Jesus Food & North Ave. Food

(the references are local to Wauwatosa, WI. You can think of your own in your neighborhood.)

I dare you to stroll the aisles of Metcalf or Pick ’N Save on State Street and imagine yourself a third-world person with meager means and be captured in pure awe by the abundance of its plentiful bounty. I’ve done it many times, and it is mind-boggling.

A choice of two of any selection would be sufficient to make a purchase. But we need to have rows upon rows of deodorants, spices, sauces, and meats that cap our attention or tease us…no, lure us. As you well know, the “top shelf” means that that the manufacturer paid more to reside there. I always shop lower shelves.

Food. Nourishment. Some of us live to eat, but I eat to live. It’s that simple for me. Is that simple when it comes to national and international news? How much do you need to ingest to properly digest? If you solely watch Fox News, I feel sorry for you, but I warn MSNBC watchers only to take snippets of theirs as well.

My eldest sister has a strong Hispanic background and told me to ignore BelAir restaurant. It was a pet shop for weird creatures. I often wonder how they got rid of the smell. She said, “It’s not authentic.”

Jesus tells us that he’s the only food that we need to fill our soulful tummies. His is the food from heaven. We know how its ingested but how it is digested throughout our lives? Just this tiny host I and others will hand you shortly. What about the food that’s served and eaten in our everyday lives – in our conversations, commitments, and relationships?

I ate for the first time at Sandra’s On the Park on Forest Home Ave. Wonderful food with an outdoor patio overlooking woods. My friend and I had an enjoyable conversation about everything and about nothing. Dionne Warwick sang, “That’s What Friends Are For.” Isn’t that Jesus food?

What do we invest in our diets to see us through a productive life, not only for ourselves but for those who cannot afford to stroll those grocery aisles on State Street?

Dairy Queen once was Burger King on North Avenue, Il Mito is doing well if you have the cash. I ate at Walter’s once thirty-eight years ago, and it’s still there, doing well without me.

Elijah was fed well. The angel says, “’Get up and eat, else the journey will be too long for you!’ He got up, ate, and drank; then strengthened by that food, he walked forty days and forty nights to the mountain of God, Horeb.” I don’t know what a “broom tree” is and I wonder if Bonzels sells hearth cakes. Elijah successfully completed his mission in the name of the Lord.

When I approached my religious order (the Salvatorians) about buying a house in this neighborhood, our finance guy said, “Isn’t that near Jakes?” I said, “Yes.” He said, “Buy the house.” Jakes (great prime rib) closes, Juniper 61 opens (very nice restaurant) and now it’s closing to make way for the Eastside Pizza Man version, I’m told.

Fleeting food or food that lasts forever? Ventura lasted but not long enough, and it’s now some bowling-theme place that sells food as I drive past it. Across the street is a remote, cute restaurant next to a tax store. You’d miss it if you weren’t looking. I think they need a new marketing director.

Jesus warns us, “Your ancestors ate the manna in the desert, but they died;…I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever…”

O’Gorman car repair sign says, “The Bible is our Owner’s Manual.” What that has to do with car repairs escapes me. Is that the food I want for my car? What, I need more Jesus in my brakes?

Mekong Delta replaced Larry & Ed’s Steak House on 60th and North. Larry & Ed’s was a true “supper club,” a concept that seems to be slipping away. With Mekong Delta and the Vietnamese restaurant, you’d never know we once hated each other.

“Whoever eats this bread will live forever.” Jesus is the bread of joy for those who sorrow, he is confidence for all our doubts (without erasing those doubts), Jesus is the surprise for that “surprise party,” and he surprises us along the way with that rascal friend of his, the Holy Spirit who will surprise you even more; more than all the twists and turns of a Bruce Willis action movie.

Try being that third-world person wearing third-world glasses as you roam aisle after aisle staring at food that you really don’t need along with nourishing food for a healthy life. “Twinkie or carrots, carrots or Twinkies?” Uncover what feeds you. What religious food groups may be missing from your diets? What spiritual food groups do you need? If you’re watching or reading the news to be entertained, then you’re a Twinkie. If you’re watching or reading news with the food from Jesus; now you’re in the produce department – carrots with keen, alert eyes along with healthy Christ-like attitudes.

If you don’t mind a short trip, there’s Copper Dock and sitting outside eating a juicy New York Steak and gazing as Frees Lake with a wonderful salad bar. There once was Fox & Hounds, another lost supper club concept but now it’s for motorcycles groupies.

With the Internet and the all noisy news, we hear and read … please remember that you can only be and share with others, what’s been witnessed and shared with you. You can only digest what you’ve ingested.

