December 2005 Archives

Floor Show at Johnny Rockets

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And other events seasonal and otherwise.

Lunch today--we were out shopping for a couple of last-minute things. A new Johnny Rockets had opened in this center. We like the retro feel and the food is DEFINITELY the comfort-food variety. We decided to stop in.

Well, there it is--like juke-box controllers in each of the booths, waiters in aprons and little soldier-like hats. One of the few places you can get a cherry coke that is a real cherry coke, etc. You all know the attraction or detraction (depending on how you view it).

But absolutely unique to this one--or a new corporate initiative--every now and again, either in cue with certain songs or at regularly intervals, the wait-staff, the managers, and everyone who is not cooking or handling customers breaks into a dance routine. While I was there it happened twice--once to Aretha Franklin's "R-E-S-P-E-C-T," and once to Donna Summers's "The Last Dance." And you know, I have to admit, it raised a real smile on my face. There was such an obvious enjoyment in the staff and in the patrons. And of course Sam was bouncing along to the music and asked to join the entire wait-staff.

On another event--last Sunday hauled our bodies down to what passes for a downtown here in our sunny city to see the Rockettes. The last time I recall doing this I was about Sam's age and I saw them at Radio City Music Hall along with the premier of "Bedknobs and Broomsticks." That was quite a trek from where we lived at the time.

And, I'm pleased to say, that even the touring show was quite wonderful--everything you may have heard rumored about the act and more. Slow motion falling soldiers and regimented "step-step-kick-step-kick-step" to quote Roger DeBris. A very nice, pardon the pun, kickoff to the upcoming season.

And to all of my visitors, I hope and pray for something that will raise a smile on your faces today and remind you of the event we are about to celebrate. May the excitement in the air enter your hearts and transform the way you look at the world.

Merry Christmas--a bit early, but who knows when I will return?

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Quotation from John Adams

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Adams Electronic Archive : Letter from John Adams to Abigail Adams , 3 July 1776 , "Had a Declaration..."

"It ought to be commemorated, as the Day of Deliverance by solemn Acts of Devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with Pomp and Parade, with Shews, Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other from this Time forward forever more.

Yet through all the Gloom I can see the Rays of ravishing Light and Glory. I can see that the End is more than worth all the Means."

So we approach the end of Advent. And though Mr. Adams speaks here of our Declaration of Independence--I think I can say without fear of contradiction that the greater declaration was made when God became Human to live, preach, suffer, die, and return to us. Now we are in the darkness of a waiting time, but shortly, shortly enough that the light begins to stun the retinas "rays of ravishing light and glory."

(And yes, I know the part about the day of deliverance is probably more appropriate for Easter, but bondage came to an end when God became one of us. I'll repeat it at easter anyway.)

Oh, and this was just a fancy way of sending you to this marvelous archive of the Adams' Family Papers.

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The War In Heaven

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The War in Heaven is already won. And yet the battles continue as though we were lone Japanese troops on some Phillipine island, unaware that the war has ended. And the season of advent, the season of waiting is a good time to recall the the war in Heaven is won.

But battles linger on day to day. And the most insidious thing about these battles is that they are waged on the very smallest of decisions. For those of us who count ourselves friends of God, we will rarely be persuaded by some spectacular sin or crime against humanity. While most of us would balk and blanch at the thought of murdering someone, few of us would hesitate to condemn that person to Hell thoughtlessly. They're only words, they have no effect.

But we are taught time and again that it is not what goes into a person that makes them unclean, but what comes out of the fullness of the heart. When we are not being particularly spiritual what do we say and do? What do we say and do when someone takes the last parking space for miles--a space we had been waiting for for ten minutes while an elderly lady and her three sisters bustled around trying to put packages much too big into the trunk in a drizzling rain.

It is on these small actions--the actions of a moment, the actions that reveal the heart that the major battles are fought and lost. It is what my heart is stuffed full with that flows out in the heat of the moment. Yes, God will forgive it, but I've lost that pitched battle. And sometimes, as in the case above (had it occurred) I can lose it without a word being said.

