Monthly Archives: May 2014

Not As It Should Be

ascensionRight after World War II, a U.S. Army officer and his wife were stationed in Japan. That country had been devastated by the war. The post-war economy was in shambles. Unemployment approached 60%. People came to the Army wife’s door daily looking for work.

One man said that he could do wonders for her garden if she would only give him a chance. So, for the first time in her life, this young Army wife hired a gardener. He spoke no English, but the wife, through sign language and pencil and paper gave him instructions about where to plant, prune, and pamper her garden. He listened politely and followed her instructions exactly. The garden emerged as the finest in the neighborhood. When she finally realized that her new gardener knew far more about the matter than she, the wife stopped giving him directions and let him freely care for the garden. It was magnificent.

Then one day the gardener came with an interpreter who expressed the appreciation but the regrets of the gardener. “He will no longer be able to care for your garden. He must leave.”

The wife expressed her regrets and thanked him through the interpreter for making hers such a fine garden. Out of politeness, she asked the interpreter, “Where is he going?” The interpreter replied that the gardener was returning to his old job as the Professor of Horticulture at the University of Tokyo. I can imagine, can’t you, the look that must have been on that Army wife’s face when she discovered, upon his leaving, that her gardener was a university professor.

Things are not always as we expect. The disciples experienced this at the time of the ascension of Jesus. This whole event, death, burial resurrection and now ascension, wasn’t what they thought it would be. Here’s a little glimpse into the confusion.

They were looking intently up into the sky as he was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. “Men of Galilee,” they said, “why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.”

—–Acts 1:10-11

Things are not always as they should be.

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People Don’t Realise How Hard Blogging Is

I really think this post is well worth your time.

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Thursday Prayer 5

General view on the Basilica of St. Clare, Ass...

Basilica of St. Clare, Assisi

 

May you reflect the glory of the Lord. Place your heart in the divine substance through contemplation. Transform your being into the image that we reflect, the Godhead Itself. Then, you will feel what love is. Then, you will feel the sweetness that is revealed to us through the Spirit, what no eye has seen and no ear has heard, the love that God has for His lovers.

-—Clare of Assisi

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God’s Backdoor

‘It is good to give alms for men’s sake. Even if it is only done to please men, through it one can begin to seek to please God.’

— Amma Sarah

Amma sara 1The world is full of people who looking are for the right time, the right place, the right motive, or the right feeling to begin to serve others. I have been guilty of this sort of thing more than once in my life. The wise elder is telling us to give for whatever motive that we possess. In this case alms are given to please men, but even a wrongly motivated act of grace can be a backdoor to pleasing God.

God’s essential call to us is to look outside of ourselves and to act as He would act. Think about it, God in the form of the man Jesus, came to live and die on this earth for you and me. Not only did He do this great act of kindness, but He did it knowing that many would reject Him. Let us use His example as a call to action. We are called to muster whatever amount of kindness and compassion that we can find in our souls. Don’t wait for everything to be “just right,” just act. God will use your actions for good. He will be pleased. Enter His backdoor, He welcomes you.

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True/False Self

Every one of us is shadowed by an illusory person: a false self.merton bw

This is the person that I want myself to be but who cannot exist, because God—because Truth, Light—knows nothing about him. And to be unknown to God is altogether too much privacy.

My false and private self is the one who wants to exist outside the reach of God’s will and God’s love— outside of reality and outside of life. And such a self cannot help but be an illusion.

We are not very good at recognizing illusions, least of all the ones we cherish most about ourselves—the ones we are born and raised with and which feed the roots of sin. For most of the people in the world, there is no greater subjective reality than this false self of theirs, which cannot exist. A life devoted to maintaining and expanding this false self, this shadow, is what is called a life of sin.

All sin starts from the assumption that my false self, the self that exists only in my own egocentric desires, is the fundamental reality of life around which everything else in the universe is ordered. Thus I use up my life in the desire for pleasures and the thirst for experiences, for power, honor, knowledge, feeling loved, in order to clothe this false self and construct its nothingness into something objectively real. And I wind experiences around myself and cover myself with pleasures and glory like bandages in order to make myself perceptible to myself and to the world, as if I were an invisible body that could only become visible when something visible covered its surface.

To be a saint means to be my true self. Therefore the problem of sanctity and salvation is in fact the problem of finding out who I truly am and of discovering my true self, my essence or core.

Trees and animals have no problem. God makes them what they are without consulting them, and they are perfectly satisfied.

With us it is different. God leaves us free to be whatever we like.

We can be ourselves or not, as we please. We are at liberty to be real, or to be unreal. We may be true or false, the choice is ours. We may wear now one mask and now another, and never, if we so desire, appear with our own true face.

But we cannot make these choices with impunity.

Causes have effects, and if we lie to ourselves and to others, then we cannot expect to find truth and reality whenever we happen to want them.

If we have chosen the way of falsity we must not be surprised that truth eludes us when we finally come to need it and that confusion reigns.

—– From Thomas Merton 

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Thursday Prayer 4

man.rosary.pray_.prayingGive me the grace, Good Lord

To set the world at naught. To set the mind firmly on You and not to hang upon the words of men’s mouths.

To be content to be solitary. Not to long for worldly pleasures. Little by little utterly to cast off the world and rid my mind of all its business.

Not to long to hear of earthly things, but that the hearing of worldly fancies may be displeasing to me.

Gladly to be thinking of God, piteously to call for His help. To lean into the comfort of God. Busily to labor to love Him.

