Monthly Archives: October 2017

Morning Thoughts: Rip Tide

by Howard Hain

 

Matisse Bather 1909 MoMA

Henri Matisse, “Bather”, Cavalière, summer 1909 (MoMA)

 

What are we to do when the mighty ocean sucks us out to sea?

We are told that we shouldn’t resist, that we should let it take us into the deep—trusting in the bigger force at hand—trusting that the immutable current will win the day, that the overarching tide will eventually send us back to shore.

And in the meantime?

Tread water. Conserve energy. Keep eyes on heaven above.


 

Howard Hain is a contemplative layman, husband, and father. He blogs at http://www.howardhain.com

Follow Howard on Twitter @HowardDHain

twitter.com/HowardDHain

If you enjoyed this post, please consider “liking” it, adding a comment, becoming an email subscriber (drop-down menu at top of page), or passing it along via the social-media links below. Your support is greatly appreciated. Step by step. All for God’s glory.


Web Link: Museum of Modern Art (MoMA). Henri Matisse, “Bather”, Cavalière, summer 1909

 

About Suffering


“In America, there is education for success but no education for suffering.” Ross Douthat wrote in the New York Times today. There’s no education to bear the suffering we have or deal with the suffering of others.

We’re told we can achieve anything we set our minds to and surmount any hardship that comes our way. We filter out the misery around us, Douhat says, with the filters of political party, race, social status.

Douthat confessed that while reading a book by one of his political adversaries, a book in which the man described his experience of sickness and other hardships, he realized he never saw that dimension in him. He was only someone to argue with.

Tragic moments like the shootings in Las Vegas and the storms in Puerto Rico are temporary reminders of suffering, but we quickly forget and turn to something else.

St. Paul of the Cross saw the Passion of Jesus as a book to learn about life and how to live. It seems the Passionists have a mission today, as a recent letter of Father Joachim Rego reminded us, to offer a remedy to society today with “no education for suffering.”

An Unpeaceable Kingdom

Jesus said to his disciples:
“I have come to set the earth on fire,
and how I wish it were already blazing!
There is a baptism with which I must be baptized,
and how great is my anguish until it is accomplished!
Do you think that I have come to establish peace on the earth?
No, I tell you, but rather division.
From now on a household of five will be divided,
three against two and two against three;
a father will be divided against his son
and a son against his father,
a mother against her daughter
and a daughter against her mother,
a mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law
and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law.” Luke 12,49-53

Most of us don’t want to live in the house our Lord describes in today’s gospel, where fathers fight with their sons, sons with their fathers; where mothers fight with their daughters, daughters with their mothers.”

Not a nice house to live in.

Same way with a world on fire. A little fire is all right, but a world on fire? Too much.

We’d rather live in a world Isaiah describes: a holy mountain where the lion and the lamb lie down together and a child can put his hand into a snake hole and not get bit. A peaceable kingdom.

But maybe the situation Jesus describes is a form of the cross he endured. Maybe it’s the cross he asks us to endure today: a world on fire with strife, confusion and misunderstanding. Can the cross take the form of confusion and misunderstanding? It’s hard to live in a world where things are not clear and hard to understand.

Maybe that’s the cross we have to carry today.

Servant and Guest Knocking at the Door

by Orlando Hernandez

The 12th chapter of Luke, which is cited in this week’s masses, has so many harsh, challenging sayings of Jesus. I accept them humbly, but this week I’m so filled with His Holy Spirit that I must focus on all the blessings that He promises us. In this Tuesday’s Gospel our Lord says:

“ Gird your loins and light your lamps and be like the servants who await their master’s return from a wedding, ready to open immediately when he comes and knocks. Blessed are those servants whom the master finds vigilant on his arrival. Amen, I say to you, he will gird himself, have them recline at table, and proceed to wait on them.” (LK 12: 35-37)

In this Wednesday’s Gospel Jesus’s promise continues:

“ Who then is the faithful and prudent steward whom the master will put in charge of his servants to distribute the food allowance at the proper time? Blessed is that servant whom his master on arrival finds doing so.” (Lk 12: 42-43)

These words by our Lord illuminate my wonderful memory of so many of His servants that I met last weekend at the Life in the Spirit Seminar, lovingly presented by the Immaculate Conception Charismatic Prayer Group in Astoria, Queens, NY. These folks were a shining example of what ministry should be. About forty or more people were involved in the scheduling of activities, the hauling and setting up of tables, posters, audio visual equipment, musical instruments, prayer materials, and food, lots of delicious food. Then there were the many presentations leading up to the Baptism of the Spirit and the triumphant celebration of the Eucharist. It was a monumental job, but so rewarding!

