In some situations, we can do little more than "pray for the best."
"The best" may be one of those phrases that can cause contention- different people have a different idea of what "the best" in a given set of circumstances might be.
However (and this is important), generally speaking, most people with good intentions will understand what you mean.
For whatever reason, and perhaps this isn't confined to our modern world, there are people out there who enjoy arguing. They enjoy debate, argumentation, fighting, and what have you, and perhaps they enjoy it for reasons we can't understand, up to and including for its own sake.
This is what I mean when someone will deliberately engage in arguing about what "the best" in a situation means.
I want to emphasize that this isn't a matter of necessarily having our individual perspectives of what something might look like- none of us can know exactly how things will end up beforehand, but we all envision it in some way.
And again, someone want to take that and make it into a big argument that doesn't really need to happen.
Robust debate perhaps has its place. But that place doesn't necessarily exist in spaces where we're trying to accomplish something together.
So let us commit to working together and moving forward in life. Christ does tell us, after all, that "Blessed are the peacemakers."
Not to be confused with a Wishing Well wherein one throws money in exchange for a wish being granted, well-wishing is a simple spiritual technique that I encourage people to try.
Sometimes, the word "love" is tossed around a good bit in spiritual circles. The trouble is, of course that the word "love" can mean so many different things.
Perhaps, in general, we're talking about a kind of cosmic or Divine love, not a romantic or even generally emotional love normally conceived of.
So, too, an interesting point about spiritual love comes from William Peter Blatty's 1971 horror novel The Exorcist in which the elder priest speaks about a particular torment he encountered in life, his seeming inability to love certain other people for whatever reason- they were repulsive and so on.
Toward the end of the novel, he explains the trap he fell into here, and that it was something he should've recognized sooner: spiritual love is not about an emotion that one feels but rather about how one treats another. As long as he treated the people with human dignity and did right by them and tried to help them, that's what mattered, regardless of whether he found them personally disgusting and so on.
I put this in the category of "well-wishing." One can wish even the most terrible of people well in their life. One needn't feel a particular emotion or passion in order to do that. Do right by people. Treat them with their inherent dignity and worth.
This is at least one method by which we can begin to build compassion.
"Listen to the salutation to the dawn,
Look to this day for it is life, the very life of life,
In its brief course lie all the verities and realities of our existence.
The bliss of growth, the splendor of beauty,
For yesterday is but a dream and tomorrow is only a vision,
But today well spent makes every yesterday a dream of happiness
and every tomorrow a vision of hope.
Look well therefore to this day.
Such is the salutation to the dawn."
by Dr. Rabindranath Tagore
One wonderful thing about having the direct experience of the Divine is that so many things become immensely clear.
The Gospel is not merely the recounting of some fascinating happening in history (and even that may be considered embellished or distorted by the best of Biblical scholars); the Gospel is also mystically instructive, explaining things about what's happening on the mystical level of reality.
The direct of experience of Christ is very unlike the kind of sentimentality that presents itself in many Christian groups. That direct experience is so profoundly different than the sentimentality that one will almost miss it.
Yet when you make the connection, it's unmistakable- there's an almost magical "AH-HA!" moment. "THIS is what the mystics have been talking about! This is what the Christians were trying to convey early on! This is the reason Christianity endures!"
There are also profoundly weird things that can happen. (As an example, the mystical experience of the Crucifixion can be something of a literal tear-jerker without necessarily feeling sadness as we normally understand it, and that's because there's a kind of purgation happening on deeper levels of our being).
Worthy of note: I don't want to entirely knock the "sentimental" Christ, as it were. Mainstream Christianity often conveys important cultural aspects that are necessary to ground one to our ordinary, every day experience. However, there's a difference between the necessity of a grounding process and clinging to the imagery so much that one never experiences what it's all pointing to.
I almost always have more to say, but I try to keep these entries shorter so folks will read them.
Today's entry is a prayer from Chrissie Blaze, an astrologer and teacher. You can find her website here.
Prayer for Self Healing
O Creator of Life in all its Manifestation
Through heartfelt prayer I align with You.
May Your infinite Wisdom fill my mind
And my every thought be inspired;
May Your Divine Presence calm and still me.
As I allow Your great Light to be more fully
My own, may I reveal ever more surely
A greater aspect of my Divine nature,
Bringing healing to my mind and body
And divine harmony to my heart and soul.
