Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Commanding vs. Teaching


LUKE 2: 1-14

“Eat your spinach,” my mother would say to me when I was a little boy. I looked at the green mass of vegetable. It did not look very appealing. I obeyed my mother. I ate my spinach. Mom gave an order. Eating spinach was one of her rules. She did not teach me anything about spinach. I just ate it. When I grew up and moved away from home, I said, “To heck with spinach!” I stopped eating it, along with other green vegetables. One day I befriended a person who was a nutritionist. I told her I did not eat spinach. I was a competitive athlete at the time. She told me all about vitamins and minerals and which ones did what for the body of an athlete. Then she said, “And by the way, spinach has all these things.” She never told me to eat spinach. She educated me. She was teaching me, not commanding me. I began to eat spinach again.

The difference between commanding or rule giving, and teaching, though clear, are often blurred, especially by authority figures. In the gospel, the emperor is not a teacher. He is a commander, a rule giver. There will be a census says the emperor’s decree. No discussion. Go to your tribal home and be registered. Joseph goes. No one cares to teach Joseph why there is a census or what good it might do for Joseph. It is simply a rule to be obeyed. When I was a boy I heard the command, “Go to mass on Sunday or burn.” It was a command, a rule. No one bothered to explain it to me. Maybe I was too little to benefit by an explanation. When I got to my adolescence in school, I said I had questions about this Sunday mass rule. Whack! Came the ruler from the teacher. No questions on that one.

Was I going to learn to be a good Catholic by following a rule with no explanation? If someone wanted to learn how to play a sport, would you simply give them a rule book? Do rules alone teach skills? No. A good coach is a teacher. They show you how to do something, and explain why. Unless you understand and can make something your own, you do not really learn a skill or sport. Sometimes the church says it is teaching when in fact it is simply giving rules. Recovering Catholics are not people who have left the church. They are people who left a church of too many rules and too little teaching. Teaching includes listening and responding to questions, trying to come up with ways to help understanding. Jesus was a teacher. God only gave ten commandments. When someone asked Jesus, “Who is my neighbor?” Jesus told a story or parable of the Good Samaritan. Jesus took the question seriously. He never yelled at the person. He never condemned. At the end of the story, Jesus asked, “Who was neighbor to the man beat up by robbers?” Jesus let the questioner, the searcher, draw a conclusion. This is teaching.

In Genesis, when Adam and Eve messed up, God came to find them and asked, “Where are you?” God knew where they were. God is God. The question is one of a teacher. “Where are you at? What are you about? Who are you?” Adam and Eve are full of guilt and do not respond. They blame one another or the serpent. If a parent brings dirty dishes into the kitchen from the dining room and the child tries to help by bringing in the same number of dishes in their little hands and drops them, the parent can yell or give a rule, or use it as an opportunity to teach. The parent says, “Look at my hands and compare them to the size of your hands. Are not mine bigger? (Child agrees). Do you think it might be a good idea if you carry fewer dishes in your little hands then I do in my big hands?” This is a teachable moment.

At the Annunciation God’s angel did not tell Mary to do something or else. The angel announced a plan and when Mary had a question, the angel gave her an answer. Then heaven waited. God did not demand a yes. Mary made the response her “Yes” and not something she thought God wanted to hear. In the gospel, the shepherds too are visited by an angel and given some information about God’s plan. They are told that a baby wrapped in swaddling clothes in a manger would be a sign for them. They were never told to go to the stable lest they burn in hell. They were left to decide for themselves. God waits. Rulers rule and wait for no one.

So when I grew up and moved away from home I gave up going to mass along with eating spinach. Then I realized I missed the Eucharist. I began to go back to mass, but on weekdays, when there were no sermons telling me what to do with all the rules and punishments. Why give up the Eucharist simply because we don’t like a sermon? Why punish myself? Would I stay at home all the time because there was too much traffic or the whether was cold? I would see these as inconveniences to put up with to get something or somewhere I wanted to be. People who do nothing but give rules in church are inconveniences. I want the Eucharist. God waits for me in the host, body and blood, just like Jesus in the manger waits for the shepherds. Both the host and the baby are tiny and unassuming. God does not overwhelm us. God waits.

