Saturday, November 25, 2017


"Look not backward in anger, forward in fear, but around in awareness," is something I read many years ago. As we approach the end of the Liturgical Year it is good, no necessary, to keep these words front and center. Why? Well as we listen to the scriptures, about the end of time, we can lose focus on "the here and now." When we lose touch with "the here and now," we lose touch with reality, and so with The Real. All we will ever have is "the here and now," and is here, in the right now, our Gracious God is reaching out to us. We, for our part, must be ready for the gifts that  are offered to us, in each and every moment. There is no moment that we are not being offered that which we need for a healthy, and whole (holy), life. These gifts come to us disguised as, "everyday living," which unfortunately we can, and do take for granted. We begin to see them as a right, rather than as a gift. A gift that is not intended for ourselves, but for others. Thank God, we are challenged to see beyond our little agendas, to a vision of the greater picture, the coming of The Kingdom. This kingdom is where we will encounter, and also be the place of other encounters, with that which is essential for healthy, human dwelling.  I speak here of peace, justice and love. These are the three  essentials we need for  lives of peace and harmony with ourselves, and as a consequence with others. Let us remind ourselves that the state of the individual soul, decides the state of a family's reality, and by extension, the state of the nation and world. There are times then when the peace of the world is in serious danger, because of the war within our depths.

           I guess that is why our Pope is placing so much emphasis on healthy spirituality. A healthy spirituality is concerned with making us aware of the fact that our God is encountering us where we are, not where we would like to be, or where we are supposed to be, or expected to be. That covers an awe-full amount of space. We cannot live a healthy spiritual life in the illusion of expectation. That is not living in reality, the place where The Real, has its dwelling place. Reality is all about the here and now, and this is the place of our encounter with our Prodigal Father/Mother God. This is always a new experience, because we are ever new in our becoming. Through the action of grace we are always in the process of becoming that which our God has intended us to be. We are to be the living and active presence of His Son, Jesus Christ, who is in turn, the revelation of The Living God. Each one is a sacrament of God, a dignity that must ever be cherished, and celebrated. As we read the many encounters between The Prophet Jesus and those in need we become more aware of the readiness of Jesus to meet the person or persons in the reality of their situation. There was never a question of qualifying for the gift that was to be offered. Jesus was able to see the essential goodness of His creation standing, or lying in His presence. He was able to see beyond the narrow vision of religious law, to the all embracing acceptance of The Prodigal God, He came to reveal to us through His life and ministry. He came to model, for those who were called to be His followers, how life was to be led. Thank God, we have begun a return to an ever deepening understanding of the Gospel's good news, and how it applies to our "here and now."

As it was in the '60s so it is today, we face a battle, a struggle between the forces of rigidity and compassion.  As it was, so it is, and unfortunately will be until the end of time. Through all of the struggles, we have to have that confidence that the Holy Spirit is making all things work together for the good of all. History just keeps on repeating itself. It will take a real change in consciousness to change that pattern. From what I have read there seems to be a new consciousness emerging from the present struggles of a broken humanity ever emerging into a wholeness, a oneness.  There is a new creation on its way.  Let us then be instruments of healthy change, reflected in us being spirituality healthy.  We can do this by adopting the following way of living the life given to us to live. Let us "leave our yesterday to the mercy of God, tomorrow to the providence of God, so we can line in and enjoy the love of God today." Easy to write, easy to say but so difficult to do. There is such a difference between the "saying" and the "doing."  I guess that is why we do not think our way into a new way of acting, we must act our way into a new way of thinking.  Right??  I have to learn that lesson, over and over, and over again.

             This leads us to have to face the harsh reality which comes with us being spiritual beings immersed in the human condition (Chardin). We are always coming up short.  No one has it wired.  That is why the parable of the wheat and the weeds is so essential for a gentle understanding of self and others.  Spiritual living, that is healthy spiritual living, will eventually challenge us to admit the following, what we thought was a strength, was actually a weakness, and what was seen as a weakness is now the place where the transforming power of grace is encountered. Because of this encounter a newer and a deeper understanding of what it means to be loved, as the beloved is revealed.  This is a slow process.  It is done in Kairos time, in other words, in God's time.  God's time cannot be measured.  I guess heaven, like Las Vegas, has no clocks.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017


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?

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

The Gift...

