Friday, August 31, 2012

One Shoe Walking

There are people who come into AA and receive a "Big Book."  This is the AA catechism.  They take it home and read it, by themselves.  They now have information.  They go back out and drink.  It happens over and over.  Why?  Because they did not have a mentor who could share experience based upon the catechism of the literature.  We all need sponsors if we are going to "get it," that is benefit from wisdom that is handed down to us such that we will change our lives.  A true teacher is a sponsor.  To read wisdom literature alone is like walking in one shoe.  Soon we will stop walking.  We are still too sick or dull or uninitiated to put on a second shoe.  At least I have found it to be so.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Dough And Yeast

Catechism is like dough.  Yeast is like experience.  Catechism that is simply a series of answers, statements, doctrine, tradition is flat.  It will never rise to nourish us.  It needs the yeast of our personal experience.  Vatican II said that the laity are called to evangelize, not to parrot answers.  We are called to bring people to Christ.  I am becoming more convinced that the reason so many of our young people drop out of practice of our faith is because they were not evangelized in the first place.  Those Catholic schools gave them the catechism, but the teacher/parent did not bother or could not give them a reason why they believed.  The child knows the answer but has no personal experience to support it, nor has a tradition of experience, a yeast, if you will.   We get turned on by the story, the event in a persons life that brings us to make sense out of a catechism answer.  The reason most of us say little about the Trinity is that we have no experience in which to relate "substance" and "essence."  

What we pass on is the yeast life experience as it relates to items of our faith.  I am moved toward interior prayer and away from pietistic devotions because of the experiences related to me by those who have entered into prayer of silence and solitude and how it has changed their lives in ways that attract me.  I am unmoved by the emotional baggage of people with visions in their novena practices.  So I only talk about what moves me.  This is the only way we can attract anyone to Christ.  I now have the yeast of experience to go along with what I read in my Church prayer tradition.  When a young person asks me to tell them about "mystical" prayer, what they mean is, "Tell me what happens to you."  They want to know my story, my experience.  Evangelization is knowing Christ, not knowing "about" Christ.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Keep Looking

When I go outside to look at the night sky, my eyes are dilated by the lamplight in the house.  I look up at the sky and see a few stars, no Milky Way.  Most of what I see is darkness, but my experience tells me that there is light in the darkness.  I just have to be patient and keep looking into the darkness.  Soon, I begin to see all the stars appear in the clear sky from my 8000 foot altitude stage.

Prayer is the same type of experience.  What seems like darkness is not darkness.  It is simply letting go of the "lamplight" of my thinking, imagining mind.  Interior prayer calls for patience and trust.  Soon enough God will reveal more light in the darkness.  As the star-filled sky is so much more spectacular than the lamplight, so is God's interior light so much more spectacular than our mere mental prayers and devotions.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

The Yankees

They say faith is a gift.  I inherited mine from my parents.  I inherited being a Yankee fan from my dad.  My first World Series that I can remember was in 1950.  I was seven. My dad was ironing.  Yes, my dad ironed.  We listened together at the radio in my parents' bedroom.  Mom was not a sports fan.  Pity.  The Yankees won 4 zip.  Why am I remembering this now?  Well, I am reading my second book of this summer on the Yankees.  This is a terrific one, Pinstripe Empire.  It is 600 pages.  Aren't I getting holy, you ask?  Yeh, yeh, but that is in the morning when I pray, read, go to mass, and do ranch work.  Fortunately, it rains a lot, so by mid-afternoon, I say, "Forgive me Lord," and pick up my Yankee book.  When I was seven, I was just learning to read.  Sports pages were my practice.  The Daily News had sports beginning on the back pages.  The Korean War was on the front page.  The world was a mess on the front pages, but all was right on the back pages.  My Yankees always won.

