Saturday, July 30, 2011

From Briars to Bounty....

My Dad was a police man. Yes, he was an Irish cop. In my younger years we got to move quite a lot. That is why I always have an eye out for newcomers. I was a "newcomer" many times. In some parts of Ireland, we are called "blowins". Our last move as a family was to the village of Castlemartyr. When we got to the kitchen and looked out we saw a back yard, a very large backyard, and a even larger garden. That was the good news. The bad news, the garden was overgrown with briers, thistles and weeds. Let's say that is what I saw. My father, a farmers son, his vision was different, it was. Well let us now fast forward to see where once there was an overgrown disaster, now there is a well ordered garden. With peas, carrots, tomatoes, celery, lettuce and of course rows and rows of "Irish Rice", potatoes. It did not happen overnight, nor in one year. It was a gradual transformation . If my memory serves me right, I spent a good part of at least two Summer vacations in and among those thorns and overgrown weeds. It took a great deal of pain,hard work, sweat and some blood. Encounters with thorns and briers will always, always leave you with a little bloodletting. That adage, "No pain, no gain" was so very true, in this case. There had to be serious effort before the good earth was revealed and a harvest could be harvested. There had to be the clearing away, before the seed could be sewn.

These scenes and thoughts welled up as I listened to, and reflected on the third reality, the seed cast by the Sewer, found Itself. The Seed, The Word of God, The Good News, is received. The circumstances, the reality in which it has been received are not conducive to growth. For growth as authentic, healthy, human beings it is essential we are immersed in an atmosphere of healthy love. Healthy love is indispensable for our healthy spiritual growth. Yes! Healthy, loving, and authentic human living are one and the same. We are told again, and again that we are loved recklessly by our Prodigal Father. A love without any conditions, restrictions, or reservations. Do we believe it? For the most part no. Why? Because nobody in this journey of ours can replicate that love. Human love,"the second love", is of it's essence incapable of meeting this great challenge. As a result, those we love, and say they love us, will hurt us. In the same way the people we so desperately want, and wish to are the victims of our selfishness, and self centeredness. That old song, "We always hurt the ones we love". So the, we hear the wonder-full Good News that there is this extravagant love we hear it with our ears, but never get to accept. We hear "You are loved". The next question that pops up right away, "well what have you done to deserve that"? "What are you going to have to do to repay that love"? "I love you just the way you are." "If you REALLY knew me there is no way you would be saying that." The conversation goes on, and on, like that. We all have that committee in our heads that has a relentless energy, resulting in our endless restlessness. That voice of negativity is always present. That voice has only one purpose, and that is, to prevent you and I from accepting, believing, enjoying, and above all, celebrating The Gospel"s Good News, you have been, are now, and always will be My beloved daughter/son.

That committee, speaks only words that trigger feelings of Guilt, Fear, and Shame. These three I like to call, "the toxic trinity" The "tt's" only goal is to destroy us. They are death dealers, and will go to any means, any extremes to make sure we have our own personal hell, here on earth. They are the 'briers' of the gospel. They choke the new life that has been given to us, through God's love for us. Their job is to get us to loose ourselves chasing power, property, and prestige. We go chasing that which will make us look good on the outside. Why? Because we do not believe our essential inner likeableness, goodness, and lovableness. We are in desperate need to become more accepting of what is means to be human, to be limited. We are, and never will be, in this life, perfect. The toxic trinity wants us to believe the lie that perfection is there, that it is possible, if we would only somehow make a greater effort.

That leads to tremendous insanity. This insanity is so easy for us to observe. It is present, and can be observed in so many individuals, families, and as a consequence in family based institutions. The games that go with "control, comparisons, and competition" leave so many victims in their wake. Every addiction,and compulsion can be traced to the power given to the 'tt" in our lives. We all have to get to that point where we have nothing of ourselves to meet the challenge of the 'tt". There is one who has all the power. We must bring our powerlessness to the All Merciful, Lenient One and there spell out what it is we of ourselves cannot do. The prayer of desperation, crying out from the depths of our nothingness, is always. That is the prayer that comers from the gut. It is our deepest truth. In this prayer there is no sugar coating. There is no effort to look good, or sound good. Here we meet who we really are, and as we meet who we really are, lo and behold there meeting us is The God of Jesus Christ. The briars, brambles, weeds, thorns, and thistles slowly are moved away, and the good earth, which has ever and always been there is revealed. That is the next blog.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Rocks in the River of Grace....