O God, I ask that Thy Infinite Presence
May be a Light to protect me in the darkness;
May it heal me through the winds of turmoil;
May it strengthen me through sickness
And bring me all the healing that I need
To overcome my trials and weaknesses.
At this time of great change in our world
May I be nurtured by Thy Infinite Love
So that through my greater strength and power
I may help illuminate others‚ darkness into Light.
O Divine Creator,
May Thy Will be done.
© 2005 Chrissie Blaze
Some of the more advanced meditation practitioners have a word of caution about looking at the so-called "maps" of spiritual development- once you've seen them, you can't unsee them.
Of course, regardless of the maps of how the path should progress, the process will ultimately look somewhat different for everyone- each person on their journey encounters different things.
The issue at hand is whether or not the various phases a person goes through can easily be charted on an overall map. There may be room to argue broad placements- but there may be a danger when we start talking about more detailed and specific phases a person's going through.
I'm not opposed to looking at the maps at all; in some cases, I've found it helpful because I could recognize what someone was describing.
But I also emphasize what I've stated here previously: one should practice and refine the basic skills of relaxation and releasing tension. Another good skill is the "gladdening" of the mind. We'll talk about this in more detail in a future entry.
I've definitely found that trying to increase things in small doses is far, far more effective than attempting to make great leaps and bounds. You might indeed get somewhere faster if you run a mile, but if you walk the mile, you can stop, smell roses, talk to people, and observe the world around you- and there may be something more important in that than simply arriving at a particular destination.
Let us reflect on these things.
I wrote and recorded a guided relaxation script today for a friend. You can find the script below.
Perhaps I can speak with the Bishop and get approval to upload the guided mediations and relaxations.
Find a comfortable position. Lying down is fine. Reclining is fine. Anything that makes you feel good and easy, or at least as good as possible.
Let’s breathe normally for just a minute. In, out, in out.
Now, let’s take some deeper, longer breaths….and then gently and slowly release the breath.
Now, let’s breathe in and hold the breath for just a bit. Then breathe out. Then hold the air out of your lungs for just a second. Then breathe in again. Hold. Breathe out. Hold. Breathe in.
If you find that breathing in and trying to hold the breath is distressing, return to simply breathing slowly and deeply without any pauses.
Let’s turn our attention to our body and scan through it. Is there are particular area where you feel tension? If you find yourself very tense, try to locate the areas where you feel this the most.
When you find the tense areas, you may say to yourself, “I allow this tension to leave my body. I allow my body to relax.”
If you need extra strength, you might say, “My Higher Self allows my body to relax. My Higher Self allows the tension to leave this area of my body.”
You may try other phrases: “I let go of this tension,” and so on.
Now imagine yourself floating in a river of light. The river is smooth, flowing along gently and slowly. The light from the river warms you and makes you even more comfortable.
Then smaller lights flow up slowly out of the river and form a larger light, and the light encases you and relaxes you even more. Your body is filled with peace; you feel calmness throughout your bones and muscles and tissues as the light fills it.
The light also fills your mind, and the churning and whirring of your mind slows down and slows down more, and your mind is filled with peace.
You remain in this light and this peace as long as you need.
Continue to breathe deeply.
When you are ready, you may thank the light and the river of light and slowly and gently return to your normal mindset with the knowledge that you can always come back here and relax again.
One crucial virtue to cultivate is patience. Without patience, we're going to find ourselves in trouble time and again.
Patience is even more critical in our fast-paced, modern-day world in which so many things are available to us at the click of a button. Wanna order food? Click a button. Wanna shop online? Click a button. Wanna watch your favorite movie for the thousandth time? Click a button. Need a vehicle to pick you up? Click a button. You can even track where these things are in many cases- something that's useful but can also produce a kind of obsession.
Technically, most of us are doing these things on our smart devices, so we're not really clicking anything so much as we're tapping on our screens, but the sentiment remains the same- we have so much of the world available to us just by a simple gesture.
The consequences of not having to wait for anything can be devastating. I grew up in a world slightly before the true advent of the internet as we currently know it, and certainly far before the world of smart devices and things like DoorDash and GrubHub and Uber. I recall when things took time because that's just how things were. I'm not waxing nostalgic about that era; I'm only pointing to my memory, that I know what it's like to have to wait out of necessity.
