Sunday, June 25, 2017

Cue

Think of yourself being on stage in a play.  You have lines to say, but for some reason, at this moment, you cannot find them in your memory bank.  You "know" your lines, you have said them before, but at this moment you are empty!  What to do?  You look to offstage for a cue.  The director, offstage, in a stage whisper, gives you your line, and that is all you need to continue on with the play.  Well, meditation is like getting a cue.  Sometimes, you just feel empty.  You know from past meditations, that you have what you need inside of you, but at this moment you cannot access it.  Meditation is the "cue."  You sit and wait.  That inside presence, your director,  whispers the connective line, if you will, and you relax.  Life is like a play.  Shakespeare said something about this.  God is my director, but sometimes I am just befuddled.  So I have to wait a moment, and get in touch with that whisper inside of me.  Then I feel a bit more connected to myself, the world around me, and can be of better service.

Happy Birthday

Today is my sister Elizabeth's birthday.  She just moved into a new place in Del Rey Beach, Florida, right downtown where stuff is happening.  Elizabeth is old but not dead.  She likes to be where things are going on, art, theatre, learning centers.  She still has her brains intact so learning centers work for her.  She is a younger than me, but then so is most everyone else now.  If anyone on Facebook has befriended her, this is your chance to say Happy Birthday, Elizabeth.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Interfaith

Our minds can only think thoughts and concepts.  So think of the Absolute, as beyond all concepts, totally unapproachable by the mind.  Whatever you might think of the Absolute, call it God, or whatever, it is beyond that.  But the Absolute wants to communicate with us humans.  So the Absolute manifests itself to us in our human reality.  This could be Christ, Krishna, Buddha for instance.  They are not all the same, as is obvious from any study you might do.  But each is not a partial revelation of the Absolute.  The Absolute cannot be broken into parts. They are not each pieces of a puzzle, called the Absolute.  Each revelation is the fullness of whatever the Absolute can reveal to our limited perspective of mind, soul, human makeup.  So Jesus is neither a partial revelation nor the only revelation.  Neither is Buddha, Krishna, and Allah.  They are all fullness but in different ways, appealing to different cultures and humankind.  Only the mystic sees something of oneness underlying revelation.  So why proclaim or follow Jesus?  For me, it is the fullness of revelation on my spiritual path.  It is my way of accessing what I call God.  To me he is everything.  I proclaim this revelation to all hoping that it may resonate with some.  But I do not say "I am right.  You are wrong."  Nor is it relativity, that is, "We are all the same."  What I have learned from my contemplative practice is that we do have differences, deep differences.  I have the gift of faith in the revelation of Jesus Christ, but it may not be a universal path for all people.  So why did Jesus say to go baptize the world?  So that we could come across "the other" and maybe through deeper prayer, learn to love one another rather than kill one another for what the mind perceives as differences. Plus, we might learn something more about our Christ from the perspective of adepts in other paths. We might learn to talk to others about our Christ from within their culture.  There is only one Absolute, and it is beyond all paths.  But I for one need a path or I am lost.  My preaching shares my Christian path.  It is expanded and deepened by contemplation.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Dogma On The Brain

People who believe in dogma say that it is a revelation from God.  Be it so for the believer, dogma is still something that is in the realm of the mind, thought processes, categories and the like.  There is no such thing as dogma sitting out there somewhere in its own space, separate from the mind.  Dogma is a way that the Absolute, who is beyond all dogma, communicates with humans in their heads.  Some people would say that dogma is everything, and is the complete understanding of the Absolute, who they usually call God.  But we know that we are more than our minds.  Mystics try to tell us this.  There is something deeper, and even other, than mind.  It is something beyond mind, and mediation can be the roadway to this.  It is beyond concepts, beyond dogma, and even beyond words, but that does not mean it is fantasy or illusion.  Dogma is all about the Absolute, but it is not identical to the Absolute, who is beyond all concepts.  This is why mystics tend to let go of dogma.  It might have served them for a while in their spiritual journey, but they have discovered another level of reality, sometimes referred to as the really Real.  It is beyond mind and dogma.  My religious path has both dogma and contemplative mysticism.  Dogma appealed to my earlier stages of the journey when I was all about thought, mind, intellect, and being right as opposed to being wrong, heretical, pagan, atheist.  It served me, but it lacked a fullness.  Ironically, I am becoming most ME when I let go of being me.  You can never be one with the Absolute, without surrender of the mind world, ego world, and separate self world.  And you cannot think your way there.  Surrender that control world of imaging, and let yourself be led to something "less," and deeper, beyond.  Happy Nirvana! Meanwhile, I will just keep doing these blogs.

Tough Crowd

Well it looks like nearly anyone was interested in my Mandelbrot blog yesterday and that cosmic stuff.  Boy, you are a touch crowd to please.  You may not like the one tomorrow on interfaith either.  I will see.  I am trying to expand my horizons.  Give me some love!  There is another blog today.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Mandelbrot

Look up Mandelbrot as in Benoit Mandelbrot.  What the Mandelbrot set says is that you are a replica of the universe.  Say what?  Christians say that each person is in the image and likeness of God.  For them, each person replicates the universal Godness.  In Hinduism, the particular soul is the Atman and each Atman has the identical structure of Brahman, the spiritual nature of the cosmos.  The Bhagavad Gita says, "See the Atman in every creature, and all of creation in the Atman."  So if you are having a bad day, putting yourself down or being put down, remember that you are a walking universe, and if you cannot walk, you are still a universe in miniature.  Aging, unemployment, illness, does not change this.  I feel better already!

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Intercessory Prayer

Numerous studies, scientific ones, indicate that intercessory prayer improves the healing of a patient. It does not matter where you are physically in relation to the patient, in the room or in a different country.  It is all part of the scientific "Quantum" world of interconnection.  So if you are praying for someone, don't mind if others call you a simpleton.  Science is scratching it s head over this phenomenon.  What the contemplative world says is that God is everywhere, so we are all interconnected anyway.  Your prayer might send vital, positive energy toward someone.
It helps if the person you are praying for wants to get well.  Some just want their opioid fix, or prefer to wallow in self-pity.  But pray anyway.  Who knows.

Corpus Christi Homily At Monastery Sunday, June 18, 2017

HOMILY NOTES
FR. TERRY RYAN, CSP
FEAST OF CORPUS CHRISTI
JOHN 6: 51-58
JUNE 18, 2017

         When I was a boy in the Bronx in Catholic elementary school, when the priest came into our classroom we would ask him questions about when the communion bread became the Body of Jesus?  What if the priest messed up the Latin words, would it still be Jesus?  What if the priest dropped dead before he finished the words, would it be bread or Jesus?  And if a person in mortal sin came to receive, would Jesus leave the host that went onto their tongue?  We tried to stump Father. 

         Nowadays there is another way that some of us look at the Eucharist.  Bonaventure said that Christ is in all.  Christ does not enter creation through Latin words, or special vernacular words.  Plus, science is beginning to tell us, with computers, telescopes, that each of us is the universe, that our individual chemistry has what makes up the universe, if you look microscopically deep enough.  There is the talk of Holons, and so forth. 

         With Bonaventure, the Franciscan view, and modern science, when Jesus held up the bread and said, “This is my body,” he was simply saying what is already there.  All is Christ.  So what is Jesus doing?  He is not making the bread his body, it is already that, just as we are, but he is giving it meaning, energy and challenge to all those who dare to eat it.  He is saying that he will always be with us, that he is always relational, and that if we eat of this food, then we need to become and act like his words challenge us to do.

