Saturday, April 24, 2010

A New Spirit......

Welcome to another few steps on the hike we call, the spiritual journey. One person remarked this journey is just "a step long" and a mile deep. Well we can say "taking one" is easy, going a mile deep is real hard and difficult work. That being the truth, then most of the journey is going to take place in darkness. (Make sense?) Upon reflection, Jesus’ birth came at night, and as with all births, He, too, came from the darkness of the womb. His resurrected life began in the darkness of the tomb. It was from the darkness of the womb the fullness of new life sprang. Darkness just seems to never win. That is a fact we must repeat, again and again. We must always keep before ourselves, the awe-full, wonder-full, depth of meaning, that is hidden and revealed in the Paschal Mystery. We live it out in our every moment, of each and every day we are privileged to live. . Yes, that central mystery of our faith, is front and center, in our everyday living. "Life is not a problem to be solved, it is a mystery to be lived." As we live life, so we live the Paschal Mystery. We have been Baptized into the mystery. As we live life, so we live the mystery of our Baptism. There is no human action, on our part, that does not reveal some aspect of the contemporary Christ, to the people that are placed in our lives. What an awe-full mystery we are, and live.

Why do we spend so much time reflecting on The Mystery? From my own lived experience there are now some things beginning to become clearer. These are best summed up in the words of Fr. Rolheiser when he writes the following concerning the Paschal Mystery. These words I am coming to an ever deepening acceptance of.
" This is the central mystery within Christianity. Unfortunately, it is one of the great misunderstood and ignored mysteries within theology and spirituality. We pay lip service to the fact that the key thing Jesus did for us was to suffer and die, but we seldom really try to understand what that means and how we might appropriate it within our own lives." ...Christian spirituality does not apologize for the fact that, within it, the most central of all mysteries is the paschal one, the mystery of suffering, death, and transformation. In Christian spirituality, Christ is central and, central to Christ ,is His death and rising to new life so as to send us a new Spirit"

Looking back at my life, I am sorry to say, I too payed only "lip service" to that central mystery of our faith. When did the change occur? Just like the great number of people I have met, it happened when the wheels came off, and I found myself in the ditch.

There was the great fear that comes with being lost, and in darkness. There was no obvious path to travel. Merton's words were a consolation, "God I have no idea of where I am going...?” de Chardin, " the cross is a sign of growth that is accomplished in pain". Rohr reminded me that my cross that I have to embrace, on a daily basis, are my experiences of failure, rejection, and nakedness. The only place of ease, was during the celebration of Mass. It was that, and the comforting, reassuring word of others, that provided me with what was necessary to leave behind what was appealing, but destructive. Has this happened just once? Of course not, we all have to face again and again. That is essential to the understanding of the spiritual journey. We have to be taught, on an ever deepening level, what it means to be a real, and true follower, of Jesus Christ. With each experience of a deeper death, comes a keener awareness of what it means to be alive. With each letting go, there is the welcoming and receiving, of a new Spirit to give vitality to the life I am given to love today.

I will end with another quote from Fr. Rolheiser, "The Paschal mystery , a process of transformation within which we are given both new life and new spirit. It begins with suffering and death, moves on to the reception of new life, spends time grieving the old and adjusting to the new, and finally only after the old life has been Truly let go of, is a new spirit given for the life we are already living."

How about that, with your cup of coffee in the morning!

Saturday, April 17, 2010

The Tangled Web....

We continue on our post Easter journey. I am very well aware of the fact that there is, always some part of us, if not all of us, still suffering, and wallowing in the pre-Easter events. We do not , or cannot, encounter the real God in fantasy. The real God of Jesus Christ can only be encountered, in reality. When we accept the reality of where we are at, and what is happening to us we are able to connect with God and allow God to connect with us. In this encounter with the real, God meets us, we meet Him. He meets us, and so the miracle of grace begins its’ mysterious work. How it works, the manner in which it works, and the time frame all this happens is NONE of our business.

The Easter and post Easter events we read about for ourselves, or hear them proclaimed to us, are meant to remind us again and again, of what we forget, again and again. We are after all human, so we need to be dipped, and dipped, in what we forget, again and again. We are in constant need of being reminded, now more than ever, of the great gift of hope, which is the message, and the gift of this season. We need to be continuously immersed in The Mystery we call Paschal, until we get to the place where we see, or more correctly, are led to see, what? Our everyday life, and the events of the same, are our actual, personal encounter with the life, suffering, death, burial, resurrection, Ascension, and the sending down of His Spirit.

Life can and does come at us so hard and fast, we can and do lose focus. We lose focus on the fact, this is what Jesus had to suffer.
This is what he had to endure. This is what He was tempted to recoil from. This IS my personal participation in that Mystery we call Paschal. In this belief, I have the assurance I will never suffer alone. What consolation? When we read what the disciples went through, we are given a preview of what you, and I, are to journey through as well. The story is the same, only the place and the scenery, have changed.

