Saturday, May 25, 2013
Since I was ordained ,almost 50 years ago, the only constant has been change. For some there have been too many, for others not enough. There is one change, however, I would love to see happen, yet deep down I know this will never happen. I was brought up with this fact, there is no harm in dreaming or in asking the question. So why stop now? We as Catholics are brought up to think, to reason. That is why we had two years of philosophy in the seminary, so we would be ordered in our thinking, and help others in their journey of discovery. This journey of discovery is a never-ending one. We go from discovery to discover without ever becoming satisfied with what we are in possession of. [G.K. Chesterton remarked "Catholicism is a thinking persons religion." He was a wonderful thinker himself, and add so much to the Catholic Church.] So what is this change I desire to see, and why do I think there needs to be a change? What is the reasoning behind this way of thinking? Well to begin with, I wish we would stop using those two words, "ordinary time”, to describe the time we are journeying through right now. It is NOTordinary, like all time it is extraordinary. It is like all time is to been seen as Kairos time. Kairos time is full of the awe and full of mystery of God. There is no moment in time that the Divine is not communicating with each one of us personally. In each and every one of our "creature" moments we meet with and are met by. Each and every moment is used by The Creator God to continue the creation, which had its origin in the mists of antiquity. Over these so many eons creation is being perfected. What is really mind blowing is that you and I have been chosen, even before the mists of time to be co-creators, and co-perfectors of this great mysterious endeavor. This is a dignity that must be claimed, again and again, otherwise we lose our Creators intention for our creation. How often have we been told that we are called to be "co-creators and co-perfectors of the universe"? How often have we heard that expression and we either forgot it or conveniently ignored it? Why? If we really believed in the radical trust our God has in us what a difference we would make. Our world would undergo a radical transformation and become that which The Creator originally planned. The Second Vatican Council sure changed our way of seeing, believing and acting. It was for those of us lucky enough to be around then, like a New Spring. It was an awakening that radically changed our lenses and thank God, it is still revealing an ongoing newness. With change and the threat of newness came opposition. Opposition that Pope Francis sees as working against the workings of The Holy Spirit. It was great to hear our Pope express so clearly that the efforts of The Holy Spirit must not be impeded by human fear. What we need, no, what is demanded of us, is a strong abiding belief in eternal newness of ourselves, our church and all of creation. What is demanded of us is a lively, life giving and life enhancing faith in the reality of a living and loving God. A God who is always pouring Herself/Himself out into an eternal act of fruit-full, creative love. This love, then of its essence, is creative and so where this love is, there is the creative force of Our Gracious God always creating. This creative, loving Spirit dwells within each of us, in the depths of who we really are. It is only in that place of my radical I-am-ness that that this gift is realized. (Oh what a journey that is.) The Holy Spirit ,This Loving Creative Force is first encountered by us in the Sacrament of Baptism. This Sacrament has in the past been called the Sacrament of Enlightenment. How come we have lost that awe-full, wonder-full name which conveys so much of what that Sacrament is intended to accomplish within each person. It conveys that which we are so desperately in need of right now. We need to be enlightened, to be reminded who we are, who we are called be, and Who it is that has done the calling? I would like to suggest we have a desperate need for this voice to be present in our minds, hearts, and souls. Why? Because we are exposed to so many loud voices whose sole purpose is, to drown out that gentle, whispering voice which dwells within. A voice which calls us Beloved. A voice which reminds we are previous, called, chosen, gifted, blessed and consecrated. The voices which strive, endlessly and sometimes unceasingly, wage endless war to distract us from who we are, who we have been called to be, and above all, Who it is that has done the calling. In each so called, "ordinary moment" of every day this is what is happening, the reality we face. There is The Voice of The Spirit of Pentecost, reminding us of who we are in our Creators Love. Then there is the is the voice of negativity, the voice of the prosecutor. The sole purpose of this voice is to somehow to bring disquiet ,and the denial of our essential goodness. This deceiver has only one goal. That goal is to ultimately destroy that loving eternal relationship we have, and have enjoyed, with The Eternal. These loud voices can be heard, not only in the world we are forced to live in, but are alive, as a destructive force within ourselves. As they are within ourselves they are, of necessity, to be encountered in our homes, parishes, ministries, local and universal church. With each day comes a death. With each dawn comes forth a new day. It is virginal. Untouched. We, each one of us, will choose in every moment to be life-givers, or death-dealers. How we act will result from which voice we listen to. Let us choose then to live each moment of every day in the freedom of being, beloved daughter/son, of our Prodigal God. In this way each and every moment becomes for us a sacrament. A sacramental "meeting with", is nothing ordinary, but very much extra-ordinary, awe-full, wonder-full. (I am aware of why it is called ordinary time, but I feel the question should be raised!)
