Saturday, March 26, 2011

Who We Are: Consciousness and Living the Gospel

I have been reflecting over the last several weeks on the meaning of "consciousness" or "conscious," which is of course the root of the word "consciousness."  It can be secularly defined as "aware of one's own existence, sensations, thoughts, surroundings or aware of oneself."  Fr. Richard Rhor in some of his lecture series, describes it as a state of being, where you are essentially in communion with God, life and love, you are living in the now, you are living out of the true self. 

So as I press my mind to understand this concept and how to make it my reality, I've started to put some thoughts together.  One, is that in order to be in communion with God we must take time to pray daily and more importantly, without words.  Two, one must reflect on the Gospel. I see no other way to truly know how to live a life of God and love (which is what we were created for) if we do not model ourselves after Christ's example in the Gospel, our life must become one with how he lived his life, hence being in communion, existing as how God made us to be.  Third, is action.  For quite sometime I sadly have to admit that I would attend Mass regularly, pray daily and heck, even went to Catholic school and was a Catholic school teacher, but I did not consciously put into action the Gospel, I was not deliberate about it.  I am realizing now that this is part of being "conscious."  We must choose and deliberately act to live out the Gospel, because this is who we are, this is our true self or what Francis called the "inner self."  The Gospel lived out deliberately each day is consciousness!  Wow!  How did I not see this? Why do I talk  the talk, but do not walk the Gospel walk! It even calls us to the present moment, which is consciousness itself, which is living in the now, which is all God guarantees (Matthew 6:25-34).  Why do I struggle to accept this?

To be conscious of who we are,  is to seek who God made us to be.  This is an act of humility for many reasons, but one especially, because it means being who we are, no more or no less, and that is completely enough for our Father, because that is truth. Truth is humility.  Once we begin to see this, we can live in a conscious state of communion with God and his creation and we can deliberately choose to connect this all to the Gospel and use it as our rule of life.  I think if we do this, we will be at peace with what we discover.  Some of us, may meet ourselves for the first time and be blown away with what God created!  With this, I would like to leave you with these words:

"From without, I may seem to be quite average and ordinary,
 but from within, through self reflection, I see myself as unique, precious, unprecedented;
I am not to be exchanged for anything else. 
Beyond the distress and anxiety and busy-ness of life
lies this most fundamental aspect of self-reflection: 
I am a great moment, I am an original, not a copy." ~ Heschel

May we reach that level of consciousness, where accepting ourselves as who God made us to be is more than enough and we can connect it directly and deliberately to the Gospel life.  This is a radical challenge in our modern day of individualism and secularism and it can cause division and force us to leave the self we thought we were behind, but if we are to be true to God's creation, we have no other choice!  We are special, we are original copies, no more, no less.  Through living the Gospel, we can begin to consciously and deliberately see this beautiful reality unfold and live it.

Peace and all good things to you!

Citation:, "Concious."  Retrieved March 26, 2011 from:

Richard, Rohr. (2003)  True Self/False Self.  St. Anthony Messenger Press.

Bodo, Murray.  St. Francis:  The Journey and The Dream.  St. Anthony Messenger Press:  October 30, 2006.

Friday, March 18, 2011

You Are My Hiding Place O Lord

I find myself yearning more and more for you. 
I find myself wanting to understand your mystery more and more, yet I realize it is well beyond what I could every intellectually, emotionally or spiritually grasp, especially in my brokeness.
I am sometimes puzzled by you.  Are you there?  Are you working through me and others?
But what about the pain?  Why does it have to linger?  Why does it have to haunt? Is there a lesson you are trying to get me to understand?  Are you trying to get me to such a  wretchedly humble state of being, that I finally give up, that I surrender, because even though I try to control, I cannot?

