We’re going to do this for Silvia.

My arm really hurts, and I’ve had a head ache for about 9 hours now. I feel like I have cotton in my mouth, and my entire body aches.

I’ve been ranting on Facebook and to anyone who could listen that I’m frustrated because, as front line direct support workers in the community, we’re not receiving covid 19 vaccines. A lot of my frustration is driven by the fact that times in a pandemic are mores stressful than anyone could imagine.

The hardest part for me has not being able to spend time with my family at holidays. My mom’s moved out to Fort Qu’Appelle because she feels safer there, and I can’t say as I blame her. In the two or so interactions I’ve had with people in commercial stores the last few weeks I haven’t felt really safe. Yes, people are wearing mask and sanitizing their hands; yet, there’s something selfish about how people just carry on. In a way it feels like walking over someone’s grave every time I go out. It feels like I’m taking a risk–Saskatchewan has a lot of new cases, and over 1000 of them are in Regina.

Yesterday, I got word that I might be eligible to get in for a vaccine. Today.

Then later last night, I got absolute confirmation that I did in fact qualify.

I cried. I sobbed. I’m on the road to being able to see my mom again. And there I go, crying one more time.

Damn it.

I felt grateful, I felt relieved. I felt guilty.

There are still so many people who haven’t got their vaccines yet. People that I know, that I care very deeply about. People that I want to see safe. People I want to be able to share experiences in life with. I want to get married! I want to be ordained! I want to travel! While I know it’s probably never going to be like it was before covid, there’s going to be (I hope) some sense of normality again.

When I sat down next to my nurse, I started crying. I told her about how my family in England had all got covid, and how I’d lost someone so special, Silvia. I told her about how Silvia was the type of person that if something was going to happen, it was going to happen to her. She was a magnet it seemed for medical issues. I told her about how when she went into the hospital in Arizona, her numbers weren’t great, but she was doing really well. Then I told her about how fast and how suddenly Silvia just passed. And I cried some more.

I told the nurse that I wanted to do the injection for Silvia. I wanted to remember her in that moment. And I cried some more.

I know a lot of people are posting pictures on Facebook and Instagram of themselves with their stickers. I’m going to ask, when you get your first vaccine injection, do it for someone you’ve lost. Remember someone who’s gone.

I miss you so, so much Mama. I’m sad you won’t be here for my ordination, or my wedding. I’m sad I won’t be able to come to Arizona to see you.

But I want you to know I’m grateful that there are still people who miss you with me, that share the grief still with me.

I miss you so much.

We’re going to do this for Silvia.

What do you say to a Christian on Good Friday?*

This post was inspired by an interaction on Facebook this morning by a friend I’ve know a while, Jean. I’d like to dedicate this post to her, and thank her for this, and continued inspiration elsewhere! Thank you, Jean! You inspired me today in a dry spell!

The Seven Last “Words” of Jesus Christ from the cross are actually 7 short phrases that Jesus uttered on Calvary. To find all of the seven last words of Jesus Christ, one must read all the gospels since none of the evangelists records all 7 last words. The sayings would have been originally uttered by Jesus in the Aramaic language, but only one of the last seven words of Jesus is preserved for us in the original Aramaic, namely “Eli, Eli, lama sabacthani” or “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me,” which is actually a direct quote of the opening verse of Psalm 22. The rest of the seven last words of Jesus are found in the gospels after having been translated into Greek by the four Evangelists.

A friend of mine posted this on Facebook today, and it’s a great question!

I never know what to say to Christians who observe “Good Friday,” since it’s not exactly a celebration. By now, I don’t think I’m on close enough terms with many Christians to wish them anything, but I know that some sincerely aim to do good in the world. “Condolences for your loss” would probably sound sarcastic, but it seems on-track. I remember feeling confused when my Unitarian mother told me that “Good Friday” wasn’t actually good. I think I asked: then why not call it Bad Friday?

I replied by saying that it was complicated, and I’d blog about it. This is my experience–not necessarily a shared experience for everyone.

