Thursday, December 29, 2011


My experience is that there are three stages in the life of a a priest and a community. It might be thus for all people. The three stages are, beloved, missed and forgotten. While the priest is living in the community he serves, he is beloved. This assumes a lot of competence of course on his part. I will assume it for the sake of my example. Then he goes away. For a while he is missed. If he is replaced by an incompetent, he will be missed as long as the incompetent is in place. But if he is replaced by a competent person the missing time is significantly shortened. Then he is pretty much forgotten.

I have gone back to communities where I used to work. The forgotten stage is when it is no longer a big deal that you are visiting. Competent people are doing the job. Your presence will no longer change the pattern of peoples' coming and going lives. This has helped me to realize what effect the "beloved" stage has, or how real it was in the first place. I no long take my "importance" so seriously. I can and will be replaced quite nicely by others over time. To make a great effort to keep people in the "missing" stage is really quite silly and a poor use of energy.

When someone dies, who misses them and for how long? Wonderful things are said about them at their funeral. It is a bit like a going away party. They are missed for a while by the general community and then pretty much forgotten. At an anniversary we say, "Oh, it has been that long since so and so died?" The only people who keep in the beloved stage and the missing stage are family relatives. No one will replace your mother on the family staff.

Let's stop taking so seriously how important we are, think we are, or people tell us we are outside of blood family. Relax. If you have some inkling of doing some new and different things, changing some patterns of how and where you spend your time, don't worry so much about your fans or co workers, community. Believe me. They can adjust. You might ask which stage you are in with relation to God. Forgotten? Who moved on?

Monday, December 26, 2011


When Jesus came he did not disrupt anyone, except for political and military power. Jesus did not even throw anyone out of the Inn so that he could have a room. He took up space in an empty manger. Caesar Augustus wanted to make change and he disrupted the whole world of his empire to make the conquered peoples travel for a census. Who really made the greater difference and greater change? Rome as an empire is gone. Christendom of the Middle Ages is gone. Genghis Khan is gone as is his empire. The little mange baby is still around, still making change for those who are open to a little disruption in their self-imploded lives. Jesus started out small. So can we in allowing our lives to be changed by the infant in the manger. If you can sit still for five minutes a day without any outside stimulus or noise, that little baby might have just enough space to start something.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Deliver Us

Jesus came to deliver us from lawlessness and other things. I saw pictures taken of delivery people tossing packages over fences and across driveways. It seemed like they wanted to get rid of a lot of packages. It was the week before Christmas and they were overwhelmed with deliveries.

Jesus does not want to get rid of me. He is never overwhelmed by the lot of us. His delivery is so gentle that we can resist being delivered. Some of us don't really want to go anywhere. We stay like wrapped packages, meant for someplace or someone, but never getting there. I like the idea of being like a wrapped package, a gift, that when delivered by Jesus will make someone happy. How would that work?

First, I am chosen by God to be gift. Then the inner tissue wrapping is that of forgiveness. Then boxed in acceptance. Then outer wrapped in love, with a ribbon of joy. As someone receives me, they feel joy, then love and then acceptance and then forgiveness. Some of us just don't want to be a gift. We would rather stay in old regrets, resentments, memories, prejudices, pride and judgments. What a lost opportunity Christmas becomes.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Snow amount

Boulder was measured at 14.6 inches of snow yesterday. Where was that measured? I shoveled more than that and waded through more than that trying to walk the sidewalks. My measurement is 18 inches. It all depends on where you measure. Each of us measures from our experience of snow where we are. There is an "official" measurement, and then there is the reality I experience.

So it is with religion, an "official" experience of God, versus an individual's experience. Is there a correct answer for everyone? No. Religion through its theology and scriptures tries to convince you of an experience, though it may be at odds with your experience. God is not bound by theology. Mohamed had an experience. It was not mine. Jews did not have the Jesus experience of Christians. Theology might work with atheists. It did so for C.S.Lewis. Read "Mere Christianity." I think theology works very well with people who have not given the God idea much thought at all, including many a baptized Christian. Nothing but a life crisis will overcome laziness.

So, if someone says they have had an experience of the Divine, the Numenous, and it influences their life in a more deeply human way of living, why try an convince them that your experience is better? Maybe ask yourself how your belief has effected your life for the better.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Tie and Untie

When I wake up in he morning, if I begin right away to fret, plan, worry about the day, it becomes as if I am tying myself up with a rope. I then go through the day struggling to get things done. I am in knots and not comfortable and at ease with events as they arise.

Prayer is when I allow God to free me, loosen my bonds. I become more relaxed and at ease as different situations present themselves. The earlier I pray after I awaken, the less tied up I am likely to become as the day unfolds. These holidays can wrap you in love or in knots. Choose life.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011


Sunday was a glorious day of warmth and sunshine. I ran in bike shorts. The temperature was in the mid 50s. Monday dawned cloudy and cold. Snow began to fall. It snowed all day. I was upset. Why is this such a miserable day! Well, it is mid-December and it is Colorado at 5000 feet altitude. It is supposed to be cold and inclement in December. Why did I have this attitude of disappointment in what should be the norm?

I mistook the gift of a beautiful day, for the right to have every day be just as pleasant. I turned a gift into an expectation. Whenever I do this, I am setting myself up for disappointment. Today I get another chance. It is sunny and the snow is beginning to melt. It will be warmer today than yesterday. Enjoy today. It will snow again later in the week. Enjoy today and do not expect December to become April everyday. Soak in the gift for the moment. Life is passing all too quickly. Enjoy what I have now. I cannot control tomorrow anyway.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Mother Mary

When Mary looks at Jesus, like many a mother, she sees something of herself in him. I am baptized. I am a brother of Jesus. Plus, the Church is the Body of Christ. At my best, I reflect this image, this life of Christ. Sacraments help to keep me at my best. I think Mary's maternal love for us all is based upon this Christ connection. Fortunately, her love, patience and acceptance of me do not disappear when I mess up. She still sees the image, the reflection, no matter how I try and dim it.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

My Eyes

God made me to see God's world, creation and enjoy it through my eyes. God became fully human only once. Yet, in each of us God wants to enjoy through our human faculties. So I have a job every day. Keep the lens clean, open to wonder and hidden mystery. When I turn in upon myself, center the world on me, I cloud the lens. It is as if I were to put my hands in the way of God seeing and enjoying Creation .Maybe this is why sin makes God unhappy.

Friday, December 16, 2011

The Guitar

The soul is like a guitar that is meant to sing a song of praise to God. God is the one who strings and tunes the soul so the song will be one that is in tune. We must wait each morning for God to retune us. Sometimes, we jump right into our routines of prayer. This is a bit like taking the strings and arranging them as pleases us. If the strings of the guitar are not properly arranged, no effort on our part will ever play a song in tune. Try as we might with our routines, our efforts alone avail us little. Sit quietly and be tuned. It only takes a few minutes. If you are used to being in control of your spiritual doings, a few moments will seem like a tedious forever.

Prayer is not meant to complete one more task for the day. It is for the building of relationship. Who wants to listen all day to someone who is out of tune? You don't waste time listening to such music. Why should God?

Thursday, December 15, 2011


I hear the "wise" saying, "All things in moderation." It sounds like a reasonable statement, except if you were, say, drowning. To swim with moderation is to swim to your own peril. You swim all out to stay above water, and move to safety wherever you find it. That seems to be our instinct. When life is threatened, we go all out.

When my spiritual life is sinking into an abyss of staleness, due to neglect, I don't think that prayer in moderation works very well. I am dying within, not to union with God, but to mediocrity at best. I need to go all out to begin to breathe in the Spirit again. The monastery is a wonderful place for me to go to climb or be lifted out of mediocrity. It is not excess if it is a struggle for survival. It is hard to breathe under water, but many of us seem to accept living at this "depth."

Wednesday, December 14, 2011


What does surrender mean? For me it means that I begin to see that the paths of my routines have an end. I do not try to push beyond this end. I wait, but a small, brief moment. Something new opens before me. It is the same me on this new path, yet there is a lightness about it that overcomes any anxiety. It is a bit like switching from coffee to brewed tea leaves. It is the same cup and the same lips that touch the cup, but it is no longer coffee that I am drinking.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

The Light

The nuns used to tell me that when I sinned badly, Jesus left my soul. God was gone from me. Later in life, I heard that God is always within me, within each of us from conception. What gives here? Tagore the poet helps make a distinction. I am meant to reflect the light of God that is within me. God's plan is for me, in love, to absorb, accept, and reflect the Light. When I do bad things, am selfish, unkind, act inappropriately, the Light does not leave me. I now no longer reflect the Light to the world around me.

The person we call holy, or an adept, is like us in having the Light, but they relflect it so much more brightly and clearly than us or at least me. Is the Light reflecting out from you today?

Monday, December 12, 2011

Good Deeds

Whenever I do a good deed that is not necessary or part of some job I do, it always seems to pick me up. I got a call to go 24 miles to anoint someone who was in the mountains and dying from cancer. The local parish had not yet called back. The caller cried with relief when I said I would come. I put down my really good cup of morning, dressed and drove up there. I felt uplifted that I had a chance to be of some service, to bring a sense of God's love to a dying woman..

When I saw the woman in bed I knew that she had very little time left on this earth. She was still able to talk to me some and answer a quiry or two. I chatted with her, took my time, held her warm hand in my cold hand, anointed her and gave her communion. As I was leaving her daughter said she wanted to make a donation to the church where I live. She wrote out a check for a $1000. As she was writing out the check, the local parish called her. Good that they called, but it turned out to a $1000 too slow. Sometimes my instant "Yes" stumbles into surprising things.

