Friday, December 16, 2016


   By "awareness" I am referring to the higher level of consciousness that Christmas calls us to reach this year.  In a country and world that continue to spin out of control, we need to raise our awareness to see anew that everything we are and do, and everywhere we go, we are celebrating Christmas within the living, healing, peace-giving, loving presence of Christ.

   Christ is literally everywhere.  In the page, "A New Creation Story," I explain that Christ is a living, universal, cosmic Reality.  In today's scientific language I could say that Christ is a living, cosmic force field of peace and healing love that permeates the entire world and universe.  Christ is the divinely filled universe!  "Where can I hide from your spirit?  From your presence, where can I flee?  If I ascend to the heavens (sky) you are there.  If I lie down in Sheol (the underworld) you are there."  (Ps. 139:7,8)

   With our raised level of consciousness we can look into ourselves and see anew that Christ is alive within us.  We can enjoy our own participation in Christ's consciousness!   We can look to our families and see that Christ is there.  We can look to our schools, corporations, governments, etc., and see that Christ is there.  Christ  is within and beyond us, in all peoples of good will, waiting to be born anew today, tomorrow and every tomorrow thereafter.

   The gift of a raised consciousness of Christ's omnipresence is a Christmas gift that Christ has already given us and is ready to renew in us.  Christmas awakens us to appreciate Christ's presence anew and to intensify our consciousness anew.

   In our everyday lives, we live within our "everyday" level of consciousness.  We go to school, care for our children, work, run businesses, vote, govern, etc. But there is a danger that it is so easy to concentrate on these activities that we restrict this level of consciousness, and sometimes even lower it to the self-serving level.

   Christmas doesn't call us to forget our everyday level of consciousness.  But while we stay within our everyday level, Christmas calls us to look to see that there, we are alive with Christ's all-encompassing presence. Christ fills our everyday lives with his gift of peace, healing and love.  Christmas shows us anew that all our everyday joys, and especially all our tensions, worries and sufferings, take place within the Spirit of Christ.  And each Christmas shows us that there is room for us to raise our level of consciousness anew and appreciate Christ's coming anew.

   Now, we are not naive.  Christ's presence does not make us or our world perfect.  We will never have a perfect life here on our space/time earth.  But we don't have to look longingly for the end of the world as some of our Christian brothers and sisters do.  We have the graced discernment and strength to move forward toward an ever better, ever more peaceful, joyous and loving life here on earth.  Christmas renews our blessed discernment and the prophetic strength we have to face our everyday troubles and sufferings with more resolve, and to work harder to do something about them.  Christmas opens the way for us to ever new hope and life, even while we know we will never reach perfection.

   Given today's dire circumstances here in America and in many parts of the world, we can feel helpless to make any progress.  Yet there is something we certainly can do.  We can stand up and cry out to the people in charge of our societies.  In the Spirit and consciousness of the Universal Christ, we can rightfully and prophetically cry out to them to provide the freedom, peace, opportunity and care that is everyone's God given right as a human being. 

   All our leaders and all who are more fortunate in our societies have the special obligation from Christ to change our societies, especially for the sake of the poor, sick, downtrodden and outcast.  No matter how great or small our place in society, there is no exception to this sacred obligation.  And there certainly is no exception for those Christians who would sell their souls for positions of wealth and power.

   The greatest gift we can give ourselves and others this Christmas is to raise our own level of consciousness and then to help others raise their level of consciousness to a higher and more luminous level of humanity.  For it is there that new insights and opportunities for justice, peace and love are born.  Christ within us and the whole world is waiting to be born anew, ready to raise us and others to new levels of humanity.

   In the Christmas Spirit of Christ, let us prayerfully and gratefully move ourselves to raise our vision and celebrate a humbly determined, peacefully active Christmas.  Then, in the Spirit of Christ, we can truthfully wish ourselves and all others a Merry Christmas.




Thursday, December 1, 2016


   The coming of Christmas brings with it the perennial tension between what is secular and what is sacred.  In our malls, on TV and in our towns we struggle with the clashes:  Advent vs. the Christmas Season; prayer and reflection vs. frenzied shopping;  Jesus vs. Santa Claus; "Merry Christmas" vs. "Happy Holidays;" a Nativity Scene in front of City Hall, etc.

   Of course, we should not overdo our Christmas preparations, to the point of overshadowing the peace, generosity, joy and love that mark the sacred meaning of the holiday.

   My point is that our secular Christmas preparations, reflectively carried out, are sacred.  The entire secular world is sacred.  It is a common mistake for us to believe that the secular is the opposite of the sacred, and therefore, not sacred.  This mistake is strengthened by the false spirituality of believing that in order to be holy, we have to avoid this world and think and do only heavenly things.  In truth, every good thing that we do here on earth is a heavenly thing.

   Secular means pertaining to space/time, i.e., to the created world we live in.  It means the opposite of the infinite/eternal.  It does not mean the opposite of the sacred.  Space/time, the secular, is God's creation and therefore is essentially good and holy:  sacred.  As we see in the Creation story of Genesis, "And God saw that it was good."  

   God is present within the entire secular world, and so all peoples, families, education, business, economics, politics, science, art, etc., are sacred.

