Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas...

“What is Christmas?” I wanted to share with you this wonderful quotation. This quotation is from where else? The Web. Now that I am a full-fledged techno-geek, I have TWO computers, I find all sorts of fascinating ideas. “It is tenderness for the past, courage for the present, hope for the future. It is a fervent wish that every cup overflow with blessings rich and eternal and that every path leads to peace.” (Agnes Paho) That is my wish for you and your loved ones as we all journey through a season that is supposed to be filled with Peace, Joy and Love. I know that is the reality for some of you, how blessed you are. For more of you, my dear friends, that is not to be your reality this year. For you, this is a journey into the Paschal death of the man, Jesus, who birth others are celebrating. Let us all be encouraged by this fact of faith. Whatever the journey it will all lead to a deeper appreciation of God’s Life, Light, and Love. Our faith gives us the knowledge that leads to the wisdom. Out of all the struggles of this life, whatever the pain may be, we will be led through grace to an even newer and a more transformed a way of living. How I wish many times on a daily basis, there was another and an easier way of doing this, there is not. That is a fact of the spiritual life that is so difficult to accept. Thank God, we do not have to like it, only accept it. Acceptance is a process, not an event.

I rejoice and celebrate with those of you, who are able to embrace this time as a season of celebration. I join with the others of you, who have to embrace this time as your Gethsemane time. So then, wherever we are, in whatever place we may find ourselves to be in , let us embrace that reality. Let us enclose it, wrap it up in whatever type of prayer we can muster. It is out of that place and in that reality we pray., O Come O Come Emmanuel and He does. Let me say that again HE DOES. Not in the way we expect, but in the way we need to experience His enfleshment. We then have to be alert, be awake to the Mystery. Why? There is another fact of the spiritual life, which I do not like. It is at a the most inconvenient times, in the most unexpected place, through the most unusual people. The Mystery of the Incarnation is continually being revealed to you and me. What a sense of humor our God has. Some of my friends call it a very sick one.

I am now in my third year of my new way of living. I cannot call it retirement. This past year was a least different. I cannot decide the reason why. Is it the fact that I turned 70? Although I am telling people I am now doing 35 for the third time. The first two times around were not very good actually it was painful. Life is demanding that I adopt and adapt to a new way of living. This is turn is leading to a new way of thinking. I am having some and real great encounters on my long hikes. Conversations, in which I have never dreamed of, are taking place. Yes, “things they are a changing”. Just today, I was told, on two separate occasions I was being “silly”. Me, at my age, being silly, now there is someone with which I can grow old. So you could say I am growing into and slowly accepting a new way of living. This in turn is leading to a still newer and more vital way of living.

Last Saturday I hiked Telegraphy Pass, and beyond for four hours. On Sunday, it was another part of the same park for three and a half hours.

My Summer trip was not as long this year. I was able to drive 8,300 miles and hike about 350-400 miles. I was able to spend 26 days in Yellowstone Park, what a gift.

I am now on Facebook (FB), and have placed some of the photos on my FB page. There is also a link for my blog on the same page. I started the blog last Lent. The address is and my email is .
The profile photo on FB is the picture of an elk. (Good Hunting)

You will be remembered in my three Masses on Christmas. I hope and pray, you and your loved ones will be blessed with peace of mind, leading to good health, all leading to being able to live life and live it to the fullest. May every day be, at least in part, be a celebration of your chosen-ness, to be the living Presence of Him, whose birth in time is celebrated in the here and now. May the New Year lead you further into the mystery of who you are. My prayer is that you not only have reverence, but also truly celebrate all the aspects of the quest.

God Bless,

Fr. Joe
(aka on FB, Papa J.)

Saturday, December 19, 2009


Christmas music has the great ability to touch us at a depth, that the music of other seasons never seems to reach. At least, that is my experience. The soaring music of Handels Messiah leaves one breathless, lost in silent wonder. A definite religious experience. We are taken to a place of awe, and mystery. You know you are in the presence, of the sacred . Not too many radio stations broadcast that music, on a regular basis. Thank God a few do. What reaches our ears is the more homey, down to earth music, which speaks to us, of our everyday needs, and wants. It is that which speaks to us of the journey of the human heart. This reaches us as well, and brings us in touch with the everyday living, of the everyday person. It too, is sacrament, in the broad understanding of the word.

One of my favorite Christmas songs is, “I'll be home for Christmas”. It speaks of the deep cry of the human heart, for the hearth where one is warm, safe, cozy, and above all , loved. That song, I read recently, is second only to “I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas”. I have not been home for Christmas in 47 years, yet when I hear that song something awakens within. To go home for Christmas is a physical impossibility, for me, as there is no home to go to, or is there? Hold on to that.

