“I alone cannot change the world,but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples.”
~Mother Teresa

Most of our reactions are based on pre-programed habituated behavior responses—not fully conscious choices. When we are fully conscious and connected to Source we realize our true purpose is to love and bring goodness to all; but we have to be fully conscious in order to be capable of truly loving.

Most people live life on cruise control, with little consideration for the miracle and meaning of existence. I believe it’s important to pause in the busyness of life, and to take time for reflection. This encompasses not only who we are at this moment, but more importantly, who we are capable of becoming, all while considering the role God plays in our journey.

Nourishing Selfless Love

I recently met a Holocaust survivor, a beautiful man who radiates love, gentleness, and hope. He shared with me that by living during the Holocaust and spending time in a concentration camp, he experienced the greatest sense of selfless love in his life. Although he is grateful and feels blessed for his long life, he has struggled with the cavalier, self-centered way of living that he has found to be the commonplace existence of most people. Despite being in the midst of the most horrific acts of humanity and in the presence of pure evil, he found a sense of pure love, self-sacrifice, kindness, and the presence of God, the likes of which he has never again experienced.

This caused me to reflect on how we must not allow evil or even complacency to become our conscious thoughts and weigh us down. Instead, we must to the best of our ability and through grace, rise above and focus on our reason for living, which is always to bring love and goodness to the world, in both small and big ways in accordance with our unique being.

It is important to realize that Love must reveal Itself in you before Love can fully reveal Itself to you. Love then must be shared with all of creation (Mark 16:15) and expressed in all we are and all we do. Even when—and perhaps especially when—things go wrong, Love (God) is constantly creating future possibilities for the good of all concerned. This is transformational when we participate, unite and change. By the way, failure is part of the deal. Remember, “If we’re not making mistakes, then we are most likely not doing anything,” and “Success is never final and failure is never fatal.” ~John Wooden

This requires us to be conscious of our real motivations and actual goals. It takes awareness and desire, or a petition (I want to change and can see myself in this new luminous Light) to ask for help in practicing honesty, forgiveness, courage and humility.

A Practice for Reflecting on Life

I often reflect on my life and my actions from my imagined “death bed.” I know this may sound depressing or disturbing—after all, our approach to death in Western society is often to ignore and disassociate ourselves from it, as though death will never happen to us. But I encourage you to try this practice.

You will find your entire perspective of what really matters, who you want to be, and how you want to live your life changes. This practice of reflection offers the opportunity to ask important questions, such as, “Have I spiritually matured in this life? Have I manifested my true reason for existence to the best of my ability?”

The answer for me keeps coming up as “No,” and encourages me to be more conscious each and every day about my intentions and my actions. I am fortunate that the many aspects of my life—as a practitioner, writer, teacher, leader as well as servant of two organizations, musician, cook, husband and father of three children—are the true manifestation of who I am. It is within each of these areas of my life that I am committed to living with integrity, clarity, and devotion. Taking time for reflection helps to keep me focused and on my true path.

Herbs as the Humble Face of the Divine

My love for herbal medicine grows stronger every day because to me it represents God’s humble love. Neither God nor the plant medicines are concerned with who receives credit for healing. Although this may sound irreverent (especially coming from an Eastern Catholic Franciscan and one who loves Jesus), I am not sure that God is concerned if we are religious, or even if we acknowledge His existence.

I believe that God is generous and humble, and cares more that we serve our true nature through focus, motivation, and joy; while loving and serving to the best of our ability with adoration, generosity and humility, which I view as ‘inner’ strength, abounding in our heart. Jesus said: “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” Matt 11:29  

What is Spiritual Maturity?

“Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.”
~
Mother Teresa

One of my spiritual mentors, Richard Rohr OFM, says this: “Spiritual maturity is to become aware that we are not the persona (mask) we have been presenting to others. That is why saints are humble and scoundrels are arrogant. We must become intentional about recognizing and embracing our shadows. Religion’s word for this is quite simply forgiveness, which is pivotal and central on the path of transformation.” This requires grace, and he goes on to say, “Grace is just the natural loving flow of things when we allow it, instead of resisting it.”1

Living in Faith, Hope and Love (1 Corinthians 13:13)

“Faith—A trust in inner coherence itself. It all means something!

Hope—A trust that the coherence is positive and going somewhere

Love—A trust that this coherence includes me and even defines me”1 and the who and why I exist really does matter.

Remember that there is not a destination we are striving for, but instead, we are on a pilgrimage that is an ever-evolving journey and encounter that is both internal (our being place) and external (our doing place). This encounter is sometimes even more omnipresent when things in the worldly sense go wrong—this is where Love creates new possibilities for the good of all.

Know it well, love its meaning. Who reveals this to you? Love.
Why? For Love
Remain in this and you will know more of the same
~Lady Julian of Norwich, Showing

42086864 – joy, sunlight, wheat.

Remember to look at people, the animals and even the flowers and trees, the ones you know and don’t know, and smile at them. “Every time you smile at someone, it is an action of love, a gift to that person, a beautiful thing.”
~Mother Teresa

References:

  1. Richard Rohr, pg. The Universal Christ (2019), pg. 66


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I often find myself thinking that modern medicine has it all wrong when it comes to treating cancer. Miraculous new treatments for cancer make headlines every day, but what are the long-term results of these treatments? Are these wonder drugs truly extending life, and more importantly, are they enhancing quality of life?

