Sunday, September 29, 2019


"Mercy..." "...Mercy…" and still more "Mercy," is the word we are hearing again and again from Pope Francis. Our, Pastor of Pastors, is in reality just reminding us, and I am in the need of being constantly reminded of a gift that is always being offered. We must also be cognizant of the fact that 75% of the parables of Rabbi Jesus were about the mercy and compassion of God.  Jesus, Who became The Christ, is seen as the enfleshment of the mercy of God. We are  all in the constant need of "the medicine of mercy." Thanks to our Prodigal Father-God it is always made available to us. All that needs to be done is ask for mercy, and forgiveness, and it is ours.  We can use the words put into the mouth of the publican by Jesus," Lord, God be merciful to me a sinner."  We also have in our spiritual heritage, The Jesus prayer: "Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the living God, be merciful to me, a sinner." Our Pope encourages us to keep asking for forgiveness. Why is he so encouraging us?  Simply  because our Prodigal loves to forgive. So then let God do what God does best. The "best of God," meets the worst of us and in this encounter a new reality is created through the action of creative love. We are required to reverence this new reality that has resulted from the encounter  of opposites. We can never understand the miracle of grace, only gaze in awe-full wonder as we are drawn into a new, and unimaginable reality. This is God's deepest wish: "I will, not the death of the sinner,  rather that he be converted and live." Let us then, just have the desire for this miracle of grace to happen and in the depths of our being, a new creation will take root. It is only in Kairos time, God's time, will we become aware, ever so slowly of this new life now breaking through. The image of a wondrous flower breaking through the brown earth, in a very out of the way place, comes to mind. It will not have much of an impact on the world but to our world an inexhaustible source of joy has entered.

That word "converted,"  from which we have, "conversion," is a great word.  It means to turn around and go in the opposite direction. It also involves a new way of seeing. To be converted then is to admit, to own the fact that we are going in the wrong direction and seeing in a spiritual unhealthy manner. We need then a new way of seeing, leading to a new way of being. This is not easy. It is tough to go through a conversion. Yet on this hike/ journey we have to be converted again and again. Always changing, always seeing anew, and never ending. This can only happen under the guidance of The Creative Loving Spirit. Since the spirit is invisible, we will not be able, with the naked eye, to actually see the process that is taking place. May I be so bold as to suggest a new understanding of mercy is essential for an ever evolving healthy spirituality. This will lead to the freedom envisioned by God for you and me.

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

The Tabernacle of you...Part 2

When I was growing up, back in Ireland, there was the custom of making visits to The Prisoner in the tabernacle. Like all prisoners this Prisoner welcomes visitors, all visitors.  You do not have to make an appointment, you do not have to be all dressed up, all one has to do is just enter the doors of the church, chapel, or oratory.  One does not have to be on friendly terms with said Prisoner. We may not have made an appearance for many days, months, years, but the welcome is always the same.  One may come with a chip on ones shoulder. It does not matter.  What matters is that you have shown up.  No matter what the disposition of the visitor The Prisoner has the same greeting for everyone. "It is so great to see you, "come rest in me," and experience the love that is ALWAYS yours as my beloved daughter/son." I beg you do not reject My love, but let Me guide you into Its depths.” The Spirit that is My love will gently guide you there." Again one does not have to earn or deserve this gift of unconditioned love of The Prodigal Lover, hidden in the tabernacle of the church and hidden within each person who is also a tabernacle. People do not always visit one's grandparents but when one does what a welcome awaits ( I am stealing this from Fr.Holsheiser). There are hugs and kisses.  There is excitement about the growth that has taken place, and waistlines are completely ignored.  Each one is made to feel precious and loved in their uniqueness.  What a sacrament grandparents are.  Now great grandparents are really, "off the hook.”  There are no words to describe the presence of great-GRAND-parents.  Having never experienced the presence of great grandparents I am completely at a loss for words.  (Mark that down!!!)

