Dying out of Loyalty to a Not-So-Great Pope

Yeames_the_meeting_of_sir_thomas_more_with_his_daughter_after_his_sentence_of_death
“The Meeting of Sir Thomas More with His Daughter, after his Sentence of Death,” by William Yeames

St. Thomas More died willingly and peacefully as a martyr in 1535.

Everyone present at his execution, and everyone who knew him, would readily have granted that England had no more intelligent, knowledgeable, and cosmopolitan a statesman than Thomas More.

And everyone knew that he died for one reason: Because he would not betray his Roman-Catholic loyalty to the pope.

Beautiful. Especially when we think of the pope as personally representing everything virtuous and true.

But which popes occupied the Chair of Peter during Thomas More’s lifetime?

When Leo X was elected pope in 1513, he was not even a priest. He famously said, “Now that God has given us the papacy, let us enjoy it!” Leo X enjoyed the papacy while St. Thomas More was in his late thirties and early forties.

Pope Paul III Titian
Pope Paul III, painted by Titian

St. Thomas suffered martyrdom at age 57, when Pope Paul III reigned in Rome.

Certainly Paul III was a holier man that Leo X. But Pope Paul did have a number of children by mistresses he kept while he was a young priest. And he did create his 14- and 16-year-old grandsons Cardinals.

So, we have to rethink this a little. St. Thomas More died willingly and peacefully as a martyr, rather than betray his loyalty to the pope. And the pope in question was not an altogether awesome superman of a white-robed pope. Rather, the pope at the time was what we would have to consider a mediocre Christian at best. A mediocre Christian like me, or you.

Does that make St. Thomas some kind of patsy? Should he have betrayed his loyalty instead of dying as a martyr out of loyalty for a mediocre pope?

Don’t think so. Christ never promised a succession of saintly super-popes. He promised that the unity and integrity of the Church would endure because the papacy would endure.

In other words, the pope is the pope. The famous martyr for loyalty to the papacy, St. Thomas More, did not distract himself by judging the pope. Thomas simply kept faith with the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church of Jesus Christ, governed by the one and only pope there is, at any given time.

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Consolation in the Spider Web

The gospel passage from Ash Wednesday makes an annual return appearance, at a weekday Mass, once every hot summer.

Live to please your heavenly Father. Pray to please your heavenly Father. Do kindnesses, and make sacrifices, to please your heavenly Father.

He will reward us. He knows the truth. He knows our motives, our intentions, and our struggles. He gives us a marvelous gift: Enough self-knowledge to see clearly that, without His sacrifice for us on the cross, we would have no hope.

This summer suddenly seems hotter and harder than others. Inspector-General reports, disputed interpretations of law at the southern border, special-counsel probes laboring on, and all the World Cup games are too early in the day for anyone in this hemisphere to watch them. Sometimes the world seems like a huge spider web of unsympathetic misunderstandings.*

God knows the truth. Let’s live to please Him.

When He comes to judge, and the struggle of this life is over, He will reward the humble sinner who begs for mercy.

_______________

mccarrickNota Bene. I learned this morning that the Holy See has suspended from the priestly ministry the Cardinal who ordained me. Because of an allegation of sexual abuse of a minor in the 1960’s. Cardinal McCarrick is 87 years old now.

The allegation against the Cardinal apparently received the same kind of preliminary investigation as any accusation against a parish priest or religious-ed teacher. (May God be praised for that fact.) The allegation was found to be “credible.” That means immediate suspension of priestly ministry, pending future investigation. Cardinal McCarrick denies the allegation. Perhaps the Congregation for Bishops (part of the Pope’s governing operation) will judge the case.

Back in the spring of 2002, I was a transitional deacon. Public outrage over cover-ups of sexual abuse had reached a fever pitch. On a Washington street, I had to elude a small group of angry teenagers who, seeing my Roman collar, threatened me. “Priests molest children!” And I wasn’t alone, among the priests and seminarians I knew, in facing such spontaneous displays of public anger.

