Friday, July 28, 2017

Wonder Woman

In the hit movie, "Wonder Woman" the climatic struggle between the force of evil, the god Aries and Diana, the Wonder Woman, Diana seems to be getting the worst of it.  She has placed her fighting powers against all the evil soldiers in the battles of WWI, in order to get to Aries, who she has come to destroy and return peace to the world.  Violence against violence.  She has won up until this point, but as she looks up to the sky from under a pile of heavy rubble that has pinned her down, with Aries hovering over her, she sees a plane being flown by Steve Trevor, the American spy who has led her from her safe island home of women to the fight of WWI.  Trevor loves her, but knows that to win this fight, he must sacrifice himself.  He does.  With that self-sacrifice Aries is blown away.  The fighting of soldier against soldier stops.  Diana realizes, as she says, a bit later in another post war scene, that only love will defeat evil.  All her fighting powers would not do it.  Now, will there be a sequel?  Is evil permanently eradicated?  I think not.  Diana sends an email message in the final scene to Bruce Wayne...BATMAN.  Aries lurks.  Keep loving.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Reality Change

There was a time when I did not accept situations as they are.  I was not into acceptance.  Reality had to change.  A healthy way to do this, in my case, was to go for a good run.  When I finished, I felt better.  The outside situation was the same but it did not bother me so much. I had changed me in a healthy way. This is sanity.  Somethings we simply cannot change the outsides.  But I had an unhealthy, insane way of changing reality.  I would have a drink of alcohol.  Well, maybe a few more drinks.  Reality changed for me.  The outside world did not bother me.  Actually, nothing bothered me at some point in this solution.  The insanity is that I had only changed myself for the worse, with my alcohol consumption, while the outside world stayed the same.  I thought that I was fine. The next day, the outsides and insides were not so good.  So you have to ask yourself, if you are having trouble with acceptance of things you cannot change, what will be your response?  I now like to do something good for myself, or maybe even do something good for someone else.  Now there is a thought!  I find a piece of chocolate, and even shared, is very healthy sometimes.  I don't seem to have too many good runs in me anymore.  But even a bad run beats a headache.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Atmospheric Refraction

When I have a reunion with my two living sisters in Florida, they will go to the ocean to watch the sunrise.  I don't go.  They won't see the sun rise.  When they think they are seeing the sun rise over the ocean, the real sun is still below the horizon.  Florida has a lot of moisture in the air.  This phenomenon is called, "Atmospheric Refraction."  My sisters don't know this.  The went to brand X colleges.  I went to Fordham.  They come home and tell me what a wonderful sunrise they saw.  I don't want to burst their bubble, so I say nothing.  Even though what they saw was not the real sun, it was their experience that counted.  They will have a better day because they had their "sunrise experience."  When people tell me they saw something or believe in something that they think is positive, I don't challenge facts.  I don't get into debates.  I look for how their experience changes their life for the better.  If someone says they have experienced a Higher Power I look to see if their lives have changed for the better.  I don't question the existence of Higher Power.  I meet people who say they believe in God or experience God, but their lives are mean, nasty, greedy, selfish and heartless, or parts thereof. In my mind they experienced a god of illusion.  If the experience changed you for the better, then what you saw is "real" enough for me.   Except atmospheric refraction.  But why burst my sisters' bubble.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

The Last To Know

Many of us are the last ones to know about both a good and bad part of ourselves.  Take a genius.  To the genius, things have always come more easily to them than other people.  So they don't make a big deal about their successes in whatever they do that shows genius.  Everyone else sees it first and tells them.  Will the genius eventually apply themselves to what they do well and become a good for the world?  Maybe.  I knew one genius, way smarter than me.  But he did not apply his talents.  I think he committed suicide.  He died young.  Genius is not the panacea for suffering.  On the other hand we are often the last to know or accept a bad aspect of ourselves.  Take the alcoholic.  Everyone seems to know it but the alcoholic. This is the way they always drink. It is their normal. They are the last ones in their circle to admit to alcoholism.  Will they get better? Perhaps.  Or maybe suicide for them too.  So what I try to do each day, since I don't want to be among the clueless, is early in the day, look at the good qualities people tell me I have and ask how I am going to use them in service to those around me.  Then I look at the bad habits and defects in my character and ask how I am not going to let them get in the way of the good.  I do this in prayer...I need power beyond my own.  When people give me a compliment I try not to contradict them.  They have just given me a gift, a second pair of eyes and heart to see myself.  When they tell me I am whining...well, what do they know!😇😇

