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Almost all the great teachers say something to this effect: “Do not judge.”

But great teachers aren’t asking us to turn off our common sense and our rational minds; they are pointing to something deeper.

The great teachers are saying  that you cannot start seeing or understanding anything if you start with “No.”

Richard Rohr, in The Naked Now

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We must be first open to life.  For life is the gift we receive and we are (everyone one of us) recipients of life.

Life teaches.  Life is the pre-eminent teacher.  To live life is to start with “Yes.”  “Yes” affirms life and the gift and Give-Giver and our basic shared identity as human beings … sacred vessels.

It has been said that one only knows what one has first loved.  It is in the “Yes” to life itself that allows us to see, and know, and grow, understand and experience more fully.  The “Yes” avows that in receiving life, we love life and the Gift-Giver.

Absent “Yes” one tracks to divide, distort and isolate.  The need to hide or control, deceive and argue soon flourishes when the fundamental “Yes” is denied, ignored.

Absent the primary “Yes,” as Rohr reminds, we are confinded to the shallows of fickled infatuation (from the Latin meaning “false fire”) not the indispensible breath of Love.

You see nothing can be known in its proper form without that First “Yes.”

The “First Yes” brings us to the fullness of human experience – life itself, our True Self, others, The Gift and The Gift Giver.

Shalom.

 

Dance me to the children who are asking to be born

Dance me through the curtains that our kisses have outgrown

Raise a tent of shelter now, though every thread is torn

Dance me to the end of love

Leonard Cohen

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The poet/songwriter/singer Leonard Cohen gave us truth in verses that spoke of this world and what surpasses its seeming boundaries.  He wrote and sang of Love in its presence and its absence, in its triumph and its defeat, in its joy and its pain.

We live, as we always have, in search of this tent of shelter.  No less now than yesterday.

Think of the old man who moves slowly alone to his last moments.  His being is of memory, longing and certain passage.  To the end he wakes and walks alone.

Think too of the children “asking to be born” in a time when choice trumps caring and hearts have been misplaced.

If Cohen’s words do not touch one deeply than a hollow being lives next door, down the street and in the structures where hope is placed but seldom known.

Dance be to your beauty with a burning violin

Dance me through the panic till I’m gathered safely in

Lift me like an olive branch and be my homeward dove

Dance me to the end of love

Shalom.

Postscript – I discovered Leonard Cohen when I was a young teen.  Met his niece in my graduate education at John Hopkins.  Not too many of my peers were familiar with him.

If you have not enjoyed his writing and his songs, I encourage you to become familiar with him especially at this time of public hostility and the harshness we encounter daily.

When darken clouds gather and no soul the meal sufficient fills – the sane among us seek the tent of shelter that is the homeward dove.

 

The life of the spirit is not your life, but the life of God within us.

St. Teresa of Availa, in Life Written by Herself

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Spirirual growth is aided significantly when we allow questions to arise in us.  What might that mean?

When something happens to us that we cannot quite understand, or when we experience something that is puzzling, even hurtful or disorienting – or something quite suprising and quite unexpected, it is good to pause and spend time asking yourself – what just happened?  Ask – why did that happen and what does it mean or what does it tell or teach me about life, others, interactions, me and the nature and history of my personal journey and the themes that have thus far emerged in my life?

In becoming familiar with your spiritual journey, you become familiar with yourself, your potential, your present personal settings as they orient you (most likely) partially to what is within you, what is your whole and presently unlived story.  And more to the point, in this questioning, you become wiser, more secure and find a relationship with God – your Creator.

Our journey is not so much about complete comprehension as it is about mystery – allowing the presence of mystery, and gaining stability in knowing not all things, but rather that – in growing in Spirit we need not know all things but only that all things are possible, even the things that we least expect and cannot predict.  In this state, we depart from the common installation of those things that are not certain – our identity in politics, career, education, title, wealth, status, political party, ideology, possessions, habits, gender, sexuality “identity,” etc.

