Tuesday, February 19, 2013

To be Honest/Funny To Be

Honesty is funny. To be honest is not a condition as much as a position. I honestly pray the rosary 9 days out of 10; I honestly attend weekly Mass and Holy days; I honestly pray and I honestly believe what I say I believe.

I also honestly am disgusted by pedophilia. I am also honestly dedicated to women's rights. I honestly believe that anyone who has committed a crime against anyone should be prosecuted and made to pay for their crimes.

I, for one, am honestly ashamed of what I have done in my life to hurt those I love, to hamper their happiness, even while it does not rise to a crime. While I honestly am proud of what I have done to help those I love and those I merely encounter.

I honestly dedicate myself to do better to emulate our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. And I honestly love the Catholic Church. I am proud to be Christian, to be a Catholic, and I will honestly strive to be a better person in line with the teachings I have received, originating with the scripture.

Yes, honesty is funny. I never quite know what will happen next, being honest. I may be granted an insight. I may feel shame. I can only be open to whatever it might be. That is the mandate of honesty. It seems to me that the bible speaks to this, in that one is compelled to worship God and to love others as oneself. And, so, one should be honest. And I cannot feel the criticism of being naive, as our Lord and Savior insists that we believe purely, innocently, as do children.

At the insights I receive, I often laugh with surprise. At my shame I think, How funny that I have not realized this before.

Maybe you have had similar experiences.

Honesty is funny. I think it always has been funny and will continue to be so. This is what I think.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

A Touch of Merton, More of What I See

First, and quickly, Thomas Merton's Praying The Psalms is an excellent companion and makes perfect sense. I recommend it to anyone who is open to an intelligent and compassionate discussion of the subject.

If I had this book to write, I would want to go a step further away from the well-worn practice of employing the psalms for this or that situation as one perceives distress, etc. in one's own life. I find that the psalms have nothing to do with me as I understand myself in this world. Rather, and as Merton affirms, they make me better suited to love of God. And, one finds oneself at times in step with Jesus Christ, and with other believers, so that the great commandments of love are put into action. This seems to me to be all the purpose required for one's understanding and enjoyment and consolation, never mind this psalm for that personal affliction.

But, onto ostensibly more personal matters.

I am behind on writing about three visions. What other word? I close my eyes and pray and see things. So, visions.

I asked Mary for insight into who she is to us, and the lights behind my eyelids took the form of several pairs of perfectly formed female breasts. Well, there’s my religion, I thought. There’s the message. No ifs about it. Mother to us all. Got it. Thank you.

On another night, I prayed to know the Holy Spirit. I saw light take shape in a rapid succession of forms. Fire and faces. Shifting shapes. Some recognizable, others not. The overall sense was “organic” inasmuch as the shapes changed, or morphed. But then, there was scission. Difference. A kind of time blip of step, or distinction. One. One. One. Not many, but one. Then one. Then one. I may have seen two dozen or fifty forms. I tired before my eyes did, or what passed before my inner eye.

Just recently, and I forget the context or prayer, I saw the lid of a coffin, quilted, and a face escaping horizontally, skeletal (skullular {is that a word?}) trailing smoke or fire, or maybe it was just the trail of movement. I have wondered, was this an image of my death? If so, I will live to a distressingly old age. Lord, I’m not sure you are listening! The horizontal movement indicates as much – i.e., purgatorial, not heaven-ward.

How not. Ah, I am not a saint. I have thrown all my spiritual chips into loving God and doing everything I can to love others, but in fact I am a poor agent on my own behalf. I simply cannot rely on myself to know the best way to be merely me, or whatever part of me makes the letters appear like so, and so, on paper and computer screen. I ask myself, why am I confused where to write; what is my confusion? I circulate in public. I like the open-ended humanity, the music and the air of nothing being done of any particular worth. The meadow of the honest writer, perhaps – or this writer being honest, perhaps, with what he does.

So why does God allow me to see things? I don't know. How would I? One might as well ask, why does one exist in the first place. I do grateful. I don’t do doubt, except to wonder about myself and why I do what I do. After 54 years I have no perfect answers or absolute positions, excpet with respect to love of God and others. If anything, the answers are fewer and certainly less...hmmm, concrete. However, I can't allow myself to continue to apply this dis-knowledge to myself. I need to recognize who I am, what I need, and to act on my own behalf. If anything, this will help me to see more clearly others' needs, if not the will of God.

