Our Disability Our Cross

Christ Jesus calls the disabled to a very important vocation. The Heavenly Father called His own Son to be obedient even to death on a Cross. Our obedience to God our Father is to become obedient to our disability. To embrace our disability unto death and this is our death on our Cross. We can only accomplish this with the gift of grace.

Grace is our energy our power received as gift from the Blessed Trinity. We become co-heirs with Christ Jesus in the healing of humanity by our very existence in the human family. Our yes welcomes us into this spiritual family. Our disability is our Cross. Is death itself our Crucifixion, the very separation of our soul with our broken body. Is the suffering that we endure in our broken body what brings healing to our broken world. I believe it is.

Have a blessed weekend!
Your brother in Christ Jesus,
Mark
Hermits of the Holy Cross

Suffering, An Ingredient in God’s Grace

“It is now the hour for you to wake from sleep, for our salvation is closer than when we first accepted the faith. The night is far spent, the day draws near, so let us cast of deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light.” Romans 13: 11-12

As the Church, a Community of Believers, we have now entered into the Advent Season in our Calendar. The Second Person of the Holy Trinity made a sacrifice by coming to us as a member of the human family

“that we may share in the divinity of Christ, who humbled himself to share in our humanity”

God emptied Himself for all of us that we could share His holiness. God did not have to humble Himself in this way. He could have stayed in His Heaven ordering us all to do this or do that, condemning us for the smallest infraction. Christ, in the depth of His love choose sacrifice, compassion and eternal love for us His children. For those who have raised children, I’m sure you in your compassion and love, you can remember the many times you sacrificed for them. Most parents have desired more for their children than for themselves.

As Hermits of the Holy Cross, our sacrifice to God is our own sufferings that we endure each day because of our physical disabilities. These sufferings can be emotional, psychological, and physical. Society teaches us that our sufferings have no meaning at all and that we should do everything we can to eradicate it. Sufferings are just a nuisance. But we all know through experience we cannot completely eradicate our suffering in our daily lives. Therefore, they cannot be completely removed. But, that’s not to say, that we shouldn’t try to alleviate them. We do try because we want to experience peace in heart and mind. Christ taught us through His own sufferings that they have meaning.

Personally, here’s what I believe, I believe our sufferings, when offered to God through our free will, assist God in the creation of grace. Sounds odd I know. Christ Jesus tells us that we make up what is lacking in the sufferings of Christ. “Now I rejoice in what I am suffering for you, and I fill up in my flesh what is still lacking in regard to Christ’s afflictions, for the sake of his body, which is the Church.” Col 1:24

Through the suffering, and death of Christ upon the Cross he taught us suffering has purpose. God does not waste it, but uses it. Think of grace as spiritual fuel for our daily lives. Plants and trees need rain, our bodies need food, cars need gasoline, many products need electricity. Our spirit too, needs grace to grow closer to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. This Advent and Christmas Season ask God

“to fill you with the knowledge of His will with all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives.” Col: 1:9 Have you ever seen the painting of Christ Jesus knocking upon the door to be welcomed in but there is no door knob on His side of the door. This reminds us that Christ doesn’t barge in but patiently waits for us to open the door to allow Him in. The spiritual life is a give and take between two lovers. Try giving God your sufferings this, the Season of Incarnation, and ask Him to help you to understand why suffering is in our lives. Grace will be there for you. Through our suffering offered to God we participate in the creation of Gods gift, transforming grace.

Have a wonderful Advent and Christmas Season.

You are in our prayers each day. If you would like us to pray for any special intention please email bro.Mark at dextraze13@yahoo.com Its free.

Your brother in Christ Jesus,

Mark

Hermits of the Holy Cross

Loneliness Dissipates

Many in our society today are slowly dying, not from something that’s physically discernible yet it has the energy to cause physical scars. loneliness. We are social beings. We are intended to be social. The majority of us have grown up in a family dynamic. Our first steps are usually taken when we’re with others, like our parents. This was the place we learnt about life and how to treat one another and ourselves. We learned to speak our first words in front of our parents or family. Family was the dynamic we learned to trust, not only ourselves but how to trust others. “Remember that ol’ phrase, “It takes a village to raise a child. It’s so true. Many in other Countries still abide by this saying. But here in the West we’ve left it to the “Nuclear Family”. Some grew up in families that believed we were to move out at 18 and begin a new life with our spouse or ourselves. Family is often experienced only at Thanksgiving and Christmas or on other special occasions. During those times we often just put up with each other until everyone went home. We’d breathe a sigh of relieve.

