26 Mar

Indifference

“Indifference” by G.A. Studdert Kennedy:

When Jesus came to Golgotha, they hanged Him on a tree,
They drove great nails through hands and feet, and made a Calvary;
They crowned Him with a crown of thorns, red were His wounds and deep,
For those were crude and cruel days, and human flesh was cheap.

When Jesus came to Birmingham, they simply passed Him by.
They would not hurt a hair of Him, they only let Him die;
For men had grown more tender, and they would not give Him pain,
They only just passed down the street, and left Him in the rain.

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26 Mar

Here's mud in your eye.

Dear Parishioners,

“When [Jesus] had said this, he spat on the ground and made clay with the saliva, and smeared the clay on [the man's] eyes, and said to him, ‘Go wash in the Pool of Siloam’ —which means Sent. So he went and washed, and came back able to see” (Jn 9:6-7).

Another long Gospel reading this Sunday, but another good one! John, our Gospel writer, is doing more than just recounting a miraculous event in the life of Christ. He is teaching us. The multiple exchanges—between the Jesus and the man born blind, the man and the Pharisees, the Pharisees and the man's parents, the neighbors among themselves, and Jesus and the Pharisees—all contain lessons. But it's this use of clay that has me intrigued.

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24 Mar

Principal Announcement

  • 21 September 2017 |
  • Published in School

Dear Families,

The principal search committee and I are very excited to share with you that we have selected and hired a new principal for Saint Juliana School, Mrs. Marjorie Marshall! Mrs. Marshall comes to us highly recommended from Saint Cyprian School, where she has served as principal for the past four years. Please read a letter from Mrs. Marshall:

Letter from Mrs. Marshall

Mrs. Marshall is an energetic and dynamic leader who has a passion for Catholic education and the formation of all people who walk through the doors of a school. Saint Cyprian has benefitted tremendously from her leadership, and our search committee has no doubt that Saint Juliana will benefit from Mrs. Marshall as well.

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19 Mar

Counting Baals

Dear Parishioners,

The account of the Samaritan woman at the well from the Gospel of John—the third Sunday of Lent's Gospel—is an interesting one. Jesus knows that the woman has had five different husbands. The woman is floored. Seems odd. Any gossip in town would know this juicy piece of information. So why is the woman led to divine faith by the information our Messiah possesses?

John, our Gospel writer, usually tries to make some broader connection to the Old Testament in his passages. The word Baal in the Old Testament means false god. You may remember this word. The Israelites often got in trouble for abandoning God and worshipping Baal. But Baal had another meaning as well. Wives sometimes also used the world Baal for their husbands. Jesus is telling this woman she had five different Baals. Well, Samaria—the woman's homeland—was occupied by a foreign power who worshipped five Baals. And there was a prediction in the first chapter of Hosea that Samaria would be delivered from these five Baals after 700 hundred years by the Messiah, and this was the 700th year! The woman makes this connection, which is why Jesus' information leads her to become a disciple.

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19 Mar

A Real Character

Father Basil Maturin

“All things, everything great and small, most ephemeral or most lasting, everything that compels men to work or dooms them to idleness, everything that calls out a moment's interest or lays the grasp upon the heart, all these things, whether men believe it or not, or even think of it, have one supreme, one eternal result: the making of character.”

These are the words of Fr. Basil Maturin. The Irishman was a convert to Catholicism, highly regarded for his ability to preach, to write, and to counsel souls with compassion, particularly students. In his early 20th Century classic, Christian Self-Mastery, Fr. Maturin reflected on how every event or experience in this life is intended to mold us to our true self. That is, if we abide by the universal principle: do what you believe right, avoid what you believe wrong. Regardless of your culture or creed, everyone must do what is good for himself. If he doesn't, then he will have a poor character and will be unhappy.

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12 Mar

It's green week!

Dear Parishioners,

The Transfiguration. I see this event as a sister image of the crucifixion. We could even call the Transfiguration a shadow of the Redemption. Or perhaps it is reversed? Either way, there are several comparisons to make.

Jesus ascends two hills in both scenes: Tabor and Calvary. He is elevated with three individuals below him: Peter, James, and John while he is floating in the air; Mary, John, and Mary while he is suspended on the cross. Of course, two individuals are at his side both times: Moses and Elijah, and the two thieves. The Father in heaven above smiles over the Transfiguration; weeps over the crucifixion.

Christ is bathed in white on Tabor. On Calvary he is bathed in red. The colors are painful, each in their own ways. The bright white blinds, while the red is the blood from the lacerations. The colors are also beautiful. And this leads me to my last point.

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12 Mar

Christ the Cellist

The Cellist of Sarajevo, a 2008 novel by Steven Galloway, is a brilliant read and, in my opinion, contains an image of Christ. The basis of the story is a local cellist who plays every day at 4pm, for 22 days straight, the Adagio in G Minor by Tomaso Albinoni, a 17th Century composer. The cellist is unyielding in his resolve to honor the dead. He plays on the site of an attack that killed 22 people, despite mortar shells landing nearby and sniper bullets whizzing around him. In the midst of the war-ravaged city, this cellist's somber music is a beacon of light. His music allows the citizens to escape the desolate situation; to experience heaven in hell. Here, for instance, is the impact the music has on a female character of the story, a sniper named Arrow: “She didn't have to be filled with hatred. The music demanded that she remember this, that she know to a certainty that the world still held the capacity for goodness. The notes were proof of that.”

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05 Mar

A Beautiful Body

Mozart

Christ's physical body on earth was beautiful. Yet, it underwent much suffering. As a fresh baby Jesus was exposed to the cold air of Bethlehem and the hot, desert winds with bits of sand of Egypt. As a young man he labored as a carpenter and was surely cut at some point. As a man he walked hundreds of miles; slept in fields and caves; was hit by rocks in attempted stonings; smacked and scourged and suffocated and speared. Jesus's body was indeed beaten down. There is a reason in the Apostles' Creed we immediately go from “was born of the Virgin Mary” to “suffered under Pontius Pilate.” We don't want, in our Catholic faith, to give the impression that Jesus was a Greek God, never unharmed. Unfortunately sometimes artwork gives this impression. Paintings show Jesus with a perfectly groomed beard or milky white skin.

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05 Mar

It's good to be dust.

Dear Parishioners,

Remember that you are dust and unto dust you shall return. That is the more traditional formula used on Ash Wednesday. Though I wouldn't call myself a traditionalist, I do prefer this line. I like being reminded that I am dust. Dust means simplicity and total contingency. It is, by definition, a single particle or grain, and dust is totally dependent on something else to create it.

We are dust. That is we are, or, at least ought to be, simple beings—receptacles to receive the breath of God. This is a good thing, since God's breath is holy, powerful, and wise.

We are dust. That is, we are, or, at least ought to be, totally dependent on God (see the opening line of our first reading from Genesis, 2:7, where we hear man was formed out of the "clay of the ground"). This is another good thing, since God is good and will make us good people.

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