Thank you for reading.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Time into Love into Time

I have been thinking about time. The what of it. Our perception of it, dictated by the clock. The import of day and night. I have not got very far with any compelling insight into the what of time.

Then, today (at work, on the toilet - hah!), gazing at my lovely auto-winding Timex, I thought about why, from a faith perspective; or, why (given that all is from God) did God create time? It struck me that if there were no time as we know it - or experience it - we simply would be. We would exist, but we would not dwell. We would experience one moment in one world. We would not experience development or succession.

We would not have choice. Will would be useless. Will, as we understand it, would not exist, except perhaps insofar as we might will being - but a being outside of time.

Without time, we would not have choice. In time, we can choose. What to do and say. We experience change. Choices, growth, love. Without time, we might love, but we could not choose to say we love. In short, we could not experience the agency of love. We could not, for instance, love one another. And we could not love God.

John tells us that God is love. That is a quote. In all of scripture, this is one of the most compelling statements. It is a brilliant observation and incite; or declaration, or imparting of the Holy Spirit. It is often read I think as an indication of God's nature as a merciful, and of course loving, God. But for the purposes of this discussion, I view it as a statement of agency and the nature of time.

I believe that love is the essential force in the universe. I choose the adjective "essential" with this caveat, that it is the best I can do under the present circumstances. Better than underlying, or basic, or primordial, or ultimate. Love is both basic and ultimate perhaps - essential. Perfect and absolute - as again (back to John) we are told of the perfect love of God. The perfect love is the perfect force. The perfect force (the one force) is God.

But being schooled to an extent in philosophy I ask myself, why? Why does God love and why does he, well, enjoy or prefer or demand our love...except to say that love is "essential" or is the nature of God? This word love, this thing we call "love." How much do we really know about it? I hear the husband, father, poet of myself say, "I know it when I feel it." Well, we know what that rejoinder is worth to a serious discussion like this one!

I do know that the end of faith is love as often is the beginning. People are often confused about the Holy Spirit, the person of it - the nature of divine love as not merely a force, but a consubstantial "person" (I think I have that right). Sadly, this blog posting of a middle-aged American on February 12, 2013 will not advance the subject of the what of the Holy Spirit. It will not go further (a touch of the cap to Kierkegaard) than St. Augustine. Or I should say, happily, this posting will fall securely in the category of those compositions that know enough to wonder and understand, I hope, that this is the substance, the what of knowing on that subject.

But I am not abandoning or trailing off - not exactly. What is time. A gift. Why. Because time is love in action, and God is love. In God's law, his demand that we love, we are called to be the children of God, and to inherit his kingdom. In time we are presented with a "world" of options and opportunities. among those is love of God and love of each other. Among. Not exclusively. But definitely among, even preeminently, even to the abandonment of self, this mechanism, this fleshly proposition. If we did not experience love, we would not know God, and we would not be fit inheritors of his kingdom. A kingdom created, impelled, by love.

As we are in love we are in God.

That is all I have, even as I know it fails to fully occupy or inhabit its terms. I do not know if there is time in heaven. I have no idea how to approach that question or, more decidedly, whether it is of any importance whatsoever for me to even pose it. How might I advance my studies in time? I sit here (in time) and know enough to know that I have no idea what is going on. And when I say (or write) that, I feel terrific gratitude, perhaps for seeing myself or my intelligence in relief against the universe. I am often tired or occupied with this or that, then feel refreshed enough at least to praise. Perhaps just in time.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Of Death and other Promises

Brief thoughts on mortality on the eve of a birthday. No. 54.

If I fear death, it's news to me. I see it as a ticket home. I do not invite it, as I have work to do in this one life, but when it comes, assuming I am aware of its coming, I expect to be grateful and thankful. I will spend some 54-plus year sheathed in this form (what does it matter however long I live?) and I will spend eternity with God. Well, okay. I won't immediately be with God. Yeah, I'm, quite sure there will be a waiting period. Maybe a century or two if that vision I had of purgatory is anything to go by (posted in another blog here).

