Monthly Archives: March 2013
Faith is a gift from heaven above. But for some, un-belief is a gift of cold cash 😉
h/t Rev. Han Fiene @lutheransatire
President Obama and his family walked across Lafayette Square to attend Easter Sunday service at St. John’s Episcopal Church in Washington, DC.
The presider was the Reverend Luis Leon, who also gave the closing benediction at President Obama’s second inauguration.
|Mr. Obama & Rev. Luis Leon at DC’s’s St. John’s Episcopal Church|
Unlike at the ceremony on the Mall, where Leon’s stated goal was to bring people together, Leon chose to preach politically partisan on the holiest day of the Christian calendar. Leon preached from the pulpit:
The captains of the religious right are always calling us back, back back. For blacks to be back in the back of the bus, for women to be back in the kitchen, for gays to be in the closet and for immigrants to be on their side of the border…What you and I understand is that when Jesus says you can’t hang onto me, he says you know it’s not about the past, it’s not about the before, it’s not about the way things were but about the way things can be in the now.
Really? Please cite some contemporary examples of captains of the religious right calling blacks to be at the back of the bus. Leon failed to do so during his Easter sermon.
It might be worth considering if Rev. Leon’s sermon was truly uplifting or perpetuating continued political bonds dressed up in Easter finery or spurious scriptural sanction. The answer may be found in Rev. C.L. Bryant’s documentary Runaway Slave. Alas, the message might not be a revelation as much as a lamentation.
Pope Francis’ homily for the Easter Vigil considered the surprise and salvation associated with finding the empty tomb:
In the Gospel of this radiant night of the Easter Vigil, we first meet
the women who go the tomb of Jesus with spices to anoint his body (cf. Lk 24:1-3).
They go to perform an act of compassion, a traditional act of affection
and love for a dear departed person, just as we would. They had
followed Jesus, they had listened to his words, they had felt understood
by him in their dignity and they had accompanied him to the very end,
to Calvary and to the moment when he was taken down from the cross. We
can imagine their feelings as they make their way to the tomb: a certain
sadness, sorrow that Jesus had left them, he had died, his life had
come to an end. Life would now go on as before. Yet the women continued
to feel love, the love for Jesus which now led them to his tomb. But at
this point, something completely new and unexpected happens, something
which upsets their hearts and their plans, something which will upset
their whole life: they see the stone removed from before the tomb, they
draw near and they do not find the Lord’s body.
It is an event which
leaves them perplexed, hesitant, full of questions: “What happened?”,
“What is the meaning of all this?” (cf. Lk 24:4). Doesn’t the
same thing also happen to us when something completely new occurs in our
everyday life? We stop short, we don’t understand, we don’t know what
to do. Newness often makes us fearful, including the newness
which God brings us, the newness which God asks of us. We are like the
Apostles in the Gospel: often we would prefer to hold on to our own
security, to stand in front of a tomb, to think about someone who has
died, someone who ultimately lives on only as a memory, like the great
historical figures from the past. We are afraid of God’s surprises; we
are afraid of God’s surprises! He always surprises us!
Dear brothers and sisters, let us not be closed to the newness
that God wants to bring into our lives! Are we often weary, disheartened
and sad? Do we feel weighed down by our sins? Do we think that we won’t
be able to cope? Let us not close our hearts, let us not lose
confidence, let us never give up: there are no situations which God
cannot change, there is no sin which he cannot forgive if only we open
ourselves to him.
But let us return to the Gospel, to the women, and take one step
further. They find the tomb empty, the body of Jesus is not there,
something new has happened, but all this still doesn’t tell them
anything certain: it raises questions; it leaves them confused, without
offering an answer. And suddenly there are two men in dazzling clothes
who say: “Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here;
but has risen” (Lk 24:5-6).
What was a simple act, done surely
out of love – going to the tomb – has now turned into an event, a truly
life-changing event. Nothing remains as it was before, not only in the
lives of those women, but also in our own lives and in the history of
mankind. Jesus is not dead, he has risen, he is alive! He does not simply return to life; rather, he is life itself, because he is the Son of God, the living God (cf. Num 14:21-28; Deut 5:26; Josh 3:10).
Jesus no longer belongs to the past, but lives in the present and is
projected towards the future; he is the everlasting “today” of God. This
is how the newness of God appears to the women, the disciples and all
of us: as victory over sin, evil and death, over everything that crushes
life and makes it seem less human. And this is a message meant for me
and for you, dear sister, dear brother.
How often does Love have to tell
us: Why do you look for the living among the dead? Our daily problems
and worries can wrap us up in ourselves, in sadness and bitterness…
and that is where death is. That is not the place to look for the One
who is alive! Let the risen Jesus enter your life, welcome him as a
friend, with trust: he is life! If up till now you have kept him at a
distance, step forward. He will receive you with open arms. If you have
been indifferent, take a risk: you won’t be disappointed. If following
him seems difficult, don’t be afraid, trust him, be confident that he is
close to you, he is with you and he will give you the peace you are
looking for and the strength to live as he would have you do.
There is one last little element that I would like to emphasize
in the Gospel for this Easter Vigil. The women encounter the newness of
God. Jesus has risen, he is alive! But faced with empty tomb and the two
men in brilliant clothes, their first reaction is one of fear: “they
were terrified and bowed their faced to the ground”, Saint Luke tells us
– they didn’t even have courage to look. But when they hear the message
of the Resurrection, they accept it in faith. And the two men in
dazzling clothes tell them something of crucial importance: “Remember
what he told you when he was still in Galilee… And they remembered his
words” (Lk 24:6,8). They are asked to remember their
encounter with Jesus, to remember his words, his actions, his life; and
it is precisely this loving remembrance of their experience with the
Master that enables the women to master their fear and to bring the
message of the Resurrection to the Apostles and all the others (cf. Lk 24:9).
