Monday, June 30, 2014
Jesus says not to judge anyone. We usually jump to the idea of not judging someone else. But Jesus said not to judge anyone. This includes judging our own selves. "I am not good enough," or "I am no good," or "I am worthless," or "I am no good at that," that being something we never tried before. Judgment limits possibilities. If you think you are not good enough, or no good, or worthless, then maybe others will get on that bandwagon and agree with you! So, judge not, lest you not be judged. I try to think positive and then take small steps. Friends help us not to become delusional.
Sunday, June 29, 2014
I have been reading about Mercy lately. God wants to show us mercy. I like that. It beats damnation. But I have to sin first in order to get the mercy, or even experience mercy. It goes like this: first I sin, then I sin some more. Then I realize I cannot stop on my own. Got a bad habit at this point. Brings me to humility. I need God. Now I can experience the mercy, the forgiveness unearned. Note the first thing I have to do: sin. Now I realize why God made me so imperfect, bordering on mess. God wanst to show me mercy. This kind of God I can love. The God who is going to burn me in justice for my mess, not so much love. Fear, yes. Love, no. The problem is not our sins. The problem is that we cannot get to the humble part. We keep thinking, "I will do better next time." God gave me desperation, not power.
Saturday, June 28, 2014
A vehicle was found for me so that I can drive out onto the ranch and work some. The vehicle would not start. God has a plan? A monk helped me to jump start it from another car that had power in the battery. Off I went driving around the ranch to get the battery recharged. Sometimes, I need to be recharged. Got no umph. I could sit in despair. Whine. Complain. None of this would get me recharged. I know. I have tried them…frequently. What I need is to get with someone who has power. God has power. A friend may have power. Someone traveling the spiritual path with me might have the power that particular day. Call on God or some other person. Who knows. Sometimes I might be the one with the power to recharge someone else. Just now, no. Time for a nap!
Friday, June 27, 2014
In my church the Sunday worship service is supposed to emphasize that all the worshippers are the one Body and Blood of Christ. This focus on unity is then to lead us forth to acts of social justice, seeing our Christian unity as part of a larger unity of all God's creation. Alieve suffering. Don't be its cause. This idea, this vision, is beginning to leak into private devotional worship. Many people focus on receiving Jesus, the Body and Blood, then go home and pretty much ignore the call of being Church in the Modern World. Church and world do not mix for them. There is a movement on the part of many to go back to Eucharistic devotion, not a bad thing in itself. Fro many though, it is a return to the comfort of private religion. Receive Jesus and feel good. Gaze at Jesus in the host and feel good. The suffering world out there, our need to see how we cause it or can comfort/alieve it, is not in view in private devotion.
Thursday, June 26, 2014
Did you ever feel a bit erased? I find it is not so bad an experience. I think it is a way for God to open another door. At the monastery we hang up our ranch work clothes on hooks in a corridor. We put our ranch gloves, and such in a bin. If you take this stuff to your little cell, the smell with be unpleasant. I had two hooks for clothes when I left last year. My name is gone and someone else's name is there. My bin is taken by another. There are no more open bins or clothes hooks. Erased! I am not bothered. No harm was meant. Stuff happens. We have new, young, strong workers. I just went to the chiropractor and found out I had two ribs out of place among other things. This has been so for some two months. I am adjusted physically. I am adjusting on other counts too. God is opening up some other door. I will wait. No hurry.
Wednesday, June 25, 2014
I finally arrived at the monastery today. My four wheel ranch vehicle was parked outside all ready for me to go off into the fields. Well, not so fast. It seems that "my" four wheeler has been given to someone else, younger, stronger, more capable of doing the work needed on the ranch. Some years ago this might have upset me. No more. I just smiled and thanked God for whatever message God is trying to tell me. All will be well. It is ironic that I leave several places and situations where I am needed, to come to the one place where I am not. I am sure that something new will come out of all this. It has been a good run though.
Tuesday, June 24, 2014
The next time someone challenges you to follow the Pope, just remind them to look at how focused the recent US Bishops Conference is on the papal agenda. The Pope is not much for focusing on contentious issues. The Bishops continue to push on sex and gay marriage issues. The Pope for Mercy and compassion. Go figure.