Monday, December 20, 2010

God in the inconvenient

MATTHEW 1: 18-24

DECEMBER 19, 2010

I moved from the Bronx in New York City, to White Plains, in the suburbs. I was 12 and going into the 7th grade. For me the transition was not that difficult. I had not yet bonded all that deeply with guys in the Bronx. I was able to make new friends in school. But my big sister Maureen was 16 and going into her junior year in high school. That is a very difficult time for a girl to leave a life in which she has some sense of control and knows how she fits into the social fabric. Maureen could have resisted the whole transition by becoming very negative and isolated.

Years later, after she died and went to purgatory...Oh you are shocked at her going to purgatory? Well, she was the big sister, mean and bossy. Does God not have standards? How low can we put the bar of entrance into heaven? Anyway, when she died and went to purgatory, her friends called me to share the sadness of her dying, and to tell me what a wonderful person Maureen was. All these friends who called or wrote were friends that Maureen had made after she moved to White Plains. She made the most of her life that she had not chosen.

Maureen reminds me of Joseph. He was doing well in his hometown of Nazareth. He took a wife when he was about the age of Maureen when we moved to White Plains. They married young in Joseph’s day. He had customers for his carpentry business. He had some control over his life. Suddenly, everything seemed to change without his permission. His wife was pregnant. He was not the dad. He could have gone the route of capital punishment, and had her stoned to death. So much for God’s plan for our salvation! He could have divorced her. But in a dream he was asked to do something that would change his life forever. He gave up control and then lots of inconveniences came into his life.

Joseph opened himself to new ways outside of the normal social rules. He let himself be guided in each difficulty that was presented to him. He had to move from Nazareth to Bethlehem for the census. Then he had to go off to Egypt. What did he know about Egypt? He had to make new friends, and find new customers, new routines in a strange land. Joseph could have sulked, resisted, punished Mary, or just had the attitude, “Nothing is right.” Joseph was open to new events and with this attitude he learned that God comes when we least expect it.

We are waiting for the coming of Jesus. Once a year, at Christmas, we focus on Jesus coming into our life. We have the four weeks of Advent to get our minds and hearts wrapped around this coming, so that we are not surprised when Christmas comes. Christmas generally is a good time of joy because we are ready for it. But God comes into our lives at many other times when we are not ready, times that are inconvenient for us, when we don’t have control. We might say at those times, “Where is God?” God is right here in the inconvenient, out of control, unexpected times in our lives. Pray to St. Joseph, and my big sister St. Maureen. God comes when we least expect God to come.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Advent has four weeks

MT. 24: 37-44


I had an advent mentality, the time when we look forward to something. I was looking forward to Black Friday, the big shopping day after Thanksgiving. I planned ahead, so to to begin shopping on the day before Thanksgiving. I read ads, and checked emails from the stores. I was ready. I found great bargains on the things I was looking for. I ignored the Mac Computer and Nike Sports Gear stores. They rarely have good sales. I knew which stores to go to and where they were. I was in LA with my sister Jane. There were lots of people just like me, looking for those bargains. Some people worked in teams so they could get to stores simultaneously, when sales were the deepest. Some sales ended at 4 AM and some began at 4 AM. One store ended its best sales at 10 AM. But I did OK.

Afterwards, I sat down to open the scriptures for the first Sunday in Advent. I was condemned by the Gospel! I was not waiting and planning on the coming of Jesus. I was focused on shopping. I had not been spending weeks thinking about the coming of Jesus. I was like the people who were not ready for the flood in Noah’s day. It is not that shopping for bargains is wrong. It is that I was out of balance. I was not thinking at all about Jesus, and thinking a whole lot about shopping.

What is the Good News here? Well, Advent has four weeks. I have some time to get my priorities balanced. Christmas can be a nice balance of gifts and the coming of Jesus as gift in my life. I can still go about my day to include shopping. In the gospel it says two people were doing the same thing. One was taken and the other was left. Was there someone in the stores with me who seemed to be doing just what I was doing, but was also focused interiorly on the coming of Jesus into their life?

I hope I can become as good at welcoming Jesus as I am in welcoming a great bargain in the store. Maybe, in time, I can become even more welcoming of Jesus into my daily life, and little concerned about having more “stuff.”

Friday, November 12, 2010

Upcoming Workshop


A Spirituality Workshop with Fr. Terry Ryan, CSP

A long time ago the sun was sending energy to earth in the form of light, but there was yet no cell that could take capture this light and turn it into food and oxygen. Then one day, a single cell did just that. New life was on the way! Amazing. God has been sending out the light of grace from the beginning of time. One day, a receptor, a human, is able to reflect. It grasps that we are not alone. The Light is from the beginning. It seeks a receptor, the human heart. Love breaks forth. Amazing!

