We are in Easter Time, Paschal Time, and will be for some time to come. We are being immersed ever deeper into The Mystery of the wonder-full, awe-full events that took place 2,000 years ago. As we are drawn into the mystery of the Gospel narratives, we are led to the following understanding. The events we read about, though occurring many years ago, are be lived out by you and I, today. As it was with the historical Jesus, Who became The Risen Christ, so, it is with us who bear the name Christian. To help us with this mystery, we must grasp, understand the following; in the spiritual life there is no time, there is no space. God, in spite of our greatest efforts, cannot be controlled, defined, or confined, to anything we may feel, think or say. We can and do, pay lip service to the fact that, "God's ways are not our ways , and His thoughts are not our thoughts." Let's be very honest here, when it comes down to the real nitty, gritty, we want it our way. How often is God told to hit the road in time of pain-full struggle? When things do not happen the way we expect them to happen, there is a serious, volcanic spiritual eruption. A lot of people in our lives are affected, not for the good, when we do not get our way and our expectations are not met. I have to keep before me, it is right in front of me as I do the dishes, "Expectations are planned resentments." I am not always happy to be reminded of that reality. Even though I repeat it again, and again, I still am blindsided. Joe then, is not a very happy camper. The only thing that I can say is, I am now more ready to laugh at myself than I have ever been. I love the following; "If you want to make God laugh, tell Him your plans." I have kept God in great humor over these many years. The Gospel narratives reveal to us how "anxious, shocked, distressed and distraught” the followers of Jesus were, on that first Easter morning. On Friday, their world, as they understood it, had been turned upside down. He, Whom they had followed, and had great expectations of, was not only dead, but His body was not in the tomb. Then, they are told He has risen from the dead, and has even appeared to some the people they knew. What was this all about? It is too much to grasp, to understand. They are afraid confused, bothered, and bewildered. They seem to be, "sheep without a shepherd." With the death of Jesus, who is there now to feed, nourish, guide, and direct them? They are now faced with the feelings of being lost and so alone. As it was with those early followers of Jesus, so it with us today, when we are forced, by life, to encounter death, loss. When they are at their lowest, The Risen Christ appears. Even though He is risen, He has His wounds to show them. The Risen one carries the wounds of His crucifixion. We must always keep that reality ever before us. The Risen one is also, The Wounded one. So, too with each one of us. When we are wounded, not if we are wounded, and in time experience healing and new life, (our personal death, and resurrection) we must always remember the soul in NEVER cured, it is cared for. When we stop doing the caring, then we will revert back into the experience of the crucifixion. We can compound our mistake, by looking for some poor scapegoat to blame. When we get into the 'blaming game" we are on a slippery slope leading to even more serious pain and sorrow. Now we are going to alienate others, when it is the strength of others, the community, we need. We as human beings will belong to the community of "wounded-wounders”, or belong to the community of wounded-healers." That is a prerequisite for belonging to a Christian community, which is a community of wounded-healers. We are following in the footsteps of our Wounded Good Shepherd. As we immerse ourselves in the Gospel accounts of that First Day of a new creation, what a shepherd He shows Himself to be. He is out and about offering reassurance to those who were disturbed, disillusioned and disheartened. He was seeking out and searching out those who seemed to be the most lost. We have the example of the two disciples on the road to Emmaus. He was seeking out Mary in The Garden. Then there was Thomas. He was the disbelieving, unbelieving one, not the doubting one. I believe that in calling him, "doubting Thomas" we give doubting a bad name. Thomas was in real bad shape. He was not with the community. He chose to grieve alone, in private he was doing his grieving. How destructive that was and as it was so it is for us today. Even though we want to grieve alone, it is destructive. Look how unfeeling he had become. Look what he wanted to do to Jesus? Read again what he demanded happen in order for him to believe in the Risen Christ. Was that the request of a compassionate follower or who was in the throes of grieving a loss? With the help of Megan McKenna we will delve deeper in the suffering Thomas, and his presence within you and I today.
Friday, February 16, 2018
"One and done" applies to some things in our everyday life, but not to our spiritual life. "We never do anything in the spiritual life, once forever" are words written by Fr. Rohr. Words I read a number of years ago, and their truth has become a pain-full reality. The spiritual life is all about going deeper. We do not dig a hole with one shovel of earth, it takes many, many shovels to get really deep. As this is hard work, so is the spiritual hike/journey a great challenge. It does not get any easier. It now appears to me the older I get; the harder I have to work. "one and done" has no place in the process we call the spiritual life. It is all about practice, practice, and then practice some more.
