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talking to myself

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markdohle

What we long for, we also fear

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What we long for, we also fear

I live in the Sacrament of My love as I live in heaven, in a ceaseless state of intercession for all who believe in Me and come to Me with the weight of life’s burdens and sorrows. There is nothing that I will not do for the soul who approaches Me with confidence.

A Benedictine Monk. In Sinu Jesu: When Heart Speaks to Heart--
The Journal of a Priest at Prayer (Kindle Locations 3959-3961). Angelico Press. Kindle Edition.

In a truly loving relationship, be it in marriage, or between friends, it is enriched when one is open and honest about his or her life’s journey, struggles, hopes, and failures.  In doing so, the receiver is encouraged to respond also in trust and intimacy.  This cannot be done unless vulnerability and what that means is embraced.  Relationships cannot grow if this depth of openness is lacking.  There are many levels in relationships.  People can have a deep affection for another, but still not have a friendship of any real depth. Which is also something good in itself.  Close acquaintances can also draw us outside of ourselves, and teach us to love, and trust, even if it is not as deep as it is with friendship.   Real friendship is rare, and is probably one of the greatest gifts in this life.  Yet it is not always easy to make that step. 

Christ Jesus, is open, and honest, with mankind, in his desire to bring us to the Father, and to have a loving, trusting, relationship, with us.  He tells us not to fear.  Yet when reading the New Testament, this reality is often forgotten, overlooked, or downplayed because it is very difficult to understand such a love….even though I believe it is the deepest longing of the human heart. 

Sin is an act of self-destruction, of becoming isolated, trapped, chained, and locked away in a self-imposed prison.  This can be seen in the more obvious forms of addiction.  It is ‘sin’ because it is an attempt to escape from life, but what one gets is only deeper pain and suffering.  Hatred and contempt of others is often an attempt to not see the ‘enemies’ humanity, for when we actually see those around us as truly human, with deep interiors lives, many find it hard to actually box them in.  Jesus could love all, because he saw deeply into others, and because of his deep empathy, probably suffered greatly for that…..yet he did seek to escape the reality of the hidden interiority of all that he met. 

We are also sinned against.  We can be chained by the wounds that we received from our parents, siblings, and friends, and yes enemies, that makes it very hard to believe in any kind of mercy, kindness, in our fellow human beings, or in fact that trust is even possible……sin brings forth bitter fruit.

Fear protects us, but we outgrow the need of fear, but often do not know it.  The deep desire to be loved, is also the desire to be ‘seen’ in our totality, and loved, because the One who gazes on our soul knows and understands everything. There is no prerequisite to explain, but there is a need to have an open heart.  Sometimes we can’t explain the ‘whys’ in our life, but we can expose our hearts in a trust, and let the light in so as to see everything.  It is there already, the illumination, but unless we trust, we can be blind to that reality.

Humans understand punishment, judgment, rage, and rejection, all too well.  So when we think of God, we want something we understand. So God becomes like us, just bigger, meaner, crueler, and unforgiving.  Better to worship Zeus in a rage (this we can understand) than a God of Love, which is way beyond our comprehension.  For love can’t be controlled, it is like a raging river seeking entrance into our hearts, seeking to wash away all that impedes that love. 

If only many Christians would stop being so violently judgmental, something we are told not to do, perhaps then our faith would not be so hated and reviled.  Jesus calls us all to conversion, to turn away from a life that only leads to eternal isolation from all that we truly long for.  When we judge in a way that Jesus told us not to, it only pushes people further away.

I am grateful that God’s grace is always at work, and so even though we may fail in many ways, we still pray for all.  In saying the Our Father, slowly, with attention, we can come to the realization that we are in fact praying for everyone, not just those whom we think are like us, or believe like us, but truly everyone.  In that, many deep wounds are healed, for mercy goes both ways.  In forgiving, we are forgiven.  In showing compassion, we also experience compassion flowing back to us.—Br.MD 


 

markdohle

Being conned, what to do?

 

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Being conned, what to do?