Now, some people hate the Yankees.  Their hate is not caused by the Yankees playing baseball.  That is what the Yankees do.  Yankee haters don't have to hate.  It is their choice.  They blame the Yankees instead of themselves.  They cannot change to acceptance, or actually rooting for the Yankees.  They are wedded to their emotion.  Maybe it is inherited too?  Isn't it that way about a lot of our feelings?  Events unfold, and we decide to have a certain reaction, but blame the event.  We blame people for "making us angry."  Institutions like my church do what they do.  If I choose to get angry, that is my choice.  I choose not to get angry.  Why have a bad day over what is?  I inherited my church.  My Church is imperfect.  I still have the Yankees.  They are in first place.  So are my Giants, but that is for another blog.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Spiritual Ecology

Why is it that we don't mind tearing up or down God's creation, but then spend time, money and effort to build sacred places for God to dwell?  If God is a Creator God, then why tear up God's earth for our own gain?  Why do we tear down a forest to then build a church and say, "Here God dwells."  Maybe buildings are our self-serving way of having a place where we can go to say hello to God when it is convenient.  Nature is inconvenient when it gets in the way of some economic gain, or some preferred creature comfort.  I hear it said that we have too many churches in some dioceses.  There is a reason why we have too little forest.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Sacred Turf

The early church did not have sacred geographical space.  The focus on the sacred was in sacrament, community and transformation.  Then stuff happened.  Constantine came along and began to build churches.  His Mom supposedly found the true cross and the grave of Jesus seemed to be discovered.  Paul preached the cross, but not a physical one. He preached "bearing" our own crosses in imitation of Christ.  Imitate Christ, become Christ.  Instead, we build edifices to visit and then we had to have armies to defend them, or go kill people to get them back, or sell indulgences to fix them up.  Most of the political intrigue of the papacy in history was to defend or expand the "Papal States."

We are not the only religion that does this.  Others war and kill to take or defend their imagined sacred space.  I don't think that Jesus was much about buildings.  He was about building the kingdom of God, which does not need sacred buildings.  I suspect, being God, he knew how commercial it all could become.  There have been and will probably be wars over the "Holy Land."  Personally, I am concerned about the holy land within.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Staying The Course

Mary was told by the angel Gabriel that she was going to have a pretty important child.  She said,"Yes."  Now move to the scene in the stable.  It is cold, dark, dirty and a seemingly unimportant place.  Will Mary stay the course?  Would you?  Yes, she did.  She believed that God was at work and present in that stable scene.  The Annunciation times in our lives can be pretty powerful and convincing experiences of spirituality, a God at work in our midst.  But there are other times and tasks in which we seem to be ignored, or sense a lack of self-importance.  It can be messy, dirty and difficult work for which we get no recognition.  Do you believe God is at work and present in your life in those times?  Is cleaning or maintaining your living environment, room, a time when you recognize the presence of God?  Is cleaning seen as Holy?  Or is it just something to ignore as beneath you, or a time to grumble about messy people around you?

Friday, August 24, 2012

The Long Journey

Bill Wilson, the co-founder of AA, had a pretty powerful, white-light religious or numinous experience.  Suddenly he believed in God and the goodness of God.  You would like that, right?  Well, nine years later, or so, he fell into a depression that lasted for some time.  Did he fall off the wagon? No.  Was his original experience an illusion? No.  It is a rather natural process in the spiritual growth journey.  When we have a lot of psychic or emotional pain from some past experiences, we can tend to "stuff" it inside ourselves.  Bill this this with drink, and ego-inflation.  With his initial spiritual experience, he stopped stuffing this pain.  With his daily prayer life and good works, the layers that covered this pain were removed.  It took a few years, but then the pain was released and with him it led to depression.  That was a lot of pain buried within the psyche.  he did get some professional help.  Great mystics have called this process one of moving from light into a spiritual darkness that for a while covers the light.  Eventually, if we stay the course, we will come out of it and into a deeper light or closer union with the Source of Life.  Some call it Eternal Life.  The pink cloud, the initial good experience is not Eternal Life.  It is a start.  Patience, endurance, discipline to the daily prayer, sometimes trudging along, will get you through it all.  At least I have found it that way.

