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Archive for March, 2008

cross.jpgI heard an excellent homily today on the gospel of Jesus appearing to the disciples when Thomas was not present. Why did Thomas need to see the wounds in order to believe in the resurrected Jesus? Perhaps it is all about personal connection… I know it is true for me that my deepest moments of connection with God, myself, or another human being often happen at times of loss, pain, struggle, questioning, despair. When I meet a fellow person in recovery, there’s a shared appreciation for the blessing of sobriety and the journey to get there. When I am brought to my knees because of some physical or emotional ailment, it is then that I finally permit myself to receive the kindness of others. When I’ve struggled with scary insights into my identity, God blesses the struggle by transforming my fear and self-loathing into self-acceptance, and steering me to companions who have walked in my shoes and who love and support me in my journey of integration. I remember St. Paul saying that it is in weakness that we are strong…that seems true for me.

What about for you? Let’s keep talking!

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Checking in…

It has been another one of those tough weeks…my Monday started with me not feeling well and needing some down time. Fortunately, I didn’t have any classes or meetings on Tuesday, so I had an opportunity to give myself a little more rest. For some reason, I’m still feeling sluggish – perhaps charging through last weekend with very little down time just plain caught up with me.

Tomorrow’s an important and busy day…I have classes at 10:00 and 11:00, followed immediately by a doctoral proposal presentation by my student – the first doctoral student I’m advising.

Anyway, nothing profound to share at present, but I at least wanted to check in with you and let you know I’m still kicking!

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triduum2.jpgI’ve been spending a fair amount of time at Gesu these days. Our Holy Thursday celebration was beautiful in a kind of quiet way. But the main thing I want to share with you is our Good Friday service. Starting at noon, we have a devotional service based on the Stations of the Cross, followed by the Good Friday Liturgy at 1:30. This is the one day that a priest is not required to be the presider at a Roman Catholic liturgy, because it is not a Mass. So for all the years I have been coming to Gesu, the Good Friday liturgy has had two lay co-presiders, a man and a woman. What was different about yesterday, is that many of the key roles; for example, one of the presiders, the cantor, the readers for the reading of the Passion….were all members of our youth group. It was really something to see our young men and women taking such visible leadership roles – I was moved and proud. Now could some of our more mature parishoners have preached or proclaimed the scripture more eloquently? Probably. But what I love about Gesu is that we are a praying community, and that even though we are known for good music and liturgy, it’s never about performing. It really is about coming together in prayer…

So I’ll be in church for a few more hours tonight for the Vigil service, and I guess I’ll find out when I arrive what I’ll be playing tonight. (I might have a better idea if I went to choir rehearsals, but I’m really fine with going with the flow.) Tomorrow, my parents will be coming up from Ohio for the 10:30 Mass, and then I’m going to make brunch for us.

Spring is coming…could our three inches of snow yesterday be the last snow of the season?

Happy Easter to all!

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We just received this message via e-mail, so I thought I might post it here in case any of you might be interested in a road trip to western PA. Seems to me the Easter season might be a good time to reflect on what God may be calling us to at whatever time on our lives.

The Sisters of St. Joseph of Baden, PA will sponsor a Discernment Retreat – How Do I Know What God Is Calling Me To in Life? – for women who are exploring their particular calling in life. The retreat will be held the weekend of April 4-6. Beginning on Friday at 7:30 p.m. and concluding on Sunday at 12:00 noon, this retreat provides a welcoming environment and prayerful atmosphere for women seeking to listen for God’s voice and to pay attention to their inner longings, desires, and aspirations. The fee of $110 ($60 for students through scholarships from the CSJ Vocation Appeal Fund) includes meals, lodging, and program materials. For further information, contact Sister Dorothy Pashuta at 412-661-2528.

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Some of you may celebrate St. Joseph’s Day, and since he is the patron of our congregation, I wanted to write about this on this feast day. Back in Baden, the celebration was held this past Sunday, but here in Detroit, I’ll be celebrating with some local CSJs tonight. At the same time, there’s a heaviness in me because of the sad news of the passing of Sr. Karen Larkins, who was two years behind me in entering the community. Her funeral is today in Baden, and I’m kind of torn up that I can’t be there. Add that to the weightiness that comes with praying the 3rd week of the exercises during Holy Week, and it’s understandable, to me, at least, why I’m coming up with nothing in the way of words for what I’m feeling.

