Ever sit down to enjoy the next episode in a tv series only to find out the episode was a musical? Though many times I see these musical episodes as slightly annoying speed bumps on the path to an eagerly anticipated resolution, life is funny, and today those musical episodes resonated with my morning. I woke up in a musical where my life had its own soundtrack I did not quite control, but it all had a coherent theme: “El tiempo pasa”. Continue reading I woke up in a musical
Category Archives: Personal Journey
I feel like we live in wonderland. What is Wonderland like? In Wonderland, citizens pay for maintenance of a centuries old broken water system that is kept alive thanks to prayers to the rain god. A bid process for dredging a reservoir that serves half a million people is stopped because somebody in the government got offered “free dredging,” except that the dredging never begins. Next thing we know, the same government is paying 60,000 a month for seeding the clouds… and is surprised and disillusioned when it did not work.
Oh please, let there be a hurricane (a small one) we pray… but this time, its not for the day off, nor for the beer and dominoes with friends, nor for the street cook outs, its so we can fill up the reservoir to the brim and even open the doors and let some out, so we can have regular showers and wash our cars weekly without the stink eye of a neighbor or two.
Relfections on a Truth Lost in Translation
While preparing to guide the prayerful community meditation of the Stations of the Cross I turned to the Googleable archives on the Internet to find a text I could follow. Not just any text, ideally I wanted a text that had bible quotes, described the scene we would meditate and then offered a contemporary reflection with more questions than predigested wisdom. I searched and searched and searched over the period of 2 or 3 days. I remembered how painfully difficult it had been last year – of course, last year I made a mental note that I should create a booklet with the versions I find that suit the community and the context. So there I was searching again.
In my searches I came across this text that I could best describe as excessively verbose flowery language that romanticized the way of the cross to a point that I found it offensively naive. In my ignorance I attributed the text to some well intentioned soul attempting to put into sacramental language the last moments of his beloved Jesus. Then I saw the same text surface in another search. I attributed the coincidence to the common practice of quoting extensively and without permission between internet sites, which in matters of spirituality can be assumed to be content provided to the public domain free to use though it is simply immoral not cite. Then I came across the same corny depiction yet again:
When our divine Savior beheld the cross, He most willingly stretched out His bleeding arms, lovingly embraced it, and tenderly kissed it, and placing it on His bruised shoulders, He, although almost exhausted, joyfully carried it.
I searched for “joyfully carried it” and came to find that the words that I had mocked and scorned were from St. Francis of Assisi. Could it be? Of all the saints I could pick on, I had not expected to find me arguing against or rejecting the form of St. Francis’ spirituality, and yet here I was.
I was in the midst of writing to a priest to coordinate a Lenten Meditation for the parish when it occurred to me that if he needed a topic, maybe he could help me breach a gap in understanding. I wrote:
If you have a Lenten Season theme already developed that you wish to share with our faith community that would be fine. If you would rather be provided a topic… I have a humble request: As I gathered materials for celebrating Friday evening meditations on the Stations of the Cross, I was surprised by my discomfort or dislike (both terms seem a tad strong but words fail me) of the wording in the St. Francis of Assisi version of the Ways of the Cross.
One of the more challenging notions for me was to think that Jesus embraced his cross gladly, joyously. I can understand the gift of peace and I can envision peaceful resignation, but the freedom to be joyous in suffering is a foreign concept. I am not sure if this is a Jesus human vs Jesus divine quandary or a matter cross-cultural miscommunication or the need for translation services to properly convey his message. As it stands in reading the text I am left wondering “Is my path, his way of the cross if I am not joyful in my sorrow?” Where did this text that is attributed to St. Francis of Assisi come from and how can it enrich our mundane way of the cross?
Alas, the visiting Jesuit theologian did not get my request but already had a topic of his own, so I was left to continue to wrestle with my unexpected criticism of dear St. Francis. I had no problem receiving the cross, nor bearing it. It is the “joy,” the “kissing” and romantic overtones of the loveliness of the cross that I am failing to grasp:
O dearly beloved cross! I embrace thee, I kiss thee, I joyfully accept thee from the hands of my God. Far be it from me to glory in anything, save in the cross of my Lord and Redeemer. By it the world shall be crucified to me and I to the world, that I may be Thine forever.
