Friday, October 29, 2010

God Walks......His Talk!

There is a daily prayer each day in the paper. One day, this was the prayer:
" Lord, each day let us look for and find good news to give to others we meet, so we may help spread your love and light to those around us. Amen"
It was later in the day when I began to read the scriptures for this weekend's Liturgy. The following is from the first reading from The Book of Wisdom. "You have mercy on all, because You can do all things; and you overlook the sins of men that they may repent. For you love all things that are and loathe nothing that you have made; for what you hated you would not have fashioned. And how could a thing remain, unless you willed it ; or be preserved, had it not been called forth by you? But you spare all things because they are yours, O Lord and lover of souls, for your imperishable Spirit is in all things!
You rebuke offenders little by little, warn them and remind them of the sins they are committing, that they abandon their wickedness and believe in you, O Lord."

Now that is real good news. It is such good news, that it can really stop us in our tracks. God love all that He has made. Yes, there is nothing that God has made that his love does not maintain in existence. If it exists, it is loved, all the time. God's love is permanent, and does not waiver. Whereas the love we experience and express is all over the place. It runs hot and cold. Lukewarm, however, is the killer. Jesus has a warning for the lukewarm. Our God hates nothing that he has made. Now that is an eye opener for those individuals who use God as a weapon to bring impart their own guilt, and shame on to those they have difficulty with. How often God is used as a weapon for evil, when all there exists in God is infinite understanding, mercy and compassion. How we see others treat others reveals to us a great deal about themselves. They are not seeing the person as that person is, they are seeing that person as they see themselves. Nobody, but nobody, can see us as we really, even we ourselves cannot do that, only God see us as we are. Our God always, and I mean always, sees us through the lens of His love. What a terrible act of abuse it is to use the All Loving God as a weapon to further our narrow agenda, or agendas. So, when I have difficulty with someone, it is not actually with that individual, it is sadly about me, and I do not want to deal with me. Eventually, we will have to come home to who we really are, and find out all humankind dwells within each one of us.

In keeping with what Jung says, "Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves". All that irritates me allows me to fall into that love we are told about in that Wisdom reading.

We all have heard about those who talk the walk, and those who talk the walk. It could be said that in the first reading God, in the scriptures, is talking the walk. In the Gospel Jesus has come to walk the talk, and in doing so is calling on us, His followers, to do the same thing. Our God hates no one, but maintains us all in His love.

Jesus came and became the incarnation of that love. Was it well received? His message of acceptance was so radical it got Him killed.
His outreach was so extraordinary, His own family wanted to intervene. In today's gospel, Jesus scandalizes the self-righteous with His
acceptance, of the invitation, to eat a meal with a sinner. The word sinner was a the same as, prostitute. The tax collector, the sinners, the prostitutes, were among the groups, the ones he reached out to. Jesus pointed out that the tax collectors and prostitutes heard and accepted His word. On the other hand those who stood in judgment of ALL THREE, did not.

Our God is always, as a matter of face every second, maintains us in His love, and reaches out to us in His love. The more we find the tax collector and sinner deep within ourselves, the deeper we will fall into the love revealed to us by, LOVE INCARNATE, Jesus Christ. We will then be able to go beyond the snap judgments, and reach out in understanding and compassion. In this human encounter the mission and the ministry of Love and Incarnate will continue. Let us take the risk of expressing the desire to be able to not just talk the walk, but walk the talk. You will become what you desire. What a ride, what a journey that will be. The opening prayer has these encouraging, and hope-full words;

" May the changing moods of the human heart and the limits which our failings impose on hope never blind us to you, source of every good".

It is only through the lens of the tax collector and sinner we will eventually arrive at that place where we will find ourselves dining with Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Does God have a sense of humor or what? In the last place we expect to find Him, there He is, looking up at us and His eyes and asking the question, "What took you so long?"........Pride?????

Sunday, October 24, 2010

A Prayer....and a Meaning...

