Friday, March 3, 2017

Goodbye for Lent, at least

I am going to fast from posting for Lent, among other things. I want to get off the internet and spend more time on what is right in front of me.

Monday, February 27, 2017

Monday of the Eighth Week in Ordinary Time Lectionary: 347

Now that Bishop Choby's letter has been read to the people of the Diocese of Nashville, I want first of all to ask for your prayers for our good bishop. The Diocese of Nashville is a different place since he first became bishop 11 years ago. I don't think that Bishop Choby initiated these changes for the most part. Instead, he responded to them Providentially. This is true of the greatest change under his tenure as bishop: the robust vocation culture of the diocese. Another bishop was asking me yesterday what Bishop Choby did to promote the healthy surge in vocations in Nashville. I had to say that I don't really think he anything programmatically, but he responded generously to what God was doing. He listens to and encourages those inquiring about the priesthood. He loves and supports his seminarians. He promotes a culture among them and the young priests that (super)naturally attracts others to join the vocation train. Much the same thing can be said of the growth in the ethnic diversity of the diocese. He did not cause it, but he welcomed it -- with a mega-church for the Latino community, another church in Donelson for the Korean, a smaller chapel for the Catholic Copts, and the Vietnamese producing amazing vocations. He cooperates with what God is doing. I have experienced this personally in the assignments that Bishop Choby has given me. Early in his episcopacy, he moved me to be chaplain at Vanderbilt which was really a puzzling move. At the time, many (I mean many) people asked me the humbling and embarrassing question of whether that was a full-time job. Well, go look at the University Catholic web site and the ministry going on not only at Vanderbilt but at Belmont and beyond. Bishop Choby threw me another "curve ball" in sending me back to seminary because he thought that a diocese with as many seminarians as we have ought to support seminary formation directly. See what I mean about his accepting and adapting to the situations arising in the diocese? Let us pray that he remains so powerfully docile to God's will and work, especially now in his suffering. This can be his greatest gift, and we must support him more than ever.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time Lectionary: 82

"Learn from the way the wild flowers grow."

For long-time readers of this blog, you know that I have a soft spot for wild flowers which was given to me by my grandmother. Where I am from in Middle Tennessee, wild flowers are not only those hearty "lilies of the field" that grow in pastures and fence rows in all kinds of conditions but are also, and perhaps especially, the delicate little flowers of the woods, some of them quite rare. My grandmother was proud to have some of these in her wild flower garden. I think that my experience of wild flowers adds something to the reference that Our Lord makes in the Gospel today, especially in light of the first reading with its maternal interpretation of the love of God.

When I was assigned to return to the seminary in Columbus to join the faculty, I commented that the biggest difference that I remembered about the weather from what I was used to in Tennessee was that spring seemed never to come. The discovery of the wild flowers in the otherwise bleak winter woods is always a joy to me at home. This year, I may get to see if wild flowers appear in the same way since, so far, spring is coming early, even in Ohio to fill the void of a mild winter.

Let God love you, not only profusely but also tenderly.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Saturday of the Seventh Week in Ordinary Time Lectionary: 346

"whoever does not accept the Kingdom of God like a child will not enter it"

Here at the seminary yesterday, we were exhorted to do just that: to take Jesus at His Word, as a child would.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Friday of the Seventh Week in Ordinary Time Lectionary: 345

Jesus says hard things. It's that simple. Do we accept Him? Or do we water down what He says?

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Memorial of Saint Polycarp, Bishop and Martyr Lectionary: 344

St. Polycarp is one of the Apostolic Fathers, that first generation or two who immediately succeeded the Apostles. If we want to get back to "primitive Christianity" as so many reformers have claimed to, here is where we go. We find that this path leads right through the history of the Church, without deviation. Go figure.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Feast of the Chair of Saint Peter, Apostle Lectionary: 535

"upon this rock..."

Today is the patronal feast of the Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter. I know that when I converted to the Catholic Church from being an Episcopalian, it was specifically this aspect of having a firm rock to stand on that appealed to me the most. I was relieved to find clarity and solidity in matters of faith in the Catholic Church, grounded on the confession of St. Peter and secured by his successors.