I can't imagine what it's like to grow up in the world as it is currently and not have to wait for much...only to be faced with something like spiritual training or education or anything that still requires a huge investment of time and energy. It's one thing to know about that as a general reality. It's another thing to suddenly run into it without any realization that it's just how things are.
So patience is the virtue to cultivate. Seasons like Advent and Lent help to teach us this. They're part of the spiritual path encapsulated in a microcosmic, liturgical expression.
Of course, I should take a dose of my own medicine- when I'm waiting in line or stuck in traffic or something, patience is of the utmost necessity. Breathing deeply, recalling that the Divine can be experienced everywhere and in all situations.
I'll leave you to ponder these things.
Father Sergio kindly provided us with this reading material, and I thought I would offer some reflections.
First, I think this is just absolutely beautiful, so beautiful that I'm awe-stricken.
Second, this article hits on so many things, including the folly of participating in the sacraments as a matter of routine.
Many years ago, I read a book whose title I can't fully recall. Part of it was, Rethinking the Sacraments, and the book made a point about people participating in exactly this way- as though the sacraments were merely like receiving grace from a vending machine, a completely mechanistic occurrence.
The hurdles we face regarding our emphasis on meditation is that so many people may take this to an extreme point- throwing away all ritual, all exterior happenings, all things physical for the so-called more "pure" internal experience. More or less, this is the opposite experience of relying on the sacraments from a purely mechanistic point of view.
However, I would say they work together. They're meant to work together. One aspect that can be seen in the symbolism of the crucifix, for instance, is the uniting of Heaven and Earth, or the Inner and Outer Worlds. So, too, does our meditation and participation in the external sacraments perform this similar mystery.
Meditation can lead one to increasingly profound understandings and experiences of the sacraments; so, too, can the sacraments lead one to increasingly deep levels of relaxation and meditation.
Let us reflect on this and practice this Inner Sacrament.
Today, I had to miss Mass.
The worst part wasn't just missing it; it was that I had clicked "Going" maybe ten minutes prior when I thought it would be a possibility still, I opened my Zoom app, and then...
...thunder, lightning, and eventually, rainfall with hail.
I tend to unplug my electronics during storms- better to be safe than sorry- and I thought it was better to not attend the Mass lest the power go out and potentially interrupt the service with my abruptly leaving.
So, it was necessary to miss this very important and holy service- just for today.
Sometimes, people are traveling. Sometimes, family priorities take over. We have to prioritize things and do that which is necessary in this life.
The impermanence of things is also apparent here- knowing to not take the Mass for granted, knowing that I may not always be able to attend- I have to put forth the effort and energy to make sure I appreciate the Mass when I'm present for it.
Prioritize things, and understand that we have to compromise sometimes for a greater good.
One thing I think is important is learning the traditional aspects of Christianity. Yes, it's a great idea to memorize the 10 Commandments, the Beatitudes, and to read and study the canonical Scriptures. One should study the Sacraments as they're presented in the Catechism of the Catholic Church.
One should also expand beyond this. Studying the more mainstream versions of things helps to give an eye to what those mainstream versions are generally missing in their approach.
While the Mass and the Sacraments in general operate regardless of the individual celebrating them (that is, the Sacraments operate due to the Power of God and not the Power of the Priest), there is no doubt that the particular state of grace of an individual priest, along with the priest's awareness of what exactly he's doing and the intention he's putting forth, have an effect on the Mass and the Sacraments and the people receiving them.
Thus it is our duty as members of the clergy and aspiring members of the clergy to prepare ourselves and make ourselves worthy to celebrate the mysteries. Our integrity and individual spiritual practices matter.
I'll leave you to think of these things.
A wonderful aspect about our modern era is the sheer availability of spiritual tools. From prayer books to prayer beads to vestments, you can find just about anything you need, and you can find almost everything online as well.
A mere few centuries ago, finding some of those spiritual tools might have been impossible depending on where you lived, especially if, say, you were in a hardcore Protestant area of the USA or some such situation. Imagine trying to find a rosary under those circumstances!
What about a meditation teacher? Even just a good manual how to meditate?
Today, we might find ourselves running into the opposite problem: we live with such immediacy and availability that we end up with what's termed "choice paralysis." Making a decision become more difficult because we have so many options.
