Tuesday, December 5, 2023

      Advent 2023 must be, what the liturgical has been created to be, a time of attention, wonder , and awe.These must not be words on a page but must be action words that are validated by this Advent Season. Many of todays commentators bemoan the inhuman conditions so many of our sisters, brothers and their children are forced to live in, no ,no, rather they are forced to live in. We are all in danger of taking out an existence rather than live the life The Babe of Bethlehem envisioned. "He emptied  Himself of His Godhead", why did he take such a radical step, He entered into all that it means to be human,"so that we may have life and have it to the fullest". Was that a pipe dream ? So  this wish dose  not become just  become an idea, giving no life, but instead must the vitalizing force that will re-enchant, re-reenergize ,re-vitalize our bruised and battered human condition. He has come for all the broken-hearted. The lost sheep He will lovingly seek out. These "beloved" lost sheep will be rescued and from their place of distress. Those not able to make it on their own will be carried on His broad shoulders. The Prophet Jesus did not come to establish an ideology, He came to offer a new way of living, a new way of being.

               The Christmas lights are begging to penetrate the darkness of these cold nights. The Christmas gifts, and trees are being sought out, and, hopefully purchased. The crib scenes are prepared, and the ornaments are being carefully unwrapped, after surviving another wrapped up adventure. Now we have to face tis reality, "unless we find all the above within our hearts, first, then Christmas trees, gifts, lights, and gatherings will do nothing but further deepen all those thoughts and feelings that are the lot of the alone and abandoned. To the least of our brothers and sisters we are commissioned to go to " feed the hungry, clothe the naked, offer refreshing water to the thirsty. The sick we must visit ,as well as those in prisons." all this must be on our agendas to make sure The Infant did not make His journey in vain.

         Wonder and amazement are both required of us to make the mission of The Infant a life giving reality. We must as the Gospel says " be alert, be watch-full, be on guard". For what ? For that which will re-enchant, re-vitalize, re-energize, us first, and then the creation we have been destined to inhabit since the beginning of time. For this most challenging mission we have, within our depths, all that is necessary . We must pay attention, be alert to the challenges presented and go deep to tap into all the strength we need. Yes,all you need is within you. ". All is sacred, all is holy, which gives meaning to "life is not a problem to be solved but a mystery to be lived". "By reason of creation, and still more by reason of the Incarnation, there is nothing  profane for those who know how to see." Out of the depths of my poverty I  cry out,"Lord that I too may see" 


Wednesday, November 29, 2023

 Today is Wednesday. In some ares it is called "hump day",to show my respect for the sacredness of all time I am going to call this "Hump Day". the day between The Solemnity Of Christ The King,and The First Sunday in Advent. What a seriously mysterious day this is. It can also be confusing ? When we reflect backwards we have Christ presented a King, and Lord of all. Looking we are preparing to encounter Him as the Little Child of Bethlehem. A Child born in a stable, because there was no room for them where other travelers dwelt. A great paradox ???

         We have on the one hand we have The Enthroned King,  richly dressed. While on the other hand we have The Son of a poor young couple wrapped in swaddling clothes and laying in a cold stone manger. The only heath would come from the stabled animals. Of course a certain oder came from those creatures as they were privileged to keep company with their Creator. The revelation in human flesh of Him "Who keeps all things in being" Nothing can subsist except through His creative and creating power. Before we acknowledge The Child as The King  again, there are many many roads to be discover and trod, as we journey with the gift of blind faith into the mystery of Kairos time. Divine centered time, which is hidden and revealed in croons time, watch and clock time. So time is not either or one of these two realities, it is both. 

      The spiritual journey is not then about the either?or, it is always about the both/and. I was lucky to be introduced to the reality of paradox when my mother taught me, "There is much good in the worst of us, and as much bad in the best of us. I am as good as you are, as bad as I am". I was well into my 50's, before I was able to reflect on and accept that great spiritual reality. Since then I have been confronted with the great paradoxes of life, and they have become such a blessings. They do not appear as the source of  blessings, in the beginning, but through the mysterious workings of grace wonder-full truths  surface from the depths. Theses truths are the source of great strength and encouragement.

