With Franciscan Eyes

Results filtered by “Sr. Gayle Lynn Rusbasan”

The Veil is Thin

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For me, Halloween or All Hallows’ Eve has always been magical -- and mystical. While Wikipedia is intent on explaining the difference between these two terms, I will explain how they are intertwined. I vividly remember my childhood Halloweens: the decorations, the costumes, going out after dark, and of course, the CANDY. So much candy! For me, there was magic in the air. Jack O’ Lanterns glowed on porches, children were transformed into costumed creatures, and did I mention candy? Full disclosure: I trick-or-treated until I was 28 because I loved it so much, and I didn’t want to let it go. All of this is the magical part. Even now as fall begins to encroach on summer, I sense Halloween in the air, dark clouds passing over the moon. The wind whispers “All Hallows’ Eve is coming.” Combine this with the colorful falling leaves, cooler air. and pumpkin spice lattes (!?), and I can feel the harvest season ending as the barren winter approaches.

Halloween bears the message that All Saints Day is imminent. As children, my brothers and I had to wait to trick or treat at our parish rectory until our pastor returned home from the Vigil Mass. So from an early age, the two days were connected for me. All Saints’ Day unites us to our spiritual ancestors—all the saints on the Church calendar and all the saints who are not, but who are no less important. This link to eternity and our complete union with the God who made us and loves us beyond all measure is the mystical part. I have no issue with going directly from the “secular” world of ghosts, pumpkins, and black cats to the sacredness of the saints. The whole ancient idea was on All Hallows’ Eve that the veil that separated the physical realm from the spiritual one was the thinnest. The two could intermingle. Magical meets mystical. This connection is why I carve Jesus pumpkins. It is my way of reminding people that Halloween is not merely a “secular” holiday. In Franciscanism, all of nature comes from God, so there is no secular. All created things are sacred. God’s fingerprint is on every living thing—when we choose to see it.

Immaculate Conception, Redemption and Patience

I had been wondering what I wanted to write about for several days, but nothing had come to mind. I chose to write an article during Advent because it’s my favorite liturgical season (not just because of the purple), but I wasn’t getting inspired. So, I decided to look at the readings for Wednesday when this would be sent out. Not until I clicked on the USCCB daily readings did I recall that yes, it’s the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. Thanks, Holy Spirit! I have more devotion for this feast after I wrote a paper on Franciscan Friar John Duns Scotus and discovered it was his explanation of how Mary, a human like the rest of us who needed redemption, could be conceived without sin that led to the Immaculate Conception becoming a dogma. I had not known about the vigorous theological debate regarding the concept that had spanned centuries. I’d seen enough Miraculous Medals in my life that I’d not given it a thought. However, in the Roman Rite, Pope Pius IX declared it a dogma in 1854. 1854! In the history of the Church, that is like yesterday. Scotus mapped out his subtle yet brilliant explanation before his death in 1308. It took centuries before the Church officially recognized his work on this idea.

Why did it take centuries of debate on something that seems so obvious? Mary was unique among all humanity. She agreed to birth Jesus, the Incarnation. Why wouldn’t she be special enough to be conceived without sin? The Church in her collective wisdom most often moves slowly and deliberately. One of the two theological questions was: If Mary were conceived without sin, why would she need a Savior? The second was: When during her conception was her sin removed? These two questions needed satisfactory answers. Scotus showed that Mary did need a Savior, a Savior who preserved her from sin entirely. For who is the better doctor, the one who cures the patient or the one who prevents the patient from becoming sick? Scotus then removed the troublesome obstacle of time and stated that her conception and preservation from sin happened simultaneously. God is beyond time.

What can we learn from this? It may take years for something we have started to come to fruition. We may not live to see it. However, knowing that should not stop us from planting seeds of hope. So much about life is waiting. Waiting is hard. Waiting for the Church to recognize Scotus’ theological genius did not lessen its importance. In fact, it enhanced it. A long-awaited victory is a sweet one. The Israelites waited for millennia for the Messiah. Advent reminds us to wait for the Second Coming but also to pay attention to the now. I wish you all peace, hope and patience in the waiting.