Monday, November 30, 2015
I don't know how Catholics will react or not, to the bishops use of the term "Intrinsic Evil" to describe same sex unions, called marriage by the couple and many others. I will wait and see what kind of questions I get or responses I hear from people. Will the response be like the one on artificial contraception back in the late 60s? Some left, some stayed and some ignored the teaching. Catholics tend not so much to "leave" as to stop attending worship services and participating in Church community. I notice that Mormons seem to formally leave the church over their leaderships outlook on same sex couples. We will see.
Sunday, November 29, 2015
St. John Paul II was a philosopher. He wrote beautifully from a philosopher's prospective about being a Catholic or simply being a human being in the world. I was reading him recently and realized why so many people admired and loved him. He did not interfere much in lifestyle or pocket book. There are many people who are comfortable being Catholic so long as it does not challenge their lifestyle or their money. Pope Francis I does both and has critics who would not criticize John Paul II. John Paul II was against atheistic communism which did challenge the lifestyle and pocket books of a lot of people. Francis connects a belief in God with one's lifestyle and money. He is rather direct and not very much for philosophical language. Whenever you get right to the point you will offend people. Come to think of it, Jesus was pretty offensive.
Saturday, November 28, 2015
You can now get a new uterus. Well, that can be a game changer, or a life changer for that matter. Every year it seems a new body part is added to what science and surgery can replace in the human body. What about the spirit part if you believe in such? I do. Can I get a new soul? I think one can. Each person is like a surgeon who works in tandem with a spiritual force, like God in my case. You are the surgeon. Meditative prayer and loving kindness are the surgical tools you need. One is inner work and the other is outer work. Together they give you a new soul. Mine could use replacement. It is sotted with selfishness, fear, resentment and sundry bad habits. It likes sugar and gluten bread. I am working on it.
Friday, November 27, 2015
We seem to get very upset about radical fundamentalist groups destroying buildings of other religions and spiritual paths. "How can they do such a thing?" "What barbarians these people are!" And so on. But we should also look at our own side of the street. In my church we have people that are declared saints who tour down, destroyed what we call pagan temples. We think of pagans as people who believe nothing or at least don't believe in God. Then why did they build temples? They believed in something. Their problem was that they did not believe "correctly." They did not have the army or firepower to hold off the destroyers. My church destroyed no buildings until it got the backing of being a state approved religion. The radical fundamentalists of today just put up with "nonbelievers," or infidels as they call them because the fundamentalists did not have the guns, army or power to do anything else. Now they do. As did other religions in the past. This is all a bad thing, yes, but let us remember that we who condemn are not so innocent either.
Thursday, November 26, 2015
Happy Thanksgiving. I rarely have a bad day when I begin with gratitude and focus on things for which I am or ought to be thankful. When I don't assume or take people and situations for granted I am a better person. Today especially, I have my list of things and people for whom I am thankful and grateful. I tend to be a forgetter, which leads to whining and self-centeredness. I need lots of days of Thanksgiving. Today is a reminder. I am thankful for the few people who are taking time out from special events and food, to read this blog. Hey! Be thankful for me. Put me on your list.
Wednesday, November 25, 2015
I read where the term "mission" properly refers to conversion from idols to the one true God. Since Jews and Mainline Protestants already believe in the one true God, there should be no need to expend missionary zeal on converting them from their faith to the missionary's belief. A lot of missionary zeal has been spent on doing exactly that, trying to convert believers. Anti-Semitism and The Reformation fuel a lot of this zeal. Maybe the zeal should be directed to idol worshippers such as Wall Street and top floor corporate types who worship money? People tend to worship their addictions. "More" is a modern god. Alcoholics focus on booze, and do not come off it on a daily basis until they are converted to belief in a higher power. Find the addicts in your world and mission to them. Of course, you are not one of them. Be still my heart.
Tuesday, November 24, 2015
It seems that there is a movement to allow people a choice about when they die. The choice that is envisioned is someone who has medical options and insurance. They can undergo treatment or not. They may have undergone treatment and it did not work. Surgery did not work. Chemo did not work and so on. Do they go on suffering after all else has failed? This is how choice is envisioned by most people. But some people have no choice about treatment. They are poor and no one wants to do anything for them. The system cannot afford to care for them or is disinterested. Here Assisted Suicide says take a pill. Get out of your misery and cut the expenses of whatever system of dole is keeping you alive. Die and decrease the surplus population. We have enough poor as it is. Assisted suicide is a lot cheaper than health care.