Two weeks ago, just like the unemployed men standing around at the square in Jesus’s parable of the workers for the vineyard, I was just relaxing outside of the chapel at the Passionist Monastery, when Grace Bernardo, the tireless leader of the prayer group, invited me to participate in the Life in the Spirit event. I was to give a talk, and to be part of the prayer team during the Baptism of the Spirit, two jobs requiring a lot of commitment and preparation. I worked for weeks on my presentation, and prayed just as much. During that blessed weekend I did the best I could. I had not felt that I was good enough and had to put it in the hands of God. But I was not afraid as I was swept by such a powerful flow of goodness and love coming from everyone around me. Wow, how much can I learn from these holy people, humble and strong in their faith, blessing me merely by their presence and example!

The Master of the House was there from the beginning. He came with His Holy Spirit and lovingly waited on us in such a splendid way. His joy was in the music and in the smiles of His workers. He was there, feeding us with His grace and love, empowering us with so many of the gifts and fruits of His Spirit. I would find that in the very middle of an activity, a presentation, or a job, I would be suddenly flooded with sensations of peace, of understanding, of awe, strength, hope, generosity, the need to give, give, give, and so much joy! I saw this in everyone else. I saw the smiling Jesus in their faces of love. The Master was giving us a glimpse of His heavenly feast.

Serving the Lord like this is not easy. It can be exhausting, even scary, especially when you pray for the Spirit in all His power to come and fill the person before you. But boy, can He be the Life of the party, abundant Life! We celebrated in His Love all weekend. Healing, hope, and unity flowered all around us.
I am resting and recovering today (maybe I’m too old for this?) with a smile on my face as my aches and pains subside. Relaxing….. until the next job!

Orlando Hernández

Young Mother Sewing

by Howard Hain

DP139632

Mary Cassatte, “Young Mother Sewing” 1900, (The Met)

 

A living faith works. It is always active, especially when we are docile to the Spirit.

When we walk by faith we see, we hear, we speak what God intends, especially when we are blind to the cares and anxieties of the world.

Small children are wonderfully active, superbly passive, and at times they seem completely blind, fantastically blind. They are alive. They see. They hear. They speak. They watch. They feel.

Mother Church calls all of us home, even when she is silent. She is always at work. She watches us even when her eyes are busy with the business of the day.

She sews. We just need to obey. To trust. To allow ourselves the freedom to lay across her lap.

In the short description upon the little museum card hanging beneath the painting shown above, God has planted great instruction. The work is by American impressionist Mary Cassatt.

According to the card, about the year 1890 “Cassatt redirected her art toward women caring for children and children alone—themes that reflected her affection for her nieces and nephews and the prevailing cultural interest in child rearing.” And then, after informing us that for this particular painting Cassatt “enlisted two unrelated models to enact the roles of mother and child”, the card completes its little catechesis by blessing us with a precious little anecdote and quote:

Louisine Havemeyer, who purchased it in 1901, remarked on its truthfulness: “Look at that little child that has just thrown herself against her mother’s knee, regardless of the result and oblivious to the fact that she could disturb ‘her mamma.’ And she is quite right, she does not disturb her mother. Mamma simply draws back a bit and continues to sew.”

God are we blessed. So blessed to have such a mother. All of us. Maybe give her a call today. Better yet, perhaps even stop by. She’d love that. She’d love to see your face. You’re always on her mind and in her heart. She lives in the closest church you can find, any building that truly houses her Son.

If she seems a little occupied with the “cooking and cleaning”, with all “the business of life”, don’t let that stop you or cut your visit short. No, throw yourself against your “mother’s knee regardless of the result and oblivious to the fact” that you could disturb your “mamma.”

It most certainly does not.

“Mamma simply draws back a bit and continues to sew.”


 

Howard Hain is a contemplative layman, husband, and father. He blogs at http://www.howardhain.com

Follow Howard on Twitter @HowardDHain

www.twitter.com/HowardDHain

If you enjoyed this post, please consider “liking” it, adding a comment, becoming an email subscriber, or passing it along via the social-media links below. Your support is greatly appreciated. Step by step. All for God’s glory.


Web Link: The Met Museum. Mary Cassatt, “Young Mother Sewing”, 1900

 

Friday Thoughts: Be Still

by Howard Hain

 

We don’t enter the Heart of Jesus to hide, we enter to encounter the totality of all creation all at once. God be praised.

