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markdohle

The wrath of man

The wrath of man

“I saw no wrath [in God} except on man’s part,
and that He forgives
in us”
(Julian of Norwich reading 99)

When I was meditating on the above quote from the book “Revelations of Divine Love” it brought to mind one of my greatest struggles as a man who wishes to grow in my openness to the Spirit of the Lord.  When I am hurt, or the times when I wish things would go my way, or when someone does a great evil towards others, my first instinct is to seek to bestow wrath on them, or for justice.  It comes from as Julian goes on to say:

“Wrath: a departure from and an opposition to peace and love”. 

When I feel anger and a desire to set things right, more often than not it is not based on either love or a seeking after true justice, but on my desire to control and manipulate others out of fear and anxiety.  So when I make a judgment that is fed by anger, it seldom if ever comes from a place that seeks healing and love of others.  So yes, wrath resides in me.  It is a fearful thing when I project that onto God.    Again Julian goes on:

“It comes from a failure of power, or of wisdom, or of goodness”

My ability to see into others is shallow at best, and wrong most of the time, perhaps all of the time because I only see the surface.  God sees everything, which is why God is merciful and I have to struggle with it. 

“Mercy works protecting us, and mercy works transforming
everything into good for us”

Human wrath seldom knows mercy but seeks to punish and hurt and to even destroy.  So yes I struggle every day with seeking to allow God’s mercy and grace to transform my heart into His heart.  If I try to set things right without seeking to follow the Lords lead, there will only be ruin and destruction. 

It is when I fail that I am spurred on to continue the journey into the ‘Mind of Christ”, into “The Heart of Christ”.  If not, when I fail, I will justify my actions and over time become more angry and unmerciful towards others. 


markdohle

Admitting my fear

 

 

Admitting my fear

A God who draws near out of love, the Holy Father continued, walks with His people, and this walk comes to an unimaginable point. We could never have imagined that the same Lord would become one of us and walk with us, be present with us, present in His Church, present in the Eucharist, present in His Word, present in the poor, He is present, walking with us. And this is closeness: the shepherd close to his flock, close to his sheep, whom he knows, one by one.—Pope Francis (6/7/13)

Fear can be a great test of our faith.  The love of God and the Father’s intimacy with all of his children can at times be hard to believe and embrace.  When young, it is possible to have a certain kind of bravado, and a sense of being in control and fearless.  One may even say that they do not fear death; which I believe is a fiction we use to cover the terror of our turning into a lifeless corpse.  Or perhaps for the young it is inconceivable to think of their deaths.  It is actually difficult for any of us I believe.  For when I think of my death, I am doing it as an observer….the death process and death itself is a deeply personal experience. 

As the years pass we lose loved ones, and the process only speeds up as the years literally fly by.  So much suffering, both physical as well as mental, this is probably worse by far, mental torment.  We learn that while we do have a small area of control in our lives, we are forced to accept the reality that it can all be lost from one second to the other.  The wisdom of age comes with a price.

Yet, Jesus walks with us.  Lately, I have been facing my own fear of suffering from a stroke.  Over the past few months I have had three friends who have had serious strokes; well two, one was a brain bleed, which is pretty much the same I believe.  I am terrified of this happening to me.  What (!), you may say, aren’t you a man of deep faith?  Well yes, I am, but that has nothing to do with the experience of fear. 

The Father is with me, in union with me, even though I am often unaware of it or being scattered or if not, I can be fearful and anxious.  Yet I still have faith, I can still trust, even if my stomach is nauseous.   For in the midst of this, I can surrender to God’s love for me and his journeying with me as I live out my final, perhaps three decades, if I live to be 98.

I believe that in our walk towards union with God all of our fears, sins, and anxious concerns have to be surrendered in trust to a merciful God beyond our comprehension.  If not, we can become embittered, or simply shut down.

I have no idea what awaits me or those I love, yet I can still surrender my future as well as my death and those of my loved ones into the hands of a merciful loving God. 

In the Easter-Season we celebrate the reality of the Risen Lord!  It is our seeking to understand and pray over this reality that gives meaning to our lives.  For just as Jesus, when he went through His passion remained faithful to the Father, so we as well, will experience with him eternal Life, which begins now, today, this moment.  Our faith is not an escape from the pain and terrors life, but in the midst of all this we can experience the joy of the presence of the Holy Trinity within our hearts.  Trust can be a hard choice, but we have to choose, allowing grace ever deeper into our hearts.

 

 

markdohle

Embracing others

Embracing others

 

My Master, cause my heart never to expect help from anyone, but I will always strive to bring assistance, consolation and all manner of relief to others.  My heart is always open to the sufferings of others; and I will not close my heart to the sufferings of others, even though because of this I have been scornfully nicknamed “dump”; that is, [because] everyone dumps his pain into my heart.  [To this] I answered that everyone has a place in my heart and I, in return, have a place in the Heart of Jesus.  Taunts regarding
the law of love will not narrow my heart.  My soul is always sensitive on this point, and Jesus alone is the motive for my love of neighbor. ---Diary of Sr. Faustina 871

 

In the prayer of St. Francis, one of the intentions is to seek to understand others, rather than to be understood by them.  We all seek to be understood, listened too, but to actually give ear and to understand others may not be a top priority; hence the chaos and confusion that is present in many relationships, as well as discussions.    Yelling, contempt, and rejection of the stance of one's opponent does not lead to communication but to separation and at times violence.  It is natural, normal (in the sense of how common it is) to fight and attack, not so much so to listen to an opponent or even a loved one for that matter.  We often more than realized reduce each other to a stereotype, an object.   One reason I believe is to spare us from the pain often present in our fellow human beings.  Once labeled, they can be forgotten; they become annoying props in our lives.  Yet when it is done to us, we probably hate it and become angry at the injustice. 

There are many ‘good’ reasons to marginalize others, but they are often self-serving and sinful because we are running away from the suffering that is inherent in all who exist in this world.  How was Sr. Faustian able to embrace all those who came to her?  How was she able to not allow the mockery of others to dissuade her from her love of others and her listening to them and helping them when she could?  How could everyone have a place in her heart?

This morning at vigils, during the first reading, it was about how the seed that is being planted falls some on the side of the road, which soon dies, others in thorns, which outgrows the seedlings and chokes the life out of them, and then that which fell on good soil, harvesting thirty, sixty, and a hundredfold.  With Sr. Faustian the seed fell on good soil and she harvested a hundred fold. She was not afraid to die to her small, little self with its fearful heart, and through trust allowed Jesus to become fully incarnate in her.  In other words, it was Jesus that loved others through her healed heart.  It is the calling for all Christians I believe.

She understood her need for God’s mercy and healing.  She knew of her weakness and how incapable she was in loving anyone in an unconditional manner without God’s grace.  In her knowing of her own powerlessness Jesus was able to consume her heart with his own, the fire of his love living in Faustian and through her. 

I also believe that in modern terms, she had a healthy ego, with boundaries that allowed her to stay healthy in her dealings with others and in that, made those she listened to and loved to become more loving and trusting as well.  Her love was real, not based on her own need to be needed, for it was grounded in Christ Jesus and his infinite mercy.

