Monday, November 24, 2014
There are a group of young people who hang out on a nearby outdoor mall in a town where I live. They dress differently, and look differently than the people who are shopping and eating in the restaurants on the mall. I think of these young people as "unique." Unique is all that they can change in their world that seems so otherwise hopeless to them. They cannot change their home life, parents, school situation, job prospects, or the world around them. So they change the one thing over which they still have some power. They change their face and clothes. It gives them a sense of some empowerment. Someone living on the street sees how little they can change, in their estimation. So they change one thing, their consciousness. They get drunk. Some people just do dope for the same reason. It gives them some sense of power. I have found the power in the spiritual. I can seem to have a whole change of attitude when I sit quietly in silence, or talk to someone about this interior life. I have tried the other things but they did not go deep enough. Just more problems.
Sunday, November 23, 2014
A big time college football coach is not returning after the end of this season because his team lost too many games. He said he understands it is time for him to go because "this is a business." Oh! And here I though it was a sport. The players are student-athletes. I think the coach spoke the truth. Revenue producing sports in college are a business. Players are employees who get some perks, such as free food/room/classes. The priority is working for the school so the school can make money. As a business, I suspect the school will say one thing but maybe do another. Its number one priority is to make money. This is why I prefer to focus my life on the spiritual. There is no money in it. If you get rich as a guru, I suspect it will corrupt you. Well, say it would corrupt me. Everyday I have to examine my conscience to ask if I am doing what I am saying. Do I pray in silence and stillness on a daily basis? To teach what I don't do, would make the world of soul a business. For this I should be fired.
Saturday, November 22, 2014
I am going to take a guess at this one. Why are some people so upset about the thought of giving communion to people who get remarried after a divorce? The cover is that it goes against church teaching or will change dogma which would be pretty serious, except that it is not a dogma. It is rule, a punishment for getting divorced and remarried without an annulment. It is not in the Creed. One could uphold marriage being indissoluble and yet permit remarried to go to communion. Don't use Eucharist as a reward/punishment. The fact that you cannot get the remarriage, or attempted marriage, as some would say, to be blessed in the church could be the punishment. But back to my original issue. Why such anger about these remarried people? A guess, is that these angry people are staying in miserable marriages and resent others from getting out and trying to marry someone else. Why don't people get just as angry about rich/poor, or ecology or the fact that we are running out of water to drink? What do you think? I don't mind being wrong. I get angry about stuff, but then have to ask myself why one thing and not another.
Friday, November 21, 2014
I am not recommending you go and see the war movie, "Fury." There is a lot of violence as one would expect in a war movie. It is war. But at the end of the movie, amidst all this violence and killing, there is a singular act of kindness. It is a kindness that is no way reinforced by all the fighting going on around it. It can only be "grace" that came into play. What it says to me is that just when all hope for humanity is gone, something happens to resurrect hope. Can we do acts of kindness, let grace work in us, when all around us is bad behavior? I will try.
Thursday, November 20, 2014
While the Pope is talking to world leaders of big industrial countries about unbridled consumerism and the downside of unfettered capitalism, the American Bishops are meeting to talk about procedural changes in language, translations of some prayer rituals, and merger ideas. We are a country that is about to go big time into consumerism with "Black Friday" and "Holiday" shopping. I suspect our religious leaders will talk about keeping Christ in Christmas, because this is safe. To take on capitalism in this country is more like a revolution. The pope is not looking for socialism but a correction of capitalism that would more live out the gospel values. Isn't that what Christian leaders are supposed to do? The Jesus of the gospels is much more of a challenge than the Jesus of the Church councils and its dogmatic decrees. Religious leaders of First World countries seem to get angry with people who ignore or disagree with dogma, but seem to let things be if people ignore the gospel teachings of Jesus. Jesus was not about "more." He was more about "less."
Wednesday, November 19, 2014
Yet one more prelate is up in arms about all this talk of gay marriage and remarried Catholics having access to Communion. His reason is that the laity will be confused. Why is this so often the reason given? I don't find lay people confused. I find prelates afraid of changes happening in the world of the 21st century. It seems that the laity are not given much credit for being able to figure things out. Maybe this is why the ordained want to give the people so little power. Hierarchical organizations tend to be this way. They tend not to listen.
