Friday, April 19, 2024

An awe-full Easter Season, is my wish for you. Yes, I am going to be able offer this wish for a few more weeks. The  Easter-Paschal has so many, many layers of deep spiritual meaning it would take a lifetime of these efforts to really do justice to all of its, depth meaning. We explore, or better still we are led into the exploration of a Mystery whose meaning can never be exhausted. Each generation will be lead to its unique understanding, while begging the question,"Why was not The Paschal Mystery understood this way before now ?" The Gracious Creative Spirit leads to to what we need NOT what we want, or think what is best for us. In the last post I shared the deep meaning of mercy, which has come to me over a number of years now. Today, The Spirit Willing, we will look a little deeper into  greeting the Risen Christ offered to His fear filled , shattered apostles, cowering in the room with locked doors. Those locked doors could not keep The Risen One locked out. The Risen Christ we must remember is now beyond the restraints of time, and space. In all our spiritual considerations we are NEVER bound by time and space.

           Well ! let us make an effort to create the  imagined atmosphere created by those worried souls.  Was there a conversation taking place among those traumatized persons ? We they discussing  the events that  Rabbi Jesus foretold were going to happen, and sure enough they did. In the events of The Tridium the apostles were shown to be lacking in real courage. " The Shepherd was struck, and the sheep scattered". What were the thoughts of ST. Peter, who promised so much and in the end was a  very vocal denier of his Master. He was brave enough ,however, to face his fears, and cowardice. St. Peter was moved to tears, and that was his salvation. He showed all of us, what happens when we own our truth no matter how horrendous it may be. The truth will always set us free. Free to move from the darkness of fear, into the sun-light that shines on all beloved daughters, and sons. Again, a reminder, once you are the beloved, that gift, that dignity cannot be lost no matter what may occur in our lives. Let us continue and be exposed to the dynamic that occurred when The Risen Christ suddenly appears in the midst of His Apostles.

                     First and foremost the was no shaming the vulnerable one. There was no condemning. There were no condemnations for what they did not do, when He was shamed, and  traumatized . There was no challenge to Peter, " I say Peter were you not the one who promised me so much ? What happened ?" The Risen Christ offered to one and all 'Shalom". Now get a drink because we are going deep in the meaning of the Hebrew word, "shalom". We all know that it means peace,  the absence of war, right ? Wrong. Peace has, like mercy, layers and layers of meaning. It also means completeness, soundness, safety, soundness in body, prosperity, tranquility, contentment, peace especially with The Divine One in covenant relationship, lastly freedom from war. Peace, then is more than a feeling. Shalom is the power that breaks the authority that comes with chaos. That is what The Risen Christ offered to those frightened ones that surrounded Him. There was one missing, Thomas the denier, not the doubter. He deserves special treatment. So guess what is going to be the topic of our next visit ???? 

Thursday, April 11, 2024

  Mercy Sunday, 2024. I some time have this thought: "Now we have Pope Francis as our Shepherd of the shepherds, would it not be awe-full to be back in parish ministry again." The  reflecting on state of the economy, and the  fear-full challenge of the raising of funds make this retired guy, a very happy camper." Pope Francis and his great emphasis on mercy, sure has changed the attitude of The Catholic Church in its outreach to all those who are on the margins, and have not they been exposed to the fear relieving gift of todays understanding, of the mercy of God. For one raised in the ethos of "the toxic trinity", that is guilt, fear and shame, this  new emphasis, not on worthiness, but on our belovedness has really been a game changer for me. We were given a whole year to research, and reflect on radical nature of our Prodigal Father's  Love. That meant we had to let go of the familiar toxic trinity, and be lead into the freedom of being beloved daughters and sons.

