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Saturday, October 31, 2020

Halloween - A Holiday Reflection

When I was young I imagined that Halloween was for children.

 

Halloween was all costumes and candy and imaginary play. It was as an escape from reality, an opportunity to gaze into another world, to pierce the veil of what is real and true.

 

We use to go block to block in our costumes, we called it Trick or Treating, we carried pillow cases slung over our shoulders, taking candies at nearly every door we knocked on, with nearly every bell we rang.

 

We scoffed at the people who only handed out little bibles or tubes of toothpaste, and shunned those who handed out home-made fare, thinking they were doing something good.

 

We would rather have nothing at all than have those things, and they quickly found their way into the trash; all those little popcorn balls, boxes of raisins, apples and bibles.

 

With fondness I recall the drill that came at the end of the night, searching through our candy piles, looking for suspicious things, open packages, search for pins and needles and razor blades.

 

We understood that some people hated children and would slip these into the candies.

 

I never found anything dangerous, never once in all of those years, but the fear that there could be, haunted us for real.

 

Halloween is not all fun and games, though, it has a deeper meaning than we were taught as children, and a much longer history.

 

Halloween is not just about ghosts and goblins and friendly witches.

 

In the celebration of Halloween an ages old conflict is present, a real struggle between the Christian Church, and the “Old Time Religion,” the customs of the pagans, paganus, pagani, the country folk and their persistent traditions that lurk just beneath the surface of the Christian rites.

 

On the Christian Calendar; Halloween is All Hallows Eve, a celebration of the honored dead, of all the saints who had passed before, who have already gone to meet the maker.

 

For the old pagans; whose traditions are tightly interwoven with the Church, Halloween is a celebration of the dead, plain and simple, of all of the dead, of the saints and sinners who have passed from this world together.

 

Halloween is an acknowledgment of the dead whose spirits walk among us still, good and bad, honored or not.

 

In modern times the holiday has been largely stripped from its affiliation with Christianity, celebrating the dangerous, the macabre, the frightening and the weird, those qualities and characteristics that every person hides within themselves, because they are in fear of the world.

 

I was fourteen the last time I went Trick or Treating, and really, I was only chaperoning my younger brother then, I was not dressed up, but I took some candy nonetheless.

 

In that same year I remember the Pastor at my church lamenting the popularity of the pagan festival. Believing that the Christian feast should be honored above it instead, to the exclusion of anything else.

 

There was no fun in that, there was no fun in him. He was just an old man watching his tradition fade away, being usurped by those of another generation, by children who were less committed to the Church than he was when at their age.   

 

In the years that followed, the number of children who go out in costumes seeking candy has declined by 25%, so the media outlets say.

 

Halloween is no longer considered safe or wholesome; it has yielded to the real dangers of the real world.

 

For me it is just another day, Halloween, I do not believe the dead walk with us. I have never seen a ghost, or any evidence of magic, as far as national holidays go, this one is an anomaly, though my maternal grandmother was born on this day.

 

There are real horrors in the world, we have a pumpkin colored demagogue for a president, spreading fear, night and day and lying to us at every turn. We are in the grip of a global Pandemic that is the claiming the life of an American citizen ever ninety seconds.

 

We are three days away from a national election where the prospect of reelecting this made man is all-too-real.

 

So now that I think about it, today of all days we should all be thankful that we have this day to luxuriate in the fantastic and the surreal.

 

Happy Halloween!

 

 

2020.10.31




 

Vote XV - Editorial, The Week in Review

Analysis, Commentary, Opinion

10.31.2020

 

Vote XV

 

There are three days to go before the votes begin to be counted.

 

Have you voted yet?

 

Do you have a plan?

 

Do you need someone to help you with your absentee ballot, or get to the polls?

 

If you need help, ask.

 

There is a good possibility that November 3rd will only mark the beginning of the struggle to free the country from the grip of this malign actor, this fake president, and the criminal regime occupying in the White House.

 

Stay vigilant America!

 

Widespread voter suppression, and GOP legal tricks and tactics aimed at not counting the votes of the American people that have been legally cast, these cannot be allowed to define our democracy and shape the structure of a government that is meant to be of the people, by the people and for the people.

 

Vote!

 

Exorcise the orange menace, and be ready to hold your local government accountable, do not let them frustrate the will of the people.

 

What can be said about the dire predicament we are in, except that if we allow Donald Trump and his minions to remain in power, the COVID-19 pandemic will end up claiming the lives of millions of Americans, the worst case scenario will obtain. Donald Trump has no idea how to manage the situation, and he has decided to do nothing at all, worse than that, he is actively working against the scientists and health care providers who are risking their lives to keep us safe.

