Saturday, December 31, 2011

A Messy Family....Is A Holy Family, Right?

"One of the hardest things in life is to have words in your heart that you cannot utter." -J. E. Jones I think those words can sum up where we find ourselves, so often, during the Advent/Christmas/Epiphany Season. When we are present to all that is celebrated, we are pretty much find ourselves caught up in silent awe. Awe, wonder, is the beginning place of all prayer. Do we not find ourselves caught up in the celebrations in a way that stills us on the inside? In this "stilling of the insides", we become more aware of something that is greater. Something outside of ourselves which we intuitively know we are connected with. Are we are not drawn to listen more attentively and allow ourselves to be taken to new and exciting places? These places however we are unable to really describe. We have lost the language (Rohr). Does that mean we have to settle for less? By no means. That is why we have been given the works of the artists. To paraphrase Kenneth Branagh, "In the hands of a great poet, words and music have a way of affecting us in a way that we don't understand or be able to communicate”. We find ourselves in a state of "spiritual intoxication".

Hidden within these days and weeks is a spiritual tsunami. The True Spirit of these times is not 86 proof !!!. Whatever comes to us from the latter, passes. The gifts bestowed freely upon us by The Former, lasts forever. It is this reality, experienced by us in each and every moment is celebrated over an extended period of time.; The mystery of The Incarnation reveals to us who we really are in God's loving eternal design. Yes, we are eternal, and The Eternal has entered our humanity to be our model. We cannot solve This Mystery, all we can do is give reverence to it, and so be led each year into a new and more vibrant understanding. We only have this Season once in our lives so we must be vigilant for the ever new insights WILL come to us. God does not repeat Himself.

So, as we enter the process of wondering (aweing),reflection and contemplation, so many new layers of meaning will be revealed to us. The mystery of The Infinite, All Power-full One, coming to us disguised in the vulnerability of a baby,is like an artichoke. It has layer upon layer, and it takes a long time to get to the heart. Each layer, of the mystery, nourishes, enlightens, and challenges us. St. Paul tells us "the goodness and the humanity of God has appeared in our midst" – God, The Majestic One, The Omnipotent One, could so easily have chosen to send His Son into an environment of power, and prestige. He choose not to. Because, how will we who have no power and prestige relate to such a one. Consequently when we are chasing after the latter we are willing ourselves to be in a place where God chose not to be. Placing His Only beloved Son into the reality of where He entered this world has layer upon layer of meaning. Each year we are led deeper and deeper into this mystery, only in so far as we encounter, and own, our poverty, powerlessness, and vulnerability. Reflecting on our status and privilege, will avail us nothing. It will leave us anxious, fearful, and full of discontent. To be in those places is NOT part of God's dream, His Aisling, for us, His Beloved daughters/sons. It is of our own graceless choice. How often do we find ourselves choosing to be where God is not, and then wonder, where God is? This precious gift of free will, is definitely both a blessing and a curse.

God chose to send His Son to be part of a human family. A family of property, and prestige? No way. Would you not think that He who was able to order all of creation would do a better job of getting Mary and Joseph organized ? Why did He not wait for the wedding to take place? With the approach of the Angel Mary experienced fear, anxiety, and uncertainty? What was the struggles of Joseph as he was called to cooperate? I feel certain we can honestly say this was a real mess, from the human stand point. Yet it was into this messiness that that our Savior was sent. Why? So again, we have a God who knows messiness, is not put off by it, and weaves it all into the pattern of His redeeming will. The messier a family is, the closer our God is to that family. It is through the messiness, a messiness however that must be owned, that a Savior is experienced. In this way it is the messy family, that is the holy family. That is right, and to our way of thinking it makes no sense. It never has, nor will it ever be so. A sick family relies on their own power. They can handle all the challenges that life throws at them, alone and by themselves. (This is foundation of spiritual abuse.) That illusion has been shattered, as it has to be shattered them as a family, and for all of us, as individuals. With that shattering comes excruciating pain. This pain can last and will last, until the job is done. There is no ducking this shattering if we care or dare to become authentic human beings. That is our true destiny. This is the trail each one of us has to travel. There are no exceptions. T o become whom we are chosen to be, we are required to, in some cases forced, to accept that inner powerlessness. It is these moments of so called disaster, a Savior has been born to us. A living Savior is given to us. It is out of the darkness, the true Savior, appears.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Christmas Letter from Papa J

