Monday, December 28, 2009

Feast of the Holy Family


LUKE 2: 41-52

FEAST OF THE HOLY FAMILY

DECEMBER 27, 2009


Twenty four year ago the parish church of St. Thomas Aquinas, in Boulder, was gutted by a fire. After the fire I knew we had to find a place for the community to worship that was available on Saturday evenings and Sundays. We needed a mass schedule that might be something close to our custom and we needed to continue to have collections to pay for the rebuilding of the church! I made phone calls and inquiries. A very helpful Jewish woman, Joan Russell, worked at Baseline Junior High School nearby. She offered their auditorium to us. So we began to have mass there.


I noticed right away that there were a number of people who no longer came to worship with the community. I suspect that the schedule change or the desire to be in a building that looked more like a Catholic Church, and the discomfort of the auditorium seats built for junior high size bodies, sent some people to other churches. Those who did come to the auditorium felt a bond with one another strong enough to overcome any discomfort or inconvenience. For these people, the community, not the architecture, made the space holy. This is what I call the making of a Holy Family or Community. It is a people who bond together such that they put up with difficulties, just like a blood-related family.


We tend to put up with a lot more from our family, brothers and sisters and children, than we might if they were not family. How many parents have stuck with their children who have become impossible due to drugs and alcohol, and general bad or stupid behavior? Siblings may fight with one another or bicker, but they also feel a bond that keeps them together.


Contrast a Holy Community with grocery shopping. You may pick one store or another for your food, based upon convenience or price. In this case you really don't care who else is in the store. You are there for food. Some people come to a particular church because the schedule suits them. They come for the food of the Eucharist. They do not much care who else is there. If they find some difficulty there with noise or other people or whatever, they simply go somewhere else. Such people are not bonded to the others in that church.


I think that we grow holy by putting up with one another, by difficulties and inconveniences that might try our patience, charity, and fortitude. Holy families grow in holiness not because everyone is perfect and nice, but in spite of perfection. Jesus put up with his disciples. He felt bonded enough with Mary and Joseph, and the Nazareth community to live with them for years before his public ministry. Jesus puts up with me! If I want my parish community to be my kind of perfect or hassle-free, then it might be I am too lazy or self-centered to grow in Holiness.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Fourth Sunday of Advent



LUKE 1:39-45

DECEMBER 20, 2009


On Saturday evenings, I preside at a mass in the small town of Lyons, about 20 miles North of Boulder. Streets and sidewalks all around the church are being torn up and repaved. Right now the torn up part is all around us. It is very difficult to get to the front steps of the church. Tractors and barriers are everywhere. We walk in the street since there are no sidewalks at this point.


This weekend was the worst yet. When I arrived at the church, in the dark, I began to whine and blame, which is my initial response to a difficult situation. Are not my wants the center of attention for the town council? But then God intervened with a thought for me to ponder. In the gospel, Mary travels a very difficult and rocky route to reach her cousin Elizabeth. Mary and Joseph have to travel pretty much the same route to get from Nazareth to Bethlehem, outside Jerusalem. They have to go to an inconvenient stable, in the night, with no paved path. Jesus is born in the night, in a very inconvenient situation for Mary and Joseph. But it is not inconvenient for the shepherds, who are already living outdoors at night on cold ground. For them, the stable is nearby and freely accessible for them.


If it is inconvenient and difficult for me to make my way to the Lyons Church, maybe I am following in the footsteps of Mary and Joseph. The Lyons church becomes the stable I struggle to get into, so that I can enjoy the new birth of my Savior. Maybe the difficulty of getting "there" is the point. What will I put up with to receive God into my life? When I whine, it means I will not put up with much. For sure, I will not bear any cross in this mood!


But there is more. Jesus is born is a cold, dark stable. He does not come where there is light and merriment. He comes to an isolated and out of the way place, off from the mainstream of daily human activity. At this time of year, are not there some hearts that feel cold and dark and isolated from the light and merriment around them? This feeling may come from childhood upbringing where Christmas was not much celebrated. Maybe someone has lost a loved one recently, or has the memory of someone dying at this time in a Christmas past. Maybe someone simply has little faith.


These are the situations in which Jesus especially comes and dwells at this time of year. The animals who witnessed his birth had no faith and maybe even less interest. This is the wonder and miracle of God coming into the world. God comes where least expected or invited. Bethlehem was a small no place town. When you feel like a small nobody, God is coming especially to you. When you feel your heart to be cold, dark and lonely at this time of year, God is dwelling within you. God is especially a surprising and often uninvited presence in the world and in each one of us. Scrooge said, "Humbug" but this did not prevent Love from entering into his life.


You may not welcome, expect or even invite Christ into your life, but that does not control the Presence. We never earn God, but we sure can be surprised by the Incarnation in our hearts.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Third Sunday in Advent

LUKE 3: 10-18

DECEMBER 13, 2009

The spiritual journey is to discover who God made you to be, and then to live that out in your everyday life. When you are able to do this you will become "Good News" for those attracted to you. People will be attracted to you because you will exhibit a certain comfort and peace within yourself no matter the difficulty of life. John the Baptist has come to live in the desert. It is where he is supposed to be. It is here in his desert lifestyle that he hears and proclaims the word of God. Though he is in a remote and difficult place, people come out to hear him. Why do they come? Why do they hear Good News?

John does not yell at them. He does not judge them. He does not tell them that they are terrible people who will burn because of their lifestyle. Because John is comfortable in his own skin, he can hear God's word clearly and not interpret it through John's own tortured, angry and judgmental life. He speaks in moderation when the people trust to ask, "What are we to do?" To the general populace, he says that if you have more then you need, share some with those who are in want. John does not rant about consumerism or the hoarding of things in an attempt to make one happy. He gives people a simple suggestion that can be accomplished without having to change their whole lifestyle.

Tax officials, judged evil by the general populace, feel comfortable around John. To their question, "What are we to do?" he tells them not to cheat people. He does not say that tax collectors are evil and need to stop their means of livelihood. He gives them a suggestion of what could be done that will really effect their lives for the better. To the soldiers, some of whom are pagans, infidels, John again does not tell them they have to stop being soldiers or even change their belief system. He gives them something that they can begin to do now without too much trouble. He tells them to accept their wages and don't try to threaten the people with a lance to extort more income from them.