   By its nature, space/time is limited.  So while sacred, it is imperfect.  As part of imperfect space/time, we humans can misuse and even pervert our humanity and fall into cheating, lying, murder, etc.  God calls and empowers us to use our sacred humanity to work to make our world more luminously good in the loving and saving grace of Christ.

   The true opposite of the secular, then, is not the sacred but the profane, the sinful.  Getting back to the Christmas season, we can profane this sacred time by over-emphasizing the buying of things to the detriment of enhancing the sacredness of our lives and the lives of our family, friends--and especially in these times--of our non-Christian friends and neighbors.    

   And stupidly, we can also get involved in profane silliness by trivializing our "devotion" to the sacred by declaring that there is a "War on Christmas!" being waged by people who say, "Happy Holidays" instead of "Merry Christmas."  

   Certainly, the Christmas season must be lived within a spiritually mature, prayerful reflection of Advent, as we once again anticipate celebrating the birth of Jesus, who by coming to Earth and personally sharing in our space/time, secular humanity, showed beyond all doubt that the secular is sacred.   



Saturday, November 12, 2016


   The election of Donald Trump has left many Americans fearful and anxious.  In his campaign, Mr. Trump wantonly vilified Latino immigrants, women, Muslims, African-Americans, the disabled, and even the parents of a fallen American soldier.

   All through his campaign Mr. Trump showed himself to be a narcissist and pathological liar.  The attitude and values he displayed harshly contradicted the values of the Kingdom of God on earth.  Jesus gave us his Spirit of good order, justice, peace, purity of heart, joy of life, and love.  Mr. Trump gave us lies, anger, insults, sexual depravity and hate.  Where were the Christians?

   Political analysts tell us that Mr. Trump won because his appeal to "Make America Great Again" resounded with white voters, both male and female, who are fearful and uneasy about the changing demographics of our country, and worried about their ability to keep their family financially above water.  Many saw an uncaring and even hostile government working against them, and wanted change.  Finally, the ill-conceived and ill-timed FBI report on Mrs. Clinton's emails helped diminish her vote count.

   These fears and anxieties are understandable.  But the trust and hope that these people placed in Mr. Trump was naive.  They failed to understand the "signs of the times" that Pope John XXIII told us to watch for a half-century ago.  They failed to see that Americans are people of every race, color, religion and sexual orientation.  Very importantly, they failed to see that their economic problems are heavily due to the fact that greedy business leaders moved to maximize their profits by sending their jobs overseas, never to return, with no concern for the American workers who lost their jobs.  And American bankers gambled away the people's money.  And they failed to see that every job-creating program that President Obama presented to the Republican Congress, e.g., rebuilding our infrastructure, was soundly rejected.  Mr. Trump's proposed jobs program will help the rich to get richer through tax cuts and the national deficit to explode--to the further detriment of the American working people.  

   Mr. Trump appealed to those who voted for him in a truly evil way.  Turning their attention away from the greedy banks and corporations (including his own business), and a deeply uncaring Congress, he created scapegoats, falsely blaming Hispanic immigrants, Muslims, African-Americans, and foreigners for America's troubles. And he denigrated women in a sickening way.  This is the method of a would-be autocratic dictator.  Where were the Christians?

   He was aided by people such as Chris Christie, Rudy Giuliani, Newt Gingrich, Kellyanne Conway, and in the background, Paul Ryan.  All Catholics.  Where was their fight for good order, truth, justice, peace, respect and love?  Where was their special protection for the poor, sick, vulnerable and outcast?

   So now, immigrant families are terrified that children and parents will be separated. Latino children are bullied in their schools.  African-Americans are increasingly worried about their safety.  American Muslims are wondering how they will fit into American society.  Gays and other sexual minorities are newly vulnerable to attack.  Foreign victims of wars that we started will be turned away from our solace and protection.  And women of all ages must live disheartened by the fact that a sex-offender will now be in the Oval Office.  And it is now possible that there will be more destruction of the life of our planet.  How far off was commentator Bill Moyers when he said, "America died on November 8th?"

   Where were the Christian voters?  Here's one answer.  With encouragement from bishops and other church leaders, many American Christians disregarded Christ, who is the entire God filled universe, they narrowed their view to the point of voting so that Roe vs. Wade will be overturned, and abortion will be made illegal.  Let's have a Reality Check here.  In a report I found, last year 1.21 million abortions were performed in our country.  A truly horrible number.  Of these, abut 290,000 were obtained by women who identified themselves as Catholic, and 317,000 as Protestants.  That's 56% of all abortions.  

   Why can't the Catholic church prevent so many of its members from having abortions?  For starters, where is the church's program for creating discerning, actively prophetic, spiritual adults who will work to build a culture that will bring ever stronger care, protection and love to every expression of today's society?  Without such a culture, why do we think a simple law will prevent most abortions?

   Back to President-elect Trump.  In his meeting with President Obama, he showed surprising restraint and sobriety.  Is there something in him that has been touched by his new, awesome responsibility, or was he just mouthing words programmed into him by his handlers, only to return to his true narcissistic, pathological self at any time?  I fear the latter is true.

