Saturday, February 27, 2010


Lent is a season of grace. In the season, we will be offered the grace we need to face, and name the lie. We will be given the strength to reject the lie, about face and follow the truth, no matter how difficult it is.
As someone once said, “the truth will set you free, but first, it will tee you off”. The truth will have to become bad news, before it can, under grace, become good news for us, as well as for others. The good news is ALWAYS given, to be shared. Life, God, will present us with the person, or persons, that needs that particular gift we have just been given. The ways of God are truly mysterious.

On our Lenten journey, we have to pay special attention to the commands, "You are to love your neighbor, as you love yourself”,
"love your enemy" [Jesus Chris], "kiss the leper within", St. Francis. On the desert journey we will discover parts of ourselves, we wish were not there. We will say, “how can something like that be really part of me?”. In the desert we will have to face, within us, every sin another can commit. Blessed Mother Teresa, discovered, above all people, Hitler, to be alive and well within her. What humility she had to have to, first of all - to admit, and then reveal, such a reality. William Johnson in one of his books, warns us as we journey within, we encounter within ourselves each any every sin another human being can commit. We are then led to pray with what one saint said "there go I, but for the grace of God”. This is real death and resurrection work. It is here, that the rubber really hits the road. This is where one of the great movements of the spiritual life takes place; we move from hostility to hospitality [the other two are from loneliness to solitude, illusion to prayer]. That is taken from Henri Nouwen’s book “REACHING OUT". This is a movement we will experience every day. We are destined not to stay in any one place.

When we are in one place, we have to say, “this too shall pass”, even when we are in the best place possible, we have to say “this too shall pass”. Remember on Mount Tabor, when St. Peter wanted to stay, Jesus says “O'K, this is good, but let’s move on”. This is a good time to remind ourselves, success teaches us NOTHING, about the deep realities, of the spiritual life. It is ALWAYS failure, that is our teacher. We are asked to be taught to reflect the understanding of death and resurrection in our daily lives and living. In order to understand, may I suggest a lens, through which to look at the "lenting", of our daily living. In other words, the "H...O...W" of Lent 2010.

The Lenten journey challenges us to honesty. Honesty, in some instances often leads to hostility. From the hostility, that can be engendered, we are to open ourselves up to the prodigal love, of our gracious Father. Through the mysterious movement of His grace and Love, we will be led across the threshold of guilt, fear, and shame, to the place where all things have been made new. This will be like a flash of lightening which lightens up the darkened sky, and blinds us because of its brilliance. That flash of lightening cannot be planned . It will come in our darkest hour, and at a time and in a place we least expect. God's ways are truly not our ways. Would it not be a lot easier if God would do it our way rather that His way?

The spiritual way demands of us that we take ownership of who we are, and what we doing or not doing. We have to embrace the place of rebellion. Painful, and humbling, though it may be. Correction is painful and humbling. "NO PAIN NO GAIN". It will lead to a new level of powerlessness, where all we can do, is cry out to That which is greater than us. Our Savior God and Father, as revealed in the Paschal Mystery of our fellow human being, Jesus. This Jesus became The Christ, only through His death and resurrection. We become an authentic Christian only when we follow in His footsteps.

We slowly, and sometimes with a lot of fear and mistrust, welcome the love of God. This mysterious love is infinitely greater than any love we have experienced, or can imagine. This is particularly true when we are in a place of shame, loathing, and self rejection. Where there is no love, sow love, and we will find, not only love, but live, new life. Not only new life, but a life beyond our wildest dreams. This DOES NOT happen overnight. It is a long process. During this process, we can, and will, get discouraged. It is then that we truly know what powerlessness is. We are now ready for a Savior who will take our trembling hand in His pierced hand. Together we journey into the dawning light of a new day. This day, it is our experience of the resurrected life that is our destiny. AWE-FULL??????