Tuesday, November 18, 2014
A cure for fear is honesty. I am an example of this. I can keep things to myself and show you a together person who you will think spiritually advanced. But inside I might be acting from fear. Here is an example. I was going to go for a week from here to another town where I also work. There were good and presentable reasons to do this. But there was an underlying energy, and that was fear. Of what? Fear that I would lose popularity or importance or favorable image if I stayed away too long, or missed some event. Yes, it is pathetic, I know. But it is honest, and I feel relieved to admit it, and not to let fear drive my decisions. So why tell you since no one can be as spiritually inept as me? Well, maybe there are one or two people out there for whom a light will go on as to their own motivations. Maybe someone who afraid to admit fear, will no longer feel like the only loser in the world. We are not losers. We are human. Let us laugh at ourselves rather than be in all this pain. This is how honesty is a cure for fear, at least for me. Oh! The people who I am afraid will forget me? I doubt they are even thinking about me. Oops! Be still you silly ego.
Monday, November 17, 2014
I am reading a best seller about Jesus and his times, called, "Zealot." It is a good way to become an Unitarian. It will shake up people who don't know very much about their faith, but believe because they trust someone who told them it is the "true" faith. They may have had good communal experiences in school of "being really Catholic." They read narrowly. They tended to believe what they read or heard based upon some authority they gave to the book or person. "Zealot" will shake them up. My faith is based upon none of the above. I try to read widely and I have had an experience of Jesus that has moved me from within. It is no longer based upon what some campus "zealot" told me or some proselytizing book told me that I bought into to feel safe, secure, and certain. An adult faith can read this best seller and remain a believer. My question is why is this a best seller? It could be that a lot of people are still interested in Jesus?
Sunday, November 16, 2014
God is not a this or a that. If God were a this or a that, God would be in some place separate from me, who is a this or that. God is beyond "being" something, which is why Jesus did not make a big deal about being God or being Divine. That would have given God some boundary, which is Jesus. God just is. Jesus' followers are the ones who began to focus on the Godness of Jesus. Thus starts or continues the process of separating God out from me and you. Jesus was about oneness, not separateness. That is why he had much less problem with prostitutes and tax collectors, and in our modern age I suspect he would have been sitting down to eat with gay/lesbians, divorced and remarried, and whole bunches of other people that many a modern church official finds repulsive. Jesus found his dinner companions full of God. I wonder if the people we murdered/executed for "Heresy" that softened the divinity of Jesus, were not rather trying to hold onto "Oneness" and the "Is" of God rather than putting Jesus down. Are we not all divine in some way? Is not the Creator in everyone? I think that Jesus used his humanity to point out our humanity, but some of us hate ourselves so much, we cannot see it or believe it. That is our heresy.
Saturday, November 15, 2014
Seems that a lot of guys are going for Botox treatments. Well, we have Viagra and now Botox. I wonder if, as we guys age, we have acceptance issues. Maybe there are really good reasons for this stuff, but I look at myself, which is not easy, and ask if I can just accept that I am falling apart on the outside. The real question for me is what am I doing about the insides of myself? This is the area that can grow while the shell around me fades. My medication and treatment for my insides is daily prayer, reflection, meditation, reading, and examination of conscience. Oh, and admitting my need for all this. I don't consider the physical to be flawed for me. I am aging. That is not a flaw. It is natural. Had I not taken care of the insides, I would never have aged. I would have been dead a long time ago.
Friday, November 14, 2014
It seems that a saint named Charles Borremeo was made a cardinal of a big diocese in Italy some centuries ago. So what, you ask? Well, he had not been ordained. He was a lay person. There was a time that someone could be in charge of a big diocese without being ordained. He was the administrator, that is, the boss. If it happened then, why not now, and why not a woman? That a cardinal needs to be ordained is just a rule. It did not come from Jesus. Rules can be changed. They are not dogma. What is harder to change is attitudes and fears about women on the part of men in power. I guess some things never change!
Thursday, November 13, 2014
In my church we celebrate All Saints Day on November 1 and All Souls Day on November 2. All Saints is for all the anonymous dead people who are in heaven. They were not sufficiently well known to get canonized. All Souls Day is for the dead people who are waiting to get into heaven. There is no All Damned Day. I guess they have no chance. Anyway, I tend to pray to my sister Maureen on All Saints Day, rather than on All Souls Day. I figure that she is in heaven. Why? She had to put up with me for so long. Being the rotten kid I am is not so bad. I helped my sister build up patience, kindness, acceptance, and unconditional love for me. These are qualities that get you into heaven. You got any of them? Now if I stay a rotten kid I could end up with no special day for people to pray for me. There is no All Damned Day.
