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talking to myself

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markdohle

Noon-day-devil’ could not be run from

 

 

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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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

markdohle

An encounter with the Lord

 

 

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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

markdohle

Jesus and Gospel Women

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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

markdohle

Am I a good person?


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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

markdohle

 
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
markdohle

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 to
the loss of many. They are called
‘salt of the earth people.—Br.MD
markdohle
 
 

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

 
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

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
 
 

 
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
 
 

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
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

 
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
 
 

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
 
markdohle
 
 

 
 
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

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
markdohle

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
  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



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 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 theyenterfor 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
Holy Week for Christians is unique to each


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

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

 



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