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The New Jerusalem

The second reading for this Sunday, taken from the twenty-first chapter of the Book of Revelation, completes the Biblical story. The Bible tells us that the world will be transformed into a new heaven and a new earth through the One who "makes all things new."

“At the Offertory, Therefore . . .”

On Friday, a seminarian I know texted me a photo of a page from Ven. Archbishop Fulton Sheen’s A Priest Is Not His Own, and said beneath it, “I thought you’d like that.” My God yes. Sheen was describing to priests, as celebrants of the Mass, the meaning of the Offertory. The offering of gifts of bread, wine, and alms—“my sacrifice and yours.” How eloquently he expressed the mystery of a ritual action that is reduced, in most people’s minds, to fishing for money or dropping envelopes in the basket. Or maybe checking the watch to where we stand at halftime. Do the faithful have any idea what they are really transacting in? Are saying “Amen” to? Giving over? Such ignorance profoundly weakens the Offering’s potential effect to change lives and transform the world. Literally. Annie Dillard captured my sentiments in a passage I seem to quote every other week:…

Antonio Cuipa and Companions

The attack came without warning. British Colonel James Moore along with fifty English troops and fifteen hundred Creek Indian mercenaries sacked the Spanish mission of La Concepcion de Ayubale with a ferocity that could only be born from vengeance. Tensions had flared since the failed siege of Castillo de San Marco in 1702, and now the British sought to reap their revenge from the soft underbelly of the Florida Panhandle where Spanish military presence was weak. Besides several poorly fortified barricades, nothing stood in the way of the oncoming invasion . . . or so it seemed. The Appalachee Catholics from mission San Luis in Tallahassee caught word of their sister mission’s plight. A small band of Indians decided to go out and meet the British horde head-on. Leading this group of protectors was the youthful, charismatic, and highly regarded Antonio Cuipa, an inija (“noble/leader”) of the Apalachee nation, second only…

Mary’s Motherly Fiat

The Redeemer was given to us through a mother, the Mother. It is appropriate that Mother’s Day would be celebrated within the Marian month of May as her fiat orients the fiat of mankind and especially that of woman. I am blessed to have my own four children that have grown within my womb, but I am the daughter of a woman who hung a plaque on my wall when I was a very young child. The plaque was emblazoned with the words “You grew not under my heart but in it.” I am adopted. I also have many friends, in real life and online, that I have watched suffer through infertility and infant loss. I have mourned beside friends that have buried their children far too young, and I have mourned the loss of my mother just two short years ago. The fiat of the Blessed Mother echoes throughout…

Christ, the Good Shepherd

Christ the Lord tells us that he is the Good Shepherd. What does this mean? For many, the image of Christ the Shepherd evokes the image of green rolling pastures and a quiet bucolic countryside, free of care and worries. Christ is the Lord of a Christianized version of the Elysium fields, the master of a retreat and respite from the troubles of life, the gentle presider over a safe space of comfort and security. Such musings are coupled with an understanding of the Lord Jesus that is entirely meek and mild, very much like the lambs over which he watches. However attractive this image of Christ the Shepherd is to us, it fails to capture the biblical imagery, which the Lord Jesus calls forth in the tenth chapter of the Gospel of John. The image of a shepherd is, biblically speaking, coded language; it’s a metaphor, not simply for…

Mindful Optimism Is a Danger Worth Dancing With

There are times when—all too innocently, because we have not been mindful of what is before us—we give too much license to a dead past that cannot be changed, and then we lose our handle on things. Like the Sorcerer’s Apprentice, we conjure from the ether of our past a solitary-but-sharply-outlined idea, and then suddenly, one after another, memories begin to fall upon us, like bright orbs called from galaxies far beyond, and much better kept in the distance. Our disappointing families and imperfect parents, our closely held secrets and sins and sorrows and regrets, given too much free reign, begin to dominate us. They wreak havoc on our emotions and then begin to drain our spirits until we are depleted and depressed—all trust, all hope diminished. When we get to that place, we begin to hate everyone—or to imagine that we do—and to wonder about that Being we call…

The Imperialism of the Martyrs

The book of Revelation is an unveiling of a new state of affairs, the new things that are on offer in light of Jesus’ resurrection from the dead. Though it looks like worldly power holds sway, real power belongs to the army of those who have chosen to follow the crucified and risen Savior. The martyrs have come from all corners of the world, and they have spoken many languages. And this is the army that, up and down the centuries, has undermined the foundations of the fallen world. This is the great fighting force that Jesus has unleashed and continues to unleash. Mass Readings Reading 1 – Acts 13:14, 43-52 Psalm – Psalm 100:1-5 Reading 2 – Revelation 7:9, 14B-17 Gospel – John 10:27-30…

“Ralph Breaks the Internet” and Satan‘s Attacks

I’ve always been a sucker for some good slapstick humor (growing up on Ace Ventura and Wayne’s World), and Wreck-it Ralph has been a welcome addition to our children’s movie library. In the Wreck-It Ralph sequel, Ralph Breaks the Internet (spoilers ahead), Venellope’s game Sugar Rush is about to be unplugged. The steering wheel for the console was broken after Ralph tried to change up the driving course to make it more exciting for her. After discovering that a replacement steering wheel was up for auction on eBay, Ralph and his best friend venture into the internet to save Sugar Rush, beginning an epic adventure. There’s a lot of fun and humor that ensues, but the lightness takes a turn when Venellope discovers an online racing game called Slaughter Race. She discovers a new method of racing where everything is new and finds a desire to leave Sugar Rush and…

Video Games: A Lesson on the Importance of Aesthetics

I recently had the privilege of visiting the J.R.R. Tolkien exhibition at the Morgan Library & Museum in New York City titled “Tolkien: Maker of Middle Earth.” There is much to be said about the exhibit itself, but for the sake of our current topic I would like to focus on an experience I had with some fellow millennials in the museum gift shop. In the course of my browsing the store, I overheard two cashiers, a young man and young woman, discussing video games. Obviously, the conversation piqued my interest, so I walked up to the counter and introduced myself. The young woman was quite surprised to see a Catholic priest (in full clerical attire mind you) so well-versed in video game culture. We starting spouting off different games from our childhood, listing some of our favorite levels and boss battles, laughing all the while. It was delightful. Eventually,…

Doing Nothing Often Leads to the Very Best Something

In the 2018 film Christopher Robin, we see Winnie the Pooh and Christopher Robin standing on a bridge chatting. Christopher Robin asks Pooh what he loves doing best. “Going to see you,” […]