Wednesday, November 12, 2014
Never underestimate the desire of Catholics to remain ignorant. Someone(s) told me that. I used to run a religious book store that a had all kinds of classics, and up to date books on Catholic and non-Catholic paths. We had a few religious articles too. The store just could not turn a profit. Now, the same space has a few books and lots of religious articles/things/baubles and it is doing quite well. Most Catholics prefer shiny stuff rather than learning. They prefer their leaders just to tell them what to do. These unread people get all upset when they hear bishops disagreeing. "What am I supposed to believe, or do?" they anxiously ask. Well, if such people had been better educated and a more inquiring mind, they would know history. Bishops disagree. It is the way of religion. We worship God and not the Catholic Church. We are an imperfect group who because of our own prejudices, can only approximate what God wishes. We know little, but in our worse moments, profess to know all. All religions seem to make a common mistake, and in this we are all alike. They profess to be too right, and everyone else too wrong.
Tuesday, November 11, 2014
I recall that when John Paul II said anything, all the conservatives spoke about infallibility, and we are to do what the Pope just said. Well, now Francis I speaks and the same conservatives seem to wonder if he is really Catholic? I guess infallibility in in the eyes of the beholder or their politics and prejudices. It seems to me that we are formed by our upbringing and our experiences. Some can develop a lust for power, control, wealth, the need for strict rules/laws. Some people from the same background as the above can develop into saints. The only equalizer is Grace offered. Some respond and some don't. Some of us know of our lusts, and hope to be saints, but cannot seem to stay on track. My sister said I was a "rotten kid." Can rotten kids become saints? If not, I am in deep trouble.
Monday, November 10, 2014
A retired pope said we must proclaim the Gospel which is not the same as dialogue. Well, I ask, which part of the gospel will get emphasized and which will not? Those who are pretty secure in their upper class status with lots of stuff, seem to prefer the part of the Gospel about being saved by Jesus' Incarnation, Crucifixion and Resurrection. Sure. Focus on that because you don't really have to do anything. Keep to your lifestyle. Jesus saved you. He did all the work. But there is another part of the Gospel, and that is all about what Jesus actually said and taught. The "Haves" don't so much want to talk about that part because it challenges the world in which they have become a success and accumulated lots of stuff, homes, cars, closets full, prejudices, and so on. I think that there ought to be more of a dialogue between what Jesus said and how many "Good" church going Catholics actually live their lives, and stay steeped in their prejudices. This is why I like Francis I. He is pretty blunt. B16 was too theological and people read into his statements whatever they liked so that they would continue to feel comfortable.
Sunday, November 9, 2014
I was watching an ad about some voting proposition that seemed to have to do with "choice." There was a medical person and a woman patient in the medical office. The ad said that these two should decide about what to do, and not let some politician tell them. I thought, "There is someone else in the room who does not seem to have a say." The fetus is the voiceless one, so I will take the side of the voiceless one, the powerless one. Now I think the fetus is human but you may not. Well, your dog is not human either, but I bet you would not get kill your dog. Why is some non-human life so precious and some not, assuming the fetus is not yet human. The dog will never be human. The fetus will, if it gets a chance. If the best we can do is abortion will be "legal, safe and rare," then I take to working on the rare. Seems people get all worked up about some elk getting killed who roams around their middle and upper class neighborhoods, but don't seem to mind abortions in the same neighborhoods. The animal was innocent, you say? The fetus is not? Some will go to the issues of rape, drunk at frat parties, too young and go for abortion on demand. These are not the overwhelming reasons that people get abortions, but for these cases, I still defend the fetus. It caused none of the reasons it got conceived, no matter how horrible and unjust the event of the conception. Finally, for now, what if the aborted fetus I am defending was the one who would grow to find the cure for the cancer that kills so many women?
Saturday, November 8, 2014
Pat, who I blogged about yesterday, reminds me of something quite wonderful about our church. She and I differed on our opinions, prayer style, and pieties. But we could love one another. Our church can have all types but we can accept and pray for, believe in and hope for one another. There was another priest on the staff who Pat thought far more perfect than I. He walked on water. But Pat had hopes for my redemption. My church is full of hopeful people. Pat prayed for me. She had preferences about my conversion to the light, but they were only preferences. She had no demands or condemnations. Pat reminds me of what the best of community is all about. I would not want a church with only people like me. Would you?
