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  • in reply to: December 5, 2021, Second Sunday of Advent #2482
    Phrogge
    Keymaster

    Wondering what the voice crying out in my desert is calling me to do to prepare the way of the Lord in my life. What am I to do and how am I to do it? How is the Spirit calling me to metanoia, to convert, to change where I look for my happiness and satisfaction? Does this have anything to do with my believing that kids, many of whose confessions I’ve been “hearing” lately, are not capable of theological sin, yet I keep on hearing their confessions even though I think doing so is leading them to get the wrong idea of our forgiving God? Am I being true to myself here? Lots of stuff going on.

    Been thinking back to GEN Powell’s idea to “give people a little more kindness than I would want to because I don’t know their journey or the load they’re carrying”.

    • This reply was modified 2 days, 19 hours ago by Phrogge.
    in reply to: December 5, 2021, Second Sunday of Advent #2475
    Phrogge
    Keymaster

    A good part of following Jesus is just letting go and not telling Jesus where we want him to lead us.

    Another part is simply trusting that he and the Spirit know what they are doing, and letting ourselves be pleasantly surprised by wherever and with whomever we we find ourselves at any given time.

    It has been quite a week.

    Grace is real.

    in reply to: December 5, 2021, Second Sunday of Advent #2474
    Phrogge
    Keymaster

    While we’re preparing the way of the Lord, we might come to realize that we don’t know other folks’ stories or their journeys, so maybe it is not a good thing for us to demand they follow our plans for them or else. We might try to imitate Jesus in his compassion and understanding for folks he met. In his Story, the ones who were laying demands and punishments on folks were the ones who ultimately killed him because he didn’t follow their demands. He just tried to live his Father’s love with whomever he met.

    in reply to: December 5, 2021, Second Sunday of Advent #2473
    Phrogge
    Keymaster

    As we celebrate Advent, a time of waiting expectantly for Jesus, it might dawn on us that he is already here. In his name many of his followers, perhaps most in one way or the other, are refusing to see him in folks who make them uncomfortable, whose opinions differ, whose lifestyles are unacceptable. Can anyone really claim their viewpoint on any topic is the only one that can prepare the way of the Lord as the Lord wants it prepared? Can anyone claim that only they speak the correct words and everybody else has to accept them totally or else? Can anyone who claims to speak and act in the name of Jesus inflict threats and punishments never even remotely found in the Jesus of the Gospels? Can anyone judge that just because someone wears funny clothes and accessories they are automatically wrong and do not deserve to be listened to? Any of us If we claim to be responding to the Spirit have to look at our own life, and hear John’s words speaking to us right here and now on a very personal and intimate level. What is each of us being called to do to prepare the way of the Lord in our own life? What valleys do we have to fill and what mountains do we have to smooth in our own life, not in somebody else’s? What opportunities are we passing up? For each of us this has to be a prayerful journey, not an easy self-righteous stroll.

    in reply to: November 21, 2021, Feast of Christ the King #2316
    Phrogge
    Keymaster

    In today’s Gospel Story for the Feast of Christ the King (John 18:33-37) Jesus asks Pilate, “Do you say this on your own, or have others told you of me?” Many of us are content to stay with what others have told us about Jesus and don’t get to the point where we can speak of ourselves. For many it is enough to know about Jesus, and there is no need to know Jesus directly. Second hand knowledge is good enough. It is enough to look at a map of New York City, so there is no need to go there and walk the streets and neighborhoods and meet the people. Some folks don’t get to realize the difference.

    It is also a lot safer to be satisfied with what others in our particular group tell us about Jesus, to limit ourselves to the doctrines and ideas, the questions and answers. If we got to know him directly ourselves, he might ask us to do things we don’t want to do, like love our neighbor as ourselves, or not do to others what we don’t want others to do to us. We might come to see our everyday life from a different perspective, perhaps as the gradual unveiling of our role in God’s kingdom here and now. That could be work.

