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.

Friday, April 28, 2017

Beginnings And Endings

A drug is something that changes us.  It is the purpose of the drug, be it pill, liquid, solid food, and sometimes exercise.  We go from pain, discomfort, unhappiness, out of sorts, to a new happiness and new freedom from whatever pained us.  The drug does for us what we could not do for ourselves,  just by our existence.  It has a power greater than singular me.  This is "beginnings" reactions.  Over time, we grow dependent.  Even the gym becomes a must or else we cannot go on with any contentment.  In the end we become bonded to the drug.  We cannot do without it, and it begins to bring on new pains, different from the initial miseries we wanted to escape.  Left to ur own devices, we generally cannot escape from the escape.  We are hooked.  Injuries may get us out of the gym.  It can be a physical bottom.  Car wrecks, divorce, liver issues, unemployment, homelessness are some of the things that accompany the endings of our drug.  That pill that made me "well" is killing or destroying my life.  When I am hurting, before I go for that elixir of relief, I try to connect with someone else, do some good for someone, or go for a jog.  Oh, I forgot.  That last one could be a drug.  But so far for me, it still works.  I am so skinny!  Light jog.  Easy does it.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Behavior

Too often, institutional religion is into behavior rather than relationship.  The emphasis is on how well or badly you behave.  Ethics comes into play.  If you act correctly then you are in a good relationship.  This is the deity as a parent or boss.  You are "good" according to how you act.  Go to church, keep rules, and you are good.  Relationship on the other hand, that which most post modern searchers want, is not about behavior, but rather love and intimacy.  How do I experience the love of the deity when I am not so good, when I am shattered, broken and imperfect?  Does this Spiritual Power, Force, Personal God, love me just as I am?  It is only from there that we can begin to grow, change for the better, and become all that we are supposed to be.  The latter is a much harder and more demanding path than simply keeping rules.  Love is what changes us.  Behavior only keeps up in line.  Institutions like control.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Attendance

People think that going to church will make them better people, or make them "good."  Attendance does not change us much.   We go in with faults, recognized or not, and we come out with the same faults.  Church is not magic.  It is the same with recovery meetings.  Attendance might keep you from drinking or drugging for an hour, the same as church might prevent you from jay-walking, or commiting mayhem for the time you are in church.  We won't change our behavior, or become better people until we realize that we are the enemy.  The problem is ME.  Once we recognize this we can begin to take spiritual steps, that is, God help, to discover my faults and weaknesses.  We come to recognize in our behavior that these have become bad habits, or vices.  We cannot get rid of them on self-will or self-power.  Self is weak and damaged.  This can bring humility.  We ask our God for help, which is prayer.  We apologize for damage caused to self and others.  Now good stuff is happening.  Attendance is good as a beginning habit.  We cannot hear what we need to hear unless we get out of ourselves, we bad self-advisors, and listen to another voice.  Could this blog be another voice?  Hopefully for someone.  It did help me though!

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Solution Issues

I hear people say that they got some help so that they could stop ingesting an addictive substance, or stop partnering with the wrong people, or stop some other destructive behavior.  In the beginning the process is one of stopping something.  But there must be more than stopping.  Why?  Well, there is the solution and there is the problem.  People choose a solution such as alcohol, food , drugs, sex, work, shopping, that does not seem to make them happy.  That is, they chose the wrong solution.  If you focus only on this, your solution,  you are left with the problem that the solution was meant to "fix."  That is why all successful solutions are spiritual.  The problem is an interior one of soul.  I meet people who stopped drinking and said, "I am OK now."  Really?  Short term they feel physically better.  But the problem that alcohol addressed remains. They thought that alcohol was their problem, but alcohol was their solution and it did not work.  Soon enough they are back to the bottle.  All our addictions are our solutions to a problem, but the problem is ourselves.  Many more people are always giving up something for a short time, but far fewer are those who will do the inner work.  The inner work is the tougher journey, one step at a time.

Surgery Got It All

The pathology report came in.  The surgery got all the melanoma.  I am free.  The stitches irritate on my shoulder because of friction with clothes.  But this is minor and may get me a few days off from purgatory.  I also realized from the blog hits I got, on the day I announced my melanoma diagnosis, I have over 1400 people responding.  This social media is powerful.  Nowhere do I go that 1400 people come to listen to me.  So many people prayed for me.  I think I am loved.  With all the silliness of my life, of which these people know so much, I am loved.  I may cry now, but there is another more substantial blog posted for this day as well.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Non-Believers


This Good Friday prayer is one I like as well, for non-believers, judged "Pagan" or "Infidels" by some.  Here is the prayer:
For those who do not believe in Christ,
That, enlightened by the Holy Spirit,
They, too, may enter on the way of salvation.
Nothing here about enlightenment coming from torture, or death threats.  Our trust is in the Holy Spirit, to show them their way to salvation.  It does not say that they have to be Catholics to get there.  The prayer does not say that they have to believe in Jesus as their Lord and Savior.  Could there be another way to fulness with God?  Perhaps.  We believe that Jesus came to save all, not that all would believe in him or what he did.  I am a Paulist priest, so I still like conversion work, but I am reminded that I am but a piece of God's great plan.  If I can keep loving God in my actions, that is the best introduction to Christ I can give.  

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Non-Catholics


On Good Friday, following up on yesterday's blog, we Catholics pray for Non-Catholics, the ones we were killing or forcing into conversion in our history.  Here is this prayer:
For all our brothers and sisters who believe in Christ,
That our God and Lord may be pleased, as they live the truth, 
To gather them together and keep them in his one Church.
This is a prayer for unity among Christians, called Ecumenism, so that we can speak the Gospel with one voice, but it does not call for punishment or damnation.  Nor does it call upon anyone to force someone to join up.  We call one another, brothers and sisters, not heretics, and leave it to God to join us together in one Church.  Go visit a Church building of other Christians.  Maybe you will find God there?  

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Jews

On the Catholic Good Friday service, there are official prayers for three groups: Jews, Non-Catholics, and Non-Believers.  None of these prayers ask or focus on any of these groups becoming Catholics or joining the One, True Church, as some Catholics would say.  There is nothing about we are right, and you outsiders are doomed.  Here is the Prayer For Jews:
We pray for the Jewish people, to whom The Lord our God spoke first, 
That he may grant them to advance in love of his name
And in faithfulness to his covenant.
We simply pray that they be good Jews as God called them first in his covenant with them.  This prayer keeps us out of hate, prejudice, and judgment, all good things to be rid of.  Do a Mitzvah today. That means a kindness expecting no return.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Melanoma

I found out this morning that I have Melanoma.  I thought that I was a "Dead Man Walking."  More bad news was that the cut would be deep and long.  There would be stitches in the shoulder joint where the Melanoma resides.  The stitches would remain in for two weeks because the shoulder joint moves and the stitches need time to do their job.  No drugs will be necessary or used.  I was given a piece of wood to bite on in the night.  The good news, for my disfigured body, is that the cure for my level of cancer is 100%.  It was found just as it moved from simple cut to Melanoma.  So I went from being dead to being merely disfigured in my aging.   If you pray, I could use the power of prayer.  I believe in a here after, but not just yet. I  will have to deal with my "yets."  What I take from this is don't postpone seeing old friends.  If you believe in God, make intimate friends.  I don't want to spend eternity with a stranger.  Satan and I had  done some business, but I would rather not live any more in that neighborhood.  Pray that I don't rip my stitches apart carrying baggage to airport for trip to San Francisco next week.  Is Netflix healing?

