Thursday, May 31, 2007

Happy Feast Day!

Blessed is she who believed that what was spoken to her by the Lord would be fulfilled.
My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord!

The Feast of the Visitation is, once again, a special one to wretches. (Who says so? I say so!) Here we have two women bringing joy to one another; and much more than that. Mary brings within her the Savior, the hope of Israel and the Way of salvation. She brings Love Himself! She went in haste to her cousin after the Annunciation, eager already to give Life to the world.

Today we pray especially for our pregnant wretches, Sr. Mud and Sr. Sea, that they may be filled with the Spirit as Elizabeth was and look forward with joy to meeting their little ones; That they may have women (and men, especially husbands ;) to help and rejoice with them, bringing the presence of Christ. We also keep in prayer Sr. Spice and Duston and their little one Josiah who has raced past us all to the Child in the womb of Mary.

I guess the Visitation is the first inkling we get that Jesus desires to use His people to meet the world. He chose to become, well, a zygote, and could already touch Elizabeth through Mary. God wants to reach man through man. How crazy. But we all know the truth of it!

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Mercy is falling

Y'all know that song? Mercy is falling, is falling, is falling; Mercy, it falls like a sweet spring rain; Mercy is falling, is falling all over me.

It's not my favorite but it was in my head often this weekend as I drove around Illinois; the sky is amazingly wide there, since it's, well, FLAT. See picture. You will notice the cloudiness. It was such a funny thing; I was driving along and then suddenly I could hardly see because it was raining these huge drops and then just as suddenly my windshield wipers would start squeaking because it was over. This happened a few times on my 2.5 hour journey. Snap and the weather changes! It seems to be somewhat analogous to the mystery of the Holy Spirit; being the Gift of God, He blows where He wills. Suddenly He's there and He shows Himself; just as suddenly He hides and waits. As Fr. Antonio always puts it: We beg Him to show Himself, to come again. That's what prayer is.
It was a rainy ordination day in Peoria. Bishop Jenky is so lovable and such a joyful father and shepherd to his flock. The music filled the small cathedral with power- brass instruments and all. There were so many young men walking around in cassocks that you wondered what was in the water. An older lady behind me in line for the bathroom spoke about her 10 children- 6 biological and 4 adopted- as well as her pride that one son is in the seminary, and I knew that that was what is in the water in Peoria. The Knights were in their full regalia, with swords guarding the center aisle. Red tabernacle lights were brought out to frame the altar at the consecration; incense filled the air. One of my favorite arrangements of "For the Beauty of the Earth" was sung, along with classics like "Veni Creator Spiritus". It was beautiful and true- attractive. As funny as the hats of the Knights were, they were real men. The Bishop was a real father. The cantor was a (not effeminate) man as well. The brass instruments rang through the place and with the choir in the loft, filled it from above. Nothing distracting and all directed toward God.
In line for a blessing (out the door, times 2), I was adopted by some of Fr. Ryan's family and was generously offered a place to stay for the night. I knew that God would provide a place, but I could not have anticipated such total hospitality. At the dinner in honor of the occasion, it was wonderful to hear stories about Fr. Ryan's childhood and how he has touched so many lives. They made a collage of pictures, and in the picture of his First Communion, I'm tellin' you, it was right there in his face: an undivided heart! Praise God for the beauty of the priesthood and for His particularity which opens to all.
And of course, it was such a grace to be with Sr. Wind in her city. I like Chicago a lot! And just being with her was wonderful; our throats were sore from talking. I miss you already!

Friday, May 25, 2007

Father Ryan!

Tomorrow is Ryan's ordination to the priesthood!
Keep him in your prayers, with all the other faithful men who will be ordained tomorrow.
Have a great Memorial Day weekend!

Thursday, May 24, 2007


Dear Ones,
It has been brought to my attention that lately you have been eating outdoors at the entrance to the Pastoral Center. I have been asked to remind you that lunch is to be eaten in the Dining Room; it is not proper to have a picnic on the Pastoral Center grounds. Let’s keep in mind that the Archbishop’s office is here, and we are professionals.

