Saturday, January 19, 2013

After Christmas Epiphany....What?

The following is the letter I have recently sent to my friends. I would like to share it with you, my blog friends, as well…... January 2013 Dear Friends, With this wonder-full Feast of the Baptism of The Lord the curtain has been lowered on yet another Christmas-Epiphany Season. We can now put away all the decorations. As we closet those decorations, do we also lose sight of the great gifts that are to be celebrated every day, not just once a year? What is the new gift that has been gifted to you, because you have again journeyed, in faith, to Bethlehem. There was that old song, "Why can't Every day be Christmas Day?" Our enlightened and enlivened faith tells us that it is. Yep! You heard right, or need I say, you have read it right. Every day is not only Christmas Day, it is also Good Friday, Easter Sunday, Thanksgiving and on and on. This mystery of the life we are called to live has such depth, we have to break it down into manageable bite sizes. It must be broken down and fed to us so we are slowly and ever so gently drawn into the mystery of who we are. We are being called in every moment of every day to delve ever deeper into the mystery of who we are called to be, and who has done this calling. These questions slowly reveal to us that the Mystery of The Incarnation is alive and well as it makes its dwelling within us. As the mystery of who we are is entered into, so also is the mystery of The Living God is being explored. One cannot exist without the other. "We are not human beings in search of a spiritual experience, we are spiritual beings IMMERSED in the human experience" (A new translation I just came across, neat?) Now we remind ourselves of what Metz wrote "We are born human, and we spend our whole lives discovering what human means," We have to journey through the sacrament of our humanity so as to encounter The Divine life within. That in itself is a wonder-full gift, but there is more. With Our God the gifts never stop. It is of the essence of Our Gracious God to be constantly giving. His creative love is operative in every aspect of our lives, that is, in each and moment in every moment of every day. Hence we have what is called the sacrament of the present moment. My prayer must be, "Lord grant that I might see Who You are, and who I am in your love." Jesus, Who became The Christ, hears, at His Baptism, these awe-full, wonder-full words: "You are my beloved Son, in you I am well pleased." These words are directed to you and I as well. Each and every one of us is "the beloved" daughter/son. As beloved, we are loved without condition, restriction, or reservation. We have the great burden of never being able to earn, deserve, or qualify for the gifts bestowed on us as beloved. Unfortunately we do not hear enough, or reflect enough on who we are, as seen through the lens of God's, gracious love. This is the love in which we find our origin. This is the love that is our destiny, This is the love we seek, and unfortunately never find on our journey through this "vale of tears." The place where The Incarnation continues is within. Yes! in some Mysterious way the Divine is perfectly, hidden and revealed in our broken humanity. Not in our perfectionism is the Divinity revealed, it is in our powerlessness, and our brokenness that this miracle takes place. This is a description of our personal Bethlehem. (This takes tremendous honesty.) Our Savior is revealed, again and again in our weakness, not in our strength. This the great gift of the spiritual journey. On this mysterious journey, that at times makes no sense, we are in the daily process of discovering the powerlessness of power and the power of powerlessness(Rohr). The prophet Jesus came that we would have life and have it to the fullest. To have that fullness we must make sure we do not get caught up in the dis-ease that comes with perfectionism. Which is the denial of the Authentic Identity into which we have been immersed. "In order to go on living, one must ..escape the death involved in perfectionism.(Arendt.) The latter negates the need for a savior and our journey to enter Bethlehem. We must claim our belovedness in every moment of the life we are given to lead. As we are the beloved so is each and every person we meet, or encounter. Hidden behind what is seen is The Unseen, and Unseeable. Are we open to the many, many epiphanies that are part and parcel of this so called "human journey." Are we selective where we will look for the revelation of The Presence? WE are to "be alert" as our God breaks into our lives through the most unlikely people, and the most embarrassing of circumstances. We have to discover that in spite of what many may say God does have a sense of humor. As I get older I am becoming more aware of This Trickster. This is The Year of Faith. We are encouraged to rediscover the wonder-full gifts that come to us through the lens of a life giving faith in order to accomplish this we must take the risk of letting go the familiar. This is why this letter is coming at this time. Also to learn it is by reflection, our deepest truth is always being revealed to us. I like that idea we live our life looking forward, but we understand looking backwards. Looking back at the recent, Advent-Christmas-Epiphany Season, what new understanding leads you to a more lively and enlivened life of faith? Has the gift given a new meaning to the liturgies you celebrate? Thank you for your kind remembrances during this past season of mystery. It feels great to be remembered. I thank you for being part of my life, and for allowing me to be a part of yours. You have been a source of nourishment and encouragement in the difficult, challenging times. There are more ahead as I am faced with the challenge of my aging body. That get up and go, has pretty much got up and disappeared over the horizon. So a new way of living is being adjusted to. I do not have to like this new reality, I just have to learn acceptance, acceptance is a process. Thank God this is a process that is directed by grace. "I believe, help my disbelief" is a daily prayer. Also Merton's, "God I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead. Nor do I really know myself ...." This past summer, I only drove 7600 miles but I did hike many more miles than usual. I was able to check off a number of my bucket list items. However, my summer plans for this year are in flux because of health challenges. This year I will, hopefully celebrate my 50th anniversary of ordination on June 8th. At times I am shocked by this reality, isn't grace wonderful. The blog, is now bi-weekly, mostly. I was truly shocked recently, when I googled my name to see what appeared!!! I am now on Google News. How I got there I do not know!!!!! I have a book of the blogs, "Soul Searching" almost ready to go to print. It will also be an e-book. Say a prayer. May the richness of the past season be a lived reality for you. May it deepen the mystery of who you are, and the mystery hidden within the people, places, and events of your Incarnational living. May your presence be an epiphany for those blessed with an encounter with your deepest reality. (I'm sorry this demands great honesty) May the Gentle Presence of The Christ Child be the gentle transforming power in your life. May all who share your life, be led to desire the fullness of Life through you. What a mystery what a sacrament you are called to be. Blessings, to and on all. Fr. Joe. P.S. Do you like this idea? Or need it be one, and done?