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Netflix

Anyone want an excellent library?  I have one.  But I don't use it anymore.  You see, my niece, Satan, in this case, gave me a birthday present.  I now have a subscription to Netflix.  I am watching "The Crown" episodes, as I notice my books languishing on the table nearby.  Plus, I discovered Google has as part of its app, a way to call up just a piece of information, and Google finds the movie.  Then I can go to my movie app and call it up from their library.  I asked Google, "Polish nun," and Google came back with the title, "Ida."  I had missed this movie in the theatre.  But it had gotten good reviews in the press.  And so it goes.  Will it stop in the monastery this summer?  Satan is everywhere.  The monastery has wi-fi...in my room.  I have ear plugs.  Please pray for me.  My soul is in grave danger.  But "The Crown" is really good!  My advice, is to read some each day before you go to that iPad.  I just blew the dust off of my book.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Spiritual Suicide

What is spiritual suicide?  For me, it is to make plans that concern ourselves or someone else, without getting a second opinion, without some consolation.  Often, we believe that our ideas, our goals, our plans are the best and no one else could see it otherwise.  Then we an destroy others and/or ourselves.  I call this "The Judas Way."  Judas had an idea, a plan.  He kept it to himself, so he thought.  The results he expected in betraying, or handing Jesus over to the authorities, did not happen.  It devastated Judas in his heart and then his next plan, without consultation, was to hang himself.  If only he had talked to someone about his plans and solutions.  And I don't mean talking to someone, but actually listening to them.  Getting counsel is not the same as informing someone of what you have made up your mind to do.  People "invest" money only to find out later that many others knew that to be a bad investment. People decide to run a marathon,  climb a mountain alone, move away, marry a particular person, become a priest.  A lot of these end up in disasters such that suicide seems like an option, especially since you don't consult with anyone anyway.  A mind left alone to make a decision can be a dangerous situation.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Cremation

In ancient Israel from whom Christianity is descended, cremation was a punishment for criminals and enemies.  It was a dishonor to be cremated.  Jesus had friends, not the Twelve, who made sure that he was not cremated.  The good people in the tribe were buried within 24 hours.  No elaborate funeral services or embalming.  Then stuff happened, such as six billion people, a non-expansive earth, and the expense of the funeral/church burial customs.  If you are going to bury a body, you do it soon after the death, maybe three/four days.  Friends and relatives no longer live in a small village.  People are spread out all over the globe and cannot easily get to a funeral in such a short time.  If you cremate, then you can have a funeral or a celebration of life at whatever time is convenient.  Cremation is less expensive.  No casket for instance.  Cemeteries are filling up.  Any cemetery expansion near a city would have to compete with housing and construction interests.  Cremation takes less space.  I am OK with cremation.  My Paulist community will do whatever is in my will.  What is in my will?  I forget, but it is there.  My parents and sister were all cremated.  I would like to be buried at sea.  But don't think that will fly with my community.  Maybe.  If you are buried in the ground, after two generations that follow you, who will visit the grave or even think about you?  One reason I would like my body to be buried and not cremated is so that if someday people decide that I was really holy, they might want to dig me up to see if I am incorruptible.  Spooky?  Well, pride and ego never die I guess.  I won't be that holy except in my imagination.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Adversity

I hear pious people say that God only sends or gives good things.  I assume by "good" they mean things they like or fit into their program for happiness.  Cannot God send adversity?  I meet many a person who suffered lots of adversity, and thought God did not exist or did not care.  Those same people hit such a bottom of mess in their life that they decided even they could not put up with that level of misery.  They sought a spiritual solution or path.  In their spiritual path they came to realize that God was there all along, patient and waiting until misery and adversity sought a healthy solution.  For me, my God allows adversity for a reason in my life.  God loves me, but knows me well. Sometimes I will only open to change for the better, when adversity builds to an intolerable level.  Crazy?  So I am crazy, but then I have met some very good friends who are crazy like me.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Attendance

I remember that on my report card I got a grade for "Attendance."  This graded how many times I was present or absent from school since the last report card.  Everyone walked to the neighborhood school.  Bad children would leave the apartment as if to go to school, but then would play hooky.  The report card would reveal this to the parents, when "Attendance" got a C or a D grade.  So children then would attend school to avoid consequences of punishment.  But is attendance enough?  We were called "Good" children because we showed up regularly.  What if we day-dreamed while the teacher talked, or doddled in our notebook when we were supposed to be taking notes or completing an in school assignment?  This behavior might get us into the habit of attending life but not participating.  This is an issue for me on a daily basis.  I want to participate in life and not just show up.  Showing up is important, or else I cannot participate.  But showing up is not enough.  I can be physically present, but not listen, or care.  I can attend an event, even a spiritual event, but let my mind doddle.  Only my body is in the room.  This would make a marriage partnership messy.  It would make my priesthood messy, as people come to me to participate by listening and caring about their issues.  I can attend meetings, but say nothing, not because I am listening intently, but because I have mentally, or emotionally left the room.  Attendance alone is still tethered to mediocrity.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Triduum

We are hip deep into the "Triduum."  What's that?  Well, yesterday was Good Friday and tomorrow is Easter Sunday.  Two days ago was Holy Thursday.  In short, Last Supper, Crucifixion, Resurrection.  There was a time when I skipped all this, and I was a believer, though none of my life then was predicated on any of these three events.  It was a three day weekend, and if I got away to camp or ski, I would not even notice a church or church-going people.  I and the religion of my youth were on a holiday.  So don't feel too badly if you are reading this and think, "Oh, is it Easter?"  It happens.  Even if you have no faith or a slumbering one, do some spiritual practice that is good for your body.  Rumor has it, that God had a body just like yours at one time and let it get trashed out of love.  Then there was Resurrection and that body sure changed from trashed to new life.  So I have heard.  What I do know, is that I once trashed my body, or let it get trashed, and I got Resurrected.  So I feel a kinship with this Jesus Christ.  Each day is an Easter for me, celebrating new life.  Happy Triduum!

