While in seminary, I wrote a paper about Agape and Eros by the Swedish Bishop Anders Nygren, a founder of the so-called Lundensian School of Theology, which aimed at “rediscovering major motifs of Reformation theology, and examining how such motifs had been employed in different ways throughout history.” Nygren examined the motif of “love” in particular.
My only granddaughter turned one this week. In four months, she will become a middle child. Her mother, my oldest, will give birth to a boy.
My granddaughter will soon know what it’s like to share her mother and father with a younger sibling. And, for now anyway, she’ll know what it’s like to be the only girl in a family of boys. When I first announced that my third grandchild would be a boy, some people told me my granddaughter will receive extra protection surrounded by brothers. That may well be the case.
On one point, I think most of us, especially Christians, can agree: Violence should be avoided. And yet we often don’t recognize violence in all its forms.
Violence is a broad term if we consider its secondary definition: “strength of emotion or an unpleasant or destructive natural force.” In addition to physical destruction, the secondary definition would include harming others without using physical force. In a broad sense, then violence could include emotional manipulation, yelling, bullying, gossip, rudeness, and isolation.
This year, after celebrating the Mass of the Lord’s Supper on Holy Thursday evening, the vigil of Good Friday, I was pleasantly tired from all the ceremonies of Holy Week, including a Seder Supper (Passover Meal) at Saint Matthew’s and a funeral in Savannah.
When Pope Benedict XVI resigned as the Bishop of Rome and Pope Francis was elected, there was a great deal of anxiety that Pope Francis would backtrack on the liturgical renewal initiated by Pope Benedict.
Working for a church, I spend a lot of time around Christians. My weekdays are in a church office. Sundays are spent working in a variety of faith formation ministries, as well as participating in Mass.
Often, especially late on a Sunday, I am too tired to rejoice. And if I did have the energy, what would my rejoicing look like? A 60-year-old church lady may be viewed askance if she starts dancing on the table.
Saint Luke is regarded by many as the finest writer in the New Testament in terms of his elegant Greek and general literary flair. His passion narrative is marked by a “delicate sensitivity” to the events, a sensitivity that is not squeamish , but rather reverent. So greatly does Luke revere the person of Jesus that he shies away from stating directly some of the more shocking moments of the Lord’s passion. He mentions certain things only in passing: Judas’ kiss, the Lord’s arrest, the abuse of the guards—even the scourging and crowning with thorns.
I’ve never been inside a prison. The closest I have come to inmates is driving past a highway work crew. Too often, I have failed to give much thought, much less show compassion, to people in prison. Yet Jesus did not overlook the imprisoned when he named the acts of compassion which determine how we will be judged.
A few weeks ago, in anticipation of the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy to begin on December 8, the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, I reflected on “God, the Father of Mercies.” This week, I would like to reflect on the Blessed Virgin as Mother of Mercy—not in the same sense that God is the source of all mercy, but as the vessel of his mercy.