Monday, June 29, 2020
G.K. Chesterton spoke of the “mystical minimum,” which he defined as gratitude. When we stand in the immense abundance of the True Self, there is no time or space for being hurt. We are always secure, at rest, and foundationally grateful. The grateful response for what is given—seeing the cup half full— requires seeing with a completely different set of eyes than the eyes that always see the cup as half empty. I don’t think it’s an oversimplification to say that people basically live either in an overall attitude of gratitude or an overall attitude of resentment. The mystical minimum is gratitude: Everything that is given—that we are breathing today—is pure gift. None of us have earned it. None of us have a right to it. All we can do is kneel and kiss the ground—somewhere, anywhere, everywhere.
Thursday, June 25, 2020
If we don’t get forgiveness, we’re missing the whole mystery. We are still living in a world of meritocracy, of quid-pro-quo thinking, of performance and behavior that earns an award. Forgiveness is the great thawing of all logic, reason, and worthiness. It is a melting into the mystery of God as unearned love, unmerited grace, the humility and powerlessness of a Divine Lover. Forgiveness is the beginning, the middle, and the end of the whole gospel, as far as I can see. Without radical and rule-breaking forgiveness—received and given—there will be no reconstruction of anything. It alone breaks down our damnable worldview of trying to buy and sell grace. Grace is certainly the one gift that must always be free, perfectly free, in order for it to work. Without forgiveness, there will be no future. We have hurt one another in too many historically documented and remembered ways. The only way out of the present justified hatreds of the world is grace.
Monday, June 22, 2020
The word change normally refers to new beginnings. But transformation, the mystery we’re examining, more often happens not when something new begins, but when something old falls apart. The pain of something old falling apart—chaos—invites the soul to listen at a deeper level. It invites, and sometimes forces, the soul to go to a new place because the old place is falling apart. Most of us would never go to new places in any other way. The mystics use many words to describe this chaos: fire, dark night, death, emptiness, abandonment, trial, the Evil One. Whatever it is, it does not feel good and it does not feel like God. We will do anything to keep the old thing from falling apart. This is when we need patience and guidance, and the freedom to let go instead of tightening our controls and certitudes. Perhaps Jesus is describing just this phenomenon when he says, “It is a narrow gate and a hard road that leads to life, and only a few find it” (Matthew 7:13–14). Not accidentally, he mentions this narrow road right after teaching the Golden Rule. He knows how much letting go it takes to “treat others as you would like them to treat you” (7:12). So, a change can force a transformation. Spiritual transformation always includes a usually disconcerting reorientation. It can either help people to find a new meaning or it can force people to close down and slowly turn bitter. The difference is determined precisely by the quality of our inner life, our spirituality.
Tuesday, June 16, 2020
|Compassion is Being With|
Let us not underestimate how hard it is to be compassionate. Compassion is hard because it requires the inner disposition to go with others to the place where they are weak, vulnerable, lonely, and broken. But this is not our spontaneous response to suffering. What we desire most is to do away with suffering by fleeing from it or finding a quick cure for it. As busy, active, relevant [people], we want to earn our bread by making a real contribution. This means first and foremost doing something to show that our presence makes a difference. And so we ignore our greatest gift, which is our ability to enter into solidarity with those who suffer. . . .
Those who can sit with their fellow man, not knowing what to say but knowing that they should be there, can bring new life into a dying heart. Those who are not afraid to hold a hand in gratitude, to shed tears of grief, and to let a sigh of distress arise straight from the heart can break through paralyzing boundaries and witness the birth of a new fellowship, the fellowship of the broken.
Thursday, June 11, 2020
Jesus does not directly take on social reform. Instead, he preaches a life of simplicity and nonviolence that is simply outside the system of power, money, and control. More than directly fighting the system, he ignores it and builds an alternative worldview where power, prestige, and possessions are not sought or even admired. Such withdrawal of allegiance is finally the most subversive act possible because the powers that be can no longer control us, either positively or negatively (by getting us to react against them). We are no longer inside their reward-and-punishment system. Maybe that is why mystics, saints, and hermits so infuriate the body politic. They ignore the whole thing and build an alternative set of loyalties.
Sunday, June 7, 2020
Although the hidden life of God remains a mystery inaccessible by reason alone, professing God as Trinity is not meant to distance us from him. Through the Son’s incarnation and the sending of the Holy Spirit, not only are we capable of understanding the eternal relationship of intimate loving communion that is the Holy Trinity, we are able to share in it. This is why we were created, why every human heart cries out to be loved. This is why people discover themselves in the words of Jesus and leave everything to follow him. The revelation of God as a relationship explains what it means to be human.
—from the book Inspired: The Powerful Presence of the Holy Spirit by Fr. Gary Caster
Wednesday, June 3, 2020
A prayer for racial justice and the Catholic Church
Social life is made by human beings. The society we live in is the outcome of human choices and decisions. This means that human beings can change things. What humans break, divide, and separate, we can — with God's help — also heal, unite, and restore.
What is now does not have to be. Therein lies the hope. And the challenge.
Come, Holy Spirit!
Fill the hearts of your faithful.
Enkindle within us the fire of your love.
Come, Holy Spirit!
Breathe into us a fiery passion for justice.
Especially for those who have the breath of life crushed from them.
~by Bryan N. Massingale, Racial Justice and the Catholic Church (Orbis)