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talking to myself

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markdohle

The Inner Light

 

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The Inner Light
(Belongs to no one, but to all)

May 19—Paris. In the metro. “I am the Host. You are the monstrance.
The golden rays are the blessings I give through you.”

Bossis, Gabrielle. He and I (Kindle Locations 352-353).|
Pauline Books and Media. Kindle Edition.

 

Jesus said that he is in the ones that we would normally hate.  In the downtrodden, the poor, those on the fringe.  Yet as soon as we begin to hate any group, they also belong to those on the outer edges.  To see that all humans are called to incarnate Christ, or to allow Christ to incarnate in them, is perhaps the only way to overcome the implicit prejudices that seem to plague mankind.  Each human being I believe is a revelation of the infinite, we just do not know it. 

What are we?  We are not accidents, we are creatures with deep interior lives, who have a sense of justice, and a desire for beauty and knowledge.  We seek meaning, and I believe that the seeking a deep spiritual connection with others as well as with the infinite, does set us apart.  We are not at home in this world, we are always seeking more, yet the longing is not fulfilled.

Jesus was betrayed, abandoned by his followers, and denied by Peter, tortured, mocked, killed, yet he forgave.  I doubt there is any human who could do that, but only Christ Jesus.  He shows us what it means to be human.  We are still fearful primates seeking to find a way to become more human.  Well, we did not create ourselves, our very existence is a grace, a gift, so it is with our inner, deep spiritual selves, and we are healed and created anew by grace.  I see this in the lives of all that I meet, those who believe as I do, and those who don't.  Why?  Well, the Infinite is beyond us, the love something yet to be understood or fully experienced, Christ Jesus called it "Father". 

I believe our deepest longing is to be seen truly and yet accepted, healed and loved.  I am not being sentimental, what Jesus went through was not some sort of fuzzy love, but something stronger than death.  When he died, it was over, he was a failure, yet in the end, all of our thoughts on how things should work, were wrong, he rose from the dead, fully human, our brother as well as our God.   He is no myth, millions attest to that by their lives as well as by their experiences.   Our capacity to absorb this light, this love, depends on our openness to grace.  No one is excluded, no one……unless they make a free choice, another burden that we carry.  To love truly is a choice, to accept it freely, a choice as well.—Br.MD

markdohle

Becoming Jesus

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Becoming Jesus

March 10—Crossing the Saint-Nicolas, Nantes.
“I am no longer on earth, so take My place.”

Bossis, Gabrielle. He and I (Kindle Locations 306-307).
Pauline Books and Media. Kindle Edition.

 

I do believe, that the Lord does speak to us today, through certain men, and women.  These communications are based on the Lord’s desire to draw us deeper into communication with Himself, based on his revelation of the Father to humanity.  For to see Jesus, is to see the Father.  Jesus also said that how you treat others, is crucial, because He identifies with each of us, even those with whom we have little love or liking for, or may even have a deep-seated prejudice.  His union with mankind (with each of us) is total.  Those who take on the name of Christian, are called to incarnate Jesus Christ in their own bodies, or as St. Paul stated:   “It is not I who live, but Christ Jesus, who lives in me”. 

Our capacity to incarnate Jesus Christ is based on our capacity to allow His love and grace into our hearts.  The more we desire to grow in love of God and others (a grace in itself), the faster our inner ability to embrace the love of God, increases.  This happens though the process of self-knowledge, for the more we know ourselves, without self-hatred, the more we can love and empathize with others.  So, how do we take the place of Christ?  By becoming ever more trustful of his mercy in our own lives, as well as in the lives of others.

Unless we can grow in self-love and compassion for ourselves, we cannot show it to others.  For to judge another, is to see ourselves and judge.  Healing comes from embracing all that we are, in the presence of the loving gaze of Christ Jesus.  As St. Paul says, it is through fire that we must pass so that all that is not pure will be burned up.  St. Paul uses the metaphor of stubble, stone, and precious stones and gold.  That fire, is the gaze of Christ Jesus and our allowing Him to remove all that keeps us from manifesting Christ to others. Not just by what we say, but more importantly, how we love and treat the stranger, the outcast, and the so-called refuse of society.  No human being is ‘refuse’, but each made in the image and likeness of God, with whom Christ dwells.  When we love others, we allow Christ Jesus to enter into their hearts.  A heart open to true love, is open to grace, to Christ Jesus, even if they may not know that perhaps until the time of their death.  For Christ Jesus came to save the world and not to condemn it.  The deeper we see and understand, the more compassionate we become.  Christ Jesus, who sees all, and understands all, how vast his compassionate for all of us must be.  An often hard reality to embrace and believe.—Br.MD 

 

 

markdohle

What is the present moment?

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What is the present moment?

Live, then, in the present moment. Choose to be faithful to Me in the little things that I give you and ask of you from minute to minute, from hour to hour, and from day to day.3 It is foolish to pin your hopes and to spend your energy on an imaginary good, when the real good that I offer you is here and now.

A Benedictine Monk. In Sinu Jesu: When Heart Speaks to Heart--
The Journal of a Priest at Prayer
 (Kindle Locations 3220-3223). Angelico Press. Kindle Edition.
++++++++++

 

This morning I was walking out front of the Monastery in between Nocturnes, at Vigils, our 4AM office.  We have the first Nocturne. Then we have a meditation period of 30 minutes.  Since the church can be very hot, this is the best way for me to pray/meditate.   I was saying the Chaplet of Mercy, which is something said for those who are dying at that hour.  As I was thinking about the word ‘hour’, I began to pray for the dying in God’s ‘hour’, which is always present, both past, present, and future.  There is no future with God, it is all ‘Now’.  So in praying for the dying, it within God’s ‘hour’.  The eternal moment that we all live, move and have our being in.  In prayer, there is no separation from past, present, or future, it is all ‘now’.   I know it sounds crazy for those who do not believe, but as I grow older, this reality becomes ever more real.  The deep connection we have with all others.

As I was walking between a large bush and a tree, a mockingbird starting singing, and another bird, of which I do not know the species, responded.  I stopped and just listened, in the otherwise completely silent morning.  The beauty of that moment came over me like a flood, something so simple, but yet so profoundly beautiful!  I am grateful, that for at least this morning, I was not trapped in the past, or worrying about the future.  I guess, perhaps, I was awake.  I do believe that prayer does wake us up, if we pray from the heart, being honest, and not afraid of the truth.  My soul wanted to dance, fly, and run around like crazy……I was so thankful for that little moment, so rich, and happy that I did not let it go by unnoticed. 

Each day has its challenges that we experience moment by moment.  To wake up, to stop dreaming is to be aware of our ability to grow in freedom, and in our ability to choose not to react, but to interact with others, or with everyday situations. 

To not wake up, is simply going through the day reacting, not much different than dreaming…or is in fact, a form of dreaming.  Caught up in the past, or worries about a future, we don’t even know we have.  Each day, thousands worry about the future and die, unexpectedly, that same day.  When caught up in inner drama, we miss what is before us.  When the inner drama is unconscious, we play it out with those around us.

There are ways to be in the moment.  Seeking to live by the ‘Golden Rule’ for instance.  In facing a dilemma, that is, in reality, a crossroads, a place of decision, it is good to think along these lines:  “How would I want to be treated in this situation”.  It brings us out of a certain ‘self-centeredness’, which goes with being self-aware.  The illusion is that the world revolves around me.  Reality is reduced to a stage wherein I am the main character.  Yes, this is dreaming, big time, which can quickly/easily, devolve into a nightmare.  When people who are not aware, that they are reacting, each thinking they are right, and the others, impeding on their rights, it can lead to situations that become very chaotic and destructive……so yes, a hell, of sorts.  Brings to mind Sartre’s play ‘No Exit”.  It is a form of isolation, which is suffering, but so common, that many may not know that they are in fact in deep pain. 

When allowing the unconscious to block self-awareness, with all of its memories of the past, where all the hurt and pain is hidden, it can run our lives with brute force.  The more we are unaware, the more of a victim we become of others, or, we can victimize because we can’t wake up.  In the end, we are our own worst enemy, trapped in cycles we may not understand, or even know that they are cycles that can be healed.  What is thought of as normal, may, in fact, be a prison that is self-constructed, the key is to wake up.—Br.MD






 

 

 

markdohle
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Who says!!
Thoughts on the aging process and the spiritual journey.


A very good friend, who is also a man filled with wisdom wrote a piece about retirement and how he was dealing with it. Some of it was coming from a place of struggle, but it ended up well. One statement jumped out at me and I responded to it. I would like to share it. It comes, of course, from a Christian point of view.

Interesting post. I do believe that as we age there are questions that we have to face, even if they can’t be answered to our liking. I will be 70 in December, a strange thought, but not an unhappy one……Even with the health problems, aches and pains, I still fell happy and wonder what the next decade will be like. I find myself feeling young inside, but on the outside, well, it is obvious that I am an older man. I often have to be reminded of it, mirrors are good for that.


I was taken by this statement:

(Quote): Easy answer. No doubt they were. But I suspect that having found little to nothing meaningful in their everyday life they placed themselves in an environment in which it was easy to displace to another cognitive state. It was easy to “get away from here” even if the destination was only imaginary. (Unquote):

Not sure what you mean by “imaginary”? If the older women are really devout and by that, I mean women, who live their faith, and are deeply rooted in their relationship with God, then old age is a call to deepen that relationship even more. As well as their connection with others. How do you know the modern perspective on religion and the faith that flows from it is right? Modern attitudes are often just accepted, yet a lot can be missed by that I believe.