          That word, beloved, I hope and earnestly pray will be front and center in the planning of your spiritual nourishment. Yes !!! it is a fear filled challenge to let go of the comfortable, the familiar, no how much main it causes, to step out into  Gospel, freedom. The Rabbi Jesus came to reveal, to God's chosen people, a new understanding of what it meant to be "the chosen'. The Historical Jesus is now seen as a reformer of religion and religious practice. He called out, those who hid behind practices that did not reach those on the margins, the rejected, the unclean, in other words all those outside the accepted laws of both religion and society. That is what got Him killed. The leaders of church and state conspired to have Him executed. But not in any humane way, He was condemned to suffer the death of a runaway slave. The ultimate indignity. He we have The Incarnation of The Father's love and mercy conspired against, and enough lies were told that He was lead away, to face, all alone, an excruciating public death.  

           Pope Francis may not be physically  crucified, but he is being  publicly ridiculed, conspired against, demonized, and painted as the antichrist. In his ten years plus he has sought the freedom of those who, up till now, were the subject of exploitation, dehumanization, public ridicule, and any degrading hell those who sees themselves as "the chosen, the gifted, the impeccable," can conjure up. "Awake O sleeper, and be awakened to the rank injustices perpetrated against the one chosen by the Holy Spirit to be our leader and guide. That is what is before each one of us as well, when we dare question the accepted way of doing things. How quickly does one get the shaft if the dishonest practices are questioned, or horrors of horrors, publicly revealed. Let us keep before our eyes today's martyrs who are dying anonymously rather that choose to live under exploitation, and tyranny. There are literally hundreds of martyrs who have died in the struggle for the dignity of all human beings, and a healthy environment  in which to live their lives. There are millions of " Anonymous Christians (Rahner) who are continuing the fight The Historical Jesus initiated. His struggle, His persecution, is as real  today as it was 2,000 years ago. That struggle must be seen as our sharing in The Cross of Jesus, Who became the Christ, through His Paschal-Easter Mystery. 

           We all have to face the same struggles, the same alienations, the same dehumanizations, in our struggle to be authentic Catholic Christians. We are going to fail, get up, and fail again. Did not Jesus fall at least three times on the way to His encounter with ignominy and death. Thank, The Good Giver of all Goodnesses, we have the lens of mercy through which the realities of our lives,  MUST be seen. We all want, desire a healthy spirituality. We then we will have to come to an ongoing,  evolutionary in depth understanding of mercy. I am in the habit of repeating myself, and for that I apologize. I am 84 years on, and a Diamond Jubilarian,  much to my surprise. One cannot underestimate the power of transforming mercy-full love. Why do you think I a making this effort ? To make sure the real authentic message of The Incarnation of This mercy-full Love is conveyed to all those, that is all of us, who seek the sense of belonging and freedom necessary for an authentic human life, and journey. 

         The oil of Mercy-full Love, heals us, soothes us, comforts us, protects us, transfigures us and transforms us. That is what is offered to us, at no cost to us. It is absolutely free. Mercy-full Love is freely given, but it must be freely accepted.  Let us who are innately poor,  hungry for  all that will make life a life worth living, come to , the Well of The Water of Life, to be immersed, refreshed, renewed, reinvigorated and after each fall find ourselves upright, and taking the journey, one step at a time. Let us always be soothed, comforted and strengthened in ways we will never completely understand, while dwelling in these mortal bodies of our. Mortal bodies in which we have been immersed in, coming from The Eternal Lover.

Friday, April 5, 2024

Octave of Easter 2024.  This has been a real tough week. After the challenges that go with The Easter Tridium, and The Easter Celebrations "My get up and go, has plain got up and gone." ( Boy have I reached way way back for that one.) So the energy is physic energy is slowly coming back, and I am endeavoring to start this effort, not knowing where it will go. " Man proposes, but The Gracious Spirit blows, when and where It wills." Like a butterfly, we are blown wherever the breezes can carry us."