Someone has written "Home is a magical word. Within that mystical circle are comforts and warmth never found outside it". That is why the other song I like is “There is No Place Like Home for the Holidays". Christmas and home go together like, milk and cookies, pie and ice cream. The memories home and Christmas engender are thoughts, feelings, and emotions, which seen to ease the ache within the human heart. To know one is going to a home is great. When that home is your own, that is even better. When one is AT home, in the place one calls home, that is the ultimate destination. That is, “the Pearl of Great Price”.

We all seek, and search to have the sanctuary of a home, where we can experience safety, warmth and security. Now it seems, as never before, humankind is in search of that place, where the homeless part, can rest safe and secure. This can only come from within. Home is deep within each one of us. We cannot buy it. It cannot be paid for. It is Free, yes, Free.

When we think of home, and of homecoming, we are enlivened by the thought of being welcomed and cared for. There is that wonder-full feeling you can now rest, and relax. Everything is going to be okay. As a matter of fact as I write this, I am reminded of what it was like to go home, when both my Dad and Mom were alive. They would pick me up at Shannon airport. When I got to Castlemartyr, there was that famous Irish breakfast waiting for me, comprised of bangers [sausages], rashers [bacon], eggs, fried tomatoes, and brown bread and strong tea. After the meal,
Then it was off to bed! I can still recall the feeling of being at peace, warm and secure in that bed. What a luxuary to be in bed and enjoying a hot water bottle, in June.!!!! I would not be home for Christmas, so I experienced Christmas in June or so I thought at that time. The reality was I was able to experience some of the aspects of The Season. A fuller and more complete understanding was to come in time, and at a price.

My journey to my Bethlehem has been through the valley of darkness. Through the valley of pain, loss, abuse, abandonment, depression, alienation, loneliness. As you journey through all of that, you are emptied out of any ability to do anything. The only thing you can do is fall on your knees, literally or figuratively, and cry out from the depths, the words of the psalm,
"My God, my God, why have you abandoned me" and “Out of the depths I cry to you o Lord, Lord hear my voice". That is repeated again and again. Then in time, there is a little break in the darkness. A little light breaks through. A very small, oh so very small ray of hope , enters to tell you it will be okay, not easy but okay. It is true, that no matter how long the night, or how dark at night, dawn always breaks! Life begins to happen again. The light becomes clearer, to reveal that Bethlehem has been visited and a Savior has been welcomed. There is the home one never leaves. There is home that is always there to visit, a home never to be destroyed. It cannot be destroyed by wars, whatever the forces the physical or spiritual can throw against it. There is a home of safety, security, warmth, and tenderness. There the gentle, but firm grasp of the Child will take hold of you and never will let go. "O Holy Night... When Christ was Born."

So then, Advent is all about, the humility, to honestly bring who we really are, just as we are, to prayer. We offer our broken selves, to be doers of God’s will, and be prepared to pay the price. We welcome the transforming, and transfiguring power of God, into our own personal darkness. We welcome AGAIN and AGAIN a PERSONAL Savior into your own place of powerlessness. It is there, you will experience the death of the ego, the excruciating pain you experience, is in reality, the BIRTHING pains of your true self, The CHRIST CHILD within you. Mary is now your reality.

Saturday, December 12, 2009


"We need a renaissance of wonder. We need to renew, in our hearts and in our souls, the deathless dream, the eternal poetry, the perennial sense that life is miracle and magic."
These are these are the words of E.Merill Root. I would like to add to his words, the word, “mystery”. A mystery that is to be lived, never solved or exhausted.

This year, more than ever we need to exercise, and celebrate our wonder-full, God given gift of wonder. Thomas Caryle said that "wonder is the basis of worship". It is not surprising then that wonder is one of the manifestations of the presence of The Holy Spirit. I am so grateful to my Dad, for awakening in me , at a very early age, the possibility there is so much more to life than that which is before your eyes. There is the beyond. There is, the around the corner. There is the person behind the person you see. Now the words of scripture make sense, " what is seen is transitory, what is unseen lasts

For a number of years now, I have been reading that each person in the scriptures is actually a part of me. It is consoling to look for an encounter with Mary, Joseph, the shepherds, the wisemen, all the good guys. I also have to make sure that Harrod and his cohorts are also alive and well within me. After a period of time, I have accepted the fact that both groups are alive and well and do exist within me.

John The Baptist, a wild looking man, and a desert dweller. When you are in the desert you can feel safe that not too many people
can track you down. Then, the Lord is not just any person. The Word of the Lord came and reached John in his desert dwelling. He was not
hanging out at the Ritz with the power brokers. He was not properly dressed for cocktail hour. What he had to say was not for the faint of heart, or for the self-righteous . His was a message of repentance, and reform. A very deadly mixture. He of course paid the ultimate price, but this was the price that every prophet paid. When he received the call to be a prophet, he offered his life to, and for, God's plan. Because he said 'yes', the way was prepared for the coming of the Full revelation of God in human form.

