Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Not Looking So Good

Think of all the places you show up at and try to look good, when you don't feel very good.  Why?  Whatever the reasons, there is one place where it is best to show up NOT looking good if that is the way your feel.  It is a recovery meeting, the addiction people meetings.  Think of what a relief it would be to just be yourself when you walk into the gathering.  Now some of you outsiders who have read a bit about twelve step programs might say, "Aren't you supposed to be passing on the message?  Aren't you supposed to show how you got better, and then newcomers would ask you for guidance?"  Well, if I were a newcomer, I would probably show up looking on the outside like the mess I am on the inside.  I would be a desperate person.  If I looked around the room and saw only people who looked so much better on the outside than I feel on the inside, I might not identify, and would not come back.  I think newcomers need to see the honesty of people who are doing well today, to show where recovery can go, but also people who are simply having bad days, or just not doing what the recovery program tells them to do.  This runs the whole breath of feelings and results on any given day.  Some newcomers might look for a person who is not drinking/drugging, but who seems to be suffering feelings with which the newcomer can identify.  The Higher Power works best with honesty, or so it seems to me.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Put On The Wedding Garment

HOMILY NOTES
FR. TERRY RYAN, CSP
MATTHEW 22: 1-14
OCTOBER, 15, 2017

Most addicts are invited at some time to come to a recovery meeting.  People around them know the addict is a bit of a mess before the addict is willing to accept it.  They reject the invitation because they are too busy destroying their life.  Then one day, they are dragged in, maybe off the streets, by the gift of desperation, or a jumping off point, or even for a cup of coffee and a warm place to hang out.  If they don’t stay to get into detox and recovery with the steps and sponsor, they will be dragged out by self-will run riot and insanity to die a miserable death.  

But if they do stay and get into recovery, they eventually “put on the wedding garment.”  Say what?  They begin to go to meetings because they have this program, are working it daily and want to share it with others who are just coming in or having a bad day.  The wedding garment is a symbol of celebration for the good fortune you have been so freely given.  In the gospel, people were dragged into the banquet, not asked.  The wedding garment symbolized the desire to connect with love for other suffering people.  Unless they “put on the wedding garment” they will go to meetings for themselves, to feel better.  When they feel better, not imbibing, they will stop going.  They will die a horrible death or just keep coming and going like a revolving door without any real healing.  True healing comes with being compassionate and helpful to the still suffering person in the room.  

Apply this to church going people.  Do they put on the wedding garment.  Well, look at whether they welcome the newcomer, the stranger, maybe even the smelly drunk come in off the street for warmth and a donut.  If a person comes to church for themselves, talks to their respectable familiar friends, then they have not put on the wedding garment. 


At work, how does one react to the newcomer in the office?  If it is a country club or a social group of some kind, how do you respond to the newcomer?  It should not be just the chosen few who do this hospitality.  It is for us all.  We were once the invited newcomer. 

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Step Three

In Step Three of the Twelve Step Spiritual growth program, the word "care" appears.  If I turn my will and life over to the "care" of God/Power on a daily basis, this means that I get something back, no?  I give over self-will power, and get "care." God is able to care for me better when I don't try to get my way all the time.  I am like a person who can start out the day on the right track with self-will.  I discipline myself to get going.  But all too soon somehow the track switch changes, and I am off onto some dead end and crash into mess/barrier of bad habit.  "Care" means that God is driving and powering my engine.  When this happens, all the attached train cars are God's plans for me and the power to carry them out.  My self-will power does not "care" for my best interests.  It seems rather to want to destroy me in some messy dead end.  I take solace each morning that I am in the care of God.  I may not get my way, and bad things may happen, but I won't be the cause of these things.  I may suffer, but I don't want to be the cause of it.  "Care" does not mean I get my way, or life is pain free of disaster.  It means that I don't cause it by my thinking and acting in self-centered, unloving ways.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Getting Ahead