Thursday, August 23, 2012


I was the presider at a parish mass and it came time for announcements.  The deacon got up to give the announcement about when the parish council meets.  It was about wanting some new input for the council.  He said, "We are always looking for new ideas."  My church is looking for new ideas?  I must have missed that memo.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Prophetic Voice

As I read the prophets in the Hebrew Scriptures, it seems that God is very focused on our change of heart toward our neighbor and God.  God wants love, caring for the poor, seeking peace, trust in God, and kindness.  Get rid of idols.  Today, that would be money, power, control, and popularity.  God does say something about the "depraved, immoral, abominations" of some people with regards to sex.  I get the sense that the prevailing notion was and still is, that the person who practiced "wrong" sex, was also uncaring, dismissive of the poor, selfish, and self-centered.

Two things. God does not seem to focus a lot on sex preferences.  And people can be good people in many ways but have a preference of which you do not approve.  Now what if you met a person of the "right" sort in their sexual preference but who was a real turd in every other way, and then met someone who was all the things that make us good, but who is not of your sexual persuasion?  Do you think God would disapprove of both equally?  I try not to read my limited brain into God's thinking.  I have met too many good people who live outside the box.  Whose box is it anyway?

Tuesday, August 21, 2012


In John's Gospel, chapter 6: 51-58, says that if we are going to have life within, we must gnaw on his flesh.  That is how he described the bread we eat at mass.  You don't gnaw on a symbol, so he means that he is really there in the bread.  I think John had more in mind than this, which is important.  He noticed that a lot of people said they believed in Jesus and that was Christian enough.  Some said that they did good works along with belief and that was good enough.  None of them were going to worship to receive the Eucharist.  John's Jesus says that without the Eucharist, you don't have eternal life.  It is something to consider, no?

Monday, August 20, 2012


We are getting into serious hay season, finally.  If the skies can stay clear we will be picking up a lot of hay in the next month at the monastery.  Now this change in work time will interfere with my summer routines and other plans.  The situation is not going to change.  We are going to hay.  Maybe I should change my attitude?  Or pray for rain? That prayer would be wrong.  My sister Maureen said that when I do wrong, "God will get you."  I think I will work on my attitude.

Sunday, August 19, 2012


I noticed where a fellow who converted from Episcopal to Roman Catholic said that whenever the Episcopal came to a crossroads between tradition and the culture, it always opted for the culture.  Umm, isn't that inculturation?  The missionaries in the far east, as we call Asia, did better when they took on the mores, dress, habits, language and values of the culture that they were missioning.  Mateo Ricci, SJ is a prime example of that.  Where we try and plop a western European monarchical structure with a Greek Philosophy to explain our theology, we do not do so well.  Oh, we might get some baptisms but most often the newly baptized take what they hear and translate into what they already know.  They will do their own inculturation.

Why are we having problems with the Catholic Church in China?  In part, we want to impose a monarchy, a western outdated monarchy as the Asian, and Communist culture see it.  The Chinese are not trying to shut down the church.  They just want to run it themselves in their own country by picking the clergy leaders.  European nations did that for quite some time in earlier centuries.  It may not be Rome's preference, but at least there will be sacraments, and who knows, maybe even a new Asian way of explaining Catholicism. Plato and Aristotle don't sell over there.  It is really about power and control on both sides.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Clean House

I saw where Archbishop Chaput wrote a new book, Render Unto Caesar.  His premise is that religion should be involved in politics.  Well, I suggest that you also read, Render Unto Rome, which is about where all the money goes from the laity to the church.  Sometimes we just don't know.  A monarchy is not very transparent especially in its banking.  So, while we are criticizing the secular government, we might look to clean up our own house too.  As they say, "People who live in glass houses..."

