Archive for February, 2015

Am I good enough to be a Sinner? thumbnail
Pope Francis

I am a sinner. This is the most accurate definition. It is not a figure of speech, a literary genre. I am a sinner.

From America (2013)


Richard Rohr OFM

The absolute religious genius of Jesus is that he ignores all debt codes, purity codes, religious quarantines, and the endless searching for sinners.  He refuses to divide the world into the pure and the impure, much to the chagrin of almost everybody – then and now.  Unlike most churches, he is not into “sin management.”  He is into transformation.

Jesus is shockingly not upset with sinners! He is only upset with people who do not think they are sinners.  In most of history, religion thought its mission was to somehow expel sin and evil. As if it could.  After Jesus we find out that the real sin lies in the very act of expelling.  Jesus knew there is no place to expel it to.  It only hides underground.

Either we carry and transform the evil of human history as our own problem, or we increase its power by hating and punishing it “over there.”  It will eventually come back to bite us.  Jesus taught us how to hold, absorb, and transform the human situation, not to deny it, punish it, or project it elsewhere.  He then dramatically illustrated this pattern on the cross, and it became resurrection!

Adapted from Hope Against Darkness (2001)



Henri Nouwen

God’s mercy is greater than our sins. There is an awareness of sin that does not lead to God but rather to self-preoccupation. Our temptation is to be so impressed by our sins and our failings and so overwhelmed by our lack of generosity that we get stuck in paralyzing guilt. It is the guilt that says, “I am too sinful to deserve God’s mercy.” It is the guilt that leads to introspection instead of directing our eyes to God. It is the guilt that has become an idol and therefore a form of pride.

Lent is a time to break down this idol and to direct our attention to our loving Lord. The question is: “Are we like Judas, who was so overcome by his sin that he could not believe in God’s mercy any longer … or are we like Peter who returned to his Lord with repentance and cried bitterly for his sins?” The season of Lent, during which winter and spring struggle with each other for dominance, helps us in a special way to cry out for God’s mercy.

From A Cry for Mercy (1983)


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God is a gardener

The gardener supports total reconciliation and the possibility for all creatures to live together:

God is a gardener thumbnail


Christophe Boureux O.P.

Christ appears as a gardener to Mary Magdalene. He assumes the figure of God who established a garden when the world was being created, a garden that was later entrusted to human beings. At these two fundamental moments of the creation and resurrection, humankind was therefore put in a garden and it is there that we were first called to respond to God. In a way, humankind first responds to God as a gardener.

A garden is a place of universal friendliness. When you’re working in a garden, people stop and start up a conversation. Gardeners exchange plants. More fundamentally, the gardener’s task is to enhance this friendliness. In the garden, the gardener sees to it that each plant has its own place, that it has enough space, shadow and nourishment. The gardener is a one-man-band who is responsible for this arrangement. In the process, the gardener also announces the union of all things in Christ, the ultimate organization of all creatures. In contact with the Earth, the gardener supports the prophecy of Isaiah, announcing total reconciliation and the possibility for all creatures to live together: “The wolf shall be the guest of the lamb and the leopard shall lie down with the young goat” (Isaiah 11, 6-9).

Why were Adam and Eve driven out of the Garden of Eden? When they ate the forbidden fruit, they short-circuited the time required for work, maturation and production. They rejected the slow rhythm of plants. God had asked them to watch over the garden, in other words, to respect the essential temporality of nature. Gardening does just that: it restores a better-adjusted relationship with time. As does the liturgy, by the way, which presents us with a different rhythm. It helps to free us from the fast pace that monopolizes our lives.

Thinking about creation also means thinking about the type of space in which we live. I am especially sensitive to this as I live in a place that is visited by many “professionals of space,” namely architects. Space is a place to think about and organize in order to promote conviviality. All too often we think of space as a neutral place, as a place that is not determined by the creatures that inhabit it….

Broadly speaking, from the 17th-to-20th century, thought was dominated by a theism inherited from enlightenment philosophy. God was conceived of as a strict, almost impersonal principal, without any subjectivity and far removed from any figure of Christ. Here again, one of the goals of my work is to rediscover the path of Christological creation that one encounters in the fathers of the Church. I’m thinking of the medieval miniatures showing the seven days of creation, in which we clearly see Jesus presiding over everything. For the illuminator, the figure of the visible God mentioned in the Epistle to the Colossians (1:15) was the figure of Christ, “first-born of all creation.” It is only through Christ that Christians can truly enter into the mystery of creation.

From La Croix (2015)

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Temptation is not a sin. It’s how you respond to it that matters.

