Thursday, January 18, 2018

Touching the spot within us that transcends the human

We went to see a very interesting presentation on the campus of IWU by Tim Ternes, director of the St John's Bible program at St. John’s. You can read about this project and how it came to the campus HERE.

Part of the presentation was this video on the artist and originator of the project, Donald Jackson. His work and his comments are worthy of much reflection. One of the quotes that struck me when I first heard it was this:
... so when they open a page of a Bible like this they take in their breath, not because they have been impressed by the cleverness of it or by the detail of it or even the shiny gold. But because there is something there that they already knew, it's all like meeting somebody that they have met before at some point. And that is in a sense, the kind of feeling that the artist reaches to.

This quote from Jackson brought back memories of a quote from Helen Keller’s autobiography about her breakthrough to language: 
We walked down the path to the well-house, attracted by the fragrance of the honeysuckle with which it was covered. Someone was drawing water and my teacher placed my hand under the spout. As the cool stream gushed over one hand she spelled into the other the word water, first slowly and then rapidly. I stood still, my whole attention fixed upon the motions of her fingers. Suddenly I felt a misty consciousness as of something forgotten—a thrill of returning thought; and somehow the mystery of language was revealed to me. I knew then, that “w-a-t-e-r” meant the wonderful cool something that was flowing over my hand. The living word awakened my soul, giving it light, hope, joy, set it free! There were barriers still, it is true, but barriers that could in time be swept away.
Author Jeremiah Alberg writes about Keller's breakthrough and how she describes it:
This is Helen Keller’s breakthrough to language,... Yet, if we listen to her, it was not a breakthrough to something completely new. Instead, it was the “consciousness as of something forgotten,” the “thrill of returning thought.”
As Jackson describes the awesomeness one experiences creating and witnessing real beauty, it is as if one is sensing something that they've experienced before or met before: just as Keller describes the breakthrough to the most powerful of human experiences, language as something forgotten with a thrill of returning thought.

There is, within each of us, that connection to a larger experience, ... there is something greater here ... there is something greater here than our words can describe.

Friday, December 1, 2017

Jesus Calling on God's Love and Presence

Jesus Calling, November 29

Jesus Calling, November 29
INSPIRATION - Jesus Calling
by Sarah Young
Let Me infuse My Peace into your innermost being. As you sit quietly in the Light of My Presence, you can sense Peace growing within you. This is not something that you accomplish through self-discipline and willpower; it is opening yourself to receive My blessing.
In this age of independence, people find it hard to acknowledge their neediness. However, I have taken you along a path that has highlighted your need for Me: placing you in situations where your strengths were irrelevant and your weaknesses were glaringly evident. 
Through the aridity of those desert marches, I have drawn you closer and closer to Myself. You have discovered flowers of Peace blossoming in the most desolate places. You have learned to thank Me for hard times and difficult journeys, trusting that through them I accomplish My best work. 
You have realized that needing Me is the key to knowing Me intimately, which is the gift above all gifts.

Jesus Calling, December 1
Jesus Calling, December 1
INSPIRATION - Jesus Calling
by Sarah Young
I love you with an everlasting Love, which flows out from the depth of eternity. Before you were born, I knew you. Ponder the awesome mystery of a Love that encompasses you from before birth to beyond the grave.
Modern man has lost the perspective of eternity. To distract himself from the gaping jaws of death, he engages in ceaseless activity and amusement. The practice of being still in My Presence is almost a lost art, yet it is this very stillness that enables you to experience My eternal Love. You need the certainty of My loving Presence in order to weather the storms of life. During times of severe testing, even the best theology can fail you if it isn't accompanied by experiential knowledge of Me. The ultimate protection against sinking during life's storms is devoting time to develop your friendship with Me.

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Man needs a place of holy tranquility that the breath of God pervades and where he meets the great figures of the Faith.

Taken from The Rosary of Our Lady
by Romano Guardini 

To linger in the domain of Mary is a divinely great thing. One does not ask about the utility of truly noble things, because they have their meaning within themselves. So it is of infinite meaning to draw a deep breath of this purity, to be secure in the peace of this union with God. 

With this we come back to what we said in the beginning. Man needs a place of holy tranquility that the breath of God pervades and where he meets the great figures of the Faith. This place is the inaccessibility of God Himself, which only Christ opens to man. 

All prayer begins by man becoming silent – recollecting his scattered thoughts, feeling remorse at his trespasses, and directing his thoughts toward God. If man does all this, this place is thrown open, not only as a domain of spiritual tranquility and mental concentration, but as something that comes from God. 