Friday, April 14, 2017

Conversion

I often hear my church leaders say that we should pray for the conversion of non-Catholics to the Catholic church and non-Christians to Christianity.  Which Christianity or Catholicism are we talking about asking people to join?  The church that is about creed and worship or the one that actually follows Jesus, as in love God and neighbor as you love yourself.  I would rather pray for the conversion of Christians from mediocrity to actually following the things that are said in the Bible.  I certainly pray for my own conversion which can easily be tepid on any one day.  Why would I want to ask a person to join a group that does not even practice its call to discipleship?

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Postpone

I am bemused by some people who have an alcohol addiction and then get into recovery.  Many often say that they have given up drinking.  Really?  If you are addicted, is saying you stopped drinking all there is to do?  Even if they are in some program like AA, they may have given up drinking for that day.  But to say "forever!"  What is the guarantee?  If you are an addict then that does not change.  What changes is what one does on a daily basis to stay sober and away from a drink.  I prefer to think of it as "I continue to postpone that drink today."  Eventually, if one gives up what got them sober, they will go back to the drink.  So you have no addiction to anything you say?  Well, what is it that you think you have given up "forever?"  I would advise you not to take spiritual growth for granted.  My sense is that daily effort is necessary.  I have found it so in many areas of my life.  "Postpone" keeps me on my toes.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Maureen

My big sister Maureen died on this date in 2004 when she was only 64.  Maureen is a person who did a lot for the people who were in her life.  Since she was shy and enjoyed her routines, not a whole lot of people got to meet her.  But the ones who did were very much impressed with her talent, work ethic and commitment to her family, coworkers and friends.  Her office was very organized.  Things had there place, as did little brothers and Maureen was good at putting things and little brothers in their proper place.  She had a wonderful smile that attracted people to her and warmed a room.  Only if you were a little bratty brother who needed to be baby sat, did the smile disappear.  But she made me good.  And when I was ordained, I made her smile.  She taught me how to practice unconditional love.  That is a good thing for a priest to do.  She did it better and more consistently than I do.  You think maybe she is in heaven now?

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

The Message

Whatever message I might be trying to preach will best be done by my actions, by what people see rather than by what they hear me say.  Action is what carries the message.  In my world of religious professionals I find a lot of people who are quite talented with words, but are less so with how they live their lives.  Such people are a message to me to check on whatever bad behavior might be showing up in my life for all to see.  Now there are some people who will speak well and in some cases act well too.  But those cases of right action are usually to avoid some penalty or to get something, be it adulation or material benefit.  This too is a reminder to me to check on my motives.  The people I admire the most and are challenged to emulate are people who act well toward and with others when there is no reward, or anything to gain from the other person.  All the spiritually transformed persons seem to share this in common no matter what the words of their message.  Kindness is a virtue I very much admire.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Extra Time

Why do I jog for an hour in a day?  I enjoy it, yes.  But there is that "other" reason, which is to prolong my life.  I strive for a little more length of life, as if I have some control.  Do I also spend an hour that same day, striving for what is sometimes called, "eternal life"?  This is a quality of life rather than a length of life.  Quality of life, eternal life, is a spiritual dimension and it comes with some spiritual practice.  For me, this might be meditation, spiritual reading and the Bible.  There are days when I exercise "religiously," with staunch discipline, in my physical doings, but realize when I review my life that night, that I gave a "Quickie" to my spiritual life.  How about you?

Sunday, April 9, 2017

New Day

Each day that I wake up I thank God for the New Day.  Not just the day, but the NEW day.  This is to remind me that I have no experience living today.  It is my first time in today.  I want to be part of God's plan for this day that has been given to me.  I am alive for a purpose.  My plans alone may have nothing to do with this purpose.  Each day is NEW.  Remember when you began school?  Did you know how to do school?  No.  You had to learn.  It was all new.  And if you went away to college, did  you know how to do college?  No. It was all new.  Marriage?  Significant first relationship?  Being a teenager?  All new.  Priesthood was all new for me.  When I asked for God's help each day, Grace, I did better than when I skipped God to get on with my plans.  If you are reading this early in the morning, you are a smarty pants because now you are reminded to ask God to direct your day.  If you don't relive in God, then check with some source to get a second opinion.  We start out each day as amateurs. Find a mentor of some sort.  This blog?  At your own peril!

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Sunglasses

I like this analogy.  I carry around my sunglasses.  Where I live, we get some sun most days.  Just because the sun is not shining brightly does not mean I ditch my sunglasses.  When the sun does shine then I will have my sunglasses with me. I am vigilant about my sunglasses.  Prayer is like sunglasses.  Both are for everyday.  If I skip prayer when life is going my way, when times are not difficult, then when suddenly life gets messy, I won't have my prayer maintenance to fall back on. I will either scramble to pray, or just whine and complain about the situation.  Had I maintained some spiritual vigilance on a daily basis, I might find that what seems to be a mess, is simply an opportunity for growth outside of my plans for the day.  So I pray regularly, just like I carry around my sunglasses on a daily basis.  This way I am ready for the light.

Friday, April 7, 2017

Smarty Pants

My big sister Maureen used to tell me not to act like a "Smarty Pants."  This meant that I should not act like I know something when I don't, or when I show off all that I do know in order to impress others.  My sister was very wise, but then so was Satan.  See, you don't get into heaven for being smart.  Maureen was very smart.  Since I have never been smart, I can only speak of one side of the smart downfall.  Sometimes, I try to act like I know something when in fact I am just stumbling in the dark.  This is from fear of looking stupid, or false pride in showing off.  On my few good days, when I am humble, I am capable of saying that I simply do not know.  This can disappoint people who have come to me for answers.  But there are times when I act like a smarty pants, and give answers, brilliant sounding ones, though I am not sure if it is so, or I am rubbing up against clueless.  I should not be in the priest business, since people do approach priests for answers of light in the darkness.  Maybe I should get married, since I know many a husband who is clueless.  How?  Just ask the wife.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Idolatry

I read in the Bible that idol worship is about people building statues and images of something and calling it a god.  They worship a golden calf for instance.  How silly, right?  Maybe not.  Do we so called believers not do the same at times?  We create or mentally build our own gods and then worship them.  Do we not create an image of a god who comforts or is passive to our mediocrity?  The people of the Bible build a false god with their hands.  I tend to build one with my mind.  I prefer a god who is not too demanding, who keeps the bar rather low, and shrugs no matter my mediocre response to the power and the glory of the everyday.  No wonder I can be bored or listless or feel closed off, or that I might be missing something.  Now and again I read someone who is tuned into the dial of a more demanding God, the real one, and I am brought into the wow moment.  That stuff about take up your cross, love your enemy, care for the poor, just might be the way out of idol worship and the mediocre life.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Forgive