One day, I was having an intense struggle with emptiness,, meaninglessness, feeling without value, or substance. Then I the thought came to me: “This moment will never be repeated, how will I respond, will I open my heart even now to this ‘nothingness’, or seek to escape it, which from experience is impossible. So I made, perhaps for the first time in my life, to understand the importance of each moment.

I do believe my dear friend, that we are here just to make these small choices, to embrace life, to understand how short it is, and how important our choices are for the formation of our soul. Such is the value of our lives. Of course, this is not a modern, secular, idea, but an old one rooted in not only the Christian tradition but in others as well.

The NDEs bring this out. In one life review, a man was astounded that most of the things he gave value too were overrated. Then he noticed that it is the ‘so-called’ little things, his choices to be kind, observant, and helpful, and forgiving, that shone out as something very important. A reversal of values I believe. Sort of like the Sermon on the Mount. Something easy to read, but to live out of that reality, takes time, effort and an openness to the Spirit of Grace.

I have found that each state of life is more important than the one before it and more demanding. I remember that when I was young (as I am sure you do as well) the old cliché, “don’t trust anyone over 30”. The message, life is over at 30. Who says? When we get older, we are ‘forced’ to let go of old ways of seeing ourselves, perhaps we are being ‘honed’, cut back, so something else can come forth. When we forget we are pilgrims, then we get into trouble. Aging, is important for us on the level of spiritual growth. It is hard, painful, and at times a lonely place to be…..yet if we don’t forget that we have an immortal soul, it can give some surcease to our suffering.

You are wise, you know already of what I speak. The last years are the most important because we let go of what our culture tells is important, but in reality, it is, but there is something more, there is always something more. -Br.MD

markdohle

 

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Your longing to love—this is love

February 14—In a car. “You saw My kindness in the face of that young girl? Be like that always. If My followers were good to one another, the face of the world would be transformed.” “Your longing to love—this is love . . .” “In your soul there is a door that leads to the contemplation of God. But you must open it.” February 17—“Don’t

Bossis, Gabrielle. He and I (Kindle Locations 284-288).
Pauline Books and Media. Kindle Edition.

The Christian path is not about being nice, but about being kind.  Kindness comes from the heart, when it sees, and understands a person, or a situation.  Most people are touched by even the smallest kindness, especially if it comes in an unexpected manner.  We often find that when we do reach out in kindness, we find an inner door opening that brings with it a deep happiness, or perhaps joy, would be the better word.  Kindness is not done out of compulsion.  It does not lead to irritation, or an expectation, of a return.  Hence the joy. The ego is placed aside, and something bigger is experienced.  It is our true nature, made in the image, and likeness, of God, whose nature is Infinite Love, and Kindness.  Until we open up our hearts to all that we meet, that deep inner joy will not be experienced.  Harshness, contempt, anger, and indifference, are used to block out understanding of the reality of the lives of others, and the pain that can bring.  Love has a price, it leads to kindness that is based on seeing with the eyes of Christ Jesus. –Br.MD

markdohle

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I believe that in each heart, all hearts reside

My friendship is not earned, it is not something acquired by measuring up to the standards of perfection that you have set for yourself. My friendship is pure gift.1 It is the gift of My Sacred Heart and I offer it freely. So few souls understand this. You are sanctified by living in My friendship. All the rest is secondary. Love Me and believe in My unconditional love for you. Trust Me. Show Me that you have confidence in My merciful goodness, especially when you experience weakness, or shame, or fear, and I will renew the grace of My love in your heart. I will uphold you with the gift of My unfailing presence. I am the Friend who will never forsake you. Let that be enough for you.

A Benedictine Monk. In Sinu Jesu: When Heart Speaks to Heart--The Journal of a Priest at Prayer (Kindle Locations 649-654). Angelico Press. Kindle Edition.


I started writing in 1999, soon after I turned 50.  Before that, it never occurred to me to write, or when I did, it was such a chore that I only wrote when I had to.  I started to write because I wanted to try to express my ‘intuitions’, to break them down, and to try to express them.  When I started to try to share my thoughts on the internet in different forums, I was amazed (not anymore), at the vehement response that I sometimes got.  It took me awhile to be able to still seek to be respectful, even if attacked.   One reason, is that I understood on some level the reason behind it. 

I do believe that Christians in general (myself included), can do a great deal of harm to others when we do what we are not commanded to do.  Judging, lashing out, condemning, boxing in, and stereotyping others.  This kind of treatment usually leads those attacked to respond in the same way.  What I experienced, when starting out, trying to communicate on the internet, and still do, is that we are lumped together, just as we can lump those who think, believe, or, live differently, than we do.  A very common human trait, irrational, and a waste of time. 

As a Christian, I believe that Christ Jesus seeks to incarnate in the world through me.  I am asked to open up my heart to His grace (freely given gift), so as to grow in my ability to love not only God but others, as well.  To hate, is to pull back from the love of God.  Since Jesus Christ dwells in the hearts of each human being, according to my faith, and as well as from my own experience, in seeking to live out of this reality…. I am aware of the harm, and evil, in demeaning others, in any way.

Christ Jesus, I believe is fully human.  What does that mean?  He is not controlled by how others treat him, but sees so deeply, that he is able to have mercy, and compassion, on all.  Having become man, he understands our inner struggles, more than we do.  He sees into the depths of the human heart, and understands our struggle to become more loving, and free.  He seeks to show another way, which is seldom paid attention to, especially by Christians, and of course me.  In reality how much different are we from the so-called unbelievers?  They are often better, since they don’t have to waste their time judging others according to what they think is God’s way.  They as well, at least in the United States, more often than the more outspoken Christians, can respond on an intelligent level when asked what they believe. 

If God is love, as revealed through Jesus, why is that so often forgotten?  If that reality was understood, that the love of God is truly a free gift offered to all, why can’t this truth, be lived out with those we come in contact with each day?  Christians are no better than anyone else in actually seeing, listening, and understanding, the person before them.  It is easier, and less frustrating, and less painful, to simply lump everyone together.  That way, they don’t have to be dealt with, just boxed and stored.

I know that Christians condemn each other to hell all the time.  Then of course, all those who follow another religion (non-Christians) are also sent to hell.  So I guess we are all going to hell?  No.  We do this because I believe, let me speak for myself here….I still do not understand what Infinite Love is.  I can experience it, yet the effect can wear off if I allow my own inner worries, and fears, to dominate.  The mind-of-man is restless, fearful, and filled with many anxious concerns.  The Mind-Of-Christ is a mind that is truly rooted, in reality.  I am still asleep, Christ-Mind is fully awake.

We are all loved.  In the Gospels, if more time were spent in pondering what is being revealed, instead of finding quotes to back up one’s favorite position, perhaps things would be different.  Jesus Christ, as St. John says in the beginning of his Gospel, was the Word, the Word was God, and he brought forth by speaking one Word, the cosmos.  So, yes, anyone who is ‘saved’, can only be because of Him.  He is not a tribal deity but seeking to show the true nature of love that is not based on need, compulsion, or instinct.  It is love, I believe, we all seek, but don’t understand.  Our art deals with this, especially music, in often deeply poignant ways, that at least while listening, can open up the heart to another reality.  This is grace. 

Because Jesus has commanded me not to judge others, I strive not to.  The state of the soul, of any human being, is between them, and God, I have no right to even begin to guess their place before God.  I do know, that we are all loved, and that Jesus Christ, identifies with each of us.  Or as St. Augustine says:  “God loves each human being as if they were the only one in existence”.   If the truth could sink in, perhaps we would treat others with the love, respect, compassion and concern that they deserve.  We all need to be respected, listened to, loved and not hated, nor treated, with contempt. 

There is nothing that can separate us from the love of God……well, we can step outside of that circle…..who does that? I do not know.  I pray for the salvation of all, for I believe that in each heart, all hearts reside, and finally, in the heart of God, we are one.  Catholic’s call that the Sacred Heart of Jesus.-Br.MD

markdohle

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In our falling and rising, we begin to experience grace

 

Faith in My fatherhood will be the path of healing for many, who, like you, were kept from growing up in freedom and joy beneath the gaze of their father. I want to banish fear from your life. I want you to feel loved and surrounded by My presence as Father—a presence that supports you, that will not hold you back from becoming the man that I have always wanted you to be; a presence that will allow you, in turn, to become a father, a father in My image, a father as My Jesus was fully a father in the midst of His disciples. They discovered My fatherhood in His countenance. 1 They sensed it in drawing close to His Heart, they

 

A Benedictine Monk. In Sinu Jesu: When Heart Speaks to Heart
--The Journal of a Priest at Prayer (Kindle Locations 331-335). Angelico Press. Kindle Edition
.

 

The primacy of love is often overlooked.  Many families have situations that are passed on from one generation to the next, were love and tenderness were never part of family life.   If when young, we were never truly loved by our Father, as well as our Mother, this can lead to a life of seeking to find that ‘perfect’ relationship.  However, what happens is that both men, and women, will end up marrying into what they know, relationships that are destructive for both parties. 

To be seen, as well as loved, has a grounding effect on the soul.  We do not have to seek it since we have it when our parents cherish us.  If that is not experienced, then that hole that within needs to be filled.  So we unknowingly look for the love not given to us when young.  Or, if any kind of love was experienced, it was based on earning it through compliance.

