The occasional, often ill-considered thoughts of a Roman Catholic permanent deacon who is ever grateful to God for his existence. Despite the strangeness we encounter in this life, all the suffering we witness and endure, being is good, so good I am sometimes unable to contain my joy. Deo gratias!

Although I am an ordained deacon of the Catholic Church, the opinions expressed in this blog are my personal opinions. In offering these personal opinions I am not acting as a representative of the Church or any Church organization.

Friday, April 13, 2018

Scriptural Interpretation

I've been facilitating our parish's weekly Bible Study sessions -- one morning and one evening -- for over a dozen years. We now have close to sixty people taking part, and I sometimes forget that the participants have changed, especially as new people join us. Many years ago I devoted a session to the basics of scriptural interpretation, but of course almost all of our current participants were not in attendance. So...I decided to put together a brief (one hour) mini-course on the same subject, and conducted it for our two sessions this past Wednesday. It was well received and I have provided a link to the PowerPoint presentation that addressed the core of the material: Scriptural Interpretation.

Saturday, April 7, 2018

Osprey Celebrating Good Friday

Early on Good Friday, as our dog, Maddie, and I were heading home from our morning walk, I noticed an osprey orbiting the neighborhood. Something dangled from his talons, but he was too high to see if it were a fish or something else. Maddie and I watched as he continued to fly in wide, lazy circles a few hundred feet above us, but with each circle he flew lower and ever closer to the large live oak tree behind our neighbor's house. We often see this particular osprey in this tree, especially during the spring and summer months.

Just as Maddie and I arrived at our driveway, the osprey landed gently on one of the tree's top branches. Perfect timing! I took Maddie inside, grabbed my camera, and went into the backyard. Sure enough, he was still there, high atop the tallest tree in the neighborhood. There appeared to be something on the branch with him, but he was too far away to see if it were a fish or just a bump on the branch. Fortunately my good telephoto lens solved the problem. As I moved around my neighbor's yard searching for the best position, I took a mess of photos, and have included a couple of them below. To view them up close and personal, click on the photos.
Osprey checking me out
When I downloaded the photos to the PC and looked at them via Photoshop, I was truly surprised at the size of the fish he had carried to the tree. The poor fish looked as if he had died of fright and the osprey's expression simply emphasized his status as a particularly efficient predator.
Osprey guarding his catch
As is fitting on Good Friday, the osprey was eating only fish. It is, of course, a day of abstinence, when we Catholics abstain from eating meat. But it's also a day in which we fast, and the size of that fish might be a bit problematic. 

Liturgy and Easter

Last weekend we completed the most sacred time of our liturgical year, a time when we recall God's saving act of love, the Passion, Death, and Resurrection of our Lord, Jesus Christ. The Church calls those three days the Triduum of Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter Vigil.  

On Holy Thursday we came together as a parish and celebrated the Mass of the Lord's Supper; and in remembering His Last Supper, we celebrated too His institution of the Eucharist and the priesthood. Perhaps the most moving part of the liturgy is the Washing of the Feet at which our two priests, following the example of our Lord, washed the feet of twelve parishioners. It is a good reminder, not only to the clergy but to all Christians, that we are called to serve not to be served.

I haven't seen the exact figure, but I estimate that close to 1,000 parishioners attended our Holy Thursday Mass.

Then, to accommodate all those who planned to attend, we scheduled two Good Friday liturgies, one at the traditional time of 3 p.m. and a second at 6 p.m. No Mass is celebrated on Good Friday, but all present took part in a Liturgy of the Word, the adoration of the Cross, and then came together to receive our Lord in Holy Communion. At Thursday's Mass the pastor consecrated enough hosts to accommodate parishioners who took part in the Good Friday services. Probably upwards of 1,500 people attended the two services. 

On Saturday evening, just after sunset, we celebrated the Easter Vigil Mass. Always a beautiful liturgy, it began with the blessing of the Paschal Candle. Carrying the candle the deacon, followed by the other ministers, processed into the church which was illuminated only by the hand-held candles of the parishioners. The deacon then chanted the Exsultet, the song of Easter joy and praise. The extensive readings from Sacred Scripture highlighted the clear foreshadowing of Easter found throughout the Old Testament and contributed to our celebration of the fulfillment of God's loving plan for our redemption and salvation. During the Vigil Mass we also celebrated a baptism and received two people into the Church. All three were then confirmed and celebrated their first Holy Communion, making the liturgy even more special.

As the deacon in the parish with some responsibility for things liturgical, I have to be careful. Acting as Master of Ceremonies it's too easy to get so caught up fretting about the liturgy and its "mechanics" that I fail to take in its beauty and purpose. During the liturgy I must constantly remind myself of God's goodness and the wonder of the saving events we celebrate. And so we praise God for giving us this opportunity to thank Him through these Triduum celebrations. It was a very special time for our large and growing parish community.

Praise God -- praise Father, Son, and Holy Spirit