Archive for July, 2015

“A Flexible Heart”

July 16, 2015

July 17, “A Flexible Heart”  Matthew 12:1-9 Blessed Paul Peter-Gojdic

“There is more at stake here than religion. If you had any idea what the Scripture means–“I prefer a flexible heart to an inflexible ritual.” (12:9).

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Bishop Paul Peter Gojdic–imprisoned by the communists, dying a painful death of cancer in 1960 said: “I am certain that at the end truth will triumph over lies, and love will overcome hatred.”

And that is what the Gospel proclaims, and I think of that often. I thought of it today as I read of Caitlan  Jenner receiving the “Courage Award,” and of the transgenders I see every night deserve that award: they walk the streets to make money to pay for their hormones, many are senior citizens, all are poor, and have no chance of having surgery, and yet they witness to who they are; all those in the transgender community who have been abused and forgotten by their families. I think of “J” who is 19, beaten up by his dad, thrown on the street, now using drugs to cope. They are the one’s who deserve the “Courage Award,” and in saying that I am not saying that Caitlan does not.

Today in the paper there was an article on the homeless population and the latest stats. Basically the same as twenty years ago. Last night I was at a meeting and there was pizza and at the end I suggested that each person take it out and give to the people sleeping on the street, and they did. It is in the power of one that revolution will come.

Solutions? I have no answer for that, but what I do suggest is that if each person shows there care for one other person by providing simply food==-that will start a revolution of the heart.

What I do believe is that if each of us followed the Jesus who calls us to love one another–for all the Scriptures are translated through the words of Jesus, and says “Love one another, feed the hungry. .”without regard  to any thing else–there will be a revolution of the heart. Jesus calls us to flexibility, to having a heart that is flexible and giving without judgment–and that is the revolution that will change the world. Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!

Running Low on Empathy

July 15, 2015

July 16 Cicely Saunders, “Running Low On Empathy”Matt. 11:28-30

“”Are you tired?  Worn Out?  Burned out on religion? Come to me! Get away with me and you’ll recover your life.  I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me–watch how I do it.. . keep company with me and you will learn to live freely and lightly.”

There was an article in the LA Times this morning by a lady who had been talking to people about homelessness and she said that people are losing empathy for the homeless. That the reality is people want the homeless to just go away. I see the same attitude in San Francisco. There are more and more letters to the editor about the wasting of the amount of money spent on the homeless.  But in San Francisco an average apartment is 3000.00 plus a month.  Families of four can receive free medical help if they make $97,000.00 a year; in the state of California the average salary is $53.000.00  a year. Our political leaders never even mention this discrepancy–they totally ignore it. We totally ignore the discrepancy.

This causes real fear among many people, I see many families who are working,  living in their cars.  I have a  fear for my own apartment. This creates an environment where no one feels safe.

Cicely Saunders, founder of the Hospice Movement, wrote: “You matter because you are you, and you matter to the end of your life. We will do all we can not only to help you die peacefully, but also to live until you die.”

We are running low on empathy because we fail to see that every human being matters, and that we should challenge our leaders, we should give of our own money, our own time, to show that people matter.  We run low on empathy when we fail to engage people in their struggles, without judgment.

Our society, our culture is way off course–and until we engage in turning it back on course–we too will run low on empathy. Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!

VegInspiration
If we decrease our practice of exploiting animals for food, we will find our levels of disease, mental illness, conflict, and environmental and social devastation likewise decreasing. Rather than ravaging the earth’s body and decimating and incarcerating her creatures, we can join with the earth and be a force for creating beauty and spreading love, compassion, joy, peace, and celebration. Dr.,Will Tuttle

Unforced Rhythms of Grace

July 15, 2015

Bonaventure  Matthew 11:28-30 “Unforced Rhythms of Grace”

“Walk with me and work with me. .Learn the unforced rhythms of grace.” Matt. 11:29

Reading Facebook, the Chronicle, and listening to people sends one into a tail spend.  So much pain, so much anger.  These past three weeks we have been ill, and now as we move back into our  work, we are  finding that to keep ourselves centered is simply to focus on Christ, which means to focus on our work in the moment. That is how one learns the “unforced rhythms of grace,” to stay focused on Jesus and to follow him in our work, for that is all that matters.

