Saturday, June 30, 2012


Wisdom people say that it is not good to fast unless you first have had a good experience of God as Love.  Why?  Well, you might end up fasting as a form of pride.  "See how much better I am than you who do nothing but live your lazy life," a person might say.  You could get cranky when hungry, and judgmental of others who are eating chocolate ice cream or whatever you "gave up".  But if you are doing it as a response to Love, then it will make more sense or at least you won't be so "difficult" around others.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Dinner Companions

It seems that Jesus dined with sinners.  He did not ask them to stop being sinners, or else God would get them.     He loved them.  He spoke words of comfort to the lower classes, the poor, the sick and marginalized.  Jesus was a man of compassion.  Some of us clergy today dine only with the people who are keeping the rules, attending to worship services, reciting the correct dogma and generally being obedient.  Some clergy harangue the people in sermons about faults and failings, not the clergies of course, and demand that people shape up to the official rule or code of conduct.  I don't think I would much care to dine with these religious officials.  I must be a sinner?  Well, Jesus seems good company to me.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Moon Communion

Buzz Aldrin  brought consecrated wine and host onto the moon with him.  Did you know that in the early church people used to take some consecrated bread home with them so that they could commune during the week.  It was pre-daily mass times.  When the church put people through a rigorous adult catechesis, they were mature enough and knowledgeable enough to take communion home.  After Constantine, when everyone just  got baptized, whole families, little training, that taking communion home began to change.  What developed, that was not so good, is a clergy that thought they were a much better caste than the lay people, in every way.  The shared "cup" became a "chalice" as well.  Go Buzz!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

A Full Cup

Do you have a cup or jar into which you throw odds and ends, such as coins, paper clips, rubber bands and such?  The Spirit within us is like that cup.  We fill it up with all sorts of odds and ends; plans, regrets, resentments, fantasies, anxieties, and fears.  To enter into a deeper connection with God, we need to hollow out the cup.  How? Stop paying attention to the conversation that is going on inside your head.  Sit quietly or take a slow walk in a quiet place without a destination.  Read a little meditation book, maybe a page or just a few sentences.  You will know that the cup is getting hollowed out because you will feel some peace.  You might even begin to feel a connection with the world around you in which judgment is replaced by compassion.  It is a recess from craziness. It is a vacation from stress.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012


As I understand it, Jesus came to be food for those who need it, not for those who earned it.  His miracles of healing were meant not just to heal, but to instruct his community of what they were supposed to do when he was no longer walking with them in the flesh.  The Eucharist is supposed to be Jesus present now to feed and heal us.  That is what the church is supposed to do.  Jesus never healed anyone because they had earned it, or he owed them for some good deed.  If you believe and want him, Jesus is free food.  What I see is a bunch of ordained making people go through hoops, to become squeaky clean, in order to be worthy to receive the host.  I am glad they are not God, although at times I think that they think they are God!

Monday, June 25, 2012

The Quiet

The Catholic Church has done a fairly good job of welcoming anyone to the worship service.  Language, skin color, economic status and such can all come together for a Sunday worship.  The one thing we hold in common is wanting some "quiet" at certain times outside the singing and responses.  But each person's level of quiet may be different, and this is where some of us find one another objectionable.  The adult who walks in alone and wants a meditative atmosphere, has one idea of quiet.  A mother or father with fussy children may have another idea of quiet.  The judgments of quiet levels do not mix very well.  People get irritated.  I recall what Jesus said, "Judge not, that you not be judged".  We are church, not airplane travelers.  Did you pay for your pew seat?

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Two Masters

Why can't I serve two masters, God and the things of the world?  The world is good, no?  "More" seems to be the word that gets me into difficulty.  I can accept, enjoy, use the things of this world, but once I begin to seek them, that is, to serve them, I never can get enough.  I want more.  So then I get anxious, fearful, and a bit greedy.  But with God there is always enough.  God seems to provide enough God when I seek or serve God.  I am not greedy, lustful or anxious about not having enough God.  When you get to the end of this life will it really matter how many things you have?

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Tomb To Womb

I like this.  Baptism is going from tomb to womb.  We get plunged into waters, as a dying to old ways.  Then we are raised up out of the water, as from a womb, to live a new life.  Two words that rhyme help me to inventory my day as I am going along doing this and that.  Am I dying to old ways of being a jerk, and living to new ways of loving and being of some use?  Am I dying to being self-centered and living more selflessly?  Do you feel like you are drowning today?  Maybe pause and let God do some damage control?

