Tuesday, May 30, 2017

2nd conference

the pilgrimage

a confession is made
the confession of the long journey across northern spain
from st jean pied de port 500 miles east on the ancient trail
to Santiago de compostela west to  the     coast

imagine my interest
I of course having only trod less than half the distance
of this ardent pilgrim
still I felt my journey which returned to me
in vivid detail during the course of this talk
was still something strong in my memory
perhaps being the nearest thing to an actual spiritual experience I have had
(  well that's not particularly true when I stop to consider the  long narrative
of my walk in the faith...perhaps in terms of intentional spiritual experiences...something one sets out to do...like climb a mountain or something like that  )

he spoke of realizing he was carrying too much
I responded inwardly by reminding myself I had carried a heavy load
perhaps 15 lbs heavier than I really needed
but for my own reasons I had determined that I was going to get a return to good health
and the extra weight was going to assure me of getting back in shape
which by the end of the journey there was no doubt
I had become very strong in the legs and my back felt stronger than it had in years
so I chose to be a sort of mule
I was in the process of recovering from a traumatic episode of surgery
and I needed the long walk physically as much as spiritually

at one point I even took on more weight deliberately
on the first few days I added maybe 5 - 10 lbs
in order to lighten the load of the one I so dearly love
for she had hurt her back

our pilgrim had to tell the story of the people he met along the way
he suggested that the idea of the pilgrimage was to do it alone
and immediately I had the sense that one day I would do it alone
perhaps the whole way
yet I think I would take the northern route along the northern coast of spain
from bilbao west

he spoke of learning to trust god along the way in a radical manner
the story of wet socks and no alternative but to put on wet socks in the morning
only to discover a man standing in front of him who had too many socks
and wanted to get rid of some
and then later that day in a very tired and anxious state with nothing to eat
for he had abandoned his chocolate   (  something I would never do   )
only to be passed by a fast walking Asian woman who after 50 yds or so turned around and
offered him some of her chocolate which gave him the strength and joy
to make it to the next town

I found myself wondering anew about my pilgrimage
about the relationship that was forged
and how complicated the lives of three people can be
and things like one day discovering
that I was deeply in love with the woman with whom I was walking
and she was walking with her husband who needed her fiercely
I supposed he would die without her
but anyway
someone who had been a friend and for whom I truly cared for as a friend
all of a sudden became something more
someone for whom I knew I would do most anything
I would travel any distance over any mountain pass
to assure her of her well-being
I will admit that I still have not fully adjusted to this turn of events
it was only the immortal spirit of don Quixote who was able to guide me then in the ways of chivalry and errantry and a more poetic approach to human affairs in general if I may fall over on my face in a mudhole

yet I am eternally grateful

I found myself thinking about how many times I swam naked in rivers in spain

how delirious I became toward the end of the trip

I relived the night I was stranded in Madrid by myself

he recounted the prayer stone mountain the phenomenon of taking up a stone
upon which one infuse the thoughts of all the people you love and want to pray for during  the long walk
I recall sally placing the stone she carried solemnly on the hill when we passed it
shortly after biero I believe it was

I carried a guitar

it was great to think      about my pilgrimage along with this other pilgrim
and it was great to think that I went to mass at least every other day
along the long journey and stopped and prayed at every church

I would do it again in a heartbeat


1st conference retreate 2017

we've been invited and encouraged by our retreat director
to carry little bits of every conference along with us throughout these
days of retreat

in the first conference we were presented with the stark
image of the gospel of the wine and wineskins

why new wine needs new wineskins
the spirit in the wine is so robust
in the new wine
it is still bubbling in fermented fervor
and the old skins being somewhat dry will refuse
to expand
we've seen it happen and we all know
is what a listening audience would have thought with jesus
preaching in the Israeli breeze one day

and he remarked time and again about a phrase in the writing of Thomas merton
the original native soul
the inviolable innocent self
the person that can get caught up during life with misperception and distortion and delusion but is actually never lost

he also used the notion of the inner child
a concept that evidently he feels is inarguable
he stated that it is there it has being
it is the essence of self understanding
the native naked soul of the person

all of this was stated in terms of footwashing
and the intimacy required to endure ones feet being washed
he tells the story of being invited to the home of a Lebanese catholic woman
and upon entering he and his friend were admitted into a room with
two large basins of water some toweles  incense in the air
they were instructed to sit and take off theire shooes which they did for
10 minutes just sat there with their naked feet the two of them
then the woman entered and knelt and intimately washed theire feet in water scented with balsam
once she had washed them she dried them and asked them to remain sitting there with
the aromas of the room in silence for another five minutes
then they were guided to a dinner table for a sumptuous meal

afterward the man's friend explained that
in many Lebanese homes the hired man washes
the feet of any traveler family or friend
as a daily or weekly custom
but for the head of the house to wash the feet indicates inclusion into the family
that in fact I had been adopted and I literally had nothing to worry about
the rest of my life in lebanon I would always have a place to stay and live

at the end of the retreat he asked us to waste all kinds of time with god
for the next three or four days
with our shoes off
walk through the cool spring grass
basically it was an invitation to lollygag with Christ

welcome to the endless summer project ladies and gentlemen
it's a brand new season with a brand new reason
and what's more
it never ends
not the way john hanson has designed things anyway