Christians, also have to deal with this reality.  How can the Fatherhood of God, have any meaning for those who have never known the manly, protective, love of a father.  When we feel alone, fear can be a dominant factor in our lives.  We can act out in many ways.  Rage, sexual excess, overeating, alcohol and drugs addiction are a common way to seek to medicate ourselves.  Which fails.  Power, control, and dominance are ways of seeking to control the world and to get what we seek, which is often hidden by other goals that leave the heart empty and even angrier. 

When we live in a world like ours, that is a rough place for everyone, it is very difficult to even believe in any kind of god, let alone in the Father that Jesus revealed to the world.  Christian often portray God the Father like many earthly fathers, with deep emotional problems.  It is all that many know.  So the limited love of any human being is the prototype of God. 

It is easy to understand punishment, revenge, torture, and rejection.  It brings out some sort of comfort if we can believe in a God really not much better than we are.  I believe that Christ Jesus came to dispel those idols.  It is hard enough, today, to believe in God.  Even harder to believe in the Fatherhood of God that Jesus wished to proclaim to the world. 

It is easily forgotten that we are commanded not to judge.  For when we judge, we are often operating from an idol of God that is just like us, only bigger and meaner, and who can torture for eternity.  Not sure that is what Jesus was trying to portray to us.  Perhaps to give our trust into the arms of a loving God is one of the hardest act of faith that we can make. 

The spiritual journey is partly about allowing ourselves to experience our inner chaos and turmoil without seeking to medicate ourselves in order to escape.  There is no escape, all we can do is to carry our cross, knowing we are not alone and in that comes healing, that flows from grace.  In that, in our falling and rising, we begin to experience the grace, faithfulness, and love of the Father as revealed in Jesus Christ.—Br.MD


 

 

markdohle

Intolerable Human Situations

 

 

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Intolerable Human Situations
(What to say, what to do?)

Give Me the full attention of your heart—the ear of your heart—and I will speak to you.1 I will show you the way in which you are to walk and I will give you My light about the things that weigh upon you, or sadden you, or perplex you.2 Bring everything to Me and I will give you in exchange My grace and My love. It is fear more than anything else that prevents you from coming into My presence with confidence, with hope, and with a quiet heart. With Me and from Me you have nothing to fear. ---Thursday, January 8, 2009

A Benedictine Monk. In Sinu Jesu: When Heart Speaks to Heart
--The Journal of a Priest at Prayer (Kindle Location 1893). Angelico Press. Kindle Edition.

 

A good friend called me up the other day.  He just got word that a beloved friend’s son had committed suicide.  Sad to say, not an uncommon event in our world.  He was torn up by this and did not know what to say to his friend when he will talk to him.  It is a human situation that seems impossible, intolerable, with no answer on how to deal with it. 

As he talked, I began to think of the times in my life when I was going through a time of deep, inner, emotional pain.  Yes, a common human situation.  I do know that at the time of my suffering, both for loss of a loved one, or some other inner emotional pain.  The last thing I wanted to hear is some pious saying that is used with good intent, but does not address the issue.  How do I get through this moment, this hour, and this day?  I have had friends who simply sat with me, saying nothing.  This helped.   I believe they could do that because they had gone through such experiences and did not feel the need to run from being with me in silence, by some saying (reduced to a cliché), which while perhaps true, is not what was needed. 

I do believe that God truly tents with us.  When we are in pain, God, because revealed as love, feels what we feel, yet remains with us in silence.   Silence, being perhaps the most intimate of unions.  We are also meant to stay in silence when are emotionally drained.  The grace of Jesus Christ is real, yet we have to let go of fear, anger, and bitterness, in order to feel it on a deep level.  Even in the settling of pain, and other deep emotions, that keep us in deep agitation, God’s grace is present drawing us forward.

The reality is that we are pilgrims.  We are here for a short time.  What we experience today, no matter how painful, or horrible, passes, all we need do (a very dreadful experience) is to wait on the Lord amidst the inner raging sea, without fear.  This is a choice that flows from grace…that is never withdrawn.  God’s love, is grace, and we are called to trust in the midst of darkness, the pain, and the fear, and step out over the pathless path, that we all must face in our lives at one time or another.  For some, it is their whole life. 

Our faith is not a way to escape life, but allows us to face it squarely, not fearing what we are going through, to even embrace our pain so as to allow the grace and healing of Jesus to work in our hearts.   I do not understand much.  However, the more I experience God’s grace, the closer I draw to Jesus, the more I understand that what God is about is greater than any human interpretation of the Christian mystery.  Again, we are told not to judge for a reason, we are usually wrong and it points back to ourselves. 

To be childlike is to be open, receptive, hoping against hope, praying for the greatest spiritual gift, which is love.  For love, hopes in all things.-Br.MD

 

markdohle

 

 

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The Lord sees all and understands all

 

Of the sins cast into the fire of My Heart, nothing remains. They are completely annihilated—reduced, not to ashes, but utterly destroyed and forgotten. Love makes Me do this.  When a soul laden with sin, even with sins against My divine Person—blasphemy, sacrilege, and revilement—comes to Me with a repentant and broken heart, My love envelopes that soul and purifies her in My Blood.1 I am the Savior

A Benedictine Monk. In Sinu Jesu: When Heart Speaks to Heart
--The Journal of a Priest at Prayer  Angelico Press

 

People are capable of a deep love for another person.  Parents for their children, friends for each other, and of one’s family.   Sometimes, people, are capable of a love so deep, that mercy, and forgiveness, are extended even without the offender asking.  Of course, the one who offends has to accept this gift, this grace, of reconciliation.  If it is not accepted, then the separation, while one-sided, can’t be breached. 

Jesus uses human analogies to try to express the love of the Father for his children.  So in the parable/story of the Prodigal Son, he does this.  He shows the father running towards the son, even though the son is perhaps not fully cognizant of how he offended, or not understanding what a deep love is all about.  Love that is real, and not manipulative, sees deeply.  Other types of love, only seen through the lens of longing, and even obsession. Leading to objectifying the so-called loved one.   

The Lord sees all and understands all.  This is where mercy flows from, this deep seeing into the depth of the soul, that the one being loved, and understood, more often than not, has no clue.  God’s judgment is based on love, his justice is as well.  Man’s judgment is based on the desire for revenge masked as justice.  Human anger or the desire for revenge is not justice.  Mercy and justice have to go together because we are bounded by our past, our level of intelligence, the culture we live in, our inherited DNA etc.  We have a lot to deal with, so it is best to leave judgment to the one who can judge.  We are called to love, have compassion, and to speak the truth with respect for the freedom, and the dignity, of the other. 

When we start to understand the mercy and love of God, we begin to see life in a different light.  We see others differently because we see ourselves in a different way.  In a manner that understands that God’s love is Infinite, something way beyond anything thing we can comprehend.  That love is for everyone, even those who say they hate others, and God, or seek to erase God from the world.  We are called to lift up all into the love and mercy of God, and not worry about judgment.  Only God can judge truly.  We can pray and connect with all.  That is what we are called to do.  To serve others, through mercy, prayer, compassion, that flows from self-understanding of our need for love, mercy, and compassion.—Br.MD


 

 

markdohle

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This hard to believe, the depths of God’s love for us

….I abhor sin and its ravages in My creatures. Sin given to Me ceases to exist; it is forever
lost in the infinite ocean of My mercy, but sin clung to and held close to oneself
becomes a poison
, a cancer that spreads, destroying the spiritual
organism that I designed for holiness and for eternal beatitude.

 

A Benedictine Monk. In Sinu Jesu: When Heart Speaks to Heart
--The Journal of a Priest at Prayer). Angelico Press. Kindle Edition.

Unless sin is somehow apparent, like many forms of addiction, or other forms of abuse, we can forget how sin affects us all.   In our desire to escape pain, we can seek ways of dealing with life, which leads to further oppression and suffering.  The Lord only wants us to open up our hearts in faith, and trust, casting servile fear aside.  There is nothing that can turn God’s love away from us.  Yet, we can cling to our own ways, turning our backs on the only way to find healing.  It is love that heals, we long for love, thirst for it, and will seek out love in places that are self-destructive.  People will kill themselves over a lost love. 

Christ’s mercy takes on our sufferings.  Just as we humans take on the sufferings of those we love.  Christ Jesus, being fully human, unafraid of suffering, will be with us through our lives, feeling our pain, seeking to heal us, and in our rejection of him, he also suffers.  Yet his love endures.  He sees our depths, everything about us is known, we are naked before him, and hence, there is nothing to hide.  Our sins do not appall him, he seeks only to heal and to bring us all to the Father.  This is hard to believe.  God with us, does not mean that we will be spared the “Outrageous fortunes of life”, but that we are never alone and that grace and hope are always present.  It takes a death to self to experience this love at such a depth. 

There is no easy path through life, yet Christ said: “My yoke is easy and my burden light”.  What this means is that the straight and narrow path allows us to travel lightly and to not create heavier crosses for ourselves by our fear of suffering and our desire to flee from it. 

Faith is not an escape from life, but a radical embracing of our deepest longing and willingness to live out from that center.   It allows us to let go of false hope, and to embrace true hope, as manifested in Jesus Christ. –Br.MD

markdohle

Pray in trust

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Pray in trust

Pray using My Mother’s Rosary, even when you feel that your prayer is empty or mechanical, or when you are beset by distractions. The decision to pray pleases My Sacred Heart and the Immaculate Heart of My Mother.

A Benedictine Monk. In Sinu Jesu:
When Heart Speaks to Heart--The Journal of a Priest at Prayer

Discipline is needed for any endeavor that is given priority in one’s life.  For people of all faiths or those who are seeking, for many of them, prayer and meditation is an integral part of their lives.  

