Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Saint Anthony of Padua

Saint Anthony of Padua is the patron saint of my wife's hometown of Sibulan.We have decorative candles embossed with images of him as he is usually portrayed.....holding the Christ child, with a lily and book featured somewhere.
For Christmas, I was given a statue of Saint Anthony.I don't really know why the giver of this gift choose this particular saint.
Is this a message for me? I know very little about the saint.He's most often called upon to recover lost articles.I know I need to find out more about him. An article I read just moments ago called him a contemplative.That is reason enough for me to look into this.

Thursday, December 21, 2006


Usually, when we speak of "doubt" in a religious context we associate that idea with atheism or agnosticism. We think of those who call God's existence into question. But, there are other forms of doubt. There are many who believe in God but do not follow the teachings of the Catholic Church. There are also those who consider themselves Catholic but rather than follow all that the Church’s teachings in their entirety, they will pick and choose which of these teachings they will accept.
Above all, you must consider whether you accept the teaching that says Christ established His Church on Earth. The Catholic Church claims that it is that church and is guided by the Holy Spirit. If you do not believe that the Catholic Church is Christ’s True Church then why attend Mass? Why call yourself Catholic?
If you believe the Catholic Church is the Apostolic Church then why not accept what the Church says concerning such issues as birth control, abortion, capital punishment and marriage? If the Catholic Church is the true church then why not follow the Canon law? You cannot have it both ways…either it is or it isn’t.

Monday, December 18, 2006

The daily decalogue of Pope John XXIII

At Mass yesterday,our parish priest included in his homily "The daily decalogue of Pope John XXIII".Afterwards I found a copy of the Decalogue on the Vatican website.
1) Only for today, I will seek to live the livelong day positively
without wishing to solve the problems of my life all at once.

2) Only for today, I will take the greatest care of my appearance: I
will dress modestly; I will not raise my voice; I will be courteous in
my behaviour; I will not criticize anyone; I will not claim to improve
or to discipline anyone except myself.

3) Only for today, I will be happy in the certainty that I was created
to be happy, not only in the other world but also in this one.

4) Only for today, I will adapt to circumstances, without requiring
all circumstances to be adapted to my own wishes.

5) Only for today, I will devote 10 minutes of my time to some good
reading, remembering that just as food is necessary to the life of the
body, so good reading is necessary to the life of the soul.

6) Only for today, I will do one good deed and not tell anyone about it.

7) Only for today, I will do at least one thing I do not like doing;
and if my feelings are hurt, I will make sure that no one notices.

8) Only for today, I will make a plan for myself: I may not follow it
to the letter, but I will make it. And I will be on guard against two
evils: hastiness and indecision.

9) Only for today, I will firmly believe, despite appearances, that
the good Providence of God cares for me as no one else who exists in
this world.

10) Only for today, I will have no fears. In particular, I will not be
afraid to enjoy what is beautiful and to believe in goodness. Indeed,
for 12 hours I can certainly do what might cause me consternation were
I to believe I had to do it all my life.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

On teaching yourself meditation

Can we teach ourselves to meditate ?It is, after all, a natural technique; anyone can learn to meditate.
There two schools of thought on this issue. The traditional religions tell us that meditation is something we must learn from a qualified teacher. However, the more “New Age” type religions and philosophies are more tolerant of the idea that it is something we can teach ourselves.
I am more inclined to follow the more traditionalist path. I can compare it to learning a language. Learning to speak and understand French, for example, is so easy and natural that little babies can do it. But, a person cannot learn a language in isolation. You can’t learn the language properly if you just follow your own rules.
One mistake I think that the self taught make is in regards to the thoughts we all get during meditation. Those of us who were taught by an instructor learn that we are to ignore any thoughts we may have…….no matter how “enlightened” they may seem to us at the time. The self taught often hold on to these random thoughts believing them to be of great meaning and significance. They will wander about- following these thoughts which can go off in odd and bizarre directions. This is not meditation. We must not pay attention to these thoughts that come to us. We just return to our sacred word or mantra in the same effortless way that we think any other thought. These random thoughts cannot be prevented but we should not put any value to them. They can only lead us astray if we believe that following them is part of meditation.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Waking after Meditation

How are we different after we awaken from our meditation?In what ways has God changed us?Are we guided or prodded to go about our lives in some different way?What effect does this small visit with the Holy Spirit have on our everyday level of consciousness?
Are these changes recognizable to those who come in contact with us or are these changes simply subjective in nature?
Can others see the living Christ in us?
We don't have halos or stigmata as visual evidence that a change has taken place. Is our life a manifestation of the God within us? It should not be necessary for me to wear a crucifix around my neck for others to see my Christian faith......

