Saturday, July 27, 2013

OpenCatholic - Website, News, Points of a Compass in the Path

Things are up in the air, being things, aloft. Actions aloft. Birds & butterflies painted with name and intention.

I am convinced to do and do more, and to do as I should do; moreover, to do as I believe should be done. Perhaps I trust the doing. That one should do? Yes. That what I do is right? No, but that I should do, yes.

I should ground this post. I will ground this post!

I have set up an OpenCatholic website. The doing is good. But the twin, or anterior effect is to see my religious experience playing out in the here and now under the umbrella of what I can say on behalf of forever. So, I am present, but hardly alone, even as the site, like this blog, should hardly make ripple in world of eternal truths.

Catholic. Being Catholic. I am an open Catholic; I am open about being Catholic. In the self-same breath, I believe that the Catholic mission is one of being open to all, Catholic or no - the universe of all humanity, past, present, and future - abiding by the tenets of Catholicism or not. All under the love and praise of God.

So, I am very happy. I am grateful to the Lord. I am delighted to have this strange opportunity to write and play out whatever you might call this work, this mission - it's purpose and point. I can hardly suggest goals or outcomes independent of, well - independent at all! We do nothing if only we can point the way of the Lord. To feel yourself in that...work, gesture, dance, cataclysm...is a great gift.

We offer ourselves to the Lord at every Mass. We do so in the act of contrition, in the offerings, in the prayers of intention, in the Eucharist. This gets to be a habit, and it is a healthful habit. To say, I am here and I am yours. I am entirely yours, Lord.

For my part, such repetitions serve to make everything plain and clear. There are no lingering doubts or regrets with having made oneself fully culpable and available for the work of the moment.

So, the blog, the website. I hope to help to freshen the mission. I hope it's fun and rich. I hope all kinds of things, all the while praising God and asking for his forgiveness.

OpenCatholic. The term makes perfect sense to me. What would one exclude?

Friday, July 19, 2013

Paul - a Voice for All

It strikes me that every day holds the possibility of a catechism in the Way, seemingly ground up, where one's faith is re-tuned in an aspect of the Word, our Lord, Jesus Christ.

While yesterday was somewhat bleak - I was feeling exhausted, is all - this morning I made a point of praying the Divine Office, which included Paul's admonition in 2 Corinthians, that Strength is made perfect in weakness. This was of course the Lord's directions to Paul as he struggled with the "thorns in his flesh." Which is to say, that Paul had been given what he needed to fight the good fight.

I have thought of this notion of sufficiency, if I may call it that, many, many times, with reference to the visions I have been granted, knowing somehow that the Lord was giving me only what I needed to do what he wanted me to do. The rest is up to me. I hardly need to point out, yet again, that any vision or message from God is just an incredible blessing - given our faith and the Eucharist, who could want for more?

And yet, every day, like the creation in Genesis, is a day made new by the Lord. And miracles - the Word - surrounds us, if only we open our eyes and let our hearts read the message. If the Lord provides...extracurricular (!) instruction...it is to direct us to specific works and mission.

I posted on Facebook that Paul's statements could be the anthem of our time. So many individuals and groups are struggling to be heard and understood; wile so many other individuals and groups appear dedicated to pursing personal, self-serving agendas. For the former, Paul's statement is a call to arms (in my view) - an incitement we have seen borne out in history as the underrepresented, the oppressed, rise despite their weakness in the world to make themselves known and to change the world. Was not Jesus' mission one of representing the poor, the sick, the oppressed?

And for the powerful, Paul's statement is an admonition, that one must, MUST be humble in one's power. That such graces are the gift of the Lord and should be made to serve all mankind. Especially those who have no voice, or power. Our Lord was quite clear n this point, I need hardly point out.

Have no doubt. Make no mistake. The Lord will bless, and test. The tests may be active pain or mere vacancy, a feeling of desertion. This is not to say that all pain is "the will of God." That is a regrettable (if, in some cases, quite understandable!) misunderstanding and misapplication, which I will address at some point. But I will say this, that the Lord and his powers, the Angels and Saints, including especially the Blessed Mother, Mary, surround us night and day. God is as close to us as our merest interior voice will allow. His capacities are infinite, immediate, and perfect.

They are yours, my friends, to call to. Any time it occurs to you to do so.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

A brief note on the Way

A note to suggest that living in the Light of Christ is something more challenging than knowing what to do, or what comes next. As you dwell with your name, in your skin, living alongside the Lord as your brother places you at risk. There is less of sublime reflection, I think, than a kind of parallel exposure. The scriptural basis for this observation is to note that nowhere does the Lord or his disciples say, "Golly, you won't believe what I just heard!"

No, the word of God is received as apparent, if almost always slightly wonderful. There would be little point or principle in being, let's say, shocked by such truths or directions as originate from our one and only true, unremitting self.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Offering Easy - Summer and Doubt - Clear the Mind

I would like to write a story. A fascinating, thrilling, brilliant story. One that would propel me from obscurity to fame. This is not a unique desire. It is one I have had many times, one that many writers have. And in my case, I know that it is nothing more than a sign of self-doubt.