According to a recently published paper in the British Medical Journal, one of the most prestigious, peer-reviewed medical journals, more than one-half of cancer drugs approved by the European Medicines Agency from 2009 to 2013 show no improvement in quality of life or survival.


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“Success is never final, and failure is never fatal”
-John Wooden

If you have recently been diagnosed with advanced cancer or another serious life-threatening disease, remember that everything you might think about it—positive or negative—is merely an interpretation. You are the one who decides how you will relate to the diagnosis.

My advice, based on my three decades of working with people with serious illness, is simple. Do not limit yourself by assuming that you or anyone else knows what the outcome will be. The truth is that no one knows. Surrender to the unknown and focus your attention on living your best life.

It is blessedly freeing to accept what is in this moment, without projecting into the future. Use your mind and heart to seek out and consult with trained, experienced, well-respected professionals whom you trust. And use the power of prayer to help guide you.

Love is the Virtue of the Heart

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Christmas, Hanukkah, and the Winter Solstice are a good time for reflection and renewal as well as celebration. This year, I invite you to take time to consider the way that you view the world, and how you might shift your thinking to become happier, healthier, more compassionate, and more at peace.

In my work, I am acutely aware of the adverse effects of a pessimistic, negative view of life. Depression, anxiety, and loneliness continue to increase in our society. There is no doubt that these are challenging and unsettling times in our world. But the truth is that we have always faced the painful challenges of war, political strife, prejudice, and tragedies on a global and personal level.

I encourage you to not fall into the quagmire of pessimism, discouragement, negativity, or bitterness. I hear many people speak of their distress and their belief that the world is doomed. They see only tragedy, hatred, and destruction, and believe nothing good is happening in the world. Keep an open heart, my brothers and sisters. Take time for stillness, seek the truth, and devote yourself to acts of loving-kindness.

Devote yourself to acts of loving kindness”

Keep Your Focus on Responding, not Reacting

I find it helpful in life to focus on responding, not reacting. This is difficult when we are continually reacting to the barrage of information presented by technology. The more fast-paced and frenzied life becomes, the more we tend to react. Slowing down is a simple way of allowing the opportunity for thoughtful response.

We can begin to slow down by reducing our access to personal smart phones, computers, and electronics in general. Instead, take the time to meet a friend in the park or at a coffee shop. Relax, converse, and enjoy. This may sound radical, but occasionally leave your phone in the car or at home. You may be surprised at how much richer and more meaningful your interactions and life are when not lived through technology. We need to have fellowship, and we need to give love, receive love and feel a sense of belonging. This is spiritual nourishment, and without it we starve.


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sermon-on-the-mount 1

At this holy time of year as we approach Passover and Easter, I reflect on the ways in which my faith informs my life. And I consider the ways in which I can strengthen my connection to the divine.

The central emphasis of Eastern Christian monastic spirituality is the belief that we are called “to become partakers of the divine nature.” (2 Peter 1:4) In the words of St. Athanasius, God became man so that man might become God.

The Psalms and Christian Monastic Life

One of the most profound ways that I have found to infuse my daily life with my faith is to practice the advice of the Eastern Christian Saint ‘Theophan the Recluse.’ It is good, very good, to memorize several psalms and recite them while you are working or between tasks, doing this instead of short prayers sometimes, with concentration.

Early Christian disciples regarded the Book of Psalms as powerful and insightful doctrine, offering prophecy as well as praise. The 150 psalms of the Old Testament are the principal element of the entire Opus Dei, an institution of the Catholic Church that teaches that everyone is called to holiness and that ordinary life is a path to sanctity.


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be the light

In the midst of the busyness and celebration of the holidays, let us all as a collective pause to shine forth with loving kindness and goodness.

Be the Light

The Winter Solstice marks the longest night of the year, and the gradual but noticeable shift toward the light. Bonfires, candles, and twinkling holiday lights remind us of how even a small light illuminates the darkness.

“We ourselves feel that what we are doing is just a drop in the ocean. But the ocean would be less because of that missing drop.”Mother Teresa 

Be the Light 

At this time of festivity, let us draw inspiration from the Christmas Psalms, and “Be the Light” that shines forth into the world.

A Trilogy of Christmas Psalms: “Sing to the Lord a New Song” (Psalm 96); “God Reigns! Earth Rejoices” (Psalm 97); “Joy to the World” (Psalm 98).

Be the Light

The ancient hymn “O Come, O Come Emmanuel” is sung during Advent and on Christmas Day. Believed to have originated with a community of fifth-century Jewish Christians, the hymn was perhaps part of their Hanukkah festival. The text contains many elements of the Hanukkah celebration, with remembrance of wandering in the wilderness, darkness and death, but also the celebration of light.

“Dispel the shadows of the night and turn our darkness into light. Rejoice! Rejoice! Immanuel shall come to you, O Israel. O come, O King of nations, bind in one the hearts of all mankind.”

Be the Light

At this sacred time, I wish you a Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukah, and Joyous Solstice, and a New Year blessed with love, light, peace, and wellbeing. Let us pray for one another that we may all “Be the light.”

— Donnie

 

 


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