Monday, July 24, 2017

Quick To Judge

HOMILY NOTES
FR. TERRY RYAN, CSP
MATTHEW 13: 24-32
AUGUST 23, 2017
            I sometimes wonder if my big sister, Maureen, is in purgatory or not.  Why? Well, I figured she was pretty bossy with her little brother.  But today’s gospel says don’t be so quick to judge.  Our judgment of another person is our opinion.  It generally is based upon what we think is good/bad.  No one would ever plant a mustard seed in a field of grain or fruit trees.  That seed will only amount to a bush, a large obtrusive and rather ugly bush that takes up space.  That is one opinion.  The birds have another opinion.  They choose to dwell there and not in the seemingly big, and beautiful fruit trees. 
            The type of weed that is planted in the field looks at first just like the wheat.  So don’t be too quick to judge.  Leave things be and see how it all works out.  That is God’s job.  What is the point of all this?  Think of the communities you prefer for your own worship, dwelling, or comfort zone.  Is it a group of people very similar to how you see yourself?  Many worship communities seem to migrate to people of similar likeness.  If someone dissimilar tries to enter or join, people tend to shun or ignore the newcomer, and thereby make a judgment.  Some people would prefer a smaller, “purer” community, while Jesus seems to hang out with all kinds of people who are judged to be the “wrong crowd” by some religious authorities. 
            The Kingdom of God is made up of all kinds of people and we need to be more broadly welcoming, and inviting.  Broaden our horizons.

            And if you yourself sometimes feel that you are an odd type, and don’t fit in, remember that is just your opinion.  God might very well have a different opinion.  Allow yourself, as you are, to do a kind act today for someone else.  I have found differences tend to fade with kindness. 

Sunday, July 23, 2017

A Little Can Be A Lot

Sometimes you do a little something for someone, but think it is not much.  Well, that depends on their perspective.  What if they have nothing?  If you give a dollar to someone on the street, what if it is the only dollar they get?  But lets broaden this.  You give someone a hello and say something positive about them or their appearance or accomplishments.  You may think it was just a passing remark, a mere moment in your time.  But what if you are the only one who notices them in a positive manner, or any manner, that day?  You might give someone a hug, and it might be the only hug they get, period.  At times I try to do something nice for someone, a cup of coffee, for no other reason then to do it.  It might change their day.  So don't belittle yourself for the "little" you do.  Do a little and it might be a lot in the eyes of another.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Maureen

Today would be my sister Maureen's birthday.  She died in 2004.  I miss her still.  I do hope that she is out of purgatory by now.  Her fans, who are legend, no accounting for taste, believe that she never went there, but went straight to God's eternal hug.  I have no direct revelation as to her whereabouts, but hope for the best, given that one should pay for being a bossy big sister.  Her four children think that she is a saint, but that is because by the time they came along, Maureen had reformed, though my two sisters say it was because she no longer had to put up with me.  I was the only saint among my siblings, and they cannot abide by that.  Saints suffer.  Anyhow, say a prayer for her if she is still in the fires, or one for me if you think she is in heaven.  I might need prayers, even of sinners like my readers, in case I am, as some say, delusional.

