Charles Seagren, ocds: prepare your hearts

Readings: Rm 10:9-18, Ps 19, Mt 4: 18-22

How does Jesus come to us?
That’s what we prepare for during Lent.

He comes as a baby born of Mary
which we celebrate at Christmas.
He comes in the Eucharist
which we celebrate at every Mass.
He comes on the Last Day, the Day of decision,
and we prepare for Him
with prayer and the sacraments
and works of mercy.

But He also comes in the most ordinary way
when we least expect Him.
We might be mending our nets on the seashore
talking our ordinary talk,
doing our everyday things
and there He is.

There’s no host of angels,
no fanfare.
He says, Come after Me
and keeps on walking.

Are we ready?
Do we leave our nets and follow?
Do we have the time
or are we just too busy
with our job our family our previous commitments?

Do we ask Him to come back tomorrow?

This Lent, prepare your heart
to hear and believe and follow.
Christ comes at an unexpected time
and keeps on walking.

SOURCE: Homily 2015. Menlo Park, CA

Copyright 2016 Charles Seagren. All Rights Reserved

Teresa Linda, ocds: O Blessed Trinity

Requiem to Syria 2 by Khaled Akil, www.khaledakil.com
Requiem for Syria by Khaled Akil www.khaledakil.com. Read this to learn about the artist.

Abba, Father

We thank you and praise You,
For giving us Your Son,
Human and Divine,
Yet He turned His cheek
To His oppressors
And allowed Himself
To be pierced for our oppressions
So that in Him and through Him,
Who gave us the gift
Of the Holy Spirit,
We could experience life from death
In our very beings –
In the caverns of our own hearts.
Living Flame,
Indwelling Blessed Trinity
O Fire of Love
O Blessed Trinity!
We adore you, We love you.

SOURCE: Lent 2016

Copyright  2017, TL thespeakroom.org. All Rights Reserved

‘Arm yourselves with the armor of faith and the sword of truth.  Pray for the grace to forgive and to ask for forgiveness – and for the healing of wounded bodies and souls.’

 Try the Daily Disconnect as part of your Daily Meditation

podcast-288x162 click onto the image or the link above

Teresa Linda, ocds: You have given us everything

Requiem for Syria by Khaled Akil www.khaledakil.com
Requiem for Syria by Khaled Akil www.khaledakil.com. Read this for the Artist’s Statement.

You, oh Lord, have given us everything
Before the world came to be, You were I AM,
Already offering Yourself to us in love and beauty

Lord, teach us the path of Our Lady and St. Joseph,
Who, in darkness of sand storms, clung to the One, the Child Jesus,
And in so doing, loved without bounds.

Let our hands not trouble themselves,
With matters that will only bind them,
Preventing us from embracing You into our hearts

For in giving of Yourself, oh Lord,
You’ve opened for us the gift of others,
That in You, we can love with a love that burns tenderly.

May we respond with desire for You, oh Lord, and You alone.

SOURCE: Lent 2016

Copyright 2016, thespeakroom.org, TL, ocds. All Rights Reserved

‘Arm yourselves with the armor of faith and the sword of truth.  Pray for the grace to forgive and to ask for forgiveness – and for the healing of wounded bodies and souls.’

 Try the Daily Disconnect as part of your Daily Meditation

podcast-288x162 click onto the image or the link above

Our Father – by teresa linda, ocds

IMG_7402

Note: On May 2017, by the grace of God, I will make my Definitive Promise as a Secular Carmelite. This is what I wrote for the Council. The statue above is the same image I describe in this piece, but decades later.

The discernment process to become a Secular Carmelite takes several years: at least one year as an Aspirant, two years until the first Temporary Promise, and then three years more before the Definitive Promise, a total of at least six years – all under the guidance of a Council, a teacher (Formator), a priest who serves as Spiritual Assistant, and if available, an individual who serves as spiritual director.  And after that, a lifetime of continued Formation.

