Saturday, May 29, 2010

The Family Within.....

I got a new set of lenses for my old glasses, this week. Why? Because I just wanted to spend some money? No. I went for an eye checkup, the first one in three years. [I found out I need to have an exam every two years.] That would explain why I was having trouble with seeing, and as you may have observed, reading as well
Over the last few months I was struggling to see clearly. There was some unexplained gook in my eyes. It was time to get some answers. The answers were, my eyes, especially the left one, had gotten weaker. I was also told I have a condition called macula pucker. Not anything to worry about, for now, but a condition to be checked, in six months. If it worsens, then I am a candidate for surgery . How exciting.!!!

As you know by now, that whatever is our reality and we gaze at it long enough, there is a sermon in it. In this case, there is a blog. Whatever is real in our lives, because it is real, has within it a spiritual reality. It is up to us to develop the lenses, so we can see, that which is hidden. This process gives the so called “ordinary events” in our lives, a dimension which otherwise we would have missed. We discover the life that lies beyond the life we are living. I think I should have said, the “extraordinary life” that lies beyond . That is more in keeping with which is our total reality. We spend our whole life long journey on that journey, of discovery. It is a very wonderful, yet troublesome one. As we make our journey, we are in constant need, just like me right now, of asking and receiving new glasses. The older we get, the more powerful the lens required. Some say, we are in the constant need of the xray eye of faith. I conquer. The longer we are on the spiritual life, the more sensitive we must become to the hidden workings of THE FAMILY, we call GOD. This family we call God, we also call The Holy Trinity. God lives His life in the community of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Their secret, mysterious life is also being lived within you and I. The opening prayer of the weekend's mass has these very mysterious words,

“God, we praise you:
Father, all powerful, Christ Lord and Savior, Spirit of love.
You reveal yourself in the depths of our being, drawing us to share in your life ann your love.
Be near to the people formed in your image."

The prayer has been answered. Our Triune God, has not only drawn near to us, He has gone way beyond what we ask, beyond our petition. He has chosen freely, to make His family's place, within our deepest depths. So, as we journey into the depths, we are on our journey to where the Trinity dwells. That is a journey into the darkness of who we are as human beings. Because of this journey, we will be led to discover whatever we shall need lies deep within. The only trouble with that is, as we make the journey into our depths, we will discover every sin another person can commit. From this journey into honesty we will cry out from the dark depths for the aid of our God.

Sometimes we will have the need of our God to give new life, where we have encountered death. We will face the fact that we cannot, so we will be in the need of a Savior God. A Power that can do for us what we cannot do for ourselves. To accept that powerlessness, is to accept THE CROSS. That powerlessness is personal to each one of us. No two of us will have the same pain, our pain is unique. We can never say to another, "I know your pain". That is to minimize that person's experience. All we can do, and that takes great courage, great courage, is share our story. Tell the raw naked truth of our journey in unvarnished honesty. We must also share the new life, and the hope that is now ours because of the journey. In this way, the new Spirit you have been given, to live the new life you now have, will reach out to bring hope and strength to out who needs it. You are the bearer of The Good News. Then we will realize there is a Spirit whose job is to reveal the ongoing work of grace, the work of sanctification. We will come accept, be consoled, and strengthened with the knowledge, whatever we need IS already present within.
So to sum up, the Father is the creator God, the son is the Savior God, the Holy Spirit is the Loving Power of our God which sanctifies us. All this, and infinitely more, is being lived out within you and I. It is being lived out whether we realize it or not. We do not have to know, all that matters is God knows. I will end with an ancient Gaelic prayer.

I arise today through a mighty strength,
The invocation of the Trinity......
through belief in the threeness....
through confession of the oneness..
Of The Creator of Creation.

What a Wonder-full, Awe-full mystery it is, that has chosen you, yes you, to be His dwelling place. Reverence yourself and ALL that you are, all that is authentically you, and the mystery of God will take on a new, and dynamic meaning.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

God's Shyness.....

“Come Holy Spirit, and fill the hearts of your faithful and kindle in them the fire of your love. Send forth your Spirit, and they shall be created, and, you shall renew the face of the earth.”