Good Friday is one day in the liturgical year of the church, one of the holiest. This is the day the church uses to mark the Passion, Crucifixion, and death of Jesus. But it’s one day in a long, long line of days in the calendar. Something that I love about my faith is that liturgically, the year is marked by the passages of festivals, feasts, fasts. And in looking at that calendar, it’s complicated to actually say where things end and things begin because like the literal seasons, and ending is simply another beginning. While it may be easy to say that the church simply linked these times of the year to already existing pagan festivals (and they certainly did in some cases), there is also emerging evidence that the pagans also commandeered existing Christian festivals and practices as well. The point is, the time of the feast, the fast, does purposely coincide with changes in our season. Regardless of how it was formed? It’s beautiful when Easter approaches and the weather reflects a literal rebirth as well of plants, the return of bird, and a freshness in the air we’ve all missed.

I’ve of course realized that there might be some tongue in cheek here as well. It was a bad Friday for a couple of thieves for sure.

What’s the best thing to say to a Christian on Good Friday? Well… would you like me to buy you breakfast? How’s your day? What’s new with you?”

It’s a different kind of holy day. In my Franciscan vocation, I try and put myself in the shoes of the people who are oppressed, the people who are in pain and poverty. Today, it means trying to put myself in the shoes of Christ on the Cross,; it’s an impossibility. To conceive a persons’ physical pain compounded by the pain of literally billions of people past, present, and future–to conceive the Infinite, the Divine, pinned to a cross and not coming down, not stopping the pain, but pushing through it. I can’t conceive that. I wouldn’t know how to begin.

When I try, I weep. And I’m not completely sure why. But I do.

There are moments when it’s easier to feel a connection to Christ in my life. This season is somehow like an amplifier, bringing the real presence somehow closer to me, somehow easier to understand, easier to feel.

And for others, this is just another Friday.

And that’s how it should be.

What do you say to a Christian on Good Friday?*

40-As I have done to you, so you do also.

Before the festival day of the pasch, Jesus knowing that his hour was come, that he should pass out of this world to the Father: having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them unto the end. And when supper was done (the devil having now put into the heart of Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon, to betray him), Knowing that the Father had given him all things into his hands and that he came from God and goeth to God, He riseth from supper and layeth aside his garments and, having taken a towel, girded himself. After that, he putteth water into a basin and began to wash the feet of the disciples and to wipe them with the towel wherewith he was girded. He cometh therefore to Simon Peter. And Peter saith to him: “Lord, dost thou wash my feet?” Jesus answered and said to him: “What I do, thou knowest not now; but thou shalt know hereafter.” Peter saith to him: “Thou shalt never wash my feet“. Jesus answered him: “If I wash thee not, thou shalt have no part with me.” Simon Peter saith to him: “Lord, not only my feet, but also my hands and my head.” Jesus saith to him: “He that is washed needeth not but to wash his feet, but is clean wholly. And you are clean, but not all.” For he knew who he was that would betray him; therefore he said: “You are not all clean.”
Then after he had washed their feet and taken his garments, being set down again, he said to them: “Know you what I have done to you? You call me Master and Lord. And you say well: for so I am. If then I being your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that as I have done to you, so you do also.” John 13:1-15

40-As I have done to you, so you do also.

39-Today you will be with me.

And one of those robbers who were hanged blasphemed him, saying: “If thou be Christ, save thyself and us.” But the other answering, rebuked him, saying: “Neither dost thou fear God, seeing; thou art under the same condemnation? And we indeed justly: for we receive the due reward of our deeds. But this man hath done no evil.” And he said to Jesus: “Lord, remember me when thou shalt come into thy kingdom.” And Jesus said to him: “Amen I say to thee: This day thou shalt be with me in paradise.” 

From the readings of the Mass, The Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ according to the Gospel of Luke

39-Today you will be with me.

38-Why have you forsaken me?