    It is a lot safer to concentrate on what the church leadership tells people to do, to be so focused on being a “good catholic”, on having the approval of others, that we never let ourselves get to where everything in our tradition points us – a real and living relationship with Jesus. The church announces this relationship and points us towards it. The church does not make this relationship happen, nor is it a condition for this relationship, nor can it control access to this relationship. This relationship is a journey we have to make of ourselves, at times even in spite of “leadership”. No one can make it for us. Many have made this journey ahead of us, and we can learn a lot from them. But it is our journey, and rarely is it easy.

    In the Story Jesus says, “My kingdom does not belong to this world. If my kingdom did belong to this world, my attendants would be fighting to keep me from being handed over”. Jesus’ kingdom is not like the Roman Empire – maintaining an army to keep people in line by force, threat, and punishment. It would seem though, that some groups who claim to be Jesus’ followers have adopted the style of the Empire and do keep their folks in line with their own version of an army and making use of threats and punishments, using sacraments and worship as weapons against those who might disagree with anything the system wants. They fight to keep Jesus from being handed over to folks whose lifestyle is not acceptable, whose ideas are not completely in line with established norms, or who dare to talk about forbidden topics. A question, though, does Jesus really need anybody to defend him from his own people, the people he himself creates and loves? Who is defending what here?

    Folks who seek to know Jesus of themselves, to get beyond what various groups say about him, might come to see all this, and then their life becomes difficult. What to do about their experience of the great disconnect between what Jesus said and what is going on in his name today? They might come to realize that Jesus does not offer absolute certainty about anything, or the safety of knowing they are right. Instead he seems to offer the excitement of questioning, of wondering, of doubting, of realizing that they might be wrong. He offers mystery and trust – the mystery of coming to know him and the trust that doing what they feel called to do, taking whatever course of action they feel is the right one, and for them the way to go, and Jesus is making all things right. While there is certainty and safety in accepting totally the rules of a given group, there is fear and uncertainty in going where one feels Jesus is calling them. In its own way the cross becomes real.

    These days in the church making one’s journey to Jesus seems especially difficult. “Leadership” has been coming down hard on any it suspects of independent thinking, of espousing the wrong ideas, or not knuckling under, all of which are seen as much more serious crimes than abusing children or covering up such abuse. “Leadership” acts this way of course in the name of Jesus. Folks who form their own thoughts on matters the system deems closed and their discussion prohibited are denied the sacraments, no matter what their age is. With impunity the system imposes pain and suffering on folks trying to live decent lives, but who do not conform to the system. The methods used by some of these organizations resemble those of totalitarian movements throughout history, even though these groups claim to follow One whose kingdom is not of this word.

    These days it can be dangerous to be on one’s own journey to Jesus. A person on such a journey will be alone and probably afraid, wondering what they are to do, knowing that simply withdrawing back into the safety of the groupthink is not an option. Yet they will have ample opportunity to live in faith and hope, maybe even leading to love in the deepest and most practical sense of the word – living for others.

    “Do you say this on your own, or have others told you about me?”

    “My kingdom is not of this world.”

    Just sayin . . .

    in reply to: November 21, 2021, Feast of Christ the King #2309
    Phrogge
    Keymaster

    This will bother some people, especially those who focus on rules, dogmas, definitions, etc.
    Paraphrase of Meister Eckhart, 12 century German mystic —
    “Do you think you can only find God in one way?
    Then consider this: you cannot find God in any
    particular way, since God isn’t bound to this
    way or that. So don’t desire the way, but rather
    the One who is the way, and when you do this,
    you’ll find that every way leads to God because
    every way is God. But you will only come to
    know this if you truly abandon yourself.”

    in reply to: November 14, 2021, 33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time #2296
    Phrogge
    Keymaster

    Sherri, your comments show deep thinking, and also how one passage can have different meanings for different folks depending on what is going on in their life and the way they are willing to look at it and let it speak to them. Nice job.

