27 Nov

Andrew and the X-Shaped Cross

Think of what the look on the apostle Andrew's face would have been if Jesus told him how his life would end, and particularly what would happen with his body and his name. Allow me to reconstruct our Lord's words:

Jesus: Andrew, you will leave Galilee here, never fish again, and go to a place named Achaia, which is in Greece. There you will be crucified on a X-shaped cross, which is particularly painful.

Andrew: oh.

Jesus: Your body, then, will somehow make its way to a town called Amalfi, which is on the Italian coast about two miles south of Rome. Thousands of people will come each year to this town—not for you, but because of the beautiful landscape. The rich and famous will come to this town, and they will know nothing of you.

Andrew: oh?

20 Nov

It's good to be Catholic.

President Kennedy was assassinated 53 years ago—November 22, 1963. Christ the King was "assassinated" 1,983 years ago. Christ's "secret service" was Peter and the apostles, who similarly failed to protect their master in the Garden of Gethsemane. Golgotha was the grassy knoll and the assassin's bullet was the cross. Dallas was a tragedy; Calvary was...a victory! That's right. Not only is it not painful for us to recall the death of Christ, we celebrate it and reenact it every day. I'm referring to, of course, the Mass, which is the re-presentation of Christ's sacrifice. We would never dream of reenacting with celebration that presidential motorcade in Dallas—to exalt the assassin's bullet—but not so with Christ.

13 Nov

Gentleness is not weakness.

Under a spreading chestnut tree
The village smithy stands;
The smith, a mighty man is he,
With large and sinewy hands;
And the muscles of his brawny arms
Are strong as iron bands.

His hair is crisp, and black, and long,
His face is like the tan;
His brow is wet with honest sweat,
He earns whate'er he can,
And looks the whole world in the face,
For he owes not any man.

These are the opening stanzas of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's poem, The Village Blacksmith. The virtue of gentleness is what I'd like to discuss, and I feel the poem is an intriguing introduction to the topic.

06 Nov

Complex People

Henri Nouwen's The Return of the Prodigal Son is a spiritual classic that I encourage everyone to read. In short, Nouwen discusses how at different points of his life he has been each of the three figures from the parable: the younger son, the elder son, and the father. Early in his life he was energetic, brash, and needy. He was like the prodigal son who goes out and wastes his inheritance on a life of “loose living.” At another point in his life, Nouwen was like the elder son, who stays behind and works diligently, but is brooding and angry. The elder son is enslaved by resentment, as unfree and unhappy as the younger son who is enslaved by his passions. Finally, Nouwen was like the father, so generous and eager to both forgive and love. Nouwen's sharing illustrates how our Lord's parables, especially this parable, speak to us personally. What phase of life are you in? Have you been one of these figures and are you one right now?