Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Not Going That Way

As you travel through life there are always those times
When decisions just have to be made,
When the choices are hard, and solutions seem scarce,
And the rain seems to soak your parade.

There are some situations where all you can do
Is simply let go and move on,
Gather your courage and choose a direction
That carries you toward a new dawn.

So pack up your troubles and take a step forward -
The process of change can be tough,
But think about all the excitement ahead
If you can be stalwart enough!

There might be adventures you never imagined
Just waiting around the next bend,
And wishes and dreams just about to come true
In ways you can't yet comprehend!

Perhaps you'll find friendships that spring from new things
As you challenge your status quo,
And learn there are so many options in life,
And so many ways you can grow!

Perhaps you'll go places you never expected
And see things that you've never seen,
Or travel to fabulous, faraway worlds
And wonderful spots in between!

Perhaps you'll find warmth and affection and caring
And somebody special who's there
To help you stay centered and listen with interest
To stories and feelings you share.

Perhaps you'll find comfort in knowing your friends
Are supportive of all that you do,
And believe that whatever decisions you make,
They'll be the right choices for you.

So keep putting one foot in front of the other,
And taking your life day by day...
There's a brighter tomorrow that's just down the road -
Don't look back!
You're not going that way!

~~ Author Unknown

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Spring Planting

We are now beginning to prepare the soil for the spring planting. As we prepare to enter the Lenten season, we will also be preparing spiritually for the future. Here are some thoughts on planting and reaping:

If you plant honesty, You will reap trust.
If you plant goodness, You will reap friends.
If you plant humility, You will reap greatness.
If you plant perseverance, You will reap victory.
If you plant consideration, You will reap harmony.
If you plant hard work, You will reap success.
If you plant forgiveness, You will reap reconciliation.
If you plant openness, You will reap intimacy.
If you plant patience, You will reap improvements.
If you plant faith, You will reap miracles

But, if you plant dishonesty, You will reap distrust.
If you plant selfishness, You will reap loneliness
If you plant pride, You will reap destruction.
If you plant envy, You will reap trouble.
If you plant laziness, You will reap stagnation.
If you plant bitterness, You will reap isolation.
If you plant greed, You will reap loss.
If you plant gossip, You will reap enemies.
If you plant worries, You will reap wrinkles.
If you plant sin, You will reap guilt.

So be careful what you plant now, It will determine what you will reap tomorrow. The seeds you now scatter will make life worse or better your life or the ones who will come after. Yes, someday, you will enjoy the fruits, or you will pay for the choices you plant today.

Sunday, February 23, 2020

Be Here Now

Thomas Merton entered the monastery in Kentucky when he was 27 years old. He was accidentally electrocuted in Bangkok 27 years later on December 10, 1968, at the age of 54. Merton reacquainted Christianity with its contemplative roots. His writings inspired many, including myself, to return to le point vierge, “the virgin point” of pure poverty and nothingness in God’s presence, which can only be found in the now.

Be Here Now

If you watch your mind, you will see you live most of your life in the past or in the future, both of which Jesus warns us against. That’s just the way the mind works. If you are to experience the ever-present and ever-coming Christ, the one place you have to be is the one place you are usually not: NOW HERE or “nowhere.” Everything that happens to you happens right now; if you can’t be present right now, nothing new is ever going to happen to you. You will not experience your experiences; they will not go to any depth in your soul. You really won’t grow unless you’re willing to live right here, right now—to be present.

How do you be present? Jesus describes it rather profoundly: “You must love the Lord your God with your whole heart, with your whole soul, with your whole mind, and with your whole strength” (Luke 10:27). Whenever all of these parts are working together at the same time you are present. He finishes by saying “Do this and life is yours!” (10:28). I like to say that prayer happens whenever all of you is present—body, mind, soul, spirit, emotions—all together. That’s hard work. This is the core and constant meaning of all spiritual practice, no matter what religion: how to be here now! Then you will know what you need to know to go forward.

Usually we have to be shocked into it, I’m sorry to say. Great love does it. When you are deeply in love—with anything—you tend to be present to the Now. Someone has said, “To be a saint is to have loved many things”—many things—the tree, the dog, the sky, the flowers, even the color of someone’s clothing. You see, when you love, you love, and love extends to everything all the time and everywhere. When you love, you’re much more likely to be present. What this moment offers is the grace of God.

Saturday, February 22, 2020

Our Human Nature

“Our nature is not to go forward all the time. It has its to’s and fro’s.” – Blaise Pascal

We prefer straight, unrelentingly, upward paths and the slightest dip is often enough to throw us into confusion.