Fall weather is with us, at last! We have endured the heat. We are now ready for the good days to refresh us, and renew us. That seems to be the pattern of the life we live out on this earth. There is struggle, some rest, and then we go back to the struggle again. I see the same thing in the hike up a mountain. There is the struggle, then you have a switch back, more struggle, and then there is another switch back. Aren’t those switch backs great? To my way of thinking, our weekend mass is a wonder-full spiritual switch back. Each liturgy provides a resting place, a place of renewal, a place of refreshment. We, as it were really take Jesus up on His invitation to come and rest in Him. We also come to rest with Him. We come to find REST, for the journey. He does not promise a FIX. He promises us rest. I love that prayer we sing, "I am here, standing right beside you". What comfort, encouragement, and strength, there is in those words. That is why we are in the constant need to be reminded of God's faithfulness to us.
We are in the constant need of being reminded that it is NOT our love for God, but his love for us. It is all God’s doing. It is He who has sought us out. We search for God. Why? Because he has found us. Not only found us, but has drawn us into a covenant love. This covenant love is all one sided, it is on God's part. This is His dream, His Ashling, not ours. We are told that His thoughts are way beyond His thoughts, and His ways are not our ways. Let us say a collective, "thank you God for that". We are caught up in a world of checks and balances, that is the world of contracts. God is not there. A real love relationship is not, contractual. His covenant has to do with no conditions, no restrictions and no reservations. His love in the love of, The Beloved. A love that we cannot, even if we want to, earn, deserve, or qualify for. WE have to be reminded of the fact that covenant love is, of its essence, a gift.
So the opening prayer , of this weekend's switchback experience,draws us, again, deeper in the mystery of God's love and who we are, as we exist in We will pray at mass to Him in whom we live, and move and have our being.

"There is no power for good which does not come from your covenant,
and no promise to hope in that your love has not offered.
Strengthen our faith to accept your covenant,
and give us the love to carry out your command."

We have to, or at least I have to, pray that again and again. Each time a little slower to allow the full meaning and impact to penetrate into that place where it will nourish, strengthen, revive and heal me. I ask for the faith that will overcome the fears of my insufficiency, limitedness, faults and failings.
I must be ready to accept no good comes from me. Any love in my life is that which comes to me, first, from God's love. I am simply the channel through which it flows. I am responsible to for the upkeep of the channel. When there is garbage in the channel I have to pray for the wisdom, and strength, to face that reality. It will be grace, and only grace, that will empower me to do what is necessary to unclog that space. I have the guarantee, from my Baptism, that I will never, and I mean never, be alone. I will never have to rely just on my so called strength, I have the pledge that My God will ever be there to strengthen, guide, and direct me. That is what it means to be anointed, which we all are in that sacrament.

We are then open to be strengthened to be who we are called to be. E.E. Cummings wrote; "It takes great courage to grow up and become who we really are." That which is necessary will be provided. We will have to face our fears, but we hear,
"Be not afraid I go before you", and "Fear is the only true enemy, born of ignorance and the parent of anger and hate". We then have a choice to make. Every moment we are given on this spaceship, we call earth, we make the choice of living in the freedom of being the beloved. We will of necessity be life givers, to all we meet. We will not be death dealers. Death dealers, are those who refuse to recognize and accept their essential dignity. Their essential goodness. This is what it means to be wounded. We all have to accept there is that wounded part of each one us. That must be told of the Good News. We must claim we are the beloved again and again until it brings God’s healing to that wounded part, and so join in the great celebration of life. We will also fulfill the command of God, and love as He loves.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Question..?...& ? some more!

Since I have returned from my trip, I was going to say vacation, there has been a lot of blog material that has appeared before me at the breakfast table. As I eat my regular food combination, which I have described in a previous blog, I search the paper for what you and I share, having a common humanity. Well the first thing I do is check out the chuckle for the day. After that there is, The Thought for The Day. Then the sports page. After that I may have the courage to read about the daily happenings in the city, county, country, and world I am given to live in right now. Some of the chuckles do not come across as really being funny, but displays an ignorance on the part of the would-be funny person. I have heard, read and listened to many people who use misinformation, and also disinformation, to make a so called funny. Our Catholic faith is on the receiving end of so much hidden anger, resentment, and downright falsehoods. Take for instance the exert I have taken from the daily paper. This is supposed to get you all happy and free to enjoy the day; "Religious faith is belief without relying on logic or material evidence. So is political opinion."

We as Catholic Christians have a theology to rely on. Theology, I learned over 50 years ago was first and foremost a science. A science is, an organized body of truths. There is Natural Theology, based on reason alone. Then there is a theology that takes the findings of natural religion, adds to it Revelation, and so we arrive at Supernatural Theology. That is why we have the great freedom to be able to question, question, and then question some more. St Augustine had two questions he asked all throughout his life, "Who are you God, and who am I? "As G.K. Chesterton once wrote, "Catholicism is a thinking person's religion. "Pretty neat. “So the next time you hear someone wanting to be funny at the expense of our church, you may well ask the question, " Have you really studied the theology of the Catholic church?" What the church teaches and what is popular understanding are as different as chalk and cheese. Again this is where GOOD spiritual comes in, it affords the opportunity to ground ourselves in the real truth and not be lead astray by following what, "THEY SAY".