   For example, when Trump, the psychopathic liar, saw thousands of people protesting his election in the streets of several American cities, he tweeted a lie that the protesters were "professional protesters inspired by the media."  Then, ever the narcissist, he added, "Very unjust."  Very shortly afterwards, a new Tweet came out, "Love the fact that the small groups of protesters last night have passion for our great country. We will all come together and be proud."  Obviously, this second Tweet was written by a shaken consultant to Mr. Trump.  Another lie.  And another:  the second Tweet appears on the Trump Pence website, but not the first one.  This is a very bad sign for America.  It shows that Mr. Trump may be a puppet President, made to "say" things that people close to him make up, while the psychopathic liar sits quietly in the dark.

   Yet some people are anticipating that he might undergo a true conversion.  For example, they look to the fact that just four years ago, he was a Democrat with some liberal ideas.  Well, miracles can happen.  After all, look at Ebenezer Scrooge's Christmas morning conversion.  But Scrooge was a fictional character.  In the meantime, God bless us, everyone!




Saturday, October 29, 2016


   How many times have we heard, "The Catholic church is not a democracy?"  And how many times have you heard the response, "Well, it certainly should not be a monarchy."

   For the first four centuries, the church was a way of life for the followers of Jesus. The top-down, monarchical structure of the church arose in the fourth century when the pope took to himself the title of the Roman Emperor.  Since then, church teaching has become more and more legalistic and less and less pastoral.  Against strong resistance, Pope Francis is trying hard to make church teaching once again pastoral.

   In truth, the church is a democracy--not a political democracy where power is given to the leaders by the people, but a spiritual democracy based on the fact that all members of the church enjoy equal baptismal dignity.  Among the spiritually equal, some are chosen for the service of leadership, not for the imposition of leadership from above, which Jesus explicitly condemned. (Lk. 22:25-27).

   The victory of the American nuns over the anti-Christian monarchical attack by Vatican officials is a clear example of Catholic democracy.  And Pope Paul VI's frightened rejection of the majority report of the Birth Control Commission, and the continuing refusal of Vatican officials to respect the discernment of spiritually adult married Catholics regarding responsible contraception, is a clear example of anti-Christian Catholic monarchy.

   Every member of the church receives directly--democratically--from God his or her individual and social talents and vocation to build up the Kingdom of God on earth, i.e., the reign of order, justice, peace, joy of life, gratitude and love.  Within the one living, evolving Catholic faith, all members of the church are able to discern God's intentions for themselves and for their spiritual participation in our society.  And all are prophets, who are called and empowered by God to work to elevate the institutions of our society, and humbly correct them, making them ever more luminously human in the loving, saving grace of Christ.

   The laity are responsible to contribute their discernment and understanding of the faith to the church.  From their everyday experiences e.g., regarding marriage, parenthood, sex, education, work, science, the arts, politics, economics, etc., they are called to contribute to what the church authorities need to know in order to teach authentically.

   The hierarchy and pope therefore must discern and listen to the faith of the laity.  Today, at least here in America, such discernment and listening are not possible.  No workable mechanism exists.  The living faith does not flow freely through the church.  And even if there was a mechanism, I doubt that many bishops have the spiritual insight and maturity to discern the laity's faith.  And given the bishops' clerical and monarchical mindset, they are disposed to disregard the laity's deepest insights and needs, attributing them to today's "secular" culture.  

   When the church falls behind the times and the laity, hungry for contemporary spiritual nourishment and formation, are not fed, it is easy to see why they walk away and seek nourishment and formation elsewhere.  And the bishops, within their ever emptier churches, are clueless as to why the laity are leaving.     

   Here is one example of how far behind the times the church has fallen, and how badly adult spiritual formation for the laity is lacking.  We know that our dogmas don't change but our understanding and appreciation of them continues to grow, i.e., to evolve.  So today, when we ask, "Who is Christ?" or "Does Christ make sense today?" we need a 21st century, evolved answer.  So let's start by going all the way back in history and then coming into today's world.

---the earth was a formless waste, and darkness covered the abyss,
while a mighty wind swept over the waters.  (Gen. 1:2)

   The mighty wind was the Spirit of God, bringing order, peace and beautiful form to the chaotic universe.  As I say more fully in my page, "A New Creation Story," the Hebrews described the coming of the Spirit into creation as God's anointing the universe, thus filling it with God's presence.  The Hebrew word for the God-filled universe is Messiah; in Greek, Christos; in Latin, Christus; in English, Christ.  So, who is Christ?

Christ is the GOD-filled, living, evolving universe.

   Two thousand years ago, the evolving Christ-universe took human form in the person of Jesus.

   To see Jesus correctly is to see God and all of  evolving creation in one person. 

   When Jesus said that the he was the way, the truth and the life, he was speaking as the Christ.  He was saying that the way to God is through deep, loving involvement in the everyday, evolving world, with a special option for the poor, sick, vulnerable and outcast. 
   When Jesus was born, Christ was already almost 14 billion years old.  And Christ has evolved for the past 2000 years.  While Jesus is no longer physically with us, his ever evolving Christ-Spirit will be with us until the end of human history.  By "ever evolving" we mean that the Spirit of Christ will continue to lead us forward in our humanity with his ever-unfolding, inexhaustible truth and glory.      
   With Christ's evolving Spirit within us we will be increasingly able to understand and handle the challenges of marriage, education, politics, economics, etc.  We will be able to speak and act in ways that are increasingly discernible and effective to everyone who witnesses us and works with us.  This evolving clarity of the Spirit of Christ in our everyday world is the glory of Christ and of our spiritual democracy.

