Rhodelia for that matter! 

Friday, April 3, 2020

HOMEBOUND REFLECTIONS

             
   
   

I realize that most people do not have the advantage of living alone where silence and solitude are readily available. Because of that a little silence and solitude may become even more important. Therefore, people who live in families and in large groups must be very imaginative and creative in finding a few moments of quiet and solitude.


I would suggest that getting up early, earlier than anybody else,  for a quiet moment, with a cup of coffee, for some prayer time, might be part of the solution for some. Staying up later than anybody else, or even getting up in the middle of the night as I do sometime, might work for a few. 

It's a radical idea, but the family might agree to establish a "quiet zone," one  part of the house, for an hour or so each day where people can go to "get away from it all" for a few minutes. "Where there is a will, there is a way!"


Friends, remember that it is worth it to find a few moments somehow to "stay in touch" with God who is always "in touch" with us. 





_____________________________

TIMES LIKE THESE BRINGS OUT THE BEST IN SOME PEOPLE

ANOTHER HERO WILLINGLY OFFERS UP HER LIFE

Belgian woman, Suzanne Hoylaerts aged 90, dies of Covid 19 after refusing a respirator, telling her doctors "Save it for the youngest [who need it most], I've already had a beautiful life."



(for my Archdiocese of Louisville readers)
TELEVISED CHURCH SERVICES

FROM ARCHBISHOP KURTZ

I am very grateful to WAVE 3 News who has graciously agreed to air live our Holy Week liturgies from the Cathedral of the Assumption. This is a wonderful service to the Catholic community and to all people in the WAVE viewing area (please see list of counties in our Archdiocese below) who will benefit from viewing these beautiful liturgies. Below is the lineup of these offerings on all platforms:


Watch the following Cathedral of the Assumption Holy Week services on TV (Spectrum Channel 6, Wave 3.1), wave3.com, the free WAVE 3 News app on your cell phone, on Facebook and on ROKU, Amazon Fire and Apple TV:


Note: Archbishop Kurtz will preside at all liturgies except for the Wednesday Tenebrae Service.


4/5 at Noon: Palm Sunday Mass
4/7 at 7:00 p.m. Chrism Mass
4/8 at 7:00 p.m. Tenebrae Service (Cathedral pastor Fr. Michael Wimsatt Presiding)
4/9 at 7:00 p.m. Mass of the Lord’s Supper (Holy Thursday)
4/10 at 7:00 p.m. Liturgy of the Lord’s Passion (Good Friday)
4/11 at 8:30 p.m. Easter Vigil

WAVE TV Viewing Area:
Adair
Bullitt
Green
Hardin
Henry
Jefferson
Larue
Marion
Meade
Nelson
Oldham
Shelby
Spencer
Taylor
Trimble
Washington

Patti Vance also has been collecting information for your online Masses next week. A link to this information can be found on the www.archlou.org/COVID-19 at https://www.archlou.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/2020-Holy-Week_Live-Stream-3.pdf. If you have information for your parish, please send to Patti at pvance@archlou.org.