The Duck Song And Catholic Theology

We at St. Francis Men of Emmaus are expert theologians. Theological conundra (we use big words too!) that stump lesser minds are child’s play for us. With that in mind, we offer you:

THE DUCK SONG

As of this writing, The Duck Song has been viewed more than 100,000,000 times (no typo!). What are the profound theological implications of “The Duck Song?” Does it presage the End of the World? Or merely the End of the World As We Know It (and I feel fine)? What does it say about the Nature of God? Love? Beauty? Truth? The other sublime mysteries of our faith?

Or…. is it a consolation from an infinitely living Father hidden in a cute, catchy tune and a quick laugh to brighten a moment or two? Is it a consolation when we adults show it to our kids and grand kids and their faces break into a smile and they begin laughing in spite of themselves?

Without further ado, here is THE DUCK SONG.

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Five Clicks To Jesus: The Wikipedia Game

The fruit of the fifth Joyful mystery is joy at finding Jesus. This is a whole new way of finding Christ.

Wikipedia articles are chock full of links to other Wikipedia articles. The challenge is to start with a random article and find the Wikipedia article on Jesus in 5 clicks or less. So far I’ve been able to do it each time.

Here are five articles chosen using Wikipedia’s random article feature. The first is very tough, the rest are easier. Can you beat my click count? Enjoy!

Chrysomyinae (5 clicks – very hard).

Bottesford, Leicestershire (3 clicks).

158 Koronis (5 clicks).

Cabañas de Ebro (3 clicks).

Leo T (dwarf galaxy) (4 clicks).

The Road to Emmaus As The First Mass

Msgr. Charles Pope posted this article on the Archdiocese of Washington’s website (http://blog.adw.org/2010/04/mass-on-the-move-the-hidden-mass-on-the-raod-to-emmaus/) and since it’s about the original Men of Emmaus, I thought it might be interesting:

“Today’s (April 7, 2010 – ed) Gospel of the two disciples on the road to Emmaus (Luke 24:13ff) does more than present a resurrection appearance. It also presents the Mass in seminal form as I will show. In doing this Luke and the Holy Spirit teach us that the Mass is the essential and most vivid way that we encounter Christ now. The two disciples also learn this lesson for as soon as they recognize Christ “in the breaking of the bread” he vanishes from their earthly eyes. In effect Christ teaches them they will no longer see him in an earthly  way but now they will see him with the eyes of faith in the Eucharist, the liturgy and, by extension, in all the sacraments.

So for us to who to encounter the risen Lord Jesus, this Gospel teaches us that the Mass is the most perfect way and place we will encounter him. Let’s examine this resurrection appearance and see it for what it is, a Mass.