                    The Eater Vigil begins not with the sign of The Cross, as we are in one whole celebration extending over three days, but with the blessing of The Easter Fire. From the fire a taper is lit. That taper lights the Paschal Candle. The deacon slowly carries the symbol of The Risen Christ into the darkened church. From that one light tapers disperse the light throughout the darkness, lightening up the candles of the faith community. ( Some still are impatient for the coming of the lights, so out come the lighters !!!!!) No matter how many tapers are lit from the Paschal Candle, and not matter how many candles are lit from the tapers the light of these is never diminished.  Whatever we give away never diminishes our worthwhileness, it only enhances it. " We do not possess anything, until, we give it away." Spiritual paradoxes are not solved in the head, their meaning is slowly revealed to us as we live, life. As Henri Nouwen  reminds us, "We ask the questions, but we live into the answer."  Immersing ourselves ever deeper, and anew into The Paschal-Easter celebrations results in the awakening of a light that leads us through our dark valleys, and the fear-full-ness that can accompany each step taken. The Light that illumines our journey, is to be shared with those placed in our path. The Light shared with us in Baptism is to be shared generously,  For this we were born, for this we live each moment.

                  Here in 2024, we have a very darkened world, and the light of truth is becoming dimmer and dimmer. The Easter Season will afford us the opportunity to renew our Baptism Vows again and again, as we face the challenge of carrying the light of truth into a world that much prefers the darkness, and the continuous dimming of the light. During Easter Vigil celebration the candidates for admission into The Catholic Faith, receive not only The Sacrament of Baptism, but Confirmation and Eucharist, ( The three Sacraments of Initiation),  as well. Becoming not only a Catholic Christian, but a Confirmed one as well, carries with it all the strength we will need to fulfill our intended vocation. That calling, is calling us to be the the living presence, of The Living Christ, no matter what the cost may be. Some seem to just sail through life, without much care, and the there are those who drink deeply of the chalice of suffering. the Tridium, The Easter Octave, and all the days following are our yearly retreat days. Minutes, hours, days that are a special Kairos Time, uniquely designed for the challenges we fade-in the here and now.

                 Life is tough. I beg you not to make it any tougher on yourself, and consequently with all those who are destined to share our Paschal Journey. Jesus at His baptism at the Jordan, heard Himself being called " My, The Voice from the heavens announces, Beloved Son". One would rightly expect the life of The Beloved  Son of The Divine Father to be treated with kid gloves. That brutalized Body hanging nailed to The Cross says otherwise. The Beloved Son was not spared the journey into the depths, of pain, suffering, and complete emptiness because He had to be "one like unto us in all things, except sin". All this had to happen so we would not question The Historical Jesus's journey into the fullness, of what it means to be human. If that pain-full, self emptying journey was not taken then we would not have an authentic model of what it means to be human. Rabbi Jesus took it to the limits go what it means to be human, and the went beyond those limitations. The Incarnate One can only be understood as existing beyond the limits of time and space. Yes !!! this stretches us. we are not destined to be confined within the limited norms that society wants to impose on us, we are called to discover a life beyond boundaries. the spiritual journey constantly carries us beyond boundaries unto the horizons of ........


Saturday, March 30, 2024

 Easter Tridium----Holy Saturday 2024.

         After the large stone was rolled to the entrance of the tomb, " Mary Magdalen, and the other Mary sat and watched.." So The Gospel of Matthew tells us. We are in watching time, and waiting time. One event in the life of The Historical Jesus is ended, and the next episode is still to happen. It is Not "wasted time", all time is full of the revelation of the mystery of life and living. The Gracious Creative Power is as present now as at any time during our tumultuous last three days. It is so challenging to watch and wait. The time spent between jobs can be so devastating for some. No knowing is tough. I like you want to know where I am going, how long the journey, and all other pertinent information to make my journey through liminal time being secure and safe, with the certitude of The Divine being my constant companion. Joe, dream on. The Unknown, The Ineffable , is present in liminal space as in all so called inhabited moments. We do not hear too many sermons on liminal space so it is incumbent on us to develop  a healthy theology of liminal space, so we are as certain of the working care and presence of Gracious Caring One as with the hectic and challenging moments of my life. Even though I walk in the  dark valley of darkened faith I will not fear for Your power full Presence, and the guidance of The Spirit of Truth are there to guide, me every step of the way. I never take a step on my own. The Good Shepherd is keep a watch-full caring eye on al my movements. " Your eyes are watchful, Your ears are listening Your lips are speaking,  Friend at my side " ( a favorite bromide for liminal space.). 

