Monday, March 28, 2016


We all have been brought together by the power of God's spirit to be again "dipped and dyed," in the Paschal Mystery.  Each year, we come to an ever deeper understanding of our daily participation in the Paschal Mystery.   It is so essential for us to remember, it is a daily participation in the suffering, death and burial, resurrection and ascension of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  Our daily journey is our Paschal Journey.  Our daily experience of what is means to be human is our encounter with the cross.  It is in and through the events of our daily journey, our God uses to bring about the transformation and transfiguration necessary for us to become more and more the contemporary presence of His Son, Jesus Christ.  He is the potter, we are the clay, and the daily events are the tools in the hand of The Master.  You will now notice, where before there was garbage, walls, and dullness, now we see wonderful gifts that have come to us.  These gifts are spread out among the community.  The emphasis is on the living water, the fountain of water, that is flowing so very freely from a place of mystery. 

The place of Mystery is within us.  It is out of the midst of our uncertainty, fears, and disillusionment, that somehow the living waters of life, of Christ, come flowing into our deepest consciousness and our daily living.  That is why we have to be constantly "dipped and dyed," so we can be exposed in each liturgy to the life of Christ, the light of Christ and the love of Christ.

Easter transforms and transfigures.  It allows us to have the hope at this time, and at this stage of our journey, that death is not "the final word on life or despair the final state of human beings."  (Boff)  as we make our journey in the light of the resurrection, we know that out of all pain, sorrow, and the brokenness comes new life and wonderful gifts.  The greater the wound, the great the pain...the greater the gift.  Because of the Resurrection, we experience in our lives the following: 
Where before there was Guilt, now there is Forgiveness, Where there was Anger, now there is Compassion.  Where there was Resentment, now there is Understanding and Gratitude.  Where there was Boredom, now there is Wonder.  Where there was Anxiety, now there is Excitement.  Where there was Greed and Envy, now there is Sharing and Generosity. 

So, we see then our Garbage is turned into treasure, and gifts, to be shared.  It is by the power of God, not and never by our power, this is accomplished.  Like the Risen Christ, we carry, and will carry, our wounds with us.  We will learn over and over again wounds brought to prayer, brought to reconciliation, brought to Eucharist, become sacred wounds.  These wounds become the place of encounter with faith for those who share a common experience.  As a result of this encounter, courage and faith is shared, leading to a greater belief and trust in the transforming love of our Heavenly Father. 

We, also need to remember it is when the disciples are most aware of their failures and shortcomings, they are given the power to forgive sins.  I have always said, I would like to go to reconciliation with St. Peter, because he would be the one most aware of his humanity and his vulnerability.  From his experience, he would have been given the gifts of compassion, understanding, and empathy.  We need to be showered with these gifts.  These are the gifts we need to shower on ourselves so, we can enjoy these self same gifts when they are offered to us by our Heavenly Father.  "Grace perfects human nature." (St. Thomas Aquinas)  It is in and through this experience, we come to believe and know the Risen Christ.  It is in the awareness and celebration of these gifts, we come to know the joy of the Risen Christ.  We, too can testify, "The Lord is Risen," and His risen life is a life we now share and experience.  We will come to believe in the Risen Christ not because we have seen Him, rather, we have experienced His risen presence in our lives.  I like what Thomas Keating says, "This,  of course, is an important message for us.  It tells us that it is far better to relate to the Risen Christ on the basis of pure faith that rests not on appearances, feelings, external evidence or what other people say, but on our personal experience of the Christ-life rising up and manifesting its fruits within us.  This is the living faith that empowers us to act under the influence of the Spirit - the same Spirit that Jesus breathed upon the apostles on the evening of His resurrection."

Here are some further thoughts from Fr. Ronald Rolhheiser's book, "Holy Longing."  "The Paschal Mystery is a process of transformation within which we are given both new life and new spirit.  It begins with suffering, and death, moves onto the reception of new life, spends some time grieving the old and adjusting to the new, and finally, only after the old life has been truly let go of, is new spirit given for the life we are already living."  

