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To Thine Own Self Be True

June 27, 2017

(Sorry, material deleted in error – will re-provide)

Playgrounds & Blossoms

April 19, 2017

I thought of this quote the other day, from a science-fiction classic: Men go and come, only Earth abides. – George R. Stewart


It brought the biblical source to mind: 

Vanity Of Human Toil 

What profit have we from all the toil which we toil at under the sun?

One generation departs and another generation comes, but the world forever stays.

The sun rises and the sun sets; then it presses on to the place where it rises.

Shifting south, then north, back and forth shifts the wind, constantly shifting its course.

All rivers flow to the sea, yet never does the sea become full. To the place where they flow, the rivers continue to flow.

All things are wearisome, too wearisome for words.

The eye is not satisfied by seeing nor has the ear enough of hearing.

What has been, that will be; what has been done, that will be done. Nothing is new under the sun!

Even the thing of which we say, “See, this is new!” has already existed in the ages that preceded us.

There is no remembrance of past generations; nor will future generations be remembered by those who come after them. – Ecclesiastes 1:1-11
Governments squabbling on the playground, like so many Facebook feuds; like fighting over whose copied post is more true. When will we, the governed, rise up and really dictate how civil our Servants should be?
We are awash in a sea of technology -a technology that was intended to allow us more time to do what is enjoyable, what is pleasing to God, now, it seems, has only created more time to fill with more technology. I wonder, ‘do androids dream of electric sheep,’ or are they just coming up with new ways to enslave us, the lemmings? Lining up for the cliff…
But eye has not seen and ear has not heard. Nothing is new under the sun. I approach Tea Time for my life. More things I do not desire; I have no compulsion to consume all that is set about me. No, like the explorer, beset by life’s sense of urgency, poignant, insistent, needy even, I desire the mercy of being thrift with time. Time to inhale, time to exhale, time to dream, to share, to learn. How much more valuable things become that are simply within our grasp.


Plum blossoms, cherry blossoms. The dogwood blooms, too. Delicate, beautiful, time stopping. One could spend a lifetime looking for that perfect flower. And yet, we close our lives and the flower is gone. Fleeting such as life. Floating away as rivers, all flowing away to the sea, yet the sea never fills.
Yes Jaques, ‘all the world’s a stage.’ Lives will indeed go, and come, all for a good show I am sure. Me? Only the Earth abides, in the end. I think I will go and touch some of it; to cradle it in my hands like a blossom. And so

onward. And upward.

I dream. I sleep.

Commandments…

April 13, 2017

Well, here we are again – the week that changed the world. Holy Week. In the past, I have mused, and shared thoughts of faith in a variety of ways: in works of art, with thought-provoking Scripture, or discussion  of the traditions from across two millennia. So instead of inundating my many Facebook friends with a barrage of images and such, I thought just one subtle prompt might do.


I was brooding over one of my favorite works of art, Judas Conscience, painted in 1891 by Nikolaj Ge. It was that time, I think, when Judas turned away from the fellowship, from his brethren. And I picture him, turning, in the dark now, and wrestling with regret – maybe for a moment, maybe for an eternity – on that fateful evening. Just yesterday, he went to betray him. Tradition calls that day Spy Wednesday – for the actions of a traitor.  Scripture reads, “They paid him thirty pieces of silver, and from that time on he looked for an opportunity to hand him over.” – Matthew 26:16.

For all the effort put into being Christians – ‘little Christs’ – don’t we put in a whole lot of effort into not being one? Like the times I justify not loving my enemy because I bring food to the pantry. Or the times we believe in Church teaching, except for ____ (fill in the blank). We all do it. We all take the silver in one form or another. For Judas it was too much; he hung himself. He died in sin instead of seeking forgiveness. Jesus went to the cross knowing it would serve as a lesson regardless of what Judas decided. Die to pride, or rise in repentance. 

