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I have been instilled with a great silence … all my writings seem as nothing. So instead of just letting many months pass without blogging I will, from time to time, publish writings of the great masters … until my dryness ends. God Bless!

This is the mark of Christianity–however much a man toils, and 
however many righteousnesses he performs, to feel that he has done 
nothing, and in fasting to say, “This is not fasting,” and in 
praying, “This is not prayer,” and in perseverance at prayer, “I 
have shown no perseverance; I am only just beginning to practice 
and to take pains”; and even if he is righteous before God, he 
should say, “I am not righteous, not I; I do not take pains, but 
only make a beginning every day.” 

St. Macarius the Great 

-jdp

We are both Martha and Mary

Over the past few months I have experienced a writing dry spell – yet not exactly “writers block” it has proved just as “deadly” for someone professing to be a so-called “blogger.”  The hours, days, and weeks just seem to have flown by – yet not without a fullness of experience that each day has brought anew. Days filled with both action and quiet; days of toil, as well as spiritual comfort; days of rest and recuperation, as well as time spent with family, friends and neighbors. I have been busy yet reflective; experienced both the hectic and the quiet; and have spent both time with God and time with people. And even today, I struggle to put it all into words, in order to share it with my readers. But today, I have a read a passage from Thomas Keating’s book, “Open Mind, Open Heart” which seems to describe my experience, so I will quote him verbatim. Keating, a well known Cistercian Monk, states the following on pages 120-121:

“There are times in one’s life when the divine action is very strong and hard to resist. There are also times when the Lord seems to forget about you. The main thing is to accept whatever comes, to adjust to what happens, to whatever He gives you. By alternating the sense of His closeness and distance, God trains our faculties to accept the mystery of His Presence beyond any kind of sensible or conceptual experience. The divine Presence is very close and immediate, when we are doing the most ordinary actions. Faith should become so transparent that it does not need experience. But it takes a lot of experience to reach that point.

As God brings the “new man” to life in interior silence, that is to say, the new you, with the world view that Christ shares with you in deep silence, His view of things becomes more important to you than your own. Then He asks you to live that new life in the circumstances of everyday life, in your daily routine, contradicted by noise, opposition, and anxieties. These seem to persecute you because you want to be alone to relish that silence. But it is important to allow oneself to be confronted by daily life. The alternation between deep silence and action gradually brings the two together. You become fully integrated, a contemplative and yet fully capable of action at the same time. You are Mary and Martha at once.

We all have these two capacities, but they are in different proportions. By bringing each of them to its full potential and integrating them, one becomes a mature Christian, able to bring forth out of one’s tool kit old things and new. It is to be able to act and to be able not to act, to come into function and to withdraw into silence. The alternation of contemplative prayer and action gradually establishes you in the contemplative dimension of the Gospel, which is a new and transformed state of consciousness.”

I usually expound upon any quotes from other authors but I have a feeling that this passage will mean different things to different readers, and I should step back and allow that process to take place within you, without adding my own 2 cents.

May God bless you and keep you close, –  jdp

Time

In the last weeks I’ve allowed my blog to lapse. It’s not that I was too busy, although that was part of it… It’s not that I had nothing to say. I always have commentary for what is happening in the world around me. Instead, it seems that I had more to listen to than to write, for indeed God is speaking to us daily yet often we do not listen.

Time, for us, continually passes by … events happen, days and weeks pass by, we run errands, attend parties (birthday, graduation, wedding, promotion), we pause & grieve after the death of a friend, family member, neighbor, co-worker; then run head long into the next day and the next series of events, often times without reflection, nor even physical rest to recuperate. We run, run, run, and time passes by, days, weeks, months, years.

In the past few weeks, I attended two funerals. Two young men cut down in their prime. Two young men that had bright futures ahead of them. One killed by accident when struck by a car; the other took his own life with a single gun shot to the head. These events happened only ten days apart and were unrelated execpt that they shared the same employer and I knew them both personally. Time continues to pass, day by day, week by week, yet I paused, grieved, and asked God why? I’m sure their families are gonna struggle with that same question for the rest of their lives – why? Why now? Why them? Time will pass, yet the hurt will linger. Their memories will stay with them (and with me) forever, yet each day, time continues to pass.