Theologically, looking at Jesus' teachings and especially at his death and resurrection and what follows from them, we can see that there are five clear, distinct moments within the paschal cycle: Good Friday, Easter Sunday, the forty days leading up to the Ascension, the Ascension, and Pentecost.  Each of these is part of a single process, an organic one, and each needs to be understood in relation to the others to make sense of the paschal mystery.  Each is part of one process of transformation, of dying and letting go so, as to receive new life and new spirit. 
In caption, the paschal cycle might be diagrammed as follows:
1.Good Friday..."the loss of the life-real death"
2.Easter Sunday..."the reception of new life"
3.The Forty Days..."a time for readjustment to the new and for grieving the old"
4. Ascension..."letting go of the old and letting it bless you, the refusal to cling"
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 a personal, paschal challenge for each of us, one might recast the diagram this way:
1."Name your death"
2."Claim your births"
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 that we must undergo just once, at the moment of our deaths, when we lose our earthly lives as we know them.  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 rising and various pentecosts.  The Paschal Mystery is the secret to life.  Ultimately our happiness depends upon properly undergoing it.

May the peace and joy of the Easter Season be yours, today and all the days of your life as you make your journey through life.

Sunday, March 20, 2016


As I focus more on my inner life, I sometimes perceive a big wall of stone within that I have carefully built over the years to protect myself.  Now though it seems as if the Spirit living in me is removing some of the stones from my wall.  This is very scary and hurtful for me, but I keep trying, to let it happen.  As I am emptied out, I feel grateful that I can receive more people into my inner space.  There seems to be a sort of cave inside that is  gradually opening out into a safe dwelling place with God and with many others.  Instead of saying, "These stones belong to me and I do not want you  to remove them,"  you are being invited to say, "I am very afraid to let go, but because you are my Father, I trust you and with your help, I will cooperate with you."  Meanwhile, God is saying, "Le me remove your stones and blockages and learn to be grateful, because it will provide more space in your life."  Gratitude is believing that when stones are taken out of your your wall, God is building a place where you can receive others and really experience true family and true community.  A grateful life is when you give thanks, because what is happening to you politically or socially, or in your family or in your personal journey, is the molding hand of a loving Father, transforming your heart by love.  "Although it is uncomfortable at times, Lord, I want to be shaped according to your love."  (From Fear to Love-Lenten Reflections on the Parable of the Prodigal Son by Henri J.M. Nouwen)

We are entering the week we call "Holy."  We will begin to reflect more fully on the "The Mystery of our Faith," which we proclaim during each Eucharistic Celebration, Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again.  This is also the mystery we have been baptized into.  This is a mystery of Jesus' suffering, death, burial, Resurrection, and Ascension being lived out in us, and through us.  Life then, is not a problem to be solved, rather it is a mystery to be lived in faith.  Faith is a gift of the Spirit which allows the soul to stay attached to its own unfolding. (T. Moore) When we allow ourselves to be drawn into the mystery of the Paschal mystery, the fruits of the Resurrection will revealed in us and through us.  We then will life and have it to the fullest, which is the Lord Jesus' wish and the purpose of His mission and ministry to, for us.  That is why he has come, so the scriptures tell us.  

 Greed and Envy transformed by God's grace turns into a life of generosity and sharing.  Again, Hildegard of Bingen warns us against the deadly presence of envy when she writes:  "Envy drives out all greening power!  When the greedy do not get what they want, they fall into a depression from which they are not lightly lifted.  The day hurries quickly by, they say, "It is always night."  If happiness should stand outside, just beyond their door, they say, "I am accursed."  Should it go well with all they undertake, still they would say, "It goes badly!"

John O'Donohue in his wonderful book, Anam Cara, has the following to say, " To the greedy eye, everything can be possessed.  Greed is one of the powerful forces in the modern Western world.  It is sad that a greedy person can never enjoy what they have, because they are always haunted by that which they do not yet possess.  This can refer to land, books, companies, ideas, money, or art.  The motor and agenda of greed is always the same.  Joy is possession, but sadly possession is ever restless, it has an inner insatiable hunger.  Greed is poignant, because it is always haunted and emptied by future possibility; it can never engage presence.  However, the more sinister aspect of greed is its ability to sedate and extinguish desire.  It destroys the natural innocence of desire, dismantles its horizons, and replaces them with a driven and atrophied possessiveness.  This greed is now poisoning the earth and impoverishing its people.  Having has become the sinister enemy of being."  What a powerful statement it is when he says "because of greed,"  we can never engage presence.   We can never enjoy what we have.  We can never enjoy where are presently.  We can never enjoy who we are.  We are so caught up in seeking out the next possession, we are lost to the present of the present moment.  We are, so caught up in the belief that we are, is  what we have, and unfortunately, who we are and what we have, is never for the ego.  It is then without God's grace,  that it is impossible for us to accept the fact that we are unconditionally loved and accepted by our Prodigal Father, as beloved daughter, as beloved son.  But for God, it is completely sufficient.  We must always be open to the development of our understanding, under God's grace of what it means to be generous, what it means to be charitable with ourselves and others.  In order for this to happen, we need an ever deepening conversion.  What it means to come to know and understand what Matthew says in his 25th Chapter.  "I was hungry and you fed me, I was thirsty and you gave me a drink, I was naked and you clothed, me, I was sick and I was in prison and you visited me."  What it means to be kind and generous to the poor and broken, part of who we really are, we must apply Matthew 25 to the suffering Christ in each one of us.  In short, we must be Simon of Cyrene and Veronica to the suffering Christ we meet without ourselves on a daily basis.  