People hear Good News. Through John, they hear God saying that they can begin to grow in the spiritual life with some simple adjustments. They hear something that is possible to do. They do not hear judgment. They are not told to completely change their lives. Nobody seems to go away sad. If John's audience can each put into practice his suggestions, then the world will be a better place and the kingdom will be made more visible in our midst.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Contemplative Outreach: Humility, Part II


“HUMILITY, Part II”

We will explore the importance of humility in practicing the spiritual life and how to achieve it through letting go of thoughts of our former way of life, thoughts of God, and thoughts of self. The presentation will be based on the book Humility Matters by Mary Margaret Funk.

Presented by

Father Terry Ryan, CSP

At

St. Thomas Aquinas Church Hall

14th Street and Aurora Avenue (on the Hill), Boulder

Saturday, January 16, 2010

9:30 a.m. to Noon

(Coffee and treats begin at 9:00 a.m.)

The morning will include Centering Prayer,

but no experience necessary.

Everyone is welcome. Suggested donation is $10.

_________________________________________________________

For more information and pre-registration, please call

Barbara Hayden (303) 494-2845 or Rosalie Gansecki (303) 494-1742

Sponsored by Contemplative Outreach of Boulder

and St. Thomas Aquinas University Parish

Second Sunday in Advent


LUKE 3: 1-6 BARUCH 5: 1-9

DECEMBER 6, 2009

There are three kinds of people who run. There are those who run for exercise to lose weight. When the weather is bad, or they get bored or the running is not "fun" or they don't seem to lose the weight, they give up running. The second kind of runner is one who runs to train. They want to get fit and stay fit. They run through bad weather, tiredness and difficult terrain. They love to run. The third kind of runner is like the second, only they want to compete in races as well. They want to test there body and will against the clock and other runners. I am this third type.


I love to run, though I am not always happy or pain free when running. Running is part of who I am. To a non-runner it is difficult to explain. Running is more than exercise. It is not always fun and rarely easy. There is rain cold, and wind. There are uneven trails and sometimes hard roads. Running is not an option in my week of exercise. Wherever I go on my travels and work, I run. Running attire is a good deal of the bulk of my travel clothes. If I visit a place regularly each year, I have running shoes and attire stored there. I run.


Some people think me a bit crazy or odd. Probably John the Baptist was seen as a bit crazy too. He felt that he was called to live in the desert. His father was a big deal in Jewish priesthood. Maybe John was slated to be a temple priest. He saw his truth calling him to live in the desert. A spiritual life is where we find out who we are and then live it. Running for me and living in the desert for John is part of who we are. It is part of our spiritual life.


God wanted John in the desert because God was going to speak the Word in the desert and needed someone to hear it who was comfortable enough in the desert to be open to the Voice. Desert dwelling was not easy, but since John knew that he was fit for it, he did not focus on the difficulties. He was open to hear the Word. When we live our true identity we are then following God's will and plan. In Baruch, the prophet tells the people to stop mourning their difficulties and put on festive clothes. They are God's special people. Celebrate. Baruch is telling the people to access their true identity and live it though there be difficulty in their lives. They are part of God's plan.


Many people ask, "Where can I make the most money?" or, "Where can I be the most secure?". They don't seek to know who they are, their unique self. So a person decides to be a banker, for the money, when in fact, they are meant to be a teacher. Or a person opts to work in health care, when they are called to be a political advisor or journalist.


In this season of Advent waiting, ask if you are waiting for God where you are supposed to be. God may come to you where you are meant to be, and if you are not there, you might miss the coming. If you say, "God is absent," it might be that you are waiting in the wrong place and wrong life. The good news is that when you are lost, or have lost yourself, God can find you. I wonder if the lost sheep was wandering around trying to be a goat?

Saturday, December 5, 2009

11th Step Centering Prayer Workshop

EXPLORE SPIRITUALITY

11TH STEP CENTERING PRAYER WORKSHOP

FOR MEN AND WOMEN IN 12 STEP PROGRAMS

FATHER TERRY RYAN, CSP

This is a workshop to learn centering prayer as an 11th step meditative practice open to anyone in any 12 step program. Anyone who is involved in a 12 step program and has ever started or wanted to start the practice of centering prayer will be amazed by the vision and intuitiveness of Father Ryan.

Father Terry Ryan, C.S.P., is a Paulist priest who travels throughout the United States teaching reflections of the Contemplative Experience. St Therese of Lisieux, the great mystics, and the spirituality of the 11th step of a 12-step recovery program all provide the frameworks for Father Terry’s discussions of the Contemplative Experience. The contemplative experience of resting in God within and beyond our limiting thoughts, images and feelings can transform your active life. You will become freer of self-centered, fear-based motives and of desires for too much control, security and esteem. Contemplating the inner light of God’s will, we will discover who we truly are in his divine image and likeness.

SATURDAY, JANUARY 9, 2010

9:00 AM to NOON

SAINT AMBROSE EPISCOPAL CHURCH

7520 SOUTH BOULDER ROAD

LOUISVILLE, COLORADO 80303

For directions: http://saintambrosechurch.net/ or 303-491-3041

Registration will begin at 9:00 AM. There will be coffee and treats offered. A $10.00 donation is suggested and appreciated to cover costs.

For more information, or to reserve a seat, contact Pat Fanning at 303-530-1315 or by e-mail to pat.fanning@yahoo.com. Please RSVP by December 31, 2009.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Upcoming Boulder Area Schedule

Masses:

SATURDAY, Dec. 5 - 5:30 pm - Lyons (Meets in the Methodist Church, 4th & Main)

FRIDAY, Dec. 11 - 7:00 am - SHJ

SATURDAY, Dec. 12 - 5:30 pm - Lyons

SATURDAY, Dec. 19 - 5:30 pm - Lyons

THURSDAY, Dec. 24 - 5:00 pm - VIGIL OF CHRISTMAS - Lyons

FRIDAY, Dec. 25 - 7:00 am
and
8:30 am - CHRISTMAS - Spirit of Christ, 7400 W. 80th Ave., Arvada

