Mary Magdalene, Redux

I kept thinking about Mary Magdalene today. I had a hard time finding an appropriate portrait of her to include in the post I wrote last night, and I got to thinking today that perhaps she hasn’t been very well represented over the years. She is often depicted in low-cut dresses, or in other ways linked to the idea of being a woman of loose morals. This is no doubt on account of her being associated with the woman of ill repute in Luke 7:36-50 who washed Jesus’ feet with her tears – of whom Jesus said she was forgiven because she loved ...

Mary!

The Gospel reading for Mass today (Jn 20.11-18) contains one of the great literary images in Scripture. Mary Magdalene, after having found the tomb of Jesus disturbed, and fetching Peter and John, stayed behind at the tomb, weeping, after the others had left. After conversing briefly with two angels she saw inside the tomb, she turned away from them in her tears, and in doing so, encountered the risen Jesus – whom she mistook for the gardener. After a few brief words, she turned away from him, too. And then Jesus spoke a single word to her that wh...

A Topographic Easter Tradition

Staying on my theme of music I listen to on the holy days… I have an Easter morning musical tradition that stretches back a lot further than the 10 years or so I’ve been listening to Gorecki’s 3rd Symphony on Good Friday. I don’t remember when I started listening to Yes’ Tales From Topographic Oceans on Easter morning, but it goes well back into my murky pseudo-Christian (proto-Christian?) past, into those pre-Church days when I thought that Christianity was something you believed – maybe even something ontologically ...

Good Friday: The Other Mothers’ Day

As has been my custom for several years, I listened to Henryk Gorecki’s Symphony No. 3 (Symphony of Sorrowful Songs) this afternoon, before attending the Good Friday liturgy. This is a remarkable work that never fails to move me. I don’t listen to it very often during the rest of the year, but it has become a Good Friday staple for me. Though Gorecki himself insists that the work has much broader meaning (no doubt), it is difficult for me to listen to it without being overwhelmed by thoughts of the insane brutality of the Nazi death camps in ...

Good Friday Intercessions

While listening to the general intercessions today during the Good Friday liturgy, I couldn’t help but think about all the hubbub that was raised recently when Pope Benedict made the Latin-rite Mass more widely available. I had some good, mentally stable, friends tell me that it was the beginning of the end of the Second Vatican Council reforms; that the priests would soon turn their backs – literally and figuratively – on the people (which I guess I’m supposed to think is self-evidently worse than priests turning their backs on t...

Gerry Gillis: Rest in Peace

My uncle Gerry Gillis passed away Saturday, at the age of 80, in Antigonish, Nova Scotia. Gerry was quite a guy. When Joyce and I took Kelly & Leigh to visit Nova Scotia during the summer of 1997, we stayed with Gerry at the family home on Hawthorne Street, where he and his wife Bubby had raised their nine children – the same home where my grandfather had settled with his clan, after leaving Sydney for Antigonish. Gerry and Bubby were the most gracious hosts. While walking downtown from the house after our first night there, Joyce told me tha...

A Good Hymn is Hard to Find

The parish Lenten Mission began tonight, and I got to the church a minute or so late for the start. The congregation was singing the opening hymn – what it was I have blessedly forgotten, but it was one of those carnival tunes of fairly recent vintage that we used to sing fairly regularly, not too long ago. As I ducked into a pew near the back, I was met by the distinct aroma of moth balls. The presider was a retired bishop, who seemed to give a very thoughtful reflection (I had trouble hearing a lot of it), but the music we used all night was awfu...

Constantinople’s Last Night

Yesterday, I wrote that I’ve been spending some of my commute time listening to the Modern Scholar series from Recorded Books – specifically the volumes from Thomas F Madden, a Medievalist and chair of the History department at Saint Louis University. The lecture set I probably learned the most from was Empire of Gold: A History of the Byzantine Empire. I knew very little about this culture, and the lectures helped me to piece quite a few things together – in both the political and religious spheres. As the lectures wound down, I must c...

Modern Scholar series (part I)

In the spirit of always trying to look on the bright side of things… One of the advantages to spending two hours or so each weekday commuting to and from work is the opportunity it affords me to listen to audio books. I was in the local public library over the weekend, and noticed that they had a new title from Thomas F. Madden in Recorded Books’ Modern Scholar series. Unsurprisingly, the series overall is a bit of a mixed bag, but, having listened to all of Madden’s volumes so far, I can vouch for the quality of all of them. These are ...

MaybeToday.org Site Launch

MaybeToday.org was spawned in a crucible that was formed by the convergence of a number of difficulties in my life, all of which were pressing on my available time in some way or another. In a typically Christian manner, I was trying to understand what God was asking of me – what His will was for my life in those circumstances. In short, I was looking for God to help me straighten things out. Maybe it was my professional background at play, but, in retrospect, I can see that I saw this essentially as a prioritization and scheduling exercise –...