At that time, Cardinal McCarrick served as the sitting Archbishop of Washington. I just went back and read the archive of his columns in the Catholic newspaper during that spring. All the columns were about the sexual abuse crisis. At one point during that frantic spring, the Cardinal made a solemn public declaration that he had never had sexual interactions with anyone. Ever.

Today I pray for my father in God, before whom I knelt to receive the gift of the sacred priesthood.

When Pope John Paul II created him a Cardinal in 2001 (at the same Consistory that gave us Cardinal Bergoglio, the future Pope Francis) the Archbishop took us seminarians with him. I got to serve Mass at the Altar of the Chair in St. Peter’s Basilica.

The Cardinal ate pizza and drank Killian’s Red with us in the seminary basement once every school year. He laughed at my jokes.

May God have mercy on us all.

 

“Doesn’t Speak Too Well of the United States”

(Archbishop of San Antonio, Texas)

Click HERE for a way to contact public officials about this.

Higher Loyalty

Comey Trump

The rule of law. Former FBI Director James Comey has dedicated his life to it. He became a lawyer and a prosecutor. He followed a calling to pursue justice.

We Americans love tv shows about law-enforcement and criminal prosecution. We rightly respect the vocation of people like James Comey. Public servants dedicated to the rule of law: they keep our country from descending into a chaos in which bullies rule.

My dear mom lent me her copy of Comey’s book, A Higher Loyalty. I tore through it. I feel a kind of brotherhood with the man, since we have two things in common: A tendency to bang our heads on door lintels, and an unexpected job transition at the same time last year.

As a US Attorney, Comey worked to convict gangsters and stock-market cheats, like Martha Stewart. Then he ascended to the highest echelons of the Justice Department. When the practice of torturing terror suspects became public in 2004, Comey took a stand against the George W. Bush White House. Because the law is the law, and it prohibits torture.

Comey A Higher Loyalty bookIn 2013, President Obama made Comey the head of the FBI. Comey writes about how he undertook to make the organization more open and communicative, a place where everyone could believe in the cause.

Meanwhile, some other things happened.

Former President Bill Clinton’s wife Hillary traded on her political connections and became a Senator from a state to which she had no real ties. Then she became Secretary of State. Finally, she ran for president and secured the nomination of the Democratic party.

A sober body politic would have recognized this nomination for what it was: A triumph of cronyism, insider-ism. Not a feminist breakthrough.

But the body politic proved itself far from sober. The other major party nominated a notorious liar–a shameless publicity hound, a wounded ego without any real accomplishments to his name.

It is no wonder, then, that a such a devotee of American ideals like James Comey would find himself at a loss during the summer and fall of 2016. In his book, he recounts how his mind jibbed and gybed, trying to figure out how to handle FBI public relations.

The agency had to investigate Hillary Clinton’s “careless” e-mailing as Secretary of State. Also: the Bureau had suspicions of Russian attempts to influence the American presidential election by stealing private e-mail exchanges and hijacking facebook feeds.

In Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, the ‘rude mechanicals’ (a group of Athenian working men) aspire to please the Duke with a stage play. They intend to present the tragic love story of ancient myth, Pyramus and Thisbe.

The Mechanicals meet by night, in the woods outside the city, to determine their roles and begin rehearsing. But Nick Bottom, the weaver, wants to play all the parts. He wants to play both Pyramus and Thisbe. When he learns that a lion comes on stage, he wants to play the lion, too.

During 2016, James Comey became a kind of Nick Bottom. He had the part of FBI Director, a low-profile part, with very few lines. His role involved speaking only to his superiors in the Department of Justice and the Oval Office. And only about hard evidence, not political exigencies.

But Comey decided that Attorney General Loretta Lynch did not have enough credibility to tell the public about “Hillary’s damn e-mails” (as Bernie Sanders put it). Comey concluded that the troubled nation would not believe that the e-mailing didn’t involve any crimes, unless he delivered the message.

So Comey took the stage to speak the lines of someone else’s part. Then, three months later, he had to take it back. Then, ten days after that, he had to take back the taking back.

