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How would you portray the face of Jesus?

Once again we find the intersection of art and faith to be both interesting and challenging. Watch this short video of one priest’s quest over the years to seek the face of Jesus:

The video is part of a story on Religion News Service: The Many Faces of Jesus. What do you think?

Work at being ordinary

Paul Kowalewski publishes a daily essay on his blog Desert Retreat House. In the post for Monday, February 22nd he writes:

On this ordinary Monday, plenty of people are off to work or school or off to the market or perhaps off to the gym, off to accomplish the everyday tasks of their routine lives. This sure doesn’t sound very exciting, but in fact if we just pay attention to the seemingly uneventful moments in life and work at being ordinary, a whole world of miracles unfolds without end.

The essay is an extended invitation and a meditation to “pay attention” as we move along the Way into our week. Read the entire post.

What do you hear the Spirit saying?

Women’s Christmas 2015 – A Gift for You from Jan Richardson

Image: Wise Women Also Came © Jan L. RichardsonSpread the word about this (lesser known) feast and Jan Richardson’s gift:

Quote . . .Happy New Year and Merry (almost) Epiphany! In celebration, these three wise women are stopping by with a gift for you. You might know that some folks celebrate Epiphany (January 6) as Women’s Christmas. Originating in Ireland, where it is known as Nollaig na mBan, Women’s Christmas began as a day when the women set aside time to enjoy a break and celebrate together at the end of the holidays.

It’s become a tradition for me to create a new retreat each year that you can use on Women’s Christmas or whenever you need a space of respite and reflection. The retreat, which you can download as a PDF, offers readings, art, and blessings that invite you to listen to your life. Read Jan’s whole post (and download the retreat) here: Women’s Christmas 2015 – A Gift for You « The Painted Prayerbook.

O Antiphons (Dec 17-23)

The exact origin of the “O Antiphons” is not known. Boethius (c. 480-524) made a slight reference to them, thereby suggesting their presence at that time. At the Benedictine abbey of Fleury (now Saint-Benoit-sur-Loire), these antiphons were recited by the abbot and other abbey leaders in descending rank, and then a gift was given to each member of the community. By the eighth century, they are in use in the liturgical celebrations in Rome. The usage of the “O Antiphons” was so prevalent in monasteries that the phrases, “Keep your O” and “The Great O Antiphons” were common parlance. One may thereby conclude that in some fashion the “O Antiphons” have been part of our liturgical tradition since the very early Church. Read more: What are the O Antiphons from Catholic Education Resource Center

Sr. Joan Chittister has provided an entire page to help you pray the O Antiphons (from December 17th through December 23rd). Each meditation is accompanied by a women’s choir chanting the Antiphon in English. Use this online meditation to deepen your prayers as Advent comes to a close and the Nativity arrives.

In the digital age …

… we sometimes lose sight of the passion, dedication, sacrifices, and practical challenges of information sharing in previous ages. Here is a reminder: Let Bidding Begin for the Bay Psalm Book From 1640 (Religion in the New York Times).

Detail. Title Page of the Bay Psalm Book, 1640

From the article:

David N. Redden recited the opening of the 23rd Psalm the way he had memorized it as a child: “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures.”

Then he opened a weathered little book and read the version it contained: “The Lord to mee a shepheard is, want therefore shall not I. Hee in the folds of tender-grasse, doth cause mee downe to lie.”

Those lines were in a volume published in Massachusetts in 1640 that amounted to the Puritans’ religious and cultural manifesto. It was the first book printed in the colonies, and the first book printed in English in the New World. The locksmith who ran the hand-operated press turned out roughly 1,700 copies. The one in Mr. Redden’s hands is one of only 11 known to exist.

Read the article online

Read more about the Bay Psalm Book on Wikipedia

Image: Janneman on Wikipedia

“Will you seek and serve Christ in all persons …”

2013 Pope Francis embracing, blessing, and kissing a man with a skin diseaseOn so many levels this story and the accompanying picture has challenged me and others to wonder about our own ministry and our willingness to embrace “Christ in distressing disguise” (a saying of Mother Teresa of Calcutta)

Are you among the ones challenged by the example of Francis, Bishop of Rome?

Fr. James Martin, SJ, succinctly writes about why this example so moves us. Read his essay Why the Pope’s embrace of the disfigured man is so powerful on CNN.

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Image: La Stampa Media

The Cross

Mosaic."Transfiguration Cross" in St Apolinare in Ravenna, ItalyIn the last two days Marcus Borg, teacher and scholar, posted a two-part essay on the Meaning of the Cross for Christians. Part 1 described the understanding of the cross held by many (most?) 21st century Christians in the United States (Jesus “paid” for our sins). Part 2 described ancient understandings of the Cross (understandings lost when the currently dominant theme of payment ascended in the 12th century). How is the Spirit speaking to the Church through this scholar? How is the meaning of the Cross (and Resurrection)  expanded or narrowed for you? I commend the two essays to you:

Part 1. Christianity Divided by the Cross

For Christianity from its beginning, the cross has always mattered. The crucial question is: what does it mean? Why does it matter? What is its significance?

Part 2. The Real Meanings of the Cross

In earliest Christianity, the cross of Jesus (always also including his resurrection) was utterly central. Central as revelation of God’s passion and Jesus’s passion for the transformation of this world; and as revelation of the way, the path, of personal transformation.

I invite your comments as we continue the conversation.