Posts Tagged ‘St. Mary’s Cathedral’

Ash Wednesday

February 9, 2016
Warning

Warning

As I write this, its about 10:45 pm.  This is much later for me to be awake than is normal, but I’ve got a couple things on my mind.  This barricade is the first one.

My office at the chancery is right across the alley from the Cathedral of St. Mary in Cheyenne.  We have a parking lot behind the office that belongs to the Diocese of Cheyenne, but we lease it out to the state of Wyoming for parking for employees.  A couple times a year, most notably Ash Wednesday and Good Friday, we tell the state employees to find other parking accommodations because we need the parking for Mass during the day.  (Good Friday isn’t a Mass, but you get the idea.)

That’s when these barricades go up the night before.  I don’t believe I have ever seen them stuck in snowbanks before, but it is effective in making sure they are seen.  Tomorrow the lot will be filled several times, as Ash Wednesday Mass will be celebrated 5 times before the day is over, and it is likely that each Mass will be full.

That’s not the case for most Sundays.  Sundays have 5 Masses as well, but, while they are well-attended, they don’t get full like they do on Ash Wednesday.  Ash Wednesday is, for many parishes, the most well-attended Masses of the year, beating out Christmas and Easter.

Here is the speculation as to why that is.  From a cynical point of view, and Church workers can often be cynical, people come because they get something – a smudged cross on their foreheads.  I think there may be some validity to that, but not a lot.  I do not believe people would be that shallow.  They can get smudged in a lot of places, so they don’t have to go sit in a crowded church for an hour with a bunch of people they don’t know.

My own hypothesis on why Ash Wednesday is so well attended is because people WANT something, something that they can’t get in their everyday not-Church world.

They see the shallowness of their existence without God.  They see that people who are regular church-goers are happier, more fulfilled, and living longer lives.  They see that churchy-types have more substance, more gravitas, than those who always sleep in on Sundays.

The people who show up on Ash Wednesday, who may not have been to Mass in a long, long time, are hungry.  They are hungry for God, they are hungry for the substance that Faith puts in their lives.  They want what the churchies have, and getting Ashes on their foreheads, on a day of fasting and prayer, is one way to get started down that road.

On the other hand, I won’t be going to Mass tomorrow.  No ashes for me for the first time in many, many years.  I can’t remember the last time I missed Ash Wednesday Mass.  Instead, I’ll be in a surgical center in Colorado getting my shoulder fixed.  As far as surgeries go, it’s not a big deal.  15 minutes of instruments repairing some tears, then a few days of recovery.  For me, however, I am more worried than I ought to be.  In an irrational mindset, I am imagining everything going wrong that can, which is why I am awake tapping out these words on my computer.  I asked our bishop to anoint me tonight, which he did, then prayed over me for successful surgery and healing, and guidance for the medical team working on me tomorrow.

I don’t imagine I will post anything tomorrow, but you never know.  It might be funny as I write while under the influence of pain killers.  Still, in that addled state of mind, I might make more sense than I usually do.

Now that I’ve written all this, it occurred to me that the answer to sleep isn’t typing, it’s remembering that I can hand my worries over to God.  He can take care of me, and I can go to sleep.

I won’t have to worry about the crowds in the morning, and some parishioner taking my parking spot, because I won’t be there.  I will, however, be overjoyed that someone tomorrow will come back to the Lord because he/she got  a smeared cross on their forehead.

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Mohammed

February 8, 2016

Mohammed

 

I’d like you to meet my friend, Dr. Mohammed Salih.

Mohammed is a retired educator, having taught in universities and community colleges for many years.  Originally from Sudan, he and his family have lived in Cheyenne or a long time.

Mohammed is also the Imam at the Southeast Wyoming Islamic Center in Cheyenne.  He is a gentle man, a scholar, and just a wonderful human being.

Mohammed joined our Bishop, the Rabbi of the local synagogue, and several Protestant pastors who came together for an extraordinary event, an Interfaith Prayer Service.  This is the second year of the Prayer Service, and it occurs on the first day of the Wyoming State Legislative Session.

