Archive for June, 2020

Time Out 6-28-2020

Sunday, June 28th, 2020

A professor of religion at a small college was growing more and
more concerned about her students. Some were taking five courses
while working full-time jobs and caring for small children. Others were
trying to keep their scholarships along with their commitments to their
sports teams, the school newspaper, the choral and theater groups on
campus. A few still lived at home, where their families depended on
their help. Despite their constant state of exhaustion, they refused to
slow down or give an inch. They were immersed in a culture in which a
B+ was a sign of failure.
So, when the course came to the section on meditation, the
professor struck on an idea. Rather than assign a research paper on the
topic of meditation, the professor assigned her students to actually do it,
to meditate—not once, but at least three times for at least 20 minutes.
Their assignment was to stop and give themselves fully to the practice,
to resist the urge to give up and get busy with something “useful”. They were then to write about what they discovered about meditation—and
about themselves.
Most students admitted in their papers that meditation was the
hardest thing they had ever done. “This is just plain stupid”, one student
wrote. “It’s basically vegging out and I’d rather do it my way, watching
television with a beer”.
Another reported what happened when she felt the wind in the
trees blowing across the hairs of her skin: “When I stopped to notice
this, it gave me chills. Then I began to cry. I cannot explain it, but I did.
I believe I was in shock that I do not notice and appreciate the little
things in life that are absolutely wonderful”.
One student, a hunter, did his meditation in a deer stand and
confessed that he went temporarily insane. “For one crazy moment, I
thought I was the deer. I thought I was the forest, the sky, the sun
coming through the leaves. Man, was that weird.”
The professor assured her students that what they experienced was
not unusual, that it was, in fact, very Biblical. She writes of the assignment: “I don’t know if I convinced them, but they did look more rested.
Now if I could only convince them to repeat this act of resistance on a
regular basis—to stop running for a few moments each day, to stop
answering all the sirens long enough to hit the bottom they never hit,
feel the wind they never feel, sense the union they never sense….Their
only hope is to remember how alive they felt, for 20 minutes at least,
and to want that as much as they want the customary rewards of their
busy lives”.
Jesus’ words in today’s Gospel, which strike us at first reading as
cold and heartless, are an invitation not to walk away from life but to
embrace life’s essence to the full. We can become so absorbed with
building a career that we fail to develop our full potential and talents as a
human being; we can become so obsessed with creating and maintaining
a lifestyle that we do not live a life worth living. Christ calls all who
would be his disciples to “lose” life’s obsessive, meaningless and petty
pursuits in order to “find” a life fully human and alive in hope and joy.

Become What You Receive 6-14-2020

Sunday, June 14th, 2020

In the November 1998 issue of Food & Wine magazine, writer
Gerri Hirshey tells the story of her grandmother’s “special ministry” to
her family:
“As a child, I often watched my tiny Italian grandmother,
Geraldine, board a city bus cradling a mason jar of hot minestrone. This
meant that someone – Uncle Carmine, Aunt Antoinette – was down. It
didn’t matter whether they were felled by the flu, a feisty gallbladder or
the evil eye. Having heard the alarm, Nonnie (our name for grandma)
tied on an apron and started banging soup pots.
“For nearly half a century, Nonnie was the Designated Soup
Carrier (DSC) for a sprawling Neapolitan network of family and friends
in Stamford, CT. Somewhere between a field medic and a shrink, a
DSC is found in many cultures and is usually female. In the midst of
crisis, her prescriptives are basic and sustaining: Stop a minute. Taste
this. Life is good.” Nonnie’s daughter Rose – Gerri’s mother – eventually became the
DSC for her brothers and sisters and their families; now, granddaughter
Gerri has assumed the duties of DSC for her generation. The Designated
Soup Carrier’s in Gerri Hirshey’s family model Jesus’ vision for the
Sacrament of the Eucharist. Nourished and sustained by the food we
have received, we become nourishment and sustenance for others. Out
of love, Christ gives us himself in bread and asks us to become, in our
love, bread for others – Designated Christ Carriers (DCC).
Here are several examples:
A. He was old, tired, and sweaty, pushing his homemade cart;
stopping now and then to poke around somebody’s garbage. I
wanted to tell him about Eucharist, but the look in his eyes, the
despair in his face, told me to forget it, so, I smiled and I said
“Hi” and I gave him Eucharist.
B. She lived alone, her husband dead, her family gone, as she
talked at you – not to you, words, endless words. So I listened C. He sat across my desk – very nervous. He finally said it, “I
have AIDS” – by God’s grace, I did not say, how did you get
AIDS?” – I said “How can I help?” I gave him Eucharist.
I close:
As you, as we – say our Amen today at communion time – let us
remember and take to heart these words – “We receive Eucharist – to
become Eucharist for others. Let us remember and take to heart this
challenge – the work of proclaiming God’s reconciling love belongs to
every one of us, whether we collect taxes, teach math, manage a Fortune
500 company or shine shoes for a living – may we possess the greatness
of spirit and generosity of heart to be ministers of the Gospel –
Designated Christ Carriers, in whatever place we are in, whatever time
God has given us. Amen. “We receive Eucharist – to become Eucharist
for others.”
and gave her Eucharist

The Most Holy Trinity 6-7-2020

Sunday, June 7th, 2020

There were four blind men who went to the circus. The question
arose, “What does an elephant look like?” One blind man felt the
elephant’s leg and said he looked like a tree trunk. Another felt his tail
and said he looked like a rope. The third felt his tusk and said he looked
like a sword. The last man felt his side and said he looked like a wall.
Which of the blind men was right?
Perhaps the best answer is to say that each one was right—from his
own viewpoint. But each blind man was not completely right. Only by
sharing information could they get a more accurate view of what an
elephant is like. In a sense, this is the way it is with God.
On this Trinity Sunday—we are reminded that God—is a God of
many faces and dimensions. A God who loves us and who wants to be
in a relationship with us—who has chosen to share life with us—A God
who cannot be defined, or packaged or boxed up completely—Ever. As the story of the elephant reminds us—only by sharing our
experiences of God and listening to each other, will we come to a better
awareness of the awesomeness of God.
Did you hear about the man who died and went to heaven only to
find that heaven was full? St. Peter explained that they had a special
expansion program in progress and there would be room in 2-3 weeks.
Would the gentleman mind returning to earth to wait. He said,
“delighted” and returned, only to bump into an old buddy who gasped,
“I thought you were dead.” “I was—but they’re remodeling heaven and I
have to wait a couple of weeks longer.” “You mean you actually got to
heaven and saw all the angels and saints?” “Yes”. “Tell me about
God.” “Well first of all, she’s black…..”
Of course it’s just a story, but it certainly helps destroy some of the
comic-book, fairy-tale, holy-card, stereotyped myths about God—who
was always pictured to me as an old, white, Anglo-Saxon male with a
long white beard, enthroned on a cloud directly overhead but far, far away. When we think our perception of God—our Catholic, our
Protestant, our CCD—our Catholic School perception is the only one—
we are making a BIG MISTAKE!
I close with this: Call God what you wish—Creator, Ground of
Our Being, Life Force, Spirit Within, Lover, Love, Higher Power,
Father, Mother, ABBA, Yahweh, Jesus….God can handle it—just keep