Should I give Walter’s one more try?

(the references are local to Wauwatosa, WI. You can think of your own in your neighborhood.)

All books are available on Amazon.com                                                

                                                “Letters From My Cats,”
a collection of humorous and reflective letters written by my cats over twenty years
                                                          “Soulful Muse,”

inspirational reflections on the Catholic Church and U.S. culture
                                                  Living Faith’s Mysteries,”
inspirational reflections on the Christian seasons of Advent/Christmas & Lent/Easter – a great seasonal gift
                                        “Spiritual Wonderings and Wanderings,”
inspirational reflections on the Catholic Church and U.S. culture

                         “Bowling Through Life’s Stages with a Christian perspective,”
Bowling as a metaphor for religion and growing up

 

Posted in Spirituality | Leave a comment

Scary Prefaces

“Truth be told…”
Pilate asked that question and didn’t receive an answer from the Son of God, so why should I listen to your truth.

“To tell you the truth…”
Means that most of what you said before were all lies. Now, the truth comes out!?

picture-of-two-people-talking-24

“If I were you…”
Then you would be one lucky person but instead you remain, you.

“When I was your age…”
If you begin with 1940, I’m outta here!

“Be that as it may…”
Five words that give you time to think of a response

“But, you see, the thing of it is…”
Eight words giving you even more time to think of a response

“Do you hear what I’m saying?”
I’m standing in front of you. I believe it’s a safe assumption that “Yes…”

“If I were in your shoes…”
(see number three above)

“Back in my day…”
I know, you had to roll down your car windows. I got it. Move on.

“To be honest with you…”
From now on, please begin all your sentences with that preface so I know whether to listen or not.

“Long or short?”
I have a Masters Degree, try the long please.

“I read today…”
Please state the publication before you utter another word.

“So, what you’re saying is…”
I believe I just told you. Shall we try Charades?

 

                                                  “Letters From My Cats,”
A collection of humorous and reflective letters written by my cats over twenty years
                                                          “Soulful Muse,”

Inspirational reflections on the Catholic Church and U.S. culture
                                                  “Living Faith’s Mysteries,”
Inspirational reflections on the Christian seasons of
Advent/Christmas & Lent/Easter – a great seasonal gift
                                        “Spiritual Wonderings and Wanderings,”
Inspirational reflections on the Catholic Church and U.S. culture

                         “Bowling Through Life’s Stages with a Christian perspective,”
Bowling as a metaphor for religion and growing up

Posted in Spirituality | 1 Comment

Well-Traveled Christians

ive-been-a-puppet-a-pauper-a-pirate-a-poet-a-pawn-and-a-king-ive-“Oh, I’m only a layperson,” we said about ourselves before Vatican II. That’s the priest’s job, “He’s smart. He has all the answers.”

Vatican II came along and invited…no, empowered all of you to recognize your gifts and talents and use them for the benefit of the Church, your family, your careers and in your personal lives. In other words, take me down a few notches and lift yourselves up several notches and we have what Vatican II called the “Mystical Body of Christ.”

Many of you may have taken more classes in Theology and Scripture study than I needed to do. Yet, I get that awesome title and you’ve received this rewarding and life-giving knowledge. Equal playing field? You bet.

I defer to that great philosopher of American musical standards, Frank Sinatra. He sang for us, “I’ve been a puppet, a pauper, a pirate, a poet, a pawn and a king.” (Too bad the lyricist couldn’t have thought of a sixth word beginning with the letter “p.” Frank would sing, “My, my.”

We have all lived those roles. Unfortunately, we may have stayed in one character a little longer than necessary.

I’m about to do all six in sixty seconds. This won’t take long, so don’t worry. If any of us have failed at any of the six then we just go back to Frank singing for us, “I’ve been up and down and over and out and I know one thing, each time I find myself flat on my face, I pick myself up and get back in the race…”

The puppet is mimicking our parents – the little girl wears mom’s big high heel shoes to see how they fit and he pretends to smoke a cigar like his dad. How does it feel until those parental strings are released? Doesn’t Jesus ask us to mimic him in sending us out into the world…every day?

The pauper role is when you’re stuck eating mac/cheese for weeks until your first job interview or promotion occurs. You trust the m/c will keep you alive as much as you hope your imagination holds firmly to your dreams. “In our weakness is strength,” says St. Paul again and again.

A pirate. Interesting. A pirate steals and claims it as his own as each of our gifts has been used and reused by others, but we slowly make it ours. Wasn’t salvation stolen for us by the crucifixion of Jesus? Scripture calls it “ransom,” but it amounts to the same thing.