Friday, July 21, 2017

Outreach

There are at least two organizations that were founded, not primarily for membership, but for those who don't belong.  One was the Christian Church and the other is AA.  After 2000 years, the Christian church, now churches, is not primarily for those who don't belong. 
It went from disciples to membership, at least for the person in the pew.  In most of these churches, the membership has become people who are pretty much the same within that church.  Ethnicity, language, culture, and custom seem to form any one church.  Not much mixing and not much outreach by the members for "outsiders."  The original followers were supposed to be well, "followers."  Go out and proclaim the good news to those who have not heard and could use it.  Start with the "lost sheep," those who felt abandoned, ignored, the poor as well as the educated.  History had a lot to do with changing all this over 2000 years.  Now AA is less than 100 years old and is still focused on its primary purpose, to carry the message to those who are still suffering, outside the fold.  What will the future hold?  We must be careful, lest history repeat itself.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Flicker

I heard a wonderful analogy to spiritual growth: a power outage.  In a power outage you are in the dark.  No power.  By yourself, at this moment you can do nothing but wait, hope, pray, and maybe grumble and whine.  But you cannot make the power come back on.  Then there is a flicker of light.  Hope. There is help out there.  Then full power comes on, and you are in the light.  Why did the power go out?  Lack of maintenance.  Now in the spiritual journey, you take light for granted, and so you don't worry about maintenance.  You spiritual center is the power grid.  In time, with no maintenance of a spiritual condition, no prayer, meditation, diet, exercise, right living, the grid goes bust and you suddenly find yourself in the dark, the bottom of darkness.  Help!  You cannot find the self-power to bring back the light.  You are not the power.  You wait.  You make promises to whatever, to reform, change, do something differently,  so that this won't happen again.  Then the flicker.  This is the first faint stage of recovery from the darkness.  Waiting is better than bad living.  Then the light comes back on.  It came from a power not your own.  If your promises to change hold up, then you begin to do maintenance on the grid, so that you stay in the light.  All recovering alcoholics know this.  Live badly, maintenance free.  Darkness: the bottom.  Powerlessness. A flicker of hope from somewhere as you are introduced to the Program of Recovery.  Then the light.  Daily maintenance is the ongoing journey.  The next time you are stuck in a New York Subway, or waiting for one that does not come, may this be a reminder: daily maintenance of your spiritual condition.  using the darkness never seems to bring back the light.  

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Being Alone

To paraphrase Matthew Kelly, you can make a lot of bad relationships because of your fear of being alone.  When I first moved to Chicago, as a single guy, I knew no one.  I was alone.  It never occurred to me that I could go to a museum and treat myself to art.  No, I went to a bar.  There I would meet  a woman, who my first instinct said was not for me.  But I killed that instinct with a drink, and thus a budding, but "never should have been" relationship would begin.  There were a few of these.  My best women relationships in Chicago were with women I never met in bars nor at work.  The fear of being alone was what drove me to places and people that were not fulfilling for my deepest needs.  But that fear seemed to block out at times healthier and more stimulating activities, places and events.  You might want to go through your list of people in your life and ask if they are there because of this aloneness fear or are they there for more positive reasons.  I hope that my blog does not get the cut.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Homily

HOMILY NOTES
FR. TERRY RYAN, CSP
MATTHEW 13: 1-9
JULY 16, 2017

            When a seed falls into the ground, what happens?  It might depend on the ground, the soil.  In Jesus’ day, lots of the land used for planting was somewhat rocky.  When the farmer tilled the soil before seeding it, the weeds were plowed under and became fertilizer.  There were no herbicides.  So the seeds fell upon rocks, thorns, and such in the planting.  So?

            So, think of yourself as the soil.  The seed is God.  God opens up to us, as a seed broken open, to embrace us in a loving hug.  We are invited to open up, accept this love in spite of the weeds, thorns, and rockiness of our personality, our shortcomings and imperfections.  God is ready to love us as we are, not as we think we should be.  Do you not have days that are “thorny,” when you seem to choke God ‘s love, and anyone else’s by your bad behavior, selfishness, whining, fear, resentments, and anger?  God will still open to you.  Jesus says that the sower sows seeds everywhere, not just on the “perfect” soil. 

            In chemistry, there is something called a compound substance.  It means that things, substances, that are different, come together and be what they are through each other.  God wants to be moved by our love.  God expresses more of Godness when we openly surrender to this love, this spiritual hug and hug back with love.  Love is meant to change people.  This is the purpose of the divine hug, the unconditional love of God and our response.  God created the world to express God’s self more fully, in nature, stars, and so forth.  But it seems that we humans are the part of creation that can love God most fully, and therefore allow God to become most self-expressive.
                       