As you read last week, life has a way of hardening us. There are so many and varied ways that demands of us, to survive, that we stuff our feelings and emotions. In the family of the active alcoholic, you don’t think for yourself, you do not express your honest feelings, and you do not speak your truth, or reveal in any way the family secret. This is true of ALL dysfunctional families, and organizations. As long as we are able to either deny, or repress our true feelings there is a very sick peace. It is peace at any price, and such "peace" eventually will lead to innumerable "wars" leaving painful and destructive wounds. Wounds that must be attended to, or else the dysfunction is passed on from generation to generation. Take a real honest look at the families you know and see how the wounds of past generation is having a devastating effect on the current generations. This will, unfortunately, continue until some generation says, "Enough" and speaks the truth. The truth WILL set the person free, but it will also tee a lot of people off. That is why there must be truth speakers in each family. They are not the most popular member, but they are the most free, and above all, the healthiest. This freedom, like all freedom comes at a price. Sometimes at a great price. The one who tells the truth may themselves be attacked, wounded, and killed. Not always a physical killing, but much worse, the spiritual and psychological assassination. The "secret" must be guarded at any cost, and so the hardening will continue. The good news that The Word is intended to bring cannot be believed, or received. It is amazing the number of individuals who are so condition in the "lie", they find it so difficult to come to believe and accept the truth. They will never know or experience God's dream, The Asling, which He so desperately wishes to impart. The call to be, The Beloved, goes unheard. The beloved is loved without "condition, restriction or reservation". We do NOT, nor can we ever earn, deserve, or qualify for it.

We must always keep before that saying, "Love will find a way". The All Powerful One's Love will find a way. The way He will reach us will not, and I repeat not the way we expect Him to reach us, but reach us He will. God has His own rules, His way of doing things, and they are way beyond what we can understand. All we can do is gaze in wonder, and be gently lead to a desire to have what seems to be impossible. With God all things are possible, that is with the God, The Prophet Jesus, came to teach us about. This is not true of the false gods of human beings creation. We will, left to our own devises create a god made in the image and likeness of ourselves. The ultimate idolatry!!!!!!!!!

We all have the innate need and desire for love. Yet being who we are as wounded human beings we find ourselves as the rocky ground of the parable. When we have not experienced a healthy love , they will be no depth to us. Everything is on the surface. How difficult it is to believe the good news, and how easily we embrace the negative. If you are like me, you will hear a number of good or kind remarks, they there will be one negative comment, which one will get the most attention? Which one will have a more lasting effect? "What tangled webs we weave……" All of us , as human beings will encounter the following rocks on the journey, " guilt, anger, resentment, boredom, anxiety, greed and envy". (Also called The Garbage of Life.) These come in all sizes. From little pebbles, to seemingly immoveable boulders. These we encounter, but we are not on our own. "Where sin abounds, grace abounds even more." Grace IS ever and always being poured out upon us. This is happening to us, whether we know it or feel. It is those moments when we feel the most abandoned, the most unloved, the most lost, Grace, the love of God is most operative in our lives. The contradiction is when we feel most distant from God, and His loving presence, it is then and there we are closest to our God. The living and true God we are always discovering, anew. MYSTERY !!!!!!

I just love to hike or walk by a river, or stream. When you look at something long enough something beyond what one see initially slowly is revealed. Mountain streams are for the most part, rocky. You see the water cascading down. As it flows you can see it dodging between the rocks, as it winds its way down hill. Where the flow is strong, the water will cover the rocks, and keep on going. What were just dull rocks, now exposed to the constant flow of water, are revealed now as polished and gleaming. There is a beauty, which would not be there if the water had not flowed. It appears to me something like happens to you and I. We, as spiritual being having a human experience, will encounter small pebbles, large rocks, and seemingly immovable boulders. We are always caught up in the river of Grace. God's grace, like the flowing waters of rivers, and streams, is always slowly transfiguring, and transforming us. The river one sees, and the power one observes, is a great example of what is always happening to us, and within us. The rocks reveal their beauty on the outside, for all to see. Your transformative beauty will be an inner peace, joy, and love. You will, for the most part , have the joy, not the happiness, that no matter what the obstacle, there is a gift waiting to be bestowed upon you. A gift not for yourself, but for the person that will be placed in your life. The garbage does not remain garbage, it is transformed into treasured gifts, by The Great Recycler in the sky. "Behold I make all things new."

