Sunday, June 30, 2013
Saturday, June 29, 2013
I received an email from a young woman who was a student at the University of Tennessee in 2000 when I was pastor of the campus Catholic Church. Apparently I said something that triggered her vocation. Soon she will take final vows in a contemplative religious order in Mexico City. She has never forgotten me and sent me an email to say so and ask for my prayers. Here I thought I was a complete failure to get students to try the contemplative path. Well, I am still a failure with USA students, but lets look on the bright side. This might get me a little less time in purgatory, should I even make it that far. Sometimes, it might be good NOT to know that God is using me. Keeps the ego small.
Friday, June 28, 2013
You can only find God as God wants to be found by you. You might want to be a contemplative. If it not the way God wants to be found by you, God will remain unfound, and you lost in all your sits. There are many paths to God, but only one path for each of us. Find the path and discover the God for whom you have been searching.
Thursday, June 27, 2013
When someone receives Holy Communion, we say that they "consume" the host. Now in terms of economic capitalism, when you consume something, no captial is added, nothing new is produced, or manufactured. To invest means to add to expand the captial base. The buying of a house is consumption, not investment, so the capitalist says. The fellow who built the house invested in a business that added something to the capital base, your house. You added nothing by buying it. Now back to communion. When you consume the host, nothing is added to spiritual capital. You are unchanged, and God is still God. But if you invest "time" after communion, in meditation, praise and gratitude, then you become changed. Something is added to you. You become more than you were. Time invested in prayer brings transformation. The world becomes a better place. Pity those who consume the host as they rush out the door to the parking lot.
Wednesday, June 26, 2013
A flower petal freshly fallen to the floor, still has beauty to it. Soon, the wind will blow it about, and then it's beauty will fade. The petal is at its fullest beauty when attached to the flower, which is attached to the stem, which is nourished by the earth. So it is with us and God. We are most ourselves, all we are meant to be, when attached to God who nourishes us. There are many people in the world who focus on beauty that fades. Here today and gone tomorrow. Life may be short, like a flower that buds, but let life always be grounded in the true source of beauty.
Tuesday, June 25, 2013
My sister, Elizabeth, turns 66 today. I am not sure she will celebrate all that much. Aging is not her thing. I would celebrate, and did, when I turned 66. The alternative is something for which I am not yet ready. If I were holy, or more mature, I would be ready. Like I say, I am not ready!
Monday, June 24, 2013
Sunday, June 23, 2013
My sister, Jane, is visiting with me in this roaring Fork Valley of Colorado. We sat by a river in a restaurant to have lunch. We were in no hurry. It was more than perfect, because the waitress forgot to turn in our food order. She was so embarrassed, apologized, and gave us free tea and a rich dessert. She felt even worse when she interrupted our saying of grace. She was having a terrible time, but it was fine from our perspective. We had a nice long leisurely lunch by the river. Her mistakes more than fit into our plans. Sometimes, when we mess up, it is only ourselves that suffer. And sometimes when we mess up, it is a gift to someone else.
Saturday, June 22, 2013
Recently my church said that Joseph, the husband of Mary, needs to be added in some prayers in our worship service. This might have something to do with the church's agenda that a man and a women make a marriage. OK. But in our same church law system, Mary and Joseph would not be canonically married. They never consumated their vows. Well, that's a conundrum.
Friday, June 21, 2013
My sister is coming to visit me and we will go to Aspen together to see the sights and eat. Will we look around in Aspen and say, "Oh, here is where th rich people live," and marvel in envy? Wait. I am spending the summer in a beautiful valley in Snowmass, and my sister lives in Marina Del Rey, California. We have it pretty good. We can take for granted what is closest to us, our seemingly ordinary, everyday lives.
Thursday, June 20, 2013
At times I think that my church is a mess. Well, that is an opinion of course. But we respond to our opinions. I could get angry. My church would still be the same. I would not. Anger is useless where it changes nothing but the angry person. When I could actually make a change for the better, as I see it, I will need courage, not anger. I think there is a famous prayer that says all this.
