22 August 2017

Hail Holy Queen

Today's readings:

And Gedeon seeing that it was the angel of the Lord, said: Alas, my Lord God: for I have seen the angel of the Lord face to face. And the Lord said to him: Peace be with thee: fear not, thou shalt not die. And Gedeon built there an altar to the Lord, and called it the Lord’s peace, until this present day.
Judges 6:22-24

In the Extraordinary Form, today's feast is that of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. In the Ordinary Form it's the Queenship of Mary. Either way it's because we have seen the Lord face to face and we shall not die, all generations shall call her blessed.

In Genesis, Mary is the offspring of Eve that shall bruise the serpent's head. She is none other than the house of God and the gate of heaven.
In Exodus Mary is the earth on which the Heavenly Manna falls. Mary is Sinai, from which is cut the tablets of the law by God's own hands.
In Leviticus, Mary is the Tabernacle and the Mercy Seat.
In Numbers, Mary is the New Generation, raised up to replace those who rebelled against God.
In Deuteronomy, Mary is the choice for Life.
In all the Torah, Mary is Faithful Israel, following God's laws into the promised inheritance, all Generations shall call her blessed.

In Joshua, Mary is Rahab, who saves the faithful.
In Judges, Mary is Deborah, who sings of the victory of Israel and his God over their enemies.
In Ruth, named for Mary's Ancestress, Mary is the blessing of prosperity on Bethlehem Ephrathah.
In First Samuel, Mary is Hannah, praying for a delivering son.
In Second Samuel, Mary is the House of God which David wanted to build... but God said, not you - but your decendant.
In 1st Kings, Mary is the Temple of Solomon, the wonder of all the world, the glory of God's worship.
In 2nd Kings, Mary is the Shunammite Woman who was given a son, who lost a son, and had him restored.
In 1 Chronicles, Mary is the Ark of the Lord, whom no man will touch, lost by Israel and restored in glory.
In 2 Chronicles, Mary is the Wisdom for which Solomon prayed.
In Ezra, Mary is the Restored Worship of Israel.
In Nehemiah, Mary is the Restored Law of Israel.
In Tobit, Mary is the restored city of Jerusalem, where "Generation after generation will offer worship in you."
Mary is Judith, beheading Holfernes, the old serpent.
And Mary is Esther, winning life for her people.
In 1 Maccabees, Mary is the inspiration, courage, and arms to resist idolatry.
In 2 Maccabees, Mary is the Mother of Martyrs who leads the faithful to their crowns.
In all the history of Israel, Mary is the lamp from which the Light will shine forth, all generations shall call her blessed.

In Job Mary is the wisdom of God's plan from all ages.
In the Psalms, Mary is the Queen standing at God's right hand.
In Proverbs, Mary is the righteous woman.
In Ecclesiastes, Mary is the Wisdom that illumines the face, that transforms the countenance.
In the Song of Songs, Mary is Dark and Comely.
In Wisdom, Mary is the prosperity of Israel in God's providence.
In Sirach, Mary is the Godfearing of Little Understanding that is far better than the "smart" who violate God's law.
In all the books of wisdom and poetry, Mary is the music of the Song of God, the haunting melody of the Logos, all generations shall call her blessed.

