Wednesday, April 17, 2024

The Good Shepherd’s commitments to us

Photo (by me) from the Basilica of Sts. Cosmos and Damian, Roma

HT to John Predmore SJ for the following:

I would like to talk about God’s care for this family, but in the words of a priest from the Archdiocese of Boston. Fr. Ron Coyne reflected upon his experience of God and summed up God’s commitments to us in ten points. I simply want to read them to you, and it is spoken as if God is personally speaking them to us. 


1.     I love you unconditionally. You can’t earn that love, and you can’t lose that love. 


2.    I accompany each of you on your life journey, and I am aware of the pain and joy in your life. I share your pain and I celebrate your joy.


3.    There is no limit to my forgiveness. If you are open to the need to transform your life, you will experience and understand that forgiveness.


4.    You live in my presence now and you will live in my presence after you die.


5.    I would never bring about the destruction of the world. If tragedy happens, life will go on.


6.    No organized religion has captured me. I will continue to avail myself to the world, and your knowledge of me in this lifetime will never be complete.


7.    Evil has nothing to do with my plans. It is a part of life that offers us choices. Good will always outlast evil in the world. 


8.    I give you all of creation to accompany you on your journey of life. Creation is as sacred to me as your life is. You are to care for each other. Creation is here to enhance your life, and you are the stewards of creation.


9.    You will know if a religion is being true to my covenant if it unites humanity. If it is divisive, it does not know me.


10.  The poor, the disadvantaged, and those with the least opportunities among you are sacred to me, and your response to their story is indicative to how well you know me.

Tuesday, April 16, 2024


have a high view of instrumental music as a potential spiritual gift for the listener and the musician alike.… A jazz quartet can utter things in the presence of God that mere words fail to say. A saxophone can lament on behalf of those who feel helpless. A piano may offer intercessions for those who are in need. A string bass can affirm the firm foundation of faith. Drums and cymbals may call pilgrims to break into joy.  

Poet Ron Seitz has spoken about how, as a young man, he befriended writer and theologian Thomas Merton…. Seitz tells of the night he went with Merton to a jazz club in Louisville. As the group began to play, Merton leaned over to whisper, “They’re going to start talking to each other now. Listen.” Then he moved closer to the bandstand to get a better look. Later, returning with his eyes wide, he said to Seitz, “Now that’s praying. That’s some kind of prayer! The new liturgy. Really, I’m not kidding.”

William G. Carter, Thriving on a Riff: Jazz and the Spiritual Life (Minneapolis, MN: Broadleaf Books, 2024), 102.

Sunday, March 24, 2024

Palm Sunday

 Image: "The Mystical Boat", by Odilon Redon

On Palm Sunday we reach the quayside. 

A great ship is fretting at the moorings, sail unfurling in the bright sunshine; a beautiful ship with the line and grace of a bird.

A cry goes out from it: 'All on board!' and eager hands reach out to help us onto the deck; the hands of those who have made the journey before us and whose home is in the land to which we are invited.

This great ship of Holy Week will carry us surely, strongly, into the Passion of Christ. On the prow is blazoned the name 'Love's Victory’.

All we have to do now is board the ship and allow it to take us all the way. We have nothing else to do but let it take us.

We have not to do the navigating ourselves, we have not to labour with the oars, we have not to see where we are going or what distance we are covering: all that is being done for us.

We have only to say, 'Let it be done. Give me all you want to give. Be my Saviour, be my God.' Let us then board the ship full of humble gratitude and trust.

'But I have not got to the quayside even. It seems to me I have wasted Lent wrapped up in myself.’ Never mind.

Here you are, brought by the community of the Church. Get on board. Don't waste further time in useless lamentations which give no joy to God.

Get on board. 

The moorings are cast, the sails billow in the breeze, and we are carried off deep into the mystery of Jesus.

— Ruth Burrows

Saturday, March 16, 2024

Amounting to Nothing, Brother Paul


Brother Paul Quenon, Photo by Rhonda J. Miller

Sorry monk that I am, I never amounted to nothing.

Somebody must have laid a curse on me and said, 

‘You'll never amount to nothing,’ 

which was my life ambition. 

But I'm still too much of something.

So this is, you know, 

there's a kind of undercurrent of a mystical tradition there. 

That is especially like in Zen Buddhism, 

where you just lose the, you know, 

slough off the ego and these false outer selves 

that we contrive for ourselves 

to get along and society, 

or to get ahead in the world. 

And amounting to nothing is, you know, 

the ultimate degree of humility is to, you know, 

be so free of myself, 

that God can fill the self. 

