Monday, November 19, 2007

Prayers for our Church

November 19, 2007

Friends, Fam, Faith peeps,

I'm struggling in my response and prayer to the Catholic Church and it's Human Leaders, regarding this topic of Christ's Love and GLBT FAMILIES.
What follows is my feeble attempt at prayer and succinctness, in what feels an ocean of uncertainty, anger, hope, fear, love, mystery, and a grand call for discernment....

When did Christ say, "Nope, my body is not for you?" That's my essential question to the ordained and professed leaders of the Catholic Church who want to deny communion to anyone. To anyone! Please tell me, Where did Jesus draw the line? When did He practice exclusion? Please!

The following excerpt from our newly installed Archbishop, John Nienstedt, breaks my heart, as he quotes Church Teaching:
"Those who actively encourage or promote homosexual acts or such activity within a homosexual lifestyle formally cooperate in a grave evil and, if they do so knowingly and willingly, are guilty of mortal sin. They have broken communion with the church and are prohibited from receiving holy Communion until they have had a conversion of heart, expressed sorrow for their action and received sacramental absolution from a priest." - Archbishop Nienstedt of Minneapolis, St. Paul, in Catholic Spirit Article, "Four points on the church's teaching about homosexuality In God's Good Time"
As Michael, another Catholic restated and summarized:
"He's saying that parents, family members, and members of faith communities who affirm and support their LGBT children, friends, and fellow parishioners in forming loving and committed relationships, and in living healthy and authentic lives, are "cooperating in a grave evil" and are "guilty of a mortal sin." Furthermore, they've separated themselves from the church and are not to receive Communion!"
Again, who ever gets to decide who is worthy of God's love? Where did Jesus give us these rules about who can receive Him, and who doesn't get to?
What is our call or response to words that are hate-filled, yet seemingly uttered from a place of love?
Do leaders and community members see how these are hateful words?
Does the Archbishop recognize these words as participating in death, rather than generative and life-filled?
How is the denial of Christ's body ever NOT a participation in crucifixion?
How am I called to think, pray, act, as a Catholic who LOVEs her faith, and yet is heart broken by Human Leadership?
How do I love it all?
How do I hold Christ at the center of all discussion?
How do I see both crucifixion and resurrection in such testimony? Do I want to also be one to say, "NO" to God's love?
Do we recognize, as faithful beings, the nails being driven into His body when we simply stand by? Am I okay standing by and not doing anything? What does it mean to witness and be complicit in such denial of Jesus?

Do you see or recognize yourself, and your own body and spirit, your own faith, in this conversation? In these questions?

Prayerfully, Humbly, Discerning,

Friday, November 16, 2007

"Unity in the Heart of God" - Another Nouwen Reflection

Unity in the Heart of God

Love unites all, whether created or uncreated. The heart of God, the heart of all creation, and our own hearts become one in love. That's what all the great mystics have been trying to tell us through the ages. Benedict, Francis, Hildegard of Bingen, Hadewijch of Brabant, Meister Eckhart, Teresa of Avila, John of the Cross, Dag Hammarskjˆld, Thomas Merton, and many others, all in their own ways and their own languages, have witnessed to the unifying power of the divine love. All of them, however, spoke with a knowledge that came to them not through intellectual arguments but through contemplative prayer. The Spirit of Jesus allowed them to see the heart of God, the heart of the universe, and their own hearts as one. It is in the heart of God that we can come to the full realisation of the unity of all that is, created and uncreated.
- Fr. Henri Nouwen

What's this "unity" business? Oh, yes, yes, intellectually, or on some quantum knowledge level, I get that "We Are All One." It's something I ramble off and hold as a tenet in the "Melissa-Borgmann-book-of-faith-and-understanding-of-the-Universe." (We all have our own books, right? Like little scrappy journals inside our hearts where we store pithy quotes and fortune cookie fortunes.) Well, I do, and this notion of a unified body of LOVE exists there.

But what does that MEAN? And what does that call me to do? Or be?