If someone hurts you and you find that you cannot forgive, it might be because you are focused on what they did, the action or deed.  As long as this is your focus, you will not forgive, and you will go on suffering because you will relive the event every time you think about it.  I don't care to suffer forever because of what someone did to me.  So I try to focus on the person rather than what they did.  It takes time to make the shift, but I can only heal me, not them.  Again, it is empathy that helps me.  I begin to feel or think about what that person might be suffering from their past that made them become the hurtful person they were or are in my life.  We all start out as innocent little babies.  At least for now. Who knows what science will create someday.  As innocent babies, stuff happens.  That stuff shapes us.  Though someone has hurt me, I believe that they are suffering too and their life is a response to what happened to them when they were growing up.  Or maybe something happened to them when they were an adult, and they cannot get beyond it.  Maybe they cannot forgive either.  Anyhow, I seem to have healing in my own life when I can forgive, rather than live with feeling over and over the pain of a person or event in my life.  The memory can hold onto past happenings, but the heart needs to let go.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Solutions

I was reading a story about a young woman who thought marriage would cure her drinking problem.  You laugh.  I did not laugh.  You see, I thought that by becoming a priest I would cure my partying.  I believed that when I left my bachelor life in San Francisco and entered the seminary I would not drink.  It worked, but it took twelve years.  And it was not the priesthood that did it.  But it helped.  Why did I not drop the priesthood solution when it did not work?  A good question since that was a rather radical solution anyway.  What happened, to keep me in seminary and priesthood, was that from time to time I would actually, somewhat selflessly, help someone who was struggling with their own life.  I liked doing this.  Why?  Empathy.  I connected to their pain.  I know priests you can contact because you are struggling, and they won't even call you back.  They don't have a drinking problem.  My heart is what saved me. It connected with some of the miseries of others.  These suffering people were not so much a burden for me, as my lifeboat.  They gave me hope that I was in the right place even if my original reasons were insane.  Whereas a priest might try to focus on getting a girl to go to church or know her catechism, or live a good moral life, I would connect with her loneliness, self-doubt, and anxiety. Fortunately, most of them did not know that I was sicker than they.  So don't worry if you think you are a little crazy.  Pray that your heart is right.

Monday, April 3, 2017

Better

Someone gave me this thought.  When people ask me how I am, I usually say, "fine."  Don't most of us?  But if I want to stay in touch with spiritual growth and emotional maturity, that is, work on these things on a daily basis, than my response might be, "better."  That is, I am better than I used to be when I would mess up big time.  If I am still practicing old behavior, it is not old, and I am not feeling, "better."  And if I am not better, then I am only getting worse.  So I try each day to keep in mind, "how am I doing?"  Ask myself that question early in the day.  If I cannot say, "better," than in the past bad behavior, I need to do something now.  I have the tools.  Start by getting out of myself.  Sometimes solitude is simply isolation with a nicer name.

Sunday, April 2, 2017

The Value Of Work

From earliest times in monasteries, work was valued as worthwhile and virtuous.  It was part of the Christian ethos way before so called Capitalism.  Monks and nuns worked as part of their spiritual life in the monasteries.  And when there was a lack of working, monasteries tended to reform.  Idleness was the enemy of the soul if you will.  Not all religious groups valued work.  Ancient Rome did not value work.  Have the slaves do it.  In a class society, the rich distained work.  A "Gentleman" did not work.  The Mandarins grew their fingernails very long to make it evident that they did no labor.  Buddhist monks meditated and begged.  Part of the spiritual transformation of a Christian is in the area of work.  Deep prayer can actually make us more industrious in a helpful and loving way.  These blogs are work, though some days I just want to be a "Gentleman." Clean your room without whining.  It could be part of your transformation!

Saturday, April 1, 2017

God's Will

I am leaving the world and moving to the monastery for good and never speaking again.  APRIL FOOLS!
Some people pray only for "God's will be done."  Where is the action on the part of the one praying?  Do you expect God to do all the heavy lifting?  Our faults and failings do not allow us to be useless or helpless.  I prefer the prayer, "Knowledge of your will and the power to carry it out."  This means that I have to do something positive and selfless!  OMG.  How else do we expect to change unless we learn to practice action that is different from the way we acted in our full-blown faults?  We have to practice good behavior and do it according to God's will.  This way we get The God Help we need, the Power, to live a life of service to others as God would have us live it.  When I simply say, "Your will be done," it seems that I then go off with my will, damaged as it is if left unaided, and do as I please with my agenda.  This rarely ends up with good results for the world around me.  My unaided will is a bit broken.

Friday, March 31, 2017

Forgiveness

I am reminded that in baseball you get three strikes before you are declared out.  That is, you can make two mistakes and still be at bat.  Three mistakes, and you don't get to first base.  Think about that.  Baseball is more forgiving than most people.  How many of us let someone make two mistakes as they apply to our relationship, before we say, "You are out of my life.  You don't get to first base with me."  Some of us are so intolerant that one mistake is all it takes to dump someone, or write them off.  Someone said forgiveness is to be done, "Seventy times seven."  Only God could do that.  But at least it is a goal.  One and done should only be for March Madness in basketball or the final sixteen teems in Soccer World Cup.  Ok in sports, but not so good in human relations, and personal growth.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

A Distance

People might ask me if I am a Christian, or a Believer, or go to church, but never am I asked if I am a disciple.  Why?  I suspect that it was different in the early days of Jesus' followers.  Peter, the first pope, was asked if he was a disciple, that is, a follower of Jesus.  He said no a few times.  No one asked if believed.  Belief was not an issue back then.  Did you do as Jesus did was the issue.  In time, belief trumped following as the focus.  With the development of dogma, came heresies, that is, dogma debates.  People stopped asking if you were a follower.  They wanted to know what you believed.  And as we came to see in history, you could believe but not really follow Jesus in your actions.  Peter gives us an example of this behavior.   He was counseled to listen to Jesus.  To be a listener, one must stay near to the teacher.  Jesus did not write books.  When Jesus was arrested, it says in the gospel that Peter followed him, AT A DISTANCE.  This is the key.  It became the problem with Christianity and probably faith in general.  People would commit with their heads to a belief, get baptized or whatever, but their bodies, their actions would not be what Jesus counseled.  There became lots of believers, but from a distance, so that they would not have to hear Jesus.  Is that why Catholics like to sit in the back of church?  I struggle with this distance issue myself.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Matthias

The Catholic Church has a saint for everything.  The saint for those who have a continual struggle against alcoholism is St. Matthias.  His feast day is the anniversary of my ordination, May 14.  He was chosen by the original followers of Jesus to replace Judas, the apostle who betrayed Jesus.  Matthias was one of two choices.  Both he and the other fellow were quite upstanding.  What to do?  The community decided to give up control over the choice and then to take action.  So they caste dice.  It is called "casting lots" but basically it is the same as when you play the craps table at a casino.  Who knows what numbers will come up?  But you throw the dice anyway.  This is what they did and Matthias' number came up.  He was chosen.  What better person to be the saint for alcoholics.  They are supposed to give up control over their drinking, but take action.  This is trust in the higher power. Their own personal power was nil.  They could not stop drinking on their own.  The action they take is to get involved in the twelve steps, meetings, and being of service.  Just because you have no power, does not mean you do nothing.  Thank you St. Matthias, among others.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Faith And Love

