Saturday, July 30, 2011

Private Ownership

In Leviticus there is no capitalism, no private ownership of land. Why? Well, all land belongs to God and not to any one individual. Also, there is a strong sense of community that guards against any one person have way to much in relation to another person. Jubilee year was the way to keep things in balance.

Every 50 years the land was redistributed. Tribes went back to the land that was originally in their possession. You had to let go or return land that was not originally yours or your tribes, that you had purchased over the last 50 years. The poor became a little richer and the rich became a little poorer. The rich were supposed to take care of the poor and the Jubilee year countered any selfishness that might have developed over the previous 50 years.

As our politicians debate the debt crisis, taxation, and the state of the economy, I wonder if Leviticus is at all thought about? Or has the Age of Enlightenment and Capitalism, completely buried this notion.

Friday, July 29, 2011


The Jews have certain holy days in which they are not supposed to do any work. This is to remind them that they are no longer slaves, who have to work everyday. It is a reminder of the Exodus, when Israel is freed from bondage to the Egyptians. To be a child of God is to be free, and we need days to remind us of this. That is part of what makes a day holy.

We have our Sabbath. Most of us are not ranchers and farmers, who do have to do some work for the animals everyday. So why are we so busy on our so called holy day? Oh that's right, it's our chance to recreate. What if you did not recreate, or watch sports or shop? You might find yourself going crazy, feeling the "need" or maybe even the compulsion to do whatever. You are a slave to your need. A holy day is not a recreation day. It is a day to STOP and be more with the Lord, and just to "be" with oneself and one another. If you do not care you just "be" with yourself, why should anyone else want to "be" with you?

Thursday, July 28, 2011


Prayer is an investment in myself. When I take a walk, read a book for enjoyment, sit in silence and solitude, I am investing in me. I am worth the investment. Things that I have to do each day are not an investment in myself. Stay clean, work, cook, shop for groceries, and such are not investments in myself.

God does not demand prayer. God waits. God loves, but does not demand. The desire to respond to God, to pray, must come from a love of Self, my deepest, truest Self. Lots of people say they love God, but their prayer is more often a routine, sometimes done out of need for something from God, or even guilt. No, I have to love myself enough, to choose to spend time with the God of Love, for no other reason than it is a pleasure. Sometimes it may be boring, but then I make a decision that I am worth the effort, at least to put the time aside to be in the silence regardless of what noise my mind makes.
If my whole day is filled with things that I have to do, or think that I have to do, then I am not living a life that is being very good to me. No investment in me is made on those days.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Letting Go

I come to the monastery. There are certain things I know that I will give up when I come here. I give up half and half cream in my coffee, Thomas' English muffins, a good nights sleep, The New York Times, and much else. I know this when I come here. I say to myself, "See, I am detached. I am letting go."

Yes, on one level I am letting go of some things as long as I give my consent beforehand. But once I get to the monastery, there are unplanned and unexpected situations to challenge me to let go on a deeper level. These are much harder to deal with. They are the unexpected things that interrupt my daily plans and routines by which I thought I was to grow in holiness. People and situations are daily interfering with my schedule. The limitations of my own body interrupt my schedule.

It is hard for me to give up something, to be detached, to surrender, unless I plan ahead. Holiness is not a planned program. My business each day is to get ready for anything that might interrupt my plans, and to submit to God's will in everything. I cannot control the weather, other people, my own physical weakness, deer flies and power outages, to name a few happenings in the monastery. To let go of my will in unexpected situations is to truly move beyond the egocentricity of life.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Just As I Am

It was Eugene Boylan's book, This Tremendous Lover, that first convinced me of God's unconditional love for me. God loves me just as I am. I thought that I had to be good, obey the rules, to be loved. Be bad or wrong, and there were consequences from God.

There are consequences for this unconditional love of God for me. I am expected then to accept and love others just as they are, with all their faults, real or imagined by me. Next, I am expected to accept things as they happen in my life. Oh, we are quick to note certain things that should not be accepted, but in reality we use these things to justify accepting nothing in our life that displeases our self-will, our wants and desires. I trust that God will help me to know the difference.