Saturday, January 29, 2011

9:00 AM to NOON

Old St. Mary's Paulist Center

660 California Street

(Corner of California and Grant Avenue)

San Francisco, CA

Coffee and treats will begin at 9:00 AM.

The workshop is free, but freewill offering is welcome. Enter through the bookstore/gift shop on Grant Avenue.

415-288-3844 for more information

Monday, October 25, 2010


LUKE 18: 9-14 OCTOBER 24, 2010

My big sister Maureen used to like to braid her hair from time to time. To do this, she had to lift up her arms and put her hands behind her head to braid her hair. While she was doing this, I would come up and tickle her. She would say, "Terry, you are going to burn." She did not like to be tickled. That is why I did it. Recently, I suggested to the girls at our local Catholic elementary school, that they come to the school mass with their hair braided. On the morning of the mass many of them did so. The gospel was about prayer.

There are three things that are needed to braid hair and pray. You need to take time, you need to make an effort, and you may need help. The Apostles asked Jesus to teach them to pray. They asked for help. To pray you need to take some time that you would have devoted to something else, such as sleep. Prayer takes some effort. The tax collector in the gospel took time out to go to the temple. He made the effort to pray. He sought help from God. His prayer was short. Jesus told his disciples to keep their prayers short, not like some religious leaders of his day. Notice the Pharisee has a longer prayer, if you can call it that, than the tax collector.

With a short prayer, you can weave prayer through your day, much like you weave your hair when you braid it. You can say a short prayer in the grocery store, while at your desk, in your car, when exercising. Our spiritual life then is "braided" through our day.

Some of the girls at the school mass did not braid their hair. One possible reason is that did not want to or did not care. Sometimes we just don't want to pray, or we don't care. It happens. Another reason, is that some girls might have forgotten to braid their hair. Sometimes we forget to pray. I get up in the morning and intend to say my priest prayers, but get distracted by the dog or something else. Before I know it, I forgot to do my prayers and the day is well along. Maybe my sister is right, and I will burn! I don't think so. God seems to love sinners who repent, and people who forget to pray or get into contrary moods. What is your short prayer for today?

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Sometimes I am like the child who is told repeatedly to clean their room, but just ignores or postpones the task. Then when they actually do clean the room, they expect some special favor for their simply doing what they are supposed to do as a member of the family. There are things I am supposed to do as a priest, part of my job, that I put off. Then when I actually do my obligation, I think that I should get some special favor from God or someone else, as a reward.
I like the phrase from Luke 17: 10, "We are unprofitable servants; we have done what we were obliged to do." Cleaning your room does not make money for anyone. It is unprofitable from that perspective. But it is an obligation in many a family. We belong to the family of God. We are children of God from or baptism. Being children of God carries some obligations. Fulfilling the will of God is a reward in itself. No?
Why do many people like to read about movie or music stars, or sports heroes, but don't care much to read the bible? The key is experience that touches us deeply enough to want us to read more or know more. A person goes to a movie or rock concert and has a very moving experience of the central person in the event, the movie star or singer(s). In a superficial way, they fall in love with this make believe event. They want to soak up all they can from the media about their favorite stars.
The Gospels are about Jesus. If you don't have a deep experience of Jesus in your life, a personal, moving experience, than Jesus becomes a person some talks about, but not in any way that you can relate. A lot of people know about Jesus. But they have never experienced his unconditional love and acceptance of them in their messy lives. Telling someone that if they don't believe in Jesus than they will burn, certainly won't make anyone want to rush to the bible to embrace the story of this very real person. A movie is only a fantasy, but if our hearts are aching to be loved, and can find it nowhere else, the fantasy is what we will embrace.
In Luke 17: 5, the disciples ask Jesus to increase their faith. Jesus says that if they had faith the size of a mustard seed they could get a mulberry bush to uproot itself and be replanted in the sea. What is this faith? I don't think it is a series of creedal beliefs. Many people believe the Creed of their faith. It is a series of dogmas and principles. But it is a faith that does not move much of anything. It is not very effective in the world.
The faith of which Jesus speaks is the faith of a relationship. It is the faith in God that goes deep into our heart. It comes from an encounter with God, usually in silence, stillness and solitude. This is the faith that will so move us, that we will be able to do quite extraordinary things in this world, imaged by the moving of a bush.
I have met many a person who went to expensive Catholic elementary schools, who received sacraments and memorized the creed, but as soon as their confirmation was done, they were gone from participation in worship services or any active participation in a local parish. They had faith but it was not such that it touched their hearts deeply enough. It was not a relationship with God, one on one. Our dogmas, liturgies, scriptures explain and amplify the experience of God in our lives. But without the experience, the rest cannot hold us. The church can make Christ present in the Eucharist, but the liturgy cannot make us experience that presence. Without that experience you may have faith in real presence, but it will not be such that you hunger for the Eucharist.
In Galatians 1: 15-16, Paul says that God had a plan for him from the time Paul was in the womb. If so, then this would be a pretty good reason to allow a fetus to be born. It brings up a second question for me. I, who was birthed, lived, and grew up, does God have a plan for me from the time I was in the womb? If so, have I discovered this plan? And if I have discovered it, am I living it out?
God's plan may unfold, and shift over a lifetime. Many a person I read about in history, had very active lives in the world, but then found a call to deeper solitude and gave up their productive work to join a monastery or become a solitary. As improved medicine and health allows us to live longer, we may need to keep assessing the path we are on at any one time.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Lost Sheep