October 4—“Above all, confidence! When you have an anxiety and you can do nothing about it, just think, ‘He will straighten that out for me’—and go back into the peace within Me.”

 

Bossis, Gabrielle. He and I (Kindle Locations 630-632).
Pauline Books and Media. Kindle Edition.

 

 

I received a letter from one of the prisoners that I am corresponding with.  I will call him Jason.  He is 55 years old, and in jail for three different felonies.  Parole violation, possession of narcotics, as well as having a concealed weapon, and he was also under the influence of alcohol.  At this time he is in a program, in jail, trying to help him deal with his two addictions.  He is part of the opioid epidemic and where I live, we are now in an area rife with drug problems. 

I first meet Jason on the afternoon of Fr. Anthony’s funeral.  I was walking out by the front entrance of our retreat house when he drove up and started talking to me.  He told me that he knew Fr. Anthony, and that he helped him out quite a bit.  I took the bait and asked him how.  He said that Fr. Anthony would give him gas money, to be able to get to the pain clinic that he went too.  He told me that he had serious back pain.  So I helped him out with gas money.  After that, he started dropping in unexpected wanting more money for different needs.  I guess I helped him out three times before I begin to see that he was a con artist and simply lying to me.  I have come to the conclusion that he did not know Fr. Anthony, but saw the time of the funeral in the local newspaper. 

So on one occasion he came out and wanted to talk.  I told him that I could no longer help him with any money.  This did not deter him.  He told me that he simply wanted to talk and pray with me.  He also said that the other times he came out.  So went into the room used for that purpose.   He started talking, and after about 15 minutes he stating relating to me how he needed someone to help him with his phone, it was disconnected.  I did not respond, so he talked about something else, then asked if I knew anyone who could help him.  So I responded that I could not help him with the phone and I needed to do some work, and ended the conversation.  So he left.  I guess he came out a couple of more times, just dropping in, saying he wanted to talk and pray….but it was a ploy to try to get money out of me.  So I finally told him not to come back, not to call, that I could not help him anymore.

About three months later I got a letter from him.  He was in prison.  He did not tell me all of the charges, I found the reasons for his arrest, on the internet database for prisoners.  He told me that they were going to send him to a rehab facility.   He wanted my phone number, so he could call me.  So when I sent him my first letter, I let him know that if he wanted to write me, I was fine with that, but I would not send him my phone number. 

He then wanted me to come to his graduation and drive him home when he was released.  Yet he has no home.  So I had to write back and tell him that I could not do that, he needed family and friends to be there for him.  I also told him that he could not stay in our retreat house until he got his addiction problems under control.  I have learned that I can’t let people who are in Jason’s condition into the retreat house, they try to con people out of money, and will steal if they can.  One couple, that I made the mistake of letting them stay here for a few days, caused a lot of chaos, they were stealing everything in sight.  After I called the police, they went to jail for a while because of their stealing from the other guest.  It only happened once, but that is enough. So in his last letter, he started pushing hard to come and stay in our retreat house.  After I told him in three previous letters that that was impossible.  I tried to be gentle in my earlier letters, about how he could not stay here, nor could he depend on me to help him anymore. 

So in my last letter, I was not harsh, but I guess you could say I was hard.  I did not know what else to do, since he was pushing me, trying to manipulate me into allowing him to come and live at our retreat house.  Since he had no car, nor driver’s license, from my past experience with him, he would expect me to drive him everywhere, perhaps even to his meetings.  He will have to go to 90 meetings in 90 days. 

I started the letter off with this statement:

 

“Jason, it will be to your benefit to not look upon the Monastery as a place to come at this time.  I know you are trying, but again, at this time of your life, the last thing you need is a place that is quiet, without any distractions.  Connect with the AA community, do the program, and stop trying to find people who will take care of you.  Don’t forget, your whole relationship with the Monastery was a place to come out and get money.  I know now, that you probably used the money for drugs etc.  In the past I allowed two people to stay here who had your problems.  I regretted it.  They stole from us and tried to con people out of money.  I had to call the police and both of them went to prison for the thefts.  So, yes, I do not trust you enough to allow you to stay in our retreat house.  I think you need to understand that if you are having trouble finding people to help you, you need to ask yourself…why”
 

For some reason, I wanted him to understand why I could not let him stay.  When he writes, he does not seem to consider that his lying has any repercussion on his life or relationships.  He seems shocked when I simply will not do what he wants, or give him what he needs. 

