Friday, May 29, 2015

Three distinct experiences of God

We experience our graciously loving God as father, mother, parent, who gives us life and keeps us in existence, looks out for us, provides for us.
We experience our graciously loving God as brother, sister, who saves us from danger and death, reconciles us with our parent, shows us how to grow up and become responsible to others.
We experience our graciously loving God as friend, lover, companion, who lives within us in the most intimate relationship, draws us into community, makes us eager to tell others about Jesus and  share Love with them.
At different times in our lives one of these experiences of God may appeal to us more than the other two, but every day we are swept into this Divine Circle of Love.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Holy Trinity

As difficult as it sometimes seems, speaking about God in a threefold way is essential for Christians if we are to pray truly "In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit."  Speaking about God in a threefold way arose historically to express the experience the early Christians had of Jesus and of the Holy Spirit.
To oversimplify, we might say that they experienced the loving God in a threefold way as beyond them, with them, and within them.  They experienced God as utterly transcendent, completely beyond this world.  They experienced God as present historically in Jesus. They experienced God as immanent, intimately present as Spirit within them and within their community.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

53 Ups and Downs

Yesterday was my 53rd Anniversary of Ordination to the Priesthood.  I am astonished and deeply grateful to God for my being a priest all these years and for the many lives that I've touched.  In addition, here's some good and bad that stands out for me in the years that I have been a priest:
Pope John 23rd and Vatican Council II
Taking part in the March on Washington
Taking part in Protests against Vietnam War
Bought place at lake (see above)
Began living alone
Emotional Problems that led to successful psychological counseling
Bought row house
35 frustrating years as Council reforms were threatened
Retirement solitude and deeper prayer
Pope Francis and return to Vatican Council II values
Heart Attack and Open Heart Surgery
New lease on life

Friday, May 22, 2015

Spring Memories

Aren't these lilies of the valley lovely?  Very delicate.  One morning they showed up in a neighbor's yard where a tree had been cut down.  In just a few days they were gone.  They bring back wonderful memories of my childhood in spring.  I picked lilies of the valley from our yard and put them on a May altar made of an orange crate and a statue of Mary.
In our yard there was a forsythia and what we called "fire bush."  Then lilacs and irises (we called them flags.")  We had daffodils and tulips.  And we had a grove of apple trees that blossomed later.
What I notice now, but didn't notice then, is that these spring flowers pass quickly.  It is our spring memories that last.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Breath Who is Personal

Our vocal cords are silent until we send breath over them to create sound.  Flutes and trumpets are simply hollow tubes until someone's breath moves through them making music.  All we have are dying embers until we blow on them creating fire.  We are nothing without the Breath of God moving in us.
It is important for us not to think of God as like us, only greater, a supreme being.  That's why I keep suggesting more formless ways of imagining God, but always Love or Beauty or Breath is personal, knowing us and loving us.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Short of Breath

"Pneuma" is a Greek word that means "breath" as well as "spirit."  It is the source of our English word "pneumonia."  Reading it as "breath" when I meditated this morning gave me a new understanding of Acts 2:1-13.  The whole event is aimed at speaking, using breath to talk.
Luke doesn't say that Pentecost involved wind and fire.  He says there was a sound like a strong violent wind.  Imagine the roaring sound that the Breath of God made in the room.  He says that tongues like fire rested on each one of the disciples.  Imagine their tongues being moved by the Breath of God.  "They were all filled with the Holy Breath and began to speak in different tongues...." 
The Breath of God fills us and moves us to talk about Jesus. 