Luke 15: 1-10 Maybe the sheep called "lost" did not feel it fit into the herd mentality. Maybe it was not so concerned about security and safety, but rather wanted to go off and explore. I believe that the shepherd saw great value in having this sheep. The shepherd found the sheep but did not kill it or break its leg to keep it from running away again. The shepherd wanted to celebrate having found the sheep.
Being lost is a designation that is often given by the herd to one who is no longer around. I wonder if the sheep who had gone off would have seem itself as"lost"? Trying to live outside the box can be risky business, but maybe more risky for the herd than for the seeker, who at times is called "lost" by those who want to remain in the status quo. I wonder if Jesus was thought to be "lost" by other religious leaders and congregations? He said, "The kingdom is in your midst," but then you still have to search for it. When you search, that is when you are found...by the Good Shepherd.

Lazarus the parishioner

In Luke 16:19-31, poor Lazarus sits at the door of the rich man, waiting to be fed some scraps. Lazarus reminds me of parishioners who come hungry for the word and get fed nothing. Their needs are ignored by a preacher who rants on about some issue that does not satisfy the emptiness of soul. The preacher is as self-serving and self-imploded as is the rich man in the gospel.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Why be perfect, or even strive to be perfect? It takes all the joy out of heaven. In Luke 15:7 Jesus says their is great joy in heaven over one repentant sinner. God does not expect us to be perfect. Repentant is sufficient. Let heaven have its party over your repentance. Jesus isn't looking for a straight "A" disciple. Such people would have too little compassion for the rest of us.
Where are losers and the lost souls of any value? We tend to term "losers" as people beneath us, and "lost souls" as people too far gone to be helped. We write such people off our social calendar. In Luke 15: 3-7 losers and the lost have great value to the shepherd. We may become lost and not know our way. We may be confused. We may feel stupid over some decision we made that separated us from the group or community. But God never really gives us on us. God never lets us go.
When the shepherd finds the lost sheep, the shepherd does not scold it or punish it, or destroy it. Rather the shepherd has a meal of Thanksgiving, a Eucharist. The shepherd has risked his own life in the wilderness to regain the sheep that had wandered off. Keep that in mind when someone says "God will get you!"
In Luke 9: 11-17 Jesus tells his disciples to feed the people rather than send them away to get food in the market. It might be more efficient and certainly less bothersome to send the people to buy food. Jesus was about training leaders. He was about the transformation of his disciples from followers, talkers, listeners to being leaders. Unless a group takes action, it is just a discussion group, or a classroom experience. Community organizers know this. A lot of people get together and discuss issues and problems of the day. If that is as far as it goes, they just complain and blame, and maybe whine a bit. That is where the disciples are until now. The church is supposed to be led by the laity to change the world, be leaven in the world. The bishops and clergy are not the leaders in this. They have turned inward to church issues of language in the liturgy and who purifies the cups and plates at mass.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Twenty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time

LUKE 14: 25-33

Julie Andrews, the famous singer and performer, recounted that her voice coach kept after her to pronounce her consonants when she sang. Julie knew how to carry a tune, but her coach felt that words were important and an entertainer needed to be understood when they sang. Singing was not just about sounding good. Classes could become boring and tedious with this emphasis on consonants. Maybe Julie felt at times that she "hated" those classes or even "hated" the teacher. The coach was pushing Julie to be all that she could be as a singer. I understand every word she sings. The coach did a good job.

