Do Not Adjust Your Set

This week we celebrate Gaudete Sunday – the 3rd Sunday of Advent.  There is a Lenten counterpart to Guaudete Sunday, called Laetare Sunday, which occurs on the 4th Sunday of Lent.

pepto-bismolIn days of old, when the fasting and preparation seasons of Advent and Lent were stricter, the faithful recognized these particular Sundays as marking the we’re more than halfway there points of the penitential seasons.

But today, most people recognize Gaudete or Laetere Sunday by the rose vestments worn during the liturgy.  I typically make a light-hearted comment at the beginning of Mass, as our vestments are really, really rose.  Most people would identify the color as pink, but I don’t want to think of myself as a dude that wears pink.

Anyway, you need not adjust your TV, those vestments are the proper color for the day.

We are not celebrating the feast of Pepto-Bismol or anything like that — but we should be celebrating regardless.

Both guadete and laetere are Latin words that mean rejoice.  Although the Entrance Antiphons are rarely used today (normally replaced by an entrance hymn), if you were to hear them you would recognize where the terms come from:

  • 3rd Sunday of Advent = Gaudete in Domino sempe — Rejoice in the Lord always, I say it again, rejoice!  (Philippians 4:4-5)
  • 4th Sunday of Lent = Laetare, Jerusalem — Rejoice, Jerusalem rejoice with joy, you that have been in sorrow  (Isaiah 66:10-11)

Rejoice for your King will soon enter our world anew.  The miracle of God-made-man shall dawn upon us and refresh our tired selves.

No doubt you’ve heard homilies recently about why we should rejoice, even in these troubled times.  Of how things could be worse, and are, in fact, worse for many people.  All that is true, and all of it is legitimate.

But this season calls us at a more foundational level – a level not steeped in economic conditions and anxiety of what’s to come.  At our very core we are creatures of our God – the work of His hands.  And the unbelievable generosity and love He has for us is shown in the gift of His coming to earth as one of our own.  God-with-us, Emmanuel.  Heaven touches earth in a small cave in Bethlehem.

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Categories: Catechetics, Etymology | Leave a comment

If all your friends jumped off a cliff . . .

That was my mother’s response to any request I made that she didn’t think was a good idea.  “But mommmmmmmm, all my friends get to do ____.”

And, so today, I’m jumping off a cliff that I never thought I would.  I have joined a so-called “social networking” site.  Everyone’s on facebook, apparently.  My wife finally convinced me to create a profile there, so here I am, in the 21st century finally.

I don’t mind sharing with you my reticence to climb on board this phenomenon — last year I attended a seminar for ministers and therapists on the vast world of on-line addiction, particularly pornography and on-line relationships.

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I was floored by the depth and width of these addictions, and the cyber-bullying that occurs on-line as well.  The damage to families, to children, to spouses and to individuals is absolutely staggering, and nearly unquantifiable.

So I’ve spoken to parents about the dangers of MySpace and so forth, and just didn’t feel right about getting involved in such sites myself.  Plus, my friend, Teresa Tomeo warns against these types of  sites, and I regard her opinion highly.

I know there are legitimate and good purposes for them as well.  In fact, I was rather surprised, when I created my profile, to find fellow deacons and priests and old classmates on facebook.  Apparently everyone is on this site, including Dinosaur Deacon Chris.

If you see me on there, say hello, or “add” or “poke” or do whatever it is that equates to an electronic hello.

I’d love it if you not cyber-bully me, and pray that you use these sites only in wholesome, useful ways.

Categories: Ranting, Technology | 2 Comments

Back in the Saddle Again . . .

Although I am, in fact, a fan of hard rock music, this post is not in deference to Aerosmith’s song bearing the same name.  Rather, it’s just a note to say that blogging has resumed at deaconchris.com.

saddle3I can’t tell you exactly how many times I’ve been asked why I haven’t been blogging, but I can share with you the response I’ve given each time:  “I’ve been busy, wrapped up with this or that.”  And I’ve delivered that line convincingly.

But, while it is true, it’s not the root of my electronic silence.  This last weekend marked one year from the Von Maur shooting.  The last entry I posted was related to that tragedy, and it’s something I think about regularly, and pray about even more often.  One of the heroines is the sister of a friend of mine.

Each time I log onto my blog and see the entry it brings sadness to me a new, and renews feelings about the same.  In a way, I’ve liked that fact that the heroes and heroines of Von Maur were displayed with prominence for all this time.  I just didn’t feel right about blogging with something inconsequential afterward (cooking, or what-not).

But it’s time now to begin again.  A new liturgical calendar is upon us, new hope is given us, and,  mourning has broken, so to speak.

Welcome back to my electronic musings — and thank you for your understanding.

