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talking to myself

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The wrath of man

he wrath of man

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

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

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

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

Again Julian goes on:

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

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

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

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

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


We are called to love beyond family

We are called to love beyond family
When anger, contempt and stereotyping are in play, it can act as a wall of protection from seeing ourselves in others, in their pain, isolation and their many forms of suffering. It lessens our own humanity, for si n is a way that is used to escape the most central truth of life….that others for us, especially those we do not identify with, those with which we have a natural antipathy towards, are in fact for us an encounter with Christ Jesus. For me, it is a hard aspect of carrying the cross of Christ Jesus. We are called to love beyond family, tribe, race, and religion.--Br.MD

Get out of the damn boat


Get out of the damn boat

The burden of our interior freedom
(In the end, we all choose)

The graces of My mercy are drawn by means of one vessel only, and that is—trust. The more a soul trusts, the more it will receive. Souls that trust boundlessly are a great comfort to Me, because I pour all the treasures of My graces into them. I rejoice that they ask for much, because it is My desire to give much, very much. On the other hand, I am sad when souls ask for little, when they narrow their hearts.  —
Jesus to St. Faustina, Divine Mercy in My Soul, Diary, n. 1578


In all my years as a monk, my greatest obstacle to my abandonment into God’s Love is my fear of total trust.  It has been slow going for me.  Yet, as time moves forward I am finding, through God’s grace, that my inner freedom to trust, is growing.  Grace allows me to work against my own tendency to make God in my own image and likeness.  Which is not a very comforting proposition. 

If God were ‘like me’, then there would be resentments that I have struggled to let go of. 
An outburst of irrational anger even if known only by me in my interior.  Often as well a deep inner battle to forgive those who have wronged me.  My idea of justice when in a ‘bad’ state looks more like revenge than anything else.  So when I make God into my own image and likeness, what is worshipped is one of the old gods of mankind.  Forces of nature, bigger, meaner, and more unstable than I am.  The only way to overcome that is to dismantle the idols through trust in the love and compassion of the Father as shown us by Christ Jesus. 

So to trust in God, to let go of fear, does take a death to self that moves towards self-destructive beliefs, and behaviors.  To fear only feeds such a way of dealing with life.

If you do not succeed in taking advantage of an opportunity, do not lose your peace, but humble yourself profoundly before Me and, with great trust, immerse yourself completely in My mercy. In this way, you gain more than you have lost, because more favor is granted to a humble soul than the soul itself asks for…  
Jesus to St. Faustina, Divine Mercy in My Soul, Diary, n. 1361

There is always a new beginning, a starting over, no how late in life it is.  In our lives, we are always being called by God’s mercy and love to return to Him.  It is a hard truth for me to accept, but I step forward in faith, and I have never been disappointed.  It is only when I refuse, that I can sink into isolation and despair.  Over the years I have learned to bypass the isolation and despair, by not dwelling on my failures or struggles, but on the love of Jesus Christ for me, as well as for all.  This also helps me to forgive let go of hurts and resentment. Though I am still a work in progress.


Get out of the damn boat

Get out of the boat and step on the waves,
no fear can overcome when trust is present,
when the eye is on Christs’ love
and not on one’s misery,
for love is stronger than death,
and grace overcomes all wounds and sorrow—Br.MD



Listening to God retreat




Listening to God retreat

Listen carefully, my child, to your master's precepts, and
incline the ear of your heart.
Receive willingly and carry
out effectively your loving father's advice, that
 by the labor of obedience you may return to Him from whom you
had departed by the sloth of disobedience.
(Rule of St. Benedict Prologue)


What do obedience and listening have in common?

“Personal Infallibility”, I believe is a great cause for many of the problems that we have in the world.  It is understandable for young people to have difficulty in being obedient to those who actually may have something to teach.  Often to their own loss.  Being obedient is not the same thing as belonging to a cult where personal responsibility and inner growth are not encouraged.  Obedience does not ask us to submerge our ego’s into some sort of collective. 

It can be hard to understand that another way of doing things, or perhaps to learn to perceive differently through the wisdom of others when beginning one's spiritual seeking, journey, or faith path.  It takes the ability to listen, to quiet the mind and to not be thinking of some sort of retort while the other is speaking.  The mind has to be focused, open, and humble to be able to take in input that could lead to a deeper understanding of what our lives are about.  Inner silence is needed for proper listening. 

Before the ability to listen can be developed, there has to be an insight that there is a lot to learn.  If that is lacking, then obedience is probably impossible, at least obedience that is freely given.  To force someone to comply is not obedience. The use of force, which is sometimes necessary does little to lead anyone to deeper wisdom, or understanding about life.  It does not lead to inner freedom from the tyranny of one’s own ideas and will.

God does speak to us in our everyday lives.  It is true that humans, myself, of course, included, have a destructive-streak that is very wide, deep, and can be all-encompassing in one’s life.  When we sin, we live out of that place where self-hatred is king.  When looking around us, we see a great deal of good, beauty and love.  We also see, which at times seems the greater part, cruelty, wars, abuse of all kinds, and cities that are not all that conducive to a life that is centered and peaceful. 

I do believe that the Ten Commandments are a good way to live out one’s life. What if for six months, everyone in the United States, lived out the Ten Commandments?  It would most likely transform our society…..but that will not happen of course.

However, many do learn from their lives, that something is amiss and seek out others to help them to untangle the knots created from bad choices, upbringing, and the numerous additions that can make life unlivable, and will often lead to death. 

This search drives them inward, seeking a relationship with God.  For many, it is the God of their understanding as offered by the 12 Step programs, which can be good.  For part of the problem for many, what makes it hard for them to slow down and to listen, is what they have been taught about God.  We often make God in our own image and likeness, which can be terrifying. 

To pray, to listen, to speak the truth before God, and to allow God to inspire us is not always easy.  We give our attention to the endless parade of thoughts that the brain manufactures for our entertainment, as well as for our inner torment.  We have to at first deal with these thoughts in such a way that they will not become the pilot. 

In seeking to listen to God, we soon learn, if we are patient, that we are not the tapes in our heads, nor the movies, nor the often painful emotional outburst that rise up seeking release.  No, we are that which is able to watch and to let the cacophony to play itself out without inner dialogue with it.  We learn not to believe everything we feel, think, or imagine because we have found that which is in us that ‘listens’. 

To seek a deeper union with God leads to humidity, which is the ability to accept and embrace that which is within, in the presence of our loving Father. 

Psalm 139 can teach us how to trust in God, and to pray without being afraid of what is in us.  It is all seen, known anyway. 

Psalm 139

1 O Lord, you have searched me and known me!
You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
    you discern my thoughts from afar.
You search out my path and my lying down
    and are acquainted with all my ways.
Even before a word is on my tongue,
    behold, O Lord, you know it altogether.
You hem me in, behind and before,
    and lay your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
    it is high; I cannot attain it.

Where shall I go from your Spirit?
    Or where shall I flee from your presence?
If I ascend to heaven, you are there!
    If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there!
If I take the wings of the morning
    and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,
10 even there your hand shall lead me,
    and your right hand shall hold me.
11 If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me,
    and the light about me be night,”
12 even the darkness is not dark to you;
    the night is bright as the day,
    for darkness is as light with you.

13 For you formed my inward parts;
    you knitted me together in my mother's womb.
14 I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.[a]
Wonderful are your works;
    my soul knows it very well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you,
when I was being made in secret,
    intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw my unformed substance;
in your book were written, every one of them,
    the days that were formed for me,
    when as yet there was none of them.

17 How precious to me are your thoughts, O God!
    How vast is the sum of them!
18 If I would count them, they are more than the sand.
    I awake, and I am still with you.

