07 February 2015

Five New Paintings

 Fear No Evil (18 x 24 canvas board)

 Verdant Pastures (16 x 20 canvas board)

 My Cup Overflowing (16 x 20 canvas board)

 Joyful Task (16 x 20 canvas board)

 Nothing to Want (16 x 20 canvas board)


Follow HancAquam or Subscribe ----->

06 February 2015

Fear Makes Us Foolish

St Paul Miki and Companions
Fr. Philip Neri Powell, OP
St Dominic Church, NOLA

When we fall into sin, it's usually because of pride. Herod is no exception. His degeneration into foolishness might be blamed on lust – an older man drooling over a much younger woman. But – at its core – all foolishness is pride. Salome the Dancer, and her mother, Herodias, take advantage of Herod's pride through his lust and turn his well-known generosity into cold-blooded murder. They succeed in turning Herod into a murdering tyrant b/c he is possessed by the dark spirits of anxiety and fear. Why else would a powerful king keep a holy and righteous man like John the Baptist in prison? Fear makes us foolish, and foolishness is and always will be the enemy of God's wisdom.

John preaches against Herod's adultery, warning the king again and again that his sin will taint the kingdom. Herod imprisons John, keeping him close, and preventing him from preaching against the king publicly. We can almost hear Herod's internal conflict. God's wisdom and the king's conscience draw Herod to John's preaching. Herod knows that John is right. But power, lust, and misplaced generosity prevent him from choosing wisdom over foolishness. Having consistently chosen to accomplish apparently good ends by evil means, Herod reaches a point where Salome and Herodias tip the scale and the king murders John, becoming, in this deadly choice, a Royal Fool.

Herod's fall into darkness shows us that fools are made not born. In fact, fools are self-made, constructed, if you will, out of pride, and played by men and women who once listened to wisdom. If Herod's power and pride started his decline, then fear accelerated it, and lust and hard-heartedness sealed the deal. Like all of our moral choices, vice is a habit: we choose again and again to call evil Good. Over time, we are no longer capable of recognizing the Good and come to believe that in choosing Evil we are choosing Good. Herod believes that keeping John in prison prevents political unrest – it's all about national security and John's safety. And even though he is distressed by Salome's request for John's head on a platter, Herod justifies the prophet's execution as an act of fidelity to his oath, fearing embarrassment if he breaks it. The king is motivated at every decision-point by vicious habits and these habits take him—step by step—right into moral foolishness. 

Hearing, seeing, and doing God's wisdom are all habits: choices and actions we must take one at a time, step by step. Each decision we make brings us closer to foolishness or closer to wisdom. If living in God's wisdom is your goal, then let your prayer be: “The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom should I fear? The Lord is my life’s refuge; of whom should I be afraid?” Why this prayer? B/c fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.


Follow HancAquam or Subscribe ----->

01 February 2015

Our reason for living

4th Sunday of OT
Fr. Philip N. Powell, OP
Our Lady of the Rosary, NOLA

Paul writes to the always-anxious Corinthians, “Brothers and sisters, I should like you to be free of anxieties.” He would like for them to be released from the slavery of their doubts, the chains of their mistrust, and the need for total control. He would like for them to be able to live in the world and not flail around panicked about what comes next. What’s After This? Where’s the plan? The map? The schedule? Paul would like for his Corinthian brothers and sisters to be rested in the Lord’s promise of mercy, settled into an enduring trust of their Father, and focused on all the things Christ left them to accomplish. Instead, they – like us – spend an inordinate amount of our limited time fretting, scheming, worrying, fidgeting about things and people we cannot possibly influence or control. Let's call this phenomenon, Heliocopter Spirituality – the tendency to hover anxiously over our own lives, stressing about outcomes rather than leaving it all for God to figure out.