Dear Friends,

I, again, take this opportunity to wish you, and yours, a Healthy, and Happy Christmas/Epiphany season. May He, and so become a reality in a world so desperate in need of a Living Savior. As He becomes an ever deeper reality within your, “little church of the home”, His Presence will seep out and bring about the Kingdom of peace, justice, and love. We all have to play our part to continue that which the Christ Child began, as He appeared as one like us. The Child grew up, and became the Prophet Jesus, who rattled the smug cages of the leaders of church and state. Of course, it is this that got Him killed, We, in like manner, must take the risk of being prophets and be prepared to pay the price. As it was with Him, whom we follow, so it will be with us. We are however, guaranteed all that is necessary for us to fulfill in which we are uniquely called to do. Do you remember in the old days we called that actual grace? That love presence, will ever and always be there to nourish, strengthen, and encourage us. As we are faithful to the radical message of The Gospel, so too a faithful to the radical message of The Gospel, so too a more healthy, a more whole, (holy), home church and society may come into being.

Thornton Wilder has written the following: “We can only said tobe alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures. “Where we are at present, we are being forced to look beyond what is on the outside, it is not there. We are called to focus on what has real, and lasting value, the inner being, and Sacred Presence. This Sacred Presence, comes hidden and revealed within the human condition. We all need to become more aware of the eternal gifts within, and as we search for same, on the outside. That “stuff” we seek, on the outside, will never be enough. We are designed for something so much infinitely mine the inside treasures. Our bank accounts will not reflect this discovery. Peace, joy, and love are priceless. No earthly value can be placed on these eternal gifts.

I am still enjoying “retirement”. There are the daily challenges that come with the aging process. You will notice I did not say, maturing process??? Since that has not happened so far, it ain’t going to happen, Thank God. I had my usual long trip. Drove and hiked about 9,000 miles. Again, I encountered some wonder-full wildlife all out in the open, I might add. IN the Lamar Valley I saw a wolf. The wolf posed like a dog. Those of you on FaceBook can view those pictures. I also heard her/him howl. It was awe-full, and exhilarating. I saw two more bears; the count is now up to 12! An e-book is almost ready. From what I am told it will be ready in January. As of now, it is called, “Soul Searching”. I take this opportunity to thank the many of you, who because of your acceptance, gave me the courage to write what has been written. I now believe, more than ever, we are loved into honesty. I am looking into having some hard copies printed as well. If you have nothing to do, Google Fr. Joe Hennessy. I did out of the blue, and was I shocked! My FB profile picture is an elk, a photo taken in Yellowstone.

So, have a wonder-full Christmas/Epiphany Season. Live each moment in the knowledge that you are the “contemporary Christ”. It is you, who in your daily struggle to live, that continues the ongoing revelation of the mystery of the Incarnation. What dignity you are gifted with, do not allow any power of church or society take awasy from you. Christ came that we would have life and have it to the fullest. Love yourself, and so others, by claiming a vital, life-giving, way of living. St. Irenaeus has written those famous words, “The glory of God is the human person fully alive.”

May 2012 see you claiming, and cherishing who you really are. There will be, then, nothing missing.

Wishing you the best of Irish luck,
God Bless,
Papa J., (a.k.a. Fr. Joe)

Monday, December 19, 2011

The Adventing....of.....?????