During the past few weeks, school has ended, children are home each day, and activities flow in every direction… We’ve attended graduation parties, birthday parties, engagement parties, end of the school year parties. We’ve celebrated Memorial Day, Fourth of July, attended barbeques, ate, drank and were merry. Yet both Memorial Day and Independence Day are about sacrifice and loss of life – men and women died in order for us to live and enjoy the very freedom which we celebrate. Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines lost their lives to earn our freedom. But do we pause and reflect? Or do we just run, and eat, drink, and be merry? Time passes by, day by day, week by week, month by month…

This Summer, we will continue to run: to the pool, to the shore (beach for you non-Jerseyans), to barbeques, to work, to hobbies, to sports, to concerts, to parks, to vacations… will we pause to reflect? We we sit with our God and listen? We we just sit and be in His Presence? or will we just run? Time keeps passing. There will be more birthdays; there will be weddings; there will be more funerals; babies will be born, we will attend Christening parties; we will tire out, and yet we will continue to run. And time will pass, day by day, week by week, month by month… Or will it?

When does our time run out? “We know neither the day, nor the hour…” When will we spend time with God? When will we spend time to Glorify Him? When will we spend time to serve others? “We are to love God with all our heart, and all our mind, and all our spririt. And we are to love our neighbors as ourselves.” When will we DO this love? When will there be time? Later, tomorrow, the next day, next week? “The time is NOW.”

 “For God, a single day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a single day.” That’s because God is eternal! For us, time keeps passing by … and we know neither the time or place when it will end.  Stop right now and give your life back to God. Ask Him to make your will in line with His Will. Time will not keep passing by forever … NOW is the time to turn your life back to the Creator. He made us all for a certain purpose … not to waste our lives “on the run.”

It’s up to you. What’s your choice? What are you gonna do today? Time is running out! -jdp

Tools ‹ Mind of a Mendicant Marine — WordPress.

Falling Short

Even during the wonderful season of Easter; even as we enjoy living in the Light of the Resurrected Lord – we may find ourselves facing that we are still sinners. Yeah during Lent, we spent 40 long days of anguishing over our sinfulness, asking for forgiveness, making amends with those we’ve hurt, doing penance to discipline ourselves … BUT … NOW we are supposed to be “above” all that – Christ rose from the dead and conquered sin. We are supposed to be living in the power of the Risen Christ, and BAM we fall short – a venial sin here, a couple missed prayer times there, and we allow ourselves to be disillusioned – the evil one plays his twisted little games and gets us all depressed and down on ourselves.

I know Lent is over but we are still human – we make mistakes. Never forget that God still loves us and forgives our sins – it wasn’t a “one-time” forgiveness. Confess your sins, Say you’re sorry, Do your penance, and … move on. Falling short is just God’s reminder to us that we are human, we need to constantly be humble, be vigiliant, and ask God for His help each day. Just as forgiveness is not a “one shot” deal, following Christ is not a “one shot” decision – we need to work on it everyday; we need to build our relationship with Christ, we need to rely on His help and accept it with all humility. So we fall short – who cares? Get back up again and keep following the Way, “one day at a time” … sometimes even “one moment at a time.” Even Christ fell as he was carrying the Cross; we too, must keep going even when we falter!

May the Peace of Christ be yours! -jdp

Greetings all, may the Peace of Christ be yours! I’ve been re-reading Thomas Merton’s New Seeds of Contemplation, probably for the fourth or fifth time since the mid-1980′s. It always seems to reveal something new with each reading…maybe it’s where I am in my journey at the time of each reading? Maybe it’s words are alive, as is Scripture, since it constantly reveals something about “The Word” – Jesus? Maybe the book reveals nothing, but it is the actual practice of Contemplation that reveals God in a way beyond reason, beyond intellect, beyond knowing, beyond unknowing, where we discover deep inside ourselves – our ‘true self,’ which is where God touches each of us and dwells there with us. Ultimately, we can not get there by our own doing or our own practice…this so-called practice or being with God, is actually a gift from God, where He calls out to each of us without voice; He is revealed to us without our sensing; He is known without our knowing; His Spirit touches our spirit where time stands still, yet our real self is found, life is real and our yearning is quenched.