         He says this bread is his body given up for others. Can that be our body too?  Will we give up of ourselves for others in Love.   Will we pour ourselves out for others in a bonded way, forgiving others even when they don’t ask for it or change their behavior?  Will we see ourselves as one with all creation, rather than better or worse than?  Will we selfishly use up creation for our own wants?  Will we ultimately be about others, and “follow” Jesus rather than the easier path of Belief? 


         The question is not when does the communion wafer become Christ.  The question is when do we who dare to eat it act like Christ in he world.  What has to be changed is us?  That is the transformation the world needs. 

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Thin Membrane

Some people say that they don't meditate because they don't believe in God, being that mediation is all about God thinking.  Maybe not.  Mediation, for me, is more about not paying attention to my thinking mind.  So, whether I believe in God or not, is of no consequence.  I try not to pay attention or to focus on thoughts anyway.  Besides, such thoughts are only my thoughts.  So what might happen if I meditate?  Well, a thin membrane, if you will, surrounds my crazy, thinking mind, and sets up a barrier, between my mind and my actions.  After mediation, I might experience the world around me, people, places, and things, with new insight.  Why? Because my mind, which houses judgments, false pride, bloated ego, or wounded ego, negative emotions that have little to do with reality, and so on, no longer get in the way of seeing and experiencing the world in this new post mediation way.  My mind houses and releases a lot of emotions that do me little good in most cases. The thin membrane keeps all this in check.  But it is thin, so I have to meditate regularly.   So, mediation is not so much about God, as it is about emotional sobriety.  I have found it so.

Monday, June 19, 2017

The Teenager

The reason I think I am good with teenagers is because I was one for so long.  I had arrested teenageness.  When I fell in love, I became emotionally drunk.  As we know, when drunk, we make silly decisions and do even sillier things.  When not with my beloved, I was unhappy in my own skin, discontented being with me.  This is teenage romance, except I lived it way past chronicle teenage years.  When I got dumped, which was inevitable, I got angry at her and felt deep self-pity for me.  I grieved as a teenager might do.  Then something happened and I began to receive the gift of emotional sobriety.  What happened?  I came to realize that the problem was me.  This is when I began to grow up.  Whenever something bothered me, or I felt wronged, or innocently rebuffed, I asked myself what is my part in all this?  It may be that the event or person in question did register negative on my radar, but often I found this was because I had unwarranted expectations, or was plain ole jealous, or had undue pride, or felt I am the center of the universe, and so on.  When I could get out of my own way, and recognize my part in an emotional wave, I calmed down.  I found that the same so called negative events did not bother me anymore, and often they were not so negative at all.  Sometimes I have to laugh at myself, but you can't, or else I will put you on my resentment list and off my preyer list!  Oops!  Felling like a teen there for a moment.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

How We Do It

It is not what we do that makes us holy, but that we make holy what we do.  Mister Eckhart and Krisha said this, for instance.  A lot of people focus on devotional activities thinking that it will make them holy.  Then they wonder why they do not seem to be getting much better in spite of all the time in church, temple, ashram, or their special holy place.  Other people thinking they have not the time for all these devotions, assume they will never become holy.  Not to worry.  A way to holiness is first, stop trying to get holy by direct actions you deem "holy."  Rather, before you do something, direct it to the One, the Source, the Infinite, God or whatever your title.  You might say something simple like, "May I do this for your greater honor, to praise you, and give myself to you.  May your will be done in this task I am about to undertake."  Or some words to that effect.  It brings the spiritual journey into the daily life activities and relationships.  We get away from separating spiritual from secular.  We enter more into the "Allness" of life.  And we keep the Divine, the Infinite, the Supreme, in mind on a more continuing basis.  I do this before entering a blog.  Sometimes, God is praised.  Sometimes not so much.  Keeps me humble.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Relief For Not From

Many a believer prays for relief from pain and difficulty so that they will feel better.  "God, or whoever, I feel so bad, please take away my pain and misery."  Sometimes such prayers add on a codicil, that the sufferer will be good in the future if healed.  I've been there.  A bit self-centered, I have learned from adepts in spiritual growth.  I have discovered a prayer that asks for relief from difficulties, even from bondage to such self-centeredness, in order TO HELP OTHERS!  What?  Yes, it is prayer that began to get me out of myself.  I sometimes feel so compelled to a bad habit, that only the thought of not doing it, in order to help others, makes me pull back from my bad behavior.  That is real change.  So the next time you think of going down the drain yet one more time, your will-power broken, think of being of use to others.  Like who and how?  Pick up the phone and call someone.  Ask them how they are doing.  Have a list of people who might benefit from a call, a sick person, an elderly person living alone, a recent widow or widower, a recent marriage breakup person, or just a friend.  Even us selfish people have someone who is a friend.  Oh the recovery from insanity!

Friday, June 16, 2017

Radio Flyer

The Radio Flyer was a red metal wagon.  I had one when I was a boy.  I loved my Radio Flyer, but there was a sibling issue.  I liked to sit in the flyer when I was little and have someone pull me along.  Who had time for such pulling? My big Sister Maureen.  But Maureen neither liked me or my wagon.  The wagon was kept in the basement of our apartment building with other big toys.  The basement was dark and had monsters when I was little. They went away when I got older.  Maureen did not like the basement.  She was not afraid of monsters.  They were her kind of people.  But she did not like spiders.  Spiders, me and the Radio Flyer were on her avoidance list.  I would go get the wagon and bring it outside.  "Maureen, would you please pull me along in the wagon?" I asked nicely.  "NO!" she replied not so nicely.  I appealed to a higher authority, our mother.  I was spoiled and Maureen knew it.  I became a priest so that mothers would spoil me.  But I digress.  Mom said to Maureen, "If you pull your little brother in his wagon you get days off from purgatory."  What was that?  "I already have Terry.  I am going straight to heaven," she retorted.   I learned later in life that purgatory appeals are the Irish Catholic way of "Offering it up."  We expect suffering and some of us even encourage it, so purgatory makes it all useful.  So Maureen pulled the wagon, but her heart was not in it.  That is why she had to go to purgatory anyway.  It is really tough to be a Catholic.  You have to accept, even embrace suffering, and do it with a joyous heart.  Even now, being still somewhat self-centered, I find it is easy to get pious Catholics, in the post-modern world, to do stuff to make me feel better.  I tell them what my Mom told Maureen.  "You will get days off from purgatory."  Why won't I go to purgatory?  I grew up with a monster big sister.  God knew I would be bad, so God gave me Maureen, to pay now and not later.  Thank you Maureen for the free ride, in my Radio Flyer, to heaven.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Father Podachek

 We moved from the Bronx to White Plains when I was 12,  and our new parish, St. Bernard's, had a priest in residence named Father Podachek.  He had a little bit of an East European accent, but his English was fine.  His day job was in New York City working for the Archdiocese in a national or international ministry.  He was "in residence," in the parish.  He was not on the staff.  On weekends, when he was in town,  Fr. Podachek would say Sunday mass and preach.  The other priests were OK to dreadful in the pulpit.  Many of us looked forward to Fr. Podachek.  He was always personable and his preaching was wonderful.  Now, for a few here in Boulder, I have become their Fr. Podachek.  Sometimes, don't you wonder if you make any difference?  And then you think of someone you admire, and make a connection with your own life.  Fr. Podachek married my sister Maureen to her husband Fred.  He was always helpful, and not so focused on the rules.  Children like me admired him.  He had no say about what went on in the parish politics, yet he had a profound influence on our spiritual life.  I think I at times channel  Fr. Podachek.  Right now, me, a "mere" in residence priest, am feeling pretty good about my life and priesthood.  One or two here in Boulder would agree.  Well, it's a start.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Dating Me

