Archive for September, 2010


Dear friends,
I subscribe to the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies Today’s Torah which has been a real help in studying Hebrew scriptures. You can go to my website and click on the link for the American Jewish University and sign up for them to be sent to you.

There was one about a week ago that I thought was especially good. It was a Special Edition for Sukkot entitled “Mighty is Love” by Rabbi Brad Artson. I have placed a copy of it on the website under the link Homilies/Biblical Studies, and it is under biblical studies.

Rabbi Brad says that it is said that one can tell a lot about a culture by its vocabulary. He cites the popular claim that Eskimos have dozens of words for snow. He tells us that “…we Jews have inherited many ways to say love.” He then talks about a dozen Hebrew words that reflect some aspect of loving. The Rabbi says that the most frequently used word is Chesed, which is translated as lovingkindness. Noteworthy is that none of the terms refer simply to emotions or feelings. He recommends that if you feel a warm burning in your heart, swallow some Tums and the feeling will go away! “…the Bible almost always precedes the word chesed with the verb, oseh,  to do.” Chesed is Covenantal, dynamic, persistent, and requires “…the integration of values and emotions with deeds.” He goes on to describe other terms for love and how they are related to chesed, including tsedek (justice), shalom,  (peace, wholeness, integrity, disposition for benevolence, confidence, justice), and Berakhah (blessing, wellbeing, undeserved bounty).

I cannot do justice with this brief synopsis, so I encourage you to read it in its entirety. We would do well to study Hebrew scriptures from a Jewish perspective. We are sometimes prone to read things in from a Christian perspective that may not be accurate and to totally miss other things. In preparing homilies for Mass, I routinely go to the Tanakh, the Jewish Study Bible in reading the Hebrew First Reading. The richness of scripture is greatly expanded.

Blessings — and  Berakhah! M-J+

Dear friends,
We just finished an adult education series of three sessions on the New Atheism at St. Matt’s by Professor Emeritus Tony Battaglia. He has kindly given permission for his notes to be shared for personal study only. You will find them on my webpage if you click on the link that says “Books, articles, seminars.” I look forward to our follow-up this Saturday at St. Junia’s House beginning at 11 AM where we will be showing the PBS film, Question of God. It poses the question as a “debate” between Freud and C. S. Lewis. Hope you can drop in for awhile and watch at least a portion, plus help yourself to homemade soup and bread! Email or phone me if you need location and directions to St. Junia’s House in Anaheim. Rogersmartha@sbcglobal.net or 714 606 4365.
Blessings, M-J+

Dear friends,
Several of you had written in response to the buddhist training for the mind post a few weeks ago and wanted more. As I said, I could not take credit for it. My friend, John Gallagher, who is actually a serious Roman Catholic, who does volunteer work at one of our local Orange County Jails, has also seriously studied Buddhism. John goes to the jail weekly and provides a Communion service for Roman Catholic inmates. I asked him to give us more and today, he wrote:

I was talking with an inmate about anger. I told him that a couple of weeks ago I experienced a feeling that at first I couldn’t identify and then I recognized it as anger.

“Jose’s” eyes actually got big. He said that he had ceased being angry and had realized that anger is an emotion we don’t have to have. He  said, “You know, everybody seems to think that anger is normal.”

Early on, the Dhammapada (Note) gives this teaching:

He hit me, he beat me, he robbed me, he defeated me. Holding such thoughts keeps hatred alive.

He hit me, he beat me, he robbed me, he defeated me. Letting go of such thoughts banishes hatred for all time.

Animosity is not vanquished by animosity, but by loving kindness. This law is ancient and eternal.
I see Buddhism as a toolbox for the human mind.

Note: http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Dhammapada
The version I used is somewhat versified.

Thanks, John, for sending this. Blessings, M-J+

I received this post from a friend at St. Matt’s ECC Church, Lou Ann Clancy, which I thought was so good that it was worth passing on.

Recently, I overheard a mother and daughter in their last moments together at the airport. They had announced the departure. Standing near the security gate, they hugged, and the mother said, ‘I love you, and I pray you enough.

The daughter replied, ‘Mom, our life together has been more than enough. Your love is all I ever needed. I pray you enough, too, Mom.’

