A pleasant surprise during morning mass at St Clare. There seated directly in front of me, several pews to the front, was none other than Jim Nagel. He cordially greeted me after mass, extending an invitation to share breakfast. He took me to a charming health food restaurant ‘First Watch’. Their house specialty multigrain pancakes are delightful and enormous in size. The waitress informed me the monthly special is steel cut oats, a personal favorite. Speaking of health foods, I must spread the word on an incredible food find. I was shopping at Zagara’s when I discovered Chia seeds, normally priced $15 a bag selling for $2.50. I purchased all eight of the bags. I never tried the seeds, although I am aware they are recognized as the current super food craze, loaded with protein, Omega-3, and fiber. They are remarkable, a unique eating experience, while providing energy. Raw, they form a gel when masticated. Chia seeds can be substituted for eggs in recipes. When mixed with water they form an adhesive gel similar to eggs in a batter. My son informs me they can serve the same purpose in vegan puddings and smoothies. Anyway, Jim Nagel was fresh from a performing excursion in New York City. He conducted his one-man Thomas Merton play at the very church Thomas Merton experienced his conversion to Catholicism. His stories were invigorating, a true testament to the Holy Spirit being active in his adventures. He is prayerfully pursuing an opportunity to serve as artist, or actor, in residence at the Bishop Fulton Sheen Theater in NYC. The breakfast overflowed with conversation, wonderful in depth, exploring the creative spirit tuned to the spiritual. I must say I was forced to work tomorrow, so there will be no Saturday poetry reading at ‘Negative Space’. I will interpret the matter as a sign. Overall, the Jim Nagel breakfast convinces me my St Paul Shrine experience, aligned with my Cleveland experience, allows for a certain carryover. Those able to advance are welcome. The Man of Prayer resides relevant. Mary, Joseph, and Vinita are enjoyable dinner companions. The Saturday prayer group remains stout. Father Roger is my preferred confessor, knowing me intimately, providing excellent simple spiritual guidance. I am working with Carrie on furthering Hospice activity through the presentation to the Franciscan Third Order. The Poor Clares are bonded spiritually on a profound level. I tried to arraign a one-on-one consultation with Sister Mary Thomas, however that will not be possible until after Lent. The time of the risen Christ will be perfect in accommodation. It is important not to destroy the past. More appropriately, simply moving beyond calls forth action immersed in grace. I recall rock lyrics to the tune, ‘anyone who ever played a part, shouldn’t turn around and hate it’. The morning proved rewarding, providing confirmation, sweet consolation everything is all right. Returning after breakfast for adoration, walking into the chapel, there was my newly anointed spiritual director walking into the parish office, dapper in his handsome priestly hat, displaying dignity, proper pride, and enthusiasm for the priesthood, greeting with a smile and well-wishes.
This was a response to the Man of Prayer discussing my attaining of a spiritual director. It allows the exploration of the matter. The Man of Prayer was inquiring whether I would be meeting twice a month with the priest.
A scheduled monthly meeting, the third Thursday, will be the routine. I am satisfied with the depth of investigation. The exploring of my personal history, my journey in faith, was conducted today. I leave with the determination to continue forward in patience, meeting the daily demand of mass and a Holy Hour, obedient to the call of the Hospice. I will encounter the priest in passing, including his celebrating of mass, throughout the week. We are aiming to establish if it is God’s desire for me to enter the religious life. For now patience is the calling, purity the essence, prayer the exercising. My faith activity advances in maturity in regards to community. I am meeting weekly with a prayer group ‘Arise’ at St Clare, basically myself and two solid family women of faith. Others come and go. Plus continued involvement with the men at Sacred Heart. The Hospice looms in uncertainty. Father offered another avenue of social life he would like me to explore. The social activity is in response to my alcoholic isolating past. I was a man deep in faith who became self-absorbed and truthfully severely self-destructive—suicidal in slow certainty. Obedience to the Church, structure and others pulls me out of myself.
There was more explored. There are many more thoughts, many rejected. My poem today, arose from a reflection during prayer. I felt strongly Mary asking me to quiet myself, to cease my frustrations, to silence myself, and then silence myself even more. I oblige.
I am arraigning another visit to the Maronite Monks of Adoration for Easter weekend, utilizing a vacation day on Last Supper Thursday in order to extend the stay. I will not inquire regarding entering. They have age boundaries, however in prayer I will open my heart. The Benedictines in North Dakota repose in maturity, the plenitude of retired priest establishing authenticity, inspiring reinforcement. Thy Will be done. I will mention the priest presented as a spiritual director is younger. Observing him celebrating mass, it was obvious the depth of his spirituality. He has suggested, while warning against the mindset, of investigating communities. I have considered the possibility of exploring religious communities during my visit to Spain. Beyond theological soundness, similar to Father Roger, it struck apparent he focused acutely upon living the spiritual life–following Christ advanced beyond talking (making good points) and knowledge. The ability to progress beyond self-will, truly able to identify and detach from self-interest, in order to hear clearly and respond appropriately to the voice of God. I have always felt a deeper calling, blessed with severe faith, a prayer life graced–allowing blissful abandonment. I recall Father David Mary, during our falling out, amongst our arguments, halting his anger, voicing the thought, ‘I want to say I fear for you, that you are foolish and arrogant. You will make it difficult on yourself. Yet your strong faith and prayer life, I think, will save you’.