If prayer is only done when one feels like it, it will not take root in one’s life.  It is, of course, good to pray when the desire is there, but prayer, is first and foremost, about developing a deep personal relationship with God.  I would say all relationships, are judged, by how much time we are willing to spend with those we say we love or are friends.  Speaking with friends, or just being with them on a regular basis, even if in silence, is a sure sign that the relationship is deep, true, authentic, and yes, healthy. 

Prayer, from my perspective, is always a response to grace.  Even if the response is weak, distracted, dry, and empty (or feels like it), it is not important.  What needs to be understood is that when we pray, willing to spend time in God’s presence, there will be obstacles.  Moods, restlessness, fatigue, laziness, illness, etc.  So in order to pray well on a daily basis, we have to simply do it and let go of grading ourselves.

For me, the rosary is a powerful way to pray.  Saying the rosary slowly can be used when one is centered, or distracted.  We simply ‘do it’, trusting in the love of God for us and simply look to him. 

The Blessed Mother for Catholics is truly looked upon as our spiritual mother, for each human in particular, as well as mother of the Church.  All the last words of Jesus, when he was dying on the cross, have special significance.  When he was dying, he looked to John, and said, “Behold thy mother”, and to Mary, he said, “Behold they son”.  John at the foot of the cross represented all of us, so truly Mary is our mother through grace.  Her power flows from her complete knowledge of her utter dependence on God, with no pride to block grace.  In her, is a total love of God, which flows from a humility so deep that like Christ, she is the servant of mankind, leading us deeper into the mystery of her Son, Jesus, and the Holy Trinity.

We are all called to pray, to seek, to meditate, and to allow our ability to love God, and others, to be expanded, as the Lord draws nearer to us.  The more we seek God for Himself, the deeper will our love grow. 

In all things, it is God who is faithful, even if we are unfaithful.  I have experienced God’s faithfulness many times, even when I was not.  Grace trumps over all that which is within, seeking to keep us from becoming free children of God.  All we need is the desire, even if weak, then the Holy Spirit will fan it into a bonfire if we but start anew each day in spite of failures and setbacks.

For Catholics, and many non-Catholics, the Rosary a good way to pray, even in the midst of many distractions.  One bead at a time sweet Jesus, to focus, pray and open up our hearts.--BrMD

 

 

markdohle

 

 

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An expanding awareness of interconnectedness

“Beginning today I entrust you with a particular grace of intercession for the souls I will send to you. You will intercede also for all those whom I shall make you see in your prayer. Pray, pray with confidence and boldness, and I shall answer you each time.”
 In Sinu Jesu: When Heart Speaks to Heart--The Journal of a Priest at Prayer

 

It is easy to forget as Christians, the need to strengthen our connection with our brothers and sisters.  Not just family, but those outside our circle of family, friends, and country, as well as our political, or religious, preferences.  Without exception, all those that we meet, no matter what it seems like to us, are beloved children of the Father, our Father.  Infinite love knows no boundaries and I believe that it is through prayer when we make a heartfelt connection with God, that our hearts grow in its ability to absorb God’s love, and grace. 

When we are ‘asleep’ we allow our fear of others, as well as our, being threatened by what others believe, or how they think, to lead us to treat them in ways that we would find offensive and hurtful.  Much of the violence in the world is because we will not allow the light of the Holy Spirit to lead us.  It is not an easy path, for left alone, we tend to move towards chaos, violence, and destruction, both of self, as well as others.  It is often driven by pain, and the desire to escape it. 

If all are beloved of God, then as children of God, we are called to love as well.  Sounds nice, but it is a very painful, and difficult, road to travel, just as it was for Christ Jesus, who loved even when betrayed, denied, tortured, and put to death!  The passion of Christ Jesus was his ‘love’, he showed us the depth of this ‘love’ when he forgave us from the Cross. 

It is a lifetime journey to grow in our ability to absorb grace and to be led to forgive, even our worst enemies.  It comes at a great cost.  It is not a sentimental concept, but one that leads to a death to what is considered ‘normal’….even if that ‘normal’, leads to constant suffering, violence, death, oppression and world wars. 

Pray for all, those in your life that you know, pray for them, their families, their friends, their ancestors as well.  Our connection is deeper than understood.  It is Christ Jesus that we love, when we love others, for within our hearts he lives, he suffers with us, loves us and waits for our response.  So let us pray, all of us, no matter the state of one’s soul, for in prayer, we begin the journey of putting on Jesus Christ. 

While not belonging to the sacramental priesthood, all Christians belong to the priesthood of the faithful, so we along with priest, are called to lift up all into the love and mercy of the Father, just as Jesus did, and still does, through us. --Br.MD


 

 

markdohle

 

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You will become both Light, and Fire

When you come to adoration, hold yourself before My Eucharistic Face like a mirror before
the sun.  Thus will you capture the radiance, of my Countenance and the fire
that blazes in My Heart; thus will you become both light and fire for
souls plunged into darkness and hearts grown cold. 
--In Sinu Jesu (When Heart Speaks to Heart). 

No matter what religion one follows, or what spiritual path traveled upon, if it is not done in a mindful manner, it can become ‘dead’, lifeless, a shell, without any life.  For Catholics, the Eucharist is central to our faith.  For in the Eucharist, Jesus is still among us in a powerful sacramental way.  How mindful a Catholic is when he receives the Eucharist at Mass, or in times of simply being in the presence of the Sacrament, will dictate how the grace of the sacrament, will deepen ones faith in God, and love, of others. 

Christians, are called to a deep, intimate, personal, and loving relationship, with Jesus Christ.  Our faith, the sacraments, and the sacramental aspects of our devotional life, can draw us deeper into the mystery of God’s infinite love, for each human being. 

The ‘Heart of Jesus Christ’, called the ‘Sacred Heart’ by Catholics, points to the perfect humanity of Jesus Christ, and His loving intention for all of mankind.  Jesus, the creator, the upholder of the Universe, became man, so that he could incarnate in each of us, lifting us up with him, into the dance of the Holy Trinity.  By allowing the love of God into our hearts, we are saying yes to the influence of grace, and the deepening love, and healing, that flows like living water, from that experience.  This is a conscious, freely chosen choice.  Not to make that conscious choice, is to doom ourselves into having a childish, instead of a childlike relationship with the Trinity.  God is other, yet love, and Jesus reveals that to us.  For as Jesus said, “To see me is to see the Father”. 

So we are called to allow the life of Jesus to become one with our own often broken, fearful, and anxiety, driven hearts.  We seek to allow our own humanity to grow as we experience the love of God in our hearts.  We become fire, we become love, we become compassion, and we learn not to fear, as Jesus did not fear, the unique suffering that is the fruit of that love.  That is how we unite ourselves to the sufferings of Christ, suffering of love, for the salvation of all.

Priest are the servants, of the servants of God.  They are called in a special way to become a light unto others.  It is a vocation, which comes with a high price, for those priest who live out their vocation, to become a channel of the sacramental life for Catholics.

All Christians, be they Catholics or not, are also priest (the priesthood of the faithful), we also are called to become lights of love towards others.  Yet it can only happen when we invite the life of Jesus Christ, into our hearts at ever deeper levels.  We look to Jesus, and do not allow our failures, or the many often serious disillusionments of priest and our fellow Christians, to deter us.  For the more we learn of the mercy bestow on us, the more we desire it for all, and realize that the love that God has for us, is there for everyone. 

At Mass, Catholic’s unite themselves to the moment when Christ, instituted the Sacrament.  It is a moment that stretches out both forward in time, as well as incorporating the past.  Christ becomes present in a very special manner in the priest, when he says the words of consecration, and all Christians partake of that to the level that they open up their hearts, and deepen their understanding of what is happening.  We are all called to minister to all, and as well, to allow others to minister to us. 

We are called to think before reacting.  To interact with others. To listen, encourage, love and respect all whom we meet.  When fear, and anger, control what is happening between peoples, there is no listening, but only prejudices, stereotyping, and the destruction of the humanity of the supposed enemy. 

Jesus belongs to no one, we all belong to Jesus.  Let us pray for all, and seek to allow grace to expand our hearts, so that we will become ‘fire’ and ‘light’.  –Br.MD


 

 

markdohle

A beautiful, drizzly, morning

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A beautiful, drizzly, morning
(My first sighting of our box turtle)

After Lauds, and Mass, I was on my way to our refectory, to do one of my duties, morning dishes.  It was for me a beautiful morning.  It was cloudy and rainy.  When the sky is overcast it brings out the green in our grass, bushes, and trees.  For me, it almost becomes a dark jade green color.  It brings me peace to see rainy weather, and I guess, I love it more than sunshine.  As I was walking towards the refectory, I noticed for the first time this year our box turtle.  It is not a pet but simply lives in our ‘inner garden’.  Has been there for many years.  So I hurried into the refectory and cut up some apple for it. 

As I was approaching the turtle, I was again touched by its beauty.  I do not understand why I am so taken by box turtles.  They are not colorful, but I love the shades of brown, and the markings of their shells.  Also, I am intrigued because they can live very long lives.  I hope our turtle is still around long after I am gone. 

After years of being here, he is not really afraid of us, but cautious.  So I slowly approached him, and placed the cut up apple pieces in front of him.  When I placed the apples there, he, of course, withdrew into his shell, but again came out right after I stepped back.  He dug in right away eating the sweet fruit.  So I backed up a little more and watched him for a few moments. 