Monday, June 23, 2014
I just spent a week in Nebraska farm country giving a retreat. Best radiches I ever ate. Best vegetables all around. The food was growing right in the ground next door to where I was speaking. I had never eaten fresh farm produce in June in Nebraska. I had wondered why anyone would want to live there. Well said by a native New Yorker. Turns out I know nothing and judge narrowly. The rolling green farm hills with sunrises and sunsets, dirt packed roads for running miles and miles, are all quite wonderful. I wonder what else I judge from no knowledge or experience? What about you?
Sunday, June 22, 2014
Jesus talks about giving someone something when they ask for it, such as a cloak or a shirt. Behind this is his challenge to not be judgmental. He does not say, "Give to the deserving poor." He says to give to the poor. Don't judge how deserving they might be. But there is more. No one asks a poor person to give up their cloak. It may be the only cloak the poor person has. No, poor people ask of those who might have more than they need. The reason I sometimes feel guilty or uneasy about not helping someone is that I could, but did not. A poor person never feels guilty about not giving to someone. The poor may be barely surviving. The only one who could give all when he had everything to lose by doing so, is the Crucified One. I am the richer for it.
Saturday, June 21, 2014
When I was young I remember hearing that God needs no other. The Trinity is happy with itself. I felt so unimportant, unnecessary to God. Now I see it differently. I am not an "other." None of us are. We are one with God. God is in us and we are in God. John's Gospel says so. Whenever you think that you are a useless/worthless "other," get a second opinion. This is why we call the Gospel the "Good News." No one is worthless or useless. We sometimes feel such, but feelings are not always reality.
Friday, June 20, 2014
Famous movie stars, singing performers, and professional athletes get a lot more hits on their blogs than I do. They must have more and better things to say than do I. I live in relative anonymity. So I was surprised one day when someone took me aside and told me how important I was to the community in which I live, and what a difference I make, even though I am not around all the time. I am still more stunned than at peace with such a statement of my importance. I remember the times that I am so much drivel when I preach, and probably when I blog. Thus the few blog hits and small numbers that would come to hear me. I do much better in drawing a crowd when I am someplace new. Seems once people get familiar with me, I am so much ho hum. The mass attendance wherever I live is the same whether I am there or not. It certainly keeps for humility, but I still tend to wonder why Justin Bieber has so many more blog hits than me?
Thursday, June 19, 2014
When I race against a course or for time, I don't do very well. I need people to race against. It is my competitive nature. I like to beat people, not time or distance. I am much better off when racing on a team because every runner I pass is a point in favor of my team. I have a commitment to a group of people, my teammates. I am running against people, the other racers, and for people, my teammates. It is the same with my work and my spiritual life I am better when I see myself as part of some larger group, such as the church, or the Paulist Fathers. I cannot be just for me. My prayer life is training for something more than jsut me and my soul. When I am selfish or isolated I do more poorly than when I am for someone larger than or more than me. I miss cross country team racing. This running to say, " I ran a half marathon," or running for a medal for me, is so…so.
Wednesday, June 18, 2014
When people escape their native country due to violence, suffering and such, they are referred to as refugees. That is, they are in another country temporarily. The intention is to go back when things change. They have no interest in becoming inculturated into their temporary setting. When the Irish came to American to escape misery, they were not called refugees. They were called immigrants. They never intended to go back to Ireland. They came to America to become United States citizens and fit into their new country. Mexicans are not immigrants. They are refugees. They do not come here to stay. They intend to go back to Mexico. Ask the clergy that work with Mexicans. They will tell you. Our government and the church needs policies to help these people as refugees. Some priests think that the whole idea of Spanish masses should be temporary. Mexican refugees want it to be ongoing to keep them in touch with the culture to which they intend to return. The children of the refugee, who is born here or grows up here and has never known Mexico, is fine with inculturation. They have no interest to go to "foreign" Mexico. Things change fast. No one policy seems to fit all.
