Friday, October 31, 2014
We all have gifts or talents. The seed of them is freely given to each one of us. That is part of the reason they are called gifts. We develop them, and work on them, but we do not create them. No DNA is the same and so too, a gift is unique. The way to make a gift be all that it can be, is not just to work at it, but to use it for the benefit of others. Then it becomes a gift for those with whom you share it. A musician works on the music craft, and then performs for others. Some people can learn to play the piano, but that does not make them a gifted pianist. You know the difference when you hear it. So why try and become who you are not? Find your gift. Instinct helps. Courage to try different things helps. Friends may reflect our gifts to us. Prayer can do it too, so I believe. My friend Farquar has sobriety now and he tries to help others who are struggling with the drink. I have a gift of being nice to witches. Oh! Today is Halloween. Now where is that sister of mine, Maureen? I love you Maureen! I didn't even cross my fingers. What is your gift? Can you share it today?
Thursday, October 30, 2014
I once asked a priest about some issue. He said, "This is the rule. Keep the rule." "What if I cannot always do that rule?" I asked. "You burn," he answered. Some time later, I met another priest and asked him about the same issue. "This is the rule. Do the best you can." It was at the same rule. "Say what?" I asked. "What if I cannot live up to the rule, do I burn." "No," he said. "Jesus loves you if you just do the best you can. He came for the imperfect." I liked that. I am the imperfect. That is, I am human. Same rule but two different attitudes. It is called, "The Tone." Jesus did not come to change rules. He changed the tone. I don't mind being judged by a God of Love. Unless Maureen gets God's ear. Of course she would have to be in heaven. Then she is supposed to be loving, right? One can only hope.
Wednesday, October 29, 2014
My friend Farquar told me that drink allowed him to be like other people, that is, normal. He thought everyone else normal and he was weird. He had feelings that made him feel uncomfortable. He thought no one else had his feelings. Farquar sometimes felt lonely, uncomfortable in his own skin, unloveable and confused. Drink was his solution to these feelings. The uncomfortable feelings went away. By the time Farquar came to me he had passed normal and become a drunk. I told him that his feelings were normal. It is part of the human condition to have all kinds of feelings. The solution was to feel first. Farquar was surprised that normal was so difficult. But he was relieved to know that he was not crazy. He gave up drink as the solution. The escape from normal is worse than normal. At least Farquar has learned it to be so.
Tuesday, October 28, 2014
Catechisms have always given us "an" answer. We thought that such an answer was universal, in every and all circumstances. Now we find out in our global church that this is not so. What is an answer in Western European/ USA culture is not so in a tribal society in Kenya, that has many Catholics. Since our newspapers are too lazy, broke, or uninterested to research all this, we in the West don't know about differences in Catholic Culture. The tribal culture has the Gospel, but they did not buy into our culture or ways of doing things, such as in the marriage process. Lots to learn. The African bishops are bemused by our Western culture wars. They are our wars, not theirs.
Monday, October 27, 2014
Some Catholics are upset with the recent working document out of the bishops' synod on Family issues. I suspect that some of this confusion comes from always being given simple answers based upon Western European culture. But now the bishops are listening to one another and this includes bishops from so called Third World countries that have very different ways of doing things. In the USA parents tell their children not to live together before they get married and to get an approved church wedding. Now they hear that is not how it works in other parts of the world. Simple answers don't work in a universal church. In some other cultures people might be in a union that is not blessed by a church or any other legal group for cultural, economic or social reasons, none of which have to do with our idea of "immoral living together." "What am I going to tell my child!" laments a western parent. Well, tell them to study culture, history, sociology, outside of their own narrow world. None of this takes place in the so called STEM school system that is all about getting a job someday, which is not a bad goal, or a bad education. It simply is no longer enough if you want to function in the Global Catholic church.
Sunday, October 26, 2014
I let my hair grow because I am tired of being cold in unheated rooms/monastery/office/church. Someone said that now I look like Pierce Brosnan. Lots of people have seen me with my longer hair, but this one person, an oasis of kindness gave me a compliment. I think that the actor is handsome, so if I look like him then maybe I am handsome too? I get compliments about preaching, being funny, nice and sometimes insightful in teaching. But nothing beats handsome. OK. I am vain, or delusional. But if I like such a compliment, maybe I can make someone else's day who I feel is quite lovely, handsome, beautiful but never say anything of the sort. If there is something attractive about a person, tell them. I am tired of being a good, but ugly preacher! Bring on the handsome.