And when the sixth hour was come, there was darkness over the whole earth until the ninth hour. And at the ninth hour, Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying: “Eloi, Eloi, lamma sabacthani?” Which is, being interpreted: “My God, My God, Why hast thou forsaken me?” And some of the standers by hearing, said: “Behold he calleth Elias.” And one running and filling a sponge with vinegar and putting it upon a reed, gave him to drink, saying: “Stay, let us see if Elias come to take him down.” And Jesus, having cried out with a loud voice, gave up the ghost.
And the veil of the temple was rent in two, from the top to the bottom. And the centurion who stood over against him, seeing that crying out in this manner he had given up the ghost. said: “Indeed this man was the son of God.” And there were also women looking on afar off: among whom was Mary Magdalen and Mary the mother of James the Less and of Joseph and Salome,
Who also when he was in Galilee followed him and ministered to him, and many other women that came up with him to Jerusalem.

-A portion of the Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ According to Saint Mark

38-Why have you forsaken me?

37-Are you kidding me, Judas?

Jesus therefore, six days before the pasch, came to Bethania, where Lazarus had been dead, whom Jesus raised to life. And they made him a supper there: and Martha served. But Lazarus was one of them that were at table with him. Mary therefore took a pound of ointment of right spikenard, of great price, and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped his feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the odor of the ointment.
Then one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, he that was about to betray him, said: “Why was not this ointment sold for three hundred pence and given to the poor?” Now he said this not because he cared for the poor; but because he was a thief and, having the purse, carried the things that were put therein. Jesus therefore said: “Let her alone, that she may keep it against the day of my burial. For the poor you have always with you: but me you have not always.”
A great multitude therefore of the Jews knew that he was there; and they came, not for Jesus’ sake only, but that they might see Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. John 12:1-9

Ok so this may have been something you missed as well.

The disciples and Jesus are having supper. There’s a huge crowd of people there because Jesus has recently raised Lazarus from the dead, and the people are there to see Jesus. But. They’re also there to see this guy that was dead. And isn’t dead any longer. And is eating supper with Jesus and his disciples.

Martha’s serving the goat, passing olives, making sure everyone has enough wine to drink. Then suddenly, everyone can smell nard. And it’s strongest from where Jesus is sitting and permeating out from there. I’m going to assume that even the crowd is smelling it. And if it’s a large crowd, then that crowd is going to know that someone has broken a vessel of nard.

Judas, who’s described as a thief, and is the holder of the purse, says that it’s a waste–that could’ve been sold and the money given to the poor. It doesn’t say what tone Jesus speaks in, merely that he says that they will always have the poor, they won’t always have Him.

This is the part that I’m a little shocked by.

Judas is sitting with a man who, only a few days ago, was raised from the dead. He’s sitting with the man who brought Lazarus back from the dead. He’s concerned that nard was wasted because it could’ve been sold and the money given to the poor. Now everyone there (the last two lines of the passage are clear) is there to see Jesus, to see Lazarus. Judas is concerned about money. He’s concerned that there’s a strong smell that’s going to attract attention to Jesus, to the disciples, to the scene.

Is Judas stupid?

What is this reaction really about?

If you look through the gospels, many times you will see places where Jesus is accused of associating with people who have tainted reputations. This is another situation where an assumption could be made because of an interaction with someone who has a reputation.

Is Judas concerned with the character assassination of Jesus? Or is something more subtler happening here?

As we get closer and closer to Golgotha, we see a shift in the view of people, bleating like sheep, “Crucify Him!” Here in this scene, where Mary recognizes and accepts , even before the disciples are willing to, that something is going to happen that is going to shake the world they all know–and it’s going to mean the Passion. Judas in his darkness lashes out in the easiest way possible. He accuses the woman of waste, needless waste, and attempts to amplify that waste by pointing out that it could’ve eased the suffering of others.

He can’t see, he isn’t able to see, the suffering that will be eased in 4 days by the Passion. His scope is limited by his attachment to the world. Jesus I think is speaking with a gentle tone in this passage. A gentle tone fits. He is saying, “Judas, lay off. She understands where you don’t, or you all refuse to. She’s letting Me go, this is her process. You, my closest disciples, have fought from the first time I’ve told you that I must go, must endure. You’ve all sluffed me off even though I’ve brought this man back from the dead!”