Two ways that personally we are working at focusing is in a quote whose author I can not  name, “Ideology separates, dreams and anguish brings together.”  We focus on the dreams of people, we focus on their pain, we listen to their dreams and we listen to their pains. That is what is important–not what they believe, or who they will vote for.  And the second way is found in a quote from Augustine: “The measure of love is to love without measure.”  Pure and simple– loving people, caring for them–with out expectations. Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!

Fucki Society

July 14, 2015

Tuesday, July 14  St. Kateri Tekakwitha “Fuck Society”

“Doom to you, Chorazin! Doom, Bethsaida! If Tyre and Sidon had seen half of the powerful miracles you have seen, they would have been on their knees in a minute.  At Judgment Day they’ll get off easy compared to you.  And Capernaum ! With all your peacock structing you are going to end up in the abyss.  If the people of Sodom had your chances, the city would still be around. At Judgment Day they’ll get off easy compared to you!.” Matt. 11:20-24

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Tonight I sat with a mom whose son suffers from low-self esteem, struggling with relationships, and others signs that he is in trouble. His high school ignored them–passed him with a “D” through to graduation.  His mom was addicted to drugs when she had him which tells me his brain was damaged even before he was born. They have no money, little services. I see his future of struggle, failure, through the years.  My heart rages at a system that refused basically to help him, and will provide hardly any help.  Her insurance will only provide for one therapy visit a month–that is crazy. The Scripture for tomorrow rings out to me, it comes home.

It comes home to me in price of rent in this City, and this State, the inhumanity of people to their fellow humans.   People with money, jobs, insurance always asked me about answers to homelessness, and I have gotten to the point where I frankly do not answer them–for their are no answers.  You can not fix everything with a pill.  As in the case of this young man I will spend hours working with him and his mom trying to find a place for him to get support, and as his mom says “you are the only person I have ever met who will do that,” and what she means is that we are so busy, so tied up in ourselves that we do not walk with people the long road.

Over 20 years ago I remember a homeless advocate who won awards, was well known committing suicide because he saw no hope, and when people asked what keeps me going I simply repeat the Apostle’s Creed–for only in Christ is there hope. Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!

“Do What You Can Calmly and Gently

July 13, 2015

St. Clelia Barbieri  “Do What You Can Calmly and Gently”

“Give a cool cup of water to someone who is thirsty, for instance.  The smallest act of giving or receiving makes you a true apprentice. You want lose out on a thing.”

St. Ignatius tells us to “Do what you can calmly and gently.” It is in giving of a cool cup of water that Christ is present.  If each one of us would simply feed one person, live on what we need, and give the the rest to those who need, speak to another human with care–the world would be changed.

When people have pushed me to expand, to grow Temenos through the years I have resisted big time–in fact I plain out re bell- because it is in the giving of the cool cup of water that I encounter Christ. It is in spending two or three hours simply listening to another that Christ is real; it is sitting at the foot of a hospital bed all night that Christ is real. “Do what you can calmly and gently,” and we find the Christ. Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!

VegInspiration
One particularly glaring inconsistency that should be further investigated is the underlying assumption of vivisection, that we can become healthier by destroying the health of other living beings. Our welfare is tied to the welfare of all beings; we cannot reap health in ourselves by sowing seeds of disease and death in others. Dr. Will Tuttle

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In Christ

July 12, 2015

In Christ

Ephesians 1:11-12 “It is in Christ that we find who we are and what we are living for.”

My friend Fr. Tom sent this out on his blog this morning and it describes why there is a lack of empathy toward others:

“Charm is not a 21st-century attribute.

It is a lost language, a forgotten skill.

How did this happen?

The digital revolution has sped up, flattened out, and depersonalized communication, stripping away the necessity for charm.

