Saturday, December 27, 2014

Love Politic

God's truth is love.

There is no end to things. To things that matter, there is no end in sight. To things that do not matter, there is no end of hope.

I turn time and time again to what does not matter as being the only fit pasture for my labored mind. I need peace. I do not need consolation.

If there is any one thing I am most grateful for it is that I feel no need to explain myself. Really, I would not know how to begin.

In love is the truth of God.

Political matters concern me for how people express love of each other, which is God, which is truth.

I support truth. I support love.

I find it increasingly difficult to be angry or even annoyed by politics. I am sorry for how people are neglected or suppressed. I suppose I believe in freedom of expression, but even then I defer to God. I cannot know what is true that is not love.

I know only that God is love.

In this, I am somewhat deprived of easy conversation. I lack the tools of discourse. I agree with what comes out of people's hearts. I trust in God. This is not a brag, I imagine. I simply have no options except to trust, to support, to love as God loves.

I cannot claim any credit. I cannot say I am right, because the truth is not mine to declare, and love is not mine to control.

If God is love, then all love is holy. Certainly, you will agree that I have no standing to question what is holy. What profit would there be in that?

Ah. I am one man. Just one man. I have nothing to offer of any worth that does not come from my God.

I am never alone. I am never without hope. I cannot fail in love. I cannot be false in love.

There is no end to things. There are endless proliferation and gatherings and causes and concerns and announcements and pleas, resolution and questioning. More gathering. More song.

More in the way of love, of truth. More and more. Words strike the brow, an unceasing rain.

Love is true as God is love. The world knows this just as we know the world, in our hearts, through the grace of God.


Thursday, November 20, 2014

The Open Constant

One word occurs to me again and again lately. That word is "consistency." Typically, I turn that word outside of myself, wishing that others be more consistent. Consistent in doing what they say they will do, for their own sake and for others. After all, if there is one thing the Catholic Church brings to the table, it's consistency. Serious consistency.

But in truth, that word "consistency" has hung around my mind not because of anyone else's failings in that regard, but mine. I need to be more consistent. In prayer.

I have written in an open manner about the forms and conditions of prayer, especially as I see prayer in a variety of modes and moods, to varying purposes, etc. But this is OpenCatholic - not merely to be open to otherness, but to be open about what is Catholic. Being open to otherness, to new ideas - to what makes all children of God vitally real and important - is perhaps at the pointy end of the Catholic stick. But the stick itself is being Catholic. Being open about being Catholic.

And being Catholic means prayer. Lots of it, and in form. And that form is, first and foremost, the Rosary. I would say that in terms of importance (meaning efficacy) the Rosary is second only to the Eucharistic celebration in its importance. At this point, I would be comfortable suggesting that, for a Catholic, life without the Rosary would be a kind of living hell, being cut off from a vital and real form of communion with the universal Church.

So, I will certainly continue to write about what I see as vital in the world about me, in people's practices, but I need to be more consistent in what I do, as a Catholic. I need to pray the Rosary. I need that flow in my blood as surely as I need food and air.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Empty, Free

How do we communicate truth? By defining, illustrating, pointing. By living.

By listening. Sharing. Praying.

Do we communicate for the sake of our ego (to advertise our knowledge) or as a gift? Perhaps our motives inform the outcome.

I want to communicate that since I joined the Catholic church I am a better person, more engaged, kinder, a better listener, less anxious, more giving, more in control.

Also, I take more risks. I am less afraid of failure, lack of success, death.

In short, I believe I have more, and that I give more. How do I communicate this without talking about myself? Because, I know this has to do with God, not with me. Not with me at all.

Not at all. Not one bit. I have nothing to say about myself beyond what I say to myself on occasion, to remind myself what God has done for me, to give praise.

How do I communicate this to be faithful to what I have received?

I do not know, except to write poems, post the occasional blog with this or that observation. I am never so knowing of my emptiness as when God has helped me to be strong and free.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Perception and Faith - the Moment and Now

For a number of years, I endeavored to see one moment in time, or an object in that moment, for itself. To slow down the world so as to be able to see one thing, and see it for itself. I wanted to see choice, too, or thought, to be able to perceive the exact movement of decision. This desire began, years ago, with wanting to remember a random flower or plant at the roadside as I drove by. "I want to remember that plant," I thought to myself. For no philosophical or moral reason I knew of, I desired to accomplish this, and I thought it an honorable goal.