Remember as to the Spirit and spiritual development – we do not and cannot unilaterally craft a life; to attempt to do so is bound to lead to frustration, chaos, unhappiness and failure.

In parting, I remind you of Mother Mary: “[Mary] was deeply disturbed [by the words of the angel] and wondered what they might mean.  Luke: 1:29 (Emphasis added.)

Ask questions.  Aim them particularly at yourself.  In this, you grow in the Spirit and peace, understanding and wisdom emerge.

Shalom.

 

Today’s Blog is Dedicated to Mr. and Mrs. Stephen Quinn and their families in Honor of their Marriage at the Basilica at the University of Notre Dame on this day May 11 in the Lord’s Year 2019.  May a life of happiness and faith be their’s day by day, year after year.

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The essential nature of marriage consists in a certain indivisible union of minds by which each one of the consorts is bound to keep inviolably his faith with one another.

St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologicae III, q. 29, art. 2, 1272

To me nothing is so consoling, so piercing, so thrillling, so overcoming as the Mass said in amongst us.  I could attend Masses forever and not be tired.

John Henry Newman, Discourses to Mixed Congregations, 1849

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I witnessed today several Masses in celebration of Marriage which were held previously at the Basilica at the University of Notre Dame.  In each I was moved to tears at the exquisite reality of those Masses and Mass itself, of marriage, of Sacred Matrimony, of Notre Dame, of the witness to Love and fidelity and to Christ that shown so bright in the Bride and Groom, their attendents as well as their parents, family and witnesses.

In seeing this, I know that Marriage and Mass tell us far more about life and eternal existence than most other things except perhaps the birth of a new born baby.

You see Marriage and the Mass are temporal and eternal, as is love.  Yes, God never dies and Christ never ceases.  No time.  No error.  No hostility.  No injustice.  No division.  No sin can deny or extinguish Love, or the God of Love, nor Christ, nor faith, nor Eternity, nor God’s reign and fidelity to us.  No man-made thing or argument, preference, problem, or purpose or proposition may tumble God from God’s reign, nor the good that God so generiously plants in each of us.  The Mass and Marriage show this – over and over and over again in each and all Ages.

My wish today for Stephen and Katie and each and all of us is this: May we live day after day in the proclamation of God’s primacy over all Creation and each man, woman and child and all institutions of this Earth so we might know forever a life of Love in each passing moment, no matter the challenges this wonderful life on Earth may bring.

Shalom.

“The devout Christian of the future will either be a ‘mystic’ … or he will cease to be anything at all.”

Karl Rahner

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Have you ever asked yourself how Jesus might have experienced life, and faith, and His relationship with The Father?

Our life is more a question of fully experiencing the human and hence divine experience of being a human being than anything else.

Yes, our completion and fullness relies on the full experience of human experience for in that our gift is made for completion – for a joining of mortal and immortal reality.

We are made to know fully – from Aplha to Omega.  In this we enter the Mystery.  There is: Truth, identity and relationship with God and all others, all things.  Therein is contentment, peace, traquility and the absence of fear and doubt, and uncertainty, anger and hostility.  Therein is love – the all surpassing love that is of God, that is God.

But alas, we do not see and opt to divide one from another.  The lesser among us divide so as to control, claim authority, impose narrow views that they alone conjure up or acquire from some favortite figure whose wandering defied God.  Marx comes to mind.

In lesser “gods” is foolishness, conflict, ignorance and illness.

The land is littered with those who foolishly chose ideology over God and doing so they close the mind and heart, and alter all opportunity for wisdom, faith, tranquility, peace, truth, compassion, humility, understanding, the experience of human experience – and the transcendence that is available to all.

Yes, we are an odd lot – given fullness, we seek division and hostility.

