Wednesday, June 06, 2018

Hiaku from the Archives March 1984

          Spring waters in flood
Down the folds of the hillsides
Dancing and falling.


The pale light of dawn
At sight of the waiting world
Breaks into bright flame.

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Fischer Endowment at Loyola High School Baltimore


On Friday, May 18, a group of 150 alumni and friends of Loyola gathered for a fundraising dinner benefiting the Frank P. Fischer Diversity Scholarship Fund at Loyola Blakefield, which is geared towards making a Loyola education more accessible to young African-American men in the Greater Baltimore region. Guest speakers included Ken Montague ’60 (the first African-American graduate of Loyola), Bill Jackson ’71 (Judge on the US Superior Court in DC), Trey Hunt ’19, and Izaac Hester ’21. Mr. Fischer was also in attendance. Many thanks to event chairmen Stan Mosley ’75 & Wesley Wood ’88, along with a large supporting cast of dedicated African-American alumni.

In the 1960s & '70s, then-Jesuit Frank Fischer took bold steps toward recruiting and preparing African-American students to attend Loyola. Frank was also instrumental in matching funding opportunities to ensure that those who might not otherwise have access to a Loyola education were fully supported. The Frank P. Fischer Diversity Scholarship Fund provides financial support to African-American students whose families possess a demonstrated financial need and who meet Loyola’s academic standards for admission. Mr. Fischer was the first person to facilitate the meaningful racial integration of Loyola Blakefield, and we honor his proud legacy through this fund.

If you would like to make a gift to the Frank P. Fischer Diversity Scholarship Fund, you can do so here.

Frank Fischer with his friend Ralph Moore at
Loyola High School Blakefield

Sunday, May 06, 2018

I am the Vine; You are the Branches

 “It is to the glory of my Father that you should bear much fruit,
and then you will be my disciples.”   John 15.8

End of our eight foot gnarled grapevine trunk
Closeup of its promising shoots


Though there are thriving vineyards not far away, here at the Jesuit Center we have only this one struggling vine.   Its gnarled old trunk was severely pruned this spring but, surprising us who know little of vine tending, these new shoots, called canes, are promising.  Last year the grapes were, while not vineyard worthy, somewhat plentiful and tasty.  Let's see what happens this year after the severe pruning.   Stay tuned for some seasonal progress.

Sermon for the Fifth Sunday of Easter, April 29, 2018

Very often the gospels record the parables and proverbs that Jesus uses to illustrate his teachings.  In this morning’s gospel Jesus uses the grape vine as graphic illustration of our union with him.

In Berks County in recent years farmers and land owners have made the grape vine a more prominent feature of our landscape.   Wineries like Pinnacle Ridge and Clover Hill are attractive places to visit.   The grape vines themselves are extraordinarily durable.   They have a long and fruitful life, many bearing fruit for over a hundred years.   Tending the vines is a labor of love that demands focus, skill and good judgment.   Pruning is essential each year.   Done correctly it greatly improves the quality and number of grapes.    Not only are the dead branches cut off but most of the branches that bore fruit in the last season are cut back, some severely.   But amazing to those of us who know little about this pruning:  the tiny buds on the branches or canes that remain on the vine often yield two healthy clusters of grapes.

Jesus knew something about the care of the vines that yield fruitfulness.   This encouraged him to think of his followers as branches attached to him.   He imagines himself as the enduring trunk of the vine.   Truly, after the pruning process the budding branches might not look like they have much potential.   So, too, with his disciples; they appear to be without much potential, slow learners, knuckleheads we might say.   

We ask how it happens that they spread successfully the saving message of his love.  The answer is in the image.   As in the union of the vine and the branches, Jesus shares an intimacy with his disciples.   The vine and the branches together are one.  Without their intimate life of one in the other, no fruit is possible.   Jesus is life for the disciples and the disciples through their faith give life to his message.  

Year after year parts of pruned branches remain strong in their bearing of fruit, other branches die off but still new ones spring out of the trunk to continue the production of fruit.   So Jesus’ message not only survives but thrives into the ages that follow.   But to continue to bear fruit his disciples also experience the frequent pruning of their wayward selves, the frequent pruning of the fruitless parts of their persons. 