 I choose to rise. But the trick is to recognize that we all do it. On a micro scale. On a grand scale (God forbid!). But do the best you can each day. Then get up and do it again the next. Remember, heaven celebrates the conversion of one sinner, over the 99 saved!  This is the secret of Christianity: not to ‘be perfect as our Father in heaven is perfect’ – because we could never be perfect – but to merely just try. And then try again tomorrow. Eliminate one fault best you can, then work on another.


Tonight? Tonight begins the Triduum, the Thursday Mass of the Lord’s Supper. That last supper. Maybe you can attend. Maybe it is outside of your faith tradition. Maybe your faith hasn’t happened yet. But if it comes to you, read the Scriptures pertaining to this night, of this week, that changed the whole world. Not the whole Bible, but read Matthew chapter 26, especially verses 17-35. Read Mark chapter 14, likewise verses 12-31. Luke chapter 22, 7-38 (especially 35-38 in the Time of Crisis, like these days!).


Ah, then there is John. Save time for this, the Book of Glory, chapters 13-17. Read it, feel the emotion and passion. So many things happen this night that echo on through the millennia. John 13:33-35 sums up what we need to do each and every day, “Where I go you cannot come, so now I say it to you, I give you a new commandment: love one another. As I have loved you, so you also should love one another. This is how all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

Love one another. John writes αγαπάτε, agapate – should love. Agape love is the highest form, as Strong defines, to love properly, to prefer, to love, for those who believe (or those who want/need to), preferring to live through Christ, embracing God’s will . To be as God is: for He is love. That is a lot packed into one little word. 

Aquinas says Love is ‘to will the good of the other, as other.’ To wish one well, not as a means, but as an end. We could use some of that; we could use some of that today. All around us is the opposite of love – fear. This morning the heartbreaking stories in Portland of a 17 year old shot to death in a park – for a belt.  A troubled father taking his life and those of his 8 and 11 year old daughters with him. Assasinating the character of an airline passenger who was brutally drug off. Political nausea in the United States from all perspectives. Children, in Syria, on the television after they had been chemically gassed to death. War. Hate. Famine. Injustice.

Fear.


Today is called Maundy Thursday. In tonight’s Mass, it is sung as the Gospel Acclamation: Mandatum novem do vobis, dicit Dominus, ut diligatis invicem, sicut dilexi vos – I give you a new commandment, says the Lord: Love one another as I have loved you. Traditionally, I have taken that command to maybe share with others a meal or buy some groceries for them, or in some way let people know I am thinking of them and hoping for them. I have a sibling courageously fighting their leukemia. I have a relative imprisoned for a terrible crime. Overcoming fear, and worry, and loathing are a challenge, I get it. But today, I understand my commandment to mean this: to plead with everyone who reads this blog post, share it with everyone they know, and then go, and do one simple act of love in the world. I plead. Love conquers evil every time. Perhaps not in a way we expect or understand. But go out and love someone today.


We have this commandment before us. Love…

Papa

Patience as a Way of Life

February 5, 2017

This is a pretty amazing account by a remarkable and brave young lady, who keeps it ‘pretty real.’  Many friends are dealing with these challenges. They are als remarkable. And brave.  Read on, please…

It’s pretty clear to me, that during this time at home here, helping my mom recover from her stroke, God is wasting no time at all, teaching me things. And not just any “things…&#…

Source: Patience as a Way of Life

December 11, 2016

Be the Nuance, Thankfully

November 25, 2016

We are a Nation of immigrants.  On Thanksgiving, instead of cooking, a friend of mine went down to set up tables to feed about 1,000 hungry people.  She is from Belarus.  Fifty-six years ago, my mom took a military hop, from Germany, with this airsick 5 month old baby.  With lots of stops, I was told – Iceland, Newfoundland, Philadelphia.  Coming to America.