So you are having trouble getting a date? Or a date you don't later regret?  Why not "date yourself?" I learned to do this.  Rather than sit around missing out on things because I do not have a date, I decided that I can take myself out and see how it goes.  I first went to a movie by myself.  Then it was plays, museums, parks and I found in all this that I could enjoy being with me.  I could decide to eat when and where and what I wanted.  I did not have to negotiate or compromise.  I could see as much of a museum as I wanted, and then leave.  I could walk home from events and not worry about someone else getting tired and needing to ride.  I learned all about public transportation.  I did not need a car for my date.  And I could change my plans spontaneously.  I became a pretty good date for me.  If I truly believed that the Spirit or Power or Ultimate Reality is always with me, than I am not really alone, and I can stop anywhere and meditate as the energy invites me.  All this keeps me from isolating.  It gets me out and among people.  I can chat with someone at one of these events if I feel so moved.  Find out if you like yourself.  Take yourself out for dates.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Brain Drain

Why do people continue running in a marathon when they ought to stop?  Why run marathons at all? It begins with the brain.  The brain is 80% water and receives 15%-20% blood circulation. That takes water to circulate.  When running, the running muscles cry out for water.  Where do they get it?  From the brain.  The result is that the muscles can run a bit longer, but because the brain has given up its water, and blood circulation, the brain is drained and cannot tell the running muscles to stop.  Long before the marathoner hits the 23 mile wall (a marathon is 26.2 miles) he/she should have stopped.  The last three miles are very slow and painful.  This brain drain works in many other areas.  You don't drink enough water, and so the brain is consistently deprived especially if you are "busy" with office work, errands, cleaning and running about.  What happens? You do stupid things and ask yourself, "Why did I do that? What was I thinking?"  You were thinking nothing and working much.  The smartest person in our office is Kirsten Wood.  Why?  Are we all dummies? No, but Kirsten drinks a sufficient amount of water, while we drink coffee or nothing and dehydrate.  Except for Kirsten, our office has various stages of brain dead times.  Drink more water. Become smart.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Monastery Life

I arrived at the monastery on a sunny morning.  By the time I had unpacked the car, it was raining.  This is what you would call, "A bad day to hay."  You cannot harvest hay when it rains.  We get a lot of days like this.  Retreatants enjoy the sunshine, and then they go inside to read or pray.  Hay Ranchers like to pray and read too, but not when it is hay time.  God can have early morning, nighttime and evenings for our prayer.  Hay Ranchers wants the daytime, the long summer daytime with no rain, so as to harvest hay.  God does not always cooperate.  Maybe God has other plans?  God made cows, and they want hay, so why does God not cooperate on a more timely fashion?  Hay Ranching Monks need to do a lot of surrendering to God's will, and acceptance while spending all this predawn and evening time in meditation, singing psalms, and loving the God who is quite mysterious.  The spiritual adept monk here is not one who has lots of wise sayings or is well read in mystic spirituality, or who looks caught up in a rapture of spiritual union.  He is a guy in dirty jeans, who shrugs his shoulders when it rains, and just waits another day.  His daytime prayer happens while he deals in grease and diesel fuel.  So when you meditate, and think now you and God are on your plan for the day, or your life, and it does not work out as you planned, just get onto the next task.  God is at work, but not on your schedule.  I hear the distant thunder.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

The Award

I remember sitting at my High School Graduation.  The time came when awards were announced and the recipient's name was read out for each award.  As expected, the smart guys got called up to receive this and that scholarship.  Since I was not going to get anything, being "average" in my class, I was rather passively listening.  Suddenly, an award, of which I knew nothing about was mentioned, and my name was called.  Me?  What had I done?  Anyway, to my further surprise, it had something to do with being a good, acomplished person, as in better than "average."  I find this kind of award to be quite satisfying as well as surprising.  Don't manipulate or politic.  Be dutiful as yourself.  From time to time in my priesthood people have come up to me and said, "Father, you make such a difference in my life," or "I am so glad that you are here."  As with that long ago graduation surprise, I don't think I do much of anything except be around and try to stay out of trouble.  Amazing Grace!  We often cannot connect the love people have for us with anything we have done.  They just might love us because of who we are, not so much any one thing we did.  Of course, when no one reads my blog then "average" is reinforced.  I will see how this one turns out. Oops! Forgot.  It is not what I do.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Grant

There is a famous prayer that begins, "God, grant me the serenity..." and goes on from there.  I am reminded that the word "grant" means gift.  You don't earn a grant.  It is a gift.  You cannot do much to get it, but ask.  It is a way to keep you right sized.  When you write for a research grant or tuition grant, and get it, you are beholden to the giver, one would hope.  But I have found that what many people really mean when they say this prayer is, "God give me what you owe me for my being so good and working so hard to stay better than I used to be."  I have found that I can be doing the same spiritual stuff each day, or what I call spiritual, and some days I do feel serene and others not so much.  I get to whining about howI  have been abandoned or am being punished for past misdeeds, or God just hates me.  I equate my good deeds with earning an IOU that God should honor.  I miss out on the gift of life.  So much is gift.  Joy comes when I realize how little control I have and how blessed I am inspite of myself.  Then I begin to practice good behavior because it serves someone else, or makes the world a better more compassionate place.  Don't you have days when you simply cannot get out of yourself?

Friday, June 9, 2017

Wonder Woman

The new movie, "Wonder Woman," is going to be a big summer hit.  It has two things that interest me.  The power of a woman and her interaction with guys.  It might be a great movie for Middle Schooler girls.  We tell these girls that they have power and can use it to make the world a better place for love, kindness, compassion and peace.  These same girls are at that age when they are coming to discover boys in adolescent stages of intimacy.  How do I dress?  What do I say?  So, at the same time that girls are learning their own inner power, they are learning about their coming of age with guys.  Wonder Woman lives in a land of all women.  Then a guy literally drops in and lets her know that the world is a mess.  It goes on from there.  Now I will be at a monastery where I am supposed to be getting holy.  Seeing Wonder Woman would not be a good fit.  It will be my summer penance.  I could use some power too.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

The First Day

I celebrate today because many years ago I had a drink in Vienna.  Why celebrate that?  Because I have not had another one since and only had that one beer, a miracle in itself for me. Today, would never have happened if I had not picked up the phone about 18 months before this Vienna evening.   Back then it was going to be my last day, or the first day of a new way of living.  I did not want any more of the pain of my past/present life, but was scared of my solution.  It was one of the few times that fear kept me around to tell this tale.  I made a call for help, and made a second call to a friend because I did not think it a good idea to be with me, alone.  Alone, I had made too many destructive decisions.  Sanity was breaking in on a party gone stale.  I had many happy and fulfilling moments before all this.  Some would say I was successful in what I did.  But it was never enough.  My dark side just would not stay away.  I had a self-destructive side that disguised itself as "fun."  But grace got me through that day and many more since.  Grace Power.  I have trudged this new way of life, except for the Vienna beer, and it has not been easy.  Vienna taught me the "cravings." You see, wherever I go, I go with me.  On my good days, I see that I am about to act like a jerk, but grace power intervenes and I do not reveal my silliness to those around me. I may think like a jerk, but do not act like one.  Bad days, I am on display in all my messiness.  But since that day long ago, I don't do the behavior that almost killed me.  For some reason, always uplifting, many people seem to like to be with me.  Some even think I am a spiritual guide, a support to their efforts to be better persons.  I used to think they had a low bar for friends, but I have come to realize I am a lot better than my crazy mind thinks.  Well, it can keep me in humility.  And honesty has helped me.  If I get any more honest in these blogs, all the holy people will stop reading me.  Maybe you are just struggling enough, that I can be of some service to you in this missive.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Running To School

