Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Pleasantly Surprised

We in the parish of St. Mary's have been working very hard organizing groups for the Arise Together with Christ program. I thought we were finished. The group leaders are calling their members, this week. Well, one of the leaders found that one of her people had been waiting to get a call about her being a leader because she already has a group formed.
It turns out that she and her husband have been meeting informally, for quite awhile, with four other couples, to faith share. !!!!!!!! Yes, that's right. This neighborhood has been meeting, on its own!
Do you believe that?
I find it hard to believe. Praise God! 10 people get together with no urging, no priest, no formal training; and instead of playing cards, watch sports, have dinner, they read the Bible. What world is this? I still find it hard to believe.
Thank you Lord for the blessing of finding God-loving people. I believe, I guess.....Lord help my unbelief.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

10 Commandments for Christian Bloggers

Here is a story from The Telegraph in the UK:
Bloggers given new Ten Commandments by church leaders. Christian bloggers have been given a new set of ‘Ten Commandments’ aimed at delivering them from the temptations of online arguments. By Alastair Jamieson Ten Commandments for Christian bloggers: No. 3 You shall not misuse your screen name by using your anonymity to sin The guidelines have been drawn up at a conference in London by the Evangelical Alliance in response to concern at how religious blogs can quickly descend into vitriol. The commandments, based on those delivered to Moses by God at the top of Mount Sinai, order bloggers not to "make an idol" of their web space, not to misuse their screen name by using anonymity to sin and to remember the Sabbath by taking one day off a week from blogging. They also order: "You shall not use the web to commit or permit adultery in your mind. "The Evangelical Alliance is an umbrella group founded in that represents thousands of churches of most denominations nationwide. Bloggers are commanded to honour their fellow bloggers and not to get too upset by their mistakes. They shall not murder the reputation of another blogger, shall not give false testimony against a fellow blogger and shall not steal the blog content of another. Bloggers are also told to be content with their own creation and not to covet their neighbour’s blog ranking. Many thousands of blogs have sprung up in the past few years, offering easy access to online opinion forums to any user of the internet. The "instant access" nature of most blogs means people posting comments often do so in the heat of passion and rarely stop to reflect, as they would if giving a lecture or writing a letter. The result can be intemperate and sometimes foul language aimed at either the author of the blog or other contributors. Krish Kandiah, executive director of Churches in Mission, said: "These commandments are virtual rather than set in stone, but are offered to the blogging community as a way to link the Ten Commandments with the art of blogging. "In the ever-changing information age, what we need is wisdom for life, and God communicates wisdom to our culture through the Bible on every issue from social justice to social networking. "Mark Meynell, senior associate minister for All Souls Church, Langham Place, London, said: "The internet is merely the latest step in the evolution of human communication – and so like any other new medium, it presents us with huge opportunities as well as challenges."It is essential that Christians make the most of it because we believe we have good news that is as relevant to those in cyberspace as it is for those in real space."

Ten commandments for bloggers:

1 You shall not put your blog before your integrity
2 You shall not make an idol of your blog
3 You shall not misuse your screen name by using your anonymity to sin
4 Remember the Sabbath day by taking one day off a week from your blog
5 Honour your fellow-bloggers above yourselves and do not give undue significance to their mistakes
6 You shall not murder someone else’s honour, reputation or feelings
7 You shall not use the web to commit or permit adultery in your mind
8 You shall not steal another person’s content
9 You shall not give false testimony against your fellow-blogger
10 You shall not covet your neighbour’s blog ranking. Be content with your own content.

Ooops. Am I committing a sin against # 8, by putting up the Telegraph's Blogger Commandments?

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Faith

My spiritual director advises that when I have doubts, or question an article of faith, until I am certain of my position, then I should just follow the Church's teachings. This has always given me an uneasy feeling. Then recently I read in chapter 15 of Merton's New Seeds of Contemplation, edited by Sue Monk Kidd, that the definition of "faith" has the word doubt in it. IOW, "faith" includes doubt. It is necessary to have doubt to say that you have "faith." Let me quote exactly:

You cannot be a man of faith unless you know how to doubt...Faith is a
decision, a judgment that is fully and deliberately taken in the light of a truth
that cannot be proven. It is not merely the acceptance of a decision that has been made by somebody else.
A "FAITH" that merely confirms us in opinionatedness and
self-complacency may well be an expression of theological doubt. True faith is never merely a source of spiritual comfort. It may bring peace, but before it does so it
must involveus in struggle. a "faith" that avoids this struggle is really a temptation
against true faith.

Well! Well said, and just what I needed. I still have questions and doubts, but I don't want to. So I consciously choose to believe. This is "FAITH."



And according to Merton, the best kind of "faith."

It always bothered me that I had these doubts and also the name, Faith. It didn't seem right. I even felt hypocritical. But now, I'm proud of my doubts. To me, it proves that since I deliberately have chosen to believe, in spite of the doubts, that indeed, I do have faith.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Praying

This morning I'm in a prayful mood. I'm requesting prayers for the Catholics in the state of India and Vietnam. There are major persecutions going on in those countries and they're definitely being under reported in the media.
I also feel moved to pray Fr. M. Jean Joseph Lataste, O.P. prayer.