   Catholic democracy is not a rebellion against church authority.  It is not picking out this or that part of church teaching as in a cafeteria.  It is the Spirit-inspired movement of the whole Catholic faith and church, in which every member contributes their particular God-given discernment and activity for ever greater order, peace, justice, joy of life, gratitude and love.  In Catholic democracy, church teaching will become more relevant, understandable and acceptable to church members and to the world at large.  And the universal, Cosmic Christ on earth will be more clearly recognizable and glorified.

   In all that we are and do, let us give all honor and glory to Christ, to whom be all honor and glory now and forever.





Friday, September 16, 2016


We believe in Infinite, Eternal, Living LOVE,
   Creator of the universe and its unfolding evolution.

We believe that LOVE anoints the universe,
   Filling the universe with the presence of LOVE,
   A union that we call the Cosmic CHRIST.

We believe in Jesus, who was the Cosmic CHRIST:
   Creative, Healing and World-Evolving LOVE
   in human form.

We believe that Jesus was sent by Infinite, Eternal, Living LOVE
  To be our loving brother, one with us in LOVE.

But because we sinned, he also humbly became our Crucified Savior,
   Who died and rose again, for LOVE lives forever.

We believe in the Holy Spirit,
  Who is the Divine Energy of Christ's
  Live-evolving, world-evolving LOVE

We believe that we are the People of LOVE,
  Called and empowered by Christ's Spirit
  to keep the Kingdom of LOVE on earth evolving
  Until Jesus returns and changes us and earth
  into the Eternal Kingdom of LOVE that we call Heaven.


Wednesday, August 31, 2016


   I have re-written the Page, "An Evolution Story" and given it a new title, "A NEW CREATION STORY."  I invite you to re-read the page.

   This was necessary because our church today is presenting an understanding of God that is driving many people away from the church, and even some into atheism.  

   In the past half century our understanding of God has evolved to the point where it is absolutely necessary to present the new understanding or continue to become less and less an influence in today's society.  I especially hope this new understanding will be attractive to the young readers of this blog.

   The new understanding of God is presented in terms of the evolution of the universe and the earth.  St. Thomas Aquinas said that we we don't understand creation well, we won't understand God well. The time has come for the church to understand creation well.  

   Today we don't find God by looking backward; we find God by looking forward.  God is within us and today's world calling us from the future into the future.  Our way to God, our spiritual life, is an ever evolving journey into the future possibilities that Christ opened to us by the quantum leap of his life Pentecostal gift of new, life-giving, life-evolving grace.  

   I will appreciate any comments and suggestions you may have to help make my new page more clear, accurate and relevant to your spiritual life.


Tuesday, August 2, 2016


   First, let's get something out of the way.  This is not a political Blog.  And this is not a political Post.  It is not about Clinton vs. Trump.  It is a contemporary Christian Post about you and me, and all the American People of God, Catholic and otherwise.  It is about us and God, who in the form of Jesus became human and thus became deeply involved in all things human for the sake of the Kingdom of God on Earth and into Eternity.  That's different from politics.

   That said, this post is about Donald Trump's human, spiritual challenge to America.  Mr. Trump's view of America is neither Republican nor Conservative.  Nor American.  It is exclusively his own, private view.  And it is based in his own, private hate.  That's where this Post comes in.  Hate is not the opposite of love.  Hate is the absence of love that should be present in everyone and everywhere.  It is a black hole that annihilates everything that it pulls into itself.  Hate is the closest thing to Hell here on earth.

   Mr. Trump's program of hate directly attacks our humanity.  It attacks our human and American soul.  It attacks the Kingdom of God on Earth, Christ's reign of wholeness in love that has begun here in space/time and will be completely fulfilled in Eternity.  

   So why should I thank Mr. Trump for his hate?  Because he is giving us Christians and all Americans of good will the clear challenge and opportunity to revitalize and remake our country, so we conform more closely to our highest ideals--which we have allowed to weaken over the past decades--ideals of life, liberty, justice, and the pursuit of happiness for all Americans and for all peoples of the world.      

   This week, the pressure to revitalize and remake our country was brought to a critical point by Mr. Trump's attack against a Muslim-American couple and their heroic, fallen son.  His unspeakable act of darkness was not just a slip of his tongue or a political mistake but a crystal clear exposition of his dark soul.  He can't see anyone or anything beyond himself.  It is deeply frightening that from a psychological and spiritual point of view, Mr. Trump is a dark person, humanly and spiritually devoid of empathy or compassion.  This Post is not about Trump vs. Clinton, who has her own faults.  Far beyond any political consideration, it is about the fact that Mr. Trump personally cannot possibly be given the responsibility of being President of the United States.

