A New Year’s resolution for a new liturgical year

Happy new liturgical year!

A few months ago I rebooted this blog on the feast of St Augustine by sending out a quotation from Augustine’s Confessions. A few more posts followed on a weekly basis. I tried to keep things “relevant.” Whatever that means!

It was a writer’s trap.

I’m a slow-cooker writer who also happens to be in full-time ministry. The attempt to coordinate posts with an anniversary or event, meant that by time I’d wrangled my brain splat paragraphs into coherent prose, the relevant moment is typically long gone.

Here’s my New Liturgical Year’s resolution: Forget relevance! Just write.

Feel free to scratch your head and wonder “What brought that on?”. Or feel free to comment.

Christ Jesus is knocking at our door in the words of Sacred Scripture

We need to develop a closer relationship with sacred Scripture; otherwise, our hearts will remain cold and our eyes shut, struck as we are by so many forms of blindness.
… Christ Jesus is knocking at our door in the words of sacred Scripture. If we hear his voice and open the doors of our minds and hearts, then he will enter our lives and remain ever with us.

Pope Francis, Apostlic Letter “Aperuit Illis,” #8

It was love that moved me to speak

The driving force behind God’s giving human beings his ineffable gift of the Holy Scripture was love: Deus qui amas animas (cf. Wis 11:26). This same love must be the driving force behind the apostle’s writing: “It was love that moved me to speak.” Love of God makes God become the hub of one’s being…

Awash with this love, endowed with the right intention, strengthened by prayer, and steeped in Scripture, the apostle will be able to take up the editorial task confident that his or her writings, like the holy book, will succeed in being light, guide, and support for people; or, in other words, be for them, way, truth, and life.

Bl James Alberione, The Publishing Apostolate, 166-167

Sin doesn’t get the last word. Love does.

Then they set out and went from village to village proclaiming the good news and curing diseases everywhere.
Luke 9:6*

If you’ve ever wondered where the church came up with the term “evangelization,” this is one of the Gospel passages that illustrates this word. In today’s Gospel reading for Mass Jesus sends the twelve apostles out on mission to “proclaim the Kingdom of God and heal the sick” (Luke 9:2). At this point in Luke’s narrative Jesus only involves the twelve apostles, but by the next chapter Jesus is sending out a much wider group of his disciples (see next Thursday’s Gospel reading: Luke 10:1-12).

After receiving their instructions, the apostles go from one town to another “proclaiming the good news”—only the original Greek text does not have a cluster of words for the English phrase: “proclaiming the good news.” There is only one word: euangelizomenoi which is a conjugated form of the verb euaggelizó.

Euaggelizó was the verb used in the ancient world for the proclamation of victory over an enemy. It was used when a messenger would come “from the field of battle by ship, by horse, or as…a swift runner, and proclaims to the anxiously awaiting city the victory of the army and the death or capture of the enemy” (Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, vol 2, 710). The word was not used in the sense of sharing a bit of pleasant information about an everyday matter.

Evangelization—the proclamation of the good news to every person and place in our world, and by doing this to transform and renew society from within (see Paul VI, Evangelii Nuntiandi, 18)—is a mission for everyone who is baptized. Jesus has won the victory over death and evil. Sin doesn’t get the last word. Love does.

 

* Wednesday of the twenty-fifth week in Ordinary Time
Gospel Lk 9:1-6

Life is a conversation

When we reclaim conversation and the places to have them, we are led to reconsider the importance of long-term thinking. Life is not a problem looking for a quick fix. Life is a conversation and you need places to have it. The virtual provides us with more spaces for these conversations and these are enriching. But what makes the physical so precious is that it supports continuity in a different way; it doesn’t come and go, and it binds people to it. You can’t just log off or drop out. You learn to live things through.

Sherry Turkle, Reclaiming Conversation: The Power of Talk in a Digital Age, 331.

Counter-intuitive words from Jesus

Did you catch that last line of the Gospel reading for today’s Mass*?

Woe to you when all speak well of you,
for that is what their ancestors did to the false prophets.
Luke 6:26

That is one scary verse from the Gospel of Luke!

Here’s the thing, I’m fairly certain that I’m not alone in wanting people to speak well of me and mine. It is a concern that niggles away in my mind and heart and generally draws my attention out of focus. Whereas, the focal point of the Christian life is Jesus Christ. Put anything else at the center, and it simply does not hang together. If, however, we take Saint Paul’s letter to the Colossians seriously, that our “life is hidden in Christ Jesus” (Colossians 3), then from this center—the heart of Jesus Christ—we learn the values and practices of the kingdom of God.

A Church that witnesses to the joy of the Gospel is a church that is poor as Jesus is poor, that hungers as Jesus hungers, that mourns as Jesus mourns, and that [gulp!] is persecuted as Jesus is persecuted. In short, we’re talking about a church which values people over status as the world understands status. Each of us—and all of us together—are called to be servants of the Gospel of God, the good news that in Christ our life is secure, and that all are welcome into the kingdom of God.

Evangelization is a multi-faceted ministry within the Church. At heart, however, I believe that it springs from an ongoing relationship with God. Evangelization happens when people respond to God’s gracious invitation to become disciples and their words and actions begin to draw the others around them into conversation about God—and better yet, into conversation with God. “Woe to you when all speak well of you” can sound counter-intuitive to one who lives so as to let their light shine before others (see Matthew 5), and yet it is a healthy reminder that our primary conversation partner is God. In the words of Blessed James Alberione, the founder of the Pauline Family, “But when are we apostles? When we live of Jesus Christ; when we can say: ‘Christ really lives in me.’ It is then that Jesus Christ shines in us through our words when we preach, in our lives through our example, in our prayer through supplication, and in our deeds through editions” (Alberione, 1960).

Respond to God’s invitation given to us in Christ Jesus and become a living Gospel. Sometimes the world will take offense. It is what it is. And yet, sometimes the world will be drawn into this grand conversation started by God.

 

* Wednesday of the twenty-third week in Ordinary Time
Mass Readings: Col 3:1-11; Ps 145:2-3, 10-11, 12-13b; Lk 6:20-26

We, this small portion of Your creation

To praise You is what humanity desires,
we, this small portion of Your creation,
“carrying our mortality around” (2 Cor 4:10),
carrying around the testimony of our sin
and the testimony “that You resist the proud” (1 Pt 5:5).
And yet to praise You is what humanity desires,
we, this small portion of Your creation.

You stir us that we take delight
in praising You,
for You have made us for Yourself,
and our hearts are restless ’til they rest in You.

St Augustine, Confessions 1.1.
Text from Augustine in His Own Words, edited by William Harmless SJ.

 

Introductions

Hello I’m Sr. Sean.

@srseanm on WordPress, Twitter, and Instagram. This blog was started some years ago, and since then I discovered that it was impossible to keep up full time ministry AND grad school AND a blog…

So the blog had to wait.

That’s about to change soon…

In the meantime here’s what I wrote as an intro back in 2014:

I’m a member of the North American province of the Daughters of St. Paul, a group of religious sisters who work with the media. On various social media sites my sisters and I use the hashtag #MediaNuns (hence the title of this blog).

My mission-field right now is in the heart of the city—New York City to be exact. I’m the local superior of our convent here, and I work in our Pauline Book and Media book store in midtown. It’s an adventure!

Why this blog?

The Good News is just that—good news. God’s grand story of salvation makes a difference in life. In a sense, the experience of faith is a conversation we have with God and about God. And like all good conversations, it often takes place in the context of a meal. So here’s to good news, good food, and good conversation!