Saturday, December 10, 2011


December 21 begins the Jewish feast of Chanakah. It goes for eight days. This year it will continue through our Christmas. There is no effort in our secular culture to keep God out of Chanakah, to diminish it to days for eating special foods with friends. But there is a big effort to keep Christ out of Christmas. People get offended if we make much of a religious display of Christmas. No holy Christmas carols in the malls or on the radio. And how much do Catholics allow this to happen? Do we avoid a big nativity scene in our front yard because it might offend someone? Do you think the Jews hide their menorah?

I wonder if the "No Christ" energy comes from people who used to be identified as Christians/Catholics, and now have decided they no longer believe or don't want to be part of this Church? When a Jew stops believing or practicing, they are still Jewish. They cannot be not Jewish. So they don't get all upset about Jewish ceremonies or belief practices of fellow Jews. When someone goes from the Christian label to atheist or non-Christian, they seem to leave with an edge to them. They don't want anything to remind them of those Christmas years where Christ was present or coming. They want to shop though. Consumerism is the religion of the secular culture. Right after Christmas these people are exhausted. They are so over the excess of it all, the shopping, the wrapping, the dinners.

For us who keep Christ in Christmas, the joy is just beginning. How do you keep Christ in Christmas? I am going to start playing some Christ Chrismas Carols right now, and sing them too!

Friday, December 9, 2011

Second Chances

We are a country known as the place of second chances. If you mess up or fail in one endeavor you can try all over again. Mary as the Immaculate Conception is the patroness of our country. Under this title she is part of God's second chance. Only four people have ever come into this world free of sin. Adam, Eve, Mary, and Jesus. Adam and Eve were part of the first creation, sin free.. They messed up. So God begins a new creation, our second chance. We say that we baptized people are a new creation.

Mary is the new Eve if you will. She is a person without sin, the Immaculate Conception. She is our mother in this new creation. We mess up but she never gets angry, throws a fit, makes us take a time out. She does not sin. She is always giving us second chances when we seek her comfort. Jesus does this too. He gave us confession. Peter is the first pope. He needed a couple of second chances. We are a church of second chances.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Eucharistic Miracles

What is all this interest in miracles and relics that I read about? They have always been here, but it seems as if they make headlines in the Catholic Press. My take on this is that we have given up on trying to dialogue with the postmodern world. Our old arguments don't seem to be moving a lot of people to take our faith seriously. The pope says that our faith should appeal to reason, but we don't seem to be able to do that very well as far as many outsiders see it. Our moral stance on some issues seems not to be very convincing when we give our reasons.

Rather than live in some state of feeling irrelevant in the secular world, we turn inward. Thus the focus on miracles. It is not to convince outsiders who see us as irrelevant, but it does give a boost to our own faith. I think that the internal changes we make, such as liturgical language, are part of this inward look. When it comes to social justice issues we cannot agree amongst ourselves much less convince others of any stance. Conservative Catholics politically think we need to be at war. Others seem to disagree with this stance. For some of us, helping the poor is a matter of the virtue of Charity. For others of us it is a matter of Social Justice. Miracles seem to be the one place or issue upon which we can be in some agreement.

There are many miracles that give us great joy and hope. I see them in people recovering from various addictions. Bu then these miracles have to get out and make the world a better place. They are not looking inward all the time.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Time Out

why is it that some people cannot take some time off for themselves? "I have so much to do," is one thing I hear. "I think of all the things that still have to be done and no one else will do them,? is another thing I hear. Is there some guilt in this? Some control issues? Whatever it is, try thinking about God in the following way.

Now God can do all things and is all powerful, we say we believe. God did thane a day off in Genesis, to rest. The world got on without God at work for a day. God does not seem to have a need to solve all problems. Look at all the good people that suffer from maladies, hunger, disease, cruelties of one sort and another. God does not seem to fix this. So if God is not going to fix everything and do everything that we think needs doing, then why should we? Maybe God is trying to tell us something. maybe some things just don't get done by God much less than by us who are far less powerful.

I am going home to read a book.

Monday, December 5, 2011

To Rest

How do we know when it is time to rest the soul? I suspect that when we wake up from sleep and still feel weary within, then it is time to step away. At this point, if we try to keep going and not to rest the weary soul, we will drag down those around us. We are not called by God to be slavish in our service, but to pace ourselves. Even Christ stepped aside and went off alone to a quiet place. The world managed!

There is a time to work, a time to play, and a time to be your own best friend. Sometimes I get to be of service to another weary soul. I say, "Take the day off and I will take care of things." What better gift can we give to someone in this busy season? So be good to yourself. You never know when your lightness of being will be a service to a dry and soul-burdened friend.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

The Wilderness

I think of the dying process as a wilderness. It is not a place in which we have been before. We generally do not get to do a dry run for the dying process. We might feel alone, berift, anxious and fearful among other things. Who will be that comforting voice to tell the dying person that God is with them, and will not abandon them. The voice of comfort says that you'll not die alone. God will lift you up from this wilderness. Someone who provides palliative care, deals with pain management. But that person may have no hope in a loving and present God, or any belief in anything after death. That person will not be the comforting voice for we people of faith.

The believing, loving, hopeful care giver, with their gentle and calm voice, will the "Voice in the Wilderness" about which we hear in the Advent readings. Some people who feel like life is a wilderness journey need the voice of John the Baptist, saying "Watch and Repent." But most of us need someone gentler and more comforting. To know that there is a God who walks with me and loves me will bring me eventually to repentance. It will be a repentance due to gratefulness and not to fear.

Saturday, December 3, 2011


I looked out the window this morning. It was snowing. I was to give a workshop this morning. My mind began to race with "first thoughts." No one will come to help make coffee and set out the treats. Few people will come to the workshop. I will have no income. I will go to debtor's prison. My life is in ruins.

These are "first thoughts." We don't control the first thoughts. They just come. It is what we do next that tests our spiritual condition. I decided to lay there in bed for a bit and be with God. I did. Then I got up and poured some coffee, studied my notes, prayed, and said my Holy Office morning prayer. I went over to the hall where I was to teach. There was someone there to make the coffee and set up the food which I brought out. We smiled. I rejoiced that Barbara was there to help. "It will be what it will be," we said. I set up some chairs. I did not get crazed. I thought maybe five people might come. Whining and self-pity were ready to take center stage. But they did not. Grace was center stage this morning. "All will be well," said Julian of Norwich.

Over 40 people came. There was plenty to eat. The sound system did not work, but everyone came up close and I did not have to shout. The morning went well. The snow stopped in time for everyone to drive safely at the end of the morning. Are you testing me God? I am not that together! So now the workshop is past and I feel drained, not from the teaching so much as from all those messy feeling and behaviors that were trying to break through to have their way. I love Grace.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

C Note

When we sing the Amen at the end of a prayer, we generally end up on the C note. No matter where we reach for the "A" in Amen, the "Men" of Amen goes for the comfort of the C note. Why? Because a prayer of this type is to bring us to a place of rest for what comes next. So we reach for a higher or lower note just prior to the C, but the final note will be C.

I find chanting to be a mirror of the spiritual life. We stretch and then we rest. We cannot always be one or the other. In this season of Advent we stretch ourselves to get into a "Waiting" mode. Waiting for God is not natural to us. We can do westerners do not wait well. Waiting takes some effort and preparation. We have to smooth out the path for Christ. We have to work on ourselves. Then we have to rest. Hopefully, The Christmas season is a rest time. Daily we must rest. There is a C note place in all of us that calls us to rest.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The Cloud!

I am trying to switch my MAC computers over to a new operating system called "The Cloud" which is cloudy to me at this point. My printer seems not to have been taken along in the transition. I am making a change and for now things are not going so smoothly. I have moments where I long for the older system. It functioned well enough for me. What to do?

I could get angry, and resentful, all of which would change nothing about my computer issues. I accept this situation as it is right now. I made an appointment at the Apple store to see someone who can enlighten me as to what to do next and how to do it. Maybe the problem will get fixed right there. I know from the past that all these electronic issues do get resolved. I also know that anger and self-pity never contributed one bit to the solution, but sure did give me a lot of stress.

When there is change in your life, caused by you or others, what is your response? You are not responsible for your first thoughts. They just come. The second thoughts are where the solution lies in order to live a life of some peace in the Presence of Truth. If my computer problems are my worse event today, I am having a good day. I am just not getting my way.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

I believe

Why did we drop the "We believe" and now say "I believe" if we are in a communal mass setting? Good question. The creed is what was said for me when I was baptized. I was baptized into a community. I go to mass to pray with the community, the Body of Christ in the local church. But I was not baptized at the same time as anyone else. We are all baptized one by one even at an Easter Vigil of adults. So here at the mass when I profess the creed I am placing myself at the point of the baptismal font. Here I am saying that "I" do believe. It is said for the individual infant baptized or said by the adult when baptized. It is my recommitment.

When I say "I believe" I say it for myself, my commitment. I cannot speak for anyone else. We may be the Body of Christ, but we are individual believers in that body. The hand does not speak for the eye.

Monday, November 28, 2011


I have been away from my office computer in Boulder for two months. I am trying to update it. It seems that I am getting a little lost in what is new and what I can use and what I cannot use due to the age of my computer. So far I am a bit confused, but being patient. The battery in my wireless keypad corroded. So I had to get a new keypad before I could do anything on my computer. Patience. I don't seem to have control in my office here in Boulder.

When I am away from God, is it not the same results? I try to get updated with God, but God may not be cooperating with my life style. If I ignore God for several months, or even days, stuff happens in the relationship, no? My soul corrodes, get stuck. I think I need a new soul! It is better if I stay in touch with God and my computer on a more regular basis. It is not good to be out of touch with God that is for sure. I may have to travel and be away form my office computer, but I am never away from God in my travels...unless I choose to do so. Then I suffer.

