Myakka River State Park, Florida
If you’ve ever been in a Catholic church, you’ve surely noticed the tabernacle. It’s a small box-like structure on an altar, and usually there’s a candle nearby, burning 24/7. Inside the tabernacle is reserved some of the bread that was blessed and consecrated at Mass, the liturgical celebration of what we call Eucharist. Because we believe that Jesus is somehow present in the elements of bread and wine blessed in his name, Catholics refer to this reserved Eucharist as the Real Presence. I like that term a lot. Whether you hold to Catholicism’s sacramental beliefs or not, there’s something very powerful and meaningful about Presence. The Present, really, is all we ever have. What, then, am I doing with it? How am I using the gift of this present moment right here, right now? Fr. Rohr offers some thoughts:
Only the false self easily takes offense. The false self can’t live a self-generated life of immediate contact with God. It defines itself by the past, which is to live in un-forgiveness. Forgiveness is the only way to free ourselves from the entrapment of the past. We’re in need not only of individual forgiveness; we need it on a national, global, and cosmic scale. Old hurts linger long in our memories and are hard to let go. We must each learn how to define ourselves by the present moment—which is all we really have. I will not define myself by what went wrong yesterday when I can draw upon Life and Love right now. Life and Love are what’s real. This Infinite Love is both in us and yet it is more than us.
From Daily Meditation for Aug. 1, 2017
“Is this the manner of fasting I wish, of keeping a day of penance: That a man bow his head like a reed and lie in sackcloth and ashes?…
This, rather, is the fasting that I wish: releasing those bound unjustly, untying the thongs of the yoke; setting free the oppressed, breaking every yoke; sharing your bread with the hungry, sheltering the oppressed and the homeless; clothing the naked when you see them, and not turning your back on your own.
Then your light shall break forth like the dawn, and your wound shall quickly be healed; your vindication shall go before you, and the glory of the LORD shall be your rear guard. Then you shall call, and the LORD will answer, you shall cry for help, and he will say: Here I am!”
from today’s 1st Reading for Mass, Isaiah 58
Bonita Beach Sunset, Bonita Springs, Florida
“Your outer journey may contain a million steps; your inner journey only has one: the step you are taking right now.” – from The Power of Now, by Eckhart Tolle (p. 73)
“The secret to life is to ‘die before you die’ — and find that there is no death.”
— The Power of Now, by Eckhart Tolle
“Spiritual seeking, when it is done by the false self, might be the biggest problem of all. …. Is it any surprise that America has churches on every corner and yet remains a highly racist, materialistic, militaristic, and superficial culture? We have found the way to feel good about ourselves and to think badly of everybody else that is not like us. Only one thing is more dangerous than the individual ego, and that is the group ego. Religion produces saints and very whole people, but it also produces and protects people with high capacities for delusion and denial.”
From ‘Contemplation’ as the False Self, in Contemplation in Action, Richard Rohr and Friends, A Crossroad Book, 2006 (pp. 80-81)
“Today many would say that Christians have become major purveyors of exclusion, guilt, and shame for too many of its own people, and surely for the other religions, instead of absorbing shame, healing guilt, and living in solidarity with human suffering as Jesus did so clearly on the cross. No wonder so many no longer take us seriously. We are so unlike Jesus and the God he loved. Jesus was totally inclusive in his entire public life, and yet we created an exclusionary religion in his name. It makes no sense.“
from Richard Rohr’s Daily Meditation: Whoever Told You That You Were Naked (Nov.9 2013)
I doubt there is a gay man in America who doesn’t know someone affected by the challenges of addiction (especially crystal meth) and HIV infection. This HuffPost GayVoices commentary by John-Manuel Andriote is a poignant reminder of how far we have to go in creating communities where stigma and shame are rendered impotent. How far are we from a society where we truly care for one another, especially the “least among us”? Having lived in gay-friendly DC for two decades, this line struck a chord (emphasis added):
Even in 2012 it is damned hard to be a gay man in America. For all the progress we’ve made toward almost being treated as equal, there continue to be daily challenges — particularly for those of us who haven’t constructed our lives in a way to exclude others who aren’t gay.
“One’s biggest secrets and deepest desires are usually revealed to others, and even discovered by ourselves, in the presence of sorrow, failure, or need when we are very vulnerable and when one feels entirely safe in the arms of someone’s love….People who have avoided all intimacy normally do not know who they are at any depth—and cannot tell others who they are.”
From Richard Rohr’s Daily Meditation, Nov. 14, 2012
A few gems from Fr. Joseph Komonchak’s blog, In verbo veritas and his homily for this weekend:
Hearts that are satisfied with what they have made of themselves do not hunger for the righteousness, the integrity that only God can make real. The self-satisfied experience no need of him. [emphasis added]
Love of the truth, delight in the truth, is at least incipient love of God and of Christ. This surely is the ordinary way in which people begin to move toward God long before they know they are being drawn toward God, if indeed they ever come to know that it is God whom they love and desire.