Tag Archives: anger

9 May: Letting go and letting God

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Whether we are seeking to grow in prayer, or become free of what we have come to recognise as life-diminishing ways of acting or thinking, or to know what it is God wants us to do, it is in letting go that we make room for God. It is the Spirit that roots and grounds us in God, draws us into wholeness and guides us along the way that leads to life. If we try too hard, believing that it is only through the sheer force of our will and effort that change can happen, we leave little room for God. Everything is gift.

However ‘letting go’ is in itself a work, for our natural inclination tends towards keeping life in our minute control, depending entirely on our own resources rather than being open to another’s help, and bringing about change by the strength of our will and endeavour. To go against this instinct for self-sufficiency and self-definition can feel daunting; yet we let go not into nothingness but to ‘let God’ be active in our lives. In doing so we find that we too are alive in a way we have never been before.

  • Put a stone in your hand to represent what you desire to let go to God.
  • Place a candle or cross nearby to symbolize the place of letting go.
  • Use the reflection below may help you to identify what you want to put in God’s hands:

We let go to God our regrets about the past – the choices we have made however we now feel about them, whatever has happened to us for good and for harm. God is in the place where we are, however we got there.

We let go to God our anxiety about the future. We cannot control what is in essence beyond our control – instead of torturing ourselves with fears that begin ‘what if…’ we let go to God who will always be alongside us in ‘what is’.

We let go to God what hurts. True we cannot switch off our painful feelings; they flow into our lives, but if we do not cling to them they will flow from us again, carried in the stream of God’s presence and care.

We let go to God our resentment. Even though the anger may not die down in our hearts we consent not to hold on to our need to get even; we give to God to heal what we cannot heal by ourselves

We let go to God our need to be good enough. God gives freely what we can never earn. We are valued, loved and believed in as we are.

We let go to God our desire for growth. It is God who continues to create us and who works to make us whole.

We let go to God the choices we face today. Though we do not know what to do, as we choose to listen, God will lead us along the unseen way.

We let go into God’s working: We consent to be drawn this day into the stream of God’s life: to become the activity of Love in that part of the world that is ours.

  • As you sense something you want to let go to let God, put down your stone by the candle or cross.
  • There may be feelings you need to share with God before you feel ready to let go: fears, hopes, doubts, desires or pains. You may sense you are not ready yet to let go and let God in this area of your life. If so, let go at whatever level you are able to today, with your ambivalent feelings and doubts.
  • You will probably find that on another day you will need to let go in this area all over again. Letting go is rarely a ‘done deal’; it is a process where little by little we allow God to become the source of our life.

 

CC.

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12 March, Human Will VIII: An Unexpected Reward for being less than 100% committed.

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I trust Sister Johanna will allow me to continue reflecting on human will from another angle. WT.

Litter-picking is one of those fatigues that children in school resent. It’s one thing to pick up your own litter, another when it comes to other people’s. I try not to be resentful when I do my turn around our locality – turning over scraps of paper, bottles and cardboard coffee cups, instead of stones on the beach. But that’s more difficult when it comes to cigarette ends. (GRRRR!)

I tell myself the parable about the son who didn’t want to do what his father asked, while the other just made promises. Well, the first one: ‘afterwards, being moved with repentance, he went’. (Matthew 21:29).

My repentance was less than 100%! But a little reward came my way one day just before Christmas. Shining in a ray of winter sun, a very early snowdrop.

And better, surely, to do the job with a degree of anger than not at all? I was doing what I would have done had I been 100% repentant – and the job got done.

WT.

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20 February, Inter-galactic Exploration, XXIII: Peeeeeeeeeeeep! Peeeeeeeeeeep! part 2.

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‘Well,’ said Ajax after Will and Abel had taken themselves back to the railway station. ‘What do you make of that story?’
‘I liked Callum,’ said Alfie, ‘but he seemed a bit aggressive to start with.’
‘So, my friends,’ aked T. ‘Which was the real Callum? “Nasty piece of work” or “you made my day”?’
‘I guess if someone expects you to be a nasty piece of work, that’s what they’ll see, but I smelt anger coming out of him,’ said Alfie. ‘That was before we heard about him at school.’
‘And what if Will had been stealing you? Surely he’d have been righteously angry on my behalf?’
‘But you would not want Will beaten up by an angry law enforcer,’ countered Ajax.
‘He was never going to be touched by Callum, except for that handshake. Once Callum knew the dogs were OK, then Will was OK. And when Callum recognised Will he stopped being a cop and became just a human being. Mind, I might get Sergeant Callum to have a word about the way Will lets Abel stuff you with treats when you have perfectly balanced K9Krunchees in the bowls here.’
‘Leave Abel alone,’said Alfie. ‘K9Krunchees are better than certain other scientific foods we all remember. Adequate but incomplete, the old six foods and four drinks, but K9Krunchees seem to give me an appetite for more interesting things that you couldn’t sniff out in your human disguise.’
WT.

