Monthly Archives: December 2012

The Wooden Bowl: A Parable


I Guarantee You will Remember the Parable of the Wooden Bowl Tomorrow, a Week from Now, a Month from Now, a Year from Now.

Parables have since time immemorial taught us thru the commonplace, and have sometimes changed us in surprising ways. And as we move towards a new year, what better time to reflect on who and what we are. Perhaps this gift of the parable of the Wooden Bowl may give us some pause, and provide a scintilla of the gift of Wisdom.


The Wooden Bowl

old wooden bowl

A frail old man went to live with his son, daughter-in-law, and four-year-old grandson.

The old man’s hands trembled, his eyesight was blurred, and his step faltered.

The family ate together at the table. But the elderly grandfather’s shaky hands and failing sight made eating difficult. Peas rolled off his spoon onto the floor. When he grasped the glass, milk spilled on the tablecloth.

The son and daughter-in-law became irritated with the mess. ‘We must do something about father,’ said the son. ‘I’ve had enough of his spilled milk, noisy eating, and food on the floor.’

So the husband and wife set a small table in the corner.

There, Grandfather ate alone while the rest of the family enjoyed dinner. Since Grandfather had broken a dish or two, his food was served in a wooden bowl.

wooden bowl + spoon

When the family glanced in Grandfather’s direction, sometimes he had a tear in his eye as he sat alone. Still, the only words the couple had for him were sharp admonitions when he dropped a fork or spilled food.old man

The four-year-old watched it all in silence.

One evening before supper, the father noticed his son playing with wood scraps on the floor. He asked the child sweetly, ‘What are you making?’ Just as sweetly, the boy responded, ‘Oh, I am making a little bowl for you and Mama to eat your food in when I grow up. ‘ The four-year-old smiled and went back to work…

The words so struck the parents so that they were speechless. Then tears started to stream down their cheeks. Though no word was spoken, both knew what must be done.

That evening the husband took Grandfather’s hand and gently led him back to the family table. For the remainder of his days he ate every meal with the family. And for some reason, neither husband nor wife seemed to care any longer when a fork was dropped, milk spilled, or the tablecloth soiled.

[I am humbly grateful to my friend and colleague, Jean Francois, who shared this beautiful parable with me.]


turles and wisdom
We all need to reflect. I’ve learned that, no matter what happens, how bad it seems today, life does go on, and there is always the hope that it will be better tomorrow.

I’ve learned that you can tell a lot about a person by the way he/she handles just four things: a rainy day, the elderly, lost luggage, and tangled Christmas tree lights.

I’ve learned that having a good ‘living’ is not the same thing as having a good ‘life..’

I’ve learned that every mistake gives you a second chance to learn.

I’ve learned that you shouldn’t go through life with a catcher’s mitt on both hands. You need to be able to throw something back sometimes.

I’ve learned that if you pursue happiness, it will elude you But, if you focus on the needs of others, your work and doing the very best you can, happiness will find you. When you practice generosity, compassion, humility you’ve already given up the toxins that poison happiness.

I’ve learned that whenever I decide something with an open heart and mind, I usually make the right decision.

I’ve learned that every day, you should reach out and touch someone.

People love that human touch — holding hands, a warm hug, or just a friendly pat on the back, or simply the touch of another’s appreciation and kind glance.

I’ve learned that I still have a lot to learn; I’ve learned that for all I’ve learned I still know so very little.

I’ve learned that you should reflect on this parable of the wooden bowl, and practice compassion, non-judgmental presence, and unconditional love.

I’ve learned that Wisdom does not come from all the books I’ve read or the degrees I’ve received; it comes from sharing with a frail old person from a wooden bowl.

Pass this on to everyone you care about … I just did.

animated candle_small

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Season’s Greetings


Stop for a minute…

LOOK INSIDE YOURSELF Do you find JOY?

LOOK INSIDE YOURSELF
Do you find JOY?


A Moment to Consider Suffering


“There is a time for everything…under the heavens a time to be silent and a time to speak.” (Ecc 3:1a,7b)

The Suffering in the World and the Heaviness of Grief Drag the Soul Down and Weight it With Despair…But It Is Better to Light A Single Candle than to Curse the Darkness Around Us.

animated candle small

All religious and spiritual traditions teach that man lives in horizontal time or chronos; the Divine time is vertical, kairos. In Divine time there is no past or future, it is all here and now. Unlike humankind, the Divine does not look to the past nor to the future, they are simply unnecessary because the Divine is perfect and that perfection embraces unchangingness and allknowingness. Perfection does not have to learn from the past nor hope for the future.

Rachel Weeps for All Her Children!

Rachel Weeps for All Her Children!