Paradox always forces us to stretch. I am not a fan of stretching, never have been, never will. There is so much pain when one stretches. My old body tells me it is not happy to be treated in such an inhospitable way. Our egos are the same way. Our egos want the easier softer very comfortable apparent way. Forget those hidden messages. What I see before me is good enough for me.What will all those mysterious insights add to the bottle line ?.  Nare a thing.  Rather it may result in the bottom line shrinking as the paradoxical truths bear fruit and a the challenges presented to us are responded to. The true self will be so at peace, while the false self will wage war with it's, "what if" and "if only". That war will beg fought to our dying breath. We must always be thank-full we are blessed with the gift of The New Advocate,The Holy Spirit, to be our faith-full guide, and enlightening Presence. I will, in their company, journey through  dark and perilous valleys, on my way to exhilarating transformative mountain tops. It has been and will continue to be a challenging , mysterious journey. Always faced with the both/and not the either/or. Hold on to your hats we are in for the ride of our lives, or we are in for the ride into life.

Thursday, November 23, 2023

 " Life's not a problem to be solved, it is a mystery to be lived." I just cannot express my gratitude for being the recipient of this piece of mysterious knowledge,that I am always  seeking, searching to understand.  Of course that will never happen, all I can expect is being drawn into an ever deeper seeing and understanding. I am like the blind man, Bartimaeus, expressing the wish."Lord, that I may see". The sight that is given is not necessarily the insight I was looking for. It has been eons since the importance of Matthew 25, and, The Beatitudes was placed before my eyes. It has been a long journey to grow in an ever deepening understanding of all that is contained within those Sacred Scriptures. I will never come to a full understanding of the depth of knowledge hidden and revealed in those paragraphs of The Written Word. All I can do is have the desire to be led into the mystery of The Word, there to experience, encounter. There is an ever new encounter between the always evolving Joe, and the infinite depth of meaning to all that is hidden and revealed. I must have the desire to be opened up, to be penetrated,  so that what is essential for my  spiritual healing and daily living may be laid out. Here the inner eye of faith is our friend leading us to places the false self just does not want to go to. That battle, between the true self and the false self has been joined. It will never end in this life. "Courage" I hear The Rabbi Jesus say,"I have overcome the world." As He was, so, are we, today. "I believe, Lord, help my unbelief/disbelief". " Come O Holy Spirit, come, enliven and enlighten these tired eyes of my heart and soul.

     In the last posting I hinted at The Eucharistic celebration that is slated for this coming Thursday. Here are new lenses with which to view that which is ancient, but will be ever new this Thursday. It will not be something trite you are forced to travel through.It will before it CAN be a real spiritual renewing action for all who participate. Will you envision the table, as an altar around which are gathered a community. A community of different shades of understanding and belief. As they are responding to your invitation they know that you are a person of faith. You have your unique, one of a kind relationship, with The Gracious One, which is playing a part in the celebration. This can be hidden or overt. It is a reality. A reality that gives meaning to all you say and do.

Thanksgiving meals are a time of prayer. Make sure your prayer extends to way beyond the confines of the home. May it extend to the millions of our brothers and sisters who will be hungry and homeless, with no hope that  their crucifixion will end any time soon. Prayer is not enough. What will be the action that will follow as a consequence of this celebration. "To whom much is given, much is expected" the words coming from The Giver of all good gifts. '' let those who have ears, let them hear". Be sensitive to the homeless one within yourself so you may be able to offer some hospitality to the homeless one who will visit your, "little church of the home." I pray that the presider over the celebration is properly prepared and disposed to make the meal what it cam really be a nourishing spiritual experience.

