The Christian Year


The terrified Virgin may not have realized
The sum of entire universe
Did not rival what was growing in her belly
And would one day suckle her breasts,
But bewildered — “Lord, I am pure” — responded:

“Yes.”

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These dry bones
Like all creation
Are groaning

The weight of history —
the glory and its despair —
Making them sing
Like a plucked string wound tight,

Begging God’s condescension
So that they, too, may look Him
in the eye

and know

their King is among them.

 

 

Blessed art Thou, O Christ our God, Who hast revealed the fishermen as most wise by sending down upon them the Holy Spirit – through them Thou didst draw the world into Thy net. O Lover of Man, glory to Thee! 

Once, when He descended and confounded the tongues, the Most High divided the nations; and when He divided the tongues of fire, He called all men into unity; and (because of this) with one accord we glorify the All-holy Spirit.

Icon of the Ascension

O Christ,
you ascended in glory on the Mount of Olives
in the presence of your disciples.
O you who penetrate all things with your divinity,
you were enthroned at the right hand of your Father
and sent down upon your disciples the Holy Spirit
who enlightens, strengthens, and saves our souls
. Amen.

(A day late but better than never.)

One of the Good Friday icons — Taking down from the cross.

 

Alleluia, the Lamb has died;
But Death dies with It.
Let us bury borrow a tomb
and bury them quickly.

Yet from this grave
One of the two shall rise —
And the other shall feel
her own sting.

Santa Muerte, thou art vanquished
By the heartbeat of Christ our Lord.

In a season dedicated to fasting, a little perspective:

16 “And when you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces that their fasting may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. 17 But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, 18 that your fasting may not be seen by others but by your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you. –Matthew 6.16-18  ESV

I grew up and still live in Louisiana, which has a strong Catholic presence, and every year I knew that Lent was here even before I followed the liturgical calendar because of one thing: Mardi Gras. Big parades, beads and king cakes made their way even to the northern end of the state, which is just as likely to be populated by independent fundamental Baptists and Pentecostals as anyone whose practice even resembles Catholicism. When I go out of state (exceptions — Mississippi, east Texas and southern Arkansas), people always ask about three things: Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans and Mardi Gras. It’s like Mardi Gras is a part of my cultural identity, even though I’m not from the French south.

But this year, the thought of Mardi Gras — a non-holiday that is celebrated by Catholics, Baptists and atheists alike — has left me a little nauseous. Aside from the fact that the revelries these days bear a distinctly pagan flavor, it flies in the face of intention the Lenten season. Hey, we’re about to start fasting, so let’s have an orgy.

I’m not opposed to parades, beads or beer. I like the idea of random displays of public jubilation involving lots of feathers and masks. But let’s just be honest — Mardi Gras is not a joyful celebration of the coming of our salvation, a last bit of glee before we take 40 days to seriously contemplate Christ’s sacrifice. It’s an excuse for the world to co-opt the Christian calendar and get drunk…and it’s an excuse a lot of the Church likes. Pathetic.

Maybe I’m just grouchy.