It hardly seems possible, but another semester has already come and gone. If I have learned anything in my time here as chaplain it is the art of “time travel,” as time seems to pass more quickly here than in the rest of the universe and we are always having to think several months, if not years, ahead. A late Thanksgiving this year seemed to rush things even more. But for all of our hurry and thinking ahead, the season of Advent is a great time to slow down and wait. It is a good time to be in the present. Those who know me know that I am a bit of a Star Wars buff. Recently, in preparation for the final movie installment to come out this month, I rewatched the original trilogy. My favorite is The Empire Strikes Back (the best Star Wars movie of them all, in my humble opinion). This viewing I was struck by a particular line of the wise, centuries-old Jedi Master Yoda about the rash and impatient Luke Skywalker. He says, “All his life has he looked away, to the future, to the horizon. Never his mind on where he was, what he was doing.” It is an easy trap for us all, not to consider where we are now, what we are doing now. We try to anticipate everything: the next task, the next event, the next stage of life. We do this, I suppose, because we want to be prepared and to eliminate stress as far as possible in our lives or because we’re just so excited about what is to come. But, ironically, in all of our anticipation we often stress ourselves out more and miss the beautiful and exciting things happening right now. Of course, our soon-to-be graduates can’t help but look ahead some, as they prepare for graduation, a new job, a move, etc., but I hope that in the midst of it all they can stop and just enjoy these last days here at this place that has become their home. To all of those graduating at semester, may God bless you in all your future endeavors! And for all of us as we enter into this season of joyful expectation, may we not fail to recognize Christ already present in our midst. A blessed Advent, a truly happy Christmas, and a grace-filled New Year to all! --Fr. Thom
Feast of St. Ambrose Mass Sunday, December 8th - 10:30 AM
Join us for the Second Sunday of Advent as we honor our patron saint, St. Ambrose. Bishop Zinkula will preside at the liturgy, which also features music led by a combined choir of SAU Music Ministry and Chamber Singers, as well as the presentation of the McMullen Awards. A reception will follow in the Gathering Space. All are welcome!
Congratulations to Winter Graduates! A well earned congratulations to all who will be graduating from St. Ambrose on Saturday, December 14! May God continue to grant blessings on all your endeavors and in the best of our SAU tradition, may you be a blessing for the world!
I have to admit that at times I can be tempted by a certain negativism that wonders if maybe in the not too distant future the church could once again come under open attack. Usually a good night’s sleep quickly dispels such fears for me. This is not to dismiss often more subtle forms of persecution in our own age and even the open persecution of Christians in some parts of the world today. But the prospect of a direct, widespread, much less systematic persecution seems unlikely. The late Cardinal George of Chicago once said, “I expect to die in bed, my successor will die in prison and his successor will die a martyr in the public square.” This was often misquoted and taken out of context by some in the church who took it as a prophetic statement. Clarifying these words in a later interview the Cardinal said that he was simply “trying to express in overly dramatic fashion what the complete secularization of society could bring,” and “to force people to think outside the usual categories that limit and sometimes poison both private and public discourse.” He also insisted that the entire quote should be used which concluded, “His successor will pick up the shards of a ruined society and slowly help rebuild civilization, as the church has done so often in human history.” Even with the clarification, I can see why these statements caused a stir. In the Gospel for this next to last Sunday of Ordinary Time, Jesus seems to be pushing a similar button. He speaks about a time when “all that you see here - the days will come when there will not be left a stone upon another stone,” and he further warns his followers that they will be seized, persecuted, led to prisons and before kings and governors. Of course, much of this seemed to come true in short order with the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem in the year 70 AD and successive persecutions of the “followers of the way,” as the early Christians were known. But Jesus adds that all this “will lead to your giving testimony.” We don’t have a clarifying interview from Jesus about these statements to know exactly what he meant, but read in the larger context he seems to be telling his disciples that whatever may come to pass, they are to rely on the Holy Spirit and give witness to their faith by their lives. What, we may ask, is the best way to “give testimony” in our own time? I would propose that it is by an unflinching love, rooted in the truth and goodness of God, creation and humanity. At this point, I expect (many years from now, please God) to die in my bed. But whatever may come, above all I pray that I will give testimony to the one who is the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. --Fr. Thom
We have a lot of weddings at Christ the King Chapel - 9 so far in 2019 with 2 more before the year is done and 16 already booked for 2020. We are now booking into 2021. That’s a lot of wedding homilies for me, and usually on the same handful of readings. As you can imagine, it gets difficult to come up with original material. I try my best to work in what I know of the couple, but even that is a challenge as most of the couples I am marrying here were students after my time as a student and before I became chaplain. I mention all of this because the Gospel for this Sunday calls us to reflect on the nature of marriage, as the Sadducees ask Jesus about a woman who marries 7 brothers one after another as each preceding husband dies off: “At the resurrection whose wife will she be?” This is a particularly loaded question, as the Sadducees did not believe in the resurrection or any kind of afterlife as we understand it in the Christian tradition. As always, Jesus out maneuvers his opponents. He reminds them that marriage is something for this life: “The children of this age marry and remarry; but those who are deemed worthy to attain to the coming age of the resurrection of the dead neither marry nor are given in marriage.” The correct answer to the question then is: “She will be no one’s wife in the resurrection.” To remind couples of this reality on their wedding day may be a bit of a downer, so I usually avoid it in my wedding homilies. What about eternal love after all? Love itself may be eternal, but marriage is simply a lifelong commitment (“until death do they part”). This is not to say that people who were married will not recognize their spouses as such in heaven and be grateful for them (for helping them get there), but they will no longer be married. Rather, we will all be part of a much bigger wedding as the collective “bride of Christ” at the wedding feast of the Lamb, the marriage of God and humanity. As someone who has chosen not to be married “for the sake of the kingdom,” it is good for me to be reminded of this too, as priestly celibacy is not merely or even primarily practical, but spiritual, to serve as a kind of witness to that day when we will “neither marry nor be given in marriage.” Whatever our marital status, let’s not forget whose we are above all else. --Fr. Thom
Busy Student Retreat November 10-14
Find yourself too busy? Need to take a break, but can't find the time? Join in our Busy Student Retreat! Commit to four days of just two 1/2 hour periods per day, one spent in prayer, and one in discussion with a spiritual guide, built around your schedule. We encourage you to sign up for a simple, yet powerful, retreat experience!