Monthly Archives: October 2019

Cézanne: The House with the Cracked Walls

Boulder upon boulder, earth upon earth

Vessel holding water despite its cracks

Life, life, filling voids, flailing to support

Even the black lines stretch toward the light blue

Tiny dark threads turned shades of ever green

And beneath it all a man lives and breathes

He exhales thru the stone, crying “Mother!”

Look, listen, nose hair like bearded stubble

He inhales, right before balance crumbles

—Howard Hain

Docile Before the Spirit

Father Amedeo Cencini, an Italian priest frequently consulted by dioceses and religious communities, spoke at the Passionist General Chapter in Rome, October 2018 on the issue of formation. 

I expected his presentation to touch on academic matters. What schools to go to, what books to read, how should we form new members. 

He didn’t speak on those issues at all, instead he spoke on learning in the school of daily life. Learning day by day, where you are, every day of your life. Daily life is our basic school.

For the school of daily life we need “docibilitas”, a Latin word we might translate as “docility”, but docility can be understood too negatively today– someone easily led, easily trained, like a trained animal.

In its original Latin meaning, to be docile means to be open to what one hears and willing to follow that truth. It’s brave and daring, not weak and compliant.

In the Letter to the Romans, which we’re reading these days in our liturgy, Paul calls for a docility to the Holy Spirit. Don’t be led by the world, he says, be led by the Spirit of God, and “the Spirit comes to the aid of our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought,” (Romans 8,26)

We don’t know how to live as we ought either. Docility means we listen to more than ourselves or the accepted wisdom of our world.

Prayer is a way of being docile to the Spirit, who is there in our weakness.  Daily prayer brings us wisdom for daily life.

Remember His Death and Resurrection

St. Clement, an early pope, urged the Corinthians to keep the Lord’s death and resurrection in mind. Nature itself reminds us of this mystery::

“Consider, beloved, how the Lord keeps reminding us of the resurrection that is to come, of which he has made the Lord Jesus Christ the first fruits by raising him from the dead.

Let us look, beloved, at the resurrection that occurs at its appointed time. Day and night show us a resurrection; the night lies in sleep, day rises again; the day departs, night takes its place.

Let us think about the harvest; how does the sowing take place, and in what manner? The sower goes out and casts each seed onto the ground. Dry and bare, they fall into the earth and decay. Then the greatness of the Lord’s providence raises them up again from decay, and out of one many are produced and yield fruit.” (Letter to the Corinthians)

How down to earth Clement makes the mystery of the Lord’s death and resurrection. Day follows night; the seed falls to the ground, then produces a marvelous harvest. The mystery of the Jesus’ death and resurrection takes place in simple elemental time. What happened once, long ago, we experience now, day by day, as time goes by.

Lord God, deepen our faith,  strengthen our hope,  enkindle our love;and so that we may obtain what you promise,  make us love what you command.

Saints Simon and Jude

Simon Rubens

St. Jude LaTourSaints Simon and Jude, whose feast we celebrate October 28, are mentioned only a few times in the New Testament list of apostles,  tenth and eleventh respectively. (Mark 3,13-19, Luke 6,12-16)

Simon is called  `the Zealot,’ either because he was zealous for the Jewish law or because he was a member of the Zealot party, which in the time of Jesus sought to overthrow Roman domination by force.

Some of Jesus’ followers,  the Gospels indicate, were hardly pacifists. Peter was ready to use his sword in the garden of Gethsemani when the temple guards came to seize Jesus;  James and John told Jesus to call down fire from heaven on the hostile Samaritans whom they met on their journey to Jerusalem.

Simon, therefore, may thought of revolution when he answered Jesus’ call .

Jude, called `Thaddeus’ to distinguish him from Judas Iscariot, may be the brother of James, the son of Alphaeus, some interpreters of the Gospel say. If that’s so, he’s also a relative of Jesus. He may be the author of the Epistle of Jude in the New Testament.

Early Christian traditions – all difficult to prove historically – locate the ministry of these apostles in places as far apart as Britain and Persia; one important legend from 3rd century Syria says they were apostles to Syria. If so, we ask their intercession for that troubled place today.

Knowing little  about  Simon and Jude may be a good thing, because then we have to look to their mission to know them –they were apostles.

The mission of the apostles was to follow Jesus. “ ‘As the Father has sent me, so I send you.’ Jesus says in the Gospel of John. He also said “I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will, but the will of him who sent me.”

God made his will known to the apostles  in due time. They didn’t decide what to do or where to go by themselves. They knew God’s will day by day, as we do.  So often, it was unexpected and perhaps not what they planned.

“Your will be done,” we say in the Lord’s Prayer. That’s an apostle’s prayer. We try to make it our prayer too.


October 28 Mon Saints Simon and Jude, Apostles Feast

Eph 2:19-22/Lk 6:12-16

29 Tue Weekday

Rom 8:18-25/Lk 13:18-21

30 Wed Weekday

Rom 8:26-30/Lk 13:22-30

31 Thu Weekday

Rom 8:31b-39/Lk 13:31-35

November 1 Fri ALL SAINTS

Solemnity [Holyday of Obligation]

Rv 7:2-4, 9-14/1 Jn 3:1-3/Mt 5:1-12a

2 Sat The Commemoration of All the Faithful Departed (All Souls’ Day)

 Wis 3:1-9/Rom 5:5-11 or Rom 6:3-9/Jn 6:37-40 (668)