23 Search me, O God, and know my heart!
    Try me and know my thoughts![c]
24 And see if there be any grievous way in me,
    and lead me in the way everlasting![d]

God has no need to search our hearts, but we need to invite Him to do so, for it is needed in deepening our trust in the love of the Father for each of us.  We need to remind ourselves that we are all wonderfully made.  Hence the command to love ourselves, as well as others.

To listen to God entails a ‘death-to-self’ that leads to fuller life.—Br.MD


A woman outside of the lines

A woman outside the lines
When I meet someone who is absolutely sure that they are right, and have the truth, I tend not to argue. I let them be, and go my way. Sometimes I meet people who are ‘really’ sure of themselves in such a way that they have no one to really relate to since they are people who live ‘outside of the lines’ of what is considered rational, or normal in such a way that there can be some connection if worked at.
About three years ago, I got a call from a woman who wanted to see me, or more importantly the abbot. It was about this time of the year in 2016. She had a big German-Shepherd with her, so she could not bring it into the Retreat House. It was about 95 degrees out and very humid, but I knew that I had to go and talk to her. So I went out to the porch that is connected to our talking dining room. She had a pile of notebooks with her, and a message for the Abbot as well as the community. She told me that she could read hearts and needed to see if the Abbot was good enough for her to talk to him. I told her that she could not see the abbot that he was very busy. So she talked to the next best thing I guess, the Prior.
As she talked, what she was saying made complete sense to her. She was weaving a very intricate web that made it impossible for me to follow. Yes, it was a one-way conversation. So I just sat and listened for about 40 minutes. After she finished she showed me one of her journals. I looked at it. It was filled with drawings, diagrams, and some notes that rambled more or less the way she spoke to me. She told me that I could not keep the journal and took it back. She still wanted to see the abbot, but I told her that was not possible. I asked her to write a letter, but she refused. After she left, I got the feeling she was reading my heart and did not like what she could see…..well that is ok, for there are parts of my heart that I am still working on, and if she could really read hearts I guess what she saw could have caused some disturbance
I did feel frustrated after she left because it was impossible to talk to her or to even understand what she was about. It is true, that there are people who are sure of themselves and make it impossible for others to debate or argue with them. However, they are within the normal range and can be understood even if perhaps they are bit rigid and perhaps angry in how they come across. This woman was isolated and perhaps on a daily basis experienced people who could not understand 90 percent of what she was saying. It must be lonely. –Br.MD

Our inner world and prayer and trust in God

Prayer opens up many doors to our inner perception. When we seek to grow in love of God and do not just pray to get something from God, the good fruit can at times have a bitter taste to it. Yet we must experience the bitter along with the sweet on our inner journey towards ‘home’, that place where we are at peace because we have found our hearts deepest longing.

We are often told about how good we should be, or perfect, and how anger and lust and fear should be fought and or even ignored. When this is taken in and we try to live this way we can manufacture a number of problems with this strategy. Prayer is not about repression or pretending to be what we are not. If we experience anger then it needs to be felt and expressed in our prayer before God. Lust, sloth, gluttony as well as our doubts, these need to be held before the Infinite light of God’s love. It is already seen, prayer just allows us to be aware of our need for healing and yes at times forgiveness for sin. To admit that we are sinners is important for it allows us to come to the understanding that we are called to choose more consciously that which is life-giving and to let go of all that is within us that leads to deeper suffering and inner disintegration. We are not called to demonize our inner lives, but to allow the healing fire of the Holy Spirit to heal us at increasingly deeper levels. The Spirit of the living God wounds us over and over again in order to bring us deeper into his healing love. There is no easy way to do this because we need to be open to the road that the Lord wishes us to walk.

In the world around us, as well as within our own souls, we experience the deepening pain that comes when we seek only to do our own will. To live out of our own desires, often at the expense of others, for in order to take, someone has to lose. The cross that we create for ourselves, without the love and grace of God, is often heavier and more painful than what we need to carry when we do God’s will, which is only there to heal and to bring us ‘home’.

Our deepest longing is for ‘The Relationship”, this desire cannot be fulfilled by other relationships but they can be pointers for all of us. No human relationship no matter how deep the love is between two human beings can quench the desire for love and union that is complete; we are too small to be able to do that. God is intimately involved in all of our lives, many do not know this, or experience it because they limit themselves by seeking only that which in the end leads to deeper frustration and feelings of alienation from self and others. The absurdity of life is experienced when we forget that our deepest longing can be fulfilled, yet only in the Infinite.

Many feel this more acutely than others. Repression can be so complete that only those around the represser can see what is going on, yet the lack of self-knowledge can prevent this from happening. Our addictions are a form of self-medication, temporary relief from the pain of simple existence, of feeling our aloneness from others. Addictions deal with immediate pain, which keeps us from growing and choosing. It is something that is there for us to escape into. As we age and mature, these addictions are taken from us when we are ready to let go.--Br.MD

Deepening trust in God







What we can experience only from deepening our trust

“But My close friends, why, why don’t they call louder to Me from their heart’s depths?
If only their belief were less like unbelief!
If their hope were fixed upon My help . . . And if, in all simplicity,
their love loved Me more. I should be there looking after everything in their day,
and when night fell, their eyes would close again on My face.

Bossis, Gabrielle. He and I (Kindle Locations 2260-2262).
Pauline Books and Media. Kindle Edition.

It is interesting for any writer I guess, to have someone read something that they wrote, and the reader interpreting it ways that are unintended.  I know that I do it with essays that I read from other writers, so I as well will often misunderstand their real intention.  I have also learned that when I read from another author, in some way, their writing becomes mine, for I take it in, ponder it, agree or disagree, and then place it aside.  Yet all writing, like all speech is, in reality, a seed that is planted in the heart of the reader, or the hearer and the effects on the unconscious are deeper than understood by many.

When I write about grace, the love of God, and my own experiences with my own struggles, failures, as well as deep healings, I can actually be attacked over what I have written.  Sometimes the input given me about something I posted, even if strong, is spot on, but often it is based on the readers having to read whatever I write from the store of their own experiences, beliefs, as well as their misunderstanding of what my faith is to me, or even for that matter what it is all about.  I know this to be true, because I do it, often unconsciously, when I read, or listen to someone else.

Sometimes I do wonder how strong my faith is.  However, I have learned that in trusting God, and taking the next step, I do experience a deep movement in my soul that comes from ‘without’.  Or should I say from something so deep, deeper than my own personal unconscious, that I sense a loving presence working with me, and for me, but in secret so to speak.  This can’t be explained, but only experienced. 

What does it mean to cry to God for help?  Well, I believe that what it entails is to simply embrace the ‘moment’, no matter how bad, and make a conscious choice to root myself in the reality of the Lord who dwells in the ‘Tabernacle of my Heart’.  I both fear, and so long for the love of God, and sometimes I do get a small taste, but only a small one.  It is all I can handle.

In this world, we are called, or I am called, to love God with all my heart, and my neighbor as myself.  This takes a bigger heart than I have. Yet the purely human heart of Jesus Christ encompasses all of humanity without distinction. So slowly I see that my heart is being transformed by God’s loving touch to my wounded, often skittish soul. So I love more deeply, hopefully, every day by allowing my heart, to be absorbed by the truly human heart of Jesus Christ.    The more I grow into this reality, the more I understand how unloving I can be.  When I fail to react or deal with a situation in a loving manner, I sense it more deeply. It does not lead me to despair, but to a deeper trust in God’s love for me.   Which is one of the hardest parts of my faith to believe.