We diet for eight days and fill up on the ninth and then berate ourselves as though the eight days don’t count, as though they never happened.

“Look at me. I’m a failure. How come? I was doing so well.”

And the answer comes back: “Because it’s in our nature to forever gain a little, and forever to lose a little. Life has a lot of two steps forward and one step back.”

The spiritual journey is no exception, because we make the journey as who we are … human beings … not as what we would like to be, escapees from a frail, inconstant humanity.

For eight days we set aside time to prayer. And on the ninth we set aside time for a mindless sitcom.

But the journey is all the steps, even the backward ones. It’s no in our nature to go forward all the time.

It’s certainly no what God expects. So why are our expectations higher than God’s?

- John Kirvan in “Raw Faith”

Friday, February 21, 2020

7th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Today’s gospel, Matthew 5:38-48, is the conclusion of the Sermon on the Mount.  In these ten verses, Jesus gives us the ultimate challenge for Christian living. These are the standards we must meet to fulfill our obligations in the Kingdom of Heaven.  Jesus tells us we must:

· offer no resistance to evil people
· turn the other cheek
· If someone wants your shirt, give them your coat as well
· go the second mile
· give your money away to anyone who asks for it
· love your enemies
· pray for the people who hurt you
· finally, be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect.

I don’t know about you, but I know that I am far from achieving this level of perfection.  Here is the good news; the perfection Jesus is talking about is not what we usually understand as perfect (without flaw).  Scripture scholars tell us that the word St. Matthew used here was telos, a Greek term that means mature, fully-grown or adult.   It can also mean reaching the end, achieving a goal, a purpose or complete.

God does not expect us to be flawless.  God does expect us to strive for completeness, for holiness, for spiritual maturity in the Kingdom.  In his collection of essays, What’s Wrong with the World (1910), G. K Chesterton wrote, “The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and left untried.”  Our challenge is to try, not once or twice and then give up.  We should wake up every morning with the intention to live the Christian ideal.   And if we fail, we should pray that God will give us the opportunity to try again.

God our Father,
in your Son Jesus Christ
you have shown us your tenderness
and accepted us, sinful people,
as your sons and daughters.
Share your heart with us,
help us be merciful and understanding people,
that we may learn from the way you have treated us
to accept everyone without conditions,
to forgive and forget all hurts,
so that we become more like you.
We ask you this through Christ our Lord.

Thursday, February 20, 2020

The Foot Path of Peace

To be glad of life because it gives you a chance to love and to work and to play, and to look up at the stars; to be satisfied with your possessions but not contented with yourself until you have made the best use of them; to despise nothing in the world except falsehood and meanness, and to fear nothing except cowardice to be governed by your admirations rather than by your disgusts; to covet nothing that is your neighbors except his kindness of heart and gentleness of manners; to think seldom of your enemies, often of your friend and every day of Christ, and to spend as much time as you can with body and with spirit in God’s out-of-doors. These are the little guideposts on the Foot Path Of Peace.

Henry Van Dyke

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Primordial Souls

Some mystics taught that the human soul comes from God and that the last thing that God does before putting a soul into the body is to kiss the soul. The soul then goes through life always dimly remembering that kiss, a kiss of perfect love, and the soul measures all of life’s loves and kisses against that primordial perfect kiss.

The ancient Greek Stoics taught something similar, that souls pre-existed inside of God and that God, before putting a soul into a body, would blot out the memory of its pre-existence. But the soul would then be always unconsciously drawn towards God because, having come from God, the soul would always dimly remember its real home, God, and ache to return there.

In one rather interesting version of this notion, they taught that God put the soul into the body only when the baby was already fully formed in its mother’s womb. Immediately after putting the soul into the body, God would seal off the memory of its pre-existence by physically shutting the baby’s lips against its ever speaking of its pre-existence. That’s why we have a little cleft under our noses, just above center of our lips. It’s where God’s finger sealed our lips. That is why whenever we are struggling to remember something, our index finger instinctively rises to that cleft under our nose. We are trying to retrieve a primordial memory.

Our souls dimly remember once having known perfect love and perfect beauty. But, in this life, we never quite encounter that perfection, even as we forever ache for someone or something to meet us at that depth. This creates in us a moral loneliness, a longing for what we term a soulmate, namely, a longing for someone who can genuinely recognize, share, and respect what’s deepest in us.