Saturday, October 31, 2015
The body with all its feelings is a messenger to my mind from the soul, or spiritual part of me. I have to learn to translate the language of the body into what the deeper message is. The body speaks in the language of sex, food, exercise, and certain feelings such as being restless or anxious. Beyond what is healthy in these areas of food, sex and exercise, these are often signals that I need to get some spiritual food/practice because this part of me wants attention and sustenance. In short, I need to pray in the myriad ways that are prayer. It could be meditation, a walk, a book that addresses our deeper needs, and even a phone call to a certain person who knows of the spiritual path. If I take every message of the body at face value, I will eat and sex inappropriately, overexercise, and get even more anxious by avoiding a spiritual time out. I believe that the college student who drinks/drugs too much on a Friday night and then hooks up, is really wanting a spiritual solution but just did not know how to translate the body's message.
Friday, October 30, 2015
What does, "There but for the grace of God, go I," mean? Well, if you pay no attention to your inner spiritual self I would say you are having a reprieve from disaster. If you have no spiritual practice, and are relieved that you are not in someone else's predicament, in time you will fall into your own disaster and someone else will say about you, "There but for the grace of God, go I." When I am healthy enough to run, I tell people that I am between injuries. This is because I do not take the time and discipline to care enough for my body between runs, or do too much when I should be doing little. Running is not all about running and life is not all about action. To avoid disaster, or enjoy a more permanent reprieve, you need time to nourish the soul, the spiritual innards.
Thursday, October 29, 2015
I had a microscope as a boy. I loved to look into it and see all that there is to see in one little speck of something. There was always so much more in little things if you used a microscope. Unfortunately, this is how I too often look at the faults of others. I put their small fault, not mine of course, under a microscope of judgment. The person I am examining through my judgmental lens is absolutely wretched and terrible. They deserve to be gossiped about behind their backs. I am not whining! I am speaking the truth of their great faults. I tend to examine my faults as with the naked eye looking at the stars. My faults are very small things far away from my real self. They dot my personality like tiny stars in the sky. I do not see all my faults anymore than I see all the stars. My faults are never as big as they truly are. God has really good vision and sees things as they truly are. I could be in some difficulty unless I find a new way of seeing you and me.
Wednesday, October 28, 2015
In my more delusional state of weirdness, I want to become super spiritual, like in guru, or peace-filled content with all that goes on around me. I meditate. I read books on prayer and inspiration. I read uplifting biographies. I try to be calm and peaceful. I am a lit candle in the darkness. All this is snuffed out by simple daily life. My room is too cold. I run out of soap, toothpaste or toilet paper. Someone ate the treat I was going to have "after." The "wrong" sheets are on my bed. We run out of half and half cream for my coffee. I get upset and whine to myself in anger. At this stage I am unfit for the outside world of work and relationships. I am in a "mood." I think that maybe super spiritual starts with acceptance. I occasionally stumble onto acceptance. It must be a passing grace, because it is elusive. I have found it to be so.
Tuesday, October 27, 2015
I thought that I had made a breakthrough when I began to accept reality. I did not so much need fantasies to soften the hard edges of the real world. Life happens. Much stuff is outside of my control. Then the next wave of reality hit me. The decisions of others were not focused on me. They are not thinking about me! I suddenly had a new reason to be angry and resentful, not to speak of frightened and anxious. It is easier for me be a bit detached from issues that do not affect my daily life and routines. It is much more difficult to accept what affects my daily comings and goings. It is all about ego which wants comfort, power, esteem and chocolate.
Monday, October 26, 2015
Since June 9 I have had some hip issue and my running has been compromised. I stopped running altogether about six weeks ago. I am now a walker and have gotten to sub 16:00 on a good day. What I find as a plus is that I get to observe the scene around me as I walk. Flowers, architecture, and some surprises along the way. I am beginning to not miss running. I am getting fat. Fortunately, I wear black clothes a lot, so it is not so noticeable that I am fat. I could eat fewer treats, but let's not go there yet. I feel very good. No aches and pains. I can do about any exercise or stretch. I simply cannot run pain free. An x-ray says nothing structural is the matter. Physical therapy will start down the road some time. I expect to run again sometime and not be fat. The weather has been great for outdoor exercise. I recently bought a helmet for bike riding. We will see. When one thing is taken away, something new might be discovered.