Jesus is giving everyone an opportunity to come to Him, without force. He is beckoning, “come”. Even as Judas carries the purse of the disciples, Jesus knows he’s a thief. And He continues to let Judas carry the purse. Why? Why not call him out?

Because even Judas, the disciple categorized as the betrayer, is given the opportunity to answer the call. Jesus has not given up on Judas.

Where is Judas now?

Can you be so sure of your answer?

37-Are you kidding me, Judas?

36-Palm Sunday

And they came to the place that is called Golgotha, which is the place of Calvary. And they gave him wine to drink mingled with gall. And when he had tasted, he would not drink. And after they had crucified him, they divided his garments, casting lots; that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying: They divided my garments among them; and upon my vesture they cast lots. And they sat and watched him. And they put over his head his cause written: THIS IS JESUS THE KING OF THE JEWS.
Then were crucified with him two thieves: one on the right hand and one on the left. And they that passed by blasphemed him, wagging their heads, And saying: “Vah, thou that destroyest the temple of God and in three days dost rebuild it: save thy own self. If thou be the Son of God, come down from the cross.” In like manner also the chief priests, with the scribes and ancients, mocking said: “He saved others: himself he cannot save. If he be the king of Israel, let him now come down from the cross: and we will believe him. He trusted in God: let him now deliver him if he will have him. For he said: I am the Son of God.” And the selfsame thing the thieves also that were crucified with him reproached him with.
Now from the sixth hour, there was darkness over the whole earth, until the ninth hour. And about the ninth hour, Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying: “Eli, Eli, lamma sabacthani?” That is, “My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken me?” And some that stood there and heard said: “This man calleth Elias.” And immediately one of them running took a sponge and filled it with vinegar and put it on a reed and gave him to drink. And the others said: “Let be. Let us see whether Elias will come to deliver him.” And Jesus again crying with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost. And behold the veil of the temple was rent in two from the top even to the bottom: and the earth quaked and the rocks were rent. And the graves were opened: and many bodies of the saints that had slept arose, And coming out of the tombs after his resurrection, came into the holy city and appeared to many.
Now the centurion and they that were with him watching Jesus, having seen the earthquake and the things that were done, were sore afraid, saying: “Indeed this was the Son of God.”
A segment of today’s reading from the Passion of Our Lord, Gospel of Matthew

This was the first Palm Sunday in my little chapel. Normally, I tune into the live stream from the Mother House in Toronto, but there were some technical difficulties and I got disconnected. At that point, since I’m practicing saying Mass, and this is the beginning of the Holiest week in our faith, I put on the chasuble, lit the candles, and started.

Practicing saying Mass is interesting because you know in your heart that what you’re doing isn’t a consecration. It’s a run through. But it’s also a spiritual act, and there’s a connection present even if the bread and wine aren’t consecrated.

Of course, the little Franciscan Missal I decided to use to day had a page missing. So there was at least one page of the Mass that didn’t get said. Regardless, it was a powerful experience.

One thing that struck me as interesting is the great celebration that took place when Jesus came into the city, and just how quickly people’s hearts turned over the course of 4 days. He went from being celebrated, palms and cloaks being lain on the street as He road into Jerusalem, to beaten, crushed.

The palms on the altar today will be dry in time. Eventually, ash.

Today marks the first day of the reflections of the passion. During this week, we are called to remember the sacrifice.

Take time this week to be thoughtful, to be still. Go to the inner room, and pray. Be generous, be charitable.

36-Palm Sunday

35-Itself remaineth alone.