It took me years, but I experienced this form of perception, so that I can now call it up when I want. I can, in a sense, fall asleep to everything but what is before me, either physically or in my mind. I credit my religion with pushing me through in accomplishing this goal. I did not know it would do this, but now, looking back (and in the present), I can imagine no other way to, for a prime example, be awake to the blessing of the bread and wine, to their transmutation to the body and blood of the Lord, which I feel, bow to stern, through and through, and know as a child knows their ABC's.

Any Catholic (or Buddhist, for that matter...) should know this is not bragging, etc. What I desired years ago was nothing more than wishing to be present in the moment. It is a desire, a fine one at that, which any spiritually-conscious human being can relate to. The Lord chose that I should know this moment in His way, is all.

And, now, I have come to wish to see myself in the same way. To be able to perceive myself as a person, objectively, a figure on the street, as others perceive me. I have been able to do so, on a couple occasions, and let me tell you, it is a disconcerting experience. To see yourself as a person apart from yourself is to perceive - to feel, to know - that you are as vulnerable as anyone. Right now, the man seated in front of me might have a heart attack, or a safe could fall on him. I would be shocked, but I would live. See yourself as a person apart, and that perception is made very real, at a personal cost.

What does God want from me?

Well, I think God wants me to be who I am, as long as I am capable of, and willing to, seeing myself as just another man. I consent to this. It is not easy to do, to say, I am not special, but at the same time to know that I must be who I am and believe in myself! Think of the Lord, whom the Father commanded to be mere flesh and blood, for his glory.

This is the pattern, the form, the truth of being Christian. It is not merely a matter of understanding the parables of the Gospel or going to church or voting for this or that. It is a matter of transforming one's perception of the world, moment by moment, and of oneself, in the here and now.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Open and You

Approaching the notion of OpenCatholic - what that means. Can one proclaim openness and be open? Is not any kind of proclamation a kind of closing of the door to dialogue or inquiry?

Am I, as a person, as a writer, as a Catholic, "open"?

Am I asking that others - other Catholics - be more "open" - or, "open" like me?

I suppose I take the notion of universality at face value. I cannot claim to a universal intelligence (isn't Erasmus considered the last truly "universal" thinker?) but I, as anyone, am subject to the universality of Christ's teaching. I am, therefore, called to be universal in thought and feeling and action. I am called to that. I fail, to be sure, as I am a miserable sinner, but I do not lose faith in that call.

I do not put aside the instruction, the expectations, the demands of our Lord to accommodate the fact that I will fail. That I fail is testament. For I know I fail. I know it, and I confess it, and I never let it stop me from trying, again and again, to follow the Way.

So, what is OpenCatholic?

It must be what I, as the founder and writer, imagine or experience...but my experience is nothing as an individual, a person with this social security number, born on a particular date, to die on another.

It is, I think, a simple allusion to the notion of being alive to the Word. We traffic in labels. In this case, the label is intended to indicate, in rapid fashion, that labels do not suffice. So, we return to ourselves sometimes, refreshed by having exposed ourselves for review. OpenCatholic is that I am open about being Catholic, and at the very same time open, as Catholic, to you.

Exactly, precisely, with no judgments, regrets, or reserve, YOU.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Notes on Prayer List Management

Catholics pray. Catholics pray like fish swim. Like how birds fly, and oceans wave, and kittens like a ball of string, Catholics pray.

We pray as that is our job. The Lord told us to pray, and often. The apostles - quite intelligently, I think - asked him how to pray, and he told them. He gave us the Lord's prayer. He did that, and he prayed, and often. He prayed when things were good and when things were not so good. He prayed for understanding. He prayed to heal others.

So, we pray too, and in all kinds of ways. A practice I have worked toward is the prayer list. This is a list of people - individuals or groups - that one prays for. Like many Catholics, I keep my list with me. Before every Mass, I write down the names on my list in the book of intentions. This book is presented in preparation of the Eucharistic celebration along with the offerings of donations, the bread, and the wine. The book of intentions is handed to the deacon or priest, who hands it to a cup minister, who places it on the altar. The altar is the table of the Eucharist. It is the altar of the Lord.

As the priest calls forth the Holy Spirit to bless the body and blood, as he recites the prayers of the offering, he does so over the open book of intentions, where people like me have written the names of those we pray for.

I write all this out for a couple reasons, one of which is, I hope all Catholics would take the time to enter the names of those they pray for into the book of intentions. I suppose that is not really a reason, is it. It's more of a wish.

The other reason, which is a reason, is to note a few points of practice. As I said, I have "worked" toward a prayer list. I used to write in simply my family and the souls in purgatory - or perhaps the name of someone I knew who was in difficulties. Praying for others has, I think, made me more aware of people's pain; whereas being Catholic and having seen how prayer works has prompted me to make better use of prayer.

