I am currently in Germany. Why? I am here to give a talk for a conference on the Catholic identity of Catholic Charities in Berlin.
But there’s more. This year is also the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation being marked in Wittenberg, a small town about an hour south of Berlin. This still medieval-like town, now called Lutherstadt Wittenberg is where Martin Luther posted his famous 95 theses on the door of Castle Church n 1517 that started the movement.
So I decided to “eavesdrop” on the pilgrimages being made to Wittenberg for an overnight a couple of days prior to the Conference. I love when a “non-plan” comes together. This and other postings are not “theological treatises” of ecumenical dialogue. These are a few thoughts of one sojourner to a conference on Catholic identity distracted for a day or two meandering to the founding city of Protestantism.
Last evening as I entered the town, I saw a notice for an organ recital in an hour in the City Church of St. Mary’s where Luther did much of his preaching. I quickly dropped off my bag in the hotel and walked over. It was a great way to begin my dropping in on the 500th anniversary.
So here I stand, how could I do other? Yes, the allusion is intentional. What is coincidence, but the grace of God. He’s a much better planner than I am. Thank God – pun intended. I am off to walk this still medieval-feeling town today.
This week’s JustLove broadcast is focused on Earth Day 2017. Joining the show to talk about this annual event are two guests: Richard Fuller, President and CEO of Pure Earth, an international non-profit based in New York dedicated to solving pollution problems in low and middle income countries; and David R. Shuffler, Jr, Executive Director of Youth Ministries for Peace and Justice, a Catholic Charities Affiliate.
Msgr. Sullivan and Richard will be speaking about the work of Pure Earth, and how the cleanup of environmental pollution is one global problem that has very achievable solutions.
David R. Shuffler, Jr. will be covering his the South Bronx based youth organization, which is dedicated to rebuilding the neighborhoods which it serves by preparing young people to become prophetic voices for peace and justice. Msgr. Sullivan and David will be discussing the Infrastructure Transformation work of Youth Ministries for Peace and Justice, and how the group has been instrumental in efforts to revitalize the Bronx River Waterfront and Sheridan Expressway Corridor.
On this week’s broadcast of JustLove, Monsignor Kevin speaks with two guests about Holy Week and Catholic Social Teachings.
Andrew King-Dabs a British television producer and director, and the creator and scriptwriter for “Manchester Passion”- a modern take the Passion of Jesus Christ set to pop music. Andrew’s piece originally broadcast on the BBC back on Good Friday in 2006. Msgr. Sullivan and Andy will be discussing his original vision for “Manchester Passion” as well as its continued resonance as it is restaged in various countries and venues; “The Passion” has since been restaged 6 times in the Netherlands, as well as a major production held last year in New Orleans on Palm Sunday starring Tyler Perry and Seal
On the phone Sr. Simone Campbell, SSS ,Executive Director of NETWORK – the lobby for Catholic social justice inspired by Catholic religious sisters will be joining us. Msgr. Sullivan and Sr. Simone will be discussing the Catholic social justice principles that animate NETWORK’s advocacy as outlined in “NETWORK’S Lenten Social Justice Resources”
Lent is over and now we begin to celebrate these three most sacred days that commemorate the center of our Christian faith. Paying homage to our Jewish roots, we begin after sunset “on the night before he died,” and keep a modified vigil. Tomorrow, we will lift high the cross. On Saturday & Sunday, we will light the Easter flame, discover anew the empty tomb, and proclaim for ourselves and for the world that he is not among the dead, but here, with the living.
For this reason, it is important that we not get distracted today by some of Holy Thursday’s evocative traditions. Some still dwell on the ordained priesthood. Others focus on the solemn procession and adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. Still others spotlight the moving ritual of the washing of the feet.
However, as inspiring as these may be, none are the heart of the first of the Sacred Triduum celebrations during the three days that lead up to Easter. For this, we turn to today’s appointed scripture readings that, each in its own way, draws us to the irremovable, yet not gentle, core of these days:
It is profoundly tragic that the last day of Lent is referred to as Spy Wednesday after Judas, the traitor who takes his own life in remorse. This makes the celebration of the Passion, Death and Resurrection of Jesus even more compelling. Out of the depths I cried…. And the Lord heard my cry…
A wise colleague often says, “When climbing the mountain, it’s good to look back periodically and see how far we have come.” Today is the symbolic 39th day of Lent. We’ve come a long way. Only one more day remains of our Lenten discipline before we enter into the great celebrations of our Christian faith.
There is so much humanity in God’s world. Isn’t that the story of creation? As one of the stories goes, it was God’s garden and He made us humans and put us in it. It was a neat place with lots of good things and everything in order. Then things got messed up by “apple-gate” – as I like to call it. After that things weren’t so good and humans had to live in a big bad disordered world outside the garden. God didn’t abandon us, but he made it harder to figure things out by allow things to get pretty messed up and now and then playing “hide & seek” with us. But if we take the time, his presence is always found to be with us.
I can figure out two reasons why Jesus annoyed the people of his time. The first is the traditional understanding. The political and religious leadership thought he was getting too popular and might usurp their respective spheres of power and authority. That’s understandable, even if not noble. But the other reason you and I can relate to. Sometimes individual who are kind, humble, giving and content can make us jealous, frustrated, and even angry? So maybe that’s why some others didn’t follow Jesus. Well, maybe in our time we should think about those kind and loving people as God’s gift to the world and to ourselves. We might learn from and imitate their example.
Healing, feeding the hungry, teaching God’s ways, stories of Jesus that taught the important of helping others. There’s much more. Jesus’ whole ministry taught that “doing right by each other” is “doing right by God.” Fortunately, my experience is that people do want to help each other out and very often do so. Good Friday teaches us that the time and type of help we want to provide can’t always be on our terms. Sometimes it will hurt and be inconvenient. Even Jesus asked his Father to make the crucifixion go away. No could do. Neither can all the crosses of our lives go away when we help others.
Abraham is Father and Patriarch to Jews, Christians & Muslims. God told our Father Abraham that he and his descendants must keep his covenant throughout the ages. I can’t speak for other ages, but our age is not doing so well. How can we, the “People of the Book”, betray our roots and our God so often in the way we discriminate and express hate and carry out violence toward those who are not of our religion? For those Christians, we best make our attitude toward Jews and Muslims a serious examination of our consciences as we enter into Holy Week. The prayers and readings of Good Friday and the Easter Vigil on Holy Saturday provide us with much material for our reflection.