 

Donald Trump has betrayed the public trust. He is a traitor at the head of traitorous administration.

 

Vote him out now!




Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Wasteland

The well ran dry, sand

Conceals the oasis, lost

Erased in the winds

 

My broken body

Bruised by falling stones, bloodied

Burnt beneath the sun

 

Comb the barren hills

Hard rock rise into mountains

Cold and forbidding

 

Spirits come to dance

Howl beneath the lonely stars

Freezing in the night

 

Diana condescends

Her pale disc lights the valley

Sleeping in shadows

 

The muse stole my voice

Stripped it clean from my parched throat

Left me in the dust




Sunday, October 25, 2020

A Homily - The Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A)

First Reading – Exodus 22:20-26 ©

Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 17(18):2-4, 47, 51 ©

Second Reading – 1 Thessalonians 1:5-10 ©

Gospel Acclamation – Acts 16:14

Alternative Acclamation – John 14:23

The Gospel According to Matthew 22:34 - 40 ©

 

(NJB)

 

The Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A)

 

 

Listen to the word of God, creator of the universe.

 

God wills that we take care of the stranger in our company, that we do not oppress her or him.

 

This is the way to holiness.

 

Love the immigrant and the alien, show compassion to the widow and the orphan, do not abuse the poor or put them in your debt.

 

Consider this:

 

There are times when a psalm of thanksgiving is little more than an appeal to vanity; the psalmist gives credit to God for saving him, but it was not God. God did not hear his voice alone among all of the others and fly from the temple to save him.

 

The psalmist saved himself, or he was saved by his allies, though he may have been spared only by chance.

 

We know this is true because God, the creator of the universe, God does not favor one child over another, not one family, not one tribe, not one nation, not one sect. God loves all of God’s children equally, no matter whether they live in sin and rebellion or in the peace that comes through faith.

 

God, the creator of the universe; God is not like Zeus or Jupiter, Indra or Thor. God does not step onto the battlefield, shoot arrows and hurl lightning.

 

It is foolish to think so.

 

Therefore be mindful of the life you live and set the example for all those you meet as you follow the way.

 

God is with you. God will hear you, and though God will not intervene in this world to spare you any pain, God has a plan to resolve all pain in a place beyond time and the bounds of space.

 

Be mindful of this! The grace of God is not transactional, and while love fosters love, there is always love and God is always with you. The divine love is always present to you, even when you are at your worst, when you are most hateful and your most destructive self.

 

Consider the Gospel reading for today.

 

This is the way, it is the core of Jesus’ teaching, it is the sacred path to the divine.

 

Any interpretation of Jesus’ life and mission that do not reflect these teachings are false.

 

Every pericope and parable; every metaphor, simile and analogy; every story, fable and myth must adhere to this canon.

 

We only encounter God through each other, in relationship to one another. We serve God through the service we give to the other another. The love we bear toward God is only made resplendent in this light.

 

 

First Reading – Exodus 22:20-26 ©

 

If You Are Harsh with the Widow and Orphan, My Anger Will Flare Against You

 

The Lord said to Moses, ‘Tell the sons of Israel this:

 

‘“You must not molest the stranger or oppress him, for you lived as strangers in the land of Egypt. You must not be harsh with the widow, or with the orphan; if you are harsh with them, they will surely cry out to me, and be sure I shall hear their cry; my anger will flare and I shall kill you with the sword, your own wives will be widows, your own children orphans.

 

‘“If you lend money to any of my people, to any poor man among you, you must not play the usurer with him: you must not demand interest from him.

 

‘“If you take another’s cloak as a pledge, you must give it back to him before sunset. It is all the covering he has; it is the cloak he wraps his body in; what else would he sleep in? If he cries to me, I will listen, for I am full of pity.”’

 

 

Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 17(18):2-4, 47, 51 ©

 

I love you, Lord, my strength.

 

I love you, Lord, my strength,

  my rock, my fortress, my saviour.

My God is the rock where I take refuge;

  my shield, my mighty help, my stronghold.

The Lord is worthy of all praise,

  when I call I am saved from my foes.

 

I love you, Lord, my strength.

 

Long life to the Lord, my rock!

  Praised be the God who saves me,

He has given great victories to his king

  and shown his love for his anointed.

 

I love you, Lord, my strength.

