Wednesday, December 21, 2022


     We're almost to the end of Advent, the season of waiting.... Waiting for the Incarnation, for the coming of infinite God into intimate communion with our bounded humanity. 

Monday, December 19, 2022

Examination of Conscience: Innocence

    I've been writing a lot lately about sin, examination of conscience, confession, and how important it all is for psychological and spiritual growth. Today I want to say something about a very different aspect of self-examination, which is discerning when we have not been wrong. The truth is that victims of certain kinds of traumas -- especially any form of child abuse or neglect (physical, emotional, or spiritual), sexual trauma, or intimate partner violence -- are likely to carry a load of guilt and shame that doesn't belong to us. Rightly, it belongs to the perpetrator of the abuse. We may understand that rationally, and shame may co-exist with rage. But still, we carry it, and it can be crippling.

Monday, December 5, 2022

On Being and Becoming

     A conversation came up recently about how we tend to define ourselves by who or what or how we ARE, and whether we might be holding ourselves back by that thinking. The speaker called it an "ontological bias," which should be a clue that this was a group of highly gifted people. It tickled me, honestly, because out "in the world," defining ourselves by who we ARE seems to be a far step ahead of defining ourselves merely by what we DO. But her point was to go another step beyond self-limiting thinking: to shake off any self-definition at all, any static self-understanding, and step out into continual becoming.

    Continual becoming. I think that is a pretty fair synonym for "enlightenment," or "mystical union with God." And I also think it is achievable. No, not permanently and continuously, but at least intermittently and increasingly, through practice. After all, the idea of attaining perfection once and for all is just another way of "being." Enlightenment, or mystical union with God, is "becoming," it is a path and not a destination. In real life terms, I know from experience that I can transcend my weaknesses; I can grow in ways I thought were beyond me; I can know peace and contentment and love that I never imagined. I have changed so much already in my life, I do easily things I used to struggle with, I'm no longer bothered by things that used to torment me, I know that an astonishing amount of change is possible. Thank God, because I still do struggle plenty. I still and always will have a ways to go.

    But here is the paradox: the only way to transcend the limits of present reality is to head straight into it, even to embrace it.