Oddwalk Ministries

scripture

Living The Justice of the Sunday Scriptures

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Hi all. Shannon and Orin both are contributors at anygivensundayproject.org once or twice and year, and in fact have back-to-back reflections on the Sunday scriptures there right now. Orin wrote a bit about yesterday’s challenging Gospel passage, and Shannon wrote about this coming Sunday’s readings. We’ve posted theme here as well. But, keep visiting anygivensundayproject.org…

Are You God?

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School is back in session at the parish where I, Orin, am music director. Sometime near the beginning of each school year, we gather the entire student body, PreK-8th Grade, in the Church to go over some music that we’ll be using at some upcoming Masses; that day this year was this past Thursday afternoon,…

We’re writing a book!

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Hey everyone! Shannon and Orin are excited to announce that… wait for it… we’re writing a book! If you had not guessed from the title of this post, seeing some news on social media that led you here, or from this super-cool graphic, we’ll say it again – we’re writing a book!

It will be published next July by Twenty-Third Publications, a division of Bayard which specializes in books and devotionals for nourishing your spirituality and celebrating the liturgical year, as well as the newest resources to help you lead and guide your parish community.

Our book has a working title of “Praying and Living the Faith Through the Year” and is a collection of twenty interactive prayer services on various Church themes and celebrations as well as other special times during a school year. Each service has suggested music, prayers, scripture, and interactive, prayerful activities to help bring faith to life. While the “target audience” for this book is middle-school-aged youth and those that minister to them, this collection should also be useful for other ages, as well as other situations, like youth ministry and family units.

Here’s the rundown (for now) on “chapters” the resource will have:

• Welcome to Teachers/Staff/Students (Community)
• For Grandparents (Generations, Wisdom)
• At a time of tragedy (Consolation)
• All Saints (Communion of Saints)
• All Souls (Deceased Family and Friends, Tradition)
• Thanksgiving (Gratitude to God)
• Christ the King (Dominion, Sovereignty)
• Advent (Waiting in Joyful Hope)
• Immaculate Conception / Guadalupe (Mary, Dignity)
• Christmas (Incarnation)
• Discipleship (Learning, Following)
• Before an Exam (Peace, Assurance)
• Ash Wednesday (Repentance)
• Lent (Returning to God, Conversion)
• Holy Week (Suffering, Obedience, Cross)
• Easter (Resurrection, New Life)
• Mercy (Divine Mercy)
• Ascension (Church and Our Mission)
• Pentecost (Holy Sprit, Gifts of the Spirit)
• At Graduation (Transitions)

Each chapter will also include some introductory material from us, for those putting together each service.

We feel this resource will pull together strongly many aspects of Oddwalk’s varied ministries – storytelling, humor, prayer, music, retreats – and hopefully be a welcome and successful resource for many folks helping to lead the young Church on their journeys to and with God.

Watch this space for more updates, especially as the project gets closer to completion! We can’t be more excited to be working with 23rd, and can’t wait for you to be able to hold this book in your hands – and use it!

That’s Extraordinary!

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In case you forgot…

You know what ordinal numbers are, right? Well, you probably do even if you don’t know that’s what they’re called. Ordinal numbers are the ones we put st, nd, and rd behind: 1st, 2nd, 3rd, etc. They’re the ones that describe the position of something, usually in a list.

Ordinal numbers are the reason that the upcoming 6 month stretch of the Church year is called Ordinary Time — you know, 18th Sunday in Ordinary Time and all that. Now, Ordinary Time following Pentecost does start with the celebrations of the Holy Trinity and the Most Holy Body and Blood, but it’s still Ordinary Time.

The point is, it’s not Ordinary Time, as in something commonplace or normal; it’s not Ordinary Time because it’s not Advent, Christmas, Lent, or Easter; it *is* Ordinary Time because the Sundays and weeks are counted. That’s all.

Yet, I knew one priest years ago who insisted on calling it “Extraordinary Time.” He didn’t get into all the mumbo-jumbo about ordinal numbers, he simply referenced what is indeed true about all these coming Sundays, particularly the Gospel passages we will hear at those Masses. The Gospels are always about what Jesus said and did in this world; these upcoming Ordinary Time Gospels are all about Jesus teaching us to be disciples. That’s why this particular priest liked the expression “Extraordinary Time.” It’s a 6 month length of time where, if we pay attention and are open, Jesus teaches us still today what it means to be his follower and his witness in a modern world.

I don’t know that I personally like the expression, but I appreciate the motivation behind it. How will this summer be extraordinary for you, as a person of faith, as we count our way through many weeks of Ordinary Time? I suggest by really focusing on what Jesus teaches his faithful Sunday after Sunday, and living it each week to the best of our abilities. Happy Summer everyone!