At that time, the chief priests thought to kill Lazarus also: Because many of the Jews, by reason of him, went away and believed in Jesus.
And on the next day, a great multitude that was come to the festival day, when they had heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem, Took branches of palm trees and went forth to meet him and cried “Hosanna! Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord, the king of Israel!” And Jesus found a young ass and sat upon it, as it is written: “Fear not, daughter of Sion: behold thy king cometh, sitting on an ass’s colt.” These things his disciples did not know at the first: but when Jesus was glorified, then they remembered that these things were written of him and that they had done these things to him.
The multitude therefore gave testimony, which was with him, when he called Lazarus out of the grave and raised him from the dead. For which reason also the people came to meet him, because they heard that he had done this miracle. The Pharisees therefore said among themselves: “Do you see that we prevail nothing? Behold, the whole world is gone after him!”
Now there were certain Gentiles among them, who came up to adore on the festival day. These therefore came to Philip, who was of Bethsaida of Galilee, and desired him, saying: “Sir, we would see Jesus.” Philip cometh and telleth Andrew. Again Andrew and Philip told Jesus. But Jesus answered them, saying: “The hour is come that the Son of man should be glorified. Amen, amen, I say to you, unless the grain of wheat falling into the ground die, Itself remaineth alone. But if it die it bringeth forth much fruit. He that loveth his life shall lose it and he that hateth his life in this world keepeth it unto life eternal. If any man minister to me, let him follow me: and where I am, there also shall my minister be. If any man minister to me, him will my Father honor. Now is my soul troubled. And what shall I say? Father, save me from this hour. But for this cause I came unto this hour. Father, glorify thy name.” A voice therefore came from heaven: “I have both glorified it and will glorify it again.”
The multitude therefore that stood and heard said that it thundered. Others said: “An angel spoke to him.” Jesus answered and said: “This voice came not because of me, but for your sakes. Now is the judgment of the world: now shall the prince of this world be cast out. And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all things to myself.” (Now this he said, signifying what death he should die.) The multitude answered him: “We have heard out of the law that Christ abideth for ever. And how sayest thou: The Son of man must be lifted up? Who is this Son of man?” Jesus therefore said to them: “Yet a little while, the light is among you. Walk whilst you have the light, and the darkness overtake you not. And he that walketh in darkness knoweth not whither be goeth. Whilst you have the light, believe in the light, that you may be the children of light.” These things Jesus spoke: and he went away and hid himself from them. John 12:10-36

35-Itself remaineth alone.

34-At the Cross.

At that time, there stood by the cross of Jesus, his mother and his mother’s sister, Mary of Cleophas, and Mary Magdalen. When Jesus therefore had seen his mother and the disciple standing whom he loved, he saith to his mother: “Woman, behold thy son.” After that, he saith to the disciple: “Behold thy mother.” And from that hour, the disciple took her to his own. John 19:25-27

By the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ stood the sorrowing Holy Mary, the Queen of Heaven and the Mistress of the world.  Look, all you who pass by, and see if there is any sorrow like unto mine.

At the Cross her station keeping,
Stood the mournful Mother weeping,
Close to Jesus to the last.

Through her Heart, His sorrow sharing,
All His bitter anguish bearing,
Now at length the sword has passed.

O how sad and sore distressed
Was that Mother highly blessed
Of the sole-begotten One!

Christ above in torment hangs,
She beneath beholds the pangs
Of her dying, glorious Son.

Is there one who would not weep,
‘Whelmed in miseries so deep,
Christ’s dear Mother to behold?

Can the human heart refrain
From partaking in her pain,
In that Mother’s pain untold?

Bruised, derided, cursed, defiled,
She beheld her tender Child,
All with bloody scourges rent.

For the sins of His own nation
Saw Him hang in desolation
Till His spirit forth He sent.

O sweet Mother! Font of love,
Touch my spirit from above,
Make my heart with yours accord.

Make me feel as you have felt;
Make my soul to glow and melt
With the love of Christ, my Lord.

Holy Mother, pierce me through,
In my heart each wound renew
Of my Savior crucified.

Let me share with you His pain,
Who for all our sins was slain,
Who for me in torments died.

Let me mingle tears with you,
Mourning Him who mourned for me,
All the days that I may live.

By the Cross with you to stay,
There with you to weep and pray,
Is all I ask of you to give.

Virgin of all virgins blest!
Listen to my fond request:
Let me share your grief divine.

Let me to my latest breath,
In my body bear the death
Of that dying Son of yours.

Wounded with His every wound,
Steep my soul till it has swooned
In His very Blood away.

Be to me, O Virgin, nigh,
Lest in flames I burn and die,
In His awful judgment day.

Christ, when you shall call me hence,
Be your Mother my defense,
Be your cross my victory.

