On Trinity Sunday

If all the world is a stage in this magnificent Earth the Lord God almighty has created for us, then what have we to fear? He wrote the script, we know it ends well when Jesus Christ will come again. It’s only the world that tells us to be afraid. 

We need only to look to our triune God – He’s all that matters. They created us in His image and likeness, male and female we’re created, to enjoy the Earth and all that is in it; to tend the garden of the Tree of Life, and to enjoy all that is good. He’s given us dominion once again as adopted sons and daughters filled with His Spirit, to master His creation in His name, to glorify Him through the might and wonder He works in our lives and to ever reach new heights of glory, power, humility, meekness, greatness. 

The world will tell us to be afraid, to feel shame, to be depressed. The world tries to teach us to compromise, to hate, to isolate – that there’s something wrong with us. The father of lies lives boldly, with many willing servants to do his bidding 

Ezra Pound in his Canto #1 recounts the story of Odysseus descending to the underworld and making his way back up into the light. He ends the story with a colon ( : ) that most take in a literary sense. 

But a Canto is a song, in music that colon is a repeat sign – meaning the story is repeated. Odysseus becomes Everyman, who’s journey in life takes on the dramatic arc we will all call our own. 

We each journey into the world, listen to the world, peer deeply into the mysteries of life. Ultimately, find God anew in all things, always filling our sails, guiding our path, shining His light before our steps, filling us with His Spirit.

O eternal Trinity, Thou art my maker and I am Thy creation. Illuminated by Thee, I have learned that Thou hast made me a new creation through the Blood of Thine Only-begotten Son because Thou art captivated by love at the beauty of Thy creation.

O eternal Trinity, O Divinity, O unfathomable abyss, O deepest sea, what greater gift could Thou givest me then Thy very Self? Thou art a fire that burns eternally yet never consumed, a fire that consumes with Thy heat my self-love. Again and again Thou art the fire who taketh away all cold heartedness and illuminateth the mind by Thy light, the light with which Thou hast made me to know Thy truth.

By this mirrored light I know Thou are the highest good, a good above all good, a fortunate good, an incomprehensible good, an unmeasurable good, a beauty above all beauty, a wisdom above all wisdom, for Thou art wisdom itself, the food of angels, the fire of love that Thou givest to man.

Thou art the garment covering our nakedness. Thou feedest our family with Thy sweetness, a sweetness Thou art from which there is no trace of bitterness. O Eternal Trinity! Amen.

Act of Thanksgiving to the Trinity, 
by St. Catherine of Siena (1347-1380), Doctor of the Church
from her Dialogue on Divine Providence

Most blessed Trinity, Father Son, and Holy Ghost, we praise you, we adore you, we glorify you.

We worship you now and forever.

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COVID Lockdown Takeaways

I still find myself saying “What just happened?!” regarding our COVID existence, and am also completely aware it’s still going on. It was the oddest of times, when we all found ourselves more or less making everything up as we went along – to both respond to the developing situations and to help smooth the way for others.

Being an introvert I at first thought it would be a great time to catch up on my spiritual reading, take long walks and get the garden in order. It turned out to be anything of the sort, with long days spent in constant communication with so many people about their concerns, trials, tribulations, joys, sorrows, lessons, prayers, and of course the overwhelming desire for the sacraments by so many.

All of that is completely understandable, but what has happened in our era of instant communication with 24/7 access, a new phenomenon has spring up where everyone is at home in their individualized setting, needing an individualized response, each with separate suggestions, ideas, etc.

For instance, whereas you usually might have suggestions from the morning coffee group, the St. Joseph Guild, the Finance Council, what have you – it became 1,000 or so people with time to consider everything in-depth, all needing, quite validly, to express their opinion to one person. That was overwhelming until I developed new understandings of people’s needs during the lockdown. People needed to vent. They needed the Eucharist. They needed Confession. Some just wanted to talk. Overall it was a beautiful time of getting to know people more in-depth.

