It is Finished

Rood Screen

Photo: Watts and Co.

Every Friday is a commemoration of the Crucifixion. That is why Catholics traditionally abstained from meat, why prayers and readings on Fridays are usually penitential, and why many go to confession or confess their sins privately to God on Fridays. It is the one day each week when we remember how much Jesus sacrificed for us on the cross.

“It is finished.”

Nothing is finished without something else beginning. Just as the dawn of each morning follows the dusk of each evening, just as Sunday follows Friday, the Resurrection follows the Crucifixion.

In our fallen world, death inevitably follows life. In God’s plan for us, new life just as inevitably follows death, so as long as we accept that new life.

Each ending is a new beginning. The old is finished so that the new may begin.

May we all become a new creation in him. May our old life be finished, and may our new life in Christ begin. New. Each Sunday. Each and every day as we become more and more like Jesus, a true child of God.

Amen.

My five minutes are up, but I wanted to write a bit more about another “beginning.” Fourteen years ago today, Julia and I went on our first date. Neither of us knew it that day, but that date would be the beginning of our journey together through life. And a lot was finished for me that day too, including my loneliness,  my faithlessness, and my long wandering through a spiritual wasteland. I’ve said many times that God brought Julia into my life to bring me back to him. It’s true. And as an extra reward he also brought an amazing woman into my life who would become my wife, and then gave us both an extraordinary daughter who would teach us how much love we were both capable of giving. I am grateful for that new beginning, for that first date, and for every other date and every other day since. 

Five Minute Friday

Ten Years Ago

Julia and I after our wedding.

June 26, 2004

Ten years ago, these words from The Song of Songs were read at our wedding. They have always expressed the depth of my love for her in a better way than I ever could.

“Set me like a seal on your heart, like a seal on your arm. For love is as strong as death, passion as relentless as the grave. The flash of it is a flash of fire, a flame of the LORD himself. Love no flood can quench, no torrents drown. Were a man to offer all his family wealth to buy love, contempt is all he would gain.” —Song of Songs 8:6-7

Ten years ago, I vowed my love and my life to her and I have never regretted it for one moment. She is the best wife, best mother to our daughter, and best friend I could have asked for, and I thank God every day that he brought her into my life.

Happy Tenth Anniversary my love! May we have many, many more together.

Five From Francis

A child takes off Pope Francis' white zucchetto, or skullcap, during a meeting with children and volunteers of the Santa Marta Vatican Institute, at the Vatican

Photo: AP/Gregorio Borgia

Today marks the first anniversary of Jorge Cardinal Bergoglio’s election to the Papacy, and the end of the first year of the Church’s walk under the guidance of Pope Francis. A year ago, I posted five thoughts on the Holy Father’s election. Today, I post five of his most memorable quotes from the last year along with my reflections on those quotes in light of his shepherding of the Church so far.

Bishops and priests must be “shepherds living with the smell of the sheep.” —Chrism Mass Homily, Holy Thursday, March 28, 2013.

Pastor—the word used in the United States from both Catholic priests and Protestant clergy—comes from the Latin verb pascere, meaning “to lead to pasture” or “to shepherd.” Yet clergy in our culture, and many others, are seen as set apart from mere laypeople. Popular preachers write best-selling books, build personality cults around themselves, and become rich off their flocks. Catholic priests surround themselves with an aura of mystery based on their Sacramental calling. Bishops and church leaders cozy up with the rich and the powerful while overlooking Christ in the powerless.

Francis sees the hypocrisy, and wants it to change. He knows that the Good Shepherd lays his life down for the sheep, and leaves the ninety-nine to chase down the one that is lost. He knows from his days as a priest and bishop in Buenos Aries, washing the feet of the poor and of prisoners what it means to “live with the smell of the sheep.”

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Quote

Seven Score and Ten Years Ago

Gettysburg Address on the south wall of the Lincoln Memorial

Photo: Gregory F. Maxwell (GNU Free Documentation License 1.2)

On this date, one hundred and fifty years ago, President Abraham Lincoln delivered a few “dedicatory remarks” at the consecration of the National Cemetery at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. It has since become perhaps the most famous speech in American history.

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate — we can not consecrate — we can not hallow — this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us — that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion — that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain — that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom — and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

Abraham Lincoln
November 19, 1863

Noah

With my book

A year ago today, Chicken Soup for the Soul: Devotional Stories for Tough Times was released. Included in this anthology was my first published-in-print story “Truth at the Benefit Sale.” I pulled this story from the manuscript of A Smile for Anna, and edited it down to 500 words for publication. Here’s the longer version that appears in the first half of Chapter 4:

BENEFIT SALE FOR CARDIAC BABY Sat 9 a.m. – 2 p.m. Small appliances, housewares, collectibles, baby items, infant and children’s clothes, toys & games, Christmas decorations, Sporting goods and more! 2750 Dayspring Way.

I looked up from the printed sheet. Julia eyes were red from crying, as they had been all day, but for the first time her face bore a hint of a smile as well.

“So, are you up for some ‘garage sailing’ tomorrow?” she asked.

I was. We had grieved over the results of the 3D ultrasound for the last 24 hours and we both needed a break.

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