Spiritual combat is sometihng few of us are really prepared for. I may think I'm ready. But what I'm ready for is to resist the temptations I can readily identify--not those that creep up on me in a blind moment. I'm ready to fight what I know to be the enemy not the disguised one, the event that takes me by surprise.

So, how do I fight these battles, the ones I am unprepared for? That is one of the many, many reasons for prayer. Prayer teaches calmness, serenity, and acceptance. Spending time in prayer tames one's own selfishness and need, it puts one in touch with God in a way that transcends the moment. It breaks down the fortress of evil and builds instead the bulwark of love--a shield against which no evil can succeed. Where love grows, evil cannot rest. Evil is nothing less than the constant attack on love. It started with one prideful boast and rebellion and quickly turned into a loathing for anything that looked like Love.

Prayer causes love to grow. Perfect love drives out fear and fear, with its close relative anger, are the sources of much of sin. Yes, there are other causes, but much of what we do that is wrong stems from either fear or anger. Love breaks the back of fear. It puts us in a place where we can truly fight in the spiritual combat that surrounds us--where we can be warriors in the constant spiritual melee, and with Christ as our companion and shield, we can help others.

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I'll probably not post much today as this is one of the most important Feast Days in the Carmelite calendar for me personally. And it's odd, would St. John of the Cross wish us to remember him with a Feast or a Fast? I'd rather think the latter, but the Church in her wisdom declares a cessation to the Advential (and traditionally post Triumph of the Holy Cross) Fast that marks the season. Who am I to disagree?

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Martha or Mary?

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Is it possible to be a contemplative in active life?

Is it possible to live a life of service to others, or merely in the course of life to serve others and yet enter into intimate conversation with God.

Is it possible to combine the best aspects of Martha and Mary?

Mary had the "One thing necessary" however, Martha shows us that faith without works is dead. Often maligned, I don't think it is a question of either or. Rather both/and. However, if a person is not called to straddle this boundary the better way is Mary's.

The Lay Carmelite apostolate exists in large part to say that you can live the life of a normal person in (but not of) the world and still respond to God's invitation to intimacy. But, by the fact that not everyone is a Lay Carmelite, we can conclude that the specifics of this vocation are not for everyone. It is safe to say that the Lay Carmelite apostolate, as the apostolate of the Carmelite Friar is to serve as example--to show the world that what they think impossible is not only possible, but blessed.

Not everyone is called to be a Carmelite, but everyone is invited to the intimacy of the Father. And the vast majority of the forty-or-so regular readers of this blog are people who lead active lives with careers, children, and all of the concomittant busyness that goes with an active life.

How then does one "make the time" to spend in contemplation. Once again, we come back to the theme of the past few days. One need merely want to. The desire to show God some measure of the love that He showers on each of us must be more than a back-of-the-mind thing. When God becomes a priority in life, intimacy is possibility.

It only makes sense. When we wish to grow closer to our spouses and loved ones, we make time to be with them--to play games, watch movies, converse. So too, when we want to grow closer to God, one finds a way to make time for Him.

Following on St. Teresa's comment from yesterday--God will never give us as little as we desire. If we want just a little bit to love and serve Him, He will make it possible in ways we cannot even imagine. If we want just a little bit of His life, He will give it to us entirely,

It is all a simple matter of desire, or reordering our priorities until God shuffles to the top in more than our speech. It is simple, but it is not easy. As with "the Little Way" of St. Therese--it is simple, but it is not easy. But didn't Jesus say, "My yoke is easy, my burden light?" Is it not possible that in the course of life He will bless us with possibility and opportunity?

The way is simple and the means easy when one resorts to all means of grace. God will make the path easier, we must respond by walking it.

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How Do We Train Desire?

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Following on the posts below, one can be led to ask the question--how then does one order disordered desires? How can one fix the compass that points home?

Well, simply, one cannot. Grace does it. But to dispose ourselves to grace--there are any number of ways. The boil down to two words, which themselves are a gift of grace--gratitude and humility.

Until I come to realize that I have nothing of myself--that every gift is a gift from above--every breath is a gift, and riches I have are granted by a gracious Lord, any grace, facility, ability, talent, or gift are His first and given without any merit on my part. Nothing I call "mine" is "mine" by right except my sin. All is gift.