Joseph enwrapping arm around, supporting,
His holy wife,
Parents of the Holy Family,
Caregivers to the Divine Child,
Unknowing, preparing for the Crucifixion,
Mary speaks to me,
Fully present, aware,
Finger to her lips,
Quiet she says,
Let it be,
Let all things go,
Release, heal and then heal some more,
Sweetie, I, the Undoer of Knots, am untying,
Let me do the work,
Even more be quiet,
Again, hush yourself,
Never stop trying,
Get up for you have fallen again,
Advance your ceasing,
Trust and be quiet,
Silence all your arguments,
Mute your protestations,
Patience within your adoration,
Patience in your prayer,
Upon your knees turn your eyes heavenly,
Still all that you think is good,
My little beloved one peace,
Stop all the chattering,
You know God sees all things,
Linger in the emptiness,
Remain calm in the unknowing,
I have no message aside from this:
Remain at peace within your hiddenness,
You are chosen,
Hear the call crying,
In the silence hear the roar,
Within the thundering remain centered,
The reflection, image, the comfort of WATER, quenching thirst. The coming Lent Sunday Gospel reading on Jesus going to the well, an encounter with the Samaritan woman: a revealing seeking a drink of water, a conversation, honesty–self-revelation through the Divine leading to salvation. The Arise group this morning proves essential, soothing and healing on levels of advancement. God is good and all giving. The turnout was small, three women and myself. One woman previously attending was unable to be present due to the death of her mother, the funeral conducted in the church as we met. Family members and friends paying tribute. The two women leading Arise are solid, mature in faith and personal lives, one an ecclesiastical minister, friends with Mary from St Paschal Baylon, the same in vocation, the lay minister who guided me into working with the Hospice. Humble, strong, courageous women of families. Inner-circles form within greater circles, circumambulating centered upon the Lord. Saturday Sacred Heart and a day of sanctified manliness, men desiring to be pillars of the church. Everything without coalescing within, disrupting and demolishing the pain from immature dysfunctional fellowship. Water satisfying, cleansing and bathing, healing wounds, deeply penetrating, satisfying thirst. My soul is refreshed, savoring the warmth of families, humble simple people of faith, friendship, and hope.
Jesus calls out from the cross: “I thirst”
Echoes meet as deep is calling unto deep,
over my head, all your mighty waters,
sweeping over me.
Earth as we are, let us walk on earth, since the deep sea turns our head and makes us reel. Let us remain at our Lord s feet with Mary; let us practice those little virtues which are adapted to our littleness; and there are virtues that are exercised rather in descending than in ascending, the better for our weakness. Such are patience, the bearing with our neighbour and doing him service, humility, sweetness, courage, affability, the endurance of our own imperfections, and other little virtues like them. I do not say that we are not to ascend by means of prayer; but it must be step by step. –St Francis de Sales
The familial experience of life professionally extends into Hospice activities. I have spent the morning finalizing coordination with the Franciscan Third Order regarding Hospice introduction and exploration. In addition, hands on training was secured during the conclusion of Lent. I find myself genuinely enthralled and touched by Hospice personnel. I have a color print out of many of the staff throughout the organization. I put stars by all the individuals I regularly interact with, pleased to realize they are involved in my assisting of those passing away. Everything so profound, practical, professional, and poignant. Then to top off the phone calls, the reason for the meaning, a vigil was called forth tomorrow. The bedside vigils are equaled only by the experience of mass. I was thinking about my recent focus upon the Canticle of Canticles, a relationship with God reaching the level of lovers. The bold assertion arose from my prayer experiences with Joseph and the mother of six. Penetrating to a blissfully familial splendor, the intimacy praying Rosaries and Divine Mercy chaplet with two Catholics concluding full lives proves overwhelming for the lonely broken sinner that I am. God blesses me. I did not report, all though experienced, that the prayers for Joseph blossomed into a deep calling to Saint Joseph. And with the mother of six to Our Blessed Mother. There is a conviction I am introducing them to the Holy parents, all setting the stage, a precursor. Christ waits beyond and above. Those two graced my life with sheer love. The passionate nature I was left with is a consequence of the overall sense of grace, peace, and love enveloping me during the shared moments.
On Tuesdays, mass at St Clare is conducted with the school children attending. The familial aspect of faith emerging apparent. God is strongly making evident the need for psychological soundness, humility, and maturity. The children represent the future, the potentiality of hope held properly within their innocent hearts. God is good and giving. Within the ability to find comfort within community is the strength to stand alone. Detachment is greater, more efficacious, amidst the body of the Church. Love and familial longing can never be denied. I recall reading of prison inmates perversely bringing about the reality of families. Inmates create families while incarcerated. Absurdly, husband and wives adopt sons and daughters, a family unit proving essential in allowing the inmates to survive their harsh conditions. The human heart always longs for that which is good ‘our hearts are restless until they rest in God’. To whole heartedly and peacefully come into community is to accurately approach God alone. Healthy adult relationships bringer sharper into focus the ways of God. His voice becomes more pronounced in solitary prayer when love reigns amongst brothers and sisters. God is bringing an advanced depth to my faith life through familial sharing.