From the time I began my journey as a Carmelite Aspirant in 2011 until well into my Temporary Promise in 2014, I experienced a very long, dry, and humiliating process of letting go of my control of those things I thought belonged to me or somehow earned by right: my family on the east coast, my career, my children’s upbringing, financial stability, my health – and my marriage.

After I came to terms with having to let go of what I then believed mattered most, God withdrew Himself from me for over two years. He felt completely absent; I felt isolated and alone, and I never knew if I would have the strength to make it through each day. Still, I persisted in my prayer life, and committed to faithfulness in the limited ways I knew how.

Everything changed after I prayed at the foot of the tomb of Saint John of the Cross in Segovia, Spain in 2015, during a pilgrimage for St. Teresa’s 5th Centenary, led by Father Robert Barcelos, my community’s Spiritual Assistant.

Saint John’s sepulcre is located behind the church altar, elevated above the tabernacle, and surrounded by a square walkway. All the other pilgrims chose to sit in the pews and pray facing the sepulcre, but I found my place of prayer hidden in plain sight – behind the tomb, with Saint John’s uncorrupted body above, and Our Lord inches from me in the tabernacle.

I took off my worn sandals, carefully put my bags down on the floor, knelt, held my hands open, and recited the prayer I had been praying since I took my Temporary Promise: “Here am I Lord, for I am nothing, and You are everything in all that I am, and all that I will be.”  I asked for Saint John of the Cross, along with Saint Teresa of Avila, Saint Elijah, and the Carmelite saints to intercede for me. I asked for Our Lady’s prayers and mantle of protection.

When I got tired of kneeling, I simply sat, feeling the cold marble at the bottoms of my feet. I felt like a little girl again, leaning upon the shadow of a wall to escape the Philippine heat and waiting to be reunited with my father in the United States.

Nothing ‘happened.’

But when I walked from behind the tabernacle and faced the other pilgrims sitting in the pews, praying, I knew with certainty that God had touched me and had gently turned my gaze away from my own ego – and upon Him.

In my Christian walk, I always marveled at Jesus’s first words to the apostles after His resurrection: “Peace be with you.” I wondered, why – if that was such an important promise – so few believers, including myself, knew first-hand of that peace. At the foot of Saint John of the Cross’ sepulcre, Christ gave me that breath of peace, and despite the continued challenges of my life and my shortcomings, that peace has never left me.

Since then, He has given me a mission, one I understood while in prayer during Lent 2016. Everything about the speakroom and the various apostolic fruit that have come out of the site, have been rooted in my attempt to be obedient to Our Lord.

When I was four years old, my father was given the rare opportunity to work as an engineer to pave a life for us in America. But he had to leave four children and a wife – who in one year, had delivered a baby and buried another. During that time, a monument of the Lord’s Prayer was built in the park behind our house, the same park where my little sister was buried.

After visiting my sister’s grave. I would stand before the image of Jesus, seated on His throne, and contemplate the Lord’s Prayer behind Him. No matter what visited us in the three years my earthly father was abroad, I grew in my relationship with God the Father. By His Grace, my faith  never wavered.  I understood that because God desired that His “will be done, on earth, as it is in Heaven,” then it followed that Jesus was on earth with me, as Our Father was in Heaven. I rested in that love and companionship.

As I grow in my Carmelite vocation, I find that I am only trying to find my way back to the simple and confident faith I had as a child. One of my most common prayers now is: “Come Holy Spirit. Give me the grace to enter into the Sacred Heart of Christ, that I may come to know the face of my Heavenly Father.”

To see the face of Christ is to see the face of the Father. To come before the Father in Christ is to be resurrected before Him as His beloved child. And it is the Holy Spirit that makes these movements between the human, and the eternal divine possible.

Copyright 2017  teresa linda – the speakroom.org , ocds

‘Arm yourselves with the armor of faith and the sword of truth.  Pray for the grace to forgive and to ask for forgiveness – and for the healing of wounded bodies and souls.’