If this is true--if the food I eat, the air I breathe, the gifts I exercise in earning my money, the house I live in, the wife and children I have, everything, everything down to and including this wretched body, everything is a gift unasked for. Some turn this to a bitter turn, but properly seen, these gifts are beyond measure gracious. The only attitude is ecstatic gratitude. Yes, even in the worst times, gratitude is the key to opening the door of riches and grace. I cannot begin to be transformed until I leave off self and self-aggrandizement and turn to Him who is the source of all.

Thus humility and gratitude walk hand-in-hand. When I know am I nothing and nothing I have comes to me through my own efforts, but rather through grace, what can I do but be grateful for everything. And in this gratitude is the beginning of the deepest love. True, human gratitude can sour and become a burden; however, God does not Lord it over us. He does not constantly remind me of how great He is and how small I am. He doesn't constantly crow about how wonderful He is and how small I am. Indeed, He calls me time and again one of His own. I am His dearly beloved child. I am the weaned child, rocked on the breast of the Father (psalm 131). I am loved as if I were His only child. Indeed, each of us is loved with the same prodigality.

When I consider how You say that Your delights are with the children of teh earth, my soul rejoices greatly. O Lord of heaven and erth, what words athese are that no sinner might be wanting in trust! St. Teresa of Avila

His delights are with us! There is no comment, no explanation, no set of words that pierces to the heart of delight centered in those words. You may look each morning in the mirror and say, "You are well and truly the beloved of God--at once one of many and the sole point of all his attention."

God delights in us.
Delights in us--rejoices in us.
As I delight in all the antics of my young son,
so God delights in us--
He is swift to forgive and rich in lovingkindness--
deserving or not, each person is loved as the only person,
each child is loved as an only child.

God's delight is with His people,
to be among them, to be loved by them,
to be present.

God's love knows no bounds
His embrace is limitless
overcoming even our own self-doubt
and our worthlessness.

What have I done to have such a Father?
Nothing--He made me and I am His.\
And He whispers to me:

Set me as a seal upon thine heart, as a seal upon thine arm:
for love is strong as death; jealousy is cruel as the grave:
the coals thereof are coals of fire, which hath a most vehement flame.

Song of Songs 8:6

Thank you, Lord. Thank you. I wait for you now--hasten and do not tarry. Come Lord Jesus!

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Gifts of the Season

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My Carmelite prayer partner brought me a Christmas gift yesterday--and miraculously, if you can imagine this, she managed to find two books I did not already own. One of these is the subject of today's blog.

from Sermon in a Sentence: Volume 4--St. Teresa of Avila

Our most sacred King has still much to give. He would never want to do anything else than give if He could find receivers. And as I have said often-I want you never to forget daughters--the Lord is never content with giving us as little as we desire.

This quotation followed so beautifully on some things I had written last week that it leapt off the page at me.

God is never content to give us as little as we desire. So we needn't desire all and everything all at once to attain to the store of riches He has for us. Rather we grow into desire. We desire a little, and God rewards us richly, He is the Father of the prodigal, ready at a moment to welcome us home, to invite us in, to ask us to stay.

Of course, we often refuse His hospitality, not realizing our own poverty, our own selfishness. We may say a courteous thank you and back out of the throneroom and return to our own business. Nevertheless, God is not a God who sits on His magnificent throne and waits for us. He is the God of Glory who races after us--not content to give as He has gotten, but ready to shower us in all good things.

Desire is the key. Human desire is the faulty arrow that points home. It is a compass in a shaky hand and all too often, the Devil brings a lodestone near--so the needle is not always reliable. But once our heart is set on the Desire of the Ages, that needle in rock solid--it point home, and only to home. The measure of our desire is infintesimal compared with God's desire for us. Time and again--the prodigal son, the shepherd who leaves the ninety-nine for the one, the Father who gave us Incarnate Love--we are reminded of His love for us. We are "the apple of his eye." He is our beloved and we are His.

But God is not content to love as we love. Even a slight motion will bring us into his enduring embrace. He will not force Himself on us, but given the slightest opening, He will overwhelm us with grace.

