Don’t They Get It?

Recently our world rocks us yet again with many instances of violence and death that are projected onto our consciousness by way of print and electronic media. Unrelenting in detail, we find it almost impossible to experience any peace at all even as we try to end our day with sleep.

As has been demonstrated for millennia, even those entrusted with “spreading God’s word” have on occasion not been able to avoid doing so without some form of violence. It has remained such that as we try to convince others that God loves us, we sometimes do so in a loud, forceful and intolerant manner.  All in the name of “doing God’s will.”

Joined HandsThere have been, however, many other voices who have tried over time to ask that each of us embrace the silence required for hearing God speak. We are asked to ignore as much as possible even block out the strident sounds of violence and death; we are asked to embrace the solitude that, while precious in terms of time taken, is so essential to the very peace of our souls. Thomas Merton, a Trappist monk and contemplative, once said, “Our job is to love others without stopping to inquire whether or not they are worthy.”

Jesus has asked us to do this over and over yet we cannot truly hear it if we do not rid ourselves of the temptation to seek revenge, inflict any form of harm, or in any way diminish those who we find to be in disagreement with our own deeply held beliefs.amazing-grace-1145086

The Spiritual Works of Mercy include Admonishing the Sinner and Instructing the Ignorant. We can accomplish neither if we allow our hearts to be filled with hate, disdain, rejection or outright dismissal of their right to seek God with all their hearts. “They” will understand what we are trying to do when we live a life of mercy rather than preaching a message of death.

In the Jubilee Year of Mercy may we be thankful for all the catechists in our parish of Holy Family who work tirelessly to share God’s word.  They do so constantly reminding us of God’s loved and peace. We are grateful for their willingness to help us hear about one another’s faith journey with respect and kindness. They help us “get it.”

We Three Kings

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By: Tom White

2nd in a four-part series on Mental Health for Mental Health Awareness Month

The excitement of opening gifts begins at a very early age. Even before we actually do it for ourselves, we are witness to it: baptism, our first birthdays, our first tooth perhaps, and family events, like Christmas. These events usually formed the basic DNA of the joy of opening gifts. We could not wait to open them ourselves.

Was it that primitive desire for mystery and excitement that caused the writers of scripture to speak of the Magi? Perhaps they had reflected on their own sense of inner peace when they imagined what bringing gifts to Jesus of Nazareth would mean. The writers even decided on themes for the gifts not unlike our celebrations. Gold, frankincense and myrrh spoke of the path of life; the gifts were almost like milestones, markers of a journey, if you will.  But the gifts themselves were not enough. They were brought by kings and they came from afar, as the story goes.

The scripture setting we read certainly paints an amazingly serene and perfect picture of mother, father and a beautiful baby boy. Angels sing, animal’s breath warming the night air and humble shepherds gather for this absolutely perfect moment.  Then gifts from kings! Oh, how we feel deep inside our very being that, if only this had been our beginning, we would enjoy the greatest of gifts: unbounded peace and joy. A perfect night is all we ask for ourselves. Peace, joy and freedom from any worries or cares.  It was all so, so perfect! Or was it? Continue reading “We Three Kings”

Guilty or Not Guilty

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By Tom White

The incredible span of time we witness and measured in our heavens, in our literature and in our amazing minds is breathtaking to say the least. Within all that we encounter, we are often left with the humbling view of own place in the timeline. We also are left to consider that someone much more powerful than us began “it,” sustains “it” and holds power over “it.”

It’s that same power many of us have been led not simply to respect, but deep down inside our very being, fear. Perhaps terror is a better word for some of us. “It,” we are told, is so incomprehensible that it is beyond being a mystery. It is, OMG, huge and, well, so powerful!

God began everything and everyone, and holds power over all creation. I remember being taught early in life that maybe I should consider this: If God forgets you for even a brief moment, you will cease to exist. For a period of time, my nightly prayer was very focused: God, please do not forget. This was fear beyond words. (Read More Here)

The Irish in Me

forgivenessBy Tom White

It has been said of the Irish that they perfected the art of holding a grudge. Quantify it, chew it, savor it, hide it and take it out to consider over and over. Maybe even “sanctify” it and provoke what started it in the first place.

A wiser person than I recalled when a young person was asked why they were so reluctant to be more vulnerable, the response was somewhat chilling: “I am afraid you will make fun of me and ME is all I have.”  This response may not feel that foreign to us when we feel as if we have been wronged. [Read more here.]

Contemplation

 

Pope Francis-Contemplation“We need constantly to contemplate the mystery of mercy. It is a wellspring of joy, serenity and peace. Our salvation depends on it. Mercy: the word reveals the very mystery of the Most Holy Trinity. Mercy: the ultimate and supreme act by which God comes to meet us. Mercy: the fundamental law that dwells in the heart of every person who looks sincerely into the eyes of brothers and sisters on the path of life. Mercy: the bridge that connects God and man, opening our hearts to the hope of being loved forever despite our sinfulness”.

The Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy, P. 2 – Pope Francis

Contemplation 1There was a time in my life when the word contemplation suggested isolation, withdrawal, or even loneliness. It was strongly suggested that one needs to withdraw internally, perhaps even find a desert, or better, a cave in which to embrace this self-centered silence.

The phrase “find yourself” was used frequently. The advice was to use this experience as an opportunity to have a private conversation with God. However, the exact reason for the conversation was unclear at best.

It was an early-in-life encounter with the thoughts of Trappist monk Thomas Merton that provided a more enlightened focus, much needed clarity and a more personal invitation. His autobiography “The Seven Storey Mountain” (provided a different expression of desert, silence and withdrawal. He seemed to make the quest for inner peace less of a goal and more a process. He challenged the reader with the radical thought that an honest look inward resulted in unequivocal living “outward.”

Merton saw the somberness of the monastery as actually embracing the richness of those who prayed there. He took the challenges of life not as private indignity but as opportunities to witness God in the marketplace. He redefined contemplation as time taken reflecting on how I may be God’s hand for another rather than myself.

Contemplation 2Contemplation was now a much less dark and lonely exercise and more of an opportunity to understand how to use my gifts to show God’s immense love for others.

Pope Francis is asking us to take time in this Jubilee Year of Mercy to look at, rather, contemplate, what it means to meet God in the lives of those with whom we live, work and pray. He offers us the thought that this happens significantly when we are merciful.

We are called to be people of welcome and blessing rather than judges and juries. We are asked to be bridges and not walls. We are being asked to think, pray, consider, and reflect on how we can realize God’s love in our life and those with whom we live.

Simply put, we are being asked to contemplate on God’s real presence in us and our neighbor.