I knew from my past experiences with him, and how he responded to my earlier letters, that he would not really take what I wrote seriously.  So I added another paragraph to impart to him how serious I am:

 

 

“So please, when you get out, do not come back to the retreat house.  If you do, I will call the police and have you taken off of our property, which is private property. I know this sounds extreme, but like I said, I can only help so many people, so many times, and you are way beyond the limit.  If you wish to simply come out to the grounds to pray, that is ok.  However, if I get any complaints that you are bothering people, I will again, call
the police, and have you removed.  ”.

 

I really hated writing that, but if I did not, he would still believe that he could simply come out and try to wear me down.  Believe it or not, I am concerned for him, but really can’t do much, but speak the truth as I see it.  Even if he does not take any of it too heart.

I do think in life there are situations that are in reality impossible.  All I can do is to work on having healthy boundaries.   I am still learning how to deal with these situations, and I know I do make mistakes in both directions.  I am not really sure I made the right choice here, but I have found that ‘gut’ is usually on target, more than the heart is.  I do believe that there is hope for him and that my continuing to let him manipulate me, would, in the long run, be more harmful to him.  In the short run I can help someone once or twice, but after that, I simply tell them that we are not an agency.  There are of course a couple of exceptions.  For I do believe that most people have those that they help over a long period of time because they feel that they simply should.  So my gut tells me that as well.  These people do not take advantage, but allow me to help in my own small ways.  That is the difference. 

My heart gets heavy, and at times anxious, over these matters and I try to not allow bitterness to rise up.  Even those who con, and lie, are seeking to get by, but are doing it in a self-destructive way.  They often end up alone, the position Jason is finding himself in.  He has used up his friends, and his family keeps him at a distance.  Yes, it is sad, but I have learned that I can’t change anyone, nor can I live their life for them, nor become their caregiver.  If I tried, I would burn out, become angry and bitter, and end up not being able to help anyone.  One day, I will no longer be guest-master here.  I will simply be a monk in the Monastery with other duties, and be free of this balancing act.—Br.MD

 

 

 





 

 

markdohle

When life feels cold and dark

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When life feels cold and dark and I am naked and shivering within
(When I am afraid, I put my trust in you)---Psalm


Sometimes I feel fear.  It is when I become strongly aware of the suffering that goes on around me.  On how common it is to have sick friends, people I love who are dying and my own aging as well.  It is as if everything I tell myself about my faith and hope drops away and I am left shivering in a cold dark place.  I do not like it ‘here’, but I also know that it is just like every ‘place’ my inner- self -finds itself at.  It says nothing about the truth of my faith, for if God’s ‘Yes’ in Jesus is true then there is nothing that can separate me from the love of Christ Jesus.  All inner states pass.  The warm ones, the happy ones, the sad and horrible ones and the ones that can show me how much of life is ‘cold’ and ‘dark’.  Yet it passes like a storm on the sea….it is when I forget that I can flounder.  When I remember the love and mercy of the Lord, I get out of the boat and walk towards Jesus Christ who beckons me not to fear.  He has overcome the world, the flesh and the devil…..in Him is my trust and hope and my fear drops away, or if not, I do not ‘fear’ my fear.--Br.MD
 