If you don't believe me, try to go buy a rosary. I mean it. Right now. Go search for a rosary online and look at the overwhelming options of literally thousands of different kinds of rosaries of all shapes, sizes, colors, styles, and costs.
With something like a rosary, this can be an issue, but the use of the tool is similar across designs. The same is true for vestments, and while there's a wide range of vestment designs available, not everyone is ordained into the clergy, and so vestments aren't as big of a deal immediately.
But when we start talking about something like meditation books, this is where things get really tricky. Good information on how to meditate well versus bad information is a crucial, crucial difference.
One of the fundamental aspects of meditation is being able to relax and then scan for tension. Fair enough, but most of the meditation books I've read over the years haven't hit this point as hard as they should, and it's extremely important and beneficial for us to get this part of meditation down first before trying to proceed to something else.
Of course, we can always run into a Catch-22 where we need to visualize in order to relax, but we have to relax to effectively visualize.
There are always issues, aren't there?
Sometimes, you have to make use of the tools at your disposal. As a mystical group, we don't necessarily have the wide range of published material that a more mainstream church might have, yet that doesn't mean we can't make use of the mainstream church's liturgical materials.
I myself still have my copy of the Book of Common Prayer gifted to me upon my Confirmation in the Episcopal Church in 2012. I still use it; in fact, it's sitting on the table that serves as my oratory.
And this is the reality: the BCP is beautiful in many ways. Perhaps it is a little more mainstream than my own individual tastes, but this is beside the point: I understand what my prayers mean, and God understand the intentions I have. The tool is just that: a tool.
So make use of the tools you have around. It's okay.
Moments of weakness are bound to hit us.
Moments of feeling as though we're unable to continue, that we cannot endure, that we have reached our limit- these happen in our lifetimes.
The faltering moments may be understood as a test from one perspective, and from another, perhaps we feel weak because we're genuinely tired and need genuine rest.
Genuine rest. Now there's a topic for an entry! When was the last time many of us felt genuinely rested and refreshed?
So perhaps what see as weakness is, in fact, the need for genuine rest.
If one works out the muscles but doesn't get sufficient rest, this may only damage the muscles and not make them stronger. So, too, perhaps if our soul is exhausted and never given refreshment, we only experience damage and weakness.
Remember to be gentle with yourself...and also know that sometimes, you can continue pushing forward simply because you are being gentle with yourself.
Many people are far stronger than they realize; they need only for that strength to be unlocked.
Meditation is the key. This point can't be emphasized enough.
I hope that you find the rest and the strength that you need.
Even though I had written and published yesterday, for some reason, the post Our Connected World didn't publish properly on the website. That's happened a few times, and that leads us to today's theme: sometimes, mistakes happen. We make unseen errors.
Sometimes, the errors are something we can attribute to a human mistake- for instance, I might write a post and it not be published. I might write a letter and forget to mail it.
But sometimes errors happen with a system- for instance, I might write a post, update the site, and the site malfunctions in some way that doesn't display the post. You might write a letter, remember to mail it, and then the postal service might lose it.
The same can apply to spiritual traditions and systems. No doubt, many of us who currently walk the esoteric path are probably more familiar with the more exoteric paths and how, at times, they unfortunately consolidate around power-seeking, manipulation, and money-making schemes.
In other cases, otherwise well-meaning people consolidate and pass on a kind of spiritual teaching that's entirely divorced from spiritual reality- there's a thought exercise going on producing a kind of map that doesn't match the territory.
Perhaps those are bad examples as they both involve people, but again, the system becomes larger than the individual, and some important things get lost.
And it's not because someone forgot to click the "Publish" button on Weebly!
Our world isn't just connected; it's interconnected. Becoming aware of the connections is an awe-inspiring process.
A particularly interesting overlap that you may be able to observe is the changing of the seasons. More immediately, we have the cycle of the moon, and then more immediately, day and night- and also weather patterns.
When I was a kid, I enjoyed overcast days. I never quite understood why people thought of them as gloomy or had an aversion to storms; for me, overcast days meant the day was different! The day was unique! I was going to see things slightly different than normal!
As an adult, this has severely changed. I'm constantly amazed at the degree to which a stormy day or even just an overcast day can impact my energy negatively.
I haven't noticed a particular difference that occurs with the cycle of the moon just yet.