This has led to some interesting and entertaining thoughts. The internal prompt to pray is surely guided by the Holy Spirit. So, when the other day a homeless man thanked me for the dollar I gave him, and introduced himself as Billy, I thought to myself, Well, Billy, you are going on my prayer list.

I mean to hint at the fact that my prayer list is growing. I'm not entirely certain how many people I can handle! But perhaps there are some guidelines, I guess, such as including at every Mass those under my care, and adding those, such as Billy, for three Masses.

Ah. Logistics intrude everywhere! It's all good, though. The Holy Spirit is a certain guide in the editing of prayer lists, as in all such matters.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Ambition in Peace

We are ambitious, a term of perfectly human form, meaning to project oneself toward a goal and to assign reward to success and penalties to failure.

Ah. The ambitious Catholic is hard-pressed!

I could write for ages on this theme, on the contradictions of ambition and humility, mainly. St. Paul, a slave to Christ, who wrote for the ages! But I know enough to be quite certain that I cannot add to the lessons of the Lord in his parables (or to those of St. Paul in his letters). And, even there, I hesitate to offer examples to put "my" point across without succumbing to ambition its very self.

It's all quite amusing. I do not mean that ironically. We have guides and tools aplenty. Regular attendance, acts of charity, the commandments and liturgy, obviously, etc.

But most apparently (for those who have eyes to see) we have the example of other Catholics. Either long-time parishioners or the process by which new Catholics become old Catholics, learning, along the way, how to serve, willingly, joyfully, so as to set an example for others.

We have been doing this for a while now. 2,000 years, give or take. And it boils down to four words:

Believe   Commit   Serve   Share

How else would one follow the Lord? What options are there that can possibly claim anything like success? Understanding that any success is simply recognition of the power of God, what ambition is available to us, but to believe (in the Lord), commit (to following his example), serve (others in their belief), and share (our experience as believes and thus evangelize)?

What do Catholics believe? We believe that to be, fully, is to share fully in belief. We, as individuals, do this more or less well in the way that people do more or less well the things they do. Running a country, raising a family, being married, painting a painting, running a business, running a church, serving the Lord.

We put serving the Lord and each other first. Both. Love God and your neighbor. So, there you have it. The ambition is not in how to be Catholic, but in being in faith as we understand it to serve God and others.

But, you know, I do not really care for opinions that seek to show that something rich and complicated is "really very simple." No, not at all. I like complicated things to be recognized as such, and for rich important things to be left free and clear for everyone to plumb for whatever meaning they can draw out. I cannot simplify my faith.

I can't say much other than what has been shown to me. And, what is the purpose, after all? For me to sound like I know what I am saying?

No, the ambition is peace. And I am not peace. The Lord is. The Lord is peace of heart and all that will be.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Open Prayer for Today

When things are good, an emptiness opens up, as if a void within me. And I remember the old urge, to fill it, but I do not follow that urge. You have shown me not to. So I wait, knowing you will show me how to fill it. It always takes a certain amount of time, or I go about seeing the world, doing this and that, holding the new emptiness.

So, when I say that my life is mine, I mean it only politically. I say it is mine more in a manner of speaking, when nothing could be clearer to me than to know that my life is yours to do with as you please. I say this as a fact of knowing, such as if I were to acknowledge my friends, or the passing of the seasons.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Words including Hobby Lobby

Reading the news, walking around, I have had thoughts concerning the Supreme Court's Hobby Lobby decision. You see I have not linked to the decision. I assume you know what I am talking about or, if interested, you will go and find it. I do not write these posts as a means of drawing attention to anywhere else. I want us to spend this time together, unimpeded by easy opt-outs.

Yes, I have considered Hobby Lobby. I have formed sentences or approaches. I have thought that I should read the entire ruling and dissenting opinions before forming my own opinion. That was very mature of me, I am sure you will agree. It's nice to see a blogger being so thoughtful and thorough and mature.

But it is not in the spirit of thought that I sat down to write this blog. No, it is in the spirit of having had thoughts that bored me to tears. I mean to say, quite decidedly, that I have nothing to say with respect to Hobby Lobby. Nothing. If I thought that anyone would benefit from my thoughts, or, indeed, if anyone's opinion would be influenced or altered, then I might express myself. But no one is interested in anyone else's opinion on things like contraception or abortion or women's rights, or things of that nature. There was a time, I seem to recall, when people had discussions about serious social issues, but that time is past. These matters, as vital and compelling as they are, have taken on aspects of some weird national sport, where you root for one or another team, come hell or high water, and that is that. Everyone is right and their respective moral ground is unassailable. They proclaim, they fight, but they do not talk, and they do not listen.