We are always in need of this place, especially when the convulsions of the times make clear something that has always existed but which is sometimes hidden by outward well-being and a prevailing peace of mind: namely, the homelessness of our lives. In such times, a great courage is demanded from us: not only a readiness to dispense with more and to accomplish more than usual, but to persevere in a vacuum we do not otherwise notice. So we require more than ever this place of which we speak, not to creep into a hiding place, but as a place to find the core of things, to become calm and confident once more. 

For this reason the Rosary is so important in times likes ours — assuming, of course, that all

slackness and exaggeration are done away with, and that it is used in its clear and original forcefulness. This is all the more important because the Rosary does not require any special preparation, and the petitioner does not need to generate thoughts of which he is not capable at the moment or at any other time. Rather, he steps into a well-ordered world, meets familiar images, and finds roads that lead him to the essential. 

The Rosary has the character of a sojourn. Its essence is the sheltering security of a quiet, holy world that envelops the person who is praying. This is particularly evident when we compare it with the Stations of the Cross, which have the character of a journey. The worshiper follows the Master from one station to another, and feels at the end that he has reached his goal. The Rosary is not a road, but a place, and it has no goal but a depth. To linger in it has great compensations. 

Into this place the worshiper may carry all his petitions. The second part of the Hail Mary is a request, and he may fill it with his fondest wishes. The Mother of our Lord is not a goddess who lives far above men in all her splendor and has no care for them. What happened to her happened for humanity’s sake. He who was her Child is our Redeemer. She is one of us, even if she met our common destiny in a way that is her very own. 

The Christian heart has always known Mary as the essence of compassion and love, to whom men can turn with particular and unreserved confidence. This is expressed so well by the intimate name that was given her from the beginning: the name of mother. When Christian hearts begin to beat, they know that Mary is theirs because she is the mother of Christ. The same maternal mystery in her surrounds Christ, “the firstborn among many brethren,” and us. Christians have at all times carried their petitions to Mary with the conviction that they were doing right. 

There is something stupendous in the profusion of human petitions that find expression in the Hail Mary: that she may intercede for us “now and at the hour of our death.” There is no naming of details. Every human need is included, and we all employ the same words to portray our misery. 

Only at two instants can we grasp this human need, instants that are decisive in our lives. The one is the “now,” the hour in which we have to fulfill the will of God, to choose between good and evil, and so decide the course of our eternal destiny. The other one is “the hour of our death,” which terminates our life, giving to all deeds and past happenings the character that will count for them in eternity. 

To this we must add something else. To say the Rosary correctly is no easy, and I must ask the reader not to dwell on single words but to strive to find their right meaning. 

The Apostle Paul speaks in his letters again and again of an ultimate mystery of Christian existence: namely, that Christ dwells “in us.” It is now no longer I that live, but Christ lives in me,”he says in his message to the Galatians. He exhorts us to be faithful and vigilant, “until Christ is formed in you.” He sees the significance of Christian growth in “the deep knowledge of the Son of God, to perfect manhood, to the mature measure of the fullness of Christ,” and in “becoming conformed to the image of His Son, that He should be the firstborn among many brethren. 

This, in the first place, is an expression of the unity of faith and the communion of grace, just as one may say of a person that a venerated model lives in him. But there is more significance to this, more from a human standpoint: namely, a communion that surpasses the joint indwelling of grace and mercy, of conviction and loyal allegiance; a participation in the reality of Christ that cannot be felt deeply enough. There is more significance also in the eyes of God; and we only rightly value the meaning of these words if we seek to understand what they mean to God. 

The Need for the Rosary in our Times

Romano Guardini (1885–1968) was ordained a priest in 1910. He was a professor at the University of Berlin until the Nazis expelled him in 1939. His sermons, books, popular classes, and his involvement in the post-war German Catholic Youth Movement won him worldwide acclaim. His works combine a keen thirst for God with a profound depth of thought and a delightful perfection of expression.

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Vocation chooses you - Jim Carrey

At the very beginning of this story of Jim Carrey I was captivated... 

"What do you do when life chooses you?" 

Just pondering this question can lead to wonders that I think Carrey hoped to get his audience (us) to explore. What do you do when ... life... wait a minute, who/what is life? Life is know, life isn't it? and then he continues...

"your vocation chooses you." Wow! life = vocation = life. Wow!

And then with my mind wondering: with our supposed free-will, do we always allow "vocation" to choose us?

Skipping to the end Carrey states, "I don't know what painting teaches me, I know it just frees me: free from the future, free from the past, free from regret, free from worry... Something inside of you is always telling a story. I believe every single thing you see and hear is talking to you...The bottom-line with all of this, whether it is performance or art or its sculpture, is love. We want to show ourselves and have that be accepted. I love being alive, and the art is the evidence of that."
Captivated by this reflection by Jim Carrey, the question I ponder is; Have I allowed my vocation to choose me?