The only protection a turtle has is to go into its shell.  A pretty good defense most of the time, but when I walk through the woods I will from time, to time, see a shell that has been opened by some critter, or another.   I can’t imagine what goes on in a turtles head, but seeing someone as big as a human, compared to his size, and the sound of my steps, must cause a bit of anxiety, or a lot.  The fact that when I approached, it only stuck in its head, perhaps points to the fact, that it knows on some level, that I am not going to eat it, but just reacting, perhaps like an eye does when some object is coming towards it. 

I can’t say I am a nature man.  However, I do love all that is within our cloister (enclosed) garden.  We have lizards, one bullfrog, of course, our turtle, and birds, who come to nest, or eat, on our lawn.  Pigeons we also have.  Beautiful birds when you see them close up.  Though their red eyes can be disconcerting for me.  I could do without their droppings, but it all goes with the territory.   Like the geese, which we have in great abundance; I like them, but boy do they leave a lot of reminders that they have been there.  Be careful where you step. 

Speaking of geese.  One day as I was going into town, I notice about a 100 geese on the lane behind our store.  I have observed that they are in no rush to move out of the way of any vehicle that is trying to get through.  How, dare, they!  As I was in a feisty mood that morning, I just kept on going.  I guess I was driving about 15 miles an hour.  I did not know that geese could move that fast, wings out, running in all directions.  They were indignant over the fact that I did not let them keep me from my business, and let me know in no uncertain terms, what an upstart I was.  I am not sure geese can cuss, but who knows? I, of course, made sure that I would not run over any of them.  I like having them around.   I love seeing them with their young, walking along in a straight line.  I would of course stop for the younglings, I am not that insensitive, I think.  The coyotes help keep their numbers down, as well as the snapping turtles in our pond.  Once many years ago, I saw a string of young geese following their mum across the water, when suddenly one of them was pulled under, the rest did not even notice. 

When I was a young monk, in the early 70’s, we had two swans.  While it is true that swans are beautiful birds on the water, on land, it is a different story.  They lumber along, and on land, their long necks with their head on top, look sort of like a serpent with legs. I know, showing my own issue here…I do like serpents well enough, just as long as they don’t look like swans on land.  They are also, to put it terms used by Pattie, “not nice”.  They used to chase our guest around, and I would think some children probably developed a phobia for them.  It was always a good idea to have bread with you so as to placate their unstable temperament. 

One day I was down by the lake and one of the swans was eyeing me.  So I got a stick, a big strong one, and dared it to take one more step towards me.  Not sure if I would have actually hit it.  However, on land, they are big, mean, and not the beautiful swans we see on the lake.  In any case, we gave them to a park, and hopefully, they lived out their lives in peace, and not terrorizing too many people.  About me with the stick, the swan did back off. 

I did have one beautiful experience with our swans, in 1972.  I was walking back to the Monastery, after work on our farm, which we had back then.  It was very foggy, so I was happy to not have too much sun on me.  Fog tends to muffle sound and as I was walking near the pond, I heard a subdued ripple on the water.  Then the fog gently parted, and one of the swans floated by in total silence.  I was overwhelmed, literally, by the beauty of the moment.  So I do like swans, and don’t like them as well, and comfortable with that inner contradiction.  I have lots of them.  Cats come to mind….beautiful creatures, but having one for a pet (!), nope.  To this day, I will think about that one moment, saved from oblivion, by beauty, silence, fog, and being caught off guard. 

So Lord, here is to geese, swans (sort of), turtles (big time), pigeons, bullfrogs, lizards, and all critters, great, and small, yes, even cats.  Thank you for this life, though there is still more that I don’t understand, than I actually do, yet I do trust in your love and mercy towards all creation…..amen. --Br.MD

 

 

 

markdohle

Anticipation and joy

 

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Anticipation and joy

 

When I was in boot camp in 1967, (I was in the Navy for four years)…I felt locked up there, and when I looked out at the people driving along the freeway, I thought how wonderful their lives must be, how free and in my mind’s eye, how easy.  It was because I was in a very stressful place.  I was 18 and it was the first time I was away from family.  I did my boot camp in San Diego.  It got better after a few weeks, but I never lost that moment of looking out at all the ‘free’ people. –Br.MD

 

The above quote brings to light a powerful moment in my life.  At the time, over 50 years ago, that desire to be free and away from the present circumstance, was strong.  Though I doubt I had any idea that I would be remembering it when I was 69.  Yet the desire to be as free as the young people, in the convertible, which was racing down the freeway, right outside ‘boot camp’, has never left me.  I can still fill the early morning chill, and my hankering for my old life, which at the time, seemed perfect.  Being home, going to school, delivering papers etc., took on an aura that was not true in any sense, yet alluring.  For while I loved my family, I did not find High School, a place that I desired to be at, when I was attending.  Nor did I love doing the paper route etc.  It was just better than where I was.

My life moved on.  In a few weeks, boot camp got much easier and I was soon on my way to Midway Island, which was truly a place that I enjoyed being part of.  I was there for a year, which of course, flew by way too quickly.  So I left there one day, got on the plane, and when I looked out the window at the Island, I was amazed how small it was, and how for one year it was my world.  I have found that I will always have to leave something behind, some with regret, and others gladly.

I find it easy to lose perspective on what is important, and will often seek to cling to ‘something’ that will promise me some permanence here in this world.  Yet that I the biggest illusion of all I guess.  Letting go, loss, finding new life, and hope, seems to be one of the constants in a world that unpredictable.  

One of the benefits of my vow of stability is that it keeps me in one place.  I may from time to time get in the grip of an illusion that there is a better life somewhere else, or a better community, or even a better me if only I could get there.  Yet, I could be on the planet Mars, and it would still be just me, just here, or there, or anywhere, with the same inner struggles and choices that must be faced.   So, yes, I am happy that when I feel some instability, I have my vow to keep me on track.  I guess marriage vows can do that for many.  Giving our word, and keeping it, is important.  If I don’t take root, I will just wander from one place to another.  That also applies to the inner life of the soul as well. 

As I age, I find a certain sense of anticipation, as well as joy, and happiness, which was not there when I was young.  It has been a long slow journey for me here (though in retrospect it has gone by very fast).  I am not one of those who walks a straight path, I tend to veer left, and right, and stop, and have a flat tire, from time to time.  Yes, I can get stuck, or feel stuck. Yet, slowly, ever so slowly, my life here makes more sense as my heart slowly opened up in trust of God’s love for me.  I am both a man of faith and doubt.  It is quite a dance, a good one. It keeps me digging, and trying to understand both in my head, and heart, what my life is about. 

So, as I age, my future in this world gets shorter.  I can no longer think of 30 years in the future, 20 maybe, a good chance it could be less.   It can be sobering to think about that, yet also freeing.  When my body is planted behind our abbey church when I reach the end of my life, what will it be like to stand before infinite truth, and to be seen fully? As has always been the case. Yet I will also know that I am being seen fully, yet loved.  At death, all hiding from ourselves is over.  Will that be the time that my hard heart will finally break open and all the tears that I have kept inside from fear, lead me deeper into the infinite ocean of living water? 

I sense that when I pray, God not only sees me, but all of his children.  We are each so connected, yet I am often unaware when I am not praying.  Outside of space and time is where we all pray and meditate.  It is there, when we stop and pray/meditate, that we touch reality, and see through the illusion of separation.

A man was dying, in a coma, was with his wife, she was holding his hand.  Suddenly he opened his eyes, they were filled with light.  He squeezed his wife’s hand and said, “I now understand”, smiled and died.  What did he mean?  We will each have to make up our minds with statements like these that people make just before they die.  Perhaps that is the deepening anticipation and joy I am experiencing as I age, when I will understand. –Br.MD


 

 

markdohle

The estranged couple

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The estranged couple

They sat stiffly close together
yet so far apart no warmth nor light,
looking to the left and right,
or with a nervous movement seeking
a comfortable place to simply sit,
trapped next to each other.

The longing there to be seen and heard,
yet each only wanted to speak seeking understanding,
yet for themselves only,
each in too much pain to
present to the other.

Both a victim of the other,
blame screaming with each movement,
each recoiling from the others contempt,
not knowing how to scale that wall of isolation.

When speaking, it was a well-worn tape,
each playing their role,
like robots actually,
with feelings and deep emotions.

They looked to me for help,
so I simply said, you have to help each other,
learn to listen and let go of self-preoccupation.

Both felt dismayed and left disappointed.
-Br.MD

 

 

markdohle

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A man’s journey towards healing and sobriety

Whoever does not meditate, is like someone who never looks in the mirror before going out, doesn't bother to see if he's tidy, and may go out dirty without knowing it. The person who meditates and turns his mind to God, who is the mirror of his soul, seeks to know his faults, tries to correct them, moderates his impulses, and puts his conscience in order.—Padre Pio

I was talking to one of our retreatants about the importance of self-knowledge when walking a spiritual path.  He shared with me his own struggles with his own inner nature.   He made this interesting statement:

“I have been in the 12 step program for over 25 years. 
Before that, it never really occurred to me that I
had any real problem with alcohol.  Even when my life
was falling apart around me.  It was always someone else’s issue, their
problem, I was a victim of misunderstanding and harsh judgment.
Then one day something happen. I found myself alone, in a back alley,
sitting in my vomit and urine.  People looked at me in disgust
and walked around me.  There was no one around for me to
blame.  That is when it hit me that I was really an alcoholic.   This revelation
forced on me by my physical state, and the fact that I could accept what
I was, was the first step to recovery.”