Sunday, November 27, 2011


On the airplane I wait for the attendant to come along with the peanuts and ask if I would like something to drink. I wait with some expectation. I look forward to it. I know that it will happen any minute now.

On the other hand I wait for the church roof to be repaired. I do not wait with any expectation. I have no idea when it will happen. I dread the inconvenience it causes while we are unable to make use of the church for our worship services. I expect the worse. I expect endless delays.

Which one of these two ways of waiting approximates my waiting for the return of the Glorified Christ? I mean, I am waiting, yes?

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Church Speak

In the monastery when we pray the psalms in chant, we are not seeking information, or moral instruction or even a good feeling, though any one of these may happen at any one prayer. The wording of the prayers are not in the ordinary syntax or cadence of our rather blunt direct way of talking. That way of talking gives information or conveys a mood. Psalm chant is to transform me. Our communal way of praying is to open me to God's transforming grace that will bring forth my potential to be another Christ.

At it's best, this is what the new prayers and actions of the revised Roman Missal are trying to do. The prayers are at times more poetic, less direct, and more of them are chanted. "But chant is not natural to our way of praying," we say in rebuttal. Precisely. The mass is group/communal prayer that is supposed to be different from the way we pray privately. Communal prayer in the mass is part of this attempt to be more open to being transformed by grace. You do things that you don't normally do. You chant.

I go to the monastery to pray in a very different fashion than when alone or at a parish mass. At first it is a stretch, but day by day I grow into it. The words are not all that logical in their patterns. Some seem archaic, and they are. They are from Latin prayers. I am praying to God in a certain pattern that is supposed to open me to being moved by how they are chanted and in what tone. God already knows what I need. Our monastery prayer is not "chat time" with God. I can do that alone.

All the monks buy in to this prayer. Everyone chants together. This is what makes the process work. If one monk leads the prayer but everyone else stands there mute and disliking the process, it won' t work. There are a bunch of conspiracy theories about why the Church changed the mass. Who knows? I simply give the reason why I buy in.

Friday, November 25, 2011


Go see the movie "Hugo" in 3D. It is wonderful. Each of us is necessary. Each of us has a purpose. Grace is at work to help us find our purpose even when many things seem to be working against us. God is a grace in my life, who has made me with no unneeded parts. All of me has a purpose as I am now. If I am open, I will be shown my purpose. Maybe I am supposed to fix someone or some situation? Go see "Hugo."

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Being Thankful

Today is a day to focus on being Thankful. It is a good day for gratitude. All was going well until I found out that my great clothing buy yesterday was trumped by an even lower price on Black Friday. The problem is not price, but rather greed and control. I have greed, but not control. As long as I need these things to be satisfied, I will never be in a place of gratitude or thankfulness.

The good news is that God points this out to me. We have a laugh. I hope God is laughing and not keeping track of my ongoing shortcomings. So now I am thankful that my faults do not ruin the day for those around me. We enjoyed a wonderful family dinner. I made delicious gravy. Turkey without gravy, now that would make for a bad day! If I wait for everything to go my way before I say "Thank You God" I will never say thank you. A life with no gratitude is pretty miserable. Are you grateful today? If you got the really best Black Friday deals, I hope it was a Christmas present for me!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Red Wednesday

The department stores made no money from my purchases today. There were great sales. I saw some clothes and said, " This is so cheap, I can't NOT buy it." Every great while I go to these chain clothing stores and they are practically giving it away. Today is that lucky day for me. Who needs Black Friday? But I need to have hope and a willingness to go to my mall.

Is this not what prayer is all about? Every day God is ready to give me a great deal. I get love for free. All I need to do is show up. Take time out to pray and I may experience this love, presence, companionship. If I had spent as much time at prayer as I did at Century City Mall in LA today, I could have bought heaven! For free. The Kingdom is in my midst. I don't even have to travel freeways to get there.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Airplane Community

I am going to LA to have Thanksgiving with my sister and her family. Southwest Airlines you choose your seat when you get on the plane. I chose a seat by the window,but had to climb over an elderly woman who sat on the aisle. There was a middle seat between us. She began to mutter to herself. She fumbled with the seat belt. The belt was winning. She got into a coughing fit. She complained to a fellow passenger that her "hat" had been mussed by that passenger. She wanted water before we even left the ground. She grabbed for the peanut and pretzel tray as it passed by.

I made a judgment. It wasn't nice. Then I realized that she too is a child of God, loved by God. She is doing the best she can with what wits she has about her. I reached over and put on her overhead light that she could not reach. I prayed for her. We are fellow siblings of God our Father. When we got off the plane she stood, stooped a bit, in the jetway. There was no wheelchair waiting for her. When I got out of the jetway I told a Southwest attendant that an elderly woman in the jetway needed a wheelchair. The attendant thanked me and said she would attend to her.

With the right attitude we can be kind. Judgments help no one.

Sunday, November 20, 2011


Creation was something new for God, a first time event. Before creation, nothing could hurt God. God decided to birth the world and give it freedom. God became vulnerable. I have fee will. I can disobey. I can ignore God. Do my own thing. God will still love me. God became vulnerable by giving me birth.

When I was younger I was told that God could not be hurt. God did not suffer. God was not supposed to be the least affected by my bad behavior. How could God love me and not be vulnerable, hurt by my ignoring God? To love someone who has free will is to open yourself to being hurt. A parent knows this. Do we not call God Father? Or if you prefer, Mother? I tend to feel more sorry, contrite about offending God when I think that God is actually affected, becomes sad, has the God-heart pierced by my willfulness. When I think about God the Parent who gave me life and loves me, it is harder to be bad. Try it sometime.

Saturday, November 19, 2011


Last night I had dinner with old friends who I had not seen in several years. It was a wonderful and fulfilling time. But earlier in the day I was feeling tired and thought about the fact that I would not get to bed my usual time. it was raining out and I had to go to someone's house on a bus to then get a ride to where we were all meeting. Whining! Part of me, the insane part, just wanted to hunker down in my room and stay home. Thank God, I did not listen to that.

Is not prayer a visit with an old friend? At times, I say, "I am too tired. I am too busy." To ignore the invitation to be with my God is insane. Prayer does mean that I will not get to do everything that my head tells me to do. Prayer shortens the list of accomplishments completed each day. Where is prayer on your priority list?

Wednesday, November 16, 2011


Fantasy is a commercial that interrupts our being present to the moment. It interrupts our real life. Real life is a process of becoming awakened to who we truly are in God's plan. God made me a unique image of God. My ego says I am unique, but that is not the same thing. A life run on ego will be full of fantasy, as well as resentment, whining, self-centeredness, and selfish willfulness. An awakened life will be Love, but with a cross. Awakened I am less selfish. I am concerned about the world beyond my plans. I am of service which might inconvenience me. So there is the cross when I love.

I think fantasy is ultimately the way of the cowardly and lazy person. It is so easy to let go to the imagination to set me free from the struggles's and the hard work of real life, of the process of transformation. Television reality shows feed fantasy. They are anything but reality for the viewer. Hollywood is the ultimate fantasy feeder. A little escape now and again can be refreshing. Just know that it is only a refreshment, not the main course.

The End

On this date, 41 years ago, I was terminated from a company for whom I worked in San Francisco. I cried, begged for my job, and was frightened of being unemployed, alone in San Francisco with no family. The first thing I did was go out of the office with my belongings and tell my friends that I had quit. I could not admit to my mess.

It was the beginning of the end for me in corporate business. Within the next two years, past one more job, that I really did quit, I joined the Paulist Fathers and am still a Paulist priest. I write this from San Francisco, from the Church I used to attend when a corporate working bachelor. Such a good thing came out of what seemed like such a bad thing for me.

God showed me only bits and pieces of the journey as it unfolded. Now, when my life looks like it may not be working out so well, I trust that I am only seeing a piece of a larger picture. Be in a fit spiritual condition on a daily basis, and I will be able to live in the present without the fear and anxiety or loneliness that used to plague me when I was "lost."

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Be Veronica

When Jesus was carrying his cross to Calvary, he met a woman named Veronica. She wiped his sweaty, dirty face with a cloth or veil. Then he went on. A brief moment, a small gesture, and no words. But the encounter is still remembered today. We can be Veronicas. Do a small gesture of comfort for someone who is having a tough time. Veronica had a veil, so she use it to do something practical, but also expressive of her compassion. I could take the hand of an elderly, lonely person, and smile. There is never too little time for small gestures. I can put a piece of chocolate on the desk of the Administratrix at the parish office. We all want to know someone cares and we are not doing the moment in isolation.

Somehow, texting doesn't qualify. Think of Veronica, sitting in her coffee shop on the Via Dolorosa. She sees Jesus passing by with his cross. Rather than get up and go out to him, lose her table space, or stop whatever she is doing with gadgets, she sends him a text, "Thinking of you. Sorry you are having a bad day." Spare me.

Monday, November 14, 2011


What if you saw ads that said, "Drink, Drink, Drink, Alcohol!" You might think this a bit strange or even dangerous. We know that alcohol can be an addiction. It must be done in moderation and for some people, not at all. Well, "Black Friday" is coming. Stores hope to go into the black or profit side for the year, beginning with the Friday after Thanksgiving. Spending is encouraged. You have no money? Buy on credit and pay later. If you don't spend on gifts for you or others, than what will happen to our economy?

Our economy is based upon addiction. First, we want you to feel uncomfortable. Either you don't have something or you don't have enough of something. Or you can win love or avoid disapproval, by buying someone else something even if they do not need it. Shop and buy in order to chase away the discomfort.

Christmas is no longer a time for Jesus. It is a time for addictive behavior. People who don't even believe in Jesus get into the addictive shopping. We train our children in greed and self-implosion, if not in a false way of finding happiness. We buy them lots of stuff they don't really need. Maybe we need "Shoppers Anonymous" meetings with 12 steps. Of course most people don't feel they are out of control...not until the bills come in. January is always a good time for recovery.