            When we love this way, we may begin to see “others” not so much in their faults, but in their oneness with us, all one soil.  This is the vision that allows for a hundred-fold harvest.  I hope for a hug today.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Free On The Inside

I hear people say, "I never went to prison," or "I've never had to go to prison."  Oh!  Not ever prison is behind a clanking cell door.  What about the prisons inside of us, that take away our freedom?  There are the long-standing grudges, and hates that we hold against other people.  We are not free to act toward them in any other way than a negative response, or avoidance.  We are not free to go to some places because "that person" will be there.  Then there are the fears that we hold onto that prevent us from expanding our horizons.  We won't go camping or hiking because bears, bobcats, snakes, spiders might attack us, or it might just be too "uncomfortable."  We have fears about dating, moving, taking on a new job.  Clank, clank goes our life, and we are left out, barred from freedom which begins on the inside, in our hearts.  Try something new today.  Eat lima beans.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Flying Or Falling

There is a quote, "What if I fall? Oh, dearest, but what if you fly?" In other words, at some point we try to leave the safe nest, overcome the weight of fear, and risk failure by stepping into the unknown. We may fly.  We may fall.  But if we stay put we will not know.  So today, when you feel that inertia, weighed by fear, a natural tendency, you may just give it a go.  That would be a matter of Grace, beyond the natural tendency of fear.  Who knows?  You may "fly."  That is, you will discover a whole new dimension of life, and moreover, that it was always in you, waiting to be let go.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

The Boy In The Striped Pajamas

At the end of this movie, "The Boy In The Striped Pajamas," you see the German prison Commandant looking on at the gas chamber in bewilderment as he begins to comprehend what just happened.  But then you see in his eyes a shift.  A moment of compassion, or connection with all the suffering that he has been a part of.  What will happen to him now that he connects, now that he has this human moment of compassion for those who are suffering loss?  He will probably lose his position as Commandant because on the one hand he is an embarrassment at such a screw up that cost his family so much suffering.  Maybe he will be sent to the Front, if he can even get himself to fight and kill.  Compassion is very powerful.  It can blunt some violent energies, and can see through propaganda.  So maybe he will end up in prison himself, as being a soldier unwilling to fight.  He may go into guilt trips, and blame himself for not making the intent of the prison camps clear to his son.  The Nazis tried to fool a lot of people with propaganda about these "work camps."  But ultimately, compassion is what changes us. Instead of enemies, we see "brothers and sisters" of the human condition, and our hearts go out to them.  Be careful if you pray for compassion.  You may make new enemies...those who have not yet received the gift of compassion.  As with the Commandant, this gift comes at a high price, our own suffering.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Ten Virgins

In the parable of the Ten Virgins, five are wise and five are foolish, as the story goes.  The wise ones have common sense, plan ahead, are astute and enterprising.  The foolish ones are none of this, for they bring no extra supplies of oil for their lamps.  They await the wedding party, which is late in arriving, such are wedding events as we all know.  Supply of oil for lamps runs out for the foolish.  What do at the wise say?  Tough.  Shop for some more.  Are they heartless and uncaring?  Depends on why they did not share.  If it was out of spite, to punish, or simple greed, then probably so.  Many people who condemn the "haves" do so because they judge this to be the motive.  But what if the wise virgins acted the way they did to help the foolish to become more wise?  This might be an act of compassion.  A little suffering can cause us to change our ways.  A lot of suffering can bring an alcoholic to recovery.  Co-dependence will never change the foolish.  Now some people are truly destitute or helpless in a particular situation.  It may be temporary.  These would require help.  But foolish people don't seem to change unless they have to.  I have found it so.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Doubting And Zealous Thomas