All those characters became ours as we now become poets. Each of us with our own unique contributions, our personal twists on life’s twists, our revelations that someone else may not have considered. That’s a poet’s job.

But we don’t stop there, there’s still a “p” and a “k” ahead of us. The pawn should have been sung after puppet because being a pawn is a sacrifice. (Ask any parent or adult child who’s caring for a parent.) A sacrifice for a needy child when you wanted to play poker. The sacrifice of waiting up until 1:00 a.m. until you knew your daughter’s safely back home after missing her 10:00 p.m. curfew.

The last of Frank’s list is king, but it should’ve been “prince” to complete the six words beginning with the letter “p.” King is the satisfaction and governing over our well-lived lives. Bumps still bump, but now there’s a firm foundation helping us through life’s aging bumps because of those preceding and developed “p’s.”

Lay people? Priests, sisters or brothers? We’re all in the same boat called Jesus; with him at the helm and the Spirit at his back along with His Father smiling through the clouds.

We all did it. We’ve all completed all six in our six or more decades of life. Frank concludes the song as I end my little ditty, “My, my.”

                                                     “Letters From My Cats,”
a collection of humorous and reflective letters written by my cats over twenty years
                                                          “Soulful Muse,”

inspirational reflections on the Catholic Church and U.S. culture
                                                  Living Faith’s Mysteries,”
inspirational reflections on the Christian seasons of
Advent/Christmas & Lent/Easter – a great seasonal gift
                                        “Spiritual Wonderings and Wanderings,”
inspirational reflections on the Catholic Church and U.S. culture

                         “Bowling Through Life’s Stages with a Christian perspective,”
Bowling as a metaphor for religion and growing up

Posted in Spirituality | Leave a comment

Nothing Is Something More

empty-box“Take nothing with you,” says Jesus as his apostles exit for their road trips. “Nothing.” When we have so much, how can “nothing” have a religious definition for us?

There are more self-storage facilities all over the city holding things that people once needed and think they will need again in the sometime-future but just not today. I passed a large rummage sale on someone’s front lawn and wondered, “When they wanted and used all that stuff, where was it all kept?”

But Jesus says, “To take nothing for the journey but a walking stick—no food, no sack, no money in their belts. They were, however, to wear sandals (stone roads, and all) but not a second tunic” (a tunic for the men, a housecoat for the women).

Jesus says, “Nothing.” Not a thing. Was he talking about stuff or is he referring to the stuff of our lives, usually stuffed with nothing more than ourselves. (I live alone but have three TV’s! Weird!)

When I listen to confessions, I deliberately empty my mind of anything except the absolution that I’m gifted to offer. When I anoint someone, it’s God’s grace that is prayed for; not what I wonderful priest I am.

I don’t know if you know this but if you do all the talking, you’re not learning anything? It’s true. Study after study has proven that statement. That’s not true because there needs to be no study. It’s called common sense. A major study conducted by the PEW foundation discovered that “You’re not as interesting as you think you are.” That’s not true either, but you get the point. When you’re full of yourself and all your wonderful words and stories, then there is barely enough room for someone else in your life. We even have an expression for it, “He’s ‘full of himself.’” Bloated. Don’t you want to take a pin and watch all the air escape that person?

When you experience “nothing,” then there’s room for all kinds of people, ideas, and opinions to fill yourself – mixed together with your own experiences. Isn’t that what communion is? Community? Before receiving the Body of Christ, we say, “Lord, I am nothing without your grace.” “Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my self-storage of successes, regrets, doubts, and wonderings. Only say the word, and my soul will find nothing other than Your love.”

So the next time you’re with friends, “Shut up” and see what happens. No, hear what happens. The next time a good story is told to you, and you attempt to tell a better story, “Shut up.” Let your friend have the moment. It may have nothing to do with evangelization, but it’s a healthy healing for both of you; making you nothing and making your friend a valued person.