—Orin

What the Ascension Tells Us About Social Justice

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Note: a version of this post originally appeared at Any Give Sunday Project two years ago. If you’re a regular church-goer, you surely know that the pews are at their fullest on Christmas and Easter. No surprise there. Take a moment and see if you have a guess what the next two most attended Church…

The Joy of the Scriptures

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Psalm 87

Hello all, Orin here.  One of my roles as Music Director at Sts. Joachim and Ann in suburban STL is to prep music for school masses.  One of the tasks for each mass is ensuring we have a responsorial psalm and a psalmist or two ready to go: both I and the pastor at J&A prefer to do the readings of the day, so I need to ensure that the psalms are easily grasped both by the psalmists from the different homerooms in school (on limited rehearsal time), as well as by the assembly.  Before sitting down to write this, in fact, I needed to create a new one for a school mass tomorrow, led by our 4th graders.  You can see an image of the simple music just over there…

By now, ending my 5th year at J&A, many such psalms are already written, and it’s rare I need to take a moment and create a new one, but this morning was such a time.  A quick count shows I’ve created over 130 of these in 5 years.  An unexpected joy of the role here at J&A has become getting to know the psalms in such a broad way.  Many of us know several of the more common Sunday responsorial psalms well, but the psalms at daily mass are much more diverse than at Sundays alone, and as a result, some unexpected poetry, theology, spirituality, and expressions of faith come to my attention over these few years.

This hymn of praise to Zion, for instance, responds joyfully to a reading from the Acts of the Apostles, in which we hear how the early Church grew far past Jerusalem, partly because early followers of Christ were scattered to many places, avoiding persecution, and were bolstered and taught by the likes of Barnabas and Paul.  This passage ends, “…it was in Antioch that the disciples were first called Christians.”

There is a joy in the scriptures which only grows and blossoms the more deeply one knows, prays, and lives them.  As broad as the scripture passages are on Sundays, an easy way to encounter so much more is to attend daily mass – a practice which was not a significant part of my life before arriving at J&A, but is now.  When was the last time you attended a daily mass?  Perhaps it’s time to consider a new discipline in faith, and rediscover the joy of the scriptures, like I have.

Apostle to the Apostles

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Icon of Mary Magdalene and the Apostles

Easter greetings everyone. While pondering recently what to write about today, I noticed several pieces on social media, as we celebrate these early days of Eastertide, raising Mary Magdalene up as an important part of our faith owing to her role in life of Christ.

The first rightly observes that, without her preaching the risen Lord to the Apostles, Easter Day would have been, and would be, very different. She is often called “The First Apostle” or “Apostle to the Apostles” with good reason.

 

 

 

 

Seen retweeted a few times…

The second suggests at least a darker possibility: that because such an important role in the resurrection story fell to a woman, some unnamed unknown men of the Church attempted to devalue her worth by conflating her with adulterous women found elsewhere in the Gospels – a practice that lately has been found without merit.

So today, as our weekly articles turn their attention to Justice, let us turn our attention to women of the Church. I don’t wish to enter the fray at this moment as to the roles of women in the Church – liturgically or otherwise. I do wish to point out that, as such discussions occur, we should all be mindful to not devalue someone – anyone – by seeing them in such a limited capacity: that one’s worth is defined only by something amazing they did on their best day or by something horrible done on their worst day; that one’s worth is defined only by their capacity to give birth or their inability to; that one’s worth is defined merely by things we discern with our human senses.

Our value, our Christian dignity, comes from our creation by God in God’s image and likeness, and that God comes to dwell in us: “Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God?” (1 Cor. 6:19) Notably, the scripture doesn’t delineate here based on gender or any other divisions.

This worth comes with two other important attributes. First, it can’t be taken away from us unless we so permit that to happen. As long as we remember who we are in God’s eyes, the opinions, the labels, the divisions that humanity creates matter far less, if they matter at all. Second, once we train ourselves to know this worth both in ourselves and in one other, the world becomes a very different place – a place of justice, love, and peace.

Continued Easter blessings, Oddwalkia. Celebrate the risen lord with joy and gladness in your hearts!

–Orin

Holy Week and Catholic Social Teaching

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Pope Francis Washing Feet at a Previous Holy Thursday Celebration

Our “Jesus Justice Joy” reflection this week is a little tardy, owning to two full days of Oddwalking on Monday and Tuesday…

As we approach Holy Thursday evening and the beginning of triduum, I’m struck by how, at Thursday night’s mass of the Lord’s Supper, the Gospel is not what it seems like it should be. One would think that we’d hear one of the evangelists tell about that Passover meal. Rather, we hear in the epistle Paul describe how the tradition of that meal was handed down to him. Instead in the Gospel, we hear a narrative unique to John – the humble washing of the feet.

John’s Gospel doesn’t even include a narrative about the last supper meal the way the synoptics do. Some see the significance of this – that the description of the meal is replaced with this story of the foot washing – as one which instructs the early Christian community to live lives of solidarity and service – both important tenants of contemporary Catholic Social Teaching.

