Sunday, September 28, 2014

Being Perfect

I know a young lady who suffers from anxiety and depression because she doesn't believe that she is "good enough."  When I asked her how good she must be, her reply was "Perfect."  I'm not sure where she got that idea but, it had become a heavy weight on her emotional life.  She showed me a long list of dos and don'ts which she was trying to follow.  Obviously, she was failing.  When I shared with her that the early Church fathers and mothers, i.e., Desert Fathers and Mothers, interpreted the goal of "perfect" as relating to the great commandment of Jesus, which is to love the Lord your God with all of your heart, mind and soul and your neighbor as yourself," (Matthew 37-39,) she was amazed.  We looked up that commandment.  "So, that's what being perfect means?" was her question of amazement.  I replied, "That's what I believe."  I think those do's and don't come from our Puritan heritage, which they over-did.  She was relieved.  She wrote the commandment in her journal; tore out the pages with all of her do' and don't lists and, then, she ran her do's and don't pages through the shredder in my office.  As we finished, she said so innocently, "Wow, that's a relief"  I think she has turned a major corner.

Saturday, September 20, 2014


We've been reading and discussing Dom Helder Camara (1909-1999) during the support group for spiritual formation at the Abbey of Gethsemani.  Dom Camara was the archbishop of Recife, Brazil and one of this centuries great peace and justice ministers.  When I read a particular paragraph from his writings, my thoughts we're, "Yes, this is what incarnation means in our day."  Dom Camara wrote, "Here in Brazil I meet missionaries from almost every country in the world: priests, religious, members of the laity.  They come to us in the spirit of incarnation.  They assume our culture, they speak our language.  They merge so thoroughly with our people, they become our brothers and sisters.  They take on all our own problems.  Not to solve them, but to encourage us to do so.  Through them, through all of us together, the incarnation goes on, and so does the redemption." (MODERN SPIRITUAL MASTERS, ed. Robert Ellsberg, page 126.)

Monday, September 15, 2014


Tomorrow at the Seminary we will be talking about attentiveness in our Spiritual Formation class.  I admit that I've been inattentive too many times.  Attentiveness surely has to do with making full use of the five senses. For example, what am I seeing, not just looking at, but really seeing?  I rarely really see the sky, for example. The website, gratefulness.orgcontains a video, "A Good Day" that has made me pay some attention to what I see.  It is a website and video which I greatly recommend.  Too frequently I'm not paying attention to what I'm seeing, hearing, tasting, touching and smelling.  Today I had lunch with an friend of 45+ years.  He was talking about his younger days and wishing he had paid better attention to some of the decisions he made years ago. Paying attention is not only a present reality but it also has long term consequences.  Attentiveness is being sensitive to both the big picture as well as the details.  Paying attention seems to me to be at the heart of spirituality.  St. Benedict's rule begins with the word, "listen."  If I'm not paying attention, how will I know when God is giving my a nudge? 

Monday, September 1, 2014

Labor Day

My parents worked at Kib Warren's in Shawnee, Oklahoma.  This was a furniture, appliance, hardware, kitchen ware, toys, sporting goods, etc. store.  I even worked there for about a year when I was in college.  Mr. Warren told me that the purpose of the store was to provide quality goods at an affordable price and, also, to provide a good income for his employees.  I think it is that last purpose that is missing in many businesses today.  The employees who worked for the Warren's stayed a long time.  Even today, I can recall the names and 'stories' of most of them, ex. Mr. Ross' son was an navigator/engineer of an airline that flew to Europe and his stories always excited my childhood imagination.  My folks worked at that store for more than forty years.  I don't recall needing much that I didn't have as I was growing up so, I assume that Kib Warren's paid my folks a good income.  I like family owned businesses who believe that their employees should have a good income.