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9 February: Unstoppable faith

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(Image from http://markseifried.tumblr.com/post/119022876840/persistence)

Thursday 9th, February, 2017

Gospel: Mark 7:24-30

The woman in the Gospel story today was adamant.  Jesus had described any move to help her as giving the children’s food to house-dogs.  The woman stood her ground and was not discouraged by the strong language used by Jesus.  She felt she deserved a chance and Jesus gave her that chance.

Reflecting on Jesus’ first reaction, it was a total write-off.  She could have easily felt offended and walked away.  If it were me, I could have felt so angry and humiliated that I would not like to have anything to do with him again. It is a big challenge to be nice to somebody who speaks rudely to me.  How open am I to that person or situation I am finding difficult to deal with?  Will I resolve today to give that person another try?

In the midst of my everyday wrong choices, God does not and will not give up on me.  In the same way I am called to imitate God, in being more accommodating and empathetic.   Am I convinced that God can still intervene in every situation, even when it seems hopeless?  Like the woman in the Gospel, I should not give up. God is fully aware of it and taking care of it in his own way.

FMSL

 

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29 November: Jacopone da Todi 3. Reflections of our Divided Selves.

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If each person is like an iceberg, with 90% hidden beneath the surface, we have to decide whether we will only notice playful surface images, or peer more profoundly, helped by faith, into our buried and still unhealed depths. How important is it to us to encounter the real self, the life that is ours because it is given by God? We assume that our pleasant opinions of how homely and friendly we are can float reliably across any flow of social encounters ahead. Jacopone’s experience taught him differently. So he challenges his own soul to be honest about itself.

“Galieno, Avicenna, Hippocrates

Never understood how the ills of the body

Are linked to those of the soul.

They meet head on in anger

And create such a turbulence

That I wish I had never been born!

Up with you, accursed one, no more delays!

Our sins are inscribed on our foreheads;

What we thought we did alone,

In the privacy of our chamber,

Will now be displayed for all to see.”                       (Laud 15)

 

The thought of how God judges his life, and weighs up the love he has shared or held back runs underneath this poem. He admits his soul’s twists and turns, imagining, rationalising and quick, careless decisions, are unbeneficial. The heart, the meeting point of body and soul, cannot keep the two in harmony. Outbursts of passion or dislike begun in the body prove too much for the badly tutored soul to manage.

 

Chris D.

October 2016.

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October 10: CONSCIENCE III: Under the Microscope

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There is good news and bad news about our conscience.  The good news is that our conscience has an affinity with what is good, and on this level of our being we “are alone with God whose voice echoes in our depths,” as The Catechism of the Catholic Church tells us [no. 1776].  This wonderful “sanctuary” is given to us by God, we only need to put aside our many distractions in order to enter it.

But, if that is so, then why do good people sometimes go off the rails?  Surely, so much God-given moral integrity should keep us pretty steadily on the right path in life, once we have made the decision to take it.  Thus, the bad news about our conscience is this: its wisdom can be ignored, as St. Thomas Aquinas remarks [Summa Theologia, I, 79, 13].  He points out that conscience is not like our intellect and our will, because these two faculties of the soul have permanence; the powers of our mind and will are always functioning and cannot be laid aside.    Conscience is something else again.  It requires, St. Thomas implies, a certain depth of spirituality in order to do its work well; otherwise, its promptings can simply be tuned out.

Why is this so?  Recall, we do not live in a state of harmony within ourselves.  The true voice of conscience can be out-shouted by other parts of ourselves: our emotions, for example, can, and often do, overwhelm us and can make the judgement of conscience difficult to discern.  My emotion of anger, say, when someone offends me, might cause me to fail to take into account the fact that the offender did not intend to cause hurt.  I may find myself lashing out unreasonably, without listening to my own conscience telling me to give the other person a chance to explain.  Or, say, my greed for a new, stylish pair of shoes might be more insistent than the voice of my conscience telling me that I cannot really afford these designer stilettos, and I shouldn’t add the price of them to my credit card debt.

What do we do about this state of affairs?  Perhaps we need to view our conscience as we view our muscles.  Weak muscles need exercise in order to become strong.  Our conscience is something like that.  Ignore its voice and the voice becomes weaker and harder to hear.  Seek to follow the voice of conscience, and its guiding voice will strengthen and become easier to discern.  

