Featured

Still I Stumble

Opening Prayer from The Carmelite Lectio Divina (www.ocarm.org), Mk9:2-23.

Lord our God,
when Your Son was transfigured
You gave eyes of faith to the apostles
to see beyond appearances
and to recognize Jesus as Your beloved Son.
This vision gave them courage for the hour of trial. When our faith and trust
seem to desert us in dark moments,
let Your Son take us up to the mountain
and give us a glimpse of His light,
that with fresh courage and generosity
we may see where He wants us to go.
We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen

Featured

We Are Thus or Thus

Grace the golden orb 

Beams into primeval flame, 

That shoots

Coded desires

To the rounded mask

(Teeming with ideas 

High aspirations 

And multitudes of emotions).

 

The darts, selectively coupling

with fraternal correlatives, 

Slip to the darker side. 

At measured pace

The orb rotates

Capturing to itself a myriad marriages. 

At appointed point

There’s a stop and stillness; 

Obverse stands nakedly, 

In bright rays 

Illuminated,

A meshwork 

of Cause and Affects. 

 

Transformed by appetites

For gold, frankincense and myrrh,

The orb dull-drifts to recesses of darkness;

But is saved by the unions transcendental

That counter pull to warmth of the primordial Source-

Directed  by its own discernments, 

Attractions

Selections

Volitions, 

Featured

Peter’s Principle

Drippingly

Awashed 

in glittering ripples

I wade deeper by paces

Unmindfully,

As the clouds grow darker.

Below the surface 

Jocund schools of fish

And denizens of the deep

Approach,

Curiosity sweeping aside inhibitions

While

Darting between swaying weeds 

And shelter of rockery.

The waters get deeper and darker,

Darker still the sunless wells,

Threatening 

Compelling curiosity;

The weeds too seem changed,

Stronger 

They menacingly

Wave intruders away.

Gasping,

I break the troubled waters,

As darkness covers the sky.

In Desperation

I cry,

“Help me Lord, I sink!”

Helped by his firm,gentle grip,

I surface;

The clouds drift away,

The sea’s calm and peaceful again.

Featured

When Things Are Thus or Thus

Well might one ask, “What need’s truth? We already  have the truths we need; precisely put down, with proofs and principles, by prominent people. No more need for blind faith. With  practical application  and a measure of human ingenuity, we could construct fulcrums and would lift the world. No more fantasies about the man in the moon: now it’s only a body of craters and dunes waiting for someone to stomp on. What need of an invisible deity? We, on our own, are able to travel to Mars – even colonise distant galaxies!” It has been a long journey for the species to reach this assured consciousness. It has been so long, that we forget where we began; and the myriad stages in between. At so many stages we thought that we had reached the zenith of our creativity and achievements – but there has always been room for more progress. 

When we can make and do so many things, we also have the intellectual ability to decide what is good for us: what is right and what is wrong. We do not need axioms brought down from mountains, the entrails of caves, or churned up from the depths of the oceans. For a most of the time, elders believed and practised what they were told. There were  obvious exceptions, and at times very subtle changes, to designed for convenience.  Generations have decided their own parameters of social behaviour, each setting aside the “morality” of the predecessor. With the stroke of a pen years of tradition and ideologies have been relegated to the dustbin of the history. Like a new suit, morality has been consonant with the fashion of the day. Within living memory we have seen radical changes in social behaviour. Arguably, these changes have made us better, more sensitive, and more enlightened than ever before.

Do these attributes and attainments make us better than sheep or goats; two-legged things that strut and fret; drop off, and then just disappear? I think not. For then, roses and green fields would be only fodder. I think not, for  then empathy and sharing in another’s joys and sufferings would be no more than expressions of our gregariousness. Then, all sublime expressions would be just dabbling and babbling  in indolence. To me, these and other noble expressions of humanity, are connects with a transcendent state that’s the sum-total of human consciousness; the essence of all beauty and the perfect form of all perfection. Therefore, I can say, “I believe in the One I belong to – my model and all that I aspire to be.”     

 

Featured

Jubilee?

Reclined in a deck chair

letting an evening breeze, touch,

sooth and refresh

the tired brain and assorted aches and pains

 

the Opera House’s sails majestically 

carry an argosy 

of culture trinkets and symphonies  

toward the harbour bridge

where rainbows 

cascade

into a sullen sea

children laugh and clap

at each sulphuric spark

that mushrooms and pops 

 in a sparkling display

 

tired

this brain wanders off 

the celebration

settling on 

the mute twinkle 

above the vanishing horizon

a constant sentinel at its post

 

What charts and instruments

weighed

measured mass

circumference

distance and composition?

what lightyears were travelled 

to tease

and confound intellects?