I got in touch with my inner child only to find out he was sort of a wild unruly little bastard
if you can imagine that



Tuesday, April 11, 2017

just for the sake of argument

If Protestantism is true, then the Catholic Church has continually invented false, man-made doctrines, in which no Christian should have to believe, and has done so for centuries. Yet Protestants agree with the Church’s decisions on the fundamental doctrines about the nature of God and the New Testament canon of Scripture. On these matters—settled centuries after Christ died and rose—Protestants accede willingly and make no claim that they were novelties. So what criteria do Protestants use to determine which decisions of the Church had divine origin and which were man-made?

                                             from:       If Protestantism is True

                                                                     Devin Rose

or.....The Protestant's Dilemma: How the Reformation's Shocking Consequences
                                                          Point to the Truth of Catholicism




Thursday, September 8, 2016

reconciling a polarized church: the pope francis way

this blog post was delayed in the blog network
perhaps awaiting some sort of verification
of which it of course has no need
these posts are always welcome
it's just that I looked at the archive of posts
and saw this as a DRAFT  from May 2
so now it is published

the co-administrator is exceedingly grateful 
let it be known

This was the title of the third workshop session I attended Friday at the Los Angeles Religious Education Congress.  It was presented by Mr. David O'Brien, a lay minister with a master's degree or two from Notre Dame.

One source of division he pointed out was simply personality differences between those who prefer order versus those who are more comfortable with ambiguity, and between those who are rule-followers versus those who are not.

One thing that prevents us from reaching out to the "other side" is that it is simply less work, less stressful to be around people who are similar to us.  This is understandable.  We need to have times when we can be around others who support us.  The problem is that in today's society, people are isolating themselves more and more into groups that only think like they do.  When we do this, we lose touch with others, and our own views become more and more intensified and entrenched.  (As I reflect on this now, I think another thing that makes us more entrenched is when we are with others who differ from us, and we perceive that we are not being heard or taken seriously.  This only makes us state our claims more emphatically in an attempt to be heard).

David told a story of a friend of his, studying for the priesthood and recently ordained as a deacon.  His friend said that when he is given his own parish the first thing he is going to do is to lock all of the doors to the church.  When parishioners arrive on Sunday morning, some will find the locked doors, look at each other in confusion, wonder what has happened that has led to Mass being cancelled, and then go out for breakfast.  Others will try every single door of the church, and then check all the windows, looking for a way to get in, because they know they need to be there.  They know they need the Mass.  "Those are the people with whom I want to start my church!" said David O'Brien's friend.  After letting his story sink in a few moments, David said, "There is something seductively attractive in that view, isn't there?"  How wonderful to have a church filled with people who are as fully committed as we are.  "The problem is," David continued, "that it's not very Catholic.  There are plenty of churches that are only for 'the saved', but the Catholic Church is 'the big boat.'  Everyone is welcome.  In the Catholic Church, if it takes someone 85 years of living within the witness of the Church to finally come into personal relationship with God, that's ok."

Another reason we aren't always ready to listen to others is our assumption that what "works" for us will work for others, whether it be Eucharistic adoration, Cursillo, Marriage Encounter, charismatic renewal, social justice work, Bible study, pro-life efforts, etc.

Another barrier to reconciliation is overconfidence in what we know.  He quoted John Wooden: "It is what you learn after you know it all that counts."

Another reason we don't reach out to others who differ from us is that we think we already know what they are like.   To illustrate this point, David told story of going to a social justice conference.  During one session, the speaker asked the group to break into pairs to discuss what was important to them about social justice.  David paired up with a young woman about his age and they had a lovely conversation, finding so much that they had in common.  At the end of the conversation, he asked the young woman, "So what do you do for living?"  She replied "I work for Planned Parenthood."  David turned white.  She then asked "What do you do?" and David replied, "I work for the Catholic Church."  Then she turned white.  David's point was that in his mind, he had thought he knew what people who work for Planned Parenthood are like, until he got to meet one of them and find out how much he had in common with this person.  Likewise, she probably thought she knew what people who work for the Catholic Church are like, until she met David.

After this introduction, David made three points that he thinks we can learn from Pope Francis regarding reconciling polarizations.
1) Pope Francis challenges the "scarcity" approach--the idea that there are only winners and losers, and that in order for me to win, someone else must lose; the idea that if I am right, then you must be wrong, and vice versa.  An example of Pope Francis's approach was displayed at the recent Synod on the Family.  Although no change in Church teaching emerged from that synod, the process was very much a new approach in that the Pope did not give the bishops an agenda of what they should discuss and what they should not discuss, and all perspectives were allowed to be expressed.