markdohle

When life feels cold and dark

When life feels cold and dark and I am naked and shivering within

(When I am afraid, I put my trust in you)---Psalm 56:3

Sometimes I feel fear.  It is when I become strongly aware of the suffering that goes on around me.  On how common it is to have sick friends, people I love who are dying and my own aging as well.  It is as if everything I tell myself about my faith and hope drops away and I am left shivering in a cold dark place.  I do not like it ‘here’, but I also know that it is just like every ‘place’ my inner- self -finds itself at.  It says nothing about the truth of my faith, for if God’s ‘Yes’ in Jesus is true then there is nothing that can separate me from the love of Christ Jesus.  All inner states pass.  The warm ones, the happy ones, the sad and horrible ones and the ones that can show me how much of life is ‘cold’ and ‘dark’.  Yet it passes like a storm on the sea….it is when I forget that I can flounder.  When I remember the love and mercy of the Lord, I get out of the boat and walk towards Jesus Christ who beckons me not to fear.  He has overcome the world, the flesh and the devil…..in Him is my trust and hope and my fear drops away, or if not, I do not ‘fear’ my fear.

 

markdohle
 
 

Grace, is in reality, God-seeking each of us in our lives
 
I remain unknown. I am left alone. Even those who claim to profess the mystery of My real presence in the Sacrament of the Altar forsake Me. I am treated with a terrible indifference, with coldness, and with a lack of respect that causes the angels to weep because they cannot offer Me reparation for the coldness and indifference of human hearts.1 Only men can make reparation for men.2 What is lacking is the loving response of a human heart to My Eucharistic Heart, pierced, alive, and beating in the Sacrament of the Altar. Only a human heart can make reparation for a human heart. For this reason, the angels are sorrowful. The adoration and the praise they offer Me is angelic.
 
A Benedictine Monk. In Sinu Jesu:
When Heart Speaks to Heart--The Journal of a Priest at Prayer
(Kindle Locations 3901-3906). Angelico Press. Kindle Edition.
 
 
Religious traditions are important.  It is often the case that people do not understand the richness they are missing when they do not seek to understand deeply their faith tradition.  There is a lack of focus and practicing one’s religion can be something that is done only on Sundays, births, marriages, and of course death/funerals.  The Eucharist is an important part of the Catholic faith, a central actuality, because of the Eucharistic celebration.  When a Catholic fails to grow in love and appreciation of the Eucharist, the rest of the faith can become irrelevant to them.  For we are called to a deeply loving relationship with the transcendent, to miss that suffocates the soul, leaving it listless when it comes to the inner spiritual life. 

I believe we are created for a deep loving relationship with God.  Not for God’s sake, but for ours.  We are essentially emptiness without God,  and we seek to fill the inner void with ‘things’, beautiful, and good, in themselves, but they cannot fill the deep desire to be seen, loved, embraced, and even sought after.  Once we own something, we no longer desire it.  God, cannot be owned, but sought after and loved.  The more we love God, the more we seek to love more. 

Grace, is in reality, God-seeking each of us in our lives, no matter in what state we find ourselves.  For many, this understanding about God, as revealed in Christ Jesus, can lead to discomfort.  For we know, even if on an unconscious level, that the love of God demands everything, because that is the only love that will heal us, bring us home, to be one with our true nature.  We are ‘seeds’ of God, his beloved children, as hard as that is for me to comprehend and at times believe…..doubt is always a companion, a friend, a prod, pushing me deeper into trust. 

In our connection with others, when we seek a loving relationship with God, we also bring others with us.  We are called to be servants, as Jesus was a servant, we are called to love, to lift up in prayer, and to always speak the truth in gentleness and respect for the dignity of each human being.—Br.MD
 
markdohle

"When we have nothing left but God, we discover that God is enough.