Thomas, the so called "Doubting Apostle" reminds me of people who go away on a retreat, say to a monastery setting that is beautiful and quiet, all meals prepared for them and no cleaning.  After a week or so, the retreatant is all fired up, and like Thomas said once, "Let's also go that we might die with him."  This was in reference to Jesus telling his followers that he was going to Jerusalem to suffer death.  Thomas was all fired up to follow Jesus.  People are like that right after their retreats.  Then people go back home where no meals are prepared and no one else cleans.  Their daily plans for happiness are interrupted by the daily chaos of those around them who have other plans or no plans or plans for self-destruction.  Now the ex-retreatant loses their zealousness and it is replaced with disappointment, and whining.  Faith is fading into weak memory.  Like Thomas they begin to doubt if God cares.  "Unless I can put my hand into the wounds, I won't believe," said Thomas.  It is a lot easier to be a follower on a spiritual path when things go your way.  Not so much when real life shows up.  Retreats may be necessary to remind us of how far we have drifted from our spiritual path or goal.  But daily life is where you take up your cross.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Bad Taste

If someone said that a medicine would take away your suffering, would you reject it because it tastes bad?  Probably not, unless you were an immature child, or always trying to get your own way, which probably led to some of your suffering.  But I find that people who suffer from addiction do just that, they reject the medicine because they don't like it.  The medicine is the twelve steps for recovery.  In spite of their suffering from their addicted behavior, ingesting all kinds of bad things, shooting up and all, they would rather go on with their misery, than take the action of ingesting the twelves steps into their life, their spiritual life.  I keep this in mind when someone tells me that something that is new to me, might help me to have a fuller, happier, deeper life of peace and joy.  I try not to off hand reject something until I have looked into it a bit.  A good day for me is made better when I learn something new, that is not destructive.  

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Closets

What is the one thing most of us would like?  Bigger closets.  I am always amazed to find an apartment with a walk in closet.  I would fill it up, I am sure.  I guess I have what one might call "possession obsession."  Priest closets in old rectories tend to be rather small.  It was expected that "father" would be into a simple life-style.  Well, I am a priest, but I don't think I saved that memo.  My closet in San Francisco is bulging with my stuff, but as I look at all my things, I say, "I need all this stuff," for one reason or another.  Different climates require different stuff.  Instead of one pair of corduroys that I have to keep washing and then replacing, why not four pair, so I don't have to wash or shop so much?  Running shoes could fill up a closet.  Each pair has a purpose.  In Boulder, I have another closet that is rather full of stuff too.  If you are as hopeless as me, wait until you move.  That is the best time to divest.  Meanwhile, I ask myself if my daily life is going to be like my closets, all cluttered with stuff in my head and things to do list?  I try to at least declutter my daily life through prayer, and living within my limitations of what I can do without becoming cluttered with a "must do" list.  Now and again, I give something away that is perfectly good for me use, but to practice a bit of letting go.  I have more than enough things till I die.  I try to spend time and energy on "more" spirituality.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Eye For Eye

The problem with "an eye for an eye" morality is that you never get your eye back.  You poke out the other guy's eye to punish, but that does not get your eye back.  We do that today: retribution for a wrong done to us.  Someone steals your $100.  You prosecute and the thief goes to jail.  The thief is punished but you still don't get your $100 back.  What if the thief was offered the chance to go to work for pay, that would reimburse you, or go to work for you and get no pay, up through the $100 that was taken from you?  On a larger scale, what if someone embezzled money or lied to swindle you, maybe they are quite smart and fear jail?  Would it not work better to have them put their smarts into making your money back, rather than sit in jail "punished" while you and your friends are out a lot of money?  This could be a form of forgiving someone but not letting them off the hook.  Maybe we are too much into punishing others.  Does that make us feel better than having what is lost restored?

Sunday, July 9, 2017

God Views

One view of God by believers is the God of transcendence.  It is dualistic.  In this view, God is invoked.  That is the root meaning of the word, "Gott."  Here prayer is asking God for things, and is usually quite egocentric. I don't mean selfish, but rather it is what you want God to do, to fulfill a desire.  If you judge something as bad, you want God to change it.  In the Catholic Church such people go to communion to make God more immanent, that is, within them, since the prevailing idea is that God is out there.  Another view of God is one of immanence.  Here there is much less asking for things, or petitions, and more meditation, mindfulness, moving away from an ego centered life of fear, desire, clinging, and wants.  God is within from the git go.  God is more an abiding presence than a separate person.  You don't so much invite God to intervene, as you recognize God is present in all reality and events.  Asking here is more to make use of the graces you already have.  Grace is everywhere, not just in seven sacraments. These Catholics tend to go to Communion as a symbolic ritual of being fed by God, and rituals are moments of grace.  We are human. We need rituals.   Either view, transcendent or immanent has value, and some people go between both at times.  But each view is different...very different.

