On this day I want to do something that my high school Principal did every year on Valentine’s Day and that was to wish everyone a Happy Valentine’s Day and told us all that he loved us. So here it goes I love you. Sure, it’s a bit corny but for all those who aren’t in relationships on this day it sort of is just a regular day. Perhaps you’ll get some candy or a card, my sister has been know to send Congenital Heart Defects Awareness Day cards, but it isn’t that different than yesterday or tomorrow. Yes it is a holiday that celebrates love and that’s what the world needs now more than ever. If you have some time and want a laugh watch the Teen Girl Squad’s Valentime’s Special because “Valentimes is serious times”, or if you want something longer I’m sure there is some romantic movie or perhaps a musical on television/streaming that is bound to entertain and remind you about love.
As we continue our way through John Paul II’s additional mysteries to the Rosary. The second Luminous Mystery we hear about the first miracle and the beginning of the public ministry of Jesus. Here we have Mary and Jesus at some wedding, and they have run out of wine, which is a small problem. As the story goes Mary informs Jesus that the wine is running out he snaps back with “What concern is that to me, my time has not yet come.” Then Mary tells the servants to do as Jesus tells them. Jesus tells them to fill the empty purification jars with water and take it to the chief steward. The remarkable thing here is that Jesus doesn’t touch the water or really do anything to it yet it turns into the finest wine of the evening.
Now, Pope Benedict offers a unique observation of this miracle in his book, Jesus of Nazareth, saying that the miracle of producing a lot of wine for a wedding can be seen as a sign of the greatness of the love we find at the core of salvation history: “God lavishly spends himself for the lowly creature, man. (…) The superabundance of Cana is therefore a sign that God’s feast with humanity, his self-giving for man, has begun”. This in a way points toward the heavenly banquet where all are welcome. We also have an interesting role for Mary as it is where she always is pointing us towards Jesus. She is our signpost in life on our path toward heaven. I hope that we all can take Mary’s advice and do whatever he (Jesus) says.
Sing Street is the latest film from John Carney, director/writer of Once and Begin Again. This is the other musical which was nominated for a Golden Globe this year. Once again focusing on music but this time in the 80s in Ireland. We have a story of a boy who starts a band to impress a girl. Spoilers to follow.
The film begins at a family meeting where we meet Lawlor’s who are on hard time so they take their youngest son Conor (Ferdia Walsh-Peelo) and place him in a free state-school, Synge Street CBS, run by the Christian Brothers. Conor’s older brother, Brendan (Jack Reynor) rubs this in, joking about pedophilia, but also laments about the state of the family which is in a rocky state. On Conor’s first day at school he runs into trouble with the school principal, Brother Baxter, who reprimands him for not wearing black shoes as indicated in the school dress code, Conor also run into the school bully. This leads Conor to met a budding entrepreneur Darren (Ben Carolan), who has also been bullied and Conor and Darren become friends. The next morning or so meeting up before school Conor ask Darren who the girl across the street is, Darren doesn’t so Conor goes over and talks with her, she’s an aspiring model named Raphina (Lucy Boyton) Conor asks her if she wants to be in a music video for his band, she agrees.
The only problem is that there is no band. Conor and Darren go about assembling a band from the school. They start with Eamon (Mark McKenna) a multi-instrumentalist, who has all these instruments around, and round out the group with the black guy in school, and two other guys who sort of are just there to fill out the band. As they get together they begin as a cover band but after Conor brings a recording of the band for Brendan to listen to, and Brendan isn’t a huge fan as they are just a cover band and cover bands are a dime a dozen. This inspires Conor to begin writing his own music and with Eamon’s help they are pretty good at it as well. After the first song is written they film a video and Raphina shows up. With each new song the band’s style evolves while Conor and Raphina get close at the same time Conor’s home life implodes. However, the closer they get Raphina seems all to motivated to leave for London to become a famous model and one day she leaves. Conor is heart broken and can’t write or play music but Brendan inspires him to write so someone can get out of this place. Will Conor write or ever see Raphina again.
If you have a brother this is a wonderful movie to watch, even if you don’t have one or you are one it tells a timeless story of love and family. Fans of the music of the 1980s should give it a look as well as those who have enjoyed other John Carney’s movies I hope that you take the time to watch the film.
To mark the end of the Year of Mercy Pope Francis has written an Apostolic Letter, in which he reflects on the year and what we should do. Pope Francis begins by saying that mercy need to be apart of our lives, looking at the Gospel story of Jesus and the woman taken in adultery (John 8:1-11) the woman by the Law of Moses should be stoned, but Jesus reminds us the intent of the Law. There is love at the heart of the Law for it is God’s Law and God is love. Pope Francis goes on to the time the woman came and washed the feet of Jesus with her tears and anointed them, Jesus says that “Her sins, which are many, are forgiven, for she loved much; but he who is forgiven little, loves little.” (Luke 7:47) It all comes down to forgiveness which is the most visible sign of God’s love and mercy is a concrete action of love.
