Wednesday, August 28, 2013


As a consequence of my being, "a spiritual being, immersed in the human experience," there are zillions of questions seeking answers. Why does it we seem to never get a satisfactory, complete answer? All the answers I seem to get just lead to another new question, which leads to another new answer, which leads to another new question. Duh!!! I get tired, and very frustrated. I want it to stop. That "I," who wants this to stop, is my ego, my false self, not my true self. My true self is always seeking and searching for who it is, in the unconditioned, unlimited, unrestricted love of A Prodigal-father-God.  What the "I," the false self is, is an end to that endless moment to moment battle, fought in the depths of our souls.  It is a battle which the false self cannot win, but goes down fighting every inch of the way. Joe has to become reconciled with that endless searching, seeking, and ever deepening journey into the "beyond" of everything, and everyone. I have come to the realization that as it is, in the sacrament of the now moment, so it was, and ever shall be, a journey into the ever mysterious, Beyond. This Beyond exists outside time and space, and outside the ability of words to communicate such a Reality. Thomas Aquinas reminds us "whereas we can come a knowledge of the existence of God, we will never come to a knowledge of the essence of God."


          So many of us are drawn to the ocean, and its many looks, voices, and moods. Our journey into the mystery of God, is like a person entering an ever receding sea. The endless, mysterious ocean, is a common metaphor used by the spiritual writers. Even at this stage on my life's journey the ocean still stirs within me something in which I fail miserably in my efforts to communicate. There is a certain reality which is deep, deep within, and aching to be expressed. The desire is there but, for some reason the vehicle, the language to express  such  reality, I am sad to find out, has been lost. In the past, the ability to communicate at such deep levels was present within humankind, what a gift we have been deprived of and why? So we settle for conversation about the accidentals of life, and never wonder why we are not satisfied. The restlessness we all experience will be with us until we hear those words of welcome to our eternal home," Come you who are the blessed of my Father inherit this eternal kingdom..." We will then find eternal rest, and peace in that place, from which in reality, is our place, of origin. What a mysterious circle we are called travel.


             "You are never too old and it is not too late to dive into your increasing depths where life calmly gives out it's secret... (so) Deeply I go into myself. My God is Dark, and like a webbing made of roots that drink in silence." So Rilke writes. He also writes that we: "Believe in the love that is being stored up for you like an inheritance, and have Faith that in this love there is a strength and a blessing so LARGE that you can travel as far as you wish without stepping

outside of it...the only journey is within." Despite what my ego wants, to stop all this journeying into uncertainty, the true self will be restless until it rests in its, True Home. This true Home we are given just an introduction to, on this part of the journey. We get a taste of what is awaiting us, so as to encourage us to continue 'our trudge," through this "vale of tears."  We call these moments, our moments on The Mount of Transfiguration. 


Remember how the prophet Jesus, before His "passing over," revealed to The Big Three, Peter, James, and John, His inner light, on The Mount of Transfiguration where His divinity shone through His humanity. Was this to show off? Of course not. It was done so that they would have an inner, deeper, understanding to strengthen them so they would be able to face the coming apparent disaster. Jesus wanted to reveal to them that He was so much more than what they thought, saw, or understood. It was through a long, pain-full process before those Apostles came to understand Who this Prophet, Rabbi Jesus really was. They had to move beyond their relationship and understanding of the historical Jesus, The One who was "WITH THEM" daily as a fellow human being. What an authentic human being that Jesus was. WE do not place enough importance on the humanity of Jesus, through which Our Gracious, Mercy-full, God is revealed to us. Jesus is God in human form.  They too, had to endure a death and resurrection so that they could grow into a new enlightening, and enlivening relationship with the Risen Christ. What agony those early disciples, our ancestors in faith had to endure so that their understanding of the historical Jesus, Who was with them, could give way to the birthing of The Christ, "WITHIN THEM." I wonder how often did the Big Three return in memory to those sacramental moments on their Mount of Transfiguration? I wonder what part that played when question and doubt invaded their hearts, soul and minds?


