Daily Archives: September 2, 2018

Twenty-Second Sunday in Ordinary Time – Cycle B

2 September 2018

Reflecting on Mark 7: 1-8, 14-15, 21-23

The other night I had a rare few hours of fairly intense pain. I was meditating and praying my way through it. It comforted me, somehow, to bow my head every time I prayed the word “Jesus.” I learned to do that as a child of the Catholic fifties, and probably haven’t done it since. But that night the tradition came back to me, just when I needed it most. It felt like Jesus was right there with me―he was, of course―and I felt a certain warmth through my body that stayed with me until the pain resolved.

Several weeks ago, when our priest-friends from Juarez were here, I noticed that they retained some of the pieties of my youth. They make the sign of the cross when an ambulance passes by, or when they pass a hospital. I haven’t seen that in many decades. It was really quite lovely.

I’m grateful to have these sacred gestures in my DNA. I love when we cross our foreheads, lips and hearts before the reading of the gospel. Yes, I want those words in my head, on my lips, and in my heart, and the gesture helps me pray for that.

In Jesus’ day there was a great burden upon the faithful Jews to observe meticulous ritual washings, and to purify themselves and all their dishes before eating. Jesus warns against public signs of piety that are meant to disguise the greed or bitterness within. It’s not the gestures themselves that trouble Jesus, but that they have taken the place of true fidelity to God.

I like being Catholic. The entire body is recruited in worship, which of course recruits the heart as well.

What “sacred gestures” in the Mass do you like the most?

Kathy McGovern ©2018

Kathy McGovern © 2014-2015

Twenty-first Sunday in Ordinary Time – Cycle B

2 September 2018

Reflecting on Joshua 24: 1-2a, 15-17, 18b

Choose today whom you will serve, Joshua said to that diverse crowd gathered inside the border of the Promised Land. Apparently that warning, sounding all the way from the 13th century BC, was ignored by ex-Cardinal Ted McCarrick, who certainly had multiple opportunities to reflect on that text, coming as it does every three years on the 21st Sunday.

It was most certainly cynically ignored by the hundreds of priests whom we now know assaulted over 1,000 minors in the period between 1940 and 2003 in six dioceses in Pennsylvania.

But it also eluded the consciences of every cleric who covered up those abuses so malevolently that the Grand Jury called their response “a playbook for concealing the truth.”

I ask myself how I, a laywoman and scripture teacher, have contributed to the culture of cover-up in this Church that I love. Would I have defended a priest, even at the expense of a child, just to keep a job?  I have never even remotely been in that position.

Still, I feel the need to do penance. This is my Church. Many of the atrocities of clergy abuse occurred in my lifetime—but, thankfully, almost none since the new mandatory reporting laws came into effect in 2003. At least at this writing, the worst may be behind us.

Every August I receive the annual subscription fees from the parishes that so kindly subscribe to this column. This year I will send the full amount to a group that works with survivors of clergy abuse.  With this gesture I’ll join the universal Church in sacrifice and penance for the evils done by those pretending to be servants of Christ.

Even though you aren’t personally responsible, will you join in a year of prayer for the victims?

Kathy McGovern ©2018

Kathy McGovern © 2014-2015