I hope, and pray, these few words will encourage, strengthen, and console you, as you make your desert journey, this week. This week we will continue our encounter with the demons of our desert. That is the "E" of desert, for this year. In our desert, we experience our many demons. Three of the toughest to face are what I call the "the toxic trinity, namely; guilt, fear, and shame. They want, to it put very bluntly, to destroy you and I. They are death dealers, and life destroyers. There is NO life giving quality, about these deceivers. I addressed these three last year. So, if you are new to the blog, I would encourage you, no I beg you, to go back and slowly read what was written last year. These three, like all of our demons, are not to be faced alone. When these are faced alone, they chew us up and spit us out. These have to be brought to, and encountered in prayer. In isolation, we are powerless. In prayer, we are powered with the power of God. In this experience, we discover what Fr. Rohr preaches-the powerlessness of power and the power of powerlessness. When we encounter these demons in isolation, we will live our lives believing we are "less than", and "not good enough" to name just some of the lies we accept as truth. We will join the others who believe in the same lies. The result is a life, if you want to call it a life, that our God does not want us to lead or live. We have to choose to reject the lies of the "toxic trinity", so we can enjoy the joy-full, life giving, and life enhancing freedom, as the beloved daughter and son of our gracious Father.

This is another reminder of God's dream for you and I. That is- the Aisling of God we are invited to, are living out each day, when we so choose. As we make our Lenten journey, and are “Lented”, we will come to, in the words of Thomas Merton, “the center of our nothingness where, in apparent DESPAIR, one meets God -and is found completely in His mercy". That is pretty good, isn’t it???? Hold the phone…. it is going to get better. Merton also has this to say,

"At the center of our being is a point of nothingness which is untouched by sin and illusion,
a point of pure truth, a point or spark which belongs entirely to God......this little point.......
is the pure glory of God in us....
It is like a pure diamond, blazing with the invisible light OF HEAVEN.

Saturday, February 20, 2010


We all have heard the expression, "be careful what you pray for, you may get it', well, that goes double for this weekend's opening prayer. We will pray

"Father, through our observance of Lent, help us to understand the meaning of your Son's death and resurrection, and teach us to reflect it in our lives."

We must ALWAYS keep before us, the fact that, Lent is EVERY day. We must also remember that Easter is everyday as well. What we are doing during these days is just focusing deeper on, an everyday reality. We take 40 days to focus on a deeper level, that which is our reality 24/7. Each and every day, we, just like Jesus had to do, face the temptations that come with us being spiritual beings, having a human experience. These temptations come to us through the people, places, and events of our daily living. We cannot avoid temptation, all we are called to do is to say, "No". We must also remember temptation, is, NOT, a sin. [Our thoughts, feelings, emotions are not sin.] We are never alone in temptation, all our fellow human beings are going through the same struggle. It is great to know, that there is no one who is exempt, not even Jesus Himself. We all have to face the struggle that comes with encountering evil, disguised as apparent good. That is what sin is, the reaching out to the apparent good, only to find out, what the scriptures reminds of "angels of darkness, do appear as angels of light". We must always be cognoscente of the fact, we will NEVER do anything that at that MOMENT did not appear to us to be good. We have done things that five seconds later, “not a good decision:, five days later, “a bad decision”, five years later, “how could I have done something like that?”. We are all in the same boat, and through the mercy of God, it is not the Titanic!!! To help us make the right, and healthy decisions, we come with that, which when listened to, will always lead us in the right road. It is called conscience. We are obliged to have an informed conscience, that is one guided by The Truth, not what we would like it to be, but the real truth. It is formed in us, through the power of the Spirit of Truth. That formation, IS a life-long process. That same Holy Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead, is the same power we are offered to enable us to make healthy decisions, and so, make a good decision. The Holy Spirit is given to us as our guide, and Comforter.

A guide, can only be an effective guide, only when listened to, and his advice is followed. The season of Lent is given to us so we can take an honest look, that is an HONEST look at our lives. Honesty is tough. It is difficult to face. That is why we need enemies, they tell us, with great glee, I might add, what our friends will not tell us, but we need to hear. Honesty is tough, and disarming.
It takes away all illusions. It is essential for spiritual growth.

Thank God, it is progressive. What we can handle will be revealed to us, what would overwhelm us will be held back until a later time. How good our God is, and how merciful. In Lent we are asked to take a look at our lives, in a way most of us never do during the rest of the year. We are not only asked to take a look at our actions. We are also asked to do something which is really difficult, we must take a look at the MOTIVES, behind the actions, nasty. This honesty will challenge us to stop scapegoating others. We have to accept the fact that we cannot blame others for what are our actions. The classics are;

You make me angry.....
You make sad...
You make me drink...
You make me use drugs..
You make me gamble..
You made me have an affair..