He then told me that the deeper he got into his recovery and developed a loving trusting relationship with God, he began to see himself more clearly.  Being rooted in the Infinite, in a relationship that had deep roots, watered by his understanding of his need for grace, gave him the courage to begin his recovery with earnest.  It was very difficult for him of course, but slowly his life turned around. 

One of the hardest steps he had to make was to seek out those he hurt, and to make amends, as well as to ask for forgiveness for the pain, and suffering, he caused.   He related his experience to me:

“To go to another human being whom I hurt, and abused, and discarded,
by my actions as an addict, was like applying sandpaper to my soul.  It was
painful, humbling and healing as well.  Some could not forgive me and I
understood.  Others did forgive me when they saw that I was truly sorry.
I was amazed at the compassion shown to me by some of those I hurt and that not
only deepened my healing, but also allowed me to open up my heart and
accept it, which brought about a healing suffering and many tears.”

It is prayer, that allowed him to be able to look inward and to face what he found, knowing that “His higher power” was there and saw it all, yet loved him.  When he fails, in prayer he admits it and seeks out ways to not do it again. To break destructive cycles, and lastly, not to blame others but to take responsibility, without shame, or neurotic guilt, but with a desire to do what is right for himself and those around him.

Before he left he wanted to say one last thing:

“The faith I was raised in presented God as someone to avoid,
not a loving God to be trusted.  I don’t blame my parents, nor my
pastor since they were raised the same way.  Now I know who my
higher power is, and have returned to my childhood faith, but with a
new understanding of what it is about.  For me to be able to call God
‘My higher power’, allowed me to let go of images that were harsh and
frightening.  Now I am at peace, and what God allows me to see about myself
does not frighten me, and I do not feel the need to blame others for my own
wrongs and oversights.”

Before he left, he introduced to me his wife, who had a grandchild with them. She forgave him those many years ago and is happy that she did so.  She related that it was a hard journey but they have made it.  She did mention that she joined her husband on his spiritual path, and she too now has a deep, trusting, loving, relationship with her Lord. 



markdohle
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Memories of Panama, Midway Island, and homesickness and nostalgia

Memories are very interesting, giving both pleasure and pain. The pleasant ones, those based on our past can bring out a sweet melancholy that for me can’t quite be pinpointed. Thoughts and pictures from the past that can be wiped clean, leaving only what was good, fun and actually healing on many levels.

This experience of melancholy I believe, at least for me, is the sadness of seeing my past getting longer than my future. As well as how fast that ever-lengthening road became a reality. So when I think of Panama, of the fun I had, the jungle, playing, getting into trouble, it leaves out a lot of unpleasant aspects that for the most part fill every day. It can seem like the experience of heaven, a memory, but perhaps a foretelling of some future state.

There are times when I also feel this when looking at a picture, or watching a movie that has certain landscapes in it, or beautiful cities, or the showing of certain human experiences. It is as if I am remembering something else, and the same kind of melancholy comes out, even though I am not thinking about the past. I believe this feeling is based partly on despair that such a place can’t possibly exist and as well, the hope that one day, just maybe, our human longings point to such a place that we now see as a sign in what is before us.

Midway Island was my first tour of duty when in the Navy. I was there from Aug 67-Nov 68 and I can’t say enough how much I loved living on that little island. In fact, I never left it during that year, felt no need to. So as I remember it, it becomes more beautiful as the years fly by. When I see old pictures of it, I do get that same melancholy pleasure, that same longing, from my whitewashed memories of the past.

Perhaps they are real ‘signs’ that point to the reality of our deepest human longings. Do our deepest desires point to something in the future? Midway Island was not heavenly, when I go back to the daily grind and spend time thinking about, it was like anywhere else. Yet, there was the beach that I could walk at night, the beautiful trees, a few friends that stand out and allow all the other ‘stuff’ to go into the background.

Once I was walking out back here in the evening, down by the old barn, now a museum. It was after 8 pm, the front gate was closed, so there was no one around. As I was walking around the back of the barn area and looking out at my surroundings, I experienced ‘this place’ the way I would if I left and thought about it 20 years later. It was strange, to see how much I actually loved it here, ‘this now’, and the deep longings still had that melancholy flavor to it. Perhaps heaven is now, the so-called afterlife just this life-expanding eternally.

I don’t know, but I still like to think about the experience of nostalgia and why it is such an important, often healing aspect of human life.
 
 
 
 

 

markdohle

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We can all be channels of God’s love as revealed in Christ Jesus.

“Never think that your imperfections and failures are, in any way,
an impediment to the work of My merciful love in your soul.
You have only to give them to Me with confidence
 and they are consumed in the blaze of
My Heart’s love for you. When I ask certain things of you,
 it is not to burden you, but to offer you a sure way
of obtaining the support of My grace.”

 In Sinu Jesu: When Heart Speaks to Heart
--The Journal of a Priest at Prayer

In any human relationship, if it is based on true friendship, or that of a loving parent’s connection with their child, failures, problems, and struggles do not in any way impede the growth of love and compassion.  Relationships grow through successive revelations.  Some would say, through crises.  What keeps relationships from growing deeper and staying on a shallow level, is, of course, fear. With humans, it is always a risk to open up, since rejection can happen and does.  The less fear there is on both sides, the deeper the friendship can grow.  I am talking about any human relationship that has any depth.  For the heart longs to be seen, loved, touched, embraced and shown mercy. 

So Jesus speaks to us in human terms.  He will speak the language we understand that is rooted in our deepest longings.  Yet, again, what keeps us from experiencing the depth of God’s love, is yes, fear.  It is understandable with humans, for they can only see what we allow them to if it is deep enough and lock away through the terror of being judged and rejected. 

With the love of God (agape love), this does not apply.  Though in human teaching things can get twisted up a lot.  We will often make God in our own image and likeness which slows down our own ability to trust in God’s love for us. 

In the above quote from the book ‘In Sinu Jesu’, it brings out that before God, there is nothing that blocks his mercy or love, expect our misuse of our freedom in not seeking, or asking.  I am free to choose, though it has taken years for me to learn that.  I believe that grace is at work in all hearts, and if a soul does not open up his or her heart, it will be based on freedom and not on some lack of understanding of God’s love.  Judge not takes on a whole depth of meaning when this is understood.  We are called to speak the truth in gentleness and to respect the humanity of all we come in contact with.  In that, we can all be channels of God’s love as revealed in Christ Jesus.--Br.MD

 

 

 

markdohle

 

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We can entrust ourselves to God’s love at any time

“So many souls make little or no progress in the holiness that I desire for them because they do not trust in My grace. They attempt to change themselves by making use of purely human means and forget that I am all-powerful, all-merciful, and ready at every moment to heal and sanctify those who entrust themselves, with their weaknesses and sins, to My most loving Heart. I do not ask for perfection from those whom I have chosen to be My friends; I ask only that they give Me their imperfection and the burden of their sins, and allow Me to do for them what, of themselves, they are incapable of doing. Did I not say to My Apostles on the night before I suffered, “Without Me, you can do nothing”?” ---

In Sinu Jesu: When Heart Speaks to Heart--
The Journal of a Priest at Prayer

People often think of sin as simply some personal wrong that goes against what they believe is right.  This is true of course.  However, sin, is also what people do to us, abuse us, betray us etc.  We can often, because of the pain of such experience, which I believe are universal, seek to share that pain or to get some sort of pay back.  This payback, or revenge, can be directed at just about anyone.  If we lack trust, we can’t open up to others.  It is a form of imprisonment that keeps us from freedom and a full life.  We can also deal with our pain by seeking to find some cure that will take care of it.  This often leads to more problems, for people, nor can things, stuff, heal us to the extent that we seek.  We can also because of past pain, seek out people who will only hurt us further.  It is an endless cycle, played out both in our own souls, and how we treat others, but also on a global scale, even to the relationships between nations.

Holiness is not perfection in any sense.  Nor is it aloofness from others.  When a man, or a woman, can forgive others for past abuse, and hurts, they free themselves from some heavy chains.  Then there is self-forgiveness, which can really be even more difficult.  This is a serious problem and there are many ways that people seek to handle this, with success more or less, mostly less.

Those who can hurt us the most, are the ones we love and trust.  So many of our interpersonal struggles have their roots well before we were five years old.  As we age and experience even more betrayals and broken trusts, then the wounds harden, and we can become caged in by the sins of others in how they related to us.  Of course, this is passed on as well.  We often live out of what we have learned in our childhood. 

In the Parable of the Prodigal Son, I believe that we see what the Christian path is all about.  Any teaching that goes against what is manifested in this story about the Fathers love for us, should be rejected.  Even in religion, we can miss the point of what Jesus is trying to do.  It is a lifelong journey for each of us, as we allow the grace of God to slowly heal us and draw us to mercy. 

I have learned that no matter how dark it is, or seems to be, nor what the extent of my failure is, the grace of God always comes through and healing and balance restored.  It is something that can’t be earned, or demanded, it simply is.  For God is love, God is free enough to love even in the face of our betrayals of his grace and our lack of trusting.  We love because we need those we love. 

Agape love, is so beautiful because God does not need us, he simply loves us.  It is a love that I have to make acts of faith in, even in the midst of feeling his love intensely at times…….though that is rare. 

It is hard to understand that the greatest gift we can give to Jesus is our weaknesses, failures, and sins, no matter how dire they are.  It is then that we let go of egoism, self-absorption and simply look to God, to Jesus for love and mercy. 