Friday, August 17, 2012

Thou Shalt Not Kill

Back in he early 2000s soon after 9/11 many of us clergy and laity were pretty focused and energized about the killing of the fetus, or human person, as we would call the fetus. We were pretty public about it.  When the government decided to go to war with Iraq, some of us criticized the decision, but in a more tepid and less energized focus.  Why was that?  We get up in arms about the killing of a fetus by medical procedures, but not so up in arms about killing with guns, of an Iraqi.  There may be several reasons why a person would have an abortion.  There is only one reason we killed Iraqis.  It was over oil.  Don't you think that when God says, "Thou shalt not kill," God has in mind the Iraqis too?

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Horses Were Here

When I run with horses, I also run with their leavings, which are considerable.  Horses are not good at "sharing" the roads.  They share alright, but one must be careful of where one steps or runs.  It is the price one pays for running with horses.  It is called acceptance.  It is a good way to start the day.  As the day progresses, I never know what person, or situation will leave something or place something in my path that could become an obstacle to my happiness and peace.  Acceptance can be very helpful at those moments.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012


We are partners with God in prayer.  I first heard of partner from my Mom.  When we were going to go shopping for sales "downtown" to Alexander's department store in the Bronx, my Mom would say, "Now we are partners, Terry.  I am the parent and you are the child.  If we get separated, just stay still, and I will come and find you."  I knew that when it came to shopping for sales, Mom could get pretty caught up in the search.  So whenever I got "lost" I would just stand between the counters of apparel and wait.  Mom always found me.  I knew that she would always come looking for me.  Even if a wandered around, which I did occasionally, she would find me.  I could be the lost sheep, but she was always the shepherd.

In prayer, when I sit in silence and stillness, my restless mind can go wandering off.  When I discover that I am surrounded by fantasy, plans, resentments, I would just wait and be still.  God would always find me.  I did not go in search of God or a God idea.  I just waited.  When I read scripture, the passages may not tell me much at first, but I just wait and digest it.  Soon enough some message comes to me.  With God as my partner, I do the waiting and God does the finding and revealing.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Megan Rice

Sister Megan Rice broke into a nuclear facility as part of an effort to call our attention to issues of peace in the world.  She broke the law.  She is going before the courts. It is our system of justice.  Will the hierarchy come to her defense?  I am waiting.  Now, many illegal immigrants break the law.  The hierarchy is definitely coming to their defense.  Is it that we can break some laws, but not others?  Confusing.

Wrong Thinking

A religious leader said that we "wrong thinkers," who don't follow the faith, are un-evangelizing.  I think he means that we are turning people away from the church, because of our unorthodox notions.  I cannot think of anyone who said to me that they left the church or were turned off to the church because of my thinking or unorthodox notions.  But I do know of many who said they left or were turned off by hierarchy, and priests yelling/complaining about the "laity." So who is doing the un-evangelizing?  Who is emptying the pews?

Monday, August 13, 2012

Run With Horses

After last night's rain, I went out early this morning to run.  The ground was soft and smooth from the moisture.  The air had that wonderful aroma of morning after the rain.  As I jogged along I suddenly heard the sound of horse hoofs coming up from behind me.  A herd of beautiful horses came alongside me, running.  It was a wonderful sound and a beautiful sight as they passed me, about 20 of them.  What a spectacular morning this is. God is good.  Some people ask when I will return to Boulder.  Boulder?  I run with horses now.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Tears of St. Lawrence

The meteor shower that comes this time of year is called, "The Tears of St. Lawrence" because it always comes around the time of this martyr's feast day.  I look up into the sky at pre dawn to see a "shooting star" as we call the meteor.  Now Rilke, the poet, has a great image in his last of the Love Poems to God, "The Book of Hours."  I use it in reference to the night sky.  It holds God's face in its blackened hands.  The dark, seemingly almost empty sky is the face of God.  When the meteor flashes for a brief moment, it is like God's blinking of the eye.  A tear drops from the eye.  It is a tear of joy that I am there in the dark, that I have left my creature comforts to go into the chill night to watch and wait, looking into the darkness.  The tear is also of sadness, that I spend so much of my day in busyness that ignores the Presence.  The Good News is that God is always here, even in the seeming dark emptiness, in the luminous darkness, ever loving.  You probably missed the night sky in your bright city life.