In Isaiah, Mary is the Virgin with Child.
In Jeremiah, Mary is the call to Return.
In Lamentations, the grief of Mary is laid bare, but she is also the city abandoned by so many who refuse to honor her.
In Baruch, Mary is Jerusalem, rising up and looking to the East to see her Children.
In Ezekiel, Mary is the Wind of God that brings the resurrection to Israel through the birth of Son.
In Daniel, Mary is the Angel, sent to close the mouths of the temptations that haunt us like lions.
In Hosea, Mary is the Repudiation of faithless Israel in her faithfulness, she walks straight in the paths of the Lord while the sinners stumble in them.
In Joel, Mary is the house of the Lord from which will come a spring that will refresh Israel and all the world.
In Amos, Mary is the Restored house of Israel, rebuilt as in the days of old.
In Obadiah, Mary is the Fire of Jacob consuming Israel's enemies.
In Jonah, Mary is the prayer of the prophet, giving voice to the whole world, begging for God's redemption.
In Micah, Mary is the Daughter of Zion crushing the pagans.
In Nahum, Mary is the footsteps on the Mountain birthing the reign of God.
In Habakkuk, Mary is our rejoicing in the Lord, even though all else has failed.
In Zephaniah, Mary is Jerusalem, the refuge of the Strange People.
In Haggai, Mary is the House of the Lord filled with the treasures of all the nations.
In Zechariah, Mary is the Lampstand holding aloft the light of God.
In Malachi, Mary is the Offering of Judah that pleases the Lord.
In all of the Prophets, Mary is the Scroll on which is written God's word, and all Generations will call her blessed.

Through her we have seen the Face of God birthed into the world.
All generations will call her blessed
We have seen God and yet we shall not die.
All generations will call her blessed
We are her children, made brothers of her Son,
All generations will call her blessed
And we are her servants in Love.

As the Earth offered a cave to be the birthplace of God, we have offered the most pure Virgin to be his mother.
All generations will call her blessed.

19 August 2017

Thrown to the Dogs


Today's Readings:

Non est bonum sumere panem filiorum, et mittere canibus.
It's not good to take the children's bread and throw it to the dogs.
Matthew 15:26b

I think everyone in the world today will be preaching something about what seems to be Jesus' racism here.

It's too easy to project our modern political hangups on this text. It's also heretical.

So stop.

A better question to ask (than to accuse the God-Man of Racism, even pretended racism to make a point) is why did Matthew make her a Canaanite? There are no Canaanites in the New Testament. They are dead and gone by thousands of years.

Why did Matthew take Mark's story about a Syrophoenician woman and make her a Canaanite?

It's not racism - remember, there are no Canaanites. I could be making a joke about a Pict right now and no one would care.

Why did Matthew do it?

Cuz it's funny.

Because in both Greek and Latin, Canaanite is a punch line to the reference about dogs: Canine, get it? Ha ha. This is such brilliant word play that it is inspired. Jesus made a Dad joke.

But we would rather accuse Jesus of racism. We - even the Biblically illiterate among us - would rather here become quite literal and say, look: that's not God.

God's got a better imagination and better writers than you.

We learn, I think, more about ourselves from this text than we do about Jesus. I agree with the Church Fathers that Jesus said no so as to make the woman say, in front of the disciples, I don't care about your no, do it. Using women (and other members of the underclass) to teach the disciples a humiliating lesson was very much in keeping with Jesus' style then and now.

Matthew's Jewish listeners would have been slightly scandalized by Jesus talking to a Gentile. But Matthew wanted to make a point here so he didn't just make her a Gentile, he made her a hated and feared bogey-Gentile from the far distant past: a Super Shikse. Are you afraid of Genghis Khan?

But when we cringe here, we do so because Jesus is hurting our sensibilities the same way he hurt Peter, James, and John's.  

And we just gotta grow up. (I'm speaking to myself here, mostly, because I am weak.)

For years I heard that I shouldn't go to Church because of something called homophobia. But my very being cried out to go to Church. When I finally humbled myself and went, what I found was love. For years I was told I was being disrespected so I didn't go. But when I humbled myself and went, what I found was love.

There are no Canaanites in the New Testament. There are no outcasts in Church. But there are humans in there. God too.

But someone might not like you if you show up. The Apostles standing behind Jesus might say "ew..."

So what? Until I walked in I hated and feared most of the people in there. Right now most people on the outside are filled with bigoted stereotypes of the people inside. So someone inside mightn't like you? Tough luck for them. I don't care about your no. Do it.

God is calling you. That voice you hear that says "I should go to Mass. I should go to confession. I should finally go to the Catholic Church. I need to get up earlier on Sundays." All that is God speaking to you. And you're going to let some human petty thinking keep you out? I don't care about your no. Do it.

