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talking to myself

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markdohle

Sacred Journey towards the End of Life

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Sacred Journey towards the End of Life
(Life is Short, Pray Hard)

 

It is easy to forget that life is an actual journey.  We are moving forward, the vehicle that moves us is called time, and we really do not have an abundance of it.  I do not think that is a favorite point for people in general to ponder….which is no wonder. 

Or it could be said that life is a pilgrimage.  This actually means that as long as we are on the road, we will seldom find a place that we can actually rest.  We have to ‘deal’ with ‘stuff’.  Some of what we deal with is very painful and can last for a lifetime.  Emotional pain perhaps being the worst for most people. 

How we deal with our journey, or how we live out the concept of being pilgrims, is very important.  Yet many people seem to spend an awful lot of time, effort, and yes money, trying not to think about it.

We are not a long-lived species, and to tell you the truth, as much as we fear death, I have not met too many people who would want to live in this world, as beautiful, and wondrous, as it is, for let’s say, hundreds of years.  There is a sort of suffering that comes from simply ‘standing out’, being ‘other’, along with, what I believe,  is the delusion of being separate, isolated, alone. 

Aging has a way of stripping us of many illusions.  One of them is that of control.  We get older, and getting sick, is as easy as falling off a log.  Even with the best of regimes that deal with food, exercise, the other shoe will drop and be unexpected.  It is like falling off a log.  So when we age, there is a lot we have to deal with in our inner lives, often leading many to think of deeper issues. 

Having a deep, thought out faith I believe is very important in helping people deal with the aging process and moving towards death.  It allows us to face life with courage, and to find ways to deal with our suffering that is life-affirming. 

There are many ‘bumps’ in the road that come with being a ‘senior citizen’.  We need to develop patience, a sense of humor, and a willingness to allow life to pass us by.  Our faith, if we truly unite ourselves, our sufferings, with those of Christ Jesus, we will often find a deep inner joy that is something that both gives hope, as well as a type of energy to deal with it. 

Our hearts will either expand or shrink, as we age.  Become bitter, or more open to what our short lives have to offer.  Knowing that we can choose, allows us to let go of being victims, we let go of blame, and find ways to adapt that led us deeper into the mystery of our lives, as well as our relationship with God. 

People spend a lot of time denying the fact that they are really into ‘old age’.  It is of course based on the fear of illness, but mainly, of death.  However, the fact is that we ‘age’, and I believe that should be embraced. 

Our faith does not do away with the struggle of our moving towards diminishment and ‘death’, yet it can give meaning to what all of that entails.—Br.MD

 

 

 
markdohle

The Prayer for Mercy

 

 

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The Prayer for Mercy

“Our faith is incarnated in a God who was made man, who became sin (cf. 2 Cor. 5:21), who was wounded for us. But if we really want to believe and have faith, we must draw near and touch those wounds, caress those wounds and even lower our head and allow others to sooth our wounds.”—Pope Francis

++++++++++

The older I get, the more I understand how unloving my heart actually is.  I find it paradoxical that when one seeks to grow in some way, the reality of what works against that endeavor, become ever more obvious.  I have found that I need help in working through the many defenses that I have built as a reaction to life’s unavoidable problems. 

When younger I tried to open up my heart, to be able to actually love others by working with the elderly, and the dying, in our community. Working with someone day after day, seeing them at their best, and their worst, as well as taking care of bodily needs, is a deep form of intimacy.  Also, those I worked with experienced my own struggle to be a good caregiver and saw how I would fail.  It was a relationship of mutual acceptance of each other’s human foibles.  It was a slow process, still is for me, as I move towards the time when I too will have to be taken care of.    

I have found that many of my defenses are there for emotional protection, and not created by some act of the will to defend myself, but a natural, often needed defense, for safety.  I also have come to understand, that one great cause of suffering comes from letting others into one’s heart, to move beyond simple caring, to empathy, and compassion.  I still do baby steps.  So yes, as I age, I tend to see what keeps me from being more loving and empathic, and compassionate, towards others.  I chain myself, enclose myself, without a key that I cannot create on my own.  Sin, can also be a cage, a prison, which is built not by the will, but by a fear of being overcome and destroyed. 

I do not think I am alone in this.  However, I have seen many people who can be loving, compassionate, and empathic, that flows from a depth that I do not at this late stage of my life, am capable of. 

I love to say the ‘Chaplet of Mercy’, a prayer that is said for all of mankind, that the love and mercy of Christ Jesus will fill their hearts, as well as mine own heart that seems still made of stone, more than of flesh. 

When praying the ‘Chaplet’, I do not have any meditation that goes with it, but seek to allow the Spirit to lead me.  I am slowly learning on a more visceral level what the Passion of Christ entailed, a limited understanding of course.  .  So as I pray the ‘chaplet’, I am slowly beginning to understand why I protect my heart so much, even if it is often unconscious, built way back before the age of reason. 

So when praying the Chaplet, I will often think about the open ‘Heart of Jesus Christ’, and how he did not have the compulsion to label, and box in others, so that they could be judged, and easily managed. Well to dehumanize.   For when I label,  I take away their humanity. 

I do believe that Sin, is a way that I protect myself from the suffering of others.  When things seem to be falling apart, a subjective experience, as well as a subjective judgement, I will react by becoming angry, even enraged, which is fueled by terror, but really fed by anxiety.   Anxiety is a new friend, that I really only met a few years ago.  It helps to know that I have deep anxiety, because it brings my anger, and fear, into perspective.  I want to control the world, make it fit my needs, sort of like a one, or two years old, I would suppose.  For my anger is more often than not a temper tantrum.  Healthy anger leads me to do something constructive. Anger, which flows from my ‘inner two years old’, leads nowhere if given into.  So for me to convert, is to keep my heart open, when I want to close it, and to leave everyone on the outside that causes me pain, or discomfort, or wants to demand my time.  The death to self, I guess, at least for me, is to allow God’s grace to expand my heart……which brings me joy.

To love is to actually ‘see’.   Loving parents know this, as well as those who have deep friendships, or who care for others when they show need, struggle, etc.  Love brings its own brand of suffering.  To see as deeply as Jesus did must have been very soul-wrenching indeed.  Imagine, to love all, the same way a loving parent loves their child, even deeper and more all-encompassing.   Each human being saw in their depths, understanding everything, yet loving totally.  Is it no wonder that we are told not to judge others on that deep, intimate level, not even ourselves, but to simply trust in the love and compassion of God, who is revealed as “Father”?

Prayer is outside of space and time, because we enter into God’s ‘space’, which incorporates all moments, as present in God’s infinitely creative ‘moment’.   As Christians when we pray, it is the Spirit that groans within us, and as we go deeper into the love of God, we find ourselves understanding that we are all one in Christ Jesus, and when we pray, all are with us, for Christ Jesus groans within us for the salvation of all.  The Chaplet leaves no one outside, as we pray for the whole world. 

 

To break a heart of stone

How weary I am Lord of my stone like heart,
a wall that only your grace can melt,
how painful when the stone starts to break,
as you seek to make me into a work of art,
to free my soul so that it can fly and dance,
to seek others in their depth and in that,
to see you one with them in an eternal embrace.—Br.MD

 

markdohle
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Each person God’s only Child
(I forget sometimes)
 
Quote: You are afraid of distractions, of daydreams, and of foolish thoughts; these do not offend Me
because they are no more than flies buzzing in the background.
 