We can entrust ourselves to God’s love at any time, though it often takes courage to do so.  Even in human relationships, if they are healthy, we get a sense of what God’s love is like, though in an imperfect manner.  For we can destroy our relationships with others and force them away.  If our relationship with God is destroyed, it is done only from our side, God is always waiting to embrace and to pick us up, just as the Father did in the beautiful story of the Prodigal Son.

Fear that paralyzes, despair that chokes out hope, self-hatred, and contempt, comes from us, it is not from the Spirit of God that we experience these negative emotions.  These are the chains from the past that have been laid on us by others and they will often have an unconscious effect on our lives.  Self-Knowledge allows us to see deeply without fear and to then make them our holocaust to the Lord. 

To exist is to be chosen by God to have a deep, loving, interpersonal relationship with. –BrMD

 

 

markdohle

Live simply in This-Day

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Not Pie in the Sky but to live simply in This-Day

“…Every pain has its end and then life in freedom begins…where everything is returned
…Pray for the strength of faith: trust in the love of the Heavenly Father…Faith makes you
live according to what is good and then the light of God’s love always comes at the
desired moment”--(Our Lady of Medjugorje 2 April 2018)


I know many people who have very hard lives. Health issues, family, and money problems. The list for some, can go on, and on. Then there are those whose lives seem to be running smoothly until they sit and open up their hearts and souls. There is always something to struggle with, or through.

To believe in God, to have faith, no matter what is one's belief, is not an escape from reality, nor is it irrational to trust in God. I have known Muslims, Hindus, and New Agers, whose faith in God puts me to shame. As a Monk, I have the privilege to meet many fellow Catholics, and other Christians, who also humble me in how they keep the light of faith going, even in the midst of great darkness, and suffering, which often goes on for years. They do not become bitter or cynical. Though their faith matures through many struggles.

To have faith in God means that we will one day be present before the Infinite and have our life presented to us in detail, without glamor, or lies, just truth. This can be a daunting thought, but our trust in God’s love and mercy forestalls any despair. Trust and fear cannot live in the same house, for fear will eat up trust, and get fat, over the dessert of despair. We are called to be childlike, open, and to never fear the dance we all have with life, or with our own deepest selves.

I know of no one who believes in the so-called “Magic-Man in the Sky”…..it is obvious that entity does not exist. Yet infinite mind does exist, unrestricted thought, and revealed in my faith as love, and compassion, in Jesus Christ, who shows us the face of the Father.

All we need to do is get through ‘this-day’, for it is all we have. It is always ‘this-day’ and will be that on the day we die. It all happens now, and we can always trust, just for ‘this-day’. It is a choice, though not an easy one.

God love will be a surprise for all of us, for Infinite love, the love of the Heavenly Father is way beyond our comprehension….so let us embrace this life, it is a journey, not towards oblivion but towards more life. Let us pray that all will embrace this life, this mercy, this compassion. The Our Father, the Hail Mary, the Mercy Chaplet, as well as the Fatima prayer that we say on the Rosary, are all prayers for the salvation of all, and when we pray these prayers we are also praying for all who have hurt or abused us. We also pray for mercy ourselves, for, without grace, we would all be great sinners, seeking to create a life that will free us from the deep pain that only God’s love can give us.

 

markdohle

Self-Absorption

 

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Self-Absorption

Do not give in to feelings of discouragement.  This causes you to focus even more on yourself and on your limitations.  Rather, look to Me. 
Seek My Face and rely on the faithful love of My Heart for you….What I ask of you is to trust in my merciful love.
In Sinu Jesu Pg. 79 (7/24/08)

 

Failure is a constant in my life as a Christian.  In Proverbs, it says that the just man will fall seven times a day and rise again (Proverbs 24:16).  That is not a small number.  This applies to actual sin, but also to the calamities that happen to all of us, be they small ones or big.  One thing I can count on is to be inconstant, lazy, bored and sometimes filled with fear and dread.  I believe it is part of the human condition and the only way to stop the cycle is to simply look to the Lord in trust and continue or to begin again.  To not fear the obstacles that flare up from within, or from the world around us.

Jesus says that “Fear is useless, what is needed is trust” (Luke 8:50).  It is an easy thing to pronounce but rather hard to actually embrace and live out.  When anyone starts on a new path, seeking new insights into life and its meaning, it can cause some inner conflict.  For if this new life is wanted, then what goes against that has to be let go of.  St. Paul used the analogy of those who compete in athletics.   In order to succeed a great deal of discipline has to be embraced or there will be little chance of one’s dreams working out.

The same goes for faith.  Jesus asked us to look at him, much the same way that Peter did when walking on the water (Matthew 14:29).  It must have been frightful for him, yet as long as he looked to Jesus he was able to make one perhaps halting step at a time.  When he got self-absorbed and looked at his feet he began to sink. Yet the Lord reached out and grasped him by the hand and lifted him up.  Peter’s lesson is one I believe that has to be learned over and over again, at least by me.--Br.MD


 

 

 

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markdohle

When Heart Speaks to Heart

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In Sinu Jesu
(When Heart Speaks to Heart)
Angelico Press

In Christianity, the central core is the revelation that ‘The Infinite’, the ‘Wholly Other’; ‘That which cannot be named’; is revealed to us as a deeply personal loving God, In Jesus Christ.  Many prefer Deism, an impersonal force who made the Universe, then left it alone.  A relationship does not enter into the equation, nor any concept of love, obedience and humble service to the creator.

Christians often forget the depth of God’s love as presented to us in Jesus Christ.  He told his Apostles, and tells us today, “That to see me, is to see the Father”.  It is a hard reality to grasp.  It is for me.  All the years as a monk I have struggled with this central mystery of Christ Jesus’s revelation of the Father’s love for each of us.  It is because my heart is protected.  I fear the pain that love brings, yet I seek to dive more deeply into it.  So there is an inner contradiction that I experience that can only be healed by the grace of the Father’s burning love.   There is a standing invitation to allow ourselves to be drawn into the eternal dance of the ‘Holy Trinity’, which will never be withdrawn from God’s side.

The paradox to this is that in order to fully allow God’s love to embrace me, I have to grow in the understanding of my inner-self and the often not so beautiful aspect of that.  I can be fearful, that leads to anger, which at bottom, anxiety is feeding it all.  I am 69 years old and at this stage of my life, finally starting to open up and to trust in God love for me.  It has taken many self-inflicted wounds, the experiencing of my own self-hatred, and alienation, that has slowly healed me. 

For in my darkest hour, when filled with my own misery and isolation, the light of God’s love has always broken through.  I have accepted the fact that I am pursued by God, and that God will never let me go.  Yet I am free and have had to make a choice to trust even when drowning in my own misery.  For it is all lies, that I am beyond help, or healing, or mercy.  We are all vessels of God’s love and each of us is called to allow Christ Jesus to incarnate in each of us.  Our capacity to receive God’s love grows as we continue to grow in love and trust.  When I pray I now feel my connection to every human being who are on their journey towards healing and deeper intimacy with God, for we are all one in Christ Jesus. 

In the book “In Sinu Jesu”, Jesus speaks to a Benedictine Monk of his love for each of us, and in a special way, for priest, and how that love is manifested in his abiding presence in the Holy Eucharist.  As a Catholic, I can take the reality of Christ Jesus’s Eucharistic presence for granted.  This book can open up anyone’s heart to the infinite depth of God’s love for each of us, without exception. 

Karl Rahner stated that ‘private revelations’, are given to the church at different points in time because it is needed.  It is not a new revelation but stated in terms that can be understood by people in certain eras.  Today, love has seemed to have grown cold, or colder. So we need to be reminded of the Fathers infinite love for each of us. 

On Tuesday, January 26th, 20 10 (pg. 139) Jesus relayed this message to the Benedictine monk:

“Do you not see how much I have been calling you to trust in me?  Trust is the key that opens all the treasures of My merciful and infinitely loving Heart.  I am touched by a single act of trust in My merciful love more than by a multitude of good works.  The soul who trusts in Me allows Me to work freely in her life.  The soul who trust Me, by that very fact removes the obstacles of pride and self-determination that impede My freedom of action.  There is nothing I will not do for the soul who abandons herself to me in a simple act of trust”. 

Either ‘fear’ or ‘trust’ is growing in the soul.  The more we love, fear will lessen.  The opposite is also true.  The more we believe ‘fear’, then ‘trust’ will weaken.  Fear is a form of self-absorption, trust is letting go of being overly concerned about one’s self and seeking to grow deeper in intimacy with the beloved.   

As Christian we are called to be lovers, to show forth Christ infinite love for all.  When that is forgotten, then fear, and anxiety, and anger will come to the fore. That is how we protect ourselves from others, we place barriers.  It is only by the healing of our inner defenses, which we receive through Jesus Christ, that we can let go of fear. It is not something we can do on our own, yet we can make a free choice to trust and in that God’s healing love will flow through us.

There is nothing that can stop God loving us, yet we can choose to turn our backs on that reality.  Each day is a new beginning.  Each moment even.  For no matter where we find ourselves, there is always a way out through the merciful love of Christ Jesus.  We stop being victims and can step forward in hope and faith and love. –Br.MD

 

 

markdohle

Peace Prayer of Saint Francis Part 2

2nd talk


So the second part of the Prayer of St. Francis is the fruit of working through the first part.  The necessity of self-knowledge and an ever-deepening trust in God’s mercy.  This allows us to listen so that we truly become instruments of peace in God’s hands. 

O divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
to be consoled as to console,
to be understood as to understand,
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive,
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.
Amen.

I believe that the story of the Samaritan woman at the well shows how Jesus lived out the second section of the prayer of St. Francis.  Below is something I wrote about this beautiful story.