At some point also, I developed a new respect for my privacy. I’ve always felt it a pubic service to be on social media, to type things up on my site so that I could keep in touch with people – and I do keep in touch with some of the most amazing people out there, half of whom are parishioners and so many from all over the place.

But there’s that old adage about public living – 20% will always love you, 20% will always hate you, and 60% are indifferent. The numbers vary according to who tells the tale, but it’s the hate that I don’t necessarily have the time for anymore. You have to have a thick skin to be a priest, to begin with, and more so to have the conversations we’re able to have in our Parish and online. I don’t see many other Pastors bringing in the Extraordinary Form of the Mass, undertaking historic renovations and working to make sure it all flows well and is built on a solid foundation while at the same time making sure everyone’s spiritual needs are met to the best of our ability.

There was a saying in seminary that “everything you do or say, can and will be used against you.” I didn’t experience it like that to be honest, mostly because I am an open person – guarded, and not necessarily confessional, but open. It’s even more true in Priesthood that everything you say or do can and will be used against you because as a Pastor some will always hate you. The exercise is to respond in charity, to practice understanding, and to plan in hope, with fortitude. Then let it go.

Sharing so personally is not necessary. I remember in Boy’s State back in High School, I was the Library Club geek who was a projectionist at the Star Trek conventions, in the Key Club, gold medal winner in almost everything but math, First in State in French – pourqois je ne sais pas – surrounded by a bunch of jocks who called themselves the Faithful Five. They ruled the roost like a pack of bullies and they were truly just horrible. They especially didn’t like me, and I was the brunt of their disdain which took shape in every way shape or form possible over the course of that one miserable week, which had so many great and wonderful ideas to offer us about leadership.

At the end of the week, there was a huge emotional ceremony at the State Capital building and gradually everyone started bursting into tears. I was thinking “You’ve got to be kidding me,” surrounded by hundreds of high school dudes sobbing their eyes out for no reason. Gradually everyone in our city (or parish? it was a while ago,) came over and started telling me I was the strongest one there – because the Faithful Five had never cracked me, never gotten me to flinch, never caused me to waver from the course. They were humiliated, and everyone forgot about them. Once I realized what was happening, I had some teary moments also.

Being a Priest can be like that at times.

Psychologically, with everyone’s stress levels raised to about 10,000 times the normal limit, I decided to invest in an online course dealing with Cognitive Behavorial Therapy (CBT) and addictions, known as the Freedom Model. It’s been an invaluable experience, and CBT is recognized as the future in addiction treatment.

One of the most valuable facts was learning how people start to behave when they believe traditional recovery beliefs. For example – one is told they have a disease that’s incurable, it runs in the family, it’s genetic, it’s an allergy. They will have to hit rock bottom, there’s no way to avoid it. Their family learns this also and is convinced their child has to hit rock bottom. The stage is set.

I’ve seen so many people in this doomed mindset. All personal ability to change – to put on the new man in Christ, to cooperate with grace, to simply make different choices, to acquire new beliefs, to learn new habits and to do new, fun enjoyable things – is taken away. “I’m an addict, I can’t help it.” Science shows otherwise and, in our enlightened world where we give so much lip service to science while rarely taking the time to genuinely learn from it (i.e. abortion actually is harmful to women, and life does begin at conception,) it’s time to welcome bright new ideas with solid foundations, which are completely compatible with our Faith.

So begins the COVID lockdown takeaway series.

I have a few new writing projects away from here, and I have to decide if this site should really stay or not. Maybe it’s best just parked away on some back bayou of the interwebz, for random explorers to find. It generates a surprising amount of traffic from time to time. It was getting a bit more focussed in a new direction when suddenly the techs at Kinsta restored some old posts and the newer ones went into the archives. That happens – but the takeaway is that people do need presence from the introverts fo the world. Whether it’s in a more focussed blog project, steady streams of videos, or both and more.

So much to do and see still in life. This has been a grand and terrible time, with many beautiful lessons, from many beautiful people.

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