To know my own vileness and wretchedness. To humble myself under the mighty hand of God. To bewail my sins and, for the purging of them, patiently to suffer adversity.

Gladly to bear my purgatory here. To be joyful in tribulations. To walk the narrow way that leads to life.

To have the last thing in remembrance. To have ever before my eyes my death that is ever at hand. To make death no stranger to me. To foresee and consider the everlasting fire of Hell. To pray for pardon before the judge comes.

To have continually in mind the passion that Christ suffered for me. For His benefits unceasingly to give Him thanks.

To buy the time again that I have lost. To abstain from vain conversations. To shun foolish mirth and gladness. To cut off unnecessary recreations.

Of worldly substance, friends, liberty, life and all, to set the loss at naught, for the winning of Christ.

To think my worst enemies my best friends, for the brethren of Joseph could never have done him so much good with their love and favor as they did him with their malice and hatred.

These minds are more to be desired of every man than all the treasures of all the princes and kings, Christian and heathen, were it gathered and laid together all in one heap.

Amen

—-Thomas More

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A Touch of Grace

“And this has been a comfort to me, that I choose Jesus as my Savior-by His grace. In my suffering and sorrow He has taught me that I should choose only Him for my salvation in my well being and sorrow.” 

 –Julian of Norwich

Julian Norwich 2Long ago Julian found a way to touch the grace of God in difficult times of her life. In our very trying and difficult world , we too, can find this grace and make challenging times of life opportunities for growth and grace.

 

Prayer Thought – Lord help me to find and understand grace as it is freely given by you.

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Hero Journey

There is a general pattern to the hero journey – the quest of the hero into unknown realms, the powers that he meets there and overcomes, the stages of his crisis of victory, and his return then, with some boon he has gained, for the founding of a city, religion, dynasty, or whatnot; or, on the other hand, his failure and destruction.

—Joseph Campbell

Where have all the heroes gone? Somehow it seems that there is a tremendous shortage of real life heroes in our world – the type of people who take risks for others, face danger, fight evil and most importantly, win! We yearn for someone or something to look up to and feel secure. The greatest motivator in the 21 st century is fear.

Super_HeroesThe most common headline tells us of the failure of some leader or celebrity who had brought hope to their followers. Perhaps that is the reason that Hollywood has a fascination with the “super hero,” hero’s so powerful that they can’t fall. Sadly, such people don’t exist. I truly wish they did. Life would be so much more pleasurable if we knew who to call for the challenges we face. Today it might be Green Lantern, tomorrow Spiderman, but at least we would have someone to call. Joseph, the mythologist, gives us a very good pattern for the journey of a hero.

Heroes are not born, but rather, they evolve. The journey of every hero indeed begins with a quest – a drive or vision that sends them out of their comfort zone. They are driven to be bigger, better, and at the same time, selfless and humble. Perhaps the reason we have a hero shortage is that we don’t value the things that make a hero. Our children are not taught to take risks, or to put others before themselves, rather they are taught to be cautious and self protecting. Campbell’s words give us a great pattern for a hero, and if we dare model them or teach them, the world could be a better place.

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First Love

Kathleen Norris wrote a wonderful book called, Dakota. It is a book of meditation and devotion. People now take notice of her. In another writing she talked about her spiritual pilgrimage. She said she was raised in the Church. Then in young adulthood, like so many, she left the Church. Now, in middle age, she has come back to the Church through an experience that she had in a Benedictine monastery in Minnesota.

There she experienced the spiritual discipline of the Monastic order called lectio continuo, which means, sitting and listening to the reading of scripture. It changed her life, she said. It was an epiphany. It came to her when she was listening to the reading of the Revelation to John. At the beginning of the Book of Revelation, John addresses the churches. He says to Ephesus, “God has this against you, that you have abandoned the love that you had at first.”

Norris wrote this. “These are words of conversion, taking hold they can change a life. ‘You have abandoned the love you had at first.’ When I first heard them in the monk’s choir, tears welled up in me, unexpected and unwelcome. I remembered how completely I had loved God and church as a child, and how easily I had drifted away as a young adult.”

“You have abandoned the love you had at first.”

She continued. “Somehow the simple magic of having the Bible read aloud to me opened my eyes to recognize the extent I had allowed the resistance of the world to shake my faith. A secular world view, terribly sophisticated, but of little use to me in the long run, had taken hold of me. Consequently I had allowed the fire to die down in my heart. In the Benedictine choir I allowed John’s words to wash over me, and my full sense of the sacredness of the world returned, and I had begun to listen as a child again.”

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Thursday Prayer 3

May the blessing of light be on you – light without and light within.
May the blessed sunlight shine on you like a great peat fire,
so that stranger and friend may come and warm himself at it.
And may light shine out of the two eyes of you,
like a candle set in the window of a house,CelticCross2
bidding the wanderer come in out of the storm.
And may the blessing of the rain be on you,
may it beat upon your Spirit and wash it fair and clean,
and leave there a shining pool where the blue of Heaven shines,
and sometimes a star.
And may the blessing of the earth be on you,
soft under your feet as you pass along the roads,
soft under you as you lie out on it, tired at the end of day;
and may it rest easy over you when, at last, you lie out under it.
May it rest so lightly over you that your soul may be out from under it quickly; up and off and on its way to God.
And now may the Lord bless you, and bless you kindly. Amen.

Scottish Blessing

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