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For Theresephobes Everywhere

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ICS Publications

Been traumatized by the flowery prose of a 19th century French girl? Shied away from sugary metaphors and sweetness and light? Terrified that someone may find out that you've never really been able to make it through Story of a Soul?

Well, you're in luck! The Institute of Carmelite Studies has just released a new study edition of Story of Soul. Yes, just in time for _________, this book, edited by Fr. Mark Foley, OCD, (from the superb translation by Fr. John Clarke OCD) may be your answer for acute theresephobia--a chronic condition which, left untreated, can deprive you of the some of the great spiritual insights of recent times.

When you go to this page, page down a bit, you'll see the new study edition and a biography of St. Edith Stein. Naturally enough, they're tops on my Christmas list, and I've already bought them for my birthday present from my in-laws.

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I have a million of them:

It's too hot outside
It's too cold.

I volunteer for the Church.
I need to volunteer for the Church.

I'm reading about it so I can do it better.
I'm reading about it so I can see how others do it.
I'm reading about it so I don't have to do it but can still say I pray.

I'm writing about it to inform others.
I'm writing about it to inform myself.
I'm writing about it so I can avoid actually doing it.

I need to take the dog for a walk.
Oh gosh, I don't even have a dog.
Well, I guess I can take the hamster for a walk.
Or the fish.
Heck, I need to take a walk, and heaven knows you can't pray while doing nothing.

I'm not in the right place.
I'm in the perfect place but it is too beautiful.

I'm not in the mood.
God doesn't listen anyway.
I'm only talking to myself.

I have work to do.
I need to wash dishes.
I need to clean the house.
I need to play games with Samuel.
I need to wash the car. (Ha, in all the cars I've ever owned sponge has not touched metal--but it sure rings true as an excuse.)

I'm too sad.
I'm too stressed.
I'm too happy.

I need my space--why does God need me constantly pawing at Him anyway?
God need's His space, He's tired of hearing the same old things.

I'm too sinful.
I'm too tired.
I'm too bored.
I'm too nostalgic.
I'm too . . .

It's too nice a day to remain indoors with a musty old book.
This musty old book is far too interesting to allow myself to become distracted with mere communication.
I'm not good enough.
I don't love enough.

But all of these boil down to one thing. I don't care enough. When God is the priority, all of these excuses melt into opportunities for prayer. But making God a priority is often not a priority with me. I distract myself endlessly with myself. I have a million million concerns and all of them take precedence.

Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness; and all these things will be added unto you. (Matt 6:33)

It isn't a suggestion, it's reality. This is the law I live. God is either first in my life or He is nothing. He is either present in my thoughts, the first word on my lips, or He is so far down the list of priorities He can't even be seen. Can you guess where He winds up most of the time?

I'd like to say I was Martha in a Mary world. But the reality is, if I look at it very closely, I can't even claim to be a Martha. How much of my busyness is really directed at service to the Lord and His people? How much of each day is devoted to serving others?

And you know, despite all of this, despite my own reluctance, despite my own shying away from God, still He invites me in. Still He calls to me and keeps calling until any human voice must be hoarse. Still He welcomes me and makes a place for me by His side. Still He is the Father who loves me and who waits patiently for my love. He waits for the distractions and baubles of the world to lose their glamor. He waits. And all the while He waits, He sends me His messengers of love, His constant and overflowing love for me is present every day and every moment of every day.

And someday I may pay attention. Grace will prevail despite my wiliest resources. Someday I will turn to God first. This I know because He has promised it.

Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. . . (Matt 7:7)

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A Secret About Prayer

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Much of what we can know about prayer stems from what we know about God. In the first part of the Summa Theolgiae, Aquinas cites this objection to the opponents of God's simplicity:

On the contrary, Dionysius says (Div. Nom. ii): "There can be no touching Him," i.e. God, "nor any other union with Him by mingling part with part."

God is utterly simple. There is no mixture in Him and unlike cannot mix with like. Another way to say this is that there is no communication between like and unlike. The word communicate comes from a Latin root that means "to make common to many, share, impart" (O.E.D.) God communicates with us in prayer through the Holy Spirit who dwells within us. That is, He touches the divine within us to communicate Himself with us. He cannot share or make common to many what is of unequal substance. He cannot blend with what is not simple.