I don't care about your modern political hangups. There are a lot of ways to inflict secular punishments on those we hate, on those who violate our social order, on those we deplore. There is only one way to save them. We gotta love everyone. I don't care about your no. Do it.

There's only one way out of this mess. And it has nothing to do with judgement, hate, bigotry, or revenge of any sort. Love.

Jesus is that love.

Jesus.

I don't care about your no.

09 August 2017

We totally got this...


My Mom was SOOOOO mad when this came in the mail! Number 68 (Aug/Sep 1982) of the Wittenburg Door. It showed what you see up there. And the back page said, "All this and hemorrhoids too." Or words to that effect. Well, the woman who worked at the Post Office in 12790 was shocked and horrified that a teenager would be getting such stuff in the mail. She called my Mom inside. Mom was beyond livid when she got home... and I said, "well, it's a Christian Humor Magazine."

I'm bringing this up now in light of our current re-escalated Cold War or perhaps better, Korean Missile Crisis to say to all my social media friends for whom this is new territory, Chill the Frog Out.

Every GenXer out there, slack and shiftless though they may seem, has survived a frogging cold war. We've lived through a stupid president with an insane military and an angry, prideful populace poking sticks at triggerhappy enemies. We don't talk about it a lot because no one likes to talk about the war they survived - it's dark and cold and no one listens anyway. All we've got now is a stupid President who doesn't know how to act his age (near death...) and a Trigger Happy doofus that looks mostly like a Macy's Parade Balloon.

Who would've thunk we could be in the middle of another one again? It's actually not so bad. But, I got some advice for you. Treat this as coming from your crazy Uncle Festus, who looks like this:


But can be quite smart sometimes.

Rule 1: Let them go. From here on out everything that you do or don't do will be turned into both pro-American and Anti-American propaganda. If you go out into the streets one side will say "See the people don't support their govt" and the other side will say, "See we are free here, you can't even spell freedom. Sad." If you don't go out into the streets, one side will say "See they support me." And the other side will say, "See you've kowtowed them into obedience like a dictator."  Let them go. Make your moral choices based on whatever lights you may have and try not to pay them too much attention.

Rule 2: It's going to be scary sometimes. Poking sticks and sabre rattling is hella hard work. Also, it's basic terrorism 101. Scare your people and they will do what you want them to do. Let your enemy scare your people and tell them the only way to save them is do what you want them to do. They will try really hard to scare us. Get ready because it's going to be scary sometimes. Scarier than a holographic Jackson Five Reunion tour or a Creeping Russian Theocracy. That brings up

Rule 3: Don't let them scare you. Seriously. When they say "We're going to bomb San Francisco." Come to SF and start a Banking Rush. It works. All the Alex P. Keatons moved here in the 80s and took over. And that was just the beginning. Go get a job, raise kids, grow peanuts, find a spouse, pay your taxes, file your S-1s, watch the latest movie, buy good food, good beer, and good booze. Don't let anyone scare you into buying guns, freeze-dried food, or extra tanks of water. See following.

Rule 4: There is no way to survive one. Seriously. If you're in a city, you're going to die. If you're not in a city, there won't be power, internet, food delivery, water, air conditioning, Whatever. All gone. Think: Mad Max and Walking Dead throw a holiday party and kill anyone that looks normal. Unless you already are that person and you know who I mean, you're not them because you're reading this, but, unless you already are that person, you won't get to become that person in the 18mins that we will have.

It's tempting to think (or to be tempted by marketers into thinking), "Give me a gun and some thicker plate glass, some blast curtains, 300lbs of freeze dried soup and a tub of gin and I'll sit it out."

But it's not like that at all. Realism is so important when dealing with gov't bullshit.

Seriously, this is why you just keep going. Get up, make love, wash the car, feed the cat, go to work, go hiking, and one day you will just evaporate. There will be a cool shadow - just like in the last episodes of Battlestar Galactica. That's it.