  1. Gathering Rite – The Curtain rises on this Mass with two disciples having gathered together on a journey: Now that very day two of them were going to a village seven miles from Jerusalem called Emmaus  (Lk 24:13). This is what we do as the preliminary act of every Mass. We who are pilgrims on a journey come together on our journey. It so happens for these two disciples that Jesus joins them: And it happened that while they were conversing and debating, Jesus himself drew near and walked with them (Luke 24:15). The text goes on to inform us that they did not recognize Jesus yet. Now for us who gather at Mass it is essential to acknowledge by faith that when we gather together, the Lord Jesus is with us,  for Scripture says, For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them (Matt 18:20). it is a true fact that for many of us too, Jesus is unrecognized! Yet he is no less among us than he was present to these two disciples who fail to recognize him. Liturgically we acknowledge the presence of the Lord at the beginning of the Mass in two ways. First, as the priest processes down the aisle the congregation sings a hymn of praise. It is not “Fr. Jones” they praise it is Jesus whom “Fr. Jones” represents that they praise. Once at the Chair the celebrant (who is really Christ) says, “The Lord be with you.” And thereby he announces the presence of Christ among us promised by the Scriptures. The Mass has begun, our two disciples are gathered and the Lord is with them. So too for us at every Mass.
  2. Penitential Rite – The two disciples seem troubled and the Lord inquires of them the source of their distress: What are you discussing as you walk along? (Lk 24:17) In effect the Lord invites them to speak with him about what is troubling them. It may also be a gentle rebuke from the Lord that the two of them are walking away from Jerusalem, away from the site of the resurrection. Clearly their sorrow and distress are governing their behavior. Even though they have already heard evidence of his resurrection (cf 24:22-24), they seem hopeless and have turned away from this good news. The text describes them as “downcast” (24:17). Thus the Lord engages them is a kind of gentle penitential rite and  wants to engage them on their negativity. So too for us at Mass. The penitential rite is a moment when the celebrant (who is really Christ) invites us to lay down our burdens and sins before the Lord who alone can heal us. We too often enter the presence of God looking downcast and carrying many burdens and sins. We too like these two disciples may be walking in wrongful directions. And so the Lord says to us, in effect, “What are thinking about and doing as you walk along. Where are you going with your life. And thus again we see in this story about two disciples on the road to Emmaus, the Mass that is so familiar to us.
  3. The Liturgy of the Word – In response to their concerns and struggles the Lord breaks open the Word of God, the Scriptures. The text says: Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them what referred to him in all the scriptures (Luke 24:27). Notice that, not only does the Lord refer to Scripture but he interprets it for them. Hence the Word is not only read, there is also a homily, an explanation and application of the Scripture to the struggles these men have. The homily was a good one too for later, the disciples remark: Were not our hearts burning (within us) while he spoke to us on the way and opened the scriptures to us? (Luke 24:32) And so too for us at Mass. Whatever struggles we may have brought to the Mass, the Lord bids us to listen to his Word as the Scriptures are proclaimed. Then the homilist (who is really Christ) interprets and applies the Word to our life. It is a true fact that the Lord works through a weak human agent (the priest or deacon) but God can write straight with crooked lines and as long as the homilist is orthodox, it is Christ who speaks. Pray for your homilist to be an obedient and useful instrument for Christ at the homily moment. After the homily we usually make prayers and requests of Christ. And so it is that we also see these two disciples request of Christ: Stay with us, for it is nearly evening and the day is almost over. (Luke 24:29) Is this not what we also say in so many words: Stay with us Lord, for it is sometimes dark in our lives and the shadows are growing long. Stay with us Lord and those we love so that we will not be alone in the dark. In our darkest hours, be to us a light O Lord that never fades away. Yes, this whole brief journey of Jesus and the disciples is surely familiar to us who attend the Catholic Mass!
  4. The Liturgy of the Eucharist – Christ does stay with them and then come the lines that no Catholic could miss: And it happened that, while he was with them at table, he took bread, said the blessing, broke it, and gave it to them (Luke 24:30). Yes, the Mass to be sure. Later, the two disciples will refer back to this moment as the breaking of the bread(Luke 24:35), a clear Biblical reference to the Holy Eucharist. The words of Mass come immediately to mind: “While they were at supper He took the bread, and gave you thanks and praise. He broke the bread, gave it to his disciples and said, take this all of you and eat it: this is my Body which will be given up for you.” A fascinating thing happens though: With that their eyes were opened and they recognized him, but he vanished from their sight (Luke 24:31). First note that it is the very act of consecration that opens their eyes. Is this not what Holy Communion is to do for us? Are we not to learn to recognize Christ by the very mysteries we celebrate? The liturgy and the sacraments are not mere rituals, they are encounters with Jesus Christ, and though our repeated celebration of the holy mysteries our eyes are increasingly opened if we are faithful. We learn to see and hear Christ in the liturgy, to experience his ministry to us. The fact that he vanishes from their sight teaches us that he is no longer seen by the eyes of the flesh, but by the eyes of faith and the eyes of the heart. So though he is gone from our earthly, fleshly, carnal sight, he is now to be seen in the Sacrament of the Altar, and experienced in the liturgy and other sacraments. The Mass has reached it’s pinnacle, for these two disciples and for us.
  5. Dismissal Rite– Not able to contain their joy or hide their experience the two disciples run seven miles back to Jerusalem to tell their brethren what had happened and how they encountered Jesus in the breaking of the bread. They want to, have to,  speak of the Christ they have encountered, what he said and what he did. How about us? At the end of every Mass the priest or deacon says “The Mass is ended, go in peace.” This does NOT mean, “OK, we’re done here, go on home and haver nice day.” What it DOES mean is: “Go now into the world and bring the Christ you have received to others. Tell them what you have heard and seen here, what you have experienced. Share the joy and hope that this Liturgy gives with others.” Perhaps you can see the word MISSion in the word disMISSal? You are being commissioned, sent on a mission to announce Christ to others. The Lucan text we are reviewing says of these two disciples: So they set out at once and returned to Jerusalem where they found gathered together the eleven and those with them…..Then the two recounted what had taken place on the way and how he was made known to them in the breaking of the bread (Lk 24:33,35). How about us. Does our Mass finish as well, as enthusiastically?