February 22, 2015


“Be alert. Continue strong in the faith.

Have courage, and be strong.” (1 Corinthians 16:13 NCV)


Many people are intimidated by the fact that they are tempted,
like they shouldn’t even be in that situation or that they should be able to control it.
But you shouldn’t feel guilty about temptation.

It’s not a sin to be tempted.
It’s a sin to give in to temptation.

The Bible says that Jesus experienced every temptation known to man, but he didn’t sin.
Temptation is not a sin.
It’s how you respond to it that matters.

be alert

The Bible says we need to flee temptation:
“Be alert. Continue strong in the faith.
Have courage, and be strong” (1 Corinthians 16:13 NCV).
To “be alert” means to know what tempts you so that you can stay away from it.

There are two things you need to stay away from:
tempting situations (circumstances)
and tempting associations (people who tempt you).

stay away

John Baker, says,
“You hang around the barber shop long enough, you’re going to get a haircut.”
It’s true!
If you have a problem with alcohol, you don’t go to the bar to eat a sandwich.
You stay away from it.

You need to know
what tempts you,
when it tempts you,
where it tempts you,
who tempts you, and then just stay away from those situations and people.

If you get tempted in airport bookstores, don’t go to airport bookstores.
If you get tempted by a certain channel, don’t have that channel on your TV.

We have parental block on our TV, and the youngest person in our house is my wife, Kay.


We don’t have kids at home any more,
but I don’t want to even risk going through channels
and stumbling upon something I don’t need to see.

You also need to avoid tempting associations.
The Bible says in 1 Corinthians 15:33,
“Do not be fooled. ‘Bad companions ruin good character’” (TEV).

bad company

There are some people you need to stop relating to.
There may be some friends who maybe should not be your friends,
because it’s always easier for them to pull you down than for you to pull them up.

If they’re leading you away from Christ, they’re not friends.
Bad company corrupts good character.

So what should you do if you try to avoid those tempting circumstances
and people but still find yourself in a sticky situation?

Get out! Don’t just walk away — run!
You don’t fight it; you flee it.
And you go after the good stuff in life instead.

– fwd: v c mathews

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Does Lent mean practicing our sense of anticipation

Lent through the Lens of Grace thumbnail

Andy Alexander S.J. and Maureen McCann Waldron

Just imagine that this Lent is going to be different from every other Lent we’ve experienced. Imagine that there will be many graces offered us this year. Let’s even imagine that God is going to help transform our lives, with greater freedom, greater joy, and deeper desires for love and service.

Preparing our hearts is a process of preparing our desires. This means practicing our sense of anticipation. If we imagine Lent as an “ordeal” or a time to dread in some way, then we’ve already pre-disposed ourselves to not get very much out of it. These days … are a time to start anticipating something wonderful that is about to happen.

Our sense of excitement and anticipation will grow more easily if we begin to imagine what God wants to give us. There is something coming that we can truly look forward to. If we get too focused on ourselves and what we are going to do or not do, we could risk missing the gift God wants to give us. We have to keep aware of the fact that grace comes from God. This is about God’s great desire to bless us. With this mindset, it is easier for us to imagine that what we really want to do is place ourselves in a space to receive what God wants to give us.

We receive God’s gifts as body-persons. We experience things with our senses, relish them with our imaginations, and share in God’s own creative and loving activity when our hearts and hands work together for and with others. We can let our homes be places full of the holy – things that help raise our minds and hearts to God. Our world is full of so many images that lure our minds and hearts elsewhere. Some symbols will carry the ongoing meaning we give them, for us and for our families and loved ones.

We can make sure that we have a crucifix in a central place in our home during Lent. A bowl of water on our dining room table can be transformed into a reminder of our preparing to renew our baptismal promises. A candle can be lit at each meal to remind us of the light of Christ among us in Lent and to prepare us for the new fire being lit at the Easter Vigil. Placing a Bible in a central place in our home reminds us of the central place of God’s Word in our lives on this Lenten journey.

This year’s Lent can be different. It will take an openness to God’s grace, a deep desire to receive what is being offered us, and a few signs and symbols to help us stay focused throughout the season. But if we do these things, God’s desire for our hearts and our desire for greater union with God will meet. Lent will no longer feel like a burden, but rather a blessing.

From Praying Lent (2009)

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Donkey Shelter

My Lord God, my thanks for making me an animal so tame, peaceful, humble, and hardworking to serve my brothers – men and women – in their needs and their difficulties.

