Monastic Skete- Daily Living A Hermit Lifestyle of Meditation
I am retired now, a full-time writer. I still actively do retreats. I love the works of Thomas Merton and my new book, "Spiritual Journaling -God's Whispers in Daily Living" is available on Kindle and Amazon. http://amzn.to/qQz6Ng
Saturday, January 29, 2011
Wednesday, January 26, 2011
Berhanu Hirpa - A Testimony for a Wonderful Man of God
Berhanu was a friend of mine. He grew up in refugee camps in Ethiopia. Through Christ leading he came to the United States and worked as a Pharmacy Tech at the hospital where I worked. He always had a smile on his face. He wanted more than anything else to be a United States citizen. He was to sick to go to the ceremony in which he would become a citizen. He died a couple of days later. This message by his friend Bill Hatcher was preached at his memorial service at Centennial Medical Center. It touched me greatly.
In Memory Of Berhanu
Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. The scriptures give these nine virtues a singular name; the fruit of the Spirit. What does that mean? It means simply that a Christian should be recognized by these attributes and that this fruit should bear witness to a living relationship with Jesus.
To every Christian, God has deposited the fruit of the Spirit, but that does not mean we suddenly awake to find these virtues active in our daily lives. Growing in Christ like character is a life long process and in order to bear fruit, you must stay close to the Vine.
You see, the greater our vertical relationship is with God, the greater our love grows for others (the horizontal). The two greatest commandments are after all, paraphrasing, to love God and to love others. Berhanu Hirpa understood this well and devoted his life to these principles. Berhanu was a man of deep faith and because of this, his relationship with God was genuine so therefore his love for others was real. He cultivated the vertical and horizontal relationships in life and by doing so, those intersecting lines create a visual of the cross. When our lives are shaped by the cross, others will see Jesus. Berhanu lived his life reflecting the cross and in the process others came to know his Savior.
St. Francis of Assisi once said, “Preach the gospel, use words if necessary.” Berhanu understood that being a Christian is not something you do, it is quite simply who you are. In a genuine relationship with God we are so filled with His character and attributes that His love pours out of us into all other relationships we have. Berhanu, although fallible and imperfect like each of us, lived his life in such a way that he made a positive impact in the lives of others who knew him. My life is better because of Berhanu, and I imagine you would say the same.
When a person leaves behind a legacy what exactly does that mean? I believe it is more than just the wisdom they shared in their aptly spoken counsel, or the benevolence they displayed through acts of kindness and charity. I believe a true legacy inspires us to a higher place. Integrity found in their daily life speaks to us in such a way that we take note of our own lives and in doing so we are compelled to better ourselves. We are challenged to set our standard higher, to raise the bar, and in the process, make a positive impact in the life of others.
I believe in Berhanu’s short time here, he has done this. He has called you and me to take inventory of our very character and to evaluate its worth. Even now Berhanu calls us to stop, give pause, and reflect on what matters most. At the end of our lives here, as with Berhanu, it will not be the exterior, but the interior that will be remembered. At times like this we realize it is not the fancy home we live in, the expensive car we drive, or the money we have accumulated in our back accounts that really matter. In the end what people will remember most about us is the kind of person we were – our character. Did we show love to others? Was our lives filled with joy? Were we peacemakers? Did we show patience? Were we kind? Was there goodness in our lives? Were we faithful in all respects? Did we have a gentle spirit? Did we use restraint and self-control when necessary? In other words, did the fruit of the Spirit live in us and flow through us in our daily lives? For Berhanu Hirpa, I believe the answer would be a resounding, yes.
Berhanu did not make it back to Ethiopia and was unable to become a U.S. citizen, but what is more important to realize is that as a Christian, his real citizenship and home were never here, they were in heaven. Berhanu may have missed celebrating Christmas here, but what is most important to understand is that while we sang carols and celebrated the birth of our Savior here, Berhanu celebrated his first Christmas in heaven, with Jesus Himself. Reflecting on these things bring me great healing and comfort. I pray they will do the same for each of you.