Categories: Faith, Prayer | 2 Comments

Heartland Heroes and Heroines

All the victims of Wednesday’s crime have been identified.  I’m posting again on this topic to honor their memory and to solicit your prayers for them.

One item I would like to draw attention to is the fact that the employees of Von Maur continued serving  their customers.  Most of them stayed at their stations and helped patrons find cover.  The six employees listed here became heroines and heroes without pausing to think about it.  Although they became victims against their will, they will be remembered as heroes and heroines by choice — they served to the end.   

 There were two male shoppers at Von Maur that were killed:

  • Gary Scharf – 48 years old and a resident of Lincoln, NE — stopped to do a little Christmas shopping before hopping a plane for work.
  • John McDonald – 65 years of age, a resident of Council Bluffs, IA — shopping for family and friends. 

There were six employees of Von Maur as well whose lives were taken:

  • Maggie Webb– just 24 years old and already a store manager for Von Maur.  Energetic and loving, Maggie brought out the best in those around her.
  • Angella “Angie” Schuster – 36 years of age – department manager and just a few weeks shy of being engaged to marry.  Angie was a loving aunt that was great with children.
  • Beverly Flynn– 47 years of age – both a real estate agent as well as a part-time employee of Von Maur who shared her love of Christmas by wrapping gifts for patrons.  
  • Gary Joy – 56 years old – a store janitor that spent his life being helpful to others.  His giving spirit continued even beyond his lifetime – Gary donated his organs to save another life.  (for more info on donation click here)
  • Janet Jorgensen– 66 years old – a full time Von Maur employee and a grandma that enjoyed baking and sewing.
  • Dianne Clavin Trent– 53 years of age – a charming, helpful woman with a perpetual smile on her face.  Dianne’s cheerful demeanor was evident in her previous job as a flight attendant.  Graceful, loving and a special aunt to her 23 nieces and nephews.  Dianne is also the sister of Bill Clavin – a fellow parish family member of St. Gerald. 

I don’t like calling members of our parish “parishioners,” but rather family members.  It better describes the attitude of collective love and service of the members of the parish.  We are a family and everyone has gifts and talents that keep our family intact.   

One of the things I do as a deacon of our family is help those who are hurting.  And the hurt that Bill & Kathy and Katie are feeling has spread throughout our parish family.  So I ask you to pray for the Clavins, and for Dianne’s sisters and brothers-in-law and their children. 

And the pain doesn’t end there – Dianne was a member of St. Leo’s parish family here in Omaha, as well.  Another parish family reeling from the senseless violence.  And, unfortunately, there are seven others that have families that are hurting.  And the ministers of their congregations would all have similar things to share about them.  It’s the nature of living in community – of being a part of a family of families.

And all the hurt, all the suffering connects us together in a special way.  It makes us understand, in a profound and visceral way how St. Paul describes us as members of the one body of Christ.  

Please pray for all the Heartland Heroines & Heroes – and for the families they leave behind.  We love them and want to comfort them.  As they weep and mourn we taste the saltiness of their tears.  We wrap our arms about them, even from miles away. 

If you feel called, add a comment to this entry with a short prayer to honor them.  To honor our brothers and sisters:  Gary and John and Maggie and Angie and Beverly and Gary and Janet and Dianne. 

May perpetual light bathe them, and may they rest in the peace of Christ, our true King.

Categories: Commentary, Prayer | Leave a comment

The Lord, the giver of life

Yesterday horrendous violence rained down upon my city.  Upon my brothers and sisters working at Von Maur, upon my brothers and sisters doing their Christmas shopping.

 Regardless of how much speculation and questioning that occurs, no one will ever know the full intentions of Robert (Robbie) Hawkins, who took the lives of eight persons, wounded many others, and then took his own life.

You see, that’s the unseen victim in every suicide — the questions never cease and the answers never come.  Sure, the frenzy of media feeding will produce enough info to patch-work together some sort of theory; but the only person that knows for sure what was going through his head can no longer tell us.

  My prayers are with each and every family affected by this tragedy.  The murder of your loved ones is unthinkable, it’s beyond our mind’s power to fathom.  I wish I could comfort each one of you.  Please know of the many prayers offered for you and yours.  

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 In the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed we pray each week at Mass this line, “I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life . . . ”  But too many among us refuse to acknowledge the truth of the statement, or at least refuse to believe the Lord is the author of life.  To Him alone belongs the right to create life, to Him alone belongs the right to take life.  Such was the case at the foundation of the world, and such is the case today.

But we refuse to understand that — and anytime we try to play God, anytime we try to assert our own sovereignty over human life tragedy always results.  It makes us numb (over time) to how precious life is.  When God creates life in the womb human history is uniquely changed forever — a new life immensely increases the value of our world.  When we attack the life God has given it destroys a precious part of our human family. 

