Thursday, November 14, 2019

Podcast on Discernment

"... discernment is less this mind idea, analyzing something, as oppose to an entering into the Lord." 
- Father Paul Sullivan, Director of Vocations with the Diocese of Phoenix. 

Listen it Father Sullivan discuss the significance of discernment with Jenna and Beth at Blessed Is She. Link to the podcast HERE.

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

This morning meditating on the quote below, I felt it's power and at the same time, convicted of it's truth. 

Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque

Saint of the Day for October 16

(July 22, 1647 – October 17, 1690)

"Love those who humble and contradict you, for they are more useful to your perfection than those who flatter you."

Friday, October 4, 2019

Today is the feast day of St Francis. Click on the following link for the meditation from Benedictus Moments today. 
From Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI: “There is a story that goes as follows: Francis told the brother responsible for the garden never to plant the whole area with vegetables but to leave part of the garden for flowers, so that at every season of the year it may produce our sisters, the flowers, out of love for she who is called ‘the flower of the field and the lily of the valley’ (Song  2:1). In the same way Francis wanted there always to be a particularly beautiful flower bed, so that, at all times, people would be moved by the sight of flowers to praise God…
When man himself is out of joint and can no longer affirm himself, nature cannot flourish. On the contrary: man must first be in harmony with himself; only then can he enter into harmony with creation and it with him. And this is only possible if he is in harmony with the Creator who designed both nature and us. Respect for man and respect for nature go together, but ultimately both can flourish and find their true measure only, if, in man and nature, we respect the Creator and his creation. The two only harmonize in relationship with the Creator. We shall assuredly never find the lost equilibrium if we refuse to press forward and  discover this relationship. Let Francis of Assisi, then, make us reflect; let him set us on the right path.”

10/04 "Respect for Creator and Creation"

Tuesday, April 30, 2019


“Holiness does not consist in never having erred or sinned. Holiness increases the capacity for conversion, for repentance, for willingness to start again and, especially, for reconciliation and forgiveness.”

― Pope Benedict XVI

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

A Spiritual Gift from Cabrera de Armida

The Venerable Concepción Cabrera de Armida (born on December 8, 1862 in San Luis Potosí, Mexico and died on March 3, 1937 in Mexico City) was a Mexican Roman Catholic mystic and writer.  Her writings were widely distributed and inspired the establishment of the five apostolates of the 'Works of the Cross' in Mexico: 'Apostolate of the Cross' founded in 1895, 'Congregation of Sisters of the Cross of the Sacred Heart of Jesus' founded in 1897, 'Covenant of Love with the Heart of Jesus' founded in 1909, 'The Priestly Fraternity' founded in 1912, and 'The Congregation of Missionaries of the Holy Spirit' founded in 1914. These apostolates continue today.

The following is from, What Jesus Is Like: Concepcion Cabrera De Armida

All of the thirty-three years of his lifetime on earth were spent in the faithful execution of the wishes of his Father, with a loving abandonment to that divine will. Even his sacrifice and his death were a total fulfillment of this will, since as the Apostle teaches, By this [will] we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all (Heb 10:10)….
[In the garden of Gethsemane], in the middle of that cruel battle—from his lips and from the depths of his soul, as a cry of loving abandonment to his heavenly Father—burst forth the words, Not My will, but Yours be done! (Lk 22:42).
Not only did Jesus fulfill the will of the Father in its totality, but he always fulfilled it. There was never a single act of Jesus, nor a single instant of his life, in which Jesus sought his own will. In a real sense, he was never the master of his life or his actions, because his loving abandonment always voluntarily bound him to the will of the Father.
Jesus bore all of our sins in order to expiate them. He wanted to experience that which was most difficult for his Heart…in order to gain fortitude for us. And what did Jesus say in the midst of the infinite sea of his bitter abandonment? He exclaimed, full of resignation, Father, into Your hands I commend My spirit (Lk 23:46). This is a heroic attitude. It is confidence and sublime abandonment. The ultimate that love can offer.
Abandonment is the supreme expression of love, this giving of oneself without reserve to the divine will, which is the total gift of our very selves. This heroic attitude formed from inexpressible trust in God’s Love, from perfect self-renunciation and from loving generosity, is the pinnacle of love.
That divine will shall also be our joy and our martyrdom. United to Jesus, what do sacrifices matter when love is consoled when it suffers? Each immolation, each cross, each sacrifice is the perfect fulfillment of the Father’s will. That will is a joy and martyrdom—a Calvary and a heaven—because it encompasses all suffering and produces all joys. Oh, my abandoned Jesus, grant me your love in abandonment, in loneliness and even in death itself!
Lord, today grant that I no longer seek my personal satisfaction. Neither in that which is great, nor in that which is small…. But help me to cast myself generously into personal sacrifice…if that should be your will.