A lot of what happens in my life that I do not like may in fact be God's will for me. For instance, at times people very much need me to do some task. There is no one else around at the time. I may feel important and needed. At that moment, I am. But things change. In time I may be much less needed in those places and situations that formerly so much needed my help. I can whine as to how ungrateful people are , how fickle they are. That gets me nowhere.

Rather see in these changed circumstances God's will at work. Abandon myself to God. Surrender my self-importance. Be nothing and wait on God. Remember, God loves me just as I am, with no important work to do, with no one really needing me.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Learn To Suffer

Two of Jesus' disciples, John and James, had a Mom who asked Jesus if her sons might sit on his right and left when he came into his Kingdom. I don't think that she had the cross in mind. She saw the good life of a ruler. The kingdom is one of love. Love includes the cross. Two condemned Jews were with Jesus on his left and right on Calvary.

To love one must learn to suffer. Jesus is God and God is love. Anyone who loves knows that it will include suffering. Whether you love a person, a project, a career, a place, you know upon reflection that it included suffering on your part. You set a goal. You commit to your goal. You will suffer. So are you looking for a religion that will free you from suffering? Is there such a God? I have not found it so.

My field is a treasure

MATTHEW 13: 44-46

The field I irrigate at the monastery has become a treasure to me. I truly enjoy being out there, making the field green as I flood one area and another. When I first began to work this field some years ago, I found it to be tiresome, difficult and unpleasant. No one else cared to irrigate this field. It is full of rocks and mounds. Many places have little soil in which to grow grass for the animals to graze upon. I was simply given the field as my "work" each day.

I could not for the life of me figure out how to get water to go from one place to another through all the intricate ditches, including the many I dug myself. With much patience and effort, I began to figure it out. I began to see the field turn green in more places. Grass could grow where before there was nothing.

This field that no one wanted had become my treasure. It all depended on how I looked at it. Still no one else wants to irrigate this field. They do not see what I see. The field as treasure was always there waiting for someone to discover it. The field did not change. It still had its rocks, mounds and dirt areas. It grew on me. I changed.

We don't have to go somewhere else to find the kingdom of heaven. It is in our midst. We cannot see it. Someone says, "My kids drive me crazy!" Then someone else comes along and says, "Oh, what beautiful, or smart, or pleasant children you have." You do not see what is close to you for the treasure that they are in your life. I had a big sister, Maureen, who was mean and bossy and ugly! Then someone said, "Oh, your sister is so beautiful and good." I said, "What?" I could not see the treasure with whom I lived. I was blind.

The question is not, "How do I find the kingdom of God?" The question is, "What do I have to let go of, so that I can begin to see the kingdom as a treasure in my midst?"

Sunday, July 24, 2011

A Treasure

In Matthew 13: 44 a person finds a treasure in a field. Why is the treasure hidden, and in that particular field? The treasure is hidden from invaders. It is in a field that is seen as worthless, no good for planting or building. So it will be unlikely that anyone will go there. Why would anyone be there? Well, they may be lost, or trying to hide, or looking for a quiet place away from the world.
To find something in this field is a surprise, but it probably does not cost much to buy the field since it is little valued by everyone. Yet the person has to sell all they have to buy the field. They are probably low income, maybe day laborers.
The Kingdom is present in the most unlikely places and circumstances. It is never our doing to make it happen. It is gift. When you stumble upon it, I suspect you will let go of some of your baggage to enjoy the surprise.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Empty Is Not Empty

In John's Gospel, Chapter 20, the experience of Mary Magdalene mirrors the entrance into deep prayer. At first she sees that the tomb is empty. Our prayer of devotion dries up. We feel the absence of Jesus where before we had a "felt" presence that pleased us. Mary makes a decision that Jesus is gone, dead and gone. We decide in our feelings of emptiness that Jesus has left us, abandoned us. What did we do wrong?
Then Mary has an experience of a presence, but does not know who it is. This experience does not fit in with her previous images/feelings of Jesus. Our deeper experience of Jesus is new to us and at first we do not know what to make of it. We do not identify it with God.
Jesus then speaks Mary's name. She awakens, if you will, to something, someone totally unexpected. She wants to cling to this new experience. Do not cling. Do not try to control the Presence. Be with Surprise! God speaks in the silence of our seemingly empty hearts. God was never absent. We only felt an emptiness that is preparing us for a deeper union.
Jesus says to Mary, "I am going to my Father and your Father." As Jesus is united to Abba, so we too are united to Abba. Don't cling to anything/feeling/emotion in the deepening prayer. Let the Risen Jesus lead you.
He is Risen. Don't bury him again in your devotional books and exercises. They are just for starters.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Letting Go