So I pray for my longing for God to deepen, but that can’t happen if my love for others does not.  I want my thirst for God, to equal God’s thirst for each of us.  That has a powerful effect on how I pray, and what I pray for.  I do believe that Christians are here to show to the world the love of God, called ‘Agape’. Without deep prayer, and loving trust in God, along with a profound understanding of our own need for mercy, that is probably impossible.  It is easier for me to judge others than to look into my own heart.—Br.MD













The only way to deal with an inner storm

The only way to deal with an inner storm is to understand that it will pass, as well as understanding that it is best to wait until the rising waves, and high winds, calm down. I can't think logically when I am in some form of an inner temper tantrum, for at that moment, I am off center.

Our Belief systems will often dictate how we respond to these times of deep anger, fear, or anxiety. We can hold back, understanding that these states can be triggered by something, very small but opens a floodgate of repressed rage, and yes sorrow, which can bring out anger.

I am deeply self-centered, and being emotional will only make it worse. All else can be blocked out, and I can become judge, jury, and executor.

Having the habit of prayer in one's life can help to give the soul a place to stand in the midst of the storm. Prayer that is truly open to the Spirit of God, will not be spared the hard road of self-knowledge. It can bring about growth in the ability to embrace one's inner poverty, as well as taking responsibility for any action that has hurt someone.

Prayer, having a trusting relationship with God allows us to see deeply into ourselves without retreating.

I am still working on this. I had a blowup this week because I was triggered by a statement made by another monk that was meant to help me, but instead, it brought up a flood of emotion that had its roots in my far past.

Thankfully, by the help of God's grace, I was led to understand what had happened and was able to take responsibility and apologize. I was at fault, I am not a victim, hopefully, I will learn from this. If I elected to remain a victim, I would only be able to blame, making someone else responsible for my outburst. In the end, hurting a good relationship with a friend.—Br-MD




When younger I was interested in Fatima, then I 'outgrew' it, well a foolish thought I know. Now I am looking at this again. I got this book from our store here titled: "Fatima for Today: The Urgent Marian Message of Hope". The message is Gospel, and it brings out the importance of how connected with others when we pray we are and how important is to pray for all. Our loved ones, our enemies and those who hate us and yes God; for God hates no one and wants all to come to salvation. The rosary is central to the Fatima message because we when praying it we seek to delve deeper into the mysteries that we are saying that can be found in the New Testament. I like to say the rosary very slowly, so I never get a whole one in. Or I make a prayer rope with 33 knots and sometimes use it for pondering one of the mysteries.

We bring others with us when we pray, those we may never meet or know. When we pray the "Our Father' and the "Hail Mary" it is good to know that both are universal prayers, no one is left out. In praying these prayers with conscious intent, there is healing of those relationships that we struggle with.

Beads can be very helpful in relaxing the body and mind for when feeling the beads (or knots in my case) glide slowly through the fingers, it relieves physical tension. No one says the Rosary the same, each is unique as it should be. Some say it fast, others slow, some meditate as they pray, others consecrate on the words and some do both. Some pray with scenes from the bible, other us abstract symbols. All are good, for again we are each unique. We are called to love all and to pray for all.

It is much easier to judge and to feel contempt, but that is not the way that Christ Jesus taught us. So when praying, know that you bring many with you. The more conscious one is of that reality, the faster prayer will take on a deeper significance in life. To pray is to breathe, to expand the heart and soul, to grow in love. The reward for loving is to love even more and deeper and more expansively. Prayer is not about seen results, but about growing in the image we are made in. To pray is to come face to face with ultimate reality and if kept up one will experience deep healing on one's heart and soul. It is grace, it happens on its own, all we need to is to stay open and grow in love and trust.

When using beads for prayer, it is soon realized that a deeper silence will also come about, and then it is good to allow one's self to stop and just be in the presence of the infinite. For, in the end, it is about a union of wills, of love that we all strive towards. At least that is true in the Christian tradition--Br.MD

The Psalms



The Psalms

We go through the Psalms in a two-week cycle here when we chant the Divine Office.  There are many people from both the Jewish and Christian traditions that are devoted to these prayers.  I read a story about an old Jewish woman who spent her days reading from the book of Psalms, it was her ‘prayer’.  In doing that I am sure something very deep was going on in her soul and most likely she attained a high degree of prayer/union with God.  Like many Christians in their later years who spend their time saying the Rosary over and over again, allowing their hearts to open up to the Infinite Lover of their souls.  Those who pray the Psalms or say the Rosary, are in reality praying for all.

The Psalms are not always easy to say since they deal with what I believe is the collective prayer of humanity towards God.  Some are deeply moving, Psalm 139 comes to mind:  “O Lord you have probed me and you know me, you know when I sit and when I stand”; is the beginning of a deeply poignant prayer, one of trust and abandonment to God.  Then some, like Psalm 22 is different:  “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me”, starts off expressing more than just physical suffering but one of feeling abandoned and bereft of all comfort.  It does end however in hope and trust. 

In our Divine Office, we omit some of the stronger cursing psalms.  Which I think is appropriate when using them in a public setting on a regular basis, they are harder to understand, feel and digest.  In private, however, I think it is good to mull over the more uncomfortable psalms since they get us in touch with some of our deeper and darker expressions of our hearts.  Anger, rage, hatred and the desire for revenge need to be dealt with and not just repressed.  What better way to express these emotions than in prayer.  In doing so we unite ourselves to all who suffer in such a manner the world over…all we need do is to turn on the TV or read the newspaper.  The news is filled with people overflowing with anguish, pain, sorrow, and rage…..as well as the desire for justice often covered over by the desire for revenge. 

The Psalms are an honest expression, not much sugary pious sentiment in any of them.  Many of the Psalms wrestle with God in an honest childlike manner.  As Christians, it is good to know what is in our hearts.  Prayer allows us to express that before God, to let it go, and if needed to express, scream or mutter what we are experiencing.  It is when we learn to embrace our humanity, to love it, that we can do something about the inner chaos that seeks to control us if we do not deal with it in a manner that leads to some sort of expression.  Prayer is the expression, the creative process, the art, in which we deal with the energy within, the fire and ice, the deserts and oceans of our inner lives.

So try to pray the Psalms, stop at a verse if need be, there is no rush, place yourself in the mood of the Psalm and if it fits your inner ocean, so much the better.  It takes trust to be open and honest before the Lord.  It is all seen anyway, hiding an illusion, though a powerful one that we can hide from the loving gaze of our Father.  To pray the psalms by oneself in a slow manner, can lead to a sort of life review, an examination of conscience that can show the way to deep healing on many levels. 

“The Lord is my shepherd (Ps 23), what a verse to contemplate, as well this one:  “Happy the man who takes your child from its mother’s womb and dashed it upon a stone”.  Now that is not comfortable, but it does express a deep desire to strike back, to hurt, so what better way to express it than in prayer before a God who demands that we love our enemies, our neighbors as ourselves.  The path of prayer is not one of comfort or consolation though that is an aspect of it, but is one of inner confrontation, wrestling with God and in the end, having a heart wounded but on the road to healing….that is graces gift to all of us. 

In prayer, we are one with all of humanity, though it takes time to come to that understanding. In the Psalms, we learn of our common struggles, our joys, and fear of death.  When we pray, we clasp the hands of all who have gone before, hold on to those who will come after and in our hearts, embrace all who are with us today on pilgrimage.