I am absorbed by your presence before Me. Does it shock you that I should say such a thing? But I am absorbed by you: My eyes rest upon you; My Heart is all yours; I am listening intently to you; and all My attention is focused on you when you come seeking Me. Believe that I am totally absorbed by you, and soon you will be totally absorbed by Me. I speak here using human terms, using the language of friendship, of affection, of love. I am present here in all the sensitivity and tenderness of My humanity. I am here offering you My friendship, ready to spend as much time with you as you are ready to spend with Me..---Unquote
 
A Benedictine Monk. In Sinu Jesu: When Heart Speaks to Heart--The Journal of a Priest at Prayer (Kindle Locations 4565-4571). Angelico Press. Kindle Edition.
 
The other morning, I was in a place of rootlessness. Floating, restless, unsettled, seeking some way to find a place to rest…..yet I fought prayer. It is strange how I will often do that, as if praying is something so hard, that I can’t spend energy being in communion with God. So I drifted, tried to read, could not, walked, but my restlessness was unabated. I find this state painful, even if I understand I often prolonged it by my wanderings, by my lack of discipline. I could feel the call to prayer, but fought it, almost against my will.
 
So finally after a couple of hours of this (the noonday devil, experienced in the morning), I went into the church, which was empty at that time, and sat down, and just put myself in God’s presence and waited. At first, my mind was numb, without thought, then the distractions came, and I was thinking about this, then about that, and tried to bring my mind back to the present. Finally, I pulled out my Rosary, which I was also fighting praying it. It is as if, a part of me does not want to be settled, rooted in Christ Jesus, so I was in a tug of war, well sort of. Perhaps I was just in a mood. I do know, that the longer I seek the Lord, the more I am aware of areas of my life that still fight being seen by God’s loving gaze. Often not sure what is fighting, but it is part of my own inner life.
 
The Rosary is a good form of prayer for those who need something tactile to hold on to. It helps to dispel energy in a way that is calming, and not leading to more agitation. So I slowly prayed the Fatima Prayer, the Glory Be, the Our Father, and the Hail Mary’s. Soon my body started to relax, and my mind became focused, and I was beginning to find some inner calm, and peace. So once again, I learned that when attacked by the noon-day devil, no matter what time of the day, it is best to simply pray the best way one can. For me it is the use of the Rosary. Some days, I stay distracted when saying the Rosary, so I focus only on the words. Other days I sink into the divine presence, on others, I find I need to ponder some aspect of Scripture. Good days, bad days, there all the same, and we all have our share.
 
I do not believe one moment is holier than another, or one place more sacred than others, but emotionally I am not there. Perhaps by the time I am 80, this will truly sink in. Until then, I will continue to seek to ‘settle in’ more quickly, to spare myself the endless desert that I can put myself in.
Running away from the very thing I seek……yet in all things God grace triumphs.
 
Tendencies to self-destruction
 
One day a woman here on retreat came up to me,
she looked at me with an intense gaze before she spoke,
and asked me this question,
 
“Do you think you are a good person”?
 
I was taken back by it,
so I thought for a while and responded,
“No, I am not”.
 
She was surprised at my response
and asked me why I thought that.
 
“Well, I said, each day I have to struggle
in some way to do the right thing,
I have to fight tendencies to be uncaring about others,
unconcerned about their problems,
that I do not want to be bothered”.
 
“So in order to live out my faith,
and what my conscience leads me to understand,
it is a struggle to make the right choices,
some days easier than others,
yet even on a good day, I have to choose.
 
To be blunt I often fail”.
 
“So I begin again,
trusting in God’s mercy,
and in that over the years,
I have learned to understand others
through my own failures, and need for
understanding, and mercy”. –Br.MD
markdohle

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In the presence, in silence, before the Trinity


Christian meditation is about being in the presence, in silence, before the Trinity, it is not a passive act, but an opening up of one’s heart, mind, and soul. Most of our thoughts are not really personal, they are tapes that play over and over again, keeping us from being able to grow not only in self-knowledge but in not being afraid of our inner thoughts. We often demonize them, I believe. Most people who pray will likely find moments of silence before God, it is called listening......use whatever works in allowing this to happen. Be it rosaries, or music, or in reading, nature, etc. Above all, do not let others ‘tell’ you how to pray, learn yes, but we are each unique in how we do it, in what is best for us.—Br.MD

markdohle

Prayer and Silence

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Prayer and Silence

There are days when my morning meditation goes well, and of course, that can be said of my seeking to deepen my prayer life throughout the day. On other days it varies.  I can be tired, or agitated, angry, or perhaps anxious over something……or just simply unsettled, without knowing the reason….it happens. 

Focus does not come easy, scattered thoughts float to the surface.  Even saying the rosary can at times be of no help.  So what to do? 

Keeping it simple, really helps, to simply stay with it, don’t grade, accept the reality of the situation, and take the next step.  To say the next Hail Mary, or to read over again a line from scripture, or to simply seek to be in silence, observe.  That is all that needs be done…..easy right (?)….well of course not!

It does not matter what kind of prayer experience one is having, it is the intention, the being there, or simply showing up that is important. 

Prayer is not about us, it is about growing in our relationship, and union, with God.  In that, we find who we really are in the sight of God.  It is in this hard school that we learn compassion, and empathy for others. 

It is times of inner struggle, chaos, and pain that we grow in self-knowledge, as well as our need for God grace.  For we learn that God is always faithful.  As St. Paul says, “Jesus is God’s Yes”.  Or “Jesus, is always, Yes”. 

We need not fear our inner demons, which can be unsettling, since before God all is seen, yet we are loved, each uniquely.   It is the growth in self-knowledge that leads us to embrace ourselves before the loving gaze of God.  For often, we really do not know what we are doing.  Not knowing our left hand from our right.  Inner conflict is normal for most, and in our prayer, we may feel like we babble or are wasting our time.  Yes, prayer, no matter how poorly we think we are doing, is never a waste of time, neither for us nor for others, for whom we may feel a desire to pray for. 

We can each only pray the way we can, not the way we can’t.  In silence, we are led to the kind of prayer we need in order to deepen further, our relationship with God. 

 

 

 

Prayer of Silence

When we speak of silence,
inner quiet and peace,
are they always there in equal measure?
 

Is silent prayer, like sitting in a boat,
on smooth waters, with a gentle breeze,
or, is silence more than just a pleasant
state of being?

Is silence present when the waves rise,
the winds increase and we hold on
for fear of drowning?

In the midst of life’s chaos, of pain,
confusion, and overwhelming emotions,
of conflict, and doubt, is there a place
where God’s quiet presence can be seen/heard?

Silence, and observation, do they dance together?
Can we have one without the other?

To observe, is to listen, often without thought,
it is the taking in, the acceptance of what is before us,
be it a situation, a person, or some inner state.

Before God, does it matter what state we are in, or, are all events in life,
 both inner and outer a call to seek the center of all that ‘is’. 

In prayer, be it deep inner union with God
or scattered thoughts piled up,
or emotions rocking our tiny fragile boat,
sailing on our vast inner ocean of the unconscious, that different?  