You see, we live in a culture that takes death too lightly.  A culture that aborts in the womb every third life that God creates.  A culture that accepts the euthanizing of the elderly and the terminal patient.  A culture that repeats shooting in school after school and in mall after mall.  I am sick to death of the cheapening of human life through our culture of death.

Please join me in praying, right now, for an end to our culture of death.  Nine persons were killed for no reason whatsoever yesterday – pray for a conversion of hearts, a metanoia, to return to treating God as if He really was our sovereign King, and our Lord, who alone gives (and takes) life.

And amidst the grief of this tragedy, remember the next lines of the Creed – I believe in the resurrection of the body, and life everlasting.  It’s this belief alone that can comfort us.

The Lord is close to the broken-hearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit (Psalm 34:18)            

Jesus wept at the tomb of his friend, Lazarus (John 11:33)

May you feel the closeness of Jesus as He comforts your broken hearts.

Categories: Commentary | Leave a comment

Christ the King

Jesus is a very special kind of king.  He doesn’t represent the opulence or extravagance that we associate with royalty.  He is not a king that is waited on by an entourage of servants.

 Our king Jesus is not vested in fancy garb — he wears the clothes of a simple man.  He’s a king without armies or soldiers.  He inhabits no castle on earth.  He gives to others rather than collecting taxes from his subjects.

He’s a king without a queen, and one that leaves no heirs.

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So what kind of a king is he, anyway?  A king that brings peace.  A king that teaches us to love one another.  A king that calls as his court the most unlikely of members – fishermen, outcasts, even a hated tax collector.

Our Lord Jesus comes to create a new kind of kingdom — not one with geographic boundaries, but rather a kingdom of hearts.  This king wants your heart and he wants mine.  And he wants to gather every heart to himself.

You see, our King sees what is inside us — he sees who we are at the core.  He doesn’t notice the imperfections of our bodies.  He doesn’t care about squeaky voices or wrinkles or weight.  He loves each heart precisely the same — whether it’s wrapped in a tiny body still in the womb or in a frail body in a nursing home.

And even as Jesus seeks our hearts he gives each one of us a way to sing.  We can paint or write or sing or build or study or pray or care for others to make our song heard to the world around us.  And as each one of us shares our gift – it melds together into a beautiful symphony for our king.

Our king is unlike any earthly ruler – he doesn’t need anything from us, but he longs to bring our hearts to himself.  And that’s the essence of what heaven is all about – our hearts, our souls uniting with the person of Jesus for all time

Categories: Homiletics | 1 Comment

Our Beloved Copper

Last Tuesday (Oct 3oth) Erika and I had to put our beloved Copper to sleep.  He lived a good life, a full life, and gave so much joy to all those he encountered — humans as well as dogs.  But the last couple days of his life he lost his hearing and sight.  So we did the right thing, the humane thing, but it was very difficult and it hurt . . . badly, profoundly and comprehensively.

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Copper (or Copperboy, as we affectionately called him) was with us nearly our entire married life.  We adopted him from the Humane Society around our first anniversary, and we think he was a little more than two years old at the time.  As such, he was probably about 14 when he died; so God blessed us with his presence for all these years.

Copper was always his own sort of man (dog?) – from the moment we took him home — he lived life on his own terms.  Not patient enough to wait for his stitches (from his neutering) to be removed the next week, he just ripped them out the first week.  I taught him how to catch a Frisbee, which he loved very much.  But when he was tired he would just refuse to bring it back, and trot off to some other part of the yard. 

So it was fitting that for his last hurrah, he wanted to go outside and trot around the yard one last time.  He must have made the rounds largely by memory, as his eyesight had failed.  But he seemed to enjoy himself, and after 20 minutes or so he just flopped down into the fallen leaves. 

We miss him terribly, and I’ve never so much hated the quietness of my own home.  Each day as I arrive from work he was there to greet me and play with me for a bit.  I miss that.  And Erika misses him getting up and down from the bed throughout the night.  We miss him scruffling in where ever he wanted.

Copper was a fan of taking a ride in the car, any sort of drive-thru (bank, restaurant, whatever) and catching his Frisbee.  He knew the names of all his toys and would bring the requested one by name.  A sweet and loving companion, and a protective one at that.  One time he nearly took the hand off a visiting mom who gave her misbehaving child a swat on the butt.  After checking over the child he watched over her for the remainder of the visit — and glared at the mom to boot.

Thank you God, for bringing such a wonderful pet into our lives.  We love him and miss him, and are so grateful you brought us together.

I’m sure we will get another dog sometime (maybe even soon), but we’ll never forget Copperboy.  We’ll never replace him, because he is irreplaceable.  The joy he brought to our family is immeasurable; and I want to forever cherish the small hole in my heart that was made when he drifted to sleep for the final time.

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Rest in peace, our darling Copperboy.  We will always love you. 

Categories: Commentary, Pets | 2 Comments

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