   I therefore thank Mr. Trump for so clearly and urgently presenting us with this vital challenge.  In a very real way, we are back to 1776.  The King we must now rebel against is the darkness, dissipation and hate that Mr. Trump so clearly plans to inflict upon our country.  Our rebellion must take us beyond our political views, deep into ourselves, to a place that our shallow over-individualized, over-politicized culture does not permit us to recognize.  In the words of poet, T. S. Eliot, we must find the still point of the turning world, the place of peace, light, generosity and love that lives within ourselves and today's society, where we meet the Spirit of all-embracing peace and love in the form of Christ's grace.  And we must hear Christ's quiet, urgent call to become over more discerning People of God and ever more effective prophets who work to elevate and, where necessary, humbly correct our politics and our society in the love of Christ.

   Our politicians won't help much.  Most if not all of them are stuck in their windowless silos.  Most can't see past their own point of view and thirst for power. Most can't see the human picture, the spiritual picture, the picture of wholeness in love.

   The Media is awash with shallow and mediocre reporters and commentators who can't or won't tell the truth for fear of losing access to the "big players" and thus losing ratings.

   With few exceptions, e.g., Chicago, our clergy and bishops won't help much.  They simply don't know how to lead us to the Spirit within ourselves and today's society. Our seminaries teach future priests and bishops morals, especially sexual morals, doctrines and law and authority, without forming them as spiritual leaders who can help us move further along our spiritual pathway, on our own everyday terms, in today's society.  Pope Francis knows this problem and is trying, against strong episcopal and Curial opposition, to solve it.  

   Happily, we do have our Declaration of Independence and our Constitution to help us clearly work toward creating a more perfect union and toward moving more closely to our spiritual goal of wholeness in love.

   We also have theologians and spiritual writers and teachers.  Back in the last century, theologian Karl Rahner said that tomorrow's (now, today's) Catholics will either be mystics or they won't exist at all.  This blog shows how we are already everyday mystics.  Of very great help are the many outstanding books by Franciscan Richard Rohr and his wonderful lectures now on You Tube.  For example, Rohr shows us that we have the wrong idea of God, one that does not fit today's society but is fit for helping drive people from the Church and even for creating atheists.  (I'll write about this in my next Post.)  For those with a theological bent, the books by Sister Ilia Delio are outstanding.  She brings Teilhard de Chardin's evolutionary God into today's evolutionary world.  

   We also have Sister Joan Chittister's exemplary writings, and the shining example of Sister Simone Campbell and the Nuns on the Bus, who bring peace and social justice to the streets of today's society.    

   However we do it, in small ways or large, we must face the urgent challenge that Donald Trump is presenting to us.  Republicans must push their Party to somehow neutralize or remove the evil that Mr. Trump is offering.  All of us, Republicans, Democrats, Independents, Liberals, Conservatives, cannot allow our beloved country to fall deeper into the darkness that is open before us.  We can and must all come together to create a better, more unified, more just, peaceful and hope-filled America.

   God bless us, everyone!      



Sunday, July 17, 2016


   It's happened again.  This time, Baton Rouge, Louisiana.  More deaths.  More thoughts and prayers.  A Presidential candidate declaring that he will be the "Law and Order" President. Etc., etc.  And soon, no doubt, it will happen again.

   After Dallas, President Obama pointed out how the people who were protesting against the police turned and began to protect the police when the shooting started.  He then passionately added, "That's who we are!"   

   Yes, President Obama correctly identified the Center of our society: showing love for one another for the common good.   He correctly identified the Kingdom of God on Earth, that Jesus told us to pray for.

    No, that's who all Americans of good will want to be.  That's who we should be.  In truth, our Center just shows itself in times of crisis, and then fades away.  It is not a consistent mark of our society.  In truth, we are a broken country.  A sentence in an Internet report on the Dallas shooting gives us an insane, comic-tragedy example of our brokenness. "While many of the protestors were helping the police, about 20 men openly carrying rifles ran away from the scene."  Every person openly carrying a weapon is a sign not of how unified we are but how stupidly separated we are. 

   An insightful, ominous view of our brokenness is given to us by poet W. B. Yeats, in his poem, "The Second Coming," which he wrote in 1919, following the Irish Easter Uprising and the First World War.  It was the First World War that moved Existentialist philosopher, Jean Paul Sartre to lament, "Reason was murdered in the trenches of France."  Prophetically, Yeats says the same thing about our world today.

   He begins the poem with an example of our loss of control:

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer.

   The bird has flown away from the control of its owner.  Interpreters of the poem say that Yeats is saying that reason and intelligence have flown out of our control.  And as a result:

Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
There ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

   What a harsh, insightful view of our society today!  When reason and intelligence are lost, we lose the pure clarity of our human, national and community oneness.  We lose clear thoughts and ideas, and strength of conviction, and we scream and yell with blind, self-serving, even killing passion.  

   Does Yeats offer us any hope?

Surely some revelation is at hand;

   Yeats was a member of the Anglican church and is writing from within a Christian mindset. Is there a new revelation to help us?

Surely the Second Coming is at hand.

   Is this New Revelation the second coming of Christ?  No.  Christians believe that the second coming of Christ will mark the end of the world.  Yeats sees a new world, a new civilization/culture being born here on earth.  And it is ominous.

The Second Coming!  Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
Troubles my sight:  somewhere in the sands of the desert
A shape with the lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds.