Monday, November 23, 2015
Is there a Hell? Many people seem to think not. But I think that there has to be a place that honors our free choices. God is a Gentle God and has given us free will, though mine often seems to be bound by so many bad habits. I know people who are given a path of happiness, but seem to choose some other way that brings them misery. Eventually, they seem to deliver some of their misery to others. Now science seems to be saying that they had a chemical imbalance so they could not choose the truly good path for themselves. If so, is there not a spiritual imbalance in which we cannot choose the correct path? Try avoiding all spiritual practice, to include loving actions on behalf of others. Be selfish and self-imploded. Misery will be yours, chemical imbalance or not. If I die with a spiritual imbalance, or the lack of any spiritual maturity, will I not be given a choice by God for the next stage of my existence, should there be such an entity. I tend to believe there is an afterlife, and I will choose misery yet again, since this is how I managed or mismanaged my life up until then. God will honor my choice yet again as God did in this life. So there has to be a place or state of being for bad choices. I call it hell. I am trying to avoid it each day. I did a lot of bad choices, but thought them good ideas. Such people like me need a spiritual program, direction, and guides. Left to my own devices I will have a spiritual imbalance. Maureen said I was hopeless. I hope not.
Sunday, November 22, 2015
I like to fancy myself as a liberal Catholic, even a bit of a maverick. That is, until I lose something. Then I realize that I am a hard core Catholic. Recently, I was out for a jog on the ocean cliffs North of San Francisco, California. I took off my prescription sun glasses as I was running into a cave of trees. It was dark in there and I did not want to trip over a tree root. When I came out the other side into the sun, I put my glasses on but the vision seemed to be blurry. I ran for a while anyway, my blood cells all being in my legs and none in my brain. Finally, I took off my sun glasses, prescription of course, and found that a lens was in fact missing. It had fallen out somewhere. After shouting out a bad word or two, I started to retrace my steps. As I walked along, I prayed to Mary, my Guardian Angel and St. Jude and St. Anthony. Jude is for lost causes, which seems to be me, and Anthony for lost things. Oh, and I included God in my prayer. As I walked, I said "Hail Mary's." I found my lens. I said "Thank you," to my list of heavenly helpers. November is the Feast of All Saints Month and All Souls. I had included my deceased parents and even my deceased sister Maureen in my prayers for help. Maybe she nudged St. Anthony to help me. If so, Maureen would be in heaven now. Miracles never cease!
Saturday, November 21, 2015
This fellow fascinates me. He destroys stereotypes. In the 16th century he became a regular lawyer and then a canon lawyer in the church. You expect a paper pusher in a church office, disconnected from any social justice activity. On top of this, his uncle, the pope makes him a cardinal when Charles is only 23 and gives him an important job in the Vatican. Charles runs the third session of The Council of Trent, the session that got the most done in the Counter Reformation. He writes a catechism. Now you figure this fellow lives in his head and is a career seeking guy in the Vatican. Next he is made bishop of Milan, a neglected diocese. You figure he will neglect it to and just hang around the Vatican or feather his own nest. None of this happens. The secular press is confounded! Charles taught Sunday school, and attended personally to people in his diocese who were victims of the plague. He died at 46, which can happen when you immerse yourself in caring for victims of the plague. You just never know how grace is going to work in anyone's life. Don't judge. There are no stereotypes. Grace is everywhere. Maybe it is even in you!
Friday, November 20, 2015
I just read a wisdom saying in a gospel. "Everyone who does not renounce all their possessions cannot be my disciple." OK. I am not a follower of Jesus, who said this in Luke 14:33. But the only ones who I know who even remotely follow this are people in monasteries and cloisters. And some of them can be hoarders too. Does this mean that there are a lot of baptized people who are not really Christians? Perhaps. But wait, maybe there is hope for people like me. I have stuff. I have lots of stuff in some areas. Maybe my goal is to become detached from my stuff. Let go of the fear that there will not be enough. Let go of the "More" focus. I don't need more and I can let go of some of what I have, like a house cleaning. I put a note next to my bed and on my dresser that says, "I have plenty." I would get depressed if I wrote wisdom saying from the gospel because then I would awaken to my feebleness to follow the gospel. Work on attitude and things will fall into place. I hope so.
