Posted by: goodmorningmystic | January 10, 2014

Darkness Into Light…

It’s been a long night.  I’ve been sitting here on the east porch waiting for what seems likes hours for the day to break.  Finally…the sky begins to change.  A dull glare breaks over frost covered blue spruce.  I watch the sun push its way up and over the horizon.   Slowly, surely, a bright white orb elbows the grey out of the sky and shines like a spotlight through the trees.  I squint and turn from the light.  It takes a moment or two for the sun to warm to the sky but then, there it is…the familiar, brilliantly golden comfort.  My eyes have adjusted to the light and I turn to face the new day.

Waiting, watching, hoping in the stillness…this is the first hour for me, a divine hour.  It’s no mystery why the sacred pre-dawn darkness is a prime time to pray.   This canonical hour is technically called “Prime” and was added to the Liturgy of the Hours by St. Benedict in the 5th-6th century.  Surely the urge to pray at this special time of day is far more ancient than St. Benedict’s time.

I wonder how many women through the centuries have sat in the dark to await the arrival of the sun…just like me?  I’m a twenty-first century woman.  I’m well aware of the earth’s rotation around the sun and yet, I’m relieved to see the new day.  I’m privileged to add my own daily sigh of relief to see darkness into light to the collective, to contribute my own prayer of thanksgiving for the feel the warmth of the sun on my skin once again and the comfort of knowing the day has begun.

Posted by: goodmorningmystic | June 21, 2013

ETWN and the Vernacular…

Picking up where I left off oh so long ago…the Mass and EWTN.

Unfortunately, EWTN no longer broadcasts the Mass in the English language.  The only Mass EWTN broadcasts, to date, is in Latin.

Wow.  A U.S. based Catholic media channel broadcasts the most important Catholic ritual in a language that is no longer spoken?  Really?

I emailed to ask why and was told that, according to EWTN, the true interpretation of Vatican II with regard to Mass has led them to broadcast the Mass in a language that would be more global, inclusive and non-specific to any one group of people.  So, the language of choice for the Mass is – Latin.

I guess when the Mass is in Latin and you don’t know what the priest is saying and have to read along to follow along…this is somehow supposed to make it easier on everyone to participate in the Mass?

I sincerely pray that this is not the direction the entire Catholic church is going.  Have we not been here before???

I have a slightly better understanding of Martin Luther’s frustration with the Church when he was nailing up the Ninety-Five Theses.  I’m also grateful for Luther’s work in bringing the Mass to the “simple people” which to him was important for a “public stimulation for people to believe and become Christians.”  Martin Luther, Martin Brecht, tr. James L Schaaf, Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1985-93; 2:255.

I will be looking to support some other yet-to-be-discovered Catholic broadcast effort that will provide those in need of the Mass – the greatest prayer in a Catholic’s life – in a language they can understand.

Posted by: goodmorningmystic | December 25, 2012

Christmas and Great Expectations

I was channel surfing late last Thursday afternoon and clicked on the daily Mass on EWTN. The scripture reading, Luke 1: 26-38, had just concluded. This passage is also known as the Annunciation and is celebrated on March 25 (9 months before Jesus’ birth). It’s one of my favorites …the inspiration for the Hail Mary prayer.  I hung around for the homily.

Luke 1:26 And in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth, 27 To a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary. 28 And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly favored, the Lord is with thee: blessed ‘art’thou among women. 29 And when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and cast in her mind what manner of salutation this should be. 30 And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favor with God. 31 And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name Jesus. 32 He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: 33 And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end. 34 Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man? 35 And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God. 36 And, behold, thy cousin Elisabeth, she hath also conceived a son in her old age: and this is the sixth month with her, who was called barren. 37 For with God nothing shall be impossible. 38 And Mary said, Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word. And the angel departed from her.

