Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Writings from Retreat

June 19-26th I was fortunate enough to spend on silent retreat at the Jesuit Retreat House in Parma Ohio.  I am working on a debrief of the week, but in the meantime wanted to share a  short reflection that came out of the week.

Knowledge and Wisdom come from experience, the good and the bad, the Alpha and Omega. From experience one can grow if one chooses. So Go! Experience! Experience a lot, but don't stop there. Dissect the experience, allow it to refine you, reform you, transform you. Ask what you should be learning, where is the lesson? Learn what to keep and what to let fall away, but only after careful examination of all the pieces and parts. Sometimes what we want to throw away holds the greatest truth, the most refining properties, the greatest trans-formative experience.

Don't limit yourself and more importantly don't limit God. Who you are becoming is more important than who you are, and certainly more important that who you were. Embrace the becoming.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Can You Throw Off Your Cloak?

Blind Bartimaeus Receives His Sight (Mark 10:46-52)
46 Then they came to Jericho. As Jesus and his disciples, together with a large crowd, were leaving the city, a blind man, Bartimaeus (which means “son of Timaeus”), was sitting by the roadside begging. 47 When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”
48 Many rebuked him and told him to be quiet, but he shouted all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!”
49 Jesus stopped and said, “Call him.”
So they called to the blind man, “Cheer up! On your feet! He’s calling you.” 50 Throwing his cloak aside, he jumped to his feet and came to Jesus.
51 “What do you want me to do for you?” Jesus asked him.
The blind man said, “Rabbi, I want to see.”
52 “Go,” said Jesus, “your faith has healed you.” Immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus along the road.
     I have to say this scripture is one of my very favorites. Mainly because I had a conversion experience while reflecting on it two years ago during my 19th annotation retreat. One of the things I focused on was his cloak, as a beggar, it most likely was his only possession. It was his shelter, his bed, his comfort. So when the disciples went to him and said Jesus is calling you he leaped up and threw aside his cloak, his everything, to go to Jesus. The cloak can be something different for you and for me I reflected, what is it that I need to cast off to follow Jesus? What is it that I ask of Him? This morning however Father Dan gave an even further reflection. He shared the fact that he has several friends that are blind, and their houses are in perfect order so they can find things. Bartimaeus threw off his cloak, he didn't place it down or fold it next to him. This simple action reveals his faith in Jesus, throwing the cloak, knowing he would not be able to find it in his blindness. He tossed it in faith, in belief, in healing. A beautiful new take on an already favorite story. 

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Living in the Truth


     So Father Dan's homily today about being in the world but not of the world really struck a chord with me. He explained that he is also in the world... trying not to be of the world. When he reads newspaper articles or things online he feels well that's not really the world that I'm living in and there is a bit of discomfort there. This to me was so comforting because I also thought I do feel that awkwardness and uncomfortable feeling sometimes when I read about the crazy things going on in the world and think ..what world are we living in? So it made me think of the Gospel today. John writes that Jesus shared a prayer to his apostles to the Father. "Holy Father, keep them in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one just as we are one. I gave them your word, and the world hated them, because they do not belong to the world any more than I belong to the world." The visual I got from this was to have one foot in this world and one foot in another... in the Kingdom. When we have one foot in one world and one foot somewhere else we are unstable, struggling, straddling. There is an awkwardness that has us off balance. But when we lean on one foot, leaning into God and the promise of the Kingdom , pressing into his world, we make that choice to press into Him and His word and we stabilize. Now it's not to say we don't wrestle back and forth, because Lord knows I do, but I think it is a great reminder today, with Pentecost coming, knowing that we are full of the Holy Spirit that we will always have with us. That spirit that guards against the enemy, the one ready to devour us at any moment. "I do not ask that you take them out of the world but that you keep them from the Evil One. Your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, so I sent them into the world." It is a delicate balance trying to live in the world but not be of the world, but leaning into the Word will give us the truth.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Divine Simplicity


     Today's readings are so simple, so pure, so direct. When I taught PSR last year the catechist shared this simple principle with the kids. God gave us rules to follow in this life, not to keep us restricted , but to keep us safe. To prevent us from bringing unnecessary harm to ourselves and others. These "rules" the commandments, when followed keep our hearts pure and free from sin, sin that disorders our lives. All stress and anxiety and pain can almost always be traced back to sin. This Hymn begins our guide for today.

I sing as I arise today!
I call on my Creator's might:
The will of God to be my guide,
The eye of God to be my sight,
The word of God to be my speech,
The hand of God to be my stay,
The shield of God to be my strength,
The path of God to be my way.

    The Psalm for today 59, another simple direct guide.

Rescue me, God from my foes;
Protect me from those who attack me.
O rescue me from those who do evil 
and save me from bloodthirsty men.
As for me, I will sing of your strength
and each morning acclaim your love
for you have been my stronghold,
a refuge in the day of my distress.

     1 Corinthians 10:13 is next. This passage I believe inspired the quote that God doesn't give you any more than you can handle. But this passage is much deeper than that. It's not about what he gives or doesn't give, it is about our obedience. It is about HOW we handle what is given us, the trust we have in the loving God we serve. He is with us, especially in our trials.