We can pray for those we hate, for those we want to hurt, for our loved ones, for all without distinction.  For our connection is far deeper than our emotions and feelings, it is what we are rooted in…..go deep enough and we find that it is Christ Jesus that we are all rooted in.  The Risen Lord, who prayed Psalm 22 while dying on the cross, journeys with each one of us, perhaps reciting that Psalm with us when we are going through times of inner turmoil, anger and the struggle with hatred and the desire for revenge…..yet wanting to do the opposite.  Our desires tell us a great deal about ourselves, so the desire to forgive, even if we struggle mightily with it, is a sign that we are on the way.  To be gentle with ourselves, to not be shocked by what is within, leads to compassion and deep empathy for all….for we know ourselves.—Br.MD




What is our true name?



What is our true name?

(Called and identified by name)

The human being is single, unique, and unrepeatable, someone thought of and chosen from eternity, someone called and identified by name.—John Paul11

In the Christian faith, what is taught, is that each human being is made in the image and likeness of God.  Not totally corrupt, but a creature that seeks the good.  There is the ‘GOOD’, and again, ‘the good’.  What we love is what will fill us, envelope us, leading us deeper into the love of God, or into loving something other.  Power for instance, or a career, or tragically, some form of addiction that leaves the partaker empty.  When we love the GOOD, all other goods naturally fall into their rightful place.

How we treat others is an indicator of the state of our souls.  To hate another, understandable as it is, rebounds on the one who hates.  We are each called by name, a name that only God knows, which points to the uniqueness of each human being.  We do not yet know our true names, but one day we will.  We will know ourselves as we are known by God.  The apostle John wrote: “Beloved, now we are the children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is” (1 John 3:2)

Jesus so identifies with us, each of us, no matter who we are, or what we believe, that whatever is done to us, is done to him.  A tree is judged by its fruit as Jesus said, so a good tree will not bear bad fruit, nor will a bad tree bear good fruit. 

Perhaps the biggest sin of Christians is a failure to grow in this reality of ‘God with us’.  I fall 7 times a day (Proverbs 24:6a), most of those failures are my becoming forgetful of who all those I meet truly are in God’s eyes.—Br.MD



We are known, there is nothing to fear

Dear children! I am thanking God for each of you. In a special way, little children,
thank you for having responded to my call. I am preparing you for the new times
that you may be firm in faith and persevering in prayer, so that the Holy Spirit may
work through you and renew the face of the earth. I am praying with you for peace
which is the most precious gift, even though Satan wants war and hatred. You, little
children, be my extended hands and proudly go with God. Thank you for having
responded to my call.”
Medjugorje Monthly Message June 25, 2019 to Marija


Everyone speaks of peace or the desire for it.  Yet, how can it be achieved?  Most people I know, or in some way, at war with themselves.  Inner conflicts that are hidden from others, yet powerful just the same.  Our wars, family situations, our cities, and the state of the world is but a reflection of our own inner lives. 

People often talk about love/hate relationships.  The human heart is deeply sensitive, and when betrayed, it is normal to protect ourselves from further pain.  This can lead to spreading the pain around when our desire to protect ourselves leads to reacting, instead of interacting.   Self-destructive behavior of all kinds flows from the circle-of-pain that is easy to get caught up in.  It takes away our peace, often forcing us to seek relief in ways that only make us suffer more.

As a Christian, I believe that I am called to allow Jesus to incarnate in me, so that my hands, in reality, do become his hands.  My mind, his mind, my heart, his heart.  The closer this conscious union with Christ Jesus becomes, the more I see how I can step in and slow that process down.  My anger, my fear of pain, and the wounds that still need healing can only happen when I admit my need for grace, mercy, and healing.  In that, I become more human, though only Jesus Christ was fully human.  On the Cross, he forgave everyone, a fully human act.  Jesus, was a man whose heart was so strong that he could take on the pain, fear, anger, and hatred, both for self and others, that is the burden of humanity, and not be destroyed by it, but transform it into love and mercy. 

We are known, there is nothing to fear, but all we need do is to open up our hearts to the peace and healing that Jesus offers.  It is not an easy path, but easier than the ones we choose for ourselves.  We are called to love, to be merciful, and compassionate because we are made in the image and likeness of God. 



Don’t be dismayed

Until the day dawns when Christ Jesus comes,
at our death, or on the last day,
as we seek to walk His way of love,
we will fall seven times a day,
do not be dismayed by this,
for we grow by our failures,
if we just but trust in the Infinite love of our Father,
as shown us through Jesus Christ. 

All who bear good fruit, no matter their path
are closer to the Lord than they know,
so let us all be gentle with others,
knowing that the human heart is fragile
and easily broken, scarring in defense from shattered trust–Br.MD








A Mocking Bird’s lonely song

What is considered early in the morning will vary from person to person and place to place. Since we have our Vigil’s at 4 AM, after being here for a few years, that time seems like 6 AM. I am lucky I love the morning hours so when I sometimes wake up at 1:30 and feel refreshed, I like to go for walks, for it is not really that early here. Around the buildings, in our front parking lot by the bakery and also up to the store we have lighting. I find the sunlight too bright for me and the sun too hot, so I seldom go out during the day and now that I am older, I have to wear sunglasses in order to be outside. So the coolness of the night and the darkness are soothing to me. The night lights to me are very restful and calming. So it is a nice environment to be out and to take a nice slow walk.

Most mornings I see some deer. Most run when they see me walking, some others just continue to eat. With a very few I can come up about three feet from them and they don’t seem to mind. However, if I stop then they start to fidget and stomp their hoof on the ground…then the runoff. Yet, there is even a smaller number who seem curious about who and what I am. I guess they figure I am not going to eat them, so a few times a deer has come right up to me, say about three feet and just looked at me. It almost seemed as if they were trying to make some sort of breakthrough in their awareness. One even shook her head and turned away slowly and went back to eating. Deer are beautiful, but for some reason, people think they are dainty when the opposite is true. Their hoofs are very sharp and the strength in their legs is astounding, so I do have a lot of respect for them.

At this time, because the bridge that is on the road of our frontage property on 212 is being rebuilt so there is no traffic at all passing us by. So the silence is profound, beautiful and uninterrupted, some mornings the insects are even silent.

About two weeks ago, on such a silent morning, as I was returning to the retreat house and was in the parking lot that the bakery sets on, the last tree on the left suddenly became alive with the song of a Mocking Bird. One bird call after another was loudly and joyously sung. So I stopped and listened. Then I noticed there was no response, just this one bird calling out getting no response….yet it continued.

It brought out a pang of sadness in me and I wondered about that. As I started to ponder this, I began to see that in some way this bird reminded me of mankind. Even those of us who have deep faith, we do not always get the response we would like from the Infinite One, in fact, many of us may never get one. Yet like the Mocking Bird, we persist in our prayer of longing for connection. The Mocking Bird perhaps is simply responding to an instinct to mate, as well as making out territory for itself, something powerful and it can’t do otherwise. I envy animals because they are not burdened with the depth of self-awareness that we have, they know what they need to do and without thinking do it.

We question, struggle and seek to find answers to life’s mysteries. I believe that prayer is a universal response to the world and its often incomprehensible presence in our lives. We can marvel at its beauty, or be terrified at its seeming indifference to us. This reality drives many deeper into faith, into seeking what is behind this wonderful, awful, beautiful and tragic world. Those like the Mocking Bird who continue in their prayer life, find that in spite of themselves deep changes take place slowly over the years. They also learn that prayer is not a protection to the ups and downs of life, yet it gives a center to stand from, a relationship with Infinite-Mystery and in that even aging seems like a grace, for we begin to understand that all stages in our lives are good, but each succeeding stage on our pilgrimage is more important than the one proceeding it. So our last years take on a depth of meaning that younger people may not have any inkling of. I certainly did not.