The homily on this particular day on EWTN dealt with the range of emotions experienced by people during the Christmas season. Some of us are happy; some sad. Some years are better than others. Front Porch - 8 inches

Watching my grandson open presents this Christmas morning I’d say we begin to catalog the “experience” – the highs and the lows – when we’re about five years old. I know that his parents set out to give him an experience of profound pleasure. It’s a wonderful feeling to make someone happy, to give someone something they really want.   These early experiences set the tone; they establish expectations for the future.  Sometimes we get what we want; sometimes we don’t. And sometimes we get something what we did not expect.

Like Mary, for example. I’m sure she never expected a visit by an angel who told her she would soon be pregnant and bear the Son of God.  At the time Mary was told her child-to-be , Jesus, would be a King…like David.  Who wouldn’t want this gift, the greatest gift of all?  She was not rude or ungrateful or unwilling to participate in the miracle.  How did she respond?   She said,” be it unto me according to thy word.”  Of course I’ll do it.  Consider it done.  Nothing is impossible with God.

Well,we know how the story turned out.  There was a lot of pain and sorrow and disappointment involved.  And then there was salvation and life everlasting.  The angel was right about the Great and Highest part but he had  left out a few things in between Jesus’ conception and his resurrection.   Isn’t that just like real life.    

Last Thursday I had high hopes for this Christmas.  Visions of great Christmas’s past danced in my head.  I couldn’t wait!  And then…well, this Christmas didn’t quite turn out the way I had hoped.  It occurred to me that the Christmas season is a tiny microcosm of our relationship with God.  We play it over every year.  There’s a lot of hope involved.  There is the giving and the getting and always the acceptance of life – whatever it may bring – good or bad, happy or sad.  Like Mary we say…bring it on!  I’ll do it!  We have faith in the future.

There’s always next Christmas.  Like Jesus, it’s the great expectation.

 

Posted by: goodmorningmystic | November 16, 2012

The Well Women

My dear friend, Ladine Householder, will soon “birth” a book titled The Well Women, Crossing the Boundaries.

I’m always looking for examples of women who’ve fought the good fight.  Ladine’s book contains the fictionalized stories of nine contemporary women whose lives reflect the pain of loss and the possibility of healing via an honest spiritual life.  As Ladine says, all we need do is respond to the healing power of Living Water from Jesus.

The publication due date for this project is sometime in December.   Please go to her website at http://www.copperteapotpub.com/ and take a look.  I’m sure you will be inspired to become one of the Well Women, too!

 

Posted by: goodmorningmystic | November 9, 2012

Vocatus Atque Non Vocatus Deus Aderit

This past year I’ve become increasingly interested in the feminine experience of God.  At first I thought it was a bit strange that I would be drawn – again – to this subject.  Hadn’t I exhausted the “when God was a woman” phase thirty years ago when I was in college?  

I’ve been writing a fantasy novel about a priestess of a fictional religion in a world where the Goddess reigns.  In this story she must destroy the Temple she loves in order to reestablish the Rule of Truth and save the Empire from its enemies.

Now, I keep asking myself why I am driven – yes, driven – to write this story.  Why does a middle-aged Roman Catholic woman who holds a Masters Degree in Theology write this kind of stuff?  Sometimes I feel silly.  I should be writing something academic, something serious, but I can’t help myself.  I can’t NOT write this story. 

What on earth is wrong with me?    

It took me awhile to realize what was going on.  I’d forgotten that God is the initiator of the experience of God; not man, not woman.  God.  My drive to explore the feminine side of God is propelled by God, not me.  It’s a gift – from God.  I’m reminded that God is constantly knocking at your door, my door, lots of doors.  Even someone like me who prays everyday and professes to be a spiritual person can be deaf to the call.   And like writing a book, the most difficult and fundamental task is the most simple.  To write a book you need to apply your seat to the chair and write.  And when God knocks on your door, you answer.