I had the privilege of growing up with a best friend who was from a Hispanic family. I’d often want to stay with them because their family was like the village I spoke of earlier. There was never a dull moment there. They would share and yell, discuss and accept. Reasons or times to be lonely were often not experienced in this dynamic and I loved it. Don’t get me wrong, for I grew up in a very loving and accepting family. My ma and pop were very good to me, but my brother was four years older than me. I have a dear sister that is one year older than me. We are still very close. But there was something to that village dynamic that always spoke to me. They had no concept of what a nuclear family was. There was never a chance to really experience a feeling of inner loneliness because when one felt down the others surrounded them and just shared their ups and downs with each other. They weren’t afraid to express their inner thoughts or their feelings. They knew how to communicate, but if they didn’t they often just tried no matter what the outcome would be. They weren’t afraid to get sloppy with each other because they learned life was often times messy. I believe what’s missing in society today is this type of communication. Often, when I could get out I’d see people communicate on their phones or through social media, but that face to face type of communication was often missing. Being together gives off an energy that we miss when we’re on our phone. This energy comes mostly from the feelings we are experiencing and sharing, while looking at each other, experiencing one another in the present moment. It’s almost impossible to read one another’s body language when we’re not in close physical proximity to one another. This absence of physical contact is what can cause an inner loneliness. If we’re not use to being alone it can become quite frightful. If we believe in a Higher Power, God, we have no one to talk with, to share our inner struggles or even our hopes and dreams. Loneliness can creep in rather quickly when alone. The longing for human contact grows when alone. Feelings get buried within the broken areas of our life. Loneliness can turn into resentment and resentment into hatred. Often times it takes but a smile or a hello when passing each other to change someone’s day. I think we’re often afraid these days to reach out to one another. We’ve built up a fear we might be seen as encroaching into someone’s privacy. We don’t look up in the subway for fear of locking with someone we don’t know. Often we grew up believing that we’re to be rugged individuals. We were taught we were to take care of ourselves. I can climb this mountain by myself and everyone will be so proud of me. But God didn’t seem to desire to want to create us to be alone. God seemed to have created us to be family, to be as village. When we haven’t experienced this we often times can grow-up being fearful of others. This is a tragedy. We grow through exchanges of ideas, when we have the willingness to express feelings when with one another in a safe environment. Feelings, when they bubble up inside of us, don’t seem so daunting to us. When we have others to share our daily lives with love blossoms and a new village is born. We grow within when we grow together as family and village. It may be a village of friends or a village of the like minded. In our brokenness we all desire to be accepted. Loneliness often times dissipates, love can blossom when in a trusting environment where we have the ability to look out for one another. If you know someone who is alone reach out to them. Often a few words of kindness or a wave and hello can go a long way to make one feel they belong to the larger family or village.

Have a most blessed week.

Peace and Goodness,

your brother,

Mark

Calendar Religion or Religion of the Spirit?

April will be a month of Catholic Holy Days starting with Palm Sunday.  Catholics and Christians everywhere will be planning which Holy Day Services they will be attending, and who will be coming over for Easter Dinner. In my meditation this morning, I pondered about our kind of Calendar Religion. It’s good in some ways, of course, but it does tend to keep people thinking in terms of Religious vs Secular-type divisions in our minds. Like, Sunday is special because it’s Church, but Monday is just my ordinary life again. 

If I think about what Jesus showed us regarding such practices, I see something different. I see Him rebuking those who tried to censure His freedom of the Spirit at every moment, by quoting “the Rules of Religion” at Him. But it was in fact His ordinary life that was the place of many of His greatest miracles and parables. He lived His Spirituality every moment of every day, not just on the Sabbath day.  Why?  Because He was always Awake and Aware of His connection to The Divine!  Attentive and Centered within Himself, He clearly understood that His Union with the Father was a very Present Reality; one that was ever-active, regardless of what the Calendar said. 

He had respect for the proper Services of His Faith, but He was not limited by them.  He participated in Synagogue Services, but He would also wake up early in the morning to go apart by Himself to pray. He wanted no divides between people.  He wanted them to understand Truth from their hearts.  But for that to happen, they would have to wake-up to their actual lives and step out of their automatic conditioned behaviors. Jesus knew that would not be an easy thing for them.  Thanks be to God, He had a plan! 

Jesus did not leave us the New Testament. That came years later, after having been handed down and finally written down, and then after having been filtered through a Greek translation. He did not leave us a Religion of the Calendar. Or a structured Church system.  Jesus did leave us something of much greater value to our eternal destiny.  His Holy Spirit!  When His message was preached everywhere to whomever would listen from their hearts, those people would receive the Holy Spirit. That Free Gift of the Holy Spirit changed their reality! They did wake-up! And their ordinary, everyday lives were transformed from within!

TODAY – I Am Awake to the Presence of God in my Ordinary Life. I am grateful! I am loved! I am blessed!  


FAITH – A Perceptible Emptiness

FAITH – A Perceptible Emptiness

Speaking now of Faith as one of the three Theological Virtues, and not the faith one has in one’s youthful strength or good health or strong will or financial independence.  Such faith has little to do with God and much to do with one’s erroneous confidence in one’s self and in the all the delights and comforts one has surrounded one’s self with through either one’s own efforts or by inheritance.  No, I am speaking of that Faith which makes itself known when one has come face to face with the Cross of Interior Emptiness and does not flee. 