Letting go of thoughts in prayer is a bit like dealing with deer flies while driving a hay tractor. Your focus on the tractor is to hay the field, but the deer flies are disturbing your concentration. You begin to focus on one fly or another and lose track of where the tractor is going. Then you get out bug spray and spray it all over you. Now the flies are still around you but they don't land or bother you so much. You can go back to what you set out to do: hay the field.
In the task of moving into deeper prayer, without words or thoughts to disturb you, focusing on your breath or a word such as "Jesus" now and again, acts like bug spray on a tractor. The breath or word keeps thoughts from becoming your focus. You are aware of thoughts as they buzz around you, but they do not disturb the purpose of your prayer, which is to consent to the Divine Presence within.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Everybody Has Plans

We are going to die. OK. Now, let's live a balanced life. Grace at work is living a balanced life. Say what? Well, on one side is the delusion that I will not die, or as least it is so far into the future that I need not think about it. To keep this dying thing at bay, I will buy stuff, or do great things, be successful in whatever my field. I'll have control and power either in what I do or what I own.

On the other side is despair and depression. What is the use of doing anything, making any effort? I am just going to die. Life is meaningless. A balance is somewhere in between. Don't deny mortality or try and ward it off, but don't walk around filled with anxiety, sadness, hopelessness and despair. At times, God has a sense of humor in our reality.

Today I began to hay. My job was to get on the big tractor and turn the cut rows of hay so the wet underside would be facing up into the sun. I love this job. Big powerful tractor, bringing a task to completion, feeling a sense of accomplishment, and sitting on a soft tractor seat with a roof to keep me cool. This is my plan.

Deer flies are in season. They have other plans. Deer fly plans are to rise up from the turned hay and feast on the driver of the tractor. They are having lunch. My plan has become unpleasant. Whining to self does not stem the flow of blood. The deer fly is not thinking about mortality I suspect, just about having lunch. But in a week or so, all deer flies will be dead and gone. They are frantically enjoying their short life, at my expense.

While this is going on, a thunder cloud, wet and dark rises up over the mountain and comes toward my field. The cloud has plans. Someone has been praying for rain to prevent forest fires. They have plans or at least hopes for moisture. Rain on my hay at this time will ruin it and all the work I am doing while being lunch for the deer flies.

Now with all this going on to disturb my original plan, I could just go to one end of the spectrum and say, "What is the use? I am going to die anyway. Why bother with plans? Why bother at all!"

Mortality means that we live with limitations. My plans are somewhat limited in their success by the fact that everything else, and everyone else, has plans. To live a balanced life is to live aware of limitations. I can have plans, but don't expect them to happen. Eventually, I will wake up with a plan for the day, and not live to see the end of that day. Today's limitations are a preparation for entering into that final moment. No need to run out and buy something to displace reality. Just why did you buy that newest technological toy?

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The Soil

I wake up with the gift of faith. I don't have to ask myself, "Does God exist?" The question is rather, "Did I wake up with enough soul-soil for this faith to deepen?" I seem to wake up some days with soil that is full of thorns. It has some depth, but the thorns are the cares and preoccupations of daily life that draw my focus away from God. I fret about this and that. I make mountains out of mole hills.
Prayer is the way that I deepen the soil or let the Gardener of my soul remove any thorns for the day. Each time I sit in prayer I am tending to the soil of my soul. If I do not take care to do this, but rather take God for granted, or ignore God altogether, then I might wake up one day and find that the gift of faith is gone.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

The Cup

We don't need a wide cup that takes in all sorts of prayers, devotionals and pious practices. These keep us focused on our thoughts as we chatter our prayers. We need a deep cup, a prayer without words, focused thoughts, or actions. This deep cup will take us to the ground or center of our soul, where we await God in silence and stillness. It is here at the Center of the Self we find God awaiting us.
It is a meeting of Love in which we ask for nothing but the Presence. God is beyond any good feelings we might have about God. Devotional practices, novenas, give us the good feelings. But God is not a feeling. God is more. Do less and you may come to union with the More.