How can I reject St. Francis? This question was at the forefront of my thoughts, I began to hear and serendipitously receive bits and pieces that would help pave the way to making peace with my dislike of St. Francis’ words. A Truth, I am convinced, must be lost in translation. Somewhere between the middle ages and today, a Truth was lost.
That Sunday the sermon addressed the transfiguration. Fr. Vega spoke Viktor Frankl’s concentration camp reflections and the human need to have a purpose. When we have a purpose and we have hope anything and everything is possible. In our Christian path it is through love and service that we find our purpose. Vega also invited us to revisit what being in the presence of someone one loves is like, being and knowing we filled satiated and have a purpose. The cost we would be willing to pay in order not to loose sight of that moment in time where we have love and purpose. This is how Fr. Vega helped us understand the witnessing of the Transfiguration and the confusion that ensued as Jesus anticipated the inevitable end and separation. Who would want to loose that connection with the Divine, that moment? What would you do to keep it?
Because St. Francis was never far from my thoughts, my mind suddenly saw the flowery, romanticized language in the light of a jilted lover unwilling to let go, to take anything to keep love’s comfort present. Was I to see St. Francis as a poet? I can only see joy in a cross if the heart is so naive as to be in a state drugged by love into a aching dependence free of all other early cares.
After mass, a fellow parishioner shared with me a catholic magazine he had saved for me. It was a product of Franciscan Media. It was an opportunity to get to know the voice of St. Francis. In it I found stories of St. Francis passed on as insights to who this medieval saint was. They portrayed him as a troubadour, singing int he forests of his time. He is the saint it seems for rich people who have yet to realize there is no joy, no satisfaction in accumulation of wealth, there is only an abyss, an emptiness that lavish, hectic lives cannot erase. The idea picture of St. Francis of Assisi that then emerged was that of a man that converted from having all to having nothing, being a young bachelor with enviable parties to embrace being ridiculed and outcast. He had found the peace, joy and purpose he knew he could never find otherwise and was willing to pay any cost, not to let that satisfaction of communion with Christ out of his experience.
So through my reflection on the transfiguration, on the heavenly moments of being bathed in love and clear of purpose, I came to find St. Francis who having such clarity of conviction and such a complete conversion he saw joy no matter the cost in being able to share the hardship of service and love with Him.
Feeling like I was again understanding St. Francis, I returned to his reread his words and then am confronted, not with St. Francis love of Jesus and desire to be with Him, but rather, I suddenly see the face of Jesus who loved us so dearly, who understood and loved us so deeply that he did not want to separated from us. He gave his life to make His salvation ours. He burst open the gates of heaven that we may know and love and be one with Him and the Father in eternal glory.
When is it Good Friday?
In this entry I retell with a few touches of my own, a challenging and beautiful Good Friday Retreat lecture given by our dear Fr. Vega. I beg forgiveness if my retelling does not do him justice. I for one, just wanted to keep the ideas safe somewhere so I could someday share them with my kids.
For all the students out there: It is not once a year, and it did not just happen 2,000 years ago.
Let us begin by exploring the death of a philosopher. A mother and her four year child enter the supermarket. As they begin to walk the aisles she hears an urgent plea, “Mommy, mommy, look! Look!”. “No, not now” she replies as she tries to remember what is needed. Not five minutes have passed when in a very different area she again hears the little voice cry out: “Oh, wow! Mommy, look! Let me tell you! Please!” Time is ticking and she assumes she knows whatever it is he is marvelling at is another candy, another gimmick, so she flatly repeats “No, not now!” She is thinking to what she will cook that night, reviewing what she has cooked that week. She is rushing so that she is not late to pick up her other kids at school avoiding the heavy traffic leaving school. As she enters the milk and ice cream aisle, she again hears “This is awesome, Mommy, you got to see this! Mommy! Mommy! Look!” She is lost in thought trying to quickly plan her week so she wont have to return to the supermarket for a couple of days. At his insistent demands she finally says: “Quiet! Be quiet!” She finally reaches the cashier only to again hear “ooooh Mommy! Mommy let me tell you something.” is “Shhh be quiet!” she sharply replies with a hinted threat. “But why?” Finally loosing her grip on the situation she smacks him and states “because I said so!”