    in reply to: November 14, 2021, 33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time #2279
    Phrogge
    Keymaster

    First thoughts. The Gospel Story urges us to “learn from the fig tree”, to be aware of the signs of the times, of what is going on in our life, without already having decided what is going on in our life and who to blame and what others have to do to make things right for our particular view of whatever. What is important, even necessary, is to be open to the Spirit who shows us how to live as followers of Jesus in our own particular circumstances. The Spirit shows us how we can best live, and not what we are to blame or demand others do or not to to fit our idea of who is at fault and how others have to change so we are more comfortable. This is a part of the Gospel that many folks don’t like to hear. Folks enjoy sermons on sin, unless it is THEIR sin, then not so much. It’s always easier to point the finger at others than let ourselves be led to an awareness of our own role in whatever it is we are not happy about. That is definitely and potently true in my case.

    Maybe more thoughts here. The Gospel reminds me that it happens in real life when I let, or maybe force, myself to be open to what the Spirit is saying in whatever circumstances I find myself, and these days there are very many confusing and disturbing circumstances. As I look at them and try to sense their inter-action with the Gospel and the way Jesus lived, I’m trying to get some sort of sense of what I need to do. Non of these are huge or complicated, but relatively small in the grand scheme of things, but potentially important to folks involved.

    Being aware of and alert to the signs of the times as they are, and not as I wish they were or think they should be, involves an often difficult process of letting go of what I want and responding to what is. I just wonder, how the dickens did Jesus do it?

    • This reply was modified 3 weeks, 3 days ago by Phrogge.
    • This reply was modified 3 weeks, 2 days ago by Phrogge. Reason: More ideas flowing as I keep praying this passage
    in reply to: November 7, 2021, 32nd Ordinary Sunday #2267
    Phrogge
    Keymaster

    IN the first part of the Gospel Story Jesus criticizes those who reduce the Covenant to a system of rules. They can the judge and criticize others. In the second part, Jesus talks about what he was his followers to be like, which is very different from the temple system people. The widow gives all she has because she thinks it is the right thing to do, trusting that God will take care of her. This is similar to the story of the widow in the First Reading.

    This Story is not necessarily about money, but about trusting in God when we do something that we believe is right. This involves something called discernment, a prayer consideration of what we are thinking of doing, open to what the Spirit is guiding us to. It is important to know that when we do this, it does not mean others will agree with us, especially with the current polarization of country and church. The odds are that whatever we do, some may not like it and can make our life difficult. Our primary goal is to be open to the Spirit, and then ask the courage to act.

    Everywhere there are good people doing this, taking unpopular actions to do what they think is right.

    It is important to remember that following Jesus and trying to be open to the Spirit is not a spectator sport, matter of knowing the rues and right words, but often a call to action, a call to help someone or address a problem or situation that is hurting people. This happens every day.

    in reply to: November 7, 2021, 32nd Ordinary Sunday #2260
    Phrogge
    Keymaster

    Don’t know where else to put this.

    While I was out on my balcony just now to take the flag down, I paused for a few minutes and looked around at everything – trees, grass, clouds, birds, sky, etc – and had a deep sense or experience of “isness” — everything just is. We are too limited and paltry in our ideas of God. Ideas don’t go anywhere near the reality of God, yet we try to impose them on God, and insist only we know God. This is the god we create for ourselves, the god we would impose on everybody, even on God. Perhaps God can be “known” through experience. God cannot be known through thought or logical exercise. Whatever our ideas of God are, they are not God, and they can get in the way, but they are the only place we can begin to let go and become aware of our being in God.

    in reply to: November 7, 2021, 32nd Ordinary Sunday #2250
    Phrogge
    Keymaster