 Try the Daily Disconnect as part of your Daily Meditation

podcast-288x162 click onto the image or the link above

Charles Seagren, ocds: prepare your hearts

Readings: So 2: 8-14, Ps 33, Lk 1:39-45

There’s an old saying:
Have nothing in your house
which is not both beautiful and useful.

It’s good advice
for our hearts as well.

Today Jesus stands behind our wall,
looking through the windows,
peering through the lattices.
What does He see?
Are we ready to welcome Him
into our home?

He stands outside looking in
and now He calls us:
Arise, My beloved, my beautiful one,
and come.

As soon as we hear His voice
something stirs within us.
It’s the beauty that we are,
the beauty we forgot we are.
And the infant leaps in our womb,
the child of God that each of us is
leaps for joy
when we hear His voice.

Winter is past
and the time of pruning is here,
the time to prepare for the salvation of Christ.

He breaks down the walls that divide us.
He cleans the Temple of our heart
till nothing remains
but what is beautiful and useful,
the praise of His glory
and the good of our neighbor,
nothing remains but love.

SOURCE: Homily 2015. Menlo Park, CA

Copyright 2016 Charles Seagren. All rights reserved.

Charles Seagren, ocds: put last things first

Readings: 1 Cor 7:25-31, Ps 45; Lk 6: 20-26

Time is running out.
We know it.
However much money we make,
however much fine food we eat,
however on top of the world we may be,
we’ll soon be under it.

The thief is coming and we don’t know when.

We spend our life
rejoicing and weeping,
buying and selling.
Go deeper.
Go below the surface, with all its moods,
all the waves and currents that carry us
where we don’t want to go.

It’s all upside down.
The Kingdom of God belongs to the poor
but woe to the rich.
The hungry are satisfied
and the well-fed hungry.
The hated the excluded the insulted
rejoice and leap for joy.

You don’t need to give it all away
and live in a hovel.
But rejoice as if you’re not rejoicing,
weep as if you’re not weeping,
own as if you don’t possess.

Time is running out.
Sometimes we learn the simplest things last
which makes for difficulties.

Listen.
You can hear God
in the silence of your heart
and the whirlwind of the world.

In all that you do
put the last things first.

SOURCE: 23rd Week of Ordinary time Homily 2015. Menlo Park, CA

Copyright 2016 Charles Seagren. All rights reserved.

 

Charles Seagren, ocds: there’s a little Herod in each of us

Readings: 1 Jn 1:5:12, Ps 124, Mt 2:13-18

There’s a little Herod in each of us,
that little king, that little big man
so full of fear.

He sees with eyes of suspicion.
If you’re angry you see anger in others.
If you lie you think everyone’s a liar.
If you plot to get ahead
you know everyone is out to get you.

Sin is a beam in the eye,
a blindness of the heart.

So Herod believes a baby
will grow up to depose him
and take his place.
And when the magi deceive him
he kills the Holy Innocents.

There’s a fear that dwells in our hearts
of such small things,
being deceived or coming in second
or looking a fool.

We want to be grown up
and not a child.
We want to be in control
and not gullible.
And sometimes
we put aside our holy innocence
and view the world with eyes of darkness.

It’s a temptation we resist by grace.
And in this Holy Mass
we acknowledge our sins
and walk in light.

Holy innocence
is to see things as they truly are,
as God sees them
and as He sees us,
with eyes of love.

SOURCE: Feast of the Holy Innocents Homily 2015. Menlo Park, CA

Copyright, Charles Seagren 2016. All Rights Reserved

Charles Seagren, ocds: we are the magi

Readings: Is 60: 1-6; Ps 72; Eph 3:2-3, 5-6; Matt 2: 1-12

The Bible isn’t just something outside us
like a book you keep on a shelf
and dust from time to time.
It’s not something you hear
and it stops there
and who knows what the Gospel was today.

The Bible is inside us too,
written on our hearts.
When we read it prayerfully
or hear it well proclaimed
something happens.
Heart speaks to heart
and we’re changed
by what we hear.

Every character, every event, every place in scripture
is in us as well.
Pharisees, apostles, Herod, even Jesus —
we carry them with us
everywhere we go.