Far more important that being scared (because they say to), and getting ready (as if), or fighting them (because a different them says to) and making a fuss of any kind at all, is zeroing out all the static and living your life. My generation learned this from Mr Spock. "This is illogical." Right now the world seems to learn from Dr Who, who is like the world biggest drama queen super hero. Sure, things get fixed, but, gah, all the feelz.

Let them go.

If you are the praying kind, this will make sense: go to confession more often.

But even if you're not the praying sort, I advise making peace with whatever friends you have, loving whatever enemies you have, apologizing to the opposite side of the political spectrum, and to your own side as well, pay off your debts, and then, just try loving people more.

Seriously.

This plan totally worked the last time. And the time before that. And before that. And it won't make your hemorrhoids better if you stress out all the time.


05 August 2017

The Luminous Mysteries: the Broken Road


Antiphon: God, bless the broken road that led me straight to you.

In your baptism, O Christ, our God, you opened the pathway of initiation for us, into your Mysteries. I thank you for all who have moved me along this path, awkward and jerking though I have been. I've been on my way in for so long. And I have to thank those men who held the door open: the Pastor at the Marietta Baptist Tabernacle that wouldn't know a trinity from a hole in the ground, and did it all wrong... but he taught me how to swim. And Pastor Pinto who gave me communion first. And Jim Lowery who got me wet again - this time in all the right names, and it stuck... Then Paul Moore with Henrician hands, but wait we'll try again. And Bill Swing, who welcomed me back into Christ's flock after I had gone a Paganing. And then Father Victor, who Confessed, Chrismated, and Absolved me into the Church Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic. There was another turn unexpected, and Father Michael welcomed me into communion with Peter. God, bless the broken road that led me straight to you.

At the wedding, O Christ, you changed the water into wine. The things we offer are not divine, but what we offer in good faith, you take, and change, and elevate. And all the things I thought I'd have to carry all this way, you let me drop. All the things that were not according to your plan. But each one taught me by not being yours, each one held me in arms that were not love... but so nearly there... that I could not but keep looking, more and more, in the right direction. Do what ever he tells you, and you said, love... and I tried loving and even through I was wrong, you took it - and drew it deeper into yourself, the jars were full, the guests were drunk: and you brought out the best wine last.  God, bless the broken road that led me straight to you.

In preaching and proclaiming the kingdom, O Christ, you laid out in words, in simple human terms, the divine truths of all time. And I would be woefully arrogant if I did not know and see all the places you have taught me. I would not be me if it were not for Pastor Pinto, Pastor Lowery, Jeanette and David, my Sunday School teachers, these people gave me love for the Bible. And Pastor Lowery opened the door to John Wesley's writings - and they, in turn, showed me the Church Fathers. And Mr Witkowsky opened my high school brain to history, and Dr Carlson confirmed the Freshman me in those mysteries. Jim Carse showed me the Tao and Games, and Frank Peters (SJ) showed me the Torah and the Church. Nina and then Starhawk danced me round the spiral for ten years, then Shadwynn called a change and Donald and Rick brought me back to Christ. And then they again opened to me the Fathers as well: and so out again to Fr Victor and Fr Joseph, to a wider Dance with Sare and Cam. In the end, though, stumbling along, it was Steve and Steve and Mom and Dad pointing the way. Then Michael. And again Father Michael, and last, my little brother, Joey... God, bless the broken road that led me straight to you.

On the Mountain, your truth was revealed. All things that are, are yours. Nothing that is isn't yours. Only, without you, nothing alone is strong. Your light is all - and there is naught but darkness where you are not. And by your light, we see light everywhere. And so I can thank you deeply, that I have known the joys of all the wrong places, and I have known those pains as well. I have never once stopped looking, but you were always further along, just a light around the corner. A couple of times I thought, let me rest here... but no, the light was higher up the mountain; further up, and further in. You were in the cloud and I, unknowing, stumbled right into your arms. God, bless the broken road that led me straight to you.