Saturday, October 25, 2014
My friend Charlotte passed away recently. She was 90. She had a good run. Along with her husband, George, who died a few years ago, Charlotte was a seeker of God. She was curious to learn more and pray more deeply. Age did not diminish this attitude. She was very encouraging to me in my own reading and teaching of mystics. I loved her acceptance even when I was shallow and pompous. I did not know that I was shallow and pompous. I thought I was brilliant, until some time later when God would shine the Light into my soul and reveal how little I knew and how shallow I was. If my friend Charlotte had told me I was an idiot, when I was an idiot, my deflated ego would have stopped the seeking for God. We need friends who will encourage us through the rough patches when we do not know how little we know. Charlotte was very wise. People of spiritual depth are like that. They know when silence is best. If I am lucky, I will be like my friend Charlotte some day.
Friday, October 24, 2014
My Church is beginning to say something positive about the world in which we live often termed "secular" by those who are always for a dualistic world. It seems that cohabitation and unions have some positive aspects. We say that the Gospel is Good News. Now for the many who were previously looked down upon, the message of Jesus might make a break through. "All are welcome" is starting to have more "All" and less "Few."
Thursday, October 23, 2014
I was in a mountain community recently for Sunday mass. Deacon Chris was assisting me. He arrived early to set up some, and then sat in the front pew, quietly, meditating with his eyes closed. I continued to walk about in my own preparation. When I glanced over again in his direction, he had his arms around his two young granddaughters, who were sitting just as quietly as he was, in meditation. They did not fidget or look around bored. They love grandpa. Grandpa loves them. Grandpa meditates. Lets meditate with grandpa. This is another example of "how to" pass on the faith/Catholic culture that is part of us. It is one thing to say Jesus loves you, or God loves you. Children need hands on love, and if you can give it in the church building it will have an influence. It is passing on the faith. In this instance, it is passing on the faith "from the heart" and not with a book. Turns out the two girls were also the altar servers.
Wednesday, October 22, 2014
One way to look at the differences that conservative hierarachs and the Pope have is the analogy of shoes and socks. Francis says that people must first know they are loved. Show mercy and forgiveness. Show acceptance and inclusion. Everyone wants to feel loved. This is basic. It is the putting on of the socks. They have to go on before you put on the shoes. The Conservatives, focused on doctrine, rules, right order of things as they see it, are trying to put on the shoe first. And once the shoe is on, everyone must know how to tie a proper knot. Improper knot tying means rejection. The world is made up of those who can tie knots "properly" and those who cannot, or chose to tie their shoes differently, if at all. Still, the sock is omitted. Can you really feel loved, secure, if you know it is based upon "correctness" as defined by a certain group? Jesus came to love.
his followers could not come close to getting all else of which Jesus spoke until they knew they were loved, accepted first. Then they could be challenged. Only then could they begin to live out the gospel.
his followers could not come close to getting all else of which Jesus spoke until they knew they were loved, accepted first. Then they could be challenged. Only then could they begin to live out the gospel.
Tuesday, October 21, 2014
I travel some here and there to new towns for my work. When I am about to go to a new town, I make plans for taking care of my spiritually and physically. Where will I run and when? Where will I find support for my own spiritual journey those days? When and where will I eat what? You would be surprised at how little planning is done by the hosts when I travel. The housing is something over which I accept whatever is given. If we are serious about caring for ourselves, don't leave it in the hands of others. We are the center of no one's universe. Plus, some people live in such chaos that it is the new normal for them. I have a rather low chaos bar. How about you?
Monday, October 20, 2014
Running is a great metaphor for the developing a spiritual life. Both take time, effort an discipline. When I first start running, say after an injury or a bout of laziness and sloth, my body rebels if I try to do too much. It may rebel a little even if I do a little. I must do something the next day in the physical fitness area, e.g. stretching, walking, active stuff. Day by day, the running gets easier and I can do more with seemingly less effort. I find solitary prayer to be the same way. After a period of ignoring my interior life, frustrated at my flabby soul, I decide to do some practice. I decide to do it for today. Just do today. It is difficult at first. Focus might be lacking. The mind is amiss. Thoughts rule. It is a start. Then I ask myself when I will do this tomorrow? I plan a time and place. Day by day, this solitary prayer becomes a bit easier. It can become a habit, with discipline, commitment and effort. Spiritual and physical exercise on a daily basis usually means that something else will be dropped. A day is just so long and no longer. I have found that desperation is a good starter.
