Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Courage and John 3:16

According to the Roman Catholic liturgical calendar, the reading for today's Mass, Wednesday, April 18, 2012, is the gospel of John 3:16-21.

"For God so loved the world that he gave his only son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life.  For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him.  Whoever believes in him will not be condemned, but whoever does not believe has already been condemned, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.  And this is the verdict, that the light came into the world, but people preferred darkness to light, because their works were evil.  For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come toward the light, so that his works might not be exposed.  But whoever lives the truth comes to the light, so that his works may be clearly seen as done in God."

Every football season we see homemade signs hanging in the stands.  And written on these homemade signs is John 3:16.  And every football season my husband asks me, "What does that mean, John 3:16?  Why do they do that?"

First, for Christians John 3:16 is the verse in the Bible that most concisely summarizes God's relationship with humanity and the way of salvation.  And second, I believe that the simple scriptural verse citation drives people to the Bible so they can look it up.  And if you already know what John 3:16 says - and what it means - you simply smile and say, "Amen."

When I see signs and banners at 21st century sporting events that say John 3:16 I often think of the early Christians and a time in history when it was illegal to be openly Christian.  Sadly, 2000 years after the birth of Jesus, it still takes a lot of courage to be openly Christian and to wear John 3:16 on your eye-black like Tim Tebow.

Libertas Spiritu.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Miracles




So, what is a miracle?  Here's a definition:

A highly improbable or extraordinary event, development, or accomplishment. 
A surprising and welcome event that is not explicable by natural or scientific laws and is considered to be divine. 

Inexplicable, improbable, extraordinary...divine.

I sometimes feel silly when I pray for a miracle.  This kind of behavior needs to stop. 

I need to remind myself that I'm living a miracle.  And anything, no matter how surprising or unexplanable, anything is possible.

Libertas Spiritu!  

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

A Simple Prayer

People pray when times are good.  Prayers of thanks and gratitude are short, simple, and from the heart.  You know them well.

"Thank you, Lord!" or "Praise be God!" or something along those lines.

People also pray when times are bad.  This is when prayer gets complicated.  The list of wants and needs gets long.  So, how do you pray like a grownup and not sound like a little kid sitting on Santa's lap?
 
Keep it simple.  Just follow the format Jesus set forth when he taught us how to pray.
 
"Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kindgom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.  Give us today our daily bread and forgive us our debts (debts to God, our sins), as we forgive our debtors (those who sin against us); and do not subject us to the final test (messianic woes according to Jewish apocalyptic writings), but deliver us from the evil one."  Matthew 6:9-13.  See also Luke:11:2-4 for a somewhat shorter version.

In Matthew 6:7-8, Jesus says, "And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words.  Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him."

God knows what you need.  You need God.  You need sustanance and forgiveness.  You need to forgive others.  You need to avoid evil. 

When I really need God, when I can't bring myself to mentally express the pain and anguish I'm feeling, then I pray the most simple prayer I know.  I simply repeat the name of Jesus.  Over and over.  It is my mantra. 

Jesus.

I feel better already.  So will you.

 

Monday, March 5, 2012

Banish the Nighttime Negative Thoughts

Easier said than done. 

I was packing a suitcase yesterday and turned on the television in my bedroom for company.  The local PBS station popped up.  They were airing a program by Dr. Wayne Dyer called Wishes Fulfilled!  I haven't been in the mood or had the heart to invest in much pop-psychology these last few years.  My preference is spirituality.  I was about to turn the channel to a music program when something Dr. Dyer said caught my attention.

He explained the fifth element of his "Five Wishes Fulfilled" program and spoke of how not to spend the last five minutes of your day.   Dr. Dyer cautioned to avoid the typical recap all of the negative things that happened that day.  He warns that the negative rewind of the day will lead to more negativity and stress.  Instead, he advised a look toward the future, to what comes next, to the new day ahead.  He encourages us to imagine what we would like to happen, what we expect to happen, realistically.  And then we may go to sleep...with positive thoughts in our heads. 

Typically I go to sleep praying.  It's a habit.  I thank God for the day.  I pray that my daughter is healed.  I pray that my son is happy.  I pray that I live another day.  A few Hail Mary's and I 'm asleep.