When rapid-fire emails have replaced lengthy imploring epistles, who needs charm? When sexts precede conversation, who needs charm?

When nobody feels an obligation to entrance/allure/captivate anyone else – now that we all suffer from high self-esteem, we cannot wrap our heads around the idea that another individual might need to be ‘won over’ – what use is charm?

If things go a bit soggy, we pull out our phones and perk things up with a little social media blitz.

Who can be bothered charming others when you can amuse yourself with selfies?”

Simon Doonan

For me my ministry and my life are centered around feeding people, walking with people. Recently a seminarian texting me while I was sick told me “you are a dying breed,” and with my fever you do not want to know what I thought, nevertheless the heart of ministry for me is found in the following two quotes. As I get older I have frankly no time to argue theology, to participate in the cultural wars but to do my best to live the following out:

“You pray for the hungry. Then you feed them. This is how prayer works.” Pope Francis

“The Christ of Ignatian spirituality is Christ in action, the one who went preaching through the synagogues, towns, and hamlets, healing and doing good.  In our day Christ sends us into the turmoil of the world and tells us to seek God as we work for the good of human beings. Thus we too learn that, along with contemplative mysticism, there is also a mysticism of action in the world.” Peter-Hans Kolvenbach, SJ

For what we find is that when we look people in their eyes and walk with them in the pain–all else falls aside for we meet the broken body of Christ. Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!

VegInspiration
Wealth, gender, and race determine the extent of our privilege in a human hierarchy between rich white men on one end and impoverished non-white women and children on the other. Even poor humans have some privilege compared to animals, however, and it is this hierarchical, authoritarian social structure—pervasive, transparent, and taken for granted—that is the unavoidable outcome of commodifying animals and eating them. Dr. Will Tuttle

A Community of One

July 11, 2015

A Community of One  Matthew 10: 24-33 “What’s the price of a pet canary?   Some loose change? And God cares what happens to it even more than you do. He pays even greater attention to you, down to the last detail–even numbering the hairs on your head.” St. Benedict

A number  of years ago someone commented in humor that “you are a community of one.” Last week as I ran a fever a clergy friend was rambling about how I need to “get help”, to use one of “my saved, friends from the street to help me, you can not do this alone.” Through the years frankly I have felt put down by people because I do not have a “community”–a community of housed people.  But the reality is I do have a community, and it is the people I serve,– “my poor drug addicted, homeless kids” as they are often referred to.  By labeling people we place limits on them. I have never labeled them–they are simply my guys, my friends.  To me they are simply my parishioners, whom I have served for over twenty years.  In the words of St. Francis I have sought to “preach the Gospel, using as few as words as possible.” I make no judgments, and meet them where they are, and they do the same with me.  The past three weeks I have been so ill at times that I could hardly move, I have been filled with fear, and these guys have called, come by, gotten me food. The same as my housed church members once did. When I was stabbed last Fall one of my sixteen year old’s sat with me all night long at Kaiser, not because I asked him to, because he chose to.  This ministry has never been a community of one–it has always been a community of many.

Tim Muldoon in The Ignatian Workout reminds us of the best way to encounter God: “Thinking is really a pretty terrible way of encountering God. Words are even worse.  I come around again and again to a deep intuition of Ignatius sensing, savoring God is what we’re after. We must taste the bread of the Eucharist. We must feel the scabbed hands of the leper, smell the fresh odor of the baby’s skin, listen to the wind through the trees, be awestruck in by the sight of the kingfisher.”Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God”

Proclaiming Love

July 10, 2015

Proclaiming Love  Matthew 10:23-25  “There is a great irony, so much love, so much hate! But don’t quit. Don’t cave in. It is all well worth it in the end.  It is not success you are after in such times but survival. Be survivors! Before you have run out of options the Son of Man will have arrived!

