Saturday, March 30, 2013

Paschal Mystery...Never Ends...

The Paschal Mystery transforms, transfigures and leads us,always, into a new and different way of living. It bestows on us the great gift of hope, that death is not, “the final word on life or despair the final days of human beings”. [Boff] As we make our journey into the light of the resurrection, we will be led again and again to the understanding that out of all of our pain, sorrow, and brokenness, comes new life and wonderful gifts. We will be led to the belief that the “greater the wound, the greater the pain…the greater the gift”. That is why each year, we are “dipped and dyed” in the Paschal Mystery to be awakened and to celebrate the new life that has come to us from what we thought was death. Death is never the end, it is always the beginning.

The Paschal Mystery is first and foremost a mystery. This mystery teaches that with every beginning there is an ending and with every ending there is a new beginning. It is a mystery dealing with the deepest working of God's grace. A mystery dealing with death, burial and new life. A spiritual mystery such as this cannot be explained, it can only be entered into and treated with reverence. I would like to suggest this year, more than ever, we need to open ourselves up to what this week offers in the way of hope, consolation and the promise of radical new life. This will come to us through the power of honesty, honesty about our everyday experience. There can be no spiritual growth unless we are developing a progressive honesty which is about embracing what is real. Where there is no honesty, there is no reality. So, there is no God. When we want to get a grip on reality and the Pascal Mystery within us, here are a number of words you and I cannot have in our vocabulary, the following are many words which have no connection with reality:
could, would, should, what if, if, if only, when, ought, try, interesting, or any similar words used to deny our real feelings and our real emotions.

A number of years ago, I read a book by Fr. Ronald Holheiser which enabled me to enter into a new and better life-giving understanding of what the Paschal Mystery is all about. In his book, The Holy Longing, he explains the difference between terminal death and Pascal death. "Terminal death is a death that ends life and then possibility. Paschal death, like terminal death, is real, however, Pascal death is a death that, while ending one kind of life, opens a person undergoing it to receive a deeper and richer form of life. The image of the grain of wheat falling into the ground and dying so as to produce new life is an image of Pascal death. Then resurrected the reception of a radically new life... The Pascal Mystery is about Paschal death and resurrected life."

Continuing on, in the same chapter entitled "The Spirituality of the Paschal Mystery", we read the following:

The Pascal Mystery might be diagrammed as follows:
1) Good Friday...The loss of life-real death
2) Easter Sunday..."the reception of new life"
3) The Forty Days..."a time for readjustment to the new, and grieving the old"
4) Ascension..."letting go of the old and letting it bless you, the refusal to claim"
5) Pentecost..."the reception of new spirit, for the new life that one is already living"

Put into a more colloquial language and stated as personal Pascal challenge for each one of us, one might recap this diagram this way:
1) "Name of your death"
2) "Claim your birth"
3) "Grieve what you have lost and adjust to the new reality"
4) "Do not cling to the old, let it ascend and give you its blessing"
5) "Accept the spirit of the life that you are in fact living"

This cycle is not something we must undergo just once...It is rather something we must undergo daily, in every aspect of our lives. Christ spoke of many deaths, of daily deaths and of many risings and various Pentecosts. The Paschal Mystery is the secret to life. Ultimately, our happiness depends upon properly undergoing it... Unless we die in infancy, we will have many deaths in our lives and within each one of these we must receive new life and new spirit. Daily we must undergo the Pascal Mystery.

In her book, Little Pieces of Light, Sister Joyce has this to say, "Being able to let go and let God take over one's life demands a tremendous amount of trust in this Divine Companion. Thomas Merton writes that, 'True love and prayer are really learned in the hour when prayer becomes impossible and your heart turns to stone'. It is in within the hour of our greatest darkness that we discovered that we are never really alone. It is a time when we learn to trust as Gods love is much more than we ever imagined." This gives us the great freedom to be able to sing our Hallelujahs with real gusto. Death has turned into life. Christ is risen and is alive within you and me.

"O happy fault of Adam that has revealed to us such a God."

Monday, March 18, 2013

Come one, come ALL!!!!

