Sunday, June 30, 2019

Wny do we have to fight???

When you look closely at the chart for Battlefield of the Soul, you will see in small lettering: "God help me to believe the truth about myself no matter HOW beautiful it is."  I have used that many, many times to start off a homily.  Some of my best friends, and worst enemies will now ask, what are the magic word(s) to get you end the homily??? Well, there are no word(s) but a consistent checking of you iPhone does have an effect.  In the old days it was just checking the watches again and again.  Let’s move on.  Today I see my role as a "HOPE PUNCKER." A word that only recently has been added to my vocabulary.  There is so much negativity attributed to that word "religion" it is incumbent on all of us to spread the good, enlivening news which  a healthy spirituality affords.  A healthy spirituality leads to action. We have to accept the reality we are all responsible for not only our health but also the health of the planet, creation that has been entrusted to each one of us.  There is no ducking our individual responsibilities.  We cannot say: Let somebody else do it."  So those who are concerned with the health, vitality, wholeness of all creation must continue the great work they are doing.  We must join these prophets of hope, and add our God given talents to their efforts.  Hope is, to this Irishman, an essential ingredient for all revolutions.  WE are in need of a peace-full revolution to set right the false insidious deceitful messages of the past, and confront the present day false prophets who clutter the airwaves with their messages of toxic guilt, fear and shame. (The toxic trinity)

There is a great play by these false prophets on the disease of codependency from which we all suffer from to a greater or lesser degree.  Playing on the weaknesses of the vulnerable to feather their nests is a scandal leading to so many rejecting the very thought of religion.  They are right to reject this malarkey, as it is not true religion at all.  True religious teachings convey the essential message of a  "unconditioned, unlimited, and unrestricted love." The One Who is our lover is  prodigal with His love for each and every member of creation, past, present and all that is to come. There is an explosion in the number of "none," when asked about their religious affiliation. I just saw there are more "none" than Catholics in the U.S.A. 

(to be continued...)

Sunday, June 23, 2019

You are beloved claim it!!! part 2

Fr. Rohr, many years and tears ago introduced me to the word beloved and what meaning all it conveys.  When you are the beloved you are loved without  "condition, restriction, or reservation."  (I have used that a great many times since I first heard them.  It was an epiphany moment for me.  I was brought up in the Pre-Vatican Two church where guilt, fear, and shame was used to frighten and control. I now refer to those insidious, spiritual defeating, death dealing words as "the toxic trinity". They are alive and well in each one of us and are revealed to us in the constant un-interrupted voice of "the itty bitty crappy committee"  (That is a sanitized version). That committee is relentless and only prayer can give us peace. Years ago I was introduced to this spiritual bromide, "God I do not want to think like that anymore."  This really works and is one of the many spiritual aides that get me through "the tough slog."

Then I was lucky to be given Henri Nouwen’s "The Return of The Prodigal Son."  I have not been the same since.  I have given this to so many over the years.  In the latter years I have strongly suggested the following, do not start at the beginning or you will never get to the really good, consoling, life changing pages which begins on page 43. Then pages 453 to 458 are read slowly and reflectively for three to six months. Why so long?  Our thinking and attitudes are NOT changed overnight.  We do not think our way into a new way of acting, we act our way into a new way of thinking, that lesson I am still learning.  There is so much to learn and so little time left for those teaching moments. I will get what I need not what I want. We are warned about spiritual lust. A great deceptive ego trip.  Now, back to the book. One stops reading when one can claim the reality that yes! I am the beloved of my gracious, mercy-full, prodigal Mysterious Lover.  The beloved both surrenders to love and gives love.  Want more?   There is another book by Nouwen "The Life of The Beloved," in which he lays out the challenging life of those chosen to be beloved.  The way of the beloved is patterned after the mission and ministry of The Beloved, Who was chosen, blessed ,broken and given.  Are we ready open to that call?  Only grace can prepare and strengthen us for that particular call.

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

You are beloved claim it!!!

On my early walk this morning I was blessing Pope Francis in a big, big way.  He has just made my challenges of preaching, teaching, and writing so much easier.  Last week it was announced that the Pope was changing two prayers that are spoken by so many, so, so often.  We will now say "Do not let us fall into temptation," instead of saying "lead us not into temptation." The leading of us into temptation is NOT God’s doing, that is Satan’s department.  A department we must avoid ever and always. All I can say is WOW!!! WOW!! and WOW !!! again and again and again. (We Irish do nothing in moderation.  Our blessing and our curse!!!! God save us.)  Wait for it, it gets better.  We will now say "peace on Earth to people beloved by God."  There is not one person alive that is not the beloved of God. So peace is wished as a blessing to and on all.  There is so many layers of meaning to those two words, "peace" and "Beloved."

Let us begin with that wonder-full, awe-full scriptural word beloved. The Prophet Jesus is pointed to by "A Voice from Heaven," as, "This is MY Beloved Son in Whom I am well pleased," "This is My Beloved Son listen to Him."  In the writings of St. John, also named "the beloved," that word is also used.  When I speak to a person on the phone or meet them at the mall I usually ask "How is the beloved?"  I make an effort not to use any other word, but I do fail from time to time. "How is she/he ?" does not cut it.  It is so impersonal, almost detached.  (Next time you are in company watch for those who refer to their significant other as "she/he" as opposed to those who use first names with real positive feelings underlining the word.  Of course there are exceptions especially when there is tension in the relationship). Each one of us ache for our names to be spoken by the beloved in our lives.