When I turn to actually writing this blog, or anything for OpenCatholic, it is as a Christian as I live that term in my life, by the grace of God. And, so, if pressed  - by either "side" - for an opinion on Hobby Lobby, or indeed any of the "hot button" issues related thereto, I would say that there are no limits to understanding and mercy. None. This is the light burden spoken of by the Lord, in that we are tasked with letting go of things (like, our opinions) in order to draw closer to God.

Let us love God and each other. Let us celebrate the Eucharist. For all the rest of it, may God have mercy on us. Amen.


Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Shooting Choice

Another school shooting. A school shooting. This school's shooting. Reynolds High School, in Troutdale, Oregon, on June 10, 2014.

This school, this shooter. This shooter, his victim. This shooting victim. This boy.

This boy. This child. This young man. I do not know his name as I write this blog.

The school the young man attended, and where he died. The parking lot where people gather, collect their children, and go home.

I do not know what this nation will do to stem the tide of school shootings. I do think that for as long as we deny passing strong anti-gun legislation, potential shooters will have no reason not to act. I believe that we can not afford to do nothing, as silence and inaction provide implicit consent. When popular culture is itself rife with individually mandated violence, young persons will take our silence on actual acts of violence as a form of implied endorsement.

Kill, and die. Be an anti-hero (which, currently, means "legend" in certain circles).

I felt a moral urge to leave work today and drive out and be at the parking lot where children were bused from the locked-down school to be picked up by their parents and caregivers. Further, our next-door neighbor, Doug, is a teacher at the school. Doug is married to Courtney. They have a baby, Alice. If I could see Doug, and wish him well, and drive him home, or whatever, I knew I had to do that.

I had to go for Doug and all our neighbors. All the people gathered in the parking lot. I do not know what to do to stop or even impede these shootings. But I know we have to do something, lest such horrors be treated as common-place. They are not common-place. Each one is a disaster of the first magnitude, where an individual - here, again, a student - has decided to take a gun to school and open fire. On others, on himself.

So, I excused myself from work and drove out to Troutdale, Oregon. I went to the parking lot where adults waited for children.

While hoping to see Doug, and then actively waiting to see him (having overheard that teachers were due to arrive on buses), I prayed. I stood where I could see students departing their buses, one-by-one, and as each departed I prayed, Peace be with you. Or, I prayed the Hail Mary, in general, my eyes scanning the crowd. The waiting adults, the clustered children, the police officers guiding the event.

But let me get to the point. Because the point of any tragedy is what we learn, in terms of who we are, and what we will do about it, going forward. The point is not merely to worry, or shake our heads in disbelief.

I do not hope that my prayers helped. I know they helped. I know that my prayers and, undoubtedly, the prayers of people around me, helped, the way I know that if the roof of my house were to spring a leak, I would grab shingles, and a hammer, and nails, and with the help of a ladder I would gain access to and fix that leak.

The shingles and nails would stop that leak. I would simply be the instrument by which they were brought to the leak. I know that our prayers help because that is what prayers do. They confer healing, they confer understanding and peace, and they do not fail.

If shingles and nails can stop a leak in a roof, how much more efficacious are prayers to God on behalf of his children?

My prayers did not help today because of who I am, but because God is who is God.

I do not worry about the children and families of Reynolds High School, because they will heal, and they will be stronger for it. I am concerned about the destiny of a country that cannot bring clear and available legislative and enforcement resources to bear on the school shooting crisis. Being Catholic, I know something about institutional blindness and inaction in the face of pain. Yes, you might say I have very smell of it in my nostrils.

But I am a child of God, as are you.

As was the student, the boy, who died today.

And I say, our legislators had better listen. They would do well to listen to our voices, to our prayers, and act, accordingly. I do not understand how a person can resist acting who has, on one end of the response-spectrum, the President chiding them for inactivity, and, on the other, the voices and prayers of millions demanding that we act.

To return to the point. I was a moist-eyed and very focused mess this morning before heading out to Troutdale, Oregon. I am now composed. Composed and composing (this blog). So, going out there helped me. Praying helped me. That makes perfect sense.

I am in inhabitant in this house.

Me, and Doug, and a few billion neighbors.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Fast and Steady Wins the Prize

The world speaks half-truths. A person speaks at best half the truth. A person is capable of speaking what they know, of what they see or understand, in human language, to an audience of persons like themselves, all being colored by time and place.