The seasons, however- oh, boy. Winter is extremely harsh on my body and mood- whereas Late Spring and Early Summer see my entire energy field bursting forth to live life to the fullest and me wanting to savor every moment.
The important thing is to be aware of these cycles and to take it upon ourselves to work with them and search for the Divine within them. Recognition of the cycles of Nature are a means to honoring the Divine both external and internal.
Importantly, the human soul goes through its own cycles of varying durations that one might term "seasons" as well. I can see clearly when my soul is one phase or another. I haven't entirely mapped out those seasons, but I'm aware of them, and I pray that you will become aware of the seasons of your own soul.
If you're anything like me, you probably do this very bizarre thing: you have some kind of deep, profound meditation or visualization, and you understand you can work with energy and have profound transformative experiences...as long as you're meditating and relaxed.
But when you suddenly drop your milk on the floor or your dog poops in the house and you feel a surge of frustration and anger, you completely forget about the ability to work with energy and are instead focused on the things that are annoying you.
Only recently have I stumbled upon the degree to which I've compartmentalized my life in this way- and so now, the test becomes one in which I actively live my life and visualize at the same time.
This parallels the experience of asking, "What would my Higher Self do?" It's not quite the same, but there's a similarity, and a similar end is achieved- greater awareness and control over our situation and especially our reactions to a situation.
My latest experiment is this: as I'm walking my dog at night, I try to make it a point to bless the neighborhood I live in. I try to connect with the local land spirits and the overall spirit of my town. I want this place to be prosperous, to succeed, to be blessed, to be welcoming to all who enter here. I want negative and pain to be banished from it.
That brings us to another point: start small. Don't try to undo all the compartments of your life at once. In fact, a more useful conception of this would be to bring the energy and visualization in the moment to the various compartments!
One might also argue that these energetic exchanges are always happening, and instead what we're advocating is to become aware of those energetic exchanges and work with them consciously in all moments.
I'll leave you with these things to think about today.
Today's Mass centered on the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Bishop Tom read to us from a book that explores the esoteric perspective of the Assumption.
I myself have a strong devotion to the Blessed Mother. She can be seen not only as a mother-figure but also as an icon for Sophia, the Holy Wisdom of God.
Once while on the phone with my own mother, I said something to the effect, "It really seems like the Blessed Virgin Mary is the only one that's ever listened to me when I've prayed."
Of course, this is an exaggeration, but there's a truth- I've never quite connected with any other spiritual reality like I have with the Blessed Virgin Mary. She's central my own path (especially now). I carry my rosary in my pocket almost all the time. While I don't pray the rosary as often as I should, I do try to say at least three "Hail Marys" each day.
One of my favorite movies is The Song of Bernadette. I happened to have caught it airing late at night about ten years ago around Christmas time. I also happened to be in bed, sick with the flu, so the movie was a welcome distraction from my suffering.
The movie, while necessarily dramatized, is based on a true story, and to this day, it remains immensely meaningful to me because it centers on Our Lady. I try to watch it each year now because it stirs in me such a devotion for Our Lady.
I pray that if you have such a devotion, you, too, will embrace it and kindle it to something amazing.
What does it mean to pray?
Prayer is another one of those spiritual technologies available to us, and there are so many forms of it.
Returning again to my own past, prayer might have been briefly defined as "talking to God." You say aloud or to yourself whatever your petition is in hopes of God granting it.
This creates some complications, however- what happen if you don't embrace theistic personalism and don't see God as a "person" in the way we see others humans and such beings as a "persons?" What if your "conception" of God is very different? What's the role of the priesthood and such if we can individually speak to God?
Another question may be, if God is distant and impersonal (think something like Deism), what's the point of praying at all?
The Catechism of the Catholic Church states, "the raising of one's mind and heart to God or the requesting of good things from God."1
This is a useful definition, though perhaps not terribly detailed. Here we see the aforementioned notion of prayer with which I was raised- and we also see a more interesting part, the "raising of one's mind and heart to God."
By this definition, many of us spend a good part of our day in prayer- we may not be vocally praying or requesting things, but our minds and hearts are raised to God, to gaze at God, and to experience and enjoy God.
The Mass, taken as a whole, has an effect- whether one specifically believes in concepts such as "sin" and "angels" and any such thing (or better put, whether one specifically believes in the particular constructions about these topics), there can be no doubt that participation in the ritual causes a change in the participants regardless of whether they believe or not.
