From Palm Sunday to Holy Saturday

“It is great and worthy of admiration that on Sunday, which is the first day, on which God began to be engaged in the creation of the world, the Savior enters into the labor of his Passion, and on the seventh day, having been engaged in our salvation throughout this week, which is called the ‘Greater Week,’ he ceased and rested in the sepulcher.”

Rupert of Deutz  (+c. 1129), quoted in James Monti, A Sense of the Sacred

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Stations of the Cross

Not long ago, my older brother Josh walked the via crucis in Jerusalem. He described it as both fascinating and moving, and he admitted that he missed some of the best photo ops because he was so moved by the thought: Jesus stood in this place. Jesus touched this rock. Jesus died for me—right here. Continue reading “Stations of the Cross”

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Beauty favors tradition

Over at New Liturgical Movement, my good friend Peter Kwasniewski has written about his conversion. He doesn’t mean a conversion from atheism to Christianity, or from Protestantism to Catholicism: he means a conversion from “modernity” to “traditional Catholicism.” He says that experiences of great beauty shook him out of “modernity,” that is, out of “what one might call modernism, an exaltation of our own specialness, differentness, newness, and autonomy.”

We can recognize in Peter’s description a progressivism we experience all around us. One could summarize the mindset as three claims: Continue reading “Beauty favors tradition”

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The Cross My Only Hope

My Catholic Christian faith fills my life with joy. My marriage is founded on biblical and magisterial wisdom and supported by sacramental grace. My professional life is teaching theology; my doctoral degree is in biblical studies. So how did I find this pearl of great price?

The real story is not my story, but my father’s. I had to embrace my faith and make it my own, taking up my cross for myself. But it was Leon Holmes who began college as an atheist, found his way to Christianity and eventually to Catholicism, and then handed all that to his children as their most valuable inheritance.  He found the treasure buried in a field.

And how did he do that? As it happens, he wrote a book about it. Continue reading “The Cross My Only Hope”

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Palm Sunday: History, Mystery, Practice

[This was originally posted a year ago, but when I found myself reviewing it for my own sake, I realized that I should re-post it for anyone who hasn’t seen it yet.]

With the ceremonies of Palm Sunday, Holy Week begins. The Liturgy of the Hours uses a new antiphon for the Invitatory, and the chants or hymns for the various hours are different. The readings take on new themes.  In various ways, the Church encourages us to see the coming week is a distinct time with its own character. Continue reading “Palm Sunday: History, Mystery, Practice”

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Lenten veils are a bigger deal than you think

When you enter a Catholic church in Passiontide, what leaps out at you is that all the statues and religious images are veiled in purple cloths.  When the veiling of images began in the tenth century, it was part of something even more striking:  a large veil completely separated the main altar from the rest of the church.

This became the custom throughout Europe in the Middle Ages. It is still the custom in some parts of Austria and Germany, where the huge veil is known as the fastentuch, the “fasting cloth.” Continue reading “Lenten veils are a bigger deal than you think”

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A scholastic dispute: Whether I am alive

It would seem that I am alive.

Objection 1. I am writing this blog post. But activity is proper to the living. Therefore I am alive.

Objection 2. If I were dead, I would be enjoying eternal bliss. That hardly describes my current experience. Therefore I am alive.

On the contrary. The life of a rational creature is a life of reason. But I am incapable of reasoning now. Therefore it seems that I am not alive. Continue reading “A scholastic dispute: Whether I am alive”

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The goats and the kid

My mother recently sent me a picture of myself at about ten years old milking a goat. We lived in Redfield, Arkansas, miles away from even a small town, on a four-acre plot of land surrounded by an endless forest. The picture brought a lot of memories back. Specifically, I recall now: Continue reading “The goats and the kid”

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Roll over, Moses

Near the banks of the Nile, around the year 2000 BC, Moses stood in perplexity. “Did God say ‘Stretch out your hand’ or ‘Stretch out your rod’?” He wondered aloud. “Hand or rod? Shoot, my memory must be slipping.” Tentatively, he waved his rod in the air. Nothing.

Or so he thought. Unbeknownst to Moses, he had angled his rod into the sixth dimension and let loose a bolt that crossed a small wrinkle in the space-time continuum, thus missing Egypt and the 2nd Millenium BC entirely…. Continue reading “Roll over, Moses”

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