Thursday, November 19, 2015
If you don't care much for the term "God" because you don't believe in a god or have bad vibes about your god, why not try using the term "My Strength." I use this term myself sometimes. I know that left to my own unaided strength, I will not do very well. I need some strength that I do not innately have. I need help. When I meditate, I often sense, for part of the meditation, that I am connecting with some "Strength." I then feel better able to withstand temptations that go in the wrong direction, and to do what I know to be better for me. When I fail to attend to my inner life I mess up that very day. You don't have to have "faith" that there is something out there. Rather have faith that if you give yourself to some silence and solitude, you might experience a better day or at least be able to put up with "stuff" that comes along. I have found it so.
Wednesday, November 18, 2015
You hear about people who are at the top third or half of their class. You never hear about the other two thirds or bottom half. There cannot be a top third without a bottom two thirds. I always fulfilled the need for a bottom two thirds and sometimes a bottom half. I was average in school. Someone has to be this, otherwise how do you get "top" students. So don't put yourself down if you are like me. We had a purpose in school with our average grades. Maybe school, or the subjects we had to study, were not the place for us to shine. Growing up, becoming a good person, even transformed, is a lot about grace and a hard work that never seems to get graded. Look around. If goodness and kindness, compassion and love could be graded, you might be a top grade student of these virtues. There are a lot of school smart people who are not very nice to say the least. I grab all the grace I can get because I know I need it. Nothing came easy to me. This might have been a gift only lately appreciated.
Tuesday, November 17, 2015
In the days of chivalry, women were placed on pedestals by knights in shining armor. It helped that women died young, before menopause, or men died young before they had to live with women going through menopause. Now everyone lives longer and the pedestal is not so crowded, except with youth. In all my reading about or tests concerning marriage preparation, I never heard anything about menopause. Guys marry with ignorance. Maybe everyone does to some extent. Priest training is also bereft of any sessions about menopause. Women don't talk about it when going to their "confessor," and so priests simply give lame advice, "try harder." Good grief! Pastors who are in charge of a parish with women employees might be clueless too. Do you think that if women were priests we might all hear and learn more about menopause?
Monday, November 16, 2015
Marcellus was a soldier. Then he became a Christian. Next, he announced that as a Christian, he could no longer serve in the armies of the world. He served Christ. The emperor had Marcellus killed. Upon reflection, I realize that the one thing big religions have in common is that they are ready to fight wars to beat people who don't agree with them or hassle them. Christianity became willing to fight wars, over theology, land, power, and security. It became quite big. Quakers are not so big. Jews got wiped out by Hitler. They did not have an army. Islam is pretty big. Quakers have no country that we call "Quaker Nation." Some places that have armies say that they are Buddhist, but not really. They have no practice of meditation in their armies. Hinduism is big. They have the Bhagavad-Gita. It is about a battle. My religion developed the just war theory. Jesus did not have that. Just war helped us to get over the teachings of Jesus not agreeing with having armies to fight "our enemies." Would we Christians still exist without our armies? Maybe. What do you think?
Sunday, November 15, 2015
Stunned and horrified is how I felt when I saw the news on the TV. There will be many responses to the killing. I had lunch with a friend yesterday and she was all for killing every Muslim Fundamentalist. She was tired and cranky at that moment. I suggested that we need to pray. It might not be a bad idea to pray to Allah God, since under this name damage is being done. I pray to God for Mercy. The year of Mercy starts soon and we sure could use a lot of it. God have mercy on all of us who are suffering under this torment of radical hate, indifference to human life, and narrow-mindedness. Let none of these traits be part of the solution. But governments and nations generally do not see their power in the Spiritual, but rather the Military. So I will be praying while others prepare to amount attacks. I am not saying we should do nothing, but rather I will do what I can. I have no army and no military budget. My prayer will be part of the mix.
Saturday, November 14, 2015
It is a gift in my life to have smart friends who do silly things. I have a friend who is an accountant, has her own business. She is really smart. Sometimes she does silly things, like wipe all the data off her computer. I am sad for her, but this gives me some hope about myself. When I do silly things, and the list is long, I put myself down as being stupid. I do silly things because I am stupid and less than. A general mess of a person. But if my smart friends do silly things, then maybe I am smart too? I have no perfect friends. That would be too depressing. A lot of people want perfect friends. So they avoid me. I like my friends who do silly things. Don't hide your silliness. You do not know who it will benefit that day. So many people want perfect priests and have little use for me. My friends sustain me. Maybe I should stop writing about my silliness in my blog so that more Catholics will like me?