 

We are all called to this love, this being a grace to others by allowing Jesus Christ to become incarnate in our own lives.  So that our hearts, our hands our feet, our minds and in what and how we communicate, shows Christ Jesus to others.  We do not use others, judge others, but embrace, encourage and always remain truthful to our calling in dealing with those around us, our brothers and sister, all of them.  In turn, we learn to let others minister to us as well, for we all need others to show us the love and mercy of Christ Jesus as manifested in their lives as well.  We are all in need of healing, mercy, as well as the need to be listened to and loved by those we know.  Some of us will have a thirty fold harvest, others sixty fold and for those who completely allow Christ Jesus to enter their hearts a hundred fold.   Today is the day to begin, to ask Jesus to expand our hearts, to lead us to the hundred fold in our love and service of others. It is a life-long journey of healing, and growing in ever deeper trust, in the Grace and Love of Jesus Christ that is manifested by our lives in how we relate and love others.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

markdohle

Do not worry, there is always (some) struggle

My Jesus, despite Your graces, I see and feel all my misery.  I begin my day with battle and end it with battle.  As soon as I conquer one obstacle, ten more appear (69) to take its place.  But I am not worried, because I know that this is the time of struggle, not peace.  When the burden of the battle becomes too much for me, I throw myself like a child into the arms of the heavenly Father and trust I will not perish.  O my Jesus, how prone I am to evil, and this forces me to be constantly vigilant.  But I do not lose heart.  I trust God’s grace, which abounds in the worst misery. (Faustina’s Diary 606)

Do not worry, there is always (some) struggle

My Jesus, despite Your graces, I see and feel all my misery.  I begin my day with battle and end it with battle.  As soon as I conquer one obstacle, ten more appear (69) to take its place.  But I am not worried, because I know that this is the time of struggle, not peace.  When the burden of the battle becomes too much for me, I throw myself like a child into the arms of the heavenly Father and trust I will not perish.  O my Jesus, how prone
I am to evil, and this forces me to be constantly vigilant.  But I do not lose heart.  I trust God’s grace, which abounds in the worst misery.
 (
Faustina’s Diary 606)


I have noticed than when an artist stands back and looks at his or her work, they are often not satisfied because they see their imperfections in the work of art. Or they're not hitting the mark of perfection when the final creation finally comes to its conclusion and seen for what it is.  While an observer, especially those who are not sensitive to artistic expression on a deep level may find the work perfect, a masterpiece.  Both are right.  It depends on the depth of one’s understanding that dictates the experience.

The same is true for the art of living a life of inner awareness and faith.  For to go deeper into the spiritual life, is to see what was once taken lightly, is now seen as serious.  Not in a scrupulous sense, but in our growth into self-knowledge we see more deeply how serious ‘sin’ actually is.  So our struggles may seem little to those not yet sensitive to their own inner need for grace, but for those on the path, the ‘Light-of-the-Holy Spirit’ exposes our need for healing and the gentle mercy of the Lord. This mercy, by the way, is not always experienced as gentle, or kind.  For God’s mercy is merciless when it comes to allowing the fire of love to consume all that is a hindrance to union….that goes for all of us, the call to union is not just for a few. 

So ‘little’ acts of failing in charity or seen in a new light.  As St. John of the Cross said: “whether a bird is tethered by a chain or a slender thread, it is still tethered”.  Self-Knowledge and purification are one and the same.  The deeper we grow in the love of God as well as trust, the more we can embrace our poverty without becoming scrupulous.  We look to the Lord, not to ourselves.

If one tends to be burdened by being scrupulous, the only way out is to trust, in spite of ones over-concern for one stance before God.  It is a terrible spiritual affliction, hard to overcome. For the level of trust called for in such situation takes a deep embracing of a death to self that is total.  Self-centeredness is a cross we all bear in one degree or another.  The deeper we move into trust, the less this affliction wounds us. 


So rejoice, for Jesus is God’s YES to us, so we continue to struggle, fail and in that failure, we learn to trust ever deeper as Sr. Faustina did.  For as St. Paul so beautifully stated:  “For those who love God, all things work out for the good.”

markdohle

 

Jesus speaks to us in language we can understand

January 27, 1938.  During Holy Hour today, Jesus complained
to me about the ingratitude of souls

“In return for My blessings, I get ingratitude.  In return for My love,
I get forgetfulness and indifference.  My Heart cannot bear this
”. 
(St. Faustina’s diary 1537)

I do believe one reason that Jesus will often choose women to convey a special message to the world, or as Karl Rahner would say, to bring balance to the Gospel Message, is their ability to be very comfortable with using language that many men (myself included) would be hesitant to convey.   “My Heart cannot bear this”

Really?

I get flummoxed by such language, yet, even though I do not use words in such a manner, yet when I look into my heart, I do understand, a little, very little.  Yet I believe that Jesus is using Sr. Faustina to speak today to people like me, whose heart is still bewildered by love, not to mention ‘Infinite Love’.  The more I do understand the love of God for each of us, I find that I am being filled more and more with gratitude for this true gift of God’s grace on mankind, as well as for all of creation. 

My heart is at war with itself.  I long and desire love, yet fight it as well.  In my heart is a desire to love all and to pray for all, but the next minute I find myself at war with deep anger that seems to lie in wait to create a stage for this comedy to be acted out.  Yet, there is also healing, for there are moments, or hours, where my prayer is to simply open up these scenes to the loving gaze of our merciful, loving, compassionate and empathic Lord.  Then I abandon myself to His will.  I do know that my inner journey is like most people, though unique as well.  Anger is not something unknown by our species.  Anger that sits and waits to create some sort of inner theater is probably common as well, so I am in good company, a big band of fellow travelers who are called upon to trust in God, to open up their hearts to His loving gaze without fear, but in total trust of Infinite Love.

Jesus is speaking to us in a way that we can understand.  It also points to an infinite vista of love that is way beyond my comprehension and I believe that we will spend an eternity discovering this immense world…..as well as always being at the beginning of our journey.  For when diving into an ocean of infinite depth, no matter how far we dive, or how long, we are still at the surface. For the depth of God’s love has no ending, no bottom.  Hard to believe I know, and this reality can be just as much an obstacle to faith as the problem of suffering in the world, both are major hurdles for many, it is for me, though trusting and jumping one hurdle at a time.

The anger of God is another difficulty for many as well.  Though I believe that is because we do create God in our own image and likeness and it takes a life time to outgrow.  I believe that St. Faustian is no exception.  Though she is a saint, she is also like us.  When she was writing her dairy, she was a pilgrim like we are at this time. 

Below is another quote from her, not Jesus, though it should be pondered as well.