Sunday, October 25, 2015
I am hearing a lot about mercy from the Pope. I especially like mercy, forgiveness, and patience from some one if it also means that I don't have to change. I forget that mercy is for more than my getting off the hook. Mercy if offered freely, yes. But it is offered for the purpose of me then changing my life or wanting to get some help to change my life. How many people say, "Get me out of this, I will never do it again." You get spared. You do it again and again. Love is really the window to change. To love someone before they change will make the one loving a better person. To love someone only because that person does as we want or expect, is a bit self-serving and won't change the lover for the better. To love someone on the margins of good behavior or way outside of good behavior, is a gift. It offers them a chance to change for the better. I meet a few people who say, "God love me." Then they practice bad behavior, such as judgmental, prideful, slothful, anger-filled and resentful. Love would appreciate a response.
Saturday, October 24, 2015
I recommend you take a look at a book by Judith Valente, entitled "Atchison Blue." She is a lay woman with a career, spouse and yet spends time retreating and visiting with women religious at a convent in Atchison, Kansas. At least I think it is Kansas. I found the book quite practical, and helpful. She is open about her struggles to become a better person, about her interest in Silence and the attitude of the nuns in response to daily life.
Friday, October 23, 2015
Think of all the trouble a high priced model takes to keep herself or himself looking beautiful, and attractive. Their beauty will fade, but they work at it as long as it lasts. On the other hand how much time and effort do we take with our spiritual lives or soul, which many believe does not fade? Even high priced prostitutes, who we judge as beneath us, could teach us a thing or two about taking the time to work on what is important though fading. Maybe we just do not think the spiritual life is worth all that much time and effort on a daily basis?
Thursday, October 22, 2015
Just because you are on a Spiritual path does not mean "stuff" ceases to happen. I meet people who were on a spiritual path of recovery. Things began well, and then life showed up. They were sober but dealing with loss of one sort or another, health, job, loved one. They go out and drink. I meet people who "used" to go to church but suffering came their way and Their God did not prevent or fix it. They dumped God. Life stayed messy. Spirituality is not making deals with anyone. If you are in it to be happy, this is, get what you want, you will not get what you want. It must be a relationship of love or else it won't last. Isn't that what married people tell me?
Wednesday, October 21, 2015
When we ask the question of ourselves, "Is this OK," the question only makes sense if it is something that we have control over. "Is it OK," to be 5'6" tall makes no sense as a question. You are as tall as you are. You can wear lift shoes or heals if you think you are "too" short, but it does not change your basic height. We are often trying to change something that is natural to us, because we cannot accept ourselves naturally. If you have hazel eyes, as I do, accept it. No one ever said I had beautiful eyes, but I am fine with my eyes. I don't spend time looking at me. If you have red hair, that is you. Why not accept it. If you have curly hair, maybe it all fits into the whole of creation! But people often want to be blond, or at least not grey haired. Advertising is most often based upon not accepting ourselves. It is OK that you are who you are. If others put you down, that is their opinion. God made you who you are. I like God's opinion.
A fellow named Bob Senser, recently deceased, a good Catholic, was standing reciting the Nicene Creed at mass one day and suddenly wondered why we profess a faith that deals with heresies of 17 centuries ago. Why not gospel terms that matter in our own time. Why not, for instance, include a creed about the God-given dignity of the human person as a transcendent value. That seemed to him a fundamental principle of faith. Something to think about. It is easier for Christians to agree on a creed that has lots of statements about God that we accept, that do not interfere with our business as usual. The Trinity, the divinity of Jesus do not affect modern economic, political and sociological issues, and business practices that might skirt respect for the worker/employee, much less the consumer. Something to think about.