Friday, June 22, 2012


The mystics say that God is within us, hidden.  How can we know this?  Can we ever draw close to this hiddenness?  Yes.  Whenever we are at peace with ourselves, we are close to the God within.  Some can do this when in prayer, a sense of being deeper within themselves than any word or thought.  Peace can come when sitting by the shore of water or some lovely mountain scene.  We feel that sense of peace.  We are one with the world, absent from anxiety, resentment, worry or fantasy.  When it happens in a supermarket or a busy street, then you know you truly walk with God.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

The Insides

If you want to know what your insides look like when your are self-righteously acting out your bad habits, or being "difficult" as we say, then look at Jesus upon the cross.  He looked like an ugly mess.  Why?  Because people of mean character, nasty, maybe frightened people, had him condemned and whipped, beaten and crucified.  Those people looked pretty good in their nice robes and status.  Jesus looked all the worse for it.  But his insides were full of beauty.

What Jesus did was take all our evil upon himself.  He wore our insides on his outsides.  He replaced our insides with his love and beauty...if we can accept it.  "Father forgive them, they know not what they do," he moaned.  Luther sees us a the bride, the wretched bride, whom the groom, God in Jesus, takes in betrothal, knowing full well that we cannot escape ourselves in our mess.  The groom takes all of our mess upon himself and gives us the ring of Love.  It is freely given, unearned.  Accept it.  It might change your day, and certainly make for a better day for those around you.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012


Hitler gets to heaven.  Jesus meets him.  Hitler says, "I read where you died to save us all.  So here I am."  Jesus responds, "Well you are right, so I guess I have to let you in."  As Hitler is about to cross the threshold, Jesus asks, "Oh, Adolph, do you love me?"  Hitler answers, "I do now.  This is a pretty good place!"  Jesus adds, "Well, there are Jews here."  Hitler, frowns and his mood changes.  "Is there anywhere else I could go?"  Jesus says, "Oh, yes there is.  Here comes a fellow you might know.  He will take you there."  Off Hitler goes in the pinions of Satan.

So be careful when you say, "I love you Jesus."  Some of your best enemies, the most difficult people in your life, those you look down upon, might be the very persons you will have to spend with in eternal life.  Maybe we had better start trying to love our enemies now?  Good habits can carry us a long way.  Otherwise, we might be judged as we have judged others.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Locked Out

God could not get into hell.  It was Satan's lair.  It is like matter and antimatter. They just don't mix.  The only way to get into hell was if you were a human being who died.  God wanted to get to those humans and free them up.  What to do?  God became a human being.  Satan wasn't sure at first that Jesus was God because Jesus was born in a stable manger and lived a pretty ordinary life for a bunch of years.  Satan was watching though.   He does not miss much.  He was smart, but evil.  Satan heard some rumblings at Jesus' baptism and went on alert.  When Jesus went into the desert the devil came around to tempt him.  Satan offered power, prestige, and such that all humans seem to go after.  He failed.  So he bided his time thinking, "I will give this Jesus God a miserable life, no place to lay his head and then find some fools to condemn him to a miserable death.  Maybe he will weaken in those dying moments and curse God and then I will have him in hell!"  The plan was hatched.  Religious and political authorities wanting power and control, did Satan's bidding.  Death and burial followed.  "Victory," said Satan, as the Spirit of Jesus descended into hell.  Oops!  God trumped Satan.  The dead Jesus had key to the gate in his human nature.  He freed people waiting to be freed.  It is part of the Apostles Creed if you don't believe me.  "He descended into hell," it says.  Then came the Resurrection.  Satan did not figure on this.  Death was Satan's joy since Adam and Eve.  Now even that is not the final word.  Satan is tricky.  God is more tricky.  Satan forgot that he is only an angel.  A big ego gets you every time, no?

Monday, June 18, 2012


My email account got hacked.  I tried to change the password once someone helped me to find an AOL address.  Did not work.  Called on the phone and got a live AOL voice rather quickly.  Now I am in a monastery at the moment.  Where my computer has a connection, there is not phone.  Where there is a phone, my computer has no hookup.  So I was running up and down flights of stairs but finally got a password change on my computer.  My iTouch does not work nor my iPad, but there was enough drama already. I whined, talked to myself, complained to the air, and so on.  Woah is me!  Why does this happen to me?  My life is over!