To be continued...

Friday, June 14, 2019

Absolute Powerlessness

He reached out to the marginalized, the outcast, those outside the law, (prostitutes), the woe begotten tax collector, the widow and orphan, ( the gospel symbol for the powerless), the leper.  Reaching out to touch and cure the leper really cost The Rabbi Jesus.  The moment He touched the leper He became a leper in the sight of the law.  He was no longer able to go among people.  He could not go and worship at the temple.  If you read the Gospels, He was at Bethany a great deal of the time that is where there were other lepers.  He touched the woman with a blood issue even though it was against the law.   He introduced a new law, the law of love.   It was too much for the leaders of established religion.   These "good people" in their anger and jealousy conspired with the Roman officials, the secular power, to kill Him.   By killing Him, they thought that would end His messing with their little programs.  They were in for an eye-opening surprise.  Rather than weakening the power and influence of The Prophet Jesus, their killing of Him released into the world a power that has changed history and the story of humankind.  

That change continues to the present day and it reaches you and I exactly where we are.   We are not reached in our fantasy but in our reality.   To live in reality is real tough.   Not for the faint of heart.  I read somewhere that reality is for those who live life drug free.  These are the human beings, young and old alike, who "face life on life’s terms" are not bolstered by or anesthetized with any medicators.  Medicators are many and varied,  some come under the friendly disguises of booze, drugs, sex, food, shopping, exercise, work, perfectionism, outward empty religious practice, relationships, TV, etc, etc. The list is endless.   Some may be surprised that I placed "empty religious practice" on that list.  Years ago I read of a great mystic whose prayer was "O god save me from God."   We can so identify with the outward right practice of religion that we never journey inside and confront who we really are, and where we really need a saving God.  (The spiritual journey)  We have to learn the hard way, there is no other way to learn this life’s lesson.  

The Loving Savior comes to us in the agony of our weaknesses, there to transform us and create a new and a more honest human being.  The radical love offered cannot be encountered in our illusions, in the masks we wear to protect our false image our false self. Looking good on the outside and going to hell in a basket on the inside is the chosen reality of so many. To challenge that illusional living is dangerous work.  The following has got me into a lot of trouble.   I was want to say, "A clean house is the sign of a sick family.  The cleaner the house the sicker the family." Some of the most dysfunctional families I have encountered you could, as we say in Ireland, eat off the floor.  I was scared to be in those houses lest I disturb something.   Then I was reminded of what John Bradshaw wrote in Healing The shame That Binds "perfectionism is a cover up for toxic shame."  On the other hand healthy spirituality allows us to be perfectly imperfect.   In the embracing of our imperfections we FALL INTO the ever patient awaiting arms of Mysterious Ever Faith-full Lover.

As you can guess I have read a great deal over the years.   I can thank my mother for that.   I cannot remember, and I have well used to have a great memory a time where my mother was not reading her love stories.  I got introduced to books early after my love affair with "The Beano,"  and "The Dandy" comic books.   All through high school and college I was a voracious reader.   After ordination I had to read and study hard to keep up with the evolution that took place following the explosion that was The Second Vatican Council.   Pieces from that explosion are still falling to earth,  much to some timid people’s chagrin.   From all that reading, and not from my thoughts came the "chart," "The Battle Field Of The Soul."  This is not an original thought.  Kahil Kibran wrote a long time ago "your soul is oftentimes a battle field."  I have also read this very humbling quote; "all spiritual writing is plagiarism."  So with that said let us explore that "chart."

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Paschal death is not terminal! Part 3

Do we always respond to that call? Do we even believe in our dignity as always being the co-creators and co-perfecter of all of creation?  Do we believe that in each and every moment there is a voice whispering deep within us, "you are My beloved daughter/son in you I am well pleased?" Right now no matter where we are; no matter how messed up we are, those words are directed to us.  As a matter of fact, the more messed up we are the better chance The Mercy-full Gracious Lover has with us. "God seems to do His best work with habitual sinners" (My favorite quote from The Cloud of Unknowing) Left to ourselves we could not even imagine that awe-full truth.  This is not the way our world works.  We have to earn, deserve, qualify for whatever this world imparts to us. "There are no free lunches" right? WRONG!!!WRONG!!! and WRONG again!!! In The Kingdom of God everything is free, the very best of everything is given without cost.  Many have difficulty with the generosity of our Gracious Lover and want to limit the graciousness.  Anyone who does this is preaching a false gospel about a false god. Yet so many worship at the altars of false gods.  These false gods are the creation of the false self which is part and parcel of being born a human being.  We are not born with this false self.  We create that false self to fit in, survive the exposure to the limitations of humanity. The false self is necessary for our survival at the beginning.  Then as we mature spiritually the true self emerges to replace the false self.  Is this a peace-full process? Of course not?  It is a war.  A war that is not fought, year by year, but moment to moment. We take little bites from the apple of life.  We are not alone in this spiritual warfare,  Thank You Gracious God!!!

That is why The Holy Spirit is gifted to us."To remind us" of the Good News revealed in the mission and ministry of Jesus, The Christ.  His ministry was counter cultural. He challenged the "accepted secular truths and religious practices" of His day in time.  History teaches us of the price He paid to bring a new and more freeing message of hope to those who needed it the most.