Monthly Archives: August 2015

Properly empty the vessel

“Pour out your heart as water in the presence of the Lord.” (Lamentations) …. When we pour oil out of any vessel, there always rests something in the bottom; and when it is wine or vinegar we pour out, the vessel retains at least the smell thereof; but if we empty a pitcher of water, there remains neither smell nor anything in the bottom; it has no more smell or taste than if nothing had been in it. It is in this manner you must pour out your heart in giving an account of your conscience; you must do it so as nothing may remain behind–no, not the least scent of anything whatsoever. –St Alphonsus Rodriguez ‘The Practice of Christian & Religious Perfection’

Alphonso Rodriguez

St Alphonsus Rodriguez


Passing Prose

No identity, stripped bare to the wound, a hollow center gravitating eternal,
Witnessing you drift into the manipulations of your own mind,
Exercising free will, unabashedly thrashing about, forcefully wrenching, imposing, pretending,
It’s all obvious when the Eucharist stands still, it hurts, you are there within the pain, attending I feel you behind me, I cannot look,
Gracelessly announcing the working of God, mouthing words removed from obvious perception, saying things you desperately hope to be true, I am listening,
Truth for the making, reality released upon broken taking, recklessly brave you impatiently stomp upon creation, beautiful in courageous falling,
Kneeling, clutching my Rosary, beads wrapped and counting, I see you through the early morning tears of a new day,
My love so intense it consumes, devouring and aching,
Numb and dumb, I stare forward, unable to move,
I am patiently advancing,
I cannot tear my eyes away, awkward while graceful, I should have took it as a warning, as a warning,
Waiting, a stranger in a strange land, a foreigner seeking asylum beyond the great divide, intent stumbling upon salvation, I know you, I do,
Internal combustion imploding away the remnants of misapprehension polluting the breathe of a life desperately lived, anxiety and tension pulling taut the extreme, a lifeline never appears,
I cling to faith, hope, and charity within the darkness of loving you,
Relief, now stands a nobody amidst the sacrifice of a holy mass, another comes day upon day, brick upon brick, notch by notch, moments passing, the reading of scripture, a priest from Tanzania speaking within a Homily of commitment, communion follows the singing of Hosannas, Hallelujah, Hallelujah,
Hallelujah, be real, within reality be real, I needed you and you disappeared, superseding transgressions, following folly, misperceptions, misdeeds, misalignments, misty eyed weeping: Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, simple being, doing nothing,
Tired of trying conceptual contriving, futile attempts at spiritual conniving, debris smattered upon dirty unwashed and somewhat slightly dazed consciousness, the accumulation of years, spiraling it’s all added up within love and grief,
Enchained destiny whispers, providence sublime,
Poor Clares cloistered away from the madness of those who know everything concluding the existence of being someone immersed amongst many dividing, unique individuals multiplying, subdividing the wreckage of universal masked discontent,
Falling faces thinking thoughts into little tiny pieces make everything up for the fashioning of intricacies within a web of delusional deceit, and you are there with them dancing and happy, sporting the mask of being normal,
Doing the best one can while existing upon the energy of hungry denizens feeding the fuel of snowflakes falling within flames, a fiery finish to a burnt out extinguishing, you use to be here amongst the desperate called out and praying,
What was that about?
One can only ask questions when the demand for answers insist upon silence, the chattering of chins attached to tongues wagging, sound irritating, annoying the senses into directing the mind into fantastical realms of invented creation,
This I can do so be it be done, the sake of possibility enough for the fun, I can be my own master, a source and a leader, the destruction of ripples transferring upon ripples spreading upon authentic creation subject to levels of distinction,
It means more to lead than to honestly be healed, easier to guide than to properly be guided, softer to assume the mantle of master, in control you declare disaster,
Going out in waves, noisy and strong, burbling babble, unwavering in confused confirmations, the justifying of a lack of opprobrious designs to deceive, all within potentialities unconcieved, an abortion, an abomination upon many abominations, a broken life lived into old age, staring above dumbfound at high places, altars crumbling from a lack of foresight,
How did I get here watching you so closely?
No looking back to advance, no brilliant insight proves elusive to the peace of prayer commenced at the foot of the Savior,
Unafraid to declare the love of the heart, unafraid to throw it all away, unafraid of a broken heart, unafraid to breathe while bleeding from needing,
Content and contrite, I am learning to be without being busy.




“Be not afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy which will come to all the people; for to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a babe wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.”

Sanctus, Sanctus, Sanctus Dominus Deus Sabaoth. Pleni sunt caeli et terra gloria tua. Hosanna in excelsis. Benedictus qui venit in nomine Domini. Hosanna in excelsis

“Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is spoken against–and a sword will pierce through your own soul also–that thoughts out of many hearts may be revealed.”

