Short Story: “Ecce Homo” (Part 6)

Short Story: “Ecce Homo” (Part 5)

Author’s Note: This short story was written in 2010 or 2011, and is dedicated to my friend F.S.B. The story is titled “Ecce Homo: A Calling.” This is the final part of six parts, which will be posted each Monday of Lent. The previously posted parts of the story are on this Word Document.

(From Part 5) The man stretched out his hand, and the boy took it. And as the man let go, the boy realized the man had put something in his hand.

The man smiled and reassured him: “But, it’s nice to have some direction, too.”

“But, what am I supposed to do?”

END OF PART 5; PART 6 BEGINS HERE

“Well, son: First, you need to go home and get some rest. After that, think about what I told you, what you felt. Consider what you’re being called to. But don’t worry, the right people will get in touch with you soon enough.

“But most importantly, you need to change: change your lifestyle, change your attitude, change the way you think about things; because you can never go back to how it was before, no matter how much you try. From now on, it only gets harder, not easier.”

The boy hesitated, but the man reached out and pulled him into a reassuring embrace and told him, “I believe in you.”

Then, just as quickly, the man let go, but the boy didn’t want to leave his presence. He felt a new life, a new breath, circulating through his body. It was a driving wind that filled his entire being, constantly propelling him forward; and now, he didn’t want to let it go.

“Minute’s up. I need to go,” the bus driver said.

The boy was reluctant, but the man nodded reassuringly and told him, “‘The great work begins.’”

So, the student climbed into the bus and showed the bus driver his pass. She was a little perturbed with him for making her linger, but she could tell by his wet clothes that he had been waiting a while. So, she said nothing.

She did, however, address the man outside, “Are you coming too?”

“No,” the man told her.

The boy turned around and looked back out, “What? Aren’t you coming?”

“Don’t worry. I’ll be in touch.”

“I know, but I thought—“

“—Son,” it was the only time the man had ever interrupted him throughout the entire conversation.  “I wasn’t waiting for a bus…I was waiting for you.”

Then, as the bus doors closed, the boy saw the man smile and open his right hand. Unconsciously, he did the same and realized, for the first time, the gift the man had given him.

Short Story: “Ecce Homo” (Part 5)

Short Story: “Ecce Homo” (Part 5)

Author’s Note: This short story was written in 2010 or 2011, and is dedicated to my friend F.S.B. The story is titled “Ecce Homo: A Calling.” This is the fifth of six parts, which will be posted each Monday of Lent. The previously posted parts of the story are on this Word Document.

(from Part 4) “Man, who do you think you are? You don’t know anything about me!”

He had been seen through, exposed. He was rebellious and independent by his nature, and now he had to defend himself against the pressure he was under. The whole time he was shouting at the man, the boy never looked at him directly – only in his general direction. He couldn’t bear to make eye-contact, for fear that he would become transparent to the man’s gaze.

 “Son, look at me.”

END OF PART 4; PART 5 BEGINS HERE

On the surface, the student was unwilling to comply; but, there was some deep part of him that, for some reason, was drawn to look at the man.

Then, the man called him by name.

But, he didn’t just call it. It seemed, more so, that the man breathed the boy’s name to him; and a sweet smell, like perfume or incense, filled his nostrils, and his ears rang with the sound of his name.

And then, he knew.

He knew he was no longer intoxicated. It was a new day amidst the same rainy night. He also knew that he was not hung-over either. All of his senses had returned to their fullest, and his mind was sober and clear. He wished to hide himself, or he would risk being seen in the naked state that he felt he was in.

But, the man placed a hand on his shoulder, and continued to look at him – to look into him.

“It’s time,” he said.

“Time… time for what?”

“It is time for you to leave. Your bus is here.”

The boy, even though his mind was clear, couldn’t understand – until he saw the bright lights of the bus drawing ever closer towards them. It pulled up alongside the curb near their bench, and the doors opened.

“Are you leaving soon,” the student asked the bus driver.

The bus driver, a middle-aged woman, looked at her watch and replied, “This rain has put me behind schedule, so I’m not going to sit here for too long.”

“Can you wait just two minutes, please?”