To remember what God has done and continues to do for me, for us, to
remember the road we have travelled; this is what opens our hearts to
hope for the future. May we learn to remember everything that God has
done in our lives.
As the victorious warriors of the basketball court advance to the Elite Eight round of the NCAA Tournament, it has sparked some hermaneutical introspection.
A Converse perspective adopts the Athletic Department’s enthusiasm.
It is no wonder that the Marquette Men’s basketball program has a 24 game winning streak, considering the loyalty of its fans, as shown by sell outs of the Bradley Center and the energy exerted in the student section. One small detail that belies Marquette’s Ignatian charism is the one word sentence “Pray”.
Another symbol of the University is the school seal with the strange Latinate motto “Numen flumeneque” It translates to “God and the [Mississippi] River.
|Stained Glass of Marquette Seal, Sensenbrernner Hall, Milwauke, WI|
The motto has more meaning when one understands Père Jacques Marquette was a Jesuit missionary who, along with Louis Jolliet, was one of the first Europeans to explore the northern portion of the Mississippi River in 1673. Marquette’s alacrity with languages came in handy in his mission to spread the gospel to various indigenous tribes in the new world (a.k.a. “New France”) as he worked with the Hurons, then had good relations with the Illinois tribe as well as when he explored.
Aside from Père Marquette, the school seal incorporates imagery which honors St. Ignatius Loyola, the founder of the Society of Jesus (a.k.a.the Jesuits). The diagonal red and gold bands honors heroes from Ignatius’ lineage who achieved valor in battle. In addition, the wolves in the coat of arts symbolize the generosity of the Loyola family that even the wolves found something in the kettle to feast.
In 2002, Marquette University adopted the tag line “Be the difference” as it challenged the Marquette community to be leaders to make important contributions, which echoes the Ignatian attitude to be “contemplation in action”
Marquette athletic teams have gone by several monikers. Originally, they were named “the Hill Toppers” due to their topography. In the 1920s, they were nicknamed “the Golden Avalanche” for their football prowess by sports writers. Other teams were informally tagged “the Blue and the Gold”. The name that really stood out was the Warriors, which all Marquette teams sported from 1954 to 1994, including the infamous 1970 NIT Champions and the 1977 NCAA Champion basketball teams under Al McGuire.
Aside from a proud record for Marquette basketball, the University has the knack for choosing colorful and charismatic coaches. The 2013 jerseys bear patches to Al McGuire as well as Rick Majerus, who played for the Warriors (or warmed the bench as he would put it), was an assistant coach and head coach before moving on. This is Buzz William’s fifth season at Marquette. Williams takes a humble but persistent approach with his team. Williams recently observed:
That’s just another Marquette game. We’re not good enough to blow anybody out. We’re just good enough to get blown out. And if we can turn it into a fight and make it ugly, then it probably trends toward helping us the most. What you saw is a microcosm of our culture.
It may be synchronicity but this humble, determined and gritty approach approximates the Jesuit ideal.
Marquette basketball has produced some great pro players of late, including Dwayne Wade (Miami Heat) and Jae Crowder (Dallas Mavericks). But aside from their atheletic excellence, Marquette student athletes have stellar graduation rates. Marquette athletes have a 91% graduation rate, compared to 78% of the whole student body.
In 1994, Marquette University President hastened a change from the Warriors to the Golden Eagles, allegedly so that the Warriors could be unisex, but what is more likely is that the machinations were to be politically correct and to sell more licensed sportswear. Even today, Marquette basketball games are punctuated with spontaneous cheers “Let’s go Warriors!” instead of chanting up the unremarkable “Golden Eagles”.
While the Willie Wampum cartoon Warrior was obviously offensive to modern mores, Marquette University crafted a Warrior consulting with various Indian tribes that bespoke honor and valor in battle, much like Ignatius of Loyola’s black robed religious warriors.
This is Marquette University basketball’s third straight trip to the Sweet Sixteen, and first advance to the Elite Eight since 2003, where they were roundly beaten by Kansas. There is the possibility that there might be a rematch between the Jayhawks and Marquette in this year’s final four. Rather than be haunted by the past, it is better to be calm and ahoya on.
Win or lose, Warrior or Golden Eagle, may the imprint of Marquette to be the difference in the world. But if it helps, the Elite Eight game is being played in the District of Calamity (sic).
|Pere Marqutte Statue by Gaetano Trentanove (1896)|
The Wisconsin contribution to the Congressional collection is none other than Père Jacques Marquette. It used to be in Statuary Hall but now is displayed in the Congressional Visitors Center at the U.S. Capitol. Perhaps that omen will bring some luck to keep the Blue on Gold on route to the Atlanta Highway for the Final Four.
The Strepitus is the sudden loud clatter that symbolizes how the Earth convulsed at the physical death of the only begotten Son of our Lord. In Matthew 27:46-53, when Christ gave up His spirit on the Crucifix, there was a tumultuous earthquake. It is the jarring closing of a Tenebae Service, which is done in preparation for the Paschal Triduum.
Some churches have the Tenebrae on Spy Wednesday. Others choose to extinguish the lights after celebrating the Last Supper on Maundy Thursday or even Great and Holy Friday. Regardless of the time, it is a ritual that reminds us of how the Light of the World was briefly extinguished to fulfill scripture as an expiation for mankind’s sinfulness.