The Apostle Paul wrote that, “To live is Christ, to die is gain.” To the Christian we realize the best part of our life is what waits for us after this one. For Berhanu, the wait is over and all Heaven rejoices in his homecoming. We may grieve Berhanu’s loss, but we can find hope in knowing where he is. He no longer suffers from cancer or sickness of any kind. He is completely healed and better than we ever knew him here. Berhanu walks on streets of pure gold. His home is a mansion. The beauty in everything he sees, smells, touches, or hears is beyond our imagination to describe. But the greatest of all these things is Berhanu now lives forever in the very place where God dwells, surrounded by the Heavenly hosts and all the saints who have went before him. This, my friends is heaven; this is the ultimate reward of God’s grace – and this is where Berhanu now lives.
May Berhanu’s life continue to inspire you. May God’s peace be with of you and may His comfort surround you. And may you come to know and experience the deep love of God in your life daily. Pray with me.
Rev. Bill Hatcher
Saturday, January 22, 2011
Godspeed! Father Seraphim
This is a great testimony to Father Seraphim by S. Mullican
from ANAM CARA | JANUARY 22, 2011
Dusk is falling on the snow out of doors. It presses against the windows in shafts of deep indigo. Flames flicker in red glass ... read more
Wednesday, January 19, 2011
Sargent Shriver: A Life of Grace
Sargent Shriver: A Life of Grace
By Colman McCarthy
It took only a walk with Sargent Shriver to learn how deeply loved and loving he was. Former Peace Corps volunteers, from the early days of the program that he began in 1961, or ones just back from stints in Third World outposts, would stop Sarge to thank him, embrace him and tell him stories about their life-changing service.
Countless others approached him on airport concourses, city sidewalks and elsewhere: people whose lives were changed because of the anti-poverty programs that Shriver started in the Johnson administration - Legal Services, Head Start, Job Corps, Community Action,VISTA, Upward Bound. Or the parents of children in Special Olympics, the program began by Shriver and his wife, Eunice, that revolutionized the way we treat those with mental disabilities. Occasionally, it was someone from Massachusetts who voted for the McGovern-Shriver ticket in the 1972 presidential campaign - Massachusetts and the District being the only places they won while the rest of America, narcotized, backed the soon-to-be disgraced Richard Nixon and Spiro Agnew.
In the three years - 1966-69 - that I worked as Sarge's speechwriter, traveling companion and suitcase carrier, I saw hundreds of these random moments. Hale and always effulgent, Sarge gave full attention to each greeter. It was a style of honest generosity that came naturally, a pole removed from the grip-and-grin fakeries of American politics.
At his death Tuesday, after years of Alzheimer's disease, the legions with whom Shriver had shared himself were no doubt recalling those chance run-ins as encounters with grace.
It was certainly that way for me. In the summer of 1966, I was roaming the country writing freelance articles about the civil rights movement: a week in Cicero, Ill., where Martin Luther King Jr. was trying to integrate housing; a week in Mound Bayou, Miss., an all-black Delta community scraping by. I sold a story to the National Catholic Reporter, a nascent liberal weekly already on its way to becoming a beacon of conscience-based journalism.
Sarge happened to read it. He tracked me down, not to jab back about the program of his I had criticized but to say that he had a staff opening for "a no-man, because I already have enough yes-men." He was running the newly created Office of Economic Opportunity and needed help with speeches, he said. He invited me to Washington for an interview.
I thought my chances were nil. Months before, I had emerged from a Trappist monastery in Georgia where strictly cloistered priests and brothers were God's inmates. Five years with no newspapers, magazines, television or other damnable frivolities, I'd been bricked out of secular society. Why would Shriver hire me?
For the make-or-break interview, we went to dinner. For four hours, the talk was not about pending legislation, Lyndon Johnson's White House or Republican attacks on the Peace Corps. Instead, it was theology and spirituality, the turf on which I been trodding, however unsteadily.
Shriver, amazingly, wanted to discuss Thomas Merton, Flannery O'Connor, Hans Kung, Tertullian, Leon Bloy, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin and others. He told of inviting Dorothy Day of the Catholic Worker to speak at Yale during his student days. A couple of times I couldn't keep up, as when he riffed on the differences between the early, middle and late writings of Saint Teresa of Avila.