So there it is, the Mass on the Move. For a Catholic this resurrection account is unmistakably a Mass. True it is in seminal form, but all the elements are there. The teaching is clear, the risen Lord Jesus is now to be found in the Liturgy and the Sacraments. It is for us only to have our eyes opened and to recognize him there.”

photo credits:  Road to Emmaus (top) — http://www.flickr.com/photos/bfish/sets/72157604347560483/; Road to Emmaus set (bottom)– http://www.flickr.com/photos/jiahungli/140699341/.

Miracle at Easter Vigil Mass (re-posted)

From April 3, 2010:

_____________

This is one of the few times in my life that words escape me…I experienced a true miracle tonight at Easter Vigil Mass.  I don’t even know how to describe it … did anyone else experience it.  I am going to stop now and just give thanks. It’s all true. HE IS REAL.

Holy Saturday Meeting

In remembrance of our Lord’s sleep in the tomb and in anticipation of his imminent triumph, we will not have an official meeting.  I will still be there at the regular time.  Depending on the weather, I may pray the Stations of the Cross at the outside stations or pray the Rosary or offer the morning offering of the Divine Office (or, perhaps, the Saturday offering of the Little Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary).  Although it would be nice if others joined me, we will not be having a regular meeting.  See you on April 23rd.

To Love As She Is Loved (Re-Post and Updated)

Early Morning

He sleeps quietly, but her eyes are open.  Laying her head softly on his shoulder, she feels his chest rise and fall and thinks she can hear his heart beating.  She wants to whisper “my husband,” but says “my lord, my baal.” She sighs, thinking ‘if today I can please my baal, maybe today – just for today – my baal will love me.”

The others were not righteous men.  They divorced her publicly, with accusation, taunt, and shame. Each time it was the same: months passed, no child. First came with words – the sarcasm, the ridicule, the hatred.  She tried yet harder; tried desperately. When words were not enough and the shame was too great, the beatings began.  She knew she deserved them and accepted them. She would try harder. Next came the concubine, next the divorce.  Once again, she had failed; she could not give her husband what he wanted.

At first, the contempt stung.  She yearned to cry out, to tell others that she tried, that she wanted to present her husband with a child. But with each divorce, her shame deepened.  She learned how to live with it.  They were, after all, right.

Her baal needed water.  She needed to go and get it; maybe today he will be pleased.  Around noon, she goes to get it.

In the distance, she sees a man at the well, the well given to her people by their father, Jacob. Curious.  Who is this man?  She continued to the well; her baal needed water.

Looking closely at the man, she notices that he is a Jew.  She looks around furtively – fortunately, there were no others. At least he would not speak to her and she would not speak to him – Samaritans did not speak to Jews and Jews did not speak to Samaritans.  She was safe.

“Will you give me a drink?”  Did he really speak to me? What a voice. She had never heard a voice like that. None of her husbands had spoken to her like that. Not even her baal. She noticed her heart beating faster; her cheeks warming; her mouth slightly smiling. NO. NO. NO. She violently told herself that she would not react like that, that she needed to get back to her baal and that he would not be pleased if she tarried. Yet, that voice….

“You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?”  That should do it.  Now, he’ll go away.  He shouldn’t have spoken to me in the first place.  Let me hurry to get the water for my baal.  If I am late, he will be displeased and I so want to please him. She bent to fill her jar.

“If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.” That voice.  Who is this man? No, I don’t know who is asking me for a drink.  But it almost seems that he knows me. . . .no, that’s impossible.  I don’t associate with Jews.  How can this be? Let me be logical, practical with him. Then maybe he will go away, maybe my longing will too.

“Sir, you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water? Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did also his sons and his flocks and herds?”  Take that. Only God is greater than our father Jacob.  As she said this, she looks closely at his face.  There is something about it, about him that she had never run into before.  The voice, the face – he knows me but there is something more…something that she didn’t have the word for.

“Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”  Never be thirsty again? Never come to this well, never lug the heavy jar back to my baal?  What is it that this man is offering? Who is this man and why is my heart beating fast and why am I smiling? Why does he move me? Thank goodness, this man is a stranger and does not know my shame.  ‘Living water’ – whatever that is – is not for me.

“Sir, give me this water so that I won’t get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water.”  There, I said it.  What will he say?

“Go, call your husband and come back.” Oh, no. He knows or does he?   What will he think?  What does he see in me? Why did he ask that?  What now?  Do I lie? No, that is unthinkable, but I can’t tell the truth.  Do I leave?  Do I back away? What do I do?

I have no husband.”  There it’s out. . . please don’t send me away.  I want this water, whatever it is; I know you know what I yearn for. You know that  I’ve secretly yearned for it.  I’ve yearned for it from each of the unrighteous ones, I’ve yearned for it from my baal.  I knew it wasn’t for me, but I could never stop wanting it. Not just shelter, affection, dignity. Something greater than these, but includes them, too.  I know it’s not water, but whatever it is I want it and I want it from this man. But who is this man?

