September 12, 2019

A year ago one October Saturday, my wife and I were at Good Shepherd Catholic Church, in Alexandria, Virginia, which is a hop, skip and a couple turns from George Washington’s Mt. Vernon estate. It is a parish of the Arlington diocese. We were there for our nephew’s Confirmation and I was his sponsor (poor kid). He had thought of asking his older brother—mostly, he said, because his off-to-college brother (jab, jab) hadn’t been to Mass in a while. But since this… Read more

August 27, 2019

“The Senate is no longer a place for any decent man,” mourned Senator Henry Clay, January 1837. This was his judgment following a Senate vote rescinding a senatorial censure of President Andrew Jackson. Clay appeared in the Senate dressed in the deep black then affected by grieving loved ones over the loss of someone dear. This all turned on Jackson’s veto of a bill renewing the charter of the Bank of the United States (think of an early Federal Reserve… Read more

July 29, 2019

There is a Facebook page I follow, Things They Didn’t Teach Us in Seminary! There are a lot of United Church of Christ, Presbyterian, Methodist, Lutheran, a few former Catholics, as well as some others I haven’t doped out. Me, I’m ex-Lutheran pastor come home to Rome, yet I still remember lots and lots of stuff I never learned. This was the topic: A pastor distributing communion at a conference gathering found himself confronted with a woman and her service… Read more

July 11, 2019

James J. O’Donnell’s Pagans: The End of Traditional Religion and the Rise of Christianity (2015) is not a silly book, but it is superficial. O’Donnell is said to have written a contrarian book on pagans and early Christians. We’ll see. He does well describing the nature of traditional religion as Christianity (oddball and very non-traditional) arose in all its varied forms in its first three centuries to challenge traditional Roman religion. What is amazing to me, now that I’ve brought… Read more

April 30, 2019

For yours is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, now and forever. Amen. We have been asking throughout this series on the Our Father what are we finally seeking by praying these seven petitions. Essentially, we have prayed for our Father’s kingdom against our own; for his will against our own desires. We have prayed for his bread, that we may glimpse creation’s wounded splendor in a life marred by sin. We have prayed for his forgiveness, while… Read more

April 25, 2019

Save us from the time of trial and deliver us from evil. Though Christ has been raised from death, we still are confronted with evil and, worse, temptation. We continue to deal with the reality of sin, death, and the world. So we turn to our risen Lord in these two petitions and we ask, first: “Do not lead us into temptation.” Say what? We have to ask: God, don’t do that? Every catechism I dig through – Catholic or Protestant –… Read more

April 23, 2019

As we forgive those who sin against us.   I knew a man who would clamp his mouth if he had to say “as we forgive those who sin against us.” The woman who had killed his son was a member in the same church.  My first week in my first parish as a new Lutheran pastor, I drove out to the small country church, half of the two-congregation parish I served. I wanted to look it over for the first… Read more

April 18, 2019

Forgive us our sins This petition in the Our Father comes in two halves. The first half deals with us. The second half deals with us dealing with others. Not unreasonably, I’ll dig into first half first. We ask here “Forgive us our trespasses,” and there is language problem. Catholics use the word “trespasses,” as do many Protestant denominations. Some Protestants, largely Reformed, use “debts.” The Gospels Luke and Matthew dither between both words. Trouble is both are legal phrases…. Read more

April 16, 2019

Give us our daily bread. We have prayed both for and against ourselves in the early petitions. We have prayed for the Father’s kingdom against our own. We have prayed for the Father’s will, however much I might prefer my own. It is his kingdom, his will, and we have prayed that it will come and be done so we may know him as our Father. We have prayed against our own will, our own kingdom. We must do this… Read more

April 11, 2019

Your will be done. We have asked a basic question while working our way through the Our Father: What are we praying for in these petitions? Turns out we have prayed for the Gospel itself. It is only because of the Gospel that we can address God intimately as “Our Father.” We have also prayed that God will bring his Word to us, that he will tell us a story and not just any story but, in a snippet from an… Read more

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