Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Pentecost Table at the Medical Missions in Fox Chase, PA May 28, 2007

Saint Luke's Catholic Church in McLean, Va decorated for Pentecost. Balloons are part of Easter decorations in some congregations on Bright Sunday, the Sunday after Easter.

Pentecost Sunday, May 27, 2007

At Easter I am accustomed to quoting John Chrysostom’s Easter homily when he speaks of the angels being “wild with delight” at Jesus’ Resurrection. I believe that there is also in that sermon the thought that “God played a practical joke on the devil by raising Jesus from the dead.” The early theologians used this phrase “risus paschalis,” Easter laugh or Easter joke to name that practical joke.

Some churches celebrate this idea with what they call “Bright Sunday” on the Sunday after Easter. The congregation decorates the Church with balloons; they arrive dressed in funny costumes; and the pastor invites stand-up comedy to the sanctuary. So if anyone of you has a joke to tell, this is the last day in the Easter season. Tell it now or hold your peace until next Easter!

(As a matter of fact, a woman did get up to tell this joke: "A man and wife from the United States were vacationing in Jerusalem when the woman suddenly died. The undertaker told the man that he could bury his wife right near Jerusalem for $500 or have the body flown home for $5,000. Without thinking the man said that he would prefer to fly the body home. The undertaker was a little perplexed at the choice since it was so expensive and he asked the man why he made the choice. And the man said, 'I heard that Jerusalem is the place where a man died and in three days rose from the dead. I don't want to take any chances!'" Not the best joke for the several married couples present but she got a good laugh anyway..... I am saving my joke for next year!)

Friday, May 25, 2007

Mother's Day afternoon in Philly: On a Clear Day you can see Forever. The tents in the middle distance housed the morning's activity, a regular Mother's Day Event: the Race for the Cure of Breast Cancer. My own mother loved this area of the city and grew up just a stone's throw from this beautiful setting.
Blessings today on all those of you who are mothers, including all of you women who love or support children in any way. The world should belong to you. To so many children the world is a threatening and dangerous place; but you mothers and those like you would make a different world where such children would flourish.

When I consider how I became a Jesuit and a priest, I can always point to my mother and father, both of whom were close to the church and considered, even if in a passing way, priesthood and religious life as life commitments for themselves. This Mothers’ Day I remind myself of some of the pastoral qualities of my mother. She was a woman who when she died at age 73 left ten best female friends behind. Her children always had an abundance of women that we called our aunts. My mother did not have a career as such but served for many years as a secretary in a parish church and she often told us stories of the pastoral advice that she gave to the pastor. She claimed to have kept him from making blunders with his congregation. Even today I pray for her saintly advice when facing difficult pastoral duties.

Allow me to tell my favorite story about her. My mother was born on the fourth of July in 1909. She was a Yankee Doodle Dandy. When a young mother she met another woman who was a mother of one of my sister’s playmates. In conversation these two women discovered that they were both Yankee Doodle Dandys, both born on the fourth of July. And this woman asked my mother her age. My mother thinking the other woman attractive and young looking, yielded to vanity, lied to her and trimmed three years off her age. And the other woman responded giving her own correct birth date: July 4, 1909, the exact true date of my mother’s birth. Days later my mother, wracked with guilt, admitted the truth to her new acquaintance and the two women became friends for life. My mother would tell this story to us and to her grandchildren as a lesson about the dangers of vanity and telling lies.

Our relationships with our mothers and fathers are not always perfect. We children sometimes do stupid things, rebellious things and we clash with our parents. And parents can be difficult, too. For the most part mothers are forgiving and will defend their children no matter what. And, if for some of us, the relationship with mom was or is strained, remember that God is more generous to mothers than we can ever be. And sometimes we need to rely on God’s kindly judgment on them as well as on ourselves.....

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Evening sets on the campus at Saint Joseph's Unviersity on this Saturday, May 5, the last day of exams for the undergraduates. Graduation is next weekend; the underclass students will return in fifteen weeks. Pray for their growth and safety during the summer. And that they all get jobs, both the graduates and those with nothing to do until August 24.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

This flamenco dancer entertained our faculty-and-staff Spanish class at Amada, a popular Spanish restaurant in downtown Philadelphia. We enjoyed tapas and paella to celebrate the end of the semester.