They, I have found out, do not have a clue about the real basics of the Catholic faith. They do however keep the church in the business of being the source of real truth. Do not get me wrong, I have been questioned about what a person heard from a so called Catholic expert, and my answer has been, " you got to be kidding me?” I guess that is why we have to ask for the gift of prudence. We, at the same time, must acknowledge the weakness of the human side of the church. We have to take our lumps when some aspects of the failings are made fun of. We do not have to take it personal. Like in any family, there are members we would like to disown, but they are still family. It will be through their weaknesses that the transforming power
of God will flow into our unions, and communities. There was a wonder-full opening prayer in the liturgy last week. I am going to take the liberty of changing a few words and see how it speaks to you. The original prayer:
"Father in heaven, the hand of your loving kindness, powerfully yet gentle, guides all the moments of our day. Go before in our pilgrimage of life, anticipate our needs and prevent our falling. Send your Spirit to unite in faith, that sharing in you service, we may rejoice in your presence."
Now let us pray it this way:
“My Father in heaven, the hand of your loving kindness powerfully yet gentle guides all the moments of my day. Go before me, which He has, in my pilgrimage of life, anticipate my needs, and prevent my falling. Send you Spirit to unite me with all those lead by that same Spirit . That united in spirit we serve you more faithfully, and so we will all have the opportunity to rejoice in your many presences."

We go to mass to offer individual worship, and communal worship. That it our reality because of our Baptism. It is not either/or it is both/and.
When we are strong, as an individual we thank God for that. That is easy, right? Now when things are all messed up for us as individuals and community, the same God is working ever so power-fully, and so awe- fully gentle, to bring peace and unity to the chaos we as humans have created. Here is another Thought for the Day:

“The opposite of a fact is a falsehood, but the opposite one profound truth may very well be another profound truth." Niels Bohr.

Let us embrace these two truths;

" The powerless of power, and the power of powerlessness" , which allows us to fall into the "LOVING KINDNESS " of our God, which
is His dream, His Aisling."

Rejoice" then because of your essence you are loved. You have been loved from all of eternity, and will be loved FOR ALL OF ETERNITY. Continue to live and celebrate THE DREAM.

Friday, October 8, 2010

More Challenge Us.

Spiritual reading is so essential for a healthy spirituality. To be healthy, we must be taken ever deeper. This journey that takes us deep is the work of the HOLY Spirit within us, and so can be trusted, even if not liked. None of us are comfortable with facing the honest truth that is part and parcel of this journey. There is consolation in that adage, we are as sick as our secrets. The more we grow in honesty, and honesty is progressive, the more free we are to enjoy that which our God has dreamed for us…. There is a newness about our life. Our life is not boring.

Spiritual reading does this for us. Yes!! It is a blessing and a curse. It is a sacrament in the broad understanding of that word. It is sacrament (with a small “s”) in that sense is: Each and every person place event, action, that brings in touch with the deeper realities of life and ultimately with Reality Itself, that reality we call God. Last week in the quotation from Fr. Rolheiser we were taken to a new and deeper understanding of who we are as today’s living presence of the historical Jesus, we as the contemporary Christ are in the constant need of being reminded who we really are. WE must have that constant reinforcement of our innate dignity. Why? Because, the Devil, the father of all lies, wants us to believe in the lie. The lie is that we are not who we are really called to be, we have to earn, deserve, and qualify for the unconditioned love of God. That love comes to in so many ways and through so many channels. Here is some of what Fr. Rolheiser has written, speaking of The Incarnation;

"When Jesus walked around Palestine, people were healed and forgiven, not to mention given eternal life, by touching him ,and being touched by Him and simply by relating to him. If we the ongoing incarnation, and we are, then this is true also for us (and not just in the sense of it happening through the institutional churches, important as that is)......The mystery of the incarnation is extensive. It is not just the institutional churches that carry on, carry forth, and carry the mystery the mystery of God in human flesh. ALL LOVE THAT IS IN GRACE IS THE WORD MADE FLESH. To touch it is to be touched by Christ; to touch with it is to touch with Christ because it is the ongoing incarnation. From Augustine through Pius XII, we are told that this is wild doctrine, something beyond our limited imaginations, and measured hopes. Nobody dares hope for us as much as God has already given in the incarnation.

What are we given there? The power, literally, to block death and hell. If we love someone, that person cannot go to hell because Christ is loving him or her. If we forgive someone, that person is forgiven because Christ is forgiving him or her. If children of ours, or anyone else we love, no longer go to church, our love for them and their love for us bind them solidly to the Body of Christ. They continue to touch the hem of Christ's garment as surely as did the woman in the gospel who suffered with a hemorrhage. The end result, unless they reject their bond to us, will be like hers, namely, healing.... it is Christ who is doing this. We, as St Paul so clearly assures us, “are the body of Christ”. He recognizes how difficult it is for us ordinary people to believe, accept, and act upon. So he concludes the chapter with these words:

" Part of the difficulty in believing in the incarnation is precisely the fact that it is too good to be true: God is not hidden and hard to contact; forgiveness, grace, and salvation are not the prerogative of the lucky and the few; we don't have to save ourselves; we do not have to live our lives perfectly to be saved;...human flesh and this world are not obstacles, but part of the vehicle to heaven; we can help each other on the journey; love, indeed human love, is stronger than death; and to love someone is indeed to say; "you at least will never die.!"