 

 

Second Reading – 1 Thessalonians 1:5-10 ©

 

You Broke with Idolatry and Became Servants of God; You Are Now Waiting for His Son

 

You observed the sort of life we lived when we were with you, which was for your instruction, and you were led to become imitators of us, and of the Lord; and it was with the joy of the Holy Spirit that you took to the gospel, in spite of the great opposition all round you. This has made you the great example to all believers in Macedonia and Achaia since it was from you that the word of the Lord started to spread – and not only throughout Macedonia and Achaia, for the news of your faith in God has spread everywhere. We do not need to tell other people about it: other people tell us how we started the work among you, how you broke with idolatry when you were converted to God and became servants of the real, living God; and how you are now waiting for Jesus, his Son, whom he raised from the dead, to come from heaven to save us from the retribution which is coming.

 

Gospel Acclamation – Acts 16:14

 

Alleluia, alleluia!

 

Open our heart, O Lord, to accept the words of your Son.

 

Alleluia!

 

 

Alternative Acclamation – John 14:23

 

Alleluia, alleluia!

 

If anyone loves me he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we shall come to him.

 

Alleluia!

 

 

The Gospel According to Matthew 22:34 - 40 ©

 

The Commandments of Love

 

When the Pharisees heard that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees they got together and, to disconcert him, one of them put a question, ‘Master, which is the greatest commandment of the Law?’ Jesus said, ‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and the first commandment. The second resembles it: You must love your neighbour as yourself. On these two commandments hang the whole Law, and the Prophets also.’

 

 

The Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A)




 

Saturday, October 24, 2020

Vote XIV - Editorial, The Week in Review

 Analysis, Commentary, Opinion

10.24.2020

 

Vote XIV

 

There are ten day to go before the votes begin to be counted.

 

Have you voted yet?

 

Do you have a plan?

 

Do you need someone to help you with your absentee ballot, or to get to the polls?

 

If you need help, ask.

 

This year has shown us in ways most of us never imagined we would experience, it has demonstrated a truth about the nature of society itself that is basic few of us ever questioned it or thought to test it, in clear and distinct terms it 2020 has shown us that we are all in this together.

 

For good or ill, we are all in this together, and now we have to vote like we are all in this together. The future of our republic and the fate of democracy depend on it.

 

We must act together to pull through this pandemic or we will all experience the worst of it…together.

 

Yesterday we posted a record number of new COVID-19 cases, over 80,000. WE also posted a record number the day before, and there is no end in sight.

 

We need leadership that will take this matter seriously and not lie to us, to rally our economy in response to it, while expanding the social safety net to manage the worst of the fallout.

 

We need to send Trump and his enablers packing, and put rational, civic minded policy makers in charge.

 

There are only ten days to go before the votes begin to be counted, fifty million people have already voted. The pandemic is only the most pressing concern we face, we have many other issues to deal with in the weeks and months and years ahead.

 

We need an American Awakening, we need to reengage the principles of the enlightenment that inspired the founders of our nation, and blow the trumpet for the new dawn of the age of reason.

 

Vote!

 

Your country is depending on you.





Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Pathos

Give me a new mythology, a bright new creed to believe in

Succumb to, conform with…let it reform me

 

I would sell my soul for a good drama, barter it for a godling’s dogma

Narrow the beam, raise the heat, enlightenment by pathos




Sunday, October 18, 2020

A Homily - The Twenty-ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A)

First Reading – Isaiah 45:1,4-6 ©

Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 95(96):1,3-5,7-10 ©

Second Reading – 1 Thessalonians 1:1-5 ©

Gospel Acclamation – John 17:17

Alternative Acclamation – Philadelphians 2:15 – 16

The Gospel According to Matthew 22:15 - 22 ©

 

(NJB)

 

The Twenty-ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A)

 

 

Be mindful of how the prophet speaks.

 

God, the creator of the universe does not intervene in the course of human affairs. God does not appoint kings, or grant victory in battle.

 

All such talk is vanity.

 

It is right to praise God; the creator of the universe. It is right to treat our discourse concerning God respectfully and honorably; God is holy and our discourse should bear in mind the sacred nature of God’s blessed work, but it is wrong to think of God as a Lord.

 

Know this!

 

God has already judged the world, and judged the entirety of the created order and God has proclaimed that it is good.

 

Take heart in this and let your faith rest in it.

 

God is not to be feared, God desires our trust.

 

There are no other God’s but God; the divine is one, but we should respect and strive to understand all language concerning the sacred and the reality of the divine, from whatever culture or nation it comes.

Listen!

 

Do not put too much stock in the buttery words of the apostle when he speaks to the church in Thessalonika, and remember this when you read the text he was there to ask them for money.