That list goes on and on. Also "you made me do…" has to go as well. As I said, honesty is tough, disarming and dismantling. Honesty reveals to you and I, a nakedness we would prefer not to look at. We see how Jesus was also stripped naked and then was crucified. We have to look at ourselves through the new lens of honesty and come to admit we have been looking for love in all the wrong places. There must be a change. The great challenge is to accept the fact that we do NOT choose the change, it is the Holy Spirit who will lead us to our unique way of renewal, repentance, and conversion. So there is no need to check what others are doing for Lent, they are not you. The Holy Spirit is meeting them, and working with them in their own reality. We all need to be converted.

Conversion means turning around, yes, make a U-EE. God loves people that make U-EES. We turn around from the direction we are headed. We begin the great journey, the great quest, to discover what we have been looking for on the outside, has all the time been hidden inside of us. This reality has been waiting to be discovered, and wait for this, to be loved by us into existence. Real happiness, comes to us when we respond to the courage given, and admit to the lie we have been believing and living. We stop buying into someone else’s lie, and, yes, even to the point of risking losing them out of our lives. Then we will know, "a new freedom and a new happiness”. It will be a happiness we will not be able to explain, so do not waste the energy. What you can do, is enjoy and celebrate so that others will see and be drawn to the source, Our heavenly Father.

“There is a beauty that has suffered its way through the ache of desolation until the words are music emerged to equal the hunger and desperation of the human heart.” John O’Donohue

“Through love and prayer are learned in the now when prayer becomes impossible and your heart turns to stone.” Thomas Merton

Saturday, February 13, 2010


"How blest are the poor in spirit for there is the Kingdom of Heaven", Matthew. "Blessed are you poor; the reign of God IS yours", Luke.
Wednesday will be Ash Wednesday. The beginning of Lent. Lent brings with it, the invitation to again join Jesus on His journey into the desert, so that when we find ourselves in our desert experience, there find we WILL find Jesus journeying with us. We will find in the person of Jesus Christ, both a companion, and a shepherd. On reflection we will come to see, that it is within the desert journey the strength of The Good Shepherd, is really revealed to you, and I. He, because of His desert experience, will and does accompany us, on our journey. He will not only be the companion we so desperately need, He will be our guide, and strengthening presence. We will enter the desert again, and again, on this our human experience as spiritual beings. We must remember there is never anything in the spiritual life once forever. How I wish that was not so!

From my many hikes and personal journeys in the desert, the following thoughts have bubbled up. I now see that word broken down as follows.
S... selfishness...self-centeredness
E....effecting in

"God makes ALL things work together for good"????

This then, is how I have come to see, and believe what the desert is all about. Jesus was led, according to one writer, he was driven into the desert according to another author, what is important, He ended up in the desert. His ancestors in faith, who are our ancestors in faith as well, were led into the desert. They were led into the desert, on their way out of slavery, into the freedom of the promised land. We must always keep before ourselves that sequence of
events. God's own chosen people were in slavery. In order to be freed from that state, where there was some, and only some security, they had to do what? They had to leave that state and enter the insecurity, and uncertainty of the wilderness. This led them to many trials, and temptations. The desert wilderness was for them, as it is for us, a place, and a process of purgation, and purification. A process which led them ultimately, to an ever deepening belief, and understanding of who they were as The Chosen People of God. I have read that some authors look at the desert journey, as a courting effort on the part of God. What a courting that turned out to be. Then Shakespeare says, 'all is well that ends well".

The journey of the chosen people of the Old Covenant, is now the journey of us who are the chosen people on the new covenant of grace.
We are Always on some part of the journey. On the journey, we will either find ourselves in the slavery of sin, or journeying in the desert, or enjoying the promises of the promised land. Again and again we encounter the different aspects of the original journey. Because of our humanity, we have to be reminded again and again, of all the different, and somewhat difficult aspects of what is our present day journey, from slavery, to the desert, to the promised land.