Locked doors, personal feelings of guilt, fear, and shame, are not powerful enough to keep the Risen Christ from being with those He loved. He will not be kept from those whom He has loved, to the end. He is being The Good Shepherd, searching out His lost and disillusioned disciples. (As He did, so he does, with you and I.) There has been a change. There has been a change in the human Jesus whom they thought they knew, and loved, in so far as they were able to. Their knowledge of what it means to be "risen", will take time to develop, and accept. That knowledge, will have to be purified and strengthened, as it goes in the doubting stage. They had to go through the same process of transformation that we go through. Consolation? This
Risen Jesus, who is now the Christ of God, is no longer bound by the constraints of time and space. As He was present to His disciples, so He is present to you and I…. right NOW! He is not only present to both you and I, He is present in His risen life, within you and I, right now. Where we are, there He dwells. Were He is, so is the Father, and Holy Spirit. They are present , within us, loving us as they love one another. What a party that is going on! We must ask for the love, to love ourselves enough, to let go of our so called failures, regrets, doubts, and fears, so we can join in the celebration.

In the joining in, the celebration we are slowly lead to the fullness of the Aisling of God, the dream of God. This aisling, this dream, is expressed in the following,

" I have come that you would have life, and have it to the fullest".

God will not settle for anything less, why should we? We are offered the Shalom of God, always and everywhere. What is the aspect of Shalom you need right now? (Read the list from last week, and claim it). You are the beloved daughter/ son, claim that right NOW! "Now is the time of salvation"
Christ rose from the darkness of the tomb. The tomb was actually the womb from which came new life. The tomb experience teaches us the hard lesson that when everything seems to be lost, at its’ worst, it is then we are in the best place to deepen our understanding of the Easter – Ascension - Pentecost Mystery. The process continues. The more personal you make the journey, the more rewarding it will be. The more you will have to share with those God’s love will place on your path, so you can be their companion, and they yours. What a tangled web the love of God weaves ????

Sunday, April 11, 2010


We were afforded the great gift of forty days, to prepare ourselves, yet again, for the great feast of Easter. We celebrate The Paschal Mystery again and again because we are ever experiencing that reality, always anew. So you see, we have to take this years’ experience of the mystery and confer on its’ uniqueness, by celebrating it as a new and never before reality. That is precisely what each and every liturgical celebration is. We took three days to celebrate The Easter mystery, The Paschal mystery. These twenty four hours are from evening to evening. From the evening of Holy Thursday to the evening of Good Friday is one day, and the same with the other two days. Now we are going to be afforded another 50 days to contemplate on how we experience, what we celebrated, as a daily realty. Otherwise, Jesus Christ did all that he did, suffered what he suffered, for nothing, His life was then a farce, and the same could be said of our lives too.

It is our lives being led as the life of The Contemporary Christ, that gives our life, and every second we lead untold value. In each and every moment of our lives, in each and every action of our lives, we are revealing anew, Jesus Christ. I live, no not I, it is Christ who lives. What an amazing power grace has, and how Gently is it exercised. This gentleness is portrayed in the first meeting of the Risen Christ with His Dispirited disciples .

What a feeling there must have been in that room. The fear had to be palatable. The doors were locked. They had to speak in whispers for fear of detection. They had to reflect on the events of The Last Supper, Gethsemane, the betrayal by one of their own, the denial by one of their own, the suicide, the scourging, the mockery, the scorn, that long journey to Calvary, the crucifixion, the burial, the closed tomb, now the news of the empty tomb. They had to reflect on their own failure to be a supportive presence. When their Leader needed them the most, they were not there. Just a very few were able to stand and be counted, the rest fled in fear. Now, there are the feelings of not just of fear, there are those feelings of helplessness, confusion , bewilderment, hopelessness, frustration, guilt, disappointment, anger, shame, hurt, and pain. As those were the feelings of the disciples, so they are our feeling today. The only thing we have to do is to be honest enough to admit them. Human nature does not change. As it was, so it is, and ever shall be. We, each day have the great challenge of being humble enough to embrace and admit to the human condition.

" We are born human and spend our whole life coming to understand what human means.” An ever deepening reflection on the Paschal Mystery is one of the avenues open to you and I. There are times when we can reflect on this mystery from a distance. Other times life immerse us in a depth we never expected to be in, or in a place we never expected to be at. Life does throw us some real curve balls, and we are left lost beaten and bewildered. We are now ready to encounter the reality of the risen Christ. We are now in the best possible place to receive the gifts He brings. We are lost. We are empty, and emptied out. We are on the best possible place. We are now be open to having a Savior. This Savior brings with Him, Not peace, but Shalom. Shalom is something much more than peace. The wish for Shalom brings with it the following, hold out your emptiness so you can receive the following;

Completeness, wholeness, health, peace welfare, safety, soundness, tranquility, prosperity, perfectness, fullness, rest, harmony, the absence of agitation and discord.

