Sunday, April 28, 2024

Happy Mysterious Easter to you all. Yes, the Season of Easter is still with us. Time gifted to you and I so we can grow in our understanding of all that is "perfectly hidden and revealed " in the life beyond the life we say or think is, life. We are challenged not to take life as we see it but to look at life through the lens of a lively faith. An adventurous faith that is always seeking the unseen, so the sen life becomes more of a mystery to us with each passing moment. The time we life in is ever and always Kairos time. Time through which The Gracious Spirit is revealing our origin and our destiny. We have come from the Womb of Infinite Love, and that is our first memory, Infinite  Love. We will be, to quote St.Augustine, "be restless' until we find the time and place where The Infinite is encountered in our croons time, watch time, calendar time. Which will control us unless we take steps to look beyond and seek beyond the so called realities of life. Realities which when given the power will control us and our lives and we will lives of unreality. Then we will ask " "Where is God,The Divine, The Gracious Spirit, The Power of love, etc." ?

                 It is very difficult to gaze on the cross and come to terms with this stark reality, THIS IS THE FULLNESS OF THE REVELATION OF OUR CREATOR, AND CREATING FORCE OF LOVE. That   Human Being, a being, that has been stripped naked, His ravaged body, racked with pain, is further dehumanized and exposed to the "vulgar gaze of the crude, rude, and mocking crowd". A crowd that He wished to be transformed and transfigured so the Infinite Within then may be exposed, and then there where will be the revelation of "new heavens and new earths".  It did not happen during His lifetime, so t now rests with you and I to assume the challenge and do what is possible for us. Not the impossible, but the possible, we are called to do our best, not the best. Then The Paschal-Easter Mysteries reveal that through our great failure, our heart wrenching losses, we are Brough to a wisdom which all the richnesses of the world cannot impart on us. We again go deep to seek out and search out our unique understanding and we with  all the events of  daily lives write a contemporary gospel. A gospel that MAY be written, but not necessarily so." Wherever you go preach the Gospel, and when necessary use words." St Francis.

I love the definition of love Scott Peck gifts us with," Love, is the willingness to extend oneself for the spiritual growth of oneself, or,  another human being". In the economy of today we are challenged to add, "the cosmos, all of creation." In His second appearance in, the room, The Risen One extends Himself so that rejecting Thomas may be brought to faith. Christ's attitude, o'k  "Thomas, so you do you not to believe, that is going to be your loss. Look around you at those who do believe why cannot you believe these you friends that I Am Risen. No that is not the attitude of the Risen Christ. He shows Thomas His wounds, hands and side. He further invites Thomas to place his hand, fingers into His wounds. Thomas comes to believe that Resurrection and new way of existing is possible. That was then, how about now ?  On  my hike to day I was privileged to have, not a meeting but an encounter with another trail person and what I am to share was crystallized in those minutes of encounter. Strange events occur on desert trails. I pray you have the transforming experience.

              His vocation, is to journey with those who choose the created over the uncreated. The apparent good, is chosen not, The Good. The challenge of all recovery is to face the reality that recovery is grounded in the acceptance of, 'Of the powerlessness of power and the power of powerlessness." That must be revealed, communicated by someone who has walked the road that lead to "absolute powerlessness". In that hell of failure, rejection and complete nakedness a little light broke through the darkness. That little light came in the form of wound sharing. "The room"of the gospel is recreated in that place, and the encounter between Christ and Thomas is recreated, ever anew. The suffering, desperate addict must hear the  hope filled good news, there is a way out. The recovering addict share with the sufferer, his/her's "experience, strength and hope' that has come from the acceptance of "absolute powerlessness" over their addiction. I each and every " 12 step" it is in the telling of the slog from where they were at, to the freedom experienced in a new way of acting and a new way of seeing. In each "room' where the twelve step journey is radically shared wounds are again shared. In that honest sharing something very mysterious happens. In the simple telling, retelling, The Mysterious Power of Grace, uses those word as a channel of hope leading to another metaman, metahuman, being touched and the process of restoration has begun. Recovery is a process, not an event. Those who "walk the walk, not talk the talk' continue their slog. A slog that is NEVER taken alone. There is not the confidence in a new Higher Power, and embraces our powerlessness and leads us to new horizons. There are no boundaries in the spiritual journey, only horizons to be travelled to, by a path "we do not know". Faith journeys are not about certainties but the hope-filled acceptance of this fact, the step I am taking right now is the pinnacle of my life. I am as safe as as I can be right here right now. We do not know where this "strength and hope comes from". It is none of our business. Our Gracious Spirit, Higher Power, Great Spirit ...... knows, and in that knowing we are known. THAT IS ENOUGH. ( I am dealing here with Absolute Mystery. Some word may have to be reread, and reread. When this has happened please rejoice, celebrate, in what slowly bubbles up from your innermost depths. This well awaits your  visit, and revisitation is encouraged. The refreshing Water of Life always tastes sweet.