Books by Fr. Joe Jagodensky, SDS.
All available in paperback or Kindle on Amazon.com

                                                     “Letters From My Cats,”
a collection of humorous and reflective letters written by my cats over twenty years
“Soulful Muse,”

inspirational reflections on the Catholic Church and U.S. culture
                                                  “Living Faith’s Mysteries,”
inspirational reflections on the Christian seasons of
Advent/Christmas & Lent/Easter – a great seasonal gift
                                        “Spiritual Wonderings and Wanderings,”
inspirational reflections on the Catholic Church and U.S. culture

                         “Bowling Through Life’s Stages with a Christian perspective,”
Bowling as a metaphor for religion and growing up

Posted in Spirituality | Leave a comment

“In Weakness, Strength”

Archbishop Weakland wrote his biography about his vast, well-traveled life, (he circled the globe ten times as head of the Benedictine Order). A graduate of both Julliard Music in piano and Columbia University in music. Our Milwaukee Archbishop for over twenty years, he writes a comprehensive pastoral letter on behalf of the U.S. bishops on the economy and assisting in a pastoral letter on War and Peace. With all his accomplishments, accolades and honorary degrees, the book begins…the book begins with … his fall from grace.

He begins his memoir with what most people would have either entirely left out or briefly mention at the end. St. Paul says there’s a thorn in his flesh keeping him from being too elated. We Wisconsinites know that very well. A friend says, “It’s a beautiful day today.” Her friend responds, “Yeah, but it’s supposed to rain tomorrow.” A thorn tossed back when a rose was offered. Paul also says, “I will rather boast most gladly of my weaknesses in order that the power of Christ may dwell with me.”

We only have one body. Is there enough room in your body for both your and Christ? How much room does Christ take up in our bodies? Is he just in our feet when the weekend comes along to come to church or is Christ in our eyes, ears, nose, and throat every day and in every situation in our lives? (ENT for those older folks, they know those letters very well!)

Paul concludes, “Therefore, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, and constraints for the sake of Christ; for when I am weak, then I am strong.”

So where are we in my little afternoon sermon? Strength/Weakness, Power/Submission.

I recall a funeral years ago, and the funeral director handed out roses to everyone in the family. I thought it was a nice touch. But then I saw it! The roses had all the thorns removed. Smooth roses were given to those grieving relatives. Scared of a little prick? The rose is the perfect representation for this weekend because it beautifully contains the rose’s beauty and a stem full of prickly thorns. Isn’t that how your day begins each day? You say to yourself, “I’m all set for this bright new day.” (Rose) “That is, once I crack my back.” (Thorn) “I’m giving my son granola and fruit before going to school this morning.” (Rose) “I hate this stuff Mom, where’s the donuts?” (Thorn)

How much room does Christ really need in our bodies? How much space does he need while giving us enough space?

There’s a ridiculous dichotomy that we make in our society. It’s so often “either/or.” Either you’re a Catholic, or you’re not. Either you’re pro-life or pro-abortion. I think there’s an in-between space. It’s that space where I think Christ lives. St. Paul also says, that Christ’s “grace is sufficient…for when I am weak, then I am strong.” We are all strengthened when Christ is in the middle; in the middle of any disagreement whether in marriage or busyily buzzing around privately in our minds.

“He’s ‘full of himself,’” we say of a self-bloated person. There’s no room for Christ when you’re bloated.

Weakland was bloated when he agreed to give money to a man; money that Weakland didn’t have. It was embarrassing for the Milwaukee Catholic Church and for him. Months later, he preempts the 6:00 news. What individual in Milwaukee has ever preempted the 6:00 news? (Rose) Through Evening Vespers, he apologizes and humbly asks for a prayer of forgiveness. (Thorn) He wrote of the televised event in his book, “I was about to face the faithful of the Catholic Church of Milwaukee to make a necessary public apology, impelled by my concept of church as community of loving, sustaining, forgiving believers. I went over and over in my mind every word of what I planned to say, wanting to take full responsibility for my actions and not blaming others. This penitential ceremony would give me an opportunity to apologize and to seek not so much God’s forgiveness, having done so long before, but that of the community.”

“Pilgrim in a Pilgrim Church” is the name of his book. A pilgrim. I love that word because it means movement, a constant movement always looking for a place, a space within our lives for Christ to reside, guide and inform us. Weakland found Christ’s space in his own life by beginning to tell us about his enriching, wonderful, full life (Rose) with his weakest and the most vulnerable episode of his life (Thorn).

Can we do any less with the Christ who wants a place to live within us?