Tuesday, October 20, 2015
Jesus told someone that he had no place to rest his head. He slept on the streets? No. His emphasis, or point, is that he was not a a religion of place. He was about "The Way." He was about a manner of living that takes a lifetime plus, to make us all we are supposed to be, our potential realized. There was no Jerusalem, Mecca, Vatican Rome for Jesus. You can visit a holy sight or religious center and then check it off your bucket list. You never check off "The Way" on a bucket list. It is never finished. It is a bit like a twelve step program of recovery. One is never recovered from an addiction. One is always recovering. One is alway on the way to wholeness. For all of us, bad behavior always lurks. It seems to be in our spiritual DNA. It is easier to fall off the way then to stay on it. I have found it so. I seem to have original sin molecules coursing through my heart. But they love me in Horse Shoe Bay, Texas!
Monday, October 19, 2015
The next time you hear someone say that you are not normal, don't feel so bad, at least not right away. I am sure that many people thought Jesus was not normal. People who push, point to, or lead what seems like a new spiritual path are not the norm. Therefore, they are not normal. In Jesus' time, some wanted revolution. Some wanted to just get along with the customs and ways they knew or were taught by established leaders. Some simply looked to which way Rome was going and followed for survival or career promotion. These were all variations of normal, for their group anyway. Women had their normal place and station too. Jesus did not fit in. He called for a change of life, manner, attitude. I hear many people say that they believe in Jesus' message. Few actually follow the message they say they believe in. To follow would be too abnormal. Turn the other cheek? Be the servant of all? Pretty weird stuff. If being outside the norm makes you a better person, more who God made you to be, maybe kinder, more merciful, generous, forgiving and accepting, then it is something to consider. Can tattoos do all this?
Sunday, October 18, 2015
Pope Matin I was the last pope to be a martyr. It happened it 655. At that time, the newly elected pope was supposed to get the approval of the emperor. Martin did not, but rather condemned as heresy something that the emperor, Constans II accepted and believed in. Constans got upset, as potentates tend to do when authority is not respected. So Martin was dragged from Rome to Constans. Martin was starved, tortured, imprisoned and then exiled. He died soon thereafter. History said that emperors trumped popes. History changes. About a century or so later, 800 AD, Charlemagne was chosen as emperor, or defeated the opposition. He decided that it would behoove him to get approval from the pope. Off the emperor goes to Rome to get crowned by the pope. Things change. Big issues may not be so unchangeable. Often there was a time when they did not even exist as they are now. Do not despair. I think of it as, "God working."
Saturday, October 17, 2015
When we love someone or at least do not want to sound too offensive, we tend to hide our judgement of their behavior by asking a question instead of making a statement of their unacceptable behavior as we judge it. In the famous bible story of Martha and Mary with Jesus coming to dinner, Martha is doing all the dinner prep while Mary is sitting around listening to Jesus. Martha is steamed. She asks a question of Jesus, "Don't you care that my sister has left me by myself?" It is an attempted way to soften Martha's judgment that Jesus in fact, to her, does not care! It would be bad for to accuse Jesus, him being the Son of God, and her house guest. She is full of a lot of negative energy. Never upset the cook! But Jesus does not let any of her negative energy imprison his response. He does not take on any of her anger or frustration or anxiety. He responds but not with the same emotion as Martha. Just because someone else in the room is angry does not mean that you have to be angry. Think about that the next time someone accuses you with a question. Questions can be judgments disguised. Having said all this, I would never upset the cook. It can make for an unenjoyable meal experience. Go Martha!
Friday, October 16, 2015
Remember the bible story about Jonah being swallowed by a whale? The backdrop to this story is that God told Jonah to go to a town where Jonah's enemies lived. Nineveh was a town where dreadful and violent people lived. Jonah wanted God to punish Nineveh for being so rotten. Jonah was sent by God to tell the people to repent and then God would not send misery upon them. Jonah wanted people he did not like to suffer misery. This is justice. People we consider bad should pay the price for hurting me and other innocent people. So Jonah does not go and ends up in the belly of the whale. Finally Jonah goes. He expects that Nineveh will not repent. Bad people deserving of punishment do not repent. Surprise! They repent and God forgives them. Jonah gets upset with God. Are we any different? Do we net tend to judge who should suffer from their hurtful lives and who are the innocent victims, or the good people or the righteous people? Even when people repent and say that they are sorry, we are slow with forgiveness. We want God to satisfy our vengeance. Are you stewing in some whale's belly now?