This will lead us t believe when we reach out to meet the needs of the least of the brethren, we are meeting the needs of Christ.  To fulfill this challenge, each of us will need to reach out beyond our greed to be sensitive to the needs of Christ present in the "least of the brethren."  This will enable all of us, but especially the "least of the brethren," to understand that God is a God of generosity and He will always take care of our needs, but not our greed.  Let us pray for the gift of accepting who we are and where we are presently, knowing in this our God is displaying His generous love for us.  We do not have to live of a life of envy, a life of jealousy, a life of resentment, and/or a life of unhappiness.  Our faith tells us that in His love for us, God has blessed us to the point of being an extravagant God, and a prodigal Father.  The more we come to an appreciation and acceptance of the mystery of God's reckless love for each one of us, envy can become less of a challenge for us.  We will journey beyond envy an jealousy into a people well disposed to enjoy all that life has to offer us in each and every moment of our lives.  This Holy Week, let us bring ourselves as we are to Him who knows well the workings of the human heart, the human person.  It is in the acceptance of our poverty, our humanity, that the Resurrection experience can be ours.  It is true, it is only in dying, we are brought to eternal life.  Let us enter into the heart, this mystery of our faith, to discover the mystery in our Heart. 

Jesus on the cross teaches to us that it is in failure, rejection, and nakedness, the power of our God of gentleness, compassion, and faithfulness is revealed to us.  May you have a transforming and transfiguring Holy Week as you prayerfully enter into your personal and our communal understanding of the Paschal Mystery. 