Merton calls Contemplation “the highest expression of man’s intellectual and spiritual life. It is life itself, fully awake, fully active, fully aware that it is alive. It is spiritual wonder. It is spontaneous awe at the sacredness of life, of being. It is gratitude for life, for awareness and for being. It is a vivid realization of the fact that life and being in us proceed from an invisible, transcendent and infinitely abundant Source. And is awareness of the reality of that Source.”

Oh that we could put aside the busyness of ‘everyday’ life and spend more time in the quiet, more quality time, if you will, with God – our Creator, our Father, our Source, our Center of real life and our true selves, not the false life be spend busying ourselves each day with inconsequential concerns! Spending more time with our God - making that relationship better, will ultimately make all our relationships better, since God is Love. Our lives should be spent loving God, and loving our neighbor. Life is about relationships not about making money, storing up ‘toys,’ and becoming ‘successful’ in our jobs. At the end, our Lord won’t ask us how successful we were at work or how much money we earned…he will simply ask how we loved our neighbor! Let’s renew our hearts and minds. Let’s give our whole selves to God today…only then, will we find our true selves and be able to live genuine lives! -jdp

Last year, I entered a short story contest hosted by American Heroes Press. My selection “Tun Tavern Fraternity” was the first place winner, and is included in an anthology called “What is a Hero?” that was just published by American Heroes Press. The following write-up is copied from Amazon.com:

What is a Hero?: The American Heroes Press Short Story Anthology

By  Zachary Foster “Congressman CYD”See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   

After a long wait, the book that law enforcement and military enthusiasts have been waiting for is here! After much discussion between police and military writers and readers on the subject of heroism and selfless service, American Heroes Press hosted a writing contest in which AHP followers could submit a true story about someone who is a hero to them. Many stories were submitted, and this short story anthology, What Is A Hero?, is the result, compiling the best stories about police officers, fire fighters, and soldiers who have made a difference in the lives of ordinary citizens.

The contest’s first place winner, James Drew Pointkouski’s “Tun Tavern Fraternity” is extremely well written, and by the engaging content of this story about “Mr. Grey” and the elite Marine commandos it almost seems like a Hollywood movie, a masterful fusion of James Bond and the United States Marines. One could definitely see the likelihood of Pointkouski writing a book about his years in the Marine Corps, hopefully including reminiscences of his combat experiences. Such a memoir could even be more memorable than Anthony Swofford’s Jarhead!

The second place winner, James H. Lilley’s “The Legend of `Sweet Bobby’ Moore” is a great story, which through the presentation of anecdotes testifies to the heroism of one of America’s boys in blue. After the tired Good Cop/Bad Cop routine being presented in pop novels and on television, it’s refreshing to have a true story about a cop whose adventures (or antics) are both heroic and absolutely hilarious! Sweet Bobby is the guy whose 4th of July barbeque one would want to attend.

Steve Gilmore’s “The Day Cambria Got Buzzed” takes the bronze, paying tribute to the dying heroes of the World War II generation. Amidst the endless barrage of WWII combat movies and video games, in the era of Saving Private Ryan, Band of Brothers, The Pacific, and Call of Duty, this story presents a seldom seen picture of the excitement that took place here on the home front and the witnessing of the legendary Flying Fortress in its days of glory. From war-torn Europe to the jungles of Vietnam, from the streets of New York to the hills of California, this exciting book pays tribute to heroes who proudly serve the community and the country. As exciting, action packed and out-of-this-world as they may seem, these stories are anything but adventure fiction. These stories are true, and are a testament to the courage and heroism of those who work tirelessly to make America a safer place to live. This book is a hit and there will hopefully be more to come!

Thought I would do a little self promoting today! LOL It’s a good short story and a good little book. Check it out. God Bless! -jdp

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