           My sister Virginia has reached the end of her encounter with The Paschal Mystery. She has drunk fully of the chalice of suffering, resulting in her being the source of transforming strength for, others. May her transition to The Resurrected life be one of peace and joy. Her special needs son, Gearoid, will also be in need of encounters with today's Simon and Veronica.  A journey into new awarenesses of powerlessness, and loneliness awaits. We all need your prayers, and, hope-filled thoughts.  Great Grandpa Joe. 

Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Easter Season 2024 !!!!!.    We continue or reflection of this Easter Season so we are able to view the present life events with fresh lenses that reveal the great mysteries that are present in the present, in the here and now moment. It is always about where I find my  grounded two feet. The ground we tread on is sacred ground. Every step is a sacramental step. Mystery permeates our reality. As a consequence all must be reverenced, as it is holy. There is nothing, no moment lived,, no person encountered, that does not have  "perfectly hidden, and perfectly revealed " (Rohr) within their depths  The Paschal Mystery. So then it stands to reason that our Paschal experience, and understanding of said Mystery is always caught up in encounter. The richness of the gift, like buried treasure, is revealed as the digging is done. No digging, no encounter with what is hidden in the depths will reveal to us nothing. Then instead of the sacramental experience of the moment, there is a meaningless existence. This is turn will be fodder for the false self to lead us ' far off lands " where me will meet the rebellious son living within us. We are aching to journey home to the warm, unconditional  loving embrace of The Prodigal Father. This is always ours, right now.  It is always right now for you and I. We have been generated by The Eternal Mother/Father creator in eternity's our our origin, and destiny is eternal. I pray this encourages you to claim all that you are, and all that is being given to you. 

      The desert always is the source of new perspectives and as a consequence, new understandings. I think St.Augustine famous words " O Beauty, ever ancient, ever new" can be applied to the sacramentality of the desert experience. What is ancient, and what is new, we are led to discover, over a long period of time. The Jesus, The Good Shepherd was in the desert for forty days. Ours, on the other hand, is a life long journey. A tough slog. We slowly surrender to the process of surrendering. The egocentric ego does not surrender without a life long fight. That battle rages every moment in our depths. The results are revealed to us in the events of our daily living. In this way ,The Resurrection becomes a lived  reality. Christ has died, Christ is risen,  Christ comes and reveals His Risen Presence in each and every  encounter with loss, abandonment and death.

