Saturday, March 30, 2013

This is the night!

This is the night
that we gather in the darkness,
and watch while the Easter fire jumps
from wick to wick, from hand to hand. 

This is the night
that light spreads
From neighbor to neighbor
And friend to friend
On the hillside behind the parish.

This is the night
That we lift up our voices
And cry, “Lumen Christi!  Light of Christ!”
As we follow that fire
Into a dark and waiting church. 

This is the same fire
That spoke to Moses in a burning bush
And lit the spark of freedom. 

This fire once moved through the desert,
And led God’s people out of bondage. 

This fire once burst into a quiet room
And filled the disciples
With a Spirit powerful enough
To claim the world. 

This is the night! 

This is the night that we gather around the fire
And remember who we are-
The night that we pause to tell the story.
It can’t be neatly bound
Inside the covers of a book,
And it won’t stay put upon the shelf.
It can’t be tamed or controlled
Or even completely understood,
It demands faith.

This story can be told a thousand times
In a thousand different voices,
And somehow, each time, we hear something new. 

This story is so powerful
That it explodes galaxies into life. 

It is a story so enduring,
That time and death have no meaning. 

This is the story of a fire so bright,
It can illuminate each and every corner
Of an empty tomb.

Tonight, that empty tomb
Stands open before us,
Not just as the happy ending of a familiar story-
Not just of a personal invitation,
Or an eternal promise-

But as a challenge. 

This isn’t a story
That can simply be told and retold
Among families and friends.

This isn’t a fire that can be used
Just to warm our own hands.

 It’s not something to be lit
And blessed and passed
From neighbor to neighbor
And then blown out. 

This is the night
That the Alpha and the Omega,
The beginning and the end
The past and the future
Meet in the present.
Right here in this church
Right now among us.

Tonight Christ invites us
To look inside the empty tomb
And promise that our light
Will be bright enough
To transform the darkness. 

Tonight Christ leads us to the font,
And reminds us that this water
Must be deep enough
To flood a parched land.
Plunged into His death through the waters of baptism
dying to sin and the old ways
We are likewise raised to newness of life with him. 

Tonight Christ feeds us at the table
And asks that we share this bread with a starving people. 

Tonight we can’t just light the fire
And tell the story. 

We have to be willing to take
This light and this story
To every dark corner-
To places of pain
To places of need
To places of terror 

Lumen Christi!
Light of Christ!
Beautiful words, beautiful liturgy.
But unless we are willing to become the fire
And the water and the bread,
We don’t really understand this story at all. 

Two thousand years ago,
Some frightened and mournful women
Went to a tomb
To anoint a friend.
The emptiness they discovered there
Still has the power to fill the world. 

Christ is risen!
The tomb is empty!
This light is entrusted to you!

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Happy Holy Thursday

So here is Mary Oliver again...

The Vast Ocean Begins Just Outside Our Church: The Eucharist

Something has happened
to the bread
and the wine.
They have been blessed.
What now?
The body leans forward
to receive the gift
from the priest’s hand,
then the chalice.
They are something else now
from what they were
before this began.
I want
to see Jesus,
maybe in the clouds
or on the shore,
just walking,
beautiful man
and clearly
someone else
On the hard days
I ask myself
if I ever will.
Also there are times
my body whispers to me
that I have.

Monday, March 25, 2013

To Bless the Space Between Us

May I live this day  
compassionate of heart,  
clear in word,  
gracious in awareness,  
courageous in thought,  
generous in love.  

John O'Donohue  

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Beannachtaí na Féile Pádraig!

The Blessings of St. Patrick! Here is a gorgeous rendition of both the heart of his message and the very way he was able to do what he was called to do. And the same for us, eh? Though for you celebrating today, St. Brigid did describe her vision of heaven as a great lake of beer! 

Friday, March 15, 2013


For the wind no one expected

For the boy who does not know the answer

For the graceful handle I found in a field
attached to nothing
pray it is universally applicable

For our tracks which disappear
the moment we leave them

For the face peering through the cafe window
as we sip our soup

For cheerful American classrooms sparkling
with crisp colored alphabets
happy cat posters
the cage of the guinea pig
the dog with division flying out of his tail
and the classrooms of our cousins
on the other side of the earth
how solemn they are
how gray or green or plain
how there is nothing dangling
nothing striped or polka-dotted or cheery
no self-portraits or visions of cupids
and in these rooms the students raise their hands
and learn the stories of the world

For library books in alphabetical order
and family businesses that failed
and the house with the boarded windows
and the gap in the middle of a sentence
and the envelope we keep mailing ourselves

For every hopeful morning given and given
and every future rough edge
and every afternoon
turning over in its sleep

"Prayer in My Boot" by Naomi Shihab Nye
When we tug at a single thing in nature, we find it attached to the rest of the world.   John Muir

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Moments and Memory

We were heading out in the car, stopped at the red light, when she looked over and said the man in the car next to us was a hippie.  I glanced right, and saw an older man, looking like he was heading to work, no signs of hippie to my eyes.  "Why do you say that" I ask, and exasperated, she says, slowly and surely so I can 'get it', "because he drives like he is hip!" And she puts her arm out on an imaginary steering wheel, wrist on top, hand hanging down..."a hippie"!!!

And I instantly see in my minds eye my own dad, much younger (I am a child beside him) driving with his wrist on the wheel - a cool customer.  Flash to years later and he stops by to visit his daughter, living with her hippie friends, for a morning cup of coffee (I made him a smoothie).  I walked him out to his car after.  He put his arm on the wheel, sat there smiling at me, lingered with his hand dangling, and then slowly turned, looking over his shoulder, backed out the drive. 

Thanks Dad.  This memory makes me smile.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Hymn by Edgar Allan Poe

At morn--at noon--at twilight dim--
Maria! thou hast heard my hymn!
In joy and woe--in good and ill--
Mother of God, be with me still!
When the Hours flew brightly by,
And not a cloud obscured the sky,
My soul, lest it should truant be,
Thy grace did guide to thine and thee
Now, when storms of Fate o'ercast
Darkly my Present and my Past,
Let my future radiant shine
With sweet hopes of thee and thine.
As the story goes, Poe was living near Fordham University and was irritated by the bells ringing at 6:00, noon, and 6:00.  He went to complain, and the Jesuits there explained to him the Angelus - a prayer of devotion to the Incarnation. Its name comes from the scripture verse (in Latin), Angelus Domini nuntiavit Mariæ. 'the angel of the Lord came to Mary'.  His Hymn is poetry and prayer...
Here is one of my most favorite pieces; and yes, I wish the bells rung here, constant reminder of our not being alone, but accompanied by Grace, calling us to prayer.  I love his poem, and how he too found consolation here. 
The Angelus by French painter Jean-Francois Millet