Here we have Spring training. The Season of Lent is seen by many as our Spring training. Whether one is a rookie, or a veteran you end up in Spring training, that is if you want to keep your job. Lent, our Spring training is not about keeping one's job, but seeing how one grows into one's calling, one's vocation. Baseball fundamentals are about hitting, fielding, and catching. Lent introduces us to the triple play of prayer, fasting, and works of charity. There will be time when the baseball player will not return to Spring training, we will never be able to avoid the training process of Lent. Spring training is the preparation necessary for a successful baseball season. Lent is essential for us to have "life, and have it to the fullest." The fullness of life however, will come to us through our successes, through our looking good. On the contrary, growth seems to take only through loss, some death, some failure, some great pain. This is why we must return, again, and again, to and ever deepening understanding of The Paschal Mystery. The mystery we have been baptized into, but spend our whole lifetime coming to grips with what it means for us as we life our earthly existence. The Latin word for earth is "hummus," so our earthly existence, is our human existence. Not just any human existence. For we are spiritual beings immersed in this human, fleshy, existence. Lent then, is a process by which we are lead into an ever fuller understanding of who we are, who we have been called to be, and who does the calling.
"We are born human and we spend our whole lifetime coming to understand what, human, means." This is, as you may well know by now, one of my favorite quotations from Metz's classic "Poverty of Spirit." I have come to a slow understanding that it is in and the journey through Lent, and the subsequent celebration of The Paschal (Easter) Mystery that the mystery lying deep within is revealed. This revelation, for me, has not been accompanied with the appearance of angels, warm fuzzy feelings, wonder-full emotional experience, the very opposite has been the case. This journey is a trudge, into uncertainty. "We journey to Him we do not know, by a path we do not know," has been a source of great encouragement on the trudge. Merton's prayer, "God I have no idea where I am going..." (Google for the rest), is a constant source consolation and courage. It seems that the fuller growth has to be proceeded by an emptying out. This required "emptying out" has been modeled for us by Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. He emptied Himself of His divinity so as to be enfleshed in our unredeemed humanity. We are asked to surrender our humanity, and a broken one at that, so as to be filled with the Divine life, The Fullness of life. What a swap? As usual God comes out at the short end of the exchange. Jesus surrendered everything so as to take on our nothingness. We are asked to surrender our nothingness so as to be transfigured and transformed into the very presence of God. What is required of us is that we be willing to allow this miracle of grace to happen. If we are not willing, all we have to do is pray that we become willing to be willing. This is so simple that it appears to be profound!!! The workings of grace will always take place in such a way that we have no idea of what is happening, or when it happens. It is none of our business. All we have to do is allow it to happen. Will our egos allow that to happen? Of course not. The ego wants to know what is happening, how it happens, how LONG it is going to take. The ego wants to confine this miracle of birthing to a reality that can be measured, quantified. This is NOT going to happen. We get what we need, when we need it, and at a time that is best for us. It is The Wisdom of God, The Caring Mother, who directs all things in accord with the universal plan of The Creator. A plan that has been hidden, but has also been revealed. Our lives, each one is an essential play, an essential part in this great revealing. This is the inherent dignity that lies within and revealed through healthy spiritual living. Of ourselves, we are incapable of healthy spiritual living, this gift is bestowed on those who are prepared to pay the price. We are reminded, again and again, each and every year prayer, fasting, and works of charity take us out of our narrow, ego driven world into the broad, and so wonder-full creation. A creation we have been called to be co-creators of, by The Creator-God. If we are to be creative creators with The Real Creator God, the false gods of our creation must be destroyed. These gods of our ego creation do NOT die easily, so we have been given the Lenten triple play.