In our usual ordinary way of thinking, our brain does the work of connecting us with instantaneous solutions to various stages ofdiscomfort, whether physical, emotional or spiritual.  If we are cold, a sweater is at hand that we automatically reach for.  If we are depressed, a pill is at hand to automatically relieve us.  If we are lonesome, facebook fills that void with the touch of a keyboard log-in. We associate these automatic solutions as us just being US…ours…our own…belonging to US. This part of “US” is the domain of the ego which understands that it’swork is to provide satisfaction to the US we believe ourselves to be and to restore our peace as quickly as possible by re-establishing the status-quo. 

Now, if one has been observing the Spiritual Practice of Meditation, a surprisingly new Awareness may have arisen. Between the thought and the action of its resolution, there is this barely noticeable, momentary void.  A Perceivable moment of emptiness.  In the gap of this emptiness, if one be still enough, all things of life and eternity are present. But it is not a presence that our ordinary senses can perceive. On the contrary, this “presence” makes our ordinary senses seek relief and escape, rather than perception. But, this emptiness as “presence” is perceptible to our higher and much more finely-tuned spiritual senses.  It is here where many of us first become aware of our true spiritual poverty. If we do not run from it or end our Meditation session pre-maturely, we are given the valuable opportunity to look into the abyss of our fearful and frightened, ego-identified, false self (sometimes called our lower self). And even just that momentary glimpse can terrify us.  I believe it is the reason why a lot of people do not take up Mediation as a Spiritual Practice.  They fear the stilling of their ever-active, ever over-stimulated thoughts.  They fear they will not know who they are without them as the constant, ready proof that they are alive.

Returning now to the Emptiness….  In the fraction of a second between the thought and its connection to other thoughts or acts, this emptiness is extremely important to note.  If one is self-aware and proceeding toward Christian Maturity, one may then begin to observe that even after one’s Meditation session has ended, there can now be ordinary daily moments when this “gap of emptiness” becomes spiritually perceptible.  As one learns to let go of thoughts more and more even in one’s waking hours, that gap lengthens.  And with years and Grace, one finds one’s home more and more within the gap, rather than distracted from this blessed and sacred emptiness by thoughts of entertainment, the phone or the internet.  What is this spiritually perceptible emptiness?  For me, it is Faith.  Why? Because whenever I have found myself in a crisis – whether health related or other –  and have exhausted all my own best efforts to resolve it to no avail, there It Is…that same perceptible emptiness.  That utter sense of my own helpless-ness whispering terror to my senses. In that very instant, it is Faith alone that tells me to Surrender. To humbly present myself to the Lord knowing my need for His assistance and my dependence upon His Grace.  I know if I can learn the lessons of Faith offered me in Meditation, then I can also learn to understand the value of Faith in practice. And the amazing Grace it offers!  As St. John of the Cross once said, we must “learn to be at home in the darkness”.

Today, with God’s Grace, I will consciously develop the capacity to remain in Faith.  I will not seek to fill in the gaps of the day with frivolous entertainment to distract me from this precious emptiness wherein I shall make my Home.

LENTEN PRACTICE – A Call To The Center


The MIND BELL is an App available from the Google Play Store or from Apple, if you have an iPhone. It’s a Free download and it works very well.  As a Lenten Practice, you can set it to Gong every hour on the Hour for 7 consecutive hours, to correspond with the Monastic Practice of Praying the Divine Office 7 times a day (Ps 119:164).  There is an additional setting to sound a second Bell at the end of 30 seconds.  So, when the first Gong sounds, one is signaled to stop whatever one is doing and Remember the Presence of God within. Then, one is to Meditate on that Presence for 30 seconds until the 2nd sound, the Bell, rings at which time you resume whatever you were doing.  I like to think of this Practice as A Call to the Center.  There are additional settings to either shorten or lengthen the period of time you will stop your activity to Meditate, also. 

Why is this such a worthwhile practice?  It is a training in Attention, for one thing.  An act of Obedience for another. As a Monastic Practice, a monk must be willing to stop immediately whatever he is doing when he hears the Bell that calls him to Prayer. It reminds him that his life IS Prayer, and his Service is to God. All other occupations must ever come second to that single-minded focus.  And so, it is also a Discipline which challenges one to put their own activities aside for the moment and follow the Lord’s more immediate Call. ( Of course, to do so, one needs to be in a situation and environment that makes it possible. I wouldn’t undertake this Practice while at Work or driving. )

This simple offering of one’s time and attention is easily practiced by people such as ourselves who have certain physical and health challenges that might prevent us from observing more strenuous Lenten Practices.  I know for me, personally, Fasting is no longer an option.  My health would be seriously jeopardized by such a Discipline.  So, this Practice of the Bell works well to remind me of what really matters during Lent.  I hope that you find something of value for yourselves, as well.  God’s Peace!