I am a big fan of long distance running.  Kenyans seem to dominate in this running distance.  Why?  They live at altitude, yes, but then so do many people in other countries including my own.  They run to school, often in bare feet.  They have to go miles to get to their school.  Interesting.  Think of someone who would run miles in not the best shoes and not the best roads, to go to elementary school.  Mere children.  Are the schools in Kenya the best?  I doubt they are stellar or wealthy with resources.  Now, in this country, there are children who live a few blocks from school, and don't go, or if they go, are not interested.  I don't think I would run five miles to go to school unless I had to.    But 5 miles?  What if my school was so so?  It is not that our schools are so bad and dangerous that you cannot learn though this is a problem.  People are getting killed on the roads and byways of Kenya. their economy is struggling.  I am fascinated by people who will go to great effort to learn when the deck is stacked against them, and others who just give excuses for the same deck.
 But even at its best here, schools with lots of resources and safety, would a kid go run five miles to a school?    And so the Kenyans continue to win.  Want a free ride to a good college?  Start running five miles back and forth to elementary school.  Invest in good shoes too.  As with many things, it depends on how badly you want something.  Kenyans want it.  They challenge me in my own goals.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Pray For Me

From time to time I meet someone who says they wish so and so would pray more.  Some people try to model a prayer life for others.  I have seen Moms who practically live in church but their children pray no at all or so it seems to Mom.  What to do?  Well, something that I have found to work is to love someone who you wish would grow in a spiritual life.  Just love on them.  Then, after a while, ask them to pray for you.  It rarely occurs to the non-prayer person that someone good and loving would want their prayers.  And so they begin to pray, haltingly, since they are not sure what to pray for much less how. but it is a start.  You are a focus for their prayers.  They pray for you because you, who love them, requested prayer.  Nagging people is the basis for a miserable relationship on any spiritual plain.

Monday, June 5, 2017

Donut Spirituality

Homily Notes
June 4, 2017
Pentecost

I was out doing errands one morning and saw a sign outside a coffee shop that said, "National Donut Day."  I thought it was a scam to induce people to buy a coffee and get a free donut.  Well, it turns out that June 2 is National Donut Day!  It goes back to WWI in France when rationing made it impossible for women to bake cakes and pies for the soldiers at the Front.  So they invented the donut.  Nothing in the middle.  Imagine no donuts before WWI.  So, June 2 honors the "donut girls."
On Pentecost we are reminded that we are filled with the Holy Spirit, which should propel us to do lots of good for the world with joy!  Some days not so much.  I have days when I feel nothing of God inside me.  I can go to communion and feel no different than if I stayed home.  I feel empty, abandoned, ignored by God.  Yet I have to go out and do the best that I can to be of use and not make a mess of people's lives.  Those are my "Donut Spirituality" days.  I feel empty, like the middle of the donut, but I then try and remember that this Spirit is all around me, like the donut that surrounds the hole in the middle.  Wherever I go, empty as I may feel, the Spirit goes with me, like the donut and the hole.  Whatever surprising good that I might do, it is the energy and power of the Spirit that surrounds me.  I know people who go to meetings, feeling empty when they walk in, and then feel surrounded by love.  It was that same Spirit that got them to the meeting in the first place.  So when you are feeling empty, with little motivation, think of the donut and donut spirituality.  I think I would like to go get me a donut right now!  Yummy.    

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Lost And Found

Remember the Lost and Found Departments or box?  I have felt like a lost item that got found.  I think this can be a good thing, to be lost and then found.  When you lose an item, if it is important or precious to you, won't you go looking for it?  And if it is nothing to you, then you just move on, right?  So, if I feel lost and then someone finds me, then I feel precious and important to them.  In a spiritual sense, I had lost my way.  It was not so much a belief thing or a dogma thing, as it was a "being confused" or feeling disconnected, alone, or maybe not alone, but with others and yet not knowing where to turn or what to do.  I have found that by staying put, a meditative, reflective stance works best.  Let me be found by the one who knows my direction even when I feel lost.  It is not a matter of being broken and running around trying to get fixed.  It is just that sense of being lost.  Be still.  The Great Searcher will find you.  And embrace you with love.  I have found it to be so.

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Sacred Work

I think that it is good to do household chores, to give children some housekeeping things to do.  Why?  We need to see that work can be holy, especially when it is fulfilling.  What is so fulfilling about making your bed, cleaning your bathroom, and taking out the garbage?  Well, when you are done you can have the sense of accomplishment.  You completed something.  It can enhance self-worth.  That is what work is supposed to do.  When it is slavishly working out of fear of starvation, it won't seem so holy or fulfilling.  Lots of parents blow off making their kids work around the house, but rather take the children to sports and dance, music, singing lessons.  Most of this is called "play."  You play sports.  You play an instrument.  What if you realize or the coach judges you are not very good.  In soccer, you get sat down, or don't feel a sense of accomplishing much of anything.  When you make your bed it is done.  Work at its best is holy because it is accomplishing something.  It is not just showing up and running around.  Kids generally figure out early on that they are not good at something. By the time sports and cultural efforts become work, someone ought to be paying you something or at least that is your purpose for doing it.  And if you are not very talented, but live in the world of delusion that you are talented, this will prove to be very sad someday, and you still won't have a good sense of self.  So make your bed.  Then go practice.

Friday, June 2, 2017

The Sign

What is the sign that indicates we are on a spiritual path of growth?  For me, it is not that I pray more, or spend more time in church or reading my bible.  The sign for me is that I seem to give back more than I take.  What?  I am less focused on me and my wants, or fantasies, and more focused on giving or being of service to others, and without resentments.  I know people who give while complaining or building up their resentment list.  I have been there too.  I know times when I have meditated a lot and still was all about me or resentful of you...but with a smile.  A dose of honesty helps me to know if I am on the right track when I give or serve others.  If these blogs ever become work with resentment build up, I will stop doing them.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Stationary Pilgrim

Emily Dickinson, the American poet, was referred to as a "Stationary Pilgrim."  She did not go out much or travel, or try to see sights around the world.  Though I am no recluse, I think of myself as a bit of a stationary pilgrim.  Emily sat at home and wrote 1775 poems, that were discovered after she died.  I have friends who love to travel, and some who are quite discontent if they are not going somewhere to see something.  They are pilgrims to geographic places.  I am more of a pilgrim into the inner life.  I like to explore it in books, and listening to people who practice a meditation, or meditate myself.  I travel on running trails where I live.  I do go places for work, so I get on planes enough for me.  I prefer to be in one place of a while.  I like the routine of "home."  Home is where I am most at home with me.  I belong to local museums so I do get to see a world brought to me in exhibits.  I am curious but without the need to go places.  My blog is my ministry and I don't need to go to a lot of places to do this.  Whenever I have a yen to "go somewhere" I ask myself how much of that is because I don't want to be a pilgrim to my interior life.  I see a lot of unhappy, restless, and irritated travelers in my journeys.  I tend to watch people when I do travel.  So much pain is what I see.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Bolder Boulder

Yesterday, in Boulder, Colorado, where I live and train with a running community, there was a 10K race, that is, 6.2 miles, at 5000 foot altitude, with hills.  50,000 people ran it from all over the area.  I did not run.  I am washed up, not physically.  I am not injured.  I simply embarrass myself when I try to race.  It is pitiful.  But instead of feeling sorry or pitying myself, I accept reality, and decide to do something positive with it.  I went to the race to be of service.  I was part of a team of volunteers that worked the last mile, crowd control, car traffic, helping the hobbled runner, encouraging runners for the last mile, picking up trash, and so on.  Being of service gets me out of myself.  Plus, I like the last mile because I get to see all the pain of the runners going up the long incline, and feel better that it is not me.  Even when I used to race, I hated the last mile.  I try to lie, and yell to people, "You look good.  Keep it up."  In fact they look terrible.  So if you are washed up in one area, try being of service for others.  A race requires more than the runners to make it a success.  In life we can all participate in one way or another.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Reach Out

