I’m a fan of Matthew Fox. He and other theologians like Ilia Delio and John Duns Scotus have influenced my thinking too. Today is Easter for many in the world and the familiar greeting among many of the world’s Christians is “He is risen.” He has risen and he was crucified, died and was buried. Many Christians believe that his death was a necessary atonement for original sin. Last night as I was sitting in the chapel at Mount Irenaeus and participating in the Easter Vigil service I reflected on the emphasis on the light of Christ. I love the vigil service at the Mountain because it begins outside with some readings and blessings and the lighting of a fire and the lighting of the Paschal candle followed by a procession into the chapel.
The overemphasis of the crucifixion which was horrible indeed is that much of the teaching and living of Jesus is overlooked. It’s easy to go through the motions of being saved and then living an apparently un-redeemed life. Following the Christ invites transformation. How has Christ transformed me and us? How am I sharing that light with the world around me? Am I following this light that overcomes the darkness? He is risen today and everyday. What is the vision of the messiah? I believe it’s living in brotherhood/sisterhood with all that is created. That includes rocks, trees, animals, plants. It all bears the imprint of the most high. Living in communion with everyone even those folks who I find uncomfortable. Everything belongs.
Yesterday I drove one hundred forty miles east of my home to receive the first of two doses of the Moderna vaccine. I was so anxious that the night prior to that I slept very little. Last night I slept like a log. I’m hopeful and grateful today for the team of scientists who created this remedy to the Corona virus. I’m grateful for President Biden whose team has expedited these vaccines. I got my shot at a CVS. The folks at the store were very professional and put us at ease. I felt like I was surrounded by angels and indeed they were. I’ve had a lot of vaccines in my life but none so anticipated. My arm is not sore. It’s just a little tender around the injection site.
My wife got her vaccine the day before. She said that this was a Valentine to remember and indeed it was. We enjoyed our trip together to central New York State. We passed through the Finger Lakes region and enjoyed its beauty and bounty. Along the way we passed a motel that looked like the one in Schitts Creek. That gave us a chuckle. Later we passed a store front that reminded of Roland Schitt whose one of the characters in the series we’ve been enjoying lately.
Today I’m returning to my daily walk which I missed yesterday due to our travel. I’m grateful to be alive and grateful for the professionals at CVS and the leadership of the man who carries the Rosary and gives me hope. Peace.
Earlier today I saw a post that rang true. In 2008 we elected a black man to be president of the United States. The specter of a black man as the leader of the free world was so terrible to those who are intent on white supremacy that they spent eight years attempting to discredit him. Equally terrifying to these folks is that people of color will soon be the predominant group in the United States.
In many areas of the country that is already the case. The United States was founded by white men who slaughtered indigenous people, enslaved Africans and kept women subjugated while using religion to justify it. There has been an evolution of consciousness since the 1790’s. We stopped slaughtering indigenous people in the nineteenth century although we put them on ghettos we call reservations. We ended chattel slavery in 1863 and passed the 14th Amendment to the Constitution in 1868. We followed that with Jim Crow and one hundred more years of terror for people of color. Nonetheless consciousness continued to evolve. We passed landmark civil rights and voting rights in the 1960’s.
All of this progress has been countered with reactionary movements which live on to this day. Consciousness will continue to evolve despite the efforts of some to put the genie back in the bottle. I may not live to see the change but eventually our democracy will evolve to the land of the free.
On January 20 2021 a woman of color will be sworn in as Vice President of the United States. We’re long overdue for a women at the top and especially a woman of color. This fact is what mostly animates the angry white men in our halls of government. They’re actually frightened that America is living out the promise of our ideals.
Democracy isn’t easy. It never was nor will it be.
I woke this morning to a tweet from Christopher White who shared that National Catholic Reporter had named President – elect Joe Biden as Newsmaker of the year.
Joe Biden has been an inspiration for me. He was slow and steady in this race. He was unflappable in a day and time when the country was in panic mode. His election has been a lodestar for democracy. Sixty-percent of Americans approve of the job he’s doing as President-Elect. Despite little cooperation from Republicans and intransigence from the White House he remains calm. That inner calm comes from the practice of his faith which includes a daily meditation of the rosary. May God bless Joe Biden as he tries to mend the fabric of our broken country.
Today’s my birthday and it was a beautiful day indeed. The sky was blue with not a cloud in sight. Birthday’s are a time for reflection and gratitude. I’m grateful for my parents who made this day possible. I was their first born. I was the guinea pig. All first born children share that experience. Nothing in school or life ever really prepares you for being a parent. My mother had a tough time with the pregnancy. She was preeclamptic which severely complicated the pregnancy. I was delivered by my Uncle Eugene Rooney. It was Misericordia Hospital in Manhattan which no longer exists. I arrived at 5:55 AM according to a telegram my grandparents received to announce my birth.