We see that whatever happened to John, the same thing happened to his cousin Jesus. Jesus was to bring to a fuller understanding what John first taught. He was not the Light, but was preparing the world for Light that was to come. John was opposed, so too, The light would be opposed. Death could not overcome the Light. In this time of darkness it is so very important for us to remember that salient fact. Evil, darkness, death, is NOT the final word. The final word is LIFE. Our choice. We can say yes to life, or say yes, to the enemies of life. We will be the presence of John the Baptist, in this world, when we proclaim the truth and live its challenge knowing that we too, like John, will suffer persecution. We, too like John will have people in our lives conspiring to eliminate us.

John, announced the coming of The Word. Mary, on the other hand, by her "yes", her fiat, gave FLESH to the word of God. Who was Mary? Mary was a 16 year old, living the life of a teenager in a little village. She had to be excited, and the whole village with her. She was engaged to Joseph, the local carpenter. Their wedding was going to be a great community celebration. Then came a radical change, for Mary and Joseph. Life as they knew it came to a screeching halt. Mary had to journey through FEAR, and questioning to that place where she was able to say to God's messenger “I, am the servant of the Lord, let it be done to me as he wills”. With that "YES" the relationship between the human and the divine was forever changed. "Earth was united with Heaven'. The Infinite love of GOD became Enfleshed. “Love became a Man.” This continues today through our "yes", to what is right, just, and life giving. We continue Mary’s life-giving work.

What a simple that word YES is. Yet so powerful. Wonder of wonders we by our “yes” can continue the work of Mary. We, by grace, allow the Incarnation to take root in us in every moment of every day. We become the "contemporary Christ" in the place our God has placed us in. We have the God given gift to say no as well as to say yes.

As dreamer's journey continues...

Saturday, December 5, 2009


“Nothing that is worth doing can be achieved in our lifetime;
therefore we must be saved by hope.
Nothing that is true or beautiful or good
makes complete sense in any immediate context of history;
therefore we must be saved by Faith.
Nothing we do, however virtuous,
can be accomplished alone;
therefore we must be saved by Love.”

Those lines are given to us, by the same author who gave us the Serenity Prayer, Reinhold Niebuhr. They reveal to us one person’s understanding of what it means to be human, to be limited. Yet this limited humanity was not something our God shied away from. After all, this was the result of a creation that lost its’ way. This was a part of the creation He saw, not only as good, rather He saw it, as very good. He ,you can say, had a dream [Aisling], and the dream turned out to be a nightmare. Like a good parent, or conscientious creator, that was no reason for Him to abandon the design just because it did the original did not work out.. The design was GOOD, what messed it up was the human person in particular, the gift of free-will. God, then in wisdom, decided to enter into the reality of the mess, to reveal , again what His dream was . Not only to reveal the dream, but to bring to it an even newer and a more personal reality.

“Christ Jesus… did not count the quality with Godas thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in your human form, He humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even death on the cross.” PHIL. 2:5-8

Human beings were found to be wanting, so God decided to enter into that same humanity. He entered into our humanity so we would see Him not speaking to us from a distance, but actually to be a god who is present in the here and now. God in the person of The Second Person of The Holy Trinity, Jesus Christ. He became enfleshed in our frayed, and weakened humanity, to SHOW you and I how to live the life He always intended us to have. He came and said by His mission and ministry, I am not here to talk the walk, I am here to walk the talk, so that each and every person will have a living example to follow. The dream can again be within the reach of each human being, by living the life of an authentic human being. The historical person of Jesus spent much time in prayer, reaching out to that Supportive Reality in His life which He called, ABBA. Honest, gut honest, prayer, is the essence of humility. When we pray is to accept the fact that we are human, and that God is God. That is a healthy spirituality.

We are most human when we embrace that which our God emptied Himself to embrace. Is it not ironic that which we want to abandon, run away from, is the VERY SAME humanity Jesus assumed, in all of its poverty, to reveal, ever anew the original dream, but now in a new and more personal way. In a way that reaches us just as we are, and in the place we find ourselves to be, that is the here and now. To be present to all that the here and now says is exactly what God IS going to use to reveal his Infinite Presence. It is in that encounter the mystery of the Incarnation is again, and again being revealed to the world. The Christ Child is once again been given birth to. What a wonder-full way of living our God has gifted us with that in our everyday living we again give birth to His son. It has been said, unless we give birth to the Christ Child within our hearts, then Mary gave birth in vain. We have been given the power to make God’s dream for us and the world become more and more a reality. So, this Advent season, be faithful who you are in God’s plan, in His Aisling, for you. You and I by living faithfully that reality, will be in need of nothing from the outside. The answer to our needs is found on the inside.

Hospitality towards our humanity, in honest prayer,
saying, YES, again and again,
to the Creative Love, The Holy Spirit,
gives birth to an ever newer, ????????? (what is your answer)

Let the wonder-full, wondering continue.........