It is far better to know how to know than be told what to know.  It is far better to know how to see than be told what to see.  This is the difference between the curse of ideologues and Christ, between the rote “believer,” and one who believes because he sees and knows from the experience God in the experience of human experience.

When we settle into division – the proclaimation of “me,” “me vs. them,”  “us vs. the others” we are the antithesis of fullness in being, we are less than we are made to be, blinded not sighted.  You see we are of the Whole, nothing less.

Shalom.

 

 

God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.

Gen 1:26

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Why did God make us in His image?  So we would have the ability to maintain a close personal relationship with Him.

This, Dear Friends, is fundamental to our understanding of ourself and our worth.

Knowing that we are made for relationship with God – we cannot be lonely, or feel insignifcant.  But alas, if we forfeit our belief in God and God’s desire for relationship with us – loneliness sets in and multiplies … particularly when we set about to define ourself as being important and set out to establish that which we already can know – that is: that we are important and never without God – hence never alone, never forsaken, nor abandoned.

Think just about this one verse from Scripture.  Then watch the daily news and see how many people act out of loneliness – how many seek intimacy in ways that insure their loneliness.  Imagine the pain the follows when one relaizes he or she sought intimacy in the most unwise ways while having possessed this right from their creation and birth!!!

Shalom.

… it is difficult for churches, government, and leaders to move beyond ego, the desire for control, and public posturing.  Everything divides into oppositions … vested interests pulling against one another.  Truth is no longer possible at this level of conversation.

… you can lead people only as far as you yourself have gone …

Richard Rohr, in The Naked Now

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Richard Rohr writes of two monks of the 11th and 12th century – Hugh of St. Victor monastery in Paris, France, and Richard of the same monastery.  He tells us that these monks wrote that humans have been given three different ways of seeing.  One way arises from the eyes that produce thoughts.  The second way of seeing leads to reason, and to reflection and meditation.  The third way of seeing leads to true understanding and contemplation.

It is the third way of seeing that is the rarest and most evolved.  Whereas the first way of seeing is common, it produces little depth of experience, is more concrete and binds one to the immediate without nuance.  The second way of seeing allows one to relish his or her power to conceive of the material disposition of the world.  Ah, but the third way of seeing allows one to do more – it allows one to “taste” existence, to be in awe before the underlying mystery, coherence, and spaciousness that connects one with everything!

The third way of seeing is seeing as a mystic sees – seeing as God has designed us to see.  This seeing exceeds the senses, does not rest on knowledge and intellect alone – but rather sees in a manner that expands his or her consciousness – and in this is transformed, made whole, lives in and above at the same time, is mortal and immortal, contented, whole and wise in ways that neither the senses nor intellect can offer.

In commenting on this Rohr says “I cannot emphasize strongly enough that the separation and loss of these three necessary eyes is at the basis of much of the short-sight-edness and religious crises in the Western world.”  Hence the above quote that leads into today’s blog.

The view that Rohr shares, Dear Friends, highlights how and why “identity politics” is so destructive, so wrong-headed, so primitive, tribal, hostile, aggressive, hateful and unappetizing.  Those with greater depth of human experience cannot abide that which pits one against another in a death struggle.  We are, after all, not made to be enemies to one another but rather brothers and sisters to one another.

This historic moment requires us to see as the mystic sees.

Shalom.

In the long course of my life I have come to realize that the disorder I have encountered is virtually always the product of an unexamined journey, an unexamined life.

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The Lord, your God, has blessed you in all your undertakings; he has been concerned about your journey through this vast desert.

Deut. 2:7

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Journey is one of the great themes in Scripture.  Think of these journeys – the journey of Abraham, of the Jewish people to Egypt or Joseph and Mary to Egypt, Jesus to Jerusalem and St. Peter and St. Paul to Rome.

Our lives are a journey with a lengthy story that attaches to us as each day comes and the weeks, months and years accumulate.  Here is the question: Have you looked at your journey?  Come to understand its elements, what themes the journey has assumed?