Then I read the news.  Someone has a virus eating her skin.  Someone lost a child in a sectarian war.  People have no jobs.  People are suffering this moment from addictions.  I  have only some computer issues that I am too dumb to figure out.  I can live with being dumb.  I am used to it.  My computer is not life-threatening.  Gratitude came to replace whining and self-pity.  When you think your life is a mess, look around.

Sunday, June 17, 2012


It is a good thing to know your limitations.  Physically, we usually learn them by pain.  Pain is a way the the body says, "Don't do this."  I have come to the acceptance that I can no longer do the ranch work at the monastery as I had done for the past eight summers.  The body ages.  I used to be able to go into the fields and lift rocks, dig ditches with a shovel, bend and twist, six mornings a week.  I no longer can do the same physical labor two days in a row.  This is not helpful for an irrigator.  Drought has spared me this summer.  So a bad thing, drought, has revealed something to me that will be a good thing if I stay within my limits.  It may not seem so good because it will mean change in the near term.  I may not be able to do the physical labor that this monastery requires.  One door closes and another will open.  Limitations can do that for us.

Saturday, June 16, 2012


Catholics say that God is present in the communion wafer.  I just see the communion wafer.  But then, wait.  Is God not supposed to be invisible?  You see God in the cosmos, the night sky filled with stars?  No. You might feel God or whatever you call God, but when you start seeing with your eyes, well then, you have other issues.  God is invisible but still present.  Sometimes I sense a presence and sometimes I feel all alone, seeing only what is visible in front of me.  Just because I don' see God in the host does not mean God is absent.  I think that love is what makes the difference most of the time. If I am in love with someone, but they are not in front of me, I still love them and feel their presence.  I sense no presence of the IRS, except when my taxes are due or I am in arrears. Maybe those believers are right.  God is love.

Friday, June 15, 2012


Why do some people accept reality and some try to escape it?  One person might say, "I am sad, and it will pass.  Let's get onto the next thing or do some kindness or be useful." The other person says, "I am sad.  I need to escape this feeling."  There are no good escapes.  Well, they may be good for a short time, but eventually, the escape becomes the problem.  Reality follows us everywhere.

I think that the difference between the two responses to reality is "acceptance."  One accepts what is and gets on with the practicalities of the day.  Acceptance gives us an opening where we might think of how to be useful or kind to another person.  We get out of ourselves.  The "escape" mode simply is more self-implosion.  In trying to escape our feelings, or situation, we simply make it worse. Think of a drowning person who tries to save themselves by going under water.  Sound silly or crazy?  What are you doing with reality today?  Be useful.  It may keep you above water.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Fantasy World

Fantasy imaginings have their place, such as on an elliptical machine, or watching a movie.  Fantasy can fight boredom.  But if we spend too much time in our fantasies we may begin to try and live them out, which is a disaster.  It is one thing to imagine yourself winning the Olympics in some sport and another thing to exercise your old body as if it were a lot younger and more gifted than it ever was.  The now is real.  It is where we live.  It is where God lives.  God loves the real me.  Only my big ego loves the fantasy me.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Microwave Spirituality

Another image I heard about is "microwave results."  I don't have a lot of time to mess with slow spiritual growth or anything of slow improvement for me.  I want it done quickly, like cooking something fast in a microwave.  I seem to have lots of time to putter away on less important stuff, but that which is really of some significance to my well-being or wholeness, I want it fast.  I want it with my running.  No patience for the long, slow buildup. In prayer, I will give God a few quick minutes and I want to be a balanced, spiritually whole person for the rest of the day, and not let any character defects or bad habits exhibit themselves.  Does it work?  No.  I injure my body running and my soul in my maddening rush to what?  Then again, maybe a microwave prayer of desperation is better than nothing, right?

