Tag Archives: dignity

Friday Thoughts: Short and Simple

tintoretto-christ-washing-the-disciples-feet-1548-49

Tintoretto, “Christ Washing the Disciples’ Feet”, 1548-49

 


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Pray, brothers and sisters,

that my sacrifice and yours

may be acceptable to God,

the almighty Father.”


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Tall and handsome.

Big and powerful.

Profound and exciting.

A great adventure starring a great hero.

Doing the dishes.

Just the right combination of hot and cold.

Mostly hot of course.

And the cold, that splash of sobriety is so we don’t get burned.

In the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ crucified, I commence the dishes…

———

The sponge is important.

It need be clean and effective.

For how can one wash with something dirty?

And yet, even the best is hardly perfect.

After a single use it’s bound to show signs of deterioration.

So you add more soap and hope for the best.

Our Father, who art in heaven…

———

The circular motion of water, upon and around each dish.

Turn, turn, turn…

Rinse, rinse, rinse…

Like the axis of the earth.

The equator slightly tilting back and forth.

Side to side, to ensure proper runoff.

Such a delicate balance.

Then put aside to dry.

Sunlight works best.

Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with thee…”

———

The drain cannot be ignored.

The little netting, catching all sorts of iniquities.

Now very clean hands.

Cleansed thru humility.

The dignity of work.

Reach down.

To grab what has been left below.

The rejected, the unwanted, the forgotten food.

A Eucharistic portion.

Not washed into the drain.

Yet separated from what is considered clean.

Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, but only say the word and my soul shall be healed.”

———

I find two towels work the best.

One, somewhat clean, to wipe down the faucets and the edge of the sink.

The other to dry shriveled-up hands.

And to be hung, upon the little bar.

The one that crosses the oven door.

Awaiting the warmth.

The warmth that bakes our daily bread.

May the Body of Christ keep me safe for eternal life.”

———

It is all really very simple.

Short and simple.

He died. We live.

We die. He lives.

One dirty dish at a time.

One Eucharistic encounter at a time.

Go in peace, glorifying the Lord by your life.”


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Thanks be to God.”

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—Howard Hain

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Friday Thoughts: Innocence Itself

saint-joseph-and-child-jesus

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A small, beautiful child.

What could be more innocent?

The tiny face of one born a few days before.

What could be more pure?

At what age does that stop?

When is it that we no longer see an innocent child, but instead, just one more man or woman walking the crowded streets?

If the child is our own, probably never.

Parenthood is a gift.

A gift beyond telling.

Yet every person we shall see this day was once a child.

Every person we shall see this day is still a child.

A small, beautiful child.

What could be more innocent?

The tiny face of one born a few days before.

———

Can you imagine what Saint Joseph felt?

What it was like to hold Jesus in the crook of his arm?

To present Innocence Itself to the world?

———

True humility has little to do with wanting to be humble.

It has nothing to do with wanting to look small, tiny, and somewhat sad.

True humility comes through grace.

The grace of knowing that no matter what you do, no matter how hard you try, you on your own cannot stop innocence from being slaughtered.

———

Somewhere, right now, the infant Jesus is being rejected.

Saint Joseph can hardly believe it:

Here He is. The Son of Man. Please don’t do anything, don’t say anything, don’t even think anything that offends His dignity.”

———

The next time we are tempted to judge anyone perhaps we should remember that.

Perhaps we should use our imagination, our faith, our hope, our love—all the gifts and talents that come from God, that return to God, but that God Himself lends us for the time being—to find a child.

For wasn’t that very person, the one who is about to be judged, once too only a few days old?

———

Think of Saint Joseph holding Innocence Itself.

Think of Saint Joseph humbly holding a tiny child, a tiny innocent child reaching out to all mankind with outstretched arms—so innocent that it’s hard to even imagine that all the world, that each and every one of us doesn’t immediately reach back with all our might to tenderly embrace this most precious gift—the most precious gift that a guilty world could receive.

Innocence Itself.


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—Howard Hain

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Morning Thoughts: I Have a Dream

mary-cassatt-mother-and-two-children-1906

Mary Cassatt, “Mother and Two Children”, (1906)

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Let us put it all away.

Put away all the toys.

All the distractions.

Let us dream.

Let us dream of peace. Perfect peace. This very day.

I want every human being to love truth. To dwell in beauty. To live in wonder of God’s creation.

To think.

To stop.

To ascend.

To rise above the facts. To float above the circumstances. To kiss God on the cheek.

To laugh.

To cry.

To smile at a child.

To shake hands with a friend. To hug an enemy.

To hope. To believe. To pray.

To give great thanks. To humbly offer praise.

To graciously receive. To generously give.

To be alive.

To not be afraid.

———

I want every human being to ask: Why isn’t it always this way?

———

Perhaps though most of all, I want us to be honest.

Honest about our desire to love. Our desire to be kind.

With no embarrassment, with no shame.

Freed from all worry that people will think it strange.


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—Howard Hain

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Morning Thoughts: The Promise of a New Day

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Lord, how long?

Lord, why?

Lord, why so much darkness, so much pain?

Love, my child. Just love. Leave everything else to me. I know that you ask these questions out of love, and I don’t blame you for asking, but be in love, my child, be in love with me. Stay in love with me. Be living breathing love with me. Your brothers and sisters, our brothers and sisters, are starving. I am starving. You are starving. We all hunger. And I am with you. Do you doubt that I feel everything that you feel? Would I do that to you? Would I leave you alone? I told you, that I will never do. My promises are truth. My words are not from yesterday, they are not for tomorrow. No, my words and my promises are for today, for right now. They are not part of history, they create history. Now go, get up once again, be brave. The power of my love brings life into existence. You carry my death with you. My resurrection can not be stopped. It’s happening right now as you step into this hour. Those that love you are running toward an empty tomb. You are in the garden. Reassure them, reassure them all, reassure everyone you shall meet this very day, that all I say is true.