Saturday, August 11, 2012


Here is a dialogue that might appeal to the bishops in relation to the women religious:
Bishops:  You do this.  You believe this.  You say this and not that.
Women:  Yes, bishops.
Dialogue completed.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Rules and Rules

So it seems that church leaders are particularly interested in their flock following the rules/laws of the church.  But the same leaders seem to be for "illegal" immigration.  Well, by its very title it is against the law.  So what gives here.  The white flight from the pews can be replaced by the immigrants who have lots of kids and don't complain about the hierarchy.  Well, if the leaders can be OK about the breaking of the law, why not the rest of us when it comes to church laws?  Hmm.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Why Shocked?

It seems that Florida for profit hospitals are running up profits by recommending unnecessary procedures.  Are you shocked?  Is this any different than Wall Street financiers running up profits on bogus investments?  Cheating, stealing, lying and greed are in.  Moderation, honesty, compassion are on the wane.  Can organized religion do anything about this?  Will anyone listen to my church leaders?  We seem to have shot our moral capital on sex, illegal immigration, and nun's "radical feminism."  There will be no bonfire for the vanities here.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

The Next Task

Whenever I find myself dragging through the next task, or whining about doing something, that I am going to do anyway, I snap out of it by dedicating the task to the honor and glory of God, asking that God's will be done, and that God watch over me.  It is amazing how my attitude improves immediately.  A new energy seems to come along with the improved attitude.  Each day we all have stuff we have to do, often routines, or once a week tasks.  Why be miserable about them?

Tuesday, August 7, 2012


We have just landed a machine on Mars named, "Curiosity."  I am glad that we are spending money on this project.  As a country, if not as homo sapiens, we need something that keeps a vision of what we can be, and a vision that is even bigger than we are, or at least stretches us as a people.   The cosmos is huge, but it is also our home.  A vision gets us out of our little private world...of shopping!  This is what many leaders are hoping we will do, is shop.  Make the economy grow by buying stuff we don't need.  What a small vision.  I hope Congress comes up with the bucks to keep us exploring space, providing scholarships for scientists, astrogiophyicists, and mathematicians, even in the midst of a recession.  Greed, selfishness, and cheating got us into this recession.  Any lobbyists for outer space?

Monday, August 6, 2012

Objective Truth

I read where a church official said that to be orthodox, one must believe in certain "objective truths."  Now what might that be?  Is our Creed and objective truth?  I think not.  A tree is an objective truth.  How so?  If I say, "I see a tree.  Do you see the tree?"  If you say yes, that in fact there is a tree in front of us, then that is an objective truth.  We can even touch it to make sure that we are not imagining things.  

In the Creed, we say that Jesus is Risen.  Well, I believe this.  I say it is true.  But if you say it is not true, than is it really an "objective truth?"  It is subject to my experience and you may not have the same experience.  I began to believe in "Jesus is Risen" because nuns and my parents believed it and that was good enough for me.  Then I began to have some experience in my young life of Jesus being with me, so he must be risen and not in some grave in Jerusalem.  My belief was deepened by how the experience of a Risen Jesus changed the disciples.  They did not make it up in order to become rejected and martyred.  But many people thought they were delusional.  An experience of something numinous is not objective in the same way a tree is objective.  

I might say that my church is "holy" as it says in the creed.  This is based upon theology more than objective fact.  One outside of this theology would see my church as very sinful and anything but holy.  They have historical fact to support them.  My theology is subjective to my experience of the Holy Spirit.  Calling something objective when it is subjective is another way of trying to have power and control over others.

Sunday, August 5, 2012


We are on the edge of Summer, the Fall edge of Summer.  Being outdoors so much of the time, we are aware of the slight change of temperature and moisture.  There is a breeze, and it is not hot or wet.  This signals that the heat of Summer is over in the mountains.  Winter is far down the road, and true Fall is a bit aways too.  When I used to work indoors most of the day, I had to go outside just to remind myself that there is an outside.