Silence is a way of accepting reality
in all of it rawness, pain, chaos,
and yes, as well, in the beauty, joy, and love,
meshed together in our often zig-zagging pilgrimage. 

It is God who is faithful, when we stumble,
who enfolds us when we wander,
when we are unsettled, he is our steady rock,
in the desert, our spring of living water,
in pain, our solace, in
our moments of the Gethsemane experience,
(father take this cup from me),
his empathy, and compassion, with us,
for in silence God speaks,
yet, it is not always what we would want it to be. 

Deeply rooted the love of God
in deep inner storms
we are not washed away,
we may bend, feel broken,
tired, dejected, yet, we stand with Christ Jesus,
for all we need do is to say ‘yes’, observe, embrace,
and simply be.—Br.MD 


markdohle

The command

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The command

One look can plumb the depths,
open the heart, or close it shut,
heal, or wound, lift up, or tear down,

The gaze of the Lord,
heals, and wounds, and heals again,
because it sees the depths of the heart,
and loves what is seen,
“Love of Self as we love others”
is a command from Infinite Compassion.--Br.MD

markdohle

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The church becomes a tomb
(Holy Saturday)


On the day after ‘Good Friday’, all Catholic churches lack the presence of the Sanctuary –Light, that is a reminder for the faithful that the Light-of-the-World is present under the form of bread. The Eucharistic presence is a true sign of what it means by the scriptural term “God with us”. God tents with us in our tabernacles, which is also a sign pointing to the heart of each human being, which is also a tabernacle. Whatever we do to another human being, we do unto Christ Jesus.

When I got up this morning to make coffee for the guest, as well to prepare myself for my morning meditation before vigils, the first thought that came to my mind is the darkness and emptiness of our church. After the coffee was made, I went into our Abby Church and it is always a shock to me on how dark it is. How cold it feels, the nothingness that seems to be present where the Sacramental presence of Christ Jesus is now absent. It truly brings to my mind, the horror of death, and the pain, that it leaves behind. The coldness that dwells in a human heart, which once held the warmth, and love, for a living human presence in the world,
that is now absent.

In the corner that I use for my meditation, there is a night light that is not too bright but covers a large area. We keep it on for our guest when they
enterfor our vigils service. The low illumination deepens the darkness that surrounds the tabernacle area. The silence is deep and penetrating, in the early morning hours, and as I looked into the darkness of our sanctuary, hidden from view, I find myself thinking of nothingness, coldness, emptiness and yes, my own future, as I will one day enter into that very cold, apparent oblivion. I can often fool myself that I do not fear death, but on Holy Saturday this illusion is taken away from me for a time.

As I closed my eyes, I placed myself in the tomb, with the now lifeless body of my Lord, Jesus Christ. He was overcome by his enemies, they won, his mission was over, his followers scattered in fear, and so, there was only the tomb. As I found myself within its walls, it was a cramped space, though I could not see anything, nor could I hear any sound. It was as if I was both deaf, and blind. So cold, I found myself shivering, and fearful, since I was bereft of any sense of direction. So I felt around and found the spot where Jesus lay. I touched the side of the shelf where his body was placed.

I was totally alone, there was no presence of any life, and Jesus was gone. God was absent, and I found myself just sitting in silence. All death was there, every man and woman, and yes, child, was there with Jesus, in the embrace of death, as seen from this side of the veil. Not a place of rest, but of oblivion. It feels this way when the community keeps vigil with one of our monks who has died. So yes, Jesus shows us all our deaths, our future, what we fear most, and seek to flee from. Yet, like with Jesus, this cup will not be lifted from us, we each must go through our ‘Garden of Gethsemane’ experience, where God seems far away, and deaf, to our prayers for ourselves, and our loved ones, when sick, dying, and in pain.

Why? That question often comes to mind, but I know that there are some questions that must be lived with,
embraced, because we can only go deeper in, but perhaps never get the finale, simple, answers we are looking for.

At the beginning of our Good Friday Vigil service, this one part of the prayer always jumps out at me. This is the heart of the prayer, that at the bottom of it all, it is about “Love”.

I sometimes use my imagination to try to hear what Jesus would say to one of my questions. Below is a simple poem that was his (imagined) response to my query of ‘why’.


I broke the cycle of evil and death

Yes, my child, as you sit with me in my tomb,
you experience the coldness of death,
the emptiness left when life is poured out,
it was a horror for me,

it was not pretend,
for I took it all on out of love,
all the deaths of all my children throughout time, and still,
carry that within my heart,
for love never forgets, and is stronger than death.

My death seems to be the end,
yet in my sufferings, like in death,
I took on all of mankind’s anxiety, fear, and pain,
and yes the most terrible of all, each one’s death.

I was betrayed, abandoned, denied by my followers,
tortured and imprisoned for a night, by my enemies,
yet through it all, I did not hate, or seek revenge, my love swallowed up the hatred shown me,
and it was found to be nothing in the face of Infinite Compassion.

So on the cross, I broke the cycle of evil and death, I did not participate in its dance of absurdity
but only loved, and in the end,
I forgave all because I see that humans, all of them, truly do not know what they are doing,
that they do not know their left hand from their right,
hence my compassion for the endless pain they cause,
to themselves, and others, and yes to myself.

Yes, the tomb is cold, empty,
the silence leading to despair,
yet in my saying “yes” to my Fathers will,
all will be swallowed up in victory,
though for a time each must walk their path,
until the end.—Br.MD

 

 

 

markdohle
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Living out of our true image and likeness

“Go out to others and share the good news that God, our Father,
walks at our side. He frees us from anonymity, from a life of
emptiness and selfishness, and brings us to the school
of encounter. He removes us from the fray of competition
and self-absorption, and he opens before us the path of peace.
That peace which is born of accepting others, that peace
which fills our hearts whenever we look upon those in need
as our brothers and sisters.”--Pope Francis


One day a woman asked me why she was always so happy when she helped someone, anyone, even in small matters. So we talked about being made in the image and likeness of God. If God is truly love that means that he is an infinite fountain of giving. When we minister to others out of love we become part of that loving stream, we are living out of our deepest selves; hence we become happier. That is true even when our reaching out to others encountering them in their everyday live can be frustrating and very arduous. We are often happy and don’t know it, until what we take for granted is lost.

Self-seeking if it is extreme leads to grasping and isolation from others. The fruit of this is manipulation, the reducing of others and all of reality into a project of some sort for ones benefit; which in fact never works for long. It is a foretaste of hell, a place of complete separation from others and God that is embraced out of freedom.

To love and help others is like a flower opening up to the Sun, for it is grace that invites us to be aware of the needs of those around us and to help as much as we are able. If we cannot help in a material way, we can help by listening and supporting anyway we can.