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Witnessing "... their joy, their certainty, their completeness."

“The best argument for Christianity is Christians: their joy, their certainty, their completeness. But the strongest argument against Christianity is also Christians--when they are sombre and joyless, when they are self-righteous and smug in complacent consecration, when they are narrow and repressive, then Christianity dies a thousand deaths. But, though it is just to condemn some Christians for these things, perhaps, after all, it is not just, though very easy, to condemn Christianity itself for them. Indeed, there are impressive indications that the positive quality of joy is in Christianity--and possibly nowhere else. If that were certain, it would be proof of a very high order”

I think it is worth repeating the first part of his quote again: 

“The best argument for Christianity is Christians: their joy, their certainty, their completeness." 

"...their joy, their certainty, their completeness."

This seems the goal of all and any spiritual life; joy, certainty and completeness. Areas to discern or ask ourselves, how am I doing with joy, certainty and feeling complete?

A Severe Mercy appears to be headed to the big screen, click HERE.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Check out what Simon says and then I add some Girardian insights

Simon Sinek touches on a number of issues and whether you are a millennial or not we should all contemplate/pray on. These issues are concerns for everyone, at all levels of culture, work, school, and family.

Getting our stethoscopes out, let us explore what is deeper, under the skin, drawing on our Girardian insights on one of the issues Simon touches on: the makeup of a person (re: happiness - the love of life).
We understand ourselves as humans and as humans we are creatures who are affect/influenced/formed by others - parents, peers, educators, environment, etc. Now this means that it is not just our common assumptions that our conscious actions or thoughts are influenced, but even our desires - our very being is formed by the other/s. In fact, looking at this from a religious/spiritual perspective; a "person" is actually a gift of the other/s and should be received as a gift. In Girardian terms, "I" am, through this body over time, being imitatively drawn into the life of the social others (culture/environment), by way of gestures, language and memory that is forming this "I." In fact this "I" (that we all are) is one of the symptoms of the social other/culture. This "I," that we claim as our own, is an interdividual, not like our culture mythologizes as an individual that is autonomous or self-determining. 

Shortly after Simon's initial video he came out with a follow up, check it out.

Anthropologically/religiously/spiritually, being constituted as an interdividual, happiness, love of life comes through freedom which is actualized by the practice of embracing the other.  So Simon is spot-on when he advocates: Let's create the Help-Others industry, not the Self-Help industry.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Maturity in faith and knowledge comes through forgiveness and mercy

This meditation came after participating at the memorial mass of St Pope John Paul II, Saturday morning October 22. 

Maturity is a growing in faith and knowledge of, in, and by Jesus Christ so to loosen our grip on our offenses, thus allowing ourselves to being open to being forgiven, so that we can then become fully alive and agents of that same forgiveness and mercy. This is not an act an individual takes up, rather it is an act of entering into communion and unity with … everyone.

Saturday Oct 22, 2016 - Memorial of St. Pope John Paul II
First Reading - Ephesians 4:7-16
Brothers and sisters: Grace was given to each of us according to the measure of Christ’s gift. Therefore, it says: He ascended on high and took prisoners captive; he gave gifts to men.
What does “he ascended” mean except that he also descended into the lower regions of the earth? The one who descended is also the one who ascended far above all the heavens, that he might fill all things. And he gave some as Apostles, others as prophets, others as evangelists, others as pastors and teachers, to equip the holy ones for the work of ministry, for building up the Body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of faith and knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood to the extent of the full stature of Christ, so that we may no longer be infants, tossed by waves and swept along by every wind of teaching arising from human trickery, from their cunning in the interests of deceitful scheming. Rather, living the truth in love, we should grow in every way into him who is the head, Christ, from whom the whole Body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, with the proper functioning of each part, brings about the Body’s growth and builds itself up in love.

My meditation: He ascended with those prisoners of sin (those bound up in and by the rule of death) and he gave them gifts of being Apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers, so to help us journey to fullness of life, maturing in faith and knowledge so to not be always tossed about by death and every wind or scheme that comes along.

Prayer over the Offerings
Grant our supplication, we pray, O Lord that the sacrifice we present on the feast day of blessed John Paul the Second may be for our good, since through its offering you have loosed the offenses of all the world.

My meditation: loosed the offenses of the world” – what does that mean and how do we participate in loosening – letting go of – unhooking ourselves from our offenses and how do we participate in the mission of forgiveness? We first need to be open to receiving forgiveness and reconciliation. First what is this experience of forgiveness and how do we allow ourselves to be open to the experience?  We begin with a recognition of needing to be forgiven.

Click here to view a video "Being Forgiven" on the unsettling feeling of undergoing the experience of being forgiven which is the first step in becoming an agent of forgiveness and mercy.