So we continue to sing, in spite of suffering, and in our unconscious futile desire to make prayer into some sort of magic where we can control our lives and get through it unscathed. This is impossible of course. For like that Mocking Bird singing hopefully for a response, it will one day be silent, it will no longer be part of this world…..so it is with us, though unlike the Mocking Bird we are saddled with the knowledge that we will one day cease to exist as far as this world is concerned.

So like Mother Theresa, many go through life living in the darkness of faith, yet, in their seeking, they continue out of true love and the desire for truth….for me these are the great souls closer to the mystery than those of us who do not live there all the time.

Faith is a gift, yet we do have to respond, be open and deal with doubts. Yet why should doubt get the last word, why not let doubt drive us deeper in the mystery instead of escaping into skepticism and atheism. For the Christian, the New Testament points to the reality of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. It is because of that and that only that it was written in the first place. Without the Resurrection, Jesus was just another failed messianic figure, so common in his lifetime.—Br.MD


Quite a ride our lives.






Quite a ride our lives.

Wow, life is short. Some days can seem so very long, others filled with one problem after another. Then days that are good. Most days are a mix-up. Still, at the end of the week, I say, what (!) Sunday already!

I love life, God is good, yet I understand very little, however, I have learned to trust in God's love for me, and for all. The deeper I go, the more I see how I fail. Things that seemed to be small matters when younger, now become bigger events because I understand in some small way how unloving actions cause harm to all, including me. We build off of our choices, so each day moving forward towards becoming more loving is essential.

When I fail, I have learned from hard experience (I am a slow learner), that turning in on myself is a waste of time and energy.

When I was a young monk (1983), I was at the bed of Br. Hugh, he was around 90 years old. I was feeding him supper. He looked at me and said, "Where did the time go". I was astounded at such a statement, he was almost 90 after all. Now I understand, and will perhaps understand even more if I live to be 90.--Br.MD




Do we choose to trust in God?



Do we choose to trust in God?

“Jesus: ‘My child, life on earth is a struggle indeed; a great struggle for my kingdom.  But fear not, because you are not alone.  I am always supporting you, so lean on Me as you struggle, fearing nothing.  Take the vessel of trust and draw from the fountain of life – for yourself, but also for other souls, especially such as are distrustful of My goodness.’” (No. 1488)
(From Sr. Faustina’s dairy).

Scott Peck’s book “The Road Less Traveled” started off with this quote:  “Life is hard”.  We all know it, no one is spared.  When we try to escape from the sufferings that in reality are forced upon us, we try to find an escape.  Yet, the twist and turns of life that attempt to outrun suffering, only make things worse, in the end. 

Each faith path has an answer in how to live through the ‘outrageous fortunes’ that befall us all.  Christians are part of the Body of Christ, in that we are a priestly people, and our sufferings are the continue sufferings of Christ Jesus, for he is one with us.  It is hard to believe in God’s goodness and love when in the midst of suffering, or when we see, or read, about tragedies that others go through.

We can choose to trust in God, and in that, we find meaning in life and find ourselves growing in love and compassion for others.  Are we can become bitter, lose our faith, and deal with life from that perspective. 

Faith is a gift, but it has to be fed, by study, reading of the Scriptures, and in the act of making acts of trust in God when everything points in the other direction.  All throughout history, we have great saints from all traditions who have chosen to grow in faith, and not to fall into despair.

There is no arguing about this, for once we choose from our deep self, our perspective is what leads us, and interpret reality for us.  So I respect all no matter what they come to believe.  However, since I am a man of faith, believing that God loves all, and wills their salvation, I pray for all as well.  We are a priestly people and in that we join with Christ Jesus in living out the Fathers will, praying for the salvation of all.—Br.MD



Save me, O God, for the waters have come in unto my soul.

2 I sink into deep mire where there is no standing; I have come into deep
waters where the floods overflow me.3
I am weary of my crying, my throat is dry;
mine eyes fail while I wait for my God. (Ps 69 1-3)

Being mentally healthy I believe, is not a constant in most people’s lives. There are those whose struggle with inner balance is more problematic, and they may need professional help. However, how far removed are they from me? I have come to believe that when I become angry, or overly fearful, or anxious, I can slip into a mental state that is not healthy, and during those inner storms, I need firm ground to stand on. I believe that firm foundation that I stand on, is the ‘The Will of God’, that I seek union with through prayer, the reading of scripture, as well as, being a Catholic, the sacraments. In prayer, I have come to understand my need for grace through personal experience.

When my inner life is like being on very rough seas, and I fear that I will be thrown out of the boat. and be swallowed up by ‘whatever’ it is I am working through, I have found that God does respond, that I find a firm island amidst the raging sea to stand upon.

If there is a drawback to living an interior life, it is the ever-growing understanding that I can’t blame others for my struggles, and that I should not punish those around me for the pain, and emotional turmoil, I may be going through. So am I a mentally healthy human being (?)…..sometimes I am, at other times, I need to be very, very, careful how I respond. Pain throws me back on myself, and if I do not seek help from God, or others, whom God uses to help me, then all I have left is myself, my inner suffering, without hope of finding a way out. Understanding this can help me to keep my head above water, from me being absorbed by my own inner drama, and losing myself in this dream (nightmare) like state.

As a believer, God is central. I also believe that all who seek health, inner balance, and who have the courage to deal with it, even if they do not believe, find grace, and help, just as I do. For God is not a respecter of persons, but all are loved and sought by God.

A young woman wrote to me about her struggle with mental illness, as well as her powerful inner experiences of God. She wanted some way to tell the difference. Below is a letter I wrote to her, though not being in any way a professional, I was careful in what I said. I used my own personal experience. Below the letter is an essay I shared with her about my own inner life, and personal struggles. I could tell she was a dear, loving soul, and most likely further along than me in learning to trust God, and never to lose hope. I, of course, have changed her name.

Dear Janet,

Thank you for your letter. Sorry, it has taken me so long to answer you. You asked about ‘mental illnesses and the spiritual life.

When it comes to the life of the soul, in relation to God, I can’t say much, since each soul is unique, so God works in a unique fashion with each of us. Having some sort of mental illness does not in any way change that reality.

We all need to have our feet on the ground so to speak. So our faith should help us to do that. To live each day seeking to do God’s will. Which can be found in our reading of the scriptures, our other spiritual reading, as well as the influence of those we respect. That would include professional’s mental health workers that have shown themselves reliable and understanding.

It is best to keep it simple. If you have a profound experience, see what the fruit of the encounter is. If it brings fear, or confusion, or perhaps distrust of others, then it is best to bracket it, and move on. A true spiritual experience need not be analyzed but lived out.

The reality is God’s love for you, and no matter what you go through, Jesus is always ‘yes’, and never leaves us.

Mental health is not a constant for any of us. We get angry, anxious, scattered, and during those periods of time, we all need to be careful about making choices, or doing some sort of action. We are all pretty much in the same boat.

Below is something I wrote a few years ago about my own inner journey. This life is about being faithful, and when I fail to begin again and to pray for those who struggle the way I do, it is then I lose sight of what my life is all about.

In the love and peace of Christ Jesus

Br. Mark Dohle

I make up for what is lacking in the sufferings of Christ

I write about the power of trying, because I want to be okay with failing. I write about generosity because I battle selfishness. I write about joy because I know sorrow. I write about faith because I almost lost mine, and I know what it is to be broken and in need of redemption. I write about gratitude because I am thankful - for all of it.---Kristin Armstrong

One day a woman tried to put me on a pedestal because I wrote something that touched her. So I responded that I write because I am fragmented, my inner life can feel like a bowl of marbles which fell upon the floor and I am pulled in many directions at once. I write about compassion because I struggle with it. People who are normal don’t need to write. I write words about developing empathy since I have had the experience, many times, of not having any, and to show kindness, is like fingernails being dragged over a blackboard. I am often empty, filled with fatigue, anger, and fear, so I write about facing it with faith. My faith can be weak, yet it persists, perhaps because grace will not let me go. So I often scribe about faith being a choice.