"A few years I saw a picture online of a man standing on a dock looking down at the water and the caption said:  'when we have nothing left but God, we discover that God is enough'.  In my own life, I have found that statement and the things you said here to be quite true.  It seems to me as if we have to get to that point, as God waits patiently for us...and we journey to the very edge and that is where God reveals Himself to us.  I suppose this is because we must experience absence before we can know what it is to be filled".--Marcus Aurelius A blogger on UM 
 
For many people, faith is an enigma to them.  They want proof of God before they will even consider having a relationship with the reality, of the Infinite, being personal, loving, and there, for them.  Of course, it can be asked, and is, how it would it be possible to prove that God exists.  A person who does not believe in God does live in a Godless Universe.  Just as a man or woman who does not believe that love is possible, or trust, will live in a world loveless and untrustworthy. Though on the internet, there are stories, which are shared by ex-atheists, who found out that God does exist when they found themselves at the end of the dock, looking into the dark waters of oblivion.  Then, they begin to see life a little differently….proof, well, yes, for them.  It is very hard to take seriously the experiences of those who have a different worldview.  Unless it happens to us. 

As a Christian, I would say that most of the time, the inner life, one that is based on seeking union, is usually not filled with wonders, but a day by day seeking another way, the way that Jesus taught.  To love oneself, which is not easy by any means.  The inner life leads to a deepening vision of what lies beneath.  In order to love all aspects of oneself, which at least for me, takes a true death to my reactions, which can be ugly.  As I age, my trust in the Lord deepens, because I have had experiences, unexpected, but given to me, when most needed.  They are always unexpected, sudden, and can be life-changing.  Not as dramatic as an NDE for instance, yet for a second, a door opens up, and I experience something beyond thought. 

I have spoken to many people, those who suffer greatly, yet keep the faith.  They are not, armchair philosophers, but those who live from the reality of their faith in God, no matter their religion.  They have made the hard choice, after much disappointment and suffering, to continue, to trust, in God.  if God is for us, who can be against us?  Yet, that is not proof, I have to accept it as a grace or not.  I am free, we all are on a certain level. 

It is hard to see the suffering in the world, and there are no comforting words in dealing with it.  Yet, when looking at the life of Christ, he suffered deeply.  One reason he suffered is that he did not shut down, he could not, his nature is Infinite Love.  Love, even human love, parental love, if truly loving, cannot protect itself from the cruelty of their children.  There is a limit of course.   However, with God, there is no limit.  God bears all pain, suffers all loss, and yet he does not turn away.  We turn away, freely, though only God knows when that happens.—Br.MD

 
 
markdohle
 

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

markdohle



What is the present moment?

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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








 


 

 
markdohle

 

Your longing to love—this is love

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

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



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

markdohle


Pray in trust

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


 

 
markdohle
 
 

 
Intolerable Human Situations
(What to say, what to do?)
Give Me the full attention of your heart—the ear of your heart—and I will speak to you.1 I will show you the way in which you are to walk and I will give you My light about the things that weigh upon you, or sadden you, or perplex you.2 Bring everything to Me and I will give you in exchange My grace and My love. It is fear more than anything else that prevents you from coming into My presence with confidence, with hope, and with a quiet heart. With Me and from Me you have nothing to fear. ---Thursday, January 8, 2009
A Benedictine Monk. In Sinu Jesu: When Heart Speaks to Heart
--The Journal of a Priest at Prayer (Kindle Location 1893). Angelico Press. Kindle Edition.
 
A good friend called me up the other day.  He just got word that a beloved friend’s son had committed suicide.  Sad to say, not an uncommon event in our world.  He was torn up by this and did not know what to say to his friend when he will talk to him.  It is a human situation that seems impossible, intolerable, with no answer on how to deal with it. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

….I abhor sin and its ravages in My creatures. Sin given to Me ceases to exist; it is forever
lost in the infinite ocean of My mercy, but sin clung to and held close to oneself
becomes a poison, a cancer that spreads, destroying the spiritual
organism that I designed for holiness and for eternal beatitude.
 
A Benedictine Monk. In Sinu Jesu: When Heart Speaks to Heart
--The Journal of a Priest at Prayer). Angelico Press. Kindle Edition.