    We left poor St. Thomas in his rejection of the reality of The Resurrection. All that was going to change when The Risen Christ reappeared in the room, again without notice. As The Good Shepherd he reaches out to Thomas, and to the place of  rejection. He approaches Thomas as he is, and offers to him His wounded hands and side to be penetrated. At what cost ? From his encounter with the sacred wounds of The Good Shepherd, Thomas leaves his rejection stance and surrenders to faith.  A simple account in the Resurrection narrative, but in simplicity is always  hidden,  and as yet unknown, untold riches.  So it is with us, and our  personal experiences of The Paschal-Easter Mystery.. When we bring our woundedness to prayer, they through grace, mysteriously "become  our sacred wounds" as Fr. Rohr so wisely councils us. The fruits of these wounds are not for ourselves, for our own grandoisement. As we encounter,  come face to face, with a contemporary suffer we must first be able to, somehow, in some way encounter them with compassion. Not empathy, compassion. We must let the wounded one we are conscious of their pain, Why ? Because we too were in the place of  guilt, shame, anger,  abandonment, despair, powerlessness, and hopelessness. Our guts were hanging out. Peace  and serenity were words written somewhere  in some book. We too were experiencing, hell on earth. That was not the end for us,  rather that was the beginning. The beginning of a way of acting, which in turn led to a new way of thinking. This happened over a period of time.The gift of perseverance must be prayed for. We must be honest the journey is not easy, anything but. ( This is to be continued. Ran out of gas at 10:20 p.m.) Sleepy, mistake prone, Grandpa Joe.

Friday, April 19, 2024

An awe-full Easter Season, is my wish for you. Yes, I am going to be able offer this wish for a few more weeks. The  Easter-Paschal has so many, many layers of deep spiritual meaning it would take a lifetime of these efforts to really do justice to all of its, depth meaning. We explore, or better still we are led into the exploration of a Mystery whose meaning can never be exhausted. Each generation will be lead to its unique understanding, while begging the question,"Why was not The Paschal Mystery understood this way before now ?" The Gracious Creative Spirit leads to to what we need NOT what we want, or think what is best for us. In the last post I shared the deep meaning of mercy, which has come to me over a number of years now. Today, The Spirit Willing, we will look a little deeper into  greeting the Risen Christ offered to His fear filled , shattered apostles, cowering in the room with locked doors. Those locked doors could not keep The Risen One locked out. The Risen Christ we must remember is now beyond the restraints of time, and space. In all our spiritual considerations we are NEVER bound by time and space.

           Well ! let us make an effort to create the  imagined atmosphere created by those worried souls.  Was there a conversation taking place among those traumatized persons ? We they discussing  the events that  Rabbi Jesus foretold were going to happen, and sure enough they did. In the events of The Tridium the apostles were shown to be lacking in real courage. " The Shepherd was struck, and the sheep scattered". What were the thoughts of ST. Peter, who promised so much and in the end was a  very vocal denier of his Master. He was brave enough ,however, to face his fears, and cowardice. St. Peter was moved to tears, and that was his salvation. He showed all of us, what happens when we own our truth no matter how horrendous it may be. The truth will always set us free. Free to move from the darkness of fear, into the sun-light that shines on all beloved daughters, and sons. Again, a reminder, once you are the beloved, that gift, that dignity cannot be lost no matter what may occur in our lives. Let us continue and be exposed to the dynamic that occurred when The Risen Christ suddenly appears in the midst of His Apostles.

                     First and foremost the was no shaming the vulnerable one. There was no condemning. There were no condemnations for what they did not do, when He was shamed, and  traumatized . There was no challenge to Peter, " I say Peter were you not the one who promised me so much ? What happened ?" The Risen Christ offered to one and all 'Shalom". Now get a drink because we are going deep in the meaning of the Hebrew word, "shalom". We all know that it means peace,  the absence of war, right ? Wrong. Peace has, like mercy, layers and layers of meaning. It also means completeness, soundness, safety, soundness in body, prosperity, tranquility, contentment, peace especially with The Divine One in covenant relationship, lastly freedom from war. Peace, then is more than a feeling. Shalom is the power that breaks the authority that comes with chaos. That is what The Risen Christ offered to those frightened ones that surrounded Him. There was one missing, Thomas the denier, not the doubter. He deserves special treatment. So guess what is going to be the topic of our next visit ???? 