Yesterday, Thanksgiving Day, is certainly a most American of holidays.  It is a day to commemorate a day that new comers – immigrants, if you will – came to a New World, and were taught how to survive by their local residents – indigenous Americans – and gave thanks for the bounty that has come to be known as America.  That bounty, that American Dream, is certainly worthy of continuous thanks.  We Catholics recognize thanks as well.  εὐχαριστία.  Eucharistia.  That’s the Greek.  Thanksgiving.  Father Rick Nakvasil, gave us a little bit of the history involved that eventually because the Thanksgiving Holiday.

Issued by President George Washington, at the request of Congress, on October 3, 1789:

By the President of the United States of America, a Proclamation.

Whereas it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor; and — Whereas both Houses of Congress have, by their joint committee, requested me “to recommend to the people of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer, to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness:”

Now, therefore, I do recommend and assign Thursday, the 26th day of November next, to be devoted by the people of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being who is the beneficent author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be; that we may then all unite in rendering unto Him our sincere and humble thanks for His kind care and protection of the people of this country previous to their becoming a nation; for the signal and manifold mercies and the favor, able interpositions of His providence in the course and conclusion of the late war; for the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty which we have since enjoyed; for the peaceable and rational manner in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national one now lately instituted; for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed, and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and, in general, for all the great and various favors which He has been pleased to confer upon us.

And also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations, and beseech Him to pardon our national and other transgressions; to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually; to render our National Government a blessing to all the people by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed; to protect and guide all sovereigns and nations (especially such as have shown kindness to us), and to bless them with good governments, peace, and concord; to promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the increase of science among them and us; and, generally, to grant unto all mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as He alone knows to be best.

Given under my hand at the City of New York the third day of October in the year of our Lord 1789

Geo. Washington

Seventy-four years later, Secretary of State, William H. Seward (yes, of Seward’s Folly fame) would pen this amazing Proclamation, that sets standards for eloquence, that President Lincoln would use to proclaim Thanksgiving a National Holiday:

Washington, D.C.
October 3, 1863

By the President of the United States of America.

A Proclamation.

The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God. In the midst of a civil war of unequalled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theatre of military conflict; while that theatre has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union. Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defence, have not arrested the plough, the shuttle or the ship; the axe has enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege and the battle-field; and the country, rejoicing in the consciousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom. No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy. It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American People. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquillity and Union.

In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the Seal of the United States to be affixed.

Done at the City of Washington, this Third day of October, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and of the Independence of the United States the Eighty-eighth.

By the President: Abraham Lincoln

Certainly, this is worthy of remembering.

We are a Nation of immigrants.  But we have become a Nation so homogenized, that we forget the nuance that each culture brings to our society.  For instance, when the Irish say hello, they say “Dia duit,” which is ‘God be with you.’  (Isn’t that a great way to greet people?!)  And in response, one would say, “Dia is Mhuire duit,” or, ‘and God and Mary to you.’  When one says thank you, they say, “Go raibh maith agat,” which literally translates as, ‘may you have goodness.’  May you have goodness.  Or, for those speaking Spanish, saying goodbye – “Adios,” – a Dios – To God.  Imagine if we still talked like that to one another – to our neighbor, our friend, our enemy, or those locked away from us for our protection – if we still brought our customs to others?  And what of those who are bringing their own wishes for our goodness – to us?  Our Hispanic brother and sisters here at St. Henry?  Or Filipino? Or Nigerian? Or our new wonderful Syrian parishioners?  A Nation of brothers and sisters…

Our liturgical year is ending, and the dire readings call us to prepare for that end… that is the beginning.  The figs have blossomed and been picked.  All the dead – us – will be judged.  The End of Days… that is the beginning of eternity. Jesus said, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.”  Why?  Because He Is the Living Word… come down from heaven to lead us out of bondage.  We mustn’t forget this… on this day, certainly.   It is the time to reconcile our lives to Christ the King, the Day of Reckoning is upon us.