    One of the challenges in re-reading or re-hearing a scripture text often is that when we do this, it seems we read less and recognize more. We assume the worlds mean what we have always thought they mean, so we read less and recognize more. We glide over the familiar words. Or, to be more particular, we glide over familiar presumptions, and so, with time, we aren’t reading what is there, we’re reading what we think is there. (Paraphrase of Padraig O Tuama)

    in reply to: October 31, 2021, 31st Ordinary Sunday #2239
    Phrogge
    Keymaster

    This is one of those scripture phrases that we just like to think nice thoughts about. I might admit that I am not loving my neighbor all that well. It is also one of the scripture phrases that reminds I how taking Jesus at his word is a shock, because what he is saying is about me. I am not doing well at what he is yet again telling me to do. Also, I am coming more to sense that loving my neighbor is not about nice feelings, overlooking perceived or even real offenses, putting on an act that is “nice” to folks I don’t like. Looking at how Jesus lived shows me that, among other things, he tackled whatever was making people hurt, eg temple religious system laws, roman civil system, something referred to today as corporate sin.

    Jesus’ words are addressed to me about how I am called to live, not how I am to expect others to live so my life will be more convenient and comfortable. There is so much finger pointing, accusing, and blaming going on today. It is a lot easer to do that than it is to let the Spirit show me how I am part of whatever problem I am accusing others of causing. One of the first things I learned in the Army was from a very highly decorated priest who told me, “Don’t spend your time and energy condemning what is bad, use it to promote what is good, and the bad will take care of itself. If I focus on the bad, I feel I don’t have to face my involvement in whatever it is I am upset about. When I don’t like the finger pointing and polarization that is all around me in our country and in the church, how am I involved in being part of it, and what is the Spirit calling me to do next. It’s easier to blame than to accept my responsibility and act.

    I want to keep doing my best to be open to the Spirit in everything, and have the courage to look at myself and do whatever the Spirit is moving me to do.

    in reply to: October 31, 2021, 31st Ordinary Sunday #2204
    Phrogge
    Keymaster

    Most of us would like to think of ourselves as doing decent job of loving God. But when it comes to living our neighbor as ourselves, we might admit that we are not doing so well. We might think of our neighbor as folks who agree with us, think like us, live as we think they should. It’s easy to love them. Others who don’t fit our ideals, however, not so much. I know that’s how it is with me.

    I just finished a book, “Caste”, by Isabel Wilkerson. It will annoy many people, probably along political lines, but I found it very insightful with much food for thought. I’m very glad I read it. Lots of food for thought as I look at this Gospel.

    in reply to: October 24, 2021, 30th Ordinary Sunday #2101
    Phrogge
    Keymaster

    I’m in DC this week re-connecting with good friends. For some reason, with all that is going on, and there really is a lot going on, we are all talking along the lines of this poem that one of them gave me.

    “The worst thing we ever did
    was put God in the sky
    out of reach
    pulling the divinity
    from the leaf,
    sifting out the holy from our bones,
    insisting God isn’t bursting dazzlement
    through everything we’ve made
    a hard commitment to see as ordinary,
    stripping the sacred from everywhere
    to put in a cloud man elsewhere,
    prying closeness from your heart.

    The worst thing we ever did
    was take the dance and the song
    out of prayer
    made it sit up straight
    and cross its legs
    removed it of rejoicing
    wiped clean its hip sway,
    its questions,
    its ecstatic yowl,
    its tears.

    The worst thing we ever did is pretend
    God isn’t the easiest thing
    in this Universe
    available to every soul
    in every breath”

    ~ Chelan Harkin, in poetry book ‘Susceptible to Light’

    in reply to: October 17, 2021, 29th Ordinary Sunday #2026
    Phrogge
    Keymaster

    Since, due to my travel plans I don’t have to prepare any homilies for a few weeks, I can look at this passage maybe differently.

    Jesus criticized his followers who were looking for power. He reminded them that, if they had learned anything from him, they would know that following him was about service, not power and prestige.

    There is a lot going on in the church these days that is all about power. There are a number of bishops, especially in the US, who are openly playing the power game.