I was going through some old journals and came across the following quotation. This is from August of 1993, and I do not remember the authors name. "If our lives are to be healthy, (here I would add the words - and holy), and our spirits are to grow, we must be dedicated to the truth. For the truth is reality. And the more clearly we see the realty of the world, the better equipped we are to deal with the world.”

The spiritual life ever and always calls us to live in the truth of who we really are. The truth of who we are comes to as we contemplate on the revelation of, The Truth. Each year we are given a whole season, which is dedicated to the reflection, and contemplation of the truth. This truth is both hidden and revealed, in our evolving reality. Since we are ever new, so then our reality, truth, will be ever new. There are no repeats, in our God's creation. Pretty exciting?? During this time when reality is “adventing”, we must prepare ourselves to honestly face this change, which leads to a newness. What is the new reality that has been or is being revealed in and through you reality? Where do we see a new presence, and in that presence, The Reality of God both hidden and revealed? Advent is an everyday experience.

The Truth has come, and continues to come anew, through grace. Mystery is experienced in the mystery of the present moment. When we hear it said "this is the same old stuff, there is nothing new" we are listening, not to the truth, but to a lie. In the lie there is no lasting creativity, death is it's destiny. Why? Because the lie is not connected to The Life Source. When we espouse such a way of living, we are being dealt death, rather than life. We likewise will become death-dealers, rather than be life-givers. We make that choice every moment of our lives, either consciously or unconsciously. As we embrace the reality of who we are, the truth of Who we are called to be, and Who has done this calling, The Mystery of the Incarnation, is once again revealed, anew for us to discover and be a place of discovery for others. For this Mystery to be discovered within we not only need the x-ray eye of faith, at times we will need an MRI.

Our willingness to be led into this new discovery takes courage. Yeats once said, “it takes reckless courage to journey into who we really are”. We must ask Mary for the courage to be able to say "YES” as she so bravely said yes. We are saying “yes” to the same God, who shepherded her through all her questioning and uncertainty. It was not always an easy journey being the Mother of The Savior. In being His mother, more was demanded than she could ever imagine or dream of. Yet, she persevered in her "yes". She is set ever before us as our model. Our "yes" will lead us, as it led her, to Calvary. On Calvary, she stood by the cross of her Son, in utter powerlessness. In the presence of her "standing by", she has gifted us with an eternal message, which becomes ever new for us. As she had to wait to give birth to her Son, Mary had to stand by and wait for her Son to die. She held Him in her arms both after birth and after death. So too, as our Mother, given to us on Calvary, is there to Mother us in our births and deaths. She will be present in the aftermaths as well.

How hard, difficult and pain-full these moments are. In these moments, we do not want to or need to be alone. We are in desperate need of some presence. In our Bethlehems and Calvarys. Our Mother Mary is present to assure us of the presence of Her Son. As she was with her Son, so is she present to, The Still Suffering Son within us. As she was so too, shall ever be. What great comfort there is awaiting us as we embrace that part of the reality. The gifts of The Mystery of The Incarnation from announcement to birth, death, resurrection, ascension, and the descent of The Life Giver, can never be exhausted. Why? Because we are dealing with the eternal. Our flesh provides a home for The Eternal. Advent provides us with new ways of not only discovering This Hidden Guest, it also provides us with ways to celebrate this inner reality. May these celebrations enhance your belief in your chosen-ness. In other words, deepen your belief in your essential goodness, in your beloved-ness. As there was a Herod out to destroy The Infant Child so we have to be on guard ever alert, not to allow present day Herods to denigrate , destroy, or question our essential goodness. That danger will come to us from not just our known enemies, Herod appears under the guise of "concerned" family and so-called friends. We have to conform to their narrow understanding of what is healthy, holy, while all the time missing out an understanding of The Birthing taking place in our deepest reality. “Religiosity is for those who are afraid of going to hell. Spirituality is for those who have been to hell." (This is one of my very favorites.)