We enter the Gospel and see
how we’re the magi and the star and the newborn Child.

We’re magi
because we follow the light.
Every one of us longs for happiness
and we follow the light of it
wherever it leads.

We might stop short.
We might visit Herod the King
and hope the answer is here
in pleasure or power or wealth.
But after awhile it’s not enough.
We raise our eyes and look about.
We grow restless
and the star keeps moving.

SOURCE: Epiphany 2016 Homily. Menlo Park, CA

Charles Seagren 2016. All Rights Reserved

Charles Seagren, ocds: the exaltation of the cross

That’s when it happens,
when we’re worn out on the journey,
when we’re impatient
and Egypt starts to look good.
We grumble against God and Moses
and we don’t look where we’re going.

That’s when the serpent strikes.

So Moses nails a bronze serpent to a pole
and lifts it up.
He tells us to look.
Here is the result of your sin,
here is the pain and death it brings.
So we look,
we look in faith,
and we’re healed.

To make antivenom
you start with the venom.
To heal sin
you start with the fact we’re sinners.
But you don’t stop there.

It’s the Mystery of the Cross.
Like that serpent in the desert
Jesus is nailed to a Cross
and lifted up.
He takes all our sin on Himself,
all the pain and death and shame of it,
not to condemn but to save us.

Look at Him now, here on the Cross,
look in faith.
See the result of sin.
But more than that
see the triumph of Love.

In His wounds we are healed.

‘Arm yourselves with the armor of faith and the sword of truth.  Pray for the grace to forgive and to ask for forgiveness – and for the healing of wounded bodies and souls.’

 Try the Daily Disconnect as part of your Daily Meditation

podcast-288x162 click onto the image or the link above

Teresa Linda, ocds: new forms of vulnerability

Do you support Trump? Is the Pope orthodox enough?  Which child is most vulnerable and therefore needs to be defended the most – the one in the womb, the boy left to drown in the Greek Sea, or the girl forced into prostitution? Unwittingly, these questions have divided Catholics.

Driving home from this year’s Walk for Life, I realized that because of our divisions, Catholics have given up an opportune time to reclaim the rhetoric of “Pro-Life.” As a result, the social justice teachings of the Catholic Church were re-appropriated by The Women’s March, a movement that clearly has anti-Catholic positions, but one that has captured the hearts and minds of many young people in this nation, including my daughter.

In San Francisco, the Pro-Life March and the Women’s March happened on the same day, back to back, forcing my daughter, who is a senior and a social justice leader at her Catholic school, to choose between the two marches, lest she not have time to finish her homework.  This is no surprise since our family has always been attuned to these issues, having spent formative years in West Philadelphia during the height of the crack epidemic. In addition, among the goals and criteria of my daughter’s school is that students “understand the complex social problems of their day and respond to human suffering.”

But having the two marches back to back caused a bit of disruption in our otherwise united household. My husband and I wanted to attend Walk for Life, but my daughter wanted to attend the Women’s March with students, nuns, and teachers from her school. It didn’t matter to her that one of the primary sponsors of the march was Planned Parenthood and that Pro-Life sponsors had been removed from the Women’s March; she wasn’t attending the march to support abortion, she reasoned, but she was attending because she saw this as a moment in history to stand with others against injustice and outright exclusion of the most vulnerable. With that reasoning behind her, I couldn’t say no.

On Saturday morning, while my husband and I were cooking a meal for a handful of Walk for Life participants, our daughter was gathering her belongings for the Women’s March: a pink cotton, brimmed hat, a shirt that said “I love nuns,” and her rain boots.

I have been attending Walk for Life since it’s inception several years ago; abortion-rights protesters would reel at us with anger in their faces, metal hangers clutched in their hands and screaming at the top of their lungs. Over the years those types of protests have calmed down, but this year, the day after Donald Trump’s Presidential inauguration, and the same day as the Women’s March, the abortion-rights protesters seemed to be back in full force. There were other signs of a changing world. In one major intersection, a policeman was standing while holding the most powerful automatic weapon I have ever seen. Fifty yards away from him, a dump truck had been parked on the middle of the street to prevent any terrorist from driving through the crowds.