Friday, March 11, 2016


“Deliver us Lord from every evil and grant us peace in our day.  In your mercy keep us free from sin and protect us from all anxiety, as we wait in joyful hope,” so we pray, at each and every Mass.  In the Mass, during which we celebrate the Sacrament of Marriage, there is the closing blessing.  “May daily problems never cause you undue anxiety, nor the desire for earthly possessions dominate your lives.”  Why would we have these prayers always before us as if they were not so necessary for us on our spiritual journey.  We are an anxious people, living in an anxious age.
Jesus, as beloved Son, was not freed from the human response to fear and anxiety.  Anxiety define in Webster’s dictionary is:
“An abnormal and overwhelming sense of apprehension and fear often marked by physiological signs  (as sweating, tension, and increased pulse), by doubt concerning the reality and nature of the threat, and by self-doubt about one’s capacity to cope with it.”
Jesus in his Gethsemani experience, not only entered into anxiety as we know it, but he went way beyond, as he broke into a sweat of blood.  You have heard me say, each one of us can sweat blood if we are that scared.  Jesus went to that place which so very, very, few of us will reach when we will be breaking into a sweat of blood. When Jesus, the beloved Son got to the overwhelming point of anxiety in his humanity, he cries out, “My Father, if it is your will, take this cup from me; yet my will but yours be done!”  three times the prayer to the Father is, that the cup be removed.  But the prayer each time ends with the acceptance of his reality as the suffering servant.  (Isaiah) In that reality, he encounters the strengthening presence of his Father.  This results in Him saying, “Get up! Let us be on our way!” (Matthew 26:42-45) When we think that the life of Jesus was easy, all we have to do is enter into the understanding of His passion which did not end His suffering but was the road to His resurrection.  It is the same way with you and I.  It is definitely our exciting journey.  We have to have our Gethsemani moments if we are to follow fully our baptismal call to follow Jesus through participation in his death so as we can share in his Resurrection and resurrected life. 
From all that I’ve read, it is pretty well accepted that we live in an anxious age.  Anxiety is very present in each of our lives.  That is why in each Mass we pray to our God, “To protect us from all anxiety as we wait in joyful hope.”
We are brought up in society where achievement and success in life is expected, it is sought after.  We never take time to look at the downside of achievement and success.  It is a life of anxiety, not security, which is generated in each one of us.  I came across the following from a book called, “Mastering Sadhana.”  The more I succeed, the more I feel the need to keep on succeeding to come up to the expectations I have generated; and so anxiety sets in, increases, and becomes unbearable.  Success in work without an affective balance that may offset its bias is the dangerous way to breakdown for the compulsive worker.  Beethoven suffered because people appreciated his music but no his person.  “Success tells me that my work is fine, while love tells me that I am fine, and this is the ultimate satisfaction of the person.  I want to be loved for my own sake, not for my music or my books or my works of my organizations.  I want to feel affection, to know tenderness.”  Those are great words “success tells me my work is fine, while love tells me I am fine.”
That is why we are told we are the beloved of our God and Father.  God’s love is not dependent on what I do, but on who I am.  To enjoy that love we have to make every effort to be present to the present moment as God offers His love to us.  Someone once said, “ We leave our yesterdays to the mercy of God, tomorrow to the providence of God, so we can enjoy the love of God today” in every moment of every day.  IN the moment of the sacramental NOW, God has placed His spirit in us that we may have life (Ezekiel), and have the fullness of life free of all fear, worry, dread, concern, in other words, free of all the anxiety we pray to be protected from.  Someone once wrote, “Fear knocked at the door, Faith answered and no one was there.”  The opposite of anxiety and fear is faith; which is our journey into the unknown. 
Then we have the words of Jesus in the Gospel of Matthew, “Can any of you, by being anxious, add a single moment to your life?” and again, “Be not anxious about tomorrow, tomorrow will take care of itself.”  “ I believe Lord, help my unbelief,” we can all pray.  After all “We walk by faith and not by sight.”  Jean Vanier in his book tells us, “Yes, insecurity and weakness are like a door through which passes the strength of God.  Do not flee then from insecurity; do not seek to have all the answers.  If you do, you risk turning away from God who is leading you into the Kingdom.”  What a wonderful gift is ours when we embrace our anxieties and insecurities. 
Scripture also tells us not to worry because our concerned and generous Father knows what we need and will make sure our needs are taken care of.  As Ghandi said, “God takes care of our need, not our greed.”  Paxton Blair wrote, “Anxiety is the poison of human life, the parent of many sins and of more miseries. Can it alter the cause, or unravel the mystery of human events?”
I came across this wonderful prayer by Thomas Merton, “Thoughts in Solitude.”  This is a prayer of great consolation for us when we are caught up in the daily anxiety of our human journey which is our spiritual journey, the place of our encounter with our God.  This prayer will ask us to go beyond what is comfortable and to a deeper understanding and acceptance of the unknown and so travel beyond our anxieties. 
“O great God, Father of all things, Whose infinite light is darkness to me,  Whose immensity is to me as the void, You have called me forth out of Yourself because You love me in Yourself, and I am a transient expression of Your inexhaustible and eternal reality.   I could not know You, I would be lost in this darkness, I would fall away from You into this void, if You did not hold me to Yourself in the Heart of Your only begotten Son. 
Father, I love You, Whom I do not know, and I embrace You, Whom I do not see, and I abandon myself to You, Whom I have offended, because You love in my Your only begotten Son.  You see Him in me, You embrace Him in me, because He has willed to identify Himself completely with me that love which brought Him to death, for me on the Cross. 
I come to You like Jacob in the garments of Esau, that is in the merits and the Precious Blood of Jesus Christ.  And You, Father, Who have willed to be as though blind in the darkness of his great mystery which is the revelation of Your love, pass Your hands over my head, and bless me as Your only Son.  You have willed to see me only in Him, but in willing this You have willed to see me more really as I am.  For the sinful self is not my real self., it is not the self You have wanted for me, only the self that I have wanted for myself.  And I no longer want this false self.  But now Father, I come to You in your own Son’s self, for it is His Sacred Hearth that has taken possession of me and destroyed my sins and it is He Who presents me to You.  And Where?  In the sanctuary of His own Heart, which is your place and the temple where the saints adore You in Heaven.”