Mary, through all that she had to endure, was forced to come to a new way of living. She had to leave the security of her old life. With her "Yes" everything was radically changed. So too with us. Our "yes" will demand so much more than we are ready right now to commit to. Thank God we do not know the future. We are strengthened through the living of each moment to endure whatever life has to offer us. That old saying "God strengthens the back for the burden", I have found to be so true. We will NEVER be given more than God and we can handle. As Mary was prepared to become The Christ Bearer, so are we. As Mary was graced, so are we. As Mary was told by Gabriel, "She had found favor with God", so too, we must listen to the Angel Gabriels of our lives who reminds us that we too have been, are graced, always. Nothing can come between the love of God and us who so desperately need and desire that love.

Mary presented her Child to the shepherd outcasts, who came to visit Him. Later, as The Good Shepherd, He will seek out and search out the outcasts of His time. Where are we going to look within to find “the outcast" which is in need of a visit from The Shepherd Child? As a result of our encounter with The Shepherd Child, we will like the shepherds of old, have Good News to tell all those who will encounter us on our journey.

I hope these last few weeks have provided you with some material which will enable you to discover a new reality alive and dwelling deep within. Within that living reality will be discovered The Reality of The God of Light, Life and Love.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Advent Wish....Healthy Birthing

Last Sunday I left Sun lakes in a light fog. (No, I was not hung-over!) As I drove to St. Andrew's I made my way frog, to good viewing conditions, and back into fog again. As I went along I was again reminded of the fact, that this my present reality is, a great paradigm, leading to a an ever deepening understanding of our spiritual journey. On this journey there are the times when we physically cannot see beyond the next step. There are times when our view of our God is lost in doubt, uncertainty, and disbelief. All of these are part and parcel of this earthly journey of ours, as spiritual beings. This is our lot as every moment we journey, enfleshed in a humanity, that is ever and always transforming us. All of these experiences are used by God to mold us into who He has intended us to be, and so fulfill our destiny. It is in this way we fulfill our vocation. This is the source of real joy, and lasting happiness.

"God I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me, nor do I really know myself." This has been my prayer for the “Foggy Days". As I get older that prayer has become my abiding, comforting, and consoling companion. Each time it brings with it new meanings, and insights. I wish the same for you, as you journey through your “Foggy Days". Speaking about foggy, ever drive from Brookings to Meyer's Beach, on the Oregon Coast?On this stretch of highway, one meets serious fog banks. As I drive, there are times when I can barely see the road ahead. After awhile, I begin to ask the question, "Will this ever break up, so I can be in sunlight?” This goes on for a time. Just as I have given up, and accepted the fact, not very willingly, this is going to be one of those endless foggy days, I drive into brilliant sunshine, and awe-full scenery. What a change of attitude occurs within. I go from being discouraged, and disheartened, to being wide awake to the beauty, and wonder right there before me. That particular is just filled with places that evoke thoughts and feelings that cannot be expressed in limited words. Words, cannot describe mystery. As I am enjoying these, WOW (wonder on
wonder) moments, guess what? Into a dense fog bank I go. My joyful optimism, with its feeling that everything is now going to be okay, suddenly disappears. It is back to hanging on, doing what is necessary to stay on the road, and avoid an accident. I go back to being very much awake. Alert to traffic, in front, behind, and that which appears beside you. Now on top of these anxious thoughts and feelings the "itty bitty negative committee", make its presence felt.

We all have that "itty bitty negative committee". It has taken a room in our heads, and is not easily evicted. The best we can do is to develop a strategy which will enable us to to reject its constant negative messaging. This demands constant alertness. I must remember I am more than any thought or action. I am not the person others see, or believe they see. I have the eternal within, nestled in a place no sin can touch. That committee is the lie which always must be replaced with The Truth. This is our life long battle. We engage in that battle every moment we are given to live. In this way we are life givers to ourselves, and hence to others. We can also choose, yes this is a choice, we are death dealers to ourselves and consequently to others. Of our essence we are good, right? We are always on a journey of discovery into that reality. This journey we call life.

