Sunday, August 25, 2019

Pain-full lessons learned, and still to be learned

"To be fully alive, fully human, and completely awake is to be continually thrown out of the nest.  To live fully is to be always in no man's land, to be experiencing each moment as a new and completely fresh.  To live is to willingly die again and again." (Pema Chadron) Looking back on my own past wanderings on life's trail, and also being able to have the privilege of sharing the slog of others, I can suggest this sums up all life and lives.

To be "fully alive" is a very sincere wish, but are we ready to pay the price.  In life I have found anything of real deep, deep value does not come without a cost to our egocentric egos.  It is only as I let go, ever so slowly, and reluctantly of my selfishness and self centeredness am I able to enter a life that I am destined to enjoy and celebrate with others.  I was beginning to hear the words "let go. " "To let go" sounds so easy.  Just two small words.  Two words I was unable to utter for many, many years.  These words, I am so sorry to say did not show up in my sermons and homilies in those early days.T o "let go;" was not in my vocabulary.  It was a foreign thought.  A bad thought, which like all bad thoughts were not to be entertained. (Did you ever hear the story of the guy that went to confession and confessed that he had bad thoughts? The priest ,following the accepted procedure of the time, asked the usual question, "Did you entertain them?" No, Father, they entertained me.  Old memories for some?)  Over the years things began to change.  As the oil of ordination began to dry and fade away, the idealism of the seminary was blown to hell and back.  I was then faced with real realities of spiritual life.  I entered, for the first time, a time and a place of real crisis.  There the process of letting go became necessary for survival.

The character for crises in an Oriental language is the same as the character for opportunity.  I was given the opportunity to grow through pain but first I had to let go.  I had to let go or die.  I had to let go of the "easier softer way" of dealing with all of life, and it's challenges.  There was another way.   I had a little, an ever so little inkling of recognizing and listening to that quiet whisper which saved my life.  It was then I began to come alive.  It is only in hindsight that I am now beginning to see, and accept that was the beginning of my life long pain-full process of birthing a truly fully alive human being.  I am not there yet, and I never will get to know what it means for Joe to be fully human and fully alive.  All I can do, as we all can do, is allow ourselves to be led, as we live our moment to moment living, into the mystery of who we are, and there discover the real presence of, The Mystery.  Out of this new relationship came the beginnings of a journey I am beginning to understand. "We live life looking forward but understand it looking backwards."  As I write, clarity breaks through as the dawning of a new day.  Each dawning is a sign of hope for us as individuals and for all of creation.  "Creation continues" and we have an essential vital part to play.  How awe-full, wonder-full.

Sunday, August 18, 2019

We are truly alive, when we share

Within your own life’s gospel story where has He revealed Himself to you?  Did you deny a ministering to yourself, and allow anger and resentment to eat away at yourself, and all your relationships are seriously affected?  I have found in 56 years of ministry all those plastic Facebook smiles is one teed off human being.  Another word can be inserted there for those who are familiar with that word.  Within your extended family where is the Suffering Christ shunned, hidden away rather than receiving the acceptance necessary for the journey into healing?  Under the disguise of the unplanned pregnancy, the divorce, the different forms of addiction and compulsions, etc., etc.    The Suffering Christ is hidden waiting for compassionate eyes to discover, embrace, and be ministered to?  Compassionate eyes are gifted to us as the result of our personal journey through the Paschal Mystery.  As some person wrote "there is no cheap grace."  Today we are challenged to have eyes of compassion for the gay son and daughter.  Theirs is a frightening statistic for us to reflect on as we see the number of suicides, and attempted suicides among the transgender community.  These boys and girls, teens and young adults, men and women are not just a name or a number they are actually our brothers and our sisters in whom God has chosen to reveal The Awe-full-ness of Presence.  We need our lenses not tweaked but really seriously adjusted so as to be able to see beyond.  In this new ability to see we will discover to our amazement The God of Surprises in an ever-changing disguise.  Sad to say there are those, who because of hardened hearts, need a whole new set of glasses.

Thank God this last Advent-Christmas-Epiphany Season The Holy Family was revealed in the immigrant family as never before.  How very sad it was to read of the push back by so many self proclaimed followers of The Suffering and again Crucified one.  Let us not say we are going to pray for The Suffering Christ but actually take a concrete action to alleviate actual pain, and suffering.  Whatever we DO for the least ones, as they are encountered by us on our journey, we are doing to The Living God Incarnated anew. The Incarnation is a mystery.  Mysteries in the spiritual realm are never solved.  All that happens is we are drawn ever new, by The Holy Spirit, into the challenging depth realities of the mystery to be enlightened for a more vitalized way of living.  This new living will not be in isolation but in an ever more exciting communal living.  We are called to be members of the whole human family.  This is NOT new age.  When we take the theology of The Mystical Body and make a depth reflection on what it really says to us, we the many will now join the few.