"We fast to unite ourselves with the poor-to taste their empty lives, to weep over their sad and hungry children, to feel their helplessness. By fasting and giving alms, by sharing our bread and sheltering the oppressed, we stop "turning our backs on our own." Fasting then unites us with our true family. We the orphan find our way home. Home is God's family of the entire human race where the MAJORITY GO TO BED HUNGRY. Along this way the poor, the hungry and the oppressed lift a yoke from our back. We have been weighed down with the yoke of pride, self-assurance, security and excessive needs. We have been hounded by diets and wasted foods and yet, we are never satisfied. We carry the yoke of never of always wanting more and needing more....Fasting, by uniting us in the family of the poor teaches us the true value of home life. To be united with the poor is far superior to the most advanced education and certainly to the most elegant entertainment. Trough fasting the poor lift these yokes of false values off our shoulders...As the poor share with us their sorrow…the poor lead us home mysteriously enough to Jesus. In the desire of Jesus, a new love is born, and love always unites and begets new life. "Biblical Meditation Foe Lent" by Carroll Stuhlmueller. These are challenging words. Gospel spirituality cuts right to the core of things. That is why we must again and again return to the scriptures of Lent so as to reclaim our original dignity. That dignity as beloved daughter/son may be and is lost to our sight. But NOT from the sight of our Gracious Beloved Prodigal Father. We are invited to "Come back to Me with all your heart...do not let fear draw us apart...we will live DEEPLY our new life" A selfish, self serving fear, the opposite of faith, can and does keep us from an ever new, and ever evolving relationship with our Beloved. We need lent to challenge us to be honest. To face up to the times where we have given into the temptation to follow, and worship at altars of false gods. The creation of our selfish, and self-centered egos are confronted with The Truth revealed in the scriptures. We have so many false gods that we could not confront them all just in one Lent. So we journey again, and again, not alone, never alone into our deserts. We journey to meet our Desert Shepherd who awaits. He awaits us to guide, guard, nourish, and strengthen us as we journey WITH Him to the dark valleys.
Saturday, January 20, 2018
We are bringing another Christmas-Epiphany to a close. We have spent these many weeks in the preparation for, and the celebration of The Mystery of The Incarnation. Once again we, as individuals and communities have set aside time, so we could be led ever deeper into profound Mystery. We are again challenged to let the past be the past, so as to be drawn ever new in today’s meaning of, The Word has been made flesh. In this flesh making, God has become a human being, so the human beings can forever, and ever know the closeness of their God. We human beings can now be blessed with the confidence that there is God. There is a God, a Holy Other, Who is not only in heaven, but is right here with us. Emmanuel!!! Not only is He with us, He makes His dwelling within each soul. Each soul IS the dwelling place of God. A place chosen from all eternity to be the dwelling place of The Presence, which the whole universe cannot contain. Such is your dignity, and the dignity of each human person. We can only stand in awe-full-wonder of such a reality.
This reality is too great to be understood in any one minute. We are given a lifetime to reflect on The Mystery of The Incarnation. With each encounter may you be brought into ever deeper reverence for the dignity of the human person, and the life that person is living. We must allow ourselves to be drawn, sometimes kicking and screaming, into a new vision of the essentiality that God has become a human being. That human being is right here, right now. O come, let us adore.
When God became a human, in the person of Jesus, He was not given a warm welcome. When we respond to our vocation to the contemporary Christ, we, too are not going to be greeted with bells and whistles. As Jesus, Who became the Christ, through His Paschal Mystery had to suffer, we, too will follow in His footsteps. Footsteps that ALWAYS leads to Calvary. There is no side trail to be taken. Jerusalem is our destiny. May we embrace our many crosses, seeing in them our unique way, to unity with all human beings and ultimately with our Creator God.
These are tough times. For us to be the incarnation of the good news we must of necessity, be prepared to suffer. In that suffering there will be a death. Death to the old way of seeing and believing. We must be the ‘new wine’ for a jaded world. We must bring intoxication to a lifeless world. We must bring a new hope, because without which what is there? May you be enlightened, so that your light may shine. May your light be a beacon of hope to those who suffer from hopelessness. May you be today’s shepherds, who were the first bearers of Good News. For this reason each of you has been chosen, from eternity. You have been uniquely blessed. Each of us has suffered brokenness. Now, through grace, let us be the bread of life for lives starving for some source of life giving nourishment. Be whom you always have been.
Life is a journey into uncertainty. It is the journey of dark faith. Please keep me in your prayers. I have a few challenges to face. Not the least of which is dealing with Joe, on a daily basis. Talk about welcoming the stranger?? Summer was quiet. Went to Durango, and promptly got lost on my first hike, at 10,500 feet. Thank God for, "search and rescue.” Not going back that way again.