“You are right when you say you have no husband. The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband. What you have just said is quite true.” How does he know? He can’t know.  He’s a stranger.  He’s a Jew.  Yet, he, too knows my shame. He knows. Yet, he isn’t sending me away. All the others do. Most do not let me speak or turn their heads without hearing. Yet, if he said I could stay, I wouldn’t know what to do.  I’d be lost, I’d be frightened.  What is going on – I’m confused.  I must take my time; I will be here tomorrow, but this man may not.

He is still speaking to me. He is telling me about my whole life.  All the good, all the shame.  Everything. He knows how I hoped for a child and the sorrow I felt each time a child did not come and what’s more, in some way I think he felt it too.  He knows the deepest longings – the longings of which I have told no one and is telling me that his ‘living water’ is the only way that will fulfill those longings. He tells me of things I have done – things that pleased him in some way.  But how can he know? I don’t know, but I know that he does. This man is a true prophet.

“Sir, I can see that you are a prophet. Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, but you Jews claim that the place where we must worship is in Jerusalem.” He knows the truth about me, maybe he will tell us that the Jews are wrong about how and where to worship and that we are right. I will do whatever he tells me.

“Believe me, woman, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews. Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth.” Funny, when he says “salvation is from the Jews,” it doesn’t bother me.  This is strange – exciting, frightening, –  I hope this prophet will tell me how to worship in Spirit and Truth.  I want to worship the Father as he tells me; he is greater than our father, Jacob.

“I know that Messiah” (called Christ) is coming. When he comes, he will explain everything to us.” Could he. . .

“I who speak to you am he.” She looked upon him speechless with awe, excitement, and yes, love.  It was a feeling she hardly remembered. Who is coming? Another group of Jews.  Please let me be alone with the prophet…please… Quizzical looks, murmuring, intimacy broken… leaving the water, she hastens to town to tell the good news that she, she the shamed one, had found the Messiah, called Christ.

Ten Years Later

Once the headaches began, they never went away.  After a while, the chills began.  Soon she could not get up.  Her children and her husband took tender care of her. She never forgot the prophet and what he told her.  In an instant, she could summon in her mind’s eye every detail of his face, his voice (oh, that voice – tender and full of compassion), every detail.  She could remember when he left never to return.  She could remember the stories she heard about a great rabbi teaching in Jerusalem and throughout Judea and how he was killed. She did not know if that great rabbi was the prophet, but she treasured the experience of him in her heart.  She knew the time would soon come for her to pass from this earth and she remembered his promise to her:  “Believe me, woman, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem.” This – to worship the Father in spirit and in truth forever – had been her deepest longing, a longing that the prophet and his living water would soon fulfill.

To Love As She Is Loved (Re-Post and Updated)

Early Morning

He sleeps quietly, but her eyes are open.  Laying her head softly on his shoulder, she feels his chest rise and fall and thinks she can hear his heart beating.  She wants to whisper “my husband,” but says “my lord, my baal.” She sighs, thinking ‘if today I can please my baal, maybe today – just for today – my baal will love me.”

The others were not righteous men.  They divorced her publicly, with accusation, taunt, and shame. Each time it was the same: months passed, no child. First came with words – the sarcasm, the ridicule, the hatred.  She tried yet harder; tried desperately. When words were not enough and the shame was too great, the beatings began.  She knew she deserved them and accepted them. She would try harder. Next came the concubine, next the divorce.  Once again, she had failed; she could not give her husband what he wanted.

At first, the contempt stung.  She yearned to cry out, to tell others that she tried, that she wanted to present her husband with a child. But with each divorce, her shame deepened.  She learned how to live with it.  They were, after all, right.

Her baal needed water.  She needed to go and get it; maybe today he will be pleased.  Around noon, she goes to get it.

In the distance, she sees a man at the well, the well given to her people by their father, Jacob. Curious.  Who is this man?  She continued to the well; her baal needed water.

Looking closely at the man, she notices that he is a Jew.  She looks around furtively – fortunately, there were no others. At least he would not speak to her and she would not speak to him – Samaritans did not speak to Jews and Jews did not speak to Samaritans.  She was safe.

“Will you give me a drink?”  Did he really speak to me? What a voice. She had never heard a voice like that. None of her husbands had spoken to her like that. Not even her baal. She noticed her heart beating faster; her cheeks warming; her mouth slightly smiling. NO. NO. NO. She violently told herself that she would not react like that, that she needed to get back to her baal and that he would not be pleased if she tarried. Yet, that voice….

