Sunday, February 16, 2014


     Light comes and goes. Now we see it, now we don't. What a display of fireworks greeted the new year? We still have a vague memory of the awe inspiring fireworks display in Sochi. But what is our memory of The Light, Whose appearance we celebrated just a few short weeks ago? Compared to The Light, all other lights are like comparing  the flickering light of a  candle to the  dazzlingly brilliant, blinding  light of the sun. That comparison falls so short of the reality. We have the same problem when we want to speak of The Light, whose entrance into our world we celebrated, in faith-filled prayer-filled celebrations. What has been, left us with now that The Epiphany is only a memory, and a vague one at that or is it still lighting our way??? What is our understanding now of that great feast of which The Season of Christmas is seen as a "bridge toward?" Where is That Light leading us to, or have we out of fear substituted, substitute lights? Are we now leading lives of greater freedom, or are we enclosed in the security of our self-made prisons? Have we become the victims of accepted behavior rather than the right behavior? Have we allowed ourselves to camouflage our true reality, and surrender our freedom to the hellish practice of people pleasing? What a price we pay for that so readily accepted behavior??? The truth WILL set us free. We in turn will draw others, indeed may force them, into the freeing light, and the safety of the real truth. Illusion is a very lonely place to dwell in. Merton has this warning for you and I: "If I allow myself to degenerate into the being I am imagined to be by other men, God will have to say to me, "I know you not." Prayer from the gut works. It comes the reality God knows and sustains in existence.

            Here is a little something to practice. Before you answer a phone call, respond to an email, or any other communication requiring you to do something, say the following at least 10-20 times:" I release the need I have to be admired." You will be doing a quarter of what you are doing now. Your ego will not like it. You will not be caught up in doing. The true self that will emerge from this practice will enjoy an inner-peace and a sense of well-being that cannot be bought. This is priceless. What do you pay, NOTHING. It cannot be bought. It is pure gift. Yet there are so few who are prepared to do that nothing, which will bestow upon them everything that they need. In the long run it comes down to our trust in the essential goodness of our Prodigal Lover.
         Our inner-truth is hard to face. Our inner-reality we much prefer to either hide or deny. We want to keep ourselves in darkness rather than risk exposing ourselves to the piercing light of the truth. Yet there can be no spiritual journey unless we are prepared to be led into the depths of who we are. Oh how often I have wished this was not so. Thank God, the journey into a healthy honesty is progressive. We will never have absolute honesty. The goal is to be as honest as one can be in this present moment. Whatever bubbles up will not overcome us. Since God, Higher Power, Savior, is present in fullness we will have what we need to face that which left to ourselves we could not deal with. We have that great certainty that nothing will be revealed that God, Higher Power, Great Spirit and we cannot face and deal with. We will NEVER be tested beyond our strength.(Paul). So when we journey within, we will encounter our innate poverty stemming from our broken humanity. We will encounter a hungry, naked, homeless, wandering, stranger that is in  desperate need of food, shelter, clothing, a comforting home. After the initial shock, the initial desire to reject, something happens. How it happens is none of our business. We are in the mysterious realm of Grace. We are not in the business of understanding, an ego trip, we are drawn to a slow gradual acceptance. An acceptance that will be given, as a gift, to each one of us in a unique way. This gift appears as we, not only encounter, but journey with, as of now, the frightening stranger.

            The gifts we are given, are of necessity, given to be given away. If they are not given away they disappear. "Whatever we keep for ourselves we lose, whatever we give away we keep," This is the danger we have to face. Now we can read, listen to, and eventually hear the words of the prophet Isaiah as he relays to us this command from our God: "Share your bread with the hungry, shelter the homeless; clothe the naked when you see them, and do not turn your back on your own. Then your light shall break forth like the dawn, and your wound shall be quickly healed." What a great promise is contained in those words. Our wounds will be quickly healed as we make that inner journey of discovery and encounter. As the healing power of Grace-full mercy slowly works, and believe me it is slow, we get an inkling of what is to come. We are now more ready to meet the  stranger and are not afraid. Why? May I suggest it is because we have met another, stranger. We have met, and are continuing to encounter  the inner stranger. From that encounter and the continuous deepening conversation, through grace, a sense of welcome and hospitality is now replacing the old fear. The life of, and the workings of grace is a mystery. Then we slowly realize "The place of the wound, becomes the place of the gift. The greater the wound the greater the gift." WOW!


                   As we are again clothed with the dignity of being the beloved daughter/son, we recognize more readily the innate goodness of all people, and all of creation. That part of us that we once oppressed is now sensitive to others who are the victims of oppression. They are to be called to the freedom that is theirs because of their belovedness. Belovedness can never be taken away. It can at times be denied but never surrendered. Why? It is not ours to surrender. This is God's gift over which we have NO control. All we can do is surrender to the embrace of The Prodigal God, Who is our Beloved, and is revealed to, by The Light. There is a process to that surrender. I/we do not surrender once forever. Nothing in the spiritual life is done once forever. When I found that out, the hard way, I was, and still am a very unhappy camper. Then acceptance is a process, not an event. This, however, is a reality I do not have to like, just accept. So easy to say, or write, yet so difficult in practice.




