Monday, September 28, 2009

Thoughts on a Monday Night

There was news about violence in Jerusalem this weekend. Our trip is less than a month away.

I have been studying some old John Muir books because of National Park special. Also some Henri Nouwen and his experience with Jean Vanier and Daybreak.

What is really my passion in life? One thing does not appeal is more and more useless paper work. "Beware the leaven of the pharisees," says Jesus. Watch out for those who spiritually tie you up and break your passion and spirit.

Thursday, September 24, 2009


For several years a black cat with no tail has passed my office early in the morning without any determined schedule. A friend of mine recently noted that we had not seen the cat in several months, then surprisingly a week later the black cat with no tail showed up again. It was a time of strange excitement as we peeked out the window at the cat. Of course, we have tried approaching the cat for years with no success. He/she always runs off.

This morning, the black cat was back after a short absence, BUT THIS TIME, the black cat had a long black tail. He sat at the same place, he walked the same path, he observed the morning awakening but he had a tail. This raises all sorts of questions. Is it the same cat, a baby of the no-tailed cat, or a brand new black cat in the neighborhood?

Interestingly enough it reminded me of life. Sometimes people we thought we knew show up differently. The joy and smile have been replaced by an anxious spirit, impatience when we pass them, and always in a hurry! A thankful spirit has been replaced by an annoyance at life in general. There is no time for sharing our lives, for rejoicing together, for enjoying the moment. Hurry, hurry, hurry, is the disease.

Each day I wander this campus and people come up to me and ask for prayers, or share a common friend who is going through a difficult time, or share a disappointment in their lives. These are serious moments for me. Sacred moments I call them! Or, times when we are a part of humanity and existence. These are moments when the apostle Paul says, �Pray for me!�

Yes, there are times we could all use prayers. During the years I have noted that frustration without some form of recreation or sharing often leads to a path of destruction. When I visit patients with mental problems I often note that they have no close friends, no one to talk to. �I once had a friend, but they deserted me,� is often said.

So what has this to do with a black cat with a tail? For me it means be in touch with what is going on around you. Maybe someone is hurting and just needs us to pray for them during the night, without telling them we are doing it.

Or, it could be a sign of something really significant happening. A new day coming where a cut off tail has been replaced with a big bushy long beautiful tail and new hope is on the horizon.

So, I challenge you, if you see a black cat with a long tail, think of the possibilities of life and new hope.

Bro. Dan

Monday, September 21, 2009


I am alone in an isolated critical unit. All the patients have been removed. It is quite, just soft music playing in the background.

The morning Psalms said, "we should honor those who fear the Lord."

It is a day of silences. Where is God doing today?

Sunday, September 20, 2009

A Sunday Afternoon

It is raining. I listen to a steady drip of raindrops. I have opened the window by my favorite chair. I haven't done this in a long long time. In the distance I hear an ambulance and a passing airplane just above the clouds. Cuddles rests quietly in my lap.
I have been studying Israel again today. Our journey/pilgrimage is less than a month away. Janet and I are excited. We are praying for good health during the trip. We have both had bad headaches today.
It is 6 p.m. I watch a football game muted. The raindrops are a more fruitful sound. Have you ever taken a nap in the rain or suffered from wet sloppy feet? What about forgetting your umbrella? Without the rain flowers would not grow. Crops would die. We would starve.
Have you ever been thankful for the rain?

Monday, September 14, 2009


Monks hidden in the world can bring a contemplative lifestyle that surrounds others with a mystical sense of God’s presence. Like Jesus’ they bring healing, hope, light for the blind, a steadiness in a fragile world. Their silent prayers are uplifted into his Holy Presence.


I have been struggling with a question recently. How can one live a spiritual life daily amongst so much tragedy, so many political diatribes, the fear that surrounds us on every side, and the constant cry of struggling persons?We have lost God’s presence and it has been replaced by News Exclusives and pandering talking heads without thought of repercusions. Yes, it has always been that way, but it seems to be more derisive in our day.

How can we seek God and find him in a world like this?