I read this reflection of Nouwen's this morning, and it smacked me in the center of my chest. I love Henri, and some days he speaks to me; other days, not so much. Reading these emailed passages is simply part of my morning routine. I pray using them, but sometimes wonder, "What is the quality or nature of my prayer?"
"Who's it for?"
"Why do it?"
"What does it matter if I'm at home drinking coffee, walking around in a t-shirt and tending to some dead spiritual dude's words or not?"
"I mean, REALLY, in the grand scheme of things: does it DO ANYTHING?"

I left a life of teaching, of feebly attempting to MAKE CHANGE in the world, to do this? Scantily clad, caffeinated prayer-warrior work?


But there's something in here today. There is something in this contemplating business, in this almost-rote activity of pouring over words and ideas, and sitting still with them in my heart. Stirring the pot of potato/turkey sausage/ pepper chowder I just made for tonight's dinner guests, I thought, "Yep. We are all one. And this prayer business and thought and heart work, it's as important as preparing food."

So, what? Where's that bring me? "I'm just a little potato in this soup of love?" Or: "We are all peppers and turkey sausages on some level?" I mean, if we are to hold this idea of "WE ARE ONE" to be true, then doesn't that follow?

Does it offend you if I call you a "turkey sausage"?

And if that is so, Sweet and beloved Creator/Christ/Benevolent and Enlightened Buddha, how do you react if I tell you you are the same and ONE with Hitler? With Osama? With George W.? With Mother Theresa? With Ghandi?

It is something to consider, or hold, if you are like me, and believe in this business of unity.

"We are all one."

Sweet Planet Earth, does that scare you?! To tell you the truth: it knocks me on my ass. Levels me. I'm Saul, on the road, getting struck down and blinded by Love. I'm trying to see clearly, I'm grasping at the dusty road, trying to feel my way, and wondering what conversion means, what peace means, what healing is possible - given my blasted, on-my-butt-blindness.


I'm sitting at the Visitation Monastery on Girard in North Minneapolis. It's a Saturday, and I'm surrounded by Visitation Companions and Sisters, and I'm being asked to contemplate the pierced heart of Christ. I'm being invited to make meaning of an organ that is the pumping machine of the body, and is pierced to the core, and yet still works? I'm being asked to hold my basic knowledge of cardiology alongside my basic knowledge of Love's Mystery.


Friends, I have no answers. But I share my ramblings with you, as Nouwen stirs things in me, and I tend to listening to my own pierced heart and these notions of alignment, love, unity.

Let me know if anything comes up in your reflections.


Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Heart as Wide as the World: A reflection on Nouwen

Hey Faith Peeps!

I'm with my priest, Fr. Pat on loving All Saints and Souls days. Calling forward the idea of the sweet and inspiring lives of those that have gone before us, and letting the love they lived burn in our hearts: it makes me happy.

And it takes me into the center of how I understand Fr. Nouwen's words here*.....That what I live and HOW I love, isn't all mine or from me. I'm not generating this heat, this action, this enthusiasm and appreciation for all that is around me. Huh uh. It comes from the Divine, and how the Holy Lives and Spirits of ancestors and saints are at work in my DNA. I'm serious!

Just ask yourselves, "What's encoded on these bones? Whose memories are alive in my muscle tissue? What has been engraved in my heart? Does my blood carry the stories of those who have lived before me? How does that influence what I see, how I act, where I reach and what I embrace?"

Resting in these questions, (and the many inspired by my grandparents -- and Saints like Margaret Mary and Theresa and Augustine) I know that my heart is as wide as the world, open and receiving and in awe....

Peace, Prayers, Happy Ruminating,

*Heart As Wide As the World

The awareness of being part of the communion of saints makes our hearts as wide as the world. The love with which we love is not just our love; it is the love of Jesus and his saints living in us. When the Spirit of Jesus lives in our hearts, all who have lived their lives in that Spirit live there too. Our parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents; our teachers and their teachers; our pastors and their pastors; our spiritual guides and theirs - all the holy men and women who form that long line of love through history - are part of our hearts, where the Spirit of Jesus chooses to dwell.