David used the example of personal preferences in musical styles.  Most of us appreciate and enjoy more than one musical style.  So why can't there be room for diversity within the Church?  According to Pope Francis "Variety serves to bring out and develop different facets of the inexhaustible riches of the Gospel." (Evangelii Gaudium, n. 41).

Pope Francis suggests a goal of reconciled diversity:

“Unity does not imply uniformity.  It does not necessarily mean doing everything together or thinking in the same way. Nor does it signify a loss of identity. Unity in diversity is actually the opposite:  it involves the joyful recognition and acceptance of the various gifts which the Holy Spirit gives to each one and the placing of these gifts at the service of all members of the Church.”

According to Pope Francis, pluralism is a work of the Holy Spirit.  It is not the same thing as relativism. 

As an example, David mentioned the pluralism of religious orders within the Catholic Church, each with their own distinctive charism, and sometimes prone to vigorous debates between them.

As another example, David pointed out the differences between religious sisters who choose to wear the habit and those who do not.  Both have excellent reasons for the choices they make, and both groups should be supported in their choice.  Those who wear the habit are a visible witness to the world that there are people who choose to devote their lives to God in poverty, chastity and obedience.  Those who don't wear the habit do so out of solidarity for our common humanity; they don't want an 85 year old woman to give up her seat on the bus out of deference to "sister".

As a practical measure toward fostering reconciled diversity, David suggests promoting quotes from a variety of authors and perspectives within church bulletins, preaching the broad spectrum of church teaching, and using a variety of styles in liturgy.

“It always pains me greatly to discover how some Christian communities, and even consecrated persons, can tolerate different forms of enmity, division, calumny, defamation, vendetta, jealousy and the desire to impose certain ideas at all costs, even to persecutions…Whom are we going to evangelize if this is the way we act?”  (Evangelii Gaudium, n. 100).

2)The second thing we can learn from Pope Francis is to lead with the pastoral.

As a holy priesthood, we, the people of God, should engage the world as a pastoral people.  We should engage the world with mercy and compassion, seeking reconciliation, rather than leading with doctrine or ideological options.  We should focus on the joy of the gospel, and not on the faults of those who try to live by it."

"Before all else, the Gospel invites us to respond to the God of love who saves us, to see God in others and to go forth from ourselves to seek the good of others. Under no circumstance can this invitation be obscured!  All of the virtues are at the service of this response of love. If this invitation does not radiate forcefully and attractively, the edifice of the Church’s moral teaching risks becoming a house of cards, and this is our greatest risk.  It would mean that it is not the Gospel which is being preached, but certain doctrinal or moral points based on specific ideological options. The message will run the risk of losing its freshness and will cease to have 'the fragrance of the Gospel'."  (Evangelii Gaudium, n. 39).

Unfortunately, Pope Francis points out, “We speak more about the law than about grace, more about the Church than about Christ, more about the Pope than about God’s word.”

If we lead with the pastoral, then when we are confronted with a contentious issue, we focus first on the person in front of us, who may disagree vigorously with us.  But we train ourselves to look at them as a person first, rather than immediately diving into the business of who is right and who is wrong.  Discipleship is not about being correct, but about being connected to others in caring relationship.  

We each need to ask ourselves, on which issues or problems do we have strong opinions, but little connection to people?


Saturday, April 30, 2016

from: the rise of the machines

....issues in family culture & science....

We are living in an era of voluntarism; a period in which religion has been dying because it has been reduced to an act of the will, and thought has been subordinated to sentiment. The conversion of culture that is called for is a profound one, because part of the problem of our culture is that religious faith is assumed by both believers and non-believers to be a purely human act. Of course, faith is an “infused theological virtue”, a divinely inspired habit, and to that extent certainly also a matter of the will. But the created human will has been misunderstood in modernity as primarily active and generative. The deepest Christian tradition, by contrast, understands the will as primarily receptive—and that means turned towards the truth. A will turned in upon itself, upon the self, cannot give thanks, cannot receive grace. Such a will can believe only with blind faith. What we must affirm, against the false Gnosticism of atheistic reason, against even the rules of the club of professional philosophers and theologians, is the reality of a seeing faith.

                     Stratford Caldecott...in  HUMANUM

....this blog deserves more attention......................................................


Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Hans urs von Balthasar's girlfriend speaks

General responsibility for the Church and for all whom it must lead to the Lord must be given to someone.  The Mother, who had volunteered for every responsibility, will surely assume this one.  The Apostles have functions in the Church which are somehow divided and partial.  The Mother is responsible for the whole.  In her, the Apostles and their different missions have their unity, the unity of the whole catholic mission:  to bring together all those who have gone astray or who are seeking, all those who are to be redeemed.  It is starting from this Pentecost community of the Apostles – with the women and the Mother in their midst – that all the scattered are brought back to the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

         Adrienne von Speyer