Well, it was bound to happen at some point! I've written a nice response letter, citing the human person's natural desire to be outside and other such things. I will only be here for one month more- but it is the BEST time of the year to sit outside, since it's not too hot yet! Sad face.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

St. Rita, pray for us!

As should be somewhat obvious, we wretches have a special love for those women saints who lived in both states of life; though of course St. Rita's experience of marriage was not exactly ideal! Today let's ask St. Rita's intercession, especially for any of those "hopeless causes" we may have, and find solace in her prayers and love for us as we journey onward. And if any of you start smelling bad, I promise to think first that maybe you've received a special gift of suffering it, and not that you just haven't showered.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Love Easter Homily

You gotta love Dominicans! (see below)

Speaking of which; our friends Br. James and Br. Dominic will be ordained in a week, on JPII's birthday! May 18th. Keep them in your prayers.
5th Sunday of Easter: Acts 14.21-27; Rev 21.1-5; John 13.31-35
Fr. Philip N. Powell, OP
St. Paul’s Hospital and Church of the Incarnation

Love, love, love, love…blahblahblahblahblah…I’m sick of love. Sick of reading about it. Sick of hearing about it. Sick of preaching about it. Seems like every time we turn around in the Easter season we’re listening to John prattle on about how Jesus commanded us to love one another or how Jesus says that loving our enemies is good for us or how he is love or God is love or the Holy Spirit is the Father loving the Son and vice-versa. Now, we hear that all those pagans out there will know that we are Christians by our love…by our love, they will know that we are Christians by our love! Sorry. Makes me a bit queasy though—kinda syrupy-sweet and honey-sticky. Almost cute. Is this what we’re about? Cute love? Jesus suffered the whip and died on a cross so that we are free to shoot sugary looks at one another and drip cutesy clich├ęs about warm-fuzzies and teddy-bear hugs? Do I need to go put on the creamy-pink vestments and my Bunny rabbit slippers? No. Thank God and all the Saints…no. Love is not cute, cuddly, creamy, sticky-sweet, pink, huggie, warm, or fluffy. Love is not careful, balanced, gentle, meek, or meager. And love is most certainly not neutral, tolerant, ambiguous, confused, or permissive. Love is none of these. So, what is love?
The One who sits on the Throne says, “Look! I make all things new.” The old order has passed away. No more death. No more grief. No more pain. No more crying. What has always been is no more. What is/is going. What is coming is new, fresh, brightly clean, and pure. And this will not be accomplished by a tamed passion or a affected infatuation. Love is the divine juice of renewal; the power of perfecting gift; the living breath of re-creating wisdom; the Spirit that cuts away dead flesh and shocks a weaken heart; love is God’s passion, God’s might, His transformative command: God speaks His Word to nothing and everything IS…and it IS only in Love. What’s pink, fuzzy, sweet, or gentle about that?! Let’s see Hallmark put this on Valentine’s Day card: “How do I love you? Let me count the ways: first, I gave birth to reality using Nothing as my source; second, I took dirt and gave you a body and a soul and then watched you betray me; third, I destroyed the face of the earth and all but a few of you b/c of your wickedness; fourth, I sent my only son to be whipped bloody and spiked to a cross to pay for your sins…this is how I love you! XOXOXO—God the Father.” Now, this is not the Marvin Gaye/Barry Manilow, Chianti and roses mood we were looking for, uh? No, no it’s not.
Paul and Barnabas are running on love. They’ve received the Spirit of wisdom and truth, and they are running on love! Here’s what they are doing: making hundreds of new disciples all over Asia Minor; strengthening the veteran disciples in their trust of the Lord; helping them all to understand that hardships are an essential part of being Christ for others; they’re appointing elders, priests to leadership everywhere they go, teaching them how to fast and pray; they are proclaiming the Word, healing the sick, casting out demons; and, they are opening the doors of faith to the Gentiles, extending God’s invitation to them to jump into a revolution—to overthrow sin, to conquer death, and to enjoy the gift of life everlasting. Paul and Barnabas are finely honed, well-oiled, surgical grade instruments of God’s rejuvenating love! They are laying the foundation for the New Jerusalem that John sees in his revelation; they are dressing the Bride, perfuming her wrists, and adorning her with the finest jewels. And, guess what, brothers and sisters? We are that Bride! We are the raw materials for the New Jerusalem! And if we aren’t running on love, then what are we running on?