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Your Friend

Alcohol wants to be your friend, but it is temperamental, like a lot of people.  If you spend just a little time with it, here and there, alcohol will always come through for you, like a good friend.  It will help you to relax.  Wine will help you to digest and enjoy foods.  But alcohol needs to be left alone by itself a good deal of the time.  People can be like that too.  If you try to spend too much time on any regular basis with your friend alcohol, it will begin to be not so friendly.  It will begin to take things from you that are very precious, simply because you have them.  Alcohol will take your brain cells and then your health, and then your job, and then the people you love or loved.  Alcohol does not need any of these things.  it just got upset that you took so much of its time.  So, if you are an all or nothing kind of person with alcohol, then I would suggest you do the nothing.  And keep all those other things away from temperamental alcohol.

Friday, July 7, 2017

Don't Fear

One of the promises in AA recovery is that after you have worked many of the steps, you will have fear of economic insecurity removed.  It does not say you will be rich or well off. It just says, you may be poor but you will not be afraid because of lack of income.  I used to think that  everything would be fine with spiritual growth and maturity and sane living.  Not so in the financial end.  I am suffering from economic insecurity, or lack of income, for various reasons.  If I become frightened over this, I might give up what I am doing, even though it fulfills me and helps others, because "it does not pay the bills."  Fear would paralyze me.  How many of us do things we really hate, or that suck us dry, because we fear giving them up.  That would be "dry" sobriety, a dry, parched life.  But if we let go of the fear, we might keep on doing what gives us life.  I trust in my own case that things will work out somehow.  I don't know how.  All I can do is deal with the fear, and I have a way to do that.  Is it better to be poor, but happy, at peace, fulfilled, or rich and fearful about losing this or that?

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Enough Is Enough

In the loaves and fishes story, Jesus multiplies what he is given and feeds everyone.  So, what has that got to do with you?  Well, notice that nothing is called down from heaven to cover a "lack" of something.  Note that people are fed beginning with what is given, available, in hand.  The miracle is that what was in stock is enough for God and you to get the job done.  Say what?  So often we think we don't have enough of whatever, talent, energy, skill, patience, and we pray that God will supply what is missing?  Nothing is missing.  We have enough.  Our prayer might then rather be to ask the Power, God, Absolute, Ultimate Reality, to energize us to get the job done with what we have.  Don't short-change yourself.  You are enough so many more times than you think.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Generosity

Fulton Sheen said that you measure generosity by what you have left after you give.  This can apply in things outside of money and charity.  For instance, I may run a really good time for a 5K, but I did not put out all that much effort.  It was just a good day.  I get praised for how well I did based upon the quantity of time I took to complete the race.  But I had a lot left over.  Another time, I will go all out, leave nothing on the course, and my time will be dreadful.  My coach may say, " You are dreadful. You gave nothing of yourself."  But the truth is I gave my all.  I just did not have much that particular day.  Running is sometimes like the widow's mite.  Ya got nothin' but you give it your all.  The results are not much and you get no praise.  Remember this the next time you do your best, in work, relationship, school, or whatever,  but the results seem to be not much.  Call it a "widow mite" effort.

No Fireworks

Due to drought conditions in the mountains, we cancelled our fireworks on the 4th.  We hope for another day, maybe the Feast of St. Benedict who founded the roots of our Cistercian Order.  But we enjoyed a wonderful picnic and visiting with one another.  Yo'all come up to visit now.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

midday Fireworks

Happy Fourth of July.  At the monastery we have midday fireworks after our outdoor picnic.  It is a lot of fun.  Some people might think it lame, with the sun high in the sky, but we go to bed before sunset, so midday works for us.  We clap and cheer.  So stop raising the bar so high for your fun events.  Life will be a lot more enjoyable and fun if you are not so picky.  You will enjoy fireworks tonight more, if you don't compare and contrast.  Happy Fourth!