Comey also wanted personally to go to the press about the suspected Russian election hacking. But President Obama managed to talk him out of doing that, just like Peter Quince managed to talk Bottom the weaver out of playing the lion, and Pyramus, and Thisbe, all at the same time.

shakespeareTestifying before Congress in early 2017, Comey said that he felt “nauseated” at the thought that his public statements of 2016 somehow affected the outcome of the presidential election.

Problem is: He nauseated himself. He could have just kept his mouth shut, speaking only in the private fora where he had a duty to speak. But that option appears not to have occurred to him.

The fundamental idea of Comey’s book is: We Americans owe our loyalty to something higher than any political leader. Not to “partisan interests” but “to the pillars of democracy.” Comey enumerates those pillars as: “restraint and integrity and balance and transparency and truth.”

Speaking of the virtue of restraint: This past Thursday, the Inspector General released a report. They agreed with me. It’s official: Comey put himself in front of a microphone too often in 2016. (In the book, Comey mocks Rudy Guiliani for the same offense, ironically enough.)

Comey, as is his wont, immediately took to Thursday’s The New York Times to welcome the criticism, even though he disagrees with it. The work of an Inspector General involves the pursuit of the rule of law, the very thing he wrote his book to vindicate, etc.

Amen to all that. We all have egos that should be smaller, not just James Comey. And all our egos will indeed get a lot smaller when the Inspector General, Who sees and knows all, and Who weighs everything with perfect justice, makes His findings public, on the great and final Day.

Comey deserves a lot of credit for writing a fundamentally honest book. And he wrote a page-turner. The passages about his dealings with President Trump during the winter and spring of 2017 read like a movie. If the Trump administration were a movie, Comey would name it: “The Forest Fire Presidency.”

Trump secretly asked for Comey’s “loyalty” (hence the book title.) Comey didn’t know what to say. So the president soon fired him. Now, Trump calls Comey “the worst FBI Director ever.” Which means worse than J. Edgar Hoover, who suspected Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., of being a secret communist, and had his phones bugged.

Comey characterizes the president as a kind of Mafia don. But Mafia dons have good organizational skills. To me, Trump looks a lot more like: a clueless, desperately unhappy fourteen-year-old boy maniacally masquerading as a grown man.

Comey almost certainly wrote his book to try and fulfill the teachings of his intellectual hero, theologian Reinhold Niebuhr. Neibuhr spoke and wrote repeatedly on 20th-century political questions. Neibuhr insisted that a Christian must seek to further the cause of justice in the world by talking part in public life.

Let’s leave aside the fact that Niebuhr would undoubtedly find Comey’s book blindly self-serving. The deeper problem is this: Neibuhr and Comey both share a false presupposition. Namely that “loyalty to truth” occurs in some pure realm where you can leave practical questions about religion unanswered. Basic questions of Christian practice, like: Did God write the Scriptures? Or: Is Jesus Christ alive right now? But that’s a topic for another day.

Comey and I agree on this: In November 2016, we, as a nation, found ourselves choosing between two candidates for president, neither of whom could claim with any real honesty to be worthy of the office.

How did we get there? We have had plenty of unworthy presidents before, to be sure. But we also had a Civil War before.

The post-World-War II “consensus” about the American presidency had serious flaws. Including the kind of megalomania that led us into unnecessary bloodbaths in Vietnam and Iraq. Or a self-righteous “solution” to our domestic race problems that didn’t really solve them at all.

But now we have totally wrecked that 20th-century consensus about who we are as a nation. We elected an unqualified, immature, dishonest president. We find ourselves barrelling down a blind alley.

Reinhold Neibuhr would be the first to point out that: In this fallen world, blind alleys usually harbor very dangerous, unhappy things in their unexplored shadows. I for one think that James Comey is absolutely right to speak out.

Growing in God

farm

The Parable of the Seed’s Growth. The farmer sleeps and rises, night and day, and his plants grow. He knows not how. [Spanish]

Even if this particular farmer had a doctorate in cellular biology, or botany, or meteorology—he still could not claim really to know how his plants manage to grow. To produce blade, then ear, then the full grain in the ear. The sun has power, and the rain, and Mother Earth, and the genius of the little seed: all have power which the farmer does not fully understand.