Sunday, October 19, 2014
In my reading I was reminded that atheists are not the same as pagans. Atheists believe that there is no God. Pagans do believe in gods. They worship gods. In modern paganism there is the worship of money, status, sport stars, hollywood actors and actresses and rock stars just to name a few. It is not easy to be an atheist. You have to work through a lot of stuff to arrive there. The intellectually lazy, and self-absorbed are not atheists. They simply do not bother with the god question at all. Maybe they are their own god. Who can say.
Saturday, October 18, 2014
A recent commentator at the Bishops' Synod said that we are not going to change any doctrines that the church has been practicing for years. Prior to the invasion of Poland by the Nazis in 1939, the Polish military was enamored by its use of horses in war. Military horsemanship had been practiced for a long time. It was part of their military tradition. Why change? The Nazis came at them with modern weapons such as newly designed tanks. Holding onto something simply because you have always done it that way can be costly.
Friday, October 17, 2014
Someone asked me about reincarnation. Here is my take on it. Personally, I don't want to come back and have to be a teenager again or an adolescent for that matter. Too much stress, anxiety, uncertainty and busyness. I believe that when I die the energy that made up Terry Ryan is dispersed back into the universe to eventually be used to make something else. My hope is that I lived a good enough life, that my energy has a lot of positive stuff about it, and so it is more available to make something of goodness. I don't believe that it will make another Terry Ryan. I am done and something of me has gone to the Great Mystery I call God. What is it that goes to God? Well, that might be another blog!
Thursday, October 16, 2014
Time and time again, I see a jogger out on the trails with Fido, their pet. The jogger is trying for a twofer: time with Fido and getting some exercise. But I can tell that Fido is not into fantasizing about being buffed, sculpted, or fit. Fido does not care for this jogging. Humans program their exercise. Dogs don't. They run when they want and as long as they want. Jogging is not their thing. The tongue is hanging out, lumbering along to keep up. Dogs are faithful, I will give them that. This all reminds me that not everyone is interested in what interests me. I try to avoid twofers, that is, "Let's get together and do something I like." Dogs are our best friends, and sometimes that is not such a good thing for a dog.
Wednesday, October 15, 2014
When I was little I was given to understanding that God cannot be in animals, trees, people in mortal sin, and Protestants. Well, that is a lot of places off limits to God. God got squeezed into the little space of Catholics in the State of Grace, which was iffy for us Bronx Irish kids. We were prone to mortal sin. The best place to find God was in the host, the communion wafer, which bad Catholics and Protestants could not receive, but we could go look at the host "exposed" on the altar in a special Exposition piety. It was only years later that I realized what the host really meant. God is in bread, an ordinary everyday food, a staple of life. What the host meant is that God is in things of the world. I don't escape the world by going into a dark church to look at God. I go to look to remind me that God is in the world, everywhere in the world, even in Protestants. All is precious and holy. Where I might see or judge something a mess, God is present. The host is to remind me that when I go out of the church God is everywhere that I look and am. No escape. Plus, God is Love. Go hug a tree.
Tuesday, October 14, 2014
I forgot that the Christian hierarchy were called hypocrites by none other than Paul in his letter to the Galatians. It seems our first Pope would eat with Gentiles, a no no for Jews, whenever his Jewish cohorts were not around. But once the other Jewish leaders showed up, the Pope backed off from the Gentiles and followed Jewish customs. Paul called him out. I guess hypocrisy and politics has been a problem for Christianity since the beginning. The hierarchy in Rome are having a meeting now on the subject of "The Family." Pope Francis asked everyone to speak frankly. We will see.
Monday, October 13, 2014
Rugby is a sport and a very old one. Baseball is now considered a sport, though a bit younger one. I suspect that when rugby players first heard of or saw baseball, they might have said, "That is not a sport." Rugby defined "sport" within their own definition, and baseball simply did not quality. Eventually, even rugby accepted baseball as a sport of sorts, but not something for REAL rugby players. These two games are the same as "games" and "sports." It this they are the same, but one is not the other. I used to have a subscription to a sport magazine. When it first began to have a weekly story on "Bridge" the card game, I said, "That is not a sport!" Though Bridge is a game and a competition with a teammate, it did not fit my narrow definition. I think that at times when we say that one thing is not equal to another, we have to be careful of our motives. Are we prejudiced against one, as I was about Bridge, or the rugby players about baseball. On the other hand, when there is a difference between two things, we cannot say they are exactly the same. Bridge is not Baseball, nor Rugby. They may be the same as "sports" but different in some other respects. Try this with your definition of "Marriage."