Saturday, January 5, 2013

This...Child...Is...Dangerous...Be Warned.

"By reason of creation,and still more by reason of The Incarnation there is nothing profane, for the one, who knows how to see." These are the profound words of deChardin. Then we can add these words of St.Francis, "Everything that is,is to be adored." G.M.Hopkins chimes in with, "All of creation is charged with the splendor of God." "In every winters heart lies a quivering spring,behind the veil of each night waits a smiling dawn" is Gibran's gift to us. Were it not for The Incarnation,and all those events that followed that mysterious event,such wisdom would not be ours. As we reflect, ever anew, on one of The Five Supernatural Mysteries of our faith, we are drawn into an ever newer,enlightened,enlivened faith. A faith that triggers awe, wonder, and excitement. As we allow ourselves to be gently guided by creative Spirit into a knowledge and acceptance of who we really are, because of The Incarnation. We must also be very aware, be very conscious of our everyday participation in this Mystery as well. The Incarnation continues to become real,in the reality of our ever so ordinary lives. God does not need great dramatic events through which He reveals to all creation, who He is. Through each and every real event of our daily lives God is continuing that which was began on that first Christmas night. Back then God used very ordinary people,and places to be the instruments of His revelation. As it was, so it is, and ever shall be. Without interruption through good times, and so-called bad times our God continuously reveals Himself. As each moment, we live, is a new moment, a virginal moment, so the revelation that is given to us is, ever new. Nothing is repeated in God's creation. Is it not something to be excited about, that we are always part of something new? No two moments are ever exactly the same. In this "ever newness" is both hidden and revealed our ongoing understanding of God becoming a human being. This continuation of The Incarnation happens in and through the everyday healthy human actions of our lives. We are Mary, male and female alike. God became a human being through the "Yes" of Mary. By our repeated "Yes" to the reality of the life we encounter, The Mystery Of The Incarnations continues. This is each and every persons dignity. I love the following words of Thomas Merton, "Make ready for The Christ whose smile like lightening sets free the song of everlasting glory that now sleeps in our paper flesh like dynamite". That gently,loving smile,must be claimed by us, as directed only to us. To Him who loves us ,we are His only beloved son/daughter. Never cease to embrace,to claim, again and again this fact, you are the beloved. That you are loved uniquely. There is no other love like the love relationship that has ALWAYS existed between you and your Beloved Father/Mother. From His womb you have sprung. Please believe this IS who you have been, are now, and ever shall be through all eternity. So it will by this radical action,you will triggering the "dynamite". The more radical the acceptance,the greater the power released to transfigure and transform. By this I mean, the more we have to struggle through the toxic trinity, guilt, fear, and shame, to the acceptance of being the beloved the greater the grace explosion. Where sin abounds, grace abounds even more. These words of scripture become a lived experience. This truth ats us free,to become who are called to be,the "contemporary "Christ. Christ we know from the scriptures is The Beloved Son. Each and every one of us because of our participation in His divine nature through Baptism,we too are beloved daughter/son. This may help as we think about heaven and hell. We have made it so easy to go to hell, and so difficult to go to heaven. It is the other way round. It is so difficult to go to hell, and so easy to go to heaven.We are the beloved, or we are not. As the beloved, we too, hear those words, "You are my beloved Son,in you I am well pleased". We must not make the horrible mistake of thinking that our way of thinking in any way is a reflection of God's way of thinking,or judging. This is why God to share fully in the human condition to the point of suffering and death. He wanted to blow out of the water the idea that there is no similarity between the knowledge that comes from our unaided reason with the infinite length,depth, and breath of Him Who is our Beloved. Love had to become Incarnate,love had to become a human being,so that human beings could embrace the reality that they are loved with a merciful love. This merciful love that cannot be experienced in this life. The love of fellow humans just mirrors,gives us a taste,of the infinite love from which we came, and as a consequence is true home. We will never be at rest in this ,"our passing dwelling." Let us be agents of The Living God, in other words, angels, trumpeting the Good News. We must be the vices that proclaim there is a Savior in our world. He dwells among us. He dwells within us,and He is always with us. He is truly Emmanuel. He is,The Light, that darkness cannot overcome. We as individuals, couples, families, family of nations, need to be reminded again, and again of this reality. We are human and as such get discouraged. Did not Jesus, who became the Christ become discouraged, and more than once? So we are to drawn from His resolve never to give up but accompany Him on His journey, down the road,to Jerusalem. There The child Jesus, grown to manhood,through His suffering,death, and resurrection, became The Christ of God. In this way He fulfilled His destiny and accomplished His God given mission. For this He was born, for this He came into the world. It is no different for us, who follow Him. As it was,so it is, and ever shall be. My sincerest wish for you is that as you journey through this Christmas-Epiphany Season the awe-fullness, the wonder-fullness that is hidden and revealed in each and every moment,may explode on you like dynamite.