Saturday, December 23, 2017

Effortless


Before ever there was time, already
Love was flowing among the Three.
Now one in flesh in Nazareth
Love flows clear and calm
Enticing us just to dip a toe
And off we go
In the large and lovely
Wild and wonderful
River of Love.
Love, Who love us, thank You.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Being Saved


Being saved means moving toward an ever deepening capacity to love and be loved.  Salvation involves letting ourselves be drawn into Love That already is flowing and letting Love carry us out  to care for others and for our world. 

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

To God as Drifting Mist


We must not portray you in king's robes,
you drifting mist that brought forth the morning.

Once again from the old paintboxes
we take the same gold for scepter and crown
that has disguised you through the ages.

Piously we produce our images of you
till they stand around you like a thousand walls.
And when our hearts would simply open,
our fervent hands hide you.

(from Rainer Maria Rilke's Book of Hours)

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Our Lady of Guadaloupe


In a month when roses do not bloom Juan Diego gathered them in his tilma (sort of a poncho) and carried them to the bishop to prove that Our Lady had really appeared to him.  When he dropped his tilma in front of the bishop, as the roses poured out, the bishop saw on the tilma of Juan Diego the image of Our Lady of Guadaloupe.  Sometimes called the brown virgin, she looks like a Mexican. 
Splendid God, bless the people of Mexico and protect the dignity of all immigrants.

Friday, December 8, 2017

Immaculate Conception


St. Ann with her young daughter Mary.

This is the irrational season 
When love blooms bright and wild.
If Mary had been full of reason 
There'd have been no room for the child.
                          --Madeline L'Engle

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

St. Nicholas


Today is the feast of perhaps the most popular saint of all.  He is the patron saint of Russia, Greece, Sicily, Loraine, and Apulia in Italy.  He is also the patron saint of children,bankers, pawnbrokers, sailors, perfumers, brides, prostitutes, travelers, fishermen, dock workers, brewers, poets, and prisoners.
What we know for certain about him is that in the 4th century he was bishop of Myra (in present day Turkey.)   Curiously, Dutch Protestants living in New Amsterdam gave him the features of a Scandinavian elf.  The Dutch for "St. Nicholas" is "Sinter Claus."
We might ask him to pray for us that we might be as generous as his reputation.

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Watch


With this First Sunday of Advent we begin reading from the Gospel According to Mark, but we jump way ahead to the end of chapter 13.  This chapter is followed immediately by Mark's account of the Passion.  In verses 33-39 Jesus tells us to be on the watch for the coming of the Son of Man.  Three times in five verses he uses the word "watch."  We must watch also and be ready when Jesus comes to us in our own death.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

The Duty of Delight


This "Xmas" cactus came to me a few years ago as a tiny gift. 
Dorothy Day died on November 29, 1980.  We may associate her with great poverty and a hard life, but she had this to say, "How necessary it is to cultivate a spirit of joy.  It is a psychological truth that the physical acts of reverence and devotion make one feel devout.  The courteous gesture increases one's respect for others.  To act lovingly is to begin to feel loving, and certainly to act joyfully brings joy to others which in turn makes one feel joyful.  I believe we are called to the duty of delight."

Friday, November 24, 2017

Love Stream


The most recent insight that God is giving me is a deeper understanding of a prayer I've been using for a long time just before Centering: "You are Love, with Whom, I love You." 
The development began with the river of Love that I experienced last month both with a grieving family and with a family with little twins.  Love was already flowing when I arrived with each family.  All I had to do was put my foot in the stream and I was swept along in Love.
God is helping me realize that when I begin my Centering Prayer in the morning I am not really beginning anything.  Spirit, Son, and Father are already Love flowing within me.  Centering is just my way of choosing to let go and let Love sweep me along into Love.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Irish Thanksgiving