From: Aged in KY

Sunday, December 24, 2023

Christ in the Rubble

Credit...Samar Hazboun for The New York Times


Rev. Dr. Munther Isaac
Evangelical Lutheran Christmas Church Bethlehem
Saturday, December 23rd, 2023 

“ … We are tormented by the silence of the world. Leaders of the so-called “free” lined up one after the other to give the green light for this genocide against a captive population. They gave the cover. Not only did they make sure to pay the bill in advance, they veiled the truth and context, providing political cover. …

“ … If you are not appalled by what is happening; if you are not shaken to your core – there is something wrong with your humanity. If we, as Christians, are not outraged by this genocide, by the weaponizing of the Bible to justify it, there is something wrong with our Christian witness, and compromising the credibility of the Gospel! …

“ … Christmas in Bethlehem, the birthplace of Jesus, is this manger. This is our message to the world today. It is a gospel message, a true and authentic Christmas message, about the God who did not stay silent, but said his word, and his Word is Jesus. Born among the occupied and marginalized. He is in solidarity with us in our pain and brokenness. 

“This manger is our message to the world today – and it is simply this: this genocide must stop NOW. Let us repeat to the world: STOP this Genocide NOW. 

“This is our call. This is our plea. This is our prayer. Hear oh God. Amen.”


Tuesday, December 19, 2023

Icon of the Nativity of Christ belonging to Merton

By the time of his death in 1968, seven hand-painted icons had found their way to Thomas Merton’s hermitage. One of them was this icon of the Nativity of Christ.

Christ’s Nativity:

What shall we offer you, O Christ, who for our sake has appeared on earth as man? Every creature made by you offers you thanks. The angels offer you a hymn; the heavens a star; the Magi, gifts; the shepherds, their wonder; the earth, its cave; the wilderness, the manger; and we offer you a virgin mother.

— from a prayer for the Orthodox Christmas Vespers Service

Friday, December 15, 2023

3rd Sunday of Advent 2023

Photo by John P. Walsh

From Alfred Delp, S.J., “Meditation for the Third Sunday of Advent Written in Tegel Prison, Berlin, December 1944” (adapted), Advent of the Heart, Ignatius Press, San Francisco, 2006:

“Mankind is challenged again to stand and deliver. Only man does not merely exchange one set of chains for another – God’s calls are always creative. They increase the very reality within us that is called upon – precisely because of their realness and authenticity…Freedom is the breath of life. We sit in musty bomb cellars and cramped prisons and groan under the bursting and destructive blows of fate. We should finally stop giving everything a false glamour and unrealistic value and begin to bear it for what it is – unredeemed life. As soon as we do this, the jangling of chains and the trembling of nerves and the faintness of heart transform themselves into a small prayer – “Drop down, dew…” We should much more definitively unite our concrete destiny with those kind of connections and call upon God’s redeeming freedom. Then the narrowness widens, our lungs breathe in fresh air again, and the horizon has promises again. Existence still weeps and mourns, but already a soft, joyous melody of longing and knowledge is ringing through the mourners’ broken voices. With this knowledge and attitude humanity releases itself from the lonely relationship to things and circumstances. A person finds wholesomeness and healing – not the goal-oriented, cool distance of calculation, mechanization, and organization. It is rather that higher level of freedom, the perspective given to someone looking from the heights to what lies below. The voice of such a person is not so quickly silenced!”

“The conditions for true joy have nothing to do with conditions of our exterior life but consist of humanity’s interior frame of mind and competence, which make it possible now and again for the person to sense, even in adverse circumstances, what life is really about…And the first answer is found in the figure of John the Baptist who personifies Advent. Humanity must be brought to an absolute clarity about himself and honestly before himself and others. He must come down from all the pedestals of arrogance onto which he always climbs…From the high-horses of vanity and self-deception that, for a time, let themselves be trotted out so proudly. Those horses though finally throw off their “master” in the wilderness…Two criteria identify whether we are following an authentic impulse or not…Both are found once again in John the Baptist. The first is service – human honesty requires a person to see himself as a servant and perceive his reality as mission and an assignment…The second criterion keeps us on track- annunciation, which calls us to praise of God. An extended personal effort is required to keep giving oneself the impulse to rise above, move away from self. But at the same time this is how a human being attains the necessary openness in which he or she must continue if sincerely wanting to strive toward the great realities God has prepared for him or her.” 

The Good Shepherd’s commitments to us

Photo (by me) from the Basilica of Sts. Cosmos and Damian, Roma HT to John Predmore SJ for the following: I would like to talk about God’s ...