Be Still, and know that I am God.

—Psalm 46:10

 


 

Howard Hain is a contemplative layman, husband, and father. He blogs at www.howardhain.com  

Follow Howard on Twitter @HowardDHain

www.twitter.com/HowardDHain

If you enjoyed this post, please consider “liking” it, adding a comment, becoming an email subscriber (drop-down menu at top of page), or passing it along via the social-media links below. Your support is greatly appreciated. Step by step. All for God’s glory.

The Disciple

By Orlando Hernandez

In this Wednesday’s Gospel (Lk 10: 1-9) it says:

The Lord Jesus appointed seventy-two disciples whom He sent ahead of Him in pairs to every town and place He intended to visit. He said to them, “ The harvest is abundant but the laborers are few; so ask the master of the harvest to send out laborers for his harvest. Go on your way; behold, I am sending you like lambs among wolves. Carry no money bag, no sack, no sandals; and greet no one along the way. Into whatever house you enter, first say, ‘ Peace to this household.’ If a peaceful person lives there, your peace will rest on him; but if not, it will return to you. Stay in the same house and eat and drink what is offered to you, for the laborer deserves payment. Do not move about from one house to another. Whatever town you enter and they welcome you, eat what is set before you, cure the sick in it and say to them, ‘ The Kingdom of God is at hand for you.’”

A friend of ours has been a member of our prayer group at the Passionist Monastery in Jamaica, Queens for the past two years. Through a series of unfortunate events, a few months ago, he lost the apartment that he had inherited from his parents. His Social Security check is not enough for him to get a place, and he has no family left, so he lives in a homeless shelter in Brooklyn. He is trying to get affordable housing through the social workers there. It has been a slow process.

Like the apostles that Jesus sent out he’s practically penniless and homeless, and lives out there like a “lamb among wolves.” He takes a series of trains so the he can come from Bedford-Stuyvesant to the Jamaica Monastery for Mass during the week, and to celebrate the Eucharist and praise the Lord with our prayer group on Sundays. We have raised a decent sum of money for him, but he prefers that we hold it until he can get a place of his own. One of the members of our group is dealing with the social workers to work something out so that he can rent an apartment in her house. We are waiting to see what happens.

He is lonely. He loves the company of our prayer group. He comes with an affable disposition and a positive attitude. He enters our chapel where he is indeed welcomed, and can “eat and drink” the best food in the world. He loves to praise and dance with our group, but sometimes he just sits there quietly and looks quite sad. People come and pray over him, and ask him how they can help him. He’s embarrassed and says he’s okey.

Sometimes he tells me that he thinks that God has put him in the doghouse and he doesn’t know why, but he keeps on coming, and praying, and participating. The other day I realized that he was like those 72 homeless disciples, coming to our House of God to bring his peace and brotherhood to all of us, to share his dignity, his patience and his faith —to represent our Lord. My spiritual director, Fr. John Powers,CP, says that being in need is one of the greatest ministries. It can inspire us to empathy, compassion, respect, and sacrifice for our hurting brothers and sisters. Jesus is there in so many ways. Our beautiful, humble, persevering friend is indeed coming to announce Jesus, to tell us by his very presence “The Kingdom of Heaven is at hand for you.”

Orlando Hernandez

Morning Thoughts: Heaven in One Act

by Howard Hain

 


—a play for children, adults, and all humanity—


 

ACT ONE

 

Scene 1

 

(Midweek morning, a small urban apartment, a father and his seven-year-old daughter, sitting on an old IKEA couch, half hour before school)

 

DAUGHTER (looking out window):  Daddy, is heaven real?

FATHER (sipping coffee):  Absolutely.

D:   And Jesus is in heaven?

F:   Yes. Definitely.

D:   Are there people in heaven with Jesus?

F:   Yes.

D:   People who died?

F:   Yes, people who died but who now live forever with Jesus in heaven.

D:   Forever?

F:   Yes, for ever and ever. Perfectly happy.

D:   Perfectly?

F:   Perfectly.

D:   What do they do in heaven all that time?

F:   Well, they do what Jesus does, because when you’re in heaven you’re like Him.

D:   Like Him? People in heaven are like Jesus?

F:   Yes, when you’re in heaven you see Jesus, so you become like Him, like God.

D:   I don’t understand…

F:   Well, it’s hard to explain. I don’t really understand it either. I don’t know if anybody does…it’s really hard to even try…

D:   Can you? Can you try?

F:   Well, put it this way. You know that God is great, right?