But there are nights, too many nights, when I am rudely awakened at 2:30am or so by my own personal Gorgon.  Nocturnal queen of negative thoughts, she demands that I recall the bad and the ugly of the previous day.  She is the moderator of replicate sessions when I beat myself up and blame myself, or others, for all that went wrong the previous day.

My return-to-sleep method is typically prayer, again, but sometimes prayer doesn't work.  Sometimes I need to confront the Gorgon.  As we all know, and as I seem to forget at 3:00am, it's never a good idea to fight mythic battles or perform self-analysis in the middle of the night.

Not only do negative thoughts erode the spirit, negative thoughts create fear.  As Dr. Dyer said, fear is present when we forget that we are part of God's divine design.

So, last night when the Gorgon appeared, I thought about Dr. Dyer.  Instead of churning the negative I decided to lay there and dream.  I spun wishes for expectations.  I saw my daughter healed.  I saw my son happy.  I saw the life I want and I couldn't wait to get up and get on with it.

Have I traded pop-psychology for pop-spirituality?  Perhaps.  Honestly, I much prefer dreaming about my future over mental self-flagellation in the middle of the night.

I ordered Dr. Dyer's book.

Libertas spiritu.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

The Kingdom of God Is Within You

Celebrate the day.  This moment.  Right now.

The Kingdom of God is within us, you and me.  This Kingdom is what Jesus called the relationship between God and human individuals.  This is not a life that will come to us after death.  This is life right now.  In this moment. 

Jesus stressed in his preaching, and still stresses to all of us now, that we should be vigilant, alert and awake in this present moment, for right now the kingdom of God is being accomplished among us and within us.  What better reason can there be to live in the moment. 

Live in God.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Prayer of the Heart (Part Four)

Prayer in its simplest form is a desire for God.  We feel the Spirit within ourselves.  We want union with it.  We want communion with God.  We reach out, or rather “in,” and we pray.  Or at least we try to pray.

If our experience of the presence of God, of Spirit, is measured exclusively by the extrinsic rules or moral laws of conduct and the laws of nature that we impose on our two dimensional lives we will lose contact with God's continued and exciting process of God always giving to us in God’s uncreated energies of love.  Let’s not do this. 

By inviting the third dimension into our lives and allowing the experience of God in real time, we will stop sorting our experience of God into either the time box or the space box, or both.  We can live as all good mystics live, in the Eternal Now.  We can pierce through spatial and temporal concepts and view the history of salvation, a.k.a. human kind’s relationship with God, not from our myopic point of view, but from the perspective of a mystic. 

More to come.

Libertas spiritu.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Prayer of the Heart (Part Three)

It’s time to readdress the question of how one transcends the need for the physical, or in other words, how one rises above the boxes of time and space in order to respond to the experience of God; how to pray. 

I ask, does finding something mean it was lost?  Or was it there all the time and you just didn’t see it?  I know you’ve had these experiences.  I just did when I recently lost my IPod, or thought I did.  I preface the following description of my search for the illusive IPod by saying, despite what my husband says, that I am not blind.  For days and days I searched all over the house, my car, my purse, everywhere.  I retraced my steps.  I looked in the same drawer a hundred times. Day after day.  And then…eureka!  I couldn’t believe I found it.  My IPod was in a little black zippered makeup bag that I keep in my backpack.  The makeup bag was sitting in plain view on a counter in kitchen right below my car keys.  It had been there the whole time.  Never moved. How could I have possibly missed seeing my IPod when I no doubt looked in that little zippered makeup bag over and over…and over.  The IPod wasn’t lost and it wasn’t misplaced.  I simply didn’t see it.   

We are led to believe that if we cannot physically experience something, if it can’t be recorded in time and space, if we can’t see, touch, smell, hear or taste something - then it doesn’t exist. 

Locked in our two dimensional world we hang on tight to the rather limited and narrow belief that if we can prove something exists, then it exists.  Why are we reluctant to look at life the other way around?  Why is it that we deny the existence of something if we can’t prove it exists?  Is phantom pain unreal because the “ghost” of the former limb is no longer there?  And don’t forget that people had some pretty funny stories about dinosaurs before we got so sophisticated and knew what those enormous dragons and unicorns really were! 

And they still call  an Apatosaurus a Brontosaur!

Get out!  

More to come.

Libertas spiritu.