Prayer then isn't so much an ACTION as it is a way of being. And, at that, an exemplary way of being. Because prayer isn't so much a list of petitions, questions, or colloquies with God; rather, prayer is the process of divinization, wherein God truly begins to communicate Himself with us and in the process transforms us.

It's a little daunting to think about. Prayer is not an action, but a becoming. As we grow in prayer God purifies us to grow more in prayer. As we continue the path of prayer we become more like what we pray to. That is the end of prayer.

In such a way the old forms of (at least the protestant form of Marriage, and I think they derived ultimately from the Catholic) say that the "two become one." Marriage is a sacrament because it bestows grace and also because it is a sign of the ultimate end of each human being in God. The two become one. There is only one way for this to happen. God cannot lower Himself. He will not become a being of parts to accommodate a divided humanity. Rather, humanity must become as He is. If the two are to become one, the transformation must be on our part.

Prayer is the process of transformation. It may start with simple petitions, forms, and rites of prayer--rote examples. But prayer grows with the person praying and with grace. The growth is directly related to the desire one has to pray.

Too often we channel this desire into paths we find more acceptable. They allow us to think we are praying and thus feel good about our prayer life even as we deftly avoid anything like a prayerful attitude. This most often happens with those of us disposed to reading about and writing about prayer. We become so preoccupied with these very good things that we manage to avoid engaging in the act itself.

But prayer is so simple, it does not need an explanation. Prayer is the triumph of One Desire, the Desire of the Ages, over all the other desires that define each person. Prayer is to want the One Thing Necessary above all other things. We engage in prayer actively when we long for God, when He is front and center in our thoughts and in our actions. The degree of transformation is directly related to the degree of desire, which in turn is fed by grace and by responding to the desire, not with displacement (reading about prayer, buying things, conversing with a neighbor, busying ourselves with tasks that can fill the emptiness that this desire seems to summon) but with being present. We present ourselves as we are, where we are, no matter what we are doing, as people ready to change and be changed. And in changing we grow in our desire to please Him, to become more like Him, to ultimately become One with Him and communicate in the way of a single being.

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A Good Heart--A Samuel Story

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The other day, while riding in the car, absolutely apropos of nothing whatsoever, Samuel piped up and said, "You know, if you guys ever need my organs you can have them. A kidney. Or if you need a liver."

"Well, thank you sweetheart, but we'd prefer that your organs remain inside your own body," Linda said.

"He has a good heart," I said to her.

"Yes," he said immediately. "But you can't have that because I couldn't love without that."

Is it any wonder that life is one continual joy? I am so grateful and sometimes I just wonder at a God who is so good to me, when I am so dismissive of Him. Well, just wanted to share a little of that joy. God bless all of you.

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The Marvels of Technology


The birthday celebration continued last night with the first official "Christmas" activity of the season. We went to the MGM studios and saw the annual Christmas display--yes, complete with Nativity for the Disney nay-sayers among you--and even Christmas Carols that mention God and all sorts of stuff. (You'd be surprised at how much God shows up in Disney Parks around Christmas time--oh yes, it's still largely secular, but Disney is business savvy enough to know not to offend it largely Disney-neutral pro-religion clientele.)

Afterwards, we raced to the other side of the park to see one of the nighttime shows which we have not seen ever before. This was one of the marvels of technology. In the course of this show I'd seen things I had never seen before--for example, movies projected on the back side of a fan-like spray of water. I wasn't sure if I was seeing them on the reverse side of a CO2 cloud or water, but then determined that for the consistency of image and appearance, it had to be on a fine fan-like mist.

The show was amazing and fun and capped off a fine evening of enjoyment. Boy thought it splendid and scary, and Linda, a bit winded from our cross-park sprint, said that it was worth it.