 

Most Merciful Heart of Jesus, protect us from the
just anger of God.  (St. Faustina’s Diary 1526) 

 

I don’t think God works against himself.  Any more than the Blessed Mother holds back the hand of Jesus from smiting the world in some sort of unbridled rage directed at us.  Howeve,r I do believe that when we allow ourselves to become lukewarm and to then to grow into indifference, this leads us to become so self-centered that God is shut out of our lives.  This also affects us in how we treat others as well.  This world is filled with suffering that is caused when we forget that all those we meet are made in the image and likeness of God.  To treat others cruelly or spitefully or to destroy them by gossip, makes us vessels of wrath because we allow love to die within our hearts.  When someone is rejected by a loved one, there is often wrath, but it is really grief.  God is not revengeful, but only loving, yet sin and love cannot coexist.  When mercy is refused, there is love experienced as deep wrath, but in reality, it is God’s grief over the mystery of our freedom to embrace preferred pain, to God’s love.  How is this done, I have no idea, nor do I have any idea on who does this.  I do know that I am capable of it, but should I go down that road, it will be a free choice, all other failures are from human weakness that can be changed into good when I again turn to the Lord of life and love. 

What is to be feared, is if there comes a day when I do not care.  So each day I give my whole being to the Lord and simply trust that he will bring forth to completion what he has started in me and others as well.  I pray and hope that for all.

 

markdohle

Mercy beyond understanding

 

Mercy beyond understanding

 

Then I heard the words:  "As you are united with Me in life, so will you be united at the moment of death".  After these words, such great trust in God’s great mercy was awakened in my soul that,  even if I had had the sins of the whole world, as well as the sins of all the condemned souls weighing on my conscience, I would not have doubted God’s goodness but, without hesitation, would have thrown myself into the abyss of the divine mercy, which is always open to us; and, with a heart crushed to dust  I would have cast  myself at His feet, abandoning myself totally to His holy will, which is mercy itself.—Faustina’s Diary –1552


God’s mercy is beyond our ability to understand.  I believe that the deepest longing that we all share, even if often unconscious because of fear, is to be seen totally without anything hidden, and yet to then also be understood, loved and shown mercy and compassion.  In art, movies and in our music, this longing can often be seen, heard and felt, and in our responses for a short time, we feel truly alive.  Art can be the lance that grace uses to break through our life long defenses, which may actually be needed.  However, not with the Lord who seeks only to show us love and mercy.

We are more comfortable in thinking that God’s love is like
ours, because it can be understood.  Hence the problem in our understanding of God’s mercy towards each of us in our everyday struggles as well as our moral failures.  We may actually need to hide aspects of ourselves from others because of our lack of ability to truly listen, see and show empathy and mercy towards one another.  Not so with Jesus, for it is already known.

“After these words, such great trust in God’s great mercy was
awakened in my soul that,  even if I had had the sins of the whole world, as well as the sins of all the condemned souls weighing on my conscience, I would not have doubted God’s goodness but, without hesitation would have thrown myself into the abyss of the divine mercy, which is always open to us; ”—Sr. Faustina

Imagine if the quote from Sr. Faustina could be absorbed by us into our deepest, darkest parts of our souls.  To understand that there is no barrier with God when it comes to showing love and mercy to us his children.

Sr. Faustian understood her need for grace, the free gift of God’s love and mercy.  She experienced this mercy in her own soul, for because of her holiness and humility, she truly saw what she would be like without God’s grace. 

The ‘Chaplet of Mercy’ is a prayer for all, without regard to who they are, or what they have done.  We are called to be vessel of mercy for others, to pray for all, especially those near death.  Limitations on God’s mercy are put there by us.  Also it is easy to want mercy for ourselves, but then justice for others.  When in fact they are not at odds with each other, it is our own limited understanding and inner conflicts that keeps us from total trust as well as love and concern for the salvation of all.  Dare we pray for such a thing?  Yes!  For why else would Jesus ask us to pray the Chaplet, which begs for mercy for the whole world…..past, present and future.  For in God, there is only ‘Now’, so when we pray, we enter into that ‘Eternal Now’.—Br.MD

  Let us pray:

and on the whole world.
For the sake of his sorrowful passion, have mercy on us

  Eternal Father, I offer unto you, the most precious body and blood, soul and divinity of your beloved
Son Our Lord Jesus Christ, in atonement for our sins and those of the whole World.

(Chaplet of Mercy)

 

 

markdohle

A train wreck that never ends

Strength of character means the ability to overcome resentment against others,
to hide hurt feelings, and to forgive quickly.

Lawrence G. Lovasik


Overcoming resentment does not mean there is no emotional fallout, it means that on a certain level we do not demand justice, but give mercy.  To constantly give in to resentment is a train wreck that never ends, allowing the buttons that others push (often unconsciously) to grow in number and intensity.  It scatters us, tires us out, and can make us very unpleasant to be around.  To speak one's mind is not the same as giving in to resentment….though one can be confused for the other.

markdohle

The Divine Fire

The Divine Fire

At that very moment, I felt some kind of fire in my heart.  I feel my senses deadening and have no idea of what is going on around me.  I feel the Lord’s gaze piercing me through and through.  I am very much aware of His greatness and my misery.  An extraordinary suffering pervades my soul, together with a joy I cannot compare to anything.  I feel powerless in the embrace of God.  I feel that I am in Him and that I am dissolved in Him like a drop of water in the ocean.  I cannot express what takes place within me; after such interior prayer, I feel strength and power to practice the most difficult virtues.  I feel dislike for all things that the world holds in esteem.  With all my soul I desire silence and solitude—Diary of Divine Mercy 432

|
The fire of God’s love, the fire of the Holy Spirit, of purgatory, and the fire of hell, is all the same.  It is God’s love in all of its power.  It is about our openness to grace and our embracing God’s healing love in our lives, or not.  Sister Faustian expresses it with these words:


“I am very much aware of His greatness and my misery.  An extraordinary
suffering pervades my soul, together with a joy”


Even in our everyday lives, true healing is often accompanied by suffering.  They seem to go hand in hand.  God often seems distant and for good reason, for He can only show Himself to us to the extent that we can handle it.  In the Old Testament, it talks about this when speaking about seeing God and not being able to stay in existence. 

When we allow God’s Holy Fire to enter us, it burns away all the dross in our souls.  So that which is built on illusion (straw) burns away to ash.  We are emptied of ‘self’ so that God can fill us and bring us to our true Selves, as children, beloved of God.

In my misery, I still fight God’s love, but this fighting often comes from a place beyond my control. All I can do is to be willing and open to God’s secret hidden work in my soul and to always trust and never despair.  That is why Jesus says that we must ‘trust’ above all else. 

What is the groaning of the Holy Spirit that prays within us?  Perhaps the Spirit is expressing in part our pain, our understanding that we are often chained and in our waiting for freedom we suffer greatly.  The Holy Spirit prays with us and for us.  It is all about grace, but also in part, about our willingness to allow this fire to burn all to ash that keeps us from union with our Beloved.  Yes, God is our Beloved, and we are God’s Beloved, and slowly as we seek God’s love, we allow His love to expand our hearts as Sr. Faustina’s was purified in fire and her heart expanded.  We are called to a life unimaginable to us at this time. Sister Faustina’s inner freedom and growth in her love of God was a pure gift, all she need do is trust, never despair, and take one step at a time.