It took place at St. Mary’s Cathedral, and was attended by members of the Legislature, the Secretary of State, the State Treasurer, the State Auditor, the Superintendent of Public Schools, members of the Supreme Court, the Mayor of Cheyenne, and a good number of the general public.  We all gathered in prayer for the work being done by our lawmakers and all those involved in the apparatus of a representative government.

There were no arguments, no clashes of personalities, no arm-waving displays of dogmatic imperialism.  Rather, this was just a large group of people coming together in prayer, asking for God’s grace and blessing upon their work.

Mohammed was a big part of this.   I’m proud to call him my friend.

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For more pictures of today’s prayer service, go to my SmugMug site.

To see our Bishop’s blog about this event, go here.

Lamb of God

February 5, 2016
Behold the Lamb of God

Behold the Lamb of God

I’ve shown other stained glass windows on these pages, and each time I shoot them I am awestruck by their beauty.  Here’s the really weird thing – This image, and most of the others I have put here, are from my parish church, yet I would be hard pressed to say that I have seen them before.

Today I didn’t even intend to shoot a window.  Rather, I had an idea about a rack of pamphlets and brochures that I thought would be interesting.  When I took that shot, it wasn’t anything I would show to anyone else.  Then as I looked around and saw the light coming through this window, and I knew what I had to do.

Which is ironic.  Or perhaps Providential.  So often when we are looking for something, we just can’t see it, even if it is right in front of us.  Our lives are like that on a regular basis, always looking for something better, a different way.  We are often driven like this because of anger, or despair, or frustration, or hurt.

We scan horizons, we look in books, we search Youtube for answers to all our questions, yet they all leave lingering doubts as to their validity.

Today I was looking for one thing, but found THE thing.  The Lamb of God, Jesus our Lord and Savior, was right in front of me.  This was the brightest window.  Whatever we are looking for, Jesus is the answer.

Keep your eyes peeled, and your heart open.  Jesus is everywhere, and sometimes he is right THERE.

Holy Hour – Right to Life Weekend

January 22, 2016

Adoration

Down in Adoration falling,This great Sacrament we hail;
Over ancient forms of worshipNewer rites of grace prevail;
Faith will tell us Christ is present,When our human senses fail.To the everlasting Father,And the Son who made us free,
And the Spirit, God proceedingFrom them Each eternally,
Be salvation, honor, blessing,Might and endless majesty. Amen.

Blessed be God.
Blessed be his holy name.
Blessed be Jesus Christ, true God and true man.
Blessed be the name of Jesus.
Blessed be his most Sacred Heart.
Blessed be his most Precious Blood.
Blessed be Jesus in the most holy sacrament of the altar.
Blessed be the Holy Spirit, the Paraclete.
Blessed be the great Mother of God, Mary most holy.
Blessed be her holy and Immaculate Conception.
Blessed be her glorious Assumption.
Blessed be the name of Mary, virgin and Mother.
Blessed be St. Joseph, her most chaste spouse.
Blessed be God in his angels and in his saints.
Amen.

 

 

Christmas is NOT magical

December 25, 2015

(Be sure to read the whole way down.  Lots of pictures here.)

I went to Midnight Mass last night at the Cathedral of St. Mary in Cheyenne.  It’s our home parish, and I don’t normally go to this Mass on Christmas as it is just too late, and I am too old. But this night was different, as I wanted to capture the images of Christmas Mass and share them with you.

Angel

The Cathedral was all dressed up for Christmas, a true miracle of light in the midst of the darkness.  As I wandered around before Mass, I found lots of small spaces that contained great surprises. HP9A0314-2 HP9A0308-2 HP9A0306-2 HP9A0462-2 HP9A0428-2

Angels were everywhere!  But what else would expect on a night like this.