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—Howard Hain

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Morning Thoughts: Take Five


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Jesus departed to the mountain to pray, and he spent the night in prayer to God.

—Luke 6:12


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The Tuesday after Labor Day.

On your mark, get set, go!

The whole world is off and running, once again.

Take a few minutes this morning.

A few more minutes before you go.

Spend them with the Lord.

Let us truly spend them together:

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Our Father,

Who art in heaven,

hallowed by Thy name;

Thy kingdom come,

Thy will be done

on earth as it is in heaven.

Give us this day

our daily bread,

and forgive us our trespasses,

as we forgive those

who trespass against us;

and lead us not into temptation,

but deliver us from evil.

Amen.

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Let us begin correctly.

In faith. With hope. Immersed in love.

Truly grateful. Truly humble. Sincerely serving.

For the kingdom, the power, and the glory are truly God’s, now and for ever.

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And he came down with them and stood on a stretch of level ground.

Everyone in the crowd sought to touch him because power came forth from him and healed them all.

—Luke 6:17, 19


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—Howard Hain

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Morning Thoughts: Discernment, Day by Day

Newburyport Meadows Martin Johnson Heade ca. 1876-81

Martin Johnson Heade, “Newburyport Meadows”, (ca. 1876-81) (The Met)


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Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we shall go into such and such a town, spend a year there doing business, and make a profit”—you have no idea what your life will be like tomorrow. You are a puff of smoke that appears briefly and then disappears.

—James 4:13-14


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Our cross is daily

And so are our decisions

Step by step we carry

Step by step we decide

Our cross may change…its shape, its size

Our decisions, like shadows, mirror the cross

Lengthening, stretching, thinning out—seemingly to even disappear—only to return—heavier, shorter, more compact—practically on top of us

It all depends on the angle and the path of the sun

———

The Sun of Justice

The Son of God

He walked day-by-day

He was conscious of the hour

He knew when His hour was near

He knew when it was time to slip away

He knew

To heal a stranger

To correct a disciple

To teach the crowds

To challenge a scribe

When to stand still

When to be silent

When to turn the other cheek

When to forgive those who hunted Him down

Christ knew the hour of His sorrowful Passion

Christ Jesus knew how to embrace the Word of the Cross

———

The Son of God knew His Father was trustworthy

He knew how to die

He knew how to live

He knew how to love

Day-by-day

Hour-by-hour

Minute-by-minute

Moment-by-moment

Jesus carried His Cross

He made decisions

Only concerned with fulfilling His Father’s will

Walk like Him

Walk with Him

Carry the cross you discover each new day

Give thanks for the blessings that come in the shape of a couple of crisscrossed beams

Make decisions accordingly

Planning to do more is to presume

—to presume to know what cross you’ll need to carry a few moments from now—

Doing any less is to put the cross gently laid upon your shoulder down


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But for you who fear my name, the sun of justice

will arise with healing in its wings;

And you will go out leaping like calves from the stall…

—Malachi 3:20


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—Howard Hain

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Morning Thoughts: Stench of the Cross

Rembrandt Begger Seated on a Bank (1630)

Rembrandt, “Beggar Seated on a Bank”, (1630)


 

For we are to God the sweet aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing...

—2 Corinthians 2:15


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We see so many images of Christ Crucified. Museums and churches are full of them. And they should be. It is the greatest paradox ever told.

And to go along with the abundance of visual representations, there are of course also many artworks in written form depicting the Passion of Jesus Christ. Shelf after shelf can be filled with books containing the seemingly endless repertoire of poems, plays, and musical compositions based on the subject.

But none can capture the stench of death.

Smell moves us like no other sense.

It is so powerful. So quick. So nauseating.

Think of that the next time you’re riding the subway on your way to a museum. Think of that when a homeless man enters your subway car. Think of that when you’re tempted to switch trains at the next stop due to the stench.

Breathe deep instead.

Think of the stench. Think of that poor man—that poor sorrowful man dying right in front of you. The stench of rotting flesh. The stench of death.

No artwork that you’re on your way to see will bring Jesus and His Cross more to life.

Take a deep breath, and pray. You’re on holy ground.

Pray for yourself. Pray for the man. Pray for all those on board. Pray for the entire world.

Pray that that particular stench, that stench of death, right then and there, brings life.

That it brings life to hardened hearts.

That it brings life to senses numbed to the utter poverty of human suffering—suffering that manifests itself in oh so many ways.

That it brings life to what the world says can’t and shouldn’t be redeemed.

And give that gentleman a few bucks.

———

The Metropolitan Museum of Art recommends an entrance fee of twenty-five dollars. Do you know how much consolation that poor suffering Christ riding right next to you would receive if you gave him that much?

Do you know how cheap a price that is to pay to be able to get so close to a living breathing masterpiece of sacrificial life?

Dig in deep. Dig into your pockets. Dig deep into the reserves of your heart.

You will be amazed how such a prayer, such an act of compassion, such a “living faith”, will transform the stench of death into the aroma of life.

Breathe deep. Pick up your cross. Die daily.

Get over yourself.

What a breath of fresh air!

Now that’s truly an entrance fee.

And it’s worth every drop.


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Then Mary took about a pint of pure nard, an expensive perfume; she poured it on Jesus’ feet and wiped his feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.

—John 12:3


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—Howard Hain

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