Mary pierced

I saw an angel beside me toward the left side, in bodily form. He was not very large, but small, very beautiful, his face so blazing with light that he seemed to be one of the very highest angels, who appear all on fire. They must be those they call Cherubim. I saw in his hands a long dart of gold, and at the end of the iron there seemed to me to be a little fire. This I thought he thrust through my heart several times, and that it reached my very entrails. As he withdrew it, I thought it brought them with it, and left me all burning with a great love of God. So great was the pain, that it made me give those moans; and so utter the sweetness that this sharpest of pains gave me, that there was no wanting it to stop, nor is there any contenting of the soul with less than God. –St. Teresa, ‘Life of St Teresa of Avila’

Teresa pierced

Adrift in a nebulous void, an abyss undefined by darkness, sensing the quality of light beyond, I am aroused by a sensation below. Slothfully, I identify myself in a lucid dream. Looking downward, viewing my naked body, feeling nothing, I notice a chord emanating from my chest. A winding twining thing, comprised of two distinct strands bursting forward. From my heart, it advances.

Exiting, originating from my heart, the chord is constantly drawn from my body and consciousness. The force pulling the chord is consistent and firm. It does not move my body—the chord slides forth, not pulling my body. Gliding outward, the distinct chord is apart, something distinct and connecting. It touches, yet it is detached. It moves outward similar to a magician pulling a seemingly endless handkerchief from his pocket.

Visually, I follow the chord to its source, discovering two beings pulling forth. Their form is that of humans, however, their appearance is shrouded with a mysterious cloud of illusion. They move slow and surreal. I notice wings, tiny bodies: cherubs at work or play, filled with joy, laughing and singing. I cannot clearly focus upon the intriguing sweet tiny angels. They swim in and out of focus. I am able to distinguish both cherubs are absorbed in the effort of pulling at the chord, or rather pulling at individual ends. The twining strands couple to form the single chord passing from my heart.

At the point of contact with my flesh, the mystical chord creates friction, igniting a burning sensation throughout my body. Energy exchanged. Fear erupts. I panic, fighting against the heavenly exterior efforts. Opposition ingrained, I reach out to grasp the chord in order to strengthen my resistance. As I grab the chord, my perspective suddenly changes, my consciousness exits my body. I am now able to perceive, simultaneously, from the opposite originating points. I am looking back at myself, the pulling cherubs now my two eyes, two eyes seeing as one. I watch my body struggle as I sustain the effort of drawing the chord outward, from my current perspective inward.

Incredibly, my emotional state achieves an abnormal peace with the change of perception–the tension of my physical body assuaged. I acknowledge the serene state of being as a hand holding a dagger extends outward from my current position. The singular hand is huge in perception. Unemotionally, I realize the intention of the dagger. A driving force plunges the dagger directly into my heart. The moment the dagger penetrates my flesh, my perspective snaps back to my body.

An emotional upheaval erupts. I am pierced, overwhelmed, finding it difficult due to the flood of thoughts. Anxiety forces the desire to move. Deluged with fear, hysterical with the thought of death, I cry out to the surrounding emptiness.

Remarkably, I am stunned by an incredible lack of painful sensation within the overwhelming. The dagger does not pierce inflicting pain, rather it soothes, gratifies, burning with an extreme coldness, cauterizing. There is a joy to the happening. My chest is an infected, seriously abscessed wound now being relieved of its painful pressure. The supernatural relaxing sensation comforts, causing a complete inner collapse, or is it possibly a return to a natural unknown state? All my muscles release. Miraculously, physical tension is eliminated. I am shocked by the feeling of complete release. I never realized there was so much tension existing within my body.

As the dagger settles deeper, blood begins to pour out and over my body. Striking the center of my heart, the dagger produces a thick stream of dark red, almost black blood. Bathing my body, the blood stimulates a primordial warmth, blanketing innate fear and ignorance. The profoundness of the act advances to a practical awareness. This must be done. The subtle thought of a womb never completely develops as it is overwhelmed by the image of a red orchid blossoming upon my open chest amidst the pool of blood.

Slowly awakening, slothful and groggy, I emerge from the dream. Whispering. “Should have dug the dagger deeper.”

For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and spirit, of joints and marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.