Books by Fr. Joe Jagodensky, SDS.
All available in paperback or Kindle on Amazon.com

                                                     “Letters From My Cats,”
a collection of humorous and reflective letters written by my cats over twenty years
“Soulful Muse,”

inspirational reflections on the Catholic Church and U.S. culture
                                                  “Living Faith’s Mysteries,”
inspirational reflections on the Christian seasons of
Advent/Christmas & Lent/Easter – a great seasonal gift
                                        “Spiritual Wonderings and Wanderings,”
inspirational reflections on the Catholic Church and U.S. culture

                         “Bowling Through Life’s Stages with a Christian perspective,”
Bowling as a metaphor for religion and growing up

Posted in Spirituality | 2 Comments

172,800 Seconds

He thinks he stopped breathing when he heard he had forty-eight hours of them left. He felt fine except for some discomfort prompting his doctor visit. Tests are taken, results returned and he hears that only two of them are left for him. In seconds, it’s 172,800, in his mind they have already passed.

gty_clock_midnight_seconds_rf_jc_150519_16x9_992He’s in his early fifties, recently retired, married, luckily no children to grieve him in seventy-two hours. Funeral plans? Leave that to the misses. A Will? Didn’t consider it until life’s window now has no opportunity.

It’s like the high school retreat before receiving Confirmation when the question of “forty-eight” is raised, and each candidate gets to share their remainings before the so-mores are treated at the camp fire. Knowing full well that death at 16 is a rare event, the answers vary from ridiculous to sincere. He says, “Hiking Mount Everest,” which is laughed over until she shares that she’d write a letter to her grandmother who passed away just a year ago.

Does he not return the books to the library? (Bad joke.) Does he visit his favorite restaurant and enjoy a 20 oz. steak and leave a big tip? Does he buy his first Bible looking for a soothing verse? Her mind is silently racing because the “forty-eight” is entirely his now. Call a few friends or let them read about it in the newspaper in seventy-two?

The doctor was entirely correct for a change. It was “forty-eight,” give or take a minute. He was notified. He heard the diagnosis even it took away many, remaining seconds of his 172,800. With 172, 730 remaining, his life is weighed and summarized by whatever thoughts and actions he chose. It wasn’t a quick car accident or a lengthy hospice stay. It wasn’t in his 80’s sitting in a rocker reading his favorite book a third time, and his head falls or slumberingly meeting God.

It was merely and only two days. It’s two days when we tell friends we’d be happy to meet them for a drink and meal. It’s two days until the term paper is due, “Plenty of time!” It’s two days from the next golf game which he loved and probably had scheduled. “Scheduled.” What a peculiar word to use when two days is bluntly told to you by your trusted physician.

She has her own feelings during those two-waiting days. “These are his remaining days,” she keeps telling herself while considering the day after that.

I met him through a mutual friend several times at parties. He was fun to talk to, engaging and seemed at ease with himself. I don’t know how he spent his 172,800, but I will always remember him for having only two of them left when I think that mine of them are endless.

Books by Fr. Joe Jagodensky, SDS.
All available in paperback or Kindle on Amazon.com

                                                     “Letters From My Cats,”
a collection of humorous and reflective letters written by my cats over twenty years
                                                           “Soulful Muse,”
inspirational reflections on the Catholic Church and U.S. culture
                                                  “Living Faith’s Mysteries,”
inspirational reflections on the Christian seasons of
Advent/Christmas & Lent/Easter – a great seasonal gift
                                        “Spiritual Wonderings and Wanderings,”
inspirational reflections on the Catholic Church and U.S. culture

                         “Bowling Through Life’s Stages with a Christian perspective,”
Bowling as a metaphor for religion and growing up

Posted in Spirituality | Leave a comment

The Blessed Mother’s “Itch”

itching1The Blessed Mother and the 8th grade class of 2018 have something in common. Both have said, “Yes” to an unknown. And that is a wonderful experience. Saying “Yes,” in faith as Mary did and your “Yes” to living your faith, soon to be tested in high school and throughout your lives.

Your “Yes” is telling God that you recognize your talents and abilities. The Church calls them a “gift.” But I’m not sure about that.

I think a better word for uncovering, discovering and using our talents and abilities is an..is an…it’s an itch. My leg itches, my mouth has an itch, my head suddenly needs to be scratched. Look! My hand now has an itch!

In the Western movies, the outlaw stands in the street facing the sheriff and says, “I’m itching for a fight.” There’s an old rock song called, “Love Is Like An Itching In My Heart.” (“The Supremes”)

Abilities and talents – God given and God blessed every step of the way when they are authentic and benefit humanity.

My itching leg? Could I become an athlete? A Phy Ed coach?
My itching head? Could I become a philosopher? A writer? Someone itching to do Math?
My itching hand? I could become a wielder or an engineer or a doctor/nurse – a pianist?
My itching mouth? Could I become a public speaker – even with a sometimes stuttering problem? Could I teach as good as the teachers have taught you, some of you for a full eight years.