Oh, don't forget Fr. Ryan at Christmas! I guess I need to work on hypocrisy.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

HOMILY Mt. 25: 14-30

We all have talents. I don't have all the talents of another person and in some cases, I share a talent, but not to the same degree as another person. I am baptized. I received 12 fruits and 7 gifts of the Holy Spirit. Every baptized person gets them. So we all get fortitude, but I may have more fortitude than another person because that is God's plan for me. I will need lots of fortitude to be all that God made me to be. Someone else does not need so much fortitude, but they may need more prudence.

Let us not compare and contrast ourselves with another person. Some of us are better at math than others. They may have a call to be a scientist. I do not have that call. My job is to use the gifts I have to the best of my ability. To live life in some minimal way, or out of fear, is to do ourselves much damage. In the gospel, the fellow who got the one talent, he was paralyzed by fear, so he buried the money.

When I ask, "What is the least I need to get by?" I am going down the road of sloth and maybe immorality. In business, a person may ask the legal department what can they do to satisfy their own greed, and self-centeredness, yet stay within the law. This is immoral but it may be legal. As a baptized person, I am gifted to do the "right thing," which comes out of my sense of oneness with all other people. This is called the way of the cross.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Religion as morality

The students at Penn State who rallied in favor of their coach being reinstated might be based upon the thinking of many that all we need to do is what is legally correct or necessary. There is no moral high ground here. "What is the moral thing to do," is not their issue. These students will go on to work in business and industry. Will they think only of what their legal responsibilities are? Their morality is "Don't break the secular law." This is what happens when we dump religion as an ethical system. Jesus challenges us to live the moral high ground and not to simply do whatever the secular law permits. We do things we don't have to do, that might even cost us. That is why we bless ourselves. We must remember the cross.

Friday, November 11, 2011


If I wake up and immediately begin thinking about me, this is usually not good. Why? Self-acceptance does not usually come with first thoughts about me. Self-acceptance dampens fear, anxiety, worry, whining, and self-pity. So If this is the plate I have, I push it away and do two other things. One, I think about what I have when I wake up. There is a God who loves me. I have faith, some health, a place to sleep and eat. I have work. Somebody likes me. I begin now to have gratitude. So, two, I think of how I can be useful this day. What can I do for others? With the gratitude that I have, I do not now see service as a burden, in which I would feel resentful or sorry for myself. I am not burdened with the early morning mass, rather I have the opportunity to say mass.

Then there is always coffee!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

The New Religion

Football has replaced the Catholic Church as the new religion. Penn State messed up on child sex abuse. Lets see what happens. When the Catholic church messes up, the judge says the church can be sued for a priest's mess. The lawyers go after the Church for money. Priests are immediately taken out of their jobs.

Now look at Penn State. A lawyer passes a state bar exam. His/her license is to practice in that state. What lawyer, who would like to continue to work in PA, would sue the flagship university? How many friends and business contacts would a person keep who was known to have successfully sued and thereby taken lots of $$$ from Penn State and its football program? Students are rallying around the coach. Anyone rallying around a bishop?

Football is revered. The stadium is the new cathedral and services are on Saturdays. You eat and drink a lot. Community is celebrated as the athletes and coaches are the gods before whom they bow. Don't mess with their religion. There will be a measured response to safeguard the "program" of winning football games and gathering the $$$.

Tell me it is a level playing field, the Church and Penn State or whatever other secular god you happen to find. It is not a level playing field. The Church is scorned. Penn State football is beloved. Watch this play out. Oh, and lets hope this is an isolated situation and no other football program anywhere in the country is right now shaking in its cleats.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

A nearby gem

I went out to dinner tonight with some friends. They live in the suburbs. They came downtown to my neighborhood in San Francisco to take me out to eat. They found a wonderful restaurant, French, in an alley two blocks from where I live. I do not recall ever seeing the alley much less the restaurant. It was a wonderful dinner in a very nice setting.

Why did I not know about this place so close to where I live? I get set in my routines, my normalcy, the walk routes that I take, the places I go. I become blind to the "New" right under my nose. Something is always there in front of me, but I cannot see it, because I am not looking, or open to it.

Has your spiritual life become so institutionalized, so routine, that you no longer can see what is right in front of you? When religion is young, fresh, new, it is open, questioning and searching. Then it becomes institutionalized. It does not question. It answers. It is not open. It is closed in upon itself. It does not search. It has, power, control.

Monday, November 7, 2011


So I read where in one country with a lot of people, mostly Catholic, the Church leaders say that the reason for poverty is not overpopulation, but mismanagement and bad government. This implies to me, that this government cannot help these many people, but that if the government were better managed, then there would be plenty of work, housing, income, education for all the people.

Does anyone expect a bad government to get better? If the government stays the same, and continues to do the same inefficient job for the vast population of people, then what might have to change to deal with poverty? Lots of people already leave that country to go get a better life elsewhere. That still leaves a lot of people. There might be another solution here, but I doubt that the church wants to go there.

Sunday, November 6, 2011


I love this saying, "We must try to make it easier for people to love us." Some people will try to please others, so as to get love. This is desperate manipulation. Some are co-dependent, enablers.

I try to take an inventory of my behavior at the end of the day. I have a list of well-ingrained faults that I review. I see where I keep falling down. It can bring some humility and my sense of need for Grace. In the morning I ask for the Grace to not fall into these faults or bad habits. At times, I catch myself during the day, in the midst of bad behavior or about to go down a familiar road of perdition. I often stop and note what is going on with me, but don't act out so badly if at all. When I behave better in the midst of others, then I am "making it easier for people to love me."

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Spiritual Experience

My sister and I were talking about why some of our friends who went to Catholic schools no longer believe in God. I don't mean that they dropped out of the Church, but that they actually don't believe in God as we were taught it. Why do I still believe might also be a question?

I think that in many cases bad things happen in a person's life, such as sickness, loss of child, job, lack of a love life, and so on. We were taught that God is loving and has power. So why did all this mess happen? It does not compute. Must be no God or at least not one that can help me. I wonder if these people who stop believing, have never had a vital spiritual experience of God such that they believe even when mess happens.

For me God became a relationship of person to person. It is a felt presence at many times. I am out of sorts if I go more than a couple of days without checking in for some quiet time together. The experience goes beyond a reasoned belief in God. Faith that is merely reasonable will fail us when bad things happen. There must be a deeper experience of being loved in spite of all that happens in our lives. Catholic school can only appeal to reason. They can take us to mass, but there is no guarantee that we will have a sufficient spiritual experience of Presence to carry us through the rough times.

Friday, November 4, 2011

An App For God-Talk

I just read that there are apps for getting a date. No need to go to bars or singles events. Just punch into you smart phone where you are and what you want. For example, you are visiting a town where you have some work. You come out of the office and you would like to meet a single person to have a drink. Punch this into your smart phone, and back comes names of people nearby who are wanting to do the same thing at that moment. I think it is for a boy meets girl thing.

But what about an app for someone like me who finishes a day at the office or church, and wants to talk with someone about God, the spiritual life, the Catholic Church. Would it not be nice to put this info into my smart phone, if I had a smart phone, and then someone might be nearby and ready for such a conversation? God is always available for conversation. It is called prayer. There are some requirements. One, I have to let go of the God I want, and be open to the God who shows up. Two, I have to be able to listen. Some people say that their God just loves to listen to them, even when they complain, whine, and plead. That is not the God that shows up in my life. How about you? Have you pre-programed your God? Bet it is not much of a date.

Thursday, November 3, 2011


I have an image of what purgatory is all about for me. I am the petulant child that wants things my way. I get into all kinds of messes due to selfishness, fear, control issues, resentments at how things don't go my way, and addictive behavior in the above or other areas.

Jesus comes along with the soap and water, maybe some very strong soap. He rolls up his sleeves. I don't want a bath. I resist what is good for me. Jesus wants to wash all this mess off of and out of me. Baptism was the first attempt. Then confirmation and then the rest of the sacraments including my ordination to the priesthood. But I die with lots of mess and don't even know better that I need to be bathed again. Jesus gets into the tub with me and gets all wet too, just to clean me up. Eventually, I see that being clean is the better way. After I am all cleaned up, Jesus presents me to the Father. The soap and water is the Holy Spirit.

Would it not be nicer if I could get cleaned up in this life? It is called transformation. Need a bath in the Spirit?

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

The New Translation

I just finished reading a spin on how wonderful the new prayer translations are. I don't necessarily understand the prayers, but at least I know why they are written the way they are written. My question is: "How does all this help evangelization or renewal? Will it keep teens in the church?"

I don't get the sense that this is a focus of the translation changes. It has the feel that some people in the hierarchy have given up on renewing those on the edges, and decided to make the prayers agreeable to a certain nostalgic group. It may not be a church for everyone, but it sure will be a church for the few. If it were not for the Latinos coming into the country, we would be aware of a big drop off of English mass attendance. The few will celebrate. The many will scratch their heads if they show up at all.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

My Burden

At times, I am made aware of my most grievous faults. I feel a sense of shame and guilt. This awareness usually comes when I am doing some spiritual reading. I suddenly realize how precious and loving Jesus is. I had been ignoring him, or committing the fault upon which the writer is focused. I am ashamed at how thankless and thoughtless I am.

It all seems like such a burden that weighs me down at that moment. Cannot someone come and lift this burden from me and carry it on their shoulders? Oh, wait. Someone did that. The place was Calvary. Love the one on the Cross and stop focusing on my wretchedness. Well, this is turning out to be a pretty good day.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Some Things Don't Change

My sister and I were talking about all the expenses we have now that we did not have in the past. There are cell phone expenses, cable TV expenses, owning all these electronic gadgets, and so on.