 Now there were shepherds in that region living in the fields
and keeping the night watch over their flock.
The angel of the Lord appeared to them
and the glory of the Lord shone around them,
and they were struck with great fear.
The angel said to them,
“Do not be afraid;
for behold, I proclaim to you good news of great joy
that will be for all the people.
For today in the city of David
a savior has been born for you who is Christ and Lord.
And this will be a sign for you:
you will find an infant wrapped in swaddling clothes
and lying in a manger.”
And suddenly there was a multitude of the heavenly host with the angel,
praising God and saying:
“Glory to God in the highest
and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”

All dressed up

All dressed up

Raising our prayers to heaven

Raising our prayers to heaven

It has become cliche to describe Christmas as magical.  That would be so very, very wrong, though, as magic has nothing to do with it.

The birth of Jesus was real.

Magic is illusion.

Jesus is truly the son of God, consubstantial with the Father and the Holy Spirit.

Magic implies fooling people.

Christmas is telling the truth.

Magic is performed for our entertainment.

Christmas is given to us for our salvation.

Magic is an empty promise, shallow trickery.

Christmas is the fulfillment of a promise.

Merry Christmas.  May God bless us all.

 

 

Do Not be Afraid

December 18, 2015
In the sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a town of Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the house of David, and the virgin’s name was Mary. And coming to her, he said, “Hail, favored one! The Lord is with you.” But she was greatly troubled at what was said and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. Then the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name him Jesus. He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give him the throne of David his father, and he will rule over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”

In the sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a town of Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the house of David, and the virgin’s name was Mary. And coming to her, he said, “Hail, favored one! The Lord is with you.” But she was greatly troubled at what was said and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. Then the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name him Jesus. He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give him the throne of David his father, and he will rule over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”  Luke 1: 26-33 (This is a picture of a stained glass panel in St. Mary’s Cathedral in Cheyenne, Wyoming.)

 

Praying over today’s Gospel this morning, I became weepy and overcome with emotion.  It was Matthew’s account of the Angel of the Lord coming to Joseph in a dream, telling him that it was OK if Mary was pregnant, that he didn’t have to send her on her way, and that he should not be afraid to take her into his home.  (Matthew 1: 18-25).  This is a remarkable passage, so fraught with the knowledge of what was to happen, which was more than Joseph could possibly imagine.

In the passage from Luke’s Gospel below the photo, the angel Gabriel is announcing to Mary that she will have a baby who will take David’s throne and be a king whose reign will be eternal.  Oh, by the way, don’t be afraid.

In both passages, the angel assures the hearers of the news that there is no need for fear.  When I think of what Mary and Joseph have just been told, and that they should not be afraid, I ponder that in incredulity.  I’m a pretty faithful guy, but if I was told anything like that, I would doubt whether or not I actually heard it, much less not be afraid.

The accounts of Mary and Joseph being told about their yet-to-be-born baby are truly beyond comprehension.  These two have no idea what is in store, and having been given ominous messages from a direct messenger of God, they willingly accept their mission.  “Let it be done unto me according to thy word.”

Hence the weepy reaction today.  To think that our God would use these humble individuals to bring his only son to us, born into a simple family, to save us from our sins by dying a cruel and terrible death, and that we don’t deserve any of it.  He did it because he loves us.

Don’t be afraid.  Whatever you say, God.  I am yours.

Give yourself a treat.  Read these two passages, the one above from Luke and the one below from Matthew – out loud – and see what comes up.  Weepy is OK.

This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about.
When his mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph,
but before they lived together,
she was found with child through the Holy Spirit.
Joseph her husband, since he was a righteous man,
yet unwilling to expose her to shame,
decided to divorce her quietly.
Such was his intention when, behold,
the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said,
“Joseph, son of David,
do not be afraid to take Mary your wife into your home.
For it is through the Holy Spirit
that this child has been conceived in her.
She will bear a son and you are to name him Jesus,
because he will save his people from their sins.”
All this took place to fulfill
what the Lord had said through the prophet:

Behold, the virgin shall be with child and bear a son,
and they shall name him Emmanuel,

which means “God is with us.”
When Joseph awoke,
he did as the angel of the Lord had commanded him
and took his wife into his home.
He had no relations with her until she bore a son,
and he named him Jesus.


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