Birthdays are times of gift giving. We, as the church, had a birthday.  This is contained in a fuller understanding of The Feast of Pentecost. Have you had a conscious celebration of this ever new event in your life, and in the continuing life of The Body of Christ? When we do not have a conscious celebration of a significant event then we are not drawn into its deeper meaning. When that is our modus operandi we will not see our lives through the lenses of awe, and wonder. We will never see or come to appreciate the life that is both hidden and revealed in the mystery we call daily living. We will then complain how dull and boring life is. There will be nothing to trigger the awe and wonder that is essential to living life and living it to the fullest, which is our Father-God's dream for you and me. This is a dream we have had to claim again, again, and again.

Religious celebrations allow us to celebrate the deepest reality within us. The purpose of religious practice is not to give us religion, rather it is intended to help us celebrate that which is already present. You do not put religion into a person, it is our challenge to provide the opportunity which allows the person to come to an awareness of what our Gracious God has already placed within each and every person. Regardless of how we see, or what we see in an individual, that is the reality hidden deep within all human beings. This is the in-depth reality which is hidden within each human being. We have at this time of year, three celebrations which provides us with an ever new awareness of this reality.

Pentecost Sunday is the first of three celebrations that reveals to us our great calling, our deep mysterious reality. The celebration of Pentecost is followed by two celebrations of equal mystery and majesty. They are The Feast of The Blessed Trinity and The Feast of Corpus Christi. In the celebration of Pentecost, we will celebrate The Spirit that has descended, has come to bring the new Spirit leading to a new way of living for a community that was discouraged, and doubtful. They needed a new unique spirit to live the new life that was now theirs. This Spirit was to be the living, vitalizing presence of Him who loved His own, and loved them to the end. He left but promised not to abandon them or leave them orphans. That promise is directed toward you and me, as we are their successors and the inheritors of that same promise. "As it was, so it is, and ever shall be." This Spirit will lead us to all truth, as has been promised. We will not ALWAYS like or embrace the Truth. Real Truth will always challenge us, to reach beyond what is easy, and comfortable. I personally do not like this. Then I am told, I do not have to LIKE it. However, I will be led in time to the wonderful promised land of acceptance.

In the celebration of The Holy Trinity, we are drawn into an ever deepening understanding of who is The Family that has chosen our bodies, to be their dwelling place. The Family of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit have out of their Triune love for each one of us, have chosen us to live within, "the prisoner of our finiteness." We have within us here on earth, here in our earthly existence, what is present in the life of Heaven. We are temples of the living God. A God who is in reality, a family, living in loving unity. They live within us, so we can make our dwelling with them, as they dwell within us. In that way, we can have here on earth a taste of the life of Heaven. Pretty neat!!! There is this Celtic prayer that has been around for many, many centuries:

'I arise to-day
Through a mighty strength, the invocation of
the Trinity,
Through belief in the threeness,
Through confession of the oneness
of the Creator of Creation.

In time, with grace, can this bring about the change necessary so we will have Guests to visit, rather than PRISONERS to be feared???

Sunday, April 23, 2017


What has brought about this "newness of life?" Our encounter with the living Person of Our Lord, and Savior, Jesus the Christ. Our faith teaches us that in each and every encounter with The Risen Christ, we are being transformed into being His living presence. This miracle of grace does not happen with just one encounter. It has to be repeated again and again. When you are preparing Easter eggs, you do not just dip the egg once into the dye, right? You dip, and dip, and dip, and then dip some more. We are not transformed, or transfigured by just one encounter with The Risen Lord. The process takes a whole lifetime as we respond to the challenge that comes with the reception of each ritual sacraments. We slowly grow into an ever deepening understanding of what it means to receive the seven sacraments.  And not only to receive the sacrament, but to come to live more fully, the life we are now called to live. We are to be "the contemporary Christ," How often is there time spent reflecting on, who it is we have encountered, and who it is we are now called to be, as a result of this encounter. If there is no intention of being transformed into the living Presence of The Risen Christ, we will never fulfill the great dream, the aisling, our God has for us, and has had from all of eternity. We are no surprise to God.