My heart has been deeply wounded by life, just as many, many are. Yet the wound of God’s love is deeper like it is for many as well. The paradox is this, the more I understand my actual emptiness; the deeper grace seems to fill me. Though the process is slow, God seems to love slowness, as well as simply being with me when I struggle and fail. I write to bring these fragments together; I send them out because it is healing, for if I don’t, writing seems stillborn.

I know that I am average; this humiliates me, for I would so like to be so very special, but knowing that my brothers and sister throughout the world carry the same burdens, allows me to actually grow in compassion and empathy. I can’t be filled with self-pity when those around me are on the same path as I.

As St. Paul stated: “Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh, I am filling up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church (Col: 1:24)”. My heart is still trying to understand, but perhaps it is telling us that separation is an illusion, that when Christ Jesus said whatever you do to the least, you do to me, is actually a rock hard fact. When that is forgotten by me, I stop seeking to do the most loving thing.

Unique as we all are, but not unique at the same time, it provides a knot of inner tension that allows joy to bud forth. Not sure how that works but it does for me. The truth does set us free.---Br.MD





That this ‘noon-day-devil’ could not be run from

The 1st and 2nd and 8th instruments of good works

The mind or the ego is unable to bear the frustrations of time. The feeling of crawling instead of charging through frustrates the ego.  It demands immediate action, coercing our body and forcing it to engage in some activity as if to solve the problem right away. Through this agitation of body and Dom emotions we think we are doing something useful and thus this relieves the guilt and helplessness we feel in the face of our problems. The ego cannot bear to be helpless. But this agitation does not solve anything but aggravates our problems. , the body and emotions are agitated as if this will relieve the anxiety of the ego about ‘doing nothing’.—Gerard


When I was on my way to New Orleans to make my retreat there, I found myself becoming agitated, and even fearful.  It was the thought of being in my friend’s house, by myself, in silence, without watching TV or listening to music, but a determined effort to make a good retreat.  Time, and what to do with it has always been a struggle for me. 

When I was a young monk, there were periods of time when I would almost panic about having empty space on my hands and finding it very hard to simply settle down in order to
rea, or pray.  I felt like I was being chased, and this led to wandering around, feeling empty, and the more I ‘wandered’, the worse it got.

I would go to my room, sit down, start to do Lectio, then something would come to mind, and I would be up and running,  going here and there, doing ‘important things’, that were actually a desperate attempt to get away from myself, from self-awareness. I wanted distractions, but the endeavor made things worse.  The monastic journey does not lend well to living a life of dissipation…..it has a hell like quality to it for me.

I knew on some level that this ‘noon-day-devil’ could not be run from, as if it were some sort of outside force pursuing me.  How does one escape from oneself?  You can’t. 

It was the letting go of self-concern that was the main issue, and still is when I find myself experiencing my own inner fragmentation and suffering. 

The 1st, and 2nd, instrument of good works in the Rule of St. Benedict (chapter 4), is based on Loving God with one’s whole being, and the second is like it, to love one’s neighbor as oneself.   I interpret this to mean, that unless I practice these two instruments of good works, the rest will not follow, or if they do, they will be in a weakened state.  

The illusion exists that what I experience as myself, is actually real.  Yet those who live with me know that not to be true.  We see into one another more deeply than we see into ourselves, more often than not.  Without love of self, these reflections I see in others, true to a certain degree, but mostly based on my own inner landscape, will be rejected and even hated.  I can only interpret reality by what is inside me.  A lack of love of God, and self will force me into a state of defense against those I look down upon as inferior.   However, if through my love of God, I begin to love my neighbor as myself, then things change.  For not to love one neighbor as one’s self, is to hate my neighbor as I hate myself. 

The 8th instrument of good works is “Honor all men”.  If I do not honor myself, as a child of God, made in the image of God, I neither respect myself, nor others, it is impossible.  I can posture, be haughty, but it is based on a fear of others, and myself as well, on becoming aware of aspects of myself, that I would rather not encounter.  I can also fall into compulsively ‘doing’ for others, and when not affirmed, or appreciated, become hurt, angry, or experience self-pity.  Which leads to isolation.

It is obvious that God does not pamper his children.  Like any calling in this world, monastic life has its own joys and trails.  For instance, no matter how hard I seek to run from myself, I am surrounded by men who seek God, by liturgy, the Eucharist, by duties that I need to be faithful to, if not, it is to my own peril.  Any life of commitment can be fatiguing, yet we are called to be faithful.  When I fail to live up to my commitment there is a price to be paid.  A life of drudgery, and in reality, of loneliness. 

Self-knowledge and humility is what frees me from being overly narcissistic. My life is not all about me, but about my relationship with Christ Jesus, and my service and love of the brothers.  I am naturally lazy, yet my duties keep me connected to my brothers. 

In the (this) moment, no matter how difficult, or joyful, I am called to keep my eyes on the Lord, as well as to see His face in my brothers in community, as well as those I meet in the retreat house and beyond……this has a deep bearing on my own relationship with God and how I am present to the Infinite. 

The paradox is that I can only truly learn to love myself by embracing all that keeps me from living out my calling.  I have learned, all so very slowly, that to turn and face my own inner violence, self-hatred, and fear of time, space, and what I do with it, as the only doorway out of the inner maze that is often how I experience my inner-life. 

I am speaking of my own ongoing struggles, and how I deal with them.   I have found that my ‘anger issues’, are in reality based on my own deep anxiety.  When I was finally able to ‘name’ it properly it has helped me to deal with my own irritation differently.  I seek to control everything around me so that the community will not fall apart.  Silly, yes I know, yet on an emotional level, it is very real.  The grace of self-knowledge and proper naming has helped with that. 

The death to self that Jesus talks about is concerned with becoming childlike, and not to become childish, and petulant. 

We are each different, so I know that some will not agree with me, or interpret what I am saying according to their own light, which is as it should be.  I do believe that the more we understand one another, the easier it is to live on a deeper level our monastic life, which is communal, as well as having strong elements of the hermitical life.  Perhaps the main struggle is the seeking after balance, like standing in the middle of a seesaw seeking to remain still.—Br.MD









An encounter with the Lord




An encounter with the Lord

"You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman.
How can you ask me for a drink?"

---When reading the stories in the New Testament that deal with how Jesus dealt with those he met during his life as an itinerant Rabbi. How that story is processed will vary from person to person.  So the short essay below brings to light how I look at the story of Jesus meeting the Samaritan woman at the well.  My own life experiences, as well as what I have observed, of course, has a strong influence on how I interpret this story.  I have no doubt that others can go much deeper than I can at this time of my life, in finding meaning, as well as insights--- 


It is not uncommon for people to have feelings of being an outsider, on the fringe, or simply being misunderstood.  It could be said that being an outsider, because each human being is unique, is true for all of us.  We all have deep interior lives that can in some ways be a barrier for us to actually communicate with others.  This can be also somewhat of an illusion if we are lucky enough to have loving families or belong to a group that can support us. 

What about those who are in truth, on the fringe, isolated, hated even.  In the Scriptures, one of the most powerful stories is the one about the Samaritan woman.  She belonged to a group that was hated by the Jews and were looked down upon with contempt.  The favor was returned, and the Jews were held with disdain by the Samaritans.  They had nothing to do with one another. 