This spiritual reading does take one deeper, and so it is indeed, sacramental. This will lead us to pray for the simple faith, to believe in the very simple words of scripture;

"You are my Beloved daughter/son, in you, I am, well pleased", another translation goes like this "You are my beloved child; in you I take delight!" How often do we take time out to join our Father God in His delight of who we are, and in where we are? We cannot think our way into a new way of enjoying being ,God's delight, we must take the action to join God in his delight, of us. We have been given the gift of imagination. Let us dream of new ways to celebrate this great gift of God's great delight in us, each one in his/hers own unique way. Again, to quote Thomas Merton, “Be, who you already, are”. The question would be then, who are you?

Let the dreaming continue….

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Too Good...To Believe?

We as Catholics did not look too good in the news today. Throughout the news media there were discussions on the startling statistic that Catholics knew the least about religion. Is it not amazing that so called atheists knew the most about religion when questioned. Yes, atheists were the best informed. An amazing 45% of us did not know of the Real Presence. That in the bred and wine we receive at mass Jesus Christ is really truly present. In the reality of the Eucharist the historical Jesus, is present as the Risen Christ. We, because of our Baptism are the living presence of the same Jesus Christ. The historical Jesus is now living, walking, talking, loving , crying, within the reality of us living out our daily life. Whenever you or I touch someone, that is the touch of Christ. When you are reaching out in compassion, and understanding, the compassionate, understanding ministry of Christ continues to have life. What wonder- full faith our God has in each one of us that we are called, gifted, and consecrated to carry on the ministry of Christ, our brother. I guess you can say we are called to be in the Family business. Isn’t that one way of looking at this mystery?

I would like to suggest the fact we do not know, and so do not believe, all the ramifications of our Baptism, all that is presented to us is so hard to believe. How can our limited lives contain and reflect the mystery of the many presences of God? How can we, as oh so limited human beings, carry on the Mission and the Ministry of the Godman, Jesus Christ? We must ask for the gift of deepening faith to let go of our narrow, comfortable, understanding so we can be led in the vastness of the mystery we are called to be. May I suggest it is because we do not allow ourselves to be led ever deeper into Mystery, we lose out on the great mysteries which are the foundation of who we are as Catholic Christians. When we receive the Eucharist how many will say, and believe here is the living reality of Jesus Christ not only meeting, but encountering the reality of the same Jesus who walked this earth 2,000 years ago? In the Eucharist, Christ meets Christ. In all that we are, He finds His life, in us HE has his existence and his being. Just as in the same Christ we live and move and have our being. We as it were, complement one another. Where we are, Christ IS. Where we are, the church, as The Body of Christ, is.

Last week I mentioned how important spiritual reading is. I find this reading to be encouraging, challenging, and threatening to my preconceived ideas and false conceptions. There was a great expression in the 70s, when we came across something which really made us stand up and pay attention-what “Blew our minds". "You blow my mind” was such a common expression. Well that is what spiritual reading does for me, and has been doing for many many years now. The following is from Fr. Rolheiser’s book “Against an Infinite Horizon". WARNING this is not for the narrow minded, or the closed minded. I hope it will "Blow Your Mind"!
He writes:

"Gabriel Marcel once said; "To love is to say, you at least will never die”. That might sound like romantic wishful thinking, but in Christian faith we believe that this is deep insight, an article of faith, a truth of the Incarnation. If we take the Incarnation seriously, then to love someone is to say to that person "You will never die because, in this life and the next, you will never be separated from the community of life, God's family, because in accepting my love you are touching the Body of Christ just as really as did anyone who touched the historical Jesus. You will never die and you will never go to hell because you are bound to Christ. ... The truth is rather that, as the body of Christ on earth, we can continue to do all the things that Jesus did and, as Jesus himself says in the John's Gospel (4:12), we can even do greater things. Scripture tells us that we are the body of Christ on earth. It does not say that we are like the His body, or that we replace His body, or even that we are His mystical body (which would not be so wrong, if we understood "mystical" in the deep sense of the word). Our Christian faith informs us that we are the body of Christ--flesh, blood, tangible, visible, physical, available to be touched, and all of this definitely and clearly residing in nameable persons on this earth. We are the ongoing incarnation of God, the anointed ones of God, Christ."

Pretty good stuff, no…..on second thought, that is GREAT stuff. The stuff our faith needs if we are to live the dream our God has dreamt for you and I. So continue to enter the dream of God, as revealed to us in the life and the person, of the historical Jesus, who became The Christ of God. Live what you know and so be led into the unknown.