Faith versus Love.  Which will change you?  I think it is love that leads to change for the better.  I meet lots of people who say that have faith that Jesus is God, or no faith, or strong faith or weak faith.  What they all have in common, if it is just about faith, is the way they live their lives in relation to this Jesus and one another.  They all think Jesus is nice and his teachings commendable.  I have seen some atheists and agnostics be better followers of Jesus' teachings than believers.  What brings about change for the better, from mediocrity to selflessness, is love.  So for me, the Christian, the question is: "Do I love Jesus?"  It is not do I believe.  Yes, I believe, but this in itself does little than make me feel better about God.  Each day I have to ask myself, "Do I love Jesus?"  Sometimes, no.  There are vast amounts of time when I hardly think about Jesus at all.  He is not on my radar.  If at any of these moments you were to ask me if I believed, I would respond "Yes," right away. If you asked me if I loved Jesus at that moment, I would be enveloped by silence and embarrassment.  There is a good chance that when my heart is ignoring Jesus, I am not at my best behavior or attitude.  There are many believers but few lovers.  Love changes for the better.  Faith?  Not many followers of Jesus based on faith alone.  Now I wonder if my mailbox has cobwebs on my birthday?  If so, my life is filled with heartless believers.

Monday, March 27, 2017

The One Step

I think it is a lot harder to be a Christian than to be sober, as someone reminded me.  In recovery programs you get twelve steps.  They are sequential and you can move along little by little.  The steps are a schema, a program leading to sobriety.  It is hard or else more people would be sober today than are.  But in Christianity there is only one step.  "Follow me," is what Jesus said.  This is why there are so few Christians.  Yes, there are a lot of baptized people, white-knuckling it, or just plain non-followers.  Jesus did not give much preparation.  Just put down your life as you live it and follow him.  Change.  The Christian Big Book is the Bible, more specifically, the New Testament.  Some read it, but few really follow it.  I find it easier to be sober each day than to live as a follower of Jesus.  I want to be happy, jouyous and free.  Take up my cross?  Help!

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Gift of Listening

At times, before and after mass, people come up to me who want to talk.  "Do you have a minute, Father?" In fact they often want more than a minute.  Plus, if I know them from previous encounters, I might think to myself, "Oh, this is a crazy person."  Maybe they are mentally ill, but I have judged them.  This is a moment of "Holiness" for me.  Don't let my judgment direct my action.  Stand there and listen.  This might be a rare moment when the mentally challenged person finds someone to listen to them.  Really listen.  Drop the impatience energy.  Does not everyone need someone to listen to them?  Maybe they have something to share that will benefit me.  But even if I have no answer or solution, should they want one, I have given them my time and a listening ear.  Now, all you people who come up to me or email me or call on the phone, asking for listening time, you might be asking if you are considered one of the crazy ones in my life.  I won't tell.

Cobwebs

This evening I was sitting by an open window when into the room flew a witch on her broom.  Now a witch is someone between a human person and a devil.  A witch is not bad enough to be a devil, but not good enough to be a human person.  This would be like my sister, Maureen.  Indeed the witch announced herself as "Witch Maureen."  Witches have power only over bad boys and girls.  I am good, so she cannot hurt me.  Not directly.  "Is not your birthday in two days?" She asked.  "Well yes it is," I replied.  "I suppose you expect the children at the Catholic School across the street from where you live to make up birthday wishes with paper and crayon?" She asked.  "Yes," I said, "And fill my mailbox at the office with love."  "And you expect cards and treats from others?" She continued. "One can only hope, as I believe I am loved," I answered.  "Forget it," wicked Maureen witch said.  "With my magic broom, I will place all the children at the school under the spell of forgetfulness and harden their hearts.  I will drain all the love from the hearts of your friends, and they will think nothing of you.  Your mailbox will be filled with cobwebs.  Empty and barren like the spell I will put upon the hearts of those who once loved you."  This made me very sad and lonely.  As the witch flew out the window to spread her broom magic all over the school and neighborhood, I looked up to heaven and asked God, "Why?"  Only silence.  Will witch magic overcome Grace? I guess I will know by my mailbox on my birthday.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

The Garden

A monk pointed out to me that the soul is like a garden.  It must be watered, and attended to with some silence.  In silence and solitude the garden will produce flowers and flourish.  But while waiting for the flowers to grow, the weeds grow more immediately and quickly.  Weeds are thoughts.  They must be pulled out time and again while we wait for the slower growing flowers to bud forth to beautify our garden soul.  Some mornings I wake up with many weeds and some mornings hardly any.  Stuff happens while we sleep.  My meditation methods are the weeding times.  If no weeds, or thoughts to interrupt me, I do not need to methods to weed my soul.  I just sit in silence and solitude for my meditation time.  Hopefully, my blogs help in some way to encourage you in your soul-work.
     Now I have a particular trouble with thoughts because I have an evil sister who is a witch.  Witches never sleep.  Their brooms are ever ready to travel into the interior world.  While I sleep, Witch Maureen sows many weeds of thoughts into my garden soul.  I often awake crazed with thoughts, anxieties, and fears.  Why does Maureen do this? Well, besides being a witch, she is afraid that if I have an uninterrupted path to deep prayer, I will grow holy and go to heaven.  She is jealous.  She cannot go to heaven because she is a witch.  One of my thoughts is that God loves even witches and hopes for their conversion.  Now if Maureen stops messing with my soul, and becomes a good witch, she too will go to heaven.  I don't want to go where she goes, so I am really glad when I wake up crazed because then I know she is still a bad witch and has no chance.  I suffer thoughts that the witch might burn.  Oh, I guess that is a bad thought!

Friday, March 24, 2017

Hat Check


God is like a coat check girl.  I come in to the theatre and check my coat.  She gives me a claim ticket.  I go into the theatre of prayer, fasting, holy reading and meditation.  When I am finished, I think I have had a fulfilling performance.  I leave and go to claim my coat.  The girl says, "I gave your coat away to someone who had no coat and was suffering."  I am enraged.  This is an injustice.  "Now what am I supposed to do?" I shout.  "Oh," said the coat check girl, "Did you not get the point in the theatre?  You are supposed to trust in Me."  God comes in various disguises, including a coat check girl.  What good is all this ascetical practice, prayer and meditation, if I still come away with the idea of justice being all about me and "fairness," with no trust in the power of God?  The spiritual life is more than performance.  Prayer is just the beginning of letting go.  We tend to wear our egos sown to our skin.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