Venerable Concepción Cabrera de Armida

Monday, April 8, 2019


Saturday, April 6, 2019

When Love Your Enemies Becomes More Then Mere Words

This post is inspired by a convergence of 2 thought streams: Nonviolence and the Scandal that nonviolence represents.
 First - Looking at scandal and in particular reflecting on and recommending Jeremiah Alberg's book, Beneath the Veil of the Strange Verses: Reading Scandalous Texts (Studies in Violence, Mimesis, and Culture) 
My very abbreviated attempt to sum up the book:
...Violence is a privileged access or portal to what is going on in a society and plays a significant role as to how we relate to ourselves and others.

One must find a way to see beneath the surface, to discover the “real workings of a society (and ourselves)." The key is not to get caught up in all the scandals at the surface but persevering through to see beneath the surface so to track the real life beneath that surface.

Why a situation is scandalous and not paradoxical is that a paradox is a seeming contradiction that leads to ever deepening thought, understanding, and love. Scandals, on the other hand, are blocks to thought, understanding, and love. Good interpretation is the art of transforming scandals into paradoxes.

Second - Exploring the struggle one encounters when trying to engage in the art of nonviolence: Alberg's book is vital in guiding us past all the scandals involved with the “real workings of society” when it comes to violence and all of its tentacles. It will help in our need to get beneath the surface - to recognize the scandal at the heart of trying to work through violence and to actually come out the other side to nonviolence... to love your enemies.

One of the keys to seeing beneath the surface is to recognize where one has expelled the truth; the truth as Christ lived. To help us recognize the “real workings of society” which has its underpinnings in the human propensity to expel a scapegoat and the extreme difficulty not to get trapped by that expulsion, Alberg quotes Nicholas Boyle; “Even in the works and words that seem to hide God’s face, or to spit on it, we can see God revealed at the heart of our world and in our culture.”

For this task of going beneath the surface we will rely on the following tools: a) Interpretative keys that will allow us to go deeper and through scandal, and b) "soul work" of nonviolence.

I came across a couple "bridges" I hope will help conceptualize the melding of Christ's message of “Love your enemies” and the tough love of nonviolence.

Let's begin by meditating deeply on this message from Caryll Houselander:

I had long been haunted by the Russian conception of the humiliated Christ, the lame Christ limping through Russia, begging his bread; the Christ who, all through the ages, might return to the earth and come even to sinners to win their compassion by His need.  Now, in the flash of a second, I knew that this dream is a fact; not a dream, not the fantasy or legend of devout people, not the prerogative of the Russians, but Christ in man.  Christ in His perfect human nature, Christ in His risen glory and Christ in His need and His suffering on earth, are reconciled.  We have the whole Christ.

Although this did not prevent me from ever sinning again, it showed me what sin is, especially those sins... so often held to be “harmless” – for to sin with one whom you loved (or against another) was to blaspheme Christ in that person, it was to spit on Him, perhaps to crucify Him.  I saw too the reverence that everyone must have for a sinner; instead of condoning his sin, which is in reality his utmost sorrow, one must comfort Christ who is suffering in him.  And this reverence must be paid even to those sinners whose souls seem to be dead, because it is Christ, who is the life of the soul, who is dead in them; they are His tombs, and Christ in the tomb is potentially the risen Christ.  For the same reason, no one of us who has fallen into mortal sin himself must ever lose hope.

This is an example of an author going beneath the surface and being able to feel the pulse of what Christ would call Kingdom Reality.

What grabs me here is that she is saying that Christ is abiding in our friend, our enemy and making sure not to forget that Christ abides in one's very self as well.  When we sin, we are crucifying Christ in our very selves and we somehow need to find a way to reconcile with Christ within ourselves. And when we engage with another sinner we need to not only recognize but come to the aid of the suffering Christ within the other, even though they may mistreat you and debase you. For as they sin against you they sin against Christ, within you as well as within themselves. And it is our commission to love Christ even in others who, knowingly of not, through their actions, are attempting to expel Christ, becoming His tomb, "and Christ in the tomb is potentially the risen Christ."
So, can we apply this "soul work" of going beyond the scandal, loving our enemy, seeing Christ within the person who is spitting at you or abusing you? What sort of belief system, discipline or training does it take to stand in the place of abuse, totally open to receiving Christ at that very moment, so to be Christ for another?
I hope in this "sit-in" clip from, The Butler, we might be able to observe where we are expelling Christ, where we are sinning against one another and Christ and to recognize "Christ in the tomb" where the potentially risen Christ exists.

I ask again,what sort of belief system, discipline or training does it take to stand in the place of abuse, totally open to receiving Christ at that very moment, so to be Christ for another?  