Anyway, death. So what. Age. Ah, that is more of a matter to be negotiated and handled, with as much humility and patience and grace as I can muster. One feels the spark diminish, energy, force. So very odd. And yet, the force of one's heart becomes...clearer? Maybe not stronger, but less encumbered. So we move toward God, day by day. For this I am incredibly grateful.

But death could come at any time, and as a Christian I am directed to be always prepared. And brother, I am. Ha! Well, I hope so. I guess I'll find out soon enough. I enjoy reciting the Nicene Creed at service. It's a great gut check. And when we get to the part "I look forward to the resurrection..." I make sure to say that with special emphasis!

In all this, I am quite sure the Lord has a sense of humor as well of love for our yearnings, our fears. How well I understand and echo the sentiments of St. Therese, the Little Rose, who looked forward to heaven so that she could do good here on earth. I feel the same way.

I pray for the souls of those in purgatory for that reason too. To reach out to those who have no other recourse. The impulse is not unlike any act of charity - food for the hungry, a dollar for the homeless, what have you. Work for others. Work work work.

Make this time count.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Faith, Choice, and Love

Since becoming Catholic, I have felt driven to find the words to express my opinions in regard to current moral issues. Religion, even faith in and of itself, is of course wrapped up in politics, ethics, etc. The organizing/authoritative forces and persons of religions in particular offer positions, even initiatives, calls to arms, in the name of this or that principle or tenet.

Hmmm. This opening sounds lukewarm. And so I am. Why? Well, I did not embrace baptism and confirmation in order to express opinions. I did it for love of God. I did it because those are critical sacraments in the faith I believe. I am Christian; I am Catholic. And I do have opinions. But I do not love God because it is my opinion to love God. I love God because God is.

So, before my opinions I have...my own positions, or a knowledge of the heart in what I take them to be. And those positions are qualified and informed on an ongoing basis by my love of God, my belief in Jesus Christ, and my devotion to the Holy Spirit. Three persons sharing one essence. This position is intrinsic to me. It is, in fact, at the core of my faith, at least at the level of being able to assign words to it.

There are things I want to see more of in the world, even as I immediately say, I hope to do more, myself, to make these come about. First and foremost - I want to see us love God and each other. I want more charity – sacred love. I want prayer and love for those who are hurting, forgotten, discouraged, even hated. I do not understand, personally, people’s urge to reverse or disqualify Roe v. Wade when I consider the harm this would do to people who are in the extremity of hurt, and sadness, and doubt, and fear, and misery. I believe in everyone’s right to choose what to do with their own minds, hearts, and bodies. I understand prayers for life; I understand prayers for mercy. I do not fully understand why one should opt or choose between the two.
Which is to say, that my opinions are if anything more securely progressive, or liberal, or affirmative, I would say, since having entered the Catholic faith.

I love God. I pray that I might follow Jesus Christ in his teachings; but I cannot in the same breath discuss public policy. Perhaps this is a failing. I admit that. But as my Lord and Saviour withheld from condemning sinners, I simply can’t find the opening to somehow point to this person or that and say, No. We encapsulate and have before us humanity in all its myriad wonderful and pitiful glory. At what point is any one person to presuppose the confidence to judge those who share the same heart?
Show me in scripture who was anointed to judge in the place of God. I am aware of only one - the one who will come to judge. I have always found opinions to be painfully absolute. The critical errors of pride and anger – these come into play with an ease that is chilling, even as they can be so incredibly difficult to remove or exclude.

This is not to say that I am perfectly kind. Hardly. I am given to moods and sarcasm and sometimes pretty vocal exclamations of disgust. I ask again and again for pardon. I am not proud of my failings. I do not vote them, I hope, and I am not inclined to want to.

My ambition in all this is to do as I believe I should - the same as anyone. It is somewhat embarrassing to say, that my ambition is to listen and understand. I cannot hate or dismiss with anything approaching absolution. I wish for love, for the "perfect love" described by St. Paul in Corinthians, as within that will be derived perfect happiness. I have been taught this by God’s law, as expressed in scripture, by the example of Jesus Christ, and by the promptings of the Holy Spirit.

In the meantime of this life, if asked, I say Yes to prayers and for all, for kindness for all. Who, I ask you, my brothers and sisters, deserves anything other than love and mercy?