SJC.

 

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October 3: Saint Francis’ Eve.

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My friends, it’s Monday, and the working week starts for many of us. Work, politics, social life, all can seem at odds with our calling and mission as Christians, but here’s another view from David Yorke, a secular Franciscan in California. And of course tonight we will celebrate the Transitus of St Francis, and tomorrow the Feast of the Poverello.  Read on and be encouraged! 

Will Turnstone.

Over the years, and in various ways, I continually hear others among our Order who tend to shy away from the word “Secular” in reference to our Franciscan way of life. As for me, this is something that I hope to continually embrace. When I introduce myself as being in Religious Orders, invariably, the follow up questions all stem from the words, “But, how?” My response to them is unequivocal, “I’m a Secular.” Every day I am further reminded by all that is around me – I am a Religious Man in a Secular World.

Those I have talked to across my State and Nation all seem to be experiencing a universal uprising in both angst and vexation. I can not help but think this has spawned the polarising political movements that are dominating the mass media outlets across the United States. Pure vitriol. Yesterday I came across a car that had two bumper stickers. A “Tolerance” sticker on one side of the car, yet some very damning words directed towards a minority political group were displayed on the other. Many people today are angry, incensed, and hurt to the point of blindness and loss of rational thought. All things you might commonly find in a Secular World.

In the book of John, Christ offers up one of the most amazing prayers for his disciples. If we focus more specifically on the few verses around Chapter 17 Verse 15, we find some pertinent words from our Saviour for us “today”. Our Lord asked that you and I remain in this world. He knew we would be exposed to evil, so He provided us with Truth as our sanctification.

Recently, my superior shared this important lesson: ‘ As Franciscans we are supposed to come together in Joy and take that Joy out into the World. Sometimes we get this reversed and we bring the World into the Franciscans.’

This is the challenge put before us all. Clergy, Religious, or Laity, we are are in this World but not of it. When we come together, let us share God’s Love. When we leave, let us take that Truth out in to the World.

I will leave you with a paraphrase of a quote by John Kennedy that frequently inspires me: “… We choose to do these things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard.” And this is why I am a “Secular” Franciscan, and will remain…..
Your most unworthy,

David A. York, ofs Minister ~ San Luis Rey

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August 3:The Psalms as Personal Prayer IV.

 

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What about the angry psalms – often called the cursing psalms – where the psalmist is ranting and raving and just lets it rip against his enemies?  What about them?  Should we be embarrassed about them, and try to hide them in a dark corner where no one will notice them?

Emphatic no! 

I am so glad my community prays them and doesn’t leave them out.  They are so important.  It’s to do again with listening to humanity.  Every good listener knows that when someone has been deeply hurt, the hurt person cannot arrive at forgiveness immediately.  Stages need to be negotiated.  Shock and denial usually come first, then a kind of mixed-up experience follows, that alternates between the acceptance of what happened and rage that it happened at all; forgiveness of the one who caused the hurt is usually way down the line.  The rage must be allowed its place in the healing process or the capacity to forgive the one who caused the pain is compromised.

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In the angry psalms we, of course, are not advocating that the hurt person should go out and act on his or her angry impulses!  But in these psalms we are allowed to turn those impulses into prayer; we honestly admit them within a relationship to God that is dedicated to the healing process.  We are identifying with those who are in that very painful place of hurt and rage.  We don’t judge anything the psalmist expresses – that is noit our role – we just allow it to be.  This might happen to be cathartic, also, for the one praying – but it’s not by any means the whole story of what’s happening when we use the angry psalms for prayer.

We’re also learning something extremely important about God in these angry psalms.  We’re learning that we have a God who allows us to say, “THIS IS UNBEARABLE” in bold print, underlined three times, with six exclamation marks, and who doesn’t mind.  At all.  The Jewish boast, “What other nation has its gods as close to them as our God is to us,” could be interpreted in this sense: that God wants us to bring him everything, not just the nice presentable bits of ourselves, but the really raw bits, too, the whole kit and caboodle, our entire inner life. The angry psalms help us to do this.

SJC

 

 

 

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August 1: The Psalms as Personal Prayer II.

 

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When I go into the chapel for the Divine Office, yes, it is a time for being with God in the deep places of the soul.  But, really, all humanity is there, too, because all humanity is represented in the Psalter.  In the Divine Office, we sing the one-hundred and fifty psalms of the Psalter through in a week, give or take.  The psalms become familiar – some become friends.