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

The Breath of God

"Then it pleased the king to raise a small feather from the ground and he commanded it to fly.  The feather flew, not because of anything in itself but because the air bore it along.  Thus am I a feather on the breath of God." 
That is how Hildegard of Bingen describes herself.  "A Feather on the Breath of God" is also the title of a CD of religious music that was composed by her.  She was one of the most remarkably creative personalities of  the Middle Ages.  She lived in in the 12th century in what is now Germany.  She was a visionary, naturalist, playwright, poetess, and composer.  Her friendship and advice were sought by popes, emperors, kings, archbishops, abbots, and abbesses.
"Breath" and "Spirit" are the same word in Greek, "pneuma."  It might help us to getter an expanded grasp of who the Holy Spirit is if we think "Holy Breath."  "They were all filled with the Holy Breath and began to speak in different tongues as the Breath enabled them. (Acts 2:4)"  The Risen Jesus "breathed on them and said 'Receive the Holy Breath. (John 20:22)" 
We are feathers on the Breath of God.

Friday, May 15, 2015


One of the ways that we, as Church, witness to Jesus is by community.  The members of a healthy community have a strong sense of belonging to one another, but they also welcome anybody.  A healthy community is not a clique.  There is one Body, one Spirit, one hope, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all (Ephesians 4:5-6.)

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Fullness of Christ

Saturday morning the trees finally began to go green, a new beginning.
The fullness of Christ is referred to in both options for second reading on the feast of the Ascension (1:23;4:13.)  The Resurrection/Ascension has changed Jesus so that now his risen life flows out of him into every human being as well as into the entire universe.  Christ fills the entire cosmos bringing about a new creation.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Witnessing to th Ends of the Earth

The Ascension is not so much about Jesus' going to heaven as it is about our staying here to witness to Christ everywhere.  As he disappears from them, Jesus tells his disciples, "You will be my witnesses, in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth. (Acts 1:8)"  A late addition to Mark's Gospel says, "They went out and proclaimed the good news everywhere. (16:20)"
We do our witnessing mainly as Church, as the entire community of those who believe in Jesus.  Our Holy Father Francis has been showing us how to do this.  He brings the mercy of Christ to all.  I wonder what this witnessing asks of me.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

River of Love

It starts with the Father, flows into Jesus, and then into you and me and from us out to the whole world.  One enormous River of Universal Love.  All we have to do is let the River take us on through life.
But most of us have a hard time letting go.  We cling to every broken branch and bush and weed along the River bank, convinced that that's where happiness lies.  We choose to be whipped around and beat against the rocks along the bank rather than risk the huge, fast moving River that is Divine Love.
But then one day through a mother's love, or the love of a spouse, or the generous love of a friend, we hear Jesus inviting us to love as he loves.  We let go and are caught up in the River of All Embracing Love whom we sometimes call God.

Friday, May 8, 2015

It's the Law!

The story of Cornelius and Peter in chapter 10 of the Acts of the Apostles is a valuable look at attitudes toward the Law.  Until this incident no Gentile (non-Jew) had been received into the community of Christ's followers.  The Jewish Law even forbade Jews to enter the homes of Gentiles.
Peter has a vision telling him to eat animals that the Law said was unclean.  God says to him, "What God has made clean you must not call profane."
So when Cornelius, a Gentile, asks Peter to come to his "un-clean" house, Peter understands that he must go despite the Law.  Peter receives Cornelius and his household into the community of Christ's followers.  He knows that he will be criticized by his fellow Christians, all of whom were still obeying the Jewish Law.
"When is it wrong to obey the law?" is not a new question for Christians.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

God Is Love

"God is Love," says John without any qualification (1 John 4:8,16).  The Son of God reveals this by becoming one of us and by becoming the atoning sacrifice for our sins.  God always makes the first move.  "In this is Love, not that we loved God but that God loved us."

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Love Divine

Chapter 15 of John's Gospel is  rich source for meditation.  Jesus says, "As the Father has loved me so I have loved one another as I have loved you."  Love flows from the Father to Jesus to us and out to all the world.  One Love embracing all.

Friday, May 1, 2015

Outward Signs

Well, at least the streams are flowing freely as if it is springtime!
John tells us to love, not in words, but in action (1 John 3:18-24.)  Our faith in Jesus and our love for one another are the signs that Jesus remains in us and we in him.