Saturday, July 22, 2017

Maureen

Today would be my sister Maureen's birthday.  She died in 2004.  I miss her still.  I do hope that she is out of purgatory by now.  Her fans, who are legend, no accounting for taste, believe that she never went there, but went straight to God's eternal hug.  I have no direct revelation as to her whereabouts, but hope for the best, given that one should pay for being a bossy big sister.  Her four children think that she is a saint, but that is because by the time they came along, Maureen had reformed, though my two sisters say it was because she no longer had to put up with me.  I was the only saint among my siblings, and they cannot abide by that.  Saints suffer.  Anyhow, say a prayer for her if she is still in the fires, or one for me if you think she is in heaven.  I might need prayers, even of sinners like my readers, in case I am, as some say, delusional.

Friday, July 21, 2017

Outreach

There are at least two organizations that were founded, not primarily for membership, but for those who don't belong.  One was the Christian Church and the other is AA.  After 2000 years, the Christian church, now churches, is not primarily for those who don't belong. 
It went from disciples to membership, at least for the person in the pew.  In most of these churches, the membership has become people who are pretty much the same within that church.  Ethnicity, language, culture, and custom seem to form any one church.  Not much mixing and not much outreach by the members for "outsiders."  The original followers were supposed to be well, "followers."  Go out and proclaim the good news to those who have not heard and could use it.  Start with the "lost sheep," those who felt abandoned, ignored, the poor as well as the educated.  History had a lot to do with changing all this over 2000 years.  Now AA is less than 100 years old and is still focused on its primary purpose, to carry the message to those who are still suffering, outside the fold.  What will the future hold?  We must be careful, lest history repeat itself.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Flicker

I heard a wonderful analogy to spiritual growth: a power outage.  In a power outage you are in the dark.  No power.  By yourself, at this moment you can do nothing but wait, hope, pray, and maybe grumble and whine.  But you cannot make the power come back on.  Then there is a flicker of light.  Hope. There is help out there.  Then full power comes on, and you are in the light.  Why did the power go out?  Lack of maintenance.  Now in the spiritual journey, you take light for granted, and so you don't worry about maintenance.  You spiritual center is the power grid.  In time, with no maintenance of a spiritual condition, no prayer, meditation, diet, exercise, right living, the grid goes bust and you suddenly find yourself in the dark, the bottom of darkness.  Help!  You cannot find the self-power to bring back the light.  You are not the power.  You wait.  You make promises to whatever, to reform, change, do something differently,  so that this won't happen again.  Then the flicker.  This is the first faint stage of recovery from the darkness.  Waiting is better than bad living.  Then the light comes back on.  It came from a power not your own.  If your promises to change hold up, then you begin to do maintenance on the grid, so that you stay in the light.  All recovering alcoholics know this.  Live badly, maintenance free.  Darkness: the bottom.  Powerlessness. A flicker of hope from somewhere as you are introduced to the Program of Recovery.  Then the light.  Daily maintenance is the ongoing journey.  The next time you are stuck in a New York Subway, or waiting for one that does not come, may this be a reminder: daily maintenance of your spiritual condition.  using the darkness never seems to bring back the light.  

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Being Alone

To paraphrase Matthew Kelly, you can make a lot of bad relationships because of your fear of being alone.  When I first moved to Chicago, as a single guy, I knew no one.  I was alone.  It never occurred to me that I could go to a museum and treat myself to art.  No, I went to a bar.  There I would meet  a woman, who my first instinct said was not for me.  But I killed that instinct with a drink, and thus a budding, but "never should have been" relationship would begin.  There were a few of these.  My best women relationships in Chicago were with women I never met in bars nor at work.  The fear of being alone was what drove me to places and people that were not fulfilling for my deepest needs.  But that fear seemed to block out at times healthier and more stimulating activities, places and events.  You might want to go through your list of people in your life and ask if they are there because of this aloneness fear or are they there for more positive reasons.  I hope that my blog does not get the cut.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Homily

HOMILY NOTES
FR. TERRY RYAN, CSP
MATTHEW 13: 1-9
JULY 16, 2017

            When a seed falls into the ground, what happens?  It might depend on the ground, the soil.  In Jesus’ day, lots of the land used for planting was somewhat rocky.  When the farmer tilled the soil before seeding it, the weeds were plowed under and became fertilizer.  There were no herbicides.  So the seeds fell upon rocks, thorns, and such in the planting.  So?

            So, think of yourself as the soil.  The seed is God.  God opens up to us, as a seed broken open, to embrace us in a loving hug.  We are invited to open up, accept this love in spite of the weeds, thorns, and rockiness of our personality, our shortcomings and imperfections.  God is ready to love us as we are, not as we think we should be.  Do you not have days that are “thorny,” when you seem to choke God ‘s love, and anyone else’s by your bad behavior, selfishness, whining, fear, resentments, and anger?  God will still open to you.  Jesus says that the sower sows seeds everywhere, not just on the “perfect” soil. 

            In chemistry, there is something called a compound substance.  It means that things, substances, that are different, come together and be what they are through each other.  God wants to be moved by our love.  God expresses more of Godness when we openly surrender to this love, this spiritual hug and hug back with love.  Love is meant to change people.  This is the purpose of the divine hug, the unconditional love of God and our response.  God created the world to express God’s self more fully, in nature, stars, and so forth.  But it seems that we humans are the part of creation that can love God most fully, and therefore allow God to become most self-expressive.
                       

            When we love this way, we may begin to see “others” not so much in their faults, but in their oneness with us, all one soil.  This is the vision that allows for a hundred-fold harvest.  I hope for a hug today.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Free On The Inside

I hear people say, "I never went to prison," or "I've never had to go to prison."  Oh!  Not ever prison is behind a clanking cell door.  What about the prisons inside of us, that take away our freedom?  There are the long-standing grudges, and hates that we hold against other people.  We are not free to act toward them in any other way than a negative response, or avoidance.  We are not free to go to some places because "that person" will be there.  Then there are the fears that we hold onto that prevent us from expanding our horizons.  We won't go camping or hiking because bears, bobcats, snakes, spiders might attack us, or it might just be too "uncomfortable."  We have fears about dating, moving, taking on a new job.  Clank, clank goes our life, and we are left out, barred from freedom which begins on the inside, in our hearts.  Try something new today.  Eat lima beans.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Flying Or Falling

There is a quote, "What if I fall? Oh, dearest, but what if you fly?" In other words, at some point we try to leave the safe nest, overcome the weight of fear, and risk failure by stepping into the unknown. We may fly.  We may fall.  But if we stay put we will not know.  So today, when you feel that inertia, weighed by fear, a natural tendency, you may just give it a go.  That would be a matter of Grace, beyond the natural tendency of fear.  Who knows?  You may "fly."  That is, you will discover a whole new dimension of life, and moreover, that it was always in you, waiting to be let go.