Tuesday, June 17, 2014
Someone said that church should be seen as a home and not someplace to be exploited or used, e.g. destination weddings. OK, lets look at this. Say your child leaves home or your friend leaves the group without saying goodbye and maybe with a lot of rancor. Some time later, years, they come back, not so much to live there but to be part of the family or group again. Do you welcome them or punish them? I think it depends on the bond that is there as well as your own hurt feelings needed to be exercised, or your pension to be judgmental. If love and acceptance is the bond, plus a bit of forgiveness, you welcome them. Then why do priests get upset with Catholics who left and then come back for a sacrament some years later? Why do priest get upset with the Christmas/Easter Catholic? Love, acceptance forgiveness on one side. Law, rules and judgment on the other
Monday, June 16, 2014
I was sitting on my front porch when the noisy garbage truck pulled up to empty the cans sitting by the sidewalk curb. Prayer is a lot like have the garbage picked up. First you have to get to a space or place where you sit quietly, waiting, just like the garbage can is carried to the curb. You wait in silence and stillness. God comes along and empties the mess out from within you to replace it with Spirit Presence. We are all like garbage cans. We get filled up with mess from daily life and our own character defects. We need God's grace just to get carried to that place or space where we are open for emptying. Quiet prayer is a way to allow God to lift this stuff from us. Whenever you think too much of yourself, filled with false pride and judgment of other lesser creatures, remember…you are just a garbage can that needs some emptying. I pray each day that the God Truck will come along. I make a lot of garbage within.
Sunday, June 15, 2014
The Pope analyses the economy or economic issues from the perspective of the poor. He has a lot of personal experience with the poor. The entrepreneur, the owner, the rich, the well off, analyze the economy from their own perspective and come up with different conclusions than does the Pope. Your conclusions about capitalism depends on where you start, your perspective. The haves see the poor from no personal experience. They do not hang out with the poor. The haves speculate which is dangerous when trying to come to a conclusion about a segment of the society of which you have little experience. I would not say that the haves don't care or that they are selfish and heartless. That is a judgment I would not make. Neither the Pope nor the haves see taxes as a solution. That takes from the rich to give to the poor which is charity by legislation. I believe that the Pope might have a more profound solution based upon more spiritual principles. I await it. Otherwise, he will be filed by many under the title of socialist or communist. Capitalism knows taxes. Justice is more difficult to get at. But the Bible seems to have a lot to say about it.
Saturday, June 14, 2014
When someone gives me an opinion of something, I tend to ask them what is their experience. It is amazing how many people have opinions based upon very little experience. An opinion might be, "All such and such are…" But their experience of such and such might be one single person, situation or none at all, but only what they heard someone else saying. An opinion based upon little or no experience is one I take very lightly. Would you want a spiritual guide who has many opinions but no experience beyond what they have read or heard? The newly ordained will fill this bill. I know. I was one of them at one time. Why do two people who have never lived through an event, have opposite opinions about the event? Two people read the same book on economics. One says it is trash and the other says it is great! I listen to opinion. It may have much wisdom. But I tend to follow experience…if i want to improve my life. I find no shortage or opinion, but a good spiritual soul friend is more rare.
Friday, June 13, 2014
People join a mega church because of something unique to that church. It might be the preacher, music, certain programs and activities that they find there. When the number of family memberships drop and the church has to sell its property, move, disband, it is usually because something unique to that community changed. The pastor leaves. Programs are dropped or changed. The choir changes. The Catholic experience tries to be different than this. One joins a Universal Catholic church and attends a particular parish. When there is a change in the parish, they may go to a different Catholic parish, but all within the Catholic umbrella. This is the hope or design of "joining" in a Catholic tradition. If the only reason someone is joining a church is because it has a Mega Pope, they won't last long. Popes die. Heavy handed chancery clerics, officials who are short on mercy but long on law, don't seem to die much at all. One needs to find something eternal about the Catholic church, something that touches the inner spirit, to hold the believing member. All churches are otherwise all too human.
Thursday, June 12, 2014
Marguerite was burned at the stake for heresy. I think the real issue was control of women by ecclesiastical men. First, Marguerite was among a group of women who called themselves Beguines. They were laywomen, single, who opted out of taking vows or living in an appproved ecclesiastical structure. They wanted to live quiet lives of devotion under their own rules. The church preferred such women to be cloistered in monasteries. Second, she wrote a book A Mirror For Simple Souls. I read it and it is good. But she was judged to be propagating a spirituality that dispensed with the Church in favor of direct communion with God. The Inquisitors did not like that at all. Marguerite was focusing on contemplative prayer which is direct communion with God. She was not downgrading sacraments. She was highlighting something that has been part of the Church prayer life since Jesus. Marguerite had no religious order behind her, to defend her. She was a women alone opposed by men who wanted her in a box they could control. She died in 1310, which was about 200 years before the Reformation.
