Saturday, February 13, 2016
Growing up a little boy in the Bronx I was very comfortable playing with one person. Bobby Cronin lived on the next street over. I could walk around the block, the long way, to his house, or I could climb over the fence, forbidden, behind our apartment house backyard, the short way. I did the forbidden way most of the time. I never confessed, so I guess I burn. But anyway, I did fine with Bobby. We were both introverts. We could talk, come up with inventive games and adventures, and feel bonded. It was in groups that I was lost. I did not feel comfortable with all these people at once. I don't know how to relate in "crowds" as I call it. I was not being prepared for college mixers. Maybe that is why I became a priest? But priests are supposed to be in crowds and comfortable among the many. No wonder I love to spend my summers in a monastery.
Friday, February 12, 2016
Jesus was an introvert, so I say. He got all his inspiration from spending time alone, in solitude, in the workshop or the desert. Even in the Gospels he would go off by himself and then he would join the people and do things and speak memorable and challenging words. He upset the status quo, which was probably run by extroverts, full of group participation. Jesus had only twelve disciples because that was the max with which he felt comfortable in his private teachings. He intuited that they had potential. He knew that he needed extroverts, like Peter and introverts like John. People wonder why Jesus spent those first thirty years in anonymity. Maybe because he is God and God is an introvert? God seems happy enough with God. Mystics say that God's primary language is silence. Just sayin'
Thursday, February 11, 2016
Why must we do this opening greeting at the beginning of church worship service? Introverts like me don't much care for it. It is not done in monasteries. Those places are full of introverts. But a lot of churches like to begin with this "feeling community" or building community. We introverts don't move so fast on making connections and do not care to have it sprung on us. We are comfortable being quiet. If you had no big opening hymn, we would survive quite well. We are sociable, but not so inclined to participate suddenly in group dynamics. "We are community" as the teaching seems to say, but are fine being among people and listening in a quiet way in church. I think lots of ministers are trained to be extroverts, even if they are not. I could sing more easily at the beginning of the service if we all sat and slowly sang a simple chant over and over. It is just that there is so much so soon and so sudden that puts introverts on edge. I speak only for me of course. I know God ought to be praised. Just don't start in fourth gear.
Wednesday, February 10, 2016
Helen Klein Ross wrote a new novel, "What Was Mine." A childless woman kidnaps a baby and raises it. I won't give away the plot. It is a really good read. My point is about Mercy versus Punishment. The Pope is talking about "God Is Mercy," which is the Pope's new book by the way. You might think, without reading Ross's novel, that the kidnapper must be put into jail as the law would stipulate. Laws seem to be about punishment for crimes. There seems to be something called Restorative justice. Read the novel first. I hope it makes you think. Read the Pope's #2 best seller, non-fiction, and you might think even more. I am expanding my horizons, plus reading good books. Ross' book is a page turner to find out what happens. Enjoy.
Tuesday, February 9, 2016
I get the sense that some Catholics think Jesus is asleep in the tabernacle in church up there behind the altar. They come to church with endless words of prayer, and petition as if to awaken God to their needs or wants. God is never asleep. God already knows all you need and all you want. God knows us better than we know ourselves. Why not come and rest in front of the tabernacle with only, "Your will be done." I think of the disciples in the boat when there is a storm. Jesus is asleep in the back of the boat. The disciples get frightened and wake Jesus up. "Don't you care that we are drowning?" they shout. Jesus, even asleep, knows what they need. He quiets the storm so that he can speak to them. "Do you not have faith?" he asks. What about the rest of us. Trust. Be still.
Monday, February 8, 2016
Why worry about your thoughts or wandering mind when you try to pray? Think of prayer as a farmer going into a field to plant seed. The farmer tosses the seed around in the field, walking back and forth among the rows. The farmer does not have to think or pay attention to exactly where the seed falls. It falls in the field because that is where the farmer is. Seed planting can be a mindless, rote action. The farmer may pay attention at times, or may not. Prayer is the field of your spiritual life. Show up to it. Say hello God, your will be done. Then sit there and pay attention if you can, but attention is not crucial. Your mind wanders at times, but you are still in your prayer place, your spiritual field, though not focused on what is going on. What is going on is that God is at work germinating the seeds of your time in prayer. You, like the farmer, have to show up in the field. You think the farmer has any idea which seeds will produce how much? No. The farmer knows some harvest will be produced eventually, given rain, which the farmer does not control either. Irrigation still relies on water, and the farmer cannot create water. Just show up on a daily basis. It keeps the weeds of bad behavior from sprouting up.
Sunday, February 7, 2016
Why do you feel the need to doubt the existence of God or deny that God exists? In my experience, most of the people who are in these categories are not real atheists of agnostics. That takes a lot of work or study. They are people who asked God for help and did not get it to their satisfaction. Ergo, there is doubt or no God. In reality, people just wanted God to take away the consequences of their bad behavior, immature actions/decisions, or the results of their flawed personality. They don't really want to change. They say, "God, get me out of this and I will never do it again." In fact they want the consequences removed. They have no tools for real change. Once they feel better or at least somewhat removed from suffering consequences, they go right back to bad behavior, bad habits. Change is at least as hard as studying to become an atheist. An atheist may yet be on the wrong path, and do good deeds. But a transformed person is always on the right path, and will do good deeds. The difference? The transformed person has seen hell and lived to remember it. The past is a great teacher.