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

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

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

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


markdohle
 

You will become both Light, and Fire
When you come to adoration, hold yourself before My Eucharistic Face like a mirror before
the sun.  Thus will you capture the radiance, of my Countenance and the fire
that blazes in My Heart; thus will you become both light and fire for
souls plunged into darkness and hearts grown cold. 
--In Sinu Jesu (When Heart Speaks to Heart). 
No matter what religion one follows, or what spiritual path traveled upon, if it is not done in a mindful manner, it can become ‘dead’, lifeless, a shell, without any life.  For Catholics, the Eucharist is central to our faith.  For in the Eucharist, Jesus is still among us in a powerful sacramental way.  How mindful a Catholic is when he receives the Eucharist at Mass, or in times of simply being in the presence of the Sacrament, will dictate how the grace of the sacrament, will deepen ones faith in God, and love, of others. 

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

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

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

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

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

At Mass, Catholic’s unite themselves to the moment when Christ, instituted the Sacrament.  It is a moment that stretches out both forward in time, as well as incorporating the past.  Christ becomes present in a very special manner in the priest, when he says the words of consecration, and all Christians partake of that to the level that they open up their hearts, and deepen their understanding of what is happening.  We are all called to minister to all, and as well, to allow others to minister to us. 
We are called to think before reacting.  To interact with others. To listen, encourage, love and respect all whom we meet.  When fear, and anger, control what is happening between peoples, there is no listening, but only prejudices, stereotyping, and the destruction of the humanity of the supposed enemy. 

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

 
 
markdohle
 

Anticipation and joy
 
When I was in boot camp in 1967, (I was in the Navy for four years)…I felt locked up there, and when I looked out at the people driving along the freeway, I thought how wonderful their lives must be, how free and in my mind’s eye, how easy.  It was because I was in a very stressful place.  I was 18 and it was the first time I was away from family.  I did my boot camp in San Diego.  It got better after a few weeks, but I never lost that moment of looking out at all the ‘free’ people. –Br.MD
 
The above quote brings to light a powerful moment in my life.  At the time, over 50 years ago, that desire to be free and away from the present circumstance, was strong.  Though I doubt I had any idea that I would be remembering it when I was 69.  Yet the desire to be as free as the young people, in the convertible, which was racing down the freeway, right outside ‘boot camp’, has never left me.  I can still fill the early morning chill, and my hankering for my old life, which at the time, seemed perfect.  Being home, going to school, delivering papers etc., took on an aura that was not true in any sense, yet alluring.  For while I loved my family, I did not find High School, a place that I desired to be at, when I was attending.  Nor did I love doing the paper route etc.  It was just better than where I was.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 
 
markdohle

 
A man’s journey towards healing and sobriety

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

Before he left he wanted to say one last thing:

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

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





markdohle
 
 
 
 
Of that yes, we must be afraid
“Jesus is the Lord, and before Him physical death is like sleep: there is no reason to despair. A different [thing] is the death to be afraid of: that of the heart hardened by evil! Of that yes, we must be afraid!” the pope said July 1. “It is the death of the heart.”—Pope Francis
There are people who have a strong reaction when it comes to the concept of ‘sin’.   Understandable, because it can be used to instill the wrong kind of guilt.  The concept of sin, in actuality, gives us dignity.  It says that in order to ‘sin’, one has to go against one’s conscience or to be involved in a way of life, or actions, that over time will slowly harden the heart, and lead to a death of inner life.  We become slaves to sin, trapped in cycles of pain and alienation from self, others, and worse, from God.  Yet, only God sees the inner life of each of us, so it is a waste of time judging another human being on this level.  We are commanded not to, because of the self-wounding that comes from this.
What we choose is important, for each choice has an effect on the heart, and soul, of each of us.  To treat another human being hateful is common, yet it is a tragedy for the one who hates…..it poisons the soul to death.
Jesus said that we can judge a tree by its fruit.  I am guessing that he meant that a good tree bears good fruit, a bad tree, rotten fruit, in other words, we are either life-giving, or we take.  A loving heart is not an accident but comes from making many choices to fight against choosing what leads to darkness.  Yet many do not fear this.  It matters not if someone says that they do not believe in sin.  They still choose each day, what road they will travel down.  We are either moving forwards towards the light, God, and as a Christian, I will say Jesus Christ, or by our choices, we will move away from that.  We choose.  We are responsible before God for our lives.
We are called to give our ‘Yes’ to grace, to working against the inertia that wishes to draw us down into bitterness and despair.  It is easy to go this route, because it is based on fear, a desire to close oneself off from others, and it does have bitter fruit.  To work against that bitterness and despair, does truly take a death to self that Jesus talks about.
Jesus came to show us a better way.  He loved, no matter what happened to him.  He did not withdraw back into fear, and bitterness, or, self-pity.  That is something that I fight against, it is a ploy to escape the pain of others, but in the end, only leads to a coldness of heart that is worse.  However, I am called to have an open heart, to say yes to the path of love, and no, to the path of ever-growing self-absorption that leads, or could lead, to permanent isolation.
There is hope for everyone, for God is love, who sees us as we truly are, yet died for us, never letting go of love, defeating the darkness of hatred, despair, bitterness, and self-pity.  So I hope that all will find the inner fire that is God’s love, and reach out, it is never too late……mercy is like that, it is freely given, to all, even if undeserved, otherwise, it would not be a grace.  Mercy is a healing fire, going ever deeper into the soul. A sword that opens up our wounds so that they can be healed, it destroys fear, melts hatred, and only seeks our inner healing.--Br.MD
 