Monday, July 18, 2011


MATTHEW 13: 24-30

JULY 17, 2011

Sometimes we make a decision and it turns out to not be the right one. For instance, we come to a fork in the road. We have a destination, but are not sure which path will get us there. We choose one. Maybe it will be a short cut. It ends up not taking us where we want to go. This is not all bad. Don't beat yourself up for a "wrong" decision. Maybe you discovered something along that path that you did not know even existed. Maybe you discovered some flowers that were only on this path. You have gained some experience. You may be able to help someone else with your new knowledge.

The basis of support groups is to share knowledge and experience from having gone in a direction that did not prove all that helpful. I used to work with divorced catholic groups. Some of these people would say, "How could I have been so stupid!" "Why did I make this choice of marriage partner?" Yet, they have gained wisdom from this experience and this wisdom they can share with others who are newer in the group. They find solace in knowing others are on the same path of recovery.

The twelve step programs work the same way. New people come in so demoralized from their addiction. If they listen to those who have been in recovery for a while they will gain from shared experience. Our "mistakes" can teach us and we can share our new found wisdom with others. We all have weeds in our life. No one is all wheat. No one is perfect.

Too often we simply want to forget mistakes rather than learn from them. We want, and even expect perfection. Get all "A"s on your report card. College entrance, jobs, are competition among those striving for perfection. Get rid of those weeds right away should they crop up in your life. Our failures take us nowhere. Hell awaits the sinner.

God however is much more optimistic about our imperfections. Let them be. In the gospel the landowner says to let the weeds grow along with the wheat. See what happens. God trusts that the weeds will not over whelm the wheat and destroy the wheat. There is a value in the weeds of our life. The weeds can be bundled up and used for fuel to warm people and to cook. Nothing is wasted. We can learn from going down paths that are not right for us. "We learn from our mistakes," is the saying.

Why must you be perfect? There is no humility in that. Why beat yourself up for not being an "A" person? Such people only end up judging others and being miserable and isolated in the process. Sometimes life is just crab grass. God is with us even there. Grace is everywhere.

Weeds and Wheat

In Matthew 13: 23-30 the farmer decides to let wheat and weeds grow together. He trusts that the weeds will not overwhelm the wheat and destroy it. Sometimes we see ourselves as like wheat, the good stuff, and people who are unlike us, as the weeds. We do not care to be around them. They might "infect" us or disturb our way of life. Gated communities are made up of such people. So are country clubs.

In religious circles we do not care to hang around much with people who do not agree with us or even look like us. We compare and contrast. We look for comfortable communities of worship, filled with people just like we see ourselves. In my own world, in my own country I am the wheat. If I travel to another country or in some cases to another very different neighborhood, I am the weeds, the outsider, the stranger.
Weeds and wheat: it might be all relative, you think?

Friday, July 15, 2011

Profitable Mistakes

Sometimes people are afraid to make a mistake or to not get an "A" in schoolwork. But mistakes are where we can learn something too. If there are two paths and you take one, only to find out later that it was not the right path for you, did you not learn something on that path? Maybe you saw something or discovered something along the way that you would never have know about otherwise.

Sometimes people lead you onto the wrong path, but even then you can learn something from it. Nothing is wasted. God always walks with us.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Too Much Learning

Jesus says about the Father, "You have hidden things from the learned and the wise. You have revealed things to children." Mt. 11: 25-26. Do you think if you just read more books about God, you will know, or believe better? Has anyone come to faith through a Catechism? How many people with advanced degrees in theology, liturgy, church history, ever impressed you with their prayer life? Did they even talk about their prayer life?
The childlike, not the childish, seem to be people who are more open-minded. They have not yet formed their image of God. They are open to learning new things. They don't yet feel a need to prove their faith correct and anything else wrong or evil. They still talk to God. They are not frightened by God, nor angry because God did not give them something they wanted.
I think that we can read too much and pray too little.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Moving Along

