Saturday, April 20, 2019

WHO IS WORTHY?


HOW COULD ANY HUMAN BEING  BE IMPORTANT ENOUGH FOR  CHRIST TO DIE TO SAVE US??

"Moses was a reluctant prophet. Deeply aware in his heart of the need to confront the brutality of the pharaoh in Egypt, God calls out to him: “I have heard the cry of my people and I am sending you to Pharaoh to bring my people out.” But, scripture says, Moses insists, “Who am I, that I should go to Pharaoh … Suppose they do not listen to me … I am slow of speech and tongue. Send someone else!”


How many times have I excused myself --but I have migraines--or I stutter--or I cannot walk well anymore.

The Moses story is a charming study. It makes clear how much time it can take to face the fact that something must be done and that we are expected to do it. Does Moses doubt that God was with him? No. Did he doubt that this liberation of the people was God’s will? No. Moses believes both the voice and the vision. But he shows us something very important for our own lives: Lack of faith in God is one thing, but lack of self-confidence can be just as bad.


One thing that I have  often noticed about Saul/Paul is that God had singled him out to  join his disciples and bring the News of the Christians worldwide--but first He  knocked him off his (high) horse and He blinded him (in order that he could  See) and then He gave him his marching orders.
All the energy that Paul had used to  persecute Christians would now become the force to build  the Christian community. 

To deny the abilities I’ve been given—thought, insight, wisdom, analysis, understanding, explanation, persuasion—is a virtual sin against creation. When I do this I degrade the virtue of humility to a kind of debased self-knowledge. I withhold from the human community the very gifts I have been freely given for its good.


 Having gifts is nothing if I don’t use them. To praise the Creator for seeding the universe with them and praising them in others is hypocrisy if we ourselves fail to use them to their limits.

Most serious of all, this kind of pious worthlessness tends to obstruct the prophetic enterprise. And as Moses found out quickly, God does not like the “I am not worthy” argument!


It’s time to understand, with Moses, that the God who calls us to our responsibility for the world will also be with us as we shoulder our part in it. That same God will send the help we need, yes, but more than that, faith in that God will make the rough ways smooth.


"Even our failures, we will come to understand, will be turned to success in the end. Most of all, people pleasing goes when the worthiness argument disappears. We know who we are and why we do what we do, and no amount of self-doubt or breast beating can stop our journey to justice. Then, like Moses, our time comes and we are ready to be a joyful part of humanity’s slow rise to the fullness of itself."Joan Chittister

Since no one is worthy, we  are all left with the example of the Virgin Mary's FIAT or the shout-out of Isaiah 
 "Here I am Lord."
God knows who I am and what I am and  He is giving a come-as-you-are party.  
THIS EASTER LET ME START FROM WHERE I AM--AND SEE WHERE I CAN GO.

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

LIFE TASKS-- ESPECIALLY TAXES-- WEAR US DOWN

It took me a week to prepare my tax return and another three days to recover

WHY DOES TAX PREPARATION MAKE ME SO NERVOUS? 

I am afraid that  I am making a mistake--and I am right to worry because I do make mistakes.  I am frantically searching for receipts and cancelled checks and old Visa statements. I am collecting the evidence.  AND that takes  days and then I am told at the end by TURBOTAX that  I should take the standard deductions because they are greater than mine.  That  absurdity  just  finishes me off. 

 Richard Rohr has been writing about what he defines as our life tasks, he reminds us:

"Religion and various models of human development seem to suggest there are two major tasks for each human life. The first task is to build a strong “container” or identity; the second is to find the contents that the container was meant to hold. The first task we take for granted as the very purpose of life. This does not mean we do it well, but because we’re so focused on it we may not even attempt the second task.
Western society is a “first-half-of-life” culture, largely concerned about surviving successfully. Most cultures and individuals across history were likely situated in the first half of their own development until recent times; it may have been all they had time for because of shorter life expectancy. The first task life hands us has to do with establishing an identity, a home, relationships, friends, community, security, and building a proper platform for our only life.
But it takes much longer to discover “the task within the task,” as I like to call it: what we are really doing when we are doing what we are doing. Two people can have the same job description, and one is holding a subtle or not-so-subtle life energy (eros) in doing his or her job, while another is holding a subtle or not-so-subtle negative energy (thanatos) while doing the exact same job.
We respond to one another’s energy more than to people’s exact words or actions. In any situation, the taking or giving of energy is what we are actually doing. What we all desire and need from one another, of course, is that life energy called eros! It always draws, creates, and connects things."