All we have to do is express the desire to have the pebbles, rocks, and boulders of our lives be exposed to the everlasting flow of Grace. Then time, that is Graced, will bring more delight than the most captivating Rocky Mountain river or stream. So, "let the river flow, let the river flow". Let us then allow ourselves to be immersed in, and refreshed by an endless stream of a love we will never understand or comprehend, in this life. It is not for us to analyze, it is for us to enjoy. Come then, approach with confidence, not fear, the river of Divine Merciful love immerse yourself in it's refreshing water. Drink fully from this stream. This river runs free, and is free to all who choose to drink from it, then you will "taste and see the goodness of God".

Monday, July 18, 2011

Breaking Ground....

Last week, I shared what was one of present days author's understanding on how we approach life, and all of its realities. We are either pre-occupied, closed, stuck or ready. Well this week a very well know Teacher gives us His understanding of how we are, as the gift of life, is offered to us. Jesus, at His teaching best, describes the four dispositions we are going to have as The Good News is proclaimed, presented, offered to us.

In the parable of The Sower, the Prophet Jesus, wants to get across the human conditions THE Word, The Message of Life, meets. These are universal realities. As you have heard me say we are each and every person, place and event in the Gospel. So, we need never be upset when we identify with any of the places, and people Jesus presents to us. No matter what the place our God is calling out to us. Calling to remind us we are loved as WE ARE. "Do not be afraid I am with You. Our God is always saying to us. Wherever you are, there I AM.” There is NOTHING that can get in the way of God’s covenant love for us. Nothing that we can do, or anybody else can do to us, can separate us from The Mysterious love, of Our Beloved. Been reflecting on you belovedness lately? Henri Nouwen recommends we claim our belovedness again and again. There is so much in life that will lead us to not only question, but sad to say, deny who we are in the unconditioned, unlimited love of our God. We will have an IDOL for a god, not The Living God Jesus came to reveal to all human beings, through His mission and His ministry. That message is still being offered to all, in every moment.
For those of us who do not claim our belovedness we will find our reality in the first three situations, and persons described in the parable.

Ok, let’s start with the seed that fell on the path. The path was the place where people walked. We all have travelled paths left by others. The paths, the trails, left on South Mountain, by those who have gone before, are hard and unyielding. You can see everything that has been dropped. Ever notice the fields in farm country after the snow has melted how hard and unyielding the ground is. The farmer know that soil must be busted open before seed can be sewn.

Life has the ability to harden us. There is the story Fr. Rohr tells it is about the walleyed pike. The fish was placed in a glass tank. As it swam around little fish we dropped into the tank. they were duly swallowed up. This went on for a time. Then there was a glass plate placed into the tank. The little fish were placed behind the glass. the pike proceeded to attack the fish, and bumped it's snout against the glass. Eventually the fish gave up. The glass partition was then removed. The little fish swam around, and around the pike. He starved to death. Very sad is it not? Yet that is what plays out time and time again in so many lives. In my years in parish work I have met men and women who were unable to believe that they were loved. After listening to their life's story it came as no surprise to me the great challenge they were facing. What had happened, and was happening challenges the possible existence of a loving and just God.

