Pray With Us!


Getting to the Bottom of It All…
“I have had a most rare vision. I have had a dream past the wit of man to say what dream it was. Man is but an ass if he go about t’expound this dream. Methought I was—there is no man can tell what. Methought I was, and methought I had—but man is but a patched fool if he will offer to say what methought I had. The eye of man hath not heard, the ear of man hath not seen, man’s hand is not able to taste, his tongue to conceive, nor his heart to report what my dream was. I will get Peter Quince to write a ballad of this dream. It shall be called ‘Bottom’s Dream’, because it hath no bottom.” Nick Bottom in A Midsummer’s Night Dream
We theatrical types all have them: Memories of roles or shows that we just can’t shake, to the point where lines are suddenly recalled with surprising midlife clarity. One of mine was playing Helena in Midsummer’s when I was a junior at Georgetown. It was a awesomely creative production, one that would land my bestie Rick Lombardo in a fantastic directing program at BU. He’s had an amazing career, and is now chair of Penn State’s monstrous theatre department.
There are lines of Helena I’ll never forget, like “though she be but little, she is fierce!” But one of the most memorable is my friend Joe Banno, who went on to direct at hte Folger Shakespeare library, awakening from Bottom’s sojourn with Titania to quote Jesus convolutedly (if that’s a word). Anyway, as I read the epistle this week, Joe came to mind as I read, “What eye has not seen, and ear has not heard, and what has not entered the human heart, what God has prepared for those who love him.”
It’s incumbent upon me to do a little better in recalling the right words than does Bottom. Because what a promise! And that fullness comes how? In the act of loving God.
A few things in recent weeks have me plunging in and out of a scarcity mentality, with the neuralgic fears that seems to bring along. In the Gospel, Jesus will exhort his listeners (including us) to remember that his message is not one of abolishing all that goes before it, but that one that fulfills it. “If you choose you can keep the commandments, they will save you; if you trust in God, you too shall live,” says Sirach. Let’s explore that more deeply, remember the promise and find the hope. Mass is at 11 a.m. Sunday.
In gratitude for your companionship on this journey,
Trish
Pastoral Director

salt crystals

You are the salt of the earth…

It’s easy to understand what Jesus means when he says “you are the light of the world” (or as easy as it ever gets with our often creative teacher). But what does it mean to be exhorted to be the salt of the earth? There are six different ways the people of his day put salt to use. More on that Sunday.

In our house, there are a number of uses for salt, which is reminding me to tell you all not to attempt to come to our front door, the path to which is quite an ice rink. Be family. Come through the garage.

It hasn’t been an easy week for many people in our community, and for a range of reasons. My mind keeps floating to the power of community in the midst of everything. As I sat with my sweet honorary niece Elizabeth yesterday, she was comforting her beautiful, feverish and unhappy baby, who’s about a year and a half old now. She was exhausted. I remember that so well! But still so gentle and soothing. Lizzy lit up as we were remembering the many people who brought food for her while Jagger was a newborn.

So two things struck me. First, that we need each other now as the human family has always needed each other, for sustenance and support. We are in an age that seems to be moving more and more to physical isolation. And second, that I believe in a mother God who can hold us, and stroke us, and comfort us no less powerfully or beautifully than I saw Lizzy comfort Jagger. And no less patiently or peacefully.

Mass is at 11 a.m. Sunday.

In gratitude for your companionship on this journey,
Trish
Pastoral Director

Charis
An Ecumenical Catholic Community
http://www.newcatholiccommunity.com
cháris Χάρις khar’ece

Our name means grace, good will, loving-kindness, favor; of the merciful kindness by which God, exerting his holy influence upon souls, turns them to Christ, keeps, strengthens, increases them in Christian faith, knowledge, affection, and kindles them to the exercise of the Christian virtues.