For us Christians, it is faith in Christ’s victory that offers solace and strength to suffering, persecuted people of every age and creed.  That solace and strength comes in the form of Jesus’ own dire warnings of the coming of the Son of Man.  Only after these terrifying cosmic upheavals will Christ’s mission of world redemption be near.  It is in that time, as the Lord explains to us, that we are to “stand erect, and raise our heads” and receive our redemption that is life eternal.  Give thanks, be faithful, love our neighbors, and help them draw closer to Christ the King.

At Advent’s start, we celebrate the coming of the Lord.  Most people recognize this as the coming of the Baby Jesus.  We also meditate on the Lord Jesus, present in the Sacrament of the Eucharist as the sacrifice is made present to us.  But we are also preparing for the coming of the Lord of End Times.  Past, present, and future.  In one season.

His will be done.

 

Papa

November 25, 2016, Friday, Thirty-fourth Week in Ordinary Time.

Revelation 20:1-4, 11 – 21:2.   The dead were judged according to their deeds.  I saw a new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God.

Responsorial – Revelation 21:3b.  Here God lives among his people.

Luke 21:29-33.  When you see these things happening, know that the Kingdom of God is near.

Persistent:yes

November 25, 2016

O stupid Galatians! [::chuckling::] Tell us how you really feel, Paul.

Yesterday we talked about – – – adoption and circumcision.  To adopt the Fatherhood of God and to be adopted into the Kingdom of Heaven in order to feed the world day after day through the Eucharist.  And Paul pointed out that God wants a circumcision, alright – a circumcision of the heart.  To cut out and excise those things that create barriers to even recognizing the Father at all.  That’s why Paul is so incredulous today: after yesterday’s momentous revelation between him and Peter, he is saying once you receive the Spirit, you no longer have to circumcise to show you are in the Covenant.  And the Galatians are like: OK! Now let’s get circumcised! Oy!

This week, we have also spoke of basic steps to following the model that is Christ Jesus.  To take up our yoke along with Jesus, to lighten our burdens. We learned from St. Francis’ example to embrace a spirit of poverty by relinquishing those things that take us further from God.  And to embrace humility; we take up that yoke, maybe knowing it’s difficult but necessary.  And I do not mean false humility, which is only disguised pride; but a willingness to step in and make the unpopular call, or take on the awful chore because it is the right thing.

So for today: Jesus tells us in his Gospel, be persistent!  “Ask and you shall receive; seek and you shall find; knock and the door will be opened.”  The Lord emphatically teaches, you just got to ask!  You just got to seek.  You just got to knock.  You have to want the salvation he offers. You have to be resolute.  We will run into resistance out in the world, but also in ourselves – as in doing the right and just thing – doing what we ought to do, not just what we want to do.  If we are truthful with ourselves – how many times have we failed to speak up or come to someone’s aid out of fear of what people would think?

I saw a picture on Facebook the other day, like something out of Indiana Jones – or Shrek: it was one of those long, wood and rope bridges across a chasm – and the hiker was at the middle.  And the other side just disappeared into the fog.  And the caption was, “Good things are coming to you.  Just keep going.”  [Don’t look down!)  How many times have we caved in because the goal was too difficult or too lofty?  These are hard questions.  They are supposed to be.  Life is not practice.  It’s the race.  A race to the Kingdom of God.  If you do not reach salvation through maintaining your friendship with God, then surely you will by remaining persistent, and never giving up.

G.K. Chesterton  writes, “In the best Utopia, I must be prepared for the moral fall of any man in any position at any moment; especially for my fall from my position at this moment.”(Chesterton, Orthodoxy).  But we get up.  Persistence.

We can draw closer to God by following His Word – daily.  We assume the yoke is a negative, but it is the easier way; poverty, humility, adoption, circumcision, and persistence, these are a path to salvation.  Let us assist one another in love and friendship, and take as many with us as we can.

 

Love, Papa

October 6, 2016, Thursday, Twenty-seventh Week in Ordinary Time

Galatians 3:1-5.  Did you receive the Spirit from works of the law, or from faith in what you heard?

Responsorial – Luke 1:68.  Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel; he has come to his people.

Luke 11:5-13.  Ask and you will receive.