But we exist in a different dimension, if you will. We can either despair of the past or hope for the future; resent the past and despise the future; or as Ecclesiastes teaches, we can accept that the Divine plan provides for “a time for everything…a time to be born and a time to die..a time for scattering stones and a time to gather them…a time to embrace…a time to search…a time to mend…a time to be silent and a time to speak…a time to love…and a time for peace.”

The Divine plan is Perfection and Immutable. It keeps us on schedule and on plan always, whether we like it or not, and whether we understand it or not. The world is full of pain and suffering, most of it so far away from us that we almost take it for granted and go on with our own lives without considering that human beings and other creatures are suffering immensely but we don’t see their tears or hear their cries…so they’re easy to pass by and cast our eyes away. Until it strikes close to home. But the Divine plan includes us always and when Perfection sees its creatures becoming callous to the lessons of suffering, Perfection brings it closer to home so that we, too, can face the challenge and become humbled by it. When we see suffering we can appreciate the wisdom of Ecclesiastes: There is a time to be born and the fact of being born brings with it the fact of death.

gathering togetherWe are made of fragile materials and we break, sometimes very badly, and we die. It’s when we are humbled by challenge, moments in the Divine Plan that we are incapable of comprehending, that it becomes time to gather stones to rebuild, a time to embrace our universal humanity as the kin-dom of the Divine, a time to search for meaning in the challenge. But above all and essential to the purpose of the Divine Plan is that a time of challenge is a time for love, a time for God, because as John teaches “Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love,” (1 Jn 4:8). Gathering together in love, we are in a time of mending, of healing; in that time of healing we find a time to be silent, present, and a time to speak. As stones gathered searching for meaning in the challenge, and embraced by the power of perfect love, we heal in silence and sometimes speak silently in prayer…we seek peace.

The events in the world that cause suffering and despair, confusion and anger, anxiety and hate are in our time, not Divine time, we can move into Divine time by staying in the moment, no past no future, for but a breath’s time and find peace in the moment we occupy now.

blue tear

Let’s stop for a moment being stones scattered and be stones gathered, remembering in this moment the suffering around us. Let’s stop for a moment to heal, to love, to be silent. Let’s stop for a moment to be peaceful and to grant peace to all of Creation. It’s in the Divine Plan. Let’s stop for a moment and remember we are created in the image of a God who is Love.

Remembering in this Divine moment of love, healing, and peace, the suffering in the world of all Creation, and remembering the acute pain we now suffer with the events closer to us. In your own, personal way remember the suffering in Newtown, Connecticut.

animated-candleburning3


You Are Not One Of US…


“Teacher,” said John, “we saw someone driving out demons in your name and we told him to stop, because he was not one of us.” “Do not stop him,” Jesus said. “For no one who does a miracle in my name can in the next moment say anything bad about me, for whoever is not against us is for us. Truly I tell you, anyone who gives you a cup of water in my name because you belong to the Messiah will certainly not lose their reward. (Mark 9: 38-41)

Pointing-finger

It would seem that Ms Kate Blain, editor of the Evangelist of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany, and her mentors are shooting themselves in the foot! Not ony is Ms Blain and her mentors exemplifying and incarnating all the worst street wisdom about Roman Catholics, and playing into the hands of their worst detractors, but they are also turning their backs to the best of the Christian Tradition in terms of encouraging good works and works of mercy and charity. Judging from Ms Kate Blain’s response, if it is truly the position of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany, no one but those associated with a Roman Catholic parish or receiving the support (just what the nature of the support should be is unclear) are licitly or legitimately practicing a ministry in pastoral or spiritual care to the suffering. What a pile of crapola!

So, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany’s Evangelist refuses to publish an advertisement because the advertiser is “not working through any parish or with the support of the Albany Diocese,” according to Ms Kate Blain, editor of the Evangelist.
Always the curious one, I thought something was very fishy with this whole affair and so I picked up an Evangelist to check out some of the ads that are being run in the rag. Here’s just a sample:

Fidelis Care, selling health insurance plans
McDonough’s Farms, selling trees and wreaths
Silver Parrot, selling jewelry items
Ross and Visconti, a law firm specializing in family law, general law and wills
Celtic Treasures, selling Irish gifts
Joe Mazzone Antique Services, buys and sells antiques
Eddy Senior Living, a secular assisted living facility
Marra’s, sells home healthcare items
Falcon Trace, a secular “active adult community”
The Spinney at Pond View, cottage rental community
Romanation Jewelers, buys and sells gold
Eastwyck Village, retirement living
Ohav Shalom Apartments, independent senior living
Adirondack Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery
Delmar Place, assisted living residence
Bob Tahlam, Inc., basement and cellar work
Advanced Hearing Aid Centers
Shaker Pointe at Carondolet, independent senior living
Mr Fix It, plumbing, electrical, carpentry
Wesley Woodlawn Commons, assisted living
Accent, healthcare services
Visiting Nurses Healthcare
A&B Stairlifts
Albany Housing Authority, Senior Housing
The Lira Ensemble, polish music
W.J. Lyons Funeral Home Inc.
Stefanazzi & Spargo, monuments
Wm. J. Burke & Sons Funeral Home