Many downplay prayer. Yet in prayer we truly open ourselves to grace and draw close in union with God. In prayer we embrace all as we are slowly healed from self-absorption that leads to separation from others. We learn over time that our being the center is nothing but a powerful illusion. There is only one center. That center is the true north for all men and woman which is the will of God… wherein we are called to love our neighbor as ourselves and to love God with our whole being. In that we find our true selves, which is much greater than the self-absorbed, fearful and anxious driven soul seeking to be its own axis and god.—Br.MD
markdohle
Holy Week for Christians is unique to each
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Holy Week for Christians is unique to each



Holy Week for Christians is unique to each. For some it is a week wherein they renew their faith and try to understand the mystery of Christ on a deeper level. For others, Holy Week is a time of distress; as if a heavy weight has been placed over their shoulders and all they can do is get through the week. I fall into the second category and I think it is due to the fact that I know, I will never understand this mystery of Christ death. Perhaps it shows how goodness is often met in this world. There is a type of defenselessness in goodness, and the deeper the goodness goes the easier for it to be hunted down and destroyed. There is a freedom that comes with having a loving heart and that freedom allows love to flourish. A loving heart is not free to hurt, kill, slander or abuse, or if it does, then it is lessened by that.


A wounded and bitter heart also has a certain freedom, possibly the opposite of the loving heart….I think most of us fall somewhere in the middle. It is the inner conflict that can cause so much pain, since there is no place for rest. Those who give in to hate are free in a way, though I believe it is one that leads to a dark inner cell. There is a type of integration that is experienced when someone gives themselves over to their fears, desires, hatreds and rages.

It may be harder to grow towards a loving heart, for I believe it is a conscious and not an instinctive decision. I believe that we are called to love and that struggle, at least for me has been going on all my life. I don’t want to be defenseless, so I continue to be in conflict, when it comes to my allowing grace to work deeper in my fearful, wounded and often angry heart.



 

Distress

Before his entrance into Jerusalem on that Palm Sunday,
Jesus told how deep his distress was to his followers,
for he knew that goodness often feeds the rage of those wounded,
his loving heart made him defenseless against such tumult.

So he entered, we cheered him, waving palms,
he smiled perhaps sadly and with compassion,
for he knows what is in the hearts of men;
the pain, anger, the desires that can drive us crazy
and the rage against God and existence itself,
so filled with pain and injustice.

How easy it is to turn, to embrace the freedom of rage;
to destroy what is good, most human, and to exalt in violence and injustice,
to be caught up in the mob that flows like a river with ease,
until it flows over that which is sought and hated, at least in the moment,
for often after the horror over and done with,
we wake up as if in a dream, appalled at what was done.

The loving heart is a human heart; perhaps that is why it is feared,
for to understand the hell that is often our inner lives reality,
bears a heavy price to be borne. This reality was seen and understood
by the heart of Christ, wounded in love,
for he has (had) no defense. –Br.MD
Holy Week for Christians is unique to each
markdohle

 

 

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Palm Sunday/The Rising of Lazarus from the dead

 

On Palm Sunday, when Jesus entered Jerusalem, there was a lot of excitement about him.  He was known in the area as a miracle worker, a healer, and for many, the coming Messiah who would usher in a new era for the Jewish Nation.  He had a lot of opposition by the powers that be, and looked upon as a threat to the survival of the nation.  Then there was the story about Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead!  In midst of that excitement was a mixture of awe, fear, and even dread.  For the news was spreading among the populace about the raising of Lazarus from the dead!

When thinking about the miracle of Lazarus being raised from the dead, it would be good to go back and try to see what happened.  Just think for a moment, about being at the death bed of a loved one, and the family is there around the body waiting for the hearse to come and to pick up the ‘remains’.  It takes a few hours, so the family moves into the living room to wait, sitting, morose, for some, being in shock for others, too numb to feel, or cry or speak.  Some weeping, and even wailing.  So the wait is a form of ‘hell’.  Sitting, knowing in the next room is a corpse, getting cold, and rigor mortis soon to set in. Horrible, yes, but known, and understood.  Actually very ordinary, for we will each one day be the corpse in the other room. 

So just imagine a so-called holy man walks in, goes into the bedroom, and everyone wondering what is happening, and he walks out with the loved one, alive, healthy, and back to life, better than before death.  What would happen?  It would be a break with reality as we know it, so I would imagine there would be some fear, even horror, and perhaps some would run out of the house screaming, because the dead do not come back to life…..or do they in some instances, rare, like with Lazarus and the Widow of the city of Nain and her son.  This kind of disruption is a wound, that cannot be healed…..yet wondrous just the same. 

Jesus loved Lazarus very much, and I would think that his family, and friends, at the onset of his illness, would naturally think that Jesus would come and heal him once he found out.  For after all he fed the 5,000, raised from the dead the son of the widow of Nain, as well as the daughter of the leader of a Synagogue. People Jesus did not know personally, so yes, he would come.

Jesus did not come.  He waited three days before going, knowing that by then his beloved friend would be dead.  So when he arrived, he stayed away from the gathering, and when Martha came to him, she remonstrated with him that he was not there to heal her brother and his friend.  I would think there would have been some anger, as well as a sense of betrayal, in the heart of both Martha, and Mary.  For her, at the moment, her brother was gone forever, already in the tomb four days, his body already beginning to rot…….there was only loss, sorrow, and yes, anger, at Jesus for not being there. 

When he came to Mary, she also complained to him about his not being there to heal her brother.  Jesus told her to have faith.  The people always wondered about his not being there.  For he healed others, why not Lazarus.  Now it was too late.  I am sure that some of the Jews there did not believe in an afterlife, being part of the more conservative branch of Judaism, the Sadducees.  The Old Testament does not give a whole lot of hope for the afterlife, though by Jesus’s time, the belief in an afterlife was strongly held by most of the Jews at that time.

So when Jesus asked that he be shown the grave, they thought he wanted to go there to mourn like everyone else.  Which is true in part, for while there “Jesus Wept”.  “See how he loved him” the people said. 

So when he asked that the stone be rolled away, I would think that a collective gasp went up.  As he was told:  “Master he has been dead for four days, there will be stench”.   Nonetheless, they rolled back the stone.  So when Jesus called Lazarus forth, and he shuffled out in his grave wrappings, I am not sure that people yelled Alleluia, and danced.  I would think that there was a bone chilling fear that was felt, even by his sisters.  If I was there, I would think my heart would have skipped a beat, perhaps some fainted, others screamed and ran away……four days dead, wrapped in his shroud like a mummy, with spices, and he shuffles out!  Really!  Yes, Really!

So Jesus told them to unbind him, to set him free.  I often wonder how the relationship with his sisters developed after this event.  I wonder as well how happy Lazarus was to be brought back, since one day he would have to die all over again.  Yet it was for the Glory of God, that people could witnessed this, even if it did cause suffering, fear and awe.  Later after the shocked wore off, the joy of reunion as well.  Yet, to be touched by God comes with a price.  To be lifted out of this world that we call ‘real’, into something else, is not always pleasant, or even wanted. 

Jesus knows what is in the hearts of men and women, so he had to hold himself back somewhat.  People wanted to be surprised, to be shown miracles, to be lifted up out of the ordinary, even if there was also some inner conflict over this.  So yes, I am sure there was some fear, but also the hope that Jesus would usher in a new kingdom for the Jewish people, that their enemies would be crushed, destroyed, and they would again rule. 

