Summer is in full swing here. It is hot but the searing and mind-destroying humidity of D.C. is not a problem. Given that we are surrounded by grass rather than concrete it also cools off overnight much more than the concrete- jungle surrounding the G'town Jesuit Residence. One can feel the heat radiating from the paths outside the residence even at 6:00 AM.
Gen 17:1, 9-10, 15-22
Sometimes when preparing a homily I find myself asking, "What were they thinking?" Generally this thought occurs when dealing with a reading that, like today's first reading, is discontinuous. The ongoing saga of Abram/Abraham we just heard comes from Genesis 17 verses 1, 9-10, 15-22. Unfortunately the edits left out the most important part, the establishment of the covenant with Abraham.
The Jewish Study Bible notes that source critics identify Chapter 17 as the Priestly version of the covenant with Abraham, the Yahwist version of which appeared in chapter 15. In verses 2 thru 8 Abram's name is changed to Abraham and the promises regarding Abraham's role as the father of a multitude of nations are established within the covenant.
The verses we do have are important within the context of that covenant, particularly the command that every male shall be circumcised. The Jewish Study Bible notes that circumcision is the sign of the Abrahamic covenant and is thus a matter of highest importance in Judaism. Fulfilling the mandate for circumcision was so important in the Ancient Near East that, when the Seleucid King Antiochus IV prohibited it, Jewish mothers chose martyrdom over neglect of the commandment. A parenthetical remark in the same source notes that prohibition of circumcision is a favorite target of anti-Semites. Unfortunately, the attempt to impose this prohibition continues to the present, a manifestation not only of anti-Semitism but also of the gradual attempt to strip away religious freedom by governments throughout the world.
There was a serious attempt a year or two ago to place a ballot measure forbidding all circumcision within the limits of San Francisco, a city that proudly calls itself Babylon by the Bay, when in fact is more like Sodom on the Seashore. Recently, the German government tried to ban all circumcision, except that deemed medically necessary. Way to go Angela, seems that Germans haven't progressed as much since WW II as one might have expected.
Here in the U.S., the so-called cradle of liberty, churches are regularly dealing with creeping religious persecution. Christmas Carols, except those involving Frosty, Rudolph and popping chestnuts, are outlawed at many colleges and universities, including my old employer, Dartmouth. The mandate that religious institutions, mostly Catholic, must supply insurance coverage for abortion and birth control is a direct assault on freedom of conscience. More local prohibitions against any form of prayer at public events such as graduations are frightening reminders of official hostility to all things religious. When will priests be forbidden to wear clerical dress in public? When will crosses be removed from the tops of churches? When will the NY Times start referring to the God of Abraham using a lower case g?
Today we observe the memorial of St. Irenaeus. It is not certain whether or not died a martyr's death. It is certain that he was an eloquent defender of the faith both as preacher and writer. His most famous work is titled Against Heresies.
When will a new Irenaeus arise to preach as effectively as he did against the heresies and abominations being forced upon all religiously observant people by the government of the United States?
Not a lot of rhyme or reason in the choices of photos.
The first is the chapel in the Jesuit community on Newbury St. in downtown Boston. Stayed there for a few days while attending the neuropsychiatric meetings at the Park Plaza Hotel. It seems the provincial didn't think that staying in the hotel at $250 a night was as good an idea as staying with brother Jesuits. It was a great stay.
The next is the steeple at the Jesuit house in Changhwa, Taiwan. Formerly the novitiate for the Chinese province, it is now a retreat house. Lovely grounds on a hilltop overlooking the town.
Sticking with the Taiwan theme, these are doors at the Wen-wu Buddhist Temple at Sun Moon Lake. Whenever Ignatius and I go to Sun Moon Lake from Taipei we take the train to Changhwa and then beg a car from the community at the retreat house. It isn't too far of a drive
A detail from a stained glass window in the Chapel of the Holy Spirit at Campion Center. Interesting side fact about final vows. When I make the vows there I will have pronounced first vows, celebrated my first Mass and made final profession all in front of the same altar. One of my life-threatening fantasies at Campion is to get on a very high ladder so I can take photos of the windows straight across rather than up. Less distortion.
The fountain in front of the health care center. I call this one my Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil shot. I will admit to having cloned out a few bothersome parking signs and other background distractions.
Finally, a rose. Photos of raindrops on roses are a cliche. But they are fun. These have no water on them. However, Aperture is like a coloring book for adults. I've spent much too much time playing with and manipulating color, tint and other aspects of photos such as these. The first is the original photo. The others are manipulations applied to that photo.
+Fr. Jack, SJ, MD