 

markdohle

Letting go of fear, of our idols about God

Love casts our fear.  Since I came to love God with my whole being and with all the strength of my heart, fear has left me.  Even if I were to hear the most terrifying things about God’s justice, I would not fear Him at all, because I have come to know Him well.  God is love, and His Spirit is peace. I see now that my deeds which have flowed from love are more perfect than those which I have done out of fear.  I have placed my trust in God and fear nothing.  I have given myself over to His holy will; let Him do with me as He wishes, and I will still love Him.
(Divine Mercy Diary 589)

Jesus told Sr. Faustina that there are two ways gates that we must choose to enter.  One is the gate of mercy, the other the gate of justice.  When people think of the justice of God, they often unconsciously (I know that I do more or less), go by their own human ability to show justice to others, or mercy for that matter.  It is all very subjective and depending on our past, how much we have been loved or not, will lead us to be more or less fearful of God in a servile way.  When in fact,’ Justice,’ and “Mercy,’ are the same thing, for both are based on absolute truth when applied to God.  God is all mercy as well as infinitely just, they are not opposed to each other. 

St. Paul says the Jesus is God’s “YES”, there is only openness from God towards his children, all of them.  This points to the reality that in the end, when we stand before God, no matter what we receive (mercy or justice), both the soul and God agree completely.  All is taken into account, instantly, and I think the mercy is received much more often than many believe.  For who can understand Infinite Love, Compassion, and Mercy, since it is far beyond any human conception.

 

The deeper a human being loves another (sees the beloved), the more that is understood and forgiven.  If the beloved does not want forgiveness, then all that is possible is separation, which is done on the part of the one who freely rejects mercy.  “Freely’ is the operative word here.  The Lord sees all, understands all and only God knows, when that free choice has been made to reject him.  All who seek God will find him; all who knock will find the door opening to them, for in fact it has never been closed.  People who seek God and fall constantly into the same sins, but continually rise and begin again, give great glory to God for they trust in his mercy, even if they have to swim against the current of neurotic fear. 

In paragraph 1485 Jesus speaks to Sr. Faustian of his boundless mercy towards the greatness sinner:

The mercy of God, hidden in the Blessed Sacrament, the voice of the Lord who speaks to us from the throne of mercy:  Come to Me, all of you.

Jesus:  Be not afraid of your Savior; O sinful soul.  I make the first move to come to you, for I know that by yourself you are unable to lift yourself to me.  Child, do not run away from your Father; be willing to talk openly with your God of mercy who wants to speak words of pardon and lavish his graces on you.  How dear your soul is to Me!  I have inscribed your name upon My hand; you are engraved as a deep wound in My Heart.  –1485

It seems to me that Jesus almost seems desperate to free of us our fear of God, a kind of fear that makes us slaves instead of his beloved children, each no more precious than the other.  Sr. Faustina, was created, and given her many graces, so that she could speak to each one of us, she is for us, just as Jesus is for us all, and seeks us all. 


Only look to Jesus, his mercy, not to one’s own self.  For we do not understand ourselves, we often don’t know why we do the things we do, yet we still love and seek God….for God’s grace never leaves us.  When a soul makes that choice to turn from God (and only God knows when that happens) I would think that all fear of God would be gone, and a certain kind of freedom would emerge, one opposed to the freedom of the Children of God.

The sacrament of reconciliation keeps our souls and hearts open to mercy, to the healing balm of the Holy Spirit, whose fire will slowly purify and heal us, even if takes a lifetime. 

Jesus I trust in you, have mercy on us and on the whole world.—Br.MD 

 

 

 

markdohle

Thoughts on a Divine Mercy Retreat

 

 

Jesus' attitude is striking: we do not hear the words of scorn, we do not hear words of condemnation, but only words of love, of mercy, which are an invitation to conversation. "Neither do I condemn you; go, and do not sin again." Ah! Brothers and Sisters, God's face is the face of a merciful father who is always patient. Have you thought about God's patience, the patience He has with each one of us? That is His mercy. He always has patience, patience with us, He understands us, He waits for us, He does not tire of forgiving us if we are able to return to Him with a contrite heart. "Great is God's mercy," says the Psalm.

— Angelus on March 17, 2013

 

On the last day of our ‘Divine Mercy’ retreat, we met in a circle for a more informal gathering.  I encouraged people to share or to ask questions if they wanted.  I then invited everyone to speak, as well as to respond to any inquiries that were brought up.  It took a few moments before anyone started off but once it did it was a very powerful experience I believe for all.  One point that came up over and over again is that in order to begin their conversion journey, things had to fall apart; facades had to fail before healing could even begin to happen.  Painful, yes, but healing and pain seem to go together.  Just as bitterness, anger, the desires for revenge are also joined at the hip with pain. 

 

Each person who shared told a story of things falling part, light being brought into their lives and healing and a new peace and joy was found.  I brought up the point that each person who spoke, changed because they allowed grace to work in their lives because they had enough humility to embrace the truth and move on from there.  Which I believe, is a grace that is freely offered to all of us.  To stop cycles and pain and chaos that have a life of their own until we are forced to changed through outer circumstances, or through the amount of pain that comes from our wounds and sins. 

 

Sin is a way to escape life, but it does not deliver, instead, pain increases through the problems that flow from our ‘running away’.  Broken marriages, loss of health, serious addictions that can consume us, suck us dry, until there is nothing left.  Grace gives life; sin drains the life out of us.  So when we crash, it is often a mercy, for it is then that we reevaluate our lives and seek to renew our relationship with the Infinite, that which can only fill our hearts to the depth that we desire. 

 

Compared to the suffering caused by our sins, the cross of Jesus is truly light, for it is life giving and healing and does not crush us.  We all seek to be seen to the depths of our being, which is what love is.  Only Infinite love can do that, and in that seeing, we learn to embrace life without seeking to run away. 

markdohle

There is no soul which is not bound to pray

(Mercy Sunday)

There is no soul which is not bound to pray, for every single grace comes to the soul through prayer. ---Sr. Faustina’s Diary 146  A soul which is pure and beautiful must pray, or else it will lose its beauty; a soul which is striving after this purity must pray, or else it will never attain it; a soul which is newly converted must pray, or else it will fall again; a sinful soul, plunged in sins, must pray so that it might rise again.  In whatever state the soul may be, it ought to pray.  Prayer. – A soul arms itself by prayer for all kinds of combat.

For to pray in such times, in trust, has to come from deep within, a place that only God sees, and in that choice freedom grows and   The most important time to pray is when one feels alienated from self, others and God, for it is then that grace is readily available.  Or if not, strength will be given, even in the midst of deep interior suffering.  Prayer is a deep connection with God; prayer will bring hope and eventually find a way out of the situation.  When I speak to a retreatant in a situation that he or she feels backed into a corner, I tell them that they must never stop praying.  At times people will find themselves in situations that are detrimental to their lives on many levels.

ones ability to began over once again……Jesus said to Sister Faustina:  “The more a soul knows of its sins and weaknesses, the more right it has to my mercy”……so fear is useless what is needed is trust.  Be like Peter on the waters, when he looked to Jesus he was able to stay above the raging sea, when he looked at his feet, he doubted and began to sink…..yet he called on the Lord and he lifted him up.  You are loved beyond your comprehension, never forget that and live in faith, hope, and love. ---Br.MD
markdohle