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To be seen

The more the life of Jesus is contemplated, I believe the broader our understanding of what it was about, deepens.  To enter into one of the stories and see how differently Jesus related to others can be an eye-opener.  The Samaritan woman for instance with whom Jesus talked to at the well.  It is known that the Jews and the Samaritans had little to do with each other, what is not often understood was the depth of animosity that was present between these two groups.  I would imagine that the Samaritan woman, because of her having lived with six men, was also looked down upon by her fellow Samaritans.  Plus she was a woman, and men did not talk to women in public.  So she was really at the bottom of the social ladder.  Yet Jesus talked to her, did not look down on her, nor did he condemn her in any way.  No, he conversed gently and truthfully, aware of what was within her.  When Jesus revealed to her about her lifestyle, I would think she felt at first exposed before this very strange man, who was treating her with a loving gentleness and respect that she was not used to.  The fact that she was ‘seen’ allowed her to be open and not become defensive; at least not in a way that kept her from hearing what Jesus had to say.  Jesus saw her heart, her pain, what she had to go through in her life and the isolation that she must have endured among her own people.  We can shield our hearts with walls of anger, we can appear that we are getting along; when at a deep level the isolation can be killing us.  Jesus called her out of isolation into a new life of openness.   Because of this, she was able to go into the city and proclaim what had happened to her.  I would think that at first the people would have been taken back by this ‘new’ woman, who was standing before them, unafraid of their contempt and was speaking in a way that intrigued many if not all of them.  Because someone saw her depths and accepted and loved her, it leads to a healing that freed her from a defensive posture of uncaring what others thought of her and allowed her to re-enter into the community.

If love is the greatest spiritual gift, then it would seem that if Christians want to be healers of hearts and souls, then we should pray for this gift, greater even than miracles, which can be flashy and then forgotten in time.  However, to experience being seen and loved by another, to understand that one's depths have been gazed upon and still loved, brings about the deepest of healing; for nothing needs to be hidden.  There is no one outside of God’s love because God sees the depths of the heart and loves what is seen.  It is true that Jesus got angry at some of the Jews of his time, but his anger was a tool to shake up those who thought themselves the top of the religious ladder.  Many of them did, after all, come to believe in Jesus; perhaps for the same reason, the Samaritan woman became a believer.  They understood that his anger was a form of teaching, trying to unmask what was keeping them isolated from others and unloving.   The easiest thing to do is to look down on others and show contempt, for in doing so it protects us from looking within our own hearts so that we can learn that what we condemn in others, is in reality self-hatred for ourselves. 

When we sin against others we push them deeper into isolation, despair and self-destructive actions.  To discourage another, to judge them unworthy of our love and acceptance, is damaging to them as well as our own souls and has repercussions that can affect many people.  The hearts and souls of all men and woman are naked before God. Not so for us, for we are opaque not only to ourselves but to each other as well.  Self-knowledge is a lifelong process, but it is impossible to see into the depths of another.  All we can do is to treat those around us with love and respect…. little actions, one at a time, day in and day out.  If enough Christians and just people, in general, did this, I would think the world would become a better place, not perfect, but perhaps a little gentler and a little more loving.  This simple agenda of treating those around as we would like to be treated is harder than it sounds and leads to a great deal of self-knowledge and humility. 

Some would say this is unrealistic, however the state of the world today would seem to indicate that a new way of relating is needed……perhaps we are all insane, doing the same destructive things over and over again without learning or even seeking to find new avenues in living out how we relate not only to our loved ones, friends, and acquaintances but strangers as well.—Br.MD

 

 

 

 





 

 

 

 

 

markdohle

Peace Prayer of Saint Francis Part 1

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace:

The human experience for everyone is a rough journey.  We can often hide from others what is going on inside of us; we can smile when in reality there is a war going on within.  We experience injustice, injury, doubt and yes despair.  We can also go through periods where we are filled with darkness and sadness.  In some instances, these inner variations can be a mystery to us.  So how can we be instruments of peace when there is often inner conflict and pain within? 

“Where there is hatred, let me sow love;”

How do we learn to sow love when in circumstances there are far from loving?  There are no easy answers to the many situations we find ourselves in.  Emotions can be strong, words flung out that wound; in the midst of this how can we be a loving presence in the world? 

Everyone desires peace.  Nations say they do, yet the world is a planet where war is commonplace.  Where everyday people are killed, tortured, falsely imprisoned and abused in many ways.  This only feeds into the ever-deepening hunger of hatred and the seeking after revenge.  Peace Indeed? 

It is all about relationships, which the Prayer of St. Francis brings out so poignantly with a deep undertow I believe of sorrow for the world.  Perhaps it is about our relationship with our selves first.  It is easy to forget that we are commanded to love ourselves.  It is not an invitation that we can turn down without any consequences.  How can we be instruments of peace if we are not at peace with ourselves?   How can we be an instrument of Christ Jesus if we do not allow his love and Holy Spirit into our hearts?  Self-contempt and hatred towards self is not one of the gifts of the Holy Spirit.  The greatest gift of the Spirit is expressed beautifully in St. Paul’s letter to the Corinthians chapter 13.


1 Corinthians 13:4-13

4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, and it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, and always perseveres.

8 Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. 11 When I was a child, I talked like a child; I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. 12 For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

So before we can be true instruments of peace, we have to pray for the greatest of spiritual gifts, which is the only way we can be used by the Lord in a world filled with strife and pain, hatred and the seeking after revenge that masquerades as justice.  The anger of man does not express the justice of God.

Where there is injury, pardon;

To grow is self love takes a true death to self.  To grow in the freedom of the Children of God is not as easy as many would take it to be.  As our relationship with the Lord deepens, he knowing each of us will bring us to the gift of humility.  The deeper we are called to intimacy with Christ Jesus, the more he will show us the depths of our souls and what needs mercy as well as healing.  He allows us to see how we have hurt others, often in ignorance, yet the harm done.  He brings also to our awareness the times when we were cruel and malicious in our actions towards others.  The closer we come to the heart of Christ Jesus, and the experience of his love and tender mercy, the more profound will be our sorrow for the times when we were unloving, adding to the anger and pain in the world.  It is in this, this humble understanding of our own sins, as well as the lack of freedom we often have in our responses, that leads us to learn to forgive others, for when we grow in self-knowledge we begin to understand others more deeply.   We can no longer say: “How could he or she do that!”?  When we grow in self-knowledge we learn how others like us can do horrible acts without knowing what they are doing.  We learn compassion and empathy.  We may still struggle with anger and hurt, yet we have a way to end the cycle of pain and recrimination.

Where there is doubt, faith;

In God’s mercilessly mercy, our doubts will also be brought to the surface.  Not all people have doubts, but many do, perhaps the majority.  These can come from more than one source.  Pain and suffering is the most common I believe when dealing with doubt about God, his existence as well as his loving nature.  Doubt can also come when the reality of God’s love is starting to take root.  Is this possible (?) we may ask ourselves.  So yes doubt can be a companion for many through life.  It is when we do not fear this reality that we can be of help and support to those around us who are going through periods of doubt.  How this is dealt with is of utmost importance.  It can be a spur to deeper study and prayer as our understanding of God deepens and our idols fade, or it can lead to indifference and loss of faith.  When we understand this, we can be of help to those who are struggling with this reality and have no one to talk to.  As we learn that we do have the freedom of choice, so we can also lead others as well.

Where there is despair, hope;

The Lord will allow us to experience our own powerlessness.  We can experience this in our inability to pray, or if we do it seems like nothing but distractions with nothing going on.  Or through our failures in our ability to live out what we have promised to the Lord when we began our walk with Him; when being filled with consolation and fervor.  It is in our darkest moments when we are brought to the point of understanding the true meaning of trust.  What we feel, how we fail, our inner conflicts do not in any way affect the Lord's relationship with us.  We are called at this time to give our total trust in God’s merciful love and compassion.  For as it says in the 1st letter of John that “God is greater than our hearts”.  Or as Jesus said to Sr. Faustina:

"[Let] the greatest sinners place their trust in My mercy. They have the right before others to trust in the abyss of My mercy. My daughter, write about My mercy towards tormented souls. Souls that make an appeal to My mercy delight Me. To such souls I grant even more graces than they ask. I cannot punish even the greatest sinner if he makes an appeal to My compassion, but on the contrary, I justify him in My unfathomable and inscrutable mercy. Write: before I come as a just Judge, I first open wide the door of My mercy. He who refuses to pass through the door of My mercy must pass through the door of My justice..." (Diary, 1146)

So yes, the Lord in order for all of us to be present to others in their deep suffering will bring us through it as well so that we can grow in compassion, empathy, and love for others.  The more we understand our own need for God’s mercy, the less we will feel the need to judge….which s a terrible burden and harmful to our souls.

Where there is sadness, joy.

It is when we learn that even in the darkest moments of our lives that joy will return, in fact has always been there, for as our trust in the Lord deepens (a choice), so does the inner peace even in the mist of deep suffering.  We find that as the years go by and as we age when we look back on our lives we see that the Lord has always been there.  Even when our path seemed to be simply not there, when in the desert, yet we see that there was a movement that was led by God’s grace and often hidden presence.  In that we can be comfortable with others who are in deep sadness and will be able to be with them, support them without pious platitudes that can only make things worse.  We slowly learn not to fear the suffering that comes with being with others.  We learn that the deeper we love, the more we will suffer as Christ Jesus suffered, because as he was fully human, so heart slowly becomes human likes his.—Br.MD