Padre A’plas

stanley-rother-picFr. Stanley Rother was born and raised in a German-American community in Okarche, Oklahoma, but ended up as a missionary priest in Santiago Atitlan, Guatemala. Speaking almost no Spanish, and absolutely no Tz’utujil, the language of the local people, Fr. Stan arrived and immersed himself in his new community. This immersion transformed both him and those he served with love. Padre A’plas, meaning Padre Francis, as he became known, worked together under many difficult circumstances in the pursuit of justice and dignity.

516nNayXAiL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_On this day in 1981, he was martyred – shot in his own residence. While I had heard of Fr. Rother before (I know a priest who was in seminary with him),  I was not very familiar with his life and witness. Recently I had the privilege of reading an unpublished galley of biography of Fr. Rother. That book, The Shepherd Who Didn’t Run by Maria Ruiz Scaperlanda, will be Continue reading

Ultreya!

ultreia-1Hi, I have not been around, although many posts are in draft mode. And then there are the book reviews that got “lost” under drifts of snow and blasts of cold during the winter, the ones that had me seeking refuge on my sofa. Where exactly have I been since the warmer days came along? Well – I’ve been walking and walking and walking. And then I walk some more. Yes, me. Really!

From early on,  I was a big walker. Having grown up in a place with a downtown and sidewalks, and then having lived near and worked in NYC, I always walked a lot. Then I moved here, started grad school at night and a new career during the day. Walking was the short distance between house and attached garage, parking lot and office, and so forth. Grad school ended in 2013, but somehow I could not get my walking – or exercising in any form – groove back, except for when on vacation.

walkinarelaxedmannerlrgSo what’s up now? The summer after graduation, I read Walk in a Relaxed Manner by Joyce Rupp. Long ago dreams of making a pilgrimage on the Camino de Santiago, specifically the Camino Francés were reawakened. Now that dream is becoming reality scheduled for September 2016, a date chosen about one year ago when my friend and fellow pilgrim Sue and I decided to try to follow up on this seemingly impossible dream.

This is truly a quixotic quest. Am I really going to Continue reading

Laudato Si’ you soon!

PopeQuote0615-e1434644573760Yesterday I spent far too much time reading *about* Laudato Si, and not enough time reading Laudato Si. Add to that, many feelings and emotions about the Charleston church shooting, the fire at the church of the Loaves and Fishes, and about a million other things.

I’ll be making my way through the encyclical and I will offer some thoughts and reflections about the document and what I think it means to all of us. Here are a few initial thoughts….

1. We have to explore all parts of the encyclical, and not just the parts that appeal to us. Notice I say explore – meaning opening our hearts and minds and not reacting immediately. (Although what great temptation!) For example, that a Muslim mystic is referenced (Footnote 159, Paragraph 233) is as important as what is found in paragraph 120, regarding abortion.

2. Unbridled capitalism is as bad as communism.

3. That everyone is likely to find something that they disagree with in the encyclical tells me that God is truly present and as challenging as ever.

4. We all basically need to drastically revise how we live. How likely is this? Yeah, that likely.

5. Reread #1 above.

6. Keep breathing. Go deep. Ask more questions rather than give more answers.

Laudato si you soon! I’ll be back with more.

Justify my hate…

pray-for-your-enemiesFrom the Gospel today, and continuing into tomorrow…

“You have heard that it was said,‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’But I say to you, offer no resistance to one who is evil. When someone strikes you on (your) right cheek, turn the other one to him as well. If anyone wants to go to law with you over your tunic, hand him your cloak as well. Should anyone press you into service for one mile, go with him for two miles.Give to the one who asks of you, and do not turn your back on one who wants to borrow.

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’But I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your heavenly Father, for he makes his sun rise on the bad and the good, and causes rain to fall on the just and the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what recompense will you have? Do not the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet your brothers only, what is unusual about that? Do not the pagans do the same? So be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect.”

Your hatred is not the problem, OUR hatred is.

Your hatred is not the problem, OUR hatred is.

We shoot one another.
We have no respect for the environment.
We often have no respect for Pope Francis.
We might have had no respect for Pope Benedict XVI either, and he was environmentally inclined as well.
We often don’t pay people enough to live.
We have no tolerance for one another.
We are vitriolic towards one another.
We feel entitled to our “things,” because we “earned” them.
We put people to death.
We bomb children.
We starve people.

How are we doing? Do we justify our own hate?

Loving Lilacs – A guest post by Linda Berkery

f100_7341-1Loving Lilacs – by Linda Berkery

When you think of the Adirondack Mountains and the majestic Lake George, “lilacs” is not the first word that comes to mind. And yet there they were—crazy lilacs—nature’s own wild landscaping overlooking the lake. Who might have planted these old fashioned bushes so many years ago? I wondered. How wonderful that they remain on the fringe!