Speaking truth is not about control

Therefore, my children, do not be afraid to speak the truth. Do not be afraid to change yourself and the world by spreading love, by doing everything for my Son to be known and loved by loving others in Him. As a mother I am always with you. I am imploring my Son to help you for love to reign in your life - love that lives, love that draws, love which gives life. I am teaching you such love - pure love. It is up to you, my apostles, to recognize it, live it and spread it. Pray with feeling for your shepherds so that they can witness my Son with love. Thank you."-- April 2, 2017 Message to Mirjana (part of the message)

 

When speaking the truth, it should be done with gentleness and love.  Before we can speak the truth to others, we must know the truth about ourselves.  If we can love ourselves after we see our own need for mercy and healing, it is then that we can love others and speak truth to them.  Speaking truth is not about control, but about seeking to bring light to those we know and love.  Conversely, we also must be open to what others tell us, for if we do not, then change is difficult, for we become defensive both to those around us as well as to the influence of the Holy Spirit who can use others to lead us.  Even the most unlikely people we meet and live with may have something very important to say to us.  Prayer must come from our own need, as well as when praying for the needs of others.  Then, when we are at peace with ourselves and others, trusting in God’s mercy an love, then, we can be silent and allow ourselves to re4st in God’s loving presence.—BrMD

 

markdohle


If you love me
(The Last discourse)

During the ‘Last Discourse’ in the Gospel of John, Jesus made this statement:  “If you love me, you will keep my commandments”.  In Christianity Jesus Christ is of course the central figure, he being the revelation of the Father and the sender of the Holy Spirit.  To be a Christian is always rooted in growing in the love relationship with the Eternal, the Infinite One, revealed as love.  So to use a Pauline phrase, “To put on Christ”, is about allowing his love to fill our souls, our hearts, to become channels of his love in the world. 

We live in a world where someone is always over and against someone else.  Or a country, a religion, political party and yes even in sports, going
after one another…..people die for their teams in riots after games.  If Jesus came today, who would he be over and against?  In the Gospels he interacted, loved and healed those that were often looked down upon by the religious establishment.  He spoke harshly to people like me, who know the ‘book’, seek to live it, and know all the scriptures in order to condemn just about anyone you disagreed with me, or was different in someway,  if I wanted to misuse the scriptures for that reason.  Being pious has it dangers, ego inflation being one of them.

What is the life that Jesus calls us to?  I doubt he calls us to a life of neurotic guilt or to a live preoccupied with ones
so called holiness.  It is not even about keeping a strict morality, for in doing that, when we fail, bitterness can enter into the one seeking to deepen ones relationship with the Father.  It is not about cleaning ourselves up.  It is about love, giving oneself, and receiving love in return.  Like Peter who got out of the boat, he was fine until he looked at his own feet; he stopped looking to the one who called him.   Yet when he sank, Jesus clasped his hand and lifted him up.

When afraid, uncertain or angry in ways that are unhealthy and anxious it constricts the soul, we become defensive, go into survival mode.   Jesus said that fear is useless for a reason….fear of God is a waste of time.  By fear I am meaning it in the sense of being afraid of someone stronger, bigger and angrier than me……God.  It is a ferocious idol, one that grips I guess all of us from time to time.  As we grow hopefully in wisdom and insight, as we have many decades to look back on and ponder, we see how foolish it is to fear that which Jesus told us not to.  Those who seek God are responding to grace, we open up our hearts and our tryst begins…..a long slow process for most of us.  So fear only slows that down.

We are called to become like little children for a reason.  Though what comes naturally to a child has to be a mature conscious choice when made by an adult.  It is a call to trust.  Fear and trust can’t really co-exist, so we are called to die to an old way of life and allow something new in.  Which is not easy, for how does one open oneself to infinite love?  What is it?  Is it just more?  Yes and no, but something else, beyond comprehension, so it can be a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.  Fearful yes, because it is something beyond our control, other, a love that is stronger than death, that strips away all the keeps that love at bay.

All  the love that we know, no matter how pure and as close to unconditional as it can be,  pales in comparison to the love we are called to embrace and to become one with.  It is hard to understand and believe.  Christians love to put “but” before any talk about God’s love and mercy……there are no ‘buts’.   How we love to carry the heavy burden of doing something we have no right or business to do…..thinking, weighing, and judging the worthiness of others.   It is a deep
self wounding as well as  a worthless and harmful  pass time. 

Jesus saw others, we are called to that as well, but it is easier to push under, yell at and belittle.  Well, let’s say I still struggle with this, and spend a lot of time praying over this.  Asking the Lord for a loving heart and not a warring one…… over and against others is something I do a lot of.   Being neurotic is not always easy.



Lord that I may see deeply,
into my own heart without fear,
knowing the all hearts are yours,
seeing all, you understanding all,
I see nothing in others,

except the surface,
with my projections and
transference’s,
just help me to understand others
just a little, or if not that,
to see all as my brothers and sisters
on the way.

markdohle

Trying another kind of love

Trying another kind of love

Agape is a Greek word ( ἀγάπη, agápē) used to describe God’s love for us. Jesus shows us what this love of God is by his teaching and commandments. For instance, human love is for the most part conditional, because it is based either on instinct or on need. We love another because we need them; we also want them to respond to us. If there is no response the relationship will most likely die, or turn into an obsession.

Parental love is the closest love to being unconditional that you can get. A child can hurt their parents, reject them, disrespect them and be contemptuous, yet the parent will still love the child. I think that goes beyond instinct but is a love that will pour itself out for the well being of the child. However, being human, finite, it is possible for there to be a time when that love can end if the pain and hurt become too great. It happens, though if the parent is a good parent, this is rare. We have our limits if left to ourselves.

Cont:  http://www.thechristianreview.com/trying-another-kind-of-love/

markdohle

The human heart as a fortress

The human heart as a fortress

 

Most feel the need to protect themselves,
from pain and sorrow,
as well as others who can be the causes
of so much discord in our lives.

Then there are ‘those other people’,
from different religions,
races and societies different from ours.

Also from those we know and even love
if their burdens to heavy to carry,
so we build up armor to keep them all away,
by making them less than ourselves,
hopeless, less than human in some cases.

To block out humanity in its many disguises
leads to deep personal harm.
For we kill part of our humanity when we disregard others,
even if for good and justice reasons
as far as we reckon.

Yes, we need to be healthy, and strong,
boundaries are good and needful,
healthy being the operative word,
for walls built up in anger, fear, or hatred
lead slowly to an inward death
wherein light can be extinguished. 

Grace is needed to soften stone into flesh,
a hardened heart is enclosed in a casing sturdy,
suffocating what is experienced has protection
from pain, suffering and the heavy weight of those we reject.

The Lord allows us to experience ourselves deeply
in ways that crush our hard shelled egos
until the time comes when we see ourselves
in the struggles and failures of others,
and wish only God’s mercy on them,
and healing,
as we have experienced it.

Mercy, grace, healing, is a pure gift,
so precious that no payment can procure it,
only an open, humble and contrite heart.

 

markdohle

Life is about little things

I like to think about problems,
questions flow through my mind,
about suffering and joy
and life and death,
sometimes even my own ending
whenever that will come.

Still, it is really about little things
our lives that speed by so fast,
a cup of coffee in the morning,
or a drink of water when very thirsty,
meals with friends,
our families,
and walks alone under the moon,
or in the rain
and when no one is looking
running and splashing like a child.