I have written some notes to myself about dreams and foundation stones of spiritual living in a broken world with hopes of reminding myself that, "God really is in control."

Here are some beginning notes and statements that have surfaced:Each step of each day is sacred.

Each person you meet has been sent by God.

Each word you share can be an inspiration.

What tokens of gratitude can you bring to God today for safe passage?

Pray. Pray. Pray!

Each day there is a picture of the presence of God.

The wind that passes has its journey to.

Listen for voices, a crow in the distance, a voice in the silence.

God’s Greatest Grace – a stranger you meet.


I have just returned from a visit to the Abbey of Gethsemane. It was only for 19 hours but the weather was perfect, the temperature in the 70s with a soft breeze, the moon was full, lighting the graveyard with a heavenly glow, and the four worship services I attended breathed the presence of God in the music and the Psalms, and there were special people who surrounded me during these hours. I felt awe and appreciation for the bells that signify God’s presence even if it is at 3:00 a.m.

I left the Abbey after breakfast to preach a funeral service for a friend of over four decades. The fog was slowly appearing in the distance over the Kentucky hills. Light was revealing a new days beginnings and I remembered how much I appreciate Kentucky’s beauty. With each new minute preceeding the sunrise were startling new revelations of God’s presence. It was a time of Lauds, of new beauty in a new day.

It was not an easy day, but a day of rememberance and thanksgiving for a good friend who had touched my life.


On the return journey I continued with the questions. If each day is a search for God, where do we find him? What does doing God’s Will mean? What is he doing in my life that is worthwhile?


Often there are hints in the darkest hour of our existence. We sometimes miss the hints because of our own darkness within. The hint I had on the return journey was a reminder that a book in my library was titled, "A Monk in the World," by Wayne Teasdale. Bro. Wayne died to young, but his book becomes a example of the possibility of living a monk’s life in a world saturated with despairing cries and temptations of power and fame. To say, "Get thee behind me Satan" is not the easy prayer of the morning. It is a cry of hope, a cry of sacrifice, and a cry of wisdom.

The headline of A Monk in the World says, "This wonderful book helps us learn how to integrate the fundamental principles of contemplative spirituality into our modern lives," says Lama Surya Das.

So, that’s where I am today. A Beginning. A Hope. But realizing the impossibility of the task and the dangerous pride that confronts each of us on a spiritual journey.

The liturgical prayer for the morning comes from Psalm 63. "O God, earnestly I seek you, my soul thirsts for you." (Psalm 63:1)

The journey begins. Stay tuned and in touch, Lets begin the journey together. AMEN.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009


The Little Mandate

The core of Catherine Doherty's spirituality is summarized in a "distillation" of the Gospel which she called "The Little Mandate" — words which she believed she received from Jesus Christ and which guided her life.[4] It reads:

Arise — go! Sell all you possess. Give it directly, personally to the poor. Take up My cross (their cross) and follow Me, going to the poor, being poor, being one with them, one with Me. Little — be always little! Be simple, poor, childlike. Preach the Gospel with your life — without compromise! Listen to the Spirit. He will lead you. Do little things exceedingly well for love of Me. Love... love... love, never counting the cost. Go into the marketplace and stay with Me. Pray, fast. Pray always, fast. Be hidden. Be a light to your neighbour's feet. Go without fear into the depth of men's hearts. I shall be with you. Pray always. I will be your rest.
The spirituality expressed in The Little Mandate is also known as "the Madonna House way of life."

The duty of the moment

A central theme in Catherine Doherty's spirituality is the duty of the moment. As she herself put it:

"The duty of the moment is what you should be doing at any given time, in whatever place God has put you. You may not have Christ in a homeless person at your door, but you may have a little child. If you have a child, your duty of the moment may be to change a dirty diaper. So you do it. But you don't just change that diaper, you change it to the best of your ability, with great love for both God and that child.... There are all kinds of good Catholic things you can do, but whatever they are, you have to realize that there is always the duty of the moment to be done. And it must be done, because the duty of the moment is the duty of God."