Thursday, April 11, 2024

  Mercy Sunday, 2024. I some time have this thought: "Now we have Pope Francis as our Shepherd of the shepherds, would it not be awe-full to be back in parish ministry again." The  reflecting on state of the economy, and the  fear-full challenge of the raising of funds make this retired guy, a very happy camper." Pope Francis and his great emphasis on mercy, sure has changed the attitude of The Catholic Church in its outreach to all those who are on the margins, and have not they been exposed to the fear relieving gift of todays understanding, of the mercy of God. For one raised in the ethos of "the toxic trinity", that is guilt, fear and shame, this  new emphasis, not on worthiness, but on our belovedness has really been a game changer for me. We were given a whole year to research, and reflect on radical nature of our Prodigal Father's  Love. That meant we had to let go of the familiar toxic trinity, and be lead into the freedom of being beloved daughters and sons.

          That word, beloved, I hope and earnestly pray will be front and center in the planning of your spiritual nourishment. Yes !!! it is a fear filled challenge to let go of the comfortable, the familiar, no how much main it causes, to step out into  Gospel, freedom. The Rabbi Jesus came to reveal, to God's chosen people, a new understanding of what it meant to be "the chosen'. The Historical Jesus is now seen as a reformer of religion and religious practice. He called out, those who hid behind practices that did not reach those on the margins, the rejected, the unclean, in other words all those outside the accepted laws of both religion and society. That is what got Him killed. The leaders of church and state conspired to have Him executed. But not in any humane way, He was condemned to suffer the death of a runaway slave. The ultimate indignity. He we have The Incarnation of The Father's love and mercy conspired against, and enough lies were told that He was lead away, to face, all alone, an excruciating public death.  

           Pope Francis may not be physically  crucified, but he is being  publicly ridiculed, conspired against, demonized, and painted as the antichrist. In his ten years plus he has sought the freedom of those who, up till now, were the subject of exploitation, dehumanization, public ridicule, and any degrading hell those who sees themselves as "the chosen, the gifted, the impeccable," can conjure up. "Awake O sleeper, and be awakened to the rank injustices perpetrated against the one chosen by the Holy Spirit to be our leader and guide. That is what is before each one of us as well, when we dare question the accepted way of doing things. How quickly does one get the shaft if the dishonest practices are questioned, or horrors of horrors, publicly revealed. Let us keep before our eyes today's martyrs who are dying anonymously rather that choose to live under exploitation, and tyranny. There are literally hundreds of martyrs who have died in the struggle for the dignity of all human beings, and a healthy environment  in which to live their lives. There are millions of " Anonymous Christians (Rahner) who are continuing the fight The Historical Jesus initiated. His struggle, His persecution, is as real  today as it was 2,000 years ago. That struggle must be seen as our sharing in The Cross of Jesus, Who became the Christ, through His Paschal-Easter Mystery. 

           We all have to face the same struggles, the same alienations, the same dehumanizations, in our struggle to be authentic Catholic Christians. We are going to fail, get up, and fail again. Did not Jesus fall at least three times on the way to His encounter with ignominy and death. Thank, The Good Giver of all Goodnesses, we have the lens of mercy through which the realities of our lives,  MUST be seen. We all want, desire a healthy spirituality. We then we will have to come to an ongoing,  evolutionary in depth understanding of mercy. I am in the habit of repeating myself, and for that I apologize. I am 84 years on, and a Diamond Jubilarian,  much to my surprise. One cannot underestimate the power of transforming mercy-full love. Why do you think I a making this effort ? To make sure the real authentic message of The Incarnation of This mercy-full Love is conveyed to all those, that is all of us, who seek the sense of belonging and freedom necessary for an authentic human life, and journey. 

         The oil of Mercy-full Love, heals us, soothes us, comforts us, protects us, transfigures us and transforms us. That is what is offered to us, at no cost to us. It is absolutely free. Mercy-full Love is freely given, but it must be freely accepted.  Let us who are innately poor,  hungry for  all that will make life a life worth living, come to , the Well of The Water of Life, to be immersed, refreshed, renewed, reinvigorated and after each fall find ourselves upright, and taking the journey, one step at a time. Let us always be soothed, comforted and strengthened in ways we will never completely understand, while dwelling in these mortal bodies of our. Mortal bodies in which we have been immersed in, coming from The Eternal Lover.