The bus driver looked at her watch again and told him firmly, “One minute.”

The boy could do nothing but look again at the man, but this time, he could actually see him – see him for who he really was.

“How… how do I know this is real,” he asked, befuddled.

“You just have to have a little faith.”

The man stretched out his hand, and the boy took it. And as the man let go, the boy realized the man had put something in his hand.

The man smiled and reassured him: “But, it’s nice to have some direction, too.”

“But, what am I supposed to do?”

Short Story: “Ecce Homo” (Part 4)

UPDATE ON “NOT IN INK”:

Dear readers, I need to take a break for a while. The pope’s election on Wednesday threw a monkey wrench into my planned posts for this week; and I seriously need to focus on some projects at work right now.

So, I am going to be taking a “spring break” from this blog for about the next 10 days. I still encourage you all to check the blog, because I am going to be posting some pre-written materials (like “Ecce Homo”) and some posts from guest authors! But, because of my need to focus on work and my travel schedule, I won’t be able to write a new musing each day (which is mostly what I have been doing).

So, this is my rough plan for the next 10 days or so:

  • Today, March 15 — “Ecce Homo” Part 4
  • Musing/Meditation on Sunday’s Gospel
  • Monday, March 18 — “Ecce Homo” Part 5
  • ~Friday, March 22 — A guest-author post on “Masculinity”
  • ~Saturday, March 23 — A complementary post on “Femininity”
  • Sunday, March 24 — Maybe a meditation on the Gospel (???)
  • Monday, March 25 — “Ecce Homo” Part 6
  • March 26 thru March 31 — HOLY WEEK MEDITATIONS/MUSINGS!! 😀

With all that being said, Thanks for reading the blog!!! 🙂

I have really enjoyed writing these musings, meditations, and misc. stuff for you all — and for My Most Important Reader (a.k.a. God).

Two things I’m asking you lovely readers to do:

  • Please pray for my mother, because she is trying to find a new job.
  • PLEASE share this blog with your friends and family… and anyone and everyone! It would be really awesome to come back from my “spring break” and see that I have like 300 new followers (Not going to happen, but a writer can dream…) So, again, please share.

I shall keep you all in my prayers, and I ask that you please keep me and my family in yours. Thanks and Blessed Lent!

Short Story: “Ecce Homo” (Part 4)

Author’s Note: This short story was written in 2010 or 2011, and is dedicated to my friend F.S.B. The story is titled “Ecce Homo: A Calling.” This is the fourth of six parts, which will be posted each Monday of Lent. The previously posted parts of the story are on this Word Document.

(From Part 3) “You know, son,” the man said, making eye-contact, “You really believe a lot for someone who doesn’t have much faith.”

That remark struck the boy down in his core. Yet, he still wouldn’t show it. He merely shrugged his shoulders and looked out at the street.

“Have you ever considered becoming a priest,” the man asked him.

END OF PART 3; PART 4 BEGINS HERE

Tsk, why would I want to become a priest?” the boy said. He was clearly offended by the question. It was almost worse than a punch in the face.

“That’s not what I asked,” the man responded in a voice that was calm, but firm. “I asked you did you ever consider becoming a priest, not if you wanted to.”

There was a long pause, until the boy finally said, “Not really. Maybe when I was younger, ‘cause I went to Catholic school, and they kinda drilled that into us, you know. ‘Become a nun! Become a priest!’ Not now, though. I just don’t want to. Plus, they probably wouldn’t take me. I mean, who’d want me to be a priest?”

“God,” the man said with a smile.

“I already told you, man: I don’t believe in God.”

“‘It doesn’t matter. He believes in you.’”

In the back of the boy’s mind he thought that sounded familiar—like it was from a movie or TV show he had seen once. But, he didn’t respond. He was still churning the man’s previous words over in his head, like an endless drying machine – his thoughts continued to cycle around and around.

“Perhaps it might benefit you to know this: ‘God does not call the qualified. He qualifies the called.’”

“Jeez, what are you?” he asked, trying to deflect, “A priest or something?”

“Of a sort,” the man replied with a genuine grin. “I know a lot of them. It’s tough work, believe me, but it is – in and of itself – a very rewarding vocation. And I believe you look like someone who’s up to the challenge.”