What are the Corinthians stressing over? They're distracted by the rigors of family life, worried needlessly by the demands of husbands and wives and children, taken away from the difficult work, the hard labor of preparing for the coming again of the Christ. Paul, and all those Jesus leaves behind, wait for their beloved Master to return to them and take them all away. They are anxious about many things, but most anxious about the apparent delay in his return. Paul’s admonishment to them: don’t become too attached to the workings of this world – the things of this world demand their own kind attention, their own kind of sacrifice. Rather, stay free for Christ, and do what he has asked you to do.

What are you anxious about? What unclean spirits harass you? Do you know the name of the fearfulness that chews away at the strength of your gifts, your trust, your patience? Do you know the name of the spirit that moves you to hide from God, moves you to ignore God, moves you to defy God? You can all say, “Sure, Father, it’s the Devil!” Yes, it is. But more specifically, can you identify, precisely point out the spirit that steals your peace in Christ?

Jesus goes to Capernaum to teach in the synagogue. People are astonished at his teaching, stunned at the authenticity and authority of his message. He speaks the Word; he teaches and preaches a Word of power and might, claiming for himself the authority of his Father and, in doing so, claiming for the Father the lives, the souls of those who hear and heed his Word. Despite the power of his message, it's not the men and women who hear him that feel their world shaking. Notice who grows anxious, notice whose peace is rattled to the core: the unclean spirits!

The men and women who hear Jesus preach are gifted, graced with the boundless love of God. The unclean spirit is fearful. The men and women are astonished, opened, enlightened, touched by glory at the Word proclaimed. The unclean spirit is dreadful, nervous, shaken, and most definitely stirred! The people there leap forward to grab hold of the Word and they hold on to the Word as if it were a hurt child, or a long-lost loved one. They embrace the hope, the expectation of eternal life, the renewal of their lives with the Father, the reconciliation that the God-man, Jesus, makes real. The unclean spirit can only despair and complain. It can only wail louder and gripe, “What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us?” Our Lord was sent. He is sent. And he will be sent again.

Moses spoke to his people and said, “A prophet like me will the Lord, your God, raise for you from among your own kin; to him you shall listen […] I will put my words into his mouth; he shall tell them all that I command him.” Our Lord will send a prophet, a voice to speak His Word to us and we will listen. We heard Elijah, Ezekiel, Jeremiah. We heard Amos and Isaiah. And much more recently, we heard John the Baptizer. We heard the Name he spoke to us, the announcement of the Good News of our Savior’s arrival in the flesh. And then we heard the Christ Himself teach us salvation, preach to us the Way of Life through him. We believed. We heard and we believed.

And yet we are still capable of anxiety. Why? I think we forget Who we are dealing with. I think we trudge along, so habituated to hearing the Bad News, that everything the Good God has done for us is lost in the panicky headlines, the hysterical screaming of one crisis after another. We forget what we have said “Amen” to here. We forget what we have asked for here. We come here to remember. And yet, still we forget.

Here’s a reminder, just a reminder to put a little fear into the spirit of forgetfulness that may be haunting us. This evening, if you participate fully in this Eucharist, you will say “Amen”—“it is so”—to the presence of Christ among us. He IS here. You will thank him for his Word proclaimed and thank him again for his Gospel. You will say amen to his ancient teaching and amen again for taking care of your needs. You will say amen to His blessed Name and amen to his coming Kingdom; amen to His will done in all creation and amen to your need for His daily food; amen to his mercy and yours and amen to his protection from evil. You will say “amen” to offering bread and wine, his body and soul on that altar of sacrifice, to be blessed, transformed and given back to Him. You will say amen to His peace and share it. Amen to the Lamb of God and his sacrifice for us. Amen to his supper. And amen and amen for the Holy One of God who teaches with a new authority, preaches with a new authenticity the Word of Life.

What are you anxious about? What spirits worry you? Remember what you have said amen to here this evening. Remember what you have sacrificed and who you are in Christ. Our Lord wants us free of anxieties. Our Lord wants us free so that we can spread the fame of the Good News to everyone, everywhere. Free of attachments, free of distractions, free of sin and death. . .so that our witness to his Good News is our reason for rising, our reason for living.

Follow HancAquam or Subscribe ----->