"The Unfolding of The Paschal Mystery" that is what we will be looking at this week at Mt.Claret. Tuesday at 7 p.m. This is FREE!!! Just show up at the center, North of Camelback on 54th St. Right turn and keep going. Wed.morning beginning at 9 a.m. - 11.30. The same theme, plus reconciliation,Mass, and catered lunch. Reservations are necessary - Phone 602-840-5066 Blessings, Fr.Joe

Sunday, March 17, 2013


On vacation, when I attend Mass, I am made privy to a very familiar, yet a very sacred encounter. This has become so familiar it has lost its deep meaning for us. That old saying "familiarity breeds contempt" has become an unfortunate reality in our present way of being. How often do we look for the sacred Mystery in the everydayness of life. I fear we have got used to, even addicted to, seeking out the next "Big Event", that we lose sight of the mysterious gift we are gifted within, the familiar present. What is most familiar contains what we are most in need of at that particular time. Does not our gracious Father. God meets us where we are at, not where we would like to be? God is always present in our reality. Sometimes hidden, but always present. We have to have the lenses to be able see the reality behind the reality we see. All that we see in creation is sacred, "charged with the wonder of God". (Hopkins) It is for us to develop the gift of wonder which is innate in all human beings. Are we not always looking beyond where we are to a distant horizon? Every blessing can also be a curse. I do not know how often Joe has got himself in trouble because he wanted to see what was around the next corner!!!! On the other hand, I am always safe in the "here and now". In this here and now moment, God is pouring all that He/She is. On our part we must ask for the present gift of wonder to be enhanced so we are able to see, "as God sees, not as human beings see". My apologies to Robbie Burns, but I want to be able to see myself, and so all reality, not as other humans see me, but as God sees me. God sees me through the eyes of His/Her infinite, unconditioned, unlimited love. A love that is infinitely more than we will ever be able to understand, or comprehend. It is a prodigal love we can neither earn, deserve, or qualify for. It is pure gift. It is grace. God's gaze is the gaze of unlimited and unrestricted love. The personification of that love is the gaze of a mother and her child. Yes I have been blessed to witness this such sacred encounter. This event which is so ordinary that we just allow it to become a ho- hum moment. Ever really look at the faces involved in this encounter. The little one begins with a serious searching look at this reality before him/her. The mother is gazing with a serious, wonder-full look. Is this what I have waited for, for not only nine months, but my whole life long. I am always thrilled to hear that spontaneous cry of delight that breaks forth from the child that is triggered from the depths of it's being. There is no holding back of the joy of some new discovery. Mother's face lights up. Does life get any better than this? Of course, there are those who go tut, tut, but thank God not all. Some who have verdant memories join in with reminiscent smiles. Remembering what was. In reality this is not about what waist is about what is. Those of memory must be reminded that they are still see looked upon, in The Gaze of Love. That love incarnate and revealed in mother and child encounter is just a reminder of The Love which is each persons beginning. That is our first love. (Nouwen) All other manifestations of love are only a reflection, not the reality, of our Original Lover. That is why there is always a dissatisfaction with all we will ever receive on our journey through, as of now, a fully unredeemed humanity. We are participators in the process. We are co-creators of a new and more perfect creation. For that, we were created. That is our true purpose. To fulfill our destiny we have to see as God sees. We have to let go of our little agendas, and put on the mind of Christ. Is that easy? This is a great challenge, as we have to experience a complete reorientation of self. We have to turn 180 degrees and seek our happiness, our serenity in a place, as of now, we do not know. We will be lead to that place by The ever gentle Spirit. As the scriptures reminds us "will be lead by ways unknown". We enter the place of raw, naked fear, before we can ever know real serenity, and a deep sense of peace. We will always have the comforting, soothing, but so tiny voice of The Good Shepherd always calling, ever directing us safely, through the dark valleys. On our part we must sharpen our ability to hear and see. We must allow the old ways of hearing, and see to gently fade, and ultimately die away. This has to happen FIRST, before the new, and better way of seeing, and hearing may be ours. Today, we call that conversion. This is not, unfortunately, an event, it is a process. This is a necessary process for spiritual growth. That is why it is a journey we do not choose on our own. This is the work of The Spirit. We do have a choice as regards the lenses we choose to look through. John O'Donoghue lists the different ways of seeing, the different lenses with which our everyday reality is viewed. The ideal lens to have is the lens of love. In his spiritual classic, "Anam Cara" you will read the following, "To the loving eye everything is real.....Kathleen Raine.."unless you see a thing in the light of love,you do not see it at all"...Love is the light in which we see each thing in it's true origin, nature, and destiny...Look at the world in a loving way, then the world would rise up before us full of invitation, possibility, and depth. The loving eye can even coax pain, hurt and violence towards transfiguration and renewal. It arises above the pathetic arithmetic of blame and judgment..(the loving eye) is creative and subversive." In another place he writes,"When love awakens in your life, in the night of the heart, it is like the dawn breaking within you. Where before the was anonymity, now there is intimacy; where before there was fear, now there is courage; where before in your life there was there was awkwardness, now there is rhythm of grace and gracefulness; where before you used to be jagged, now you are elegant and in rhythm with yourself. When love awakens in your life, it is like a rebirth, a new beginning. The human heart is never completely born. Though the human body is born complete in one moment, the birth of them human heart is an ongoing process. It is being birthed in every experience of your life." Birthing is a pain-full process. We must not make the mistake that we are on our own, or by ourselves as we constantly meet this life challenge. Because we are an Easter people we have been gifted with all that is necessary not only to meet the challenge, but to journey beyond, into a life way beyond our limited imagination. This is the ongoing miracle of birth, death and rebirth. Where is the miracle of Easter waiting to revealed anew, in this wonder-full journey we are on, as spiritual beings immersed in the human experience?