No trial has come to you but what is human. God is faithful
and will not let you be tried beyond your strength;
but with the trial he will also provide a way out,
so that you may be able to bear it.

     And finally the Gospel, Jesus's simple yet profound words from John 15. Jesus said to his disciples: "As the Father loves me, so I also love you. Remain in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father's commandments and remain in his love."
Simple, loving instructions, not to bind us or limit us, but to protect us and set us free. The teachings are such a gift, to provide instruction and divinity. Glory be to God!

Wednesday, April 13, 2016


 Redemption. I know I can only speak for myself, but I know this is something I crave. The past few years have been a journey towards this in my life.  I have beaten myself up about many mistakes of the past and the hurt it has caused. But this is not what God wants for me, or any of us. Through my 19th annotated retreat last year and this first year of the Ignatian Spirituality Institute I have had the privilege of digging into Gods word on a much deeper level. Not just the word itself but the theology and study behind it, not just from pastoral input but from a scholastic view. This view, while one might think it would lessen the belief has only strengthened it. Praying with scripture has saved my life. God’s word never fails to be on time, to confirm my beliefs and my direction. Letting go of past sins is not an easy task, God forgives, even if others may not, including and more importantly, ourselves. But again, God does not want us to live in this shadow of life. HE is the light, to purge us out of darkness, if we only subject ourselves to him and understand his magnanimous love for us. He loves us so much he sent his only Son to dwell among us, love us, teach us, pray with us, and forgive us. Jesus is the word made flesh so we have a living example of obedience. And he is enough.

“I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me will never hunger,
and whoever believes in me will never thirst.” JN 6:35

But redemption is a daily task, sometimes hourly. The dark spirit of sin can imprison us, blind us, and devastate us. Conversion is the key. We must love, ourselves, others and especially our enemies. It is only through this love we can escape the walls that contain us, that keep us from joy and from spreading that light in our hearts with the world. This is no easy task, but I am reminded daily in the word, and by living examples that prayer is the answer. God listens to our pleas, he is with us in our suffering and he can gently guide us out of despair. We have to allow Him to do this, we have to be willing to let go. Letting go is not enough though, we have to be repentant. We have to acknowledge we have sinned against God. When we move forward toward God we leave the past behind, sometimes we leave others behind that are not able or willing to accompany us on the journey. But I’m not here to impress the world; the only expectations I have to fulfill are those of my God. Not the worlds, not others, not even myself.  And again, today, God’s word delivers.

“My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways, says the Lord.
As high as the heavens are above the earth, so high are my ways above
 your ways and my thoughts above your thoughts.” IS 55:8-9

Father Thomas Merton has a quote in today’s Magnificat reflection worth sharing. “The root of Christian love is not the will to love, but the faith that one is loved. The faith that one is loved by God. That faith that one is loved by God although unworthy – or, rather, irrespective of ones worth!” This is a beautiful thought, I am a loved sinner, and continue to seek the way., day by day.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Once You've Seen the Light of Christ, Your Darkness Will Never Be the Same

I don't always jump out of bed skipping my way to mass.. today I dragged myself, especially the 7AM mass. I'm always so glad I do though. Today is the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord, when Joseph and Mary took Jesus to the temple to present him to God. Fr Adam and Fr Dan did an intimate procession of the Blessing of the candles used in worship. Each one of us at chapel this morning received a candle and the flame went from one worshiper to the next. Being almost the last one lit I was amazed at the amount of new light in the chapel, just by each one of us holding a votive candle. It was such a beautiful sight it moved me to tears. Each one of us, being that light of God in the world. Sometimes we may not feel the difference we make in the world, but seeing the power in the community was awesome! Fr. Adam shared in his homily that we are so very blessed to not have to wait on the presence of Christ, like Simeon did. He is in our midst, always there, arms open to us, piercing the darkness.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Every Day In The Word

Many wonder why I go to church every day. Someone even thought I started working at the church, as if the only reason was because I had to.  I started attending daily mass a few years ago. The more I went, the more I needed to go. I can't think of a better way to start my day. In the word of God.  My daily mass community has become like family.  We pray for each  other,  we pray for you or maybe for someone you love that is struggling with the loss of a loved one, an addiction, an illness. We pray for thanksgiving, for answered prayers, for safe travels and for those who have no one to pray for them. We cover it all,  in prayer.  So when I'm asked for prayers, this is where I take them, to daily mass.  As a lector and an Extra Ordinary Minister of the Eucharistic I am also at times asked to serve.  I bring life to the word as a  part of the mass, as part of the body of the church. Every day in the word are life lessons and reminders.  The word may not be for me that day.  But it never falls on deaf ears. It may be for one of the many people in my path that day. It may be for you, someone you know, someone you love or for someone that needs to hear it. I carry the message of that word in my heart all day and it sustains me. It brings me a calm I never knew before. I don't go because I'm a saint, I go because I'm a sinner. Daily mass gives me life, forgiveness and I am healed by the body and blood of Jesus. I'm given a new chance, every day, to be better and do better.   That's why.