They kissed, and the daughter left. The mother walked over to the window where I was seated. Standing there, I could see she wanted and needed to cry. I tried not to intrude on her privacy, but she welcomed me in by asking, ‘Did you ever say good-bye to someone knowing it would be forever?’ ‘Yes, I have,’ I replied. ‘Forgive me for asking, but why is this a forever good-bye?’

‘Well…I’m not as young as I once was, she lives so far away and  has her own busy life. I have some challenges ahead, and the reality is – her next trip back will be for my funeral,’ she said. ‘When you were saying good-bye, I heard you say, ‘I pray you enough.’ May I ask what that means? She began to smile. ‘That’s a prayer that has been handed down from other generations. My parents used to say it to everyone.’ She paused a moment and looked up as if trying to remember it in detail, and she
smiled even more. ‘When we said, ‘I pray you enough,’ we wanted the other person to have a life filled with just enough good things to sustain them. Then, turning toward me, she shared the following as if she were reciting it from memory:

I pray you enough sun to keep your attitude bright no matter how gray the day may appear.

I pray you enough rain to appreciate the sun even more.

I pray you enough happiness to keep your spirit alive and everlasting.

I pray you enough pain so that even the smallest of joys in life may appear bigger.

I pray you enough gain to satisfy your wanting.

I pray you enough loss to appreciate all that you possess.

I pray you enough hellos to get you through the final good-bye.

Then, she began to cry, and walked away. They say, it takes a minute to find a special person, an hour to appreciate them, a day to love them, but an entire life to forget them.

TAKE TIME TO LIVE…..To all my friends and loved ones, I PRAY YOU ENOUGH…

M-J+

Dear friends,
I am just beginning to learn how to use the internal resources available to me, including the ECC software that allows me to study the traffic in and out of my site, with many fine-tuned details available, such as what search words were used, what pages were visited, for how long, etc.

Just a quickie overview. In August, there were 178 unique visitors with a total of 369 visits. In September — and we’re not quite to the half-way mark for the month — there have been 93 unique visitors and 173 visits. I am awed by this, and will also be able to use the stats to target interests for which we can hopefully fine-tune our resources and help. For a website that has only been functioning since July, I am honored and well-pleased. It is not in vain, it is not about me, it is about forming and linking Christian communities, and sharing our resources. Blessings, M-J+

With the recent Steven Hawking book coming out, and his appearance on Larry King, interest in NA has ticked upward. I thought I’d let you know about some resources that I have if other ECC communities want to make use of them. I will post this also on the ECC Women Clergy listserv as well. We are fortunate to have Prof Tony Battaglia doing a 3-part series in our adult education program on Sunday mornings (2 more to go). The discussion has been very stimulating.

I have scheduled a special St. Junia’s House event open to St. Matt and any others in the local SoCal area who might want to come. There is a wonderful PBS film, “The Question of God: Sigmund Freud and C. S. Lewis” that puts together an reenactment of these two men “in debate” about the existence of God. It is long, 3 hours 45 minutes. There is a study guide for it, which I’ve posted on my website under the section on books, articles, seminars, entitled QofGod. This could be broken into several sessions, but we’re running it all day on 10/2/10. If anyone wants to borrow the film to use thereafter, just let me know. There’s also another file on my website from a seminar on NA that I took at Chapel Hill, NC which you might find useful. So if anyone wants help, this is a topic in which I’ve had a lot of interest, having majored in Biology as an undergrad, since one strand of the NA arguments seems to center around evolution. This film is really great, a really good tool — very balanced, fair, and use of C.S. Lewis to counter the NA arguments was a stroke of genius. Blessings, M-J+

I won’t go into great detail but will just say that following my well-considered  decision to resign from an independent catholic religious order on 3/13/10 to which I had belonged since 2005, there had been multiple efforts, both publicly and privately, to trash my character. Those who needed to know, know the story and not just from me. I have hidden absolutely nothing from my current religious superiors. It was probably my incardination on 9/05/10 that was the trigger for the current situation.

One cannot defend one’s self and to date I had stayed quiet. In most situations similar to this, if we lay low, and allow people to become more themselves, defense of ourselves won’t be necessary. And, true to form, the post on 9/11 was absolutely a classic signature for this spiritually abusive person, something she’s done to others as well.