So with my eyes fixed on Jesus this week, I just keep listening to him say, “Stay with me, Sandy. Don’t look away.”

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As I mentioned in my last post, I am using Bach’s St. Matthew Passion in my prayer these days. You can find the libretto with English translation here. Last night, I was reflecting on the woman who anointed Jesus’s feet at Bethany, and how his disciples were bickering about the waste of the ointment. One of the arias in this piece translates as follows:

Repentance and remorse
gnash my sinful heart in two,
that my teardrops
might bring forth sweet spices
for you, faithful Jesus.

It’s a bit more dramatically stated than I might put it, but still, it is really something to sit with the weight of my own sinfulness, knowing that I do make my own contribution to the brokenness of our world, and yet also knowing that Jesus’ love can break through it all, one layer at a time, one heart at a time. I have noticed that it is not usually when things are going smoothly that I feel closest to God, but when I at the end of my rope, utterly dependent on God to help me hang on just another day.

Can I just sit with Jesus today in gratitude for the great gift of his life and presence, and refrain from nitpicking myself over my foibles, my tendencies to overeat, procrastinate, accumulate gadgets, avoid exercise, etc? It’s that whole concept of “rending your hearts, not your garments” that we heard on Ash Wednesday. And the whole point is to grow closer in my relationship with God/Jesus. Just doing a “hatchet job” on myself accomplishes little if I lose sight of the broader context of God’s profound and unconditional love for me.

I hope you are all having a blessed Lenten season!

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I soooo don’t have time to be updating this blog…the conference work has me way behind on my regular grading, but I’m in the home stretch on that…most of the conference work will be finished by April 21.

Since music is one of my passions, I thought I’d tell you about a couple of on-line services that I’ve begun using – both free but with paid subscription options.

logo_pandora.jpgPandora (www.pandora.com) is a great site that allows you to specify a favorite artist or track, and then creates an on-line “radio” station that plays music that sounds similar to the style of the music you picked. With the free subscription, you can create up to 100 custom channels. This is great when you just want some music playing in the background that is pleasing to you. It’s a great way to discover new artists that I haven’t heard of. If you want to buy the music you are hearing, they provide you with links to purchase the music from Amazon.com or iTunes.

rw_header_logo_2.jpgSo what if you want to listen to a specific track, not just music in a style similar to one you specify? This is where Rhapsody.com (www.rhapsody.com) comes in. With Rhapsody’s free subscription, you can listen to a number of music channels that are not customizable like the ones in Pandora, but the real benefit is that you can listen to 25 specific tracks per month for free. And for $14.99/month (less than the price of a CD per month), you can do as I recently did and sign up for Rhapsody To Go, which allows you unlimited plays, and allows you unlimited downloads to your computer and/or supported portable media player – all legal! Of course, you are limited to the number of computers you can download to, and you cannot burn CDs with these downloaded tracks, but the ability to load up my MP3 player with any music I want and take it with me wherever I go is great! And if I do decide I want to burn a CD, most albums can be purchased for $8.99, or $0.89 per track.

netlib.gifI discovered also that the Ferndale Public Library was able to give me access to NetLibrary (www.netlibrary.com) and access to over 2,000 eAudiobooks that can be checked out for 3 weeks at a time. These, too can be loaded onto a portable player and listened to away from the computer…I even got a cable to plug my player into the car radio, so I can listen to audio books on a long drive.

Just a word of caution…neither the Rhapsody or NetLibrary loans will work with the iPod, due to the way they do the licensing. Not to worry, though, you can get a compatible player for under $100. Just make sure you check the compatibility requirements. I took a little risk by purchasing a Creative Zen 8GB, which is a little quirky with the Rhapsody software, but I’ve been able to get it to work just fine.

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So now that we are in the 3rd Week of Exercises in our CLC process, and with Holy Week coming up, I’ve downloaded St. Matthew’s Passion by J.S. Bach to provide an appropriately somber backdrop for my quiet times of prayer and meditation these days.

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