“You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?”  That should do it.  Now, he’ll go away.  He shouldn’t have spoken to me in the first place.  Let me hurry to get the water for my baal.  If I am late, he will be displeased and I so want to please him. She bent to fill her jar.

“If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.” That voice.  Who is this man? No, I don’t know who is asking me for a drink.  But it almost seems that he knows me. . . .no, that’s impossible.  I don’t associate with Jews.  How can this be? Let me be logical, practical with him. Then maybe he will go away, maybe my longing will too.

“Sir, you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water? Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did also his sons and his flocks and herds?”  Take that. Only God is greater than our father Jacob.  As she said this, she looks closely at his face.  There is something about it, about him that she had never run into before.  The voice, the face – he knows me but there is something more…something that she didn’t have the word for.

“Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”  Never be thirsty again? Never come to this well, never lug the heavy jar back to my baal?  What is it that this man is offering? Who is this man and why is my heart beating fast and why am I smiling? Why does he move me? Thank goodness, this man is a stranger and does not know my shame.  ‘Living water’ – whatever that is – is not for me.

“Sir, give me this water so that I won’t get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water.”  There, I said it.  What will he say?

“Go, call your husband and come back.” Oh, no. He knows or does he?   What will he think?  What does he see in me? Why did he ask that?  What now?  Do I lie? No, that is unthinkable, but I can’t tell the truth.  Do I leave?  Do I back away? What do I do?

I have no husband.”  There it’s out. . . please don’t send me away.  I want this water, whatever it is; I know you know what I yearn for. You know that  I’ve secretly yearned for it.  I’ve yearned for it from each of the unrighteous ones, I’ve yearned for it from my baal.  I knew it wasn’t for me, but I could never stop wanting it. Not just shelter, affection, dignity. Something greater than these, but includes them, too.  I know it’s not water, but whatever it is I want it and I want it from this man. But who is this man?

“You are right when you say you have no husband. The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband. What you have just said is quite true.” How does he know? He can’t know.  He’s a stranger.  He’s a Jew.  Yet, he, too knows my shame. He knows. Yet, he isn’t sending me away. All the others do. Most do not let me speak or turn their heads without hearing. Yet, if he said I could stay, I wouldn’t know what to do.  I’d be lost, I’d be frightened.  What is going on – I’m confused.  I must take my time; I will be here tomorrow, but this man may not.

He is still speaking to me. He is telling me about my whole life.  All the good, all the shame.  Everything. He knows how I hoped for a child and the sorrow I felt each time a child did not come and what’s more, in some way I think he felt it too.  He knows the deepest longings – the longings of which I have told no one and is telling me that his ‘living water’ is the only way that will fulfill those longings. He tells me of things I have done – things that pleased him in some way.  But how can he know? I don’t know, but I know that he does. This man is a true prophet.

“Sir, I can see that you are a prophet. Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, but you Jews claim that the place where we must worship is in Jerusalem.” He knows the truth about me, maybe he will tell us that the Jews are wrong about how and where to worship and that we are right. I will do whatever he tells me.

“Believe me, woman, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews. Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth.” Funny, when he says “salvation is from the Jews,” it doesn’t bother me.  This is strange – exciting, frightening, –  I hope this prophet will tell me how to worship in Spirit and Truth.  I want to worship the Father as he tells me; he is greater than our father, Jacob.

“I know that Messiah” (called Christ) is coming. When he comes, he will explain everything to us.” Could he. . .

“I who speak to you am he.” She looked upon him speechless with awe, excitement, and yes, love.  It was a feeling she hardly remembered. Who is coming? Another group of Jews.  Please let me be alone with the prophet…please… Quizzical looks, murmuring, intimacy broken… leaving the water, she hastens to town to tell the good news that she, she the shamed one, had found the Messiah, called Christ.

Ten Years Later

Once the headaches began, they never went away.  After a while, the chills began.  Soon she could not get up.  Her children and her husband took tender care of her. She never forgot the prophet and what he told her.  In an instant, she could summon in her mind’s eye every detail of his face, his voice (oh, that voice – tender and full of compassion), every detail.  She could remember when he left never to return.  She could remember the stories she heard about a great rabbi teaching in Jerusalem and throughout Judea and how he was killed. She did not know if that great rabbi was the prophet, but she treasured the experience of him in her heart.  She knew the time would soon come for her to pass from this earth and she remembered his promise to her:  “Believe me, woman, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem.” This – to worship the Father in spirit and in truth forever – had been her deepest longing, a longing that the prophet and his living water would soon fulfill.