A sign, a signal, to stop and doubt one's doubt, or to take things slowly. To breathe.

I would like to know my past and future the way I have at times known the moment of the present, as I might again. This too is a signal of self-doubt, against which, one must act to confess that doubt.

There is no formula for working one's way out of self-doubt. I think I mind it less now, having become a Catholic, as I tend to see these times as a kind of trial, a "cross to bear"' as the expression goes, as it has gone on for centuries now, even in the vernacular.

It would be interesting to read a history of Catholic persons' common usage of terms over the centuries. I can say, based on my so-far scanty reading, that many usages have been in place for a long time. It is strange to read a journal or biography from centuries ago where the writer expresses him-or-herself in prayers that we employ now, or to see the same self-concerns.

And, so, one is sometimes jostled out of self-doubt feeling informed and, well, slightly embarrassed. After all, look at my advantages. Who am I to complain?

But, I trust my active heart (i.e. conscience), which is where meaningful work occurs. If I am sad or doubtful, it means something. And I cannot afford to neglect that doubt.

So, I do not doubt in a strict comparative - though I do doubt whether I have anything to offer - but I tend to vacate myself and simply doubt as one who has lost themselves to themselves. Not always a bad thing!

Catholic. That word carries a lot of connotations. One of which, to the purpose of this posting, is a dedication to prayer, to different kinds of prayer. The Protestant and Fundamentalist churches have been known to take Catholics to task for "formulaic" prayer. That is, praying by rote, not from the heart. This is a formless, weightless criticism. Any Christian of non-Christian is capable of prayer, in word or deed, that is as intense or real or legitimate as the need or desire occasions, and to criticize that based on a person's affiliation is, I think it fair to say, ludicrous, or an exhibition, and not to the point.

Catholics, like others, pray as they need to pray. The literal difference is that Catholics recognize the efficacy of "sacramental" prayers. The Rosary being a prime example. By use of the word "efficacy" I mean to indicate that those prayers work. One can pray and get exactly what one asks for. I have done so and am merely one among billions.

And yet, I doubt myself! It really is comical, isn't it. The co-habitation of these facts leads me to this definition of life. Life is that occasion where utterly contradictory facts occupy the same place, in the same time, under the guise of salient forms.

I have a sudden impression of St. Paul clucking his tongue and shaking his head. He is the Patron Saint of writers, by the way. An intimidating thought!

Well, my friend, this is all a kind of work. In large part, to clear one's mind.

Another effect of having become Catholic, I see each day as a creation, a point of beginning that ends with sleep. So the concerns and doubts, and too the celebrations, end with that day.

To "clear the mind" means to do what must be done, what is "right and just." For that day. For me, this can be accomplished through writing poetry, or a blog (such as this one), or through celebrating Mass. It is sometimes done through political means, offering echoings of justice. It is only rarely accomplished merely through prayer. No, prayer is a call for help to clear one's mind through one or another of these vehicles of...accomplishment.

Ah. It is complicated. These are the inner workings. Catholics are exhorted to read about the Saints, to study the Bible. And we do, because it makes sense to do so, and it helps. It helps in the matter of endurance, sticking with the truth, even when you don't "feel it."

No wonder then that the Lord advised his disciples to pray constantly. That, my friends, was nothing other than a kind, practical suggestion. You can ask anyone who has done so. One might include, to "act with justice" constantly. Surely the Lord would not object to this addendum.

I am almost done with this day - to the sudden impression of St. Paul faintly smiling. And, if this is mere projection, one might suggest, is it so slight as to be disregarded entirely? I am among men and women, alone and in pairs, old and young, writers and workers and poets who work. Are we so alone in noting our impressions as to doubt our own happiness or that of others?

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

A Third Letter to Friends

You will at times feel nothing. I am quite sure that this is not your fault. After a while, it may occur to you to ask for something. This may not be your idea.

Empty, you will ask. Empty, you will be filled. Ah.

The obligations that accrue to one filled are few but I think definite. To be grateful, preferably quietly. To be kind to others, all others, all of whom, you can be sure, have known emptiness. Check.

There is nothing worse than emptiness, then feeling nothing, except feeling pain - but even that can be better than nothing. Talk, talk. The wind blows.

My Lord, you withdraw from me that I might recognize that I have somehow withdrawn from you. And so I empty myself - I have become somewhat accustomed to emptying - and I ask for relief, forgiveness, and you fill me once again. This is always a surprise to me.

You are fun this way, my Lord and Savior. This is how it is with you. I see that. I hope I do not over task you. I do not quite comprehend the alacrity and assurance with which you reward repentance. But, this is what you do. I know this, because I have the user manual, and I have experienced it.

I say these things in public. Not too ostentatiously, I hope. I do so, because I believe that you do not require that I not do so. Or, otherwise. I should do more.

Well, it should be a long summer. I hope to do more with less.