In the space where mountain and cloud meet


This past Sunday, we read (as we always do the Second Sunday of Lent) the perplexing story of the Transfiguration where Jesus and three of his friends ascend an unnamed mountain and find themselves immersed in divine cloud.  It’s such a mysterious episode that each time it pops up in the lectionary I find myself wondering: What really is trying to be communicated here?  What are we supposed to take from this? There are, of course, thousands of commentaries on this story.  This year, however, because of my participation in the Preaching with the Sciences grant project, I found myself digging into sources that I wouldn’t ordinarily have consulted… like meteorological websites describing the relationship between mountains and the formation of clouds.  Not the usual places I scroll when preparing to preach, but leading me to think about the Transfiguration in a different way, which I share here.

It was a particular gift this past weekend to meet with the other members of the aforementioned grant project at Catholic Theological Union in Chicago.  We’ve met a number of times on Zoom during the pandemic, but how good to finally see each other in person.  Fr. Ed Foley, the project’s director, has done such a great job helping us to network not only with one another but also some remarkable scientists from a variety of disciplines—everything from astronomy to primatology to immunology.  Together we are working on a set of over 100 potential homily outlines for Sundays and feast days that preachers could adapt and “flesh out” in their own settings to create homilies that are both creative and scientifically informed.  Hopefully the first set of outlines will be available soon.  I’ll let you know when the website is updated!

Meanwhile, the book I wrote on preaching and teaching about the topic of truth—including a healthy respect for scientific truth—is now on super sale at Ave Maria Press.  Between now and April 21st, you can get copies of Let’s Talk About Truth for $5 each.  As we approach another election season in the fall, this could be the time to get multiple copies to share with your favorite preachers and educators!  A set of lesson plans (with power point slides!) for teachers of grades 7-12 are available for free on the Ave website (scroll to the bottom of the page).

(Photo credit: Nitish Meena)