This picture is from several years ago.  Today we have a bright sunny, cold day with a lake that hasn't begun to freeze.  I'm hoping this might remind us of what faced the Plymouth Colony when they arrived in the New World in November of 1620.
As we have often been told, many of the little colony starved to death during the first winter, almost putting an end to their project.  What we have not been told is that a ship arrived from overseas on February 20, 1621, bearing the much needed food.,  The ship was The Lyon and it had sailed from Dublin, Ireland.
According to the Massachusetts Historical Society, the wife of one of the prominent Plymouth settlers was the daughter of a Dublin merchant; and  it was he who had chartered the vessel, loaded it with food and dispatched it to Plymouth.  The day after its arrival, February 21, 1621, was designated as a Day of Thanksgiving, well before the Thanksgiving Day that we hear so much about.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Earlier Pilgrims


Catholic Europeans in America before Puritans:
St. Brendan in the 6th century kept a record of his voyage.
Irish monks in the 7th century left rock writing and a body in Southern W.V.
Norse explorer Leif Erickson in Newfoundland around 1,000 AD.
We thank God for them as well.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Only the Best??


This greeted me when I woke this morning.

Use the talents you possess
for the woods would be very silent
if no bird sang except the best.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Talent


A "talent" at the time of Jesus was the largest unit of currency.  One might weigh 65 pounds, another 88 pounds.  Not exactly pocket change.  One talent might be worth $300,000.
That's all the word "talent" meant until the parable (Matthew 25:14-30) was translated into English.  As people reflected on the meaning of the parable, they began to use the word "talent" to mean a God-given ability.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Risky Business


This fuchsia, dripping with rain, continued to bloom at my back door this autumn  until Saturday when the temperature dipped to 14.
Jesus demands that we use the talents that God has given us even though it involves risk (Matthew 25:14-30.)  We think that we are being modest when we deny our talents.  God gave us a particular set of gifts and expects us to make the most of them.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Davids vs Goliaths


Saturday a flock of these little guys landed in our cove.   They are called Bufflehead and are only about a foot long.  They stop here for a few days twice a year on their way south and north.  This picture is from last year.  The following happened last November.
There were 15 of  them feeding in the shallow water off my shore.  30 Canada geese tried to chase them away and seemed to be winning.  I went for my morning shower.
When I came back every one of the geese was lined up along my shore and along my neighbor's shore.  The buffleheads were a little offshore, facing the geese.  Both were watching a disturbance in the water.  At first it looked like a goose was trying to drown a bufflehead by holding it under the water.  But soon it became clear that the bufflehead was attacking the goose from beneath, which was why the geese were on shore afraid to go back in the water.  The 15 buffleheads gathered in two small groups offshore, keeping the geese lined up along the shore.
After a while the buffleheads backed off a little, allowing the geese to gather cautiously in the water and swim away.  Not long after, about 30 bufflehead joined the original 15 and they all continued feeding off my shore.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Martin of Tours



One winter day in 4th century Gaul Martin, an officer in the Roman army, saw a beggar shivering in cold.  He jumped from his horse, took off his cloak, took out his sword, cut the cloak in half, and wrapped half of it around the beggar.  Wrapping the other half around himself, he rode off.  That night in a dream Martin saw Jesus wrapped in the piece of cloak that he had given to the beggar.  The next morning he decided to be baptized a Christian.
I have several times taken part in Mass in St. Martin's Church in Marigot on St. Martin where this picture is painted on the wall behind the main altar.  Please pray for the people of St. Martin.  The island suffered terrible destruction during the recent hurricane.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Infinite Love



John Duns Scotus, a 12th century theologian, "taught that the Incarnation was not required as payment for sin; it was willed through eternity as an expression of God's love, and hence God's desire for consummated union with creation."  This is from Robert Ellsberg's Blessed Among Us, quoted in Give Us This Day

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Heaven on Earth



"We carry our heaven within ourselves, because he who satisfies the saints with the light of vision gives himself to us in faith and in mystery.  It's the same thing.  I feel I have found heaven on earth, because heaven is God and God is in my soul."
(St. Elizabeth of the Trinity, quoted in Give Us This Day)

