Palm Sunday – Passion Sunday

Yup, that’s right. Tomorrow is such a big day that it has two names.

Expect an emotional roller coaster.

Woah man, do I mean it too. We start with the triumph of Christ entering Jerusalem in glory, we end with death and mayhem. This is going to be a bumpy ride.

Christ’s entry into Jerusalem is so odd to me. He enters both as a king and as a pauper. On one side, He is being hailed by all around him. People are crying out Hosanna and draping palms before Him that the very feet of his steed may not touch the ground. Christ has just performed three powerful signs proving His kingship, most notably the raising of Lazarus from the dead, and folks are just plain excited. The new King has arrived, and they can just see everything about to finally start going right.

At the same time though, He is riding a donkey. A smelly, filthy little donkey. He is not being born by a litter of buff men, nor is he riding in on a powerful warhorse. Heck, he’s not even riding in on a camel. Let’s be honest here, it we be more comely if he would just get off and walk, but no. He rides in on the very image of poverty.

This is just wild. Can you imagine this happening today? What if the president rode into town in a beat up Buick from the eighties, coated in rust with the rims stolen, the headliner draped around his head and the tailpipe blowing smoke. Seriously, this would just be scandal.

What an amazing scene, and what a glorious way to start Mass.

It certainly doesn’t last long.

Without ado, we are led straight into the lion’s den. Christ is being dragged through the court system with such speed it would make any judge blush. His head is on the chopping block, and folks aren’t wasting time with deliberation. The Cross is calling, and Christ is walking up the hill.

I want to pause. So often we think the priest has the good part. He wears fancy robes, and gets to bless everyone. He gets to read the Gospel, and splash everyone with holy water. Well, that certainly isn’t the case today. Today we read the good parts.

“Crucify Him!”

You may not think this is the good part. You might even feel ashamed as you read it. As you accuse Peter along with servant girl, you may wish you were reading about lilies in the field. I want you to understand, that is exactly what makes it the good part. We get to remember that it was us that hung Christ out to dry. It was you and I, every time we sin that caused this to be necessary. We have the part that is truly designed to change us, to bring us back to center. What a blessing.

Christ is hanging. We just stand and watch. We leave with a deep sense of quiet, a silence ever so much more deep because of our triumphant entrance.

The man we worshiped as king is dead, and the donkey is put out to pasture.

Our palms have becomes crosses, and we are truly alone.

Holy Week to Easter Sunday

This weekend it all begins. That most holy and glorious time of year, that moment when heaven seems to reach down and touch the earth.

Holy Week is upon us.

I realize that many of you do not have the opportunity to run to every service that happens this week, so I wanted to do a little catechesis, and give you the basic overview of what goes on this week for those who do not know. Next week, I plan to go in depth about each of the Holy Week liturgies as they happen.

First things first though, the overview.

Passion/Palm Sunday

Now the Church fully realizes that not everyone can go to Mass every day, even during Holy Week, so it tries very hard to cram as much of the gospel message into Sunday liturgies as possible. You will most definitely see this in action this Sunday, as it tries to tell the entire story of our Lords passion in one sitting. Phew, this one is tough.

Spy Wednesday

Not a big day, I know, but we remember the betrayal by Judas.

Holy Thursday

More like Holy Cow! How they are able to fit in the commemoration of the Lord’s Supper, the washing of the feet, the re-dedication of clergy to their bishop, the blessing of the holy oils, and the agony in the garden in one day is simply miraculous. Really, really big day, officially starting the Triduum.

Good Friday

The day we remember the actual passion of our Lord, also the only day of the year we are not allowed to have Mass. The great highlight here is the Adoration of the Cross.

Holy Saturday

This day is usually rather calm, as we relive the time when Christ was in the tomb. If you have a liturgy of the hours service in the morning, go to it, the readings are absolutely beautiful.

Easter Sunday

Finnaly the day has arrived! It starts with the Easter Vigil, the single most important Mass of the year. (Yes, I know it’s on Saturday Night, but liturgically, it’s on Sunday. I’ll have to explain this sometime!) This is the day we remember Christ rising from the dead. It is also when we bring in new adult converts into the Church. Easter Sunday is celebration after celebration.

I hope you take the time to engage yourself as much as possible over the next week. Let the story overtake you, and reorder your life. Holy Week is truly a foretasting of heaven, so savor every moment.

Puberty

So my daughter had her birthday today. Let me tell you, nothing makes you feel your age like the age of you children. So I can feel as youthful as I please, but the sad truth is, my youngest daughter is eleven. Sheesh.

With eleven come The Changes. Yes, they have already started of course, she’s growing hair in odd places, and her chest is changing shape, but I know what’s in store over the next few years.