I have a friend who is in the process of moving from one house to another. Her husband has a lot of stuff that she would like to be rid of. Moving is often a chance to unload a lot of things that clutter our lives. But her husband comes along with the stuff.
One answer is to get rid of the husband. Then you will be rid of the stuff. Then come join a monastery where you will have very few material things to clutter up your life. This is a rather drastic step. The Church does not care for wives to be rid of husbands because of clutter. You could never get an annulment based upon clutter as your grounds for divorce.
Maybe growth in prayer is a bit of the same challenge. Our interior life has a lot of clutter. We find it hard to be still and detached from thoughts. Do we say, "OH, I will quit my life, drop everything and go join a monastery!" Some do, but they don't last. The solution might be to do something small each day, rather than do nothing in despair, or do something drastic. Have a steady spiritual exercise that we do each day. One day at a time, and the clutter will eventually diminish.
Well I have not solved my friends problem about the cluttered husband. Maybe she can throw out some little thing(s) each day, and he won't notice? What do I know? I am an unmarried priest.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011


Yesterday I was so bored at this monastery. How much longer will I be here? I even thought of going to a movie! My meditations were a wandering mind, or a dozing off. God must want me elsewhere!
This morning I woke up a bit later than I planned. I put the heat packs on my back. My legs ached. I did not get to do all the pre-Vigil physical exercises/stretching that I usually do, so that I can sit comfortable and listen to psalms. As I sat in choir at the Vigils, 4:30 AM, I could not get comfortable. "I will not stay after vigils for my half hour meditation," I told myself. "I am sore. I will get coffee, without half and half, and go back to my room," I said.
Then boom. out of nowhere, but it is never nowhere, I felt at peace, comfortable, a deepening rest, as Vigils proceeded. So I stayed for my meditation. The stillness and quiet within me had nothing to do with my "preparations." It is all God's doing. It always is. I saw faults, failings and foolishness within me, which of course, God always sees. The Presence is always meritless love. At least it is for me.
No soul is beyond God's action and love. Do you think your boredom and physical discomforts can keep God away?

Monday, July 11, 2011

Cannot Do It Alone

The fields will grow grass, or hay, or alfalfa, but they cannot do it alone. The field needs water and sunlight. The field alone, can produce neither. The gifts and fruits that I received when I was baptized can grow, but not just by my wanting it to happen. I need outside help, or inside help, depending on where you imagine God resides.
"Come to me all you who thirst," says Jesus. "I am the light of the world," says Jesus. The Risen Christ is my rain and my sun. Without him, I am just a lot of potential. Without him, I will just dry up and become like a dry, parched, weary land.
How do I obtain this water and light? In silence and stillness, I wait, just like a field that waits to be watered and warmed. I never know when I will be watered and warmed in my interior life. I have faith and hope that it will happen, in God's own good time. Do you think you can be watered and warmed by sweet talking, or pleading with God? No more than you can control the weather, can you control God.


We have various leafy, green bushes around the monastery building. From time to time throughout the summer one bush or another will blossom with flowers. I never know which bush will flower when. It is always an unexpected surprise. A simple green bush one day, and then suddenly on another day it is full of flowers.
But I have to be here to see it. If I don't walk around the property I may miss something. It is the same with God's Grace, God's life in and around me. I don't make it happen. It is a free gift, like a flowering bush. I know God is at work in me, just as Mother Nature is at work in the flowering bush. Prayer is the walking around part that I do on a daily basis. Prayer is the daily exercise for my soul. If I am attentive to prayer then there is a good chance I will witness God's surprising grace in my life. God is always at work in me, and I only notice it from time to time when Grace flowers. It is quite beautiful. Do you have a spiritual exercise?

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Windshield Wipers

When the front window of the car is dirty, I use my windshield wipers to clean the window so I can see more clearly what is in front of me as I drive. When I pray, I want silence and stillness to open my inner eye to the Presence in front of me. But there is a lot of debris of daily life that seems to cover my vision. Thoughts, thoughts, thoughts get in the way. So I use a method to clean them away. The method is the windshield wiper of prayer. I might focus for a moment on the word "Jesus" or I might notice my breathing for a few moments.