 

was a notional starting point 

vacated

by this travelling glow-piece

(product of a disintegration) 

millions of light years ago

presumably 

in another galaxy?

 

all will be answered

and the world will accept  

till

fresh intellect and instruments

prove void

the labour and hypothesis.

Featured

Being Right Isn’t Always Right: A Moral Case

What good’s a liberty gained by depriving others the same right? Belligerent attitudes now dare weak politicians, to subvert the laws that give basic rights to simple folks, to live simple lives in the traditions of their ancestors. One battle after another has been won by the same modus operandi; with the growing certainty that one day the war will be won.

Religious groups have not done themselves any favours. The sins of leaders are to be worn by the unsuspecting followers. Most Faiths are easy targets, and their defences weakened by a loss of morale, and a feeling of hopelessness under the incessant pressure of “Secular” forces. The lifestyles and misuse of power, by a few, further weakens  the will of those confronting compelling empirical evidence posed in the fluid environment of commercialism and technology. Persistent arguments and the hammering of guilt, have led to self-doubts and a turn to other diversions for solace and personal dignity.

It is easy to pursue a campaign against religious thinking that is nebulous and cannot be proven in sensual terms. Just a manipulation of the meaning of “Secularism”, offers, virtually, unbridled liberty. The argument becomes, “ Faith against Science” – and such epic allusions. With insufficient “evidence” to prosecute an argument, the weak submit to stronger arguments; fearing associations being made with superstitions and mediaeval hangovers. In vain, traditionalists turned apologetics, quote chapters and verses from texts made obsolete to this new rationalism. A myriad set about dismantling the fabric of faith, hope and a living Love. 

The LGBTI movement began, legitimately, to empower males and females to assert their sexuality. It is a fact that people with sexual preferences outside the norm, had long suffered vilification, discriminations and were criminalised by all parts of society. It has been a long hard slog for them to gain acceptance and the respect of the community. So, increasingly people are “coming out” in the community. Institutions that have been building bridges of reconciliation must be congratulated.

Problem comes when one group tries to debunk and  overpower the other. Each group’s expressed freedom needs to be respected and acknowledged by all. Institutions should show flexibility and an enlightened approach in their interactions with twenty-first century sensitivities. It does not mean that they should surrender their entitled rights to flourish in freedom and to practice  their cherished beliefs. Whether or not (and how) these differences are accommodated, is a matter for individual consciences and the respective institutions. But, to compel a school to accept students and staff, holding opposing stands to the institution’s values and mission statement, would tantamount to bullying, and an unacceptable form of behaviour. Morally, those who say they stand for human rights, cannot demand rights over the rights of others. The armed forces have some exemptions under the discrimination acts. When I do not like a particular TV programme I am free to switch channels. So, I feel that to force an institution (against its moral code) to accept individual/individuals philosophically opposed to them, is ethically improper as it amounts to undermining the very grounds for their foundation.    

Mere Christianity?

How do we identify ourselves?  Is it by the association with a string of “Thou Shalt and Shalt-nots”? Is it as people who celebrate Christmas, St Valentine’s Day, St Patrick’s Day and “Good Friday”? Or, is it as a people who can have given to the world the most influential political and judicial systems? Indeed. We can justify these claims, and even more – the aggregate of these social systems. But, even together, they form only one aspect of our collective presence. There’s more.

I owe Christianity gratitude for the nurturing family of elders, siblings and other relatives. I owe the education system for the knowledge, skills and attributes that have helped me develop positive and constructive relationships within my self, with others and the rest of the world. I have been welcomed into a community that shares common values and beliefs. I am by definition happy. But, there’s more. I could not live on bread alone. 

Christianity is not just another way of life. Were it so there could be some sense in challenging it as a threat or an alternative. To us it’s the essence and conduit to our life source – our alpha and omega. It makes us who we are. Our outward forms are just vestiges of how we wish to be seen by others in our social and cultural interactions. Some call them our false selves. It is, however, by relating to ourselves and others as branches of one vine that we realise that we are more than flesh, blood, and an assembly of gregarious entities. In transcending the visible we see a reason for our being (for everything). God  gave us the power to name things, and we have given names to all of them. We can sense and experience birth, growth, pain, sorrow, joy, elation – the whole range in conditions and human emotions. And, we have named them well with the grace of God. Compassion and empathy with kindred souls are not just humane reactions, they are offerings to and in imitation of the One who is perfect in all respects. It’s through selfless acts and mindfulness of our Saviour’s grace and promises that we show our Christianity. One can ask no more

