Monday, January 30, 2012

Winter Ordinary Time: Listening and Learning - Together

Winter has been unusually warm here in the area around Chicago, and even though we are finishing up January, the lack of snow and the pleasant days have made it somewhat  unlikely that this February will bring the usual rounds of "cabin fever" for those cooped up indoors.  The unusual weather has made it a little more difficult to capture the normal sensations I associate with winter Ordinary Time.  Here, this period of time normally has a touch of the ambiance of huddling with a group of friends around a warm fire while listening to the sharing of wondrous stories.  We take refuge from the cold and come to Mass to be among friends and to learn together what it means to be disciples.  

The period between the end of the Christmas Season and the beginning of Lent is a time to learn from the words and actions of Jesus. It is when we hear the Apostle Paul chiding us about how we are to live, and then hear the core stories of Jesus - actions, miraculous healings, discussions and more from his ministerial life among his disciples and the people of the places where he traveled.  It is a time to find out who Jesus is and what is essential and expected of us if we follow him.  As is always true, we do this in community, together.

In actuality, the weather doesn't matter - but the friends that we gather with do. The journey of faith that we share during the liturgical year is never simply "me and Jesus," but the shared struggle to learn and grow together - in the liturgy, in our parish activities, in our charity and service, in our catechesis, our sacrament preparation and in all the ways we are Church.  As we navigate these "counted days" of Ordinary Time up until Ash Wednesday, never forget the value of friends along the journey. It is truly a case of  never walking alone.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Martin Luther King, Jr. - Called to Prophesy

This powerful excerpt from a speech given in 1967 to the Southern Christian Leadership Council shows why Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was a prophet in his time and a true witness to the message  of the Gospel.

Martin Luther King - Where Do We Go From Here? (Conclusion) from MLK Speeches on Vimeo.

His unfailing sense of the call of Jesus Christ to all people to create a just world, where the hungry are fed and the poor uplifted was extraordinary - and his delivery an authentic call for all to cooperate with God to recreate the world into a living image of the Kingdom is timeless.

Dr. King was a gift to our nation, whose speeches are worth listening to again and again. The blatant racial prejudice he fought against has lessened, to be sure, but the oppression of the poor by the rich and the failure of our nation and world to deliver justice for all still rings true.  One cannot but hear echoes of the current economic situation and political debates in what he said, and wish perhaps, that more had changed.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Hey Kids! If Football Players Can Genuflect, So Can You!

OK, it's not often the culture of sports hands us a genuine liturgical catechetical opportunity.  The furor surrounding Tim Tebow's public gesture of faith of kneeling in prayer on the football field has caused a storm of controversy and a flurry of photos in newspapers and on the internet:

along with numerous parodies, including references to the three Magi kneeling, to Darth Vader and other familiar persons and has spawned a T-shirt meme and a new term: "Tebowing".

So, why not use this as a way to teach kids that it is OK to genuflect?  In my parish, where I volunteer as a catechist to a group of older kids preparing for Confirmation, because most of them have missed prior years of faith formation, genuflecting in church does not come naturally.  I think I will tell them that if a sports hero can do it, so can they. Just saying. Thanks, Tim.