My Table is Spread: Church is where we hear Lazarus’ story and its moral, that a person who can’t see those in need are not to be able to see God, either.
My Table Is Spread
A man walks into a bar is the opening line of a joke. A man walks into a movie theater is the opening line of a homicide investigation.
This is the hottest summer in recorded Colorado history. There are forest fires in the mountains. There is gunfire in the city.
Our next-door neighbors built their house in 1951. Now, Bob is dead and Mildred has moved to a retirement home and the house is for sale.
Architect Elizabeth Wright Ingraham, the granddaughter of Frank Lloyd Wright, designed the house. The low wooden structure opens onto a lush, walled garden, shaded and sheltered by a large linden tree. Apricot trees are espaliered along the western bricks separating our houses.
A friend emailed me the other day. She wanted to know if I was experiencing the same "Catholic fatigue" that ails her. You know the symptoms: You're at a party, headed for the beer cooler, when someone whose face you recognize but whose name you don't know pins you up against the stainless steel Sub-Zero and begins to depose you on Catholic hospitals (all of them) and the Plan B contraceptive.
We talk about schism and purges. We talk about a leaner church, a remnant church. Many are convinced of sinister forces at work, and on the rise. In journals of opinion, at dinner parties, at family gatherings, at coffee and donuts after Mass, Catholics are talking.
I think we need some guidelines for these discussions, ways to bring them out of the fog of conspiracy and into the light of real conversation.
On Dec. 21, my mother died. On Jan. 21, my granddaughter was born.
As my mother lay dying, my children came to say goodbye to their grandmother, the woman they knew as Atoo. For most of her last few days, mother did not open her eyes or speak. We kept vigil. On Monday afternoon, I turned to my older son, who is a physician, and asked him, “Why can’t she open her eyes?”
Pray, brothers and sisters, that my sacrifice and yours may be acceptable to God, the almighty Father.
I’ve played with the font -- “my sacrifice and yours” -- and tinkered with the punctuation -- “my sacrifice, and yours” -- and still the words jar, like a mathematical equation in which the two parts are uneven, and, so, forever out of balance.
My mother was a faithful woman, but she was not a pious woman. In the weeks before her death on Dec. 22, her speech became increasingly infrequent. When she did speak, she was hard to understand. Repeated strokes had left her mouth slack, her tongue seemingly too large for its space. Usually crisp sounds sagged and stretched beyond recognition.
In my memory, the Arnett aunts, my grandmother's sisters, are all dressed in pastels -- suits with jeweled pins on the collars -- and wearing hats and kid gloves. A patent leather handbag hangs over each aunt's arm.
There was a rhythm to the attire (suits, hats, gloves, nylons, heels for Sundays and family gatherings) and to the conversation. My father would always inquire after their health.
The Phoenix diocese announced plans to restrict the distribution of Communion under both species. The cup will be offered to the laity on feast days “and other special moments.” The first reason the diocese offers is this: to protect the sacred species from profanation.