Sunday, October 12, 2014
As we age we are supposed to grow in wisdom. I seem to be going in the other direction. For quite some time now I have been using a garage door opener from the house to automatically open the garage door when I go outside. My other method is to leave a door open that goes into the garage, but this is frequently relocked by someone. At times, usually in the worst of weather or when I am in a hurry, I leave the house without the garage door opener, and then find that the door to the garage has been relocked. Bad mood, grumbling, whining follow. Today, as I was just about to go into the garage, having used my garage door opener, I noticed a key pad on the side of the garage entrance. Then I noticed that each of the three garage doors had their own keypad. Voila! Cobwebs of my mind were shaken out and the memory of a keypad having been mounted some FOUR YEARS ago came back to me. Of course, I had no idea of the PIN code, but a phone call to the one who mounted the keypad gave me that information. As I wallowed in humiliation, humility came. God loves me in spite of my silliness and forgetfulness. When I think I am so centered, I get a wake up call that I am still very much scattered, but yet very much loved. I earned the scattered. The Love is Free! Do you ever have long-term silliness?
Saturday, October 11, 2014
Prayer is like a rest stop as we motor through the day. Now and again we need to take the foot off the pedal and sit quietly to stretch our soul. No music, no tapes, no GPS and no talking. Just quiet stillness to keep us able to go on with the journey in a sane and balanced way. Now and again, I need to go in for a tuneup, a day of reflection to keep me in good shape. We can so easily run ourselves down and then things don't work so well. I have found it so.
Friday, October 10, 2014
When I first heard the phrase, "His 'I's are too close together," I thought that it was about the eye in the head. I did not think that the person's eyes were anything but normal distance apart. Then it got explained to me. When we try to impress, and I know this to be a guy thing, we tend to talk about ourselves. We keep saying, "I." I this and I that. When I reflected, I realized that I have had this as one of my faults. When I speak too much "I" one of two things happen. People change the subject, or they tend to excuse themselves. I talk all about me. I am not into listening or asking about the other person or persons. Seems there are a lot of "I" in this blog. No wonder people don't read me. But ladies, is this a problem with women too? See, I am asking a question, ready to listen. I can grow. It is not too late.
Thursday, October 9, 2014
Someone said that they try not to get attached to the outcome. I like that thought. I run a race each year and when I finish I am unhappy with the outcome. I fail to see all the good of the event. I have the health to run. The day was beautiful. I see friends afterwards. I enjoy a post race meal. If the outcome is everything, then I might miss all the good and valuable things about an endeavor. I am going to try to think "enjoy" instead of "produce" or "perform" or "impress." Who is really watching? My gosh! You mean no one is thinking about me as the center of their universe?
Wednesday, October 8, 2014
I cannot believe this one. You buy clothes, probably tights, that have caffeine as part of the cloth. Wear them and lose cellulite. Clothes have some other things but the caffeine caught my attention. Why cannot you drink coffee and lose cellulite from the inside caffeine? Anyway, I think the product failed to deliver sufficiently. But people did buy it! So I am thinking of going into my own business and sell clothes that have "grace" in the weave, in my advertising. You no longer need to get grace on the inside by prayer, worship or any effort to be nice. You just buy my clothes and you have grace! Die in my clothes and you go to heaven for sure. Get buried wearing grace! Beats plenary indulgences.
Tuesday, October 7, 2014
It seems some bishops said that girls and boys cannot compete in some of the same sports for modesty sake. I assume this rule is because girls are in fact competing in such sports. Girls would not be competing in these sports if they were not good enough to compete, I assume. So, even though the girls are just as good as the boys, they are forbidden to be on the teams because they are girls, right? I am ready to be otherwise enlightened, but I think this might be one more reason that some women drop out of the Catholic experience. If the girl could kick a field goal better than any other boy in the school, why not last her play on the team? Let the girl decide whether she feels safe playing in a contact sport with the boys. By the way, my sister Maureen could out-wrestle me.