We have lost the capacity to wonder, to marvel and we shush it and kill it in the next generation whenever we silence the questions and rebuke the opportunities to dialogue and share the simple joys and wonders of a child. When we loose the ability to be amazed, surprised or wonder we are for all practical purposes dead. We may be biologically functioning but we have severed the conection to the awesome wonder of creation.
We are stuck mired in death and perhaps have locked ourselves into aour own hell. Mired in despair but rejecting the Joy that Easter is all about. So I go back tot he initial question, when is Good Friday? Probably for many of us, it was some day in our past, maybe it was yesterday, or this morning or maybe it is to come tomorrow. We have our own Good Fridays that are not unconnected to what happened to Jesus on the his way to Calgary. When we taste the humiliation, when we are unfair victims of wrongful judgement, when we experience loneliness and face death we share His cross.
A victim of jealousy, mocked for our morals and unable to find the words to defend ourselves we have are experience our Good Friday. Darkness has its hour when we are alone in our travails, alone faicing illness, disfigurement, death, caring for a loved one without hope of recovering, we are facing or own Calgary. When we are tied down in our freedom, when innocence and duty are seen as weakness and what we would want for ourselves we have to give to others, we are feeling Good Friday. When we face the inadequateness of self expressino, simphonies of silence, pain of knowning that mosto f what is best of us, what we know and can give will die with us we are feeling Good Friday. When we are made to feel shame for what we believe in, be comforted, we are not alone, we are feeling what Jesus felt on Good Friday. When you feel your youth leave, when we taste frailty and feer abandonment, our inevitable aging, our lack of fulfillment is our burden in our stations of the cross. We know this dark hour, we know Good Friday when all seems to fall apart and all we can do is wait. Wait for the darkness and death to have their hour. Embrace your darkness, but then GO BEYOND meet the darkness of the world. Become one, solidary with the darkness that colors the cries of mothers who have lost their children to senseless violence.
As we meet Good Friday we should strain to also hear the voices of this Day.
“Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.”
Gospel of Luke 23:34
When you are able to transcend the humiliation of being wrongfully or senselessly victimized, overcome the loneliness and the frustration and still say “I forgive” you are at Calgary with Jesus.
Lay your burdens at Jesus’s feet on Calgary and hear him say,
“Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”
Gospel of Luke 23:43
These words are meant to comfort you, an invitation to go on. Where and how do we experience Paradise? Look at Mary, in her frailty and strength, the terrible sadness of witnessing the death of her Son. The pain of the Son that has recognizes he is the cause of pain to his Mother.
“Jesus said to his mother: “Woman, this is your son”.
Then he said to the disciple: “This is your mother.”
Gospel of John 19:26-27
We are urged to take care of one another.
“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”
Matthew 27:46 and Mark 15:34
Jesus shares our humanity, he is Son of Man and as such faces death and despair, like we do when we experience Good Friday. In our Creed there is a single line that has created what a lot of recent reflection “And he descended into Hell”, it used to be explained as a statement that Jesus went to Limbo to save all the souls that had been waiting there since Adam. Now the Church in its Theology of the Descent to Hell, understands that Jesus in his humanity experienced Hell, like we do when we lock ourselves away, loose hope and turn away into a cycle of despair. Jesus was there too. We think God’s love will not reach us that we are beyond being saved, but there is NO Place where God’s infinite love does not reach. It is the unconditional love that saves, not our actions or our doing.
Gospel of John 19:28
In a reaffirming statement of his human life, Jesus recognzies his needs. He places his demand at our feet. Death is inevitable but it is a call to share your needs and serve one another, even when living the darkest hours.
When Jesus had received the wine, he said, “It is finished”;
and he bowed his head and handed over the spirit.
Gospel of John 19:30
Upon being served by another, Jesus accepts the end of his physical life.
Jesus cried out in a loud voice,
“Father, into your hands I commend my spirit”:
Gospel of Luke 23:46
Jesus sends forth his Spirit which will live on after death. In Jesus’ death the voice of the Innocent lives on. Resurrection is in the voices that live on. Jesus’ death was on a lonely hillside. Disciples had left. A death in humiliation and powerlessness becomes showered in powe rand dignity that echoes in time. Upon His Resurrection his disciples’ declaration of faith, their creed can be summed in one line: Jesus is Lord. The Task we are given each Easter is to rekindle the creed with us. To strain to listen to the voices of Good Friday in our lives.