The Samaritan woman, because of how she lived, was at the bottom of the social ladder in her culture.  She had nowhere to call home, or family, except with people who were like her.  She probably had a tough, thick-skinned exterior, and was quick to return insults if they were thrown at her.  She could have been hard, but also tired of the give and take.  So she would go to the well at noon to get water since no one would be there.  I am sure it worked out fine for her, until one day something unheard of, at least by her, happened.

She found that a man was sitting at the well.  A Jew and she might have been taken back by his being there.  She most likely did not look at him, and only wanted to get her water and then get away as fast as possible. 

The rawness of those who are constantly being shown contempt can grow and this can lead to either violence or some kind of emotional eruption that can leave one helpless. 

Perhaps Jesus saw this, if true.  When Jesus asked her to give him something to drink, she was taken back and asked him why on earth is he even talking to her, a Samaritan woman, and

he a Jew.  Asking for hospitality is also a way of showing honor, it was a sacred duty.  Something she most likely never thought would be requested from her. 

Jesus saw a human being, someone who is in pain. For he knew her history, yet he showed compassion to her.  Why?  Because he saw deeply, into her heart, soul, her entire being.  In that, she was healed, and went back to the village and told everyone what she had seen.  The villagers saw the difference in her, and by that began to see her in a different light, and actually went to see who this Jesus was. 

The ‘Gordian Knot’ that can make up our inner pain and turmoil can only be undone by being seen for who we really are, and accepted and loved, it is then that the knot can unravel. 

There are many ways to heal, to make another feel loved and accepted for themselves, can be a powerful way to make that happen.—Br.MD


Jesus and Gospel Women



Jesus and Gospel Women

When reading the Gospel, and how Jesus interacts with those around him, can be shocking when really researched.  How Jesus treated others, related to them, was often shocking to his audience.  His dealings with others were not bound by social customs or niceties. 
He worked from a different center than I would say that I do, and perhaps most of us. 

Shortcuts are desired.  The quickest way to get to a destination, be it by car, or to find a way to figure someone else out.  However, with people, a shortcut can, in the end, be a major obstacle towards any kind of arriving.  People are not objects or things, but living systems, with a deep inner life (even if unconscious), and cultural roots and customs that can make communication difficult.  This also goes when dealing with others from different religious backgrounds. 

This short cut can be called, prejudice, or stereotyping.  The problem is that the only ones who know that the person addressing them is using either of the above are the one experiencing it, not the one doing it.  Since they are assumed to be true, even if often shallow and thoughtless.  I would venture to say, that this is so common that perhaps no one is free from it.  I know that I am not, and it comes to light when I am accused of it.  It is not often easy to get at first when accused of such an act. 

If I met Jesus in person if he was a preacher, how would I react to him?  Being a religious, a monk, a man of the book, I am most likely more like a Pharisee than I would like to admit.  So I might find myself reacting to Jesus in a not so positive light.  Because being self-righteous can be a hard barrier to break through, he just might be hard on me, depending on the depth of my hard-heartedness,  and blindness.  So what I would need is a more frontal attack in order to reach me.  It would be based on a deep desire to heal me, to draw me deeper in, and perhaps even, in the end, to save my soul. 

If I belonged to a part of the population that was considered fringe, or worthless or lost, I might experience him differently, because even if I was hard, bitter, and defensive, deep within I would most likely agree with what others say of me. 

However, if I stood before Jesus, knowing my place in society, even if I hated it, how would I experience his look, his gestures, how he talked to me.  Like Matthew the tax collector, or the one leper that returned. Think of the women who followed him, and who experienced deep inner healing from him.  Who in fact, were the ones who went to the cross with him, while the apostles, except for St John, ran and hid.    What brought out such strength, love, courage in the face of such a horror?

Women, in Jesus’s time, were for the most part at the bottom of the social ladder.  For instance, they could not be considered a witness in any kind of court.  Their husbands could divorce them easily, and they had little recourse to justice.  However, I am sure that in spite of that, women were also respected and loved by family and friends, yet over-all, they were unimportant outside of the home.  They were stereotyped, a deep cultural prejudice that was so common that it was considered obvious. 

Why would a woman, a known sinner, go into a Pharisee's house, knowing that she was a sinner, an outcast, rejected by society, though used and discarded, to wash the feet of Jesus with her tears?  She made a spectacle of herself and took a chance when she approached Jesus, yet she felt confident that she would be received, and not judged harshly. 

I do believe that love, is a form of seeing.  So the deeper the love, the more one sees and understands.  When one is seen by another, not judged, but understood, there can be deep healing, a realization of who one really is understood, and not reduced to an object.  For the women, who washed Jesus feet with her tears, she experienced that and found herself beloved by this man. Who she most likely understood was more than just being another Jew, but something more, loving, divine even.   

Her heart broke open, and became ‘flesh’, its stone-like quality was shattered, as it did with Matthew, with Zacharias, and many others who Jesus saw, loved and understood.   

Or the women caught in adultery.  Just think, surrounded by men who wished to stone her to death, an angry self-righteous mob, making her into an object something less than human, reducing her to an act, a sinful one true, so she was made less than human.  So they bought her to Jesus.  What did he write in the sand?  Not sure if anything.  Yet these men, even if they hated Jesus knew what he had done with others, they knew that he loved the outcast. Perhaps it made them look deeper than their desire to punish, and saw themselves in the women.  They saw how they were also like her in other ways, but hidden from the eyes of others.  Then they understood that Jesus also saw them.  Perhaps when they looked at what Jesus wrote, they simply saw their ‘true name’, and then they knew that Jesus saw them, loved them, understood them, and brought them to show mercy to the women.  Jesus sent her on her way, forgiven, and in telling her to sin no more, he invited her to reenter society, to become a source of good and healing as well, since she now knew how much she was treasured, loved, and yes seen to the depths of her deepest being. 

I would think that the real ‘passion’ of Jesus did not start on Holy Thursday, but was deeply felt all of his life.  I stereotype because it saves me the task of truly seeing those around me.   It is often unconscious, and because of that can cause distress to those who experience it.  I free myself of seeing their heart, suffering, and longing to be seen, and heard.  I believe that we all have that desire, to be truly seen and understood, no matter if we are male or female.  We become hard, bitter, cynical, and judgmental because if we don’t, we began to understand the suffering of Jesus Christ, who could not close off others the way that is almost instinctive for humans.   

As Christians, we are called to become other Christ, to learn to see through the eyes of Jesus Christ, to become his hands, his feet, his very heart in a world that can seem heartless…….it is a path of deep joy, but also of pain, since, like the Father in the story of the prodigal, we are all asked to never lose hope for anyone, since we have experienced the love and mercy of God, we do not deny it for anyone else.  We are called to let go of judging others at the depth of their souls, to stop hating, which is a life long process for me, and perhaps for many others. –Br.MD


Am I a good person?


Am I a good person?

People will ask me at times what I think of our human nature. I will speak from my own experience of myself, as well as use the words and concepts of a Christian.

Am I a good person? Well no, I do not believe that I am. I often have to struggle to simply make the more humane choice, because at heart I am still self centered in the worst sense of the word. I am prone to self destructive behavior; I have to work on not using others, to reducing them to the level of a ‘thing’ or an ‘object’ to be used. I am lazy, driven by my desire for comfort and safety.