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Day of the Dead


In an article I read many years ago the author from the United States described what it was like to be living in Mexico on the night between November 1st and 2nd in a pre-Aztec valley known for its deep mysticism.  At midnight all the bells up and down the valley began ringing to hold open the curtain between the two worlds.  During the hour that they continued the valley was filled with a hush and a peace while those living there called to themselves their dead and they were together again for a while.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Plain Saints


We celebrate All Saints mainly for all the people in our own lives, family and friends and neighbors, who have already passed to the other world.  People who never were recognized by the church as saints.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Aliens Among Us


God commands the Jewish people "You shall not molest or oppress an alien among you for you were once aliens yourselves in the land of Egypt." (Exodus 22:20)  The ancestors of everyone of us were once aliens in this land.  God commands us to care for  those who are now aliens here.

Friday, October 27, 2017

River of Love


View of Columbia River from Rowena Point.

I walked into the room.  
Love was already flowing.  
Father and mother.  
Then grandma and sisters.  
I only had to put my foot in the river 
and I was carried along in love 
for 15 month old twin sisters.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Total Dependence


At the end of his Letter to the Philippians Paul can hardly bring himself to thank them for the money that they have sent him.  It's almost like he is reluctant to admit his dependence on anybody.  Then he remembers how totally dependent he is, "I can do all things in him who strengthens me." (4:13)

Monday, October 9, 2017

Share the Journey


Saturday morning's sunrise, unusual since this view is due north.
On September 27, 2017, Pope Francis launched Share the Journey, a global campaign of prayer and action in support of migrants and refugees.  It helps to reflect on our own families' migrating here.  No matter how long ago, we all came from somewhere else.

Friday, October 6, 2017

God of Peace


Yesterday morning's sunrise.
We put aside anxiety by placing all our needs in God's hands.  "Then the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus." (Philippians 4:7)

Friday, September 29, 2017

Humility and Selflessness



To encourage us to look not to our own interests, but to the interests of others, St Paul tells us to be  as humble and selfless as Christ who emptied himself and became one of us human beings and went to death on the cross.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Love's Energy


"A thought, a material improvement, 
a unique nuance of human love, 
the enchanting complexity of a smile or a glance--
the spiritual success of the universe is bound up 
with the release of every possible energy in it."
--Teilhard de Chardin

Friday, September 22, 2017

Free Love


Happy Autumn Equinox!  Such gorgeous weather as crops are readying for harvest.
In his parable of the "Crazy Farmer" (Mt:20:1-16,) who pays workers for just an hour what he pays others for a whole day's work, Jesus wants to convince us that God is just as crazy with Love.  Grace means gift.  Gracious means freely given.  God's love cannot be earned.  That's the Gospel truth.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Walking the Wrong Way


Recently I heard a priest talking about how he worked with young adults who say they don't believe in God or religion.  He referred to the story of the two disciples on the way back to Emmaus (Luke 24:13-35.)   They didn't recognize the Risen Jesus when he joined them on the road.  The priest pointed out that they were walking the wrong way, away from Jerusalem.  Jesus walked the wrong way with them.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Hang In There


Not only is the fuchsia hanging in there, but there are little drops of rain clinging to the blossoms. (Click on picture to enlarge.)
I sat  on my glasses, I was taken in by fraudulent computer technicians, and I didn't get to my breakfast until 1 PM.  I pray that God will help me hear the encouragement of the fuchsia and the raindrops.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Annunciation


On this old feast of Our Lady of Sorrows, I found myself reflecting, not on Mary at the Cross, but at the beginning before she said "Yes" to all  this.  In Tanner's Annunciation  Mary looks like she has just been awakened by this angel of light (please click on the picture to enlarge it.)  To me her expression seems quizzical, her hands composed, her shoulders bent a little in humility.
I could not name a single instant when I said "Yes."  It was something that grew gradually in me.  I did remember a time when I was praying in chapel in the college seminary.  I had been thinking for a few years that I might like to go as a missionary to some foreign country to introduce people to Jesus. As I prayed that day, however, I decided that I would rather spend my life helping Catholics to appreciate the great gift of our faith.