Thursday, October 15, 2015
There is a recent devotional piety called, "Divine Mercy," in my church. It was started by a nun, Faustina Kowalska. She is now declared a saint. Many people sing her praises. It was not always so with Faustina. When she was alive, her superiors in her convent doubted her visions and thought her delusional. A nut case if you will. She died with this assessment of her when she was 33, from TB. Her reputation gets worse. Her diary is submitted to Rome. It is viewed with suspicion and placed upon the Index of Forbidden Books. Then something changed. She got discovered by someone else with a different point of view. He happened to be Polish, like her. He also happened to become the Pope, Saint John Paul II. Her reputation rocketed her to sainthood and the modern fame that goes with it. So, when someone says or thinks you a nut case, deranged and delusional, and even heretical in your views, be patient. You might just be in need of discovery by someone of a second opinion. When a first opinion condemns you or judges you badly, remember that God is a much more benign second opinion. God is Love. The opinion of some that I am of a deranged state, may be true. But I am ever hopeful that I simply have not yet been discovered by a second opinion.
Wednesday, October 14, 2015
Outsiders have the false notion that what brings addictive people together to work on their issues is the addiction. Alcoholism brings alcoholics together. Not so. When acting out their addiction, alcoholics were lots of times with others who were just like them. But they were "alone with others." What brings addictive people together to work on their addiction, to keep it at bay, is suffering. They share a common suffering. Keep this in mind whenever you are in a group that is trying to get better, to improve, become transformed even. It could be a church, a gym, yoga group, quilt makers, not to mention grief support and twelve step programs. There is the presenting reason, and the deeper pain. I try to work on the deeper pain. It keeps me connected to others. Don't write off desperation either. It can be the road to action.
Tuesday, October 13, 2015
If I forgave others the way that I forgive myself, few people would be forgiven anything. I would be constantly upset with them. I find it so much more difficult to forgive me than to forgive others. It is a sin of false pride. I should be better than I am relative to others. They can mess up, but I cannot. They can be human, with faults and failings, bad habits that I accept or forgive, but I cannot be so human, or have faults or bad habits. Some days my life can be such a drag. Trying to be perfect is not easy. When God made Adam, God said, "It is good." God never said Adam was perfect. I seem to expect myself to be better than God's creation, to improve upon God. Pride. One of the seven deadly sins is often unnoticed.
Monday, October 12, 2015
The Pope says that we should love people on the margins. What is a margin? People who feel that they don't fit in, who feel outside of acceptable society, feel they are different in not so good a way, feel lonely, who rarely feel included or rarely want to be included. These are just some examples. Such people are in twelve step rooms, shelters for the homeless, soup kitchens, workplaces and churches. Some of them I find it easy to identify, but some not. Having a pleasant appearance, a job, good grades, rewards and recognition can be a cover. Living on the "margin" takes many forms. I try to be careful that I do not ignore people or brush them off. But sometimes I am on the margin in my own life. The wall goes up. It is a thin wall, usually with a sign up that says, "NO." It really means, "Ask again." My friends have figured that out. For this, I am blessed.
Sunday, October 11, 2015
I grew up in the Bronx which is part of New York City. Outside of my little neighborhood, school, church, Mom and Pop stores, local movie theatre, I rarely went anywhere else. It never occurred to me. Occasionally, Mom would take me shopping with her. It was still the Bronx and I would stay close to her. When I got older, I found out that other children actually went to Manhattan, to museums, theaters, live entertainment, parks and famous New York City sights. It was when I began to realize that I was a bit of a fear-based kid. What I do now to overcome it, is research a city when I live there or near to a city. I find out what is going on in museums, theaters/shows, and sights. I find out how public transportation works to get me around. And I don't wait to find someone to accompany me. It is nice at times if someone does go with me, but I don't wait around for their schedule to open up. With today's computer apps it is rather easy to figure out a lot of things about a city and how to maneuver around in it. I ask questions too. Sometimes I find that I know a lot more about a city than people who have lived there a long time. Fear hides itself behind a lot of excuses.