We have deep inner lives,
sometimes haunted by the past,
as well as thoughts deep and lovely,
memories both hard and soft,
and wounds that need healing,
for they can itch and hurt,

Then as the years go by,
little by little,
we learn to let go and accept change,
bodies stiff and more pain no doubt,
yet if the hearts true meaning sought
there is a joy that was not there before.

A peace of a more quiet nature and peaceful,
that if rooted in our true nature
will weather all of life's storms.

We learn to see others and love them,
beyond their foibles and weaknesses
to something deeper that can come through
if we stay in touch with the little things.

Our deepest longing is to be seen and loved,
also perhaps for many their greatest fear,
pulling the soul this way and that
until hopefully, humility gained
and we seek truly what the heart most desires.

Christ Jesus, God’s love made flesh,
that can touch our hearts true longing
and without fear, we can open up
to what was always there,
our soul’s nakedness
before God’s infinite unconditional loving gaze.

 

 

markdohle

Humanity is an idea, people are the stuff of everyday life
and the problem

 

We are commanded to love, to serve; even our enemies.  In fact we are to reach out to those who are least like us, those we fear, those who may hate us, the unattractive, the untidy, the criminal, those in prison, the poor on the street and yes the rich and powerful, those better than us, more advanced than us, more intelligent than us.  Our Lord commands us to do one thing, our emotions and feelings tell us another story entirely. 

Before we can be in communion with all, we have to grow in the understanding that we can’t do it on our own.  What the Lord is asking of us is impossible; it goes against all of our survival instincts. We naturally love those like us. Fear those different than us. Hate and seek revenge on those who hurt us, or our loved ones etc.  It is normal, easy, and we often call such reactions ‘justice’.  I can’t do it; I fall easily into anger, seeking revenge and the struggle to have power over others. 

When we seek the Lord and allow the Holy Spirit to draw us into deep humility, which is the ability to accept and embrace our own humanity, with all of its beauty, as well as that which is destructive, both to us, and to others, it is then our journey truly begins.  Yes we are also called to love ourselves, for how can we love our neighbors as ourselves, if we have self-hatred and contempt towards our own humanity?

When we know ourselves and understand that we are loved by God, in spite of all that we see that keeps us from returning that love…It is then that we begin to see with the eyes of Christ Jesus.  For the more we know ourselves, with our sinfulness, as will as with aspects of our lives that can be called compulsion and addiction, we learn compassion and develop empathy for others. 

 

The Lord is calling us to a death to self that leads to a fuller life, which flows from allowing the Lord’s life to grow in our own heart until our hearts become the Heart of Christ Jesus.  Without knowing ourselves, and loving ourselves, which flows from true humility, it is impossible to love those outside of our own comfort zone.  For judgment, of the kind that Jesus forbids us to do, is all that we can do.  We are harsh to block out the humanity of those ‘others’, then we can let go of compassion and empathy, closing off our hearts to a large segment of humanity.  In doing so, we move towards death.  For those we hate and despised or in reality Jesus Christ. 

It is easy to love humanity; it is people who are the problem.  Humanity is an idea, people are the stuff of everyday life and the problem.  This applies to our-selves as well, for we can be a big problem to ourselves if we do not start with loving ourselves as the Lord commands.  
 

 

Expanding our hearts to become true flesh

 

All we have is today,
this glorious gift of our lives,
where we choose to give and love,
and heal and serve;
becoming simple servants
of the Lord.

 

Time flies by faster it seems
as each year passes by,
reminding us that we are pilgrims
passing through,
hoping to make this place a little better

 

Allowing the Lord to use our arms to hold,
our feet to run to help,
our hearts to love
becoming one with His humanity,
true, complete, perfect,
calling us all to allow Him to live in us,
expanding our hearts to become true flesh,
allowing the stone casing to become powder
to be blown away by the Holy Spirit,
the Infinite Fire of God’s love. –Br.MD

 




 

 

 

markdohle

An elderly woman who truly shone and touched my soul
(broken open in pain but healed in infinite love)

Because of my job in our retreat house, I have to work on my day off according to the retreat house schedule for retreats.  So, on Sunday, the retreatants are asked to check out before noon.  However, I also allow a retreatant or two to stay longer if they need to wait for a ride;  I just need to know.  I also try to catch up on my sleep.  I get up early to prepare coffee for our guest as well as other small chores that need to be done during the week.  Also, I simply love the morning hours, and perhaps I may get up earlier than I need to.  A good time for Lectio Divina and prayer….so on Mondays, I try to catch up and sleep more.  I then return to the regular life for midday office at 12:15 on Mondays.

This Monday, it was a nice cold morning so I decided to take a walk around 7 AM.  It was a beautiful morning, a little windy, but invigorating.  I decided to walk down where the old St. Pius the X church used to be many years ago when I was a young monk in the very early 70”s.   After the church moved into Conyers, the building became a bakery for about 45 years.  It is now our food bank that is open on Tuesdays. 

Walks are interesting for me, for when I begin my walks I will often find a deep longing welling up inside of me that lets me know that there are still many barriers in my soul that
keeps me from the union with God that I both long for and fear…..which is another mystery of the human condition I do believe.  It is like my heart is about to break open but then closes up again.  It is not something I can control, but have come to accept and perhaps that is what keeps me on my journey towards seeking to allow the grace and love of Jesus into my heart more deeply.  It is as if I am waiting for the embrace of the Lord that will bring to completion my deepest longing to be seen and loved. 

As I was walking over the road that is between two of the small manmade ponds that we have here, I heard a car approaching.  It drove by and the person inside waved at me.  I thought it was one of the people who help out at our food bank.  On Mondays, they fill up the food boxes that will be given away the next day.  So the car went to the building and stopped and backed up into a parking space.  Yet no one came out.  Then the car after a minute pulled out and drove back towards me.  The car came to a halt and the window came down and inside was a very pleasant looking woman, I guess in her late 60’s or early 70’s.  She did not ask a question but made the obvious statement that she came on
the wrong day.  I of course agreed and told her that it was on Tuesdays and to come early.  She thanked me and drove off.

I have noticed that many older people; both male and female have a certain beauty of soul that shines out through their eyes, smiles and something other, that I can’t put my finger on.  When I looked at her I was taken back by this type of beauty, her smile, and gentle demeanor.  I never let on of course, but we had our short exchange and I moved on.  All day, I felt her inner beauty and it felt like a healing balm to me.  Funny I bet she has no idea of her effect on me.  Perhaps one day if I see her again I will share that with her, or not.  She may think I am crazy.

Perhaps the Lord does use other people to embrace us in some way that can bring inner peace and healing.  Or maybe to alert me that He does dwell in the hearts of all that I
meet, if only I have the eyes to see.

How is God immanent in the world?  Well, I do think it can most powerfully be perceived in others, if we allow grace to heal the inner barriers and fears that have been built up, often unconsciously.  Her name was Mary Lee, I did not get the last name.  Christ before me, behind me, embracing me and showing himself to me in those I met on the way.  I often fail and when I do I just place another wound for the Lord to heal, so my journey continues.