Monday, March 11, 2013

Join me this week at Mt Claret!!!

As we see so we are,as we are, so we see. We require the lens of a healthy spirituality to be able to see how God sees each one of us,as His/Her beloved daughter/son. What adjustments we must make to claim who we REALLY are in Our Beloved's eyes. To morrow night at Mt. Claret Retreat Center,on beautiful Camelback Mt,North of 54th.St,Scottsdale. Free on Tues. night. Reservations (602-840-5066) for Wed.morning 9-11-30 ish as lunch is involved. Mass and Reconciliation are part of the morning. Blessings.Papa J.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Join me at Mt Claret this week!

Next Tuesday night the focus will be on; "New lenses for a new focus for our ever evolving life." Begins at 7:00 p.m.and will END at 8:30. This evening, and all following evenings are FREE, and just turn up. The same theme for Wed.morning beginning at 9:00 with Mass at 11:30, followed by a catered lunch. There will also be time for Reconciliation. This costs and reservations are necessary. The cost is $30 per person,35 for groups of 5 or more. The presentations are all at Mt. Claret Center at the foot of Camelback Mountain in Scottsdale. Just East of The Phoenician, off of Camelback Rd 4633 n.54st,Scottsdale Number to call is 602-840-5066. Blessings on all.


It is Spring training time here in the Arizona desert. Players, managers, coaches, owners, fans are making their annual trip into the desert. Well all, except our Diamondbacks, of course. They are a fixture. All are coming into the desert, into spring training with a sense of renewed hope. For last year’s winners there the great desire to build on last year’s successes and, hopefully, lay the foundation for a dynasty to be created. As for the rest, those who did not taste the sweet nectar of success, they come with a deep sense of renewed hope. These individuals cannot depend on hope alone, without hard work, nothing will happen. The latter teams cannot create a new energy, a new team spirit by just hanging around and doing nothing. A new winning team chemistry will only happen with a great deal of self sacrifice, and hard work. A turnaround is not going to happen unless there is a lot of letting go. Letting go of all that lead to loosing. The old bad habits, must be challenged, so too the lack of concentration must be addresses, again and again. The attitude that leads to sloppy play, and any disinterest in the building up of a healthy team spirit cannot be tolerated. "There is no I in team". A healthy team is not created overnight. A team is the reflection of the health of each individual. There are some players really gifted, but are not team players. Others may not be as gifted but know how to let go of their egos, and buy into the concept of the good of the team. Every Christian Community faces the same challenge. There is no place for egotistical ego, in a faith community. Why? Ego, can be broken "into, ease, God out". It takes many, many Lents, many journeys to Calvary before we are able to say we are Christian. To be able to say, with St. Paul, "I live, no, not I, it is Christ Who lives within me. "In the same way it will take many Spring trainings to mold a group of individuals into a smooth working machine. There is no secret in how a team becomes a team, and a community becomes a healthy community. It begins with reverence and respect. There must be a great sense of reverence and respect for each and every component of the community and organization. Each and every person must be seen as essential to the overall well being. There are no menial jobs. Each has a dignity that demands reverence and respect. Of course that is the ideal, none the less that must be our goal. We are dealing with human beings, not human doers. "As we see ourselves so we will see others". As we grow in the reverence of all that we see as "little", will all that we have seen, or thought to be "little" now takes on sacramental value. Our God comes to us mainly through the so called "little". That is why great managers, and great coaches pay extreme attention to little things. "Little things", that to the casual observer, or a player that is not properly focused, seem so mundane they have seemingly no obvious value. When confronted to perform the "little", they are overwhelmed by the pressure of the moment, and blow the play. Now they are teachable. So in Spring training managers, coaches, players there will be the challenge of how to meet the monotony of the daily grind. The grind that comes with