Breaking: Msgr Lynn in Philly: Decision Reversed

Just in: Via Deacon Greg:

The unanimous decision released Thursday by the state Superior Court also dismisses the criminal case against Monsignor William Lynn, a Philadelphia area priest. Lynn has been serving three to six years in prison after his child-endangerment conviction last year. Prosecutors had argued that Lynn reassigned predators to new parishes in Philadelphia when he was secretary for clergy from 1992 to 2004. Lynn’s conviction stems from the case of one priest, Edward Avery, found to have abused a child after such a transfer. Lynn’s attorneys contended the state’s child-endangerment law at the time applied only to parents and caregivers, not supervisors like Lynn.

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The only question I have is: Did he know? If so, then he deserves to do time. However, I think there’s a good chance that Msgr. Lynn did all he could and was overruled by the now late Cardinal Bevilacqua.

We’ll see how this shakes out.

Hearing Everything

Becky Eldridge reflects ironically on the noises all around her as she seeks silence on a young adult retreat this week. It is there that she finds God all around–in parties, music, baseball bats and in helicopters searching for a murderer:

Turning back to the young adults breathing deeply in the silence and in their time with God, I found myself overcome with the understanding that God was somehow in all of these moments at the same time: God speaking to each young adult uniquely in their silent prayer, God celebrating within the joy of the party, God savoring the experience of community at the baseball game, and somehow, at the same time, God was in the search for the young man (helicopters on a hunt for someone who had shot a cop the day before), comforting the family and friends of the fallen police officer and comforting the family of the man on the run, and offering wisdom during the decisions of both the man and the officers who sought him.

An amazing moment for Becky where the whole world just comes alive.

Ignatius reminds us that God is in all things, holding us all together in what I often call “dynamic tension”–including the good and the bad alike. Much like the wisdom literature where the age old question of not just bad things happening to good people, but even moreso, good things happening to bad people, is explored. God is in the midst of all of it.

And so are we all. Perhaps that’s important to reflect on today.

There is much to pray and reflect on. There is much to notice. Can we even remember all the needs of those who ask us to pray for them? Do we bother to slow down and even see (or hear!) the vast amounts of things going on in the world?

It reminds me of this scene in Superman Returns:

Perhaps this is just a glimpse of what God (rather than Superman) hears–or more likely how we might perceive how God hears us.

But what do we hear? Are we deaf to the call of the poor or the downtrodden? Do we hear even our neighbor’s cry for help? Can we listen with intent for the unspoken cry of another close to us–when we know they are just slightly “off key?”

The good news is that God listens this deeply to all the recesses of our hearts. All of us. Perhaps we are called to the silence each day so that we might be able to pray and respond more often to what we hear and to even hear what we most are in need of ourselves.

Is It Hard to Be Silent?

After reading about monk’s commitment to silence I was up late and engaged with just a portion of the great movie Into Great Silence, which is based on an amazing book, An Infinity of Little Hours. It’s the story of Carthusian Monks who keep silent mostly reserving speech only when absolutely necessary. Here’s just a clip:

It’s an amazing movie and it’s pretty long, nearly 3 hours. A friend mentioned to me that he actually drifted off during the film in the theatre and when he awoke he wasn’t lost at the movie at all. He hadn’t slowed down in some time and his body took advantage and “told him” to recharge a bit more deeply.

But the large question is how comfortable are we with silence. At our student mass we start out with “calling for silence” which when I look at the words they almost sound dumb. “Now we’re going to be silent.” It’s very countercultural and the students love it. We ring the bells and draw people more deeply into the mindfulness of the moment of being with God, of the need to be no place but there in that moment. We’re silent again after communion together as one body in Christ.

At times it seems awkward to me, but the students and the permanent community tell me otherwise. They remind me of their need for quiet, for silence and it’s made me reflect on how much noise exists in my life. The buzzing of my cell phone instead of a loud ring tone even makes noise to alert me of more sounds coming my way. My dog barks sometimes at an ear piercing screech. My wife and I are talkers and sharers, filling up our days with chatter. Often my wife puts a TV or radio on moments after she enters the house. Our staff at St. Joe’s is very talkative and loud and we like it that way. We enjoy each other’s company, laughter and presence.

And so silence to me and to those around me doesn’t come naturally. But lately, this lent, I’ve been craving it. Hawaii, was quite silent at times and I enjoyed just some of the natural sounds of the water and the wind as we gazed into the sunset or looked out from Diamond Head’s peak.

Right now it’s well into the morning here in Buffalo. My body is still adjusting back to East Coast time. I crashed today at 9PM and awoke at 11p and headed to bed, waking up again at 2:30AM and the dog got cranky and wanted to eat, his body thrown off by my own unnatural rhythms as well. Right now he’s lying next to me as I type. It’s become my favorite time where the silence envelops us and we can sit and just be still for hours at a time. I start to type and reflect in the silence but even the clacking of these keys break the easier stillness, which if I’m honest, I need daily.

Silence is hard for most, especially in a world of noise. But it is in that silence that we often meet God a bit more intimately than we do otherwise. And in that silence we also find ourselves sometimes feeling uneasy at our lives, our situations. Our worries rise to the surface, even some superficial ones. God points out where we are most uncomfortable in our lives and calls to us in the silence to address that.

This past January I went away with the students to Kentucky on an alternative break. I had been feeling uneasy at that point and wasn’t really feeling engaged with my work. But I had plenty of time for silence that week and I took advantage of the small chapel from time to time or a nice long walk in the woods. Even during service time, I found myself talking less and packing groceries or tossing wood in silence. And there I was able to admit my worries to God about my life and was able to hear God calling me further into discovering where I feel most called with my students and where I needed to address matters with friends, co-workers, students and family. In the silence, I found not only myself, but God—calling me into relationship and comforting my afflictions, prodding me to repair relationships and challenging me into a deeper sense of ministry.

Today, I love the silence. Sometimes I even get annoyed when it’s unnecessarily broken. In the bible “the fool” is often portrayed as the one who chatters incessantly about nothing. While the wise one is quiet, waiting until the right moment to speak. I find that to be especially helpful as an image for me as a spiritual director, where indeed, I need to listen more than talk and wait in silence for the right words to come to me.

And then, and only then, can I break the silence in hopes of helping another find God.

And hope that I too, in the silence am patient enough to wait for him to come again, and whisper to me in the silence that I love.