Simeon and Anna

Sunday, February 2nd: The Feast of the Presentation

Who is this King of Glory? It is the Lord!
This week is the Feast of the Presentation. In the Gospel story, the infant Jesus is brought to Jerusalem to be presented to God. He is met by Simeon and Anna. More on that on Sunday.
As I read the week’s other two readings, I found myself singing. The first reading from the prophet Malachi asks, “Who will abide the day of his coming?” Instantly: Two different movements of Handel’s Messiah (and their truly many notes): “Who Will Abide the Day of His Coming” and “For He is Like a Refiner’s Fire.” And when I read the psalm, all I could hear was Stephen Colbert’s unforgettable liturgical dance and sung performance of “The King of Glory Comes.” Talk about a jarring juxtaposition!
Today, I spent some time with a group of women learners studying the history of Sufism. One of the things that makes the mystical stream of Islam unique is the fact that it has, since its founding by Jalalludin Rumi in Persia in the 13th Century, made poetry and music a centerpiece. This is contrasted with more extreme and austere recent movements in Islam that condemn music as sinful. As we listened to and watch performances of Sufi music from numerous countries in the Muslim world, I was yet again taken by the power of music to transport us spiritually to amazing places.
I grew up in the chaotic, creative post-Vatican II liturgical years, where laws had not yet been sorted out, and catechism entries and canons had yet to be codified and promulgated. More than once in my scholarly travels I’ve read or heard conservative observers bashing the practices of that time in the American Church. A recent blog post noted, “Sadly, most Catholics, know little or nothing about the ‘Great Treasury of Sacred Music’ to which they are the rightful heirs and are rarely, if ever, exposed to high quality sacred music and Gregorian Chant that is truly transcendent (i.e. Palestrina, Tallis, Durufle, Holst, Byrd).” (Be advised, if you come to Charis, you’re going to miss your Palestrina, as those who were singing along with John Prine last Sunday will attest.)
The music that we sang in the years I was most impressionable might not have had the elegance of a mass by Thomas Tallis, but it burned a vision of the Christian life into me that I have yet (and hope never) to shake. Recently, my folder with all of the music I played as a youngster surfaced in my mom’s things. Sheila, my sister, and I just had to hear the first line of any one of those songs to be able to sing the entire thing. Were the messages sometimes trite? Yes (I’m still not too keen on the upbeat “eat his body, drink his blood” of “Sons of God”). But how about this for a vision:

Take our bread, we ask you,
Take our hearts, we love you,
Take our lives, oh Father,
We are yours, we are yours.
Yours as we stand at the table you set,
Yours as we eat the bread our hearts can’t forget.
We are the signs of your life with us yet;
We are yours, we are yours.
Take our bread, we ask you,
Take our hearts, we love you,
Take our lives, oh Father,
We are yours, we are yours.
Your holy people stand washed in your blood,
Spirit-filled, yet hungry, we await your food.
We are poor, but we brought ourselves the best we could.
We are yours, we are yours.
Take our bread, we ask you,
Take our hearts, we love you,
Take our lives, oh Father,
We are yours, we are yours.

This week, Richard Rohr’s daily reflections offered an observation from his book about the mystics. “God, it seems, cannot really be known, but only related to. Or, as the mystics would assert, we know God by loving God, by trusting God, by placing our hope in God. It is a non-possessive, non-objectified way of knowing. It is always I-Thou and never I-It, to use Martin Buber’s wonderfully insightful phrases. God allows us to know God only by loving God. God, in that sense, cannot be ‘thought’ at all.”
Hmmm. Maybe all those songs about relationships and love, “take our hearts, we love you… we are yours” were on to something.
More on the power of community, relationship, and love this Sunday as we meet again the amazing Anna and Simeon. Mass is at 11 a.m. Sunday.

In gratitude for your companionship on this journey,
Trish
Pastoral Director

Charis
An Ecumenical Catholic Community
http://www.newcatholiccommunity.com
cháris Χάρις khar’ece

Our name means grace, good will, loving-kindness, favor; of the merciful kindness by which God, exerting his holy influence upon souls, turns them to Christ, keeps, strengthens, increases them in Christian faith, knowledge, affection, and kindles them to the exercise of the Christian virtues.

