Twilight Twitches

Twilight Twitches

fetscherDear Family,
Let me begin with an advertisement:

EVERY HOUSEHOLD NEEDS A COPY OF THE New  American Bible, Revised Edition - NAMBRE for short. There is a version called the Catholic Study Bible put out by Oxford University Press. It has one of the best short clear introductions to the Old and New Testaments you can find.

I always give one of these to someone exploring Catholicism. Where else does that journey begin but in God's own self-revelation?

I'm happy to share my stash with you. I have copies you can buy, or I will happily give you one if you promise to read it. (Books are too expensive these days.) You can also get an inexpensive large print edition of the NAMBRE. The notes in the bible itself are excellent. In fact, the one I'm quoting in this Twitch is one of them. You just can't get the Introduction study section with a large print edition.

fetscherDear Family,
Once again, our bulletin deadlines have me writing ten days before you’ll read this. It’s December 28th, the Feast of the Holy Innocents. Before they could even speak, they were witnesses to love in the face of horror.

This Christmas was a wonderful gathering of the faith family. The emus were a welcome addition. Ask someone if you don’t get the reference.

Over the long New Year’s holiday, I’m sure we will have had more happy moments – and perhaps a suitable quaff or two as well. The days will also see Fr. Bill Mason, OMI, and Fr. Karl Davis, OMI, visit us and I’m sure you’ll meet one or the other. They are kindly offering me some welcome help, and all I had to do was offer them a bed. (Two beds, actually.) You might even meet Fr. Joseph McAuley who is coming from Scotland for a wedding. Suddenly, it got busy in priest city.

fetscherDear Family,
So here we are with the last Twitch of 2018. Tomorrow is New Year's Eve and many around the world will celebrate. The magic of television and satellites invites us to see people universally rais¬ing a glass and offering a cheer. We and they are hoping for a happy 2019.

But you notice in the heading I preceded New Year with a line, ͺͺͺͺͺͺͺ. Why?

fetscherDear Family,
Handel's melody bounces around my mind and my heart. His 1741 oratorio, The Messiah, follows the liturgical year, so Advent shapes Part I and that's where we hear Isaiah's prophetic words, in 9:5, for unto us a child is born.

If you take the time to go and read Isaiah 9 you realize that the expectation of a messiah comes in the midst of war and struggles among the tribes of Israel. That's where the composer of the word¬book of the oratorio, Charles Jennens, found the inspiration to envision the messiah who emerges to bring light. Isaiah 9 begins, "A people who walked in darkness have seen a great light." It is to these people in darkness, to us, that the child is given.

fetscherDear Family,
Last week I ended my Twitch with the following couple of paragraphs.

“I think if you went to (the sacrament) reconciliation regularly for the purpose of asking yourself, ‘Who has the Lord been trying to touch through me?’, you might be very happy with the experience. ‘Lord, let the grace of this sacrament help me see those people and those opportunities.’ ‘...and thank you for giving me this opportunity to ask myself that question in your presence.’ Aha! True Reconciliation.

Maybe that can help us stop thinking of the Sacrament of Reconciliation as a giant dumpster; the Republic or Waste Management Sin Bin.

fetscherDear Family,
A few weeks ago, I experienced a first in my 50+ years of priesthood. At the regularly scheduled time for the sacrament of reconciliation, NO ONE came. Not one person.

It shouldn't have been a surprise, I guess, because even normally the numbers each week are low.

A hundred thoughts began to germinate. Why are so few sharing in the sacrament? Are we teaching badly? Was there a bad experience with some priest and his less-than-pastoral approach? Have we succeeded in stressing God's mercy so well that when we mess up, we don't think it matters much? Are the hours for the sacrament inconvenient? Sometimes I think we already do good imitations of 7-11's trying to be the convenience store for all. We say you can come anytime.

fetscherDear Family,
Advent! Ad venire, literally 'to come to.'

Last Sunday I spoke about the Aramaic word, maranatha. Depending on how you pronounce it, marana-tha, or maran-atha, it can have two meanings; "Come, Lord" or "The Lord is come." Our on-going challenge is dealing with what theologians call the 'already' and the 'not yet.' (It's something like, I already have my bills but the money to pay them is 'not yet' in my bank account. Bad joke. Nevermind.)

Many years ago, I remember one of our seminary profs talking about trying to communicate. He said, "Tell them what you're going to tell them, tell them, and then tell them what you told them." I think he was also the one who may have told us that someone had to hear something eight times before it really stuck.

I know he wasn't saying people are dumb. I think he was saying that our attention span sure can be short, and that was before a world of 24/7 news cycles. This morning's crisis is this afternoon's old news.

I don't know if those ideas are true, but I'm going to use them as an excuse for repeating some things I know I've said in the past.

fetscherDear Family,
The name of the feast challenges us if we were to think of the Lord as some great earthly potentate. This potentate reigns over hearts!

Listen to the words of Pope Pius XI when he established the feast on December 11, 1925, the end of the special Holy Year he had called. The language is sort of 'churchy' but there can be no mistaking the fact that Pius' underlying concern was the fate of the world as the likes of Hitler and Mussolini were com-ing onto the world's stage. What could with-stand that?

fetscherDear Family,
On Thursday, once again we celebrate the national Day of Thanks. The history of the event is worth a trip to Wikipedia if you're a history buff. From the Pilgrims in 1621, through various shapes and sizes over time, the day worked its way into our national culture. You wouldn't think there would be so much discussion surrounding a celebration we all take for granted.

I read in one place that the head of Federated Stores (Macy's among others) urged President Franklin Roosevelt to push the date a little earlier so the Christmas shopping season could start sooner. It used to be that it was in poor taste to start the Christmas selling before Thanksgiving. Imagine that. I saw Christmas stuff out this year before Halloween. It certainly begs the questions, "Thanks to whom?" and, "For what?"

fetscherDear Family,
One hundred years ago today, World War I ended with the Armistice (literally, "stopping arms.") In 1938 it became a formal holiday and in 1954 President Eisenhower signed the bill to make it Veterans Day, a day to honor all who have served in the military. (Memorial Day honors those who died, and Armed Forces Day in May honors those currently serving.)

I spent (probably too much) time reading the history of not only the day but of the personalities and the accounts of so many of the battles and wars since 1918. Many of us have lived through so much of it all. I was born four months before Pearl Harbor and as I've told you before, one of my early memories is the uproar of Bayonne refinery sirens from New Jersey and boat horns from the Kill Van Kull and cars and trains rolling past me as I stood on my grandmother's front lawn watching it all. It was V-J day.

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