You know, there are so many things to thank God for. Yes, even these moments of levity, these light entertainments. No, they aren't the end-all be-all of life, but they add highlights to it. They remind us of things beyond ourselves and put us squarely in God's courts again in a pleasant and hopeful way. There is too much of the daily grind that seems directed toward wearing down any possibility of hope, any fragment, wisp, or trace of trust. These things do not reestablish trust or hope necessarily, but they are small gifts, tokens along the way--one way the Father says, "I love you." And they are one way we can understand that message in the churn of daily life.

God is where you look for Him, in every situation, in every place, in every moment. Indeed, because He dwells within us, He is present to us always. We need merely take the opportunities to be present to Him and thank Him for the many graces and blessings that come to us because of Him.

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Advent is a time of solemn waiting. And yet solemnity and joy are not mutually contradictory. It sounds as though they are, but only if we are under the misconception that joy equals happiness.

We wait during the first half of advent for Christ the King who is to come--we know He will return in His time and then the world will be transformed. But during the second half of advent, we "wait" in eternity, our waiting already fulfilled, but reinforced by the waiting and the preparation we make for Christmas.

What a shame, then, so many very good Christians stress themselves out over the Christmas season. It is hard not to be stressed if you're amidst ten-thousand other people seeking the perfect gift for everyone on their list, if you're busy preparing the menu and the guest list for your Christmas parties and Christmas dinner, if you're caught in the midst of the secular seasonal preparations. None of these are bad things, but they divert the focus from the one thing necessary.

So what is the remedy for Christmas preparation stress? Do what you do for love of Christ and do it with great joy that we have this season to celebrate. Perform a short mental exercise. Put yourself in the time before Christ came, in the Babylonian captivity. Now, translate that same state to today. Suddenly even Christmas shopping stress has become an insignificant trifle.

What else can we do? If you're baking Christmas cookies--bake them with Jesus in mind, remembering each moment what we are celebrating. If you're wrapping Christmas presents, thank God that you have presents to wrap and rejoice in wrapping them for His son. If you're making up menus, remember to invite Jesus to that party in some substantial way.

We are waiting, but what we are waiting for has already arrived (in part). As we wait, we rejoice that God's will has been done and is being done now and every day. Each ornament we hang on the tree, we do for Jesus. Each song that's played, each treat prepared, even cleaning our house, we do in preparation for a Baby who has arrived, is arriving, and will arrive on Christmas Day.

As we journey through each day, let us unite our own antipation with that of the Blessed Mother who, day by day, became more aware that the time was upon her. For those of us who are parents, let us recall the joy, fear, and hope that preceded the arrival of our own children. And this was a most special, most unexpected child. Let us rejoice with her that the time has come and salvation is brought forth in all of His glory.

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The Beauty of Namaste

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Namaste - The Significance of a Yogic Greeting

The word nama is split into two, na and ma. Na signifies negation and ma represents mine. The meaning would then be 'not mine'. The import being that the individual soul belongs entirely to the Supreme soul, which is identified as residing in the individual towards whom the namaste is directed. Indeed there is nothing that the soul can claim as its own. Namaste is thus the necessary rejection of 'I' and the associated phenomena of egotism. It is said that 'ma' in nama means death (spiritual), and when this is negated (na-ma), it signifies immortality.

The whole action of namaste unfolds itself at three levels: mental, physical, and verbal.

It starts with a mental submission. This submission is in the spirit of total surrender of the self. This is parallel to the devotion one expresses before a chosen deity, also known as bhakti. The devotee who thus venerates with complete self-surrender is believed to partake the merits or qualities of the person or deity before whom he performs this submission. There is a prescription in the ancient texts known as Agamas that the worshipper of a deity must first become divine himself, for otherwise worship as a transaction would become invalid. A transaction can only be between equals, between individuals who share some details in common. Hence by performing namaste before an individual we recognize the divine spark in him. Further by facilitating our partaking of these divine qualities, namaste makes us aware of these very characteristics residing within our own selves. Simply put, namaste intimates the following:

'The God in me greets the God in you
The Spirit in me meets the same Spirit in you'

In other words, it recognizes the equality of all, and pays honor to the sacredness of all.

The "namaste" is a gesture of greeting in some Indian (Hindi?) cultures and groups. I have always found the gesture to be mysteriously beautiful and gracious. I have not thoroughly understood it, although I always had in mind the couplet just before the last sentence.