Saturday, October 10, 2015
One of the first things a child loses as it grows up is the ability to forgive easily. Before adolescence, they might be disappointed in a relative"s or teachers's behavior, but will readily forgive. The child is ever hopeful at this stage. The adult is precious to them. Adult bad behavior does not change this optimism. As we grow, such hope and ready forgiveness gives way to resentment, cynicism, escape and pessimism. Maybe that is why Jesus and the spiritually wise people suggested that we be like a child. "You must become like little children," is pretty clear wisdom. People will disappoint, but a lot of our misery is our response as time goes on.
Friday, October 9, 2015
If you are with someone who has lost the use of their mind, as with Alzheimer, you might think that they don't even know you are there, much less that you care about them. Try touching them, as in holding their hand. Their mind might be gone, but the skin might be very much in touch with your presence. No words, just touch is the way to show you care. Now there are times when you, who think you have full use of your mind, know that someone is talking to you, but you do not listen. You could tune in, but you don't for any number of reasons. I suspect that if they stopped talking and just held your hand, it might awaken your attention. Words are not all they are cracked up to be. The mind drifts, races about and gets over loaded. The skin is more often in the present moment. Maybe that is why people often show love by feeding us. We eat of their presence in taste, and the aroma of food.
Thursday, October 8, 2015
While many of you will be getting caught up in SuperBowl buzz next February, there will be a group of nuns there trying to heighten awareness and prevent sex trafficking. Apparently, this is a big thing at all the hotel venues in the SuperBowl area. This year the SuperBowl will be right outside of San Francisco. I am clueless about all this, but no more, thanks to women religious who once again are on the front lines to help those enslaved to this business. Lots of young children are involved in this. So, while you are praying for your team to win, you might add a much more important prayer for all the victims of this very profitable business.
Wednesday, October 7, 2015
I don't think there really is anything like "free" market economies. There are so many things that control your freedom to do things. If you make a product, you can only make as much of that product as you can find the materials, commodities, and workers to make the product. Then you can only sell it at a price that someone is willing to pay. Supplies, labor, and price limit what you can do and still stay in business with a reasonable profit. You are not free to live in San Francisco. Too many people tried that and now the cost of housing has priced out most people. Only the crazed and the self-centered think in terms of unlimited freedom. When they act "freely" they end up in self-destruction and usually take others down with them. In my life, I seem to be more free than before I became a priest. I thought I was giving up a lot, but find that now I live in four wonderful places, get invited to interesting new places, seem to have no income and yet have what I need or even want. It may be that when we try to get "more" freedom we end up constricted and when we give up things, life seems to expand our horizons. I think there is some spiritual maxim here. The one who loses their life will find it?
Tuesday, October 6, 2015
Chiara Lubich gave me this one. It is a jolt. If you were about to take a test, would you not think it fortuitous to have the answers in advance? I don't mean cheating. That would be bad. I mean, if the answers were readily and knowingly given to you with the permission of the teacher. Easy test right? Pass with 100%. Go on to Harvard or the next grade level anyway. Well, life is a test. To get to eternal life we have to pass the exam. But we have the answers. They are given to us in the scriptures of whatever spiritual path we follow or say we believe in. In Christianity it is Matthew, chapter 25. I am sure it is in the Hebrew Scriptures, Koran, Upanishads, Sutras, Twelve Steps, and so on. We have the answers. But we don't follow them or answer correctly. You would think yourself pretty stupid if you did this on a school test would you not? Right now, I think I might get a rather low grade. How about you?
Monday, October 5, 2015
Elizabeth Hirschboeck, known as Sister Mercy Hirschboeck, is one of these anonymous Holy people who should be less anonymous. She fascinates me. She was a Maryknoll doctor missionary from Marquette University. She got a little press for her work in the Korea during the Korean War. She started out at a clinic in Korea in 1931 when Japan occupied that country. They she moves on in 1943 to the heat and snakes of a Bolivian Jungle. Back to Korea in 1951 to Pusan clinic. In two years, 200,000 patents were treated. It was a big and busy clinic. 1954 she goes home to Kansas City to administer at a fully integrated hospital called Queen of the World. An integrated hospital in 1954 is something considering that the Supreme Court finally decided that separate but equal schools were not so equal. Then she runs the whole order for twelve years. At seventy you would think she could kick back, but no. She moves into a crime infested neighborhood in Manhattan with a a group of "contemplative" nuns and witnessed by her presence amidst crime, drugs and poverty. Doctoring never stops for her. She died in 1986, just as I was moving to San Francisco to take on some "soft" Paulist ministry. Someone said her demeanor gave you the sense of her being holy. Wow. My demeanor gives you the sense of what? Never mind. Work on your own demeanor.