Wednesday, June 19, 2013
People who are recovering from an addiction, or trying to, learn that there are three stages to recovery, so says Bill W. At first they do something good for themselves, but it is out of necessity. It is not a free virtuous act. Do good or die is hardly a free choice unless you want to stay crazy. Some people, many in fact, do choose to stay crazy. After some necessary choices, these recovering people do good because they know they ought to do good. More freedom here, as they decide to attend a meeting, do steps, help others, pray, not out of sheer necessity, but because they have learned this is what they ought to do. Finally, they do all this and more because they want to do it. They want to do the will of the Power that saved them from misery. For all of us, wanting to turn our will over to God is a process of growth, with backsliding, at times. After all, we are not saints. Well, you aren't. I am. Oh! There is that spiritual pride again. I "must" do something about this.
Tuesday, June 18, 2013
I love this quote. "I love the ocean, except for the wet part." It is a bit like someone saying, "I am spiritual, but not religious," yet they do not pray. They have nice thoughts now and again about the cosmos, things not material, but they do not pray much beyond saying a few words now and again forsomething they want. Without prayer, the kind that is meditative, listening, open, there is no spirituality. I have also met people who say they are religious, worship and rule keepers, who do not pray much either. Prayer is the "wet" of spirituality and religion. All else will follow. Even recovering drunks know this!
Monday, June 17, 2013
It is in my blood. Running for me is not exercise to stay fit. It is not an attempt to be free of a pot belly, nor a way to balance eating chocolate. Running for me is part of life, of being me. To not run would be trying to live in some other body. Non-runners do not get this. They think that it is exercise, something optional, when you have the time and inclination and interest. They think that you could just as easily ski or bike or do some zumba. I do not bother to convince non-runners. I simply say, "I need to run," or "I am going for a run." When a runner still has the body to run, and wants to run, but life gets in the way, the runner is dying. We are not self-absorbed, or self-centered in this area. We are runners. If you are not a runner, beware of marrying one. They already have a spouse. When the runner goes out the door with their running gear on, they are going on a date, or an intimate moment with their spouse, the road/trail meeting the steady stride.
Sunday, June 16, 2013
If you call or think someone is "lazy," what is the norm? I don't think I am lazy, but a much younger person, full of youthful energy, or a workaholic, might think me quite lazy. When we hang a description on another person, it is only our own personal sense of the norm that gives any credence to our judgment. There are not so many absolutes as some of us more perfect people would like to think.
Saturday, June 15, 2013
Recently, I had criticized two priests, not to their face of course, but rather publicly. They called me on this when they found out from their numerous fans and informers. I heard the truth. "Why had I done this," I asked myself? I realized that it was pride. "I don't have THAT fault!" I would say to myself. I had to apologize, because I was in the wrong. I was blessed with the priests bringing this up to me. I am glad that I did not defend my actions, but rather apologized and am trying to not only learn from this, but watch my tongue. It is alright to have a critical thought based upon pride. We cannot help what pops into the head. But the damage is done to others when the tongue speaks.
Friday, June 14, 2013
When I am in the contemplative "zone" all my other worries, fears, anxieties are seen as so much inconsequential rubbish. That place of deep rest just comes over me. No method will take me there. My job is just to show up and sit. Suddenly, from time to time, I realize I am in the zone of deep rest. I become aware of it. It overwhelms all else I have been fretting about. Other things and people in my life don't lose their importance. Worrying about the rest of my life does lose importance. As the day goes on and I find myself focused on some task, issue, and fretting, I try to recall the zone, just as a reminder that as the zone passed, so will this issue of which I am making such a big deal. People may be a big deal. Our career may be a big deal. But worrying about them, getting all bent out of shape about them is rubbish. A difference is that my fretting will probably change nothing. The zone will change me radically. But I have to show up to the practice each day.
Thursday, June 13, 2013
The monk leaves the "world" to become himself, or discover who he is according to God's plan. If the aspirant fits into the monastery life then it means he has a vocation to be a monk. If he has to make a very great effort to fit into the monastic life, than he does not belong. Trying to be someone you are not is simply bad form. Is it not that way in the world that the monk left? We who live in the world, do we have to try hard to fit in? Do we become someone we are not in order to have a place? If so, then we re playing a role. The world becomes a stage and we are acting in the play. The play might mirror real life. But it is not who God made us to be. We are not meant to act out, but to become our true self.