Broken open

O Lord I long one day to be embraced
by your love within my being
where my deepest fears and shame
will be seen and healed
and my heart at home at last
broken open in pain
but healed in infinite love.

 


 

markdohle

Walking meditation

Walking meditation

(Gail was walking and felt Jesus close accompanying her;
she was aware of everything around her and experienced a deep peace)

I am surrounded by people who are each unique and also a mystery
and wonder.  I have the choice of how I will spend my remaining years.  I embrace, love….caring…quiet…be calm….be still…listen. --Gail Bardis

 


It can be a freeing experience to be able to say “I have a choice”.  Often I believe we act as if we don’t.  It is true some situations are out of our control; however how we react or relate to them is not out of our control.  Though it may take a while to grow into interior freedom at a depth that we can desire to choose to let go of pain, bitterness and stereotyping, which is a way to escape the true humanity of those we meet on a daily basis. .

.  I embrace, love….caring…quiet…be calm….be still…listen.

To be mindful is not easy, but worth the effort.  Once we make a conscious choice, or have a desire to deal with life on a level that leads to inner freedom as well as a more compassionate attitude towards others, we become aware of how unmindful we can be, how judgmental of others so easily.  This is a good sign, for it means that growth in self-knowledge is happening, which leads to humility and then to relationships that are less burdensome.  For compassionate self-knowledge frees us from the burden, the heavy burden, of judging others.  When we judge, even if the person being judged does not know, we become an adversary and will often go to others and try to turn them to our way of thinking.  This inflicts a profoundly painful inner wound. 

To embrace love, to seek to see our own humanity in others, to deepen our connection can only come to fruition if we seek to be more caring, to calm our automatic reactions to others, to seek to let go of that which agitates us, to simply be still and observe and most importantly to listen, both to ourselves, and to others, and in a special way in the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.

Growth is slow, and the more conscious we are of it, this growth, the deeper we learn of our need for help, from others and most especially from the grace of God.  For grace is simply allowing God’s love to grow in our hearts so that we truly learn to love and give and when needed, to speak the truth in gentleness.

It is never easy.  However, with patient endurance, we will eventually find ourselves running joyfully this path to deeper union with God as well as with others. 

 

markdohle

The noonday devil (Acedia)

 

The noonday devil (Acedia) and the experience of nothingness
Chapter Talk 4/1/17

When ask to respond to the invitation to describe the ‘Cistercian charism’ specific to our Order as you desire to live it out in your community?  My spontaneous response was this:

“I believe that Lectio Divina is at the heart of our charism.   Without it, our lives can become too scattered and we can lose our focus.   As well as enclosure, which is often hard to keep when living near a large city and dependent on their patronage for our survival….I am called to deepen my love of scripture and the discipline needed to continue to deepen my practice.  It has been a long journey, but the monastic vocation and growth into its charism takes time and patience”. 

In my own life, I can go through periods of deep inner discontent.  Even the word discontent does not apply, it is more like a feeling of ‘nothingness’, more than boredom.   I call it the Sunday afternoon syndrome.  When young, and in the Navy, Sundays afternoons for me would be absolute torture.  Just the feeling of ‘nothingness’, of feeling rootless, wandering around finding no relief anywhere, it was not painful, or even distressful, just empty air…which from my experience is much worse. 

In the Monastery this also happens, and my way of dealing with it over the years has changed.  When a young monk, I would exercise a great deal, swim for hours, do yoga and lift weights.  Which are good in themselves, but for me it was a way to escape.  I would also read for knowledge and pleasure, which is also not something bad, but good.  However, that underlying feeling of ‘dissipating’ and being ‘nothing’ would not abate, I felt rootless and in fact, it is still with me more often that I would like: I still struggle with it.  I am of course talking about the ‘Noon Day Devil”, or “Acedia”

 

Signs of Acedia
(The Noon day Devil)

The signs or symptoms of Acedia may be bodily or psychological, and again, pertaining to sadness or to its consequent tedium or languor. Bodily signs range from mere sleepiness to general sickness or debility. It produces feelings of ill health, making a person feel unable to fulfill his duties.

Some psychological signs are a lack of attention to prayer, an overall dissatisfaction with life, and boredom, showing itself in a general laziness or refusal to work or to pray.

It is usually seen as naming a fault, which is subject to one's will, rather than simply a psychological state. Acedia is to spiritual health something like what depression is to mental health.

 

Over the years I have found that the only way to deal with it, to profit from it, is to stop running from that ‘restless nothingness’ and simply embrace it.  For me, that can take some time, but as the years roll on I have slowly learned that restless wandering only makes it worse and ever more deadly.  The more I try to get away from it, the more like a tar baby it sticks to me.  “Feed me” it seems to say.  Feed it what?

Lectio is, of course, different from other forms of reading.  Study and the love of literature is a good way to spend one’s time, but when ‘aecedia’ hits hard these activities may not be possible.  Lectio is not done for pleasure or as a way of escaping but of facing deeply the hard reality of our human existence.  Living in a Monastery with its quiet life and strict schedule will only open us up more deeply into the human situation.  One being, that our inner thirst for meaning and our longing for God can only be ignored at our own risk.  Many addictive actions are used to find some form of release from this often deeply painful situation.  This in the end only makes our situation worse and will keep us at an immature level of emotional development, for we can’t grow without a disciplined response to life and what we are called to become.  In any case, when living any kind of life that goes against what we say we are doing, is deeply destructive to both mental and spiritual health.  It is a way of fleeing from personal responsibility and the painful road of self-knowledge. 

 

The demon of Acedia suggests to you ideas of leaving, the need to change your place and your way of life. He depicts this other life as your salvation and persuades you that if you do not leave, you are lost. – Evagrius of Pontus, De octo vitiosis cogitationibus 12

 

When I am in the grip of Acedia, below the emptiness and nothingness I sense panic, anxiety and a desire to run away.  As I age this is becoming more apparent to me.  What is also becoming more obvious to me is that the only cure for this dilemma is to simply sit, open up my bible, and slowly read, ponder and pray from the Word.  This can be difficult, like swimming up river, but in the end, perhaps later during the day, because of my desire to center myself in the Word, I get a feeling of ‘home’, or of even feeling the living waters rise up in my heart.  A joy comes, and I feel how much I need the grace of God.  To pray, to do Lectio, is in actuality a response to an invitation to center myself and to die to ways of being that only trap me in an endless round in the desert, like it did the Israelites with their 40 years of wandering in the desert.

One reason that I like aging is that I have many years of experience behind me that allows me to stop the endless cycle of seeking relief from my own inner poverty without the grace of Christ Jesus.  It also connects me more to the community, which is another way of allowing the Lord to minister to me.  In seeking to serve the community, to love them and not to judge harshly, frees me from my-self as well.  

In any life, to be successful (however that is meant), discipline, focus, and determination are needed.  I like the adage:  “Believe that nothing is possible without the grace of God, but act as if everything depends on you”.  I would like to say I am always successful, but not true.  That is the difference between isolation and solitude.  One is destructive and other life giving.  Acedia leads to isolation, or to relationships that are shallow and in the end lack meaning.