We have assumptions about life that are unspoken, and when we are disappointed, we can turn on the one who is the cause of the disenchantment.  So Jesus knows all of us, our limitation, as well as what is vicious in us, in our lack of ability to truly love beyond personal need, and instinct, yet he continued anyway,  knowing that the very people cheering him, that many of them, perhaps the majority, would be screaming for his death in a few days.  Yes his love goes way beyond our ability to love, hence his ability to show mercy, empathy, and compassion, on us all. 

God, seems determined on disappointing us in our expectations’ that are self-centered, tribal, and fed by the desire for power, or simply personal gain, or the desire to escape suffering.  In other words in our limited ability to see into the deeper reason behind it all. We are incapable of seeing beyond our own subjective understanding of the nature of reality.   Yet our faith, deeply lived, and understood is a light along our path.—Br.MD

 

markdohle

Mercy Given

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Mercy Given

To receive mercy is pure gift,
no one can demand this healing balm,
justice for-gone to touch a suffering soul,
whose heart is hard from sin’s scalding wound,

Pain received, and then shared, is sins legacy,
others paying for the guilt of another,
poisonous fruit, is evil’s gift,
endless cycles of suffering, absurdity, and death.



7 times 70 is God’s code for mercy,
no end, infinite in scope,
to embrace ones pain and to not scapegoat
is the road to mercy and healing.

“Father forgive them, for they know not what they do”
Is the death poem of Jesus,
a heart true, seeking to make ours like his own.—Br.MD

markdohle

Beyond comprehension

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    Beyond comprehension

    Since we have a finite mind, and God is Infinite,
    all of our thoughts on God are wrong”.
    (A statement by Br. Cassian said with kindly humor)



    “And it will always be like that, My poor little girl. The weakness of your nature causes you to fall, and it’s the humble effort you make to get up and go on, the effort to please Me that charms your beloved. And this is a joy, a joy for God. Isn’t that strange? Later on you will see. Later on you will understand.
    “Believe in that ‘later on.’ ”


    Bossis, Gabrielle. He and I (Kindle Locations 2358-2361).
    Pauline Books and Media. Kindle Edition.

    I will never get it. On the Christian path I have found that when seeking a deeper understanding of the great revelation of Jesus Christ, one of the biggest obstacles I can encounter is to think I ‘have it’. That I understand the reality of God’s mercy. For when that happens I find myself starting to not only judge myself, harshly, but to also judge others in the same vein. I believe this harshness is a form of self-pity, with deep roots in pride, which is the opposite of humility, or self-knowledge.

    If only I could be ‘perfect’, ‘loving’, ‘forgiving’, and ‘compassionate’ as was/is Our Lord. When I set myself up in trying to do it, I fall short more than seven times a day. I can get despondent, overwhelmed, scrupulous, and the prone to give up.

    However, after 70 years of life, I am slowly coming to understand the paradox of the path, any path, that seeks, truly seeks God. I can only learn by failure, over, and over again, getting up more times than I count, and in that somewhat harsh reality, come to some peace. For it is true that the mercy of God, the love of God, is like the sun, or the rain, which falls on both the thankful and the unthankful, both on those who love God and those who do not. Love cannot be earned, yet it can be embraced and in that, God’s mercy, which is really his justice, can do its work.


    St. Paul talks about the word of God being like a two edge sword that cuts down to the bone and marrow of our souls. It reveals in a seeming merciless way, all that we are, and also all that we are capable of. I am called to embrace this mercy of God’s healing fire in order to be healed, it is the only way. There is no cheap grace as Bonhoeffer would say. Yet it is free for all of that.

    The more deeply I allow God’s love into my heart, the deeper the joy, as well as the suffering, that comes from self-knowledge. When I can love ourselves in Christ Jesus, when I experience His mercy, and understand what this means, and what it cost Our Lord, it is then that my hearts break, and I become ever more truly human, and slowly, through mercies grace, we allow Christ Jesus to ever more fully incarnate in me.

    Prayer is not about just asking, or certainly not about manipulating God, but about seeing God’s grace, and mercy, in the most unlikely places. My failures, some serious, when I look back, through God’s mercy and love for me, only led me to seek deeper communion with such a lover of my soul. It is only a small jump to understand that God’s love is the same for all, and understanding that, changes my understanding of prayer, as well as my place in the Body of Christ Jesus, which embraces all.

    So I pray for all, knowing that God sees all, and is most fully found by me in those that I would normally not love, or like, or respect, or understand. The Christian path is about bringing Christ Jesus to others through my simple living in their presence, as well as allowing Christ Jesus to minister to me through others. I can place no limits on the work of God in the world, for I have no doubt that all of my ideas are limited, shallow, and mostly wrong. This keeps me hopeful, open, and trusting in God’s love for me and for all that is without depth or height, but beyond anything I can understand even a little…….I am happy about that, for our journey is an eternal one of growing ever deeper into this mystery. No matter how deeply we dive into this Infinite Ocean of love, we will always be at the beginning, the joy will only increase for eternity.

     
    Lord, allow me to see
    Lord, help me to understand
    how little I really do comprehend,
    permit me to see You in those I meet,
    to be gentle, compassionate,
    and to speak truth in love,
    and allow me to let
    others speak truth to me as well—Br.MD

    About Author

markdohle

Distress

 

 

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Distress

Before his entrance into Jerusalem on that Palm Sunday,
Jesus told how deep his distress was to his followers,
for he knew that goodness often feeds the rage of those wounded,
his loving heart made him defenseless against such tumult.

So he entered, we cheered him, waving palms,
he smiled perhaps sadly and with compassion,
for he knows what is in the hearts of men;
the pain, anger, the desires that can drive us crazy
and the rage against God and existence itself,
so filled with pain and injustice.

How easy it is to turn, to embrace the freedom of rage;
to destroy what is good, most human, and to exalt in violence and injustice,
to be caught up in the mob that flows like a river with ease,
until it flows over that which is sought and hated, at least in the moment,
for often after the horror over and done with,
we wake up as if in a dream, appalled at what was done.

The loving heart is a human heart; perhaps that is why it is feared,
for to understand the hell that is often our inner lives reality,
bears a heavy price to be borne. This reality was seen and understood
by the heart of Christ, wounded in love,
for he has (had) no defense.—Br.MD

markdohle

The Lady with Purple Hair

 

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The Lady with Purple Hair

She stood in the middle of the parking lot,
thin, wearing a white sweater, with purple hair,
she looked lost, standing there reading from a piece of paper.

She was in my way, standing in the middle of the entrance
of a row, to the parking lot;
because of how she looked, I did not want to draw attention
to myself…so I managed to get by her.

I parked, she “The lady” was slowly meandering
across the parking spaces,
not paying the slightest attention to the traffic.

When someone/anyone
steps over the invisible line known as ‘normal’,
I notice, and do not know how to respond,
so a wide berth is made around them.

I want to help, but how?
She is just standing there,
…yes…but in the middle of a busy parking lot.

Was she in danger? 
Well, it did not seem so,
cars, of course, could hit her.

Should I call the police?
Well no, she was not bothering anyone directly.
Just minding her own business
smack-dab in a busy parking lot.

So perhaps I am wrong in my assessment,
yes, most likely I am mistaken.

So many small peeks into a life on the surface,
which is true, but how she dressed and acted,
did speak volumes.

Who she really is,
the deep mystery of her life,
is known only to God.