We pray that we can know ourselves as united to Jesus in that imagined intimacy of vine and branches.  This knowledge urges us to the practice of seeing Jesus in our brothers and sisters.  This knowledge urges us in our words and works to share ourselves freely with those that are in need.   Even if hardships seek to overcome us, this knowledge creates around us a community that offers consolation and hope.

        "It is to the glory of my Father that you should bear much fruit,

and then you will be my disciples.'

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Goslings on site!

Goslings Galore

Yes, we see a lot of Canadian geese in our part of the world!    And now we know why!    

This couple has been to our pond in each of the last three years.  Mom sits on exactly the same nesting spot at the edge of the pond for two or three weeks each year.  She had to sit through some snow and freezing weather this year.

This is their third family just at our site.  We have no proof of numbers from last year but the first year there were at least four goslings.

There are, of course, predators in the wings and on the wings.   Our local red-tailed hawk butchered a duck that he had carried to the lawn right under my window.   A quiet place to dine.  So mom and dad have nothing to worry about from a stray photographer but they know enough to keep a steady watch.

Friday, April 06, 2018

The waning of winter in Wersnersville

The foot of wet snow on March 22

And a few hundred yards away mom and dad set up their nest in the exact same spot for the third year running, this year just six or seven days after the snow fall.   Vigilant and confident they will usher in a new season with their offspring.   (Papa is getting used to the photographer!)

Easter Vigil 2018

Saturday, March 31, 2018  Easter Vigil

The Blue Moon of March 31, 2018

When the sky cleared last evening and the near-full moon rose, our Jewish brothers and sisters celebrated the feast of Passover.  We Christians, of course, had celebrated Jesus’ last Passover on Thursday evening.    There Jesus gives himself as food for our journey into liberation and glory.   Like the Jews freed from Egypt, in our own desert we also may complain about the struggles through which we must live but at the same time Jesus is with us in the Eucharist and sends us the Spirit of encouragement and peace.

A story in Mark’s gospel tells of the women discovering the empty tomb and hearing the message of the angel:  “Jesus of Nazareth has been raised, he is not here.”   Details about what happens next among the women differ.   Mark says that they were afraid to tell anyone.   Luke writes, on the other hand, that they told the men who were disciples but the men refused to believe the women.  

Similar witness from the women occurs in each of the four gospels. Yes, later the men offer testimony but Jesus reveals his resurrection first to the women.  In their patriarchal society none of the gospel writers or male disciples would have thought it helpful to begin with women’s testimony.  Thus such unusual testimony argues for its truth.   And, too, this revelation first to women underlines their role as disciples of Jesus.

I seek some parallels of the resurrection in our own clumsy lives. Even when this possibility is so disrupted by our sins and the evil in this world, rebirth never vanishes.   To be sure, so often the Spirit of God and the hands of human love and care bring about a rebirth as in the change of heart of those ailing with addictions or lives of anger and hatred.   

But still, with each person’s inevitable death, the permanence of risen life hides itself from us.    In our times of sadness and anger over death or over the suffering of children we find ourselves in the same position as the men and women who came to know Jesus, his life and his teaching.   The Spirit opened their eyes to his resurrection so powerfully that his love transformed their lives.   All of our weaknesses and sins, all the evil in the world have not and cannot destroy this Spirit.      

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Feb 18 2018 Two parts! SNOW & SNOW GEESE

Sunrise after an overnight snowfall  February 18, 2018

Later in the afternoon
The Canadian geese typically fly over the house in the afternoon on their feeding trips around the county.   They fly no more than a few hundred feet in the air.  But this display must be a migration of snow geese over a thousand feet directly overhead.  

 They may have spent time in Middle Creek, a stopover along the Atlantic Flyway just about twenty miles away.    As many as a hundred thousand geese can be counted using Middle Creek as a stopover on any given day.

Will they be flying all night?

This photo puts me in mind of our former Jesuit Provincial, Jim Devereux, who was an avid bird watcher.   I lived in the community where he died many years ago.  During his last illness when he could no longer read, he asked me to read to him a favorite poem by Anne Porter called "Birds of Passage"

",,,,when the Canada geese are coming down from the north...

They rise up heavily 
To begin their autumn flight.  

You who speak without words 
To your creatures who live without words
Are hiding under their feathers

To give them a delicate certainty
On the long dangerous night journey."