I recently went back to a gathering of my Paulist community for ordinations and celebrations of ordination anniversaries.  Some years ago I had stopped going to these gatherings because I walked into a room of my brother Paulist priests and felt so alone.  No one came up to me to talk.  I was ignored, so I thought.  So I stopped going to these gatherings.  Now I don't think it was one of my times when I needed to "Be the center of the Universe."  I decided though that if I was going to feel alone or feel ignored, I could do this at home and save a lot of travel expense.  Then something changed...in me.  Over the subsequent years, I began to go to meetings and not wait for someone to talk to me.  I would walk up to someone, perfect strangers, or close to it, and introduce myself.  Then I would say something about them, something positive.  At first, I felt lame.  But the dreaded edge of walking into a room of people and feeling a stranger or outsider, began to lose its sharpness.  So when I walked into this recent gathering of a weekend with my Paulist community, I did just that.  I had no idea who the three guys were who were going to be ordained.  So I found them, introduced myself and thanked them for what they were doing.  Others seemed glad to see me, saying they had not seen me in years.  I felt I fit into my own skin and the skin of the Paulist community.  So if you feel uncomfortable walking into a room of people, instead of going for a drink, walk up to someone and introduce yourself.  It is not that you are trying to get a new best friend, but rather to overcome the myth that you are alone, unloved, a social failure, etc. We suffer enough from reality.  Why compound it by suffering from what is not real, except in your own head.  Do you ever get this crazy thinking, or is it only me?

Monday, May 29, 2017

Kill For God

Religion starts out quite brilliantly, with great wisdom, generally.  Then stuff happens.  What stuff?  Believers tend to kill people who don't agree with them.  The killers have their narrow faith stance.  It seems that fear is what happens and with fear comes killing.  These people get into a belief list of issues that they call faith.  Because it does not have to do much with love of others, or even connection with others beyond the tribe that agrees with them, fear seems to develop.  They don't like people who are different. Differences threaten these "list believers."  Over time, historical issues become matters for belief.  You can have schisms based upon who is pope or head Iman.  It is really a grab for power.  Power comes into focus over time as the "Way" gives way to "The Creed."  In my religion, the cross was a corrective to the inevitable grab for power and control.  It seems we wear crosses as jewelry, and put a cross in the center of our buildings, but then forget about it when we get into daily life.  So who are you trying to have power over or control today?

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Deity Focus

At some point my religion moved away from the ethics and way of life that Jesus taught, and became focused on who Jesus is, Who God is, the noun, and what the church is.  Maybe this is the way it goes with spiritual paths.  Buddha became The Buddha.  He went from a person who taught a way of life, and how to live to overcome or endure obstacles, to someone who is to be practically worshiped. Hinduism moved from a wisdom to the worship or talking about the identity of various gods.  What is common in all this shift, in my limited opinion, is that people cannot live the teaching, so they simply move to worship and dogma, creed.  In my religion, it seems that Jesus hung out with the poor, or lower income people, the people with little political clout.  Nowadays, you can be Catholic and not care much about or judge the poor as less than you.  I think that religion tends to become influenced by culture.  My religion, as Jesus seemed to say, was supposed to be leaven in the culture. Each day, I have to ask myself if I am living as the gospel demands.  Or am I going to be a church attending person who believes a creed, but lives no differently than a nonbeliever.  It is embarrassing when I see a backslider, nonbeliever who lives the gospel better than me.  How about you?

Saturday, May 27, 2017

The God Connect

Early on Christianity had a split.  It happens to all religions and spiritual paths.  For Christians it was circumcision versus relationship with Jesus.  Circumcision meant that you were in the club.  It was something done to you, like baptism or initiation rites.  It is a one time thing.  Throughout Christianity many people felt that was enough.  It seemed to include a belief in God as some entity separate from the believer, like a tree or a rock.  Relationship not necessary.  The other side of Christianity was John's Gospel, the vine and the branches.  You had to have an ongoing relationship, e.g. prayer and meditation.  Going to services did not guarantee much because many people do that and then don't give God much time until the next worship service.  You cannot be a once, now and again vine on a branch.  In Buddhism, it says that if you see the Buddha, kill him.  What?  If you see the Buddha as a separate entity from yourself, you are going in the wrong direction.  Buddhist meditation is  about connection, not with Buddha, but with other sentient being, people.  Why else would a Bodhisattva give up Nirvana to go and bring others onto the path?  Compassion, love, self-sacrifice are part of all spiritual ways.  I meet people who say the are Hindus, Buddhists, Taoists, Moslems and Christians, but there is no daily relational practice, much less connection with the suffering people around them. These paths are not clubs you join.  For Christians, God is either a relationship or there is no God.  That is why we have Trinity as central to us.  God is relational or else not God.

Friday, May 26, 2017

Shared Experience

Arriving is not the same as staying.  Yes, first you must arrive, but then you have to do something more or different to stay.  If you go on a trip to experience a place or culture or lifestyle, you first have to do all that is required just to get there.  But once there, you do some other things to stay there, such as daily housekeeping, food, shelter and all.  You might need a map to find a place but once there, you need a different brochure to find your way around.  It is the same with a spiritual journey.  Recovery from addiction is an example.  The steps are a way to get sober.  A guide helps you.  But once you arrive at sobriety, you need something more to stay there.  If you want to actually lodge in sobriety you need to show other addicted people what you have done to get where you are.  Otherwise, you will just be "dry" and you won't stay there very long.  You make this great effort to arrive at a destination, but then do nothing required to stay there.  Sharing your experience is like paying the bill.  It would be like going to a buddhist temple and not meditating, or joining a church and then doing nothing more.  The spiritual condition can be a grind, but it beats the misery you left behind.  Hey, that's a rhyme!

Thursday, May 25, 2017

The Preakness

Recently, I was watching a horse race, named the Preakness.  I only watch three races a year and this is one of them.  The story line was that there were two really good horses that would go head to head. No one seemed to mention the rest of the field of horses in this race.  The two featured horses took off from the gate and raced one another, leaving a gap with the rest of the field of horses behind.  Eventually, focused only on one another the two horses ran out of gas, or energy.  One of those other horses, turned out to be the real problem and won the race.  I find this a metaphor for life.  If we too narrowly focus on one issue, we might miss the bigger problem looming in the background.  Example?  Alcoholism.  People who are alcoholics sometimes think the problem is alcohol.  They find a way to stop drinking.  They think they have won the battle.  But like a horse that leads after three quarters of the race, the race is not over till it is over.  After ons stops drinking they still have to deal with the lingering problems that will race up on them.  Like what? Character defects, shortcomings, bad habits, low social skills, low self-esteem, fear, resentments and wreckage from the past that hurt a lot of people.  Wow!  Lots of horses to trample you in this race for sobriety.  You non-addicts can look at it from the point of view of prayer/meditation.  You think if you just pray more, or pray better, everything will be fine.  I have not found it so, but then I might just be sicker than most of my readers.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Unfelt Passion