Monday, February 3, 2014


               How often have we heard the following exhortation, challenge, "Will you take a look at that, and tell me what you see." I do not like that. I am always afraid that I will not see what I am expected to see. I am afraid that there will be something I will miss that is right there, very obvious, and I missed it. I am very slow to take that challenge. Does the fear of making mistakes ever go away?  Right now on Facebook there are a number of photos for one to view, to look at. Then in the photo, there is a reality hidden for one to discover. This discovery is not easy. It takes real effort to see what is hidden. After some looking, one begins to see what one is supposed to see. It is frustrating to look back and realize what was once hidden from merely "looking" is now revealed when one really sees. (Thank you Laura M. for the posting, and the challenge.)

                   This is a great introduction for this week's effort. Is it not amazing, wonder-full, awe-full, that which can lead us deeper, appears out of the "ordinary," out of the familiar? That is why nothing that is really real, is ordinary, all is sacred. All reality is holy, why? Because The Mystery, God is always revealed and hidden in the so called ordinary. We can never solve the mystery, all we can do is respond to the invitation "to draw near. "However, before there is the willingness to draw near, we will have to face real fear.  Fear is the door through which we all have to pass through on the way to intimacy, to union…Our "Yes" to the invitation does not carry with it a guarantee of an easy journey. On  the contrary, our "Yes" will take us along a path we do not know, to a place we do not know, which is the real journey of faith. Even after all these years, my ego has not gotten used to that journey into uncertainty. In other words, there has never been complete surrender, only partial. That partial surrender, I am sad to say, comes only after real intense pain. It is in that pain one is brought, led, guided, fighting every step of the way, to the prayer of surrender. "Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord, Lord hear my cry."  Life brings us again, and, again to this awe-full, pain-full, mysterious place and we discover it always anew. It seems like, looks like, the same but always a new transforming experience.

               I am beginning to see the wisdom of the church in her bringing us again and again, through Advent to the mystery revealed in The Christmas-Epiphany season. Here is what Karl Rahner wrote: "The mystery of the (the Incarnation) is inexhaustible, and compared with it most of the other things we talk about are relatively insignificant. The truth of the faith can be preserved only by doing a theology of Jesus Christ, and by redoing it over and over again. For it is true here, too that only he/she possesses the past who has recaptured it as his/her own present." I guess we can say we return again, and again to Bethlehem, not just to look, but to see, through the eyes of an ever evolving faith in which the shepherds saw. They not only saw, but "they understood" what  was revealed to them by the angels. We, as the result of on our ongoing pondering, will return again not just to look, but to see who we are as the result of The Word, the Second Person of The Blessed Trinity entering the reality we human beings are exposed to, and challenged to live in. Not just "exist in" but actually find life, and the fullness of life within this broken, wounded, perfectly imperfect humanity. The same humanity that Jesus, who became The Christ, was enfleshed in. The more we discover "The Shepherds" within ourselves the more willing we are to "hurry" with them to not just look at The Infant Savior, but we will gradually grow in the seeing, and understanding of The Incarnation. All this is the action of The Spirit. That same Spirit Who brought about the enfleshment of Jesus in the womb of Mary, is the same Spirit that will work the same miracle in the depths of the womb of the soul. What does that say about the dignity of each person, and God's faith and confidence in each one of His creatures? We are invited to return with reverence have again, and again so we can be led to an ever deeper understanding of what we see, and Who it is we see.

                     No matter how long we ponder, no matter how often we enter the mystery of The Incarnation our questions will never be answered fully. That again, is the nature of sacred mysteries. There are no lasting answers, only enough is given to draw us ever deeper into a new question concerning, The Absolute Mystery, God. We must always remember this will not be a path of our making. We are told we journey to The Unknown by unknown paths. We are told that is the journey of real faith, and my ego wants no part of that. I want certainty, but that is not faith. When I think I have all the answers I am in a real bad place. Pope Francis is so honest about that. He, however, is only reminding us about an essential truth of the spiritual journey. This is a journey in deep, raw, naked fear, resulting in a new understanding of who we are in the plan, and love of God. "Faith leads to understanding," so wrote St. Augustine. Not understanding leads to faith. Faith is a gift, freely given. We must  take very seriously this fact, this reality, faith is a virtue, a good habit. Habits do not happen. They must be developed, just like muscles in our bodies. Unless we  develop the good habit, virtue, or exercise the muscles of our bodies they atrophy and lose strength. This will eventually lead to death. Our faith needs exercise as well. So we are invited to hike, walk to Bethlehem, to Egypt, to Nazareth, to Jerusalem, to Calvary, to the Mt. of The Ascension, so we will be ready for the Descent of The Holy Spirit. The Spirit always gifts us with what we need in the place we are.

                       See how seriously we take physical exercise!!! There are 60,000,000 hikers in the U.S.A., count all those who go to gyms, run the streets, bike the highways and byways and one will see that we take  physical exercise very seriously. But how about the exercise of our spiritual muscles? What is the plan we have developed to perform spiritual exercises? I see on Facebook how proud people of some physical achievement that they were able to measure by some metric. There is no metric that tell us how we are growing spiritually. On the contrary, we are NOT to place a thermometer in the soul. Our egos want to have something to show, as if we were doing something ourselves. Wow when that happens were are in for a serious tumble. We will have to deal with serious failures, and hardships through which the ego is brought down a few notches. The ultimate destiny is for the ego to disappear so the real self, the true self can surface. That is a great ego boost, but what about the, we too must exercise the good habit of seeing and allowing new beliefs to surface from within. All we ever want is deep within, where the Trinity has made Their home.