I am 70 years old
and there is still so much about ‘me’,
I don’t know or understand.

It helps me not to forget that.

I am truly only known by God,
all I can do is to live each day
as it comes, dealing with what comes up,
in the most loving way possible

Not as easy as it sounds.—Br.MD

 

 

markdohle

Hate is the very breath of hell

 

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Hate is the very breath of hell

September 12—Holy Hour. “Don’t you think that if you were to spend this entire hour of adoration repeating the words, ‘Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven,’ you would not be wasting your time? For My will is all love. It is out of love that you ask Me for it, and when the sum of all the love on earth is greater than the sum of hate, that will be a step forward. Hate is not from heaven. Hate is the very breath of hell.

Bossis, Gabrielle. He and I (Kindle Locations 2365-2368).
Pauline Books and Media. Kindle Edition.

Hatred is a void that is always hungry, grasping, seeking, but in a way that leads to a cold isolation that can become an eternal prison.  True hatred reduces everything/everyone/God, to an enemy that must be destroyed or enslaved.  It causes the heart to let go of its true humanity, which can only be fulfilled in deepening ones capacity to love, not in reducing it. 

The will of Christ Jesus, a revelation of the Father, is ‘all love’, openness, compassion, mercy and understanding.  The love of God sees into the depths of each soul, it is the domain of God only, this inner life of each human being.  Hatred wishes to deny that, to reduce all that is not ‘it’, to not having the right to exist at all, but an obstacle to the desire to rule over all, or to destroy all. 

Since at the center of hatred there is only blind hunger for what it cannot have, it will eventually feed off of itself, desiring nothing else.  Such is the tragedy of hell.

Each day we choose our road.  Yes, this freedom, which grows and expands every day is our glory as well as a heavy burden.  Yet, we are ‘seen’ truly by God, in that is our hope, for there is always mercy, and a return to the path that leads to life……as long as there is life, it is never too late to begin again, and again, and again.—Br.MD



markdohle

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I will never fully understand God’s grace

 

“When you say to Me, ‘Beloved Jesus I give you my entire life,’ do you realize that at the same time I’ve given you more, since even what you are giving Me is what I’ve given you? Admit that everything you have comes from Me. It’s all a gift from Me, not to display My power, not chosen at random, but by My most attentive love—chosen especially for you, My children—for your path in life, in order to help you to reach the goal that is yours. Bossis, Gabrielle.

 

 He and I (Kindle Locations 2321-2324).
Pauline Books and Media. Kindle Edition.

 

I have come to the conclusion that I will never understand God’s grace.  For it is given in such abundance to all who seek, that it can be overlooked, or not taken seriously.  There is much in life that does not make sense.  There is much tragedy in life, and we are asked to traverse a path that is often chaotic, filled with pain, loss, and confusion, and yes, terrible injustice.  The death process, is in itself, as part of the human journey, a source of fear and anxiety.

Yet, “God-With-Us” travels with us, is incarnate in each human being, undergoing the whole drama of each life.  God’s love does not allow withdrawal from experiencing the human journey, nor can God hate, or have contempt for anyone.  Our Father’s love is based on total freedom, for God is love.  It is not something understandable, but as I get older I have at times experienced it…..it is like nothing else. 

Because of God’s love, He sees into our hearts deeply, knowing that there are those who ‘freely’ reject that grace and love.  How that happens I do not know.  I think this final rejection of God’s mercy, and love, as shown in Christ Jesus, happens in a place that is very seldom seen by any one human being. 

I can see only the surface of my own inner world, yet God sees me to my depths, and in that I am hopeful.  Freedom is a small seed, and as we move ever deeper into our life’s journey, that seed will grow either towards life or death.  God’s love and mercy is not in question, it is our (my) love and openness to God that is the problem.  In the end, when I stand before Jesus, the judgment will be the Trinity accepting my choice, either for or against a loving relationship with the Infinite…..true justice is unknown in this world, but before God, all is known and accepted by both parties.  No one is forced away from God, we choose in the depths of our hearts.

How that happens I have no idea.  Yet I pray for the salvation of all, and mostly for mine, for as the saying goes:  “One day at a time sweet Jesus, one day at a time”.  To sin is to do the unloving action, which flows from our thoughts, which are often based on fear, anxiety, as well as a heavy load of pain.  It is grace that calls us to have faith and hope and gives us the power to love in ways that without this grace, we would find impossible. It is a life long journey, or as St. Paul describes it, a race.—Br.MD


 

 

markdohle

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The weight can be heavy, for some too heavy

As I was driving one fine Georgia day,
the sun was out, a bit chilly,
yes, a wonderful day.

Coming from the airport,
I approached my exit on I-75,
a place where I would give money
to whoever was there.

Most of the time there is no one,
but I always get something ready if there is,
something I do because to pass someone in need
throughout the many stop signs in the city
would harm me I believe,
shutting my hear further which is already so guarded.

So I made a little prayer as I was turning into the off-ramp,

“Lord, will you be there this fine day,
hiding within one of your children,
often one who is overlooked, or looked down upon?”

As I was moving towards the stop sign,
I saw something I never saw before in that place,
so far from the city.

A man was there in a wheelchair,
around 60 I would think,
he had no legs, both cut off at the knee,
he was just sitting there, waiting, hoping.

I was next to him and stopped for the light,
rolled down my window and gave him a little extra,
he cried when he saw what I gave him
(which was not much just a little more than usual)

I was sort of shocked to see him there,
and I asked him if he had a place to live,
he said yes…..I believed him.

I only had a short time and the light changed,
and I left, but he still remains with me.

We all carry more than we think,
no event is forgotten, no human being met
can be unconnected with.

The weight can be heavy, for some too heavy,
to see so much suffering everywhere
and not feel its pull,
nor the helpless emotions that come with that,
then some anger that can go nowhere,
so all that can be done is perhaps one act of kindness,
or for some, they come into our lives
and we know that we must help them
for the long haul.

Lord, help me not to be afraid of the pain that flows up,
nor the understanding that sometimes I am powerless
to save, or change anyone, yet I can do what I can,
and not label, nor pity, nor kill, my own humanity
to escape such a dilemma.—Br.MD 

 

markdohle

Be aware!

 

 

 

 

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Be aware!
(Br. Cassian)

Chapter talk I gave on   2/24/19

 

Bernard had it in his heart the need to be constant in following his vocation, so that he constantly said in his heart, and even often on his lips, “Bernard, Bernard.  What have you come for? “William of St. Thierry

 

Over the years, retreat masters, abbots, and those who I went to for spiritual-direction, would often bring up this question:  “What have you come for.”  This quote has been used so often that it can become a mere cliché, yet, clichés are often used because they do in fact carry a deep truth. 

Over the years, that question takes on more urgency for me.  People will often ask me what I do here, so I tell them, about being ‘guest-master’, or in the past, that I worked in our infirmary, or even earlier on, the bakery.  Our jobs can take up a great deal of our time, but I did not come here for any of the above reasons. 

I can say to people that I came here to lead a life of prayer, yet it can roll off of my lips all too easily.  Living it is another questions. For me at least, it has been a slow journey to gradually being brought to my true-north, though I am not quite there yet. 