Yes, we thought you’d be a bit surprised., and we’re none the wiser for the effort. There’s no rhyme or reason behind these advertisements, they cover a wide range of services unrelated to a parish and certainly don’t need diocesan support. In fact, the ads are supporting the diocese to some extent.

So we have to look elsewhere for an explanation why an advertisement for genuine and much-needed services would be canned by the Evangelist.

A big question looms large in this consideration: Is someone at our sacred and holy Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany Pastoral Center playing a career assassination game? Are there personal or political motives behind the refusal. Does someone or several of our loving, charitable, good Christians at the Pastoral Center have an axe to grind with regard to the advertiser. It wouldn’t be the first time that some Church functionary saboutaged the work of ministry for personal reasons.Is this a form of cowardly punishment or retribution? But just the thought of the bad press, the damage to an already suffering image, the civil consequences that such stupid misconduct will entail is chilling.

This raises a number of troubling contradictions in this diocese, including but not limited to:

  • The Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany sends its deacon candidates to a local secular hospital that epouses explicitly interfaith pastoral care to patients, and whose manager is of the Calvinist tradition, apparently loathes his own denomination (RCA, according to the AMC pastoral care manager, the “deformed” Church of America), and has no great love for Catholics, unless they’re female, “disgruntled””, outspoken and dissenting. Two Roman Catholic priests are on the hospital’s pastoral care team and paid by the RC diocese of Albany, and I have personally witnessed some very anti-Catholic and abusive treatment of those two clerics at the hands of some non-Catholics. Knowing the situation at the hospital and in the Pastoral Care department there, one wonders what the rationale is behind the diocesesan practice of sending deacon candidates to train there if interfait pastoral care is not supported by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany.
  • While I was completeing my master of divinity degree at the Roman Catholic school of theology and divinity supported by the Roman Catholic Dioceses of Albany (Bsp Howard Hubbard) and the Roman Catholic Diocese of Rochester (Bsp Matthew Clark) and most recently in Syracuse, under the auspices of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Syracuse, my pastoral formation supervisor encouraged me to participate in the clinical pastoral education (CPE) program at Albany Medical Center, which I did. In terms of experience it was incredibly edifying, that is, in terms of the direct clinical experience on the floors. The personal experience with the supevisor and the peer experience was frustrating to say the very least. It was not the place for a traditional or conservative Roman Catholic or one with weak faith or one with no guts. I was surrounded by feminazis, Calvinists, and sociopathic “disgruntled” female Roman Catholics/Episcopalians; a male Catholic was chum in shark-infested waters = I didn’t have the chance of a snowball in hell unless I put up a very strong front, and I stood by my faith, my Tradition, and my ethics. So, if the Roman Catholic school of theology and ministry sends its students to participate in the interfaith program at Albany Medical Center, knowing the the program is promoting the interfaith model of pastoral care, how is it reasonable that the editor of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany’s newspaper, Kate Blain, refuses to run an advertisement on interfaith pastoral care?

 

The Ultimate Perversion!<br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br />
Female Gay Bishop!<br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br />
How Close are We?
The Ultimate Perversion!
Female Gay Bishop!
How Close are We?
  • The very school of theology and ministry I attended and which awarded me the master of divinity degree is a former Roman Catholic seminary college that went Guess what! Interfaith in order to survive. Right in the middle of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany Pastoral Center we now find Roman Catholics sitting next to Baptists, Calvinists, Episcopalians reciprocally revealing their ignorance. Now the Protestants, Jews and Calvinists can experience first-hand the renowned infighting that goes on among Roman Catholics. They can, along with the now appalled traditional and conservative Catholics, experience the liberal priests and female religious dissenting, criticizing their Church, and hear the eunichs in the group pander to the instructors and to the wannabe women priests [and bishops]. Typical ambiguous and ambivalent American attitude, typical American “be politically correct or be shunned”, “How dare you have such an opinion!?!” type of Me First! exchange. But it’s all in the interest of unity, of ecumenism, of interfaith dialogue, of …or is it revenues?

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany appears to support the interfaith pastoral care effort…or does it?

