‹ speculatio pauperis in deserto

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Today, on the feast of Saints Perpetua & Felicity, I thought about their martyrdom. The account of their martyrdom—most of which is written by Perpetua herself—is a witness not only to the victory of life over death upon which Christianity is founded, but also of resistance against imperial oppression. Indeed, it is precisely in their dying that Perpetua & Felicity overcome the death-dealing ways of the Roman empire. From Perpetua’s Passion:
I’ve seen a fair amount of hand wringing over Fiducia supplicans where the consistency of church teaching & papal authority are concerned. The concern goes something like this: Fiducia supplicans, signed by Pope Francis, reaffirms the Catholic church’s historical teaching on marriage (as possible only between a woman & a man) while allowing for blessings of couples who do not conform to that teaching of marriage. This means the Catholic church will have to either forge ahead, perhaps revising its understanding of marriage to include partnerships between persons of the same gender, or pull back from Fiducia supplicans to reaffirm its historical understanding of marriage.
It was winter in Italy, eight hundred years ago, & Assisi’s poverello had an idea.1 Francis of Assisi had become obsessed with the words & deeds of Jesus Christ, his rustic parables & simple gestures that, despite (or perhaps because of) their lowliness, communicated divine majesty & awe. According to an early biographer,2 “so thoroughly did the humility of the incarnation & the charity of the passion occupy his memory that he scarcely wanted to think of anything else.
Walter Kasper on kingdom of God: But when the ultimate source of all reality, God’s love, re-establishes itself and comes to power, the world is restored to order and salvation. Because each individual can feel himself accepted and approved without reserve, he becomes free to live with others. The coming of the Kingdom of God’s love therefore means the salvation of the world as a whole and the salvation of every individual.
Mar 29, 2021
Holy Week of any year—that week of prayer & fasting ordered to the cross and, eventually, the empty tomb—always has a nearness to the first Holy Week, as the drama of the liturgy moves modern-day Christians through the drama of the passion. Holy Week 2020, however, seemed especially near. The reality of coronavirus was setting in, along with the bitter realization it would be a long time before we could safely gather with family, friends, & religious communities.
Good & gracious God, you who are power & wisdom & goodness— Bless this tree, a sign of life & freshness & perseverance in our midst. May it stand as a reminder of light in the dark of night, and of life in the dead of winter. May its supple branches & sharp, sweet scent keep fresh in our minds & our hands the mercy & generosity you show in all your dealings with your beloved people.
Sep 22, 2020
Dear C—,1 This past Sunday, on a cool & bright New York day with the edges of autumn just beginning to creep into the last days of summer, you were baptized. Like autumn into summer, you may find the fact of your baptism—something in which you had no say & of which you have no memory—creeping into your life in strange & unexpected ways; you may not know quite why you were baptized; you may wonder what the point of your baptism was at all.
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