Sometimes I have an "unfelt passion."  It might be a restlessness, unease, sense of aloneness, or just general discontent.  Often it is an unfelt passion.  It is a feeling, so deep that my senses do not pick it up.  It can only be reached and fed by meditation, stepping back from tasks, and busyness, to get quiet with myself.  A slow walk in nature can do this too.  This "passion" is a hunger for relationship with a power or energy that is within me.  That is why I sense the idea of "being out of touch with myself" resonates with me.  I get unbalanced with a focus on accomplishments, bucket lists, the outer world of doing, but not the inner world of being, listening, quiet.  "Doing" alone will never be enough.  "Doing" with others is also not going to fulfill if I am not in touch with me.  I will just become cranky, opinionated, judgmental, and self-centered.  Who wants to work with that guy!  Therefore, when I get up in the morning, I don't ask if I "feel" like meditating or getting in touch with my inner center.  I may feel nothing of the sort, but that does not mean it is not still present, unfelt.  Make that inner focus time and relationship a priority and things will go better.  If you wait till you are hungry for the holy, the power, you may just feed on junk, which your computer can provide for hours.  But not my blog, of course.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Included

It seems that most of us feel that being included is important.  So when we "don't get the memo" we can experience the feeling of being on the outside and looking in.  I have found that when people don't include me it is most often because my having the information does not add to their happiness.  Say what?  First, they are not being malicious.  They are simply self-focused.  The same people that ignore me, will suddenly inform and include me when they need me to know something to make their lives go better.  You can test this out for yourself.  If it is so, then my getting angry at them or trying to get them to change, will make no difference in their actions, but will just frustrate me.  People don't change unless they have to for their own happiness.  But you say, "Oh no.  So and so changed to make me happy."  I suggest that they changed not so much because it would make you happy, but because your happiness made them happy.  Not all people are like this of course, but the ones that sometimes exclude and sometimes include you, are.  It is basic self-centeredness, and that is only cured by a spiritual solution.

Monday, May 22, 2017

St. Anthony

OK. You skeptics make fun of me and my belief that St. Anthony will help me find something.  Recently, I went out for a jog, for 50:00.  I started out with my key fob, costing three figures $$$, in my hand.  When I finished, no key fob.  Disaster.  Life in ruins.  Car parked miles from home.  Cell phone in car. Water in car.  I had to go back out onto the trail to painstakingly look for the key.  That day was the feast of the death of St. Anthony.  I asked him to find my key.  I asked God, to grant this in honor of St. Anthony.  I believed  I would find my key.  I thought maybe it might be on a cow gate I closed and chained out on the trail.  Eventually I got to the gate.  The key fob was sitting on top of a post of the gate.  A good and wise person, a graced person, did this for me.  I like being Catholic.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

God Belief

God is not an "object" of faith.  God is not a thing, and does not sit in a God house somewhere looking at all creation.  When Atheists say that they deny the existence of God, they generally mean that kind of God as a separate entity somewhere.  I don't negotiate with such a God, to come to me from wherever, heaven, and fix my life.  I have some sense of differentiation.  I am not God the same way that God is God, but I am not separate from God, ever.  God is not a thing.  God is more a verb.  God is energy, power, action, or as one writer said, God is Love.  God Is and is everywhere.  I am always plugged into this energy, but the switch is not always on.  Prayer and action such as love, compassion, and kindness, turn on the switch.  I am always in "bluetooth" connection with God.  Oh, did I just endorse Apple products?

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Smoke Self

There is a path that will reveal to me and empower me to become all that I am meant to be, all that I am created to be.  But there is something that gets in the way and I call it the "smoke-self."  Smoke is what clouds or distorts our vision.  A fireplace that sends smoke into the room will blind us.  It would kill us unless we escape it.  The smoke-self is all our bad behaviors, habits that contribute to our shortchanging ourselves, blinding ourselves to our true path.  It can include jealousy, fear, false pride, gluttony, possessiveness, selfishness and such stuff that is hurtful to us and others.  These all energize us, but not in a good way. We all have some of this smoke-self, but we can keep it under control.  The spiritual life of prayer, meditation, is like the chimney.  It controls our smoke-self and directs it away from doing us damage.  Of course, smoke through the chimney will still pollute the air.  Bad habits, our dark side, even controlled, can still be damaging to the world around us.  So we seek to become smoke-free selves.  We never reach perfection, but we keep trying.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Compartments

Do we not tend to live our lives in compartments?  I have the professional compartment of my priesthood.  I reveal myself in a certain manner.  I show something of myself, but certainly not all of what is going on in my head or how I see myself.  Then there is the compartment of friends/personal relationships.  I will show a further or different part of myself in these circumstances.  Then there is the compartment of me the traveller, with a certain comportment or manner.  Then there is me the runner.  Finally, there is me in the privacy of my own life, where I bare my secrets to myself.  This is a way to live, but I think it has a certain loneliness or alienation to it.  I like places and people where I can be myself in all these compartments, at once.  I am often relieved when I can talk to some people about what my life used to be like, what happened in the change area of my life, and how it is now.  It is a simple format that allows me to just be me.  When I find that I am still accepted and loved, then there is no need of compartments.  The truth really does set us free.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Unique

I like to think of us as unique in our vocation, how we live out our lives creatively.  Uniqueness is for the big things.  Unfortunately, many of us think of ourselves as unique in the small things.  How so?  As in, "I am too unique and different to be equal to others in cleaning up after myself, helping out with chores, doing the daily mundane tasks that make life functional.  "I don't do housework, dishes, taking ou the trash, and so on."  I find that in the small but important everyday things, I am just one of many.  Sometimes I may even be unique in this area, if I am the only one who will clean up among a group who are obtuse, or "important, special, busy," to due these tasks.  Try living with priests who act like their mother is still taking care of the house.  Oops!  I spilled the beans.  You have us all on pedestals.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Not Included Stuff

Picking up on the blog of two days ago, why am I hurt when I feel "Not Included."  One of the reasons is that I assume that I am part of something and have been ignored by someone on the "team."  The reality is that I am often delusionally hopeful that I am part of something, when in fact I am not.  I have found that when I simply accept that I am not a part of something then I don't get so bent out of shape.  Now this "acceptance" stuff is a daily check in for me.  It is not a one time thing and then move on.  In sum, expectations always seem to come back to bite me.  It comes when my ego is too big, and my self-esteem is too little.  Wow, no wonder I get so weary.  I have so much to work on each day!

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Light Touch

Guys don't know women's bodies.  Nobody teaches guys.  If Catholic schools are so interested in happy marriages, then the schools should teach more biology, and I don't mean "the making babies" talk.  I mean basic physiology.  Guys are grabbers.  We take our hands and we grab, or wrap them around something.  Watch guys eat, or maybe not.  Guys think that they are touching a woman they love, when in fact they are grabbing, being manly.  They can do this in handshakes, but there is more.  Ladies, those very small, microscopic hairs on the outside of your skin are very sensitive.  They are made so to experience a powerful touch that does not even touch them, or very lightly touches those hairs.  They work in times of danger when you "feel something" though nothing is touching you.  On a positive note, if your loving partner knew to barely touch or just move a hand or breath gently over your skin, you might find this quite fulfilling.  This is a theology of the body that is pretty much ignored.  The man you love is not trying to be crude or clumsy.  He is just ignorant, which is no sin.  Teach him.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Toes

Once upon a time there was a handsome little prince named Terry.  He lived in a castle.  His life was not all peaches and cream though because he had a big sister who was a witch.  Now the witch could not walk because she did not have any toes.  So she would fly about using her magic wand to take her aloft.  Now Terry had toes and the witch wanted them, but she could not get them if Terry was vigilant.  His mother, the Queen, made him special socks that he wore when he went to bed.  His sister could not use her magic wand to get at his toes while he slept because of the magic socks.  Terry complained to their mom the queen about his sister but mom just told him they would have to put up with her until she was old enough to marry and be some one else's problem.

