Twilight Twitches

Twilight Twitches

Dear Family,

Father Larry Gillick, S.J. has written many reflections for the Creighton University Online Ministry. They publish meditations based on the daily scripture readings. I was really touched by this one and hope you like it as much as I did. – Fr. Jim

fetscherDear Family,
As the saying goes, man proposes, and God disposes. My hope and expectation was to celebrate The Sacred Three Days with all of you. I did, sort of, from afar.

Before anything else, from the depth of my heart, I want to thank Father Gary Wiesmann, Monsignor Mike Hippee and Father Antony Vayalikarottu for coming to celebrate the Holy Week liturgies. How blessed and fortunate we were to get men like these to fill in at the last minute in the most demanding celebrations of our whole liturgy.

Each of those men will probably tell you that the main reason it worked was because Annie Gardner made it work. If it wasn’t for Annie, I have no idea what we would have done. For me personally, maybe Annie was God’s way of showing me his mercy, and His timing couldn’t have been better.

fetscherDear Family,
“Jesus Christ is Risen! He is Risen Indeed!”

That’s what it’s been about. That’s what it is about. That’s what it will be about.

One of the nicest experiences I have had in a long time was the time I spent with Molly Cowart, as she prepared to become our newest member. We baptized her (last night) at this year’s Easter Vigil celebration.

Among other resources, we went through a book called “Christ Among Us.” I still think it’s one of the best presentations of the Catholic Faith. It’s been around for fifty years, but went through numerous revisions and updates, so it has a very relevant freshness. But in my years, I’ve never had the pleasure of someone delving so thoroughly into the theology and history of the church as Molly did.

fetscherDear Family,
Hosanna to the Son of David.” What would it have been like to be one of the crowd crammed into the streets of Jerusalem seeing this guy everyone is talking about?

I could only answer that question if I had been one of those people with all their hopes, expectations, disappointments, and fears of one who belonged to a subjugated nation.

Who will deliver us from the Romans? Who will restore our nation to its freedom and independence? As Mark tells it, the crowd cried out, “Blessed is the kingdom of our father David that is to come!” There it is. The Kingdom. Jesus was a means to an end, not the end itself. Freedom from foreign domination! That’s the headline.

fetscherDear Family,
So, are we on “Retreat” this week or are we on a “Mission?” The words seem almost opposed. When I was a kid “mission” was the big word; the men’s mission, then the women’s mission – each lasting a full week. During those two weeks the kids in school got a mission during the day, too. We loved it. Anything to get out of class, even if it was a pretty strong-voiced (usually Redemptorist) preacher who we called the “missioner.”

Merriam-Webster says retreat means withdrawing from the unpleasant or ceasing warfare and only then speaks of retreat as a spiritual exercise.

When it comes to mission, the dictionary offers a religious meaning as its first billing, “a course of sermons and services given to convert the unchurched or quicken Christian faith, e.g. a preaching mission.

So, in the next three days, Monday through Wednesday, are we to be converted or quickened? I suspect it’s a little of both. That’s my prayer.

fetscherDear Family,
Rejoice! As you probably know by now, the color is rose because I don’t do pink.
More importantly, the visible color shift in our liturgical vestments asks us to check up on the invisible attitude of our hearts as we journey through Lent. How are you doing?    

Is the P(rayer), F(asting) and A(lmsgiving) Challenge helping us remember who we are (sinners) and what Jesus has done for us (Easter kids)? Are we focusing on the glory of the Lord that is coming?

Well, here’s help!

fetscherDear Family,
As I write this Twitch on Monday the 26th, it’s stunning to think that our Parkland heartbreak happened only 12 days ago. And yet it continues with an intensity that makes it feel like two minutes ago. I suspect you’ll be feeling the same way as you read this.

I remember the title of a book I read more than 50 years ago, Edwin O’Connor’s The Edge of Sadness. It’s not the book, but the title that describes me right now. I feel like I’m on the edge of a large pool filled with the roiling waters of sadness, almost too large to contemplate, the sadness of the shooting itself, kids’ funerals, blame games, political stupidity, social insensibility...for starters.

fetscherDear Family,
When I wrote about The PFA Challenge for last Sunday’s Twitch, I had no idea what kind of a challenge it might turn out to be. I suspect you didn’t either. Prayer, fasting, almsgiving.

More than ever, we need to be at a place where we can let God in through prayer.

We need to be “fasting” from letting horrible news subtly demand all our attention as though it was the only thing worthy of attention.

Bad news has a way seizing our attention with a chokehold that won’t let go. As we stand opened-mouthed in shock over another ‘inconceivable’, we fill up with so much: anger, rage, sadness, helplessness, pity, frustration...
When our hearts are submerged in our reactions to the unthinkable, our charity runs the risk of drowning as well. We can’t offer the charity of our love because it got crowded out..

fetscherDear Family,
So how did your smudginess turn out? If you’re a visitor, don’t worry. You’re not supposed to know that smudge means ashes. I hoped that seeing someone marked with ashes would help me remember to “Repent and believe in the Gospel.”

I’m always amazed how many people come for ashes (and the palms that make them). Is it that we need something tangible to hold on to?  Whatever it takes, once again, we want to accept the challenge of Lent. During the first half of Lent, we look at ourselves. In the second half we look at Jesus and what his life and death means for us. Looking at ourselves with honestly will make it easier for us to see Jesus clearly. How do we do that? We “do” Lent!

fetscherDear Family,
We begin Lent on Wednesday. We will celebrate Mass at 8:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m. and distribute ashes after each of the celebrations. We will also have some small envelopes with ashes which you may bring home for folk who are unable to attend Mass through illness, etc.

The person who marks your forehead with the ashes challenges us gently by saying, “Repent and  believe in the gospel.” Another longstanding option is, “Remember you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”

I like the first option better because at this stage of my life, I want to think about preparing to meet the Lord, not becoming a pile of dust. After all, ‘gospel’ means ‘good news.’ The good news is that I am loved by God.  In the gospel, God, through Jesus, is constantly sending an invitation of love. For us on Ash Wednesday, the invitation is reflected in the words, “Repent and believe in the gospel.”

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