We have journeyed through our desert experience, accompanied, strengthened and guided by the Good Shepherd. We again, on a new and deeper level, participated in the Paschal death of Christ. This ever deepening participation, has led to a new understanding of what Resurrection really means. This leads us to grow in hope. This vital hope, provides encouragement and vitality as we encounter the many faces of death, on this life's journey. We are then lead to accept, not like, that ever so painful process of letting go. Letting go of what? Letting go of the old, the familiar. (The real meaning of the Ascension.) In this letting go a space, a place is created into which we now welcome the Holy Spirit. This Holy Spirit is the loving creative force of God, that is being welcomed into our lives. It is The Power that heals, transfigures, and transforms. It is the gentle love of God, can there be any other? This love has been described as a cooling zephyr, renewing and strengthening us, for the continuation of the journey. It is a peaceful, calming love in which we can find our rest and healing. The only catch is we have to allow it to happen to us. We have to surrender ourselves into that space, into that place where our God has chosen to make His dwelling place. To our horror, and disbelief, we are led to accept this wonderful mystery, the place of our previous discomfort, is now the place we find our comfort and peace. God's ways sure do not make any sense, do they? All this happens how? When we allow it to happen. Yes there is no mistake here.

This is how much God loves us, we are able, because of free will, to say yes, or no, to His gift. We have to make the choice between being a human doer, or a human being. A very difficult one to make. One will feed the ego and the result in looking good on the outside, while all the while feeling alone and isolated on the inside. We on the other hand, becoming a human being, we have to deny the ego, if you so dare. We are then led to a place of peace which is beyond our hopes, and dreams. In doing this, we are led to a place, where we are given a peace, which the world of the ego cannot give. That place of rest seems to me to be created only after some great trial, or upheaval. It appears only when we have endured the battle with the pain of loss, alienation, discouragement, isolation, failure etc. We are lead to the acceptance, we are beloved of our God, not, and I repeat not, because of what we do, but because of who we are in His love, and in His eyes. As we rest in that place of comfort and hope we will be able to live life, and not just endure a lifeless existence.

We are to remind ourselves again and again, because we fail and fall again and again, of the welcoming words of Jesus The Christ "come to me all you who are weary and find life burdensome, and I will refresh you", another translation says "and I will give you rest. He does not say I will FIX you". Anyone who comes to me, him I will not reject" are other words we seem to forget. It is up each one of us to respond to the personal, particular call of the Good Shepherd so he can lead us to safe and green pastures, where we can rest our weary bones. As we are nourished in the place we are led to, we find there healing, transfiguration, and transformation. We discover a new life, never knowing when the old one ceased to exist. By the way, how it happened and when it happened, IS, none of our business. That is the egos need, that is the false self looking for some fodder to boost itself. In the pasture we are led to, we will experience a sense of renewal. A new sense of vitality bubbles up within us. This will be in proportion to the above mentioned participation in the paschal mystery. It appears, the greater the wound, the greater the gift. What great consolation there is in that.

“Send forth your spirit and renew the face of the earth.” That is what is always happening to both you and I. We are constantly being made new, through the power of The Spirit of Love. This new "creating" is always done quietly and above all, gently. So much of the creative work is done in the dark, I guess we can say, The Holy Spirit, is the shyness of God, revealed. The gentleness is revealed in the gifts of love, peace , joy, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self control, so to end up. Looking at your life right now, what is the gift you really want from this previous list, which will allow you to live, and not just exist? Take that request into the shower with you, and follow the directions from 'The Shower of Shalom' blog on 4/11/10. In this way, you are asking for the Spirit to bestow on you what is your need right now. In other words, we are asking for our daily bread. The bread of yesterday will not energize us today. We need the bread of today for the challenges that we will face us today. The Spirit of the Good Shepherd is always, and always will be there for you and I. The creative power of God takes what is ours, compensates for what is missing, and quietly and gently weaves it back into the pattern of our lives, and we have not missed a step. All we can say is “by the power of God's love this has been done for me. Not because I am good, but because God is Good. I did not earn this gift, I do not deserve this gift, what I must do Is allow myself to enjoy this particular, and personal manifestation of love of my God for me."

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Truth and Beauty...

Eternal Father, reaching from end to end of the universe, and ordering all things with your mighty arm: for you, time is the unfolding of truth that already is, the unveiling of beauty that is yet to be........(may the presence of you Son) among us lead to the vision of unlimited truth and unfold the beauty of your love. We ask this............

This is the opening prayer of The Seventh Sunday, after Easter. What great timing? These last few of weeks we have celebrated Good Shepherd Sunday, Mothers Day. We also have had a number where we encountered the Risen Christ preparing His disciples for His, going away, and return to the Father. Over the weeks we were able to reflect on the "farewell address' of Christ. When we are in a state, or stage, of fear, returning again and again to those chapters of John's Gospel is a great source of reassurance and hope. Christ is leaving. He then says something very mysterious, " it is good that I go". Weird. Why is it good that you leave, the disciples could ask? You were out of our lives for three days and we did not do so well? Now you are going to really leave us, and this is supposed to be good, makes no sense, we are going to be lost.