While my body here decays,
May my soul your goodness praise,
Safe in heaven eternally.

34-At the Cross.

33-Our Lady of the Annunciation

At that time, the angel Gabriel was sent from God into a city of Galilee, called Nazareth, To a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David: and the virgin’s name was Mary. And the angel being come in, said unto her: “Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women.” Who having heard, was troubled at his saying and thought with herself what manner of salutation this should be. And the angel said to her: “Fear not, Mary, for thou hast found grace with God. Behold thou shalt conceive in thy womb and shalt bring forth a son: and thou shalt call his name Jesus. He shall be great and shall be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of David his father: and he shall reign in the house of Jacob for ever. And of his kingdom there shall be no end.”
And Mary said to the angel: “How shall this be done, because I know not man?” And the angel answering, said to her: “The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee and the power of the Most High shall overshadow thee. And therefore also the Holy which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God. And behold thy cousin Elizabeth, she also hath conceived a son in her old age: and this is the sixth month with her that is called barren. Because no word shall be impossible with God.” And Mary said: “Behold the handmaid of the Lord: be it done to me according to thy word.” Luke 1:26-38

As a Franciscan of the Annunciation of the Infinite Love of God, this is a very important feast day for me and my fellow Franciscan siblings!

From our history:

On the Feast of the Annunciation 2006, Archbishop Roger LaRade founded a religious community within l’Église Catholique Eucharistique – The Eucharistic Catholic Church. He named this new community the Order of Franciscans of the Annunciation of the Infinite Love of God, also known as the Franciscans of the Annunciation. The initials which members of the Order place after their names are O.F.A.

Following the evangelical counsels of poverty, chastity and obedience we experience and live our vows as partnered/married or single persons, male and female, all under the same rule of life. We desire to have Saint Francis as a guide to our following of Jesus. We identify strongly with Jesus’ call to Saint Francis to “go, rebuild my Church”. We understand this in the contemporary world as a call to proclaim (announce – Annunciation) the Infinite Love of God for all people. God’s Infinite Love is shown us in the person of Jesus. As Mary, at the Annunciation, said “Yes” to God’s call to her to incarnate Jesus, so Franciscans of the Annunciation dedicate ourselves to live out our “Yes” to God’s call to each one of us to continue to incarnate Jesus through action and word.

In living this call, we have looked for a Franciscan community rooted in Tradition in its response to the modern world. We see this community as necessary in encouraging our ministry while shaping our mission. Membership in the Franciscans of the Annunciation provides this through the making of a commitment to live one’s vocation according to the rule of life of the Order under the guidance of the Guardian-General, and includes regular contact among members, ongoing study and discussion of Franciscan spirituality, and daily prayer and Mass, and ministry. (http://www.eucharisticcatholicchurch.org/vocations.html)

As a finite being, it’s not always easy to share the message of an Infinite Love. As a finite being, it’s in our nature to reshape that message to make it more “terrestrial”, more finite so that we can understand and accept it better. To those that would limit the message of Infinite Love, they would give arguments that love can only be expressed in one, finite way (between a man and a woman for example).

To this, I would say that they do not subscribe to the same definition of Love that I do.

What’s that definition?

Infinite Love from a finite perspective means making the attempt to reach beyond, to try to see in another person one’s own self–and the harder it is to do that, the more important it is to do it. Infinite Love is not about physical intimacy, it’s not about sex. It’s not even about sexuality or gender! Infinite Love is embracing one’s self through embracing others, finding humility in one’s self through being reminded of one’s own faults. It’s about serving without expectation of being served. It’s the ultimate socialism in that it banishes selfishness and allows selflessness to flourish.

It’s also a choice, and a hard choice at that.

It requires us to practice Infinite Love towards those who hate who we are, and what we do, and what we profess.

It does not rule out or dismiss self care. Rather, is encourages service as a part of self care, self actualization.

It’s a hard teaching. But it’s the root of Christ’s message: Love one another as I have loved you, and love your neighbor as you love yourself. We already know how to love. We just have to want to love Infinitely.

33-Our Lady of the Annunciation