Palm Sunday / April 5, 2009
Dear Friends,This has been one of the most powerful and fruitful experiences of Lent that I’ve had in many years. I am sure that is partly due to the retreat I made at the beginning of Lent to ponder the meaning of my priesthood. I have sunk more deeply into the scriptures as the Jesus I know and love came even more alive for me. I wanted to share more of that with you, but I must accept my limitations. All in due time. I have no official ministry as I am “retired” (I hate that word), I am available “to do what love requires,” like receiving Augie into my home. We have just spent an hour to prepare for Holy Week together. I try to be present to a little flock and press on trying to develop a more regular online presence. This past week I was beset with all kinds of tech problems that are making my Holy Week Arise late.
Nevertheless, all is ready now for the final days of our Lenten journey with Jesus. The stage is set for the drama of the Paschal Mystery to be re-enacted in the parishes throughout the world. Some will do it with love and devotion and emotion and creatively so that people can really be touched anew and unite themselves with the Passion of Jesus as it continues in our world 2009. Others will do it without care, almost because they have to be bothered. This is the church in disarray that brings great sadness to my heart. But there are parishes around which are filled with life. I hope you can find one.
Augie and I have found a parish south of Fort Lauderdale, St. Maurice in Davie, which has been doing liturgy well and devotedly for many years. People there are alive, spontaneous, welcoming. Their eyes sparkle with joy and life — and this in a neighborhood of many old people. I find this such a contrast to the parish I attended before I moved here, humbly sitting in the pew, even as they complain about the shortage of priests. There were few smiles, very little light in peoples’ eyes. I know the church can come back to life. And I am determined to stay and pray and work and write for a new Pentecost. I believe in the gospel and and I am just trying to do the very little I can to share it and let it come to life in peoples’ hearts.
As I participated in the liturgy of Palm Sunday , I pondered Jesus’ humility and am grateful that he whittled my aberrant ego down to size. I know what humiliation feels like; I am a marginalized person with a mental illness and other things. But I rejoice Ihave found my way to a home here in Cypress Chase A condominium, as an ordinary person.
As the crowds hailed him as King and shouted “Hosanna to the Son f David! and threw cloaks and palm branches at his feet, I wonder what he was thinking. He surely knew that the end was near. What was his prayer as he looked into the faces of the crowd of well-wishers who would abandon him a few days later when the going got rough.
My prayer this Holy Week is two-fold:
First, the renewal of the priesthood which I find sadly in disarray these days. Reflecting on Hebrews this week I had a renewed sense of the meaning of Jesus’ priesthood. He was to stand in the breach and offer his own life as sacrifice. I pray that we priests would do the same — to heroically offer our own selves as gift for the people we have been ordained to shepherd. I understand the meaning of Jesus as priest more fully, more personally — and I commit myself to this charge and ideal — to help our people find the meaning that will inspire all of us, church and society to be purified, cleansed and made holy. This in the midst of the messiness of of our economy / of our own personal and family life / of the superficiality, the unreality and lack of moral courage in American culture today /and yes, the messiness of our church. I unite myself as I have for many years with my priest/brothers who bear the heat of the day. I will pray for you, for us, intensely this week.
And secondly, I continue to pray for the transformation of America. The post that follows this one is a reprise of the one I broadcast from the Christ in the Desert Monestary in New Mexico a year ago. Today, I give thanks that my prayer has been answered in many ways. This economic crisis is, in fact, an answer to my prayer because the shock of it might wake us up before we go over the cliff . We have to return to being One Nation Under God. Specifically, I invite you, Christian, to turn any hatred you have toward Mr. Obama to loving prayer that the Holy Spirit will guide the journey of his mind and heart to become one who understand at support the sacredness of all human life. It happened to St. Paul; it can happen again. It is love that transforms. It is love — and only love — which is what Jesus is all about.
The humble man who rode into his city on a donkey, not a stunning white stallion as a mighty conqueror is the Jesus I know and love.
allow us to slow down our activity this Holy Week 2009
to unite ourselves in your high priestly prayer
for the reconciliation of the world.
May we be wiling to give of ourselves and accept our crosses
as a way of building up Your kingdom of love here in our world today.
Hosanna to You, the Son of David!
priest / writer