I’m a fan of Matthew Fox. He and other theologians like Ilia Delio and John Duns Scotus have influenced my thinking too. Today is Easter for many in the world and the familiar greeting among many of the world’s Christians is “He is risen.” He has risen and he was crucified, died and was buried. Many Christians believe that his death was a necessary atonement for original sin. Last night as I was sitting in the chapel at Mount Irenaeus and participating in the Easter Vigil service I reflected on the emphasis on the light of Christ. I love the vigil service at the Mountain because it begins outside with some readings and blessings and the lighting of a fire and the lighting of the Paschal candle followed by a procession into the chapel.
The overemphasis of the crucifixion which was horrible indeed is that much of the teaching and living of Jesus is overlooked. It’s easy to go through the motions of being saved and then living an apparently un-redeemed life. Following the Christ invites transformation. How has Christ transformed me and us? How am I sharing that light with the world around me? Am I following this light that overcomes the darkness? He is risen today and everyday. What is the vision of the messiah? I believe it’s living in brotherhood/sisterhood with all that is created. That includes rocks, trees, animals, plants. It all bears the imprint of the most high. Living in communion with everyone even those folks who I find uncomfortable. Everything belongs.
“Imagine a world where the representatives of the greatest military power on earth are humbled by an unarmed healer from the backwaters of Galilee. If you can imagine this kind of world, you possess … an imagination ready to discern the reign of heaven.”
– Stanley Saunders
This letter that came from the Merton Institute is timely today. Sometimes I feel an overwhelming sense of despair and lately it has been tugging at my shoulder from time to time. This letter Czeslaw Milosz though fifty years ago rings true for me today.
[Letter to Czeslaw Milosz, Feb, 1959] Milosz, life is on our side. The silence and the Cross are forces that cannot be defeated. In silence and suffering, in the heartbreaking effort to be honest in the midst of dishonesty (most of all our own dishonesty), in all these is victory. It is Christ in us who drives us through darkness to a light of which we have no conception and which can only be found by passing through apparent despair. Everything has to be tested. All relationships must be tried. All loyalties have to pass through fire. Much has to be lost. Much in us has to be killed, even much that is best in us. But Victory is certain.
Thomas Merton. The Courage for Truth: Letters to Writers, Christine M. Bochen, editor (New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1993): 57-58.
I’m home again after two days at Stella Maris Retreat in Skaneateles, New York. It was the annual meeting of the Kateri Tekakwitha Region Secular Franciscan Order. I’m humbled to be a member, much less a minister of our local St. Irenaeus Fraternity. The Secular Franciscan Order, originally known as the Brothers and Sisters of Penance follow a rule of life much like that followed by Franciscan friars and nuns everywhere in the world except they follow it as very ordinary folks. Some are retired, some are not. Some are married, others are not. Some of our members are social workers, nurses, while others are teachers and some are even computer geeks. Our members come from all walks of life and all around the world. We’ve got one thing in common and that is a desire to follow the Gospel of Jesus Christ in the same way that our seraphic father St. Francis of Assisi did.
I’m humbled to be in the presence of such holy people. I feel like I am the least of the brothers.
Secular Franciscans, together with all people of good will, are called to build a more fraternal and evangelical world so that the kingdom of God may be brought about more effectively. Mindful that anyone “who follows Christ, the perfect man, becomes more of a man himself,” let them exercise their responsibilities competently in the Christian spirit of service.
Today I awoke to a covering of white stuff that Fr. Bob at the Mountain called “bunny fluff.” Bob said that any snow that falls after April 1st is referred to as bunny fluff. It works for me. My ride over to Mass this morning was typical as I made my way down the Ischua Valley towards Olean, New York and then east on Route 446 to the Village of Cuba and then on Interstate 86 to Friendship, New York and then to Nile and Route 1 to Mt. Irenaeus. It’s a route I know well. The further south and east I got the less of the bunny fluff I saw. Continue reading “Bunny fluff”
This week I encountered once again a chap at work who is very narrow minded and rigid. He’s inflexible and I must have some of that nature in me. I know I do and that’s what burns me about him. This morning after rising I looked outside my window and there on the ground was a little bird, laying on his back, feet pointing toward heaven. He was stiff as a board. I wondered if he had flown into our window and died. I’ll bury him later, but then I mourned briefly his passing. I’m connected to all that is. There is nothing that is that is not connected to me. When I become rigid I forget that. I love the Tao te Ching and the wisdom of Lao Tzu. He was a holy man, a saint who lived before Christ.
When alive, the body is supple, yielding.
In death, the body becomes hard, unyielding.
Living plants are flexible,
In death, they become dry and brittle.
Therefore, stubborn people are disciples of death, but
Flexible people are disciples of life.
In the same way,
Inflexible soldiers cannot win (a victory).
And the hardest trees are readiest for an axe to chop them down
Tough guys sink to the bottom, while
Flexible people rise to the top.
Christ was flexible and when Christians become inflexible they do not imitate Christ
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came to be through him, and without him nothing came to be. What came to be through him was life, and this life was the light of the human race; the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
Christmas is a celebration of the word made flesh that has come to dwell among us. The incarnation blesses the world because God loves the world and always has. Jesus was not created for the world. The world was created for Jesus. Continue reading “In the beginning was the word”
This afternoon I watched a movie that my wife gave me for my birthday. It’s called the Nativity Story and it was released last year. It’s a wonderful movie and the kind of movie I love to watch at this time of year. I’ve always loved movies like this because it captures the essence of the Christmas story. Continue reading “Magnificat”
Recently Olean, New York and the surrounding area has been driven into a frenzy at times over the public display of a nativity set on the lawn of city hall. I’ve read with interest the articles pro and con in the local newspaper defending or condemning the decision. Politicians and other scalawags use religion as a method to divide the electorate and it’s become so common that we fall for it without question. Is this really the spirit of Christ or even Christmas? Continue reading “Christmas displays”