Prayer of the Donkey thumbnail

John Honner

I once presented a group of priests with a guided meditation. Think of a time in the past few weeks, I said, when you have really felt you were doing your proper work as a priest: it may have been a painful requiem or a happy marriage, or some inspired preaching or sensitive listening, or a moment of closeness of God in prayer….  Go back to that time and try to enter into it again with your senses: what were the sounds, what did you see, what was the light like, what were the colours, how were the people you were with? And how were you feeling – afraid, consoled, tired, blissfully happy? And then, after some time for reflection, I asked the priests to recall some scene in the gospels that matched this experience of priesthood: which character in the gospel did they identify with? One felt like the farmer in the parable who sowed seed on good soil and rocky soil. Another felt like the good shepherd seeking the lost sheep. A third felt like he was with Jesus on the road to Emmaus … and so on. And then, finally, one who had been comparatively quiet throughout the whole exercise said, “I was the donkey.”


Donkey Shelter

My Lord God, my thanks for making me an animal so tame, peaceful, humble, and hardworking to serve my brothers – men and women – in their needs and their difficulties. I do not understand why, since they are created in your image and likeness, they have not those eyes of tenderness, of goodwill, of understanding, that would see us as we really are, and not as they would wish that we were, as their caprices, follies or bad temper takes them.

Humbly I recognise that, like my rational brothers, I have my defects and qualities, my weaknesses as well as my desire to give them greater and better service. But like them I have my sensibilities, my hours of anguish and despair; I also need love, affection, care and patience.

The pity is, Lord, that not understanding the limits of my strength, they put such heavy burdens on my back, beyond my energy and powers. May they remember, Lord, that on this back so beaten, bruised and wounded You set the Mother of Your Son, She who left there the Cross, the mark of her tears, and rode upon me so delicately and meekly.

How many times have I not helped man to carry his load, without his feeling my hunger, my thirst, or giving me a little time to recover from my weariness and restore my lost energies.

I beg, my Lord and Creator, for me and for Man, my brother, that I may be more patient and resigned to bearing his temperament and impatience, and he more compassionate and humane, so that I might serve him with more skill and speed.

I am very happy to be an irrational animal, because as I am I know how to love You without demands and complaints, and how to be useful to my brothers – Man – without expecting reward and payment.

Lord, in me bless all my irrational brothers so that we may live the happiness and beauty of this world that You created for us.


From www.donkeyshelter.org.au (2014)

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Most people in Asia are exploited

An Asian Woman’s Theology thumbnail

Chung Hyun Kyung

Out of many contradictory teaching in the Bible, Asian women use most frequently the teaching from Genesis which contains the message that men and women are created equally in God’s image (Genesis 1:27, 28). “In God’s Image” is an important biblical phrase Asian women have adopted to define their perspectives on humanity.

From Struggle to Be the Sun Again: Introducing Asian Women’s Theology (1990)

Kwok Pui-lan

When Asian feminists talk about God … they focus on God as the source of life and the creative, sustaining power of the universe.

From Introducing Asian Feminist Theology (2000)


Kwok Pui-lan

Feminists in the Third World do not have the luxury of attending to gender oppression alone, without simultaneously taking into consideration class, racial, colonial, and religious oppression. Their political theology takes many forms, including the option for solidarity with the poor, the critique of cultural alienation and racial repression, the challenge of globalized economy, and activism for ecojustice and protection of nature.

From Postcolonial Imagination and Feminist Theology (2005)

Marianne Katoppo

Most people in Asia are exploited, have been exploited, and perhaps cannot conceive of a future in which they will not be exploited. They have to fight for their very existence—to say nothing of social justice and human dignity.

From Compassionate and Free: An Asian Woman’s Theology (1980)


Hak Joon Lee

In and through community, a person becomes a person in the truest sense, acquiring skills and the virtues that define a human … the self is the self only in relation to others: without others, the self is incomplete … the wellbeing of self and the well-being of others are inextricably connected in a community.

From We Will Get to the Promised Land (2006)

Leslie Veen

It is important to hear and to incorporate the voices from cultures and peoples long silenced so that all will truly know the life-giving love of the Triune God. We need to once again start from lived experience and only then move to finding theological words to express those experiences. When all voices are heard and all experiences are seen as valid starting points, then our theological language will more closely resemble the loving, perichoretic union that is the triune God whom we worship and adore. Then will we be more fully living into the image of God in which we were created. Then will we be honoring the God the Creator, Redeemer, and Sustainer of all that is.

From “Listening to Voices Long Silenced” (2013)

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Loving the Earth

Loving the Earth.

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