Gil Bailie sheds light on this "soul work" in one of his lectures when talking about the powerful meaning behind partaking of the chalice at Eucharist and entering into the new and eternal covenant poured out for you and for many for the forgiveness of sins.
He said: We are called, we are commissioned to be witnesses for Christ meaning that we are to be:
... simply the kind of person who when something begins to swirl, when the melodrama gets set in motion, when accusations are made we can, at the risk of our own reputation, our own standing in the community, our own livelihood whatever it happens to be, we can step into the breach and absorb some of that animosity and break up the knot that has formed. Not by going in as John the Baptist would do and fighting it back in the other direction. But simply by stepping into that world and absorbing that tension (like the old Rolaids commercial, absorbs 47 times its own weight in access stomach acids…). Can we be the kind of people that can move into that place, and drink the cup and be part of Christ forgiveness? The world is going to choke on its own unforgiven-ness if we don’t. That is our role in the world. This is not cheap forgiveness. The forgiven one has to hear the cock crow,,, People have to hear the cock crow - we have to hear it. Jesus, when He forgives people, He always says, “go, and sin no more.” It is not forgiveness on the cheap. So it is a subtle process, it requires character and dignity and courage and most of all it requires an enormous moral generosity. So Jesus is inducting us into service for history in a world which is going to now increasingly be deprived of its old mechanism for taking away its own sins on the cheap. He is bringing us into this mission of taking them away in such a way that not only honors our dignity and our freedom, but also rehabilitates everyone of us.
This act of being a witness for Christ is at the heart of our quest to unhook ourselves and others from all the trappings of sin that are embedded in all the structures of our world. It is the work of revelation through the Holy Spirit illuminating us and commissioning us to help those who are most caught up in the powers and principalities so to experience the Truth that Christ is and came to reveal - that God is Love. 

We error if we think we can be about this "soul work" relying only on our own power and resources. To stand in the breach of sin, absorbing the unforgiven-ness that so often breeds sin, takes a new self, a new "I", a new creation. It goes against all our human survival instincts. St Paul uses up many word in his effort to describe this new way of being human. James Alison provides some insights to this new way of being human, not possessed by the world, but rather being possessed by Christ:
God working through Jesus Christ, is able to re-form the “I” of Paul so completely that his “I” is actually replaced by Christ: “It is not I who live, but Christ who lives in me (Gal 2:20).” There could be no clearer indication of a mimetic psychology than the de-possession of the “I” formed by the world, and the constitution of an “I” that is possession by Christ.
You can see that since the logic of sin is the expelling of Christ, why when sin takes a hold of us, and we allow Christ to slip out of mind and heart, we are caught in the scandals of the world, the ebb and flow of the violence. Knowing it or not, this is where we most often go to re-set our structures of security, violence and at its heart is a "justifying myth" which is the home of injustice and sin. Unless we are about the business of "going beneath the surface" to recognize the expelling of Truth and not see the scandal of what we call justice and peace. Without 'seeing' the Truth of our propensity to expel we cannot begin the healing and reconciliation work of nonviolence. 

There really is no avoidance of scandal; only a transforming of it into a paradox that reveals the mystery of being... the mystery of love.  By a discipline and perseverance in prayer, allowing God to take possession of our mind, heart and soul, are we able to get beneath the surface of violence and injustice and stand lovingly with the resurrected Christ who abides within all of us, transforming the world one person at a time.

Sunday, January 20, 2019

The Essence...

A vision, art by Yongsung Kim

From her book, Essence of Prayer Sister Ruth Burrows wrote a reflection on prayer, asking, "What do we mean by prayer?" 

Prayer: "It is not primarily something we are doing to God, something we are giving to God but what God is doing for us. And what God is doing for us is giving us the divine Self in love."

She goes on, "Any talk about prayer, if we are to stand in the clear, pure atmosphere of truth, must begin by reflecting in firm belief on what Jesus shows us of God. Let us push straight to the heart of the matter.
What is the core, the central message of the revelation of Jesus? Surely it is of the unconditional love of God for us, for each one of us: God, the unutterable, incomprehensible Mystery, the Reality of all reality, the Life of all life. And this means the divine Love desires to communicate Its Holy Self to us. Nothing less!
This is God’s irrevocable will and purpose; it is the reason why everything that is, and why each of us exists. We are here to receive this ineffable, all-transforming, all beatifying Love.

Please read her reflection HERE.

I was struck by how beautifully she drew out that prayer is not found in some formula, but rather by making one's self available to the mystery of Love. 

The essence of being - the essence of prayer is to be open to God, is to place ourselves at His disposal and enter into an encounter where we allow God to draw us out of ourselves and to know, to acknowledge, and to trust Him. We thus allow Him to enrich, deepen and most importantly, we allow Him to love us as He unites us with His Being. 

It is in this obedience, this encounter, this listening to and with God, we literally become speech (we become prayer) and we communicate much more than mere words. 

In this form of speech, this letting go and being filled with His Love, we are allowing God to 'translate' us - where the etymology of the word 'translate' means 'to carried across'. So when we silence our noise - our world to become open and listen, God 'speaks' us - God 'translates' us into existence - into the Kingdom. In this essence of prayer we are allowing ourselves to be imprinted by Love Itself and thus prayer becomes being and being is transformed into prayer... and... and trusting that from "this" place deep within, I am loved.

As Sister Ruth Burrows puts it:
Well-instructed Christians know this notionally but, alas, few know it really. And here I must add an important reminder that knowing it ‘really’ does imply ‘feelingly’. To know really – or really to know – means living that knowledge, living out of it. It means that our way of looking at things, our attitudes, our actions arise from this knowledge. Of this real knowledge we use the word faith.  

The gift of people like Sr Burrows who reflect and share their thoughts on the spiritual journey is a blessing and should help us along our way in the journey of faith.