Friday, November 7, 2014
Pat was the noon mass sacristan at our church in Boulder, Colorado. Sacristans are people who set up for mass and then put everything away. Priests love sacristans. We can show up at the last minute and all is set up for us. Sacristans spoil priests. That is their job, or so I think. Pat was my friend as well. She died recently. I think she wanted to die in a private way with just her and God. People sat with her into the night. Within an hour after everyone left, in the middle of the night, Pat died. She liked the one on one with God. I know that she prayed for me. She knew that I was imperfect but she had hopes for me. She even took me to lunch a time or two. She drove. I knew from the way she drove that God was taking care of her. The noon mass has never been the same since Pat stopped being the sacristan. I miss her. Taking care of the altar and its environs was her singular task. She was humble, but precise. Her way was best. I am a mere priest. She is a saint. I hope she is still praying for me.
Thursday, November 6, 2014
I suspect that a lot of depression is caused by false pride. We think we should do better based upon our own will-power. Face the truth. We are weak, self-willed to selfishness and doing things that bring us to a mess of our lives. The Good News is that now we can be a little humble and let God forgive us, cleanse us, pick us up to try again, but now we know we are loved and forgiven. Leave the guilt and shame of false pride in the past. Did feeling sorry for ourselves do us any lasting good? And who wants to be around all our self-pity? Only others who are "suffering" like us. The winners are not the perfect. The winners are the humble and honest ones who know acceptance, forgiveness and love of God.
Wednesday, November 5, 2014
I just read that Emperor Justinian passed a law against sodomy because he thought it caused Earthquakes. Two things strike me. Was it OK before the law was passed? Secondly, there seems to be a lot of fear and confusion about sodomy that has nothing to do with sodomy. What is that fear? Next time you are in an earthquake will you blame gay people? Hope not.
Tuesday, November 4, 2014
I was taken by my friend Cyd to Mare Island in San Francisco Bay. There is a little Redwood Interdenominational chapel, St. Peter's, that has the largest collection of Tiffany stained glass windows West of the Mississippi. They are quite stunning, as is the chapel. Here in this seemingly out of the way abandoned Naval Base, with lots of rundown buildings, is this beautiful chapel. There were only a couple of people on the excellent tour. In our culture so many things called "beautiful" are in the spotlight, advertised, attention called to them. This chapel location makes me think of how beauty can be almost ignored, if not unnoticed. Just because you are not in the spotlight, or think you are ignored, forgotten, does not make you any less beautiful. The world's opinion is just an opinion. You are beautifully made. This is the second opinion, often forgotten. It is one thing if others forget you. No control there. But it is another thing if you forget you. Give yourself a compliment. You are beautiful.
Monday, November 3, 2014
I recently walked into one of my spiritual reflection days. There were two people there when I began. They came. I did the teaching for them. But I thought afterwards that it is over for me. This must be a sign that God wants me to return to the monastery and enter silence. Teach no more. Whatever I am doing is not attracting. That afternoon, after the teaching, I got a phone call from friends in another city where I also live. These two women missed me. They are friends. They want me to come back and not go to the monastery to silence. It was a saving phone call. I may not be bright enough, or interesting enough or topical enough but maybe I am "fun." Fun is not bad. It is one of those things you don't know you have. Others have to reflect it to you. I cannot tell you how to be fun, since I am not sure what it is. If you have this quality people have a way of letting you know just when you need to know. It is a grace. "See Maureen. I am not just a pest!"
Sunday, November 2, 2014
Jesus pointed out that a Roman coin had the image of Caesar on it. The coin belonged to Caesar. So what is the image of a Christian parish? It is supposed to be the image of Christ. He was about the Kingdom of God, a very inclusive place with a lot of different types of people invited in. Some religious leaders did not like Jesus for this. They thought more of a small group of similar likeness and correctness. If your parish is about excluding people because of some "prejudice" disguised by laws, tradition, and custom, then does it really reflect the image of Christ. I think that an AA meeting is more the image of Christ than some Christian parish communities.
Saturday, November 1, 2014
I hear that Catholics in the English speaking countries would be terrified if the bishops had been more open to gay/lesbian people as well as divorced and remarried. "What will I tell my child!" exclaimed parents. Don't worry parents. They aren't listening to you anyway. I wonder if these so called 'terrified" Catholics want a church that has very clear rules, a comfortable likeness of persons. I think the church is supposed to be the Gospel, the Good News to all. I am a bit terrified that we have dropped the gospel of Jesus with his inclusive Kingdom of God and replaced it with something of a gated community. Only the few get in and you have to have the code.