              Liminal space affords the opportunity to look back and embrace the lessons learned from the journey up to this point. As we watch and wait these last few days have afforded us a great opportunity to see, embrace, and be prepared to accept more readily the following. All my reality is imbued with the reality of The Paschal Mystery, a reality we will spend our whole life coming to terms with. The Scourging at The Pillar, is a decade of the rosary, but has not made it to the stations. How am I to personalize this  gospel reality ? We, this is hard to write, when we flog ourselves trough harsh judgements, and condemning mind we are in actual fact living out our personal, Scourging at The Pillar. We are however ,The One Who is scourged, and it is us who are doing the scourging. We are Body of Christ. Let us shift gears and made a resolution that when we face failure, rejection, disappointment, resentments we will get in touch with the Veronica within, and lean  heavily on Simon. We must not add, willingly, to the agonies of The Paschal Mystery. Compassion, understanding, forgiveness, etc. must be our first choices when meeting circumstances ,which appear to our wounded minds, to somehow deserve a flogging. " In God there is no condemnation", right ? Then what right have we ?

                     " Father, forgive them, for they know not what they are doing." As life ebbs out of The Crucified Jesus His concern is for the others. The soldiers were following the orders of their Roman superiors, who conspired with the religious leader to end the life, mission, and ministry of The Reformer Rabbi Jesus. The life He led, the people He touched, even when it made Himself  unclean, the teachings He espoused were antithetical to their way of seeing and thinking. Rabbi Jesus threatened their money making schemes, their envy and greed triggered jealous fears leading to the,  crucifixion of The One Who least deserved the death Tha was reserved for a runaway slave. Rabbi Jesus ended up in the place of cursedness, as He hung on the wood of the cross. "Cursed is he, who hangs upon the wood." What place of ridicule, dehumanization, bigotry, jealousy, was there left for The Human Manifestation of The Divine to visit, and fill up with His Presence. A Loving Presence  that is WAITING for you and I to be "our refuge and our strength". When we get to our place of abandonment, cursedness, alienation, disconnectedness, raw naked fear, we are mysteriously blessed. It is through our encounters with the above can we have a strengthening encounter with The One that can do for us what cannot do for ourselves. From his tape "Suffering", " It is only through our weaknesses and brokenness CAN we have an audience with a God, of faithfulness and compassion " Karl Steuhmiller. The Prodigal Father/Mother God who is waiting for us to plunge the depths of what it means to be loved, "without condition, restriction , or reservation" (Rohr). Let liminal space stretch the horizons of our understanding so we may live more freely, the life that has been chosen for us. Unfortunately we have free will. Let us bring the wounds of past trauma to 'The Spring of Living Water' where we can be bathed, soothed, and given the freedom of "beloved daughters and sons" to live life and have it to the fullest. That is the wish of The Human Incarnation of mercy and compassion. " Lord, help me to believe the truth about myself ,no matter how beautiful it is".  When your liminal time is over, for now, may you be awakened to the fullness of prodigal waiting in the tabernacle of your depths, to set free. Let  loving freedom be our fundamental option as we embrace The Resurrected Life.



Friday, March 29, 2024

 Paschal Tridium 2024.... Good Friday

Our encounters with The Good Fridays of our existence leads us to a new way of seeing, being and in the end a more authentic presence of The Living God, of Jesus Who became the Christ. I was cogitating on my own journey with the Stations Of The Cross. I was about nine when I started to do the Stations on my own. I went around and looked at the  individual Stations. Those stations from the church in Castletownroche are embedded in my memory. They are the standard by which all other stations are judged. As I have visited a number of churches with different artistic efforts I have come to realize each one has within their depths their own authentic journey with The Condemned One. Our lives are living stations of the cross, each moment is presented as our encounter with some moment of the journey of The Historical Jesus. This moment to moment encounter  is a sacramental moment, as with all sacraments life, and its living provides us with a walking tableau, for our visitation, reflection and spiritual renewal. 