The time we spend with another person, or at some tasks, often flows from the love we have for our friends, as well as the tasks we give ourselves to.  The fruit of our giving ourselves to others, or to service of the community can bring positive results that are experienced on a daily basis.  Hence, you could say, although good, they can also be a hindrance.  For our relationship with God, and our prayer life, are often rooted in a life of discipline. 

There have been periods in my monastic life that this ‘fear of nothingness’ grabbed me by the neck and shook me violently.  I felt bereft, empty, abandoned by God, yet by God’s gentle grace I was slowly brought back to begin again, my calling.  The times of wandering blind in the desert is also an important aspect of the journey towards God.  The deeper we enter into our journey the joys we once experienced seeking escape, will become empty, nothing.  So peace can only be found by taking root in our relationship with Christ Jesus.  All else fades away and dies. 

Love is proven over time.  With friends, because relationships grow through crisis, since in order for people to grow closer, a purification has to take place. So our relationship with God is really not that different….we are called to become other orientated.   People who are truly self-centered are incapable of deep friendship, since it entails sacrifice, and at times pain.

You could say that in living out our relationship with God, our spiritual lives follow the same path as our human relationships, but on a deeper level.  We are often coaxed along early on in our journey towards God, but just like the people of Israel, we are led into the desert.   It can be a long journey, or a short one, it depends on our response to grace, our trust in God’s love for us, and a holy stubbornness that will not allow despair to take root.  There are other factors of course.  Our past has a profound effect on us, which needs to be healed, often through our deep suffering.  It often takes a long time for inner healing to take place, as well as growth in freedom, a freedom that does not fear the pain involved in all healing. 

I have found that the more I move away from ‘the reason why I came’, the more I suffer without joy or hope.  When I get off the path, I wander like demons do in vast arid places looking for something to quench my thirst.  The living water flows upward from the depths of our souls when we deepen our love and trust in the Infinite revealed to us as ‘Agape’. 

One reason I do not mind aging, is that the question (What am I here for?) becomes more central to my life.  At 70, with the knowledge of how fast time goes by, and with the loss of three siblings in the past few years, drives home the reality of how short and precious our lives are.  If the reason for our being here is lost, I do believe that it is a great tragedy both for the individual as well as for the community.   

Each of us has a few friends who know of our struggles, so some of you know how slow the journey has been for me, and for what reasons.  It has taken me many years to come to the understanding that I don’t have to understand ‘why’ I am the way I am.  However, I am called to live through it every day in a deepening love and trust in God.  I went on retreat to try to face one of my greatest obstacles to my monastic life.  It is my fear of ‘nothingness’. The experience that one is living in a void, a numb place.  It is there to protect me from the inner journey towards a deeper trust and love of God. For my ego will cling to what is known, no matter how painful, or self-destructive, it can be.  When it hits, I am often helpless.  Yet over time, slowly, with God’s grace, this is lessening.  So on retreat, by myself this month, in a quiet, large house, I had to deal with that without seeking distraction.  It was fruitful, but also difficult.  For a few days before my retreat was to start, I felt some anxiety about going, and there was a fear of failure…..yet failure is also part of the journey. 

So hopefully, for the last 15 or 20 years of my life, I may commence on a true beginning, seeking to live out the question:  “What am I here for”.   Or as Br. Cassian said, “Be aware”. –Br.Md

 

markdohle

Walking on the waves

 

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Walking on the waves

 

Oh Lord,
I dive into mercy,
my sins, wounds, and raging emotions
burned away by your loving gaze.

I look to you, Lord,
walking on the water
in my inner storm,
I look to you upon the waves
taking one step at a time,

And when I forget and wander,

Or allow fear to wound me yet again,
so I begin to sink beneath the waves,
it is then that you reach out and bring me up,
embracing me in my messiness,
loving me into beginning again…

How loving you are towards all.—MD

 

 

 

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markdohle

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A place of beautiful, wounded, raw humanity

I feel at home at the veteran’s hospital in Atlanta,
a place for men and women who have seen much,
who carry their burdens for all to see,
not in shame, but just their lives.

Many are old like me, some very young,
so much for war and its fruits,
wounded men and women, many adrift,
they wear their hats stating which service they served in,
with pride, not shame, even if bitter and angry
over how their lives turned out.

The hallways are full of this teeming slice of humanity,
and I am one of them, I look the part,
with my long white (sort of) beard,
a bit overweight, and perhaps look broken as well.

I love the chapel there, while sitting,
people come in, and out, to pray,
or weep, Muslims as well,
I love to watch them pray to Allah,
which means God….we are one in God,
man makes the division as we do in the world,
wars, and borders, and hatred,

It is an addiction I believe, our going to war,
 
“my God is bigger and truer than your God”

God weeps, I have no doubt.

I was sitting having coffee one morning,
my brother in for an appointment,
so just waiting, sitting, and writing,
next to me were four men sitting talking, very loud,
three older men, one very young man,
they were trying to help him get used to the VA,
they joked with him, he would laugh,
nervous, but thankful for the attention,
I found it touching, but not uncommon,
that such a simple kindness was being shown.

It is not easy at the VA, lots of people,
many suffering from PTSD, hard to deal with,
but those who work there are kind to them,
I have seen it many times,

Those who work there, I believe have a calling,
they make it easier for everyone because of their
patience and tolerance.

However, in the main cafeteria the coffee sucks,
it is like water, luckily they have a Starbucks there,
who wants weak coffee!!!!

Not me, nope, like it bitter and strong, like to have my head
spin a bit--BrMD
 

markdohle

Blessed are the merciful

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Blessed are the merciful,
for they shall obtain mercy.

 

The Beatitude I want to speak on is the one that speaks of mercy.   Or about the merciful. 
However, I want to start off with this quote from Matt:  7:1-5

Judging Others

7 “Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. Why do you see the speck that is in your brother's eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother's eye.

I would say the being ‘blind’, “spiritually blind”, is a difficult obstacle to overcome.  It is based on the fact that most of the time, I would say, that the default mode of thinking is based on self-centeredness.  Which is understandable.  Each of us here experiences themselves as being center stage, the rest orbiting around at a distance, some at a great distance. . Some closer, others further away.  Again those closest to us may be in that exalted position for many reasons.  We simply like them, or they think the way we do, so we feel comfortable around them, and are not challenged.  Of course, I am speaking more for myself than for anyone else, so if this shoe does not fit you…..well never-mind.

If this self-centered way of living is not dealt with, if the illusion is not seen for what it is, then life can become quite interesting.  People are mirrors that reflect back on us.  For we, for the most part, can only weigh in on others by something that is within us as well.  What we see and judge in others can lead to rejection, even hatred.  Judgment can be weighted out from a safe distance…….the one judging is exempt. 

I have fallen into this way of thinking more often than I would like to say, and when I do, any concept of mercy is forgotten.  For in order to show mercy, there has to be some depth of self-understanding or self-knowledge.  Yes, I am judging myself, just don’t know it. 

One way to see this more easily is to take the beatitude “Blessed are the Merciful” and to try to live it, say, for a week, to keep mercy at the forefront of one’s mind.  To become mindful, or aware.  This will create some deep inner tension for some, for others, it may lead to a great deal of conflict.  To decide to live out a beatitude forces self-knowledge to develop. 