The ground must be broken open for there to be a harvest. We who have become hardened, must fins away to break the hard shell we have created for self-protection. The hard shell is created, for survival. Is there a way out? Is there a way to leave behind existing, and claim life? Of course there is. It is not easy, I am sorry to say. It is possible. It is a process. It takes time, and with Grace, and through God's INFINITE love it has happened, and is happening for millions of our fellow human beings. The shell was cracked, the mask slowly removed, and a new way of living was revealed. As it was, so it is, and ever shall be.
Beginning to own our feelings is the first preparatory step. As I write this i am smiling. Here there is an Irishman writing about feelings. We would not know a feeling if it hit us between the eyes. In the Irish culture, many of you have been infected with this Irish flaw, you are wined and dined to prevent a real truthful feeling from being expressed. Booze and food, YES, but please no feeling talk. That is how the family secrets are never expressed to the detriment of generations. I had to learn the way to my truth was to see within that dangerous word feel lay the answer. 'F" is feel, "E" is experience, "E" is express, and the "L" is to let go. I have also learned the way to a deepening health is, feel, deal, reveal, and heal. Whatever is not expressed cannot be healed. Whatever is not transformed is transferred.(Rohr) We again are faced with this decision, is it life or is it death? The choice is ours every moment will i be a life giver, or a death dealer? Do I keep the words of Jesus ever before me, ' My wish for you is that you will have life, and have it abundantly " The harvest will be abundant. like all harvests they take time. Nature cannot be rushed or hurried. The working’s of the Spirit cannot be hurried as well. My mother taught me this so many years ago, “The mills of God grind very slowly, but they do grind so very true". The words of Jesus, our Good Shepherd, “Be not afraid I am with you........until the end of time".

Friday, July 8, 2011


This is a real tough time to live in Arizona. It is hot, muggy and energy draining. What must be the struggle of those who have to spend their working day outdoors? They must have a tremendous sense of dedication and commitment to brave the burning heat and the energy sapping humidity. Yet they have that willingness to get up and get going, to meet the challenge of each new day. We see our fellow human beings trimming trees, working construction, handling even hotter tar to pave streets and roads, so we can travel with delight and comfort. When we see and enjoy wonderful buildings, trimmed lawns and gardens, well paved streets and highways, do we ever reflect on the price that has been paid by others so we have comfort and delight? Their willingness to do the most difficult work really adds so much pleasure, joy, and happiness.

Willingness is an essential element for us as well as we face the challenge of our spiritual journey, which is our every day life's experience. We must ask for the willingness to be able to see with ever new lenses, and not be afraid to be led on a path we have not planned on. "We journey to Him we do not know, by a path we do not know." That is what St. John of The Cross teaches us. Our egos want certainty. We are most comfortable worshiping at the altar of the idol.......CERTAINTY. We have made such an idol of certainty, God help those who have the cheek to challenge that certainty. That is why The Prophet Jesus ran into so much trouble. That is why He was killed. All who are prophets of His message have met the same fate. Maybe not physical death but today’s equivalent. Some of the “killing” is more deadly, and more difficult to endure than physical death. That is over in a second. Today’s "killing" can last a long, long time. As in the time of Jesus, this is done by well minded people, who think they have the whole truth, and are not prepared to listen ad see anew. We have to have that willingness to not only listen to the words of Jesus Christ, we have to actually hear. We have to listen, take the message deep within and then say, "YES", to what is being asked of us. This is scary, for it leads us into uncertainty. Is it any wonder then that our original "YES" is always in the process of becoming a deeper "YES". Some of us will say yes, then we go and live the life of "NO ". Then the Good Shepherd reaches in that lonely, painful, place of our no. We are then, by grace, able to say a deeper 'YES". This will lead to commitment. So our journey is, according to Fr. Rohr, YES, NO, yes, then commitment.

Those that Jesus spoke to were not the most receptive of people. He was The Light that came into to the world, but was not received as such. He was The Wisdom of God, teaching and not being listened to or understood. He applied the following words to His listeners, and through them these word are addressed to you and I. These contain a great challenge and warning for you and I today. “As it was so it is, and ever shall be." Listen as you will, you shall not understand, look intently as you will, you shall not see. Sluggish indeed are these peoples hearts. They have scarcely heard with their years, they have firmly closed their eyes; otherwise they may see with their eyes and hear with their ears, and understand with their hearts and turn back to me, and I should heal them. WE can, however take heart in the following words of encouragement, "But blessed are your eyes because they see and blessed are your ears because they hear”. That is the daily struggle, at least for me. I wrote down the following, from a book I was reading. Does it not describe us very well, as we approach every liturgy, every person, every action, of our journey as spiritual beings having an oh so human experience.