Friday, November 13, 2015
My friend Mary will not be leaving the church because of the movie, "Spotlight." Like many people, Mary knows all about the pedophile scandal in our church. She reads. She studies. Like my sister, Jane, Mary goes to church for the community of people and the sacraments, the Eucharist especially. She is rightly horrified by the scandal, yet she does not see the church as prelate focused. She sees it as a community of persons who gather to worship and receive communion, to be with Jesus in host and one another. People who say they left because of the scandal, may never have had the church experience that Mary has. Community and sacraments were never a very integral part of "faith" for them. They were half out the door already. The scandal is that we, the church, did not provide the community or the sacrament in a way that made for vitality of faith. We are bending over backwards to deal with the pedophile scandal, but I think we have a lot more work to do on welcoming and integrating the visitor, the new person, into our local worshipping community.
Today is like no other day you will have in your lifetime. It is a date with three consecutive odd numbers in a row: November 13, 2015 or 11-13-15. This will never happen again. Why not think of every day as a singular day, a gift, that you will never have again. Each day is only for that day. Make the most of it. You will never have this day or each day again. One of them will be your last. Do you want it to be one where you stared at a computer, TV or had a drag out argument with someone and felt resentment as your overriding feeling for that singular day? Gift! It is all gift. Well, you started it out right by reading my Blog!
Thursday, November 12, 2015
Two movies are coming out nationally soon. I saw them both when I was in LA this week. "Spotlight" will show my church at its worst. It is about priests preying on children that go reported by the Boston Globe back in 2002. I don't know what the fallout will be for my church over this. Wait and see. There is another movie coming out at the same time, "Brooklyn." It is a love story that begins in Ireland and ends in Brooklyn. Among other things it shows my church at its best, helping its people. When people had no phones and could not pay for a call anyway, who provided the phone and payed the bill? When Irish wanted to come to America after WWII who found them a place to live and a job? Who paid for their education so they could advance in our country? Who fed the poor old-timers, the forgotten men who built our bridges and roads but were now destitute? Who listened when there was no family around to listen? It was my church at its best. After "Spotlight" I have to remind myself that my church has done some wonderful things as well. I take the good with the bad.
Wednesday, November 11, 2015
A few years ago there was a free trade agreement between us and Mexico. NAFTA. It was supposed to be a good deal for all. No messy tariffs that keep trade out. Everyone wins right? Wrong. Seems we subsidize farmer here. They grow surplus corn. We sell it at low prices to Mexico. Sounds good? Problem is there were subsistence, i.e. poor farmers in Mexico who could not compete with the imported, now lower priced corn. Consumers at the grocery store liked the price. The poor farmer went out of business. Then he came here with his family and we got upset that all these poor Mexicans are coming into our country. I have done deals that look really good because I focus on who benefits. If my vision shows "all" benefit, it might be that my "all" does not really include all. It often includes only those with a voice. I am trying to be a bit more careful about blaming people for being poor, as if they could be otherwise.
Tuesday, November 10, 2015
Picking up on yesterday's blog and my airport trip, I continued to disfunction after I got to the airport. I took my cell phone and holster off my belt and rested it on the handle of my suitcase. I forgot I did this, when I started rolling my suitcase toward the plane with the handle extended. Many steps through the airport to the farthest gate, I trudged. I went down the gateway and just before I got onto the plane, I lowered my handle. That is when I saw my cell phone still wedged precariously next to my name label on the suitcase. You tell me there is no God? There must be because I am not capable of taking care of myself. What a hell it would have been to be on the plane, and find out I had no cell phone. Maybe I am going to burn later? My sister Maureen said it would be so.
Monday, November 9, 2015
I went to the local bus terminal to catch a bus to the airport. It leaves once every hour. There is an announcement over the loudspeaker when the bus is ready for boarding. I looked out and saw no driver, nor were the luggage bins open. So I went to the bathroom. When I came out the bus was gone. No announcement. Nothing. I panicked with fear. I went to a nearby hotel hoping there was a shuttle. No shuttle. I will miss my plane. My life is ruined. There was a simple answer but fear blocked it out. Someone had a car. We could have chased down the bus which has several stops before it hits the highway. This never occurred to me until I was sitting at the airport and my heart settled down. Fear always seems to trump brain functioning. A friend, now a saint in my book, drove me to the airport. Even in my fear, God was with me. I give God credit when good things happen, like a friend coming to take me in my panic to the airport. All Saints Day my friend is on my list of saints.