SATURDAY, Dec. 26 - 5:30 pm - Lyons

SUNDAY, Dec. 27 - 7:30 am - St. Thomas Aquinas, 14th & Aurora, Boulder

Monday, Dec. 28 - 5:10 pm - St. Tom's

THURSDAY, Dec. 31 - 5:10 pm - VIGIL MARY MOTHER OF GOD - St. Tom's
FRIDAY, Jan. 1, 2010 - 10:00 am - SOLEMNITY OF MARY MOTHER OF GOD - St. Tom's

SATURDAY, Jan. 2 - 5:30 pm - Lyons

SUNDAY, Jan. 3 - 7:30 am and 9:00 am - St. Tom's

Monday, Jan. 4 - 5:10 pm - St. Tom's

Tuesday, Jan. 5 - 5:10 pm - St. Tom's

Wednesday, Jan. 6 - 5:10 pm - St. Tom's

SATURDAY, Jan. 9 - 5:30 pm - Lyons

SATURDAY, Jan. 16 - 5:30 pm - Lyons

January 20 - February 9 - Fr. Terry will be in San Francisco

SATURDAY, Feb. 13 - 5:30 pm - Lyons

SATURDAY, March 6 - 5:30 pm - Lyons

SATURDAY, March 27 - 5:30 pm - Lyons

SATURDAY, April 3 - 5:30 pm - Lyons (EASTER)

SUNDAY, April 4 (EASTER) - 7:00 am AND 8:30 am - St. John the Baptist, Longmont - in the gym

WORKSHOPS:

Saturday, Dec. 5
- 9-noon - Sacred Heart of Jesus (Jubilee Hall). Topic: "Bonaventure" Bonaventure was a 13th century Franciscan and the chief architect of Franciscan Spirituality. His Franciscan emphasis on the humanity of Jesus can help us in our ADVENT reflections on the Incarnation of Christ. Suggested donation: $10. Coffee & treats begin at 9:00 am.

Thursday, Dec. 10
- Morning for Moms & Dads - "Morning of Prayer" 9-noon - Sacred Heart of Jesus (Jubilee Hall). The school Parents in Prayer group will provide refreshments and coffee. Suggested donation: $10.

Saturday, January 9, 2010 - Workshop to learn Centering Prayer as an 11th Step meditative practice open to anyone involved in any 12-step program who has ever started - or wanted to start - a practice of Centering Prayer. Registration will begin at 9:00 am . Coffee & treats offered. $10 donation is suggested and appreciated to cover costs. For more information, or to make a reservation, contact Pat Fanning at 303-530-1315 or email her at pat.fanning@yahoo.com

Please RSVP by December 31, 2009

Saturday, January 16, 2010 - St. Thomas Aquinas Church Hall (enter from Aurora St. door) 9-noon Workshop titled, "Humility, Part I". We will explore the importance of humility in practicing the spiritual life and how to achieve it through letting go of thoughts of our former way of life, thoughts of God, and thoughts of self. The presentation will be based on the book, Humility Matters, by Mary Margaret Funk. The morning will include Centering Prayer, but no experience is necessary. Everyone is welcome - suggested donation $10. Coffee & treats begin 9am; talk begins 9:30. For more information: Barb Hayden 303-494-2845 or Rosalie Gansecki 303-494-1742.

Saturday, February 13, 2010
- St. John the Baptist church (323 Collyer, Longmont) 9am -12:30pm.
Topic and further details: TBA

Saturday, March 6, 2010 - Sacred Heart of Jesus, 9:00 (goodies) 9:30-noon (talk) Topic: TBA

Monday, November 23, 2009

THE FEAST OF CHRIST THE KING

Photograph of Liverpool's Catholic Cathedral, the Metropolitan Cathedral of Christ the King.
(c) FreeFoto.com

JOHN 18: 33b-37 NOVEMBER 22, 2009

Let's say your heritage or ancestral lineage is Italian, or French, or Latino, or in my case, Irish. What if you were to say one day, "I think I will be Greek." You drop all your ancestral ways, change your name, eat Greek food, and practice Greek customs. Now you might think this is very strange. Yet we do this every day with reference to our spiritual heritage. We are Catholic Christians, member of the Kingdom of God. We are children of God, brothers and sisters of Jesus from our baptism. If you are like me, you forget all this most of the time and focus your life on other things.

Do I wake up and say to myself, "I am a child of God, loved by God and a freed member of the Kingdom of God?" No, I wake up and wonder if my computer is going to work the way I want, or if it will be too cold to run comfortably, or if there are bananas for my cereal in the kitchen. I forget my true identity and decide to live in some other kingdom, enslaved by worries and anxieties.

Jesus began this kingdom but in the Gospel he never directly says that he is a King even though Pilate pushes him on this. Jesus is not yet a King because he has yet no subjects. They are still hostages of the devil. Satan had a battle with Adam and Eve who were living in the Paradise Kingdom. Adam and Eve did battle with the cunning devil. They lost and became his hostages. When an army lost a battle in ancient times, hostages were taken by the winners. To get freed someone had to pay a ransom. Throughout the Hebrew Scriptures the devil had the people, the lineage of Adam and Eve, enslaved to his kingdom. There was the Tower of Babel, Noah's Ark, the rebellion of God's chosen people in the desert, defeat by Greek and Roman pagans, all because the people forgot their heritage and decided to focus on things other than God.

God wants us back. So God tells Satan, "I will become a human being and you can have me executed in a shameful and painful fashion, if you will let me people go. Satan agrees. So now we are at the scene of today's Gospel. Jesus has to die to ransom us from captivity. Then he will be a King. He dies. The devil did not know about Resurrection. Jesus goes down into hell and gets all the people who are there. It is in our Apostles' Creed. We are all freed to live in the kingdom. In baptism we become Kings. It says it right there in the ritual. We become sisters and brothers of Jesus, and children of God. But like an Italian who decides to be Greek, we decide to give up this identity and be like Pilate, slaves to passing things.

Jesus' hands are bound but he is really free in the Gospel. Pilate's hands are not tied but he is bound by his focus on esteem, power and control. These are the things Pilate wakes up to think about. What about us? In the celebration of the Eucharist, we spiritual royalty come together to celebrate the Kingdom in which we live and eat of the food of God prepared by and for a royal people.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Say “yes”


I notice that when I run with my running club group, I am always last. There are two reasons for that which I cannot change.

1. Age. I am getting older

2. Talent. I have been given just so much and no more.

Acceptance is the response to these two things. But there are some things that can grow or be added that will not be affected by age and talent.

1. Patience. This virtue includes the faith that I will improve if I keep showing up each day to train.

2. Training. I have only been training since late summer. If I train regularly through the winter, the cumulative effect is that I will run faster in the spring when racing season comes around. Fortitude is required if I am going to train on a regular basis.

Patience and fortitude are virtues. Virtue is an act of the will. It is a decision, not a feeling. I might not want to train each day, or feel confident that I will get better. I try and ignore these feelings. The will might lean toward laziness especially on rainy days, but regular decisions of "Yes, I will," strengthen the will. Age and DNA do not weaken the will. A daily "Yes" to virtue is great spiritual training.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

I went to a function today in Chinatown, San Francisco. I said hello to the Archbishop who was also there. I could tell that he did not remember me. I thought, "Well, he won't be inviting me to do any of my teaching." Then the whole crowd in attendance at the event went to a luncheon. I got to sit next to his secretary. God is watching over me. When one door does not seem to open, another one surprisingly does. We got to know one another.

If you do not know the doorkeeper, then the door will never open for you.

Bartimaeus


MARK 10: 46-52 OCTOBER 25, 2009

This is a wonderful homily for a baby baptism mass. When the baby cries, the parents have to put everything else aside and attend to the baby. Babies cannot talk and tell you what they want or need. What if a parent said, "Don't bother me, I'm busy." You would think the parent rather callous and self-centered. If I were to ask someone for assistance and they were to ignore me, or say, "Don't bother me," I would be upset and hurt.

Yet, the disciples of Jesus are just that, hard and callous. They have a plan and a schedule. They are on their way somewhere. Maybe they see themselves protecting Jesus from annoyances. But what if Jesus came to save "annoyances." I bother God every day with my annoyances, my requests for attention and agenda. If God is not going to pay attention to annoying people like me, then I am indeed in dire straits.

I wonder if the blind man, Bartimaeus, thought that the disciples were annoyances? They were trying to shut him up, to snuff out his response to faith in Jesus. These disciples were to be the first bishops, the first evangelizers. They started out doing a pretty poor job of it. That annoys me.

But wait! Jesus might be asking us to be open and non-judgmental of people that seem to be annoying. Jesus accepts Bartimaeus as is. Jesus accepts the disciples as they are, for now. Jesus gives Bartimaeus sight so that Batimaeus can chose which is the "way" for him. We are called to be helpful to the helpless. If someone asks for help or cries for help, ours is not to judge. Ours is to respond. If they can speak, ask them, "What do you want?" There may be times or situations in which we cannot be of help, but we can be kind. We won't know unless we ask, "What do you want?"



Monday, October 19, 2009

Spiritually Working Out


MARK 10: 35-45; OCTOBER 18, 2009

Running is a good metaphor for the spiritual life. Right now, I run at the back of the pack, way back. But sometimes I say to my coach that I want to run right next to him, at the head of the pack. He looks at me and says, "Are you insane?" He knows that I cannot suddenly begin to run with all the others, much less be in front. So he might gently say to me, "If you are willing to do the workouts that I do and suffer the pain that I suffer, then you will improve and become all that you can be as a runner." I cannot get better without putting in the workouts over a long period of time. There is a light at the end of the tunnel but as my coach says, "It is a long journey." As to running next to him some day, that is not for him to say. Each of us has a talent level. I can become all that my body will allow, but that does not mean I will run at the head of the pack or next to the coach.

Now turn to the Gospel. The two disciples, James and John, want to bask in Jesus' glory, and be right beside him. They want it now. They don't want to put in the work necessary to reach their goal. Jesus does not say they are insane. He says, "You don't know what you are asking." Then he challenges them to drink the cup from which he drinks, that is do what he does and go through the pain he goes through. It is like my coach saying that I need to drink the cup of workouts he does each day, and suffer the pain of some of these efforts, and then I will reach my "glory."

The disciples make a pact with Jesus to do as he says. Jesus cannot guarantee that they will end up beside him because each of us has our own level of holiness. I will never be as holy as Teresa of Avila or Therese of Lisieux. They seem to have a lot more spiritual DNA than I do. But the disciples will become all that God made them to be if they put in the daily spiritual practices. The Church has given us plenty of spiritual workouts: mass, bible lectio, meditation and such.

The disciples are attracted to Jesus. This is as far as their effort goes. If I read a book on marathon running, I might be attracted to running a marathon, but it is just an attraction. I will not run the marathon just by reading a book. I need to put in the daily effort over a long period of time to be able to run the marathon to my particular talent level. If I read a book of prayer, I might be attracted to praying and drawing closer to God in interior union, but it is only an attraction. I must have a daily practice if I am going to move toward my goal. Yes, God is at work, but I must show up each day and make some effort to discipline myself and make choices to pray rather than do something else.

EBay, garage sales and second hand stores are filled with stuff originally bought but never used by people who were attracted to something because they read a book, saw a movie, or heard a talk. In the Bible Book of Isaiah 53:10 it says that God "was pleased to crush him in infirmity." Isn't God supposed to be loving, kind and compassionate? Yes, but do you want to grow from attraction to become all who God made you to be? To know and believe that God loves me is the beginning of the relationship. That is the attraction part. I know that my coach cares for me, but at times he will give me a workout that seems to crush me! He seems to know when I need to make a greater effort to extend my muscles and discipline myself at some deeper level, so that I will improve. It is the same with God. The daily practice of spiritual effort is not always easy. Sometimes we get sick, or infirm. Sometimes we lose interest or focus or just get lazy. Sometimes there are a lot of distractions. When times are tough like this, God may be trying to toughen us up so that we can bear some cross that is still down the road of a long journey to spiritual transformation. God is a light even in the tunnel of darkness.

I have to go now and do my workout!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Habits


Habits defy adjustments. I have the habit of running early in the morning, usually during the coldest temperature of the day. But some mornings my schedule allows me to adjust and run later in the morning after the Boulder sun has warmed up the day. Would this not be more fun? I resist. I have my habits. Am I addicted?


Let's move on to the issue of prayer. Do you have a habit of praying? Like exercise, this seems like a good thing. But is your habit of prayer set in a certain formula? What if God wanted you to put down your meditation book and sit in silence, or pick up your bible and do lectio instead of sit in silence? Would you be able to hear the still small voice inviting you to change your formula of prayer? Are you hungry for God? Or are you addicted to your method? Methods are not God's will. They are simply methods. It is midmorning. The sun has warmed the day. I will go for a run now!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

CONTEMPLATIVE MORNING: "HUMILITY"

We will explore the importance of humility in practicing the spiritual life and how to achieve it through letting go of thoughts of our former way of life, thoughts of God, and thoughts of self. The presentation will be based on the book Humility Matters by Mary Margaret Funk.

Presented by

Father Terry Ryan, CSP

At

St. Thomas Aquinas Church Hall

14th Street and Aurora Avenue (on the Hill), Boulder

Saturday, October 10, 2009

9:30 a.m. to Noon

(Coffee and treats begin at 9:00 a.m.)

The morning will include Centering Prayer, but no experience necessary.

Everyone is welcome. Suggested donation is $10.

_________________________________________________________

For more information and pre-registration, please call

Barbara Hayden (303) 494-2845 or Rosalie Gansecki (303) 494-1742

Sponsored by Contemplative Outreach of Boulder

and St. Thomas Aquinas University Parish


Wednesday, September 30, 2009

What is in the way of your relationship with God?


MARK 9: 38-48

SEPTEMBER 27, 2009

I just bought shiny, colorful, new running shoes courtesy of my running club. I can't wait to run in them. They are advertised as shoes that will make me run faster without training! What a deal. I love to run. Each morning I get up very early, like a good monk, and spend time prayerfully with God in solitude and silence. Then I meditate on a little bible passage. After this I get on my running gear and go to meet my friends in our running club.

What if I went to bed at night and felt too tired to get up early for prayer? "Oh, I will sleep in and skip the prayer, so that I will have more energy for running," I might say to myself. Would this be a sin? If sin were just the Ten Commandments, it would be no sin. But the saints see sin as bad habits that keep us from growing in our relationship with God. Such bad habits became known as the Seven Deadly Sins. One of them is sloth or laziness. The others are pride, avarice, envy, anger, lust, and gluttony. With sloth I am either too lazy or too disinterested in prayer to get up early and practice it. Running has become more important.

The Gospel seems to say that I need to cut out running because it is getting in the way of my spiritual growth. Running has become important to me, much like a hand, or foot or eye. Jesus is not saying that we should mangle our bodies, but rather that whatever gets in the way of our relationship to God is usually something we see as essential or necessary.

In the Gospel John believes that everyone ought to belong to John's particular group if they are going to be "true" followers of Jesus. John is what today we might call a "fundamentalist." My group is right and every other religious group that says it follows Jesus is wrong. Jesus challenges this narrow view. Jesus is more inclusive. John's view might be very precious to him. He might have a deep need to be exclusive. So it will be like cutting off a piece of his body for him to give up this way of thinking. What is so valuable to you that you would let it get in your way of attending to your relationship with God?

Friday, September 25, 2009

Whoever receives one child...


MARK 9: 30-37

SEPTEMBER 20, 2009

When twelve men get together to argue about who is the greatest, we call this "trash talking." I belong to a running club, and this is what the guys do. We tell the other persons that we are so much better than them, and sometimes do it humorously. It is a thing guys do, not only in sports, but in business too. "My product or service is better than yours." It is all to boost the ego.


Consider how this would play out if you were suggesting that people sign up or volunteer for some church work, or any list of chores for any organization. For a church, people might be very willing to become an advisor on how the parish should spend its money. That looks like a leadership job. Maybe people would find popular, a chance to say what adult or children's religious studies should be, including picking content and textbooks. But would anyone sign up to clean the kindergarten room after children had gotten sick on the floor or crushed their treats into the carpet? This does not look like an important job. It does not stroke the ego. It won't get much attention.


Jesus brings an unimportant person into the center of the leadership group. A child is an outsider when it comes to "adult" leadership. A child does not have much expertise. Talents are not developed yet. They should be quiet and maybe do menial tasks. They are rather powerless, like Jesus was on the cross. Don't ignore them. Welcome them as Jesus does. Make them important. The last shall be first. Make yourself unimportant. The first shall be last. If you want to be a leader, a follower of Jesus, then do the jobs that don't puff up your ego. Do the things that you think are beneath you. It might be in those tasks that you will most encounter Christ.


I always hated to take out the garbage. I still do. But that is why I need to do it, and do it with a smile. It just might be the way that I will be most like Christ for me. It will shrink my ego and make room for God.

Sunday, September 20, 2009


Fr. Terry's local schedule

SHJ, Sacred Heart of Jesus, 14th and Mapleton, Boulder, CO

Lyons, Lyons Community Church, 350 Main St., Lyons, CO


Occasionally there's a last minute change in the daily mass and there's no time to notify you, but any changes/additions that can be notified, will be!

Don't forget his WORKSHOP next Saturday (the 26th) at Sacred Heart of Jesus (Jubilee Hall - enter on 14th St.) Coffee & goodies begin at 9am. Talk begins at 9:30 and lasts until noon. Suggested donation is $10.


MASSES:


SUNDAY, Sept. 20 - 10:30 am
and
12:15 pm - Spirit of Christ, 7400 W. 80th Ave., Arvada (just east of Wadsworth on 80th)

Tues., Sept. 22 - 12:10 pm - SHJ
Wed., Sept. 23 - 8:15 am (school mass) - SHJ
Thur., Sept. 24 - 12:10 pm - SHJ

SATURDAY, Sept. 26 - 5:30 pm - Lyons

SUNDAY, Sept. 27 - 6:00 pm (Life Teen mass) - SHJ

Mon., Sept. 28 - 12:10 pm - SHJ
Tues., Sept. 29 - 12:10 pm - SHJ
Tues., Oct. 6 - 12:10 pm - SHJ
Wed., Oct. 7 - 12:10 pm - SHJ
Thur., Oct. 8 - 12:10 pm - SHJ
Fri., Oct. 9 - 7:00 am - SHJ

SATURDAY, Oct. 10 - 5:30 pm - Lyons

SATURDAY, Oct. 17 - 5:30 pm - Lyons

SUNDAY, Oct. 18 - 7:00 am
and
8:30 am - Spirit of Christ, Arvada

[Gone to San Francisco for 6 weeks]

SATURDAY, Dec. 5 - 5:30 pm - Lyons

SATURDAY, Dec. 12 - 5:30 pm - Lyons

SATURDAY, Dec. 19 - 5:30 pm - Lyons

THURSDAY, Dec. 24 - 5:30 pm - VIGIL OF CHRISTMAS - Lyons

FRIDAY, Dec. 25 - 7:00 am
and
8:30 am - CHRISTMAS - Spirit of Christ, Arvada

SATURDAY, Dec. 26 - 5:30 pm - Lyons

SUNDAY, Dec. 27 - 7:30 am - St. Thomas Aquinas, 14th & Aurora, Boulder

Monday, Dec. 28 - 5:10 pm - St. Tom's

THURSDAY, Dec. 31 - 5:10 pm - VIGIL MARY MOTHER OF GOD - Lyons

FRIDAY, Jan. 1, 2010 - 10:00 am - SOLEMNITY OF MARY MOTHER OF GOD - St. Tom's

SATURDAY, Jan. 2 - 5:30 pm - Lyons

SUNDAY, Jan. 3 - 7:30 am and 9:00 am - St. Tom's

Monday, Jan. 4 - 5:10 pm - St. Tom's

Tuesday, Jan. 5 - 5:10 pm - St. Tom's

Wednesday, Jan. 6 - 5:10 pm - St. Tom's

SATURDAY, Jan. 9 - 5:30 pm - Lyons


WORKSHOPS:



Saturday, Sept. 26 - 9-noon - Sacred Heart of Jesus, 14th & Mapleton

Saturday, Oct. 10 - 9-noon - St. Thomas Aquinas, 14th & Aurora

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Find silence and solitude


Mark 7:31-37
Jesus is presented with a man who has a speech impediment and was deaf. Sometimes we have a speech impediment. We talk too much. We have a hearing impediment. We listen too little. We may hear just fine, but we aren't really listening. We are thinking about what we want to say in response, or just thinking about something else beside what someone is saying.

Jesus' solution is a very monastic one. He takes the fellow away from the crowd to be just with Jesus. This is a big part of what I do in a monastery. I need solitude and silence, so I might begin to listen to God and not listen to my running commentary in my mind. Jesus touches the man's ears first, and then his tongue. I need to learn to listen before I go around talking.

I need to be open to God, to a world beyond my own head. Ephphatha! "Be opened," is what Jesus says. Take in the divine presence and be quiet about it for a while. Find silence and solitude. It is the first step in being open in ears and tongue.

Do you presume to know God?


Luke 5: 1-11
I sense some whining! Peter is frustrated and tired from working all night with zero catch of fish. No income today for the fishing partners. Jesus is wise and interesting, but he is a bit of a nuisance. Peter has to wait in the boat, a little out from shore while Jesus teaches. Is it a bit like being in church "in a mood" i.e. tired and cranky?

If it were not for his boat, Peter does not seem to have much to offer to Jesus. It is then that Jesus asks for even more! What bad timing this is for Peter. He whines about being at work all night, but then reluctantly, pulls into the deep. Peter is now the least open to anything deep within himself or in the water. The miracle happens. Peter's attitude and demeanor has nothing to do with it. The abundant catch is all Grace.

God's action does not depend on our virtue, or good mood, or faith. We can't manipulate God, though we try at times. The abundant change of fortune for Peter brings him to realize what a cranky person he has been. "I am a sinner." He does not figure himself worthy to be in the company of Jesus. He is right. None of us are worthy in the sense that we earn God's love, or attention.

Peter and his partners realized that God's love did not depend on them. It was free and unconditional. For this they left all the fish on the shore for others to eat, free of charge. So, when you feel that God has abandoned you, or is ignoring your "needs" realize it is just your opinion. Do you presume to know God?

Friday, August 21, 2009

Musing

John 20: 1-16

The guys who worked longer thought that they should get more than someone who worked less. Seems logical to you? Well, do you ever say, "I will pray harder" with the expectation that if you do more then you should get more, say from God? Do you then feel that you are better than someone who prays less than you? I call it "the prayer of capitalism." More is better. I don't think Jesus was too much for this way of praying. If you somehow think that you are first (as in better than, or owed something from God) think again. The first will be last.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Feeding on God


John 6: 51-58

When we read in Scripture this gospel about feeding on the flesh and blood of Jesus, we usually think of the Eucharist. John seems to be saying that if you don’t receive Eucharist you don’t have Christ abiding within you, nor do you have the quality of life called eternal.

There are some problems here. In Leviticus, the Jews are taught that it is wrong to drink blood, as when they eat animal or bird flesh. Naturally, Jews would be offended at what John is saying in this gospel. Moreover, the desert monks of the early church did not speak much of Eucharist, or even of Christ. It is not that they believed otherwise, but that they were about some other focus, dealing with their faults and failings. They did not gather much for Eucharistic liturgy. It was the bishops, the developing hierarchy that pushed for communal liturgy.

In the Hebrew Scriptures, we read that “feeding on God, tasting God,” was focused on pondering the Word in the Bible. The Jews would understand Jesus when he spoke about feeding and eating, but in the sense of being nourished by scripture. Wisdom literature speaks about drinking and eating the Word. Early church Fathers spoke about lectio divina, looking for the hidden, deeper meaning in Scripture passages. This would lead to a more direct and deeper discovery of God within. It was called mystical theology. It was a way of pondering a scripture passage.

If the Church wanted people to focus on Eucharist, then why, for so many centuries, was Eucharist not received by the people but once or twice a year, if that? It was not until the early 20th century that Pius X encouraged children to receive First Communion at an earlier age than 12 years old, and for people to receive more frequently.

If you look at the Gospel of Thomas, it talks about each person having the light of God within them. By living a more mystical prayer life we would come into deeper and better contact with this light, such that it would change our lives. There is not much talk about Eucharist. An emphasis on interior prayer, rather than eating flesh and blood, might appeal to a culture that already had a deep respect for meditation, such as India. Is not Thomas revered in Christian India for bringing the faith there? Inculturation means that we adapt the message, the truth, to the culture so that it can be more readily understood and accepted.

I believe that we can combine both these paths, the liturgical Eucharistic, and the meditative scriptural. Have less words and less music at liturgy, and add more time for silence. After the gospel, sit quietly and ponder the word you have just heard. After communion, and even during it, have quiet, so that people can meditate upon that which they have just received, to deepen the Presence, the Light within them. Maybe have one of the parish masses each weekend be of this format. Those who cannot sit still or deal profitably with silence, stay home, and go to another mass. Do some catechesis on silence and solitude. Silence can bring together both Eucharist and Scripture. Christ is present in both.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

John 6:41-51 and Ephesians 4:30 – 5:2


AUGUST 9, 2009


 

    Visitors to the monastery in the summer sometimes ask me if I am a monk? In the past I have gone through a long explanation of how I am not a monk, but live here with the monks each summer and then go off and work for a living the rest of the year in preaching, teaching, and missions. But I have come to the realization that the very question is misleading.


 

    I will never be a monk, but I am becoming a monk. The process is never finished. I am not joining the monastery, but I am becoming a monk. Flannery O'Connor, the Catholic writer of the 20th century said, "You don't join the Catholic Church. You become a Catholic." It is a process. The process involves change within oneself over a lifetime. People can change in their sense of themselves, and in their actions or the way that they live their lives.


 

    My process of becoming a monk can be compared somewhat to someone who is going to night school. When I was in college, I was a full time student. I got my college degree in four years. But there were other people who had full time jobs and went to school only at night. They would get their degree eventually, but it would take them longer than it took me. I am becoming a monk more slowly than the people who live full time at the monastery because I have another job to do for eight months a year. But, hopefully, I am progressing, be it the will of God. One can make a vow in the monastery, but that does not end the process of becoming a monk. People can make vows and then simply stagnate. They resist grace.


 

    One of my sisters got married a few weeks ago right here in Colorado. With a proper marriage license, the professing of vows in the Catholic ritual, my sister became married legally and sacramentally. She became a wife. She is joined to her husband. But this is only the beginning. It will take her a lifetime to become a wife. Why? Because she will have to deal with the human condition of which Paul speaks in Ephesians 4: 30 to 5: 2. He says that we are sealed with the Holy Spirit. That is what we receive in Baptism. Then Paul lists a lot of faults that we have to overcome and replace with virtues. Stop shouting, reviling, being bitter and replace these with compassion, kindness and forgiveness for instance. This takes a lifetime and requires grace and hope that it can be done.


 

    A woman can become a parent by adoption or giving birth. In one sense she is now legally and biologically a mother. But in fact it will take her a lifetime to become a mother, because she will have to deal with her faults and replace them with virtues. Stop shouting, and reviling your child and replace it with kindness, compassion and forgiveness as Jesus forgives us. This is a long process of growth. I was ordained at a certain point in time, but I am always becoming a priest. We call this, "being in formation." It never ends. It requires change and grace as I come to better know myself, my faults and gifts in the course of my priesthood.


 

    The neighbors of Jesus did not believe in change. They knew Jesus all his life up to this point in the gospel. They could not see him any way than his past. Jesus was presenting them with a new self-understanding, a growth into being more the Christ in his public persona. They would not accept it. "People don't change," is what we hear from some skeptics. That means you don't believe in grace or hope.

    

    Where will the grace come from to sustain our hope that we can change and continue on the way of becoming all that we are meant to be in God's plan? It comes from the Eucharist and the Word of God in Scripture. Both feed us. Up to Jesus' time, the people knew the Scriptures as the food from God. Pondering the Word nourished them. But now with Jesus, the Word has become flesh and the Eucharist will also feed us.


 

    To join the Catholic Church and not enter into the Word or receive Eucharist, is like getting married in a ceremony, but staying selfish, self-centered, and egotistical. You are married but you are not becoming a husband or a wife. That is a lifetime process of change. If we were perfect we would not need the church. Sacraments are for the imperfect person who wants to be more than a slave to the passions.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Upcoming Workshop in Snowmass


In case you're going to be in the mountains near the Monastery in Snowmass - or would like a reason to go there - I would like you to know that I'm giving a morning workshop in August:


WHERE: St. Benedict's Retreat House, 1012 Monastery Rd., Snowmass CO 81654
WHEN: Saturday, August 15 -- 9-noon (with coffee & treats)
TOPIC: "Purgation and Illumination on the Spiritual Path Through Stories of Growing Up with
My Sister, Maureen"
COST: Freewill offering to support Contemplative Outreach of Colorado
CONTACT: Carol DeMarcello-- coc@sopris.net

PLAN AHEAD . . .

Mark your calendars for the following workshop days in BOULDER . . .
Saturday, September 26 @ Sacred Heart of Jesus, 9-noon
Saturday, October 10 @ St. Thomas Aquinas, 9-noon

Monday, July 20, 2009

Mark 6: 30-34


JULY 19, 2009


 

    "My" dog, Jabba, is a pest. At times, when I come into the house from work, I want to go to my room, be in solitude and silence to rest with God in prayer, or read a book. Jabba will begin to follow me upstairs to my room, and then she will go ahead of me. By the time I get to my room, she has made herself comfortable on the bed.


 

    She watches me. She waits. Waits for what? Jabba wants either food or a walk. She has been alone in the house for a while and wants some attention. Usually, she wants to go outside for a walk. I look at her. She cannot open the door for herself to go outside. She does not know how to walk about unleashed without bothering either other dogs, or passing cars. She can be a pest when she is taken for a walk, WITH A LEASH!


 

    I could ignore her and just pray or read, or rest. But Jabba is like a sheep without a shepherd. Without me she won't get a walk or be fed. No one else is home. I feel sorry for her. Sometimes I think that I am a fool to pay her so much attention. Other times, I have this gospel to make me feel better about attending to Jabba. Jesus was tired, as were his disciples. They had plans to rest up in a quiet place. Other people got there ahead of them. The place was no longer quiet or peaceful.