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

finding time to meditate

I am pretty much a morning person;I am always the first one to arise.My wife and son both like to sleep later than I so it is not difficult for me to have the peace and quiet I need for meditation.
It is different when it comes to my afternoon meditation.My wife is very considerate and always does her best to keep the house quiet when she's there during my meditation periods.It's not so easy with my year old son.When he's older I'll be able to explain to him the need to quiet at certain times but now,when he and I are alone in the afternoons,I have to arrange my meditation around his nap.....not always easy to do.My downstairs neighbor can be noisy at times and if she isn't quiet when J.P. is napping then finding time to meditate is a challenge for me.
Fortunately,I usually can manage it....very rarely have I lost an afternoon meditation to noise.

Friday, December 08, 2006

The Immaculate Conception of Mary

Today is December 8th-the feast of The Immaculate Conception of Mary-a holy day of obligation in the Catholic Church.
The picture on the left is "St Anne Conceiving the Virgin Mary" by Jean Bellegambe. (Flemish painter c. 1480 - c. 1535)
For a better understanding of Catholic teaching regarding this,click on here.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Meditation found to increase brain size

One might wonder why I put a jpg. of J.S. Bach in a blog entry entitled "Meditation found to increase brain size". I certainly don't want to imply that Bach was someone who practiced meditation;I have no evidence that he did. The title of this entry is from an article found in this link've been thinking about what I should write after having read the article. I have Bach's Mass in B Minor BWV 232 in the CD player and I am just letting the music wash over me and I'll write whatever comes to mind.Much has been written about the positive aspects of meditation.I know that I am a better person for having taken up the practice.I wouldn't say that I am a better person than "this one or that one", I can only say that I am better than I was before.I am no longer a slave to my physical addictions and my thinking is much clearer. When I was a young man, my head was filled with anxious thoughts and meditation has brought a calmness to me. Some have told me that I have a "charmed" life......I cannot say that, but it seems that even "bad" things that happen in my life always turn out for the best. Now,I read that meditation increases brain size; I do feel as if I am doing more from an intellectual standpoint than I've ever done before.I feel younger than I've felt in years.I can't help but give credit to my twice daily "visit" with The Holy Spirit and my taking Holy Communion whenever I can. God has blessed me beyond measure.I do not have a great deal of money or material possessions but I have a wonderful family.( and the music I'm listening to know ain't bad either ).

Monday, November 27, 2006

An unstable monk

One of the odder stories making the rounds over the Internet recently is the news of a 35 year old Buddhist monk in Thailand who cut off his penis with a machete. He did this, we’re told, because he had an erection during meditation. He declined the doctor’s attempts to re-attach it.
I knew when I read this story that I would have to write about this, but I’ve waited a few days because I was not sure which blog it would go in or how I would approach the subject. Some might be tempted to make bizarre comments and jokes but I’m going to take a different route.
In monotheism, the goal of meditation is to experience closeness with God; In Buddhist meditation, the stated purpose is to become enlightened. In either case, one usually becomes less enamored with materialism …… less attached to the things of this world.
However, the fact that this monk would mutilate his body because of a natural function of the body, reveals a complete misunderstanding of any valid religious principal. If this monk had a real notice of what “non-attachment” means he would have dealt with this in a less bizarre manner.
It’s understandable that a celibate religious or monk would want to rid his or her self of sexual desires .Cutting off body parts is certainly not an enlightened approach.