So, for me, I guess Lectio is, in reality, central to our charism.  Without it, I believe everything else falls apart.—Br.MD

 

markdohle

The thin barrier between there and here

(Written 6/12/08)

One of our newest employees, Fiona is her name, has very recently suffered a great tragedy in her family. One of her brothers died recently from drowning. I can’t imagine how horrible it must be to receive that kind of news; it is not something one can prepare themselves for. She is a gentle soul, a good worker and is respected by everyone who has the privilege to work with her.

She is very intelligent and can ask some good question when it comes to faith in God, about death and what comes after, if anything. She is honest about her doubts and struggles, something most of us go through in our lives. I guess no matter what one comes to believe about the nature of life, doubt will often be there, for any worldview is not something that can be proven, for one is dealing with meaning and mankind’s struggle to find reasons for it all.

As we were talking one day about the above issues, I remembered a book that I had read, written by a doctor who ran a hospice clinic ( Into the Light: Real Life Stories About Angelic Visits, Visions of the Afterlife, and Other Pre-Death Experiences by John Lerma ). It dealt with the experiences that many of his dying patients went through as they were nearing their end. He would talk to his patients drawing them out and was able to pass on his experience in book form. I told Fiona about it, and she expressed a desire to read it. So I lent it to her.

A few days later she brought the book back and thanked me for lending it to her. She then started talking about Philip, who is our longest-lived resident here. It seems that she has been having some experiences with Philip, that have touched her deeply. As we were talking she related how Philip was acting like some of the people she read about in the book. How he would often look into the right-hand corner of the room, and often say that he was not alone. Bob came up a few times; he was one ours and died about a year ago. She did not think much of it, until one day Phillip said something to her that got her attention. She was talking to Phillip about her brother, the one who drowned, never mentioning his name to him. Well,l Philip said that her brother was here with her, and mentioned his name, which both shocked and comforted her. The next day she asked Philip if her brother was still with her and he responded with: “no thank God, he is not here anymore”, and smiled at her.

She wondered why this happened to her. The only thing I could say is that she received what she needed and God was using Philip to deliver it to her. I guess I can say that I have had my share of experiences with the dying as well and also from time to time, from those who have died, I guess you could say that I have had some visitations. Though over the years they have lessened, probably because I don’t need them any longer; for I really believe we only get what we need. I would imagine, that many who work in an hospice like environment would also be able to relate an experience or two if asked about it. Are they real? Well, there are many ways to interrupt these experiences, but when they hit home on a deep, personal, level, I would imagine there could only be one way to deal with them; they are simple markers, telling us something about life. Perhaps a glimmer of the answers we all are seeking and perhaps what our faith is already telling us.

Br. Mark Dohle, OCSO

markdohle

The reality of His Presence

The reality of His Presence

 

“For you I must be everything.  Everything!  You understand? 
Your life is mine…Move out of yourself; I’m living in you. 
Do you grasp what I mean?  I take up all the room.”
(From the book “He and I”)  Author:  Gabrielle Bossis
 Pauline Press 6 Feb 41

 

God accommodates us when He speaks.  Using language that we can understand, when speaking of the incomprehensible, the ineffable, so that we may at least to begin to comprehend the depth of the love that the Eternal has for each one of us.


For instance, when He speaks to us ‘becoming’ little children, He is actually inviting us to embrace what is real….that being, our total dependence on God for our very existence.  Just as little children are dependent on their parents.  Though it goes much deeper, for the more childlike we become, as opposed to becoming more self-centered the way a child can be when acting childish, the deeper we move into the true humanity that Christ Jesus is calling us all to.  Paradox is always at work with it comes to our growth into living out our true image and likeness. 

So when Christ Jesus is speaking to Gabrielle, He is really telling her what the truth of the matter is.  God, even if we do not believe, or, are indifferent to His existence, He really is, ‘our everything’.  For in Him we ‘Live and move and have our being”.   Like it or not we are in
relationship with Him, by our very existence.  To deny that, freely, can only lead to an existence that is rootless, for everything we touch disappears and dies.  All those we love also die, but to be in Christ Jesus, or to simply seek God, connects us to a life and love that is eternal.  In the end we lose nothing, but gain the hundred fold.  To seek is to be open to the truth.  To stop seeking is to close ourselves off from further revelation of God’s love and existence. 


If God exists, then to not take that seriously is to live a life that is based on a lie.  Emptiness cannot fill itself.  Our souls can only find rest in the infinite, the eternal, to not do so, is to starve and to become simple mist, which disappears when the light of truth comes in the morning. 

 

markdohle

A Beggar Off I-75, Near the Cleveland Avenue Exit by Br. MD

He actually has a regal look about him, at least when first spotted, sitting on the side of the road. Long white beard, thin hair also uncut, in matching white shirt and shorts, soaked with sweat on some days. Looks almost like some sort of holy man one might see in India, along the roads there, begging while sitting in some sort of yoga position. 

Cont http://www.thechristianreview.com/a-beggar-off-i-75-near-the-cleveland-avenue-exit/

markdohle

 

I believe we are in a time of ‘Free Fall”.

“[W]e are facing an enormous and dramatic clash between good and evil, death and life, the “culture of death” and the “culture of life”. We find ourselves not only faced with but necessarily in the midst of this conflict: we are all involved and we all share in it, with the inescapable responsibility of choosing to be unconditionally pro-life.”—John Paul 11 Evangelium Vitae, 28

Agitation is   When I believe all we can do is to pray, seek to take care of what is actually in front of us and continue calmly our walk of faith and trust.  As we fall the tendency to fight, stereotype and hate will increase.  After making so many destructive choices we have slipped over the edge and have begun our movement with what is called ‘bottoming out’.  I think that at this time a large part of the world is in ‘free fall’.really of no help whatsoever.  Perhaps this is a good time to follow what Jesus said:  “Fear is worthless, what is needed is faith”.  We will hit bottom, what happens after that is predicated on what we did before. 

We can seek to blame others, yet I believe all of us are responsible for what is going on today.  To blame another group is 
too merely reduce ourselves into becoming victims; very angry victims.  So let us pray for the fruits of the Holy Spirit in the midst of the seeming growing chaos that is going on around us. 

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Galatians 5:22-23

 

markdohle

We are called to endurance and faith

 “I passed the time on earth, rejoiced, suffered and patiently endured pains, until my Son, in all His glory, removed them.”
(March 18, 2017 Special Message from Our Lady to Mirjana

All we have is today, and all we need do is to get through it, as we have every day of our lives.  Things can fall apart, the center will not hold, and it can seem like hell on earth on some days.  The Blessed Mother is letting us know that she like us went through such days.  She was a woman of faith and she had to ponder deeply the mystery of her Son Jesus’ life and mission, as well as her own life’s purpose.  To stay on course, or to get back on the path after a fall, is of extreme importance.  For how we handle suffering and life’s many unsolvable situations today, is the building block for tomorrow. 

To begin again

Lord, today is enough,
dealing with what is in front of me,
to seek in the whirlwind
to do the loving thing.

Your love filling our hearts
is all that we need,

Grace giving freely,
overflowing this living water,
always present
calling us to begin again
each day,
hour and moment.—Br.MD

 

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