The letter goes into a what can we do now that the year is over. Francis make an appeal for confession and he says that the provisions made during this Jubliee year for regular priest forgiving Abortion and the faithful in SPPX communities can obtain absolution for their sins will continue. The Pontiff continues “The Jubilee now ends and the Holy Door is closed. But the door of mercy of our heart continues to remain wide open.” Let us all remember that Mercy is available to all of us in all shapes. Pope Francis the names the 33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time as the World Day of the Poor. If you have some time over this upcoming holiday weekend take a look at this Apostolic Letter. Mercy is distilled down to love, let us all go out into the world filled with love for one another.
This week the readings come from Malachi 3:19-20, Psalm 98, Paul’s second letter to the Thessalonians 3:7-12 and Luke’s gospel 21:5-19.
Once again we are looking to the end time but today we have the idea of salvation added to it. Malachi warns us that “Lo, the Day is coming” when all of this will end, the Lord will come and Justice will happen the proud and evil doers will be set on fire and those who fear the Lord will arise. Paul touches on this in a way by saying that when they brought the message to Thessalonica they hoped to be models for imitation in how to act and all that jazz. Their message is that the end is coming but we don’t know when, so go about your lives like normal work but try and model our behavior. In Luke we get Jesus echoing the message of Malachi and Paul, the Day is coming and the Lord will come. Sure it won’t be nice nation will rise against nation and you will be persecuted not for who you are but for what you believe in.
This is a great message for this week as it seems about half the United States isn’t pleased with the result of the Election, but we all can deal with it. As we need to be models for the world as Tertullian observed the pagans say “See how those Christians love one another” we need to continue to show this love to more than just those in our parishes but out in the community we should care about how are communities function. Sure there may be those who we don’t care for in the world but we need to be able to show them the same love that we show to our own family and friends. By bringing love out into the world we are working to building the kingdom here on earth.
This week as we near the end of the Liturgical Year our readings are from Wisdom 11:22-12:2, Psalm 145, Paul’s second letter to the Thessalonians 1:11-2:2, and Luke’s Gospel 19:1-10.
The Gospel this week is the story of Zacchaeus that short tax collector who climbs a tree to see Jesus. Jesus calls to him and eats with Zacchaeus where Zacchaeus says that he’s done horrible things and will give back to the poor. This story is a story of all Christians. At times we are all to caught up in the things of this world, caring more for things than people, neglecting them just because we think of them as a sinner. However we are all sinners, we all want to be like Zacchaeus and have that moment in the tree. This story echoes what we hear in the Book of Wisdom where the Lord is said to “love all thing that are and loathe nothing that you have made; for what you hated, you would not have fashioned.” The Lord comes to us with love and ask us to do the same to all our neighbors, as the Great Commandment say “Love your neighbor as yourself”.
This is especially important to remember in the upcoming week in the United States as that Presidential Election is just days away and we should remember that we are not a nation of Blues and Reds but we are all different shades of Purple. Let us keep this in mind this week as we try to live by the key to living “Love your neighbor as yourself”. It is a simple idea but it is difficult for us to do let us all try to follow this commandment for the rest of the year. We hear Jesus telling us to come down from the tree saying that he will be staying with us tonight are we ready.
This week the readings come from Exodus 32:7-11,13-14; Psalm 51; Paul’s first letter to Timothy 1:12-17; and Luke’s Gospel 15:1-32. These reading deal with the mercy and forgiveness.
We begin with Moses going back down from the mountain top and seeing the people who have just come from Egypt worshiping a golden calf since that’s all they known. Moses intercedes for the Israelites and the Lord relents. Paul introduces himself in the letter as a sinner and tells Timothy that Jesus came to save all sinners. In the gospel we get a bunch of parables (lost sheep, lost coin, lost son) each tell the same story something gets lost and when it is found there is much rejoicing. The Shepherd has 100 sheep and loses one, then leaves the other 99 to go look for the lost one. The woman has 10 coins and loses one who wouldn’t go into search mode to find it turning her house upside down to find it. This is told again with the father and his two sons. The younger son wants his inheritance now so his father gives it to him and the son leaves. He loses all his money and resorts to working as a hired hand for some guy but the son isn’t happy. He comes to the realization that his Father’s hired hand were well fed and treated well. So the son leaves to return home and when he is a ways off the father spies him. His father comes running toward the Son and calls they have a celebration. The older son is not a fan of this as the younger son has wasted all his money and hasn’t done a thing, but the father say they are celebrating because his son that was dead is now alive again. This is how it is with the other parables as well after the thing is found (sheep, coin) there is much rejoicing an celebration.
It seems all to often in the world today we are the thing that is lost, with all the violence and hate in the world today we can forget that it is our mission to bring love and mercy to the world. This can be difficult for us all as we remember that 15 years ago a horrible act took place in the United States with crashes in New York, the Pentagon and Shanksville. This is compounded by the culture of hate that pervades the world today. Let us ask to be made into instruments of peace just like in the Prayer of St. Francis.