I hear people say, "I wonder if God is listening to me?" Well, if you are full of wordy prayers of praise, petition, novenas, and they are your entire focus, then the question is not, "Is God listening to me?" The question is, "Are you listening to God?" You may need some windshield wiper method to sweep those words away.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Upcoming Workshop


The Spirituality of Change


Fr. Terry Ryan, CSP

The attitude and focus that we bring to growing older will affect our transformation into becoming all who God meant us to be. Life does not end with retirement, the loss of loved ones, or living in new surroundings. At some point we can begin to shift from daily work schedules, to a life of enlightenment. Aloneness can shift into solitude. We can choose to be with the interior unfinished self, the soul, that waits for attention. Age is not so much a catechism of learning as it is a spirituality of understanding and forgiveness, where the Presence of Divine Mystery can fill us up and send us forth.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

9:00 AM to Noon

Sacred Heart of Jesus Church

Jubilee Hall

14th Street and Mapleton Avenue

Boulder, CO

Coffee and treats begin at 9:00 AM. Workshop is free but donations are gratefully accepted.

For more info contact

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Who Is Your God?

I hear some one say that they are not sure about the existence of God. Whose God are you doubting? Where did you get your idea of God when you did believe? Sometimes we get our God from what another person tells us and we trust that person or want to be accepted by that person. It might be a teacher, parent, priest, or friend who told us of God's existence. Did you ever experience their God? This God you wonder about or doubt might never have been your God in the first place. It was someone else's experience or belief. You cannot pass on experience, and if you don't have your own experience of God, then what do you have?

You might have gotten your image of God from a catechism book. That is talk about God. It is not God. So maybe the problem is not so much lack of faith in God, as you just need to get your own God that makes sense to you and that you can experience. We can say that God is unknowable, in some intellectual sense, but you can still have an experience of this God.

A lot of us are simply denying or doubting someone else's idea of God. It is not a crisis of faith. It is a crisis of experience or a crisis of trust in your own ability to have an experience and relationship with a God that fits you. God comes in all sizes.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Pot of Flowers

I was looking at a pot of red flowers. Some flowers are in full bloom. Some are losing petals. Some have not yet bloomed. They are all sharing the same water in the flower pot. It reminds me of a church community. All baptized into the same waters of the Holy Spirit. Some are elderly, some are at full strength. Some are young children. All are needed. All have a place.

It is like that with me. A part of me is dying. My body is falling apart. Some of my old ways of seeing things are fading. A part of me is focused as to the task at hand with some new wisdom, deeper prayer, insights. Some of me is yet to flower. All parts make up ME! Never get too settled into who you think you are. God has surprises. It comes with that baptism Grace of the Holy Spirit.

Faith and Doubt

You have faith that Jesus is really God. But then you sometimes have doubt. Well, doubt is part of faith, otherwise you have certainty. So, Doubt is OK. It keeps us open in the search. I think that it is more important to ask, "Am I being transformed into all God made me to be, by my faith?"

Many people have NO doubt that Jesus is as the church says. But these same people are not living the Christ-like life to which Jesus called them. It is an intellectual faith that does not challenge or effect change from the heart, the center of their life.

If you enter into the deeper prayer of the heart, contemplative prayer, you let go of your thoughts anyway. We want relationship that changes the heart. Jesus is God. Jesus is human. It is a paradox which challenges us to let go of our either/or, both/and thinking, and just allow ourselves to be with the paradox. It will take us to a deeper more unifying place. And it will keep us out of debates with "non-believers."

Monday, July 4, 2011

Heavy Prayer

Jesus says that when we feel burdened and labored we should come to him and he will give us rest (Matthew 11: 28-32). Sometimes I just don't want to do my prayer routine. It feels labored. I am bored with it, or find it so dry at the moment, or I just ache in one way or another.

One teaching would say that we should do our routines as a matter of discipline, a decision to pray, even with no particular enthusiasm for it. But I have another idea. God does not want to be a burden in our life. God came to give us life, to lift us up. So why not change the routine for this particular day or moment? Instead of the routine, go do something that you might like for yourself and invite God to go along. I would go to the ice cream store for something chocolate, or maybe just go shopping to some store I have not been to in a while to see what is there. I might take a walk down a street that I have not been to in a while. I invite God to come along and I chat as things come up. "Thank you God for chocolate!" "Oh God, look at that beautifully designed house or that beautiful flower."

God does not need my routines. I do. But sometimes I need to drop them lest they become like a burden, a rut. This will pass, and then I can go back to my routines. We all need a break sometimes. God is always with us wherever we go.

