Do we cry out “Where the Hell is God?”

I subscribe to Thinking Faith an online newsletter from the Jesuits in London. The article today is so right for the present times, that I felt I needed to pass it along.

Here is the Link: http://www.thinkingfaith.org/articles/20110321_1.htm This will take you to the Jesuit Newsletter and the article.

Where the Hell is God?

The following link

will give

you the incentive of the author Australian Jesuit Richard Leonard. http://www.jesuit.org.uk/latest/101110a.htm

Just today I saw a clipping of a Japanese man crying out

“Where is God?”    This author’s experience and wisdom helps provides a Christian perspective.

It certainly is a question about which many are asking or wondering.

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Second week of Lent – Definition of Repentance

I wanted to share this helpful reminder again this year from Irma Zaleski’s little book.  It opens a perspective on repentance during this  time of self-reflection.  It is all part of our personal journey to greater righteousness.

“Repentance – conversion of the heart – does not mean being filled and tormented
by guilt. Instead, it means being ready to admit our responsibility for our actions
and our need for forgiveness, and having a firm wish to change our life: to turn
away from ourselves in prayer and in love. Repentance means, above all,
a constant, patient, growing in love. It means our willingness to open ourselves
to the work of the Spirit in us and to embrace fully the gift of our salvation.”
-Irma Zaleski The Way of Repentance 1999

______________

I think I differ a bit with her statement when she says we are to “turn away from ourselves.”  I think it may be  semantics however for me, I understand the time we spend in our “closets for prayer and reflection” is allowing ourselves to listen, or a willingness to go into the depth of ourselves, not a turning away from ourselves.  I see it as a time where we can take the nerve to face our inner foibles, or errant ways.  I have found that when we rest in this kind of prayerful silence with a willingness to face the “boogeyman in ourselves,” as it were,  we have given ourselves the chance to own up to those aspects of our attitudes and behavior that are unrighteous.  The opportunity then we are allowing ourselves to take is to become more mature in our righteousness.

I do believe we cannot actually make this growth happen, but we can avail ourselves to the self-reflection, to that time of quiet introspection and allow  what is out of sync with a pure conscience (knowing right from wrong) to occur.   It is important that we must not quit, especially when the core reality of ourselves begins to emerge; as ugly as it may seem.  Because that is the precise time when the “turning” happens as we, of course desiring to be good, recoil from seeing ourselves in that unrighteousness and move quickly to the Light.

Thus the repentance process, the turning process is active Grace, and will lead to our regeneration not to dejection or guilt or fear.  The effort to stay in that light of knowing about ourselves in itself will help eradicate the wrongful behavior. Somehow, the mystery of transformation happens.   Growth is slow but steady,  just as when a bean seed grows under the earth before the healthy green shoots of leaf emerge into the open.  I think this reflection can encourage us to continue in the process of “waiting and turning” as we sit in these moments, hours, of self-reflection.

Caution, it does take guts and discipline and trust in the Divine for Grace for change and the grace to accept oneself in the midst of the slow process.  Forgiving ourselves may be the hardest thing to do ever.

Musings on the “again-bite conscience” or the opposite the “easy-conscience”

This last week in my walks and sittings my thoughts kept returning to the topic of the conscience,  on which, I know, there has been a preponderance of writings by many scholars.   My ramblings here are simple and inspired by others.  I am not contending to be among a high level of thinkers. Nonetheless, as a human being the topic bears a certain amount of my concentration.

Here is what I’ve been contemplating: It seems we can all agree there are some people who are heavy laden with a severe conscience and some who are not.  My thoughts have been inspired by an old novel writer, R.A.F. Gravesend who used the term  “again-bite” for a severe  or the conscience of remorse. Since he wrote his novels during the first ten years of the twentieth century (1910 – 1916)  this term “again-bite” was unfamiliar to me and I haven’t heard of it in our modern short sound bite vernacular either. To me however, the description appears and even sounds like a catchy sound bite (forgive the pun). For the opposite deportment of a person, Gravesend used the description “an easy conscience.”  He said, “these have been accepted as the determining factors of happiness or the reverse.”

This past weekend in reading one of his early novel short stories I was inspired to thoughts about the conscience in my daily walk and musings.  I suppose it isn’t too far fetched to think that my unconscious mind was already twiddling with these kinds of thoughts as the season of Lent was approaching and which now is upon us fully.  My twiddling thoughts were mostly about circumstances; I don’t think the word, “conscience” actually had percolated as yet. So thanks to R.A.F. Gravesend his comments stimulated the brew. His name had nothing to do with it I believe, just coincidental since in Lent we are as Christians to reawaken ourselves to the very fact that we are made from dust and to dust will return.

Gravesend’s comments on the conscience pretty much began and ended with this statement, “Of course there is an element of truth in the “easy conscience” view, but it begs the whole question. A particularly hardy conscience may be quite easy under the most unfavorable conditions—conditions in which the more feeble conscience might be severely, afflicted with the “again-bite.”  And then it seems to be the fact that some fortunate persons have no conscience at all; a negative gift that raises them above the mental vicissitudes of the common herd of humanity.”   [Dr. Thorndyke Mysteries Collection, “The Case of Oscar Brodski.” 1910. Kindle book ]

That statement got me thinking; so when back to my computer I checked the dictionary for clairity of the meaning of the word “conscience.”  The definition given was, “The awareness of a moral or ethical aspect to one’s conduct together with the urge to prefer right over wrong: Let your conscience be your guide.” This topic stayed with me and kept surfacing so I decided to write this out as I began to create a couple of my own characters to illustrate the two types “again-bite” and the “easy conscience.” This by no means exhausts he possiblities. I can see fodder for more novels.

