Amy Welborn is a contributor - five devotions per issue - to the Living Faith daily devotional quarterly.
To notice human connection in this way is interesting; to remember the deeper connection we celebrate and live today, the feast of All Souls, is a necessity. We remember, we note, we find our place in the circle, and we pray.
It seems to me that the most spiritually deadening sentence we can utter is framed by: “If only…then I could…” As in: if only circumstances were more ideal, then I’d be able to follow the Lord more faithfully.
Allegory has been a common way of interpreting Scripture through Christian history. St. Augustine shared an allegorical interpretation of the Good Samaritan parable: The traveler is humanity, descending from God’s holy city of Jerusalem, set upon by sin, then rescued and healed by Jesus.
I am generally pretty negative about the impact of social media on our culture—and on me, personally—but there are times I am forced to grudgingly admit its value. So, the other day, just because I ran across her social media account, I learned of a young single woman in my town who fosters teen girls. Her account is a helpful and illuminating series of posts explaining why she does this, the way she tries to help the girls feel at home, the struggles and the great rewards.
These blessings are a concrete way of linking our lives out here in the world to the Body of Christ. It’s also a reminder that what Jesus gives us—the peace, the grace, the joy and, yes, the light—isn’t given to us to keep to ourselves. It’s given to us, as Simeon prayed, to take out into the world so that all can see the light and know that peace as well.
The apparent irony of it can never fail to strike us, I think—the memory of this terrible day, the slaughter of innocents—following almost immediately after the joyous celebration of the Nativity.
It’s a reminder of many truths: that the life of the Christian is a journey to the Cross, of the depth and gravity of the sin that Jesus came to save the world from. All of these can be unpacked theologically at great length.
I wear contact lenses, so when I wake up in the morning, everything beyond my hand in front of my face is a blur. But as that new day begins, I’m blind in another way too, even after I pop my contacts in. I have no idea what’s coming. I may have a sense and I may even have a plan. But really, I don’t know. I’m in the dark.
And so, Jesus meets me as I awaken and asks this same question. What do I want him to do for me as I begin my day’s journey in the dark?
Sitting in our large stone, echo-prone cathedral during Mass, I heard a phone. It wasn’t a full-out ring, but that pulsing, vibrating sound of an almost “silenced” phone. It sounded as if it were coming from across the church. I waited, smirking, for the owner to turn it off. It kept going.
Today is the feast of the great French servant of the poor, St. Vincent de Paul.
There is no lack of charities serving those in need in the world, but Jesus makes clear here the Christian difference: to not see “the poor” as a group “below” those who serve them from on high. No, we’re all one body in Christ, and we’re called to understand ourselves as “the least” simply serving each other, brothers and sisters, out of mutual love and responsibility.
This is one of the most telling, revealing moments in the gospel—not about Jesus, but about us.
For how many times has Jesus visited me where I live? In the sacraments, in moments of prayer, in the love and presence of other people—he’s come to me. He’s healed, taught and revealed the way to real happiness and peace. I know this! I know all about it! And I say I believe it.
My son was happy to get his first credit card. He’s financially responsible to the point of miserliness, so I wasn’t concerned about him misusing it. But after a few months, he observed, reflecting on that magic period that falls between spending on the card and actually paying the bill, “I don’t like credit cards. They make me think I have more money than I really do.”
His words prompted me to consider in what parts of my own life I might be allowing delusion and pretense to rule.
Before everything shut down last year, I was in New York City to see Hadestown, a musical loosely based on the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice. The play is framed, beginning and end, with Hermes singing: “It’s an old song, it’s a tragedy…but we’re gonna sing it again and again.”
Sitting with theatergoers, listening to an affirmation of the power of retelling a tale over and over, reminded me of the importance of liturgy, especially Holy Week. What we tell this week is more than a story.
December 29 (written a year ago, before the Covid pandemic)
Another calendar year is drawing to an end. When I look back, what do I see? What emotions do the events of this year’s journey around the sun bring? Perhaps the year has been dominated by sadness or discord, and we won’t be sorry at all to see it go.
Advent approaches, and as we draw near to that season, the Scripture readings are all about the last things: death, judgment and eternity. These can be frightening to contemplate, subjects we might rather avoid. But we can’t. Here they are, presented to us in God’s Word. And, if we are honest, here they are in the ebb and flow of our lives.
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