Coming to the Eighth and Final Station on the Good Friday Ecumenical Prayer Walk, I am reminded of T. S. Eliot’s words, “We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.” We are back at Our Lady of Lourdes Church. We have seen the slain Jesus and the resurrected Christ as we made our pilgrimage, as we explored where Jesus is to be found today.
The choices are ours and many choices we have indeed. Have we walked in vain? A few weeks later have we become the change we prayed for or are we still complicit in the suffering of those on the margins? Continue reading
Melbourne City Hall
As we approach the seventh station on the Good Friday Ecumenical Prayer, the towering Melbourne City Hall is coming into view. As we walk and pray, the heated debate over the role of government plays out across the nation. Some people are screaming and yelling for less government. I have even noticed a change of attitude. If you were an educator or public servant, some are prone to remark that you lived off the people, almost as if you were on the dole. Everyone wants to pay less in taxes and claims they want less in government; however, just try cutting something they hold dear. The Postal Service has backed off on its cost savings plan to end Saturday delivery. Observe what happens when someone proposes to cut a military/defense facility to reduce a bloated defense budget in their geographical area. Cut something in the next state over but not in my backyard. Continue reading
Our sixth station on the Good Friday Ecumenical Prayer Walk is at the railroad tracks where freight trains roll through Melbourne. Train tracks are a good symbol for migrant people because many migrants hop rides on trains to get to where they can find work.
Immigration is a hot topic in Washington as we write. A potential deal has been worked out. Secure the borders. Find a pathway for earning citizenship. Enact the Dream Act to allow children who were brought here by parents the opportunity for post-secondary education. All of these concerns factor into the debate. Continue reading
His Place Ministries
The fifth station on the Good Friday Ecumenical Prayer Walk was His Place Ministries, a multifaceted outreach ministry, designed to touch lives with the love of Christ. The center provides a number of services, including Cold Night Shelter.
Homelessness continues to be a problem in America. When I read that homelessness is higher among veterans than among the general population, I think of the women usually standing along one of the main roads in Titusville. Her sign reads, “Please help. I’m a homeless veteran.” Continue reading
The Fourth Station on the Walk is Daily Bread, a soup kitchen that feeds over 4,200 men, women and children every year. The center serves 200 to 250 people daily and is open 24/7 365 days a year. (www.dailybreadinc.org)
In the richest most powerful nation in the history of the world, one out of six Americans lives in poverty. Hunger in America is a disgrace. There is no reason but greed which accounts for this sad state of affairs. The 1% accumulates more and more while a large percentage of the 99% ends up with less and less. Continue reading
Veterans Transition Center
I have been “off the air” for a few days. I attended the College English Association Conference in Savannah. The International Thomas Merton Society is an affiliate organization and six of us presented papers on Merton. My paper was, “The Nature of Mysticism: Hildegard of Bingen and Thomas Merton.” More of this later.
Today we move to the third station on the Good Friday Ecumenical Prayer Walk. We stop at the Veterans Transitional Housing Facility. Serendipity or the ever-wonderful divine “coincidence” led me to several sessions at the conference on was, especially its impact on altering the lives of veterans and bystanders victims of war. An astounding one third of our veterans suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and the suicide rate is off the charts. Continue reading
At the second station on our Good Friday Ecumenical prayer Walk, we turned toward Our Lady of Lourdes School. We meditated and prayed:
Look for me among the unborn infants who are killed for convenience. Look for me among the children who are stolen from their families, sold and trafficked for perverse and inhumane desires. Look for me among the children who are exploited for greed and abandoned in the name of prosperity. Look for me among the children whose special needs keep them confined, silent, and without hope. Look for me among the children, and among the grandparents who are raising them, many with parents in jails and prisons who are unable to care for them and some with parents who are unable to love them. Look for me among the children suffering from AIDS, victims born of victims, all without adequate help and hope. Look for me anywhere a family is in trouble and children are denied a right to education, health care, safety and security.
Seek me there and you shall find me.
Where do we see signs of the Risen Christ alleviating suffering among the children of the world? When I think of the Risen Christ working among children today, I think of Building 418 at St. Gabriel’s Episcopal Church in Titusville, Ferdinand Mafood and Food for the Poor, the Christian Foundation for Children and the Aging, Margaret Trost’s What If Foundation, and Sister Rachel in Somotillo, Nicaragua. Continue reading
Before we examine the meaning of the other seven stations on the Good Friday Ecumenical prayer Walk, we need to step back and get a better understanding of resurrection. Most of the faithful but few of the theologians and scripture scholars believe that we are speaking about a resuscitated corpse when we speak of Jesus’ resurrection.
Bishop Spong, who I think does a commendable job of summarizing contemporary theology and scripture studies, has done a whole series of articles on the crucifixion and resurrection (http://johnshelbyspong.com/). On the site you can subscribe to his weekly newsletter and this also gives you access to the archive of articles.
To simplify matters, let us just say that the New Testament gives conflicting reports. Was the Risen Christ in Judea (Jerusalem) or Galilee? Historically, we know that Jesus was born, preached the Good News, healed the sick, and was crucified as a common criminal. The only way to understand the import of his life, death, and resurrection is through poetry and metaphor which are not meant to be taken literally. My conclusion is that, after a period of time, the followers of Jesus grew in their understanding of his life and death and resurrection. They came to understand, for instance, that he was with them in the Breaking of the Bread. He was with them when the community gathered in his name. It may have taken the followers up to a year or so to fully understand what had happened. They came to understand that they were now the Body of Christ. Knowing of his impending death, Archbishop Romero understood resurrection—he would rise in the Salvadoran people. Continue reading
Mary, the first apostle of the Resurrection, goes to the tomb. She is seeking Jesus whom she loved so dearly. The tomb is empty. She hurriedly reports back to the others. Peter and John run to the tomb.
This is the Easter story—our search for the Cosmic Risen Christ. During the Good Friday Ecumenical Prayer Walk, we asked at each station, “Lord Jesus, we are searching for you. Where are you suffering today?” Now, fully aware of the Easter event, we ask, “Lord Jesus, we are searching for you. Where are you healing those oppressed by evil?” Finding once again the Risen Christ, we quickly understand that we are the Christ bringing His healing balm to those in misery. Continue reading
Yesterday we participated in the 5th annual Good Friday Ecumenical Prayer Walk. Under the leadership of the Just Faith initiative at Ascension Catholic Church in Melbourne, Florida and Mary Kay Kantz, a group of area ministers gathered to plan and carry out the first Ecumenical Prayer Walk. It has grown over the years. Over 350 participated yesterday. This marked our third year of participation because the Walk gives relevance and meaning to what Good Friday is all about today. The subtheme of the Walk is, “Where Is Jesus Suffering Today?” There are eight stations on the Walk and in this and future posts I will try to give some understanding about the significance of each station. These posts will serve as good reflections on the meaning of the Risen Christ. Tomorrow we proclaim from the rooftops that the Cosmic Christ is Risen; therefore, we, the Body of Christ, have the responsibility to find Christ where He is suffering today and do His work of alleviating human misery and suffering. Continue reading