Now go into your typical Catholic parish and listen to the volunteer cantors or choirs. Listen especially to the responsorial psalm, after the first reading. Tell me you can understand what they are singing. Probably not! Why? These people can carry a tune, but no one is directing them to pronounce their consonants. Words sung become unclear, get bunched together or the endings of words drift off into the rafters of the church. If the music director got after these volunteers to pronounce their consonants, the singers might get tired of the tedium, and even begin to say, "I hate this practice." They would quit and the parish music director would be without singers.

I tend to use the word "hate" when people or situations are pushing me to face up to my shortcomings or to stretch myself to become all that I can be. When I went to Mexico to try to learn to speak Spanish, my teachers kept after me to pronounce the words correctly. I was so happy to be able to find the correct Spanish word, but they pushed for accent and pronunciation. At one point I said, "I hate you. I hate these classes." Now I am glad that they pushed me on pronunciation. Did you ever come across a priest from another country who says the correct English word in a homily, but with such a thick accent that you cannot understand him? He was taught grammar and vocabulary, not communication skills.

I used to tell my big sister, Maureen, "I hate you," when she was trying to teach me good habits, such as eating spinach, or not eating treats before supper. I wanted what I wanted when I wanted it, and Maureen would have none of that. She taught me good habits for which I am thankful today.

At the monastery, we gather for vigils at 4:30 AM. At times I get up for vigils and say to myself, "I hate vigils." Then I go to vigils and it usually turns out to be a good thing for the feeding of my prayer life. When I work in the fields at the monastery, at times I say I hate some job. It is usually a job that confronts me with my shortcomings, lack of strength, skill or knowledge, all of which rubs up against my fantasies of myself as important and capable, and powerful.

Many people are coming to Jesus in this gospel. He has spoken about all being invited to the feast. He heals. He speaks of love and forgiveness. He goes light on rules. These people are not disciples, any more than baptism makes one a disciple. If you want to be a disciple you will have to learn and practice some discipline in your life and face your own self-centeredness, among other shortcomings. Many of the people who you felt were an irritant in your life, were the exact ones who were trying to stretch you, help you to grow into all you were meant to be. Has not a child at one time or another said to a parent, "I hate you," when the parent was challenging the self-centeredness of the child?

Jesus is looking for people who have learned some discipline in their lives. Jesus can deal with sin. He invites Peter, the sinful man, to follow him. Peter was a fisherman. He had to get up in the middle of each night to go fishing for a living. Maybe Peter at times said, "I hate fishing. I hate fish!" He had confronted his human limitations, weakness, self-centeredness, and much more, in his daily discipline to earn a living. Do not marriage partners rub up against each other's shortcomings, and in doing so challenge one another to grow? Maybe at times they might say or think, "I hate you."

We must confront our foibles and character defects if we are to ever follow Jesus. Otherwise, we drop out when things get tedious, or boring or laborious. We become like the person who had a desire to build a tower, but did not confront their human failings. A person might come to a monastery because "they hate their life" on the outside. They think the monastery is the answer or the more perfect world. They bring their own unreflected selves, maybe spoiled by too little discipline. When the monastery becomes routine, boring, laborious, the monk leaves. At times, we leave things rather than face ourselves.

The cross to which Jesus refers, might very well be our own lives, our own imperfections and shortcomings. Jesus will love us unconditionally. Maybe his hope is that such love will give us the strength and wisdom to face openly many of those people and situations that we 'Hate."