In the psalms we have theology expressed poetically.  We have the human person’s experience of God crystallised – I suppose that’s what one might expect of biblical poetry.  But, less predictably perhaps, we also have the human experience of being human expressed in the psalms.  Every human emotion is there in the Psalter: there’s praise and petition, euphoria and celebration; there are psalms of exhortation; some psalms refer to a congregation being there; others seem to be highly personal and private; kings and queens make appearances; shepherds, deer, bulls, goats and rams, fish and rabbits; all Israel is there; the psalms tell the story of Israel’s exodus, of the  election of Israel as the Chosen People of God, and of their failures: Israel’s infidelity is frankly admitted  – again and again; but so too God’s faithfulness is affirmed – again and again: the psalms testify with wonder and gratitude to God’s mercy and forgiveness.  It’s notable, also, that the psalmist’s states of disillusionment and abandonment by God are written large in the Psalter.  The Psalter’s pictures are not just the pretty ones about deliverance and forgiveness.  Unlovely pictures of anger and anguish, rage and raving are painted in vivid colours in these inspired texts.

All this diversity is glorious, on the one hand.  But on the other, how can I absorb it each time I go to the chapel to pray?  Can it all become “me” every time?  What if I go to prayer feeling rather down, and it happens to be the day for praying, “I will sing forever of your love, O Lord”?  Or, I may go in feeling rather elated about something, and the psalm happens to be, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

One of the first things I learned about the praying the psalms is that the psalms aren’t just about “me” because prayer isn’t just about me.  I wanted to be present to others when God called me.  The psalms in their diversity bring others to me and enable me to hear about their experiences as each psalm unfolds, verse by verse, day by day in the Divine Office.  In praying the psalms it becomes possible to pray from a stance of listening to humanity.  It becomes possible to pray in solidarity with those in the world who are feeling what that psalm is expressing.  I can take the psalmist’s experience and claim it as my own, pray it as my own.

SJC

 

 


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May 5: The nail that pierced has become the key to unlock the door: III.

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The nail that pierced has become the key to unlock the door: III.

St. Bernard

mercylogoToday, let us consider an interpretation of St. Bernard’s words that differs from the one we have been thinking about in the two previous posts.

Perhaps we are going though a very painful time right now.  We may have read St. Bernard’s words and felt instantly that the “nail” to which he refers is not the one piercing the hand of the crucified Lord.  This is a nail that pierces our own heart.

This nail is the nail of our own sufferings – sufferings which feel too heavy to carry.  These are sufferings that make us fear that we will not only collapse under them, but we will never rise again.  The pain is too great.  We feel shaken to our core.  There seems to be no way forward.

Why is this happening to us, we wonder?  What is God trying to say?  Why is he allowing this?

The mystery of suffering is very deep indeed, and I cannot pretend to be able to plumb its depths.  Yet, I can affirm from my own experiences that God’s mercy encompasses sufferings.  How?   Without in any way claiming to say all there is to say about this profound subject, I will offer just a few thoughts.

Perhaps, the first trace we might find of God’s mercy in times of suffering is that he sustains us in faith.  Faith is always a gift – and never more so than in times of suffering.  We may not understand why we are suffering in this way, but, through his grace, we are able to maintain some kind of relationship with God – we don’t just drop him, despite the fact that we may not be feeling very devout or prayerful.  His grace keeps us “in touch” with him.  We may be angry, or despondent, or frightened, or any number of other things.  But we still hang on to him.  And he hangs on to us – although this may be difficult to detect.

Second, by means of his merciful grace, we are learning to wait.  We wait for the answers to come.  We wait for the new life to emerge.  We wait for the pain to subside.  We wait for God to teach us whatever he means to teach us through this pain.  I remember asking a priest why the process of healing seemed (and was) so slow.  He said, wisely, that God usually works within the usual human processes and time-frames.  Time is needed for growth and healing.  There is no “fast-track” here.  We wait.  This knowledge was helpful to me at the time, but still, there is no sense in which this is an easy wait.

Finally – or, better, gradually – and in God’s time, we begin to discover that through this experience of suffering, a new “door” is opening into a new depth of relationship with God.  All the pain has not been meaningless, and it has not been fruitless.  The nail has unlocked a door which could not have been opened but for the pain we have experienced.  The very experiences that we thought would be our undoing, have, in fact, shown themselves to be of crucial importance in our life with God and with people.  They have been key experiences, full of meaning and life, without which we would not have advanced in our relationship with the Lord.  “The nail that pierced has become the key to unlock the door.”

SJC.

St Mary Magdalene, Davington. MMB

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