A Bear Is A Bear

How does a bear know that it is a bear and not something else?   C. S Lewis says that is knows by interacting with friends who are people.  The bear in this friendly atmosphere will then come to know it is a bear and not a person.  So what? So what, is that we need to discuss religion, our beliefs or lack thereof with others who are friends but are not just like us, or else we will not know what we truly believe.  We have to hear other ideas and argue points.  In this way we come to a better understanding of what is wheat and what is chaff in our religious world.  Too often believers and non-believers hunker down with people who they see as just like themselves.  This is lazy thinking, maybe safe, but ultimately banal, and mediocre.  Why do people say that they never want to talk about religion with those who disagree?  Unpleasant?  What might be unpleasant is the underpinnings of our system will be shown as lite, weak, and not likely to change us for the better.  Sometimes people say that they are non-believers, atheists, believers in one religious path or another, because it is the easier and softer way.  I like to read people and listen to people who challenge me.  If I dismiss them too quickly, it is probably because fear has come up.  A faith that is mediocre will be lived by a life that is mediocre.  I prefer more depth and meaning, something worth dying for.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

An Egg

We are each like an egg.  C. S. Lewis helped me here.  An egg is suppose to hatch in its proper time.  If it does not hatch it rots.  If it breaks before its time, such as Humpty Dumpty, it is broken.  It cannot be fixed.  Some of us, me for sure, was once a broken egg.  I tried to hatch before my time.  I was not ready but self-will and impatience took over.  I rolled around thinking I was living life fully, when in fact I was simply rolling around.  Eventually, I broke, not in a natural fashion where I would become all I was supposed to be, but in a fallen and unnatural way.  This is the Fall.  Oh, maybe the Bible is not so off track?  I could not be put back together.  A mess is still a mess even patched together.  I needed to be remade.  I could not do this, and that is a good thing.  Left to my own devices, I was just going to be broken or a patched mess.  The solution is a spiritual one, and in my case, it is God as I seem to have discovered.  God took the best of me, my God-ness, and encircled me in a shell to incurbate.  The shell is Love.  There I waited, because self-will only ruins Love.  Eventually, in God's time, my waiting in prayer, patience, trust and hope, I broke out of the shell of protective Love, and began to live, to be this Love in my own unique way.  I start small, needing God, but trust that I will fly, even soar.  When I stay God-connected I soar best.  I am always becoming all God meant for me to be.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Mean But Not Mean

I heard something that pertains to me.  Say what you mean but don't say it meanly.  Too often I say exactly what I mean, and I say it in a snarly way that puts people down, makes fun of them, and is about my ego advancement.  In fact, silence would have been better than the manner in which I said something.  The words we use are only part of the message.  This is why I have to work so hard on being even keeled.  Keep a balance in my life.  If I feel rushed, tired, fearful, anxious or resentful, then I will say "whatever" with an attitude.  The meaning will be buried beneath the meanness.

Monday, March 20, 2017

12

I like this one.  There are twelve hours on a clock.  No one can skip an hour.  You cannot say you'll do something at 10 but skip 11 and just go to 12.  Even if you sleep, or sit staring at a wall, you go through hour 11.  A really useful and full life is to have something positive for each hour, such as 7+ hours of bed rest at night, or a nap in the afternoon.  Where is this all going?  It goes to recovery programs in which there are 12 steps.  You cannot skip a step or jump around.  They are sequential for a reason, just like a clock.  You skip or ignore steps at your own peril.  I have found it so.  Addicts beware!  and for the rest of you, what are you going to do for yourself that benefits a world larger than yourself after you finish reading this blog?  Deleting me is not a benefit.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

St. Joseph


In my church today is the feast day of St. Joseph.  He is the husband of Mary, the mother of Jesus.  I like St. Joseph.  He is needed by Jesus and Mary, but Joseph does not call attention to himself nor make a big deal about himself.  Also, he is at times clueless as to what is going on.  But he sleeps well anyway because he has dreams and remembers them.  So he get good REM sleep.  His life has problems, questions, difficulties, but he does not take them to bed with him.  All this I like.  I want to be needed and on days when few read my blog I wonder.  But I try not to be self-important.  Joseph is the model.  He did not need to be the center of attention.  Play you role in life, when you find it, and you will be comfortable in your own skin.  Then, it is OK not to know what is going on all the time.  You don't have to compensate by being a helicopter dad or priest or parent or lover.  I figure if I am supposed to know, I will be told somehow.  With all this, I will sleep better.  Plus, now I have a CPAP machine.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Broken Heart

When your heart is broken by love you might think it is the end of the world.  Certainly you feel very badly and may wish bad things on yourself or the one who broke your heart.  But wait.  A heart cannot be broken unless it has been taken out of its shallow world of separate self and brought into the world of the truer, and more real self that has experienced oneness.  Most of us, outside of love, go around in the world of dualism.  Everything is separate, mundane, ordinary, and unsatisfying.  There is never enough "more" to fill us up.  Then you fall in love.  Suddenly, your are surfeited with more then enough.  You experience a deeper sense of self.  You see everything as if for the first time in all their beauty.  You are happy.  Only love can do this, show you a way of seeing and being that is always possible.  Love unlocks the possible.  The broken heart means that you at least have had this wonderful experience of life in depth.  So I rejoice in the women who broke my heart.  They gave me a great gift and for a time I was enough for them.  Spiritual depth is to be in love with the world around me, to see people even as they may not see themselves.  May my actions toward and with them give them a glimpse of The All that is within them.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Better Past

Why do some of us, not you of course, wish for a better past?  Is this not a form of selfishness, thinking about ourselves unduly, wishing we had been better?  We cannot change our past, but we waste useful energy thinking and wishing about it.  My escape from this is to put some action into today, and focus some of this action in being useful to others.  It can be as easy as taking out the garbage, cleaning up shared space, gasing up the car.  Good and useful things unless I do them with resentment while I sit on the pity pot.  Today, action and attitude are what will make tomorrow be filled with peace and serenity.  And wish someone Happy St. Patrick's Day today.  Stay sober and tomorrow you won't wish for a better yesterday.  Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Thursday, March 16, 2017

St. Patrick

Tomorrow is St. Patrick's Day.  The school across the street from where I live in Boulder is called a Catholic school.  But it is not.  Why?  No day off for St. Patrick.  Capitalism has won out.  We are into productivity and work.  It was not always so.  If you lived in the 18th century, the Catholic countries has 80 to 120 days off for feast days, usually associated with saints.  Now the farmers had to work anyway, but still, it was a bit of work-lite.  In Protestant countries, they only got 15-25 days off for holidays.  In part they did not truck much in all this Catholic Saint and Mary feast days,  But it was also the work ethic of capitalism.  Days off cut into productivity and profits.  Karl Marx thought it nothing but greed and avarice.  Whatever.  But Catholics were good at parties then, and not much into capitalism.  When I was a boy we had St. Patrick's Day off.  But Catholics have become good capitalists and much more productive and workaholic.  I try to uplift the old days when Catholics were into parties.  I will work little and play much tomorrow.  I will be a witness to the children hard at work at their desks across the street.  Oh, I forgot.  I am in Vero Beach, Florida.  Anyone for golf?  Or I can go and witness to the children at St. Helen's school down the street in Vero, chained to their desks as Patrick and the Irish weep.