   The Big Three had only one visit to the Mount, of which we know. We, on the other hand, have many, many visits to that sacramental place, and space. But are we aware of that which is happening to us? Yes, we are privileged to journey again, and again to the place of transfiguration. Jesus "took with Him, Peter, James, and John" up the mountain.  The spirit of that same Jesus, who became the Christ, is with us as we enter our moments of encounter with transfiguration.  These are the sacramental moments when the hidden Presence, breaks through, and we are not able to say anything, but, WOW!!! We, like Peter are tongue tied.  We have no real words to express that depth of feeling welling up from deep inside. We are in those "wow" moments caught up in the wonder, the mystery, The Presence of that which is beyond, thought, feeling, and emotion, it is The Beyond. Is it not very sad when people, places, events, actions, enter into the realm of the familiar? There is no sense of the sacred, the holy. Then we see that person, place, etc. as something we take for granted. We are then well on our way to our own private hell. We are condemning ourselves to dwell in that heartless, soul destructive, life destroying, awe-less, place we call, The Land of the Ordinary, and the Familiar. These two lands do not exist in God's creation. They are illusions we ourselves create, or are forced by the circumstances of poverty, and violence to inhabit. Unless we break free we will just exist, not live. We will die, without ever having lived. How sad is that?


Friday, August 16, 2013

Musings...Of...A...Celt...Part II

Off to seminary I went. (We thought it real funny to define "seminary" as: a home for expectant fathers. Now not so funny!!!!!) During those six years, and the intervening years as well, I was introduced to the world of theology. There was natural, dogmatic, moral, scriptural, ascetical, process, etc., etc. As I got smarter??? I seemed to have lost something. I was in my head. I found myself caught up in thoughts, definitions, dogmas, infallible teachings, and rubrics, just to mention a few. That got me through seminary. The fantasy world of academia was left behind within the blink of an eye. I was lucky to be appointed to an inner city parish however, I did not think so then. My classmates were in, one could say, fat city and there were places I could not drive through at night.

The reality of real life hit me right between the two eyes in the form of my encounter with real life. My first encounter with a body to be anointed was one that had been burned in a helicopter crash. The sight and smell lasted a long, long time. I still can recall how those remains looked. One of my first parish anointings was when I was called to a small, small home. Inside was a father and little daughter, both asphyxiated as the result of a heater that went on the blink. That was hard enough to deal with, but I was also the celebrant for the mass. I still remember how I had to hold back the tears during the mass, and the internment. Wow, I was not prepared for that. The emotions that welled up from the inside were completely new to me. (I revisited another depth of feelings at my Dad's, and Mom's funerals.) I came to realize this vocation was not just about the outside, there was a whole inner dimension to it as well. This Encounter with humanity in all of its rawness was the beginning of a long, long journey into a deeper understanding, and growing acceptance, of the limitations of my own humanity.  I have learned, the hard way both acceptance, and reconciliation with who Joe really is, not who he would like to be, or supposed to be, is a lifelong enlightening, and transforming process.  A process, I again, do not have to like, I sure do not, but for health and sanity I am required to allow to happen. Then the mystery of the love of a Gracious God works it's miracle.

I now agree wholeheartedly that the poor are our greatest gift. I really believe if you have not been a priest in a "financially poor" parish, you have never been exposed to the real riches of the church. With the poor, underprivileged, marginalized, you are dwelling with those who are our God's favorites. To be close to the God of Jesus Christ one has to have a deep commitment "to the least." The poor reflect back, that innate poverty within the depths of who we really are. The scriptures reveal to us whose prayer is heard by God, "the prayer of the widow and the orphan." In today's language, it is summed up in the phrase; God's fundamental option is towards those who are weak and crushed in spirit." There is great joy, and freedom to be experienced within the community of those who are accepting of, but not necessarily reconciled with their "outward poverty." Once immersed in such a community the whole meaning of church changes.