As I walked alongside a group of Carmelite Fathers and postulants from Mount Saint Josephs Monastery, I heard several taunts from the abortion-rights activists who lined the streets. Their rage seemed to rise as the Fathers, wearing their brown habits and white capes approached each group.

“Stop judging!”
“Catholics are bigots!”
“If you’re pro-life, you should be anti-war!”
“Open your eyes, Catholics!”
“My body, my choice!”

As someone who has walked with and lived with the urban poor and the most vulnerable populations; as a mother who was once told that one of my choices was to abort my son because of his misdiagnosed brain tumor; as a woman of prayer who constantly carries the pain of the homeless and those trapped by war and poverty in my heart, I inwardly bristled at these taunts.

Later that same afternoon, my daughter would be at the Women’s March leading a crowd of young people to chants:

“No hate, no fear, immigrants are welcome here!”
“Show me what democracy looks like – this is what democracy looks like!”

Walk for Life ended calmly at the end of Market and Embarcadero, and the crush of Women’s March supporters began to appear. They filled the BART train from Oakland to the Civic Center Plaza, wall to wall, wearing their pink ‘kitty’ hats and signs with hearts that read, “Unity and Love.”

Without any obvious sign that I had just participated in Walk for Life, the women smiled at me and at one another.  Holding their oversized placards, they fell on top of each other and laughed it off each time the train suddenly stopped. Strangely, it felt like World Youth Day, when I was in Madrid with seventy young women from throughout California.

The reality that the number of Women’s March supporters far outnumbered the Walk for Life supporters became obvious when I got off at our BART stop on the Peninsula.  Serpentine lines of people heading into San Francisco curled behind the ticket dispensers throughout the station. I could barely get to the stairs that led to my car.

Exactly what did the Women’s March stand for? According to its Unity Principles , the purpose of the march was to stand in unity for:

1) Ending violence
2) Workers Rights
3) Civil Rights
4) Disability Rights
5) Immigrant Rights
6) Environmental Justice
7) Reproductive Rights
8) LGBTQIA Rights

The Church has always stood for human dignity, as opposed to rights. Replace the word, rights above with dignity (of) and you have the core of Catholic Social Justice teachings. However, because Catholics were largely silent on the dignity of all of human life, another movement was able to take the social justice teachings of the Catholic Church, and twist that language to support an agenda that supports the rights of a few, rather than the human dignity of all.

In his Apostolic Exhortation, Evangelii Gaudium, Pope Francis writes, “it is essential to draw near to new forms of poverty and vulnerability.”  The Women’s March captivated the hearts and minds of millions of people precisely because it drew near to “new forms of poverty and vulnerability.” In fact, in the United States, 1 out of every 100 people participated in one of the Women’s Marches.

The Pope continues in Evangelii Gaudium, that in these “new forms of vulnerability”… “we are called to recognize the suffering Christ, even if this appears to bring us no tangible and immediate benefits. I think of the homeless, the addicted, refugees, indigenous peoples, the elderly who are increasingly isolated and abandoned, and many others. Migrants present a particular challenge for me, since I am the pastor of a Church without frontiers, a Church which considers herself mother to all.”

“Stop judging!…Catholics are bigots!”– In  union and solidarity,  “it is essential,” in the words of Pope Francis, that Catholics embrace the dignity of all life, “without frontiers.” Otherwise, the Church of Mercy will continue to be accused of being the Church of Judgment and Bigotry. We might even find ourselves one day waking up from our daze wondering why so many have left the Church to defend causes that, ironically, it has stood for since Jesus called Peter, the Rock.

Copyright Teresa Linda 2017. All Rights Reserved

‘Arm yourselves with the armor of faith and the sword of truth.  Pray for the grace to forgive and to ask for forgiveness – and for the healing of wounded bodies and souls.’