The boy stood up. He freed himself from the constraints and the protection of the umbrella and its keeper. He stood in the rain and shouted at the man on the bench.

“Man, who do you think you are? You don’t know anything about me!”

He had been seen through, exposed. He was rebellious and independent by his nature, and now he had to defend himself against the pressure he was under. The whole time he was shouting at the man, the boy never looked at him directly – only in his general direction. He couldn’t bear to make eye-contact, for fear that he would become transparent to the man’s gaze.

“Son, look at me.”

Welcome, Papa Francesco!

My dear readers,

Viva il papa – Papa Francesco! Today, the cardinals of the Catholic Church elected Cardinal Bergoglio of Argentina to be the next pope.

I was planning to post my musing on the Holy Spirit today; but in lieu of that, I would like to encourage everyone to read my previous musing on Pope Benedict and his successor (Pope Francis I)!

Again, my apologies to my non-Catholic readers, but today the world has experienced such great joy and prayer that I believe it transcends religious differences. So, let us rejoice in the Lord and those shepherds whom He has chosen to lead us!

Let us pray for all of our religious leaders today (especially our new Pope, Francis I!) I shall pray for your ‘shepherds,’ ministers and pastors, as I ask that you please pray for mine.

And, please check back here tomorrow for the musing on the Holy Spirit! I promise I will post it.

Thank you, and I am praying for you all!

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Good evening.

You all know that the duty of the Conclave was to give a bishop to Rome. It seems that my brother Cardinals have come almost to the ends of the earth to get him… but here we are. I thank you for the welcome that has come from the diocesan community of Rome.

First of all I would say a prayer for our Bishop Emeritus Benedict XVI. Let us all pray together for him, that the Lord bless him and Our Lady protect him...

And now let us begin this journey, the Bishop and people, this journey of the Church of Rome which presides in charity over all the Churches, a journey of brotherhood in love, of mutual trust. Let us always pray for one another. Let us pray for the whole world that there might be a great sense of brotherhood . My hope is that this journey of the Church that we begin today, together with help of my Cardinal Vicar, be fruitful for the evangelization of this beautiful city.

And now I would like to give the blessing, but first I want to ask you a favor. Before the bishop blesses the people I ask that you would pray to the Lord to bless me – the prayer of the people for their Bishop. Let us say this prayer – your prayer for me – in silence.

I will now give my blessing to you and to the whole world, to all men and women of good will

Brothers and sisters, I am leaving you. Thank you for your welcome. Pray for me. We will see one another soon. Tomorrow I want to go to pray the Madonna, that she may protect Rome.

Good night and sleep well!

–Pope Francis I (Jorge Mario Cardinal Bergoglio), March 13, 2013

Talk: “Signs and Sacraments” (Part 4)

Author’s Note: This the final part of a resource talk that I gave on a retreat in 2011; the topic for the talk, which is a combination of my personal testimony and Church teachings, was on “Signs and Sacraments.” The talk will be posted in four consecutive parts. The retreat that I gave the talk at focuses on “Community” and strengthening our community as a Church through our shared love and service of Christ.

If you need a refresher, read Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3.

HOLY COMMUNION

I just wanted to touch very briefly on the Eucharist. I want to stress the importance of the reality of the Eucharist. What seems to be bread and wine isn’t just a symbol of Christ’s love and sacrifice… it isn’t just a symbol of His body and blood. It IS His Body and Blood. When the priest raises the host up and validly says the words of consecration, it is no longer bread, even though it has the appearance of bread. But the reality of it has changed entirely, even though its resemblance hasn’t. People who come out of the Holy Water font aren’t any different physically than when they went in (other than being wet). But, they’re completely different interiorly because they have been purified of their original sin.

Think of it this way: the True Presence of Christ’s Body and Blood has been masked and disguised as mere bread and wine so that we can unrestrainedly partake of the full sacrament. Just imagine if you went up to the minister in the communion line and he handed you a literal piece of Christ’s flesh. Well, I don’t know about you, but I would freak out! I would be in such awe, such reverence, and wonderment that I couldn’t partake of it. I would feel so unworthy. But, there is no difference except that the Eucharist does not appear to be flesh and blood, but it is. Otherwise, we might be unwilling to take it, right? Christ did that for our sake.

