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.