D:   Yes…

F:   Well, He’s not just great, He’s so great that everything that even comes close to Him becomes great…     In fact, He’s so great that when a person even sees God—I mean really sees Him—really, really sees Him—that person actually becomes like God.     It’s amazing…but God is just that great. He’s that powerful.

D:   But what about me?

F:   What about you?

D:   What if I see God? What if I really see Him—if I really, really see Him—will I be like God too?

F:   Well, yes…when you’re in heaven…you’ll be like God too.

D:   But how come not now?

F:   Well, do you see God now?

D:   No…not really…(long pause)…(smiling)…but kind of…

F:   Well…you’re right…sometimes we do “kind of” see God…we “kind of” get a little “peak” at Him every once in a while…but in heaven it’s different, it’s like seeing God face to face—just like you and I see each other right now—but even much more, because in heaven you’ll never stop seeing Him.     In heaven it’s not like seeing someone now but not seeing him or her a little while later.     In heaven it’s always…you and God never stop seeing each other…

D:   And that makes you just like God?

F:   Well, yes, because in heaven you are totally part of Jesus, and He is totally part of you. It’s like the two of you are one “thing”.

D:   That’s why you do what Jesus does?

F:   Yes.     I mean, how could you not?     Think about it…     Imagine if you were tied to someone at the waist by a very, very short rope…     Ok?     Picture it.     Now…wouldn’t you have to go everywhere that person goes?

D:   Yes…

F:   So if he went into the kitchen, you’d go into the kitchen…and if he went to sit on the couch, well, you’d go sit on the couch…

D:   Yes…like those twins we saw on TV…the ones that were still attached…

F:   (smiling)  Well, yes, kind of…     …that’s a really good example… (pause) …maybe it’s more like two little twin babies who are still living in their mommy’s belly, who go everywhere their mommy goes…     Because in heaven it’s like you’re attached to Jesus in every good way possible…your mind, your heart, your soul…and yet you’re totally free, free to do whatever you want whenever you want…and that’s maybe the best part, because what you want to do is always exactly what Jesus is already doing! So it all works out perfectly. That’s why you’re so happy in heaven. Happy as happy can be. So happy that no one on earth can even imagine being that happy.     Imagine that!      It’s like two best friends who always, always, always agree to play the same game and always, always, always have the best time.     Make sense?

D:   Yeah, they’d be like the best friends in the entire world…like the best friends that could ever be…

F:   Yeah…that’s a great way to put it…     In heaven you and Jesus are the best friends that could ever be…

D:   So what kind of stuff do they do in heaven?

F:   Well, they love. They love all the time. They love God…they love each other…and they love us…and they also pray…

D:   People in heaven still pray?

F:   Sure they do…but they don’t pray for themselves anymore. They’re already in heaven, so now they only pray for other people, for people like us who are still on earth—just like Jesus does.     Jesus prays for us, so they pray for us….     It has a big fancy word. It’s called “interceding”.

D:   Interceding?

F:   It means to ask the Father—Father God—to bless us, to be kind to us—to all of us still on earth—and to let us come into heaven when we die so we can live with Him, and the Father, and the Holy Spirit, and all of God’s holy angels and saints…forever and ever…

D:   Wow, I really want to see what heaven looks like!

F:   Me too!

D:   And you’re old, so you’ll go before me, right?

F:   That makes sense…

D:   So when you go to heaven, Daddy, you can pray for me too, with Jesus…

F:   Absolutely. (pause) (looking outward, nodding his head) (smiling) I’ll see Him face to face and be like Him…and I’ll be happy forever…and I’ll do all that Jesus does…     (turning toward his daughter) And I will pray for you until the day you join us in heaven, for ever and ever… perfect happiness together… best, best friends forever…and ever…and ever…

(Smile. A big smile. In both directions)

F: (starting to get up off the couch)  Ok, that’s enough heaven talk…heaven starts right now.     Go have a good day at school. Be a good girl…listen…and have fun…that’s definitely part of your job here on earth.     Got It?

D:   Got it.

F:   I love you so much…

D:   I love you too, Daddy.

(A hug, a kiss, a quick blessing. Father and daughter exit opposite sides of stage)

 

CURTAIN


 

Howard Hain is a contemplative layman, husband, and father. He blogs at http://www.howardhain.com  

Follow Howard on Twitter @HowardDHain

http://www.twitter.com/HowardDHain

If you enjoyed this post, please consider “liking” it, adding a comment, becoming an email subscriber (drop-down menu at top of page), or passing it along via the social-media links below. Your support is greatly appreciated. Step by step. All for God’s glory.