Bread and wine are your body and blood. And Christ, there, is the mystery in sum. The things of this earth are made divine - see it in water, see it in the wedding, see it in the words we use to proclaim you, see it by your light in all light: this broken world, is transubstantiated by your grace. The whole damned thing is lifted up and blessed and broken, and it is you that we receive when we take it up in love. Every fracture, every quake, every tear, every wet eye, sobbing lung, and running nose, is held up in your hands, every broken heart is not healed but rather is iconified by the offering, made into your image which is the only true image there ever was, is, or ever can be. What is not you is not. And under the weaving of failure, runs the water of blessing, changed into the wine of love. Under the waving of the rotted grains of earth is the bread of heaven - and the whiskey of life. You, God, this broken road, is your narrow path destroyed by us in our pride, and damning ourselves to walk the other way, you went behind us and said, "boo". Interception! God, bless the broken road that led me straight to you.




Joyous Mysteries: Addiction

The Angel came to Mary. Most of us won't ever get there. But our conscience calls out to us. That comes from Latin works meaning "with knowledge" and St Paul says we have the law of God written in our hearts... When that voice calls out we can listen like Mary. It never calls us to our addiction, but away. We rarely listen, but we can...

And we are never called to face this alone. Somewhere a friend or loved one, awaits our message, our help, and our need. We do not need to sit alone, waiting in the dark. Our family ties, social obligations, work duties feel like intrusions on our fears, our concerns, our addictions and they are, exactly, that: or seen another way, they are the way out.

The birth of Hope shines out. Every day is Christmas. If we will let it be so, every day Christ is born in the cattle stall and dung of our hearts and fills them with heaven. The light is there to burn away the thorns and dirt; to fill us with love. We can't wait until everything is just right. God is now here.

Mary presented Jesus in the Temple, God offered to God; God living the terms of his own covenant. God follows the rules he gave us, the rules he wove into the very fabric of space and time by his own hand. For God, two plus two can never equal five. These are his plan. 2+2=4 because that is Truth and God is Truth in himself. He can never decree untruth. And, with them written in our hearts, we do well to see the rules, the laws and follow God himself. We don't always, and things get out of hand.

And one day Jesus ran away. Or did he get separated from his family and go to the only safe place he knew? Was there some teaching to impart that would later yeild a fruitful harvest? We will know later...

But whatever happened, parents get scared, the all-too-human fear of loss arises, plans destroyed. And yet there is Jesus, safe and sound in God's house, on God's business; no matter how out of control it all looks. Where's my red stapler? Who moved my cheese? How in all Creation will I ever get that done without my sense of control? Let it go.

God has come to us as one of us.
In every thing like us save sin.
Our addictions are known to him
Our pains and loss as well.
Yeild it all over to him.

And it will be transubstantiated.

Christ is born.

03 August 2017

Dolorous Mysteries: Addiction


When Christ is praying in the garden he faces the darkness. He knows the reality of sin, the hardness of the world. The fear is real. He is at rock bottom. Everything he thought he had, all that he is, all that he has said and done is over. There is only one way out. He turns his life over to God - whom no one better than he understands - and says, "I trust you to do this."

When Christ is scourged at the pillar how like us with addictions is he, feeling over and over the pains that rack us, the torments that rip us apart. How like us is he, so weakened by the blows that he falls down, held up only by the device of torture itself. How unlike us is he who, feeling this pain, still reaches out to us in love to say God now shares your pain. It is real pain, real blood, real flesh torn apart. But it is the way out.

They cut him down he passes out. The soldiers to pass the time mock him: dress him up and crown him with thorns. They slap him awake and laugh at him. How like us in our throes of addiction or, in our struggle for sobriety, how like us when our friends now mock us and taunt us. The heart is broken. The mocking hurts. The slapping is the easy part for it wakes us up and we realize this was never love. And yet we must reach out to him: and love all the more. These things from our past that taunt us: it's not a loss for it was never a gain.

But it's gone, and the memories stab deep.