It’s humbling experience to realize that my study of these issues, of the feminine God, is my “response” to a summons.  Don’t get me wrong.  I’m not saying that what I’m writing is divine or anything like that.  Rather, I should be a bit more respectful.  I should trust myself, take this desire to write, to explore, to investigate the experience of God as a woman more seriously. 

 Vocatus Atque Non Vocatus Deus Aderit – “Bidden or not bidden; God is present”

Posted by: goodmorningmystic | March 5, 2012

The Witching Hour

Four-thirty a.m.  Why did I get up at such an ungodly hour?  Didn’t I know that if I got up at 4:30am I would surely suffer the torture of gravely eyes and groggy brain and groaning muscles by 7:00am? 

Wait a minute.  Did I say 4:30am was an ungodly time of day?  You know, there are those who claim that 4:30am is a perfectly normal and quite natural time of the day for women to rise and shine.  Really.  Four-thirty in the morning is called the “witching hour.”  Yes, that’s right.  Back in the day women would roll out of bed and stumble to the fire/hearth/whatever.  They’d light the fire and then sit around stirring the pot, round and round.  Stirring, getting warm, chatting – or not.  I suspect they’d have a warm cup of something to start the day.  How did a simple and necessary, everyday activity like women sitting around a cauldron in the pre-dawn darkness to make breakfast became a Halloween caricature? 

I imagine (isn’t too hard to do) that men who were not included in the chit-chat and whispers and laughter and prayer shared among the women at the fire were suspicious of this strange nocturnal activity.  What on earth were those women doing, those men wondered.  It’s the pre-crack of dawn and those women appear to be enjoying themselves!  They must be up to no good.  Up to something evil, those crazy women.

Did I say that 4:30am is an “ungodly” hour?  Silly me. The witching hour has come!  Get me to my cauldron!  Time to get to work!

 

Posted by: goodmorningmystic | January 11, 2012

Happy 600th Birthday, Joan!

Warrior, mystic, martyr.

It’s really difficult for a 21st century woman to understand how a young 17 year old peasant woman could have convinced the then uncrowned Charles VII, one of the claimants for the throne of France, to allow her to lead his army against the English.  She served in the French army for less than two years, just long enough to prevail on the battlefield and win Charles VII the French Crown.  Yes, things must have been very, very bad in France in 1429.  They needed a miracle.  They got one in Joan.

Born on Epiphany circa 1412 (or somewhere thereabouts, they didn’t keep birth records for non-nobles at this time in France), this 15th century woman received a message from St. Michael instructing her to go to the aid of France against the English during the later part of the Hundred Years War.   And so, after much effort to insert herself into the machinations of the French military leadership, Joan led several swift victories against the English which ultimately resulted in Charles VII’s coronation.  The matter of the disputed succession to the throne of France was finally settled.  You can imagine the enemies Joan made along the way, on both sides of the battle lines.  It was a mere matter of days after Charles VII’s coronation that Joan met her downfall. 

And so it was that Joan, or Jehanne as she signed her name, was captured on May 23, 1430, by members of the Burgundian camp during a minor skirmish.  I note that the Burgundian’s did not support Charles VII’s claim to the crown.  And so, since Charles VII did not provide ransom for the return of Joan, she was sold to the English government.  She was kept a prisoner in the men’s prison for nearly a year until she was tried for heresy and on May 30, 1431, burned as a heretic at Rouen, the seat of the English government.  Her crime had nothing to do with God or her claim to hear voices from the saints.  Her crime was a violation of papal law.  She had worn men’s clothes and armor on the battlefield. 

You see, warrior nuns posed such a problem in the fifteenth century that various popes established decrees against women engaging in martial combat in an attempt to weaken the power of the sisterhood.  It was a papal ban against women wearing armor that proved to be a technicality on which Joan was sentenced and burned to death when she was only 19 years of age.

