Friday, August 31, 2018

The Ashram Cat (Anthony de Mello)

  When the guru sat down to worship each evening, the ashram cat would get in the way and distract the worshippers.  So he ordered that the cat be tied during evening worship.

   After the guru died, the cat continued to be tied during evening worship.  And when the cat expired, another cat was brought to the ashram so that it would be duly tied during evening worship.

   Centuries later, learned treatises were written by the guru’s scholarly disciples on the liturgical significance of tying up a cat while worship is performed.

--Anthony de Mello, S.J., The Song of the Bird

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Sunday Gospel Reflection, September 2, 2018: Be doers of the word and not hearers only...

What use are all these rules and commandments? 

   Communal life has always involved rules.  In the Book of Deuteronomy, Moses enjoins the people to hear the statutes and decrees which I am teaching you to observe, and the people must listen not only with their heads but with their hearts, so they can give evidence of their wisdom and intelligence to the nations.  In essence, Moses is asking the people of Israel to reconsider how they live and why.  Psalm 15 enumerates the conduct necessary for one who would like to live in the presence of the Lord, that is, one who is fully open to living according to the God’s Word:  they must do justice, the psalmist tells them.  In both cases, a consideration of society’s rules challenges the people to step beyond what their heads can understand to absorb what their hearts intuit.  Taking in God’s Word means opening to the transformation that God’s word works in us, and living accordingly.

   In Mark’s Gospel, Jesus will challenge the Jewish authorities to reconsider the basis for the many, many rules they have established to govern daily life.  When they ask Jesus, Why do your disciples eat a meal with unclean hands? Jesus responds with a clear understanding of God’s commandment and human tradition’s reinterpretation of that commandment:  This people honors me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.  In slavish attention to rules without any attention to the meaning behind those rules, the people have lost their connection to God; they are too caught up in tangibles that don’t lead them beyond the surface.  The Word of God, Jesus is saying, must touch the core of our very being, must change us – but it can only do so if we are open to it, if we hear it with our hearts.  And if that Word does change us, the fruits can be infinite, as we will naturally follow James’ advice and be doers of the Word and not hearers only. 

   Rules are indeed necessary to our daily life, but if we only understand them at their literal level, hearing with our heads and not our hearts, we are missing out on that perfect gift that ours, the transformation that God wills for us, and that will ultimately effect salvation for all.

This post is based on Fr. Pat’s Scripture class.
Image source:

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

The way we use our choices (Archbishop Fulton Sheen)

 We are born with freedom of choice, 
but the way we use our choices 
makes us slaves or free men. 

--Archbishop Fulton Sheen, Lift Up Your Heart (1950),

Image source:  James Tissot, Jesus Teaches the People by the Sea (ca. 1886-1894),