Yes, in some ways life has gotten a lot more intricate. So I take some consolation that God has not changed and my soul still hungers for God. The cost in $$$ is nothing. The cost in ego, false-pride, discipline, patience, and surrender are still the same. Not so funny, I have learned all the new ways of electronic gadgets, but I am still pretty hard-headed and obtuse about what is due God in the spiritual life. How much time do you spend connecting with God versus connecting with "The Cloud."

Saturday, October 29, 2011

The Reign

We often hear that Jesus died to satisfy The Father for the affront of Adam's sin, that only a God could make restitution to A God for such human disobedience. I think we miss something here. There is a war between Satan, the great deceived, and God. Satan won an early round in Paradise with Adam and Eve. Satan rules over the Kingdom of Death. This Kingdom was a wedge between God and all who died. The dead did not have the complete happiness that God had planned. They were not miserable, just incomplete.

Doesn't God have complete power? Yes, but wait. God had plans for Satan. Time goes on and Satan is doing well, seems to have won out over Creation's plan. Then God offers to Satan what is most precious to God, the Creative Self Reflection of Love. The deal is that Satan has to let go of all the dead now and in the future. Satan agrees, but Satan is the Great Liar and has no plan to let anyone go. Satan believes that God has lost power since death has reigned so long. Plus now the Trinity will be broken up and "The Son" will be under Satan's power through the cruel crucifixion.

People reject Jesus. Satan is so happy. The crucifixion gives him even more joy. He never saw it coming. The Resurrection was a complete surprise. He had become cocky and let his guard down. God had set him up. Why? God wanted Satan to become shockingly confronted with his own powerlessness and pitiful state. Now Satan will never forget: God is a force that can not be defeated. Death no longer separates us from the Paradise God has prepared for us. Death only lightens the load on the journey.

Do you sometimes drift into Satan's thinking and acting? Do you not do bad things, become selfish and unkind in thought or action? Do you not at times wonder where God is or why God does not do something and fix up the world as you think it needs fixing? Maybe there is a bigger plan and you just did not get the memo.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Check In

I think that I am supposed to be the presenter at a Day of Prayer at a nearby retreat center. It has been many months since I heard from the person who set this up. Am I still on the program? I am in the dark, plus I do not have a car and need someone from the retreat center to pick me up at the ferry or bus terminal. So today I called the retreat center and left a message.

When I wonder if I have lost contact with God, a good first step is to check in. Give God a call. It is prayer. It is a good way to make sure it is not me that has been out of touch. I have days where I say, "Gee, I don't feel the sense of God in my life today." Then I realize that I have not checked in, but for a brief "hello" when I woke up. Sometimes my sense that my spiritual life is dry or dark, is really the wrong adjective. It is more "absent" and the person who is away is me!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Wisdom Uncreated

Whenever a scientist or engineer comes up with a new insight, this is God revealing something of God's creative Wisdom, though God does not show up in the credits of the insight or invention.New understandings and insights are ongoing revelation from God's cosmos. God is so all Loving that one need not be a believer for God to choose that person for a "discovery" of something, or a new way of seeing. We know that it is good if the discovery benefits humanity.

What we do with these discoveries will reveal our cooperation with Grace, or not. Fusion of the nucleus is a discovery. It is a scientific revelation, but it is of God's original creation, only recently discovered. The Incarnation was part of the original plan. In time it happened, became visible, at least to some. If I am open and searching, not closed up as in "I know it all" I will have more revealed about the Word made Flesh. The scientist and I are both seekers. God is revealing Truth to both of us.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Mustard Seed

A mustard seed is pretty small. It could easily go quite unnoticed. The best it can do is grow into a bush. Even if it is a big bush relative to the size of the seed, it will never be a tree. But the birds would nest in the bush, or so says Jesus. That is the Kingdom of God. Birds will nest in bushes instead of trees. Why? I suspect that size and stature matter little in the kingdom. Looks are not everything!

The birds seek the bush because there is something about the bush that attracts them to nest. Maybe if I let the seed of God build me up, I won't become a big deal in the eyes of those who look for appearances, but there might be something about me that animals will trust. Wasn't that what St. Francis of Assisi was all about? He did not look like much but there was something about him. He had the seed of the Kingdom. Are you posing and checking yourself out in the mirror? Or looking into your soul?

Tuesday, October 25, 2011


MATTHEW 22: 34-40
OCTOBER 23, 2011

When I was a little boy and we got our first television set, a 13" screen, my favorite show was "The Lone Ranger" which was on for a half hour at 7:30 PM Thursdays. Mom would let me stay up past my bedtime and watch it. I focused on that show. Nothing else mattered for that half hour.

I ask myself now why is not God as interesting as "The Lone Ranger" was then, for me? I think it is because we have lost the sense of Mystery about God, the sense of awe in the Presence. We think that we know God. We have our catechism and our creed that seems to box God into definitions. We even box God into a place, in the Tabernacle where the consecrated hosts are kept. God has a place in our life, but not much of a focused place that has lots of interest. God has become too familiar

People seem more interested in my five finger shoes and what I say about them, then in what I say about God. The shoes have a sense of mystery and newness about them. People don't know about these shoes. They know about God, so they think.

When someone says that they have "fallen in love," they want to devote all their attention to the object of their love. Interest is at a peek. The same person might say, "I love you Mom/Dad," but the interest to spend time with the parent is not so acute. Parents become boring or an embarrassment to children at some point. There is a familiarity that dulls interest. Maybe we have made God too familiar?

I go out at night or before dawn and look up at the sky and recognize the cosmos, the universe that God created. It is all so vast, and yet this same God has created little me and thinks about me all the time. This same God would and did die for me. I may know God only a little, but I can experience Divine Love when I recover the Mystery and awe of the Creator. Each of us has to find some way to do this on daily basis. Otherwise, we will miss out on Transforming Love. No catechism or dogma, on their own, can give us this.

Monday, October 24, 2011


Fear sleeps when I am working at my interior life, my God connection. Fear does not go away though I feel no fear. It sleeps. I can awaken it. It does not awaken itself. Stop my spiritual practice, ignore God, and fear wakes. Awake, it is crafty. It comes forth in disguise so that I am unaware of it, and it can wreck more havoc for a longer period of time. What are some disguises,you ask?

I don't have enough of something. I need more.
You have too much and I have too little. I will figure a way to get some of what you have.
I am so envious. She has a better house, car, husband, behaved kids. I hate her!
I may lose my job. I will be living on the streets. I am powerless in this economy.
I am too ugly to ever have a mate.
My partner is just not good looking enough for me.
If I just work out more I will be able to be better than anyone else in my group.
If I don't have a really good sermon people won't like me.
If I say no, people won't like me.
I am a better priest than he is. Why does he get all the attention?
If I tell you what I really think, you won't like me.
If I tell you my secrets you will abandon me, think less of me.
I don't want to talk about feelings. It makes me uncomfortable. Let's just gossip and judge others.

Set Free

I was reading The Book of Wisdom, chapter 2. The unjust are planning to put the just man to torture and even death to see if "The Father" will come to spare him. The chapter goes on to say that God planned for us to be imperishable, but we messed up and now have death. Jesus is the just man. He has to experience the suffering and death at the hands of unjust people to defeat the perishable and restore "The Father's" plan.

So too us. We have to experience something as Christ's body to defeat it. The woman who suffered from arthritis, and could not stand erect, was touched by Jesus on the Sabbath. This is in Luke, chapter 13:10-17. Her suffering experience is healed. The Sabbath is the day that death, experienced by Jesus is healed. The defeat of a misery cannot come until we have first experienced it. Cancer is defeated with death. It is the ultimate cure. And then death is defeated, after we experience it, by being united to Christ.

Where this makes sense on a daily basis of psychological pain is in something like loneliness. We have to experience it before we can have it removed. Like Jesus upon the cross, this inner pain must be crucified so that with Grace, Christ union, we might even say, "Your will be done," and "Into your hands I commend my spirit." It is in suffering that we are transformed. In joy we generally forget about God, or say a passing prayer of thanks.

So maybe the miseries of our life have some purpose? Maybe God is in the suffering and has not abandoned me?

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Shoes Again

I presided and preached at a Church near San Francisco this weekend. I wore my yellow five finger shoes. People were really interested in the shoes and wanted to know all about them, where to buy them, why I liked them. I preached. They were not as excited about God. They did not want to know what I thought about God. My shoes inspired them to take action as relates to footwear. No action as it relates to God. Where did I go wrong? I can sell shoes, but not God. I can make shoes interesting much easier than I can make God interesting.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Where is the Mystery?

When we explain God, define God, encase God in the Catechism with it's precise answers, do we not lose the sense of Mystery? God is a mystery. No word or thought or image can hold or confine the Mystery. I don't get much sense of awe when reading the catechism. It might put my questioning mind at rest, but I would still be restless in my soul. Awe is what holds and attracts me. I don't need answers. Love is profound mystery. I know when Love embraces me. This is all the knowing I need.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Web site and blog

My moribund web site is getting changed/retuned and a face lift. Now I seem to be able to go from web page to blog easily. I sense this is all good, though it is new and strange for now. I need faith, trust in the process, hope that all will be well, and practice. Is this not what the deepening relationship with God is? The familiar is not all there can be. The relationship then changes and I am lost for a while. But I keep at the changing way I pray. Have faith, hope, trust, and work at it.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The Light

I saw a wonderful sunrise yesterday. We are far enough south of San Francisco to be beyond the fog belt. Poor foggy San Francisco. This morning I got up to go ouside to watch the beautiful sunrise again. Fog! An outrage. My plans foiled by All these clouds. No beautiful
Sunrise. Then I realized that the Light that still rises in life each morning without fail is God. So I sat outside and welcomed the Light. My plans might fail, but God does not fail.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

New Mass

here in the Oakland, California parish where I help out sometimes, we have begun to say the prayers and responses that are mandated to begin in Advent. I am glad we did not wait. I find the mood of the congregation and myself is not so much that we are praying, as that we are trying to learn and get comfortable with the changes. By Advent we should be able to be more prayerful and not have to think of what comes next in changes.