Posted by: goodmorningmystic | January 10, 2012

Monastic Murmur

I just read a little blurb in a magazine where a woman stated that her worst habit was interrupting people.  She followed that little ditty by saying that her best quality was being a good listener. 

I laughed.  Really, this poor woman is so confused.  She can’t possibly be both a serial interrupter and a good listener.  It could be that she’s interrupting people because she’s clairvoyant and already knows what they’re going to say.   Probably not.  

No, I think she’s just trying to make herself look good by throwing in the listening part.  I know this to be true because I, too, am guilty of the terrible habit of interrupting people.  Admittedly, this interrupting behavior is immature but I would never admit that I was a good listener.   That’s the reason I interrupt.  I don’t want to listen.  Geez. 

I used to try and excuse the behavior as just one more loveable little quirk of mine.  I used to think I interrupted people because I was so engaged and so excited about the conversation at hand.  In reality I couldn’t help but butt in and cut the other person off.  Okay, I may be rude but at least I’m honest.  I find myself so bored with another person’s thought process – not to mention their inability to – spit it out – that I just cut them off.  Unable to endure one more round of bush beating I interrupt the other person’s train of thought because, simply put, I want them to stop talking and listen to ME!

 This is an annoying habit I would really, really like to change.   

What I would like to achieve is patience.  I want to maintain the staying power of your most attentive fan.  Hang on your every word.  I’ll soak up your wonderful way of putting ideas together and applaud your unique and creative mind.  My actual listening would sound like a quiet murmur, a hum of understanding and encouragement.   I would pay attention to you with a oneness that comes from living in the moment we share together.  I would find serenity in the moment. 

 It would be like a prayer.

 Don’t think I can do it???

 Libertas spiritus.

Posted by: goodmorningmystic | January 9, 2012

Sacrifice: A Dirty Word

 

Poverty is at present a fact of our human condition.  For the majority of the people in this world today the most immediate and overwhelming issue of scarcity is the lack of clean water, food and personal safety.  The people who endure these scarcities are the truly poor.

 

 

"Ask Not What Your Country Can Do For You..."

 

 

And then we have the “Occupy” groups, not just in the United States, but all over the world.  These are the “99%ers” who assert themselves as the downtrodden.  They are present day martyrs, victims of Capitalism, enslaved by the 1%.  They demand that the world court of justice bring about economic equality.  They insist that the rich give back.  To them.  They want better jobs, better pay, more benefits.  Free internet.   They want what’s coming to them.  The good life.
 
When I first saw the Occupy movement on television I thought of President John F. Kennedy who said in his inaugural address, “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.”  I wonder what he’d think of the Occupy movement if he were still alive?  The President spoke of  hard work and determination…self-determination…and sacrifice. 
 
The Occupy folks ask the 1% to sacrifice.  Lord knows SOMEONE has got to pay for the good times…and it won’t be the 99%ers.  Most of the 1% knows that it took a good deal of hard work and sacrifice…yes, sacrifice…to get to the 1%. 
 
The 1% scoffs at the 99%ers who demand that they sacrifice.  The 1% made the sacrifice necessary to find the good life.  They worked hard for their 1%.  The Occupy folks want the governments of first world nations to create an environment wherein (to quote Cisco…) the “oods would be more evener,” where the 99%ers would not have to work so hard to compete.  Huh?
 
So I ask the Occupy folks this question.  What does it mean to sacrifice?  And why does the idea of sacrifice rattle the 99%ers?  Is it that you want to get more and you think you will need to give up something in return?  Are you afraid to yield, to surrender, to lose?  And what is lost?  What exactly is surrendered?      
 
What on earth has generated such intense selfishness and fear?  Hopelessness, listlessness and laziness abound.  At some point in our lives we learn that there is no such thing as an earthly paradise where everything is easy and automatic.  I learned this lesson when I was five years old, in the days before Velcro, when I had to learn to tie my own shoes or forego kindergarten. 
 
