Monday, April 23, 2018

Brother George R. Zehnle, S.M.

The Province of Meribah recommends to your prayers our dear brother, GEORGE RICHARD ZEHNLE, of the Our Lady of Good Counsel Marianist Community, who died in the service of the Blessed Virgin Mary on April 22, 2018 at the age of 74 with 55 years of religious profession.

May he rest in peace.

The Lord is my Shepherd

The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want.

Fresh and green are the meadows where he gives me repose.
Near restful waters he leads me, to revive my drooping spirit.
He guides me along the right path;he is true to his name.
You are there with your crook and your staff;
with these you give me comfort...

-Psalm 23

A place where I want for nothing?
Meadows, fresh and green?
Restful waters to lift my spirits?
Sounds great -- I'm there, Lord!

Well, actually, it's more like I want to get there
and since on many days I'm not there,
I just might need someone
to lead me on the right path, in the right direction -
someone to shepherd me...

I need someone like you, Lord, to shepherd me
from nagging problems and troubles and fears,
from too many worries and distractions
that keep me from just that peaceful place within me
where you wait, patiently,
wait for me to settle down and rest
in the peace that only you can give...

Give me grace to find this place of peace,
the place I often miss because I run too fast
or waste my time or begin to think that I can find
on my own, without your help,
without you there to shepherd me...

Without your shepherd's lead I lose my way,
without your shepherd's crook I go astray,
without your shepherd's voice to call my name
I wander in dark valleys, in confusion and in fear...

But I know you're by my side, Lord,
always showing me the way and finding me
when I run off alone...

Be my shepherd, Lord,
and lead me and guide me
to the meadows of your peace...

Sunday, April 22, 2018

The Sunday Word

It's time to look ahead to the Scriptures for this coming weekend, the Fourth Sunday of Easter. Because the Gospel passage on this Sunday each year highlights a particular image of the Lord, this is sometimes called "Good Shepherd Sunday."

On all the Sundays of this Easter season the first reading is taken from the Acts of the Apostles and this week's passage gives us some of the story of Paul and Barnabas and their trials in preaching the gospel.

The second reading in Paschaltide this year is taken from the Book of Revelation, this week's entry offering the interesting image of "the Lamb who will shepherd them..."

From John comes this Sunday's Gospel, only four short verses but dense with truth and content as Jesus speaks to us as our Shepherd.

My Shepherd

The Lord is my Shepherd,
I have all I need,

He makes me lie down in green meadows,
Beside the still waters he will lead.
He restores my soul, he rights my wrongs,
He leads me in a path of good things,
And fills my heart with songs.

Even though I walk through a dark and dreary land,
There is nothing that can shake me,
He has said he won't forsake me,
I'm in his hand.

He sets a table before me in the presence of my foes,
He anoints my head with oil,
And my cup overflows.

Surely, surely goodness and kindness will follow me,
All the days of my life, And I will live in his house,
Forever, forever and ever.

Glory be to our Father, and Brother, And to the Holy of Holies,
As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, Life, without end.

Friday, April 20, 2018

Holiness: Whole and Holy Together

The Spirit itself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if only we suffer with him so that we may also be glorified with him. —Romans 8:16-17

If you’re like me, it’s pretty hard to trust this is true within my small self. I don’t know how to believe that I am a child or heir of God on my own; but together with the whole body of Christ it is somehow easier to believe that in our wholeness we are beautiful. We each have our own little part of the beauty, our own gifts of the Spirit, as Paul puts it in 1 Corinthians 12. Paul says that the particular way “the Spirit is given to each person is for the common good” (1 Corinthians 12:7, Jerusalem Bible). Paul’s word for this is a “charism”—a gift that is given to you not just for your own self, but to build up the community, to build up the society. As an individual, you don’t have the full responsibility of putting it all together, as the false theology of perfectionism claims. All you have to do is discover your one gift and use it for the good of all.

Paul uses the ingenious metaphor of the body to show how unity is created out of diversity: “As a body is one though it has many parts, and all the parts of the body, though many, are one body, so also Christ. . . . Now you are Christ’s body, and individually parts of it” (see 1 Corinthians 12:12, 27).

So we, in our corporate wholeness, are the glory of God, the goodness of God, the presence of God. As an individual, I participate in that wholeness, and that is holiness. That’s the only holiness we’ll ever know. It’s not my private holiness; it’s our connectedness together. In Peter’s words, echoing the Hebrew Scriptures, “you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a consecrated nation, a people set apart, who have been called out of darkness into this wonderful light. Once you were not a people at all; now you are the very people of God” (1 Peter 2:9-10). Jesus’ corporate image is the Reign of God or the Kingdom of God. Paul’s is the Body of Christ. John’s is the journey into mystical union where “I and the Father are one” (see John 14:20).

All of them are looking for a corporate, communal, participatory image of what’s really happening, because the individual cannot carry such glory and greatness alone.

Many call this state of consciousness the True Self. We have to fall through the little events of our life into this True Self. We have to fall through our life situation into The One Great Life. We have to fall through our identification with our small mind into the Great Mind of Christ, as Paul calls it (see 1 Corinthians 2:16). We have to fall through our individual body experience into the One Spirit (see Ephesians 4:4-5), through what is manifest into the Unmanifest. There are many names and descriptions for this consciousness, for example, Being itself, “the bosom of Abraham” (Luke 16:22), the Father, or if you were raised Catholic or Orthodox, the arms of Mary. We are always and only grabbing for images and metaphors, but the important thing is the experience of union itself.

Richard Rohr, OFM