Sunday, November 8, 2015
The bishop's synod used the term, "consensual dialog" when speaking about couples and their decision to have children. What this may mean in terms of Artificial Contraception I do not know. Maybe nothing. The 1968 teaching still stands as far as I can tell, but this term hangs out there and we will see if it goes anywhere down the road. Don't hold your breath.
Saturday, November 7, 2015
REI, the outdoor clothing and paraphernalia store chain, will be closed on Black Friday. They say they want all their employees to enjoy the outdoors which is the focus of REI. Be outdoors! Well, isn't finding a parking place at the outer edges of a huge shopping mall, being in the great outdoors, with a long trek to the front door of the mall? Isn't walking about an outdoor mall being in the great outdoors? That is where I will be with my sister Jane, out shopping in LA with its beautiful November weather and lots of sales if you get lucky. I enjoy the excitement of it all. I used to take my mother out shopping on Black Friday in Vero Beach, Florida. LA has lots more stores. All that holds us back is a full parking lot. Century City, my favorite mall of all, can get full pretty early. Does anyone know the saint you pray to for 50% or better sales? Oh, and the saint for parking too. I forget that one.
Friday, November 6, 2015
I went to the home of a dying woman to say mass for her and her family. She is paralyzed from the neck down and is bedridden. We set the altar up high enough so she could see it at the end of her hospital bed. When it came time for communion, she wanted to drink of the Precious Blood of Christ from the cup. She could not drink directly from the cup, so we used a straw to dip a drop onto her tongue. I don't think that was lawful, but it did seem merciful and practical. I may have to burn for this. What do you think?
Thursday, November 5, 2015
I had just finished giving one of my talks on prayer. As I was gathering up my things I saw a woman looking at some books I had placed on a table. I started up a conversation. Up until then I had been wondering if I am making any difference, if all I say is of any use, or helpful. Or is it time to go into the silence of a hermit. I think that way sometimes, so feedback helps. Anyway, this woman became a moment of grace. She said, "You have a very simple way of saying things that is helpful to me." Well, that made my day! On to another teaching, and put off finding a cave for yet another time.
Wednesday, November 4, 2015
I love this term, "Invaded By Calm." The word invasion connotes something foreign or not normal to a place, an outsider. For many of us, being anxious, restless and irritable seems to be such a norm, that calm is an invasion. How sad that it has come to this. I suffer the same invasion frequently when I sit and meditate. Up until then I am often not even aware of how unsettled I am feeling. But it is better to be invaded by calm, then to have no calm at all.
Tuesday, November 3, 2015
I noticed that the final letter/document of the bishop's synod did not use any negative or pejorative terms for gay and lesbian persons. Nothing about being abnormal. Sometimes, there is quite a bit said when something is not said. One archbishop was heard to say that we need to stop using negative language when speaking about gays and lesbians. Mercy!
Monday, November 2, 2015
Well, the shoe is on the other foot now that this bishop synod is done. In the past when I opened my big mouth and said something outrageous to conservatives, such as being open to gays and lesbians, I would hear that I should leave the church for not following the bishops. Now that the synod is more open to ministering to gays and lesbians, these same people say that the don't care what the bishops say. These conservatives won't change their negative opinions. Why is it that I have to follow the bishops but they don't? Maybe prejudice hides behind whatever agrees with it.
Sunday, November 1, 2015
Today, my youngest sister, Jane, turns 65. Now we siblings are all senior citizens. She was born on a Holy Day in our church, All Saints Day. The day she was born, I was disappointed. I already had two sisters, including the formidable Maureen. I was the only boy, and wanted a brother to even things up. Now there would be three girls and me. Yuck! Except to torment Jane now and again, along with my sister Maureen, I had very little to do with Janie, as we called her. We also called her the gas baby. I was cruel, but an altar boy as well. Janie turned out to be a gift in my life, totally unearned and when young, unappreciated. She is my only sibling who likes sports. We are very compatible when vacationing. We need no big agendas. We can enjoy each other's company and talk about Maureen. Janie is the only sibling who cooks like my Mom. We like the same foods, coffee with half and half, and treats. Some of the best gifts are the ones we never ask for.