Wednesday, June 12, 2013
The hardest thing about courtship for guys is being able to listen to their fiance or prospective fiance. Guys seem to need a very strong motive to listen. Sex is such a motive. Many guys think that after marriage they can have the sex without listening. Oops! Wrong, guys! In marriage, you learn to listen or learn to fake it. Both are difficult. I knew that I was no good at either. Celibacy, as a choice, is much better than as a punishment for not listening.
Tuesday, June 11, 2013
I put a homily on my blog. Only 12 people read it. Then I got to thinking. The monk is supposed to forget the world. But while the monk is trying to forget the world, the world is forgetting the monk. The world is doing the better job of forgetting. I am becoming anonymous! This is a good thing so I am told, but it does not feel so good.
I don't know why the norm for marriage is a man and a woman. Women need to talk and men are lousy listeners. Some men can listen, but they are trained and paid to do so. Most of us guys are just no good at it. But if a woman catches us not listening, and says, "You are not listening," then you know you are going to be punished one way or another. It seems wrong to be punished for what is in your DNA. Shouldn't the norm for marriage be a listener and a talker? But then all these people who talk about the norm for marriage, it is all about sex, having babies. Guys are good for that. But they don't have the listening gene. I think that the Irish women know this, but many choose to marry Irish anyway. Maybe the Irish prefer to do their purgatory here on earth.
Monday, June 10, 2013
There is something in my faith tradition called, "The Immaculate Heart of Mary." Sounds weird to a lot of people, including many in my own tradition. To me, it is a way of saying that Mary is very loving, but doesn't talk a whole lot. Her love ponders. She loves faithfully, unconditionally, patiently, rather than talks on and on about love. I have always felt comfortable around statues and pictures of Mary. She always seem to look young, yet motherly to me. It is the child in me. It is good to be a child of God. You may think all this weird. Well, I guess that I am weird. To be a believer in anything is becoming more and more weird in the post modern world.
Sunday, June 9, 2013
LUKE 9: 11B-17 JUNE 2, 2013
When we celebrate this feast, the first thing most
Catholics think of is the food, bread and wine, or host and
cup. How come we don’t think of ourselves as the body
and blood of Christ? Did we forget that with baptism we
are brothers and sisters of Jesus? We are Church, the
body of Christ. We forget this for many reasons. One
reason is right here in the Gospel. The twelve want to
dismiss the crowd. The people are a “nuisance.” People
are work. The Twelve want to go get something to eat for
themselves. Another reason is that the rich did not care to
eat with the poor. Paul speaks about this in his first letter
to the Corinthians. In a class system, one group looks
down upon another. No way to see Christ in the poor.
Then there was plague. People tried to stay away from
one another. People were a threat, not Christ. Then there
was the pew tax. The rich paid it and sat in the special
section for themselves. The poor had their own place to
sit at the mass. Finally, a theology grew up that said we
were basically unworthy to receive communion. Many
reasons there are to forget we are each the body and
blood of Christ. This allows Christians to kill Christians in
many a war right into recent times. You could go to
communion, then go off and kill someone in “war.” We
even killed people over disagreements as to the what and
how of the Eucharist.
Well, what about the what and the how of the host
and cup? One of the symbols of the Last Supper is Jesus
speaking first about his body and then about his blood, as
in a separation. It symbolizes that he will suffer, give up
something, in this case, his life, when his blood is literally
separated from his body in torture and crucifixion. He
calls it a covenant. All covenants, that is, who belongs to
whom, require sacrifice, the giving up of something. When
God made covenant with Abraham, animals were split in
two and God went between them as fire. The death of
animals signified that something in us must die if we are to
have a covenant, a belonging to God. Give up what? Try
self-will run riot. Selfishness. Trying to get all you can,
regardless of the needs of another. The focus on self
needs to die, and this is a great suffering for many of us.