Mike Aquilina and Kris Stubna in Take Five: On-the Job Meditations with St. Ignatius, wrote: 

” Ignatius hated selfishness.  He called it “self-love”, and he set it in opposition to true charity toward oneself.  If we really want what is best for ourselves, we will work for the good of others. For self-love is the root cause of much sadness and dissatisfaction. Ignatius urged his followers to find the divine image in all people-even difficult people and sinners–just as they were to find God in all things. Ignatian spirituality leads us to care for the comfort of others rather than our own comfort.”

The Gospel reminds us it is not success that God wants, he wants us to follow and love him. Personally we have never been successful–but we survive-and in surviving we have shown a lot of love. All Christ asks of any of us is to show love for our neighbor, for our environment. Selfishness kills, we see it killing each day in the grappling for wealth and power in this City, and it is killing not only the one’s who are weak, but the one’s who are strong. Suicide rates and depression are increasing among the young, successful people, and the answer is not in pills, it is in community and the sharing within that community.

And so we continue!  We do not stop! That is the call of the Gospel not success,  but to keep on going and trusting in the One who calls us.!  We show love in the best that we can! Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!

Go of the Uncertain

July 10, 2015

Matt. 10:16-23  “God In the Uncertainties”  “It is not success  you are after in such times, but survival. Be survivors”.

A Book Review of A More Christlike God: A Beautiful Gospel by Bradley Jersak

Today I went to Angel Island with a friend to celebrate her birthday. It was a little foggy, cloudy, and misty–a perfect Bay day, a perfect day to cross on the ferry. As I looked across the water to the City I thought first of all of my friend of nearly twenty years.  My life is full of uncertainty–I never know one month to the next if I am going to have enough money, my life is on the edge and my friend has provided the one certainty during these years–my health insurance. That, and that alone, has been a surety, and has saved my life, and I love her for that, I love her for her faithfulness to our friendship and to our ministry. No one has ever been a better friend to me.  I thought of the City that I came to over twenty years ago, its mysterious beauty, in both its under belly and in its glory that has always had a hold on me; a City in which I found ministry, and have had a full, and a totally satisfying life. I thought of the thousands I have served, of the one’s I have brought to Angel Island for a day, and of how they loved being out of the dirtiness of the City.

It is in that City that through the years I have encountered and have lived out the theology described in the  book A More Christ like God.  The theology has Celtic and Orthodox origins.  Basically it presents the healing Gospel, even a therapeutic version of the cruciform cross.   Our sin–that which separates us from God is rooted deep within us and the Great Physician brings healing when we allow him to. God never turns away from humanity–we turn away–and God is always waiting for us to return–he seeks us out, like the Shepherd.  The gospel is this: “when we turn away, he turns toward us. When we run away, he confronts us with his love. When we murder God, he confronts us with his mercy and forgiveness.

This is the Christ  I have encountered in my own life, and this is the Christ that I preach, the Christ of love who is always waiting without judgment. We slam him in the face, and he awaits for our return.  It is this Gospel that has grounded my ministry–I never turn away, never–for I believe we are called to be conduits for that grace.  I am hit in the face, I have been hurt, but I work with people without judgment. That is what ministry is about–to walk with people without judgment presenting the Gospel of grace in our actions. Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!

“God’s Weird Way”

July 9, 2015

Genesis 44:18-45:5;  Matt. 10:7-15 “God’s Weird Way”  St. Pauline of the Agonizing Heart of Jesus

I am asked a lot “How do you support yourself?”  And my answer seems odd to most people, “I send out a newsletter and people give.”  And the response always is, “But how do you know how much you are going to get?” I usually reply with this verse from Matthew: “Don’t think you have to put on a fund-raising campaign before you start. You don’t need equipment.  You are the equipment, and all you need to keep that going is three meals a day. Travel light.” St. Pauline adds to that when she says” “Be humble. Trust always and a great deal in divine Providence; never must you let yourselves be discouraged, despite contrary winds. I say it again: trust in God and Mary Immaculate; be faithful and forge ahead.”

The terms of our lives are not our own terms.  They are those of a generous, giving, and forgiving God.  This is the God who invites us to a new life, a second life–one that is forgiving and forgiven. Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!