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

We are truly alive, when we share

The names of the many martyrs of today do not hit the headlines.  I did read that 125 conservationists have been killed so far this year (2019). Did that hit the evening news? Are we aware that this is happening in our world? 125 men and women in different countries prepared to sacrifice their lives so we all can live in a world that has a future. Blood-shed it seems is always to be the price that must be shed so that life can happen.  Jesus, The Christ, shed His blood so that we can have life and have it to the fullest.  Are we not called, chosen to follow in His footsteps. Where He has gone we as followers are to follow, Calvary is our destiny if the resurrected life, the fullness of life is to be ours. Our inside journey leads to our awakening to a reality beyond our imagination.  We are led into the realm of WOW!!! WOW!!! WOW!!!  It is hard and difficult work to become who we really are.  It takes "reckless courage," a courage we have because we have chosen and strengthened to journey beyond the limits of our inherited humanity.  This journey has captured the imagination of the artist and so we are provided with so much inspiring food.

Monday, August 12, 2019

We are truly alive, when we share

My middle name is Irenaeus.  In Greek it means "man of peace."  I was named after my uncle, Fr. Tim O'Sullivan O.F.M. cap. (He restored the Old Mission in Santa Barbara). St. Irenaeus has been a hero if mine. His quotation:  "The glory of God is the human person fully alive" is one of my all time favorite quotes.  This is so easy to say, but becoming the lived reality is a whole other story.  Actually this process of becoming alive is in reality each of our life's story.  It is not only our life's story, it is actually, our gospel.  A gospel to be reverenced while alive, and celebrated in death.  In the funeral homily I always, well let's say more often than not, I encourage the families to have a written record of the life's journey whose life we have gathered to celebrate, in The Mass Of The Resurrection.  This written record is to be placed next to the family Bible, with the inscription, "The Rest of the Story" (A salute to Paul Harvey).  The title could also read, "The story continued." Each life IS the contemporary gospel written by today's human beings for the society of today which is the foundation of tomorrow's world.  We must face that reality.  Our lives are the gospel of today and the inspiration for the generations yet to come. May they be many. "O God, help me to believe the truth about myself no matter how beauty-full, awe-full it is."

To paraphrase what I have read: "we must come to realize, a process, that this very body, with its many aches and pleasures is exactly what we need to be, wait for it, fully human, fully awake, and fully alive." What an exciting relevant gospel, under the guidance of The Holy Spirit, can be written. Here is an awe-full, wonder-full though as I write my gospel, with my every thought and action, do I have the future generations in mind, or am I just thinking of me, me and more me. In the I, I, I, there is no room for the living God.  Our egocentric ego rules that out. E.G.O. means Ease, God, Out.  And we are today living the reality of where there is so much talk about God, but there is not very much action that shows we are actually living The Good News.  As they say "talk is cheap," there is a price to be paid for the action.

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

A wounded wanderer wonders at the mystery of life!!! Part 2

In the dying, there is laid the threshold over which we all step so as to enter "new heavens and new earths" which is another way of saying, we experience "new freedoms and new happiness."  This is an never ending process which tenderizes our hardened hearts and results in having hearts of flesh.  This is what it means to be alive.  To life with a heart that reach out and touch with empathy, and compassion, not in judgment and condemnation those still hurting hearts which are placed before us on our life's journey.  We have been CHOSEN to be the present day Good Samaritan.  To pour the oil of mercy which we have received into the wounds of the suffering sister/brother and so bring the healing, comfort, soothing, strengthening necessary for a return to full health.  There is a healing not a curing!!!

That original Good Samaritan must have known and been transformed by great pain, great loss, great sorrow so as to be able to overcome the accepted prejudices and hatred and be able reach out and touch the untouchable enemy.  You and I are called to no less.  We too are challenged to look beyond the accepted hard-hearted prejudices of our present day death-dealing heartlessness.  We have been CHOSEN by our Confirmation to be present day prophets.  We must dare to speak truth to power, and be prepared to pay the price, which you most certainly will. Be assured that whatever the challenge life offers the strength to meet that reality ALREADY lies within.  In the old days we called that actual grace.  We all need to re-rededicate ourselves the radical message of The Gospel, not the gospel created for human convenience.  No amount of lawyering can get around the challenge of Matt 25.  Jesus did not put any preconditions on it's radical challenge.  We as a society are to be judged on how we respond to the needs of the poorest of the poor.  Thank God there are those who are prepared to go against the heartless norms set by humans to reach out and not just meet the present day Suffering Christ but minister to His many needs. Let the many join the few!!!