The information age has trapped us in cubicles, then given us electronic interfaces and firewalls to the point that we all endure Calgary alone. We are unable to serve each other or witness the thirst in each other. The Joy of Easter is reduced to bits and bytes, a shallow animated image with words that have become shallow and trite MIME. If you have lost your sense of wonder and are among the many walking dead, this Easter acknowledge your Stations of the Cross, embrace your Good Friday and when you meet Jesus in Calgary find your way back to the joy and wonder of Easter by celebrating together in a community tending to the needs of each other and declaring with joy that Jesus is Lord.
What is in a name…
Hello my name is Olaia…..
My name comes from the Basque country. My mom and dad chose it when they lived in the Basque county and found out they were pregnant. They looked at many names on a list but in the end they thought Olaia was the prettiest. When you ask the people in the Basque country what my name means, many are not shure. But some people might say it means place of manufacturing. They will give you examples of last names for example: Olasagasti means a place where they take the apples and turn it into cider and Olaberría means a new workshop. The people from Cataluña believe Olaia comes from the name Eulalia.
Before there were newspapers stories were told out this little 12 year old girl called Eulalia. She lived in Cataluña 300 A.B. Back then the rulers were Romans and the Romans believed in many gods. It was against the law to be Christian. Eulalia believed in one God,our Father, and Jesus Christ. A judge called her to the court because Eulalia was converting many people. The judge was trying to convince Eulalia that believing in God and Jesus was wrong but she refused to deny God or Jesus. They argued for many weeks, but in the end the judge sentenced Eulalia to death.
The story of Eulalia was told by many people and slowly the name may have changed to Olaia.
When I think of my name I like the feeling of having a unique name. I also like my name because Eulalia. Eulalia was young like me but she was really courageous and wise. I hope to be like her….but live a long life.
Reflexiones sobre el nombre de Olaia Kathryn
OlaiaOlaia es un nombre vasco derivado de la raíz Ola, la cual se refiere a un lugar de manufactura, de creación, tradicionalmente un taller donde se trabajaba la madera. Olaia (Olaya or Olalla en español, Laia en Catalán) también es derivado del nombre griego Eulalia. Eu significa “bueno, favorable” y lalia proviene del verbo “hablar.” Junto el nombre connota a una persona elocuente, bien hablada, convincente. Santa Olaia se Conoce oficialmente en la Iglesia como Santa Eulalia de Mérida. Ella fue una mártir española del siglo IV. No está claro si la historia de Santa Eulalia de Barcelona en el siglo III hace referencia a la misma persona. Se cree que Eulalia, una niña de a penas 12 años, discutió fervorosamente con el juez Daciano de Mérida por obligar a los cristianos a adorar a falsos dioses según el edicto Diocletano. Aunque Eulalia entretuvo al juez por largo tiempo, por lo cual éste le felicitó, Eulalia rehusó negar a Cristo. Eulalia defendió su Fe con su vida. Su coraje y valentía inspiró a muchos historiadores, poetas y trovadores de la época, quienes llevaron noticia de la Fe de Olaia a tierras lejanas. Su día de fiesta en la Iglesia es el 10 de diciembre.