Friday, August 6, 2010

Matthew 16: 19-20 The Keys to the Kingdom
Once the Church became institutional it began to teach that "what you bind on earth will be bound in Heaven" as something to do with membership or forgiveness of sin and confession. But I think that Jesus was thinking more in terms of whatever you do as a public leader, Peter, will affect the hearts of others. That is, the Kingdom is within. It is not the church institution and it is not up in the sky in some other world. It is within. To have the "key" means that your actions will affect the spiritual life of other people. So be careful what you do as a public leader. The institution cannot excommunicate people from God who is within and stays in the heart regardless of external rulings. But external rulings can nevertheless upset the heart of the person so affected.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

In Matthew 14: 25-31 Peter walks on water, for a moment or so. When the disciples saw jesus walking on water, they were terrified. This is the attitude of much religion around Jesus' time. Numinous, holy, divine presence was to be feared and God is to be kept at arms length. Peter seeks to bridge to a new way of being in the Presence, a bit more intimate. He wants to come to Jesus, to join him. Jesus says, "Come." This is a new way for the Holy to be acting towards us. No longer found on some mountain top or in a desert, or in the sky, God is now close and inviting. Our spiritual senses are evolving. But Peter returns to the fear mode while he is on the water. It sinks him.
Is faith in God filled with fear, and avoidance? Or do we "come" when we find the Holy in seemingly unlikely places?

Friday, July 30, 2010

Busy signals in prayer: When I am noisy with chatter, pre-occupied in thought about something, fantasizing with my imagination in overdrive, then I am not open to God's invitation or call. I give off a busy signal or a message that says, "I am not available at this time." God does not leave messages.
When I can touch the pause button, between a thought and the spoken words to express the thought, I find that often the thought has no need to be spoken. It fractures the silence within me and in the atmosphere around me, but adds nothing of substance to dialogue.
On the other hand, I can keep my tongue silent, but have a noisy mind which also is a busy signal to God. Thoughts make no noise if I just give them no time and space in my imagination. I find that most thoughts do not deserve any time and space. Boredom or dis-ease with my present situation seem to awaken the imagination to open some time and space for a thought which becomes a scenario, a play let, a full blown drama at times in my mind filled with emotions. Often the scenes are unreal except in my head.
If I try and be a bit more silent within, less distracted by the world around me or my gadgets, I find that frequently I can recollect myself, that is, recall that I am in the presence of the Presence, and just rest here for a moment. These recalls can be strung together like a set of beads through the day. They become prayer.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

All my life I have wanted to belong. To whom do I belong? It was a seeking, a wanting, of which I was not aware. When I was growing up in the Bronx, for the first 12 years of my life, I bounced from one group of friends to another, always trying to sense a belonging though I did not know "belonging" was the issue at the time. When I moved to the suburbs before the 7th grade, I was lost. Other people had their place in relationships, and I did not, nor did I know how to fit in. High school and college were good times when I felt I belonged. After college, this quest for belonging came up again and has not left me since.
I did not belong in corporate America, so I left it to join the Paulist Fathers and become a priest. But I always felt like an outsider in my own religious order. It was not the fault of the Paulists. I simply had not found to whom I belong. I would belong in a parish community to some extent, but every Sunday after everyone went home to family, I was left with me. Sunday afternoons were lonely times. Every few years I would transfer to another parish, another city.
For years I felt that I belonged especially to my parents. I would visit them often. They were my friends as well as parents. I was so very happy when I visited with them. I have come to realize it was about belonging. When they died and I became an orphan, I felt again that empty space of not belonging. I have tried lately to make a community of people my place of belonging in a particular town where I work.
This all came to a head one day at a community luncheon. Everyone was talking to someone, except no one was talking to me. I sat there and said to myself, "I don't belong here." Whether I do or don't, it brought the whole belonging issue into the forefront. I sat there and recalled being at some big meetings of the Paulist Fathers about 6 years ago. One day, I was the first one into the large ballroom filled with tables where we were to have our next session. I sat down at my table and watched as every Paulist came in and no one said anything to me. That was the last time I ever went to a large gathering of our community. It is not some one's fault. I have this belonging issue. When I feel ignored, that empty space pops up.
So back to the recent luncheon in which no one was talking to me. I went to my room and suddenly realized that I had been trying to get people to take the place of God. I belong to God. God is "My Belonging." It is my name for God now. From when I was a little boy, I have always felt this God attraction. It is what has attracted me to Church, prayer, priesthood, silence and solitude. I run from the Belonging as much as I seek it. That is the sin in my life. Sin for me is all the substitutes I have for "My Belonging."
Now I am home with God. God does not go away and even puts up with my ignoring of God. I worry less about my work or its success. God will give me what I need in this area. It seems that my priorities have shifted some. God is less of a project to whom I devote segments of the week, and more of an ongoing part of me. We are One.