Friday, January 19, 2018
There is nothing wrong or bad about a tank of water in itself. But if you want to breathe air, you would not immerse yourself in the tank of water. That would be dysfunctional. So it is with the desire for some solitude and silence in your life. There is nothing wrong with the ordinary comforts and pleasures of life or with many events that call for our attention. But if we want some silence and solitude, say in meditation, then we will have to detach ourselves at times from all these other things. What is harmless in moderation is an obstacle in interior prayer that would deepen our spiritual life. We have to make some empty space for the deepening to take place. The world is not to be ignored or avoided, but rather set aside each day for a bit of sanity and growth in our life.
Thursday, January 18, 2018
Am I living the life God chose for me? Or, if you have god issues of belief, are you living the life that is truly you? It takes some people time to figure this out, but they do if they are open to change. Gandhi was a lawyer in South Africa before he became the Mahatma in India. Jesus was a small village carpenter before he became the Jesus of the New Testament. Einstein could not get work in his chosen field so he became a patent clerk, but kept up work in his chosen field. Then came the Theory of Relativity, the idea that light curves, and so on. I was a stockbroker. But even when we find our fulfilling life work/relationship, we have to keep working on it. There is no generic "Paulist priest." Each of us, within a framework of "Paulist" have to develop our personal way, or charism for ministry. So we have anything from Busted Halo radio to teaching contemplative prayer. So, within your field of vocation of work, and life, you become who your truly are, in that life. No two mothers are the same or fathers. It is a day at a time job. Even aging will be unique to each person.
Wednesday, January 17, 2018
Someone came to me and said that they, "had gone out." "Gone out from where? I wondered. It is a term used by people who get into twelve step recovery programs, steps, meetings, fellowship, and it helps them to not drink day by day. He told me that he had stopped all those things. He no longer went to meetings or worked the steps or helped anyone to stay sober. "Why did you stop all that?" I asked. His response got me to thinking. He said that he was not drinking anymore, so he did not need all that "stuff." Then one day he drank...a lot. What I think, and see as a pattern in the lives of many of us, is that we think whatever we have becomes part of our DNA. We don't lose it...and therefore we don't have to do anything to hold onto whatever good we have. People get married, but don't work on their marriage relationship. They think "marriage" is part of their DNA now. People say they have faith, but then do nothing to nurture it. People have love and ignore the work required to keep the love burning. We take so much for granted, such as health and all of the above examples. Everything that is good in our lives is going to pass unless we work on it...on a daily basis. Walking once a month is not going to keep your health. Having one date night a year with your partner won't nurture your love. An absence of prayer will not nurture your faith. None of these things can be taken for granted. So if you have a relationship now with someone, and you value it, what are you going to do today to nurture it?
Tuesday, January 16, 2018
If you want to sell your house, then go out and buy a St. Joseph statue. Two million of them are sold in this country every year. So a lot of people are asking St. Joseph for help. When you bring the statue home, bury it in the yard, head first, with the feet facing heaven. Once you sell the house, don't forget St. Joseph. With his feet facing heaven he is not going anywhere until you dig him up and take him with you. Face down, Joseph is not being buried, but rather planted in your soil to give the sale some Saintly aide. Joseph had to move several times himself as I recall from the bible, so he sympathized with someone having to move. After you dig the statue back up, then you take it to your new home or room and give it some place of honor. St. Joseph will be a reminder of where you have been, and where you are going, and that you never travel alone.
Monday, January 15, 2018
Fr. Terry Ryan, CSP
John 1: 35-42
January 14, 2018
We are all a “dash.” A what? Yes, if you look at the dates of when someone was born and when they died, you notice the numbers. But there is a dash between birth and death dates. That dash represents their life. We are all a dash, and are in fact living our dash right now. Whenever you become self-imploded, feel you are the center of the universe, that your plans should all come about, become angry that people ignore you and your plans, then remember you are but a dash in the lifetime of the universe. Drop your ego a peg or two.