Monday, October 6, 2014
My friends, Steve and Maureen, have ben married enough years that they have a child of high school age and two a bit younger. I saw them coming out of a breakfast place, his arm around her waist and her arm around his waist, just like sweethearts on a date..in the morning! I thought, "Wow! Married people still do that after a bunch of years?" See, I know nothing because some married people, when they come to me, their marriage is a wreck. I guess that a celibate priest is a last resort. Other couples seem to be married, OK, but I suspect that my friends, Steve and Maureen, don't just want OK. The only way I know that some people are married is that they seem to be standing next to a child or children, like parents. Steve and Maureen want to still be sweethearts. I remember when my Dad would come home from work. He and Mom would kiss in the kitchen as she stopped for a moment from making our dinner. I was never embarrassed. I was impressed. Go Steve and Maureen!
Sunday, October 5, 2014
This Opus Dei Bishop was removed from his post by the Vatican. He complained that it was a conspiracy by the other prelates and the Vatican to remove him. This is interesting. Opus Dei relied on the Vatican power so that Opus Die could go into a country/diocese and do what it wanted, saying the Vatican trumps local church authority. Except there is a new sheriff in town. That is, we have a new pope. He does not seem to have the back of Opus Dei. What goes around comes around. I have seen this in Corporate life. A climber hitches himself to some rising star in the organization. As his mentor rises, so does he. But when the CEO changes, and the mentor loses favor/job, so does the fellow who hitches himself to his mentor. Priests sometimes do the same thing with bishops. Bishops are not forever. Only God power is forever. I try daily to hitch myself to God. I am certainly not the power.
Saturday, October 4, 2014
It seems that one study purports to show a connection between college student binge drinking and cancer. This seems to have gotten some student's attention. At their age, they still think they have control over consequences from drinking. They won' drive and drink for instance. They will binge on weekends so as to not miss tests or necessary classes. They will endure hangovers as part of the fun, the cost of getting wild. Cancer they cannot control. Even if you think you are bullet proof, you know that you cannot control cancer. You might even give the big "C" a boost by unhealthy living. Anyway, it makes some of these young people pause and think. When consequences get scary enough, change has a bit more power.
Friday, October 3, 2014
It seems that people are trending more against abortion and for gay marriage. I sense that this might have something to do with the dignity of a person. The fetus is being given more respect as being a person, a human being, equal to other human beings. The gay/lesbian person is being given more respect as being a person equal to everyone else. There are a lot of people who say this is becoming a heartless nation, with people caring only for themselves, with the loss of community, a lack of compassion for those who struggle for economic and social equality. Well, maybe we are not so heartless as these people think. What say you?
Thursday, October 2, 2014
When I walk down the street dressed in my clerical black clothes and priest collar, I am "coming out Catholic." When the priest sex scandal hit the news some dozen years ago, it was pretty tough to "come out Catholic" as a priest. I thought people were looking at me, wondering if I was one of "them," and safe to be around. Some places I simply do not want to come out Catholic because I don't want to get into some long conversation. Airplane travel would qualify. I want my alone time. In some ways though it is easier for me to come out Catholic because I have a distinct outfit. I don't have to say anything. If you are a lay person and you are in a group that is trashing your church or God, do you pipe up with, "Well, I am Catholic," or whatever church, synagogue, mosque, ashram you belong to? Lots of people just keep it to themselves. Coming out is difficult in lots of areas, not just religion. Yet, I have met many a person who changed their opinion of some group based upon someone they met/liked/related to, who came out as being part of that group. Much prejudice comes from not really knowing anyone in the group you are downgrading. If you are an alcoholic in recovery, you are supposed to come out to other alcoholics to identify yourself and gain credibility if you are going to be helpful. If you are going to do road rage or tailgating, or cut someone off for a parking spot, I hope you don't have any car stickers that say you are a Catholic! We have enough people leaving my church as it is.
Wednesday, October 1, 2014
The Genesis idea in the bible is that a woman comes from the man's rib. A rib is strong. It protects the heart. It is near to the heart. The rib protects other vital organs. The rib does not work alone. There are other ribs. Ribs work together. Strong. Protects. Heart. Communal. Relational. Hmm. I am getting an insite here. Help me ladies! Without ribs, man is in a whole lot of trouble!