 EROS Is the LIFE FORCE and it  burns in all of us
"It is when we begin to pay attention, and to seek integrity in the task within the task, that we begin to move from the first to the second half of our own lives. Integrity largely has to do with purifying our intentions and being honest about our motives. It is hard work. Most often we don’t pay attention to that inner task until we have had some kind of fall or failure in our outer tasks.

SO WE RETURN TO THE NECESSITY  OF FAILURE.
During the first half of life we invest so much of our blood and sweat, eggs and sperm, tears and years that we often cannot imagine there is a second task, or that anything more could be expected of us. “The old wineskins are good enough” (Luke 5:39), we say, even though according to Jesus they often cannot hold the new wine. If we do not get some new wineskins, “the wine and the wineskin will both be lost” (Luke 5:37). The second half of life can hold some new wine because by then there should be some tested ways of holding our lives together. But that usually means the container itself must stretch or die in its present form and be replaced with something better.

WHAT ARE THE NEW WINESKINS? AND HOW DO WE FIND THEM?
One of the only ways God can get us to let go of our private salvation project is some kind of suffering. This is why Christians hang the cross at the center of our churches, why we kiss the cross, and why we say we’re “saved” by the cross. Yet for all this ritualization, it seems we don’t really believe what the cross teaches us—that the pattern of death and resurrection is true for us, too, that we must die in a foundational way or any talk of “rebirth” makes no sense."

YESTERDAY  NOTRE DAME CATHEDRAL WENT UP IN FLAMES. TODAY PICTURES OF THE INTERIOR SHOW THE CROSS, THE PEWS AND THE ROSE STAINED GLASS WINDOW REMAIN. 

WHAT MORE DOES A  CATHEDRAL NEED?

I don’t know anything else that’s strong enough to force you and me to let go of our ego. However we’ve defined ourselves as successful, moral, better than, right, good, on top of it, number one . . . has to fail 
This is the point when we don’t feel holy or worthy. We feel like a failure. When this experience of the “noonday devil” shows itself, the ego’s normal temptation is to be even stricter about following the first half of life’s rules. We think more is better, when in fact, less is more. We go back to laws and rituals instead of the always-risky fall into the ocean of mercy.
Yet that is the only path toward our larger and True Self, ... where we know, as Thomas Merton (1915–1968) put it, it’s all “mercy within mercy within mercy.”

  It’s not what we do for God; it’s what God has done for us. We switch from trying to love God to just letting God love us. And it’s at that point we fall in love with God. Up to now, we haven’t really loved God; we’ve largely been afraid of God. Finally, perfect love casts out all fear. As John says, “In love there can be no fear. Fear is driven out by perfect love. To fear is to still expect punishment. Anyone who is still afraid is still imperfect in the ways of love” (see 1 John 4:18).

I remember Sister Michaeleen gave me a holy card for Easter in the 8th grade at Saint Joseph's School in Pawtucket  and on the back she had written one sentence--

"If you would  be risen with Christ, seek the  things that are above."

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

RED ROBINS IN THE BUCKET

A BIG SIGN OF SPRING AND THE  ETERNAL RETURN OF THE SEASONS.

This song came into my head first thing this morning when I woke up and looking out the window saw a  red-breasted robin literally  bobbin' along  in my neighbor's driveway. I only wish I had my window open to hear his joyous tweets.
So sitting on the side of my bed, I sang this song through and started the day  on a high note. Try the chorus--it will change your day.

