Fr. James Martin: We Are Holy Saturday People

Fr. James Martin has a great reflection on Holy Saturday and its relationship to our everyday lives. He writes:

Most of our lives are spent in Holy Saturday. In other words, most of our days are not filled with the unbearable pain of a Good Friday. Nor are they suffused with the unbelievable joy of an Easter. Some days are indeed times of great pain and some are of great joy, but most are…in between.

We are an Easter people, to be sure but also a Holy Saturday people.

Most of our days are, in fact, times of waiting, as the disciples waited during Holy Saturday. We’re waiting. Waiting to get into a good school. Waiting to meet the right person. Waiting to get pregnant. Waiting to get a job. Waiting for diagnosis from the doctor. Waiting for things at work to improve. Waiting for the results of our physical therapy to help us feel better. Waiting that relationship to improve. Waiting for life just to get…better

But there are different kinds of waiting….

there is the wait of passivity, as if everything were up to “fate.” In this waiting there is no despair, but not much anticipation of anything good either. It’s the wait of “Whatever.” This is also not the waiting what we are called to.

We are called to the wait of the Christian, which is called hope. It is an active waiting; it knows that, even in the worst of situations, even in the darkest times, God is powerfully at work. Even if we can’t see it clearly right now. The disciples’ fear after Good Friday was understandable; but we, who know how the story turned out, who know that Jesus will rise from the dead, who know that God is with us, who know that nothing will be impossible for God, are called to wait in faithful hope. And to look carefully for signs of the new life that are always right around the corner–to look, just like a few of the disciples were doing on Holy Saturday.

Because change is always possible, renewal is always waiting, and hope is never dead.

You can read the full reflection here.


Quote of the Day

Fr. James Martin, SJ on Godparents: “The question asked in the Catholic sacrament of baptism is a good one: ‘Are you ready to help the parents of this child in their duty as Christian parents?’ So it’s less an honor given to a friend, or a kind of ‘reward’ for a relative, than an important duty asked of a trusted faithful person.”

Colbert Mocks Right-wing Claim That Pope Francis Doesn’t Understand Capitalism

Fr. Jim Martin appeared on the Colbert Report last night. He did a great job placing the pope’s comments in their proper context (“If you have a problem with Pope Francis, you have a problem with Jesus.”). But the highlight of the show was when Stephen Colbert mocked the right-wing Catholics who have dismissed the pope’s critiques of capitalism by claiming the pope doesn’t really understand capitalism since he’s not American. Colbert notes Jesus wasn’t from here and doesn’t get it either! Feel free to add that to your talking points, Paul Ryan and friends.

Fr. James Martin on “Disordered Attachments”

Check out this great insight and advice from Fr. James Martin, SJ:

St. Ignatius Loyola often used to talk about “disordered attachments,” those things we are so attached to that they keep us from God. It could be a desire for popularity or a love of money or an obsession with perfect health. Or maybe it’s something even darker, like an unhealthy relationship that keeps you from freedom.

Another way of looking at this is as an entanglement. When Jesus first calls the disciples by the Sea of Galilee, the Gospels say the fishermen “dropped their nets,” to follow him. Those nets are a great emblem for all that keeps us entangled in life.

Advent, when we prepare for the coming of Christ into our lives in a new way, is a good time to let go of those disordered attachments and to drop our nets.

Let it go. Leave it behind. Drop it.

You’ll feel better.

Quote of the Day

Fr. Jim Martin reflecting on “Pope Francis embracing a man with a disfiguring skin disease…in St. Peter’s Square.”

“Many of us were deeply moved. His actions remind us of Christ’s healing touch.But we wonder: Could I do that? Could I do that for Christ?

You may never be called to that precise kind of service. But there are other kinds of embraces you can give.

You can embrace someone who feels that their voice doesn’t matter. You can embrace someone who is lonely. You can embrace someone rejected by family, friends or coworkers. You can embrace someone against whom you’ve held a grudge. You can embrace someone who feels disfigured on the inside.

Whom are you called to reach out to? To embrace? To hug? To heal? To love?

Let Christ fill you with the desire to embrace the person who most needs it in your world. And remember that Christ embraces you with more love than you will ever be able to imagine.”