Some days, though. Let's be honest, most days, really... it's just normal. We have to get up and walk. We feel the pains from within, but they are not so strong. We remember the mocking, but whatever. It's a normal day. We have to keep walking. This is our life. Keep walking. Wake up and feel these reminders, and keep walking. Stand, sometimes fall. Keep walking. This is the Via Dolorosa, but it is the Via Gloriosa, we are walking with him. He carries the cross as we must. Our very life patterns, our weaknesses, we keep walking. He is walking beside us, and he, like Simon, helps us. Gives us his strength, until it's not us at all. Keep walking. It's him.

Keep walking.

Then in the end.

Death.

We reach the end and we die crucified on our life. His death was a sacrifice of redemption. His death on the cross ripped open the fabric of the universe and light and life pours in. We must die as well. 100% of us will die. Everyone who has ever lived has died. We will die.

No choice.
We cannot choose when.
We cannot choose where.
We cannot choose how.

But we can choose why.

We can choose to die to self to live for him. We can choose to offer all the pain, all the scourges, the fears, the mockings, the slaps, the walking. We can choose to unite every last grief and sorrow to him, through him, with him, and in him to God's purposes, to God's glory, and God's salvation of the world.

Then in the end.

Death has no sting.
The grave has no victory.
The bars of brass have been broken down from the inside out.

Christ is Risen.

01 August 2017

Interactive Birthday!


Happy August - or Fogust, as we say in SF (see above)! Birthday #53 is coming up at the end of the month. I'd like to do something fun, but I need all my social media peeps to play along. So...

I'd like scratchers - IE those scratch-off lottery tickets - from as many American places as I can get. I'd like to play scratch off on a live video on by birthday (or there'bouts) and drink a beer and tell jokes. And generally have fun.

It's possible there would be a winner as well, so splitsies. To be honest, I've never won more than $5 on a scratcher and i don't expect to win. But maybe we'll have a fun video time! If you wanna send me a birthday card, ping me and I'll get an address to you. If you ask and I decline, it's cuz I'm creeped out. Strangers do not get to play! Also - American tickets only, can't quite figure out how we'd deal with the taxes otherwise.

Non-winning tickets will be made into an art project.

All that said, if you don't like the idea at all, there's always my Amazon Wishlist which has a few not-Amazon things on it as well, so if you don't know my address... be careful :-)

The right way to end scandal


Today's readings:
Mittet Filius hominis angelos suos, et colligent de regno ejus omnia scandala, et eos qui faciunt iniquitatem.
The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will collect out of his Kingdom all who cause others to sin and all evildoers.
Matthew 13:41

This is one of those very comforting verses. Jesus knows - from the beginning - that scandals will be in his Church. And he doesn't offer much by way of advice other than "leave them alone lest we damage the weaker (good) plants in the field."

There is rather a huge cottage industry on the internet of Christians tearing down other Christians. It's nearly funny when it is (eg) liberal fundamentalists and conservative fundamentalists attacking each other, but it is often made all the more sad when it is internecine incivility: Catholics attacking Catholics, or Orthodox attacking Orthodox.

And in the eyes of the world - who can't tell a Calvinist from a Capuchin - this game of Christians ripping each other up is just pure fun.

Thing is: tearing down one another in public is not what we're supposed to be doing.

Even serious scandals (you can think of a few: children, embezzlement, gay sex, etc) are supposed to be kept inside the Church by the Church, dealt with by canon law, mercy, prayer, and other appropriate means. The Church Fathers tell us not even to hand over a murderer to the police, because he might repent...

Jesus knows humans are messy. His angels will take care of this at the end of time. Be patient.

Jesus has one command for us: love.

Now, we know: love can involve a lot of correction.

But what it doesn't involve is uprooting the bad seed and causing scandal to the weaker good seed.

And the bad seed can always be turned around.

In this day and age, though, we walk in a fishbowl. We should tailor our message to the audience. When there are thousands or millions watching, we can't be ripping new ones for each other.

The world loves that.

Satan just eats it up.

And our souls too.