Sunday, January 26, 2020

“’Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men.’
At once they left their nets and followed him.”

There are a lot of fisherpeople in MN. Some have real gifts and passion for the sport. Me? I’m a sort of “Honey, I’ll hang here with my novel while you cast” sort of fishergal. But pulling in your meal is such a powerful thing, as one night of endless bass showed me. (If you want a glimmer of the beauties of fishing, go watch Lauren Knapp’s utterly delightful “Fishing in Heaven” here: https://vimeo.com/28992129) Leaves me thinking about fishing for people… We do it because it will, ultimately, feed us and feed the world. Hope to see you on Sunday at 11 a.m. at Charis ECC, 7117 Washington Ave. South.
I look forward to seeing many of you at Mass at 11 a.m. In gratitude for your companionship on this journey,

Trish
Pastoral Director
Charis
An Ecumenical Catholic Community
http://www.newcatholiccommunity.com
cháris Χάρις khar’ece

Our name means grace, good will, loving-kindness, favor; of the merciful kindness by which God, exerting his holy influence upon souls, turns them to Christ, keeps, strengthens, increases them in Christian faith, knowledge, affection, and kindles them to the exercise of the Christian virtues.

Sunday, January 12, 2020

Let’s Go Down to the River to Pray

Thus says the LORD: Here is my servant whom I uphold,
my chosen one with whom I am pleased,
upon whom I have put my spirit;
he shall bring forth justice to the nations,
not crying out, not shouting,
not making his voice heard in the street.
a bruised reed he shall not break,
and a smoldering wick he shall not quench,
until he establishes justice on the earth;
the coastlands will wait for his teaching. — The Prophet Isaiah
This Sunday is the last day of the season of Christmas. Am I the only person with the tree still up? Well, it’s not liturgical year correctness, I admit, just a busy life and travel schedule!
It’s fascinating to me that the last day of this season is a huge leap forward from the birth and other narratives set in Bethlehem, Nazareth, Jerusalem and the road to Egypt. We have fast-forwarded from Magi to the banks of the Jordan. People are flocking to John for the Baptism of repentance he is offering.
Our English word baptism is derived from a Greek word, baptizo, which means to plunge, drown or sink. John’s baptism is in synch with the many water rituals of his time, the root of the current practice of mikvah in contemporary Judaism. Archaeologists have uncovered a deep and complex series of interconnected pools at Qumran, and speculate that the monks regularly underwent ritual cleansing by water. We know from the Gospels that ceremonial washing was important to the followers of Jesus, as was ritual handwashing to the Pharisees.
One of the historical records of the time, written by Josephus, the Jewish historian, references peopl;e going to John as a moment of ritually completing their personal conversion.This baptism signified a turning away from sin in preparation for the reign of God that was, hopefully, breaking in.
And, of course, Christians believe that Jesus represents, in a complete and gracious way, that inbreaking of the divine life, revealed for all of us.
The wonderful liturgical theologian Max Johnson describes the baptism of John akin to the crossing of the Jordan made by the people as they entered the promised land. To go into the Jordan with John is to be ready to enter a new age. So it seems particularly powerful that Jesus himself enters into that ritual. And of course, no surprise that we hear the voice of Isaiah on Sunday as well, proclaiming as Judaism makes a critical shift away from violence and internecine conflict that God’s servant will be the one who brings justice by following a path of peace.
As our nation dances with the possibility of escalating violence in Iraq with Iran, and as portions of the world sear under the lash of climate change (please see prayer for Australia, below), we need this reminder of who Jesus is, was and will be. We need the daily renewal of baptismal power and fervor. I say. More on that Sunday!
I look forward to seeing many of you at Mass at 11 a.m. 7117 Washington Ave. South, just off the Valley View Road exit of 169.