This has lead me to want to hide in you Lord.  I find myself longing to sit in stillness with you for longer and longer periods of time.  Hiding in your wounds gives me peace and I am slowly starting to see why so many Saints had to spend long periods of time in intense prayer with you, in order to know more clearly who you made them to be, in order for them to deal with the disappointments of themselves, others and the world.  I see that this helped them to realize who they truly were in you.  Will you reveal that to me Lord?  I know our dear brother, Francis asked you many times in the caves of Mt. Subasio, "Who I am Lord? "And, Who are You?"  I suddenly find myself asking you this same question, "Who I am?"  "What do you want of me?" 
Again, it is when I go to you like a tired, weak and humble child and hide in you and ask you to wrap me in your arms, that I feel at peace with not knowing these answers, but yet knowing that you are there and this time together is so vitally essential.  You are in some ways slowly revealing yourself and plan to me, but it does feel like dying at times and I am uncertain.  Will I listen?  Will I follow?  Will I have the strength, the courage and the wisdom?  Will I have the fire?

So Lord, I will continue to hide in you.  You are my refugee, you are my peace that the world cannot give. What St. Augustine says is so radically true, "Our hearts are restless until they rest in you,"  because you work in ways that make me desire to spend time with you, that make me want to give myself more and more to you.  I have an insatiable appetite to learn who you are and who I am.  And, even though it causes pain, almost a purging and I get disappointed by my own sinfulness and that of others, I realize you work your will into everything because I am always led back home to you, my Father.  You are my hiding place O Lord (Psalm 32:7).


St. Augustine of Hippo.  Confessions.  Retreived March 18, 2011 from:

Bodo, Murray.  St. Francis:  The Journey and The Dream.  St. Anthony Messenger Press:  October 30, 2006.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Lent: A Call to Fast and Feast

Lent, a time to start over, a call to transformation.  A turning away from the old self to the true self, the self God intended for us to be.  Sometimes this can seem overwhelming, especially when we reflect on our sinfulness.  However, even though the season of Lent calls for us to examine our sinfulness, the Lord also calls us to renewal.  Let us then not dwell on our sinfulness, but learn from it and move forward this Lent, with a new spirit, as an example to others of the Lord's joy, promise and salvation.  Let us not only fast, but feast on the Lord's goodness and the goodness he calls us to!

I had the pleasure to attend Ash Wednesday Mass today at Holy Name of Mary Catholic Church in San Dimas, CA.  Fr. Peter Dennis, who said the mass, is a beautiful and witty older Irish Sacred Heart priest that is truly refreshing.  He always puts things in proper perspective, simple, yet profound.  He shared the following reflection,

"Lent:  A Call to Fast and Feast:"

Fast from judging others; feast on Christ dwelling in them.
Fast from emphasis on differences; feast on the oneness of all.
Fast from the darkness around us; feast on the light of JESUS within us.
Fast from thoughts of illness; feast on the healing power of GOD.
Fast from actions that pollute; feast on deeds that purify.
Fast from discontent; feast on gratitude.
Fast from pessimism; feast on hope.
Fast from worry; feast on trust.
Fast from guilt; feast on freedom.
Fast from complaining; feast on complementing.
Fast from stress; feast on self-care.
Fast from bitterness; feast on forgiveness.
Fast from selfishness; feast on compassion for others.
Fast from apathy; feast on enthusiasm.
Fast from idle gossiping, feast on spreading the good news.
Fast from being so busy; feast on peaceful silence.
Fast from being in control; feast on letting go.

As I look at this list, it enhances the meaning of fasting, it transforms it and brings it to a heighten and even more challenging level.  It gives me hope that I can change my sinfulness, my old habits and "feast" on new ones.  I appreciated this joyful, hopeful and optimistic view of Lent and I hope that you do too.  Let us remember, Lent is not a time to be gloomy, but reflective with a joyful attitude and symbol to others.

I wish you a very blessed and hopeful Lenten season.


"Lent:  A Call to Fast and Feast." Ash Wednesday Mass.  Holy Name of Mary Catholic Church, San Dimas, CA.  March, 09, 2011.