Late Weekend Coffee 8/15/16

Over an glass of iced coffee, I would tell you this posting is late because my laptop crashed; the desktop is in an room with no air conditioning, and it has just been too hot!

Over a glass of iced coffee, I would tell you I am concerned about this year in our country.  I do not think I have seen so much vitriol coming from major presidential candidates.  I mean, since the founding of the Republic, there have political campaigns have been over the top in language and made up accusations.  But for the most part, the candidates themselves remained above it.  Now, not so much!  This campaign year has the potential to strain the democratic process of this country.

Over a glass of iced coffee, I would mention that my wife and I spent some time last night walking around a local park here in Beverly, MA.  It is called Lynch Park and it is on the waterfront. It was a chance to enjoy some time outside and try to enjoy some cool sea breezes (not so much)!

Stay cool.

   
    
 

Feast of St. Clare of Assisi – 2016

Today, the Franciscan Family, with rest of the Catholic Church, celebrates the memory of Clare of Assisi.  A young noblewoman of the medieval city of Assisi, she was inspired by St. Francis of Assisi, to leave a life of wealth and influence, and follow the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Inspired by the Holy Spirit, guided by Francis, she and a group of liked minded Assisian women, formed a community of prayer, and evangelical poverty.  Living a hidden life of contemplation, with very few known writings in existence; she has been a source of inspiration to many to seek a more intimate relationship with God.

The Order she confounded with Francis still exists, now known as the Poor Clares.

Cardinal O’Malley Speaks Out on Anti-Immigrant Rhetoric

Cardinal SeanCruxnow.com is reporting on comments made by Cardinal Sean O’Malley, OFM CAP, Archbishop of Boston on the anti-immigrant rhetoric that has infected the presidential campaign this year.  In an interview he had with Irish media, he warned that such speech, demonizes a minority group, and can bring about unjust treatment.  He called on Americans to remember that it was that long ago, that our Irish immigrant ancestors were seen as a threat to America; and subjected to anti-immigrant treatment.  He called on Americans to stop blaming our current troubles on the immigrant, and instead work together to care for one another and find solutions together.

Commission to Study Possibility of Women Deacons Appointed.

deacon red stoleThe Catholic blogosphere is abuzz with the news from the Vatican, that Pope Francis has appointed a commission of academics to study whether the ordination of women to the Permanent Diaconate is theologically possible.  The commission is made up of six clergymen, and six women, two of whom are religious nuns.  One of the women theologians is Phyllis Zagano, who is an author, and columnist for the National Catholic Reporter newspaper.  She has been a long advocate for bringing women into the diaconate.

I personally would like to see women being able to be ordained as deacons.  A vast number of Catholic women are already involved in the service of charity; serving the poor and homeless. Many Catholic women are already involved in the service of Word, through being religious educators; being lectors at Mass; and by the example of their own lives.  Many Catholic women are already involved in service to the Altar, through being extraordinary Eucharistic ministers at the celebration at Mass; and by bringing communion to the homebound.  And I am sure that many of these women, like the men, feel called to deepen this sense of service by becoming deacons.

Now, people should not fool themselves, or have high expectations on how soon this will come about, if at all.  We have just made the very first small step, with a long road ahead for those advocating for women deacons.  But, it is a beginning; may the Holy Spirit guide us!

Feast of the Porziuncola August 2, 2016

PoziuncolaToday, Franciscans everywhere are celebrating the Feast of the Church of St. Mary of the Angels of the Porziuncola (Little Portion).  Actually, a small chapel, it is one of several chapels around Assisi, Italy, that St. Francis of Assisi repaired; shortly after his conversion.  He was doing this in response to a mystical encounter with the Crucified Christ, who commanded Francis to “Repair My House!”  Taking the command literally, he began to repair the chapel of San Damiano, and the other chapels.  It was only later that he understood his mission was to “repair,” (ie, renew) the Catholic Church.

St. Mary of the Angels became the “mother church,” of the Franciscan Order, and indeed, the entire Franciscan movement.  Francis and his first followers built huts of mud, straw and wattle around the chapel, and used them as cells.  The little portion of  land on which the chapel stood, belonged to the Benedictine monks of Mount Subasio, who have rented the site to the Franciscans, in return for a basket of fish.  Over the years, the chapel became a pilgrimage destination, and eventually, the Franciscans and Pope ordered that the simple little chapel be enclosed in a huge grand basilica; the Papal Basilica of Saint Mary of the Angels.