Thursday, November 23, 2006


Here in the United States, we’ll be celebrating Thanksgiving Day Holiday. Many will say that today is set-aside for us as a nation and people to give thanks to God for the blessings we have.
The more cynical among us might say that the day was established to determine the start of the Christmas buying season. As much as I hate to say it, I would have to agree. We may read a good bit about thankfulness but in the minds of most of the people I know, today is the day to watch football, eat too much and get ready to “shop ‘til they drop”.
It’s 6:30 AM and as I write this, my wife and son are still asleep. I am having coffee; I’ve already done my morning meditation and sweet potatoes are baking in the oven. We’ll be going to church in a few hours and I’ll be taking a sweet potato pie for a Thanksgiving exchange after Communion.
It’s difficult for me to put into words just how thankful I am for my wife and my child. It’s easy to think of the things we want…… a house, a new PC, a new car and lots of money. But, I cannot imagine having a more loving wife. True, there are times when I feel like I’m living an episode of “I love Lucy” but, for the most part ,life with her is wonderful. I know every parent believes their year old child is special, but I have grown so much since he arrived.
I’d be the first to admit that I haven’t always done the right things; I haven’t always been wise in my decisions . But, had I done things differently I would not be sitting here today typing on this keyboard while those too very important people sleep in the next room. So, I am even thankful for the “mistakes” I made so many years ago.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006


I put this photo here to remind myself to learn more about this group.They appear to be a worthwhile group but I don't know enough about them.I'm all for bringing meditation to more folks.The world needs more of us.
When we find a house I hope I can set aside an area for group meditation.That would probably involve building a privacy fence......among other things.Sometimes it seems very difficult to achieve simplicity.

Friday, November 17, 2006

om & amen

I was baptized when I was less than one month old. I was raised in the Roman Catholic tradition but after the death of my father I began my journey along another path. My father was very influential on my religious leanings and I doubt that I would have taken the path I eventually took had he lived longer than he did.
I looked into Buddhism and Hinduism along the way. My early Meditation practice was essentially Hindu based. For many years my meditation revolved around the mantra OM. OM was my choice even during those periods when my meditation was "non religious" in nature.
As I returned to the Catholic Church and my meditation transformed into "Centering Prayer" it seemed more appropriate to change my "sacred word" to something less Hindu. AMEN seemed the logical choice for me.
As the word naturally altered itself during meditation, I soon came to believe that, perhaps, the two words came from a common source...Amen is Om and Om is Amen.
I put the two words together in a Google search and learned that my idea wasn't so unique. There are others who believe the same thing. Funny, though, I've seen the idea posted in forums and blogs and the Hindu based folks seem more open to the idea then Christians. I think that may be because most Christians have lost the meditative tradition of our religion.... not to mention the fact that many Christians see ours as the only path and the thought that there could be a small link to Hinduism may be too unbelievable for some.
There’s no question in my mind that there is only one God. I believe the Holy Spirit reaches out to all of us in ways we can understand. I also believe Catholicism to be the supreme path but the Holy Spirit reveals portions of the Truth thru other religious traditions. I don’t think God will condemn to eternal punishment an otherwise righteous person whose situation in life has lead them to another religion.
I’m not saying that all paths are equal; some only contain elements of the Truth. Each of us will be judged according to our individual situations. God is justice and God is love.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Portrait of a Young Man with a Rosary

I took up praying the Rosary in earnest in 2003. Of course, I was taught how it was done, when I was a young boy, by the nuns at Sacred Heart. It had been many years since I had prayed the Rosary.....I returned to it as a sort of penance for having been away from the church for so long. The word "penance" could give the impression that returning to the Rosary was a chore. On the contrary,it has been a source of pleasure these past 3 years.
I was not married at that time and it was easier then to add the Rosary to my meditation schedule. I could pray the Rosary before every afternoon session.
When I married, my wife and I continued to do the Rosary on a regular basis.We've tried to do it every night before bed but we've not always lived up to that.Saying the Rosary with her isn't the same as my pre-meditation Roary.Now, praying it in a family setting adds something to my life that I had not previously known I was missing.When we were taking the Pre-Cana it was pointed out to us that it was important for a married couple to share a religious expierence in order to bring their marriage closer together.....I believe we've done that with the Rosary.
Our son was exposed to the Rosary while in his mother's womb and he continues to have that exposure now that he is here with us.He's too young to say the prayers.......he's not quite one year old yet.But, we'll teach him to say the Rosary with us when he's old enough.
I came across a website while searching for Rosary images on the Internet. I haven't had the time to look at the entire site,but, it looks promising.I especially like the images used with the Mysteries.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