In gratitude for your companionship on this journey,
Trish
Pastoral Director

Charis
An Ecumenical Catholic Community
http://www.newcatholiccommunity.com
cháris Χάρις khar’ece
Our name means grace, good will, loving-kindness, favor; of the merciful kindness by which God, exerting his holy influence upon souls, turns them to Christ, keeps, strengthens, increases them in Christian faith, knowledge, affection, and kindles them to the exercise of the Christian virtues.

Photo is of a mural in Medjugorje. Thanks to U.S. Catholic for source material for this reflection.

Australian Bush fires

Peter Bierer is a friend of our community. This prayer he wrote just appeared in America Magazine. We join him in praying for Australia.

Prayer of Lament for Australia

How long, O Lord?

Every day, I see images and hear stories of the devastating bushfires in Australia. Raging fires, blackened forests, burned-out homes, ash-filled skies, scarred animals, traumatized children and communities.

I am filled with sorrow, my soul is heavy with grief.
How long will the fires last, O Lord?
How long will the destruction and death continue?
Where are you, God?

I am sad, O God.

I grieve for the loss of human life, of homes, animals, plants and trees, and the scarring of the earth. I am saddened for the original custodians of the land, the First Peoples of Australia, and the poor and marginalized disproportionately affected by the fires. As Jesus wept for Jerusalem and the coming destruction of the temple, I weep for Australia and the destruction of this sacred land.

Turn my sadness into compassion.

I am fearful, O God.

I am afraid because these fires are out of my control. I feel helpless and small. When will this torment end? How many lives will be affected by the fires? There is no end in sight. Will relief ever come?

Turn my fear into hope.

I am angry, O God.

I look for someone to blame. Whose fault is this? Scientists have warned for decades of the dangers of climate change, yet our leaders sit idly by, making promises with little to show in action. I am even angry with you, God. Can’t you stop the fires by some miracle? Are you even listening? I know that pointing fingers will not help, but I am upset.

Turn my anger into resolve.

I am ashamed, O God.

Am I partly to blame for these fires? I hold tightly to my comforts and conveniences which contribute to higher carbon levels in the atmosphere. I am ashamed because I do not know how to help.

Turn my shame into healing.

I am grateful, O God.

I am thankful for the firefighters who work tirelessly to protect your people and all creation; for the volunteers and those who donate money, supplies and their own homes to assist those in need; for the “good news stories” which spark hope. I am grateful for the rain when it comes.

Turn my gratitude into action.

How long, O Lord, how long?

I cry to you in my helplessness as I witness the tragedy unfolding in the Great Southland of the Holy Spirit.

Come, Holy Spirit, Enkindle in us the fire of your love fill the hearts of your people and renew the face of the earth.

Instead of bushfires, come with the fire of your love, Holy Spirit.

Fill us with compassion and mercy to stand with our sisters and brothers affected by the fires. Give us strength to join in their suffering and bear witness to their pain.

Instead of the driving winds that add fuel to the fires, come as a gentle breath.

Bring fresh air to drive away the toxic fumes and ashen skies. Breathe new life into us, inspire us with love to care for one another and the earth.

Come, Holy Spirit, as a refreshing rain.

Open the heavens, quench the flames, heal the parched land and nourish our souls, renew the face of the earth.

Come, Holy Spirit, with the peace of a dove.

Calm our anxieties and fear. Lead us from the temptation to blame one another and become divided. May we be bearers of peace.

Come as a balm, Holy Spirit.

Anoint and soothe the wounds of the victims, seen and unseen. May we be balm to one another.

Be our Advocate, Holy Spirit.

Listen to our inward groaning and give us words to speak in places of power. Speak through us that we may be prophets of love amid the kingdoms of selfishness and greed; that we may speak hope in times of despair.

Veni, Creator Spiritus!

Heal the land. Heal our hearts. Make us new again.

To you, O God, I entrust my sorrow, my fears, my anguish, as well as the people, the flora and fauna, the land of Australia.

Help me to find consolation and be grateful for the many gifts and joys present in the midst of this tragedy.

Reveal to me the path of life.

Fill me with love, guide me in hope, and lead me to act with mercy and compassion.

Amen.