If he’s a contemplative sort of person, the farmer sleeps and rises, night and day. He watches this power unfold itself before his eyes. He gives God the glory.

Which brings us to the fact that the Lord Jesus presented this image as a parable of the Kingdom of God. Perhaps we could synthesize the parable’s meaning with one sentence. Life means growing in divine love.

Now, do we care what life means? Or do we just want pleasure, or wealth, or power, whenever and wherever we can find it? Without bothering to try to understand why we exist?

Well, I think we care. We want to understand why we exist. And try to do it right. We know that no matter what doctorates or other forms of education or expertise we might have, we need God to teach us the meaning of life. No one else can.

Bill ClintonDivine love. God loves. The infinite and all-powerful God loves infinitely and all-powerfully. We exist because He loves.

He was fine. He was happy. He longed for absolutely nothing, because He had everything. But: Because He loves so generously, He made the heavens and the earth, the angels, and us.

He loves us. The meaning of life involves loving Him back. The human race failed to love our Creator, and made a huge mess of sin, but He didn’t give up on us. To the contrary, He came to the earth, and spread out His arms on the cross, to show us an open Heart, and to open our hearts by the power of His love. That’s Jesus Christ. That’s the Holy Spirit and the work of the Church, the life of the sacraments.

Therefore, life means: living in Christ’s Church, loving God back for the love with which He has loved us. And it grows. By the grace of the sacraments, divine love grows in a Christian heart. We know not how.

Time passes. Some of us could say that the Bill-Clinton presidency seems like just yesterday. Or even the Reagan presidency, or the Carter presidency.

The world turns. We meet people. We try to treat them right. We try to live in the truth. We pray. We try to obey God. We try to do well the work God has given us to do. Meanwhile, through all this, decades pass, and we grow in divine love.

Setbacks come, to be sure. We amaze ourselves with our own moral weaknesses. But we don’t give up. Life means loving the God Who loves me, Who loves us. Let me learn. Let me understand better. Let me master myself. Let me forget myself. Let me grow.

earthsunAnd it happens, we know not how. Now, not knowing how—that goes against the grain for us little human geniuses, who pride ourselves on our knowhow.

But: God is God. What do we really know about Him? Loving God is like loving a country which we have never even visited. The pictures we have seen—they’re accurate, yes. Jesus Christ and His saints, they are the pictures of eternal heaven. And they are absolutely accurate pictures. We can’t doubt the glory and beauty of the God we love. But we have never been to that country, not yet. We don’t know. We do not know God.

The contemplative farmer stares at the sky, and the rain clouds forming in the west, and his fields with the little cornstalks in their rows—doing their thing, getting bigger in tiny, daily increments. He gazes at all this, and he thinks to himself:

‘This is something. This is life living. I’m the farmer, and I cultivated this ground and sowed these rows of seed—so I have to credit myself with making some contribution here. But I can only consider myself a docile, uninformed custodian. It requires an intelligence a million times bigger than my own, and a power a million times bigger than mine, to make one single ear of corn. To God Almighty be the glory!’

I think that may be what the Lord intends to teach us with this parable. We grow in God’s love, night and day, sleeping and waking, precisely by: humbling ourselves before Him. Like that farmer humbling himself before the power of earth and sky and Mother Nature.

Growing in divine love involves not knowing everything and controlling everything. Like I said, that goes against the grain for us sons and daughters of this technocratic age of unbridled human cleverness. But: trying to know and control everything stifles our growth in divine love. Growth in divine love requires one thing: Faith.

When we believe in Christ, the love that dwells in His Heart can and does dwell in our hearts, too, by the power of the Church’s sacraments. Then, we just patiently do our duty. And our hearts grow in God.