What do you do with an itch? Why, you scratch it and see what happens. If it doesn’t itch anymore than you know you answer. If it continues to itch – you knows there’s a “Yes” from God wanting for a response, a commitment, a promise, a dedication. To the eighth graders and to all of you who will one day be in eighth grade – just like the Blessed Mother – we say “Yes” when God comes itching into your hearts and souls.

I guess the Church was right after all. Our talents and abilities are gifts – given to us by God, to be used in God’s name. But I’m also right. Those gifts live within with an itching to be unwrapped, to the glory and honor of God.

May God bless you soon-to-be graduates of Christ King parish. Itch away.

Books by Fr. Joe Jagodensky, SDS.
All available in paperback or Kindle on Amazon.com

                                                     “Letters From My Cats,”
a collection of humorous and reflective letters written by my cats over twenty years
                                                           “Soulful Muse,”
inspirational reflections on the Catholic Church and U.S. culture
                                                  “Living Faith’s Mysteries,”
inspirational reflections on the Christian seasons of
Advent/Christmas & Lent/Easter – a great seasonal gift
                                        “Spiritual Wonderings and Wanderings,”
inspirational reflections on the Catholic Church and U.S. culture

                         “Bowling Through Life’s Stages with a Christian perspective,”
Bowling as a metaphor for religion and growing up

Posted in Blessed Virgin Mary, Spirituality | Leave a comment

One Funeral for A Married Couple

(Unusual as it is, Jean was in hospice but Bob got sick and died. Jean passed away shortly after. One sermon for two people.)

2332952_l“Since he was the only man in Beauty Salon school he decided to date each student alphabetically. He stopped at “D.” That’s a union made in heaven for over sixty years.

Our thoughts and prayers today truly lead us to this unusual occasion. Is it a picture of true devotional love or just a weird coincidence? Or is it both. If you saw a movie end this way you’d say to yourself, “Ya, right” and wash the popcorn bowl.

I had a funeral for gentleman at 106 years old. It was the talk of the week from vigil through the lunch. In my sermon I said don’t let his age define him. He was a whole person and that needs to be honored. I thought of saying that to you today.

But then I decided I was wrong. Their side by side deaths is a story to be retold at cocktail parties, family gatherings and remembered by us all because it was their end.

Endings. We hate them after watching a great movie and love them when the boring meeting is over. I have a friend who reads the final chapter of a book first. A mystery novel? Who does that? He says it helps him appreciate the rest of the book knowing how it’s going to end. Go figure.

Go figure? Isn’t that the story of our faith? Isn’t that how Bible stories are remembered in order to be lived? We start with the end and work our way back through all that precedes it. The proof is today’s gospel. (And I wrote this before I knew what the gospel was going to be! Great minds?)

We start with the resurrection and slowly begin to understand what Christmas means. We start with Christ’s death to know what a meaningful life leading up to it means and looks like for us. At Baptism, the end is mentioned a lot. Death to sin and rising to new life. A white garment to be faithfully carried throughout your life until … yes, death. At today’s ending, we recall those baptismal promises with a white garment draped over death and sprinkled with living water. The candle their godparents held many years ago is now exchanged with the pascal candle, the risen Christ.

We start with the end and work our way back. Isn’t that what those doubtful apostles did? After the resurrection, they finally begin to say to each other, “Oh, that’s what he meant when he said this or that or told us that parable or healed that guy or gal in all those towns. Now it all makes sense.”

Those who knew Bob and Jean can now work your way back in remembering and appreciating their relationship, their commitment, their family and friends, what they thought was important to preserve and what they discarded because it had no value for them. I’m not talking about physical stuff but I’m talking about the stuff of life. Attitudes, values, beliefs – any sayings, slogans or stories they may have tossed around hoping it would land in a young child’s lap and heart. Any good deed or sacrifice they made knowing they had a context, an anchor in their in which to do it: their mutual love for each other.

At a funeral last Saturday the son said in his eulogy, “We’re are now parentless.” I thought to myself, “They ain’t dead, they’re just not here anymore. Their loving commitment can create chapters and chapters for each of our lives to recount and remember as we continue to live faithful lives.

So, go ahead and remember this ending day for Jean and Bob. For all of our personal commitments and promises – may we be faithful to the end. The end. Or, is it?”

Books by Fr. Joe Jagodensky, SDS.
All available in paperback or Kindle on Amazon.com

                                                     “Letters From My Cats,”
a collection of humorous and reflective letters written by my cats over twenty years
                                                           “Soulful Muse,”
inspirational reflections on the Catholic Church and U.S. culture
                                                  “Living Faith’s Mysteries,”
inspirational reflections on the Christian seasons of
Advent/Christmas & Lent/Easter – a great seasonal gift
                                        “Spiritual Wonderings and Wanderings,”
inspirational reflections on the Catholic Church and U.S. culture

                         “Bowling Through Life’s Stages with a Christian perspective,”
Bowling as a metaphor for religion and growing up

Posted in Spirituality | Leave a comment

The Gospel According to Apple

A reading from the Holy Gospel that Saints Mark, Matthew, Luke or John should have written.

