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.