Saturday, May 11, 2013
There is an awe-full, mysterious, sacred presence in our lives. A presence, I am sad to say, that seems to be acknowledged, reverenced, and celebrated just one day out of 365. As we live out the other days is not this mysterious reality really taken for granted? Has not the place of our encounter with the Sacred become so familiar that we have lost our reverence, and respect for this God given gift. That is the danger of the familiar, it leads us into that death dealing place of apathy. We are always in the need to be awakened to the sacred to the mysterious that is part and parcel of our every day journey. That journey that is ours as spiritual beings immersed in the human condition. Within the depths of our mothers an encounter takes place, between the creative love of Creator God, and the human effort of human beings, acting freely. This hidden, sacred, mysterious encounter has led to the present day understanding of the sacramentality of sexuality. We sure have come a long ways in our ever growing understanding of human sexuality, and the sacramental aspect of this gift. Now we go a step further and are asked to reflect on the sacramentality of mothers and motherhood. I'm referring to sacrament with a small "s". A small "s" sacrament I would like to suggest is: " Each and every person, place, event, action, which brings us into contact with the deeper realities of life, ultimately with Reality itself, that Reality we call God”. The sacramental reality of mothers and motherhood must be visited again and again. Like all that is mysterious this journey always leads us to a deeper understanding of that which can never be explained, only reverenced. We find there is layer upon layer to the mystery that is "mothers" and "motherhood". Just stop and reflect on all that has been written, and is being written. It is never ending, so we must be open to ever new, life enhancing, life enriching revelations. Speaking of revelation the scriptures have some wonder-full passages offered for our encouragement. Our Father/Mother God, in Isaiah 49:15 "Can a mother forget her infant, be without tenderness for the child of her womb? Even should she forget, I will never forget you." So we are forever present in the minds of God, and to a lesser extent to our mothers. There are times when we will be absent from the conscious though of our mothers, after all they do have their own lives. In the mind of God we are always present to Him, as we journey with Him, and to Him. Our Father/Mother God is our origin and our destiny. "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you?" Psalm 110:3, "from the womb before the day star, I have begotten you." Our place of origin then is the womb of God, Who is infinite love. We leave that place of comfort and security and journey into the uncertainty that is this life. God as not abandoned us. He has prepared for us a presence who will remind us of Who it is we came from, and the love that we originated from. The loving Gaze of mother's is the loving gaze of God enfleshed. This is a loving presence we can feel, hear, and above all touched by. This soothes the pain of the seeming loss of our First Love. Our mother's is to mirror the first love, and who we continue to be in that love. The best of plans do not always work out, not even God's plan "a". We are in His plan "b". There is a dark side to mothers and motherhood. The ideal is in so many case never actualized, and this results in human beings existing in a "living hell". Because of abuse their essential inner wholeness has been broken and in some cases destroyed. There are so many books written about "Daughters without Mothers", and the recovery that is necessary to return to wholeness. Thank God for the courage of those authors that tell their story and offer hope to those who have to honestly face that reality in their lives. Of course there are many sons without mothers as well. There is so much healing to be gone through to journey back to the place where you were the beloved. We must not allow transient evil sabotage our essential goodness and lovableness. That recovery, like all recovery, is not easy. The toxic shame will fight us each and every step of the way. Toxic shame which wants to communicate that we are not okay, somehow not "good enough", has to be faced. We are all more than we do, or have or achieve. We therefore need the-unconditioned love, undeserved, unlimited " first love" to become a reality. In this way, while we are still pilgrims, having no lasting home. We are somehow secure in the knowledge that our God is always a nourishing, ever creative, ever comforting, and always ever mercy-full. Why? Because we have experienced all within the lives who reveal the Mystery within mothers, and motherhood. Mothers you are the living sacrament of our living God. Be healthy so we can have a healthy understanding of, and a healthy relationship with The Source The Origin. We will then find ourselves living the aisling, the dream of our Mother/Father God.
