“Tongues, As of Fire”?!?
May 31, 2022
This Sunday is Pentecost (from the Greek for fifty). Fifty days after Easter, we celebrate the descent of the Holy Spirit in wider, more manifest fashion (the Holy Spirit had already been given more quietly to the Apostles in Jesus’ appearance to them after the Resurrection, as described in John 20:22). At Pentecost, “the disciples were all together in one place. And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and…divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them.” (Acts 2:1-3). Quite a sight! Quite an experience!
We are each and together invited to receive and experience afresh this Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is to animate our hearts and lives, thus making of us true children of God. By the Holy Spirit, we can cry out to God, “Abba” (Aramaic for “father”, implying both the deepest intimacy and reverent submission).
Let us, with awe and with hope, beseech the Holy Spirit—perhaps making use of a portion of an ancient (4th-century) litany:
Come Holy Spirit
Author of all good
Source of Heavenly water
Spirit of truth
Spirit of wisdom and understanding
Gift of God the Most High
Who fills the universe
Come Holy Spirit
Yours in the Spirit,
May 10, 2022
This past Sunday, we had our “May Crowning.” What is this tradition, you may ask? If you were raised in a different part of the Christian Church, a different “denomination”, or are simply new to Church, this may be rather foreign to you. Placing a garland of flowers on a statue of Mary? Really? “Quaint”, but…? Border-line idolatry? It all depends on whom you believe Jesus wants Mary to be for you.
Mary is Jesus’ mother. The Council of Ephesus, in 431, a mere 50 years after the the early Church discerned which books would comprise the Bible as we know and read it today (the Council of Rome, 382), prayerfully deliberated about Mary. Jesus’ mother but, given the oneness of Jesus’ person, Mary was declared not simply Christotokos, "Christ-bearer" but Theotokos, "God-bearer": “Mother of God.”
Now, at the Cross, Jesus gives Mary to John, “Behold your mother.” (John 19:27). This extends to us. Mary, “Mother of God”, is also our spiritual mother. She is given care of our souls, of our faith journey. And interestingly, Jesus speaks in terms of a command, not an a la carte option. “Take her.”
Over the centuries, as the relationship of Christians with Mary has deepened, the Church has better understood her and her role in our lives. One of her titles is “queen”, used in the Roman Catholic and Easter Orthodox Churches, and some Episcopal and Lutheran congregations. We find this title in the writings of early third and fourth century Church Fathers (Origen, Jerome, Peter Chrysologus...). The title stayed. At ASA, we sing the “Salve Regina” at the end of Compline, a hymn composed in the eleventh century. You will also notice a large sign in our Lady Chapel, high above its altar, “Regina Caeli”, Queen of Heaven.
The month of May is the traditional time for the simple ritual of crowning, to express honor and gratitude, an opportunity, for each of us, to welcome anew our spiritual mother and queen.
If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to reach out to me.
Yours in Jesus and Mary,