At best, at the very best, the world speaks in half-truths. I am being generous. But, that is my role.

It is half my role, and half yours.

I can speak only in half truths, but I can know entire truths. I know, for one example, that faith requires, demands, entire immersion, forever, in order for the promise to come true.

I know, too, that this is how we lead our lives.

I know of no one who does not try as hard as they can to live, and live well. To survive, to enjoy life, to have friends. To love, and love well. I do not know how anyone would do less, unless that person were so heavily burdened that they simply could not. Such people are all the more likely to win the prize.

For, the prize does not go to the best. It goes to the truest. It goes to those who fail, and who know it. It goes to those who try, and fail, and keep trying.

Fast and steady - or constantly falling - they are one and the same.

Pope Francis memorably remarked recently that if a person does not feel like a sinner, the best thing would be to not go to Mass.

Likewise, if a person does not feel like they need help, they may not see God.

But that is not us. We need help all the time.

Let me help you....

Saturday, May 24, 2014

A prayer for now

I am not the church

I am not the law

I am, for now, a man

I have a human heart

A heart given me by the Lord

I claim nothing for myself. I simply proclaim what is God's

I have nothing to say that God has not said to me, to you, to a world

The world is everywhere, in all time

The world exists as God exists

The world loves as God, the Father, loves the Son

We strive and I, too, strive

I am not ashamed

I am not alone

I fall

I fall forever

Until

Until he lifts me up

He is the Lord

The Lord of all

He will lift you up

We will be together, forever

He will lift you up

Just say, Lord, lift me up

Lord, do not forget me

Lord, I am sorry

Lord, I wish

Lord, I love

Lord

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

God & Memory: a Circular Thought

All memory blends for me. I can select and describe and explain certain events, but I cannot be held accountable for perfect recall, and certainly how it is a thing happened (instead of something else) or what occurred from out of or because of a given event is more or less beyond my capabilities.

This tendency, or predilection, has become ever more apparent since having joined the Catholic Church. And, yes, I am older now, but I ma certain that my lack of dependence on memory is tied to my now-present utter and constant belief in God.

St. Paul says, If God if for us, who can be against us? I might say, As God is in us, who cares what else is?

What is memory, but a kind of mental stuff, or collateral. How often do we use memory for the sake of a present or future good? Do we not tend rather to dwell on memories to reinforce a sense of loss, or regret, or even resentment? Let's take a positive memory - my wedding, or the birth of my son - memories that I trust will be with me until the day I die. But, will they survive that memorable event? Jesus says that we will be like the angels in heaven, suggesting that earthly bonds will be vanquished for the Glory of God. On the other hand, we can be sure that the Saints hear our prayers and know us as persons, by name. I therefore trust that if I were to die tomorrow, and if the Lord saw fit to bring me into his Presence, I still would know my wife, my son, and all those on earth I love. And, like St. Theresa, I would savor the opportunity to help them.

But all this has nothing to do with memory. Rather, it is controlled by the fact and matter of presence. The day of my marriage to Endi, my wife, is a precious memory. More precious by far is the fact of my real and present love for her. And, like the birth of my son, Jackson, his presence in my heart is such that nothing could erase it, so powerful is the bond.

So powerful is the bond, at this present moment, and into the future. It does not require an act of "memory" for me to feel and know the truth of my love for my wife and son. In the same way, I do not have to remember to love God.

I go through my day, and I bet it's a lot like your day. At any given moment, I know that I can figuratively turn to the Lord and that He will hear me. One of my favorite experiences during Mass, particularly when I am reading, is to look up and to the right to the statue of Joseph, a patron Saint, when I feel his presence, or the urge to connect. None of this concerns memory. I do not remember the Lord. I do not have to.

So. Memory. It's all fine and good. I use it at my job, that's for sure, where I seem to be some kind of walking/talking living repository of whatever the paralegals or attorneys need to know about trademarks; and I like it for sports trivia. That's a forced usage, as my 13 year-old son loves to ask my opinion about this or that football player and one or another year's production. But this is just the business of life. A bit of the fluid that makes love go.

As for what's worth remembering, speaking critically, well, I'd start with the Hail Mary and end with the Apostle's Creed. Ha! That about sums me up!

Thanks for reading.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Defending the American Nun - Our Kind of People

I was all set to write a blog discussing conservative tendencies in American Catholicism, chiefly as they are expressed in lay persons' criticism of Women Religious (nuns). I wanted to explain what strikes me as a paradox, that those called to mercy seem more interested in echoing church doctrine in a spirit of blame than in the Holy Spirit. I wanted to do this to draw attention to the Christian notion that one should serve the Father and each other. This is what it is - I wanted to point out - to obey the commandments and to love one's neighbor as oneself. I thought I might invoke a central fact, that as Christ is in us, we should respect and serve each other, as brothers and sisters in Christ. I wanted to state, for the record, that it does not concern me what people write or believe as they explore their lives, except that I applaud them for it.