Written by Harry Woods and released in 1926.  Made popular by Al Jolson and Bing Crosby--among others.
I heard a robin this morning
I'm feeling happy today
I'm gonna pack my cares up
And blow them all away

And what if I have been unlucky?
You know really I haven't a thing
There's a time I'll always feel happy
And happy as a king

(Chorus)
When the red, red robin
Comes bob, bob, bobbin'
Along, along
There'll be no more sobbin'
When he starts throbbin'
His old sweet song
Wake up, wake up you sleepyhead
Get up, get up, get out of your bed
Cheer up, cheer up the sun is red
Live, love, laugh, and be happy

What if I were blue
Now I'm walking through
Fields of flowers
Rain may glisten
But still I listen
For hours and hours
I'm just a kid again
Doin' what I did again
Singing a song
When the red, red robin
Comes bob, bob, bobbin'
Along

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

ANOTHER DEMOLITION PLANNED FOR THE ACHING VOID THAT IS PAWTUCKET?

Believe it or not they are talking about tearing down portions of the PAWTUCKET MEMORIAL HOSPITAL.
 They claim that his will encourage development. Let us look at the history of that claim. I have seen a lot of demolition over the years but not much development.
 1. They closed and basically demolished Narragansett Race Track. That is  a site that is still waiting for development.
  
2,The Apex is not closed but it is seriously diminished. What has developed on that site?

3.What about the  River frontage  along Division Street that makes the corner with School Street? What development is happening there?
AND now  onto the sorest spot of all. There will soon be no more Paw Sox at the McCoy Stadium.

4.What will happen after McCoy is  empty and neglected for a  few years. More demolition and no development.

5. What about Hasbro?  Who will develop that large chunk of land on Newport Avenue. Who will develop what there?

Why is Memorial still standing? 
Listen to the  concerns  expressed recently:"Iannoni said the "biggest hurdle" to redeveloping Memorial is a restriction in the property deed from when the land was donated a century ago that limits its use. He said Care New England is starting to work with the city and the attorney general's office, which monitors charitable assets, to get that changed.
"The lawyers think it's doable," Iannoni said"
Isn't that SPECIAL?
Their lawyers are working on undoing the philanthropy of the Sayles, Dunnell and Slater families who donated the land and funding to build the Memorial Hospital and its lovely School of Nursing.
The hospital continuously expanded to meet the needs of the community and to house various new departments and clinics. In 1931, in the midst of the Great Depression, Memorial opened a pediatrics/maternity unit using a $200,000 donation from Mr. and Mrs. James R. MacColl in memory of their daughter, Margaret. The unit, named after the family, added 44 beds for children and 25 for maternity. 

Two decades later, in 1951, workers completed a two-story named the Richardson Building after an original trustee,
E. Russel Richardson, who left a trust fund of $285,000 when he died in 1931.The building added 56 beds, bringing the hospital's total bed count to 214.
The wily lawyers of 2019 are working overtime and probably for huge fees to overturn the generosity of the great founding families of the City of Pawtucket and the generous  expansion financed by the MacColls and the Richardsons.
 I know that I cannot be the only person who feels that this  constant demolition is a warning and an insult to all future wealthy donors--your gifts are vulnerable and all your trusts can be revoked. There is nothing sacred. They will all become  empty PARKING LOTS. 
 Just drive down Main Street and pass the former Shartenbergs site and see the empty, gaping, forlorn and probably dangerous parking garage. They build garages, but there is no one who comes there to park  anymore. There is no there there.
Pawtucket is a gaping hole.

Sunday, April 7, 2019

SOMETHING ROTTEN IN MINNEAPOLIS?

 AUBURN  SHOULD HAVE WON THE  GAME AND IN THE LAST  SECONDS THEIR  VICTORY WAS STOLEN.

Last night  I was shocked and saddened  when in the last minutes of play a foul was called on Auburn and Virginia was given three free throws which they completed to  win the game by one point!

They kept showing the foul play and I could not see it. The commentators could not see it, and surely Charles Barkley who was standing on the sidelines waiting to rush to cheer his team as they won their first Final Four  Game did not see it.  He jumped back when he heard the call as if he had been shot. 

Was that call a  measure of all the millions of dollars  that was being wagered on that game and lost if Virginia lost?  I hate to think so--but I fear so.

What is going on?  IS MARCH MADNESS now just a showcase on the national stage for the NBA draft? Now that Duke is a ONE AND DONE school, who will hold out against the onslaught of money and shoe contracts and  instant fame?

IF GOLD RUSTS, WHAT WILL SILVER DO?

I felt so bad that I could not stay  and watch the second game  with Texas Tech and Michigan State. 