Mary and Joseph

A photo of my angel for the day. My Filipino friend Mary pulled me up by my bootstraps, spending an amazing day with me. It was just the two of us all day long. We spent the day centered on mass, Benediction with the Poor Clares of Rocky River, and an evening adoration at St Charles of Borromeo, interspersed with two dining experiences. Conversation, weighty and unceasing, filled our time together. Silence filled our prayers. Mary is able to up the ante in terms of practicing prayer. Comforting, soothing, relieving, the day was a Godsend, resolving a vital issue in my life, cleansing before North Dakota. Mary is a woman working on a similar spiritual level. What that means I am not sure. What I do know is she functions profoundly at a high level as a contemplative. We talked and talked. Channeling the Holy Spirit, she convinced me I need to do nothing. Her importance was firmly assisting in the formation of a conviction to do nothing. The spiritual direction was so abrasive it broke me down into tears. What an incredibly hard day. We accomplished a minor miracle.

‘You do not understand. I am right. I can nail her to the wall, stripping her of spiritual authenticity. I have to do something Mary.’

‘No. James, you must do nothing. You are a man of a higher calling. I see that about you. James if you are a man of a higher calling you must conduct yourself as a man of a higher calling. It is not easy, yet the path you are choosing is not easy.’

‘You do not understand…..’

‘Stop justifying yourself. Do nothing. If you have to cry and deal with frustration so be it. I have heard everything I need to hear from you.’

‘That twenty plus page manifesto, what am I supposed to do with it?”

‘Nothing. You must not mail it to anyone. A man of a higher calling would do nothing with it.  It is good you wrote it and got it out of you, yet you must not do anything with it. God is calling you and testing you. She was only there to test you and force you to prove yourself to God. Of course, you can always fail the test if you so choose. Go ahead and mail your manifesto to everyone you named. If you want to fail, you can fail. Life will go on. However you know what God wants and that is for you to do nothing. I do not want to hear any more about you being right. It has nothing to do with your calling. Either you pursue a higher calling or you do not. I am tired of details that lead to confusion and delusion. I want to speak about a higher calling because I truly believe you have one. God wants something special from you.’

‘I will do nothing.’

‘Very good.’


Three Catherine of Siena poems


Vulnerable we are, like an infant.
We need each other’s care
or we will

I Won’t Take No For An Answer

“I won’t take no for an answer,”
God began to say
to me

when He opened His arms each night
wanting us to

The Hymns of the Earth

I wanted to be a hermit and only hear the hymns
of the earth, and the laughter of the sky,

and the sweet gossip of the creatures on my limbs,
the forests.

I wanted to be a hermit and not see another face
look upon mine and tell me I was not all the beauty in this world.

For so many faces do that—
cage us.

The wings we have are so fragile
they can break from just
one word, or

a glance void
of love.

I wanted to live in that cloister of
light’s silence

because, is it not true, the heart
is so fragile and shy.