KathrynKathryn es una versión contemporánea irlandesa del nombre inglés Catherine. El nombre es de origen griego, “Aikaterina“. Los romanos dieron el nombre por derivado de la palabra griega ‛‛katharos”, que significa “pureza” y por lo tanto escribieron el nombre Katharina. Santa Catherine Laboure, nació en 1806. A temprana edad entró a la comunidad de religiosas Hijas de la Caridad, en París, Francia. Tres veces en 1830 la Virgen María se le apareció a Catherine, quien entonces era una novicia de veinte y cuatro años. El 18 de julio, E tuvo la primera aparición de la en la casa de la madre superiora. Santa Catherine vio una mujer sentada a la derecha del santuario. Cuando Sta. Catherine se le acercó, la visitante celestial le dijo como actuar en tiempos de prueba, señalándole al altar como punto de toda consolación. Le prometió a Sta. Catherine darle una misión la cual le traería gran sufrimiento; la señora también predijo la revuelta anticlerical que ocurrió en París en 1870. El 7.7 de noviembre Nuestra Señora le enseñó a Sta. Catherine la medalla de la inmaculada concepción, conocida universalmente hoy día como la medalla milagrosa. Sta. Catherine de Alejandría, es una mártir, cuyo día de fiesta es el 7.5 de noviembre. Es la patrona de los filósofos y predicadores. Se cree que Sta. Catherine procedía de una familia noble de “ Alejandría. Se convirtió al cristianismo por medio de una visión. Denunció a Maxentio por perseguir a los cristianos. ¿ Maxentio le ofreció a Catherine matrimonio si ella negaba su Fe. Al negarse fue enviada a prisión. Durante una ausencia de Nlaxentio, Catherine convirtió a su esposa y a 200 de sus soldados. La ira de Maxentio contra Sta. Catherine paralela la ira del mundo frente a la verdad y la justicia. Sta. Catherine también fue una de las voces que Sta. Juana de Arco escuchó.
When love shines through
I remember very vividly the first time I met Uncle Gerry. We were not blood relatives, I was inheriting his acquaintance alongside many other aunts and uncles and cousins by virtue of being married to Jim. We were in at Mom’s house in St. Louis, Uncle Gerry and Aunt Jane and their two kids were visiting, as was I. The kids were running around exploring the yard. Mom, Jane, Gerry and I were in the family room looking out at all the activity. I mentioned to Gerry I was studying Anthropology and his quick reply was "My son Adam just loves dinosaurs. Well he even knows all the different periods and types of dinosaurs that walked the Earth." I took a step back and admired the amazing love and pride for his son that poured out of this man. I thought to myself, I wanted that some day. My thoughts then quickly went back to the conversation as I added "Well you just might have an archeologist on your hands! It is a beautiful thing when one has a passion and a drive so early on." I could see the father entertaining that briefly before adding, "who knows?.."Continue reading When love shines through
Facing absence, uncertainty and senseless loss
I sat down to dinner with my children, a big hole was felt as the customary seat my husband fills was empty and dinner was mostly a quiet affair. I usually don’t sleep well when he is not around – 14 years of marraige will do that, I guess. I worry. Is he ok? I anticipate his arrival. I am simply off beat, slightly restless, looking for things to fill up my time till he returns. Tonight I say a little prayer for us, I can’t bear to imagine his absence and hop I will find solace in his return soon.
Olaia is still thinking of our earlier conversation, “Mom I am so thankful I did not live in the time of the Nazi’s…” -Yes, the house has been in a somewhat somber mood – Olaia’s cousin Mariam had a clever English teacher invite children to carry out an extra credit project re-enacting parts of Anne Frank’s experience. Intrigued by the challenge, Mariam has decided to take on the experiment adding the twist of having Olaia partake of it. Both girls are to be in a closed room with no technology on hand, in strict silence for 10 hours a day. Olaia thought at first it was some turn of the 18th Century reenactment, then I explained the terror and hardship endured by Anne Frank and her family.
“I am thankful too, Olaia. It was a dreadful moment to live and witness” I added. Olaia then chimed in a short lived confidence, “I am glad that doesn’t happen now. Why did they do that to the Jews?” I explained her that her assertion was wrong. Why does not matter. It could have been us. It could have been any arbitrary made up group… that is what we have to remember. In fact, today, in Africa Christians are killed because they are not Muslim. Outright prejudice and violence is never justified.
I wanted our daughter to have something to hold on as she peered with me over the edge of the senseless abyss of human violence. So I added
“You have to remember what we believe: God loves us all, without need for justification. His love is a gift. But just as important, remember that bad things happen to good people all the time. Accidents, violence, no one ever deserves any such fate. This is not God’s plan. The question is what are we going to do, so long as we live to let his love shine through so us so we can be light and hope in this world.”
And as I finished the thought, I was reminded of one light that is no more. I prayed with my children for our cousins, for our aunt. Not too far removed from us, a husband, a father is absent, never to return. My heart aches as I barely fathom what pain overwhelms the family.