So why is Boulder and other places waiting? Advent is such an important time of renewal. It is not a time to be practicing how to say the Gloria, or some other congregstional response. As for me, I get to practice now in a real mass, so that I can be a presided at prayer come Advent. Don't wait!

Monday, October 17, 2011


When things are not going well in our spiritual or emotional life, we may have a desire to do something about it. We may have a desire to change the feeling or interior muck or boredom. Desire is just that. There is no action with desire. To desire to meditate is not meditation. Besides, why wait for desire or for an attraction to prayer.

Wake up and pray. No need for desire. Willingness is what will get us to pray even when there is no desire or even when we are bored by god stuff. Prayer is an act of the will in relationship with the Divine, the Mystical, The Mystery. You don't have to understand it, just do it. If there is a God, and I do believe there is someone besides me in this prayer, then God will do something with our action of prayer. Don't plan on what the results will be. Just do it. Why wait until you are way down the road to a bad day, before you pray? Pray when you are above water, in the boat of serenity or peace, not waiting until you are drowning and only then use pray as a life preserver.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Just because

Just because I have a thought about doing something, this does not mean I have to act on it. I mean thoughts about doing something that would seem to be good or useful. I wake up in the morning, and sometimes my mind fills up with "stuff that needs doing." I get so weary just thinking about all this stuff and then feeling guilty that I did not do things earlier, or forgot to do something from a previous day or week!

These are just thoughts. My mind has a mind of it's own. I lay these thoughts aside for the moment. First things first, I pray. I thank God for the gift of this day, for faith, for the health I do have. I ask to be of some use to God's will. My will woke up crazy. I rest a little in God, with some hot tea or coffee. Surprise! That list of tasks, some disappeared, and some no longer seem so weary. I suspect the ones that were not part of God's plan, just went poof!

Saturday, October 15, 2011


When I get discontented that whatever I have or do is not good enough, I suspect that I am into my "I am not perfect enough." I may not be conscious of this feeling of inadequacy. It is buried under the feeling of discontent with what I have or did. Example: I go for a run with some friends. I don't run as well that day as my fantasy wanted or expected. The result? I had a wonderful exercise outdoors in beautiful surroundings with friends, but I am discontented, even irritable!

If God were this way in our relationship, demanding perfection, I would be doomed. God would always be irritated at me! I would make a very bad God. The next time your mate, date, or friend is not perfect enough, maybe they are not the problem. I belong to a very imperfect Church. I have to find a better Church. Oops!

Friday, October 14, 2011


I am somewhat bemused by big fundamental churches founded by some individual who thinks everybody else had it wrong until he or she came along. They think that they are focused upon the message. Little by little, if not very soon, they get stuck in their success. They build huge church campuses, fill their buildings with people and bring in lots of money. Some years later, I run into not so young people who "used to go" to that church.

What happened? It seems they outgrew it all, or rather, all the pomp and display did not reach deep enough into their hearts. They found themselves part of a success story, but hungering for something not there. The mega-church was supposed to be a means to an end. It got stuck building up and defending the means. Gee, aren't we glad that the Catholic hierarchy isn't like that?

All these youth day people chasing after the pope in Spain this past summer, I wonder where they will be in about ten years? I had better check myself! People say that they love my preaching. Is my preaching really a road that Grace moves on between the Divine and the soul? Or am I just entertaining people with stories? Humm! The road to purgatory is often paved by the ego's idea of "a good deed!"

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Means And Ends

There is growing talk in the Catholic Church about the changes in the Liturgy that will happen with Advent at the end of November. I try to keep in mind that this is an attempt to change a means, how we celebrate our mass, in order to reach an end, become one in Christ, be transformed by love. When we make the means the end, we get into trouble. We end up with a focus on the rule, the ritual, the correct way of doing things. Will all this lead us to Christ?

The rule that we are supposed to go to mass every Sunday was supposed to lead us to some end, transformation into Christ, to become what we eat. Did this happen? I think not. The Church focused on the missing of mass as a mortal sin. This is Pharisaism. Jesus challenged this attitude. The Sabbath is made for us, not we for the Sabbath.

So as all these rule and language changes come about in Advent, I try to keep in mind that we must still preach the Gospel. We must preach Christ, the cross, God's surprising love and forgiveness. The end is Deification, not some rule or rubric. When we focus on changing the liturgy and not the interior transformation of the person, we are pharisaical.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The Walk

Today I decided to take a bus to the Bay in San Francisco and then to walk to Golden Gate Bridge. Shorts and tee shirt day. Not enough of those out here. I walked and walked. I stopped for lunch and then shopped all along the Crissy Field walk. So much to explore on this beautiful day.

Then I realized I had walked somewhere between enough and too much. There were other places i wanted to see, but my body was giving out. The word "moderation" came to mind. It is a healthy idea in anything we undertake, including prayer. If I take a couple of exploratory walks each week, in time I will see all I want to see. If I pray on a regular basis, in moderation, I will develop the habit of prayer. Not every day of prayer needs to be a retreat day! Is your prayer life in shape today?

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Who Went Away?

When I sit in quiet meditation, nothing may seem to be happening. Just me and thoughts or an energy that wants to get up and go do something. I wait. An experience of Presence or Peace or Calm seems to come over me. I say,"Ah! God has come." But it is not God who has been away from the relationship. God is always here with me. Never leaves. I am the one who has drifted off into my plans, fears, worries, programs for happiness, self-imploded. When I sense the Divine, I should say, "Ah! Here am I Lord. I have come back from my wanderings."

Monday, October 10, 2011


Today in San Francisco it rained early and often. A crummy day to be outside. No walk in the sun today. So dreary! While whining, the light went on in my misery. What a wonderful opportunity to get a lot of tedious desk work, catch up on mail, clean up my desk. No outside temptations. No guilt that I might miss a beautiful day outside in the sun and ocean air. It seems grace is always at work. Ah! Now I can see my desk.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

The Fish

In snorkeling I realized that the ocean current is very strong. Even with flippers, I could not swim against the current and waves. I watched the little fish. They would face the shore and go with the wave. When a wave was coming into the shore, the fish would let itself be pulled along. It took no effort so long as the fish let the current carry it. So I did the same thing and rode the current to shore or out into deeper water.

There are powerful forces in the world and in the spiritual life that seem too much for me. I cannot seem to go in the direction that I want. As St. Paul says, "I do what I don't want to do." Temptations are powerful forces. So I try to put myself into God's hand and let God move me along as God chooses. It takes less effort to pray than to fight these powerful forces within or outside of me. Prayer may seem trying at times, but prayer makes the rest of the day flow much better.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Evening Prayer

Here in Hawaii I realize that I am one of the last ones to say evening prayer today. The day changes a few miles west of me. Maybe someone in the Aleutians is farther West, but I am one of the people who the Lord will hear last this day giving praise in saying evening prayer. I like that. Being last is not so bad, huh?

Thursday, October 6, 2011


My father was a very good swimmer. He glided through the water. It seemed effortless. He grew up swimming in the East River and the ocean. He did not swim in chemically filled swimming pools. Dad tried to teach me to swim. I could stay afloat and move forward slowly with great effort. I cannot swim like my Dad to this day. But I can still enjoy the water as long as I accept my limitations. I do not have to give up swimming or playing in the water. I enjoy riding the waves. I do not much care for the clorine of swimming pools. I do like to "run" in the deep end. So I do not let my limitations close me off from enjoying water. None of us are perfect or all things. Yet we need not narrow our lives because of our limitation. Plunge into life with who you are. Don't compare or contrast.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011


Did you ever try to get a balloon to move in a straight path or direction? You give it a push, but quickly it goes in some other direction. It seems to follow the slightest breath of wind current. My will is like a balloon. God tries to direct me to go in a direction that is good for me. For a brief moment I go as God directs me. Then something else attracts me and self-will takes over. Away I go caring not for God's plan for me. How are the winds in your life?

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

The Animals Feast Day

Today is the feast of St. Francis of Assisi. It is the day that parishes bless animals with Holy Water. Any parish that does not bless the animals, well, it is just not a real parish. The church community should include our animals. We remember animals living and dead today. I hope that someone blesses our dog, Don Bosco, back in Boulder. He could use some Holy Water, and maybe therapy too. But he does the best he can. I wish I could say that about myself on many a day too.

So let's celebrate our animals today. Take your pet to lunch! Or at least take it to get some Holy Water splashed on it. And maybe get some on yourself too.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Respect Life

My calendar says that this Sunday is a "Respect Life" Sunday. I thought that was in January? Anyway, it is good to have some special days to ask how we respect life. I am against the death penalty. An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth is Old Testament stuff. I wonder how many people were glad that the fellow in Georgia got executed last week. I wonder if they said, "Justice is done!" or "He got what he deserved."

What if God was like this? I would be in bad shape, as would a lot of other people. I don't want justice to be done in my case. I want mercy and forgiveness from God. If I got what I deserved, it would be one bad day after another, and no eternal happiness. I think I will try to model myself on God's example of mercy and forgiveness. I will respect life, as God respects my life.

Saturday, October 1, 2011


I am going to Hawaii today, to Maui, for a reunion with high school friends. I will be there for a week. I am not taking my computer. It is likely that blogs will not get done in Hawaii, but one never knows. Just so you know, I did not disappear altogether. I am just beyond the horizon, so to speak.

