Have you ever wondered where the ashes form Ash Wednesday come from? In truth, it actually depends on the tradition of your local church (and how organized your priest or pastor is), but traditionally it is prescribed that the ashes used on Ash Wednesday are the burned up palm leaves from Palm Sunday the previous year. Palm Sunday is the most foliaged Sunday in the liturgical year unless you are one of those churches that goes absolutely nutso with the army of Christmas trees and sea of poinsettias. Even so, Palm Sunday remains the Sunday where Christians go waving flora around the sanctuary. The sight always strikes me as comical, the poetry is intentional: The very instruments we go waving around triumphantly one year become the occasion for our repentance the next. How quickly our hearts turn from high praise to great indifference? Continue reading
In the back of my mind I have very passively been making two very big assumptions about my world. 1) That’ there will one day be a L’Arche community in Austin Texas for me to one day be a part of and 2) That Dianne would probably be the very first assistant at that community and that, like me, she would finally find her true home at L’Arche as well. Dianne was also, without question, the biggest fan of the Outpatient Monk blog and this will probably be the first post since I started writing that wont be read by her letter for letter. Dianne died tragically yesterday and this blog, this world, and my future will always be the lesser for her absence.
I am scattering her virtual ashes here at this place online to which I knew she loved to come. She was indeed a misfit, a lousy joiner and a homesick soul. The best way I can think to honor her would be to listen to her life honestly and pass on her light here so that her death would not be the end of her grace and love on this planet. Continue reading
This year, my experience of the holidays was…. not ideal. In short: I just stayed sick most the time. I ended up in bed on Thanksgiving, on Christmas and again on Epiphany. And while I had to cancel my normal plans to stay by myself in a cabin at the State Park for Christmas, I did have some good friends who at least managed to haul my feeble body to church for Christmas eve services. I spent most of Christmas day with the blankets up to my chin and 30 Rock on Netflix. I could have stayed there in bed all day, occasionally checking for signs of life on FaceBook and otherwise not really needing much more than my Vicks vapor rub and my water bottle. Continue reading
The change of seasons may be slow and subtle in Austin, but the transition from summer to, well, an equally-as-hot-Autumn still inspires making some changes. After a lot of thinking I have decided to cut my job, not quit, just cut. Between working my “normal” 40 hours a week job and doing to personal and freelance work, I find I am busy, too busy, and that busy-ness has become my spirituality. Continue reading
There are few men in the popular media in recent years that have been as easy to hate as Fred Phelps. His tactics and behavior, if not his convictions alone, have been sufficient to offend both right and left and everyone in between. His name has become synonymous with hatred.
The news of his impending death seem to come as good new on the social media and curated media outlets I follow. And without any hint of surprise there are threats, commentary and speculation of returning, in kind, the protests and disdain Fred Phelps inflicted on so many other families.
It is both as a gay man and as a Christian that experience anger with him for vilifying what it means to be gay and outright butchering the Christian tradition in perfect Orwellian fashion, turning itself on its head and turning it into a weapon. I have spent a good portion of my life reflecting on the motivations of people like Mr. Phelps and the answers are complex, but I can at least pull, for our own instruction, a lesson about his odd place in the culture wars…
He wanted to be right Continue reading
Station 14: Jesus is laid in the tomb (Photo credit: Believe Out Loud)
I try to be careful about which hot culture issues I write about for this blog as it usually take about 20 minutes before everyone on my FaceBook news feed stops caring about which Buzzfeed quiz you are, how what “Miley did was shocking BUT WHAT HAPPENED NEXT will change you forever,” or, “Twerking and what it means to me.”. So I don’t mean to fan the flames that bore you but since I have two dogs in this particular dog fight there is something I need to say.
I don’t find these laws very terrifying as I think they won’t hold muster to higher courts and I don’t think that they would even be very financial sustainable… but that is nowhere near my point. The mere proposal of these laws, however, just seems to me to be intentionally driving another wedge between people with different interests and pouring fuel on the hot tempers that run both blue and red. Continue reading
Josephine Bakhita, St Martin De Porres, Mother Mary Lange, Fr. Tolton
The first step to recovery is admitting you have a problem, or so I have been told by those who specialize in treating addiction. What they also tell me is that the correlative is true: the the greater investment we make in denial, the more the addiction feeds itself.
I was raised, as many in American were to believe that racism is a bad thing. But I was also raised to believe that racism is only a limited description of mean and ill intended choices that one person could, but should not, make. Therefore it was pretty easy for me to agree that being racist is bad, because it was pretty easy to determine that I wasn’t one. Continue reading
This post is a reflection on Dorothy Day’s classic advent writing…Room for Christ by Dorothy Day
Dorothy Day has a way of hacking into our sophisticated means of cushioning the incarnation, doesn’t she? There is little that we, including me, would love more than to believe that Christmas is something that we simply need to remember. Wouldn’t it be nice to say that Christmas was a thing that happened in a different era; “The Bible Times,” as we like to say. It was a thing that happened and it has meaning for us today. And isn’t that lovely and worth commemorating with pageantry and especially crafts and baking. We have quite literally domesticated Christmas in the tamest and most disappointing sense of that word. Continue reading
David J. Dunn is a good friend whose friendship helps sustain my faith. He also writes my favorite blog on the Huffington Post and one of the sharpest Christian Blogs on the internet providing keen and refreshingly Christian insights on on otherwise boringly controversial topics. Here he offers some particularly helpful reflections on imperfect faith.
My Sullied Cross
This is the cross I received at my chrismation. It’s tarnished. It is always tarnished. It was bright, shiny, and new the day that I first received it. It became sullied almost immediately afterwards.
It’s not that I haven’t tried to polish it. I have actually tried to polish it several times. The dark smudges will go away for a couple of hours, but by the time church is over, the imperfections of my cross will reappear. I have decided that that’s way the it’s supposed to be. I think God is trying to tell me something. I am an Orthodox Christian. I should believe in miracles. A common miracle in the Orthodox Church is weeping icons. Icons that drip myhrr. I have never seen a weeping icon, but my cross won’t get clean. Continue reading
Communion of Saints Tapestries (Photo credit: Zeetz Jones)
Flannery O’Connor, Dorothy Day, Henri Nouwen, Mother Teresa, Thomas Merton, and Walker Percy. Those are my answers when people ask me, knowing what they do about me, why I became Catholic so late in my life. In fact there are many answers to that simple question, but one of the quickest ways to say what I mean is simply by making a short list of some of the people who I want most to be like. If you want to know who I am, ask my friends. But if you want to know who I am becoming, ask my heroes. Continue reading