Lent: A Confusion Before the Cross: Confronted by the Powers in Prayer

seasonsExcerpt and reflection from Bill Wylie-Kellermann’s Seasons of Faith and Conscience: Explorations in Liturgical Direct Action (1991):

It can be fairly said that discipleship is the topic of Lent. The liturgical road from Ash Wednesday leads straight to Passion-week Jerusalem. To enter wholeheartedly into the season costs more than tag along admiration from the margins of a multitude. A call and a choice are put point blank: take up your cross and follow.

Lent was first and still remains a season of baptismal preparation. Before the church year took shape there was only the unitive feast of Easter which went on for fifty days until Pentecost. But for some (those initiates to be baptized into the death and life of Christ on Easter) it was the culmination of a three year period of instruction and discipline. In the underground rigors of pre-Constantinian faith the scrutiny was serious, the preparation prolonged, and the prayer intense. Those demanding final days before baptism were marked with a fast. In part, by a simple act of solidarity and intercession, other members even whole congregations, were drawn instinctively to join the fast and renew their own sacramental vows come Easter sunrise.

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Dispatch from the Dragon’s Belly

Illustration by Lucia Wylie-Eggert

By Kateri Boucher. First printed in Geez 59: Powers and Principalities

“We might not see the dragon’s teeth
but have surely become its belly.”
– Bill Wylie-Kellermann

Will you join me in this imagining?

We find ourselves together in the belly of a beast. From certain angles – with teeth not in view – it may not look so beast-like. But, like it or not, all of us are caught in its grip.

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#LentenAbolition

PC: dsaemerge.org

By Tommy Airey

“It’s not simply: better jails, better police, better training. It’s no police, it’s no jails, no prisons. It’s creating a new means of justice that’s not based on criminalization but based on affirmation and reparation, and by reparation that is trying to repair relationships that have been damaged and destroyed as a result of five centuries of warfare against Indigenous peoples, Africans, poor white people, Asian-Pacific Americans, and Latinx populations.”—Robin D.G. Kelly

Lent starts next week. A season to take spiritual inventory. To assess crucifying realities. To grieve. To confess our complicity. To rise up into newness of life. This year, the Lenten journey begins on Wednesday, February 17—four weeks into a new Presidential administration committed to “going back to normal.” This year, more than ever, Lent resists “normal.” Lent lifts up what Dr. King called a radical revolution of values. Protecting people over profit motives and property rights. Black people. Brown people. Indigenous people. Immigrant people. Poor people. We want nothing to do with a “normal” world of racism, materialism and militarism. Following Jesus of Nazareth, we are inaugurating a world that brings good news to the poor and proclaims release to the captives. We are rolling away the stone guarded by those who protect and serve empire.

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What Keeps you Warm? A Prayer for Late Winter

By Lydia Wylie-Kellermann

In the cold,
dark,
dreary,
loneliness
of February,

I am kept warm.

By the taste of last season’s tomatoes in my salsa
and strawberries spread over fresh baked yeast and whole wheat flour.

By the monotonous moves of my knitting needles,
                and blue ink on paper writing love letters to elders.

I am kept warm.

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Forged in Fire

Forging the gun into garden tool,
Corey Simon, 2020.

by Corey Simon, re-print from Geez 59: Powers and Principalities

And they shall beat their swords into plowshares . . . and learn war no more.

My arm aches.

It’s the second day at the forge, and the sound of hammers and the fumes of coal smoke surround me as my classmates work on their own projects. I pull out what I’ve prepared for today: the barrel of my 9mm handgun, inexpertly cut from the rest of the gun which now sits useless at home.

BANG BANG BANG.

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Interview with Art Laffin on The Risk of the Cross

Art Laffin is one of those deep and beautiful souls worth listening to in these historic days. You want to be standing beside him holding a protest sign at the Pentagon or cooking in the kitchen with him at the Dorothy Day House Catholic Worker listening to him sing and pray “Rejoice in the Lord Always.”

I believe that the best writing on discipleship comes out of lives that are living the Gospel. Art Laffin is one such person and this is one such book. I had the chance to interview him recently on The Risk of the Cross: Living Gospel Nonviolence in the Nuclear Age (Twenty Third Publications, 2020)

RD: What is this book about?

“Jesus tells us, “Fear is useless; what is needed is trust” (5:36). These words from Mark’s gospel capture the spirit we wish to bear witness to in our lives and to express in this book.” This excerpt from the Introduction to the first edition of The Risk of the Cross, which I co-authored with the late Chris Grannis and Elin Schade in 1981, conveys the spirit of this new edition as well.

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A Prayer for the Reckoning

By Lydia Wylie-Kellermann and Kateri Boucher for Geez magazine.

School of Americas Watch in Georgia, November 2008 by Geez staff

Oh God,
whose spirit rests in the contours of Indigenous lands,
whose breath rises in the streets chanting “Black Lives Matter.”
whose rage boils when the cross is raised as weapon,
whose being is re-imagined by the honey bees, 
the mycelium, and the snow covered cedars.

We stand at a time when
the powers of death are gasping for air.
We are witnessing the ways that
Christianity’s tentacles have bound themselves
to patriarchy, nationalism, and white supremacy.

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Carolers on my Porch

by Lydia Wylie-Kellermann

These days my snow-covered porch is covered in discarded seed shells and bird poop. And I couldn’t be happier.

Cedar (age 4) and I have fallen into the Advent tradition of getting out pots and pans and measuring cups. He counts one cup, two cups, three cups, four cups of bird seed. Peanut butter, gelatin, cranberries. We mold wreaths and cookie cutter shapes and muffin cups. We wait days for them to dry. Then add them to gift boxes and stockings.

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Review of Pillar of Fire by Joyce Hollyday

By Kate Foran, shared from Geez magazine

Can we have a story with all the immersive medieval detail—from herb-strewn floors to falconers to feast days— of Kristin Lavransdatter but with none of the tiresome obsession with sexual sin? Can we enter a world with the depth of history of Lord of the Rings without the racist overtones and dearth of female characters? Can we readers have a vision of “The Mended Wood” as cast by S.D. Smith in The Green Ember without buying into the myth of redemptive violence? Can we have a story of risk and companionship written by somebody who knows something about living in community? And can we please have a discipleship story that centers the experience of women?

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Advent Song Summoned by the Forest: Raising Kids during Climate Catastrophe

By Lydia Wylie-Kellermann

Originally printed in The Catholic Worker, December 2020.

When I was a kid, we spent Monday evenings at Williams International, a cruise missile factory in Walled Lake, Michigan. My parents would pick us up from school and we would make the long drive while we pulled on snow pants and mittens. My parents would stand by the road with a single purple candle as employees drove home in the dark while my sister and I would play beside a stream scattering cattail seeds in the wind. After an hour or so, my dad would whistle and we would run to them and sing together “O Come, O Come Emmanuel.” Then we would load back into the car until we would return next week with two flames.

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