It is Holy Saturday, iMonks. It’s a day for quiet meditation, silence, solitude. It’s the day before The Day. And without The Day, we are eternally lost. Yet as you prepare for the joy of tomorrow, don’t let’s rush past the despair of today. Now that I have effectively driven all happiness from your day, shall we ramble?
I have always been a big admirer of St. Francis. I was introduced to him in the 70s through the Franco Zeffirelli film Brother Sun, Sister Moon. I have read books about him, most notably Nikos Kazantzakis’s Saint Francis. Perhaps I’m being premature, but I think we may be seeing yet another St. Francis in this new pope, who wisely—or prophetically?—took my spiritual hero’s name. St. Francis caused great uproar in the established Church of his day through simplicity, poverty, charity. We are seeing this now from Pope Francis.
He has decided, at least for the present, to forego the perks of his office, such as living in the well-appointed papal apartments, and will instead reside in a guesthouse. Imagine President Obama giving up the White House to live instead in a nearby Hampton Inn. (Well, ok, they do have really nice pillows …)
Then he held the Maundy Thursday mass in a prison for “young offenders,” washing the feet of a dozen prisoners. He also spoke on Thursday to more than 2,000 bishops and priests, saying they should be “shepherds who have the smell of their sheep.” Are you listening, Protestants and evangelicals?
Apparently one Catholic cardinal was listening. Timothy Dolan mixed in with sheep in his home state of New York this week.
Still, not everyone is as thrilled with Pope Francis as I and others are. This priest is very pleased so far, while others are upset that he won’t support their pet peeves. (Imagine being kind to a female convict. Just who does he think he is? Jesus?) Just remember, if you try to please everyone …
Well, I suppose I need to at least mention the fun debate before the Supreme Court this week. Not surprisingly, one lawmaker used a passage of Scripture to support her views of gay marriage. But it is surprising to some the direction she took it. You mean people on the other side might also know the Bible? Really?
It is not, as St. Paul Harvey would say, one world. We can buy and own and use and misuse Bibles in the United States all we want. But in several of the former Soviet states, Bibles and other religious literature are being gathered and burned. And house churches in China are coming under increased pressure from the Chinese government. Read both of these stories carefully. Do you see a connection? What size churches are being forced to close or submit to government regulation? Is it large or small gatherings? Which do you think these governments fear the most? Discuss.
Were any iMonks in Paris this week to hear the new bells of Notre Dame Cathedral? How do they sound? And wouldn’t the New Bells Of Notre Dame make for a great Christian worship team? (Oh great. I’ll bet we actually do see that now. Their first album will be hymns for Mass rearranged for electric guitar and two drum kits with samples of Gregorian chants …)
In this week’s scariest news, Liberty University wants to create “tens of thousands of Kirk Camerons.” Holy crap. Does that imply they have somehow perfected cloning and are going to inflict this culture with thousands upon thousands of Kirks? What are they doing in Falwellburg anyway?
Finally, what do you do with your Peeps? No, not your entourage. Your Peeps. The little chick-shaped marshmallow treats you will get in your Easter baskets tomorrow. You don’t eat them, do you? Apparently there are plenty of people who don’t—or, at least, they wait until they use them to create dioramas. Then maybe they eat them?
Happy birthday was sung this last week for Ric Ocasek; Moses Malone; Harry Houdini; Roscoe “Fatty” Arbuckle; Steve McQueen; Jack Ruby; Howard Cosell; Jim Lovell; Hoyt Axton; Aretha Franklin; Sarah Jessica Parker; Leonard Nimoy; Eric Idle; Bob Woodward; Diana Ross; Steven Tyler; Michael York; Dave Koz; Marlin Perkins; Sam Walton; and John Popper.
This week I thought I would share my favorite hymn with you, a hymn very appropriate for this weekend. Truly, because of the death and resurrection of Jesus, God and man at table are sat down. Enjoy, and Happy Resurrection Day.