Logo Apple Generasi Kedua

Thousands of people and their friends began a journey through their respective cities but did not wish anyone to know about it for fear of being last or worse, left out.

They were talking to each other with a growing excitement and anticipation of something great that was about to occur. How could they not contain themselves? It was too much for them, but they faithfully continued their pilgrimage toward their destinations.

Locally, they traveled down North Avenue driving much too fast on our small Wauwatosa street while never stopping at the crosswalks to allow pedestrians to cross safely. (And if anyone were to stop at the crosswalk they’d get reared ended.) Arriving at Swan Blvd. it was suggested that they stop for coffee, sit outside and visit on this crisp fall day. It was decided that there was no time for such foolishness. The mission was too critical to leave to whimsical conversation gossiping about each other.

Still, other journeyers traveled the Silver Spring Drive route toward their “one bite” divine destination. Several travelers needed shoes (we always seem to need new shoes), but again the group decided that it was too risky and too much delaying would put them at the end of the line. An unAmerican position if there ever was one.

Several in the groups began to boldly state that any delays would allow others to possess first what they themselves wanted but presently did not have. Few understood what that last statement meant, but they were afraid to question the speakers because they wanted to be included, accepted and not thought of as “different,” or “outsiders.” God forbid to be left out, ignored or not the first in all things. (Please recall the previous unAmerican wish.) The mission must continue.

They arrived at the Promised Land (aka Mayfair Mall or Bayshore Mall). Along the way, they had been discussing what features were most important to them. Their knowledge of the silliest of things was astounding to those listening. Concepts like “4G,” “LTE,” “Siri” “A6 Chip,” and “iOS6.” If those known details of insignificant apps and add-ons were applied to other areas of creative learning and formidable attitudes, it certainly could change this world for a better one. Instead, all thoughts are focused on this little shiny black or white item that was available for the first time in all parts of the world on this Friday. (And that’s another problem. The world. Other parts of the world receive their shiny object before Americans did. Damn time zones!)

One speaker in the Mayfair Mall line sat down and called a few of the misguided toward himself and began to say to them, “Do you have presently possess a totally working, efficient and manageable telephone? Is there any possible, imaginable, humanly plausible reason for you to replace this perfectly working and efficient telephone with a new one? Is the $200.00 or $400.00 or $600.00 you are about to spend the wisest move in your creepy little lives? When you go home and open your hard-to-open little white box and hold it for the first time, what will your thoughts be? I now have to get rid of the perfectly working and efficient telephone that I’ve now replaced with this semi-improved and similar in most respects telephone? And in thirty days I will have a bill to pay with money I thought I didn’t have or was happy to have and saved and is now spent on a comparable object that replaces a perfectly working and efficient telephone?”

The 4-6 hours that you wait and wait and wait in line, your presently perfectly working and efficient telephone rings, so you make and receive several calls. You also check the weekend weather, your emails and surf the latest news from around the world. All the while you cannot wait long enough to replace this perfectly working and efficient telephone with this quasi-new one. This equivalent to the old new marks you as the first (or one millionth first!) and you now have this approximate, semi-improved shiny object for what length of time? That’s right, until a higher number or letter replaces it. Boy, doesn’t this purchase make you the greatest (illusion) and smartest (questionable), brilliant (only if you own Apple stock), gullible (now you’re talking) person in the world or what?

The Gospel of the Lord.

Books by Fr. Joe Jagodensky, SDS.

All available in paperback or Kindle on Amazon.com

                                                     “Letters From My Cats,”
a collection of humorous and reflective letters written by my cats over twenty years
                                                           “Soulful Muse,”
inspirational reflections on the Catholic Church and U.S. culture
                                                “Living Faith’s Mysteries,”
inspirational reflections on the Christian seasons of
Advent/Christmas & Lent/Easter – a great seasonal gift
                                        “Spiritual Wonderings and Wanderings,”
inspirational reflections on the Catholic Church and U.S. culture

                         “Bowling Through Life’s Stages with a Christian perspective,”
Bowling as a metaphor for religion and growing up

Posted in Spirituality | Leave a comment

Your Personal Beanstalk

jack-and-beanstalkThe Bible today tells us about a cedar tree, I couldn’t point one out to you if it were standing in front of me. Sorry, prophet Ezekiel. And, my apologies to Jesus. I’ve never planted a seed in my life much less a mustard seed. But Jesus spoke to his audience uses images they’d recognize, so I’ll speak to you the same today. (But, Lord, they’re still good scripture readings!)

