Monthly Archives: October 2020

Solemnity of All Saints – Cycle A

31 October 2020

Growing up in Saint Vincent de Paul parish in the fifties and sixties, I recall exactly one lesson about him, and that was a shaky black and white movie that appeared to have been made in the same century he lived (16th).

But many years later, well after the end of Second Vatican Council, I dropped by the school and was immediately drawn to the beautiful painting in the entranceway. “That’s stunning,” I said. “Who is it?” The receptionist laughed. “Kathy, that’s St. Vincent de Paul!”

We’ve come a long way since the Council’s call to learn more about the saints whose names grace our schools, our streets, our cities. These days we can read about the Saint of the Day in multiple devotionals, online and in print. Have you learned about your patron saint, or your Confirmation saint? They travel with us throughout our lives, weaving blessings for us in ways we won’t see until heaven. It’s good to get to know them.

Just yesterday my friend Camille wrote to wish me a Happy Feast of St. Luke. St. Paul describes him as a physician (Colossians 4:14), so he is the patron of all who need healing. She also noted that the following day, October 19th, is the Feast of the North American Martyrs, another recent obsession of mine. In fact, as I was writing this another friend called to remind me of their Feast today.

We have friends in high places; wonderful, curmudgeonly, gracious, eccentric, passionate friends whose lives in some way intersected with the sacred heart of Jesus. Sick? Sad? Anxious? Grateful? Converted of heart? The Church has a Saint for that.

In what ways do you feel a strong connection with your favorite saint?

Kathy McGovern ©2020

Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time – Cycle A

24 October 2020

Reflecting on Matthew 22:34-40

My husband Ben directs the music in a low-income parish. Recently, one of the terrific tenors in the choir has been sitting out because his macular degeneration makes it difficult to see the lyrics.

Ben overheard another of the tenors say to him after Mass last week, “What do you mean you can’t see the words? You KNOW the words. The words of God are very near to you, on your lips and in your heart. You have only to sing them out.”

Tears came immediately to my eyes. Here is a guy who grew up in the neighborhood, went to the Catholic high school, and lives today in an apartment subsidized by Archdiocesan Housing, Inc. He sat in the back of church, dressed to the nines, every Sunday for decades before he mentioned that he “sings a little.”

He came up and sang one Sunday, and, well, the earth moved, and it moves every time he steps up to the microphone.

But, singing aside, he has paid attention to the readings. In a lifetime of sitting in the back of church, reading his missal before Mass, he has absorbed and placed the word of God in his mind and in his heart, so that Deuteronomy 30:14 popped up right when he needed it.

Ben just returned from a long-distance car trip. How did he pass the time? “Oh, I sang all the hymns I’ve memorized, and worked on memorizing more.”

That’s one of a thousand ways to love God with one’s “whole heart, and soul, and mind.” Try memorizing a few favorite hymns. Once embedded in your heart, they’ll take over your soul and mind as well

What spiritual discipline do you practice in order to love God with everything you are?

Kathy McGovern ©2020

Twenty-Ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time – Cycle A

19 October 2020

Reflecting on Isaiah 45:1, 4-6

We need to talk about Cyrus. Right now, two weeks before the election. That he is mentioned in the first reading this weekend is one of the many things I love about the lectionary. When we really need to hear something, the Holy Spirit has already placed it in the readings for the day.

Here’s a guy who could teach us something about wise leadership. He ruled the Persian Empire for thirty years (559-530 BC), and expanded it into the largest empire ever to rule up to that time.

After conquering Babylon and observing the Jewish community there he said, “Here’s all the treasure King Nebuchadnezzar stole from you when he burned your Temple sixty years ago. Go home, rebuild your Temple, and pray for the Royal Family and me.”

Ah. Doesn’t that language just soothe your battered soul? Here is what I am confident we all want to hear from whomever wins this election: Let’s begin again. Let’s find again the values we all cherish: civility, kindness, understanding. If we can’t search our hearts and see that we have, in the name of love of our country, lashed out and deeply hurt others, we can’t heal. And let’s discipline ourselves to not say, “Yeah, but what about THEM?” Let’s just use this moment to examine ourselves.

By using understanding and compassion, King Cyrus was able to see the pain that others had experienced. That’s why he is the only Gentile in the Hebrew scriptures to be called God’s “anointed.” At our baptisms, each of us was anointed “priest, prophet, and King.” May we activate that anointing immediately, in imitation of King Cyrus the Great.

How will I be an instrument of peace after the election?

Kathy McGovern ©2020

Twenty-Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time – Cycle A

12 October 2020

Reflecting on Matthew 22: 1-14

We went to the most beautiful wedding reception recently. Alex and Danielle chose their sacrament over a big party during COVID. They were married in July in a very sparsely attended ceremony, then re-enacted their vows in an outdoor, socially-distanced party last week with their families and friends.

They dressed up in their stunning wedding clothes so we could all re-live the original wedding. The bridesmaids and groomsmen were all dressed in their wedding finery too, and so were all the attendees. We were there to bear witness to a sacrament celebrated earlier, but being lived out with great joy today.

During the toasts, the smitten bridegroom remarked that, in choosing sacrament over party, they got both. They got to marry each other, which is all they want in this world, and then got to celebrate their marriage two months later with everyone who formed them in the faith, and formed them to be the people who had so joyfully entered into this bond.

You know, I think we have cultural dress codes for a reason. The guy who showed up to the Marriage Feast in the wrong attire was signifying that he didn’t really think his manner of dress mattered. It did matter, apparently as much as the rude inattention to the wedding mattered to the King, whose servants were murdered in the process of delivering the invitation!

It’s not enough to SAY we believe in the gospel. We need to show up as we did on the day of our baptism, our garb signifying the strength of our Promises. Clothed in wisdom and strength, every day we renew again, in front of the world, the promises made long ago.

What virtues do you put on as you wake up every morning?

Kathy McGovern ©2020

Twenty-Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time – Cycle A

3 October 2020

Reflecting on Phil. 2:1-11

There is a compelling documentary on Netflix right now. It’s called The Social Dilemma, I assume to stand in contrast to the 2010 movie The Social Network, which tells the story of Mark Zuckerberg and the founding of Facebook.

This docu-drama features some of the main architects of the most addicting features of Facebook, Google, Twitter and others. These creators admit their horror at what their creations have wrought: sky-high rates of depression and suicide, disinterest in everything one loved before, lethargy and sadness. These are all the markers of addiction, and it has to do with the dopamine delivery to the brain (and, so tragically often, the young brain) that sets up a higher and higher need to click, click, click.

I think of what is probably a global pandemic of internet addiction as I read St. Paul’s brilliant advice to the infant church at Philippi. If every person googling through their favorite internet sites would use Paul’s checklist before clicking deeper in, or, God forbid, sharing the link, the increasing anxiety of our society could be healed.

So, here’s the checklist. Is it true? There are ways to check before you head out to free the trafficked children held in the basement of the pizza parlor. Answer: untrue. Is it honorable? Any call to arms you read on the internet is certainly dishonorable. Is it just? Sometimes social media educates us on justice issues, especially if they come from the Vatican or Catholic Charities. Is it pure? Lovely? Gracious? Ah, just thinking on those things raises endorphins and brings us to that peace which passes the understanding of those who troll the ‘net, hoping to devour our souls.

What rules do you have in your house about screen time?

Kathy McGovern ©2020