Friday, April 5, 2024

Octave of Easter 2024.  This has been a real tough week. After the challenges that go with The Easter Tridium, and The Easter Celebrations "My get up and go, has plain got up and gone." ( Boy have I reached way way back for that one.) So the energy is physic energy is slowly coming back, and I am endeavoring to start this effort, not knowing where it will go. " Man proposes, but The Gracious Spirit blows, when and where It wills." Like a butterfly, we are blown wherever the breezes can carry us."

                    The Eater Vigil begins not with the sign of The Cross, as we are in one whole celebration extending over three days, but with the blessing of The Easter Fire. From the fire a taper is lit. That taper lights the Paschal Candle. The deacon slowly carries the symbol of The Risen Christ into the darkened church. From that one light tapers disperse the light throughout the darkness, lightening up the candles of the faith community. ( Some still are impatient for the coming of the lights, so out come the lighters !!!!!) No matter how many tapers are lit from the Paschal Candle, and not matter how many candles are lit from the tapers the light of these is never diminished.  Whatever we give away never diminishes our worthwhileness, it only enhances it. " We do not possess anything, until, we give it away." Spiritual paradoxes are not solved in the head, their meaning is slowly revealed to us as we live, life. As Henri Nouwen  reminds us, "We ask the questions, but we live into the answer."  Immersing ourselves ever deeper, and anew into The Paschal-Easter celebrations results in the awakening of a light that leads us through our dark valleys, and the fear-full-ness that can accompany each step taken. The Light that illumines our journey, is to be shared with those placed in our path. The Light shared with us in Baptism is to be shared generously,  For this we were born, for this we live each moment.

                  Here in 2024, we have a very darkened world, and the light of truth is becoming dimmer and dimmer. The Easter Season will afford us the opportunity to renew our Baptism Vows again and again, as we face the challenge of carrying the light of truth into a world that much prefers the darkness, and the continuous dimming of the light. During Easter Vigil celebration the candidates for admission into The Catholic Faith, receive not only The Sacrament of Baptism, but Confirmation and Eucharist, ( The three Sacraments of Initiation),  as well. Becoming not only a Catholic Christian, but a Confirmed one as well, carries with it all the strength we will need to fulfill our intended vocation. That calling, is calling us to be the the living presence, of The Living Christ, no matter what the cost may be. Some seem to just sail through life, without much care, and the there are those who drink deeply of the chalice of suffering. the Tridium, The Easter Octave, and all the days following are our yearly retreat days. Minutes, hours, days that are a special Kairos Time, uniquely designed for the challenges we fade-in the here and now.

                 Life is tough. I beg you not to make it any tougher on yourself, and consequently with all those who are destined to share our Paschal Journey. Jesus at His baptism at the Jordan, heard Himself being called " My, The Voice from the heavens announces, Beloved Son". One would rightly expect the life of The Beloved  Son of The Divine Father to be treated with kid gloves. That brutalized Body hanging nailed to The Cross says otherwise. The Beloved Son was not spared the journey into the depths, of pain, suffering, and complete emptiness because He had to be "one like unto us in all things, except sin". All this had to happen so we would not question The Historical Jesus's journey into the fullness, of what it means to be human. If that pain-full, self emptying journey was not taken then we would not have an authentic model of what it means to be human. Rabbi Jesus took it to the limits go what it means to be human, and the went beyond those limitations. The Incarnate One can only be understood as existing beyond the limits of time and space. Yes !!! this stretches us. we are not destined to be confined within the limited norms that society wants to impose on us, we are called to discover a life beyond boundaries. the spiritual journey constantly carries us beyond boundaries unto the horizons of ........