Faith in the Marriage Bond

The prophet Elijah suffered. Because the nation of Israel had broken faith with her Lord. Israel was governed by cynical world-lings who knew no law other than their rapacious short-term appetites.

wedding umbrellasBut God is faithful, faithful to His promises and His covenant. He did not vanish from the life of His chosen spouse. He stayed close. He continued to guide His people into a better future. The nation had abandoned God, but the story of love and friendship between God and man was not over.

Spouses need to live and breathe this history of Israel. Because anyone who has been married for more than ten minutes knows that: Marriage is no picnic.

I mean, hopefully it does involve picnics. Frequent picnics. But:

Human beings have grave difficulties getting along. Human Nature 101: Getting along takes work, requires compromises, and inevitably means humbling yourself sometimes.

So the mystery of the ancient Scriptures, the mystery of God’s faithfulness in His union with an unreliable, capricious spouse: that mystery of God’s unswerving dedication must be the spiritual air that married couples breathe. Marriage requires one thing, above all: Believing in this God.

He loves to the end. He did not abandon His chosen Bride, even when she abandoned Him. To the contrary, He took His bride’s nature to Himself and became a man. Then He let His recalcitrant spouse take out all her destructiveness on Him. Even then, as His bride killed Him, He did not give up on His marriage bond. “They know not what they do. Forgive them, Father.”

So: If your cellphone removes you from the mystery of the ancient Scriptures, cut it off and throw it away. If you’re gossipy friends make suggestions that involve divorce, shut them up and tell them to get lost. Better to live in the life-giving truth of the ancient Scriptures, without knowing whether or not your high-school classmates have gotten fat, than to enter Gehenna with 1,000 facebook friends.

World Cup and World Peace

If you come to the altar and there recall that your brother has anything against you, go first and be reconciled with your brother. (Matthew 5:23-24)

“Come to the altar.” When we pray and seek a friendship with the Almighty, the altogether True and Good, we examine our consciences. We measure ourselves against the fidelity, kindness, and love of Christ. Then we realize: Yikes, I have offended my neighbors. I have wronged them in such-and-such way, at such-and-such times. I have not fulfilled God’s command to love my neighbor as much as I love myself. So I must “go and be reconciled.”

in attendance for WE Day California, The Forum, Los Angeles, CA April 7, 2016. Photo By: Elizabeth Goodenough/Everett CollectionEasy. When I’m honest, humble, and full of trust in God.

Not so easy, when I’m the normal kind of obtuse, anxious, self-centered mortal that most of us are. A fearful soul who sees things only as they affect me, and who would rather eat dirt than sincerely apologize for anything.

The Lord Jesus began the Sermon on the Mount by declaring peacemakers blessed, along with the poor in spirit, the meek and merciful, the clean of heart, the zealous for justice, those mourn the sins of the world and do penance.

Like I said: Making peace is easy, when your heart harmonizes perfectly with the Heart of Jesus Christ. But reaching that kind of harmony with divine love requires the spiritual battle of a lifetime. The constant renunciation of self; daily meditation on the true meaning of life; constant practice in honest communication.

The World Cup tournament can help build international peace. And the highly televised Singapore summit earlier this week. Let’s hope for the best. The greatest force for international peace is, of course: intermarriage and child-bearing.

When Serbs marry Croats and have Serbo-Croat babies, and Bosnians marry Hungarians and have Bosno-Hungarian babies, and Tutsis marry Hutus and have Hutu-Tutsi babies, and Germans marry Slavs and have Germano-Slavic babies, and whites marry blacks and have tan babies, and Latinos marry Italian-Americans and have babies who look like Selena Gomez… we wind up in a good situation.

The grandparents simply cannot order the grandchildren into war against each other when those grandchildren are literally brothers and sisters.

Maybe we need to encourage our American children to marry Canadians at this point. To avoid a re-eruption of the French and Indian War…

But the most important world-peace-making work of all involves: getting my self reconciled with God and His truth. Getting myself reconciled with myself. If, by God’s grace, I can make a true, enduring peace with myself, then I can make peace with anyone.

Crazy, Possessed, or What?