An unexpected gift from my daughter brought us to the Adirondack Mountains in May for a few days of quiet rest. My husband settled in with his pencils and sketch book to draw the gorgeous landscape, while I Continue reading

Remain in My Love, a reflection for the 6th Sunday of Easter

13746Have you ever heard someone say, “I used to go to church, but I’m not welcome now.”? These words, and variations of them, may be spoken in anger, sadness, resignation, but most always in hurt. Hearing them breaks my heart.

What church doesn’t welcome/like God’s people? God’s longing is to draw everyone in relationship with God, as members of the mystical Body of Christ in the world. All three of today’s readings orient us towards God’s invitation to all people, offered in love, and made manifest through our own participation and action.

image002First we hear about Cornelius, a Roman citizen, who prostrates himself before Peter. Without hesitation, Peter tells him to get up, reminding Cornelius that he too is human, not divine. We are all human, and Jesus – who is divinity enfleshed, came to draw us into deeper relationship with God through one another. Peter tells Cornelius that God shows no partiality, and that every nation that “fears him and acts uprightly” is “acceptable” to Him. At this point, the Holy Spirit “fell upon all who were listening to the word.” Such an event is shocking to the “circumcised” who were amazed by God’s generosity and welcome to those they considered outsiders.

This makes me wonder why God’s generous welcome remains Continue reading

Nature’s resurrection

Ellie May 2015 WalkOh yes, I’m still here. As is so often the case, I disappear for extended periods of time, for no particular reason – and the days following Easter are often among them!

Add to that a little surgery had me resting more than writing. Plus the weather has finally improved tremendously, and I have been outside enjoying it all, going on long walks with our dog Ellie. Spring has sprung at last!

Which gets me to to this – walking around the woods, or even just my own yard during spring reveals the glory of God in nature. This is not news, but for some reason this year I seem to be more aware of life in the conditions around me in the natural world. Winter hit me hard this year, in a way that it typically does not; its glacial grip around my soul was beyond numbing.

Snowpack March 2015As recently as a month ago, we still had some remaining plowed snow that was covered with dirt. Blocks of old snow/ice – solid and nearly unbreakable, and not in a good way. That glacial grip remained.  Like bulbs I planted last autumn, those dry hard little things going down dark and deep, my own unreconciled feelings, were buried in our dry and sandy soil that had frozen over, and was covered by this dark mess.

Crocus April 2015Tulip May 2015Yet, Spring arrived in full, and that gritty pack ice near the curb has slowly melted and washed away. Suddenly green things were emerging – grass, shoots, and leaves. (Sorry – as a writer and a poor copy editor of my own work, I could not resist that one!) The branches of trees which not so long ago appeared dessicated and devoid of any new growth, were sprouting little green tips. And those dang bulbs –  up came the green, followed by crocus, then daffodils, and now tulips.

Magnolia bud March 2015No matter how dead something appears, God stirs up the Spirit in the form of new or renewed life. Even in the depth of my winter ennui in those waning days of Lent, the first buds on the magnolia tree outside of my office window caught my attention. On March 24, I decided that I would take a picture every day, or almost every day, and post it on Instagram with the hashtag #magnoliawatch.  God uses every means possible to get into our hearts. Why wouldn’t God use using social media and hashtags to get our attention?

 

Those magnolia buds became my beloved quotidian companions. What might I note from one day to the next? Was the cold too much, would the tree prevail? When would the blooms finally spring forth? Like a bird tending a nest, I was attuned to the slightest details and just as protective!

Full Magnolia White May 2015Full Magnolia Pink 2015At this point the tree has not simply bloomed, petals are already falling to the ground. Make no mistake, the tree is spectacular and I’m in love with all those big pink and white puffballs exploding in color at the end of each branch and twig. However, I see the fallen ones, and while I mourn, I also feel joy. The tree flowers intensely now, but will offer me green shade all summer long. There will be no grieving for the petals for me this year, just an embrace of what follows.

Magnolia May 2015 Full GloryEvery walk I take this Spring reveals new glories and joy, signs and wonders made plain in the flora and fauna of this ecosystem. God appears to have illustrated our Easter season readings and prayers in the growth all around me, and within me. Naturally!

Blessings of Spring to you, blessings of this continued Eastertide!

(If you read this and if you are in the general vicinity, I invite you to St. Edward the Confessor in Clifton Park tonight. We will be having Evening Prayer at 7pm, with music, and tonight I will be offering a brief reflection. Come and join us on the first Tuesday of every month – all are welcome.)