We, I, approach all of our daily reality, either (a) Preoccupied , (b) Closed, (c) Stuck, or (d) Ready. How we see, in the way we are present to life, will depend whether we are going to live life, and live it to the fullest, God's dream-His aisling, or just exist. The latter will lead us to discover here on earth our own private hell and open others to the same reality

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Discover.....Burden Light...

We are now in the liturgical time, we call 'Ordinary Time". Realistically speaking, there in no ordinary time. Each and every moment is extra-ordinary.
Why? Because in each and every moment is both hidden and revealed, the Sacred, The mystery we are always seeking and searching for. That which we seek is hidden within the reality I am seeing, and experiencing. There is no way of meeting the God we so desperately seek, and who desperately seeks us than in the sacred place we call the sacrament of the present moment.

There is no, "ordinary" reality. If it really real, is sacred. It is holy.
We become whole, holy, by becoming more and more aware of where we are, and WHO it is that is seeking to encounter us , where we are. Not where we would like to be, not where are supposed to be, but where we are at RIGHT NOW. We may have, and do have difficulty with where we are at, and what is happening, our gracious God does not. That is why we have a great opening prayer for this time we call, Ordinary. We will pray, or have prayed;

"Let us pray, to be faithful to the light we have received, and to the name we bear. Father, let the light of your truth guide us to your kingdom through a world filled with lights contrary to your own. Christian is the name and the gospel we glory in. May YOUR love make us what you have called us to be."

"May your love make us what you have called us to be." It is both necessary, and essential, we keep before us that it is always grace, God's love, that creates in us who our God wants us to be. It is God's light that directs us on the path He invites us to walk. It is God sharing His life with us, that allows us to have life, and have it to the fullest. The life, light, and love of God is always being communicated to us there is never an, "outage" I This what we celebrate in each and every Liturgical celebration !!!! ) There was an outage this week, and 80,000 people were without power.

People suffer when the is a power failure. Thank God with our God there NEVER is a power failure. We, at times, may think this is so. That is due to our inability to see, as God sees, and to know as God nows. There are times we feel so very much alone, and uncared for, but that is not our deepest reality. We are unaware of that which is our deepest reality, in being the beloved, daughter/son.Our darkness is not darkness to God. It is in those dark moments our lenses are tweaked resulting in a new way of seeing. For God this is the opportunity to mold us, to form us in a deeper reality of His Son Jesus Christ. This reality is our destiny, or vocation. For this we were born, for this we were created. For this and no other reason.

There will be, and always will be, lights directing us to places the still unredeemed part of us wants to go to, and dwell within. This is what Paul calls "flesh" We will never be able to escape this pull, this attraction. There will always be a battle. The battle takes place in our souls each and every moment life gives us to live. The right way is not always the easy way, nor is the easy way the right way. How often I have found that to be true. As matter of fact that is a truth I still have to learn. It is so easy to get angry and say, "I am tired of having to constantly find out my best thinking will always come up short. There is always something more to everything".

The road that Jesus trod was a tough one. As it was for Him so it is for us. He had His Father with Him, for most of the time, Calvary was the exception. We in following Him will NEVER be on our own. Why, because we are locked into the same yoke that He carried, and now carries in us and with us. Yes we share the yoke of the human journey with Him who became human for this purpose. When two animals share a yoke, they have to pull together, to get the work done. The driver is there to make sure one does not the other do all the pulling.

We share the yoke with the one who entered into the fullness of our humanity, so when we can no longer honestly do our part, He will assume our share of the burden. This burden then is His until we are rested and refreshed. How will this happen? In the Gospel we have this invitation; "Come to me all you who are weary and find life burdensome. and I will give you rest. (Another translation...I will refresh you) We will not be fixed, even though this is what we want. We will be refreshed by resting in Him.

Then we can return and again assume the yoke of Him who refreshed us. He will do for us what we cannot do for ourselves. No wonder we call Him, Savior God. May you persevere in the struggle until you find your place of rest and refreshment. Not in the way we want,but in the way our Gracious Father meets our every need. In this way they are not , "burdens heavy", they are "burdens light". Now to go along with "beer light", "butter light", "cheese light', "juice light" etc., now we have " BURDEN LIGHT" Wow, Jesus was so ahead of His time.