markdohle
 


 
Bringing Christ to others

May 25, 1937—Rennes, in the train. “Why should you create solitude for yourself if I want you before the public? (then tenderly) My beloved little child, take Me, Me to others. Be Christlike.”

Bossis, Gabrielle. He and I (Kindle Locations 354-356).
Pauline Books and Media. Kindle Edition.

About a year ago, a man came to speak to me about some of his struggles.  Which were heavy, and without letup. Yet he still loved those who hurt him, and reached out to his enemies, in a manner that astounded me.  He loved Christ Jesus with his whole heart, and because of that, his heart expanded in its ability to show mercy and to have compassion, on those who had rejected him.  He was not overcome by evil, was not bitter, nor angry, but his inner suffering was truly terrible.  In some ways, he was a revelation of God’s love and presence in all of our lives. 

All the problems of life, no matter how severe, are, sad to say, common, even ordinary.  Such is the world that we live in.  For the one experiencing tragedy, however, it is a unique experience, often hidden from the eyes of others.  Suffering can cause us to withdraw into ourselves, to get away from family, and friends because what we are going through is so raw.  People also shut down when faced with situations that people they know are going through…..they withdraw, leaving the sufferer alone.  This is understandable, for we all have a limit, and often there can be a lack of compassion, or empathy if deep suffering has not yet been experienced.

People can be a bother.  I can be a nuisance for others, as well.   So people will often withdraw into solitude, which is really isolation.  Real solitude is life-giving, isolation can be a sterile experience that can be draining and leads to depression. 

Each religion, or spiritual path, have their own way of dealing with suffering.  All can be helpful, and hopefully, lead to compassion for those around them, who are experiencing suffering in its myriad forms.  So I believe that grace is operative in all religions, and in the lives who have none.....no one owns God, nor grace, nor how God will work in any person’s life. 

In the Christian path, we are called to give our ‘yes’ to life, and what that entails.  Christ suffered greatly in his life, yet he did not give in to bitterness, or cynicism.  He could not afford the luxury of seeking to run from the pain that others were experiencing. Or the pain that flows from empathy, and compassion, because he had the type of love that cast out fear.  He shows us the Father’s love, by loving and healing those around him.  He also spoke the truth, but in ways that are alien to men and women.  He did not preach from anger, but from the point of seeking to open our eyes.  When he spoke in an angry tone, it was to wake up those who were blind to their own inner corruption. and need of healing  He came to save us from ourselves.  The hell that we find when we close ourselves off from others, as well as from God. 