Bernard Ryan

My Dad died at this time 13 years ago today.  I was with him when he took his last breath.  It was a precious moment for both of us.  I hope someone who loves me is with me when I take my last breath.  I wonder if I will be incorruptible?  I am working on getting holy.  My Dad died holy.  I am a witness to that.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Maureen The Vamp

One of the ways you knew someone was a saint is if you dug up their grave and the body was "incorrupt."  They were called the "incorruptibles."  But not all incorrupt dead bodies were saints.  Think Vampires.  Vampires were people who in life were rather evil, like my big sister, Maureen.  Vampire bodies remained incorrupt after death and of course at night they got up and continued to do evil.  We like to think that when evil acting people die, good riddance.  They stop with the evil.  Not so with vampires.  Now, if fans of Maureen were to dig up her body, I suspect they would find it incorruptible.  Then they would say to me, "See, she is a saint because she put up with you Terry when you were her bratty, selfish little brother."  I of course know her fans to be all wrong.  She is incorrupt because she was evil and now she is a vampire.  This is why I take garlic to bed.  Maureen hated garlic, as do all vampires, I guess.  Anyway, I hope she goes and bites all those who think she is a saint.  Just sayin'.  My Chicago friend, Sheila, needs maureen stories in my blogs from time to time.  It's her fault.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Tree Weeps

In Florida, after a rain, the trees continue to drop raindrops onto the ground beneath.  I have found this out when I jog in a tree filled area.  Usually one tries to get under a tree to get out of the rain, but in Florida, when the rain slows down you want to get away from the trees.  I think of the trees as crying tears of gratitude and joy at the water come down to feed the tree roots and the ground.  After the rain stops, the trees continue to give thanks with their tears of joy.  Then I think of me.  How unlike a tree I am.  If I say thank you at all, and I often do, it is an immediate thank you for something, and then I move on to whatever is next.  Not the tree.  It continues to show gratitude long after the rain has stopped.  Maybe the tress have souls?  If so, why chop so many of them down?

Monday, March 13, 2017

Will Power

Not everything can be done with will power and self-discipline.  This is very hard for people like me to accept because I can do so much with self-discipline and will power.  I do this blog everyday.  I exercise and eat properly.  I can walk away from sweets and glutin.  I can look at chocolate but not eat it.  I meditate and attend to friends, spiritual path and otherwise.  But I cannot do sobriety with my will power and self-discipline.  Know thyself!  Everyday I have to accept this, be grateful, and take action so that I don't get onto the lonely road of "being dry."  If you have something that you cannot do alone with your own will power, you are not a bad person.  You are human.  Accept limits and then connect with others to help you.  If I am honest, like in my blogs, and with friends and helpmates, I enjoy good and sober days.  And on not so good days, I still enjoy the sober part.  This means that no days are all bad!

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Feel Right?

I have heard people say that they walked into a room full of people, and said, "It did not feel right to me."  Then they go on to tell me what was wrong with the people, the room, the atmosphere and so on.  They never say that anything is wrong with themselves.  What I have found in my own experience is that when I say a group does not feel right to me, the real issue is that I do not feel right with me. How do I know this?  Because when I keep going back to the same group of "not right" people, listen, interact, say hello, simple stuff, after a while, the "not right" people begin to be plenty right enough.  Did they change?  No. Guess who changed?

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Trent


Augustine felt that marriage was necessary to overcome the temptations to lust.  Rather pessimistic.  Then along came the Catholic Reformation and the Council of Trent, which ended in 1563.  Trent was more optimistic and even believed in love in marriage.  Trent said the first motive for marriage was companionship.  Much more positive.  Companionship could deal with the discomforts of life and growing infirmities of old age.  It was secondarily about the wish for children.  What happened?  I did not hear this as I was growing up.  Vatican II Council, 1962-65, gave it a shout, but kids were primary in my upbringing.  Well, after Trent, those Jansenists got their view to be the focus.  Jansenists felt we were all depraved.  They did not think much for a spiritual union.  We were too depraved for that.  The emphasis went back to procreation over against companionship.  I think the Jansenists ruled in the Bronx where I was growing up.  But then again, I was a pretty depraved kid.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Trust To Newark

I seem to lack a trust in God.  But there is a light here.  First, the no trust: I was to fly from Denver to Newark and then find a bus or train that would take me to Manhattan, or "The City" as we New Yorkers call it. Flying to Newark and finding the way to New York on public transportation was a first for me.  Do I take the train or the bus?  Train to Penn Station or bus to Port Authority? Never give fear a choice between two unknowns. I feared I would be marooned at the airport, mugged, and left for dead!  Anyway, on the plane I decided to take the bus.  No one had complete info as how to do this, including the website.  Confused, I exited the plane and looked for AirTrain which goes betweeen the three terminals.  I landed at "A" terminal and was told to go to "C" to get the bus.  As I was about to escalate to the Airtrain, I saw a ticket machine that confused me.  I passed an airport concierge in her red coat.  The red coat people are the ones to ask for help.  I took off my hat and told the woman I was lost and this was my first time trying to navigate the bus.  She said, "You don't have to go to the C terminal. The bus stops at all the terminals."  Then she led me to a clerk who sold bus tickets inside the terminal. The cost was $17 round trip for a senior.  I found the bus.  As most people were paying on the bus, I found out that for them it was twice what I paid for my ticket bought inside the terminal.  The bus took me to the Port Authority and I was fine.  The light?  Humility and gratitude.  God reminded me that my lack of trust does not handcuff God.  I may be a fool, but I am one who takes action by asking for help along the way.

Beauty And The Beast


The movie, "Beauty and the Beast" with live actors is coming to the screen soon.  The most famous version of the story was written by Madame Leprince, Jeanne Marie Leprince de Meaumont.  In the 1700s she wrote about expanding women's opportunities, and lifting up the self-esteem of girls.  It was a time when men were downplaying women's role in the work force, and influence outside the home.  She was for the education of young girls when other people thought it a waste. She argued that mutual love was passion tamed.  Recall in the story that the young girl likes to read a lot while the strong Gaston thinks it a waste of time for her.  To him, her job is to make Gaston happy and the center of her attention.  And she does not let the beast get away with his whining.  Of course he is a beast because he was self-centered and uncaring.  Any beasts in your life ladies?