First, I must relinquish the phone permanently. With one girl on it all hours of the day already, I can only imagine that I will not be allowed to use it again.

Second, the ladies at the drug store are going to love me to death. I think they get a kick out of the man who drives up in the rain to buy feminine products already, I imagine they’ll think it’s just great when I walk up with them stacked up to my eyeballs. That’s just the picture of masculinity right? A soaked, beaten man trudging through the store with three boxes of tampons, the super duper pack of pads and the mega bottle of Midol? Sounds manly to me, let me tell you. All I need now is a minivan and matching t-shirts. Oh wait, got that already.

Third, the sex talk is immanent. Now I love to give this talk, and I’ve been looking forward to it. I love watching my daughters squirm, and nothing makes them squirm like an uncomfortable conversation. This is going to be awesome. I know this will surprise you, but I’ve actually got a big mouth, I just love to talk. The more serious the topic, the more I am into it. This is going to be a blast.

Fourth, she will start noticing boys here soon. Truth be told, I’m more ready for this than she is, she still thinks they have cooties. This mindset will be all to brief I’m afraid. Too bad she can’t date till she’s 35, cause she’s gonna be a looker.

All in all, amazing changes are in store for me over the next few years, and I’m plum excited to live through them. I have enjoyed every second of their lives, and have never regretted a birthday and wished they could stay young forever. On the contrary, every year they become more interesting, more fun, and a greater blessing.

We cannot help but see God in the setting of the sun. It’s magnificence is simply too awe inspiring to miss. I would argue that the watching of a girl change into a woman beats it hands down. It’s one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen.

May Christ watch over her all the days of her life.

Staycation!

I love my kids, don’t get me wrong. I love them bunches. I feel like something is truly missing from my life if they are not in tow at every moment.

They went to Grandma’s house for a week.

Now I admit, I had heart pangs. I was sad to drop them off, and knew I would miss them every night they were gone. I knew I would look forward to my nightly call to hear about their day with baited breath and eager anticipation. This was all true.

At the same time, a week without kids is a foretaste of heaven. ( So is a week with kids, but I digress…) They get a week with Grandma and tea parties galore. I get a week of quiet. Win for both teams!

My lovely bride and I had the time of our lives. We went out to dinner nearly every night, I even took her to that fancy seafood place downtown. We went for walks and went to the local spa for an evening.

The best thing of all though, was just sitting around in the evening, talking about nothing at all while she did her cross stitching, and I played my video games or read a book.

Ahh.

I don’t even have to feel guilty. My kids are having the time of their life, even jumping in Great Grandma’s plane. (Yes, my grandmother flies experimental planes, but that’s another story)

So I haven’t been around for a bit. Yes, I love this blog, and I love connecting with other like minded folks around the world, but sometimes one just needs to take a break and spend some time being lovey dovey with the missus.

The kids are back though, and so am I. It was wonderful while it lasted.

The Lost Art of Writing Letters

Years ago I worked in data entry. As you can imagine, this was a really boring job. I worked hard though, and eventually gained the trust of my boss, who rewarded me by putting me on the most sensitive assignments. One of these was to document the original surveys from the Louisiana Purchase.

This was really very cool, because I got to hold the journals of the men doing the surveys in my own hands, and leaf through them at my leisure. The one thing that absolutely astounded me was their handwriting.

Think about this, you have rugged men, traveling through the wild, dirty, climbing over rocks and fording rivers, and yet you open these journals, and they show a penmanship ;so fine you would think they were calligraphists working ever so carefully at some prestigious college. Only they weren’t. These were just their quick notes to themselves.

In our age of email and texting, we have lost an art.

So years ago, I decided to work on my own handwriting, and I actually have become rather okay. (By which I mean that my writing no longer looks like the scrawling of a third grader)

I have decided though, that I simply need more practice.

I have a plan.

Yesterday, I received an email that really ticked me off. You can read about it here. Not long ago, our bishop also asked me to write a letter to my congressmen about the current issue with Obamacare as well.

What a great opportunity! I can kill two birds with one stone! I can do my duty as an American Catholic, and at the same time I can improve my penmanship. This is awesome!

Maybe you have been putting off writing a letter or two that you know you should write. Maybe it’s asking forgiveness from someone you hurt, or maybe it’s to forgive someone who hurt you. Maybe you need to tell your family you love them in a meaningful way. Or maybe, like me, you feel a deep responsibility to do something positive to slow the downward spiral of our nation.

Guess what? I bet your penmanship could use a bit of practice too. (A letter is so much cooler than an email, in my humble opinion, but do what suits you)