I wanted to say, if the Nuns of America are inclined one or another way, in their hearts, in word or deed, I say, God bless them.

I thought to point out that a church such as the one presided over by the American Catholic Bishops can ill afford to chastise anyone who is faithful to the Word, lest they appear as blind hypocrites. I thought it might be instructive to mention that the Church is losing respect and adherence, not because of the works/works of nuns, but because its certain elements of its leadership, and their supporters and media mouthpieces, are seemingly dedicated to remaining out-of-touch with the hearts of the people who do the living, working, praying, and dying in this great land of ours.

I wanted to thank the Lord for Pope Francis, who appears ill-disposed toward petty criticisms and fractious language. I thought to express a convening thought: that the Catholic faith is true by dint of the words and actions of Jesus Christ, that doctrine is intended to serve that notion, not dictate the occasions of the heart.

That the Mass was made for mankind, not mankind for the Mass.

Finally, I thought to state that I have no intention of respecting ill-considered words or behavior. That any Catholic who feels license to disrespect another for an act of conscience has missed the point entirely and would do well to re-read the Bible, cover to cover, and pray accordingly. In closing, I wanted to mention that I have never met a nun I didn't like, but that there are plenty of men out there who could use a course in manners and sense.

I thought I would do this. And then, I did.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

The Wandering Point

I don't know if you have noticed that life is complicated. I bet you have, but I can't know that. And, I do not employ the word "complicated" as a euphemism for "difficult." I mean, complicated. And being Catholic has not simplified matters.

Now, I use the term "simplified" simply by way of introducing a note of wonder at people who seem to have all the answers to life. I mean, they are so brimming with answers that they are compelled to share them. This is very generous, of course. And certainly the key issues of life - God, to name one - are more or less crystal clear to me. But the workings of life are not.

To return (in thought) to those who have all the answers, I certainly feel less in control of my life - I feel that - even while my life is about ten times more clear to me, more directed, purposeful, etc. then it ever was before I entered the Church. Does that seem paradoxical to you? It does to me, the only explanation being that as I have ceded ultimate control of my life, I have obtained greater responsibility. I don't know if that clears up the confusion, but I don't really care.

See, that's the problem, right there. I don't care - to explain everything (even myself to myself). I care to please the Lord. That's pretty much it, folks. I do other things, but I don't care too much about them. But not caring "too much" does not simplify life. It only makes it more open and interesting. I see more of what is around me - especially what other people are up to - since having lost interest in every little thing I do. Or worrying about it.

Worrying is, I think, a kind of prayer for understanding from God. Worry is active concern. It is care under pressure. Prayer is also a compressed form of care. Though, prayers goes out. Worry stays in. As such, worry is a kind of signal for one to pray, perhaps.

It is good to pray when one is worried, and when one is not worried.

I am not sure I have said anything very helpful here, but I am not trying to help. I am trying to describe something, because I am a writer, because God made me so. So, I am tasked with writing and writing well.

This brings me to the point of this article, which is that while writers are tasked with putting explanations to their understanding, and thereby perhaps reducing worry, I find that I do none of this. I explain almost nothing, and life is more interesting to me for that, perhaps. Or, life is complicated because I see more of it now, and what I see merits action, not mere description. Yes, something like that. I like words that are, in themselves, a kind of event, or that are applicable to action. So, I like to write poetry - and read books about football.

Well, I can see that this is leading nowhere very clear. I warned you!

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Right is not Enough

Mission does not end. However you might understand the Lord, your mission does not end.

Christianity - that is, being Christian, a follower of Jesus Christ - is not realized or finished in understanding. It is not settled with a point of view, or an opinion. God's way is not our way. It is not a matter of thought. It is a matter of being.

As God is being, and his word is the Lord, our life is matter of coming into being. Our mission - one's individual, personal mission - is just as much a thing in flux. Alive, changing, and subject to the conditions of life.

This understanding is, again, not a matter of mere thought. Anyone who has experienced a year or more of liturgy cannot fail to be aware of the changing constancy of message. One might put this to individual conditions, but the pace outraces understanding or projection. Go to Mass once a week, add into that regular prayer, such as the Rosary, and the fluid, dynamic nature of a life in Christ is more striking.