Communion is a gift that can be an essential part of the eucharistic celebration. Here is a suggestion.At some time during the meal, before there has been too much wine consumed, take your plate and turn the the people next to you.Offer them a morsel from you plate with the words " I  the body of Christ, nourish you the body of Christ."You exchange morsels withers many a seems fit. If there are non Christians maybe  words like " My being, nourishes your being, as your being nourishes me". 

        Sad to say all the military resources ofAmerica are deployed. How many empty chairs, and places will occupy a space around the altars this year. This is not the time to take for granted  what is now before us. Let us this year make our Thanksgiving Celebration a more vital and vivifying experience for all who are invited to share the eucharistic gifts.   Love peace and joy is my wish for all. Great Grandpa Joe.


Friday, November 10, 2023

 We have two great feast days in the back mirror. Another super feast is awaiting. We are gifted with the present, to be used to reflect on what has been given by those who have trudged, travelled the road of faith we are chosen to follow today. Some were our companions, other are in our consciousness because of the oral or written word. Before I go any further, here is a spiritual gem that I am afraid of forgettin : "Most saints are there, for our admiration, NOT, for our imitation". I have met many ,any people who were disappointed with themselves because they were unable to imitate some practice of some saint they read about. It is just common sense that they intentions were admirable, but they forgot one very important reality, they are NOT THE SAINT they read about, and can never be. Each person is a saint when they are expressing ,The DESIRE  to be the best person they have been uniquely created to become. The Creator Spirit has only one version of each created being. The Creator does not make doubles. Creation calls for originals. Fakes are casualties destined to fall by the wayside.  Look at how many cows are run the world, each nose pattern is different. How about finger prints ?

       "Each person is a saint, until they realize ,or, think, they are a saint" wise words from way back. Back in seminary Fr.Gerry Kinsealla R.I.P. challenged one very prayerful student,"Mister, are you

 a saint?  Do you know saints are very hard people to live with". ( I never heard those words directed towards,  Mr. Hennessy as a matter of fact he addressed this question to me, Mr.Hennessy how come I never catch you breaking any of the serious rules ? I did not know about the fifth, so I had to answer "You were not just around father") Plastic saints can be so difficult to live with, or be in any kind of communication or relationship with. The are our present day Pharisees. The Pharisees were good people, but  the Rabbi Jesus had real trouble with them. They are real trouble with sinners, breakers of the law, and the poor. Who were The Rabbis "people'?  Who were those chosen to be  the object of His compassionate ministry? They were the marginalized, the outcasts, the very vulnerable, all those rejected by those in power. Jesus said that Pharisees were to be obeyed, but not imitated".  This real compassionate  pastoral view was. what ultimately brought about His, Paschal death .Who then was to be imitated The One sent to be the Incarnation of Our Prodigal, Compassionate, Father, God. 

    In my 60 years as a pastoral minister I always seemed to be in some kind of trouble. If I was not in trouble with my inner self, I was facing the reality that there were some person or persons who were not very happy with me. I never got a Christmas card or an invitation to a meal. I was not just plain not accepted. I have journeyed through the reforms of The Second Vatican Council which meant conflict. As Pope Francis is implementing those same reforms today, take a look at how is being treated by fellow catholics ? My heart is full of great joy, but there is great sadness as well. The voice of Compassionate Good Shepherd must be heard, and through grace accepted.In the mean time we as saints and sinners are bound together by The Holy Spirit as One Body,The contemporary Body of Christ.  

We must  all face the Pharisee within. Do not give in to harsh self judgement and self criticism . Remember, "Love, is is kind. Love takes no offense, and is not resentful".The way you apply these qualities of transformative love towards yourself will be will be the qualities of the Divine God you obey and worship. Love is also freeing. May you work diligently at fostering to qualities of The Living God,Incarnate in Our Brother Jesus The Christ and so live a life of freedom, being the best saint you can be today. You will be remember as the good and faithful servant who did not always get it right but operated out the vision seen by A Prodigal Father/Mother God. A  God, Who is able to see into the depths of our heart and Who rejoices in  seeing The Living Presence, of other members of The Holy Trinity.