We would all agree that life is complicated; sometimes self-imposed, other times from other people or forces beyond ourselves. Much of life’s complication is our lack of preserving the three most important elements in our lives. We need to be reminded of them, to clutch onto and value them. Our scripture readings today all talk about transformation, growth, and deepening what’s important in your life.

Spirituality is completely and always about those things. So, am I talking about spiritual elements just because I’m a priest? These three are indeed spiritual. They are the beans, the golden egg, and the harp. That’s right. “Jack and the Beanstalk” is a biblical story not found in the Bible. This age-old fable becomes the fiber and muscle of our endeavors and of our lives.

It is believing in the power of transformation that takes on a new shape and a sturdy form in our lives. And then, by believing and accepting that, we find that these three wishes do come true.

The Magic Bean:  We can only trade in life what we have to trade; in other words, you need to have something before you can give or trade it away. If you have nothing to trade then you must rob or take from others. The magic beans are given to Jack to build his life. From those magic beans comes a beanstalk that is as high as the sky  (“The sky’s the limit!”).

It’s tempting to rely solely on the Catholic Church’s “beanstalk” to become own personal beanstalk. It doesn’t work that way. An institution cannot replace an individual’s personal homework.

It is only authentic if you find and claim it for yourself. You cannot climb someone else’s beanstalk. (Bishop/Church, Priest/Church, husband/wife, son-daughter/parent). You can only create and climb your own beanstalk. To rely on another’s beanstalk is to not take responsibility for our lives. We always have someone or something else to blame. It’s too easy, it doesn’t work, and it slowly erodes your own personhood. The personhood God created you to form and transform your entire lives.

The magic beans create a stalk for us. But beware. Bear in mind that throughout our lives there will always be those people who want to cut down our stalk, or reshape it into an image similar to their own, or just simply ignore it, as though our personal stalk doesn’t matter. But it is our stalk created from our magic beans that created it, and it is ours to value, cherish and possess for a lifetime. From this stalk and because of this stalk, we’re able to grasp and achieve the other two wishes.

The Harp: It represents the creative and energetic powers within us. If anyone dwindles them, then a slow death or depression occurs. We simply cannot live without that energy that propels us out of bed in the morning and throughout our day and into our relationships. It is the harp that is full of its music that harmonizes us to each other. It is our personal gifts that represent our uniqueness and personhood in this world.

The Golden Egg: It represents the context from which our life is lived; marriage, priesthood, city employee, teacher, whatever place we allow ourselves to be placed.
It’s interesting to note that the harp and egg are both stolen in our biblical fable. They are not freely distributed, they are not handed to you on a platter or inside a cereal box, (and no government can give you what you don’t already possess), they are not provided in life’s scheme, they are not a given.

By being stolen, we are choosing them for ourselves and then making them our own. We are claiming that they rightfully belong to us and we transform them to be an integral part of our lives. (Wasn’t “salvation” stolen for us by the sacrifice of Jesus?)

From these gifts, we carve out our position and hold that position in life, our whole lives.  Interestingly, do you remember how the magic beans are obtained?  From the cow that was sold. The cow that gives milk (mother! anyone?). We need to sell our mothers (in other words, become independent) in order to become persons with our own magic powers. We slowly become persons who can contribute and transform ourselves and this world with our magic beans, harps, and eggs.

To all those newly graduated from whatever level of education, please read this non-biblical Biblical story. It’ll see you through what happens in your life. It will see me through my unemployment until I steal life’s next golden egg.

Books by Fr. Joe Jagodensky, SDS.
All available in paperback or Kindle on Amazon.com

                                                     “Letters From My Cats,”
a collection of humorous and reflective letters written by my cats over twenty years
                                                           “Soulful Muse,”
inspirational reflections on the Catholic Church and U.S. culture
                                                  “Living Faith’s Mysteries,”
inspirational reflections on the Christian seasons of
Advent/Christmas & Lent/Easter – a great seasonal gift
                                        “Spiritual Wonderings and Wanderings,”
inspirational reflections on the Catholic Church and U.S. culture

                         “Bowling Through Life’s Stages with a Christian perspective,”
Bowling as a metaphor for religion and growing up

Posted in Jack and the Beanstalk, Spirituality | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment