Friday, February 27, 2009

Lent is a Struggle

I went running this morning in very high winds. The wind was either blowing East or was coming right into my face and almost pushing me backwards while I was trying to run North/South. My mind just wanted to quit, but I had a planned distance to run on my North/South trail. I knew where I wanted to go. Whenever the wind tried to blow me sideways or backwards, I just kept trying to go forward. This reminds me of what Lent is all about. I know the direction in which I need to go, but forces seem to hold me up or push me in another direction. Those forces are called the human condition, bad habits, weakness of will, and sin. I am an imperfect human being who knows the right way, but struggles to get there. Lent focuses me on the right direction, but my faults or weaknesses kick in the impede my spiritual progress. Lent is a struggle to grow fit spiritually. But God is coaching me, and the Spirit is running with me.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time

MARK 2: 1-12
FEBRUARY 22, 2009

I run with a local running group in Boulder. On Saturdays we do a long 9-mile run. I had not done this run in some time due to work conflicts and travel. This weekend I was able to run with the group, and decided to do the whole nine miles. Within a short time I was running last, way last. All alone, about 50:00 into the run, I began to whine and doubt that I had the strength to complete the nine miles. I thought of turning around early, or even hitch hiking back to the start where my car was parked. Suddenly, I realized what my Lenten penance would be.

During most of Lent I will be traveling away from home to give parish missions. When I am away from my running group and working, I give myself all sorts of reasons not to exercise. My will is looking for an easier softer way through each day. Lent is a time to confront this self-will. Running is the daily event in which I will try to say yes to exercise while my will is saying no. The running is not the issue. The issue is to find something in Lent that puts us up against the desire to find a softer and easier way to live. I will need Grace to overcome my strong self-will. I cannot do it alone. I am weak.

Lent usually challenges us to fasting, almsgiving, and prayer. But I am a skinny guy who does not eat all that much anyway. So fasting would be rather easy for me. I do give money away and I do pray. So I needed to find something that is a difficulty for me, so as to challenge my will. Running became the place to do this. If you are someone who feeds your face to change a mood, or are gluttonous, then fasting might be for you. If you hoard your money like a miser, then almsgiving would be your challenge. Each of us must find that issue or event that puts us up against a self-will that can run riot.

The four people in the gospel, who were carrying the mat of the sick person, came up against a front door that was so jammed with people no one could get through. They could have simply turned around and gone home. That might have been the easier thing to do. But they took the next step, and the much harder thing to do, as each confronted their will that wanted to give up. They went up to the roof and uncovered it, and let their friend down into the room. Their effort found Jesus, who forgives and heals us. Lent is the time to allow the will to be healed from its egocentricity, its pleasurable desire to live life not to the full, but in an easier softer way, the wide and not the narrow road.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Upcoming Workshops and Missions in Boulder/Denver Area


Saturday, March 14 - St. Francis of Assisi, 2410 Trade Center Ave., Longmont. Lenten Day of Reflection - Subject: "Spiritual Stumblings & Surprising Grace" - Treats at 9:00; talk 9:30-noon.

Saturday, March 28 - St. Thomas Aquinas, 14th & Aurora, Boulder. Treats at 9:00; talk 9:30-noon.
Abhishiktananda, part II (part I is NOT a pre-requisite). The Indian name, Abhishiktananda, means "Bliss of the Anointed One" and is the name taken by the extraordinary French Benedictine priest, Henri Le Saux) who lived as a holy man in India and gave a vision of our Christian spiritual path through his experience in the spiritual culture of India.
His book, Prayer, distills his vision of the path to union with God. The morning will include Centering Prayer. No experience necessary. Everyone is welcome. Suggested donation $10.

Saturday, May 2 - St. Mary Magdalene Episcopal Church, 4775 Cambridge St., Boulder. 9-noon. Topic: "Centering Prayer in Depth".

MISSIONS in the metro-Denver area:

March 16-18 - Queen of Peace, 13120 E. Kentucky Ave. Aurora 80012 7pm each evening.

March 23-25 - St. Thomas More, 8035 S. Quebec St., Centennial 80112 7pm each evening.

March 30-April 1 - St. Joan of Arc, 12735 W. 58th Ave., Arvada 80002 7pm each evening.
Theme: Through the Cross to Resurrection. Through the spirituality of St,. Therese of Lisieux, we will look at how difficulties in life can lead us to a closer relationship with God.
Monday: Learning to Listen
Tuesday: Forgiveness of Self
Wednesday: Grace is Everywhere

April 26-28 - Our Lady Mother of the Church, 6690 E. 72nd Ave., Commerce City.
Theme: Resurrection Moments

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Resurrection Moments: A Mission in Commerce City, Colorado

I will have a mission at Our Lady Mother of the Church in Commerce City to begin with English masses on weekend of April 25-26.

The mission is each night at 7 PM, Sunday Through Tuesday, April 26-28.

Resurrection Moments: How God takes our crosses and reveals the Divine Presence at work.

Contact person is the pastor, Fr. Terry Kissell 303-588-3013

Hope to see you there!

A Musing on MARK 1: 40-45

A look at last Sunday's gospel from Mark, I think of "pimples." I had them when I was a teenager. I felt as if no one would want to date me. I tried to hide the blemishes. I think that pimples come just at that time when we feel most unsure about ourselves anyway, teenagers! It never occurred to me at that time, God did not care! It is good for teenagers to keep this in mind when they feel that their looks don't measure up to some ideal. God loves you just as much. God will spend time with you. It is self-pity and your inability to see yourself as God sees you, that might sadden God. Anyone who loves you just for your face, is short term for sure. God is for the long haul.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time

MARK 1: 40-45
FEBRUARY 15, 2009

When I was in the seventh grade, we moved from our apartment in the Bronx to a house in the suburbs, White Plains, NY. Like all the other houses on our street, we had a lawn. My Dad grew up in apartments in New York City. We never had a lawn. So Dad bought books on lawn care, gardening, and general yard maintenance. Each spring he would put string around the outside of the lawn attached to sticks. This meant stay off the lawn because Dad had fertilized it, planted grass seeds and watered it regularly so that we would have a nice grassy, green lawn.

In May the new grass would grow up and fill in bare spots. We had hope that our lawn would look nice like Mr. Marcotte’s across the street. But by July, the sun or whatever had burnt up the new grass. Brown spots and crab grass seemed to be winning over, even as we pulled it up. Our lawn was leprous. Poor Dad would try each year, but the lawn just was not meant to be.

The good news is that my Dad could go to church and still receive Holy Communion. God did not care if Dad had a leprous lawn. God loved Dad anyway. Dad may have felt badly about how our lawn looked in relation to other lawns in the neighborhood, but God did not care. God’s love is constant. Today, we are in a great recession. People with houses, lawns, and jobs, are becoming afraid that they will lose these things. Retired people worry about savings. When times were good people may have tried to keep up with appearances in the neighborhood, with lawns, cars, and other things. Now people might wonder, in their fears, if their neighbors and acquaintances will still talk to them if a job or home is lost.

The good news is that God will always accept us and talk with us. God’s love never goes into recession. It is constant and always present for us. God does not value us by our lawn, our home, our bank account or any economic, social status. God made us in God’s image and finds us lovely to behold.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time (B)

MARK 1: 29-39
February 8, 2009

Sometimes I think that we treat our relationship with God much like we treat an investment in the stock market. When I entered into the market with some money a few years ago, I enjoyed a modest profit and gave that away to charity. I still had my original investment in the market. I liked the stock market and said nice things about it to others. My broker and I were old friends. Then the recession came. I lost about half of my investment as of now. I hate the market and want nothing more to do with it. It did not come through for me as it used to.

When we enter into a relationship with God, it is because we expect to get something. It may begin with joining the church, first communion, confirmation, a church wedding. We are getting things we want in the God relationship. At times we have some difficulties and God seems to help us out. Then comes the recession. Economically, we suffer losses. But maybe we have other difficulties and God does not seem to fix things up for us. We have personal illness, death of a loved one. Where is God? For a while we ask for help, and then we just give up the relationship with God, because God did not come through as we wanted.

In the Gospel today, sick people are brought to Jesus. They come to get something from him. That is the relationship. He makes them physically and/or psychologically well. He drives out demons. But when Jesus is on the cross where are all these people? They don’t want any part of a suffering Jesus who is not in a position to help them. The healed want no part of the cross. But look at the mother-in-law of Peter. Jesus heals her. He goes to her. She did not ask him. She is sick. But when she is healed, she gives back. She serves without asking for anything of him. Her relationship is one of love, not utility.

Early the next morning Jesus goes off to be with Abba, The Father. Jesus loves Abba. Jesus just wants to spend quiet time in union with Abba. Jesus is not asking for anything. Our sacrament of healing and all of the seven sacraments are meant to help us to move to a love relationship with God in which God is the Bridegroom and we are the Bride. God is Unconditional Lover, not fix-it God. Our relationship is to grow into one that stays, in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health, until death, which in this case does not end the relationship, but goes into Eternal Life.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009


When I come to San Francisco, the Paulists at the rectory say, "Welcome home." When I go to Boulder, the people at the church rectory say, "Welcome home." When I go to the Trappist Monastery each summer the monks say, "Welcome home." Each place feels like home in some way, and yet I feel at times that I have no real home here on earth. I am rooted in several places and yet in no one place. Because I do not try to hold onto any one place, I feel a certain freedom to open myself to home being in God, and ultimately beyond the grave. It does have its sadness. All letting go has its own sadness. Sadness is an emotion that comes with abandonment to God. Contemplative prayer is my way of spending some time at "home" with God.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Fr. Terry's Latest Schedule

Fr. Terry will soon be back to the Boulder/Denver area. Here is his latest schedule:

Thurs., Feb. 5 - SHJ (14th & Mapleton) - 12:10 pm

Fri., Feb. 6 - SHJ - 7:00 am

SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 7 - Lyons (meets in the Methodist Church at 4th & Main) - 5:30 pm

SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 8 - Spirit of Christ (7400 W. 80th Ave. - just east of Wadsworth on 80th, Arvada) - 7:00 am AND 8:30 am

Mon., Feb. 9 - SHJ - 7:00 am

Tue., Feb. 10 - SHJ - 12:10 pm

Thurs., Feb. 12 - SHJ - 12:10 pm

SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 14 - Lyons - 5:30 pm

SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 15 - St. John the Baptist (3rd & Collyer, Longmont) - 7:00 am AND 8:30 am

SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 15 - SHJ - 6:30 pm

Mon., Feb. 16 - SHJ - 12:10 pm

Wed., Feb. 18 - SHJ - 12:10 pm

SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 21 - Lyons - 5:30 pm

Mon., Feb. 23 - SHJ - 7:00 am

Tue., Feb. 24 - SHJ - 12:10 pm

Wed., Feb. 25 - SHJ - 12:10 pm - ASH WEDNESDAY

Thur., Feb. 26 - SHJ - 12:10 pm

SATURDAY, APRIL 11 (Vigil of EASTER) - Lyons - 5:30 pm
SUNDAY, APRIL 12 (EASTER) - St. John the Baptist (Longmont) - 7:00 am AND 8:30 am (in the school gym)


Saturday, Feb. 7 - SHJ in the Jr. High Library (the building that runs parallel to 13th St. Enter through the south door & go up the stairs). Treats begin at 9am; talk is 9:30-noon. Subject: Strangers To The City based on a book by Fr. Michael Casey, OCSO. The workshop will look at wisdom learned in monastic settings that can benefit lay people in their everyday world. Examples: 1) There is less focus on self-realization and more on self-transcendence. 2) A discipline in a prayer life is to help us let go of an ego-centered self-will. 3) You become more fully who you are truly made to be, through relationships with others. 4) Retirement was not for the purpose of being less busy with work, but to simplify and de-clutter our lives. 5) We are intended for union with God. A donation of $10 is suggested.

Saturday, Feb. 14 - St. Ambrose Episcopal Church, 7520 So. Boulder Rd. Subject: 11th Step Centering Prayer Workshop for WOMEN in 12-Step Programs. Treats begin at 9am; talk is 9:30-noon. This workshop will offer an opportunity to learn the method of Centering Prayer as an 11th-step meditative practice. Experience St. Therese of Lisieux, the great mystics, and the spirituality of the 11th step of a 12-step recovery program, which provides the framework for this discussion of the contemplative experience of resting in God within and beyond our limiting thoughts, images and feelings. This can transform your life so you can become freer of self-centered, fear-based motives and of desires for too much control, security and esteem. $10 suggested donation. For more information, or to reserve a seat, contact Joyce Chen at 303-859-1961, Pam Chandler at 720-234-6979 or email Joanne at R.S.V.P. REQUIRED.

Saturday, March 14 - St. Francis of Assisi, 2410 Trade Centre Ave., Longmont. Lenten Day of Reflection - Subject: "Spiritual Stumblings & Surprising Grace" - Treats at 9:00; talk 9:30-noon.

Saturday, March 28 - St. Thomas Aquinas, 14th & Aurora, Boulder. Treats at 9:00; talk 9:30-noon.
Abhishiktananda, part II (part I is NOT a pre-requisite). The Indian name, Abhishiktananda, means "Bliss of the Anointed One" and is the name taken by the extraordinary French Benedictine priest, Henri Le Saux) who lived as a holy man in India and gave a vision of our Christian spiritual path through his experience in the spiritual culture of India.
His book, Prayer, distills his vision of the path to union with God. The morning will include Centering Prayer. No experience necessary. Everyone is welcome. Suggested donation $10.