Jesus said to them, ’Amen, amen, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life with in you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day. For my flesh is true food and my blood is true drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him. Just as the living Father sent me and I have life because of the Father, so also the one who feeds on me will have life because of me.’” –John 6:53-57

Does that make sense? It is not a representation of Christ’s sacrifice, but a re-presentation of His Sacrifice! That is why the Eucharist is so important; because it’s not just a symbol, but it’s a reality.

CONCLUSION

So, before I close, I just wanted to stress two key things. Basically, if you forget everything else from this talk (which I know you all will), I ask that you remember these two things:

  1. Always have a reverence for the sacraments. Perhaps you don’t understand all of them. Maybe you were sitting there this whole time thinking, “What on earth is she talking about?” Don’t worry, and don’t be afraid to ask questions. Also, receive the sacraments as much as you can. Right now, most of us can receive Communion and Confession on a regular basis, so I encourage you to do so. And also, if you know anyone who’s going through RCIA right now or going to get married or ordained soon, I ask you to support them and pray for them.
  2. Signs… Yes. Those things I talked about way back at the beginning of this talk. Remember the Totus Tuus phamplet? Ok, sometimes those things happen. Sometimes God sends you big neon signs telling you what to do. But, most of the time, He doesn’t. Most of the time, you have to find the sign in your heart. Trust me, you know more than you’re willing to admit that you do. And I just wanted to ask to everyone to always act on those signs, whether physical or interior.

I taught my kids this summer the four things you need to discern God’s will for you (write these down): PSSGF. Prayer, Sacraments!!!, Scripture, and Good Friends. So, remember those four things. Always remember, signs are a gift from God. So, always thank God for them. Thank God for his grace. Thank God for his Sacraments. Amen? Amen!

If you’d like to read the talk in its entirety, the Word Document is here: Signs and Sacraments.

Talk: “Signs and Sacraments” (Part 3)

Author’s Note: This the third part of a resource talk that I gave on a retreat in 2011; the topic for the talk, which is a combination of my personal testimony and Church teachings, was on “Signs and Sacraments.” The talk will be posted in four consecutive parts. The retreat that I gave the talk at focuses on “Community” and strengthening our community as a Church through our shared love and service of Christ.

If you need a refresher, read Part 1 and Part 2.

CONFIRMATION

I don’t know how many of you have been to an Easter Vigil service, but I hope you all go at some time in your life. Yes, it can be long, but it is the most beautiful liturgy I know. And, afterward, there’s usually a huge reception with lots of food. It’s a great way to break that Lenten fast!

But, in the liturgy of the Easter Vigil, the catechumens will be baptized, and then the candidates and catechumens will come forward before the priest to be confirmed. It’s really neat to go straight from the baptisms to the confirmations, because, according to the Catechism, “by the sacrament of Confirmation, [the baptized] are more perfectly bound to the Church and are enriched with a special strength of the Holy Spirit. Hence they are, as true witnesses of Christ, more strictly obliged to spread and defend the faith by word and deed.”(1285)

The two biggest signs of Confirmation are the laying on of hands and the chrism oil. Now, when I was confirmed four years ago, the Bishop was joking, “Gee! Wouldn’t that be cool if the Holy Spirit descended upon us tonight like it did on the disciples in the Upper Room? I bet more than a few heads would catch on fire with all of the hairspray we have in here!” Fortunately, that did not happen.

But, the laying on of hands is a sign of invocation. Has anyone seen people praying with their arms up like this? They’re invoking the Holy Spirit. Well, in Confirmation, the Bishop is doing the same thing, but in a more formal and sacramental way. He, as an apostolic successor, is invoking the Holy Spirit to descend upon the candidates and to seal them with the Gift of the Holy Spirit.