Saturday, May 4, 2013
Even though I am retired from the administrative side (boy do I thank God for that),I still have the privilege of interacting with a number of individuals. These are spiritual beings, who like myself, have that moment to moment struggle with our immersion in the human condition. I am, very slowly, getting a grasp of the disconcerting truth articulated by J.Metz, "We are (spiritual beings) born human, and spend our whole life coming to understand what that word human, means". This immersion, we are all sharing in, to my mind, is it not a royal pain? (I better stop there!!!!!) As a result of this immersion, do we do the things that are unhealthy for us, and fight the things that are healthy? Are you with me on this? If you are with me then we are all in great company. A saint by the name of Paul had the self same difficulty. He had to face that self same endless struggle. He came out fine, in the end, did he not? So we can relax, we are in great company. In his struggle, Paul was reminded where the real source of strength comes from. So, we too, must grow into that same acceptance of where the source of our strength lies. Acceptance is a process, and a slow one at that. I have to admit that the place I end up in is always better than the place where I began. This does not make the letting go any easier. I read that we are born knowing how to hang on, we have to learn to let go. That "letting go" is the essence of the spiritual life, and that is why is not very attractive to the ego. My ego is all about, power, property and prestige. Looking good in the eyes of the world, while all the time having to deal with that essential loneliness which is part and parcel of the human experience. This encounter, with that loneliness, if it allowed, is gut wrenching. That is why we run away from that inner loneliness, and set our eyes on that alleviate, that which we wish to avoid at any cost. We will do anything pay any price, go to any external extreme, rather than face ourselves as spiritual beings who have inherited a broken humanity. This is where we have to deal with the presence of greed in our own lives, in the lives of others, and in society. Frank Buckman has written: "There is enough in the world for everyone's need, but not for everyone's greed". Look at the price we have paid over the last number of years because of the havoc greed has wrecked on our individual lives, the lives of our families, and the life of our country. Insatiable greed has been the root cause of so much destruction. It is essential for us to face the presence of greed in our lives, otherwise we will never come to enjoy the asking, the dream has for us. This dream God has to live and share with us is? He/She wishes to meet us in the ordinary not the extraordinary. That is a big blow to our egos. Our Gracious, Living God, has chosen all that is ordinary to be place where this mysterious event happens. It is in the so-called ordinary person, place, and event God's dream is realized. In this way, there is tremendous dignity to all that is authentically human. We also have to face the fact that this aisling (dream) is not a reality. We also have to face the fact that even though it is God's dream it is not always realized. Not even God gets all She/He wants. Wow!!!, the power of free will. God's great blessing and curse. So many of our dreams are sabotaged. We are, at times, the saboteur. There are those who cannot deal with peace, joy, contentment, serenity, security, etc. It is a challenge that must be faced by not a few of our fellow travelers. Look around and you will see that person on your daily walk. Some of us have to the challenge of that person dwelling within the depths of who we are. Constant Vigilance is required to keep the saboteur from its destructive mission. John O'Donoghue, in Anam Cara writes the following about Greed: He says that greed is one of the powerful forces in the modern world. It is sad that a greedy person can never enjoy what they have, because they are haunted by what they do not yet possess. This can refer to land, books, companies, ideas, money, or art. (I would like to suggest that in the realm of religion this applies too. Unfortunately and the price is Endless.) The motor and the agenda of greed is always the same. Joy is possession, but sadly possession is ever restless; it is an inner insatiable hunger.....It can never engage presence..This greed is now poisoning the earth and impoverishing its people. Having has become the sinister enemy of being. Being and presence for me go together. We have to work at being still, to engage what is right here, right now. In this moment all that I need is right here. There is nothing missing, in God's way of seeing. For us we have to make the journey from could be, should be, ought to be, etc. to the wisdom my God, Who is All in All, is present Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. What more can there be? We also have to guard against those who look at you through greedy eyes. You will never be "enough" for them. No matter what you do more is expected, or subtle demanded. The greedy eye can appear to be so "nice". Say no to that expectation and there is heck to pay. One is also to be so careful when it comes to ministry. Good boundaries are necessary so that you are not stretched to the point of burnout, and breaking. The subtleties of greed are many. All are destructive. Let us not sabotage the dream God has for us. in this way we are not too likely to be a saboteur to the dream God has for others. There is a new world being created, in you and in me. The Creative Love is bring a newness to all of creation. Not living out of possessiveness will free us to be ready to embrace the new, as it is slowly revealed in each moment. Each moment is to be embraced-reverenced, and celebrated as our encounter with the Paschal Mystery? Then, horrors of horrors for the ego, Let Go.