(There are a number of discrepancies in the pastoral formation programs both in the diocese but most particularly at St Bernard’s School of Theology and Ministry that require review and correction. Those discrepancies have nothing whatsoever to do with the supervisor/director of the program itself but the way the students’ projects are selected and executed leaves a great deal to be desired. But this is something that we shall take up with the accrediting body itself.)

The Roman Catholic Church has spent a great deal of ink writing about the importance of care of the suffering, the sick, and the dying but it seems that much of what is written and prmulgated is contradictory in one respect or another. Or, in its slavish dedication to the principle of subsidiarity, the Church has delegated much of its authority to self-serving, poorly catechized managers and underlings. The Pastoral Center of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany lacks overall leadership, although it is figuratively headed by a brilliant saint of a man, somewhere along the line the minions and the satans have usurped power over their domains and the Center has turned into a collection of feifdoms, the Evangelist obviously being one of them.

samaritan

Our beloved bishop Howard Hubbard (RC Diocese of Albany) and his brother bishop Matthew Clark (RC Diocese of Rochester) are both nearing retirement and their personal pastoral ministries have been phenomenal in terms of goodness, charity, brilliance, but their legacies will be remembered for their excess liberalism. The buzz is that at the Albany Diocese the greatest fear is that a conservative bishop will succeed Hubbard. If this happens, say Bye! to the fiefdoms, the self-serving monopolies and nepotism, and to the women religious who have pretty much taken over running the place.

It’s not the Holy Spirit that moves the Roman Catholic Diocese at Albany, it’s the cliques. And it’s high time the Diocese and the departments and parishes were returned to the Church, to be run in accordance not with liberal agendas but with the Roman Catholic Tradition and the Magisterium. It’s time Christian kerygma becomes the modus operandi and not personal agendas or the like. The idiotic grins are a poor cover-up for the envy, the paranoia, the anxiety, the ambition beneath. How has it reached such a point, I have to ask?

(It’s not just in Albany, either. I spent years nurturing relationships in a local Eastern rite parish, St Ann Maronite Catholic parish in Troy. scary-clownsFor more than a decade I was part of the parish life, grew to become very close to its former pastor and its parishoners. The pastor was transferred and I asked to do a year of my pastoral formation with the new priest who was very young, from Lebanon, and not long in the USA. The young priest had a poor command of English, very little parish experience (about 6 months unter the supervision of a senior priest down south), couldn’t preach to save his own soul, and was culturally inept (the Church in the Middle East is incredibly different in Traditions, organization, and in its participation in politics). The wet-behind-the-ears monk thought he knew everything, though, except integrity, honesty, humility, and inclusiveness. He openly spoke hatefully of Muslims with parishoners and was inauthentic. I confronted him, he ran to his bishop, his bishop ran to my bishop, this bishop supported him, my bishop asked me to cool it. That’s the way it goes: the bishops support their priests regardless of the damage. I disappeared and was demonized. C’est la vie, c’est la guerre. But it shouldn’t have to be that way and wouldn’t be that way if the bishops would be bishops and stop pussyfooting around.)

According to the Chinese, “The fish rots from the head down.” Oh! How true! Look around you.

So, back to the Evangelist and editor Ms Kate Blain, now making policy for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany. What say ye, bishops?!?

Truly I tell you, anyone who gives you a cup of water in my name because you belong to the Messiah will certainly not lose their reward.” (Mark 9: 38-41) Is that really so? Are we still preaching this (I know I am).

animated candle small

What’s important here? The fact that one operates out of a parish or the fact that one has the “support of the diocese” ( read that as “has not invoked the perfidy of someone with some power at the diocesan offices”). Who is this Kate Blain to make the determination that one does not have the support of the diocese. And if that is true, why does the Roman Catholic Diocese not support qualified spiritual care regardless of company or special-interest connections.

I’d be happy to discuss this dilemma with anyone from the Pastoral Center. Just give me a time and a date. According to Saint Bernard’s School of Theology and Ministry which awarded me the “gold standard” professional degree in pastoral and theological studies, the Magister Divinitatis, which I received from the hand of bishop Matthew Clark and the co-authentication of bishop Howard Hubbard, I should be qualified to engage in such a debate…and to provide qualified pastoral and spiritual care regardless of the faith or Tradition of the recipient.

But there’s still the question of why the editor of the Evangelist refuses to run my ad that is in full accord with express Church doctrine and policy, with the explicit teachings, and with the promulgations of the USCCB? Do we have female bishops in the RC Church already? Yes. But not officially, it seems.

Please share your thoughts on this subject matter. And stay tuned for the next installment: a discussion of Church teachings on the care of the suffering, sick, and dying (and how it’s falling on it’s egg-stained face).

Shut up! And do your homework!The Editor

Shut up! And do your homework!
The Editor


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