But one day it was raining all day and Terry was walking around in his bare feet as he was want to do when he played.  He was always watchful though of his jealous sister.  But finally, this rainy day Terry go so bored being inside that he dropped into a nap, barefoot!  The witch swooped down and took off his toes and put them on her feet.  Now the witch was able to walk about.  She was so happy.  She thought to go out into the woods where vicious and ugly goblins lived, her kind of people, but instead, her feet went to the chocolate ice cream freezer.  "I hate chocolate," shouted the witch.  Then her feet started walking toward Yankee Stadium.  "I hate the Yankees, and baseball.  It is so boring," she growled.  Then her feet started walking to Terry's golf clubs.  "I hate golf.  It is so unfair," she groaned.  Finally, her feet started to go toward the church.  "I hate church. Love, kindness and compassion are for losers!" she shrieked.  During all this time, Terry remained asleep.

Fed up with Terry's willful toes, Maureen took them off and put them back onto Terry's feet.  Off she flew, to bother him no more about toes.  Terry then awoke, and said, "I feel like some chocolate ice cream.  His feet knew where to go.  The moral?  Every part of you is meant to be the unique you.  Envy about "missing" something will not make you better, but only more frustrated.  Accept yourself.  

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Happy? Mother's Day

Well, sometimes it is not so happy.  My Mom is dead, so that makes for a change of focus to say the least.  So I try to wish Mom's I know who are doing a heroic job, Happy Mother's Day.  My two sisters would be examples.  They are Moms.  But say you are a mom living under a bridge due to drugs, alcohol, deadbeat spouses, poverty.  Maybe not so happy.  What would I say to these people should I meet them?  "You gave your child life.  You will always be a Mom."  What if you aborted and now feel not so good about that, or just wonder where that little fetus might be, if anywhere?  I might say, "The past cannot be changed, but you can be a nurturing person to another who feels lost, pregnant, frightened, trying to recover from addictions."  And children who hate their Moms for what Mom did or did not do.  "They gave you life.  Be grateful with a Thank you for that."  Mother's Day can be a time to help people deal with their miseries, regrets, guilt and shame, as well as rejoice for our blessings.  What a great day to be of service or ask for help along the way.  Oh, and Happy Mother's Day to my big sister, Maureen, in purgatory.  She practiced being a Mom on her little brother.  Her expertise came much later, unfortunately for me.   But I was ordained 40 years ago today, Mother's Day.  Boy, was my Irish Catholic Mom beaming.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Clarity

What is a moment of clarity?  I used to think that it is when the light goes on and I figured out to do something, all by myself.  But I have come to see that clarity refers not so much to the "How to," but something deeper than accomplishing a task.  For me, "The moment of clarity" comes regularly, when I realize that whatever I am doing I will not do well or at all, unless I have the help of God.  "Lord help me," is a type of prayer I might use before trying a task or entering into a project.  And if God is partnering with me, then there is a good chance that my self-will won't be in charge.  And I might have humility.

Friday, May 12, 2017

BreadOf Life

In my church there are references to the Holy Communion, as "the bread of Life," or "Anyone who eats this bread will live forever."  This is where sayings and teachings become lame in a changing world.  Bread is not the staple of life in many cultures.  In the USA we are told that bread makes us fat and has gluten which is not good for you.  Bread has become optional at best, in many a daily diet. Bread, where it is made at home, non-processed, for people of low income, is a staple of life.  It can be filling in a hungry stomach that has not much else to eat.  That was the culture in the time of Jesus.  In New York City, the center of the Universe, the bread is so good, that you can use these phrases quite well.  I love fresh bakery bread, but not the supermarket type.  And fresh baked is only really good that day.  So much of the good things in life are fleeting.  But my hunger for spiritual growth never gets old and if I attend to it on a regular basis, my spirit never goes stale.  That way, I can be food for others.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

We The Tabernacles

When we monks come into the chapel to pray, we take our places, and while standing, we pray and bow.  This is how we start the vigil service in the pre-dawn darkness.  It begins our day.  I thought that we bowed because we were praying to God and bowing to this God.  Dummy that I am, this is not why we were bowing.  We were bowing to one another.  Why?  Because we were recognizing that God is each one of us.  We are God's tabernacles.  In monastic chapels, the tabernacle that holds the host, the holy communion wafers, is never in the middle of the church, but rather off to the side.  Again, this is to emphasize the divine presence in each one of us, rathe than focus it all on the eucharist in the tabernacle.  Unfortunately, in our parish churches, the tabernacle is front and center.  This is OK, except that it focuses us on the God in the tabernacle and not on one another.  When was the last time you ever saw a Catholic bow in reverence to another Catholic who is trying to climb over them to get some pew space?  Children on the after mass donut line are a real free for all!

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Mother Of The Poor

Back in the day, the Christian church was "Mother of the Poor."  How so?  Art.  The religious art that you see in museums for which you pay, was originally meant for churches, to be viewed by all, including the poor, to help with prayer.  The Church was patron of the arts for the sake of the poor.  No charge for going into a church and viewing the art which was supposed to connect to your spiritual life of prayer.  I like this concept.  I am a patron of museums, a member of museums in San Francisco and Denver.  The next time I go into a museum and view a painting that depicts scenes of my religious faith, I will stop and pause to say a prayer or quiet meditation as I view the painting.  I may be surrounded by people taking cell phone photos and chatting, but isn't that the way of prayer in the post modern world?  We pray in spite of the secular scenes around us, and maybe add a bit of holiness to the setting.  You never know who will pick up the scent of prayer.  Someone you know who may resist church worship, might find a sense of the holy through you in a museum.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

The Gift of Helping

People who call me for help are a gift in my life.  They challenge me to get out of my natural leaning toward selfishness and self-focus.  They might say, "Oh Father, I am sorry to bother you, but..." and then they make their plea.  I might initially feel perturbed, having been disturbed from my plans for the day.  But I need not pay attention to the first thought or emotion I have.  Whenever I respond positively to the request, I am always the beneficiary.  I am taken out of myself.  It is hard for me to get into mischief when I am helping another person.  My help may be paltry, and mediocre for them, but I can only do my best, or at least better than a refusal to be of assistance.  Plus, there are times when I think I am of no use in my response, but people come back later and say how helpful I was.  I guess this is God's way of keeping me from getting a fat head or big ego.  So when someone asks your help or advice, see them as a gift, not a burden.  It could be God's way of keeping you out of mischief.

Monday, May 8, 2017

Leftovers

Do you ever feel like leftovers?  Leftovers are something no one wants at the moment.  It fulfills no one's needs.  It might be wrapped up to be forgotten in the back of a refrigerator, and then discarded, molded with time.  There are times when your lover, friend, boss, companion, partner, has had enough of you.  At first you are ignored, then discarded.  "NO one loves me!" you feel.  I am not needed.  I am unimportant, nourishing no one.  For me, the spiritual path is one where the God of my understanding always hungers for me.  With this relationship, I actually feel as though I am nourishing God, who longs for me, all of me, not just the good parts.  All is good to God.  God wants me to be God's skin on earth, to be this kind of loving towards others.  I try not to treat people as leftovers.  I have done that, to my loss as well as theirs.  God's skin.  I need nourishment to fill out my spiritual body.  Prayer and meditation does that for me.  No leftovers for my God.

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Idiocy

I am not sure idiocy is curable.  It can be humbling though not curable.  I was sitting, stunned, in an Apple Computer store in San Francisco.  A clerk approached me and asked if she could help me.  I said, "No.  Idiocy cannot be helped."  "What?" she asked, puzzled.  I explained that I had just asked a techie how I could make an appointment to see why my iPad did not connect with my portable key pad.  I showed him the iPad and key pad.  He asked, "Is the blue tooth on?"  Instantly, I knew.  I had totally forgotten that the portable key pad and iPad connect through blue tooth.  The button had been off.  I had not used the key pad in about two years.  Memory failed me.  Idiocy remained.  That is when I walked away and sat down, stunned at my whatever.  The techie woman dressed in her blue Apple shirt said, "You are not an idiot.  You are a person who just solved a problem by asking for help."  She was my messenger angel for the day.  Recovery comes in all shapes and sizes, as do moments of grace.  We are not idiots.  We are simply people who from time to time need to ask for help.