Sunday’s gospel passage involves confusing, disorienting action. Jesus and His disciples cannot even eat, because the crowd presses on them. The Lord’s relatives conclude that He has lost His mind. Then the scribes say the Son of God must have a demon. [Spanish]

One thing everyone agrees on: This is no normal man. Jesus of Nazareth has an unusual spirit in Him. Either He’s crazy, He’s possessed, or He’s…

El Greco ChristThe relatives thought the Lord had gone crazy because He neglected His bodily need for food and rest. He had no interest in marrying, settling down, taking care of himself. He acted as if He were already married—to everyone.

He treated everyone as a brother or sister. He ignored the normal business of feathering your nest and devoted Himself to prayer, and to training His followers in a supernatural way of seeing things. He spoke of Himself as a unique pilgrim on the earth, Who would offer Himself as the lamb in a unique sacrifice. He must have gone crazy.

No, wait. How crazy could He be? Since He successfully healed countless people? Since He knows the ancient Scriptures as if He had written them Himself? Since He communicates more clearly and profoundly than anyone?

He’s not crazy. He has all the trappings of a perfectly normal rabbi—except that He hates religious hypocrisy with a dangerous zeal. He’s willing to excoriate his rabbinical colleagues who mouth empty, self-centered pieties. No—He’s not crazy. Rather, He poses a genuine threat. He’s possessed. That’s the scribes’ thinking.

Now, before we dismiss the scribes’ diagnosis, let’s acknowledge that they at least had a precise and realistic understanding of Satan and his demons. We imagine pitchfork-carrying cartoon characters. The scribes, on the other hand, knew that the fallen angels have power and intelligence way beyond what we have. The scribes had enough sense to respect, and to fear, the evil spirits.

So when they claimed that a demon had possessed Jesus, they did not demean His power. They paid Him the compliment of acknowledging that He had accomplished amazing things—things that no one would expect a no-count Nazarene carpenter to do.

st petersBut, jealousy blinded the scribes, so they could not see the facts. They missed the obvious: Christ went about doing good, not evil. All of His words and works involved kindness, healing, clarity, and truth. If this was a demon at work, then it was a highly incompetent demon. Satan would have benched him, or even kicked him off the team, for lack of hustle in doing mischief.

As I said, the relatives, the scribes, and Jesus’ faithful followers all agreed on one thing: Jesus of Nazareth had something extraordinary operating in Him. Human nature as we know it cannot explain the austere simplicity of His lifestyle, the enchanting sublimity of His teachings, and His power to heal bodies and souls.

He lived and breathed like springtime incarnate. Mankind had dwelt in the dull, low-energy shadow of sin for countless generations. But now a man walked the earth who lived in the sunny morning of the Garden of Eden. This is not normal.

Now we come to the part of the gospel passage where churchgoers tend to get nervous. We hear Jesus Christ teach something stunning. Namely that I could commit an ‘everlasting sin’ and ‘never have forgiveness.’

OMG! I thought God had infinite mercy! I thought this nice Jesus died on the cross to forgive all sins! But maybe I’m actually doomed!

Ok. Let’s focus carefully on the situation in which the Lord said what He said about the unforgivable sin. Jesus had questioned the scribes’ self-centered pride and complacency. Did they take His well-founded criticisms to heart? Well, do most proud and complacent authority figures like to be criticized? Hardly. To the proud, the truth looks like an enemy. So the scribes called God the devil.

Now, we know the truth: When Jesus walked the earth, He had a spirit in Him—the divine Spirit. The Holy Spirit. The good, true, holy God. The infinite mercy that made the world out of nothing, and Who gives a fresh start and new life to every humble, repentant sinner. The good, holy God Who can and does bring good out of evil, and Who never runs out of love. That is the Spirit that Christ had in Him.

But the scribes said: Divine Mercy is demonic. The innocent Lamb Who came to found a kingdom of justice and peace—He deserves the death penalty. We refuse to imagine that this man who hangs around with losers could be the Messiah. Anyone who calls us hypocrites—we, who represent God!—must be Satan’s minion.

