Thursday, May 10, 2012

Moving into Spring

5th Friday of Easter  (6:30 AM Community Mass)
Acts 15:22-31
Ps 57
Jn 15:12-17

On Tuesday of last week  the reading from Acts 11 ended with, “And it was at Antioch that they were first called Christians.”  This is a significant statement because now the group of men and women that was coming together had a name. 

Having a name is crucial.  It is crucial to us as individuals and as members of a family.  It is certainly crucial to us as men of a specific religious order.  And having a name is crucial to the Church.  It is not unreasonable to ask, "Does anything truly exist if it doesn't have a name?"  Once a group has a name it begins to forge an identity. That identity determines the behavior of the group and the behavior of its individual members.  Conversely, the behavior of the group and its individual members refines  and expands the identity of the group for better and for worse. 

We know from Acts that even during the earliest years of the Church sinful human nature asserted itself in wrangling, argument, dissension and outright hostility.  It wasn’t always peaceful. But the Church survived and thrived.

Today’s first reading describes some of that dissension and the ability to overcome it.  The question here was whether or not gentiles who came to the Church would have to endure what some of the apostles felt  were the excessive burdens of Mosaic law as well.  In the end, the burden was mitigated. Converts only had to abstain from “meat sacrificed to idols, from blood, from meats of strangled animals, and from unlawful marriage.” 

The history of the early church is fascinating because it shows how little human nature has changed over the centuries. The early history and sociology of the Church shows how consistent we can be . . . for better and for worse.  Church teaching has been consistent from the beginning. In addition to unlawful marriage, such as that between a young girl and an adult man (a common practice in the Ancient Near East), abortion, also a common and frequently lethal procedure during the same time period, has always been forbidden.  As we survey the past centuries it is reassuring that we have made so much progress in social services, health care, care for the poor and marginalized and education.  It is disconcerting how little progress humans have made in peace and a true sense of community. Sniping, resentments and grudges continue on all levels. 

Yesterday's and today's Gospel readings will be repeated as a continuous whole on Sunday.  The repetition is an obvious signal that Jesus' discourse on love as he was taking leave of his disciples is important.  We would do well to use these verses for our meditation over the next few days.  Perhaps each of us will make a little bit of progress in learning what it truly means to love.
Thought I'd post this just before calling it a night.  The 6:30 Mass comes early when one is the celebrant.  It has been a busy week with no real sign of slowing down.  The weekend forecast is a good one.  Ideally I will get up early on Saturday and head out to Walden Pond, less than five miles down the road with the camera.

On traveling in Boston.  My sense of direction is wretched.  I am (really) the younger of twins by four minutes because I couldn't figure the way out.  OK Jim, YOU try.  Now there is hope.  A friend in D.C.  demonstrated his iPhone GPS that gives spoken directions.  With one exception (I made a wrong turn) it has done a great job getting me to where I had to be.  Driving in downtown Boston presents significant challenges as anyone who has tried knows.  There are reasons why Bostonians say, "If you don't know how to get there you don't belong here."  The 'burbs present a different set of problems.  So far so good with the GPS both getting to New England Medical Center and navigating the two-lane country roads in the suburbs.  

One of the techniques I enjoy with the camera is shooting through doorways and windows.  They supply a type of natural framing.   Looking at these shots the ear worm of the Mamas and Papas song "Look Through My Window" would not go away.  Good tune though so I don't mind all that much. 

The first is through the window in the front door of St. Joseph's Catholic Church in Taiwan.  Ignatius and I were returning from Sun Moon Lake in January of last year and stopped multiple times along the way.  After these photos we had coffee with the pastor who we ran into while looking at the church courtyard.  
A little bit later on the same trip we stopped in Ignatius' hometown of Chunghwa.  After visiting a few of his siblings we stopped at a classic Japanese house that was being restored.   This photo is a particular favorite.  Alas, we arrived at the end of the day and had only 40 minutes before it closed.  Lots of geometry and a splash of color in the lanterns.
The next is Gasson Hall at Boston College taken from the passageway in St. Mary's Hall, the Jesuit Residence there.   The main entrance to BC is spectacular in large part because of Gasson. 
The next was taken through the two windows of the dining room at the Jesuit Retreat House in Gloucester, MA.  This is where we made the long retreat 13 years ago.  It isn't hard to imagine that retreatants try to get to meals early so they can sit facing the ocean. 
Finally back to Campion.  The building is 90 years old.  The glass in the doors to the chapel is apparently original.  The view through the glass is quite wavy.  The distortion it produced in an image taken with a 300 mm lens was a revelation.  This was a 10 second exposure.  The blur of light over the tabernacle door came from the lights in the hallway directly behind the camera when the doors swung open for the last few seconds of the shot. 
+Fr. Jack, SJ, MD

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