Achievement on any level demands hard work and sacrifice.  And yes, sacrifice is hard.  And sacrifice is also rewarding.  Very rewarding.  It is the coin that must be paid.  It is what makes the things we have worth having…especially if we want to keep them.   
 
And so the 99%ers believe themselves to be the poor.  I don’t mean poor in the sense that the 99%ers suffer from a scarcity of societal property or wealth. They are not impoverished in the same sense as those who have no hope of ever securing basic needs or personal security without international assistance.  Think Darfur.  The 99%ers are correct in their assessment of their beggarly existence for they truly suffer a type of poverty.  A spiritual poverty.  And to be fair, this type of poverty is experienced by all who are greedy and self-indulgent regardless of whether they are a 99%er or a member of the 1%.   
 
But for the sake of this particular piece, might not the Occupy folks look to themselves for the help they insist they are entitled?  For every one story of someone unemployed there are numerous other stories of people who made sacrifices, who rolled up their sleeves and found a way to make a living.  I know.  I’ve been there. 
 
Here’s what worked for me.  I followed the example of the mystics for direction.  I embraced their example of self-sacrifice and renunciation.  I prayed.  Not for myself or for any “thing” specific.  Like the mystics my prayers were of thanksgiving for the ability to catch a glimpse of the Holy, to feel God within me and the world around me.  Through prayers of thanksgiving I found strength deep within myself to make the sacrifices that were necessary.  In doing so I found that I had so much more in my life than I ever imagined.  Where once I thought I was unlucky, there I found incredible and abundant blessings.       
 
Have we become so shallow that we will not search the Spirit within for answers to questions about what is lacking in our lives?  Can we be personally responsible for our own lives and stop comparing ourselves to others?  Really, why begrudge anyone else anything they have worked hard to earn?  Instead of asking “why can’t I have what the rich guy has” – why don’t we ask – “how did he get what he’s got”…and then follow that path.  Not every member of the 1% was born with a silver spoon and a trust fund.  Those who did not worked hard and sacrificed. 
 
Perhaps if we embrace true sacrifice we’ll move out of our selfishness and greed and ask not only what we can do for our country but also how we can help those who truly cannot help themselves?  I wonder what would happen if the world-wide Occupy movement worked together to bring a united like-minded consciousness to the horrors of Darfur.  Would they endure months camping out in city parks and rioting for the sake of the truly needy?  To do so would take true sacrifice. 
 
Libertas spiritu.
Posted by: goodmorningmystic | January 3, 2012

Junia, Outstanding Among the Apostles

From the beginning of the development of Christianity women were actively involved in the Church.  Paul characterizes a woman named Junia as “outstanding among the apostles” (Rom. 16:7).  In the time since Paul wrote to praise Junia, other ancient writers who, in the Church’s unfortunate yet continual repression of women, gave her a sex change and began to refer to her as “Junias.”  Why?   Because in the Church’s continual repression of woman this woman’s name was taken over by men. 

It is thought that the root of such defamation in the Church lies in the notion that women are unclean, primarily due to their ability to menstruate.  There was also a secondary state of uncleanliness the Church believed was intrinsic to women related to the shame they carried with them as a result of the story of the Fall.  There also existed the fear that a women might still lure men to sin and away from God.

This is just one of many, many examples found in the history of Christianity which is unfortunately a history of how women were silenced and deprived of their rights.  Again, we have to ask why?  Why does one group seek to silence another?  To gain power.  Obviously women were gaining too much power and a group of threatened men sought to reduce their power and subjugate them.   It is the story of life.  It is a type of war.  Two thousand years later women still find this battle fatiguing. 

But don’t give up. Women and men today cannot imagine Jesus or the Creator condoning this type of suppression of Spirit.  Continue to fight.  Continue to pray.

Pray this morning that you hold in your mind and your heart the knowledge and understanding that God is far, far greater than the twisted thoughts of imperfect human beings. 

Libertas spiritus.

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