So, they concluded: if this man heals, He heals by the power of Satan. If He lives a pure and holy life of prayer, He does it to commune with darkness. If He teaches beautiful truths, then forget truth and beauty. Because He’s not on our side.

This is willfulness—willfulness covering over utter confusion and despair. This is what happens when pride turns religion into a total lie.

Let’s not imagine that it’s rare. It’s everywhere.

But, by the same token, let’s not prove the devil true by deceiving ourselves. The only thing we have to fear is fear itself. God forgives the sins of those who pray for mercy. We’re here together right now because we know Who Jesus really is. He is our Savior.

“Estar en Cristo Jesús Significa ya Sentarse en los Cielos”

El corazón de Dios se estremece de compasión. En esta solemnidad del Sagrado Corazón de Jesús la Iglesia presenta para nuestra contemplación este misterio, el misterio del corazón de un Dios que se conmueve y derrama todo su amor sobre la humanidad. Un amor misterioso, pasión inconmensurable de Dios por el hombre. [English]

sacredheartLa raza humana responde con indiferencia e incluso con ingratitud. Pero no se rinde Dios ante la ingratitud, ni siquiera ante el rechazo del pueblo que el ha escogido; más aún, con infinita misericordia envía al mundo a su Hijo unigénito para que cargue sobre sí el destino del amor destruido; para que, derrotando el poder del mal y de la muerte, restituya la dignidad de hijos a los seres humanos esclavizados por el pecado.

Todo esto a caro precio: el Hijo unigénito del Padre se inmola en la cruz: Habiendo amado a los suyos que estaban en el mundo, los amó hasta el extremo. Símbolo de este amor que va más allá de la muerte es su costado atravesado por una lanza. A este respecto, un testigo ocular, el apóstol san Juan, afirma: Uno de los soldados le atravesó el costado con una lanza y al instante salió sangre y agua.

Queridos hermanos y hermanas, detengámonos a contemplar juntos el Corazón traspasado del Crucificado. Como San Pablo escribió a los Efesios, Dios, rico en misericordia, por el gran amor con que nos amó, estando muertos a causa de nuestros delitos, nos vivificó juntamente con Cristo, y con él nos resucitó y nos hizo sentar en los cielos en Cristo Jesús.

Estar en Cristo Jesús significa ya sentarse en los cielos. En el Corazón de Jesús se expresa el núcleo esencial del cristianismo; en Cristo se nos revela y entrega toda la novedad revolucionaria del Evangelio: el Amor que nos salva y nos hace vivir ya en la eternidad de Dios. El evangelista san Juan escribe: Tanto amó Dios al mundo que dio a su Hijo único, para que todo el que crea en él no perezca, sino que tenga vida eterna. Su Corazón divino llama entonces a nuestro corazón; nos invita a salir de nosotros mismos y a abandonar nuestras seguridades humanas para fiarnos de él y, siguiendo su ejemplo, a hacer de nosotros mismos un don de amor sin reservas.

(Papa Benedicto XVI)

For Ben White

Ben Caps
my brother the fan

Late in the evening, April 10, 1983, in the little bathroom of our upper-northwest Washington, D.C., house:

My brother and I came to blows.

It didn’t amount to much. But it was the worst fist-fight we ever had. And the last one we ever had.

The New York Islanders had just eliminated the Capitals from the Division Semi-Finals. As my poor, long-suffering brother brushed his teeth, I stood beside him, mocking the choke-artist Caps ruthlessly, with every ounce of my twelve-year-old obnoxiousness.

He finally spit out his toothpaste and took a swing at me. I had it coming, big-time. He beat me, like a man possessed with a vision of justice. We wound up in the bathtub, and I begged him for mercy that I didn’t deserve.

Since that day, now over 35 years ago, my dear brother has longed–with some of the most fundamental fibers of his being–for the Caps to bring home the Cup.

Do it, guys. For him.

[POST-SCRIPT, Six hours later: They did it! Caps win!!!!!]

CapsGame
your unworthy servant, rinkside, eight seasons ago, with another amazing Caps fan who deserves some happiness