And at Confirmation, Sacred Chrism is used again. The Catechism says that the reason for the Sacred Chrism is to highlight “the name ‘Christian,’ which means ‘anointed’ and derives from that of Christ himself whom God ‘anointed with the Holy Spirit.’ The term Confirmation suggests that this sacrament both confirms and strengthens baptismal grace.” (1289)

And later in the Catechism, it adds, It is fitting to consider the sign of anointing and what it signifies and imprints: a spiritual seal.” (1293) The Chrism seals in us the seeds of grace and spiritual gifts that were given to us through Baptism. Now, we are sent out, strengthened by this Seal of Anointing, to share in Christ’s mission of prayer and evangelization.

35723502Check back tomorrow for the last part of the “Signs and Sacraments” talk!

Talk: “Signs and Sacraments” (Part 2)

Author’s Note: This the second part of a resource talk that I gave on a retreat in 2011; the topic for the talk, which is a combination of my personal testimony and Church teachings, was on “Signs and Sacraments.” The talk will be posted in four consecutive parts. The retreat that I gave the talk at focuses on “Community” and strengthening our community as a Church through our shared love and service of Christ.

Read Part 1 on “Signs of God.”

PART 2: SACRAMENTS (OF INITIATION)

Now, the Catholic Church recognizes Seven Sacraments:

  1. Baptism
  2. Confirmation
  3. Eucharist
  4. Reconciliation
  5. Matrimony
  6. Holy Orders
  7. Anointing of the Sick

And a Sacrament, as defined by the Catechism of the Catholic Church (abbreviated CCC) is “an outward sign instituted by Christ to give grace.” Each of the Seven Sacraments has its own symbols that are associated with it. For instance, when I say holy water, you think of Baptism, right? Or when I say vows and rings, you think of matrimony?

The Baltimore Catechism says, “A sacrament symbolizes what it affects and it effects what it symbolizes.” Now, that’s just a fancy way of saying “It walks the walk and talks the talk.”

For example, baptism: The water is a symbol, but it is also a necessary for the actual baptism. When the water is poured over the individual, it isn’t just a symbol of their baptism. It is his or her baptism. No longer is it mere water, but it has become the waters of baptism, by which this person has entered into the Family of the Church.

But, at the same time, you need the words of baptism as well, right? If I just pour some water over your head, am I baptizing you? No. I need to say the words, right? And I also have to have the intention of baptizing you (which I can’t do if you’ve already been baptized). We need, as the Catechism says, both matter—the water, oil, etc.—and the form—the words.

It’s the same thing with all the other sacraments. If the priest just lifts up the host at Mass without saying the words of consecration, he’s not consecrating the sacrament. Or if a couple puts their rings on each others’ fingers without saying their vows, are they validly married? No.

Just so, the sacraments ‘walk the walk’ and ‘talk the talk.’ They are not just symbols. They are realities­­—gifts given to us by God to confer grace.

I can’t cover all of the sacraments in depth, but I do want to touch on the Sacraments of Initiation: the Catechism says, “Christian initiation is accomplished by three sacraments together: Baptism which is the beginning of new life; Confirmation which is its strengthening; and the Eucharist which nourishes the disciple with Christ’s Body and Blood for his transformation in Christ.” (CCC 1275)

BAPTISM

Baptism, as I already said, uses water and two types of oil. There are a lot of signs that are used in baptism. So for those of you who have seen a baptism, you’ve noticed the different symbols they use. There’s the baptismal candle, and the white robe, and the two different oils that they use.35723502

The first is the oil of catechumens, but the other is called Chrism. And chrism… I’ll describe it this way, for those of you who haven’t smelled it before­­—if the smells of oils were martial artists, Chrism would be Chuck Norris. I mean the smell literally roundhouse kicks you in the face! It’s wonderful. And it’s used in other sacraments.

A few years ago, I went to a baptism service at a Baptist church, and I really appreciated the way that they baptized the adults. They got into this pool of water about waist deep, and then the preacher leaned each person back down into the water, and then he would say the words of baptism, and he would “raise” them back up again.

In the early days of the church, they did full immersion baptism, and I think it really demonstrates this idea of being “raised up” and being “resurrected” into this new life with Christ. Remember, “A sacrament symbolizes what it effects and it effects what it symbolizes.”

It doesn’t just symbolize new life, it actually gives new life!

Check back tomorrow for Part 3!