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Fetus Soul

In the 1600s some moral theologians thought that the fetus did not have a soul until a few months after conception.  With a soul the fetus became a human person.  This idea died in 1708 when the church made a feast day, December 8, of the Immaculate Conception.  This was when Mary was conceived without sin and it had to be nine months before her birth, September 8.  Because Mary was a full human being from the moment of her conception, was she able to be endowed with grace that freed her from original sin.  If Mary was a human person with soul from conception, then it was likely that human life began with conception, the theologians reasoned.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Les Mis

Remember the play/movie, "Les Mis," and the girl who gets pregnant?  Her lover does not marry her but leaves her alone with a child.  It was 18th century France.  Had it been a hundred years earlier, he would have kept his commitment to marry her if she bore a child.  In these earlier times, the clergy looked the other way when boys and girls had sex to see if they were mutually fertile.  If so, boy would marry girl.  This was love and fertility.  Gus kept there commitments, their word.  But guys went rogue by the 1700s.  They still wanted to sex, but not the obligation.  The "Official Church" never condoned this premarital sex, but local priests and local custom had more influence.  An abandoned girl would often have to give up their child to an "orphanage" where the child would most likely die due to neglect or malnutrition.  Half the children in the 1700s died before they were 10.  Between 1750 and 1799 child mortality in the Dublin foundling home was 89%.  Thus the church focused on virginity for the girls to prevent all this child death and abandoned young women.  They wanted guys to be virgins too before marriage.  It was not an even playing field.  Is it ever?

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Eve Revisited

I am reminded that it took the devil, the master of deception and cunning to fool Eve.  It took only a human to tempt Adam.  Plus, Eve was curious.  She wanted to learn more, to know more.  Is this not what open-minded people do?  Look at the scientists and engineers and even people who are at the forefront of religious learning.  They probe.  They progress.  They are open.  So ladies, when guys try to put you down remember Eve.  I wonder where my church would be with ordained women?  A recent pope said, no discussion.  I am not discussing, just wondering.

Monday, March 6, 2017

Pretend World

I liked to drink.  It allowed me to live pretend reality, and escape the real world in which I lived.  Scratch below the surface of any serious drinker and you will find fear, anxiety and beneath that probably depression.  Who wants to drag that stuff around in their consciousness and emotional life?  Not me.  My world of pretend was my solution to living.  I even meditated in my world of pretend.  I really did meditate, but I did not change for the better.  I had good qualities.  I could be compassionate, kind and well, nice, but these were islands of respite in my world of pretend.  I could be a successful worker at times, but not day after day. I could run several miles at a time in working out.  None of these good things were my solution to living.  They did not drive away or evaporate the underlining discontent and restlessness.  One day, and now, every day, I decided that I alone had no solution to my dilemma. Didn't I have God in all that mediation and church going?  Yeah.  I let God in the door, but then I climbed out the window to go howl!

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Truth

The Bible says that Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life.  Buddhists say that Buddhism is the Truth.  Well, there is only one truth.  If it is true, then it is true in all cases.  There is not your truth and my separate truth.  Now, there might be more than one way to get there.  For me, there is only the Way of Jesus.  I don't dismiss Buddhism, but I don't pretend to follow its path.  Who can follow two paths?  I can read about, study, talk about Buddhism, but I am not a Buddhist practicioner.  I practice Christian meditation as a Jesus follower.  It is my way.  It makes sense to me.  Sacraments make sense to me.  But meditation is what opens me to talking with and understanding Buddhists who meditate and have there lives changed for the better by it.  Buddhist Roshis are not interested in talking to Christians who have no meditation practice.  They respect Jesus enough to know that mediation is key for true Jesus followers.  Deep meditation is what helps us to appreciate and get some glimpse of Truth from another perspective. Otherwise, there is only intolerance.  It is wherein we can see paths coming closer together.  It is not relativism.  My path is the only one for me.  It is not that I decided to be a Christian but could have been a Buddhist.  Jesus chose me.  I said yes.  I am fulfilled.  Jesus did not go to Japan, or China or India.  Maybe he made Christianity missionary so that we would not stay at home talking only to people who agree with us, look like us, and make us feel secure and safe, with no need to meditate.  Like a Gated Christianity.

Saturday, March 4, 2017

The Coin

A coin has two sides.  If I only see one side, I do not see the whole coin.  No one thinks of a coin as having only one side.  But this is how many of us look at most situations, from our side or point of view.  We do not accept that we only have our side and not the whole of a situation.  When we tell others that we think they are all wrong and wacko, it might be that we cannot turn over to any other side but our own.  From my side I cannot see or experience another side, but I try to keep in mind there might be another side to the situation.  I might think that something does not make any sense to me, but that in itself does not make it wrong.  I have my beliefs about things, but I try to stay open to people who have a different way of seeing a situation.  It is better than killing the "other."

Friday, March 3, 2017

Nation Building

Why did Martin Luther come along when he did and have such influence?  Why the Reformation at that particular time?  Nation building.  In earlier times it was religion, and Roman Catholicism which gave people a sense of unity and safety amidst wars among European feudal Lords.  Religion was the glue.  No matter our differences, we had ONE religion, and where that was threatened by alternative beliefs, those beliefs were persecuted.  By the time of Luther, something new had begun to develop: the Nation.  France, Germany, Prussia, Austria, Britain were being formed.  These were secular entities that gave us a new sense of unity and thus safety.  Catholicism was no longer a necessity for unity and security.  At first, whatever the ruler believed, everyone followed in his realm or emigrated.  But with time, some toleration of differences were permitted where the state felt strong in its "National" unity.  You could be Catholic or Lutheran because you were German.  There was such a thing as "German" as a nation and not just an ethnicity or language.  Where the national sense of unity weakens, you will have more persecution over differences in religion, ethnicity and language.  This may be why, in our own country, we have a growing intolerance, as people feel deep divides in such areas as economics and wealth.  With a sense of division, fear finds a place to grow.  Bad stuff happens when fear reigns.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Being Nothing

Become nothing. Say what?  I don't mean nothing in the sense of being unimportant, or worthless, but rather in being not so full of yourself.  When you can envision yourself as nothing or no one thing, then you make a lot of space for God who is everything and all things.  You can call this "All" whatever you want. It is not you in your self-importance or self-focus.  Don't take up space in your head or imagination. You will bump out the True All.  Meditation is a way to separate just enough from your "allness" to allow for the True All.
As I age I find that I forget a lot of things, but I never seem to completely forget about my "selfness." Inside my head it is hard to stop thinking about me.  I am clay but think I am the potter.  I meditation I allow myself to be me, clay, and let the potter go to work.  Something beautiful will happen.  It is always in the clay, but it needs a potter.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

The Train

Thoughts are like being on the middle car of a train or subway.  There are cars behind you, (the past) and there are cars ahead of you, (the future).  God is only in the car you are in. God is not in the back or forward cars, that is, the past or the future.  As the train moves along, you and God ar always together in your train car, though the train is moving along.  You might look around your car at whoever is there, but you don't spend much time thinking about people in other cars past or future.  In real life, we tend to omit where we are and therefore miss the traveling God, while we relieve the past or fuss about the future.  I try to ride the God car. I just left New York City, so I am subway conscious now.