Sunday, September 22, 2019

The Tabernacle of You

"The mountains are calling, so I must go.” These words written by John Muir have an ever deepening meaning for me. The call of the mountains, with it streams and rivers, with its ever so silent forests, and sparkling deep blue lakes, is truly a mystery I have no clue about.  I leave that to greater minds and transformed hearts.  All I can do is allow myself to be drawn ever deeper into this mystery, as with every mystery.  Each visit is an ever new experience to reflect on, and to be nourished by.  When we are lost in the embrace of Mother nature she imparts with unconditioned love, all that I need for the challenge of the present moment which is my dwelling place.  There is such an acceptance in the love Mother nature blesses us with.  Her love has no conditions, or reservations.  The only requirement is to dress up and show up.  What happens after that is mystery.  A mysterious happening that is beyond the ability of human word to truly express.  Oh how poor words are when we are looking for words to express the workings of The Word.  Who is in all, and above all and is overall.  It is the same Reality in which we live in, move in and make our dwelling within.  Then the awe-full reality of all of this is, The Word repeats back to you and I, "In you I live, and move and within you is My dwelling place."  The word that has been used to describe the dwelling place of God is tabernacle.  An essential element of the mystery, is that the human person is a tabernacle.  A tabernacle of finite human flesh within which The Infinite One has chosen to dwell.  There to dwell as our prisoner, yes, as our prisoner!!!  What food for reflection, and serious thought. "O God, help to believe the truth about myself, no matter how beauty-full it is."

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

It is a gift and it is always freely bestowed part 2

The gradual journey into freedom from that death dealing prison goes lock step, goes hand in hand with the experience of being loved with a love that is unconditioned, unlimited, and unrestricted love.  May all who read this be the recipients of such an awe-full vivifying life enhancing gift.  This is a gift that cannot be earned. We cannot somehow deserve this gift.  We definitely cannot qualify for such a gift.  Because it is a gift and it is always freely bestowed.  We, however must ask for the grace to love ourselves enough to say a continual "Yes" to what is offered.  It is dawning on me that this mysterious gifting process has been an essential part of my slog, my trudge, my journey.  For new beginnings, I was gifted with a new kind of confessor.  A fellow Irish priest who was kindness, itself.  As I began to trust and grow in the acceptance of what was offered, I slowly came alive to life.  Life was not about mere existing it was about the possibility of there being heaven on earth.  I was so familiar with hell on earth, what a gift to receive that there is heaven on earth as well.  Where  I choose to dwell is my every moment to moment decision, as it is yours as well.  I pray, as I encourage you to pray for the grace to choose heaven over hell, life over death in each and every moment that has been gifted to us.  "O god help me to love Joe in the same way that You love him."  "God help me not to screw this up." Name : "My encounter with life saving love."  How does that fit?    

My journey into the  acceptance of mercy-full love, transforming love of my personal Prodigal Father was, as I see it now, went hand in hand with the evolution of my understanding of sacrament and sacramentality.  It was grounded into me that a "sacrament" was instituted by Christ to give "grace" and rightly so. Then with the advent of The Second Vatican Council there was an evolution in the understanding of what happens when we receive a Ritual  Sacrament of the Catholic church.  From all my readings of an evolving theology, and my own experience celebrating the ritual Sacraments, I understand that something dynamic, vitalizing happens with the reception of each Sacrament.

Friday, September 13, 2019

It is a gift and it is always freely bestowed

I went to confession for years but did not encounter, or slowly embrace the wounded Joe, as today's wounded Christ. I have however  been led to slowly, and oh so slowly accept and embrace the paschal process which is my destiny. This paschal process is an essential part of every new moment of each and every day. This is our journey of discovery into the newness that is mystery.  As I am now, beginning to understand and share to the best of my present limited abilities.  We are led deeper and deeper into places we do not wish to go.  I see now, that reality does not stop with the aging process.  I have been visiting places I never knew were part of my reality.  Is not life, and the spiritual journey just full of surprises revealing a mysterious ever surprising Presence.  This Presence has so many disguises we are guaranteed a very surprising event-full life.  A life not intended for the faint-hearted.  There are so many layers of living, and meaning to be discovered.  One more mysterious than the other.  It is endless because we are involved with a Reality that is The Endless One.  So near, yet so far beyond our unaided faculties.  Yet, in our ever evolving understanding of grace we are through an ever new succession of dark valleys, barren deserts, and glorious mountaintops.

If we are going to be alive, and I mean really alive, there is no second option to this invitation to unending adventure. I am convinced more and more of the hard fact that we need well grounded guides to guide us as we journey through that the challenging, hazardous terrain we encounter in the spiritual life.  May the road be good to you as you make your return journey to your and everlasting eternal first home.  Because Fr. Harry was, The Prodigal Father incarnate to this rebellious son, he was introduced to prodigal love.  As a result of this encounter, I began to leave behind the life lived within the hellish prison created by the "toxic trinity."  The toxic trinity I see as toxic guilt, fear, and shame.