Monthly Archives: March 2013

Death and Ressurection at Easter

church holy seplechure

There is a church built just outside the city walls of old Jerusalem by the Anglican church which has a garden, a tomb with a stone rolled away, and a nice giftshop and chapel.  Its a nice little place.  Visitors like it.  There is another church deeper in the old City which is in the midst of things– all kinds of other things built around it– no garden, no tomb, no stone, and no giftshop. Instead, it is dark and old– Gothic in feel,  There are 7 Christian groups which share it– including the Coptics (from Egypt), Roman Catholics, and a few Orthodox groups. 

Roman Catholic clergy men hold candles aAs I understand it, the church is called “The Church of the Holy Seplecure (Tomb)”  by the Roman Catholics, and the “Church of the Ressurection” by the Orthodox.  Of course all Christians historically accept the actual death and actual ressurection of Christ– its not that one believes in the death and not resurrection, or visa-versa.   But some Christians emphasize one more than the other. Catholics have Christ on the Cross to remember his death and suffering. Protestants have an empty cross to symbolize that he is no longer dead.

Sunday is Easter, or, Resurrection Sunday.  It is a day to celebrate Christ’s resurrection.  The Good Friday service is generally the day to remember the crucifixion of Christ, and his suffering.  After church last night we were all silent as we left the church. Friday is the day to remember the pain and suffering, the death and the darkness. But the big day is the resurrection day– tomorrow morning when we celebrate that Christ is Risen.

These last 40 days have been the lenton days. Celeste and I gave up meat to help us identify physically (not just intellectually) with the coming of Easter, and its anticipation, as well as to give us opportunity to overcome our flesh in some small way.  There is a need to learn to say no to the flesh– to die to one’s selfishness, one’s arrogance, one’s ‘needs’ (which are usually just ‘wants’).  But it can’t all be about dying and denying the flesh– resurrection and new life is the point of all that.   I am definitely anticipating the end of Lent!

There are many historically practiced traditions throughout the Christian Calendar– most of which I was oblivious to, growing up in the Free Church. I honestly don’t remember anything about lent until I was in college. Now I appreciate the practice, just like I appreciate liturgy. These are ways to feed our souls and to strengthen our faith.

May God have mercy on us all.

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Pope Francis

Pope-Francis-2-imageThe new Pope, Pope Francis, is already making a positive impression. It seems that many Roman Catholics appreciate his concern for the poor, his humility, and his non-distant approach to the people of the church.

He is unique at so many levels– first pope from the western hemisphere, first pope from the southern hemisphere, first pope from South America, and first Jesuit Pope. Since such a large segment of the Roman Catholic church is from the Southern Hemisphere, it makes sense to have a pope finally who is also from that area of the world (though his parents were Italian immigrants to Argentina, he grew up there).

What is also encouraging to me is that non-catholics are being inundated with information about the pope and learning about the Roman Catholic church. My father told me that he had never known so much about who the Jesuits were than he does now– with all the news reports explaining what it means that Francis is Jesuit. Since Celeste and I both went to Jesuit schools– both of us to Marquette University, and me to Fordham in the Bronx before that– and now I teach at another Jesuit school– Creighton– we feel a fondness for this pope even though we aren’t Roman Catholic. Jesuits were originally set up as an order of priests to help defend the Catholic church intellectually against the protestant ‘heresies’– but today they are known for their education-focus, their strong academic credentials, and their open-mindedness (some Catholics find them too open-minded!)

St_Francis_Assisi_Prayer_CardAnd his chosing the name Francis is symbolic as well. St. Francis of Assissi is quoted in protestant circles as having said ‘I share the gospel every chance I get, and use words if necessary’ and famous pictures show him preaching to the birds and squirrels. He was known for his concern for the poor, and so this Pope, in chosing that name, is also identifying with that concern.

Francis has a combination which could be quite winsome for protestants– he is very conservative on social issues, yet he doesn’t at all come across as arrogant or as though he speaks for God. Not that protestants are lining up to join the Roman Catholic Church, but this pope will at least hopefully dispell some of the misconceptions protestants sometimes have about the Roman Catholic Church. Being from Argentina, it is likely he will have a strong focus on Mary, which is always pretty foreign to Protestants, so its unlikely he will blur any lines between protestant and Roman Catholic completely 🙂