Better rules and more oversight must be put in place for foul calls in the last seconds of play in a close game. 
IT LOOKED LIKE THE SLAUGHTER
 OF THE INNOCENTS OUT THERE.

Monday, April 1, 2019

DUKE, GONZAGA, NORTH CAROLINA, VIRGINIA--STAR IN THE FINAL FOUR --APRIL FOOL!!

WELL MARCH WENT OUT LIKE LION AND BROKE EVERY BRACKET 

Look what March wrecked just before it left: Duke was defeated and sent home  the team of the 2018-19 season. So was North Carolina, the contender that beat twice the team of the 2018-19 season. It smashed Kentucky and all the royalty and capitalism therein. It stomped on  good-natured   Gonzaga, the best  of the West, which also beat the team of the season and which traveled hopefully all year with its fabulous constellation of talents.
Remember when the season got going  on Nov. 6, and No. 4 Duke looked unstoppable and pulverized No. 2 Kentucky, 118-84, in Indianapolis, and people wondered how Kentucky might function from there and how it might function in a potential rematch? Well now we know that TEXAS TECH and AUBURN and  MICHIGAN STATE  will join the only  number 1 team standing VIRGINIA in the FINAL FOUR.
 ALL BRACKETS ARE SMASHED!

And what about the  legendary ZION WILLIAMSON? There was a sad  scene of him leaving the  gym to go home.  Here was  a fabulous player who astonished us all, and it saddened me to see his sad face and his  confusion that his college career of only one season could end on such a down note of defeat,
HE CERTAINLY DESERVED BETTER.

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

IS MARCH MADNESS MORPHING INTO MARCH SADNESS?

SAY IT AIN'T SO

Yesterday when I woke up I had to get my head around three huge stories:

DUKE ALMOST LOST THEIR GAME AGAINST  CENTRAL FLORIDA.

GRONK QUIT FOOTBALL

KYRIE IS PROBABLY ON HIS WAY OUT OF BOSTON.

That is a lot to absorb in one morning. I got through it with the help of my daily  dose of Sports info on  GET UP.

I have since been comforted by learning that I tied with another person in our pool by getting the most  games right in the first round. So I won a small monetary prize. And I will probably not win another because my brackets got busted badly in ROUND TWO.
Now I hear there is a guy out in Columbus OHIO who still has a perfect  bracket.  Check it out on NCAA Brackets and you will read his story.
No one has ever had a perfect bracket and it is a mathematical  extreme case.
But someone in OHIO is on his way.  GO BUCKEYES.

The game between DUKE and Central Florida was thrilling and should have ended differently. A foul was not called properly in the last few minutes and  would have gone against  Duke.  It was  a rare chance to see the  Duke Star Zion  against the Central Florida  7 feet 6 inch  Wonder  who does not even have to jump to get a dunk. The game  put on display Zion's lack of shooting skills and made it  look as if he has  astounded us with his massive physicality and his immense personal energy. Both of which make him vulnerable. Zion could benefit from another year  at Duke under the tutelage of COACH K.

I am glad that GRONK is leaving the Football field while he can still walk and talk pretty sensibly. I have always enjoyed his good humor caught as he is in a ridiculously sour and grim organization.
Some are saying that the GRONK Story is to distract us from the KRAFT story.  But I am OK with that and grateful for any distraction from the woes of the privileged.

Gronk brought an element or reality and  fun to the proceedings at Gillette. I  had with many others noticed his  slowed running in  the past season, and I felt for him every painful lunge and fall. 
Imagine how much more fun he would have had playing with a quarterback like Aaron Rogers, I hope  he enjoys his retirement.
PLEASE DON'T ENTER THE WRESTLING WORLD !

Kyrie is going to take another rest day.  I guess it is wearying to see a team blow an enormous point advantage  night after night.
But Kyrie does not know what to say that is not just finger-pointing. He never sees his own part in the drama.  He has his lines down perfectly, but he does not see that he could talk different  and be different. When he is doing his thing, no one handles a ball better and his moves  can still astound us. But he lacks insight and his sense of the value of others is very limited

TOO BAD AND TOO SAD. MY CELTICS DESERVE BETTER.