                  The Historical Jesus of those early years sure has changed. He is now, the example, of sacrifice and pain as well as, the source, of encouragement for those who follow the challenging truths of The Gospels. I am now aware of the pain that came from His betrayal, scourging at the pillar, the mocking and dehumanizing moments He choose to endure. Choosing to be faith-full to the call of The Suffering Servant He walked the walk of His truth. We sometimes, like right now, talk the talk, but as regards walking the walk that will be a choice we make, under grace. As it is grace filled, whatever we have to face in being true to The Truth we will be provided with all necessary courage, and spirit of perseverance. From my encounters with my given Stations of The Cross two people have become a part of my living stations. Those two are, Simon of Cyrene and Veronica. I hope this will lead to your own personal reflections, that lead to  the reassurance to continue our  existential encounter with, our personal Via Dolorosa. Simon had NO CHOICE to carry the crossbeam, that was going to be used in The Crucifixion of The Just One. He was having a good day reflecting on his visit to his farm. Then within moments his life was changed, forever. He had to walk behind The Intended Victim all the ways to Calvary. Even though Simon helped Jesus fell two more times, on the way, to make it three falls in all. We on our journey fall, again and again. The important thing is to make the effort to get up. Sometimes are efforts are not enough then we are open to the help of Simon, and the ministering of Veronica. Many times it is the same person who is, depending on the occasion, Simon and Veronica for us.

 Here is what happened on a recent hike. I now have spinal stenosis in two places. (My back is not doing good.) I was was tired and my back needed a rest. So I sat down on this large stone and rested. When I was ready to get up, my legs would not cooperate. I tried different approaches to getting up. They did not work. I made some movement and I ended flat on my back, unable to move. Not looking good, would be a great way to sum up the situation. So I had to lie on my back, unable to move. I now hike/walk where there is traffic. So after lying there for a few minutes, a mountain biker came along. He heard my cry for, "Help", and responded quickly. He became my Simon, and after I was somewhat erect, he showed the concern of Veronica for the " suffering Christ". Right there slightly off the trail I experienced the physical help of a contemporary Simon. This Simon was a real human being and show real care and concern for this octogenarian. His "Veronica" broke through and I sure began to feel rescued and safe. Thank The Gracious  Giver of all that is good,I continued on for another 25 minutes.

                      For us, we fall many many times under the weight of our cross,  our wounded and broken humanity. A cross we are, to take up EACH DAY, and follow in the footsteps  Jesus,The Christ.  Where He had gone, we are to follow. It is essential then that we connect with the Simon and Veronica that are making their dwelling within our depths. We must minister to The Suffering One within, otherwise we are not going to be the best Simon and Veronica for others. "A healthy love of God, and a healthy love of another person begins with a healthy love of self".You cannot give what you have not got. My favorite penance to those beautiful,smiling, vivacious, smiling, but so  resent-full, young mothers was  take 20 minutes for themselves to chill and do nothing. Then my penance evolved to a hot bath, candles, music, and glass of wine provided there was no alcoholics in the family. It does not matter how close they were or are. Alcoholism, is alcoholism and that gene must be respected of all hell breaks loose. Now is/was that penance performed, in most cases NO, these "Simons" were not prepared to be the ministering presence of Veronica to themselves. I was not going to offer that, self neglect, needed to be part of their examination of conscience. They are/were carrying enough of "the cross', and there was no need to pile on.

      Oh ! Oh ! O ! I, the above reminds me that I have forgotten to reflect on, The Scourging at The Pillar. ( Here I am going to take a break, and will be back ..... )