Friday, September 8, 2017

Love fulfills the law.


In three brief verses, Romans 13:8-10, St. Paul says a lot about love.  "Owe nothing  to anyone, except to love one another."  Love is what we came here for.  When we exclude people or look down on them or hate them, we have wandered far from the path of Jesus.  In following his path, all the signs point to love.

Monday, September 4, 2017

Labor Day


The first Labor Day Parade took place in New York City in September, 1882.  It was put on by a new organization of workers, called the Knights of Labor.  Two-thirds of the organization were Catholic, as was their president, Terence Pwoderly.  In 1891 Pope Leo XIII wrote an encyclical "About New Things" concerning the condition of workers.  Most revolutionary were two statements: that workers had a natural right to a just wage and that workers had a natural right to organize to bargain for  a just wage and safe working conditions.
In 1973, 26.6 % of U.S. workers belonged to unions and 51.9 % of all income went to the middle class; by 2015 those numbers were down to 11.1 % and 45.7%.  In 1965 the average C.E.O. compensation at America's largest firms was 20 times the average annual pay of the typical worker; in 2016 it was 271 times larger.  These figures are from an article in America's issue of September 4, 2017.
We pray for justice.

Friday, September 1, 2017

You've got to be taught.



When I was four and staring at the first black woman I had ever seen, my father took me aside and said, "Stop staring at her.  She's the same as you."

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Joy


I'm back!!  I really haven't been anywhere.  I have been without my computer and internet for three weeks.  My new computer arrived this morning.   
I did miss the computer, but I can't believe how full of joy these days have been.  Just sitting looking at the Lake is one of my favorite things, especially at twilight time.
 "Joy" was the title of my very first post in 2007.  

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Happiness Attacks


Saturday morning happiness attack.  As I started my morning walk, I turned and looked at the Lake and there was this graceful visitor with the morning sun on his neck. 
Reflecting on the Transfiguration of Jesus, Sr. Melannie Svoboda writes about "happiness attacks" that she has had throughout her life (Give Us This Day, August, pp.70-71)  "God's presence in our lives is often hidden.  But at particular moments, God's beauty or goodness or love breaks through our everyday."

Monday, July 31, 2017

Wisdom


Wisdom's ways are pleasant ways
and all her paths are peace.
(Proverbs 3:17)

                                                                           

Sunday, July 30, 2017

What's It Like?!


The Reign of Love is like:
    a farmer who throws seed every which way.
    wheat and weeds being allowed to grow together.
    a small seed that grows into a large bush.
    yeast making flour rise.
    buried treasure.
    an especially valuable pearl.
    a net that catches every kind of fish.


Friday, July 28, 2017

The Reign of Love


In the Gospels of Mark and Luke Jesus talks about the "Kingdom of God."  In Matthew's Gospel he talks about the "Kingdom of Heaven."  Because Matthew is a Jew, he substitutes "Heaven" for "God," but the phrase in all three Gospels points to the same Mystery.
Before we began using the three year cycle lectionary in the 70's, every year the Gospel used was almost always Matthew's, so we most often heard "Kingdom of Heaven."  This led most of us to think that Jesus was talking about the place we go after dying.
The Greek word "basileia" refers, not to a place, but to the act of ruling.  Instead of "Kingdom" many modern translations have  "Reign of God," "Rule of God," "Dominion of God."   Jesus is talking about God's act of ruling us and our whole world.
Since I often substitute "Love" as a name for God (1 John 4:8,) I come up with "The Reign of Love."
In Luke 4:43 Jesus says, "I must proclaim the Good News of The Reign of Love."

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Scribe Become Disciple


Interior of St. Brendan's Catholic Church in Elkins, WV.