The film The Little Prince is based on the novella Le Petit Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. If you haven’t read it yet, take the time and go read it now. After I read it the first time I found the movie musical version made in 1974 with music and lyrics by Lerner and Lowe it’s weird to say the least. So I was highly anticipating the release of the film from the first time I saw a trailer as it has a unique look to it. Spoilers to follow
The story begins within a framing device of a workaholic mom and her daughter move in next door to an old aviator, and the mom pressures her to succeed in life even though she is so young. Planning every single moment life down to the minute, the daughter is lonely. After the move into a new house the aviator next door try to fly his plane and the propeller flies off and into their house. That evening while the daughter is studying in comes a paper airplane on which the story of the Little Prince is written. This begins the main story as the Aviator is the one who wrote the story. These story section of the film are unique as they are stop motion and it seems like it’s made of paper most of the time which I think make it like they just popped out from the book. So we get bits of his story of the Little Prince mixed in with the girl. It takes a beloved story and adds some more to it and makes it better in the end.
If you are a fan of animation this is something you need to check out. It is available on Netflix in the US and I believe on Blu-Ray/DVD around the globe. It won the Cesar (French Oscars) for Best Animated Film in 2015. It is a shame that no major distributor in the US wanted to release it since it is a whole lot better than some other animated films I’ve seen recently.
This week the readings come from Ecclesiastes 1:2, 2:21-23; Psalm 90; Paul’s letter to the Colossians 3:1-5,9-11; and Luke’s Gospel 12:13-21.
We begin with a great quote “Vanities of vanities…everything is vanity” Pope Francis touched upon this in the past saying that we need to not be like soap bubbles showing off how much of a Christian we are, or what priest/bishops we know but we need something in our lives to exist as an individual. If everything is pretension we need some humility in our lives. In Paul’s letter we hear how we must die unto ourselves, pushing aside all earthy things, on our journey to Christ. This is a difficult thing for us to do, just look at the rich man in the parable who tore down his barn and built a bigger one for all his grain only to die that night. It isn’t what we have on earth that makes us special it’s what we await in our afterlife. For we do not know the day or the hour when we will shuffle off this mortal coil. Far to many of us are concerned with things here on earth having the high paying job, a fancy car, or like a gigantic house. However these things as we here from Ecclesiastes mean nothing in the grand scheme of things, the most important part of our lives is the relationships that we make for it is here where we can experience Jesus in our lives. I hope that this week we can all keep those coming home from World Youth Day and everyone else who is traveling in our prayers.
Sure, it’s been a while since I talked about gun violence in America but you know there has been another one and it’s yet another mass shooting. As Pope Francis said in Amoris Laetitia “The lack of historical memory is a serious shortcoming in our society. A mentality that can only say, “Then was then, now is now”, is ultimately immature. Knowing and judging past events is the only way to build a meaningful future. Memory is necessary for growth.” We need to remember the violence and not forget about it in a couple of weeks. The latest was an act of terror against the LGBT community as well. As this guy went to a night club with an assault rifle and a glock and opened fire killing and injuring 103 people. Earlier this month President Obama in a PBS NewsHour Town Hall event talked about guns and gun control. If you have the time watch it, he stressed background checks and safety regulations on guns. Will this yet again fall on the deaf ears on congress or will they try to get some common sense gun reform laws passed. Sure the US had an Assault Weapons ban for a decade but it ended in 2004. Could the ban have prevented the attack, I doubt it but it might have drastically limited the scope of the attack.
There is the UN Arms Trade Treaty that seems like a common sense treaty as it would help keep arms out of the hands of the wrong people. It doesn’t do anything to the Second Amendment as it is only a treaty on international arms trade. The US needs to sign this treaty and then work on some things for the nation as well. The first thing that would help is if the CDC could look at gun violence like it does with motor vehicles. Then get weapons of war out of consumer hands, no person needs to have an assault rifle to be safe. This could be followed by some type of licensing for the use of guns, where safety is stressed. All of these ideas are pretty simple and should be easy for Politicians to see that guns are a problem and need to be looked at.
Lin-Manuel Miranda recognized this in the tragedy in his acceptance speech at the Tony Awards in which he said while reading a sonnet he wrote “When senseless acts of tragedy remind us/That nothing here is promised, not one day./This show is proof that history remembers/We lived through times when hate and fear seemed stronger;/ We rise and fall and light from dying embers, remembrances that hope and love last longer/ And love is love is love is love is love is love is love is love cannot be killed or swept aside.” Also in his acceptance speech, Frank Langella said “I found some words that will mean more to you than a list of names, When something bad happens we have three choices: we let it define us, we let it destroy us, or we let it strengthen us.” Let us all stay strong after the latest horrific tragedy and let us do something about it finally. One of the way to combat this violence is with love it is something that we all can give and doesn’t cost us a thing. We all need to care about one another no matter who they are or who they love. For we are all need to remember the words of Martin Luther King Jr. ” I have also decided to stick with love, for I know that love is ultimately the only answer to mankind’s problems. And I’m going to talk about it everywhere I go. I know it isn’t popular to talk about it in some circles today. And I’m not talking about emotional bosh when I talk about love; I’m talking about a strong, demanding love… and I say to myself that hate is too great a burden to bear. I have decided to love.”