May is Mary's month, which often commences with the annual "May Crowning" at Catholic parishes and schools around the world. Today, Ellyn von Huben offers her signature hilarity and graceful reflection on this timely Catholic tradition.
"If there's a bustle in your hedgerow, don't be alarmed now. It's just a spring clean for the May Queen.”
Those of us living in the Midwestern United States have had a springtime in which it really feels that we “know that all creation is groaning in labor pains…” (Romans 8:22) After a disappointingly mild winter – the disappointment being the lack of a picture book “White Christmas”- which ended in several weeks of multiple snowstorms, the wintery gloom and chill have dragged on. The groundhog who predicted an early spring should look into a new career. The labor of the earth bringing forth new life has been painfully stalled. At last, there have been some blessedly warm days, finally bringing the beauty of buds on the trees and the first flowers of spring. On the sixth Sunday of Easter, I can look out my window and safely say that spring has sprung. Though I wouldn’t say I’m packing away my winter coat just yet.
Each spring I enjoy one of the happiest perks of my job as a church secretary: a good perch for viewing the procession of school children to the annual May Crowning. There are the eight graders, trying to look casually grown-up as they wait for one of their own to crown the statue of the Blessed Mother. We are always especially touched by the gravity of the second graders, wearing their First Communion clothes for a second time. They are so pious and serious as they walk past in single file. I think of the impression this is making on their young hearts, helping form a lifetime of devotion to the mother of Our Lord...
Today, the Monday of Holy Week, Father Steve Grunow shares his sermon about Isaiah, Christ, and the many complexities to a story that ultimately serve to simplify, redeem and illuminate.
Our first reading for today is an excerpt from the Old Testament Book of the Prophet Isaiah. In this text, the prophet reveals a mysterious figure, which he names as the servant of the Lord. The servant of the Lord has been chosen by the God of Israel for a particular mission.
The mission of this servant is the restoration of Israel. The prophet Isaiah speaks the word of the Lord from the midst of distressing and painful circumstances. The once-mighty Kingdom of David has fallen into ruin and its past glory has retreated into memory. The fall of David's Kingdom has left Israel vulnerable to the powers of the world that have seized their lands, destroyed their cities, desecrated their holy places and reduced Israel to the status of a slave. It is to this Israel, seemingly forsaken, that the servant of the Lord will come.
The Church understands Isaiah's vision of the servant of the Lord as a foreshadowing of Christ.
As one reads further in the Book of the Prophet Isaiah one discerns that the servant of the Lord will effect the restoration of David's Kingdom through his suffering and through his willingness to accept this suffering as a mission that comes from God, he will offer Israel forgiveness and hope.
That the servant of the Lord would suffer confounded many in Israel and still seems strange to us today. Humanity has tendency to read service to the Lord as by necessity resulting in material blessings. In this construel of Biblical revelation, the commitment to serve the Lord should result in deliverance from the hard facts of life and result in a life that is by all measure successful...