 

Remember this as well, God has chosen everyone, and God loves everyone without exception. The Thessalonians were no different than any other group of people in being the objects of God’s love.

 

And Remember, the Holy spirit blesses everyone and anyone can feign conviction, or a greater degree of conviction than they actually possess.

 

Listen!

 

You cannot lie and serve God at one and the same time.

 

Take joy in the work that is in front of you. Be content, for you have found your purpose sharing the word of life, and remember: if you are not engaged in loving service to your sisters and brothers, to the stranger and even your enemy, then you are not engaged in God’s work.

 

Consider the Gospel reading for today.

 

Listen to Jesus, the way has nothing to do with the concerns of political parties, and zealots.

 

Pay taxes or not, it does not matter. What does matter is whether the choices you make reflect the desire of God to see all people living well, fed, housed, clothed and educated, to see that their basic needs are met.

 

If paying taxes, no matter who the taxes are paid to, furthers the ends of a just and ethical society, then pay them. If not, then not.

 

If waging a tax protest advances the suffering of the people, to no good end, then do not protest; pay. If not, then not.

 

Be mindful in all things you do, and evaluate the choices you are pondering both for the immediacy of their impact, and the long-term consequences that will flow from them as well.

 

Follow the good, be humble, love justice and be merciful all the days of your life.

 

 

First Reading - Isaiah 45:1, 4-6 ©

 

I Have Taken Cyrus by His Right Hand to Subdue Nations Before Him

 

Thus says the Lord to his anointed, to Cyrus, whom he has taken by his right hand

to subdue nations before him and strip the loins of kings, to force gateways before him that their gates be closed no more:

 

‘It is for the sake of my servant Jacob, of Israel my chosen one, that I have called you by your name, conferring a title though you do not know me.

 

I am the Lord, unrivalled; there is no other God besides me.

 

Though you do not know me, I arm you that men may know from the rising to the setting of the sun that, apart from me, all is nothing.’

 

 

Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 95(96):1, 3-5, 7-10 ©

 

Give the Lord glory and power.

 

O sing a new song to the Lord,

  sing to the Lord all the earth.

Tell among the nations his glory

  and his wonders among all the peoples.

 

Give the Lord glory and power.

 

The Lord is great and worthy of praise,

  to be feared above all gods;

  the gods of the heathens are naught.

It was the Lord who made the heavens,

 

Give the Lord glory and power.

 

Give the Lord, you families of peoples,

  give the Lord glory and power;

  give the Lord the glory of his name.

Bring an offering and enter his courts.

 

Give the Lord glory and power.

 

Worship the Lord in his temple.

  O earth, tremble before him.

Proclaim to the nations: ‘God is king.’

  He will judge the peoples in fairness.

 

Give the Lord glory and power.

 

 

Second Reading – 1 Thessalonians 1:1-5 ©

 

We Constantly Remember Your Faith, Your Love and Your Hope

 

From Paul, Silvanus and Timothy, to the Church in Thessalonika which is in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ; wishing you grace and peace from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

 

We always mention you in our prayers and thank God for you all, and constantly remember before God our Father how you have shown your faith in action, worked for love and persevered through hope, in our Lord Jesus Christ.

 

We know, brothers, that God loves you and that you have been chosen, because when we brought the Good News to you, it came to you not only as words, but as power and as the Holy Spirit and as utter conviction.

 

 

Gospel Acclamation – John 17:17

 

Alleluia, alleluia!

 

Your word is truth, O Lord: consecrate us in the truth.

 

Alleluia!

 

 

Alternative Acclamation – Philadelphians 2:15 – 16

 

Alleluia, alleluia!

 

You will shine in the world like bright stars because you are offering it the word of life.

 

Alleluia!

 

 

The Gospel According to Matthew 22:15 - 22 ©

 

Give Back to Caesar what Belongs to Caesar

 

The Pharisees went away to work out between them how to trap Jesus in what he said. And they sent their disciples to him, together with the Herodians, to say, ‘Master, we know that you are an honest man and teach the way of God in an honest way, and that you are not afraid of anyone, because a man’s rank means nothing to you. Tell us your opinion, then. Is it permissible to pay taxes to Caesar or not?’ But Jesus was aware of their malice and replied, ‘You hypocrites! Why do you set this trap for me? Let me see the money you pay the tax with.’ They handed him a denarius, and he said, ‘Whose head is this? Whose name?’ ‘Caesar’s’ they replied. He then said to them, ‘Very well, give back to Caesar what belongs to Caesar – and to God what belongs to God.’

 

 

The Twenty-ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A)