   The Spiritus Mundi is the human spirit, as contrasted to the divine Spirit of Christ.  Yeats sees a new humanism being born and replacing the Christian spirit which has been dominant for the last 2000 years.  He uses the Sphinx to exemplify the new spirit:  a creature with a human head and animal body, the body of a lion. The indignant desert birds recall the falcon that has escaped from the control of the falconer.  Again, in this new era, reason and intelligence are out of control.  And so

The darkness falls again; but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at land,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

   The new beast of spirit-less humanism causes darkness to fall again upon the world.  The two thousand years since the birth of Christ were also dark, but at least they were vexed by Christ's cradle.  Yeats is saying that Christianity brought some light to the world, and that light had "vexed" the sleeping world.  But now, what is this new beast that slouches toward Bethlehem to be born in Christ's place?

   Here, he likens the separation of reason and intelligence from unrestricted passion with the separation of God from modern culture.  In both cases, he sees the decline of reason, intelligence and Christianity and the rise of an anti-reason, anti-intellectual, anti-Christian world spirit.

   President Obama is desperately  looking for the American center that can hold us together.  He found it in the scene of people and police working together to protect one another in Dallas.  But in his yearning for unity, he lamented that such mutual caring occurs only in times of crisis.  A reasonable, intelligent, Spirit-driven unity, the Kingdom of God on Earth, only "vexes" our everyday darkness. 

   Sadly, tragically, for the foreseeable future, things will keep falling apart and the center will not be found.  The open-carrying men will continue to run away from real danger and need into their world of personal supremacy; the politicians will continue to fill the airways with self-serving, lying rants; the corporate executives and polluters will continue to create economic inequality and pollution of the environment; bishops like Charles Chaput of Philadelphia will continue to misunderstand Pope Francis' Christianity of mercy and love and continue to reduce morality to sexual conduct.  All will continue to represent the beast of distorted humanity and spirituality that is slouching toward Bethlehem to be born in place of a community of justice, peace and love that is represented by Christ and by all people of good will.

   Dear Lord, help us to "vex" today's darkness with your Spirit of Light and Love.    




Friday, June 17, 2016


   This time it's Orlando, Florida.  One shooter, 49 dead, 58 wounded, some very seriously.

   Once again, like fast moving drivers on a highway, we stop for a while and come together to mourn the incident.  Flowers and candles are amassed.  Thoughts and prayers are offered.  Are they all really prayers, or are some just wishes?

   Soon, another news cycle will pop up on the social media--maybe something serious, maybe something silly.  We will go back to our highways, driving alone.  Back to driving too fast to see the scenery.  Too fast to see one another.  Nothing really will get done.

   Then, it will happen again.  Again, we will stop and come together for a while.  There will be more candles, more prayers/wishes.  And again we go back to our highways. And then, it will happen again...

   We have lost control of our society.  Something is missing.  Something good.  Something whole.  Something holy.  We've lost our sense of oneness.  And with it, we've lost our soul.  Our national motto, "From Many, One," which should unite us, is mocking us.  Obviously we don't want anything like Orlando to happen.  But simply not wanting it to happen is not good enough.  On the fast moving highway of democracy, there is no such thing as passive bystanders.  There is no such thing as living a good, peaceful, passive life, and expecting others to make things right, to keep us together.

   To make my point, let's take look at today's "others."

   Our House of Representatives held a moment of silence.  But in refusing to act, they mocked the God of unity and love before whom they stood in meaningless silence.  Thankfully, some representatives who still have a conscience walked out.

   I will refer to our Senate below.

   During the recent primary campaign, a candidate for President of the United States smiled and said nothing when he was introduced by a wildly ranting minister who waved the Bible around while screaming that homosexuals deserve to be killed.  The other day, two ministers celebrated the murder of gays and said, in the name of God, they all should be killed.

   Catholic clergy stand silently at prayer services for the Orlando dead while still teaching that homosexuals are intrinsically disoriented human beings.  This means that church leaders think there is something humanly wrong with them.

   Our angrily tearful President helplessly cries out for meaningful gun legislation to help alleviate this onslaught of death.

   Presidential candidate Donald Trump uses this horror to stir up in his followers a truly insane anger and hatred of foreigners and the entire Islamic religion.

   Our gun manufacturers produce weapons of war that are sold to ordinary citizens.  Mass murders, they report, are good for business.

   Reasonable members of the National Rifle Association passively stand by as their leaders pay homage to the dehumanized, Godless capitalism of maximum profit regardless of the cost to society.  Would responsible gun owners be capable of giving up their right to own a weapon of war, on behalf of the common good?

   Racism still holds a deadly grip on many American minds and hearts.

   Yes, we already know all this.  But then we ask, "Why do these mass killings happen so often only in America?  True, almost all of these murderers were psychotic and some were also politically radicalized.  But we've always had psychotic and radicalized people in America.

   I submit that one vitally important reason why psychotic and radicalized people feel free to act so hideously today is that they are being given social space to feel free to kill.  In many important ways we have lost our sense of community, of family, of oneness.  We have grown shallow, and therefore we have lost touch, not only with our collective mind but with our soul, from which arises our social sense of oneness and caring for one another.  We live in separate "bubbles," with our own sources of "news."  Our loss of oneness creates a social vacuum within which isolated and psychotic people can easily be propagandized and radicalized, and feel more free to act out their insane hatred.

