Resolution For Formation

A new year of expectation

2018 is upon us and I am considering what is on the horizon.   I am not one for making resolutions…since I rarely keep them more than a week or two!  
But I am thinking about goals.  What I would like to accomplish in the course of another year.  Of course the usual….eat better, lose another 20 pounds, read the Bible more, etc.
I have a year ahead of classes and formation in the formation process of the diaconate.  And this has me turning my thoughts away from resolutions…and more towards formation.
What does it mean to be formed?

Whether we realize it or not, we are all being formed.  Formation of our heart is either happening to us in a passive way, or we take on the formation of our hearts with intention. 

This coming year I am considering two words:  Detachment and Discipline

I continue to need an increase in both.  To be further detached from pleasures of food and drink, material comforts, and conveniences of time.  I am often too much in a hurry.  I walked to Publix tonight to buy some groceries.  I could have driven there in less than 3 minutes, but it felt actually pleasurable to walk in the cold, taking the extra time to consider the inconveniences of walking.  It slowed me down, gave me more time to think, and was actually good to spend the extra time.

I also need an increase in disciplines.  Discipline to write more, read more books and less Facebook and Twitter, and an increase in the disciplines of prayer.   This last year, I solidified my discipline of morning prayer with the Liturgy of the Hours.  However, in the coming year, I intend to carve out the needed time in the evening for night prayer/evening prayer. 

 The coming year will bring it’s own pressures, pleasures, joys, and heartaches. So much will be out of my control.  An intentional formation is the path towards a clear goal.  “If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me” (Mt 16:24)  That is a clear call to an intentional formation.  

The End of Gluttony

I stand tonight at the precipice of a major change in my life….I hope!

Lisa and I have decided to embark on a 40-day journey of a juice fast.  A while ago I watched the film “Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead” which shows the story of people who changed their lives by healing their bodies from the inside out.  
There is a spiritual dimension for me as well as physical.   The physical is easy.  I am overweight and have struggled to lose (and keep lost) about 50 lbs.  Carrying the extra weight has begun to really take its toll on my joints, sleeping and overall health.  I have done extended fasts before – so going without solid food for 40 days is not as much of the challenge.  The real challenge is the spiritual connections.
This fast will afford my body a rest, a break.  It’s a way to just disconnect from the pleasures and controls food has in my life.  I often don’t think about what I am going to eat…I just act!  And that is where gluttony comes in.  For me, the sins of gluttony are not about eating until you have to roll me down the road.  No, it is more in line with the definition: “the habitual greed or excess in eating”.   Habitual greed.   Those words grabbed my attention.   There are some bad habits I have allowed to take root in my life.  Food is more than social, more than pleasurable,  more than sustenance.  And since it sometimes can control my actions, it is time to finally take some action.  
I am thankful that Lisa has decided to take the journey with me.  This will make it easier for the times when I would feel left out of the dinner table because of a fast.  So we begin another sort of “Camino”. A walk towards better health.  A walk towards simplicity.   And that walk all begins with the first step…the decision to take action.
So -here we are, September 30, 2017.  I spent the last of this day eating, drinking and being merry.  But I am actually now more excited about putting it all away…and just taking a break from eating.  Just slowing down the pace.  Just taking steps to be more thoughtful about food and my relationship with it.   I hope to learn a lot about myself through this.    And I look forward to the changed man who will one day find freedom from “disordered passions”, who will hopefully find one of the fruits of the Holy Spirit….self control. 

Peace.

“Nil nisi te, Domine”

The Greatest Is This

So utterly beautiful!  To think of God and Humanity joined together in a person….in an intimate union of LOVE!    Love God…Love Neighbor.  It is that simple. 

Your daily Gospel reflection…
Thursday, June 8, 2017
9th Week in Ordinary Time, Year I
Mark 12:18-27
Friends, our Gospel for today features the Word of God himself telling us what stands at the heart of the law. A scribe posed, as a kind of game, the following question: “Which commandment is the greatest?” There were hundreds of laws in the Jewish system. So it was a favorite exercise of the rabbis to seek out the single rule that somehow clarified the whole of the law.
So Jesus gives his famous answer: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and first commandment. The second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” What does that mean? The law is finally about love, and the love of God and neighbor are inextricably bound to one another. If we love God, but hate our neighbors, we’re wasting our time.
Why are the two loves so tightly connected? Because of who Jesus is. Jesus is not just a human being, and he is not just God. He is the God-man, the one in whom divinity and humanity come together. Therefore, it’s impossible to love him as God without loving the humanity that he’s created and embraced.


“Nil nisi te, Domine”

I think I am infected

I was walking tonight and started to pray a familiar prayer which is now becoming more frequent in my life.  It goes like this:

“Dear Lord, please grant me the grace today to love you with all of my heart, with all of my soul, with all of my mind and with all of my strength.   And give me the grace to love my neighbor as myself…so that I can love what you love”
I then follow that with an “Our Father”, a “Hail Mary” and a “Glory Be”.    I have been doing this for a little while and I am sensing a shift in my heart.  
Where the infection comes in – is as I am praying the “Our Father” my mind begins to shift and I start thinking about how I can share this idea with others on Facebook, Instagram, etc.   By the tail end of “Forgive us our trespasses” I realize what my mind has been doing.  And I begin to repent of these thoughts.  
I recognize that I have  a problem. I am infected with the way the world thinks.  We don’t just live anymore.  We “share” all the time.  I don’t just pray for the sake of praying.   Now I pray and want to “share” that with everyone to “encourage” others to do the same.  
Why do I do this?  Why not just pray and keep it between the Lord and myself?  (And here is the irony – I am writing about this and “sharing” again).  I find myself often fluctuating between abandoning “digital life” all together and going the way of the Amish….or just accepting this as the culture I now live within.
One of those 1st steps has something to do with “recognizing I have a problem that I am powerless to overcome”.   Perhaps for now, it is enough to recognize the problem…and continue to pray that prayer so that eventually….you may never hear about struggles like this.


“Nil nisi te, Domine”




Looking for an easier path

As the journey of life continues, I am trying to find an easier way to get some thoughts online.   Weebly.com has been my platform for the last couple of years.  However, it has a few steps to go through to get a posting online.

Tumblr is quickest – but messy.   Twitter and Facebook – too limited.   So this year, as a way to consolidate life, I decided to migrate more of my digital world to Google.   Already, Google has my calendar, email, voice services/text messaging and now web/domain hosting.  Only makes sense I also put my cloud storage there too – all under one roof.   Hmmm…makes me think of a movie I recently saw!

But in the end, if it is too many steps I just won’t do it.  Unlike the Camino where we have days and days of endless steps.  But even there, you look for the easier way if there is one.

So let’s see if the Blogger.com platform is easier.  And if so…perhaps I’ll be saying more to the world sooner than later.