When we come to communion are we ready to have
our body and blood separated, that is, let go of
selfishness, the ignoring of one another? Another thing
Jesus says is that this covenant is for the forgiveness of
sins. Will we forgive one another when we have been
offended? This is a lot of dying to self. Married people
know that their covenant requires sacrifice. Monks know
this, or else a monastery would come undone.
Then there is the question of “what is the host?” Go
to Genesis. God speaks the Word. The Word creates.
God says, “Let there be light” and light comes into
existence. It is creation, something from nothing. When I
say, “Let there be light” I turn on a switch or press a
button. I create nothing. I can describe the sunrise as
light, but I do not make it happen. Now, we say that Jesus
is the Word, The Son of God in the Trinity. When Father
and Son communicate, creation happens. In the Gospel
Jesus looks up to heaven. This is the communing of God.
Jesus speaks a blessing. The Word speaks over the fish
and loaves. “More” comes into existence. There is now
going to be enough for everyone. It is a creative moment.
Notice that the people cooperate. They take enough to
satisfy, but not too much. No hoarding. Pass some on to
the next person. This is the Kingdom in action. Grace is
Now at the Last Supper, The Word speaks over the
food. It becomes Jesus. If Jesus is God, The Word,
things happen when the Word speaks. If The Word says it
is Jesus’ Body and Blood, then it is so. Consecration is a
Notice that after the consecration we say the Our
Father prayer, which says, “Forgive us as we forgive
others.” Then we share the sign of peace, which says we
ought to recognize the Christ that is in us and in the ones
around us. Then we receive Christ, which sparks all the
fruits and gifts of the Spirit we received in Baptism and
Confirmation. Becoming selfless, or at least less selfish, is
our hope now. The mass ends with “Go forth.” Become
the Kingdom. The Twelve said that they were in a
deserted place. With Christ, as Eucharist, with you, no
place is every deserted.
The heart is meant to be on fire for Love. A lot of times, due to self-centeredness, the heart is cold or slightly smoldering. But all it takes is a spark to get the flames going again. Meditation can do this. If you sit for several minutes and feel bored, restless, discontented, stay sitting. All it takes is one instant, the spark, the connection with that Power of Love, and your heart will begin to warm, maybe for the whole day. A warm heart is less likely to be restless, irritable and discontented that day. Everyone else around you will be better off.
Saturday, June 8, 2013
Today I awoke earlier than usual. There was something in my eye and I could not get back to sleep. Then I remembered that it is a new moon and the stars would be magnificant if I went outside now. So I got up, wide awake, and went out to see the Power of the Universe at work. It is magnificent. A bonus was a full two second shooting star. So silent and still, this night, and this Power. But both are real to me. Then I realized that this is an anniversary for me, 28 years. What a great way to begin the celebration. There was nothing in my eye. It was just a way for the God of my life to get me out of bed and see the universe at work. I went for a cup of coffee. I saw a cross. In my faith, this great Power gave up power. A powerless power. I know what that means. I remember exactly where I was 28 years ago to this day, and who I was with, what we were doing. I forget a lot of things, but I have never forgotten that moment in a Viena bar. There were three of us. Whenever I think my life is a mess, going in circles, I can recall that one of the three of us is now dead. It isn't me. Life is a gift. I am living it on a star-filled night.
Friday, June 7, 2013
Some people prefer to feel comfortable in their religion or spirituality. They find a level, usually early on in the process of their faith, where they feel comfortable. They know rules, doctrine, community and worship that make them feel at some peace. If you tell them there is more, they are not interested. Growth is not their goal. Comfort is. Growth has rough patches, times of darkness and uncertainty, that try their faith. That is why few people are interested in adult education of a spiritual nature. When the Pope said atheists could be saved, it shook up a lot of the comfort people. Comfort means belonging to the right group, the correct group, all others being wrong and bogus. Behind the desire for comfort is FEAR.