Millennial’s Summer Reads: Sarah’s Selections

Over the past two years, I’ve planned my wedding, been pregnant, and had my first child, now a precious four-month-old little girl.  With so much going on, I’ve been struggling to find any time at all to read anything other than wedding planning and/or baby books, and my spiritual reading has definitely suffered.  But there are some standout books I’ve read that I would recommend for anyone looking for a great end-of-summer spiritual lift – books that I pick up myself when I can snatch a moment, books that yield peace, thoughtful reflection, and sometimes a little laughter for my soul.

Anything by Fr. James Martin tends to be a winner, but I especially enjoyed The Jesuit Guide to (Almost) Everything: A Spirituality for Real Life. It offers an overview of Ignatian spirituality and the Jesuit way of living in a fresh, easily accessible way, and outlines ways that we can adopt aspects of this way of life into our normal everyday experiences.  His guidance on discernment (decision-making led by the Holy Spirit) continues to be especially valuable, and there is a striking passage on accepting oneself as God sees you—beautifully made—that brought me to tears and still resonates strongly with me.  I would highly recommend this to anyone, Catholic or not, as a way to help see God in all things, a cornerstone of Jesuit spirituality.

Like Fr. Martin’s writing, anything by Thomas Cahill is pretty much a sure bet – especially his Hinges of History series.  I recommend two of them in particular: The Gifts of the Jews: How a Tribe of Desert Nomads Changed the Way Everyone Thinks and Feels and Desire of the Everlasting Hills: The World Before and After Jesus.  Both books are a delight to read, with a sometimes playful tone and giggle-worthy asides (more so in the former than in the latter, however).  Cahill’s writing is informal, but the subject matter is fascinating and informative.  In the Gifts of the Jews, he explores the famous tales of the Old Testament and how the Jewish people and their monotheistic beliefs helped to reshape the world.  In Desire of the Everlasting Hills, he provides an entirely readable popular analysis of the writers of the gospels and the letters of the early Christian communities, examining how they interpreted and were influenced by Jesus’ message.  Cahill makes some speculative leaps here and there, but this only adds to the pleasure of reading!

Pope Benedict XVI’s introduction to his series on Jesus, Jesus of Nazareth: From the Baptism in the Jordan to the Transfiguration, captivated my attention.  Not as accessible as the other books I’ve recommended, I finished reading this, turned to my husband, and said “Wow.  This pope is BRILLIANT.”  His exceptional commentary on the Sermon on the Mount alone was worth the read.  I admittedly had a hard time wading through the chapter on John, as I was unfamiliar with the academic controversies surrounding that gospel, but was otherwise delighted and inspired by this book and am determined to read back through it at a slower pace to chew on the thoughts a little more – and then of course, on to the next in the series!

I’m going to recommend Waiting for God by Simone Weil for purely selfish reasons: I would really like someone to read this along with me again to help me digest it!  I found her work to be very challenging, and will probably need to beat my head against it for a while to really solidify my thoughts and feelings towards this short, intense book. However, Weil’s thoughts are fascinating and troubling, sometimes beautiful, and seem to be well worth the effort, as she explores the nature of God and our relationship to Him.

For those short on time and in need of some daily inspiration, I would recommend All Saints: Daily Reflections on Saints, Prophets, & Witnesses for Our Time by Robert Ellsburg. He provides short biographies of saints and other inspirational figures throughout history in daily reflections, from St. Therese of Lisieux to Gandhi to Vincent van Gogh.  Not only will you find inspiration, you may just find yourself longing to learn more and hunting down additional reading material to better acquaint yourself with these people who made the most of the lives they were blessed to live, lives that might inspire us to do the same.

As for fiction, I have a soft spot in my heart for beautifully written, peaceful, heartbreaking books.  If you have similar tastes, I would highly recommend Gilead, by Marilynne Robinson, which follows an aging minister leaving an account of his life to his young son.  It is very moving and reflective.  My favorite quote should be enough to reel you in: “I remember once as a child dreaming that my mother came into my bedroom and sat down in a chair in the corner and folded her hands in her lap and stayed there, very calm and still. It made me feel wonderfully safe, wonderfully happy. When I woke up, there she was, sitting in that chair. She smiled at me and said, ‘I was just enjoying the quiet.’ I have that same feeling in the church, that I am dreaming what is true.” My heart ached for days while reading this (in a good way), and the novel made me reflect upon my own soul and my humanity.