    A number of them want to deny certain people communion for a number of reasons, one of which is the persons are not sufficiently against abortion. The Pope has asked them not to do this, but they have publicly ignored and defied him and even now the USCCB are preparing a document to do this.

    Recently a number of them have chosen to ignore, or perhaps even defy, Pope Francis in the matter of the Covid vaccines. Francis has said there are no moral problems in getting the vaccine, and doing so is an act of charity and concern for others. A number of bishops have publicly ignored this and acted against it, including the Archbishop for Military Services.

    The way so many catholics, not just bishops but certainly with the bishops’ support and encouragement, treat our LGBTQ brothers and sisters is totally opposite from how Jesus lived, yet this mistreatment is done allegedly in the name of God. I can bless bombs, rockets, gunships, animals, but not two people of the same sex who love each other. God’s first act of self revelation is creation, so the more we know about creation, the more insight we have into God. I don’t think God is done revealing God’s self yet. We don’t have all the answers, and we don’t get to judge who is or isn’t created in God’s image and likeness.

    Currently Francis calling the whole church to take part in a Synod to look at where the church is and where it is going. He want folks at all levels to have a part in the discussion. Again, in the US a great number of bishops are ignoring his call or giving it faint lip service. It is public knowledge that the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops is a Francis-free zone.
    One of the most serious delicts (crime), on a par with child abuse, a catholic priest can commit is to be in favor of ordaining women as priests. If a priest is publicly in favor of ordaining women, which I am, he can be suspended from priesthood and thrown out of the church without any process.

    The way the clericalist church treats folks whose marriage has failed and who are just looking for, and perhaps have found, love again is a brutal disgrace. Some marriages fail. They may have started out well, but bad things happen to good people for any number of reasons that the clericalist mind just does not grasp, and so the acts of power and control begin. For some folks the annulment process is good, while for others it is painful. There has to be another way. It would seem that a significant number of celibate male church officials really believe they know more about to live a christian life than the folks who are actually living it. This celibate male has at least a glimpse of the reality that I really don’t know much.

    The polarization in our country is happening with the support of a number of bishops, who are definitely encouraging it in the church. Many of the bishops are clearly aligned with a particular party and its reputed leader, and this alignment seems to be the basis or their leadership or lack thereof.

    Francis is calling the church to be like a battle ground field hospital that is working to help the folks deal with the suffering in their lives, just to walk with them. I have served in some of them, and have experienced the kind of care he is talking about. A great number of bishops, especially US bishops, see the church not as a place of healing, but as a system of laws and penalties. As it was in the days of Jesus when the priests told the people if you want to go to God you have to go through us, the bishops of today are saying the same thing.
    In my own life, I am in the very fortunate position of being retired and not in charge of anything. I do not depend on the church for anything, except perhaps the opportunity to help out in parishes, hospitals, and similar places. I am thankful for my active duty Army experience which has afforded me some insight that others might not have. No doubt I look down the alley with my own set of lights. This does not make me better or worse than anyone else, just perhaps unique, a character, so to speak.

    I don’t think there needs to be a separate class of person (clergy). The fact that there is one now is a source of many of the problems in the church, clericalism. As clerics we were taught that ordination makes a person ontologically different. I do not believe this at all. A number of experiences in theArmy convinced me beyond any doubt that this is just not true. We just have a different role in the church, one of gathering and leading folks in prayer. We don’t need a separate caste to do this.

    I believe that Jesus said “I will be with you always”, and “I will send the Spirit to remind you of what I taught you”, and this is happening right now. Perhaps the church will be led kicking and screaming into a new awareness of what it means to be followers of Christ in our own day and time. Pope Benedict said something along the lines of out of the current crisis will arise the church of the future. We certainly are in a current crisis. I hope we can be open to the Spirit leading us forward.

    • This reply was modified 1 month, 2 weeks ago by Phrogge.
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