Wednesday, June 11, 2014
The Cardinal simply does not get it. He gives his practical reasons for his palazzo apartment. The point is, what does it symbolize, not so much its size and purpose. It signifies an opulence, a privilege, that many a Hierarch felt was their right as Princes of the Church. It is not so much what does Bertone think of the apartment. The question is, what does the laity, the people in the pew think of it. Symbol is central. Two people just get thrown out of the church for celebrating mass without a priest and then publicizing it. They might not have thought much of what they did, but the church responded based upon the symbol of it all. Only the ordained can say mass. This is a sacred cow to the guardians of orthodoxy. Life style is a sacred cow to Pope Francis. Bertone is missing this point.
Tuesday, June 10, 2014
Well, the New York City Cardinal has himself a dilemma. Seems he has gone into an expensive overhaul of St. Patrick's Cathedral, my favorite church. It is being paid for by rich people, not poor people. The original was built by the poor working Irish. Not so now. But, the pope is not crazy about how a lot of these rich people became rich. This makes the rich unhappy. They love popes who focus on sex and heresy. They don't care for one who focuses on economics, environment, and immigration. So the Cardinal tries to soften up what the Pope said about capitalism and its so called trickle down effect. My point is not that the pope is right or wrong. My point is, why did the Cardinal not soften up the statements of the previous two popes? A lot of stuff comes down to $$$. Just sayin'
Monday, June 9, 2014
Many Catholics have a bit of Quaker in them. Quakers reject external religious Authority in favor of some inner Light dwelling in each soul. Many Catholics don't want any hierarch to tell them what to do. Such Catholics want to trust their own conscience. It is a bit of the Quaker. I respect it, in Quakers and Catholics. I have some of this Quaker in me. My problem is that I tend to be selfish. I want what I want when I want it. That is the more obvious selfishness most of us know. Only a person with no moral compass sees this as a good way of life. But there are more hidden and subtle forms of selfishness. I may think a path or decision is a good one, but I don't rub it up against the teachings of Jesus. Or, I don't resist a cross as long as it is of my own choosing. And so on. Let us respect those Quakers. There is more of us in them then we might at first think.
Sunday, June 8, 2014
It seems that some Protestant faith churches in Arizona are in favor of equality for all in marriage. They say that the bible texts need to be seen in context and proper translation. So they use the Bible to support their position which is that gay people should have the right to get married. The Catholic Church looks at the same text and says no, gay people have no right to marriage. I suspect that with the bible, people have already made up their mind and then use the text to support it. The Catholic hierarchy thinks that gay sex is wrong. This is where the stand against gay marriage begins. The Arizona Protestant coalition of churches thinks gay sex is OK. I believe that the issue of "marriage" is not the real issue. The real issue is that some people think gay persons to be not so equal to everyone else. This is why gay people are fighting for the word "Marriage" in their legal unions. They want equality. It is the elephant in the room.
Saturday, June 7, 2014
I notice that some TV product ads, have lightly dressed, slim, young women in the ad. The product advertized is saying, "have this product and you get this look or this type of girl for your satisfaction." It is called "objectifying women." Take beer for instance. I doubt tht young women can believe that beer drinking will make them or keep them slim. But guys are being sold on the idea that if they drink this beer they will "get" this type of girl. It is all about satifying the fantasy life of "getting." It has nothing to do with love, giving, or the body as a way to grow in holiness. It is all pretty self-centered. The media and our culture try to put alcohol and sex together. One goes with the other. See Frat parties. What is even sadder is that too many young women and girls buy into this in some way. "Get thee to a nunnery!" Well, it was an attempt at a solution. Did any of these ladies go to expensive Catholic schools? Say it isn't so.
Friday, June 6, 2014
As far as I know Joan was the only person condemned by an ecclesiastical court and then executed for witchcraft and heresy, who then went on to be exonerated by yet another ecclesiastical court, 25 years later, and then canonized a saint. She had to wait until 1920 to get canonized. It takes a while for the church to get over embarrassing behavior, theirs not hers. So, the next time you read about someone being silenced or censored for their theological thinking, just wait awhile. Things change. Today's heretic could be tomorrow's ground breaking theologian.