My father was at the hospital but probably not allowed in the delivery room. That would have been unusual in those days. He sent the telegram to my grandparents upstate to announce my arrival. By all accounts I was a happy infant who once slept in a dresser drawer because there was no bassinet for me. That came later and we still have that item in our basement. It served for my brother and sister too.
I was blessed to be born on the 8th of December. It is the Feast of the Immaculate Conception of the Mary the Mother of Jesus. I attended parochial schools as a child and young adult and always got the day off. We always went to Mass on my birthday. It was a holy day of obligation. I would like to have attended today but the pandemic and a shortage of priests made that impossible this year. Nonetheless, I was able to pray the rosary on my walk today and spend a few minutes in our grotto near St. Philomena’s RC Church today.
Blue is a Marian color. Today the sky was bright blue. I wore my blue jeans and a deep blue shirt. Maybe I over did it. In any event it was a beautiful day and one that invited me to be glad to be alive.
A couple of years ago while I was visiting Assisi the leader of our pilgrimage invited us to pray a special prayer request in the Basillica of St. Clare in front of the cross of San Damiano. This is the same cross at Saint Francis was praying in front of when he heard the voice of Jesus asking him to rebuild the church.
On that morning in May 2018 I asked for a child for our son and our daughter in law. A month later I learned that they were expecting. We waited anxiously for the arrival of our third grandson. Those hopes were dashed in December 2018 when Theo Joseph died in utero. Everyone was devastated and I thought my prayer had been in vain.
In January of this year we learned that they were once again expecting a child. We learned at this time it would be a little girl.We prayed every day and sometimes twice a day. we waited in anxious anticipation.
This morning at 5:47 AM on the Feast of Saint Clare of Assisi, Fiona Katherine Watkins was born. She’s a healthy and beautiful baby. Is that a coincidence or an answer to prayer? I choose to believe the latter. Deo Gratias!
This afternoon I returned to Mount Irenaeus for the first time in over three months. It’s been the longest absence in the past twenty plus years of my life. It was Sunday March 8, 2020 when I last walked the grounds here. That Sunday was the first time that we didn’t share a hug at the sign of peace and when we began social distancing. How quickly the pandemic progressed as quickly moved into shelter in place and then life as we knew it began to recede. Today fully three months later I was able to return to one of my favorite haunts as a I walked the Mountain Road.
Three months ago the ground was covered with snow. Today the snow is gone and I was surrounded by green grass and a forest canopy of leaves. There was a quickness in my step as I moved along the trail praying the Franciscan Crown Rosary that I had begun this morning at home in Franklinville. A deer darted out of the woods to my right as I walked this familiar trail that took me eventually to a clearing and the hermitage of La Posada.
Much has changed in three months besides the beautiful flora. We’ve lost over one hundred sixteen thousand of our fellow citizens to the ravages of Covid-19. I’ve emerged from an episode of depression in the early days of the pandemic. There was a time I had given up hope. Despair tugged at me. From early March until now there is one constant and that is the daily recitation of the Franciscan Crown Rosary. The daily rhythm of this mantric prayer sustained me and kept just enough hope in me to press on. There were times when I doubted it was doing any good and questioned my recitation. Along the way I’ve come to believe that there is power in recitation of the prayers and an effect on my world and the world around me that I’m frequently unable to fathom.
Today while I walked along this trail in the woods I thought of the words of Thomas Merton. “My Lord God I do not see the road ahead.” Along the road there has been the deadly pestilence that has not come near me. Globally there have been the ugly horror of racism and and a reaction to it that seems to be bringing change. Just yesterday the United States Supreme Court ruled that LGBTQ Americans can not be discriminated against on the basis of their sexual orientation. That’s a huge win for many folks. In the midst of this pandemic there has been light and hope. For that I’m grateful.
This wonderful video tribute to the heroes of New York came from Governor Cuomo’s nightly email. Andrew Cuomo has been a phenomenal leader who has inspired others to give of themselves. New York is a beacon of freedom and and goodwill in the midst of this pandemic.
There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens: – Ecclesiastes 3:1
There is a time for everything. There is a time for winter and there is a time for spring. Today the temperature reached over 60°F where I live and the sun shone brightly. Despite the bad news that surrounds us there is good news and there is new growth. The trees are budding and flowers are beginning to emerge from the earth. Children were riding their bicycles and sometimes the distance didn’t seem appropriate. Nonetheless I kept my distance and walked along. As I walked I prayed and tried to focus the energy of my prayers toward our planet and the people on it.
One of the blessings of today was to find a lovely crocus blooming along the trail that I walk. Crocuses come in many colors but my favorite is purple. There along the trail this morning was this lovely crocus inviting me to take its picture.