In fact, the whole evening, if one listens from a certain vantage point, is linked to issues of justice: liberation, solidarity, service…

I have often wondered why foot washing didn’t “make the cut,” so to speak, as the Church finally focused in upon seven “Big S” sacraments. It seems like it would meet the usual requirements and definitions of one. Pause for a moment and imagine if, when preparing for first communion, young people also learned about and prepared for foot washing along side of that.

How much more linked then would we as a Church find our reception of Eucharist to the command we are given just a few minutes later: Go in peace, glorifying the Lord by your life. Eucharist, as much as it is thanksgiving is also service, solidarity, and our freedom. May we recognize it as such the next time we gather around the table.

—Orin

Don’t let the word get out, but…

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I’ve always been uncomfortable with – and also not so good at – self-promotion.  Whether it’s the various ministries Oddwalk offers, or perhaps a piece of music I’ve written for the Church, or most anything else, it’s difficult for me to be too forthcoming about it.  For me, it’s a number of factors that come…

Justice Can Be Hard to Define

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Justice shall we pursue…

It’s quite likely you’ve seen an image on the internet the last couple of years that looks like this one – or at least looks like the first two panels of this one.  Usually, the first two panels are meant to describe the difference between equality and justice.  That image has always been appealing to me (Orin), but has also bothered me for a reason I at first couldn’t quite put my finger on.

Then the other day, I saw this version, and that particular cloud was lifted from my eyes.  It was that the barrier in front of the people trying to see the baseball game was still in place.  I immediately thought of the experiences Shannon and I have with the summer teen work and learning camp Young Neighbors in Action – youngneighbors.org – in which we often talk about not just filling the cracks that those who most need are help are falling through, but asking why those cracks are there in the first place.  The graphic talks about equality, equity, and justice.  Some before had called the second panel justice, where what justice really is, and what our faith calls us to pursue, is in that third panel.  Mercy might be the act of showing kindness and support to those suffering any affliction; justice is attempting to remove that oppression from our midst.  Click the image to take a closer look.

Isaiah 58:6-10 tells us:

Is this not, rather, the fast that I choose:
releasing those bound unjustly,
untying the thongs of the yoke;
Setting free the oppressed,
breaking off every yoke?

Is it not sharing your bread with the hungry,
bringing the afflicted and the homeless into your house;
Clothing the naked when you see them,
and not turning your back on your own flesh?

Then your light shall break forth like the dawn,
and your wound shall quickly be healed;
Your vindication shall go before you,
and the glory of the LORD shall be your rear guard.

Then you shall call, and the LORD will answer,
you shall cry for help, and he will say: “Here I am!”
If you remove the yoke from among you,
the accusing finger, and malicious speech;

If you lavish your food on the hungry
and satisfy the afflicted;
Then your light shall rise in the darkness,
and your gloom shall become like midday.

 

When you do good works in the world, are they acts of equality, equity, mercy, or justice?  All are needed, but true works of justice are ones that might strip away even the need for the other three.  Do you help people see over the fence, or do you take that fence away?  Difficult questions for all of us, myself included.  Something to pray about this week as we enter into Lent, a time for (among other things) service and self-sacrifice.  —Orin

Common Ground

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A couple weeks ago,  I (Orin) was happy to again attend the Liturgical Composers Forum here in St. Louis, to rub shoulders with composers both quite familiar, newly-published, and all places in-between.

Orin and Cyprian

Each year there is a different presenter for the group; this year’s was Cyprian Consiglio, a composer who is also a priest and monk. He has a hidden gem of a piece in the original Sprit and Song volume, an adaptation of “As One Unknown.” It details the many ways Christ can appear before us, emphasizing in its added refrain the true presence of Christ in the Eucharist.

Cyprian has more recently travelled extensively through Asia and brought his knowledge and passion of other world religions to his presentations and music he shared with us at the LCF. One of his talks highlighted how different religions approach Jerusalem, both physically and spiritually (symbolically), emphasizing our common ground.

The LCF week most always propels me into writing new music, and this one is no exception. My mind and heart has been pondering, leading up to this reflection on justice, how Christ appears before us in the vulnerable, oppressed, and homeless, and how all peoples share some amount – likely a large amount – of common ground, all made in the image and likeness of God.

While the music is well on its way, it’s not quite done yet. However, I *think* the text is done, and I’m happy to share it here with you today. Let us pray that what connects us to one another is stronger than what tries to divide us.

Common Ground – by Orin Johnson ©2017

REFRAIN
We all share a common, holy ground,
we all share the hope, the promise
of the One whose image is inscribed upon our souls.
We all share this holy ground.

VERSES
The earth that we walk on is sacred.
Out of nothing this world was made
by the One who said, “Let there be…”
bringing forth all things, day by day.

The flesh we inhabit is sacred.
We are filled with the breath of life
from the One who took dust and clay,
forming living souls, humankind.

The lives that we share here are sacred,
lives of justice, of holy peace.
But the One who orders all things
places love as greater than these.

The whole of creation is sacred,
All that was and will ever be.
For the One who reigns from on high
chose to make himself small, came to dwell among all,
and remains till all is complete,
and remains till all is complete.