   Today, a painting of the American family would show every member of the family--were it even possible to get them together--sitting around the table, each looking into their own I-phone.  Even with all the good we truly possess, in vitally important ways, we are not the United People of America.  We are the fragmented, out of touch, out of control, too passive, divided people of America.

   In Existential terms, today's America is a shipwreck.  We have crashed upon a rocky shore and are scattered all over the beach.  We can't put the pieces back together again.  Even if we tried, they would not fit together.  We have to understand that they never really did fit together.  We have to find a new plan, a new design, a new spirit, for our unity today.

  We need to rediscover our soul, and the Spirit of Oneness and Love who lives within our soul.

   What can we do?  Let's go back in history.  On June 6th, 1944, our troops landed at Normandy and were quickly scattered.  For a while they faced a crushing defeat.  But they had landed on that beach with a clear mission and united purpose and determination.  Being Americans, they began acting alone and in small groups on their own initiative.  In a few hard fought, heroic hours, they fought their way off the beach and won the day.  We need to rediscover that spirit of unity, purpose, initiative and determination for ourselves and our country today.

   To use an old expression, we must develop a new mindset, a new zeitgeist, a new "spirit of the times," a spirit of oneness and united purpose.  To use a more current expression, we must "change the conversation" from our present negative one to a positive one of spiritual growth, development and evolution, in service and love.  "Thy Kingdom come...on earth..."       

   As always, we begin with little things.  We can write to our legislators and put pressure on them.  Yes, too many have sold out to the billionaires who guarantee them reelection, but we can goad their consciences.  A soul-sick Senator Chris Murphy of Connecticut, where school children and teachers were murdered, filibustered for almost 15 hours on behalf of a modicum of gun control.  He may actually have changed some minds and hearts, at least a little. 

  We can support "Network," the lobby that's run by the now famous,"Nuns on the Bus."  We can politely and adamantly refuse to take part in prejudicial conversations.  When we are with friends and neighbors, we can speak positively and respectfully of people of other races and religions.  We can say, "Hello" to Muslims we see at our food markets and make a fuss over their children.

   Like Senator Murphy, we must take the sickness in our soul and turn it into positive, just anger and loving, humble prophetic action on behalf of our basic American freedom:  the freedom not just to be who we are alone, but to work together in good will with other Americans of all ethnic backgrounds and religions, to build one nation of justice, peace and love.

   For the sake of our heart and soul, and for our country, let's get off the beach we're stranded on.



Saturday, June 4, 2016


   Speaker of the House Paul Ryan has now said that he will vote for Donald Trump for President of the United States.  Mr. Ryan is a Catholic.  How does his decision match up with his Catholic faith?  My answer is, "Not at all!"  In fact, "Tragically not at all!"

   Our Catholic faith is for real.  While we don't impose our faith on anyone, our faith requires us to live it out, to "give it flesh and blood" in today's society and culture.  For example, as a Catholic, Mr. Ryan is supposed to be able to discern what is politically best for our country in terms of the Spiritual Disciplines, e.g., order, peace, truth, humility, love, etc.,* and in terms of a special option for the sick, poor, vulnerable and outcast.  As a Catholic he should know that the greatness of our country is measured not on how rich some Americans are but on how well we care for the least among us.

   Yet, he has chosen to vote for Mr. Trump, who has clearly shown himself to be tragically lacking any ability to foster a society marked by the spiritual disciplines and by true social justice.  In fact, Mr. Trump openly attacks the vulnerable and outcast.  

   In all his public appearances, he shows himself to be lacking any kind of self-discipline, but presents himself as a severely narcissistic man who centers his every thought and feeling on himself.  For example, without giving any sign of understanding questions put to him, he says simply, "I will fix it!"  In sum, he shows no actual understanding or appreciation of the many deeply pressing challenges that fact America and the world today. 

   Any fact check will show that Mr. Trump lies with a regularity that would be monotonous if it were not so dangerous.

   This is the man that Mr. Ryan just said he will vote for.  His "reason" is that he believes this totally self-centered man will help the Republican party legislate its policies that will in turn help Americans in the areas of jobs, income parity, security, etc.  For two reasons, Mr. Ryan's explanation would be laughable if it were not so sad.  From a Catholic point of view, many of  the Republican party's policies favor the rich at the expense of middle and lower class Americans, and so will not solve many of today's problems.  And Mr. Trump has clearly shown that he won't help the Republican party because he is incapable of reaching outside himself to help anyone.

   The depth of the problem that Mr. Ryan has brought upon himself (and the country) goes beyond morality.  His coldly inhuman, "Ayn Rand" influenced political views, along with Mr. Trump's narcissism, are expressions of a deeply spiritual problem.  This problem requires that both men look into their basic humanity--into their human spirit that gives them life and meaning.

   As a Catholic, Mr. Ryan is given the ability to look into his spirit and to discern God's presence and intentions within himself.  And he is called and responsible to prophetically work to correct any humanly harmful ideas and policies that he--or Mr. Trump--may hold or put forth.  Instead he has chosen to contradict his Catholic faith and narrow his sights to a  gain for his political party, to the detriment of our country.  