Have you grown in self-understanding and done so without being trapped by the trendy ideology of the moment?

Have you sorted your past out in reference to the grand journey narratives of human history?  In short, have you examined your life?  Have you grown in maturity and come to understand the nuisance of life and its journey?  Have you discovered faith in the process and abandoned the contemporary and fleeting discourse that has no historic root – no universal truth and hence little application to life in contemporary secular culture except that in conforming it deceives?

A journey examined is intended to connect you with the length and width and depth of time and the mystery of human existence and its Divine nature.

Shalom.

Observation and Prediction – First, this: the American economy grew 3.2 percent in the first quarter of 2019 even with the shut down of the federal government.  With a smaller, less intrusive government we’d likely have healthy growth year in and year out. 

Second, this: Joe Biden is such a loose-cannon campaigner that his time on the public stage will discredit him and Old Bernie Sanders as both will be deemed, by today’s Democrats, as “old white men” whose time has long since passed.  Conclusion – the Democrat candidate will be younger and more “out there” as to public policy, and “life style.”  Expect division and strange ideas to be spinning it the air – the kind of ideas that will make Donald Trump look “mainstream.”

Listening to the Introit of the Catholic Mass.  It brings peace when chanted by monks.  It is a good start to a new day.

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“I AM WHO AM … This is my name forever; this is my title for all generations.”

Exodus 3:14-15

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Some offer this observation – “I am who am” as God’s name is offered not to be said but to mimic or capture the natural rhythm of breathing in and breathing out.  Yes, that God is present in each breathe we take and in this act of existence we are living by breathing God’s name.  The Divine is in our breathing in and out – each action says God’s name.

In breathing we speak God’s name.  Yes, those who claim godlessness decry that reality in their breathing.  Likewise those who claim God is dead prove the opposite by their own act of breathing.

Imagine this subsequent proposition: our first and last act in this mortal existence is to say God’s name in the act of breathing.

Does this not proclaim God’s primacy!  Does this not tell us that God exists and that all our life is centered on that reality whether we choose to accept it or not.

In this mere act of breathing there is no division possible, no gravitas to “identity politics.”  One and the same in each and all.  Known or unknown – we announce God’s name morning to night to morning again – from birth to death.

In this context isn’t so much of what we witness simply silly, needless anxiety and discord … when we are so bonded to the reality of God in our simple act of breathing.

Shalom.

Happy Easter!!!

“… dying he has destroyed our death, and rising her has restored our life.”

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There is no human life on earth that is not subject to sin and death.  Sin fractures relationships with others and indeed fragments our very self.  Death is “that ubiquitous reaper.”  But Christ changes that default setting that bedevils man and woman, child and adult.

Christ on the Cross redeems each of us from sin and neuters the dread of death, the pain of this mortal exodus.  In Christ we are upright in soul and being – sin does not imprison and death does not threaten.

In Christ we have a whole new existence – human wholeness, spiritual expanse, contentment, strength, truth, humility, certainty amid the unknown, community, friendship everlasting.  In Christ, all troubles teach and insight and wisdom abounds, patience too.

In Christ, love prevails as love is practiced in all manner of life’s encounters.

Imagine a culture in which consciousness of Christ was for each of us – the substance of each daily transaction, each moment, each idle hour, each day month after month, year after year.  Imagine Western Civilization restored to its formative reality – Imagine America and Americans at their historic best – humble, compassionate, brave, sacrificial, honorable, hardworking, strong, independent, dignified, sober, gentle, just, forgiving, confident, grateful for each day and each breath, faithful and kind.

The worm, Friends, is turning.  We have gone too long divided, disgruntled, angry, joyless, self-serving and without Christ.

The truth of the matter is quite simple – we need not “fundamentally alter America.”  Those who think this are mistaken, ignorant of many things – and in need of faith.  For them we might pray.

Shalom.

 

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