God is in Hawaii. I am never away from God. The challenge of a vacation/travel, is to pay attention on a daily basis to this Presence. When I travel, I am always traveling with a love one, God. I am never traveling alone. In Hawaii, I must take out time for Love, everyday. God never vacates me. God never takes a vacation from me. Where you go, God goes! When you get there, God is waiting. Traveling alone today, to work, the store, an errand, a meeting? You are never alone.

Friday, September 30, 2011

A Convenient Time

Today, I am to give a talk at an International Convention of Contemplative Outreach in the San Francisco Bay Area. The talk is to take place from 3:30PM to 5:00PM after everyone has spent a good deal of the day at other events. What a dreadful time to attract listeners! Plus, I am one of four talks taking place at the same time in various venues of the convention.

"Who will come?" I ask myself. People are tired. They have three other choices for talks. The topic is "Aging." The thought came that the ones who are interested will be there. So be it. Then I thought about God. For God, there is never a bad time to pay attention to me, to listen to me. No matter how many other people are wanting God's time and attention at that very moment, God is still waiting to listen to me. God is always interested in me. I am never too boring for God. Billions and billions of people in this world, and God will always show up for me. Comforting, huh!

Thursday, September 29, 2011


When the church says "Reform" who do they mean? For many centuries the church meant the lay people, you. It did not mean the ordained hierarchy. Church councils that took place after about 1200 began to focus on the reform of the structures and ordained hierarchs. So the next time someone says, "WE need to reform," ask that person who is the "we" of whom they speak.

When I have a lot of power in a situation, I tend to forget my own faults and shortcomings. I have the power to get something done, so my way must be the right way! I tend to ignore how fear, greed, self-interest, selfishness and envy can play a part in my power trips. When I forget that I am imperfect and subject to error or rash judgment, I may get what I want, but it will not be good for others, and ultimately not good for me. I cannot even rule myself. Why would I want to rule he world? Or the church?

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Slow Response

Why was the church so slow to respond to the sex abuse issue? Why did the church move priests about who had messed up? Look at the Reformation for when this behavior became entrenched. The Protestant Reformers had some valid points of criticism when it all began in the 16th century. The church ignored and then denied these criticisms. The church felt that it had to protect the reputation of the church. It could not admit fault or error. It would not be the "Perfect Society" anymore. People would drift away. Power would be lost. Chaos would ensue and so on.

If a priest messed up, the reputation of the church would be upset if it were made public. The Reformation was 500 years ago. This is a long time to practice denial or cover up. The church is trying to come out of this and become a bit more transparent at least in the sex abuse issues. It takes awhile for a big institution as old as the church to change.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011


Our dog, Don Bosco, got all tangled up in his leash when he went to do his business. I was holding my end of the leash at the time. He got frantic and began to spin around trying to untangle himself and made it worse. He barked at me when I came to untangle him. He showed me some teeth. Not good. He was blaming me for his mess! Well, he is a dog.

I am not a dog, but I do get tangled up in life situations and sometimes I get a bit frantic and want to blame someone else for what is no one's fault. Stuff happens. The dog eventually gave up and let me untangle him. I need to give up trying to blame or spin around uselessly trying to untangle myself. I need to trust God will take care of this stuff if I just calm down. Barking at anyone today?

Monday, September 26, 2011

Wedding Garment

Baptism gets me into the kingdom. The gospel uses the image of wedding feast. I really did not ask to be baptized. I was a baby. Then again, many who came to the wedding feast in the gospel were not asked. They were just brought there from the highways and byways.

It seems that there is a pretty wide funnel to get into the feast, or the kingdom. We are called "friends" by the one who is putting on the feast. That one represents God I think. If this is the kingdom, there seems to be a lot of mess in it. The church, the world, my own spiritual life is far from perfect. So there must be more. There is.

To get fully into the kingdom, such as eternal life and life with God hereafter, I had better have on my wedding garment. A fellow was found at the feast who had no wedding garment. He got tossed into the outer darkness. Not good.

I must clothe myself in Christ on a daily basis. I can go to mass. I can go to communion. No questions asked. Sacraments may be just getting in the door and finding a seat. To stay and truly enjoy, I need to doing more than just showing up. Woody Allen says showing up is 80% of life. Yeah, but it is the other 20% that I have to work on. I want the light. How about you?

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Cures and Solutions

There is a gospel in Matthew, where on son says yes to his father but then does no and the other son says no, but then changes his mind and does yes. There is really no cure for bad behavior. A cure means that we used to act badly and now we won't do that behavior anymore. When you say someone is "cured" of cancer, you mean it has gone away.

We always have the bad behavior gene in our human condition. One good "yes" to do the right thing, whether sooner or later, does not mean we will never say "no" again. Even the saints realize this. We are always in need of some conversion. The spiritual life is never complete. Perfection is not for this life.

There is no cure, but we do have a solution to bad behavior. To know we are not perfect and must work at prayer and humility each day, is part of the solution. I admit I need God's help each day. I am not cured, but God is the solution. God comes with grace to me when I am open to it and see my need for it. Are you in the solution today?

Friday, September 23, 2011

The Past is Past

Don Bosco, our dog, shies away from other dogs. He wants nothing to do with most dogs. He probably had some bad experiences when younger, and he lives these out each time he sees another dog on a walk. He even shies away from cats! He is controlled by his past.

Have you had some past experiences that you continue to live out in the present? Are you controlled by past experiences? Do you think change is possible? Hoped for? I keep away from abusive and dangerous situations, but I also try and let the past remain in the past. I don't want to be closed to the present moment because of a past experience. I wish Don Bosco had my hope. He lives at a dog level. I don't have to live at that level.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011


I have "walking pneumonia" as we say in layperson speak. Chest xray shows it. So onto another medication for about two weeks! I travel in the next two weeks. So I am sick, but I don't have to be miserable about it, unless something makes me feel miserable. I rest and drink water. I do what I can do. We all have limitations. I will live with mine. I am not infectious to anyone else.

I think when I focus on being sick, I begin to worry and go into a "poor me" attitude. Then I feel worse! So I try and enjoy the day, and do what work I can do. At least now I know why my voice is "congestive" as we say. I am not an invalid. I think that a positive attitude toward a limitation helps in the healing and makes one a better person to be around for others. God had limitations when the Divine became human. God is teaching me something in this.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Getting Well

I am getting better but not well from my cough and chest congestion. My voice is stronger but still not back to normal. So I have to keep working at getting well whatever that takes. It is the same with the spiritual life. We can begin to develop spiritual health, but we have to keep at it or else we will revert to where we were before we began all our good prayer habits. Spiritual health never stays well all by itself. Each day we take our medicine of whatever our practice is.

To do nothing is to be unwell in the interior life. A little effort each day, done on a regular basis is what will move us along to healing. Daily effort in moderation seems to work best over the long haul. Taking your prayer pill yet today?

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Insides and Outsides

MATTHEW 20: 1-16
SEPTEMBER 18, 2011

When people come to the altar to receive Holy Communion at Mass, all I see is the outside appearance of each person, such as what they wear and how they approach to receive. I know nothing about their interior spiritual life. I don't ask questions. All receive communion. But some of the people who receive work very hard on their spiritual life, the interior part of themselves that I cannot see when they come to communion. These people may read the bible, take time for prayer, help out in the community, help out in the parish, are kind and caring to family, work associates, and neighbors. Other people who come to communion may be nasty, unkind, gossipy, judgmental, self-centered, have no real prayer life and come to church only occasionally as it suits them. Everyone receives the same Holy Communion.

Jesus comes to us in communion, not because we have earned it but because he loves us. It is his choice. Cannot we practice this behavior with people who don't really earn or merit by their actions, our love, kindness and caring?

The overhead fan in my room looks very good on the underside of each fan blade that I can see. But the topside is ignored and becomes quite dirty. It is the side no one sees. Our life can be somewhat like the fan blade. We can work and worry about how we look on the outside. Is this not the cross of adolescence? How do I look? Do I appear so as to fit in? But how much time, effort or worry do we put into the interior life that cannot be seen?

All of us receive the same Holy Communion at mass. Those who work at the interior life, cleaning it, if you will, can benefit so much more from the gift of Christ's Body and Blood, than can someone whose interior life is all cluttered up with neglect.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Prayer Space

Personally, I find it easier to pray where the surroundings are quiet and still, no background noise. Our dog, Don Bosco, sits on my lap when I pray. I think he likes the chair I sit in, so I don't take it personal. He is quiet and seems to be dozing. He is very conducive to stillness and quiet. I think we feed off of one another. There is a depth of interior silence that I seem to reach in this environment, more than say on a bus or some busier, place with more background noise.

If you have no really quiet and still space, well then, just do the best that you can. God will adjust. Maybe down the road, when your life gets less noisy, the children grow up, or you go live in the country, you will have that more quiet time. God is everywhere, but some environments make it a bit easier to sink into the Presence.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

The Fan

I had a new ceiling fan put into my room this summer. I found myself coughing a lot in my room. Today I decided to look at the top side of each fan spoke. Sure enough, each top was caked with dirt from construction and what knows else. I took a wet rag and cleaned the whole fan. It was a mess. The bottom spokes were very nice and clean. But what you could not see, had been neglected. Maybe I will breathe better now!

The soul is something you cannot see. The body may look clean and presentable. We do seem to spend time on on bodies, do we not? But the unseen soul needs attention lest it becomes a mess and inhibits our ability to breathe in Eternal Life. Prayer can at times be like a wet rag applied to the soul. Time for some soul cleaning today?

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Don Bosco

Our dog, Don Bosco, sits in my chair in the house chapel. He spends more time there than I do. It would be nice if he could pray in my place, sit in for me, if you will. Alas, one can pray for another but not in another's place.