I have, in the past few weeks, experienced more progression or change in Mission than I can recall having experienced in any other phase of life. These are continental shifts, moving from prayer to service in new ways.

I am, right now, focused on how to address the needs of the homeless, the despairing, who frequent our city streets. My concern is not unique, but the sense of mission is fresh to me. The character of feeling compelled to go out, alone, and attend to people one-on-one is new. I have a steady volunteer situation at Union Gospel Mission - but this, this is urgent. I need to get out. I need to talk to people one-on-one. I am not sure how to do. I feel like I have been charged to do this, and it is a challenge.

Thinking is not doing, and neither is feeling. It is clear to me that the Lord wants more from us than mere right opinions. There is more to do than simply to be right.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Blend

This blog, Open Catholic, feeds to a website that hosts separate blogs focused on Prayer, Social Justice, and Word Open (a creative project). Besides these four-mentioned, I have a poetry blog I have run since 2008, called Concrete Formalist Poetry. 2008. That's sounding a bit way-back!

I have these blogs, through which I make the points I want to make. I tend not to argue. Rather, my blogs serve to testify, or witness. I mean, that's how I see them. I want my blogs to be "positive" not in the Hooray for me sense, but as statements. Clear statements. Not rejoinders.

Well, I hope I live up to the model I have set by my blogs. I hope I am positive (not merely a cheerleader. Not that I object to cheerleaders.) in my life, by living my life as a statement of life in the light of our Lord, Jesus Christ.

A lot has been written, sung, argued, pleaded, shouted, and murmured in the same vein. My point is, I do not much elaborate on my belief. I don't see that it requires explanation. Oh, I preach. It may not look like a lot like preaching, but you can bet I preach, whether in word (either by what I say or choose not to say) or gesture, it is always on my mind to fulfill the edicts of the Lord.

Want to know what I believe? Read the Creed, I might say. It's all there. Or, to say, I follow the commandments of the Lord. To love God with all my heart and my neighbor - that means, anyone - as I love myself.

But, to titles. This blog entitled, Blend. I sometimes title blogs after I write them, once it is clear to me what the title should be, for whatever reason makes sense for that blog, but in this case, as in a few others, I titled first, as a way of setting before myself a theme to write toward.

My life in Jesus Christ suggests a blend of statement, and purpose. That everything I do in all my blogs, as outlined above, are really a blend of statements that serve one purpose. And, more. That my writing, my work, my life with my family - all that too blends. Blends, to what?

Read the Creed. Ha. Got ya.

Love you, too. Thanks for reading.


Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Concerning Lent

One might find oneself in a fire and be concerned chiefly with escape, and one might turn to helping others escape.

Or, one might find that the fire is oneself.

The Catholic tradition of Lent is sponsored by the 40 days the Lord spent in the desert, where he was tested by Satan, before returning to the world to announce his mission, and the kingdom of God.

Allow me to boldly suggest that our Lent might take into account - that it might serve - a world in which the Kingdom has been announced.

We observe Lent as a test of our resolve, partly as empathy of the path the Lord took, and partly as a means of addressing, and mastering, worldly, personal, merely material desires.

All this is honorable. Incredibly honorable, to my way of thinking. By which I mean, "incredible." Yes, there are 1.2 billion Catholics in the world today, but even so, as with the celebration of the Eucharist, it is admittedly incredible - "beyond" mere belief - that a person should subscribe to the practice. This is, of course, why we ascribe responsibility for our belief and practices - for our faith - to the Holy Spirit, received through God, the Father, through his son, our Lord.

Returning to the Lent of the Kingdom.

We might eschew worldly pleasures, but as St. Paul schools us (or, reminds us), faith is not merely a matter of the body. I suggest that we consider surrendering something of our hearts for Lent. Such matter as we are accustomed to hold dear, such as:

  • Our opinions
  • Our prejudices
  • Our resentment
  • Our pride

This is the time, the perfect time, to bring into practice recognition of a living Lent. What better time, blessed by the example of Pope Francis, than to confess that we are blessed as brothers and sisters of Jesus Christ to testify, that we will not hold back our love, that we refuse to judge before the appointed time.

What is Lent, after all? It is yet a period of awareness, of mindfulness. How are we tasked? To be aware and mindful, to serve God as followers of Jesus Christ.

This Lent, these 40 days, I aspire to be open and mindful of God and my brothers and sisters, without any consideration or concern for who they are, their condition or orientation. In this manner, I will follow the Way.

In this manner, I will live my life.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Last Page from Working Pocket (first OpenCatholic book)

As you said we should, we shall

As you did, we do

Our failures are our own. Know this.

