Showing posts from 2013

Christmas—Incarnation, recast

from a post on December 29, 2009 It’s not the Resurrection, dammit! It’s the Incarnation! Godfrey Diekmann, OSB. Godfrey exploded with this statement in the students’ dining hall at St. John’s. An editorial in National Catholic Reporter reminded me of this story in The Monk’s Tale , a biography of Diekmann, by Kathleen Hughes. When I was at the School of Theology, she came onto the Collegeville campus to gather stories for her book about our colorful and inspirational professor, Godfrey, as he was known by students and fellow professors. Among my cherished memories of Godfrey, who played an important role in contemporary Church history, is his frequent return to the theme of the Mystical Body. He lamented the Church's neglect of it. To traditional Christians, God’s entry into time and history happened at the birth of Jesus, whom they worship as God.  But I see their worship as a form of idolatry. We incarnate or embody the Divine —this is what I believe Godfrey wa

Win over Christmas commercialism

On October 23, 2006, the St. Cloud Times published a column I wrote about one family’s victory over the Christmas buying frenzy. Reluctantly, Yvonne and Jim Sexton agreed to be identified with their story “ if good can come about because of it .” Here are Yvonne’s words:       About seven years ago, while thinking about the commercialization of Christmas and my weariness about the whole season, I decided to try to raise our grandchildren's awareness of the REAL message of Christmas. I floated the idea with Jim and he liked it, so we began what has become a treasured tradition in our family. In November we send each grandchild a check for [it could be any amount, say from $5 to $1000].  They are asked to find someone in need and make a difference in their lives. They can choose a project, individual, family, whatever. We encourage them to get personally involved if it is appropriate. Then they are to share their encounters, always respecting privacy of persons if appro

Pagan Christians

Two thousand years ago, Jews dispersed to regions around the Mediterranean with religions that honored deities other than “the Lord” of Hebrew literature. These pagan communities prayed to gods or goddesses who conquered life in the world and achieved immortality. Their liturgies solemnly commemorated and ritually enacted a deity’s life, death, and resurrection, which, of course, is what we do in the Mass. The rites put participants in close relation with the divinity and allowed them a share in the divine powers. Like the Mass, sacred pageants of pagans produced a constant renewal, a participation in the deity’s dying and rising. Our Mass and sacraments have the spiritual aura and basic significance of Pagan ceremonies. Pagan myth and rite corresponded to each other as they do in Christian practice where the significance of Passion and Death, Last Supper, Mass and Eucharist are closely interwoven. Significantly, the Mass is called the Mystery.             Like Christians late