Prayer of Fr. Lataste

Oh my Jesus, I want to love You.
Give Yourself to me and grant
that I may give myself to You.
Make me one with You.
May my will be Yours.
Unite me to You so that I may
live only in and for You.
Grant that I may spend for You
all that I have received from You,
keeping nothing for myself.
May I die to all for You, and bring
other to You. Oh my Jesus, many
others. Amen

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

A Meditation

The other day I was visiting the "cloistered brothers" in prison and I noticed someone missing. It was Rosie. Rosie is a beautiful golden labrador retriever. This prison has some sort of arrangement whereby some of the inmates train dogs to be service dogs to the blind, handicapped, etc. I had often seen Rosie and her trainer.
Rosie would do anything I asked--anything anyone would ask. And therein lies the problem.
Rosie flunked her service test. She was obeying an order when someone else gave her another. She obeyed the second, which was not from her trainer.
Poor Rosie.
In explaining this story to me, one of my brothers said, " You know, it's like when you've been in too many foster homes. You don't know which authority figure to obey. You know?"
Actually..........no...............I don't.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

My Aim

Do you remember who was the best supporting actor, last year? Who won the Nobel, this year? How about, name a teacher that left an impression on you? Can you name your best friend in high school?
How come you can remember so long ago, and you can't remember last year?
It's not because we are old; it's because we remember what has touched our hearts. We remember the names of people who have been important to us.
This is what I want my poetry to do--touch people. I want to not only leave an impression, but also stir my reader into wanting to be a better person. I definitely try to accomplish this with my social/political/religious poetry. I usually am not moved to write a poem about the sun dying. I am very moved about people dying. I can't do anything about people dying; that's why I write about it--to at least get others involved, to educate them, to enlighten and inspire. Message, along with metaphor and meter trump all else. That's my aim.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Thinking out Loud

Am I sorry I started this bolg? Mmmmmmm. The jury's still out on that one. I wanted some kind of journal. Something to look back and see if I can tell what direction I'm on. Rob said to write at least two poems, a week. I can't even write one. I'm trying to organize my thoughts, first.
In today's mail came my medal and certificate from the OPrize for Poetry. It took a long time to get here, since it was mailed Parcel Post. I wonder if my cloistered brothers got there's. Next year, I can't enter, but I'll still write some poetry for it.
I don't think I can stop writing. It's how I think. It's me.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

A Window into Darfur
or a
Study of Complacency


Ann’s retirement home was idyllic:
water view, temperate climate, close to nature.
Stories of deer crossing through and salt licks,
cohogging, bass fishing, trapping lobsters,
and a tale of predator and prey that'll
always walk inside and around my head.

She tells of putting up a bird feeder
placed high on the large dining room window.
Clever arrangement, don't you think, to watch
and dine and let nature entertain?
Sparrows would gently land and peck at seeds.
First one, then two and more would come to feast.

A veritable convention! !
A union meeting of laborers A. F. B. U.
Amalgamated Feather Bearers' Union.
Noisy, all clamoring for position.
It made her laugh, such raucous behavior.
No Roberts Rules ruled here, just pure chaos.

Soon, the sparrows that came often became
individuals with familiar markings.
There was Bossy Bertha and Tiny Tim...
you get the idea; they became pets.
It became a study of comparison
between us and them--skin and feathers.

But in the Garden of Eden, roamed
an insidious serpent. Ann’s didn’t crawl
on its belly, rather it flew from high
and swooped down swiftly snatching smaller prey.
Hawks! Yes, hawks invaded Ann's domain.
A veritable feast for predators.

Imagine the dining table that night-
conversation stopped with a thud.
A thud on the window and a red
feathered smear dripping down into steamers and broth.
What the hell? Yes, what the hell. What the hell!
The sparrows were gone, scattered in a shriek. .


But sparrows have short memories and came back.
Only to be snatched up in grasping talons
and smashed against the idyllic opening.
The water view, the temperate clime so close
to nature, too close, too much nature.
Naiveté lured the innocent.

What started with such promise, a good idea;
even a mutual beneficial deal:
people provide food, and birds entertain,
ended with a twist from Mother Nature.
A cruel lesson on human interference:
an indictment of indifference.

That’s just like the janjaweed,*
who swooped down on the farmers,
killing, raping, looting a path;
shocking complacent diners who
are repulsed, but turn a blind eye and
yawn indifference and shrug helplessly.

After all, only the strong survive.
Ethnic cleansing is an exaggeration.
Genocide’s not possible, states the UN.
What can one do against hawks, or
devils riding on horseback, leaving
trails of dripping blood and feathers?


*janjaweed—an Arabic colloquialism of the words, “devil” and “horse”.
Winner of the OPrize for poetry. See Preacher Poets, 2008, ed.
Mr. Robert Curtis, O.P. www.lulu.com

Poetry, Psalms, and Prayers

Seacoast Boulevard
My prayer place is at the very end,
where steps of stone just fade away
into eternal depths of sea and sun.
Sailboats reverence, bow, and genuflect.
The nun buoys bob and ring, antiphonally.
The wind intones a canticle, a psalm.
and I announce the glory due today.
First published in Ruah, Vol. XVI 2006,
Power of Poetry--A Celebration
Berkeley, CA