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March 29 2023 By dvirtue THE DIVINE PRIORITY

But how can we love someone we do not know? So, it is an obvious truth that there is a prior condition to loving God--we first must get to know>I> Him.

Jesus told us to seek first God's Kingdom and spiritual things, and then everything else would take care of itself (Matthew 6:20-33). Of course, the best and most obvious way to seek the Kingdom of God and spiritual things is to seek the actual King ... and learn from Him.

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March 06 2023 By dvirtue Ashes to Ashes

Imposition is an odd word for a religious rite. With outstretched palms we receive holy communion. With bowed head we receive the laying on of the hands of forgiveness. With pinched nose or upraised visage we receive our baptism. But ashes are imposed with no action from us; we need not even kneel before the minister with dust-flocked thumb as he traces the sign of the cross on our foreheads.

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December 28 2022 By dvirtue SILENT NIGHT

Nearly 80 years ago, my father was in a Navy hospital recovering from a broken wrist suffered playing service football in a Marines v. Navy game. It spared him from Iwo Jima. A friend's father was at Bastogne in Patton's Third Army trying to save McAuliffe's division in the Battle of the Bulge. I don't know what scars he bore from that experience.

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December 26 2022 By dvirtue THE JOSEPH ENIGMA

Scholars get their academic gowns in a twist over whether Jesus' brothers described in the Gospels were of Mary or Joseph or both or neither. I'm not sure why this matters but it may give them something to argue about instead of trying to spread the good news of salvation. Joseph's status as somebody necessary to the narrative is in some ways reminiscent of the original Joseph: persecuted in a foreign land, but scarcely earth-shattering.

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December 23 2022 By dvirtue Time Split in Two

Time is measured by days, divided into hours, minutes and seconds, compiled into months and years. The ancients had another measurement: taxes. Jesus was born when Caesar Augustus was emperor and Quirinius tetrarch of Syria. Caesar had decreed that the world should be taxed.

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December 08 2022 By dvirtue How long, how long O Catiline...

Advent 2022 presents a trifecta of despair: rampant inflation, political stagnation, world conflagration. How is the Lord using us, if He is using us at all? Are we just flies--lower creatures in some order which we cannot see--to be killed for sport?

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December 04 2022 By dvirtue ADVENT

A sermon on praying more or "praying like Daniel" may improve my Christian performance, but it won't lead me to consider the hope that is outside of me in the One who prayed blood drops of anguish as our Ultimate Intercessor. I've heard sermons on love that nearly destroyed me, because, God knows, I don't love him with my whole heart, soul, and mind, and I need God who understands my failure to love.

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November 30 2022 By dvirtue ADVENT - AND MY BIRTHDAY

Seventy-two is also the number of disciples that Jesus sent out to be His "advance men" for His visits to towns throughout Judea. Luke 10: 1-20. Curiously, Mark (6: 7-13) and Matthew (10:1-20) have Jesus sending out only the 12, and it is not clear from the text whether these are separate or the same event. In each, the Disciples are to travel 2 by 2, and in each they were to stay at invited lodgings, and not at any inn. In each they were to call people to repentance and heal the sick.

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October 17 2022 By dvirtue PRODIGAL REDUX

The parable from which Balanchine, a devout Russian Orthodox, drew this dance, and its jumps, leaps, twists and turns has been diluted in its retelling. The son's demand and his profligacy, his desperation and despondency, his realization and return, the father's feast and forgiveness, then remonstrance and invitation to reconciliation are perhaps too much to absorb in four paragraphs. And that is perhaps why the dance has fallen from the repertoire.

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June 09 2022 By dvirtue THE GIFT OF NUMBERS

God chose to have His Holy Spirit descend on the Apostles on the 50th day after the Resurrection. So, 50 has come to be known as the number of the Holy Spirit. But the feast bears a Greek name: Pentecost, and it is the only feast celebrated by both Christians and Jews. Jews celebrate the giving of the Torah on the 50th day after Passover, and it is the most important day in their history.

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