As the story goes, one person says to another, "If you work very hard and give up some of the things you enjoy, you will get ahead."  The second person answered, "Ahead of what?"  Good question.  Do you want to get ahead of others in promotions, income, prestige, status, size of home and car? And if everyone is getting ahead, then everyone is still even.  There can be a cost to making more money, or having more and bigger things.  Maybe the price you pay is less time with family, or relationship with someone.  Maybe you have less time to properly eat, sleep and exercise.  If I did not spend all summer in a monastery, I could do more things in my teaching, preaching and income.  I could become better known and better connected.  But there is a price to pay and I don't want to pay that price to "get ahead."  What about you?  If you say that you are getting ahead because you love your family, but spend little time with the family, is this counter productive?  I don't know that love and getting ahead are very compatible.  If I am going to be doing "much" of something, I would rather it be love and not "getting ahead. "

Friday, October 13, 2017

First Love

A couple of weeks ago I presided at a wedding.  I was not the first choice priest.  They had wanted someone else.  I am not sure how far down the list the couple went before they decided to ask me.  But so what?  It is not important to be first choice in life unless you have a fat or wounded ego.  I was chosen.  I was lucky or blessed, and I enjoyed the wedding event, meeting the couple, and their friends, and eating good food.  I did not need to be first choice for any of that.  Are you the first choice of your spouse?  Do not many people have a first love, but they do not marry that person?  Maybe you are not even the second love, but you are the love that your spouse married.  Only a wounded or damaged ego would be uncomfortable thinking that there might be a first love of their spouse lurking in the world.  Were you the first choice chosen for a job?  Maybe someone said no and then they asked you.  But you have the job.  You don't need to be first to be fulfilled or successful.  I am sure I am not God's first choice for heaven, but if someone else says "No" and a place opens for me, I won't complain.  I try to keep this idea in mind whenever I get asked or chosen, knowing I was not the first or even the second choice.  Now the bride in the wedding I presided at has two unmarried sisters.  I  wonder if I am on the short list to be the priest?  Oops!  Be still, ego.  

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Pinstripes

All Cleveland Indian baseball fans are probably going to heaven because the baseball playoffs are their purgatory.  The Indians won the first two games against the young Yankee baseball team and needed to win only one more.  They had the best pitcher in baseball.  They lost three in a row.  They stopped hitting.  Maybe God gave them great hope in those first two wins, only the crush them with three straight losses, a losing streak unknown to Cleveland most of the 162 game regular season. There is much in the bible that says God punishes and then redeems.  Who knows? The Indians have not won the World Series since 1948. This is the longest time without a title of any professional baseball team.  There are people, a few, who grew up in Cleveland and don't care anything about the baseball team.  They do not get a free pass to heaven.  Plus, diehard Indian baseball fans, long-suffering, would not want them in heaven anyway.  You say that God does not care about baseball, or sports in general?  If you are a Catholic, that is a confessional matter.  On the other hand, the Cleveland collapse is proof of one thing for me.  God wears pinstripes.  On to the next miracle.

Step Six

I think that meditation as a practice for people working the Twelve Step Programs, begins to take focus in Step Six.  Meditation as a practice  is not officially mentioned until Step Eleven.  But Step Six says, "Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character."  You say there is no mention of mediation there?  Get thee to a meeting!  Mediation as prayer is waiting upon God or your Higher Power.  Mediation is really a response to God which kills off our egotism.  Step Six says "entirely ready."  This implies the aspect of "waiting."  If I am ready for someone or something, then I wait.  I don't make it happen.  You wait for your date, your pizza order, your restaurant bill, your bus, my blog.  Well, maybe not the last one, but waiting implies doing the action, Step One through Five, that gets you ready.  You have to get to the bus stop, restaurant, call in the order, and then you wait.  Mediation is waiting upon God to act.  We stop talking, and stop thinking about all our ego plans, focused upon self, and wait for the Power.  Most people hurry through Step Six to get to Seven and then on to amends, and so on.  Is not Step Six an excellent place to stop, let go, and just be with your God/Power?  You won't get rid of those defects of character by the power of your will.  Will power is a bit too damaged for that task.  If you could have stopped on your own will power, you would not be doing these steps.