Maybe one reason we get sick of hearing about love during Easter is that preachers, especially Catholic preachers, tend to think of love in purely secular terms—Hallmark, Oprah, sappy romance novels. This means that they go on and on about love as a kind of permissive passion for ignoring sin and approving dissent. Love becomes the means and the excuse for disobedience and error. How often have we heard that God loves us unconditionally and, therefore, no one is capable of making a deliberative judgment about another’s public sin? This move excuses all of our favorite sins and gives us the false impression that love is God’s way of dealing with sin by emoting it away, or pretending it isn’t there, or by wishing it away on the grounds that we all fall short of His glory. We also hear love presented as the last reduction, the final seed of the gospel, the Thing Beyond Which There Is No Appeal, and therefore, if anything appears to violate love—a bishop’s order of excommunication, an infallible church teaching, a papal document—well, we can ignore the offending limit in favor of love. Love conquers all, after all. Right? Yes, it does, but we must remember what Love is and what it isn’t.

Love is always true. Never a lie. Love is always the glory of God. Never the glorification of man. Love always carries us to goodness. Never to evil. Love always binds us in obedience. Love never frees us to be disobedient. Love always heals, always cleans, sometimes hurts, sometimes casts out. Love never winks at sin, shrugs at injustice, or ignores the poor. Love always looks to Christ, his church, and his Mother. Love never uses the bottom-line, the convenient, the practical, or the efficient to destroy God’s creatures, especially His unborn children. Love always encourages spiritual growth from faithful experience. Love never gives hope to novelty for novelty’s sake nor does love trust innovation for the sake of excitement. Love can be a terrible whirlwind, a stone-shattering blow, a heart-ripping loss. But love always builds up in perfection, grows in wisdom and kindness; love attracts questions about eternal things, discourages attachment to impermanent things; and, when necessary, love will kick your butt, take your name, and call your mama!

If you are sick of hearing about love during the Easter season, you don’t know what love is. If you are complaining about hippy-dippy priests who whine all the time about love from the pulpit, you don’t know what love is. If you think love is best expressed with chocolates or a Starbuck’s gift card or perhaps you think real love is best signified with a quickie in your dorm room, then you don’t know what love is. Love makes you. Love saves you. Love delivers you to the throne of the Most High! You are not loved b/c you deserve it. You are not saved b/c you’ve earned it. You were not created b/c God needs you. Your being, my being—we exist, gratuitously, without merit or debt b/c our God, in His Goodness, draws us out of nothingness and makes us body and soul. We exist in Love because of Love for Love so that we may return to Love to be Love forever. And this is sometimes a terrible pilgrimage—painful, disillusioning, exhausting and dirty. But, at the end, you will be the newest creature b/c you are now a new creature.

Love perfects the imperfect. It shines up, buffs off, and sharpens. If you will become a well-oiled, surgical tool for God’s Word, you will love. You will speak the truth, spread goodness, honor beauty; you will correct error, confront sin, forgive offenses; and you will build up the Body in service and open the doors of faith to the stranger. Your life in Christ is a gospel epic not a Hallmark poem. Love us as Christ loves us…right to the cross, to the tomb, and on to the Father’s right hand.

Posted by Fr. Philip N. Powell, OP

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Sisters of Life on MTV

If you watch closely, you'll see our Sister Rain serving food. A radical choice! And before long, she may be joined by another wretch as well. (Speaking of which; when will that be definite? And when are we having a party for her?)

Can you believe that is on MTV? Huh!

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Happy feast day!

St. Joseph the worker, pray for us! I'm sure there are more than a couple wretches who could use some help on the job front.

Welcome to three new wretches! Sisters glacier, geyser and breeze. Awesome.

Sorry it has been quiet on the blog recently; but it's been good I think...

I taught a class of high school juniors yesterday and the best part was when a girl in back, in response to the question of whether any of them have taken a vow, said, "Didn't we all, like, at Baptism?" Thank you! None of my past students would ever have said that. They were so precious, I love high schoolers.