On the other hand, once you get right-sized, there is good news. This dash of your life has always been in God, from the beginning of creation. The whole matter of the universe existed from the beginning of creation. It has been evolving ever since. At one point, the Divine Creator decided that this Divine Energy would take on human flesh, become matter, and you came into human existence. You are the light of Christ in your short lifetime. And when you die, hopefully, having evolved into all God meant you to be in your “dash,” then you return to God in an even deeper union of Love.
The Gospel, as well as Twelve Step Recovery processes reveal this pastern. In the Gospel, John the Baptist is right-sized in his ego. He has followers, yet when Jesus passes by, John points him out as the one to follow. He is OK with his entourage becoming smaller. Jesus then asks what they want. Are they looking for the “correct” dogma? A political leader to free them from secular misery? Happy times? The two disciples indicate that they simply want to relate to Jesus, spend time with him. They ask, “Where are you staying?” This is key to the spiritual journey that will transform us. We have to simply spend time with Jesus, without our agenda words or pious thoughts. Simply abide in quiet stillness and silence. Jesus invites them to do just that. “Come and see,” is his invitation. When we monks at the monastery gather in the vigil darkness, we do not bring our day planners. It is time to listen. We hear psalms read and then chant a bit, but eventually we sit quietly in the dark, in the abode of Christ and let him love on us. This will help us to right-size our plans and ego for the day. And we then invite others to come and join us in this process.
In the Twelve Step programs, addicts have been trying to squeeze happiness out of their self-centered lives by their drug and have lost control. They are searching in all the wrong places for relief much less happiness. Someone says, “Come and join us. We have a solution.” The almost suicidal addict goes to a meeting, and if they stay, abide, remain, they will be loved on unconditionally. Eventually, they will have a mentor guide through the steps that include quiet meditation. They will always be addicts, but no longer need live completely controlled by their darkness. The light of the higher power will shine through their shortcomings.
It is the same way in all spiritual journeys. We monks will always have faults, character defects, shortcomings, but the light of God’s love will shine through us onto others in the way we act in this world. You don’t have to be a monk for this to happen. It is available for all people in their daily life, one day at a time, with a mediation discipline that allows God to love on you a few minutes a day. The the ‘Dash” of your life will be the light of your Creator shining through you, inviting others who still suffer, to come onto the path. It is the manner of your living the ordinary life that attracts people. Come, and see.
Sunday, January 14, 2018
What can you give to a little child, an infant? They don't want all the stuff and baubles you buy. They are not initially into toys. Someone said that what an infant wants is love, and not love that expects to get something but rather disinterested love. It means a love that is a gift of self. It is all that the child can really receive. Some people will show love to a child that is full of self-interest. The adult wants or expects the infant to respond in a certain way. When the infant does not, the adult might get angry, upset, and even violent. This is one-sided love, your side, not the infant's side. The infant is a complete "receiver." Now, can we love older people in just the same way? How do you love your forgetful, physically and mentally crumbling elder parent? How do you love someone who is so emotionally debilitated that they cannot love back? There is an infant in all of us that wants to sometimes be complete receivers of unconditional love. I think this is a part of the contemplative experience. Maybe it is part of married love. You would have to tell me.
Saturday, January 13, 2018
One of the best ways to explain what and why I teach what I do is to look at the Magi story about following a star. The Magi are searchers for something more or deeper than their economic well being. They have what is called a "restless heart." They are not content with 'Stuff" such as all we receive at Christmas time or through our consumer ways. For the restless heart, one must embrace the darkness or else you cannot see the star. Stars are hidden by the light. The restless heart is not content with the light that comes from book learning, catechisms, dogmas, material things or prayers with lots of good thoughts, words and rituals. Contemplation, prayer beneath thought, word, feeling is praying in the darkness. But it is when you see the star that will lead you, little by little to a fullness you are seeking. The Magi were not changed by dogmatic faith or a set of beliefs, but by daily trudging through the unknown desert, and coming upon relationship, surprising relationship. They were changed forever by this encounter. Institutional, catechetical faith is a bit too certain for me. I try not to sleep through the night of my life. I will miss the star.