The communion of saints is not just a network of connections between people. It is first and foremost the community of our hearts.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

A Poem about Mother Theresa

So I've been reading "Mother Theresa: Come be My Light - The Private Writings of the Saint of Calcutta."* It's the controversial text that discloses the contemporary saint's "dark night of the soul" --not "feeling" God's presence, after she so clearly received a calling to serve Jesus and the poorest of the poor.
Forty plus years of not really knowing if God was there!?
Can you imagine? What compels a human being to continue on in the face of such doubt or second guessing?
These are just a couple of my questions!

What would it really be like had Mother Theresa left the slums, said, "No" and gotten a porche? It's ridiculous, right?

I've been waking up recently with her on my brain, wondering what Calcutta -- and the rest of the world for that matter, would be like had she said, "Nope. I'm done with this business."

What follows is a poem toward this end. Of course, let me know what you think!

Poem: "Mother Theresa gets a Porsche" by Melissa Borgmann

Mother Theresa gets a Porsche

No. I will not love God anymore or do His will.

No more of this poverty bull sh-t, either.
The poorest of the poor?
That just makes me pathetic and miserable, too.
Do you see me smiling as I speak?
A decade of service was one thing, this 40 years of ministering to the lowly is enough.

I'd like a nice home, car and security. A 401 K is something others have, yes?
Thank you.
Enough of this "yes" business. I say, "Yes" to myself.
If there is a God, I think He'd like me to be happy and
smile - with some feeling behind it.

Christ is amazing. Not sure how He managed His time on the cross.
Blasted blood and holes in His body. Thirsty, too.
Had to be miserable, strung up there and stinging with aloneness.
Abandonment is a wretched thing.

Believe me, I get it.

Peace, Faith,
Happy leanings into the mystery of it all,

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Jesus is in the Damdest Places!

Happy Sunday to all!

The following poem* showed up in today's Writer's Almanac and it tickled me. Christ in the suburbs? Please! The guy, whether son of God, or simply a really good man-teacher-prophet, appears in lots of places. Back then. Now. In this case, (ironically to me), Jesus shows up in the 'burbs where He's/ he's causing scandal.

I love it!

Feed people, stir up the pot of contemplation and action, and hang out with whores, and HEY! you're going to rub some folks the wrong way. Especially those in cul-de-sacs! (Wow! that's judgmental of me, isn't it?) Seriously, though: who doesn't want to commit a Jesus-figure behind bars --or to some private wing of a psyche ward? Especially when they threaten the status quo, security, and invite in the bums! Ack! Locking up such a fella: that somehow keeps us all safer, and free from scandal, right?

(My sarcasm may be sneaking out.)

Incidentally, X.J. Kennedy's poem reminds me a wee bit of one I wrote about two months ago, after being on retreat and around my good friend, Franciscan Nun Sr. Rafael Tilton. As I place them next to one another, it strikes me how mine appears the other side of the scandal -- literally and figuratively speaking. It's as if some of the sympathetic neighbors got together and jotted this down, post-crucifixion. Perhaps a bit regretful?

*Poem: "A Scandal in the Suburbs" by X.J. Kennedy, from In a Prominent Bar in Secaucus: New and Selected Poems, 1955–2007. © The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2007. Reprinted with permission.(buy now)

A Scandal in the Suburbs

We had to have him put away,
For what if he'd grown vicious?
To play faith healer, give away
Stale bread and stinking fishes!
His soapbox preaching set the tongues
Of all the neighbors going.
Odd stuff: how lilies never spin
And birds don't bother sowing.
Why, bums were coming to the door—
His pockets had no bottom—
And then-the foot-wash from that whore!
We signed. They came and got him.


Poem: "Out of Control Christ" by Melissa Borgmann

Out of Control Christ

He spread himself too thin, you might say.
Oh, always trying to do good, that one.
Now look, flailing, accused and abandoned, weepy at the end, too.

Does no good to have the Rabbi out of action.
Damn fool.