Thursday, June 6, 2013
Marriage is the only one of the Catholic's seven sacraments that are made by the couple, and not the ordained priest. Christ actually makes sacraments, and seems to use ordained men most of the time to make it happen, but not so marriage. The couple speaks the word of God, not the priest. Or, The Word, Christ, speaks through the couple. Read yesterdays blog first. Now, when Word speaks, stuff comes into existence. Creation. Something from nothing. The couple are reciting vows, words, or Word through words. Christ is acting through them, in them, for us, the witnesses. The couple are creating something. They stand in the place of God. Marriage is an act of creation, because the Word speaks through the couple. God creates. Living together is not the same as marriage. Creation cannot be undone. Living together can. Of course, if one is over the line in immaturity or craziness, I am not sure they are creating anything by words, except maybe chaos down the road. What do I know. I am celibate. But it is a wow for me to think of marriage as an act of creation. Standing in for God is pretty good stuff, no?
Wednesday, June 5, 2013
There is a bible story of how there were thousands of people come to listen to Jesus. Well, it got way past lunch time, into evening and there was just a few loaves of bread and some fish. What to do? Jesus took what was there, and said a blessing. Then he gave this little food to the disciples to hand out, and everyone had enough to eat. How did this happen? The key is the blessing. Jesus spoke a word and food became present. Say what? In Genesis, God speaks. It is called the Word. The Word is the expression of God. In Christian circles it is the Second Person of the Trinity, but let that be for now. When the Word is spoken, something comes into being. God says, "Let there be light." Light happens. Before that, there was darkness. When I say "let there be light" I go turn on a switch or push a button. I don't make light. I don't create it. When I see the morning light, I say it is light. I am describing light, not creating it. Back to Jesus. He is the Word, or so Christians believe from John's Gospel. When Jesus speaks, as in a blessing of food, he makes food happen. The feeding of the many people points to who Jesus is. Only the Word, God, can make something from nothing. It is called creation.
Tuesday, June 4, 2013
I read an insight into the Eucharist. Jesus gave his body in the bread and his blood in the wine at the Last Supper. So? Well, on the cross his blood was separated from his body in his suffering and dying. The insight? This crazy world will not become a better place unless good people are willing to suffer, to give up something for others. Sponsors know this in recovery programs. Monks know it in making a monastery function. Married people know it. I need the Eucharist, not to get God into me. God is always in me. I need the Eucharist so that I can get the grace of God Power to be able to give up of my selfish self for the sake of making this a better world. Or at least not make it worse. Somedays, the latter is the best I seem to be able to do.
Monday, June 3, 2013
People in recovery often call themselves miracles. So it is. From nothing, has come something. They are a new creation. When the world came into existence, Big Bang or Genesis, or however, it was a new creation. Something came from nothing. That same creator Power is at work in the addict who recovers. The addict cannot stop bad behavior on their own will power. They cannot become a new person left to themselves. They reach a Bottom. They get to "nothing." Then the miracle. Out of this seeming nothing existence, comes something new. Where did this new person come from? Now that is a miracle. The first creation took seven days. This new one took twelve steps. God is still creating. The new person still does the twelve steps. Once a miracle begins, it is ongoing. So it seems to me.
Sunday, June 2, 2013
The Pope says that you cannot have Christ without the Church. I think I know what he means theologically and sacramentally. But the real world is full of people who have Christ, but have given up on the Church as an institution of power. Without the sacraments, something of grace is very mcuh missing, I grant you. But how many of the ordained have used sacraments as a reward/punishment for following/not following rules of the institution? How many political and culture war sermons, petty priest opinions and prejudices, have driven people away from the sacraments? Christ does not abandon anyone. He will find a Way even for those Catholics who absent themselves from church buildings. Christ is the Way. There may be more paths to follow that Way than the hierarchy is willing to admit.
Saturday, June 1, 2013
I ran a race earlier this week. I thought I felt pretty good recovering later that day. No injuries. Today, I awoke a mess. All kinds of aches and tightness, here and there. I could make believe it is not there, or ignore it and just go out and beat my body up in exercise. This would be to ignore the signals my body is giving me. Rest. Less is more now. The soul is the same way. It gives me signals. I can ignore the signals. Life will only get worse, not better. Maybe my soul aches for attention, but since I won't listen to it, the soul tells the body to warn me. Pray more, run less? It is a thought. We are all of one piece. All parts need attention on a daily basis.