My wife and I belong to a small group of families that gather together on the afternoon of the first Saturday of each month to pray a litany and Rosary for Our Lady of Fatima. Also, on the same weekend every month, our parish has Eucharistic adoration.
I've been going to the church for the adoration for about three months. It fits well with the gathering later in the a matter of fact, I wish the same feeling of peace and quiet could be carried over to the afternoon prayer.
At times the afternoon prayer for Our Lady of Fatima seems a bit too much like a social gathering. But, I suppose that's to be expected when there are several people involved.
If I could manage to receive Communion that day it would top off an already special day.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006


Quite often, the contemplative person is seen as one who retreats from the world. Look at every religious tradition and we see those who seek a mystical life becoming monks and nuns.....the Buddhist and Catholic traditions being just two examples.
But, read The Bhagavad Gita; in it Krishna instructs Arjuna to ACT. We as contemplatives cannot leave this every-day life. It is what God intends for us.
We meditate twice a day, then return to work to feed our family....change the baby's diaper.....wash the dishes.
I sometimes envy the Religious when the baby is crying but, then the baby smiles and laughs and I am no longer envious.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Centering Prayer and the Eucharist

How does one put mystical experiences into words? Is that even possible?
When I searched for “centering prayer” among the blogs I came across instructions on how to do the technique but little else. Very little is written about how one’s personality will change after years of practice.
Perhaps, that is because there are few of us in “the outside world” who have practiced for any real length of time.
Even less is said about how the prayer is enhanced by receiving the Eucharist on a regular basis.
That idea would be almost impossible to convey to non-Christians who meditate. Even Protestants would have difficulties with this because their view of Communion is very different from the teachings of the Catholic Church. Sadly, there aren’t many Catholics who know about Centering Prayer.
The Catholic Church teaches us that the bread and wine distributed during the Eucharistic celebration are the actual body and blood of Christ. The Churches teaches, and I believe, that when I receive Communion I am doing as Christ said in John.
“Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him. John 6:56”.
Obviously, not everyone is going to take the same view as I do. I won’t argue that point; I’m not skillful enough as a writer (or apologist) to change anyone’s opinion on the Real Presence. But, for those who see the Eucharist in the same way, Centering Prayer could add another dimension to your spiritual understanding.


  The jpeg to the left of this entry is entitled " Shiroiyoru". I came across this jpeg on the Internet and downloaded it more than a year ago.Unfortunately, I've forgotten the source. I placed it here because it seems to convey what many of us think of when we hear the words "meditation" or "contemplation". That is to say, the image gives us a sense of peace, solitude and quiet.
It also brings to mind words like "Japanese" or "Eastern" or "Asian"; words which we associate with meditation and contemplation.
Many of us who are hoping to explore higher states of consciousness have overlooked Christianity as the path for approaching these states.
We've looked into Zen and other forms of Buddhism; we've looked into Taoism and Hinduism as well. We've looked at Siddhartha while overlooking St. Francis.
At the same time, we've studied Lao Tze while failing to study St. John of the Cross; we've read "The Tao te Ching" without reading "The Cloud of the Unknowing".
Certainly, there is much to be gained spiritually from studying the Eastern religious traditions; but it is thru meditation and contemplative prayer that is grounded in the Trinity that we reach true “Enlightenment".
We must always remember that the Eucharist is the most essential element needed for a mystical relationship with God.See Father Cantalamessa's  homilies on the Eucharist.
  In the early 1960's, The Holy Spirit, recognizing a need for a spiritual renewal on this planet, brought about the Second Vatican Council as a way of bringing about these needed changes.
It was also during this same time period that more and more spiritually inclined individuals in the West began looking towards the East as a way to quench their thirst for mysticism.
Movements appeared within the Catholic community, in part, to respond to this growing need in the West for an understanding of this nearly neglected area of spirituality.From the Vatican II document Ad Gentes comes this;
"Worthy of special mention are the various projects for causing the contemplative life to take root.There are those who in such an attempt have kept the essential element of a monastic institution,and are bent on implanting the rich tradition of their order; there are others again who are returning to the simpler forms of ancient monasticism. But all are studiously looking for a genuine adaptation to local conditions. Since the contemplative life belongs to the fullness of the Church's presence, let it be put into effect everywhere."

 This blog is my modest attempt to look into Meditation and Contemplative prayer within the Catholic tradition.
Following the advice of Fr.Thomas Keating in his book "Manifesting God" I will look into the works of John Cassian, Francis de Sales,  Teresa of Avila, John of the Cross,
 Therese of Lisieux and Thomas Merton.
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