Today, the little chapel, located in this huge basilica, will be visited by Pope Francis.  It ties into the Jubilee Year of Mercy, that the Pope declared last year.  The little chapel is the site of one of the most famous indulgences granted by the Catholic Church.  Although the historical fact has not been proven, legend has it that St. Francis asked the Pope to grant a plenary indulgence to anyone who came to the Porziuncola chapel, praying for forgiveness of their sins.  An indulgence is granted to the soul of an individual, which remits some of the temporal “punishment”or “cleansing,” that a soul must go through in purgatory, before being admitted to the full beatific vision of God in heaven.  A plenary indulgence grants a full remittance.  The “Porziuncola Indulgence,” was originally granted only to those who visited the chapel, later Popes expanded it to those who visited a Franciscan church, chapel, or oratory.  It was finally also granted to those who visited any church designated by the local bishop, between the afternoon of August 1, to sunset on August 2.  They must at least recite the Our Father or the Creed; and must go to Confession, receive Communion, and pray for the intentions of the Pope.

Indulgences is a means by which the Church illustrates the mercy and love of God for all people.  And it is why Pope Francis is making the journey to Assisi, to go into a huge, ornate, basilica; to enter a very small chapel, that has the power of God’s love.

#Weekend Coffee Share 07/17/2016

deacon coffee mugOver a late night cup of coffee, I would share with you my sadness with the amount of violence that is in the news lately.  The shootings of two black men by police, under circumstances, that on the surface, appear to require further investigation.  We have the killing of five police officers in Dallas, TX.  Then the terror attack on French citizens in the city of Nice, resulting in 84 deaths, and 202 persons injured.  And now we have the killing of 3 officers in Baton Rouge, LA.  Add these incidents to the others that have occurred this year, both in our nation and in the wider world; and one gets the feeling that darkness is increasing in our world.  And it will, if we allow it; the Christophers, a Christian inspirational group, quotes a proverb: “It is better to light one candle than to curse the darkness.”  We are called to bring some love, some hope, and some light into our families and our communities.  Be open to the Holy Spirit, let it inspire you, and be open to any opportunity to do some good that may come our way.

Over a cup of coffee, I had planned on sharing a report on Catholic deacons that I saw on PBS’ Religion & Ethics Newsweekly program, but then I read a post written by Deacon Bill Ditewig, in which he pointed out the errors of the report, and made corrections.  Then he issued a challenge to all of us deacons; to be true instruments of peace in this world that is in so much turmoil.

Well, here’s hoping the caffeine does not keep me awake.  See you again over a cup of coffee.

“…And In His Saints!” A Work of Fiction from a Real Tragedy

niceThe French EMT helps load another stretcher into the ambulance, and shuts its doors as it takes off.  She wearily turns around and looks down the street of tragedy; lined with the injured, and the dead.  Just a little while ago it was full of people, celebrating the founding of a republic, celebrating Bastille Day.  Then tragedy struck in this city of Nice; one maniac in a truck, mowing the people down.  Now, there is fear, agony, and grief.  And her heart is screaming:  “Where are You in all of this?”

She closes her eyes for second.  When she opens them, she is looking at the curbside.  She notices for the first time, a little friar, dressed in a patched brown habit.  He is holding the hand of an injured child, singing a French ditty for her.

The sound of sobbing draws her attention to two women, kneeling over a covered body.  One of them is bent over with grief; the other has her arm around the grieving woman’s shoulders, holding her tight.  This woman looks like she is from the Middle East.  She is wearing a long blue veil; her face looks as if she has known much sorrow in her life, and now she is comforting another woman through hers.

The EMT looks further down the street of tragedy and saw a police officer standing guard.  He nervously stares out into night, holding his rifle tight.  The EMT blinks her eyes, because she could swear there was a girl standing next to him.  She is dressed like a French peasant, with short-cropped hair.  Her hand is gripping the officer’s shoulder, as with fierce eyes, she also stares into night with him.  Is that a sword in her other hand?

Movement next to her drew the EMT’s attention.  She stares at her medical bag, and sees that someone has placed a red rose in it.  She looks quickly behind her and thinks she sees a nun, a Carmelite nun, disappearing into the crowds.  She turns around again, but the people she saw, the friar, the woman in blue, the peasant girl, have also disappeared.  She looks down to her bag, the rose is real.  As she looks at it; she suddenly no longer feels so alone.  She grabs her medical bag, takes a deep breath, and walks back down the street of tragedy.

“Blessed be God in His Angels and in His Saints.”