We think of peace just as the absence of war. The Shalom on The Risen Christ Is so much more than that. It is always there for us. Here is a little exercise I recommend. Take a look at that list. Then take a look at you life's journey. Now make a decision what as regards the particular gift you are in need of right now. As you stand under the shower let the running water be the reality of what you ache for. You will have to leave the shower at some point in time, but let that memory of the running water be a constant reminder of the deeper reality. That reality is GOD pouring down, you as constant stream, that gift you so desire. This constant stream will pore down on you each and every second of the day. I must remind you are in charge of the tap. God cannot take over your free will, He loves you too much. God will not turn that tap for you. I hope and pray you will love yourself enough to enjoy the......Shower........ Of..........Shalom.


Saturday, April 3, 2010

From Death to New Life

The Pascal Mystery transforms, transfigures and leads an always and new and different way of living. It bestows on us the great gift of hope, that death is not, “the final word on life or despair the final days of human beings”. [Boff] As we make our journey into the light of the resurrection, we will be led again and again to the understanding that out of all of our pain, sorrow, and brokenness, comes new life and wonderful gifts. We will be led to the belief that the “greater the wound, the greater the pain…the greater the gift”. That is why each year, we are “dipped and dyed” in the Pascal Mystery to be awakened and to celebrate the new life that has come to us from what we thought was death. Death is never the end, it is always the beginning.

The Pascal Mystery is first and foremost a mystery. This mystery teaches that with every beginning there is an ending and with every ending there is a new beginning. It is a mystery dealing with the deepest working of God's grace. A mystery dealing with death, burial and new life. A spiritual mystery such as this cannot be explained, it can only be entered into and treated with reverence. I would like to suggest this year, more than ever, we need to open ourselves up to what this week offers in the way of hope, consolation and the promise of radical new life. This will come to us through the power of honesty, honesty about our everyday experience. There can be no spiritual growth unless we are developing a progressive honesty which is about embracing what is real. Where there is no honesty, there is no reality. So, there is no God. When we want to get a grip on reality and the Pascal Mystery within us, here are a number of words you and I cannot have in our vocabulary, the following are many words which have no connection with reality:
could, would, should, what if, if, if only, when, ought, try, interesting, or any similar words used to deny our real feelings and our real emotions.

A number of years ago, I read a book by Fr. Ronald Holheiser which enabled me to enter into a new and better life-giving understanding of what the Pascal Mystery is all about. In his book, The Holy Longing, he explains the difference between terminal death and Pascal death. "Terminal death is a death that ends life and then possibility. Pascal death, like terminal death, is real, however, Pascal death is a death that, while ending one kind of life, opens a person undergoing it to receive a deeper and richer form of life. The image of the grain of wheat falling into the ground and dying so as to produce new life is an image of Pascal death. Then resurrected the reception of a radically new life... The Pascal Mystery is about Pascal death and resurrected life."

Continuing on, in the same chapter entitled "The Spirituality of the Pascal Mystery", we read the following:

The Pascal Mystery might be diagrammed as follows:
1) Good Friday...The loss of life-real death
2) Easter Sunday..."the reception of new life"
3) The Forty Days..."a time for readjustment to the new, and grieving the old"
4) Ascension..."letting go of the old and letting it bless you, the refusal to claim"
5) Pentecost..."the reception of new spirit, for the new life that one is already living"

Put into a more colloquial language and stated as personal Pascal challenge for each one of us, one might recap this diagram this way:
1) "Name of your death"
2) "Claim your birth"
3) "Grieve what you have lost and adjust to the new reality"
4) "Do not cling to the old, let it ascend and give you its blessing"
5) "Accept the spirit of the life that you are in fact living"

This cycle is not something we must undergo just once...It is rather something we must undergo daily, in every aspect of our lives. Christ spoke of many deaths, of daily deaths and of many risings and various Pentecosts. The Pascal Mystery is the secret to life. Ultimately, our happiness depends upon properly undergoing it... Unless we die in infancy, we will have many deaths in our lives and within each one of these we must receive new life and new spirit. Daily we must undergo the Pascal Mystery.

In her book, Little Pieces of Light, Sister Joyce has this to say, "Being able to let go and let God take over one's life demands a tremendous amount of trust in this Divine Companion. Thomas Merton writes that, 'True love and prayer are really learned in the hour when prayer becomes impossible and your heart turns to stone'. It is in within the hour of our greatest darkness that we discovered that we are never really alone. It is a time when we learn to trust as Gods love is much more than we ever imagined." This gives us the great freedom to be able to sing our Hallelujahs with real gusto. Death has turned into life. Christ is risen and is alive within you and me.

"O happy fault of Adam that has revealed to us such a God."