About Alan Hartway

Alan is a member of the Missionaries of the Precious Blood since 1974

Alan has spent more than 20 years of his career in higher education and 20 years in pastoral care. He was provincial director of formation and director of publications for five years. He is now retired, writing full time, practicing calligraphy, and playing with his cats.

This blog plans to share homiletic explorations on the Sunday readings of the Roman Catholic Lectionary for those who preach and teach. The focus will be on communion, community, and evangelization. To some extent, there also will be reflections about reconciliation, but not in the context of the Sacrament of Penance.

In the Song of Songs 1, 14, “My beloved is to me like henna from the vineyards of En-gedi.” Henna was used for impermanent tattoos to decorate the body of the bride and groom, typically with elaborate floral and vegetal patterns, much like the interior of Solomon’s Temple in Jerusalem, 1 Kings 6. Henna dyes are still used today. Clusters of white henna flowers smell sweet. Ein-gedi is a fertile oasis on the western shore of the Dead Sea. The area was famous for the quality of its wines, no doubt some of which for weddings. Hence the nuptial language of the Song of Songs, rich for reflections on communion and community. Indeed, the whole Bible ends with the wedding feast of heaven and earth, Christ, the Lamb of God, marrying the bride, the Church.  St. Gaspar del Bufalo, founder of the Missionaries of the Precious Blood, significantly drew from the Song of Songs in his writings. Historically, this brief Biblical text of 117 verses has attracted the commentaries of the mystics throughout the centuries.

The Christ in the Winepress graphic shows Christ in a medieval winepress. The figures in the upper part of the circle represent all the diverse member of society (beggars, ecclesiastics, royalty, merchants, monks, women, and men) all gathered and ready to receive the new wine. The figures in the lower half of the circle are the twelve apostles harvesting the grapes and bringing them to the winepress. Christ is in the center, robes help up, and ready to work. The vine and branches imagery from the Gospel of John entwines them all together in this common endeavor. The inner graphic offers a picture of the gospel inspired earthly community in its perfection. The vine is rooted in the vat that holds the wine. A circularity of growth and communion is suggested by this unusual planting, It seems that the illuminator wants to suggest a community and communion at work. Notice that Christ is actually portrayed twice in this graphic. He appears in the lower left corner holding the hand of a supplicant as if to bring this person back into the circle by healing this person and drawing this penitent back into the community in reconciliation. Note that Christ, the apostles, and the penitent outside the circles are barefooted, perhaps a reminded for the need of washing feet. The inner circle is surrounded by an outer one of angels protecting and holding everything together, which portrays the divine orderliness of heaven and earth. Several of the angels appear to be holding communion hosts.

Reinhold Neibuhr, the American theologian and sociologist who gave us the Serenity Prayer, also once said, “The prophet is someone who comforts the afflicted and afflicts the comfortable.”  He further said, “A preacher has the Bible in one hand and the newspaper in the other.”

There are two main parts to this blog: one, reflections on the upcoming Sunday’s readings (Homiletic Reflections), and a worksheet of the Sunday readings (Lectionary/Catechesis) coordinated with the Catechism of the Catholic Church. These reflections are not meant at all to be a homily or to be read; they are merely preparatory, works in progress, and by no means the last word. Everything on this blog is the work of Alan Hartway.

The “Lectionary/Catechesis part brings the readings to the Catechism, and when the Catechism  uses a verse from the reading for that Sunday to support teachings, then the Catechism paragraph number will be cited. These pages can be printed and copied, and then used for discussion groups like RCIA, Bible Study Groups, or the like.

Included among the tool bar buttons are provocative and significant quotes that Alan has come across in his reading under Florilegia, or “flower book”, cut from the leftover scraps of the vellum or parchment which medieval monks kept for gathering their favorite quotes for their personal use from the passages they were assigned to copy.

Under Authors, Alan will share books he has read or is currently reading.

This blog does not in any way represent anything official from the Catholic Church or the Missionaries of the Precious Blood. Alan is an unabashed liberal, grounded in the Christian Humanities. He is a Hellenophile, not a Latinist. Therefore, this site may not be for you.

Alan is interested in your comments, reflections, and dialogue that contribute to the mission of this blog:  community, communion, and evangelization. Mean-spirited comments, rants, bullying, racism, and the like will result in a permanent ban.

I am very grateful for the excellent web development skills of Carl Watkins who updated this blog. He can be reached at info@bmsite.com if you wish to employ his services.