The joy that we feel when helping others, flows from our nature, which is made in the image and likeness of God.  We are called to bring healing and love to all, which is, of course, impossible by ourselves…..yet with, Christ, all things are possible.—Br.MD

markdohle

Becoming Jesus
March 10—Crossing the Saint-Nicolas, Nantes.
“I am no longer on earth, so take My place.”
Bossis, Gabrielle. He and I (Kindle Locations 306-307).
Pauline Books and Media. Kindle Edition.
 
I do believe, that the Lord does speak to us today, through certain men, and women.  These communications are based on the Lord’s desire to draw us deeper into communication with Himself, based on his revelation of the Father to humanity.  For to see Jesus, is to see the Father.  Jesus also said that how you treat others, is crucial, because He identifies with each of us, even those with whom we have little love or liking for, or may even have a deep-seated prejudice.  His union with mankind (with each of us) is total.  Those who take on the name of Christian, are called to incarnate Jesus Christ in their own bodies, or as St. Paul stated:   “It is not I who live, but Christ Jesus, who lives in me”. 

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

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


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

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

I was taken by this statement:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


 

I believe that in each heart, all hearts reside

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

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




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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



markdohle

In our falling and rising, we begin to experience grace
 
Faith in My fatherhood will be the path of healing for many, who, like you, were kept from growing up in freedom and joy beneath the gaze of their father. I want to banish fear from your life. I want you to feel loved and surrounded by My presence as Father—a presence that supports you, that will not hold you back from becoming the man that I have always wanted you to be; a presence that will allow you, in turn, to become a father, a father in My image, a father as My Jesus was fully a father in the midst of His disciples. They discovered My fatherhood in His countenance. 1 They sensed it in drawing close to His Heart, they
 
A Benedictine Monk. In Sinu Jesu: When Heart Speaks to Heart
--The Journal of a Priest at Prayer (Kindle Locations 331-335). Angelico Press. Kindle Edition.
 
The primacy of love is often overlooked.  Many families have situations that are passed on from one generation to the next, were love and tenderness were never part of family life.   If when young, we were never truly loved by our Father, as well as our Mother, this can lead to a life of seeking to find that ‘perfect’ relationship.  However, what happens is that both men, and women, will end up marrying into what they know, relationships that are destructive for both parties. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

 
 
markdohle
 
 

The Lord sees all and understands all
 
Of the sins cast into the fire of My Heart, nothing remains. They are completely annihilated—reduced, not to ashes, but utterly destroyed and forgotten. Love makes Me do this.  When a soul laden with sin, even with sins against My divine Person—blasphemy, sacrilege, and revilement—comes to Me with a repentant and broken heart, My love envelopes that soul and purifies her in My Blood.1 I am the Savior
A Benedictine Monk. In Sinu Jesu: When Heart Speaks to Heart
--The Journal of a Priest at Prayer  Angelico Press
 
People are capable of a deep love for another person.  Parents for their children, friends for each other, and of one’s family.   Sometimes, people, are capable of a love so deep, that mercy, and forgiveness, are extended even without the offender asking.  Of course, the one who offends has to accept this gift, this grace, of reconciliation.  If it is not accepted, then the separation, while one-sided, can’t be breached. 

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

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

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

 
 
markdohle
 
 

 
An expanding awareness of interconnectedness
“Beginning today I entrust you with a particular grace of intercession for the souls I will send to you. You will intercede also for all those whom I shall make you see in your prayer. Pray, pray with confidence and boldness, and I shall answer you each time.”
―  In Sinu Jesu: When Heart Speaks to Heart--The Journal of a Priest at Prayer
 
It is easy to forget as Christians, the need to strengthen our connection with our brothers and sisters.  Not just family, but those outside our circle of family, friends, and country, as well as our political, or religious, preferences.  Without exception, all those that we meet, no matter what it seems like to us, are beloved children of the Father, our Father.  Infinite love knows no boundaries and I believe that it is through prayer when we make a heartfelt connection with God, that our hearts grow in its ability to absorb God’s love, and grace. 

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

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

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

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

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

 
 
markdohle

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Both felt dismayed and left disappointed. -Br.MD