 

    Jesus could have ignored the people or told them to go away. "Make an appointment," is what I might say, which is the alternative to, "Go away for now." Jesus had compassion on these people who came unexpectedly into his life. He put aside his agenda and attended to their agenda. So maybe when I put aside my agenda and attend to Jabba's agenda, I am following Christ. Jabba just might be teaching me how to grow in holiness.

Friday, July 10, 2009

God’s Presence


To me, God is just as present in each Christian person as God is present in the Eucharist.  But why is this so hard to comprehend, and why do many Catholics not believe it?  We will go to the church and sit in front of the tabernacle with great reverence and awe.  We hold the Eucharist in great respect and this is all as it should be.  Why do we ignore or act badly toward another person?


God is very wise, or as some would say, All Wise.  In the sacred host in the tabernacle or on the altar, God does not interfere with my will, or my plans, or even say anything about how I think life ought to be.  I chose to come to the church.  God did not force me.  God is here.  God waits.  God feeds us. 
    

On the other hand, people interfere with my will and my plans.  They disagree with how I think things ought to be.  So I find it hard to see God as present in them in any significant way.  What is my problem?  "Die to self," is a suggestion.  It is the Gospel, not my opinion. 

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Internal Bickering


In Matthew 9: 32-34 Jesus has just cured someone.  A religious leader complains that Jesus "drives out demons by the prince of demons."  Jesus and the religious leader are members of the same religion.  Why do people in the same belief system complain about one another?  It seems that nowadays if you don't agree with a person's theology, or religious politics, or sense of how to be church, you are demonized.  "Call the bishop!"  This is what the complainer does.  I guess it is better than getting crucified. 

Monday, July 6, 2009

Resurrection


Doubting Thomas: Why do I believe in resurrection?  Thomas is why.  The disciples in John 20: 24-29 never said that they had seen God or Christ.  They said they saw the "Lord," a title given Jesus before he died.  Thomas wanted to see the real flesh and blood resuscitated Jesus.  Had he not seen Lazarus resuscitated?  Thomas thought that if he could put his fingers into the flesh wounds, then he knew it was no vision or phantasm the disciples saw.  When he saw Jesus, he did not even try and put his fingers into the wounds.  He said "My God."  He saw a lot more than a resuscitated body.  We call it resurrection.

Matthew 9: 18-26


There is touching and there is touching.  In Matthew 9:18-26 there is a short piece about a woman who has been sick for twelve years.  She comes up to touch Jesus, but with a great deal of faith.  She was cured.  A lot of other people were pressing in on Jesus, touching him, but with no faith as this woman had.  When I go to receive the Eucharist, I am touching Jesus.  It is supposed to be a sacrament of healing for my suffering soul.  Is it?  Maybe it depends on what I bring to the table.

Monday, June 22, 2009

WHO AM I?

© by Husac Lucian @ www.freeartisticphotos.com


If we are made in God's image then we have to ask the question god asked, "Who am I?" God asked that question of God's self and BOOM came creation. God is a creator God. When I know who I am and live out who I am, I will be my most creative and fulfilling self, and I will be most at service to others. In John's gospel, God is referred to as the Word. Jesus is the Word. God speaks language. This is how God expresses God's Self. Words of Scripture are important. We need to sit with Scripture and let it work on us. Those words of Scripture are alive with the presence and identity of God.

Institutions try and give us answers, tradition, the way things are done and believed, but they do not encourage us to ask the question, "Who am I?" The answers will not serve us if they cannot mesh with my question, my sense of Self. If I am told to go to mass but no reason is given that responds to my question(s), then I will go as long as power (parents, fear of hell) make me go, but once free of this, I will stop attending. When I can make sense out of religious practice in my experience of Self then I will go back to mass.

Questions help us to deepen our faith, or even to own our faith as the gift it is for me. St. Augustine asked the question of "Who am I?" His response led him to God. God wants to be with us. If we ask questions, we will find God. But be willing to search. For most of us, about as far as we get with "Who am I?" is to ask, "What do I want to do for a living, or with my life?" We may choose a path because it is safe, or gives us a sense of esteem or power/money. But if it is not who I am, it will only lead to misery and ruin.

Jesus asked himself this question. At 12 years of age, he stayed in Jerusalem in the temple with the teachers asking questions even though he upset his parents. When we ask, "Who am I?" We may upset some people who have an answer, but not our answer.

12th Sunday in Ordinary Time

© by Husac Lucian @ www.freeartisticphotos.com

JUNE 21, 2009
MARK 4: 35-41

I grew up in a Bronx apartment. In the apartment directly above us lived Harriet and Ray Bauer. They were very good friends of our family. I called them Aunt Harriet and Uncle Ray even though they were not blood relatives. But they were Lutherans and went to a Lutheran church each Sunday. At that time, I was taught that there was no salvation outside the Catholic Church. That meant to me that Harriet and Ray would have to burn even though they were wonderful people.

So I questioned this teaching. My experience did not jive with what I was taught. I was in conflict about my question. Fortunately, in my mid-20s the Church changed its teaching. Harriet and Ray could be saved outside the Church and would not have to burn.

Asking questions is how we grow and grow up. If mom says to eat my spinach, and I ask, "Why do I have to eat spinach?" what if mom answers with a whack and says, "Because I say so." I would get an answer that does not help my question. I would eat spinach because mom has the power, but when I grew up and moved away, I would not eat spinach. I would boycott it because no one gave me an adequate answer. Then one day I would read that spinach is healthy for me. I would have moved beyond rebelling against mom, and into an interest in good health. Now spinach answers a desire that I have. It answers the questions I have about healthy eating.

Asking questions helps us find out things about ourselves and about God and religion. The disciples in the gospel ask Jesus if he cares that they are drowning. Their question reveals that they do not have much faith. The disciples have learned something about themselves from posing their question. After Jesus quiets the storm, the disciples ask a second question. "Who is this?" They don't yet have an answer, but they will stay with the question and eventually they will get the answer.

They do not know who Jesus is because what they have been taught does not fit into the Incarnation. They might be looking for a political messiah who will free them from Roman rule and restore Israel to religious self-rule. What they were taught up to then could not answer the question, "Who are you?"

To grow in our faith and religious practice of prayer, worship and reading scripture, we will have questions. Our life experiences may not fit the answers that are given to us. One question we might ask is "Who am I?" Jesus might have to help us to become quiet and still to work on that question.