Sunday, July 3, 2011


I was awakened in the middle of the night by the fear that a monster man was trying to get into my room through the door. He was roaring. I tried to scream but was so frightened that I could make no sound. This is not a nightmare though it seems to be such. It is rather part of the process of the contemplative life. In stillness and silence, paying no attention to thoughts, we allow the unconscious to begin to move into consciousness. My awakening in the middle of the night was part of this process.

The monster has been within me, energizing me in dysfunctional directions of energy to try to avoid the monster. Security, control, power, busyness, are some of the ways that I avoid the monster. But the prayer gave me a further insight. Why not just open the door and invite the monster into the room. I did. When he saw this unexpected response, he looked so pathetic, so deflated. His whole power was in engendering fear into me so that I would dissemble and act contrary to what gives me life and connects me to the Spirit within.

Now, I must make sure that I do not become the monster in my actions with others. Do not try to control others, use power trips, or just plain old roar at them. My interior prayer will help me in my day to day activities with others. The prayer does not end with the sitting or the lectio. The work continues with what is eventually revealed. A little fright in the middle of the night in my bed is better than walking around and acting out a fear based life all day long. Would you not agree? No roaring!

Friday, July 1, 2011


When I am living out of a positive energy, I am helpful. It comes from a sense of connection, union, love for others. The Easter Vigil this past Holy Week, was an example of that. I was fully present in the moment. I was at ease in what could be a rather stressful event with so much to keep in mind. The Easter Vigil is complicated!
This connection, and its desire to be helpful from a center within me, carried on until I came to the monastery. Here I thought I would deepen my spiritual life and get renewed somehow. Instead, I became bored. The prayer was dry, the weather was cold and dreary. The work was dull. I wanted to go back to the parish, to work, to being helpful. "Why am I here?" I whined to myself. I have learned to make no changes when bored. Don't change spouses, jobs, or geography.

In time God began to make things more clear. It came with opening myself to the more contemplative way of prayer, even if bored. Boredom was the emotion, or presenting issue. But what was the content? What was going on? The answer is that anxiety had taken over my unconscious, my soul. I was afraid of being forgotten, being unimportant, being ignored. "They will forget me in the parish," I feared. This is my dark side out of which I can act helpful, that is, do go things, but the motive, the energy center is fear. Usually whining is a sign that I am doing good things, but not from a good place. There is no positive energy, so I get tired, cranky, difficult.

I am in a better place now, but it has been a rough several weeks. The monastery is the right place to be for now. Here I am not important. I am not necessary. I can let go of my need to be important, wanted, popular, in my work as a priest, outside the monastery. Detachment is beginning to give me a calm and peace. And I feel so silly worrying about such stuff. I can laugh a little now, at myself, but it was not so funny for several weeks here.

I am writing this blog to make things clear to myself, and if it helps someone that is fine. But even if no one reads it, I am still loved by God and important to God and that gives me peace. I don't have to knock myself out to be loved, to be important, to be needed. I am enough for God. Now I can go back to being helpful from a center of Love. I am at my best then. I am all God made me to be. Transformation? Well, that is for another blog.

Spiritual Colonialism

I have it and you don't. This is spiritual colonialism. Western missionaries used to bring European Christianity to Japan, China, and India. Those foreigners were the pagans, who had no truth. We brought our Greek philosophical dualism to them. Zen, Chan, Hinduism were the nonsense of the lost. We had it all. We were the learned and they were the "little ones."
The Gospels reveal that we are only beginning to see the depth of Jesus and his teachings. He speaks about hiding things from the wise and learned (western educated theologians) and revealing them to the "little ones." See Matthew 11: 28-30.
Nicholas of Cusa, a cardinal in the church, spoke of the coincidence of opposites, that is, things can be and not be at the same time. We Roman Catholics cannot grasp this. An example: at the Resurrection, Jesus appeared to his disciples in their locked room. He did not come in any door. So, his resurrected body cannot be corporeal like ours. But then he ate some food. His body then must be corporeal. This is both/and, or maybe neither/nor. The onlookers never tried to explain it. They simply spoke of their experience.
For us to grasp this we would need to get beyond dualistic thinking. Better yet, get beyond the thinking mind, or go deeper. This would be mystical, contemplative. An energy would be released that would lead us to a knowing beyond discursive knowing. Maybe those Chan, Zen, and Hindu adepts might have something to say to us that would make us better Christians ?