It is here we encounter the care and concern of The Good Shepherd, revealing in His words the quality of a good mother, who happens to be, our God. He reassures the frightened, and concerned disciples, He will not abandon them or leave them orphans. He will leave only to make way for a still greater gift, The Spirit, The Advocate, will be sent, not to be present to them, this Spirit is going to be WITHIN them. This coming will complete the three presence of God. In the Old Testament, he was the God “for”. In the New Testament, He is the God “with”. Now He is coming to be the God “within”. We always need to keep those realities, those presences of our Gods before us, or we too can not only get caught up in the same feelings of being lost, left behind and abandoned. That is not just any truth, it is the beauty of our real truth. This beauty, as the prayer says is gradually, and oh, oh, so gradually unfolding, within us. This unfolding is the work of the same creative Spirit that brought order to the original chaos, and raised Jesus from the dead. We have a great power that exists in us, through us, and always for others. As Jesus Christ came, not for Himself, but for others, we who now carry on that same ministry in His name, must always keep this truth before ourselves. What is that truth? It is not our ministry, or message, it is what has been given to us, to be given away, freely. That is why we are given the Spirit of truth, to keep us in God's truth, not just our small, narrow interpretation of infinite truth. Truth, and Beauty, of necessity go together, because each is used to reveal who our God is. So, embrace that mysterious beauty, within you, today. Do not give in to the Advocates archenemy, the prosecuting attorney, Satan. Live your truth which tells to you are the beloved of the Gracious, kind, and ever watchful Good Shepherd. When the time comes, and it does come, again and again, keep the following words of Karl Rahner ever before you. I have used them so often I now can recite them from memory.

I am the blind alleys of all your paths, for when you no longer know how to go any farther, then you have reached me, foolish child, though you are not aware of it. I am in your anxiety; for I have shared it by suffering it. And in doing so, I wasn't even heroic according to the wisdom of the world. I am in the prison of your finiteness, for my love has made me your prisoner. When the totals of your plans and of your life's experiences do not balance out evenly; I am the unsolved remainder. And I know that this remainder, which makes you so frantic, is in reality my love, that you do not understand.

I am present in your needs. I have suffered them and they are now transformed but not obliterated from my heart. . . . This reality--incomprehensible wonder of my almighty love - I have sheltered safely in the cold stable of your world. I am there. I no longer go away from this world, even if you do not see me now; . . . I am there.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Motherhood and Mystery

One day when I was on vacation and I was at Mass. In front of me was a mother and child. The mother placed the child in front of her at arms length. They gazed at each other for some time. The child gazed at his mother was a steady silent gaze. Then its face broke into a wondrous smile, from its lips joy is screeched and its little hands began to clap happily. The child rejoiced that it was loved and the face of the young mother shone with a beauty that no artist could capture. From then on, whenever I hear a screech at Mass, that is my vision. I am jealous.

That is what I see when mother and child are caught up in “the gaze”. Often, when I am on vacation, I get caught up so often observing the interplay between mother and child just as I do when I celebrate Mass. There is something going on with that interplay. Whatever I have to say is being ignored. There is something more satisfying, more full-filling being offered in that interplay for the mother and child than what I have to offer. Of that I am certain.

I came across the following quotation, in which I have found food for thought over many years;

“Mothers beauty infinitely surpasses the glory of nature. It is an unimaginable beauty, the only one that you can imagine this woman attending to stirrings of her infants. Christ never speaks of beauty. It is the only company He keeps, but under it’s true name: Love. Beauty comes from love, as daylight comes from the sun. As the sun comes from God, as God comes from a woman exhausted from childbirth. Fathers go to war, to the office, sign contracts. Fathers are in charge of society. That is their business, their great affair. A father is someone who represents something other than himself in his relationship to his child, and who believes in what he represents: law, reason, experience. Society. A mother does not represent anything in relationship to her child. She does not stand in relationship to it, but is around it, inside, outside, everywhere. She raises the child up at arms length and presents it to eternal life. Mothers are in charge of God. That is their passion, their sole occupation, their loss and their empowerment at the same time. To be a father is to play the role of father. To be a mother is an absolute mystery, a mystery without reference point, a absolute that is not relative to anything, an impossible task that is nevertheless fulfilled, even by bad mothers. Even bad mothers stand in their nearness to be absolute, they have an intimacy with God that fathers will never know…….