As people are encountered, we may become aware of how often we do make judgments about those in our lives, that in reality say more about us than about them. 

When Jesus talks about taking out the log in one’s eye, he is talking about finding a new way to experience life, to change one’s vision, to go deeper in, and see how we all are in need of mercy.  So, yes, we are called upon to understand our own need of mercy, a gift that God bestows on us because he can truly see who we are, without any obstacles. 

If we do not have the humility to deepen our self-knowledge, then the darkness will grow, and we will find ourselves at odds with more people.  We need others to carry our own dark shadow so that we do not have to deal with it.

When we truly become merciful, we no longer have the luxury to label, judge, and lessen, or even destroy the humanity of another (in our own mind) so that we do not have to deal with their raw humanity.  Being merciful towards others, in actuality, leads us to face our own need for mercy and healing.  We no longer need to judge or to gossip about others so that we come out looking good.  We slowly become aware of our own deep unconscious, and from that, from the struggle that flows from that experience, leads to understanding and compassion for our brothers and sisters. 

Jesus was merciful because he truly ‘saw’ those around him.  They did not need to carry anything for him, he saw truly.  We are called to see truly as well and in that, we find healing for ourselves, as well as for those we come in contact with and even more deeply, with our family and friends. 

To allow our own hearts and souls to be healed so that we can live out the beatitudes in our lives, will truly make us the salt of the earth.   It is a struggle, this death to self, with many failures, but when we fail, it only deepens our self-knowledge and our understanding of our need for mercy, which allows us to pass it on.—Br.MD

markdohle

My brothers and sisters

 

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My brothers and sisters

Oh Lord, I pray for those like me,
whose inner life is chaotic,
filled with images of conflict and strife,
yet who seek to love in spite of this inner war.

My community is with the broken,
not among the strong and virtuous,
for gifts are just that,
a given….grace to share with others,

perhaps my wounds and struggles,
for me and as well as for all of us
are for others as well,
for Lord, it is our wounds you carry,
our burdens you embrace,
should we not do the same for others as well.

Col 1:24 who now rejoice in my sufferings for you and fill up those things that are wanting
of the sufferings of Christ, in my flesh, for his body, which is the church:

markdohle

The inner life

 

 

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The inner life


When thinking about the inner life, the vibrant pulsating world that we all have that is hidden from others, the picture that comes to mind is one of a very large jigsaw puzzle with all the pieces scattered around, and the main focus of that inner world is to try to put the pieces back together again.

Fragmentation is a good word to use, when thinking about this reality, different aspects of the inner man, some parts at war with others, some aspects desiring death, and others life. This can cause the experience to arise where each person can become an enigma to themselves, and this is what jump starts the journey for many, the simple trying to understand what this inner complexity points towards.—Br.MD

markdohle

Expansion of Heart

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Expansion of Heart

February 25, 2019 Monthly Message to Marija: Dear children! Today, I am calling you to a new life.
It is not important how old you are, open your heart to Jesus who will transform you in this time of
grace
and,
like nature, you will be born into a new life in God’s love, and you will open your heart to Heaven and the things of Heaven.
I am still with you, because God permitted me out of love for you. Thank you for having responded to my call.”

Before God, the Eternal, we are all very, very, young.  We are at the beginning of an eternal journey into the Heart of God.  So each moment is a time of new beginnings, a time to grow in trust, and a letting go of servile fear.  Today, today, respond to God’s Infinite Love.  Today, begin to love those around you.  Today learn to love yourself, so that you may love others, truly.  Judging others is a waste of time, and it wounds the soul, injecting the heart with bitterness, and contempt, for others. 

We are called to love and forgive, our enemies for a reason, we are all in need of mercy.  We see in others what we are blind to in ourselves, and in that, we judge ourselves harshly with our words….to know oneself, and one’s need for mercy, allows us to see others with a merciful heart, for we are all brothers and sisters, children of one ABBA.

We can stay enclosed in our fearful, finite heart, or we can open up our hearts to eternal expansion, diving deeper into the mystery of the Infinite, shown to us by Jesus, as ABBA. –Br.MD

markdohle

Our greatest prison

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Our greatest prison

Alfredo Bencomo, is a family brother here at the Monastery.  He has a prison ministry, he goes in and gives talks in the local jail once a week.  He wanted me to write something for the prisoners to read, about not coming back after they are released.  He tells them, “Returning to prison is not an option”.  He seems to have a real gift with prisoners, they respond to him.  The fact that he looks like a bouncer has nothing to do with it ( I think).  Here is the piece I wrote for him--Br. Mark

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It is normal for most people to feel closed in by life.  This can happen for many reasons.  It is prison-like and can deplete the one experiencing it of hope, joy, and even love.  It can isolate.  Sometimes, this sense of being locked up can be traced back to oneself, not always, but sometimes.  The only way to find out how one is causing some of their serious troubles is to take stock of oneself, which is not always easy.  We all have blind spots in our souls, which are obvious to others, but hidden so deeply, that the one carrying them simply can’t see.  However, suffering can be a wakeup call that can help the one suffering to seek deeper understanding. 

Being in an actual prison, I have no doubt, is very intense, since one is with many others with deep issues that put them there in the first place.  So prisons are places where the worst possible scenarios can be played out.  Violence, sexual assault, drugs, and murder, are not unusual in many prisons.  An endless cycle of suffering, blaming and striking out.  

From my experience in writing prisoners, there are quite a few who do take responsibility for the reasons they are incarcerated and are doing something about it,  In order that they will not go out, and then repeat the same mistakes and wind up where they started.  Even those who are in for life, who seek change, live better lives and are respected by many who are there. 

Humility is a necessary component for growth since humility is open to learning about one’s soul, its wounds, need for grace, and seeks to make amends if possible.  So cycles can be broken.  In prison, paradoxically, one can find inner freedom that was unknown while out in the so-called ‘real-world’. 

The default position for mankind is to consider oneself the center of the universe.  The more that is believed the more difficult life is and as the list of enemies grows so does the chance of having a violent end.  When there is an awakening when it is understood that one has a soul and that they are children of God, the default position of self-centerless can change to other-centerless towards God.  This allows the life of God to grow, and in that reality, there is healing, and one is no longer the center of the universe, or less so.  Self-knowledge also leads to compassion for others, since we can’t put on others our own hidden faults and yes, evil tendencies.  We learn to actually see others on ever deeper levels, a lifetime journey.

So being in an actual prison can save one’s life and yes one’s immortal soul.  It can be a grace from God, a wake-up call to conversion.  If one is a Christian it can lead to a deeper relationship with Christ Jesus, who reveals God’s love as “Agape”, a love like no other.  Infinite, always yes, a love that pursues each human being, because each is precious to our loving God.

Those of other religions also grow towards God as revealed to them by their traditions.   It is also a good time to learn from others who believe differently, to see how grace works in their lives, and even pray with them.  There is one God, who is well beyond any ideas we may have of the nature of the Infinite One.  Yet in the Christian faith, is also revealed as Father.

In prison, each day can be a day where greater inner freedom is achieved.  There are many choices that have to be made, either towards becoming more loving or to move towards self-centeredness that is destructive.—Br.MD