And the Mass, taken as a whole, is filled with prayer and by the above definition, may be considered one long and elaborate prayer; the entire ritual is for the sake of lifting our minds and hearts to God.
Let us reflect on these things.
While at the time that I'm writing this post we haven't added anything to the Meditations page yet, I can reassure everyone that's coming up, and for several reasons.
Meditation is key for many spiritual paths, and our path is no exception. Bishop Tom has said numerous times that meditation is the number one practice that will cause transformation in our lives.
I've always marveled over just how many methods of meditation exist- and recently, while reading Adventure in Meditation, I encountered a very different realization of how similar some methods of meditation are!
Not every method is appropriate for every person, and not every kind of meditation is oriented toward the same end goal.
That's okay. If you understand the different kinds of meditation and what they unlock, it all makes a lot more sense.
For some people, attempting to clear their mind and simply sit with awareness is virtually impossible, and they shouldn't attempt to do that- it's very unlikely that such a meditation style will do much for them aside from stressing them out.
What might be appropriate for such a person is a guided meditation or a set of specific visualizations that are conducive to relaxation.
For some people (and I myself am in this category), a beneficial meditation is one that energizes our emotional body and heals old traumas. It's a kind of energy therapy, if you will.
If at first you don't succeed, and you continue trying and don't succeed, I highly recommend trying a different kind of meditation.
We'll revisit this topic later. Perhaps some of our other members will have thoughts to share.
A concept in the health-minded community is that of "spoons."
The original example seems to have involved a person handing a friend spoons and explaining the "cost" of doing various activities when one suffers from chronic health issues.
This example can be extended to people who don't necessarily suffer from more serious conditions but who still find they have limited energy and resources due to other factors- stressful life situations, conditions that aren't necessarily categorized as chronic but still cause a quick depletion of energy, and so on.
This goes back to our needing to set boundaries. We can't be everything to everyone at all times. That's not how life works. Even without the comparison to having to give up spoons, we have to make decisions on what to prioritize.
We also have to extend compassion to ourselves when we can't meet all the tasks we dream of accomplishing. Maybe work takes priority one day; maybe family the next; maybe you can't also work on your novel or art.
If you're like me, you might have a tendency to then attack yourself for not having endless amounts of energy. On the contrary, kindness is crucial in these situations.
It's very rare to find an individual with seemingly endless amounts of energy, though some people make that kind of claim. Good for them! I'm definitely not that kind of person.
Again, how would you treat someone else if you saw them experiencing what you're experiencing? Maybe you're not oriented toward showing yourself kindness, but you would show kindness to another, so why not yourself?
Think about these things.
Also, don't forget what I said before: ask yourself, "What would my Higher Self do?" in this situation.
What does it mean to be "dedicated" to something?
Without looking at the dictionary, how would you describe it?
The word "dedicated" smacks of continuously doing something. There's a sense that one does the same thing again and again.
There's another aspect of dedication that's important: doing something even when we don't feel the desire to do that thing.
This applies to things like work, exercise, and yes, our spiritual practice. We're dedicated to prayer and meditation not because we always immediately reap the benefits of it but because it's necessary for us to continue in our practice toward spiritual perfection.
Some days, I don't feel like meditating. Some days, I even cut my meditations to a very, very short visualization session. But either way, I put forth the effort of meditating. I put forth some kind of effort.
There are days when I don't feel like meditating...and I do so anyway, usually to a great result.
This is in fact a telling point- in our spiritual practice, we're often met with resistance to the very things we need.
This isn't true for everything in life- indeed, the spiritual life sometimes opens up amazing paths for us and allows us to walk with grace and ease, and those are the moments where my heart is singing constantly a song of praise, again and again saying, "Thank You, God! Thank You!"
I pray that you find your sense of consistency and dedication to your spiritual practice.
There's never harm in reviewing and revising the basics of one's practice.
Sometimes, we have a tendency to think something along the lines of, "Well, I did that so long ago; I learned how to do this or that a long time ago; I don't need to practice that."
Sometimes, that's true, and other times, going back to the basics can allow one to build on and strength those skills.
Of course, at some point, we do have to move on from the basic and take on more robust practices. The point of reviewing the basics is to open us to something more complex. Then the higher levels of complexity can also become their own "basics" that we use.