If left to myself, if I become indolent in my spiritual life I will drift towards chaos. In the Christian tradition this is called ‘sin’. It is not an action, but a state of being, of self centered being, of making oneself the only real thing, the center of the universe. The evil that I actually carry out is ‘sin’ but it has its roots in my human nature. In Christianity we call this fallen. So left to myself, I am in hell, isolated from others, but only capable of using or of going against them, at heart I am at war. This does not mean that I am totally evil either, but in need of healing mercy and grace. I say this without being neurotic about it, guilt is guilt, and it leads to self knowledge.

The ‘flesh’ is concerned with survival, with eating, procreating, acquiring power and prestige. The more I desire any of the above, things that I find ‘good’, becomes in the end, that which causes me to do evil. Because I have to go after what I desire, over and against others who seek the same things. We see it in our cultures. Life is hard, we seek to escape it, either through pleasure, power or love in all of its forms. All or much of it is self centered and doomed to failure.

Yet I also desire the good, the holy, to become whole and to love others. Christ says in order to find life we have to die to ourselves, so that a bigger, better, more expansive life can take root and grow. It is grace I believe that calls us to this new life. Christians know this because of Christ Jesus, all others who seek this are responding to the grace of Christ I believe. Jesus said “seek and you shall find”.

Many people fight this concept of sin, yet it seems to be the best term to show the mess we continually get ourselves in. Our wars, with other countries…. with ourselves and those around us, as well as the inhumane aspects of our cultures, the striving of personal power over others, and the acquiring of more wealth that we can ever spend and ignoring the needs and suffering of others…all point to the reality of sin.

In the end, all must submit to the truth, we each seek it I believe, some more consciously than others, but we are all seekers. It is the submission that is the hard part, to understand that there is a deeper center calling us, to me that center is Jesus Christ. Knowing that I am loved, sought after by the Infinite love, compassion and intelligence, causes me to respond by allowing this love, mercy and grace into my heart. Life changes after that, the center changes, and is replaced by the True Center. When we seek, we are responding to graces promptings. It is not esoteric, hidden, but there in our everyday lives, in the people we meet, the friends we make, what we read. We are challenged by our culture, by others, to choose, the way to a deeper more expansive life is the harder road to travel.

Understanding the reality of sin and my own struggles, I am not shocked nor am I surprised by the failures of others, be it politics or in the religious arena. Without grace, or our seeking after it, we will sink into an abyss. In order for the world to change, it has to come from the transformation of the heart, from that will flow the healing of our societies. Government programs will not help, nor will more laws, nor fighting, nor endless debates. The transformed heart is a loving heart, for it then is free to live out the image that it is made in.—Br.MD




According to our capacity to love, in that, we heal

Act as a physician of souls. I will show you how to bind up the wounds of the heart,
even the most delicate ones, and how to care for those whom I shall send you,
so that you may heal them in My Name by loving them with My Heart.

A Benedictine Monk. In Sinu Jesu: When Heart Speaks to Heart--
The Journal of a Priest at Prayer (pp. 4-5). Angelico Press. Kindle Edition.


It is not about performance but allowing the life of Jesus Christ to become our lives.  When St. Paul stated “It is not I, but Christ Jesus who lives in me”, he was not talking about some abstract theological reality, but how he existentially experienced the love and power of his oneness, his union, with Christ Jesus.   This can only be experienced by allowing the Holy Spirit to heal our hearts, and to fill us with His Gifts. 

To truly love, is to accurately see Christ Jesus in those around us, to learn to let go of stereotypes, which can lessen the humanity of others, and can lead us to overlook them, or to judge them in ways that we are commanded not to do. 

The closer our walk with the Lord, the deeper the trust, the more He can work through us in ways that are often hidden from our awareness.  He works through us, according to our capacity to love, in that we heal. 

The Lord works with infinite patience on our souls, accompanying each and leading us each uniquely.—Br.MD





In prayer, we partner with Christ Jesus


When we pray, we become part of God’s moment. There, in that moment, are all moments, all times, and all peoples. Christians are called to be a priestly people, and for each of us, those in our congregation when we pray, are all those who suffer, or fail, the way each of us does. We are called to allow into our hearts, all those who have hurt us, or done evil towards our loved ones. For all those who cause harm to others.

In order for our hearts to become like the heart of Christ Jesus, we must allow grace to do that for us. Our intention to love, forgive, and have compassion, is the first small step. In prayer, that seed will grow, often in secret, so we must never give up hope but truly trust in the Lord's loving presence, in not only our hearts but in the hearts of all.

One devotion that can help us, is to learn and to pray the Chaplet of Mercy, with attention to what we are doing. We are praying for the whole world, God’s world, a world much vaster than we can comprehend. So in prayer, we partner with Christ Jesus, by his grace, to bring all to the Father—Br.MD



Salt of the Earth


Salt of the Earth

I do believe that when trying to impress someone,
it will often fail because it is not ourselves being truly present.
When we become unconscious of the influence
we have with others, it is then that they can be impressed.

People who are themselves, look others in the eye,
listen, and because of self-knowledge, are slow to judge,
draw others to themselves. People like that are not
uncommon, but because they are not flashy,
they are often overlooked 
the loss of many. They are called
‘salt of the earth people.—Br.MD


Too Many Obstacles in Me






Too Many Obstacles in Me

The call that I received thirty years ago, a call to which I did not know how to respond,
or to which I found myself unable to respond fully. There were too many obstacles in me,
 too many infected wounds, still waiting for the healing that had to come through the hands
of Mary and by the precious Blood of Jesus.


A Benedictine Monk. In Sinu Jesu: When Heart Speaks to Heart
--The Journal of a Priest at Prayer (pp. 1-2). Angelico Press. Kindle Edition.




What is the ‘call’ for Christians?  Or what is the Christian vocation?  We are all on a path, and many seek to respond to a call that is meant to be of service to others.  The above quote from the forward of the book “In Sinu Jesu”, fits me to a tee.  I have been in monastic life for almost 50 years, and to tell you the truth, I am only just beginning to understand what my call is about.  I do believe that the call I have, is for everyone as well since we are all made in the image and likeness of God, and called to union with Infinite Love. We just have different ways of seeking to live out of that reality. 

When I was a young monk, I knew that the one thing I had to do was to become ‘spiritually stubborn’.   I needed that to get out of my own way.  I felt called by God, a very strong call, to give my life as a monk, for others, both in service, as well as in prayer.  It has been hit and misses, but through the grace of Christ Jesus, even though I may fall more than seven times a day, my being ‘stubborn’, has allowed me to get up and begin again.  A monk (all Christians) are called to cling to God even when they are in despair……for God’s love is stronger than death, desolation, and the fury of hell. 

My own inner wounds, my fear, my anger, my inability to feel certain types of emotions, my not knowing how to shed tears, my laziness, my running away from pain, have been my constant companions on my journey towards a deeper trust, and love of God.  Through it all, the Lord Jesus has been faithful, never letting go of his call to me, and gently over the years, so as not to overwhelm me, has led me deeper into trust.  Though my understanding is still shallow.  If my heart is still hard, how can I understand the infinite love of God?  Yet, I can trust, and abandon myself to this mystery of endless depth. 

We are called to become loving as Christ Jesus was loving.  To incarnate Christ Jesus. In other words, to become fully human. To miss that call is to reduce oneself below the level of the lowest beast, for without love, we become an infinite wasteland, or, our own private hell. 

By Our Lord's infinite compassion, and mercy, it is our wounds, our failures, and our desire to begin again, is the prod that keeps us on the road to a deeper union with God.—Br.MD










All about rhythm


All about rhythm

Before you can waltz with God, you have to tango with your shadow. God is always in the process, it is all about rhythm, riding the waves of emotion, consolation, joy, and desolation. So yes, we all need to learn to surf, knowing that all waves run their course, yet God's 'yes' never changes.--Br.MD