Our Slum Pope, Pope Francis, continues to shock people with his, what appears to be simple statements, but yet, they are so profound, e.g. He "wants a poor church for the poor." That is the ONLY church that can really be The Living Body of Christ. Jesus, Who became The Christ, came to us in poverty, served the needs of the really poor, and marginalized, and died the death of one who is cursed.("Cursed is he who hangs upon the wood,") Honestly, how are we ever going to be real imitators of that Historical Jesus who became the Christ of God. This will not be accomplished in a world of "power, property, and prestige." Pope Francis told the clergy to stop worrying about advancement in the church, but to get out and allow the smell of the sheep to get on them." He has lived and daily walked the talk. He can then, without any compunction, authentically challenge us to follow Him to walk the Real Christian talk. As someone wrote recently," It is so much easier to pray to Jesus, than to imitate Him." Now them's fightin' words!!!

There is then, the invisible dwelling of our God in the person, and the community, of the poor. It cannot be measured or analyzed, only experienced. As our God holds all things in existence, things visible, and invisible, we must ask, I must ask, for the grace to find a peace-full rest. This place of peace-full rest is in the land of the invisible. Maybe there I will be able to travel, not with angels, but with the Siohe Gaoithe.


Saturday, August 10, 2013


Not going to Ireland has somehow caused me to reflect more on, not what I have left behind, but what is emerging from within. The more I am blessed to wander WITH nature I find an ever deepening connection with the roots of my religious beliefs. We, as Christians have to have a tremendous reverence for the Jewish Tradition of belief because our founder was Jewish. Do we not refer to the Old Testament as, The Jewish Scriptures? What place of reverence do they hold in our Liturgical Celebrations, and private devotions? So too does Celtic Spirituality has its roots in the religion of the Druids and their pre-Christian beliefs and practices. The genius of those who brought Christianity to The Celts of Ireland, was their innate ability to take that which was already present, and as it were, Baptize it. "The Druids had a strong sense of the supernatural, the survival of the soul after death, and the immanence of the gods. Many divinities were worshipped in groups of three, or triads…Druid practices also included a sense of sacred places, particularly woods, groves, rivers and springs."(Leaver) There are many, many holy wells, still visited by people, which were regarded as "holy" even before Christianity came to The Celts. The Irish Celts were Christianized without one person being martyred. That is almost beyond belief as The Celts were a very feared, and warlike people. The Romans never got to conquer Ireland. "The Roman conquest of Ireland" came at a later date. (As we used to say, "Enough said." I'll say no more.)

     So my ancestral belief is in the sacredness, the holiness of not only what is seen, but in the unseen as well. God has blessed me with the great desire to read. I was a reader from my earliest years. I was exposed to a world that had its origin in the imagination, and not in any perceived reality. The world I was introduced to could not be analyzed or measured to provide imperial information. I was introduced to a world beyond time and space. The story would begin long, long ago, in a place far, far away. It was a long, long time later, I came to find out that place, far, far away, was deep within me. There was no, "long, long, ago," there was the sacrament of the present moment; the sacred now, in which all is present. "Myth, never was, but always is."(Rohr) In those long winter nights, reading, yes, by oil lamp, I found myself lost in the mists of history. The Tuatha De Danaan were a mysterious people, imbued with miraculous powers. They were defeated in battle but retreated to the underground, where they made their homes. Throughout Ireland you will see particularly, trees and small mounds of earth out in the middle of the fields. They will not be cut down, or not leveled off, no way. It is common knowledge, just ask, who dwells there, and you do not mess. I was very young when I saw a small whirlwind approaching and I was pulled, unceremoniously I may add, out of the way. I was told to never stand in the way of such a whirlwind. I remember asking, Why? That whirlwind is the Siohe Gaoithe (The People of The Wind) on their way from one dwelling place to another. The invisible world was just another reality in the creation I was to live in. That invisible world I was to learn had its good and helpful presence, but it also had its evil realities. The Leprechaun was a real good guy, but slick. He had his pot of gold, but ever hear of anyone getting to keep it? On top of being the shoemaker, he was the master trickster. The Puca, and the Banshee were a manifestation of the dark side, which was a reality to be confronted and so dealt with. In that world there was the presence of both good and evil. They were both going to be encountered. With the encounter, knowledge was to be gained.

To be continued…