In The Sacrament of Baptism we begin our initiation into the Paschal Mystery of Jesus, The Christ. It is an initiation into a mystery, that we will live daily, and never quite understand. Our life's experience will lead us into an ever new understanding of our participation in The Paschal Mystery. Again and again, we will be drawn into the understanding that our suffering is the continuation of Christ's suffering. Christ's suffering leads to death, Resurrection, and new life, so too, for us, new life will appear in the same place where death was experienced. This endless cycle of death and rebirth into new life, is the destiny, the vocation, for those who are chosen. The mysterious action of saving grace will keep us in wonderment our whole life long. Wonder leads to prayer. I cannot help but think about all that Henri Nouwen had to go through to be able to write the following? (This is Jesus Christ speaking to you and I):  "I am your God, I have molded you with my hands, and I love what I have made.  I love you with a love that knows no limits, because I love you as I love myself.  Do not run away from me.  Come back to me--not once, not twice, but always. You are my child. How can you doubt that I will embrace you again?  I am your God--the God of mercy and compassion, the God of pardon and love, the God of tenderness and care.  Please, do not say that I have given up on you.  It is not true.  I so, much want you to be close to me.  I know all your thoughts.  I hear all your words.  I see all your actions.  Because you are beautiful, made in my image, an expression of my most intimate love, do not judge yourself.  Do not condemn yourself.  Do not reject yourself.  Let my love reveal to you your own beauty, a beauty that you have lost sight of, but which will become visible to you again in the light of my mercy.  Let me wipe your tears, and whisper in your ear, "I love you, I love you."

                     The only response to those wonder-full words is silence. They are too much for us. They speak the truth, but can we hear, listen, and embrace these radical, life enhancing words?  It is difficult, is it not, they are just too good to  believe?  We are told if something is too good, we are not to be taken in, we are to run away from it.  God knows that and asks us "not to run away" from His/Her infinite, prodigal love.  Now do this.  Go back and read the words again, but insert your name before "I am." You are now going to pray; John, Pat, Pablo, Lupe, Maria…I am your God..." Read the words slowly and allow them to penetrate into the depths.  In the depths where they will encounter The Blessed Trinity Who dwells eternally in those same depths.  The result, a party, a celebration that has no end in this life. This celebration will continue into eternity, and through all of eternity.  As we celebrate in the here and now, so will our eternity be.  Now that is downright scary.  So we need to heed the call of our Initiation.  We must of necessity, seek out and search out all that is ours because of our Encounter with The Paschal Mystery, and allow ourselves to be drawn beyond ourselves. We spend forty days to prepare for this mystery and then spend three full days in celebration.  We are now in the 50 days it will take us to delve into what this mystery means, as we live out our daily lives.

Each, and every action will reveal to you and me, some aspect of the dying, burial, rising, and Ascension, of Our Living Lord. There is no event or action that is neutral.  All have sacramental value.  This will reveal to us a new way of living.  To complete Paschal Mystery, we ask for the Spirit for this new, never before lived life.  This takes us to the land of ever newness.  In this land of "ever newness" the truth of Henri's words will become a lived experience.  There will always forces in our lives that want to prevent this happening.  They are doing the devil's work.  Satan, "the prosecuting attorney," will do all in his power to trigger our denial of who we are in God's love. He has his agents.  They are the ones who are so ready to judge, to condemn, to punish, when we do not measure up to their stringent rules. They are today's Pharisees.  They are encountered both within and outside.  Their voices are never still.  So, we are called to be vigilant, ever vigilant.  Just as The Prophet Jesus had trouble with them, so we too, as followers of Him today, will have the same trouble.  They were nasty then, and they are nasty now.  To make matters worse they give you the idea they are speaking for God.  But it is not the compassionate, mercy-full God of Jesus Christ.  We have met Him above, and He/She is a God of life, not death.  The Pharisee(s) create an array of idols, false gods.  They create idols.  Idols that are made in their image and likeness.  These idols do not give life, they only destroy.  The living God of Jesus Christ wants to bestow life on us, and bestow it in abundance. We have that battle of the voices of negativity each and every moment we are given to live.  The quality of my life will depend on which voice I am listening to and responding to.  We have been given The Paraclete, The Defense Attorney, who never tires of defending us, so we will never have to face any attack on our own, or by ourselves.  May each reception of The Ritual Sacraments lead us always beyond our fears, to the discovery of the newness of the life our God has wished for each one.  May the reality, the certainty of "the beyond" bring an ever deepening sense of awe and  wonder, leading to an ever present excitement for the journey to our God, and with our God.