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Abundance of Desire

Someone said that they were born with an abundance of desire.  I don't think they saw it as a good thing.  They saw it as a syndrome that wants "too much," and "right now."  More is never enough for that person.  I can relate.  I want to be fit and I want it soon.  So I will do too much too soon and get injured.  My friend Jessica was like that.  Then she got older and wiser.  I just got older, and still get injured.  I have an abundance of desire.  Addictive people can relate to this.  They don't want to feel good.  They want to feel better.  So they take more of what makes them feel good.  Soon they cannot stop.  I wish that I had an abundance of desire for God or prayer, or spiritual growth.  In my fantasies I do, but in reality, at the end of many a day, in my review of the day, I rarely get to more.  I sometimes don't even get as far as "less" or "a little" of spiritual practice.  How is your abundance of desire?

Monday, June 11, 2012

Share A Cup

Jesus said that his disciples were his "friends."  When he gathered to eat that last supper he shared bread and a cup of wine with them.  Friends share a cup.  Yes, his followers came to believe that he was God, but they tried not to forget that he was their friend.  God became human to be one of us, to tell us that we were better than the lowly people we sometimes think we are.  "He became human so that we could become divine."  People were impressed with the early Christian community because of the way they seemed to love and care for one another regardless of their secular status, wealth/poverty.

So how did the cup become a chalice?  Maybe people began to focus on God in the food and not God in the person next to them.  Plagues can do this, but they come and go.  Maybe if you cannot see God in yourself, why would you see God in some stranger, or someone not from your tribe, neighborhood, social status?

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Share A Cup

Jesus was God, so we say.  But he saw himself as our friend and companion.  That is why he shared a cup with his friends/disciples at the Last Supper.  You share a cup with a friend.  Imagine God calling us friends and companions.  So what does institutional religion do?  It turns the cup into a "chalice." A special caste of person, ordained males, make God present.  God becomes very big and quite up there.  We become very small and quite down here.  Do you think God became one of us to have this be the result?  I like the idea of waking up in the morning and saying that God is my friend, my companion on the journey to become whole.  I don't care to wake up and think I am a piece of little less than nothing, a disappointment to God who has no hope for me and who therefore will ignore me.  Forget this idea of big God.  My God likes little friends.  God became little too.  Little is OK for God.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Good Deeds

In Luke's gospel, early on, Mary goes to visit her old cousin, Elizabeth, who is pregnant, like Mary.  Why did Mary travel that arduous road to her cousin?  If Mary did it so that people would praise her, shower her with esteem, focus attention on Mary, then she would be like me at times, who does a good deed so that you will like me or praise me, or tell me how important I am.  It is a good deed, but I don't grow from it.  My ego does, but not my spirit.  Now, if Mary did it so that she could be helpful, not focusing on herself or caring that anyone else does, then it would be a good deed that fills her soul.  So, why are you helpful?

Friday, June 8, 2012

Less Than Exciting

President Obama was within two blocks of our rectory.  Traffic got detoured and snarled up.  The cable cars stopped running, which was a sure detour for all the tourists that come this time of year.  Did Obama come to give a major speech to benefit us all?  An announcement even? Did he at least glad-hand a bunch of people?   No, he came for private reasons, to raise money from the tech community of high rollers.  All around him there are banks that are failing to lend, but are foreclosing on mortgages.  He seemed to ignore them.  Think of the Pope coming to speak across from a nearby abortion clinic.  I suspect he might say something about the clinic, being Pope.  And when the Pope comes, he definitely snarls the traffic flow, but hopefully he would have a larger purpose than raising money to keep the Vatican afloat.

So what has all this got to do with anyone's spiritual life?  Well, when you think your spiritual growth is encouraging you to be helpful, make sure you are being helpful and not a nuisance in serving your own private agenda.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

The Real Workers

When Jesus told his disciples to go and prepare the table for the Last Supper, how many fisherman or any man for that matter, do you know who could/would set a table and prepare an elaborate feast such as a Passover?  So, disciples includes women.  Women were at the last supper, just like women are the ones who prepare altars and churches for any major feast day.  Rarely do I see a priest do any of the set up.  So how is it that women get whited out of the Last Supper scene?  There would have been no Last Supper and no church as we have it today without women.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012


I am standing in the kitchen of our San Francisco rectory this evening eating some light supper by myself.  I am upset.  Why?  There is no cook tonight.  She took the day off.  I expected someone to cook supper for me.  Next week I will be standing in the kitchen of a monastery in the evening eating some supper by myself.  I will not be upset.  Why?  There is never a cook for the evening meal in the monastery.  You are on your own.  Same scene in two different places, but I am upset in only one of the scenes.  Why?  Because in the rectory I expect a cook and in the monastery I do not expect a cook.