The  claim of just casually searching the internet looking for information on St. Junia and happening upon my site was pure baloney. The email came in under a false name but could be traced with my live traffic software as originating from her county/home state of origin on the east coast, while she currently resides on the west coast.  She obviously did not want to leave any digital footprint that she had ever visited my website so the email originated  from the east coast. At the same time, a weekly homily that she normally posts on her website was not published this week, which I surmised was probably because she was visiting east coast relatives. I would not have been looking for her whereabouts had this comment not shown up.

All I can say, is that I know I am safely incardinated and really safe now in my new communities.  I am healing, and relieved that there will never again be need to explain  to anyone else what went wrong in that situation. All one has to do is to read her comment and it will become perfectly clear. This is not to say that I have no flaws because I am far from perfect. But bonds of abusive attachment where I’ve sought so hard to earn approval that would never be forthcoming  have been broken.  Sometimes there is a lot of pain before there can be healing. It is actually a miracle from God that what was devastating six months ago has brought so much good into my life. I have many of you to thank for that, because I have learned that real community is actually possible and that I can participate and serve without having to feel that  maintaining a false self is required nor a ruse of perfection.

I had really hoped that this relationship could eventually be healed, and I left the door open that we could work on this; but I know I can do nothing further but pray.  I cannot “fix it.” I’ve dealt with my own contributions to this situation as fully as I can with lots of help from several friends both outside and within my ECC community — and three or four psychologists or pastoral counselors as well! (I know I am a challenge but what you see is what you get haha!) Please pray with me for this person who is truly miserable — it is so apparent from her excruciatingly detailed microscopic analyses of all my flaws and imperfections plus her own distortions of who I am or what my intentions are. I loved her so very much.  But if God can heal me, as Paul says, one who is the chief of sinners, then God can also heal her. So I must trust that God will bring her to peace and reconciliation.  I must let her go.

But I also decided, after considerable thought, prayer, and discussion with others  that I needed for this situation to be public rather than buried and ignored.  Some said they would have trashed the post into the spam file. I felt that if I did this, the problem would not come to an end. But I don’t have to identify her publicly and do to her what she has done to me.

But if I am to be a channel for healing others’ need for  God’s acceptance and their return to wholeness,  then I need  to draw a boundaryfor myself that I should have drawn long before now.  We can never tolerate — ever,  ever — anyone disrespecting someone,  intruding into the realm of their own personal conscience or shaming or ridiculing someone in the name of spiritual purposes.    I pray that we are done with this.  I thank all of my friends, old and new, and all are deepening through God’s grace.  M-J+

Dear friends, in light of recent events on my blog, a friend of mine who is a friend of St. Junia’s House wrote me a note and gave me the following for meditation purposes. He felt that # 4 applied in this situation but perhaps #6 does also. I will take this exercise seriously and use this for a focus of my meditation and prayer for a few days. Love to you all, M-J+
EIGHT STANZAS
FOR TRAINING THE MIND

1. With a determination to accomplish
The highest welfare for all sentient beings
Who surpass even a wish-granting jewel
I will learn to hold them supremely dear.

2. Whenever I associate with others I will learn
To think of myself as the lowest among all
And respectfully hold others to be supreme
From the very depths of my heart.

3. In all actions I will learn to search into my mind
And as soon as an afflictive emotion arises
Endangering myself and others
Will firmly face and avert it.

4. I will learn to cherish beings of ill nature
And those oppressed by strong sins and suffering
As if I had found a precious
Treasure very difficult to find.

5. When others out of jealousy treat me badly
With abuse, slander, and so on,
I will learn to take all loss
And offer victory to them.

6.When one whom I have benefited with great hope
Unreasonably hurts me very badly,
I will learn to view that person
As an excellent spiritual guide.

7. In short, I will learn to offer to everyone without exception
All help and happiness directly and indirectly
And respectfully take upon myself
All harm and suffering of my mothers.

8. I will learn to keep all these practices
Undefiled by the stains of the eight worldly conceptions
And by understanding all phenomena as like illusions
Be released from the bondage of attachment.

- Tenzin Gyatso, the Fourteenth Dalai Lama

Dear friends,
You should all read Fr. Greg Singleton’s weekly reflection this week! http://www.csfcecc.org/html/week.html
Peace and blessings, M-J+