As I find myself in that dense fog, " the committee" starts up, and can do a real number on me. But I have to choose to allow it. It is not God's will that I am bombarded with this negativity. This is the result of a, as yet, non- transformed human condition. It takes a real conscious effort to break away from that negative thinking. It is essential to reject the lie, so as to be lead into the truth. One is lead to the belief that in this called to the understanding since this is now part of my reality, Reality, God, is to be found. A lesson is learned. The revelation of the wisdom will take time. The wisdom will be slow in coming, but WILL appear when we are most need of a deeper insight. This will be an insight that will be way beyond the obvious. God, through the power of His merciful love, turns the lemons we create, in lemonade. With God all things are possible, and with Him nothing is impossible. (The source of great hope.) That is why I have real trouble with that statement, "God did this for a reason" when something bad happens. This Is NOT God's will! He, of His essence cannot harm us, so as to make Himself look good. Think about that for a while…….. A god that inflicts evil so as to look good rescuing us, is a god that must be rejected. Bad things happen when we misuse our free will. Bad things happen to us when others misuse their free will and we become the victims of their dysfunction. What happens to us has nothing to do with the living God, whom The Christ Child, is the revelation of. Can such a God who came to us as a vulnerable Child, take advantage of us in our vulnerability? That would make God an abuser. We find ourselves so ready to automatically blame God, rather take responsibility for our part in what has happened.

This takes real honesty. We also have to confront others in their misuse of their free will, as it applies to our well being. It takes real courage to be healthy and challenge others to treat us in a healthy manner as well. We will not think our way into this healthy state, we will have to act our way, into this
new, unfamiliar, uncomfortable way of living. Yes, it will be the latter for a long time. So, do not give up. You are giving birth to who you really are. All birthing involves pain. So it is with us. For each one to become our real selves, which is where our God reveals Himself, we have to take the risk of being rejected by family, and so called "friends ". Your healthy family and REAL friend, will be only too will to encourage you, as this new reality emerges from within. So then when “stuff happens", and it will, let us not be too ready to blame God, rather than take personal responsibility for what has happened.
Let us ask for the grace, the strength, the courage, to hold others to become healthy and responsible. Do not act out victim behavior. We all have to choose to be survivors, living a life of peace, joy, and freedom. We reject the life of the victim, living a life of guilt, fear and shame. At times, we must risk a fight rather than settle for dysfunction. We must challenge those who are too ready to give God a bad name. We must not allow "the blaming game”, be played out in our presence. Why? We must know this to happen as it creates a false understanding of our Gracious God. We must not buy into the lie, no matter how popular the lie is. A lie is a lie and we must not choose, or allow ourselves to become the people of the lie. (Peck) "This is a way of living that makes our life here on a earth a living hell.” Hell is where God, is not. "It is heaven all the way to heaven, and it is Hell all the way to hell." Teresa of Avila. The old order, we find has passed away. Behold we now experience “new Heavens and new earth”. By The Lord, has this been done, and it is wonder- full to behold, and reflect on. This is why we are so lucky to be gifted with this season of expectation, and active waiting.

Just as the message of The coming Savior came to John The Baptist, in the desert. In like manner, the beginning of our journey into the Good News, always begins in our desert experience. Or, it will happen, as it has so often for me, in deep fog, as I hang on for dear life. As I look back this has been my experience, yet I always hope, the next time it will be different. The only difference is it just goes deeper. So where are you experiencing your personal desert, as an individual, a couple, a family. Where do need to hear the consoling Good News, there is a Savior and He has come, not only to be for us, but to be with us, and within us. It is the acceptance of our deepest reality, a highway for our God is created. Highways do not just appear. They demand hard, difficult and sustained work. We are never alone in our “highway making”. We will always be guarantee whatever is, “The Daily Bread” we will need.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Advent....Divinity Within Humanity

The world is a country which nobody ever knew by description, “One must travel through it one's self to be acquainted with it". So wrote Philip Stanhope many centuries ago. We are told today that unless we discover the Advent world within ourselves, it will have no life giving meaning for us. The people, places and events are not meant to be just words, they describe a reality within each one of us, at this time. As we gaze on the crib, it will have no real meaning until I come to discover this outer reality, is alive and living within myself. We ask for the gift that on Christmas when we view the crib in our "little churches of the home", and in the gathering of these communities of faith, a real encounter will take place.