Friday evening reflection

An evening with the Benedictines of St Andrew Abbey, or more appropriately with the Eucharist in Adoration. It is settling into a Friday evening ritual, although many changes appearing upon the horizon threaten all rituals and schedules within my life. Life advances. In regards to the Eucharist, I panic a bit when I think about the North Dakota community conducting adoration only weekly. I have become so dependent upon sitting in front of the Eucharist daily it is a bit frightening to think of life without such splendor. Yet ‘Thy will be done’. I hold dear Blessed Henry Suso and St Jane de Chantel using almost the exact words when stressing the importance of being able to leave God in order to advance closer to God. I must not become dependent and attached to devotions. My ideas of holiness and worship must not obstruct spiritual growth. St John of the Cross and Dom Lorenzo Scupli also touch upon stagnation existing within a dependence upon spiritual exercises or spiritual regalia. I always hold dear St John of the Cross stressing a particularly holy religious who prayed the Rosary devoutly for years with a simple austere Rosary he constructed from the bones of a fish he consumed. It is not confirmed, waiting on final approval, yet I am focused upon moving the discernment visit to North Dakota up to next week. Many promising things have been occurring. There is a tier one manufacturer pursuing rigorously. I was not looking for a job, yet I interviewed twice with the company, and next week I will conduct a final interview. I like the company, impressed with the professional and honest communication. They are offering a more technical position, focused upon PLC programming, with a future open to the potential of moving into an engineering based position. I marvel at the maturity of their organizational culture and the fact they are a worldwide company. They possess the structure, organization, and leadership necessary to bring greater meaning into my life. Interestingly, they have two plants in Spain: Valencia and Barcelona, presenting intriguing future opportunities. Yet I hold to nothing, subscribing to the advice of Sister Patricia from Our Lady of the Pines, holding everything lightly, allowing God to present solutions. The mindfulness I have been stressing lately–paying attention—is the contemplative way I repose into. Abandoning imagination, I do not waste my time dreaming, scheming, and fantasying. I deal with reality, what surrounds and involves the moment. I possess five vacation days. I will utilize them to provide a discerning retreat to North Dakota, an opportunity to step away from life and focus upon my future. The flight to North Dakota agreeably affords an aspiration acquired with my first flight earlier in the summer. I will have a layover in Denver so I will be able to view the Rocky Mountains, taking photos, before landing in Bismarck North Dakota. I will be sure to purchase window seats. Regarding expectations everything is being taken to prayer. Determinations perverted by imagination are recognized as the pollution of free will. I was proud of my post on the shallowness of proclaiming grace working in one’s life. It all coalesces into a lesser spiritual way, a spiritual life dominated by free will. It is not my way. I am being careful, tedious in my examination of myself. Confident, I am still emotionally shaken by Ann. I forgot what I was reading recently that stressed utilizing the weapons of Satan against Satan—to turn the complications, turmoil, temptations, and difficulties of life into spiritually fortifying fodder. That is being accomplished. I am strong, firm in who I am. I penetratingly know myself, advancing the self-awareness beyond my life, transforming it into a recollection upon God. I know I am done in a certain sense. Everything with Ann has formed an internal conviction that detaches me from the world. It makes me a stronger man of God. When I first parted from her, I was convinced I wanted to be married. The further I advance the more I realize I have no interest in romance or an intimate relationship. I really am done in that regard. I say that lightly, convinced yet allowing room for error. My contemplative life dominates, dictates my wants and desires. The idea of bringing someone into my life is exhausting, distracting. I have been alone for decades. Through Ann, I experienced the fact that someone making claims to be interested in the contemplative life can inflict intense mayhem. That is done. I have Carol and Mary as telephone and social acquaintances, allowing female companionship. That is enough. Both women have mature ideas and histories with men. They can be counted on for emotional, psychological, and spiritual stability. Does all this mean I am called to the cloistered life? Maybe yes and maybe no. I am not sure. I do not know. I do look forward to North Dakota simply based on the adventure, the flight, and the distant locale providing a fine spiritual retreat, the proper means to confront serious change within my life. With Labor Day falling on next Monday, I will be able to fly out Friday and arrive back in Cleveland the following Sunday, well over a week of visiting time. I wait upon final confirmation from the Abbey. All in all, my life is good. I am grateful, at peace, loving the eastside of Cleveland. I never forget where I came from. The depravity of the low I sunk to. I enjoy moments, cherishing simple things. Tonight after St Andrew Abbey another ritual is developing. On the drive home, I stop at Shaker Heights square, walking around the restaurants, coffee shop, cinema and retail stores–people watching, experiencing the ambience of Friday evening diners. The walk is pleasant, social, yet distant, allowing interaction while maintaining privacy. The public transit train passes right through the square. I love watching the trains in motion, the people waiting at the station. Tomorrow evening I will be attending a photo shoot with the Cleveland Photographic Society. Hopefully, I will have a new page of photos. The fact is I am not bitterly recoiling from life. Life is good. My roommate Carter is becoming such a fixture in my life, an authentic good friend, a mature cultured man of shared interests, including a passion for sports. I do not underestimate his importance–the blessing he is. He thanks me, worrying I will leave. Humbly, I am pleased to assist in lifting his spirits after his termination as a Hospice chaplain. Yesterday, we put together a letter seeking a request for a good reference from the institution. He will submit, actually he did today, I will find out how it went tomorrow, the letter to his boss who oddly enough called him in to tie up some paperwork and unfinished business. I am praying they offer him his job back. He will not ask, although when I mentioned it, he looked to the ground and said of course he would accept a job offer. He is a good man. He survives well off a retirement account and investments. The firing really wounded him. There is another roommate who moved out as I moved in. He is an aspiring screenwriter, having spent the last ten years in Los Angeles. We talk on the phone, meet for lunch. All in all, my point is that within the realization that detachment firmly settles between me and the world, I hold endearing love for the world. The pursuit of a retiring religious life is done for proper and necessary reasons. I am tired. No editing, going to bed. I met with Dr. Nichta, a volatile and emotional session. Now it is time for peaceful sleep.



He perceived also that the angels chiefly at the Te Deum were very desirous that the religious should sing it devoutly, and he saw as it were flames issuing from the mouth of those who performed it with fervor. Let each one reflect upon himself, and take notice after what manner he makes his prayers; to see whether he deserves to be written in gold or silver letters, or with ink or water; or in fine, to see whether it deserves to be noted at all. Let him observe whether the flames of his heart issue through his mouth by fervorous aspirations, or whether he yawns through laziness and disgust; and in fine, let him reflect, whether he be there present in body only, but elsewhere in mind, having it dissipated with the thoughts of his studies, with the care of his affairs, or with other things still more condemned. –St Alphonsus Rodriguez ‘The Practice of Christian & Religious Perfection’.

St Alphonsus Rodriguez

St Alphonsus Rodriguez