Friday, August 29, 2014

Producers

When I was a stockbroker, the producers, the guys who brought in the money, were treated well by the company.  The not so much producers or non-producers, well, we pretty much washed out and so it went.  Sometimes in religious groups the ones do what they are told, and/or help out a lot, get special treatment.  Those who don't get some wrath or are ignored.  But for me, God is not like this.  Got is like a water sprinkler.  Our so called lawn at the monastery has some nice green grass, some crab grass weeds and some bare spots that grow nothing.  The sprinkler waters all the lawn, as if it never gives up hope, or at least treats the entire lawn with the same care for all of it.  God loves.  God sprinkles us with love whether we produce or not.  God has hope.  Or maybe I am just a pollyanna!

Thursday, August 28, 2014

The Sheep

A prophet, named Ezekiel, rants against the religous leaders who are supposed to shepherd the sheep, but instead lord it over them, treating the sheep harshly.  So the sheep ran away and felt lost.  The shepherds did not go after them.  So God said that God would claim the sheep and save them.  Why is it that many who were Catholic have left the church and gone in search of spirituality in Eastern meditation practices?  Maybe God is working through non-Christian paths to save the lost and searching sheep?  I think that my Church has a great message.  It is the messenger that is problematic.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Suicide

My church should be a place where people who are thinking of commiting suicide, can relate, come to for understanding.  My church was founded on the issue of emptiness and despair, and feelings of hopelessness.  Jesus on the cross said, "MY God, My God, why have you forsaken me."  Peter, "The Rock" denied Jesus and ran away.  I am sure he contemplated suicide too.  He tried going back to his old life, fishing.  He caught nothing.  He could not escape his feelings.  His soul felt like his fishing net.  Empty.  Then he found that he was loved by the very one he denied.  He was loved with all his troubles, unconditionally.  He surrendered.  A Rock needs to know how vulnerable it is to wind, water, erosion.  My church is founded upon troubled souls.  "Come to me all you who are burdened," says Jesus.  We forgot that in some ways.  We became the "Perfect Society," who would not give a church funeral to someone who had committed suicide.  We do these funerals now, and we say we are a "Pilgrim People."  I don't know that some prelates got that memo.  Anyway, I think God is more embracing in love, and not judgement of those who kill themselves.  I think God wanted religion to speak for God's love, before someone killed themselves.  Anyway, I think Judas and Peter are together again, and Robin Williams is with them.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Memory

A friend of mine died recently in Boulder, Colorado.  His name was Jim Carrigan.  Among other things he was a judge, a teacher, a great help to the parish where I was working for six years, and did many good things for the community.  Yet, the thing that sticks with me most about Jim, was Monday Night Football.  It may seem like a small inconsequental thing in the vast amount of good works Jim did, but it meant a lot to me.  I was still a fairly new priest and not yet 40.  Several men, including our pastor, would get together on many a Fall Monday for football.  The "Judge," and an economics professor at the university and several other men who I came to admire, would get together.  They would spend only a little time watching football and a lot of time talking about stuff of which I knew little but was eager to learn.  The Carrigan home was the one that I most remember.  Jim had such an easy friendly and inviting manner.  You never know what people will remember about you.  Be kind.  Be inviting.  Jim was a teacher too, of more than he might have been aware.  May he rest in peace.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Gifts

I seem to have the gift of teaching, or at least a lot of people think I do, or maybe people are desperate.  Anyway, last Saturday, up here at our monastery retreat house, I gave a  reflection on some mystic type person and contemplative prayer.  This is a pretty narrow field of interest, and I am only here a few months each year, and talk very little.  Over fifty people showed up.  Now many came for the good food and the atmosphere of the monastery valley, I know.  But surely a couple came to hear me.  Well, I think so.  What I wish I had was the gift of remembering what I read.  I remember that I read something. If it is non fiction I will recall the tenor or tone of the author's point.  But I cannot seem to relate much detail.  If I read a novel, I will remember I read it, but not much of the plot.  I will remember that I enjoyed these books.  So I guess that I read to enjoy, since my mind is not gifted with much more.  I write notes from my readings, if I am going to teach from the book or subject.  Without notes, I seem to be, duh!  The gift I have is for putting myself into the teaching, how it affects me, how I succeed or fail, where something helps or does not help me.  I seem to end up telling stories.  After the teaching last Saturday, someone said I could always do standup comedy.  Is that a good thing when talking about prayer?  Do you think we should just accept what gifts we have and let the rest go?  Will you forget this blog in five minutes?  If so, maybe I am good for the moment, funny at times, and then, "Father Whats His Name."  If it gets me to heaven, OK.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Benedict's Rule

His rule doesn't work.  Monks pretty much act the way other people do though not all monks. Some examples:
Put a jar of jelly or peanut butter that has only a bare smidge left in it, back into the refigerator because you don't want to have to wash it out for recycling.  Same thing with milk cartons.
Finish a carton of milk, but don't go to the storage refig and replace it
Finish something but don't write it on the shopping list to get a replacement
Put a jar back but with the top not screwed back on.
Use up the soap in a shower, or shampoo, but don't get a replacement out of storage for the next person.
I could go on, I suppose, but you get the point. On the other hand:
The Rule of Maureen does work.  She could take a bad boy like me and make me good.  All of the above she would not stand for.  So I know the right thing to do because of Maureen, and to this day, I still do as told.  If I don't, at least I have some sense I did wrong.  We are who we are today, for better or worse, because of someone else, I believe.  If you think I am a mess, Maureen did not.
When ordination time came around, she was in the congregation.  The question is asked, " Does anyone know why this person should not be ordained?"  I thought Maureen would raise her hand and I would be done.  She did not.  So, thank her when you get to purgatory.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

The Empty Spot

A fellow told me that he was married to a really good woman.  She gave him love, respect and attention.  He still felt empty.  He drank to fill the hole.  It did not work.  I have come to realize that if you are feeling empty, another person cannot fill you up.  Some people marry to get filled up by the other, to fill that hole in the soul, if you will.  They call it love, but my experience is that the one with the hole in the soul is a "taker."  Love has a giving side to it too.  Love is a lot of giving, but if you feel empty then you don't sense you have anything to give.  Surrender to God fills the hole in the soul, I have found.  That is a pretty tall order, especially if you don't believe much in God whoever.  When you are on the road to desperation, surrender becomes a lot more of an option.  It beats suicide.  I  am missing Robin Williams.