Sunday, October 4, 2015
The Hebrew scriptures have a book or two that remind me of the Hasids in Brooklyn. The Book of Ezra speaks about the Israelites returning from their Persian exile to the land they had left years ago. Ezra says the reason they were sent into exile is because they did not keep the law as purely as they should. Ezra was against intermarriage with non-Jews. He was for studying and keeping all the various laws. He was for the separation of Jews of the Law from foreigners, pagans, goyim. The Hasids of Brooklyn said they were destroyed by Hitler because they did not keep the law correctly. We see in religions this desire to be apart from others as a way to preserve something. We may not all agree with it. Many Jews do not agree with Hasids or Ezra. But at least we know why people set themselves apart at times. As the "West" impinges on Islam in the Levant or Middle East, as we call it, maybe there is some of this same desire for pure separation. Just as some Jews think other Jews are no better than pagans, so some Moslems feel the same way about other Moslems. Come to think of it, some Catholics feel that way about me. Gotta' go.
Saturday, October 3, 2015
I tend to "blame" someone or something for the reason I am late for an event or meeting. I rarely blame "me." It is never my fault. It is never about being self-absorbed. I may tend to do that one more "so important" thing. Or I choose to do, eat, get something that ate up time. Then I blame the traffic, even though there is always traffic. When I start out this way, it tends to bleed over into interactions with people. Things are their fault when things do not work out according to my plan. My plans are fine. People are uncooperative. Can not they read my mind? Each day, there is always that one more thing to be done, that if I leave it undone at the moment, I will be on time, the world will go on with my undone thing, and only people like me with their plans, will be upset. It is the domino effect. So I try to begin each day by being on time for the first thing I have to do. And if that happens to be prayer and meditation, so much the better.
Friday, October 2, 2015
I prefer the AA model of organization as opposed to the operative one in the Catholic Church. Why? In AA everyone is in charge of making the organization, the local group function. There are really no permanent givers and takers. At first one is a taker because they are such a mess. But if they stay, they begin to do some of the work. If you just show up when it suits you, soon enough you will drop out and probably go back to your misery. On the other hand, the Catholic model is to pray for vocations of priest and nuns so they can do the work while everyone else comes and goes as it suits them. The hierarchical model suits this modus operandi. The elderly who used to volunteer and take up positions of leadership are being replaced by people for whom volunteering is something, well, old people did. Parishes hire lay people but the model stays the same. The salaried and the ordained, or professed do the work. AA is full of people who know they need AA and will do lots to make AA function. There is no hierarchy around. I am not so sure that Catholics have this same sense of urgency.
Thursday, October 1, 2015
My church is beginning to show a growth in numbers of men who want to become priests, many of whom were born in this country. Seems like a good thing, no? Well maybe and maybe not. There are two things that young people grow up with in their world. One, there is little that seems permanent. Technology changes. Families move for jobs. Divorce. Different attitudes about God, church, belief and so on. The second thing they grow up with is that they are not so important. There may very well be no job for them in the secular world. They don't count. If there is a job it could be short term. Profits trump personnel. All this can bring a certain amount of anxiety and even fear. Some seminaries give a solution. Dress up in a lot of pomp and circumstance. Always wear your clerical clothes, very upscale clerical clothes. You are better than the laity. This answers the fear of being unimportant. The right clothes show importance, and that you are indeed different. They are taught that clothes will witness to their priesthood. Then the seminaries teach a return to a church in which these men never grew up. It is for the sake of tradition which means lots of focus on rules, how things are done, what is taught that mirrors a church before the 1960s, that decade of change and chaos. These young men have a sense of self-importance and wisdom based upon neither experience or the gospel. They like to live in the past and call it the present. They encourage the pious to become more pious and the thinkers, innovators, to leave. They endure Francis I.