The other side is that some of us try to jump ahead to more complex practices without mastery of the basics. I'm 100% guilty of doing this. There's a lot that I've missed over the years because of my sheer lack of focusing on what I should be doing and being exposed to way too many meditation methods and energy practices in way too short of a time without having a guide of any sort.
The Aquarian Catholic Spiritual Community is a great remedy for this- we have focused but flexible sort of path, and the liturgical and astrological years allow us to address different energetic concerns at different points.
Have you found yourself taking on too many practices?
"Healthy boundaries." We hear that phrase a lot in the current era, and with good reason.
Boundaries aren't always easy to set. A confusion happens for some of us because we're coached to be "nice." Of course we should extend kindness to others; we have to maintain a certain level of civility in society.
However, and this is important: kindness includes us. Kindness is not being a doormat to someone else's every whim. Standing up for yourself isn't a matter of being mean or lacking kindness; in fact, standing up and showing a clear boundary to someone may be an act of kindness in itself, as it shows the other person that there consequences for unwholesome actions.
To be a bit more personal, today I had to make a decision to set a boundary. This experience was highly uncomfortable to me, as I'm much more keen on attempting to work things out and create some kind of happy resolution. That's not always possible, and some people are unwilling to be receptive to the goodwill of others.
Demeaning comments and harassment of a friend online led to my blocking a person from a social media account. It wasn't my first choice, but given the circumstances, it was the best option.
What makes this boundary healthy? Well, after multiple chances, I finally took action. I could've blocked sooner when the vaguely rude comments only targeted me, but that may have been too quick and evidence of overreaction on my part; I could've done nothing, but that would've come with the risk of a future situation escalating into something worse.
So I used the social media tools that are available to us all to put an end to the rude comments and harassment, setting a very healthy boundary for everyone involved. No anger, preachiness, or rudeness on my end was involved.
What are boundaries that you've had to set in your life?
Father Alex said a beautiful Mass for us today for Transfiguration Sunday.
One thing that I reflect upon now is how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected the religious bodies around the world. Thanks to the internet, we're able to hold services over the internet and still be in contact with one another despite many churches not meeting in person.
We've had the capacity to do this for a while but not necessarily an impetus.
Zoom is truly a gift to the world. I can't overstate how much I love that we're able to still celebrate together and see one another.
Zoom also allows us to experience the Mass even though we're not locally available, regardless of a pandemic. This amazes me as well.
Being unable to physically receive the various Sacraments is a drawback for the liturgical denominations, and yet the interior reality, the essence of what the Sacraments convey, is nonetheless affecting us.
After a time, when the chaos and disruptions caused by the pandemic settle down, physical attendance will return for many, many people. Things will return to "normal," and maybe we'll have with us a new appreciation for the normal.
Maybe this is a type of transfiguration as well- a transformation that isn't permanent but reveals that we're much more than the physical presence of each other. Our presence is something much more than our bodies- but please don't misunderstand. Our bodies are also very important.
In fact, Father Alex pointed this out today during the Spiritual Discussion in which he noted that the reception of the Holy Eucharist causes an actual molecular change in our bodies. The path of spiritual perfection affects everything we are, not only this or that part!
I pray for you all. I pray that we attain to our goal of spiritual perfection. I pray that we experience many more Transfigurations in our own lives.
One simple rule to learn about reality is that there's almost always some kind of exchange that happens when attempt to obtain something.
We can frame this in terms of purchasing things, but bartering may be a better example. Purchasing something implies we have a specific and universal currency, and bartering implies that we give something that has equal value.
At the bare minimum, you'll realize that you spend your time on doing things. We all have a finite amount of time in this form, and when we learn new skills or work or sleep or do anything at all, we spend our time doing that.
Another example is this: many people are introverts and get their energy replenished by spending time alone or at the very least, doing something quietly while others are also doing something quietly. (I'm in this category.) Yet some of us introverts are also married to very extroverted people who are also quite loud and energetic (my husband is in this category).
I have a happy marriage, yet my marriage comes at the cost of not having a lot of time by myself. This exchange is, of course, absolutely worth it (I'm much happier with my husband being in my life), but that doesn't mean I don't have the need to spend time alone.
Today's question might be something like, what are you exchanging in your life? What are you giving up for the sake of gaining something else? And if you're honest with yourself, is it worth it?