Remember us. Call us by name.

If you would know my name

I would not have to know, or hear my name on your lips

I do not need a trophy

I am here

I hold you in my heart, my brother

My brother

Monday, January 20, 2014

Love in Time

I age and am less capable of physical acts. I am less capable mentally. I age, and am lessened.

I am lessened, in various capacities. And I understand.

I am less, in certain ways, than I was. Perhaps I am more in others. I couldn't say, as that is not the lesson of aging.

I age, and am open.

I am more open, as I am less of what I was, and more of what I am having become less.

The less there is of me, the more there is of the Lord.

Time is not the enemy.

I am the enemy.

What I am that might refuse to be less is the enemy of what I might be that is the Lord's.

I tire, I do not recover easily. I cannot rally, or simply decide to be other than tired, weak. I have will, but am handcuffed by simple incapacity.

This is beauty.

This is the tree that bears less fruit, the river that dwindles, year by year. Less, less.

I will fall.

I will fall.

I will make way for love.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Pity Time

There is no pacing here. There is time failing to consider the objects of its failure. Time, failing to opt. Time gadding about, flicking its necktie at the ankles of nubile passers-by.

I don't think much of time. Not much, and not much about it. Not before I joined the Catholic church and not since. I do not care for (or think about) subjects where the thinking will do no one any good. I mean, billions have died in Christ. What have I to say or do about time? Billions more may die, I among them.

This is time, that does not even occur so much as attend to the occurrences of others. Time cannot claim even the potential of a bridesmaid, as time will never amount to anything.

We all know this. And so, we pity time.

We hold the hand of time. We pay attention to time as one respects traffic, tides, one's hunger, bills, etc. I do not disrespect time, but I can accord it only the attention it deserves. I do not marvel at time, which is without personhood, or agency. Many there are who fear time, I know, or who count it, obsessively.

I wonder why?

I wonder, when one of the central tenets of Christianity (and a contested one, to be sure) revolves around time. This is the end of the world, referred to here and there in the Bible, especially in the New Testament, particularly in Revelations. It's funny to me, when the message of the Lord comes through so loud and clear.

He is coming.

We will not know when.

So, be alert for his coming.

So much for the grandiose authority of time. The authority that people grant time, through fear of it, that time simply does not merit.

I have written elsewhere that one of my favorite parts of the Nicene Creed is the conclusion, where we aver that we "look forward to the resurrection, and the life of the world to come." Which is to say, again, so much for time. Let the world end today - it's fine with me (and about 1.2 billion Catholics). Or, let it whirl away another 2 billion years. It's all the same to me. The end is the same, the end to which I am dedicated, and which has been promised. Eternal life.

And, what does that mean? Well, let's just say I "look forward" to finding out.



Saturday, January 4, 2014

Opinions and Persons - All in Time

You can say what you like about me. You might know me or you might not. Knowing me may or may not control your opinion of me. You can have an opinion, or not.

You can form an opinion, if you like. Opinions are a kind of tool, or instrument, by which we leverage an opinion of ourselves. That I believe in this or that policy, person, action, or principal is, after all, one way I control what I think about myself.

I would like to come face to face with an opinion that is not self-serving. Wouldn't that be wonderful? But such statements or positions are rare, and are usually expressed not as opinions - personal statements - but as creeds. That is, as beliefs.

As an example. I believe in economic equality. I see no reason that people should suffer for lack of life's necessities. I believe that all humanity composes a family, and that we are obligated to support each other, in an active love, such as was taught us by Jesus Christ. I believe this, but this is not an opinion. It is not personal. It is (A) nothing I can claim for my own, and (B) it is not something I live up to in my life. I (or my family) make some efforts, but other parts of my life appear to operate in conflict with this position.

So, I am an adult, you might say, and do the best I can. Or, you might say I do not do enough. It is all the same to me, what you think about me.

But, it should not be all the same to you, that you have an opinion.

Economies, politics. Life and art. Our positions, our passions. We traffic in the same materials but we refuse each other simple rights. The right to live, to make mistakes, to learn.

The right, in spite of everything, to love and be loved.

Returning to my ambition to meet with an opinion that is not self-serving, I realize I have neglected to acknowledge the most obvious instance of all. That of God, who loves us despite our terrific, ever-mind-blowing failings, such that regardless, we live under his promise of love, forgiveness, and eternal life.

In this light, I see opinions as prompts. Either to better accept others' failings, or to acknowledge our own.

So, say what you like about me. I will surely be judged in any case, and judged rightly by the Lord of the universe, Jesus Christ.