It is that way with prayer.  It is a whole life experience, but if I live my life "inside" as in self-centered plans and programs, I might forget that there is a spiritual side.  I need to go outside myself to be reminded of this spiritual side of me.  Then I discover love, caring, compassion, and maybe even humility.  One never knows until one goes to that world where you are not its center.  

Saturday, August 4, 2012


Jesus wants to hold me to himself.  I am made for this unity, but I want to defy this connection which is as stupid as defying gravity.  It cannot really be done, but I can exhaust myself in trying to be "free."  Free for what?  I have tried to connect to other happinesses, but they have been found false or fleeting.  With Jesus, I don't have to try and connect.  I am connected.  It is my spiritual DNA.  My prayer each day is to let it be, let Jesus happen in my life, which is as sure as the sun will rise above the earth's horizon.  It is gravity which makes it all possible.

Friday, August 3, 2012

To Be

Rilke says that in order to be, it is not enough to be born.  To be, is to find out who we are, our uniqueness, the reason each of us are here.  The Church will try to tell us that we  are children of God.  Well, if we are all children of God, then I have not found out what is unique about me versus you?  If I do not discover this about myself, then I will probably wear a mask, in order to seemingly fit in somewhere and ally my fears about becoming "me."  The difficult part is to find out my specialness, my particular purpose, and then to live it out while staying humble and loving.  At least, I have found it so.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Beliefs Of The Heart

I am persuaded that when people get angry over some opinion or view or teaching, it is a matter of the heart.  Something personal in their lives has led them to agree or disagree one side or the other of an issue.  To speak logically to matters of the heart gets me nowhere.  A person may speak logically about their view, but if it is said with anger, it is from some personal experience.  Logic is the cover.

An example.  If I say that Jesus had only one will and not two, do you really care?  If you know the answer you may say that I am a heretic, but you would not bother to tell me.  You have no experience in your life that relates to the number of wills that Jesus has.  It brings up no strong emotion.  Maybe you even agree.  Heretic!  Now if I say something about my view on a sex issue, then I get the responses, and they come with the anger:  ".I am a heretic.  I should know better.  Why don't I just leave the church. You should be ashamed of yourself."  I won't get this about the two wills of Jesus.  I believe that people come to their conclusions about sex issues based upon something personal in their lives.  Saying, "This is what the church teaches," is just a cover.  The Church teaches the Seven Corporal Works of Mercy too.  But if you took the time to look them up, you will find that you probably don't do but two of them, if that.  Anyway, that is what I found out about the Works of Mercy for myself.  Jesus had a lot more to say about Mercy than he had to say about sex.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Spectator Sports

At a baseball game, the people watch the events unfold on the field.  The spectators do not have any say in the outcome.  They can hope, pray, want, but the power to make things happen in the game is out of their hands.  The fans are not a community either.  They may share a common interest, i. e. that their team win.  But once the event is over, the spectators return to their regular lives, oblivious to anyone around them.  Kind of like the Catholic Church maybe?

What say do the people in the pews have about what is going on in the pulpit?  The pastor is king.  Can the people fire him?  Did they hire him?  No.  So, the people watch, pray separately, generally don't sing, and when it is over all go home to their regular lives.  The church as monarchy wants community and parish participation...the king wants someone to do the heavy lifting.  Monarchies don't engender community.  Monarchy is about power in the hands of a few.  Community is power shared, differences held in a creative tension, people listening to one another.  Why should the king listen?

Back to the baseball stadium.  If fans want change what do they do?  They stop coming, stop doling out their money.  The Cubbies fill up Wrigley field.  The team stinks.  The fans come anyway.  The team continues to stink.  So why should the cubbies change, or get new owners or new management?  Wrigley Field is a bit like going to St. Peter's in Rome.  You don't agree with what is going on, and may not even care about religion of baseball, but it sure is a great place to visit.