Pondering Perfection


We are invited to be perfect “as the Father’s perfect”. But only the Father is perfect. This “unrealistic” reaching for the impossible is a stumbling block for many. How can sinners become perfect? Perfection thus is seen a fixed state, which is different from seeing it as being progressional. The stimulus then becomes its own gratification . To be received into the kingdom of God, the young man who had kept the commandments all his life, was counselled by Jesus to sell off all his riches, give the proceeds to the poor, and then become a follower. It was a big ask, yet possible for one wanting to serve one master. Jesus is always asking for that extra effort: to walk that extra mile: to turn the other cheek: to forgive seventy times seven. The disciple, like a super athlete trains to break a record. Once achieved, the bar is raised higher for the next aspirant. There is no resting on laurels in this constant quest for perfection. When one mountain is surmounted, there is another ahead waiting to be climbed.

To those daunted by the challenge, Jesus has the answer, “All things are possible for God”. With His help we can ask a mountain to be removed, it will be moved. A plant tended to by humans during the day grows mysteriously during the night. So too with God’s help a camel may walk through the eye of a needle – if we believe.

Our spiritual life is the co-related organic dimension of our earthly presence. When our muscles and physical structure grow so too do awareness of history, the environment, and that uncanny ability to speculate on the future. Concurrently a spiritual growth also takes place (whether we recognise it or not). St Ignatius would say, just as the body needs exercise and nurturing, so does our spiritual life. By ignoring it we dumb it down, or, leave it stunted at some childhood level. Thereby, exposing it to misconceptions and unbalanced ridicule. 

Perfection of all that’s perfect, my Lord and Master! Teach me to walk in the way of perfection. You, who remain hidden from the learned and frustrate the proud, hear my prayer. Smile upon me, gather me in your arms, and give me the grace to seek earnestly, with humility, for that priceless pearl for which I would give up all desires and riches, and follow you.  

Of Change & Transformation

Matt16:13-19

“Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah. For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father. And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys to the Kingdom of heaven. Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” 

What do the people of today say Christ is? Answers are varied, as varied as  there are points of view. A good number still do call him The Christ, Son of the Living God; but not all with equal conviction and faith. An increasing majority in the world now see religion as a narcotic-induced delirium. They prefer worship before the image of the golden calf, “Secularism”. Their house is built on the shifting sands of “Morality”. Values and codes become as changeable as the fashions of the day. Today it is “Political Correctness”. Tomorrow? It may be all brought on its head by a new invention, or feeling, rendering this “correctness” redundant. How many of us, living to a good age, have seen ethical standards shift under the continuum of change. 

Not that I have any difficulty with “Change”. Like Tennyson, I believe, “the old order changeth; yielding place to new. And God fulfils Himself in many ways, lest one good custom should corrupt the world.” I believe that Jesus came to bring freedom and change to the world. His mission has renewed the face of the earth! Why do we find one form of change rejuvenating and acceptable, while we criticise others? Mainly because of our human nature; we all need recognition of our individual points of view. At a deeper level, all objects are inherently dualistic. They carry within themselves contradictions, opposing poles, “ Yin and Yang”. Opinions and cultural beliefs are conditioned by the primacy of dominant social factors. If I say I do not like some manifestations in “Society”, it is because I come from a background that upholds values and moral attitudes of a particular religious consciousness. I do not judge Secular positions; but I hate interferences into what I hold most dear and are the sustenance of my life. We are all God’s people on a journey together. Respect for others would be mutually ennobling, and the world in all its diversity, could continue to unfold in the magnificence and glory of its Creator .  

Stumbling But Pondering (Mark 8:22-26)

“ I stumbled when I saw”  …     (Gloucester in ‘King Lear’)
(

Shakespeare continues to provide evocative openers and insights into the human condition. Jesus, before him used words and actions that still stand as beacons in human history.

Jesus performs the miracle on the blind man – in stages. First he puts spittle on the man’s eyes and asks if he can see anything. The man replies that he did not see very clearly. What he saw was a distortion of reality. His cure is not complete; he sees images through the yeast of Herod and the Pharisees. A fake image built upon generations of distortions and oppressive manipulations of history, myths and traditions. The people of the time had a fixed view of who and what the Christ would represent in the eyes of the Select. Truth had been revealed as to children ( St Paul would call it ) in the words and manner understandable to children. To be righteous, one had to accept the word as children. Leaving the shelters of Eden, the ancestors moved by steps, following their curiosity. But, the Lord did not abandon them. He continued to reveal himself, made covenants, and encouraged organic development; extending freedom that comes with greater awareness. At the start, there may have been punishing storms, fire and brimstone; counter balanced in rich tangible rewards. The rules of reward and punishment, were continually reinforced with storys of kings and queens; much as Santa Claus and the Boogieman capture the imagination of modern children.