   Mr. Ryan had the opportunity to be a big spiritual hero.  Most unhappily for himself and for our country, he chose to be small.  

* See the full list of the Spiritual Disciplines in this blog.   


Sunday, May 8, 2016

DANIEL BERRIGAN, S. J. A Beatific Poet, Prophet and Peace-Maker

   I had the pleasure of meeting Daniel Berrigan twice, and I remember both times as moments of calm, joy and peace.

   The first time was when I went to visit my friend, Bob McGovern, who lived near Philadelphia's St. Charles Seminary, where I was teaching.  Bob himself was an expression of calm, deep joy and peace.  Though paralyzed in both legs at age 16, he forged a successful career as a wood sculptor-artist and teacher.  When he carved wood panels or statues in the round, he held himself up by means of a steel body brace he had put together.  With his wife, Aileen, and his two children, his home was a place of life, joy and peace.

   Berrigan was in the process of translating some of the Psalms into poetic English, and Bob was preparing his strikingly mystical woodcuts to illustrate Dan's book. 

   I can still see Dan's face as he greeted me.  He looked at me with his deep eyes, welcoming me and accepting me in a way that made me feel comfortable and happy to be alive and to be with him.  Without a doubt, I was with someone special, and my evening was a memorable one.

   I closely followed his activism for peace, and was especially impressed by his willingness to take full responsibility for his activities and go to prison for them, using even his arrests and imprisonments as teaching moments for peace.  There was nothing half-way about him.

   At that time, my own life as a Philadelphia priest was about to fall into tumult.  I had come home from Rome with a Doctorate in Spirituality, which included being taught about Teilhard de Chardin in secret by my Jesuit professor, who was afraid the Curia would fire him if they knew what he was doing.  The Curia had already talked Pope John XXIII into firing the two most outstanding Biblical scholars at the Pontifical Biblical Institute, which was just across the street from the Gregorian University where I was studying.  I had also participated in the first session of the Second Vatican Council.  So I had witnessed first hand the fight being fought to bring the Church up to date.  

   Vatican II expected Catholics to put their faith into everyday action, including spiritually challenging our political, economic and cultural structures in order to make them more luminously human.  Dan Berrigan was a man who was living the Council's teachings in a truly prophetic way.

   I was also trying to live the Council's teachings in my own way by speaking on Vatican II and getting deeply involved in ecumenical efforts with Protestants and Jews in the Philadelphia area.  For that, I was isolated, silenced from public speaking and eventually fired from the Seminary faculty.  I also was a member of "Wellsprings," an under-FBI-suspicion group of clergy and laity who wanted to change the structures of our society.  But I never felt called to go as far in my own efforts as Dan was going in his.  And I questioned myself about that.

   One day, in Baltimore, at a conference that included Dan's brother Philip, a resigned priest, and his wife, Elizabeth McAllister, I mentioned my self-questioning to Elizabeth.  She said, "We don't expect everyone to do exactly what we're doing."  (Which for Philip and her included going to prison.)  "We expect everyone to do whatever they are called to do."  I found her answer deeply satisfying.  I said, "You, Philip and Dan are widening the boundaries and thus making room for people like me to do what I'm doing."  She agreed.

   In time, to my great surprise, the church officials apologized to me and put me back on the Seminary faculty.  They explained that I was pushing them to make changes they were not ready to make.  They even made me Chairman of the Department of Theology.  But that was because the Seminary was being accredited that they needed somebody to do the paper work for the Department.  I tried to fit back into the seminary routine but could not.  One day I realized that I had died inside.  I resigned from the clergy and received a dispensation to return to the laity.

   Some years later, my wife and I, seeking spiritual peace, moved to Lancaster County, PA, to live close to the peaceful Amish people.  As it happened, Dan was invited to speak at the Lancaster Theological Seminary.  Mary and I went to his evening talk and marveled at the deep, quiet power of his peaceful soul.  And at his sense of humor.  After he spoke, a lady rose.  Clearly scandalized by Dan's at times illegal activism, she asked him in a very suspicious tone, "Are you still involved in Jesuit affairs?"  He thought for a few seconds, and then with an impish smile replied, "Well, not all of them"  The staid audience laughed out loud.

   The next morning I went to hear him again.  This time I was alone.  Afterwards I remained a while in the hall where he had spoken.  I had been invited to speak there myself about Vatican II.  One clearly puzzled, fundamentalist student rose and asked, "I don't understand what you said about the Church.  Who are members of the Church of Christ?"  I answered, "Everyone who lives a life marked by consistent good will and love."  The student answered, "Sir, you are confused!"

   When I left the hall I went out into a small courtyard.  There standing alone, was Dan.  I went up to him and introduced myself.  Again, I was taken in by his deep, peaceful eyes.  It was so easy to talk with him!  I told him who I was and what I had gone through while in the clergy, ending with my dying spiritually and then resigning. As I spoke, he listened very closely and lovingly.  Then he looked at me with merciful love and said quietly, "What took you so long?"

   His peace stays with me to this day.