I often wish that western cultures had such a gesture or such a greeting. It is far less aggressive than the handshake, and what could be better than to be able to say to another, I salute the Image of Christ you are? How much more affirming could we possibly be?

Hence, namaste, though it does not come from my culture or my background, appeals to me deeply. Those who live within the culture may see it another way, but to salute the Divine within, the Holy Spirit who dwells in all people, who shines forth from believers and nonbelievers alike, who guides us all to the same end. What could be better, more compassionate, more meaningful.

And so all of St. Blogs--I hail the Holy Spirit within each of you and offer you peace and greetings in the name of Our Lord Jesus Christ. If I could accompany this with a bow, a gesture of respect, I would do so. So let us suffice with the Japanese Honorific, Stblogs-san.

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The Seven Meme

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Not that you really wanted to know:

1. Seven things to do before I die

* Visit Uluru and Shark Bay
* Visit Romania/Transylvania
* See my son happily married/otherwise engaged in vocation
* Visit Stratford-on-Avon
* Weave a cloth/tapestry
* Play the digeridoo
* Visit Chichen Itza.

2. Seven things I cannot do

* Sing
* Home repair.
* Speak Latin.
* Car maintenance.
* Care of living things--plants or animals.
* Paint.
* Keep patience with rude people.

3. Seven things that attract me to my spouse.

* Her sense of humor.
* Her practicality.
* Her friendliness.
* Her patient endurance in trial.
* Her patient endurance of me.
* Her intelligence, good taste, ambitions.
* Her kindness and softheartedness.

4. Seven things I say most often

* You're the greatest! (To Sam)
* Sweetheart. (Sam and Linda)
* Thanks be to God!
* Cunieverse world (don't ask)
* What do you think? (And not with an attitude--cultivating a response from within rather than reliance upon external resources)
* I love you.
* You can do this. (Said a lot at work AND at home. Coupled with its complement, "You can't if you don't try.")

5. Seven books I love

* The Adventures of Tom Sawyer
* The Great Divorce
* Story of a Soul
* Dark Night of the Soul
* The Golden Bowl
* All of Nathaniel Hawthorne--every word.
* All of Flannery O'Connor--every syllable.

6. Seven movies I watch over and over again (

* Legally Blond
* Miss Congeniality
* Scrooge
* Christmas in Connecticut
* Sunset Boulevard
* Citizen Kane (I'm utterly mesmerized--my wife--mystified and bored)
* Working Girl

7. I have a poor success rate at passing these things one and as this is rather old now, most have probably done it. I don't recall seeing this at TSO's however--so TSO, if you're so inclined.

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Today I have so much to be thankful for it's hard to know where to start.

Let me start by giving thanks for each person who took time to wish me well on my birthday celebration. I deeply appreciate it.

Second, Julie D. at Happy Catholic informed me that I have been nominated in the category of "Best Religious Blog" in some sort of blog awards. I mention this, not so much to encourage you to vote early and vote often, but more to express my deep appreciation for the kindness shown by whoever it was that nominated this blog. That the news arrived to me on my birthday was an exceptionally nice present. This is one of those cases where the nomination is enough in itself. Thank you, whoever you were who did the nomination. And thank you to those who even thought of it. You are all most generous and kind.

Third, I have the joy of this day--an exceptionally heady, wonderful, full-bodied joy that pervades the season and the day. It is God's utterly unmerited gift to me.

So to all at St. Blogs--thank you. You are the best extended family anyone could hope for.

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My Birthday Celebration

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Saw Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, which I found most profoundly disturbing in a very good way.

Received four movies including Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Christmas in Connecticut, Death on the Nile, and my favorite of the series, Evil Under the Sun--could there possibly be a better match-up than Diana Rigg and Maggie Smith? For that matter, except for Angela Lansbury, is there anyone to compare with Maggie Smith no matter what she sets her mind to?

Have a book yet to open.

Broke the Advent Fast to have a near-feast for dinner at a local sea-food restaurant. (But then, it is Sunday, a good day for breaking fast regardless.)