Monday, July 3, 2017

Cup Of Water

Homily Notes
FR. TERRY RYAN, CSP
MATTHEW 10: 37-42
JULY 1, 2017

            Why is Jesus saying that you have to love him more than you love your parents or your children?  Is he having ego issues?  Insecure? No.  He is trying to get us to break out of our dualistic, tribal way of seeing the world.  He aligns himself with the “little ones.”  These are all the outcasts, lower level in any class system, the poor, the forgotten, abandoned, hungry and thirsty.  The tribal mentality has an “us and them” attitude.  We identify with our tribal family, our class, people who are like us in status of language, color, ethnicity and money.  Jesus wants us to become “we” people, in connecting with what used to be the “other.” 
           
            This is a hard thing to do, which is why he says it will be like picking up your cross.  Your tribal group may reject you for reaching beyond acceptable boundaries.  They rejected Jesus for doing just that.  Now he says it is enough of a start to give someone who thirsts even a glass of water.  Will you cure world thirst?  Will you quench the thirst of this person to whom you give a cup of water?  Will they befriend you?  You are not in charge of the results.  You do this small action to change yourself.  Don’t worry about the other person being changed.  Transformation is not about changing others.  If you move beyond the boundaries in which you grew up, beyond parent and child as your complete focus, you will develop a larger sense of who are your brother and sister, father and mother. 


            Jesus was found in the Temple when he was twelve years old.  He was supposed to be in a caravan with his parents.  Instead, he stayed behind and connected with the Temple teachers, who wondered what this seemingly strange boy was doing in their midst.  To Jesus, everyone was family.  He had a great curiosity.  The world is all of a oneness.  Or so he envisioned it.  Apparently, not everyone agreed.  But if you want to find your deeper life, then you will need to let go of the narrow life others envisioned for you as your grew up. 

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Teeth

I have friends who are trying to help poor, young people to get a bette life through education and healthy living.  So my friends try to make sure that each person has medical insurance of some type, such as medicaid.  But these sponsors do not focus enough on teeth which are part of the body.  Physicians and dentists do not work much together.  A lot of medical insurance, managed state by state, has little or no provisions for dental care.  It may be available, but it is not required when purchasing medical insurance for the poor.  Plus, many young people have no guidance as to daily maintenance of teeth, much less the opportunity or inclination to see a dentist, who are not always available for the poor.  Yes, it is a mess.  Read Mary Otto's book, "Teeth."  A lot of disease can be prevented or relieved by good oral care.  It is documented.  Catholic schools in the Bronx and suburbs had report cards that required us to go to a dentist for regular checkups.  My Catholic church was proactive teeth.  But when I got to college, and there was no requirement, I stopped going.  Before I joined the Paulists, they required me to go to a dentist.  I was 29 years old.  I had a bunch of cavities and it took two visits for the hygienist  to clean the plaque out.  "What is plaque?" I asked.  Don't be a dummy like me.  Good tooth care will make for better health overall.  And French Kissing passes on a gazillion bacteria.  Just sayin'

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Before Time

There is no "before" time.  This would imply time.  With the Big Bang, time came into existence.  If you prefer Genesis, God did not sit around in heaven with a God watch on the divine wrist, and say, "Tomorrow, lets create light."  God is beyond time.  That is why the Absolute, beyond time, beyond any mental constructs is better than talking about God in some place, at some time, beginning creation.  Well, it is better for the contemplative, if not others who connects to God only through thoughts and images.  We believers in afterlife, think in terms of time.  It is the only way thinking works.  Heaven becomes an eternal day, but day is twenty four hours and requires a sunrise and a sunset.  Eternal life does not have days.  Death is the end of living in time.  I believe there is life after time, but I cannot envision it because my thinking and imagination cannot get beyond what I know, which is always wrapped in time.  Contemplation does not deal in time.  It is beyond the world of mind, thoughts, images, and feelings.  But not beyond Love.