Kung Fu Panda Lessons
- Master Shifu acknowledges he cannot train Po like he did the others. – Teaching and training are not 1 size fits all.
- After earning his dumpling, Po gives it up – Exercise is a natural appetite suppressant.
- Po can do awesome kung fu when he is focused on food – We can achieve awesome results when we are singularly focused.
- Shifu: Read it and become the dragon warrior ! Shifu knew the truth but did not understand it. He saw his apprenticeship as to Oogway as a right and privilege. Shifu understood that he would be the trainer of Warriors and, more importantly, the Dragon Warrior. Aware of his place in history, Shifu aimed to be judicious and metered out his sharing of Kung Fu. He was strict and selective. Shifu wanted to ensure the worthiness of the recipient of the magic held by the Dragon Scroll. Shifu’s approach to training others shaped Tai Lung. Tai Lung was raised preparing for the next thing. Whatever he did it was not enough. He was always being trained so he could be worthy of the dragon scroll. This imprints Tai Lung with the acute message that he is not worthy as it is. He is waiting for external validation that never comes and is haunted by the void he feels inside. This void gave him insatiable rage and focus to earn or claim the dragon scroll. This rage was the key behind Tai Lungs outstanding Kungfu.
- Po: (Trying to read while blinded by the reflection of the scroll) it’s blank? ! So Oogway was just a crazy old turtle – This is Po’s most difficult moment. His childish faith has been shattered. Po goes home. In this nurturing environment he is able to come to terms with his faith and understand it more fully.
- Po’s father loves him,.this is easy to see to any parent. Po knows he is loved and will always have a place at home where he is needed and valued. This is captured consistently throughout the movie through Po’s Dad call out early on: “Po! Your noodle cart!” and upon Po’s return and public failure. Po: Hey dad, Po’s Dad, Mr. ping: PO! Good to have you back son! So for our next shop … Po’s Dad makes plans for him and his son. The Dad’s reaction is unchanged, Po’s Dad always has a future with Po in it, if Po chooses.
- Po’s Dad, Mr. Ping: The secret ingredient is… nothing! You heard me, there is no secret ingredient! To make something special you just have to believe it to be special. Po: There is no secret ingredient? This exchange highlight the redeeming power of faith. Our faith in each other unlocks the power with each of us to transform the world. Soup made with ordinary ingredients becomes an experience for the senses because of the attention, focus and love that are part of the process. The “magic” is in how we do things. We have a choice to assist in transforming the world around us or living and dying in a banal and meaningless sequence of events.
- Questions that we are inspired to ask after watching the movie: What do you love above all else? Do you dare be awesome? Who do you choose to be?
- Tai Lung: Finally, (upon seeing his reflection on the glistening scroll) It’s nothing! Note that when Po sees the Dragon Scroll he assumes the scroll for some error is suddenly blank. This contrasts Tai Lungs response, whom upon seeing his own reflection says he sees nothing. Tai Lung was expecting magic, and does not see his own value otherwise.
- Tai Lung: The scroll has given him special powers! The Wuxi finger hold….skedoosh! – Your beliefs and you fears hold power over you.
- Po looks to others like a dragon warrior even when he is looking ridiculous himself with haggard fromt he battle with Po and wearing a cooking pot on his head.
- Maybe its because we are parents, but I see the Noodle Duck as an important unsung hero in the story. The Noodle Duck enables his protege’s with love and acceptance. But that would not be enough, the Noodle duck expresses his need – something we are so often told not to do these days…we should never be weak or needing of others -and it is through this need, that the protegé that is loved, feeling needed, finds a purpose, at least for that moment. Little by little the protegé is transformed through service to others and when the time is right, if the calling is heard, the protegé will again set on a new course confident that regardless of the success he meets he has a home.
I dreamt I had my life
Interpret me this: I was having a happy dream. I did not want to wake up I wanted to keep the dream going.
I had just gotten out from hanging out a hotel pool with Javier and Jaimito. We had been sitting on the steps, chatting, playing having fun. I remember thinking I love these two little boys they are so darn cute. Next thing I know we were out of the pool, kids had gone up to the room to change and go down for the evening. I was hanging out at an outdoor bar in plain clothes waiting for Jim to come down and meet up with me.Continue reading I dreamt I had my life