Encounter in not just about a fleeting, casual meeting. Like passing someone in the corridor, or at this time of year in the mall. In an encounter we have in an in depth meeting with another reality. Some part of our deepest reality really meets some part of that persons deep reality. The result of this meeting is change. If there is no change then there is no change, there has been no real encounter. The change will not be of our choosing. Yes! We will not choose the change. Each encounter is Holy and Sacred. As reality meets reality. The Divine Encounter, the divine. The result cannot be controlled by us. It is beyond our power, however we try. We have to surrender to the gift resulting from the encounter. All of this demands, real presence. Why? Because we are dealing with REAL PRESENCE. Real Presence is only present in honest living. This is so frightening for us and as a result we have so few real encounters in our lives. We, then, live lives that are meaningless, lonely, and seemingly without value. Yet, we have within us that which all the wealth of this world cannot buy. What then are riches hidden deep within? Each person has to make their own unique journey of discovery. This will happen as we freely choose to respond to the particular grace of this season. We will be led to a new awareness to what really is of value. This "great treasure", which is beyond earthly value, has been given , has been entrusted to us. To make this "pearl of great price” even more worthwhile, it is enhanced each and every moment we live. This make s the inner journey, however painful, so rewarding. I like the following quotes; “We can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures". Thornton Wilder. “Uninterpreted truth is as useless as buried treasure.” L. Strachey.
During this Season of Advent, let us get in touch then, with the LIVING Crib, present within each one of us. This is indeed "buried treasure". This is a very fruitful spiritual exercise. It allows us to personalize the Advent/Christmas/Epiphany scriptures . That which is alive within us will come to discover it's outward expression each time we see a crib scene. What a spiritual explosion? That is why this time of year is looked on as a time of special grace. Some describe it as a constant wave of grace washing over our hearts, souls, and minds. This "washing over” results in new awareness. New insights, triggering new challenges resulting in new commitments. Gives new meaning to New Year's resolutions??? We will find ourselves making commitments to something more than just losing weight. The result of this action will reveal to us what has happened because we choose to allow the encounter to take place. “We live our lives looking forward, but understand it looking back."

So far on this Advent we have begun to see that this is a season, it is a time, within which demands that we be alert for the approach, and the appearance of The Divine. A Divinity that cannot be controlled, or programmed. This Mystery cannot be solved by our present finite, human minds, so what is asked of us is that we develop reverence. Reverence for The Mystery revealed to humanity, through The Human Person. This reveals to us how our God sees us as we make our dwelling within within humanity. He has joined as a human being to transform all life into the place of encounter, with the Divine. He knows well the workings of the human heart, and how fearful we can be, He made allowance for that. So as not to threaten us, He appeared, clothed in the vulnerability of a baby. When He appeared as a baby he was a threat to those in power, not to the powerless. We do not see any local people of power at, or in the crib scene. These leaders of church and state had the knowledge, but not the wisdom to seek out The Child, the newest, and the best revelation of who their God really was. Let us ask then for the gift of wonder, so we can see beyond that which is ordinary to the new, ongoing revelation of our "vulnerable God". As He came once in human form, He has now chosen each person to continue The Incarnation. In each person the mystery continues to be revealed anew. With this in mind, always believe, where you stand, is a holy place. The God dwelling within your presence makes it so. St. Francis went so far as to say, "Everything that is, is to be adored". Strength and blessings for the journey, from a wanderer.