Mothers have no rank, no pull. They are born at the same time as their children. Mothers grow up in life at the same time as their child and as the child is equal of God, from the time of its birth, from the beginning mothers are inside the holy of holies, fulfilled by everything, ignorant of everything that fulfills them. And if all true beauty comes from love, where does love come from? From what matter does it matter derived, from what nature its super-naturalness, beauty comes from love. Loves comes from attention. Simple attention to the simple: humble attention to the humble things: living attention to all lives, and surely to that of the little cup in its cradle, incapable of feeding itself, incapable of everything but tears. The first knowledge of the newborn, the single possession of the prince of the crib, is his gift of complaint, his claim on the love far away, his screams in the direction of a life too distant-and it is mother that gets up and responds, it is God who wakes up and arises, responding every time, every time attentive above and beyond weariness. The weariness of the first days of the world, a weariness of the first years of childhood. Apart from that, there is nothing. There is no greater holiness then that of mothers exhausted by diapers to be washed, formula to be heated and baths to be given. Men hold the world. Mothers hold the eternal element that holds the world and men.” [Bobbin, The Secret of St. Francis Assisi]

Saturday, May 1, 2010

A Personal Good Shepherd...

I, came across the following reflection, by one of my favorite authors; Fr. Carroll Stuhlmueller,C.P.
" the church where questions are thrashed out theologically with an eye to tradition and earlier practices, and beyond the church where new and unexpected manifestations of the Holy Spirit will startle us, was anticipated by Jesus in the parable of The Good Shepherd. In this story Jesus knows each of us sheep by name. He calls each one with a sound which reaches into the depths of their memory, all the way back to their birth when each one of us is given and a vocation for life. Each change of life, whether for the group or the individual, must be kept in continuity not only with each person's past life, but even with his ancestry from whom life and name have been received. Each change in life, moreover, must answer a personal call and touch a cord of love."

I have found that be so true in my own life. Each movement of years, and life's vocation, has demanded a new a new commitment, a new "YES". Each heartfelt "YES" resulted not only in the continuation, but an even deeper recommitment to what the original "yes" demanded. As you reflect on your life, what is happening, now, that demands a new response, on your part, and of those who share your life. Saying "yes" to the new, means saying good-bye to the old. We cannot rush the good-bye, and we cannot rush the grieving. As much as we want to rush the grieving process we do that at our own peril. Jesus spent 40 days with his disciples, to aid them in the process of change. So much difficulty and turmoil comes to us, as individuals, as couples, and as families, simple because the grieving work has not been done. Is this the time you will now say good-bye, to a past loss, to a past death? What have been the movement, or movements of your life, that shattered you in some way? We must say "good-bye" to them with anger and sorrow, so we can welcome the new, the vital, the vibrant, as it unfolds today, in the sacrament of the present moment.

Fr. Carroll, goes on to say..."Because the Good shepherd calls us by our name and leads us back and forth from our ancestry into our future, Jesus also compares Himself to the door of the sheepfold. The means by which we go back and forth turns out to be Jesus himself. Through Jesus we slip backward into our subconscious, into the depths of life, and become absorbed in the mystery of existence. WE hear our name spoken by Jesus: we experience the betrothal of love and a union of ecstasy. Through Jesus, we pass through a door into our very best self, our name as spoken by Jesus. Through this same door, which is Jesus, we are called to go forth into the activity of daily life, to mingle with other people, to form family, neighborhood and work crew, schools and clubs, activities and plans. To hear Jesus summon us by name , and to pass through the gate which is Himself, we go beyond the sheepfold into the wider world around us. We are lead to quench our thirst. Yet, at sundown we pass through the same door, which is Jesus, as the sound of our name is spoken by the same Good Shepherd, and we led back into the depths of ourselves, in silent prayer and sleep.

" In all this movement, as in ALL THIS REST, Jesus is at the center, and yet Jesus loses Himself in us. He calls OUR name in order to summon us forth to nourishment and pasture as well as to call us back to the silent prayer of the sheepfold........In all these moments, when the spirit seems to act abruptly and to lead us beyond our expectations-as happened to Peter in the Acts of the Apostles- when the spirit leads us to lay down our life as our best plans and ideals are lost within a family, a community or a church-these are the times we hear our names best-as spoken by JESUS.

May these words be a source of strength for you. May He, the Good Shepherd, and His constant care, be a source of encouragement, as you face the challenge of being His follower. The following is an old Celtic prayer. You can make it more personal when you change the word" Christ ", to "My Good Shepherd". In times of change and challenge, may the conviction that there a newness happening. In living this newness will be our personal witness to the Resurrection. Yes Christ has died, Yes Christ has risen, and yes Christ is alive and living largely within this person you are looking at right now.

Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me,
Christ in me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ on my right, Christ on my left,
Christ when I lie down, Christ when I sit down, Christ when I arise,
Christ in every heart of every man/woman who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouths of everyone who speaks of me,
Christ in every eye that sees me,
Christ in every ear that hears me.