I am upset because of my expectations.  I am perfectly capable of fending for myself in a kitchen.  The cook is not the problem.  I am.  Maybe I should change?

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

A Start

What if you woke up in the morning and said, "God please help me today?"  That would be a nice short prayer.  Then you would know you are never alone through the day.  It also starts out the day with an attitude of humility.  Do you really think you can do life alone?  I can't.

Monday, June 4, 2012


I have a fear of heights.  I went to a Giants baseball game with a friend.  He bought the tickets.  We were up in the steeply graded third deck.  I practically crawled to my seat looking straight at the ground in front of me.  When I sat down and turned to look down at the field, way down, I said, "I won't go the the bathroom or get anything to eat this game." Gradually, inning by inning I became more comfortable at this height.  I even stood up after five innings to stretch.  I felt at ease when we left the game at the end.  I did not feel like I was going to leap off the edge. The longer I was at this height, the more comfortable and less frightened I became.

Is it not the same way in other areas of our life?  A bad deed may bother us at first.  But if we repeat it enough it becomes a habit that seems "OK" to do, or at least does not bother us so much.  The same with a good deed.  Good habits become easier over time.  When I first decide to make a change in my prayer life, it seems difficult.  "I am going to sit in silence."  A few minutes seems interminable.  Over time, it seems to get easier, and time passes more quickly, in spite of the ups and downs of moods.  Any change seems difficult at first, does it not?  But then it is all relative, like a great height, that becomes more level over time.  Oh, I never did go to the bathroom or the concession stand.  But my Giants won!

Sunday, June 3, 2012

A Good Deed

I went to the airport to pick up an old priest.  I timed my pull up to the arrivals curb so that he might be there, but he was not.  I went around four more times.  No priest.  I called the house.  No one had heard from him.  I parked and went into the terminal.  No priest.  My cell rang.  He was home.  He came out to the curb, saw no one, used a stranger's phone to call me but left no message, and then took a limo service home.

The first thought was to curse the womb that bore him.  The next thought was of how I had wasted my morning.  These are just thoughts.  They do not need any attention nor control.  Had I not still done a kindly deed?  He had gotten home safely.  Just because the results of my efforts did not work out as I expected or wanted, it was still a kindly deed.  I had spent the morning doing a kindness.  Enjoy the effort.  Plus, I had learned a lot about driving around an airport with which I am unfamiliar.

The effort to do good can come from love or kindness or compassion.  The anger at the results or outcome is simply an ego bruised.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

In The Dumps

I was feeling in the dumps about one thing or another.  I was feeling useless.  OK, I was into self-pity!  I left my room to go to the church bookstore around the corner to see what new books might have come in since last I was there.  I remember asking God for "Mercy".  I wanted some divine intervention.  When I got to the store the titles that I saw first were those of books that spoke about "Gratitude" or "Gratefulness" for our life.  Divine intervention came through for sure.

I felt an immediate pick-me-up.  I felt the gift of gratitude for my life.  Same life before I came into the store, but seen from a new angle.  God can do that sometimes, surprise me with the obvious!

Friday, June 1, 2012

The Visitation

May 31 is the Feast of the Visitation of Mary to her cousin Elizabeth, both of whom are pregnant.  Mary goes to be with her elderly cousin, to be of assistance.  So I went to visit a sick friend in the hospital.  I decided to take public transportation.  I had never been to this hospital.  I took the train and then found a bus at the station that took me right to the hospital.  I found my friend.  We visited for a while.  I felt good.  My fiend was glad I came.  Good deeds can do that. I had not gotten lost.  Then came unexpected gifts.

As I sat outside the hospital at the bus stop, after visiting with my friend, I called an old friend who lived in town but was busy with his mother that day.  It turns out that he was a ten minute walk from the hospital, waiting for his mom to finish having her hair done.  So we had lunch together with his mom.  I thought I would not be able to see his wife who was off on some other tasks.  As we left the parking lot to go the the train station, we spotted her car in the lot and  took a chance that she was having her nails done.  She was.  So I got to say hello to her too.  I went out to do a good deed and so much more came my way.  The best good things are always the unexpected ones, don't you think?