the somewhat monotonous daily routine, as the fundamental plays are work on again, and again. Then they are repeated again, and again, ad infinitum. This repetition takes place until, both the simple plays, and difficult ones become automatic put outs for the team. These plays are not new, they have been part of their life's experience for many years. Over the years how often have they practiced the triple play, the double play, the relay from deep center field, the pick-off move? Yet they will repeat all these plays again and again. Why? It is because when the regular season begins these plays have become so automatic that at crunch time they do not have to stops and think what to do, it is automatic. When the game is on the line what looks to be so difficult, happens automatically. It has become second nature to them, as individuals, and as a team. A sense of confidence has been created. The individuals who are coming together, and are being molded into a team, now have a new spirit, a new attitude. The past is past. What is important is how I play each play. The veterans, and the rookies cannot make a double play happen by just looking at a video, or by just listening to the coach, it is all about practice, practice, and practice some more. One cannot just think their way into a smooth double play combination you have to act your way into the mindset necessary to make it happen. The best will in the world cannot make it happen, hard work is essential. Now you may say, we are in the season of Lent, and you are writing about Spring training what gives? Well do you know that another word for Spring is Lent. So, they are interchangeable. The Cubs, The Dodgers, The Giants, are here for what can really be called Lent Training. In the same way the season of Lent is the season of our training. Is there much of a difference between these two seasons? Not really. They are complementary. What is true for one, is also true for the other. Each has a basic physical, psychological, spiritual component. For us Christians the "triple play" we are asked to practice is prayer, fasting, and the practice of works of charity. We have been challenged by these three over the years, not as we are, THIS year. Just as Spring training is ever and always new, so our Lent/Spring training is ever new. Just as for the baseball players bad habits must be addressed, so for us we have the courage to face the unhealthy habits that have crept so insidiously into our lives. Each Lent, we are forced into the desert of the human condition to be confronted a new of this reality: "We are spiritual beings immersed in the human experience ", immersed in the human condition. A reality we journey ever deeper into. A journey we never embark on alone. All the "wild beasts" we encounter have already been encountered by Him in whose footsteps were following. Are we to be discouraged with the "wild beasts" that inhabit our present day desert? Of course not. When faced they are "just paper tigers." (Johnson) Our journey into the heart is a wonder-full, mysterious one. Full of risks and rewards. When we have the courage to face all that is in the depths of deserts of our hearts we come to the place Thomas Merton referred to, as le point verge, (the virgin point)---"the center of our nothingness where in apparent despair, one meets God,---and is found completely at HIs mercy......At the center of our being is a point of nothingness which is untouched by sin and by illusion, a point of pure truth, a point or spark which belongs entirely to God...this little the pure glory of God in us..It is like a pure diamond, blazing with the invisible light of heaven. It is in everybody "That is what is awaiting us as we plunge into and penetrate the dark depths of who we are. Spring training for ONE team will end in the passing glory of a World Series. We who have been called blessed and broken, will nor receive that which is transitory. What awaits us is a new heaven and a new earth. The past is past, in its place is a new creation. Not made with human hands but brought into existence through the unseen workings of The Holy Spirit. The creative love of our Gracious Father/Mother God make all things new, not make new things. Is.43:18&19, "Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold, I am doing a new thing, now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? It is in the solitude, nothingness, loneliness, brokenness, and fear-full-ness of our human heart this is slowly revealed. Lent....... Is.....our.... Spring.."..Training.