We are in Ordinary Time—and will be until Ash Wednesday, March 1. One of the purposes of this present liturgical season is to give us time and space to reflect on what we have just celebrated at Christmas; namely, that our God became flesh and lived among us. That is a mystery of our faith: God the Son, God from all eternity, became a human being in the person of Jesus of Nazareth born of the Virgin Mary.
Last week, we had an amazing six-day family retreat led by our dear friend and spiritual director who also happens to be a priest. We tucked ourselves away in a little cabin on the coast and quieted our souls with time away from ministry, early morning walks on the beach, evening swims and night time crab hunts. We dotted the days with the once in a life-time experience of whale watching and a bit of surfing.
I recently drove a couple hours down the highway on a great adventure. I live in an old home. Previous owners had discarded the doors that once separated the downstairs rooms. I wanted to fill one large opening with something from an antique salvage store. I found two broken and beaten old French doors covered in dust that I figured would be perfect for my house. I called my wife to share the good news. Amy wanted to know how broken and beaten the doors were. I assured her that I could restore them.
One of the mainstays of Mother Teresa’s spirituality was a willingness to suffer in the service of others, to share their material poverty and, as she eventually came to believe, Christ’s passion. But in the ﬁnal decade of her life, ill health was added to her burden of suffering. Years of backbreaking work ﬁnally caught up with her, and her body began to give way.
I recently received a touching e-mail from a woman who described the moment her dear husband died. “As he took his last breath, he reached his hand out as if trying to touch someone,” she wrote. “And in my heart, I believe he was being met by our daughter and his mom and dad.” I thanked her for sharing that sacred moment with me—a moment she will never forget.
When Pope Francis arrived at Joint Base Andrews on September 22, 2015, the families of President Barack Obama and Vice President Joseph Biden led his greeting party. The Obama family’s presence in the party demonstrated how much the United States had changed since Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. led a voting-rights march from Selma to Montgomery 50 years earlier. In 1965, when wide swaths of African Americans were excluded from voting, the idea of an African American president was hardly dreamed of by the average American, black or white.
Think for a moment of something stunningly beautiful that has ever taken you completely out of yourself. Perhaps it was a newborn baby or a thunderstorm, a breaching whale or a magnificent symphony. Try to remember how it made you feel in the moment when you stopped thinking and just let yourself be lifted up and carried away.
Mr. President, tear down these walls. We, the people—red, blue, or other—have had at least two years of accusations, name calling, hate statements, distrust, and suspicion before November’s election. With your inauguration January 20, Donald John Trump, we need to move forward together—without the walls.
Shout with joy to the Lord, all the earth; break into song; sing praise” (Ps 98:4). If carrots, peas, and cucumbers were musical notes, then the earth at Canticle Farm in Allegany, New York, would raise the most joyful of songs to the Lord. Canticle Farm, a nonprofit, community-supported agriculture farm, or CSA, is sponsored by the Franciscan Sisters of Allegany (the FSA) as a way to fulfill the sisters’ mission of reverencing, protecting, and honoring the sacredness of God’s creation.