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Praying To Air

Someone said to me that when they try and pray, they sometimes feel as if they are praying to air.  She thought that there was something the matter with her or her prayer.  She believed in God, and she felt that God was a God of Love, but not so much there or here when she prayed.  This is more common than we would admit, so people think their experience of air prayers is unique.  I have found that the best way to start out prayer is with honesty, if I cannot start with gratitude.  Be honest.  Tell God of your frustration or doubts.  Honesty often disposes of those feelings of The God Of Air.  I have found it so.  Honest us a great connector with those who love us.  I try to be honest with people in my blogs.  It seems to be helpful to us all.

Friday, May 5, 2017

Any Lengths

Alcoholics are a people of a unique personality type, with a unique diesease.  How so?  Well, for most alcoholics, they endure years of people telling them, "You have a problem," "You are sick," "You need to get some help."  The alcoholic does nothing but go on drinking even if they might agree that they are sick, alcoholic, allowing alcohol to kill them.  But tell the same person that they have cancer, and they go into action immediately.  They have a willingness to go to any lengths to get the needed treatment so they can be cured.  Both cancer and alcoholism are diseases.  But alcoholism is not simply a disease.  It is a disease that affects only alcoholics.  Cancer is never the friend of an alcoholic, nor is it the solution to their misery and unhappiness.  Cancer never "fixes" anyone, like alcohol can fix an alcoholic for a time.  Cancer is never a solution for happiness.  Alcohol is a solution for an alcoholic.  These differences are just some of the reasons that non-alcoholics cannot fathom the alcoholic thinking.  Only another alcoholic seems to understand.  Ironically, these people, "different" from normal life need one another to become free of the addictive lifestyle.  The past is prelude to the future if one enters onto a spiritual path of daily practice.  People who used to live very messy, destructive, bad behavior lives, become kind, compassionate and selfless in recovery.  Cancer treatment only cures a disease.  It does not change the soul.  You can put cancer into remission or even cure it, but you can still be the same jerk you were before treatment.  A recovering alcoholic is healed through and through, but they need a daily dose of treatment.  That  keeps them on their toes.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Battery Charge

Someone said that AA is like a battery charge from a double AA battery.  Say what?  Well, going to a meeting of AA gave then a positive charge of energy, like a battery, to go about their day in a positive and healthy fashion.  I think about that.  What do I do to get my inner spiritual hunger charged up to go into my day in a positive and helpful fashion?  Does my blog suck the energy from you when you read it?  Am I a negative force, with whining, complaints, and negative thinking about all the misery in the world?  Am I into victimhood?  Is my day going to be all about me?  Prayer, mediation, diet, sleep, exercise, may not prevent melanoma, but it can help to put the charge into my life and then I might be a positive force for others.  So what charges your spiritual battery each day?  Lots of negative suction out there if we don't recharge on a daily basis.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Amazing

I don't want to be "Amazing."  Sometimes people come up to me or write a blog reply and say that I am "amazing."  I can be amazed at Cirque de Soleil, or a broadway play or a spectacular catch in a baseball game.  But none of this would feed my soul.  I like it when a person might say, "You fed me," or "I felt fed" when I said something.  I don't want to go to places of worship or have a religious event where I am amazed at all the pizazz, as we say in the Bronx.  The mega-church with the charismatic speaker, the great music, the media show, just does not do it for me.  It is amazing, but not nutritional enough for me.  Someone might say to me, "You gotta come to this church.  It is so cool."  I go.  It is cool.  But I want to be on fire.  Most days I sort of smolder.  That is why is "amazes" me when people say, "You fed me with your words."  I thought I was talking my own smoldering experience, but there must have been a spark in there somewhere.  So don't worry about being tepid.  Be honest.  There is often a spark in honesty.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Sacred CEO

A Bishop, the hierarchy, in my church, have a primary responsibility to maintain, keep things in order, pass on the tradition and teachings.  This is good for maintaining something that is working well.  But my church is shrinking in attendance and influence in this country.  It is losing its connection to the market it is trying to influence.  Think of a CEO of a corporation.  If a CEO thought his/her main job was to maintain, the company would be out of business.  A company has to be willing to risk, and innovate to stay in touch with the changing world.  Change is inevitable.  Even my church has changed over time.  Only crisis seems to change religious institutions that can stay relevant.  See The Reformation.  An all male, celebrate church hierarchy wants to stay just that.  We keep baptizing babies and think they will grow up to be church going Catholics.  Statistics seems to point toward a lot of fallen away and drop out Catholics.  it is one thing to maintain truth.  We are good at that, a key concept.  It is another to be able to pass it on to a listening and spiritually hungry people.  Sometimes the Medium is the Message.

Monday, May 1, 2017

The God Of Manyness

If your were to read the psalms, you would find that God has many different emotions and seeming personalities, depending on the particular psalm.  God might at one time appear merciful, loving, kind, and patient.  Other times God is warlike, vengeful, judgmental and punishing.  God can be silent or roaring, demanding or accepting.  God is all over the place in the psalms.  How come?  Well, I suspect that when these psalms were being composed, there were no "belief" wars among the Hebrew tribes.  There might have been some political posturing, but not faith in the correct God issues.  So no one was offended if one idea about God differed from another.  Each experience was valid.  Or other words, no one really knows who God truly is, and that is OK.  God could still be loved if not known, as the contemplatives would tell us.  Then came religious wars, the Reformation in Christianity.  The "Who" of God became dogma, and dogma was set in cement for each side in the conflict.  If you did not believe in my idea of God then you were my enemy and I could do damage to you.  Conversion became a movement to faith as dogma, and ritual and rule.  God had to be either this or that.  God could not be both or neither.  Religions began to believe that they actually knew God, and the knowing was what was important.  With that most forgot to "love" the unknown God.  In spirituality, too much thinking is not a good thing.

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Golf

Bobby Jones, a golfer, said that golf is like life.  You hit a really good shot and it ends up in trouble.  You hit a really bad shot and it ends up in good shape.  You hit the ball beautifully, with that solid feel  to the golf club.  The ball seems to be going just as you planned, high and far.  Then it lands, in a sand trap, or tall grass, or worse, behind a tree.  "Why am I being punished by a good shot?", you might ask.  Then you hit a shot that does not feel good.  It does not go up in the air much, bounces along, hits the side of an off course hill and bounds back onto the fairway, in perfect position for a shot to the green.  The Golf Gods?  Isn't life like golf?  You do good, all the right things, and you get punished or penalized.  You do not so good, but get lucky.  Life is a bit of luck and a bit unfair.  Golf is supposed to relieve the stress of life.  Oh really?

Saturday, April 29, 2017

I Am Sorry

Do you ever suffer someone saying, "I am sorry,"  but then they go on to do the same old stuff over again?  My experience of "Sorry" is that it is the best someone can do before they take action to change.  "Sorry" may actually be moving toward the door of "change."  The door is not being opened but "sorry" might be moving in that direction.  It could be worse.  Many people do not say they are sorry about anything.  They may even think they did nothing wrong.  "It is your problem" they might say.  Real change takes place only with action, not just repentance, or sorrow.  I get the latter in confession all the time.  Lots of sorrow, but no change.  Change takes steps, one step at a time and it is not easy.  Maybe that is why few people do it, and only when their own lives are too miserable even for themselves.  Your life being miserable will not change them for the better.