At dinner's end, Sarge hired me - a flashpoint moment in my life. A spirited public orator, he needed a speechwriter like Stradivarius needed help stringing violins. Once at work, I learned that I wasn't the only one with a background in religion. He was hiring so many former nuns and priests that OEO could have stood for Office of Ecclesiastical Outcasts. Sarge's Catholicism ranged from ordinary pieties - a rosary was always in his pocket - to mindfulness of the church's teachings on social justice and nonviolence.
It infused his thinking, as when he said in 1981 at a reunion of Peace Corps volunteers: "The cure is care. Caring for others is the practice of peace. Caring becomes as important as curing. Caring produces the cure, not the reverse. Caring about nuclear war and its victims is the beginning of a cure for our obsession with war. Peace does not comes through strength. Quite the opposite: Strength comes through peace. The practices of peace strengthen us for every vicissitude. . . . The task is immense!"
For four decades, Sarge was my closest friend outside of my family. I said goodbye to him a few days ago during a visit at his apartment. I thanked him for everything. He had difficulty speaking, so he communicated by reaching for my hand. He kissed it and held it for half an hour, without a word between us. None was needed. He was saying that he loved me, the way he told all those people at airports and byways that they, too, were lovable.
* * *
Colman McCarthy, a former Post columnist, directs the Center for Teaching Peace and teaches courses on nonviolence at four Washington area universities and two high schools.
* * *
Tuesday, January 18, 2011
Monk carries Nun in a bag.
Monk Tries To Board Plane With Nun's Remains In Bag: http://huffingtonpost.com/2011/01/18/monk-airport-bones_n_810519.html
Sunday, January 16, 2011
Vampires in your life
Who's The Emotional Vampire In Your Life?: http://huffingtonpost.com/judith-orloff-md/how-to-deal-with-draining_b_807069.html
Saturday, January 15, 2011
Saturday, January 08, 2011
Re: Thomas Merton: the human dimension
Interesting thought from merton.
> "The basic problem is not political, it is a-political and human. One of the
> most important things to do is to keep cutting deliberately through
> political lines and barriers and emphasizing the fact that these are largely
> fabrications and that there is another dimension, a genuine reality, totally
> opposed to the fictions of politics: the human dimension which politics
> pretend to arrogate entirely to themselves. This is the necessary first step
> along the long way toward the perhaps impossible task of purifying,
> humanizing and somehow illuminating politics themselves."
> -- Letter from Thomas Merton to Jim Forest, August 27, 1962:
> * * *
> *Jim & Nancy Forest*
> Kanisstraat 5 / 1811 GJ Alkmaar / The Netherlands
> Jim & Nancy web site: www.jimandnancyforest.com
> Jim's books: http://www.jimandnancyforest.com/books/
> Photo collections: www.flickr.com/photos/jimforest/collections/
> In Communion site: www.incommunion.org
> On Pilgrimage blog: http://jimandnancyonpilgrimage.blogspot.com/
> A Tale of Two Kidneys blog: http://ataleof2kidneys.blogspot.com/
> * * *
Tuesday, January 04, 2011
Tuesday January 4, 2011
Facing a new year always seems strange. People ask, "How is retirement?" Certainly it is a good question but one I am not sure of yet. Definitely it is different. I can sleep later, do the chores (empty
dish washer, fold clothes, vacuum, make bed, take dog out to potty, check the trash). As sports editor Furman Bisher once said, "Old men's most important job is taking out the trash." Certainly it is a worthy thought.
I am just now getting around to important THOUGHTS. What excursions of the mind continue to surface? Health, a format for daily living, how am I going to plan each day, and how am I going to change?
I have begun to realize, after a month of retirement, that thoughts have begun to clarify more. All the "doings" of Christmas take up tons of time and leave one exhausted. December is not a month to gentily go into that Dark Night because it is to busy.
I am realizing that I was suffering from burnout for the last year and just did not deal with it as well as I should. I was worn out physically and mentally, not to far-fetched as far as people in the health profession know all to well. I have enjoyed not having a beeper ring at midnight, or certain emergencies that creep up. I am beginning to relax some. Am learning a little how to define a new day. I am even beginning to change some of my web pages and thinking of doing another book.
All new things move slowly. How is retirement? I am moving slowly.
Saturday, January 01, 2011
Soundings: Thomas Merton and Conversion of Manners
Fr.Dale Matson shared with me this about Merton. Good.