"Every scribe that has become a disciple for the kingdom of heaven is like a householder who brings out of his treasury new things and old things. (Matthew 13:52)"  Many think that this sentence is a self-portrait of the author of the Gospel.  From this passage and others it seems that the author of this Gospel is a Jewish scribe who became a follower of Jesus.  The first part of the Greek verb that is translated "who has become a disciple" sounds like "Matthew."
The author wants to assure his readers that a Jewish Christian treasures the old, his Jewish heritage, and the new, the teachings and life of Jesus.  St. Brendan's Church, a glorious example of a modern church, has stained glass windows from the old church installed in some of its large clear windows.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Saint Mary Magdalene


Through the centuries Mary Magdalene has gone from being called "The Apostle to the Apostles" to being depicted as a penitent prostitute.  There is no scriptural basis for the latter, but in John's Gospel the Risen Jesus sent (apostle means "someone who is sent") her to tell the other apostles that he had risen.  The passage in John (20:11-18) is my favorite Resurrection story.  It has a beautiful, personal feel about it as Mary comes to recognize the Risen Christ in the way he speaks her name.
Pope Francis has recently raised her July 22 feast to the same level as the other Apostles.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Unexpected Beauty


Last evening after the sun had set, everything looked very silvery as usual.  Then, unexpectedly, the color in the clouds began and grew more and more beautiful.  From the dock I received this special color on the ripples of the lake.  Beauty will save the world.
(Clicking on the picture enlarges it to reveal more beauty.)

Monday, July 10, 2017

Come and Rest


"Come to me.  Learn from me.  And I will give you rest," invites Jesus.
The rest Jesus gives comes from assimilating his attitudes, indeed his very person.  Jesus lives in us and shares with us his goodness, his gentleness towards people, his heart given in obedience to his Father.  What an effortless way to live!

Thursday, June 29, 2017

United


Early morning light promises

In July's Give Us This Day this prayer seemed exactly what we needed for our celebration of Independence Day.  It has steered me in a direction for my homily different from what I had been considering.  This is just the beginning and end of the prayer by Jane Deren:
God of all, you challenge us
to be a unified national community.
You call us to move beyond
partisan politics
so we may create
a vision of the common good
so sorely needed by our country....
God of all, bless our nation at this time
and open the way to unity
so we may follow your call.  Amen


Saturday, June 24, 2017

To care and not to care


Teach us to care and not to care
Teach us to sit still
Even among these rocks
Our peace in your will.

These lines from T.S. Elliot's poem Ash Wednesday have helped me enormously since I first studied him in the seminary.  I don't want to be indifferent.  I pray that I will care mightily.  At the same time I don't want to be always upset about something beyond me.  So I pray to care and not to care and find peace in God's will.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Summer Solstice


This morning's sunrise seemed designed especially to celebrate the summer solstice.  A friend told me a few weeks ago that the word comes from the Latin "sol" meaning "sun" and "sticere" meaning "to stand still."  The sun stops and seems to begin moving in a different direction. The earth stops tilting toward the north and begins tilting back towards the south.  I wonder how far back our human ancestors observed the regularity of this event.

Monday, June 19, 2017

More Than Many Sparrows


Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? 
And yet not one falls to the ground without your Father knowing....
No need to be afraid;
you are worth more than many sparrows." 
Matthew 10:29-31

Yeh! I know they're not sparrows, but where I live they are more plentiful than sparrows.  I'll sell you 70 for a dollar!

Friday, June 16, 2017

Clearly a Meal



Frequent Communion began to be encouraged during the 20th century.  Children could receive First Communion at 7 instead of 12 or 13.  Fasting from midnight was no longer required.  To help the Eucharist look more like a meal, the Second Vatican Council decreed that the altar be clearly a table, with the priest facing the people. The language was changed to English.  Active participation of the faithful was encouraged by praying together and singing together and most of all by taking Communion every time they came to Mass.
In the early 1970's the Feast of Corpus Christi (Body of Christ) was moved from a Thursday to the first Sunday after the Feast of the Holy Trinity.  The name was changed to The Body and Blood of Christ.  The three year cycle of readings focused on the Eucharist as meal.  In John 6:55-56 Jesus says, "My flesh is real food and my blood is real drink.  Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood lives in me and I live in that person."