     Prayers are needed. Hope you are not worrying, too much, about ,The Eucharistic Celebration, to be celebrated in your little church of the home, a few Thursdays from now. Those on the guest list will be a reflection of how you are viewing the chosen of The Historical Jesus whom you are encountering in your present day to day real living. Hope I pricked your comfort zone ????   Love, prayers, and blessings to you all as you trudge the trail chosen for you. Sometimes it takes a long time to find that one. Great grandpa. ( If you view this as a real mess, press the delete button.)

Monday, October 30, 2023

 Last blog I encouraged all to sing a new song. It is to be a love song. Love songs are also agony songs. Songs that describe the person's struggle with their weaknesses, but the struggle is worth is as a new understanding of what it means to be human is revealed. Such songs demand gut HONESTLY  as we reflect on our deepest feelings. Not the feelings we want to share, but the feelings we need to share. Is that easy ? Of course not. How many of us have been programmed "to be always, nice"? The number to answer "Yes" I am certain it would be an  overwhelming "Yes".Today, thanks to The Gracious Spirit of Truth we were never taught that perfectionism is a "DISEASE",not something you want to admire or flaunt. My mother reading this would gasp in horror, as do so many in  to days world. I am delighted that the younger generation is being taught that perfectionism Is a disease. Todays healthy spirituality emphasize we are all,"perfectly imperfect". Working on the acceptance of our imperfections is, just speaking for myself, an extremely difficult, arduous every moment work of healthy self love. Would you agree with me on that? We are all in the same boat, hoping it is not The Titanic !!!!

      Last Sunday we were provided with such rich food, as always, laid out for us on The Table Of The Word, and The Table of the Eucharist. I see now, in some churches the Word and Eucharist are presented to all as being on the same level in the architecture of the church. What an eye opener that must be? We are commanded to love The Divine with our whole being. Not partially, with the stuff we are happy and comfortable without with all of our being. That great prayer alcoholics offer each day is a great source of courage " My Lord God,I offer myself to You, good and bad." what a great grace filled moment that is. To offer our whole being to the Divine Healing love, and allowing the chips to fall where they may. It is none of our business how the process works, all we have to do, is GROW in the  patient acceptance of the hidden action of The Great Creative Spirit. As it is happening with you and mess it is happening to all.

   The action of grace, that is Love in action,  is often compared to the workings of yeast. I am told yeast works slowly, secretly, and silently, and she can never deny its  effects. Yeast like Mercy-filled Love changes everything it touches. Grace transfigures and transforms us. Slowly and ever so gently. So gentle we are not aware of ITs action until we are surprised with a change we do not have a clue where it came from. For me the greatest action of Divine Mercy is the slow, oh so slow, acceptance of my faults, failings, weaknesses, defects etc. etc. St.Paul is a great help here,"By the grace of God,I am who I am." I have come to learn, again slowly, that I do not have to change anything because Mercy-full  love the me that I am right now. " This is, my beloved son, in whom, I am well  pleased". Our Prodigal Father has unconditioned love for us, but it takes a great number of conversions to develop  a deep belief in that mystical love. Yet that  love is essential for both a healthy physical and spiritual love. This love is foundational. " A healthy love of God, and a healthy love of another person begins with a healthy love of self" a Canadian Bishop once wrote. 

             Now that we have an ever evolving understanding of  how essential the love of self is, we can move up and reflect as honestly as we are able to the challenges presented to us in the first reading. In the mean time be gentle with yourself. As for the help, grace, to continue to struggle with The Gentle Lover that is always reaching out to embrace us in an everlasting loving hug.May there be some person in your life that can offer that special gift, a loving hug. To all, you contemporary saints, out there in the Cloud World there is more to come. Love prayers and blessings. Great grandpa Joe.