To all who have been so faithful over the years thank you. You have been, and are my bread of life, for this life. May you constantly be enlightened into the mystery of who you are. You are the continuation of The Incarnation. You are an epiphany that is celebrated every moment of every day. Blessings to and on all.
Saturday, November 25, 2017
"Look not backward in anger, forward in fear, but around in awareness," is something I read many years ago. As we approach the end of the Liturgical Year it is good, no necessary, to keep these words front and center. Why? Well as we listen to the scriptures, about the end of time, we can lose focus on "the here and now." When we lose touch with "the here and now," we lose touch with reality, and so with The Real. All we will ever have is "the here and now," and is here, in the right now, our Gracious God is reaching out to us. We, for our part, must be ready for the gifts that are offered to us, in each and every moment. There is no moment that we are not being offered that which we need for a healthy, and whole (holy), life. These gifts come to us disguised as, "everyday living," which unfortunately we can, and do take for granted. We begin to see them as a right, rather than as a gift. A gift that is not intended for ourselves, but for others. Thank God, we are challenged to see beyond our little agendas, to a vision of the greater picture, the coming of The Kingdom. This kingdom is where we will encounter, and also be the place of other encounters, with that which is essential for healthy, human dwelling. I speak here of peace, justice and love. These are the three essentials we need for lives of peace and harmony with ourselves, and as a consequence with others. Let us remind ourselves that the state of the individual soul, decides the state of a family's reality, and by extension, the state of the nation and world. There are times then when the peace of the world is in serious danger, because of the war within our depths.
I guess that is why our Pope is placing so much emphasis on healthy spirituality. A healthy spirituality is concerned with making us aware of the fact that our God is encountering us where we are, not where we would like to be, or where we are supposed to be, or expected to be. That covers an awe-full amount of space. We cannot live a healthy spiritual life in the illusion of expectation. That is not living in reality, the place where The Real, has its dwelling place. Reality is all about the here and now, and this is the place of our encounter with our Prodigal Father/Mother God. This is always a new experience, because we are ever new in our becoming. Through the action of grace we are always in the process of becoming that which our God has intended us to be. We are to be the living and active presence of His Son, Jesus Christ, who is in turn, the revelation of The Living God. Each one is a sacrament of God, a dignity that must ever be cherished, and celebrated. As we read the many encounters between The Prophet Jesus and those in need we become more aware of the readiness of Jesus to meet the person or persons in the reality of their situation. There was never a question of qualifying for the gift that was to be offered. Jesus was able to see the essential goodness of His creation standing, or lying in His presence. He was able to see beyond the narrow vision of religious law, to the all embracing acceptance of The Prodigal God, He came to reveal to us through His life and ministry. He came to model, for those who were called to be His followers, how life was to be led. Thank God, we have begun a return to an ever deepening understanding of the Gospel's good news, and how it applies to our "here and now."
As it was in the '60s so it is today, we face a battle, a struggle between the forces of rigidity and compassion. As it was, so it is, and unfortunately will be until the end of time. Through all of the struggles, we have to have that confidence that the Holy Spirit is making all things work together for the good of all. History just keeps on repeating itself. It will take a real change in consciousness to change that pattern. From what I have read there seems to be a new consciousness emerging from the present struggles of a broken humanity ever emerging into a wholeness, a oneness. There is a new creation on its way. Let us then be instruments of healthy change, reflected in us being spirituality healthy. We can do this by adopting the following way of living the life given to us to live. Let us "leave our yesterday to the mercy of God, tomorrow to the providence of God, so we can line in and enjoy the love of God today." Easy to write, easy to say but so difficult to do. There is such a difference between the "saying" and the "doing." I guess that is why we do not think our way into a new way of acting, we must act our way into a new way of thinking. Right?? I have to learn that lesson, over and over, and over again.
This leads us to have to face the harsh reality which comes with us being spiritual beings immersed in the human condition (Chardin). We are always coming up short. No one has it wired. That is why the parable of the wheat and the weeds is so essential for a gentle understanding of self and others. Spiritual living, that is healthy spiritual living, will eventually challenge us to admit the following, what we thought was a strength, was actually a weakness, and what was seen as a weakness is now the place where the transforming power of grace is encountered. Because of this encounter a newer and a deeper understanding of what it means to be loved, as the beloved is revealed. This is a slow process. It is done in Kairos time, in other words, in God's time. God's time cannot be measured. I guess heaven, like Las Vegas, has no clocks.