Lent 2010 will become our first Lenten journey as we are today. We will journey through familiar places, mysteriously for the first time. There will be feelings of consolation and desolation, comfort and discomfort, security and anxiety, as we are guided through a landscape, "so ancient and so new". Through all of this we will have that carrot of the scriptures held out ever before us, how blessed are the poor in spirit, the kingdom of God is yours now. The promised land is in the here and now. We for our part must have, or develop an attitude which will empower us to make this Lent ,not only our first Lent but our most meaningful one. We are going to enter again the Paschal Mystery, to become enlightened, enlivened, radically changed, resulting in each one being transformed, and transfigured, into a more authentic presence of the Risen Christ. This is who we are called to be.

Next week, we have a look at the attitude we must allow ourselves to adopt for a meaningful yet uncomfortable Lenten journey. Warning...letting go, is NOT easy.!!!!

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Good News...Bad News...Good News...

This year, we will become aware of the fact, that the Gospel readings will be taken mainly from the writings of St. Luke. What a gift, what a blessing, this is going to be for us who are broken, bruised, and weakened from our human experience as spiritual beings. The Gospel of Luke is also called the Gospel of the poor. Looking at this Gospel, through the lens of our brokenness and poverty, will offer to you and I great hope and consolation. It will enlighten and enliven the spirit within us. That is why it is also called the Gospel of the Holy Spirit. Gospel, means good news, right? There is a snag to that, and here it is . You see “the good news has to become bad news before it can become good news”.
Eugene LaVerdiere has this to say in his book on the Gospel of Luke, (The book is called "Luke").

“Luke’s narrative of the story of Jesus can be summarized as a human life and the message of the son of God. In view of the disciples association with Jesus, it can also be seen as a human life and message of those who share in His divine friendship.”

The message, and the ministry, of Jesus Christ, can best be summed up in the words of Jesus Himself, which are found in the fourth chapter
of Luke. This is how The Jesus of Luke, describes His mission and ministry "The spirit of the Lord is upon me, because He has anointed me to bring glad tidings to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives and recover of sight for the blind, to let the oppressed go free." You and I then have the same mission. We are called to the vocation of being that presence, which He has described. A tall order, for us ALONE , yes, but we are not alone. We have within us, the same Spirit, who descended on Jesus at the Jordan, and raised Him from the dead . That is what it means to be Baptized.

We may well ask the question, “where do I have to go to find that poor person, the prisoner in captivity, that person who needs sight to really see reality, and lastly the oppressed one aching for freedom?”. You and I have to look no further than the mirror. That person, who so desperately needs to hear the good news is both waiting on, and wanting the Good news, is within you and I. We have to begin our ministry to the suffering one, that is the suffering Christ, within ourselves first. We then will be able to be an authentic presence of Him, who has called and chosen us for this vocation from all of eternity. This is who we are, who we have been called to be, and now it is time to acknowledge who has done the calling. On reflection, this reality makes each one of us, someone very special, in God's universal plan.

Last, but in no way least, what we do to the poor one, we are doing it for Christ, The Christ within, check Matt 25. As we are led deeper within ourselves, and there is no result until we go deep, (this week’s Gospel) we will be led to an encounter with the good news . This is the Good News, you are loved as you are, no questions are asked. It is not only you who is suffering, Christ has joined you, and IS suffering within you, through you, and with you. So, then the opening prayer of this week’s Mass is really true, "no tear goes unheeded'. Why that is so simple! When you cry, Christ cries in you and with you. How can God not pay attention to the cries and tears of His beloved Son.

The bad news is, there will always be some part of ourselves, we will find it hard and difficult, to bring the good news to. Why? As I reach out in compassionate understanding I am tacitly accepting what I have up to now, that is rejected or denied. From this place we pray "out of the depths of my fear, anger and shame I cry out you my Savior God. I alone cannot face this part of me, I need your grace, I need your help to discover the reality of you within this place of me". The secret place is now exposed, and merciful love, now begins to flow. The threshold into freedom has been crossed. We are now the incarnation of the good news in this. So then, we now have the experience of good news becoming bad news so it can become good news.

“We are as sick as we are secret.” [John Barryman]

"Where there is no love, sew love, and, you will find love." [St. John of the Cross]