People are praying for me I am sure. But their prayers will not transform me. It is good to have others praying for me. It gives me a sense of the Mystical Body of Christ at prayer. I feel support, loved and cared for. Yet, only my own prayers will change my heart and bring me closer to God. I must have my own intimate conversation and private time with God, to be changed. When I pray one on one with God, I recognize my own shortcomings that others may not see, or at least I hope they do not see! It is in seeing my faults, that I can experience God's mercy, forgiveness and love in spite of me. Jesus did not come to save me because I was a good guy who deserved it. He came in spite of my sins. Are you relying only on second-hand prayers today?

Tuesday, September 13, 2011


My body wakes up each morning. But I have a soul too. When does this interior life wake up? Not with the body. The interior life needs prayer to awaken. I can go all through my day with a body awake and a spirit asleep. Usually, bad things happen with this combination. So I try to get some awakening of the spirit soon after my body wakes up.

There is resurrection of the body after I die, but in this life I need to work on the daily resurrection of the spirit. To have a resurrected body but a sleeping spirit, would be a bad combo after physical death. As you read this, are you totally awake yet?

Monday, September 12, 2011

Tangled Up

I put my ear phone and cords into the wash by mistake. The cord came out all tangled up. This is the cord's response to being in the wrong place. Ear phone cords are not meant for the clothes washer.

I am not meant to live a life without prayer, stillness and silence during each day. If I go without these, I become all tangled up and dysfunctional. I am of no use. I may look clean, but cannot function in the way God meant me to function. I am like washed earplug cords. Clean looking but uselessly tangled up.

Are you a little twisted up today? Time for God, the soul's chiropractor, to unwind you in prayer.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

The Dog

I had a friend once who wanted a dog. My friend did not want to do all the work that was required "before" he got a dog. He just wanted a dog. So he brings home a dog from a pound. No dog bowls, no dog crate, no special dog bed or dog place. Plus, the dog had a life long dog companion that was noted in the dog profile, that my friend did not even bother to read.

So the dog paces all over the house. On and on it paces. What is going on? It was looking either for its companion or for its "dog space" or crate. My friend opens the door and out runs the dog down the street not to be seen again. What could my friend expect since he put so little time and effort into learning about or preparing the house for the dog.

Is not a prayer life relationship with God something like this? We want a relationship with God but are at times too lazy to work at it, to prepare, plan our day, make the house of our soul ready for God. Does it feel like God is running away from you?

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Florida Homes

When my parents were thinking of buying a home in Florida they were told not to buy a home built flat to the ground. This was to avoid cock roaches and flooding. So they paid more money and got a home built off the ground with open space under it.

It costs more to build a home on a rock or raised surface than flat to the ground. Even Jesus knew this and he was no home builder. Well, he is God. More work costs more but it gives benefits, less bugs and less flooding.

Prayer is the same way. It takes more effort, costs more of our time and energy to develop a relationship with God. Work less, get less. So is your prayer life kind of buggy today? Mine is, so I am off to silence and stillness.

Friday, September 9, 2011


It is sad when I find myself or another older person spending a lot of time and energy being critical and judgmental of others. The one thing we can learn from our years is that we have a lot of faults. We have made a lot of mistakes. Instead of spending a lot of ourselves focused on the mess of others as we see it, we ought to be spending the time focused on our own faults and shortcomings. After all our time is running out!

Jesus speaks about this when he says that we should not look at the splinter in our neighbor's eye, but the beam in our own. So, who are you complaining about today?

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Outsides and Insides

I walked by a store today that had a street display of "Tibetan" clothes. I wondered if there might be a store in Tibet that had a display of "Boulder" clothes and what that might look like. I don't see many Tibetans around here, so I guess there must be a local market for Boulderites to want to wear something Tibetan. Why?

It might be the colors or the style that appeals. Or maybe people want to have a Tibetan look. No matter the reason, the clothes won't make someone Tibetan. Outward appearances don't change the insides. I can wear my priest clothes, black shirt and collar. People may call me "Father" and think things about me that ought to go with the clothes. But wearing the clothes does not make me a person of God. That takes work. It is easy to buy an outfit and make believe, but it won't change me on the inside. I have to do the hard work of prayer, meditation, reading, healthy living, to be able to be a priest on the inside. When I run around in plain shirt and jeans people ignore me. But I may be very holy that day and no one notices. The inside work is for God and not for public recognition.

I can look at a parent with some children in tow and say that is a parent. Well yes, biologically. But do they do the hard work of parenting or do they yell, beat, feed sugar filled diet, or ignore the children? Then they look like a parent on the outside. They get the title "Mom" or "Dad" but it is only outside. Same with "Wife" and "Husband." Are you just outside stuff today, or doing the hard inner work?

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Blessed are the poor

I am reflecting on my crummy cold/flu. I feel lousy which is par for the course. When I get well, I will celebrate the renewed health, that I usually take for granted. If I never got sick, I would never really appreciate my health. I cannot make myself get well. I can just wait and not do anything to get worse. Tea, rest, chicken soup, etc. might seem to help, but really the body has to be given time.

Jesus says in Luke's gospel, "Blessed are the poor." What is so blessed about being poor? Now I see something. The poor cannot seem to make themselves rich. They do not control their day. They try and survive. When something good happens, they rejoice more than those who are richer and expect good things to happen. Trust in God becomes more important to the poor. To be blessed means to be able to celebrate the good things in life and not take them for granted, or expect they are owed to us as some right. You think?

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Positive Thoughts

I was coming back to Boulder from LA. I had a nagging cough and cold. I realized negative thoughts were trying to take up all the space in my psyche. There were thought of the worst possible day I could have, but with no basis in reality. Flying weather was good. The plane was on time. It was not full. My cough settled down enough for the ride not to embarrass me.

I decided this thinking was silly. I would now think positive thoughts, happy thoughts such as the wonderful visit I had with my sister and her family. My mood brightened. The trip and the day became much more pleasant.

When I got to Boulder, I realized that in this rectory, I was going to be the only priest working this week. I could get upset, but I would still be the only priest working this week in the parish. Nothing would change but my mood. why be miserable? It effects nothing. So I just take it one day at a time. My cold is less bothersome when I think happier thoughts. So, are you miserable now? Will it change the outside world at all? Let us not punish ourselves for things that are not our fault.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Better or Worse

It started out as a little, occasional cough. I continued to exercise, to sleep with air conditioning, to get up early and not get enough sleep. Then I traveled to top it off. Now I have full blown cold, congestion and cannot talk. One never gets better by ignoring the signals of sickness. Now I am pretty useless.

The spiritual life can get sick too if we ignore it's daily maintenance and care. At first we ignore it in small ways. We skip some prayer or reading. Then we begin to fill our time that had been for prayer, with other stuff, some of which we think is so important. We more and more say yes to the endless requests of others for this and that. Before we know it we are praying about as much as an atheist!

So, what have you done so far today to care for the life of the spirit within? Reading this blog won't be enough. Writing it was not enough, I can assure you.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

The Journey

What is one thing that begins with unhappiness and ends in unhappiness all for the purpose of somee experience we would call beneficial? Airline travel! Airlines are not in the customer service business in general. They exist to make money. Flying you about is the way they do it. At airports, I rarely see smiling people, much less happy people enjoying themselves. We put up with it all for some other experience that comes between the flying and airports.

Now if I tell you that prayer might begin with some unpleasantness such as giving up your time, or boredom, or sense that you are all alone, you might say no thanks. I can tell you that prayer is going to eventually bring you to a wonderful experience of inner peace, love, fulfillment, why is it that you choose not to travel through the rough spots? Why do you put up with airports and airlines, but have no patience for God? Maybe the next time you are bored or delayed at an airport or stuffed into a seat you might put down your distracting gadget and try prayer. Is not God the final journey?

Saturday, September 3, 2011


There are several kinds of water. There is water that sits and gets stale or stagnant. There is water that flows out down a drain. There is flowing water that is fresh and good to drink. In the spiritual life, the time we give to prayer is like water. We can only bring time to our prayer. God is the one who makes the prayer flow and quench the thirst of our soul. Our job is to show up bring the water of time. God will make it flow and refresh us. If we think we alone can make the water of prayer quench our thirst, we will be frustrated. Trust God.

When we feel like we have no time or time is fleeting and we have to cut short or drop our prayer time, it is like the water that runs down a drain. Time seems to flow away. We are too busy and frantic, too multitasking. The soul is never fed by this water.

Then there is the water that is stagnant. We feel bored. We cannot stand this stagnant time. So we divert our boredom or anxiety onto our computers, checking this and that. We get into reading about sports, fashion, politics or whatever. We shop. We work on a project. We go to the gym. None of these things alone can quench the thirst of the soul for God's flowing water of life.

So, are you drinking from flowing water today?

Friday, September 2, 2011

The Narrow Door

At my church in Boulder there is a very heavy side door. It is hard to open from either side, so many people simply avoid it and go into the church and out through the front doors. Linda Meadows is one of the women who do gardening for the parish. She has helped to develop this beautiful garden of flowers and plants along the wall and path going to this heavy door. You can only see the garden and appreciate its beauty if you go through the heavy door.

Prayer can be like the heavy door and the garden. At some point, as we deepen our relationship to God, prayer seems to get more difficult, or "heavy". We get bored. We think God has gone away. We feel empty at times. This is normal. God wants to take us to some more beautiful place of intimacy and union, like a garden of flowers that is hidden. We have to go through a bit of a dark night, bear our cross, love without conditions or seeming rewards, for a time.

If we can go through this door, or rather allow God to take us through this door, then something beautiful will be revealed to us. So when God does not seem to act nice or give you good feelings do you just walk away? Give up? You will miss the garden.