Thursday, June 5, 2014
I come downstairs early in the morning for a cup of freshly brewed coffee. The machine is on a timer so that the coffee is ready when I get there. I go to the coffee counter and see that coffee has leaked/spilled onto the counter. Instantly, I know what happened. The day before, fresh coffee was put into the machine, and the timer was set. BUT, there was still old, stale coffee in the pot. Someone, who will of course go to purgatory, forgot to empty the pot. I poured a cup. It was stale and warm. I am lazy and tired. I drank the yucky coffee. The spiritual life is like the coffee pot. We have stale, old ways of living, acting and thinking. God seeks to pour fresh Spirit into us. God does not wait for us to be all cleaned out from the old. God does not demand that we be perfect to receive the Spirit. So we are a mixture. Our part of the spiritual life is to try and get rid of the old stuff on a daily basis. The emptier we get, the more room for the Spirit and the better we are to flavor our world that day with goodness, kindness, love, and be happy, and joyous, free of the stale parts for that day. We don't control the Spirit. That is God's doing. Our job is to make room. Does God have to go to purgatory for pouring new Spirit into old behavior me? If so, maybe my big sister, Maureen, hitched a ride up to heaven.
Wednesday, June 4, 2014
I read where selfish people can be caring and loving, except with them it does not involve anyone else. I think this is the difference between selfish and selfless. We need to care for ourselves, yes, but balance this with caring for someone besides ourself. We could be proactive about the environment, compassionate for the stranger and the anonymous sufferer in our path, and be loving toward those in our lives, or who are thrust upon us. We need a balance. Care for ourselves and care for others. My sister Maureen and I were a perfect balance. She cared for me and I cared for me. She was selfless and I was selfish. No wonder I have fond memories of growing up in the Bronx. Now I have to be more like her. I think I will go boss someone around! I am selfless challenged.
Tuesday, June 3, 2014
I knew that we would do little about the Crimean mess. Why? Well, the new "nation" is global business. This is what connects us. National boundaries do not connect diverse groups of people. These boundaries are a way to govern, tax and organize defuse groups of people who do not share much in common with one another. Do the people who live in what is called "Nigeria" believe themselves to be nigerians? No! The rich don't want war over Crimea, or penalties because it will cost them in their business deals with Russia. The poor don't want war because they will be the ones who fight it. The "Church" is suffering from the same illusion problem that nations suffer. There is no one latin rite church. Rome said there was, but saying it does not make it so. The Orthodox think in terms of nation, but it is really about one particular ethnic group in a geographic area with boundaries that is called "nation." To have one kind of way of doing things, such as liturgy, for so many diverse groups does not make the groups less diverse. It is easier to leave a church if you never felt the connection.
Monday, June 2, 2014
Now and again I leave a social event because of what I call a "trigger." This is memory being awakened to a past way of action that I wish not to repeat. It has nothing to do with what is going on a the present event or people. A trigger reminds me of a past. A long time ago, Friday evening after work was time to begin the party with associates. For me, the party might not end until wee hours of the morning in some other place. I never run into these situations anymore since I am not in corporate life. But recently, I was in a meeting. late after noon on a Friday. I saw some food around and a bunch of alcohol on ice. Innocent enough for everyone else. Not so for me. I felt a dis-ease, a desire to get away. Why this feeling? It took a while for me to recognize the trigger. As we began to socialize, post meeting, I found myself talking to someone about how drinking has changed in society over the years from more to less. Why was I talking about drinking? The light came on for me. I left the party. I went out with a friend for a nice supper and felt very good. I have found over time that virtue is the absence of vice. Ignore our triggers to our peril. I have found it so.
Sunday, June 1, 2014
When Jesus speaks of the World in John's Gospel, he does not mean the planet earth or the secular world. God is throughout creation. The secular is filled with Godness. So what does "world" mean? It means the passions, that is, the attitudes, feelings, values that tend to turn us away from God and one another. It is referred to as the seven deadly sins. Try gluttony, laziness, love of riches, focus on possessions, honors prestige, that brings with it jealousy and envy. Finish up with anger. This is the stuff that gets in the way of following any spiritual teaching. The early church knew this. The later, more imperial church saw the secular world as a threat because the church of the modern world was not going to be the center of the modern world. The secular world does not hate a spiritual person or path. It rejects hypocrisy, and institutions focused on self-preservation.