Jesus completes the cure by touching the man again. Now he sees clearly. It is as though a veil had been lifted, and he sees the bridegroom before him in his glory. The invitation is to deny the yeast of this world, for a kingdom of God that has its own sets of values and discernments. What is offered is more than righteousness based on the fear of eternal punishment. It is a fair barter of life with him, for life without Him. The eternal graces are extended right away, and there is hope; based not on our own merits, but on the will of a merciful, compassionate and loving Father. It is a mature choice set before us; we may accept or reject the kingdom of God. His yoke is easy and His burden is light. Sight is restored for us to see, to accept and do His Holy Will.

Acknowledgement: Carmelite Lectio Divina ( www.ocarm.org), Mark 8:22-26.

Pondering Mk 7:1-9

“You nullify the word of God in favor of your tradition that you have handed on. And you do many such things.”

The word of God is continually being “nullified” in our daily life. We call Jesus our teacher; yet we cling to the words of “elders” in preference to the message of Scriptures.  It seems right and just to follow the lessons taught by people we respect in parental roles, or those considered “learned”. It is tradition handed down through the ages.  It’s misuse was shown by the Pharisees.  

In early times, when questioning was rude and slavish obedience was associated with the Commandments, it was natural to think that the parents knew best. It seemed natural then to accept the words of authority. In an age where we feel all grown-up and rebellious toward all things traditional, there remains a tendency to take “celebrities’  words at face value. Despite the obvious burden of  negativity, there remained the overriding compulsion to adopt new and “unorthodox” pronouncements slavishly – ingrained lies the habit of accepting the words of “experts”. A new tradition spawns to enslave the vulnerab

Jesus took on the form of a slave to invite humans into the “Kingdom of God”. He offered to heal humanity of its many diseases, and to liberate it from all forms of slavery and the shackles of soulless traditions. In our pride and stiffness of heart, we turn divine covenants into man-made  burdens, hard to bear: devoid of inner grace. Divinely inspired “Commandments” splintered into hundreds of “laws” that only few understood. Knowledge became a powerful tool, and the servants became masters – each good custom corrupted the world. In Jesus’ presence the disciples did not fear the consequences of breaking the human traditions regarding purifications, fasting and like observances. In his life and teachings  Jesus testified that the Lord does not take pleasure in hollow sacrifices and trivial tinkering with outward acts of celebrations. The Word of God is love; it is the commandment above all other commandments. Acts of piety and purification must be centred around the love for God and neighbour. Failing in that, worship is an empty act that nullifies the Word and stunts spiritual growth.

Lectio Divina: Mark 6:14-29

Pope Francis ( may God bless you papa), stirs up the imagination. Some see in him John the Baptist; some St Francis of Assisi; some as one of the prophets. We can see him as an apostle for the Twenty-first century. His apostolic ascent marks a distinctive change, from the old to a new; a draining of old wine turned sour, and its replacement by new wine in a new flask.  With introspection, in many areas there is a new awareness of what discipleship means. The ocean is filled with souls, in a rich diversity, craving salvation through Christ. Groups under empirical modernism, secularism, LGBT rights, harsh fundamentalism, cyclic poverty, marginalised minorities, find themselves isolated and captives of their consciences. His leadership of the “Mission”, has been remarkable – the poor and the widows have found a voice and a home; shackles made of fake consciences are falling before the light of recovered Mercy.
His teaching is more attuned to modern demands for satisfaction based on logical thinking. While he encourages traditional forms of devotion, he also urges us to think like adults. People find it challenging when he asks us to question the way we pray the Lord’s Prayer. He is really asking the faithful is to understand and pray in a meaningful way when they recite even formulated prayers. When Jesus says we are to adopt a child-like attitude to faith he was not demanding childish blind faith. As we grow older, he calls us to think like grownups and to act as grownups. In his parables he wants us to be filled with wonder at God’s creative force, just like children. And, to understand, with a mature attitude, the great mystery of the kingdom of God.
Each effort at reform is challenged by negativity. People quote scriptures and tradition to protect their tenuously held positions of power and patronage. Like Herod, Antipas, they are willing offer a sacrifice on a silver platter to please the power of Mammon.