I will give two examples that I can think of now to illustrate of these two types of consciences. Imagine, as most of us are, a person of a modest, middle-class prosperity who has a benevolent smile and goes about one’s business with most regularity.  Suppose this person is not greedy or thriftless, but frugal, and careful in planning, also eminently a person of judgment.  Now in all appearances this person is righteous or one of right behavior thus a happy person and one with a clear conscience.  However, it is not without possibility that this same person could be a crook of high order but one with a hardy conscience or no conscience at all.  Or as our early Christian Pauline teaching describes “as an conscience seared with an iron.”
[1 Timothy 4:2 Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron]

The reverse type of character, or the “again-bite” conscience person may be an outwardly distasteful personality; one who is irregular in business dealings, forgetful, distrustful, and disagreeable most of the time to those in their proximity.  This person may have more occasion to be smitten by his own “again-bite” conscience in almost all human exploits. This person may be self deprecating while in the presence of others; they may be insufferably commenting to others of their personal dismay over their mistakes and false dealings.  To others many of those “false dealings” seen in that persons own eye, may actually be quite human behavior and not so false.  These kinds of human digressions has been identified as venial sins, warranting only temporal punishment [ According to Roman Catholicism , a venial sin (meaning “forgivable” sin ) is a lesser sin that does not result in a complete separation ] and not mortal sin [These sins are considered “mortal” because they constitute a rupture in a person’s link to God’s saving grace: the person’s soul becomes “dead”, not merely weakened.] According to Gravesend this kind of conscience in a person would be in the category of a weak or feeble conscience; this person is continually being snake bitten as he put it with the “again-bite.”   This self judgment, the experience of the reoccurring, cutting self awareness of one’s personal failures in actions and in character of rightness could bring on deep remorse.

During my musings on the feeble or the hardy conscience and the results that those deep realities can create in a persons life, the mirror began to shift in my direction.  In the first day of Lent now, I wonder in my own self examination, am I seeing clearly? Am I?  Am I willing or able to look square into this “mirror” and let my conscience reveal to me my character and let it take full command of revelation?  It seems to me this particular process of self examination has been identified as an experience where one comes before one’s God with and in complete humility (a contrite heart)  or/and in the words of ancient texts, in “fear of God”?   Foremost in my thinking today, can I be truly penitent, wistful, pensively sad, and melancholy of any wrong ?  Now that is something to think about.

Musings on The Social Behavior of “Ignoring.”

Sitting on a bench near the Bay inlet for a Marina enjoying the sun and soft breeze, I found myself wondering about some of the now accepted social behaviors of the daily routine kind. One particular behavior that has beset me in the past and most recently is the fact, let me call it, a common behavior, is that of “ignoring.” What I have heard some announce openly in an unabashed way, “I think it is acceptable to not have to say hello to everyone you know just because they are walking by or are near you.”

That is one example of “ignoring.” Another is when a pastor advises a person to “ignore” the someone who had asked to offer help in a project but that person’s work or personality didn’t fit in. She was told, “Just don’t call, and ignore her when you see her.” Can you imagine! This was not a shock to people. It may sound like it now writing about it in this context but really, don’t we see this all the time?

Anther example is when someone calls you or you call someone for advise, or a suggestion, and let’s say that person is very willing on the first call. Then weeks go by and you don’t hear from them. I suspect that person’s boss or higher up in charge person announced, “you can’t give that advice or even a suggestion, we might be held liable if things didn’t work out; or we might get feedback we don’t need. So just ignore that person, don’t call back. She’ll get the message.

Another example of even the worse kind of “ignoring” is when this happens within a Christian Church! Especially when it is done by an administrator of high position. For some reason this “ignoring” behavior seems to be accepted at least by those that do it.  They seem to believe ignoring someone who is waiting for a reply is an accepted social behavior and that isn’t seen as a “slap in the face.”

Now see I can just hear people, right now in my mind, hearing people defending this behavior! It’s true we try so hard to protect those we hold in authority or who are in OUR world that we rationalize all over the place that this is okay, it is torarable. Come on, get with it!  Oh I can hear the excuses, “that person is very very busy and has too much to do to get back to you,” “there was some confusion I’m sure it was an oversight,” or, “you expect too much,” or “your personalizing the whole thing,” and on and on.

Sorry folks, I can’t find ANY excuse that is worth anything! There is ALWAYS a way to fine the time for reconnecting with that person; if only to say, “I’m sorry your help is not needed this time,” or ” I am sorry I can’t be of more help to you,” or ” I’m sorry my position doesn’t allow me to make any suggestions.’ Whatever, there is always a kind reply.

I too have been in the position on occasion of having to reply and not wanting to at all, wondering if just my calling back would send a message I didn’t mean.  But that can be taken care of in the conversation.  So I have always made it requisite of mine to reply to all at all times no matter what!

It is my wish and prayer especially for those who are calling and living a Christian life to do the same. It is such a kind pleasure to know you have not just been “ignored,” even if it’s the voice of disapproval.   Now isn’t that something to think about?