Blessed all day by a real sense of God's abiding presence.

Not much more to report. Perhaps more tomorrow. God bless you all. May the real joy of the Holy Spirit be with you in this season of waiting.

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St. Thomas More

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Dialogue of Comfort Against Tribulation

One of the Saint's great works. Don't know how this made it to public domain, but what a boon for those of us who own palmtop computers.

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Wisdom from George Strait

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You may not like country music, but there aren't very many places that you get God-talk as clear and unencumbered as this:

Last night I dreamed I died and stood outside those pearly gates.
When suddenly I realized there must be some mistake.
If they know half the things I've done, they'll never let me in.
And then somewhere from the other side I heard these words again.

And he said, "Let me tell you a secret about a father's love,
A secret that my daddy said was just between us."
He said, "Daddies don't just love their children every now and then.
It's a love without end, amen, it's a love without end, amen."

There is something wonderful about being able to hear this kind of thing outside of a Christian music station. I don't know George Strait, I don't know his life, and I don't know if he lives up to the credo of the song--but then, few people I know live up to the words they sing in praise of God.

God is a Father whose love is never-ending, whose passion for us extended to the passion of His own son. He is endlessly giving and forgiving. We all know that. The tenderness of a endlessly patient father.

How nice to hear it sung out long and loud in places unexpected!

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An Amusing Innovation--The Angli-Can


The Waffling Anglican: Angli-Can

One of those cases where I am not in the position to say it, but someone from within is certainly entitled. Amusing a la Curt Jester.

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Universalism and Truth

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A comment from Psalm 41 on a post below caused a long train of thought that may be worth recording before it derails. It's kind of a personal credo.

I was commenting on the question of universalism and the fallacy of some arguments for and against it. Psalm 41 repeated my oft-invoked recitation of the "soft verses" of the Bible. And I agree entirely with the comment.

However, when we are trying to live God's way, no matter how tantilizing the "truth" of our agenda, there is no ideal that is worth laying aside one iota of the treasury of the Holy Mother Church. (And I do not mean to imply that Psalm 41 thought otherwise--I am here recounting my own thoughts on the matter.) In Gulley and Mulholland's book they first had to set aside Biblical inerrancy, then Biblical Revelation, then the Divinity of Jesus, and finally, it would seem to me, any right to call themselves Christian as classically defined.

If my understanding of universalism entailed dismissing, setting aside, or ignoring any part of the treasury of revelation, I would have to dismiss universalism as a concept. I have done so with a great many lofty, beautiful ideas. No idea of human conception is worth one jot of revelation, one iota of revealed doctrine or dogma.

That might lead one to contend that you could not support universalism at all. Here I would disagree--but that is an argument for another time. But if doing so would require me to reject what is authoratatively taught, then I would have to. Period.

The truth of God's revelation is the foundation of life. I note the progression in many progressives toward discarding first this and then that little notion. (To be just, I also have to note that it occurs amongst the ultra-conservative factions as well--we don't really need Vatican II, it wasn't truly a doctrinal council, it was a pastoral council, nothing said there is binding.) When I begin to chip away at revelation and pick and choose what I like, I make a religion of man, not a religion of God. I left one branch of the faith because I felt that they did not have the fullness of the truth. Why would I cleave to my own truth which is far feebler than the truth of the faith I once held?

Any idea, any human fabrication that requires even a small movement away from Divine truth shows itself in that requirement as falsehood--pure diabolical lie. Surely the devil is clever enough to realize that we aren't going to go whole hog for worshipping Maloch. No indeed, he'll lead us there step by step--small quibble by small quibble, internal reservation by internal reservation, until we are square at the portal. We don't need to take a huge step away. Incremental steps will do just as well--perhaps better because we will not even know by how much we have deviated from the truth.

So, I cling to my hope of universalism with what reason I have and with an intuition that complements reason. I may well be wrong. I will work in this life as though I am wrong in my assumption, that any opportunity offered me to guide souls to God is used to its fullest. If I am wrong, I have worked in the right way, if I am right, I have caused no harm.

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This page is an archive of entries from December 2005 listed from newest to oldest.

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