Tuesday, November 25, 2014

It's All About Gratitude

This is a busy week in many American homes.  Whether poor or rich, most Americans take this week to prepare for that special secular, but secretly spiritual, holiday we call Thanksgiving Day.  Kids are off from school, turkeys are murdered by the million, cranberries become delicious, sugar or some substitute is added to a multitude of dishes that become immediately addictive, and many families gather, whether everyone is talking with one another or not, just because it's what we do.  Many do, anyway.  Others gather with groups of friends who are more family than blood relations could ever be.  Some gather with neighbors, or with strangers in Churches or soup kitchens.  The gathering together seems to be what is most relished, even more than that wonderful pumpkin pie with which that particularly good baker in each family may grace the table!
Some gather only in their memories, with loved ones who have passed on, with the joys of bygone holidays, and are either lonely or content as they process their grief in life.  Others gather with nobody, alone in their illness, lonliness, grief, or sometimes bitterness, sometimes by happenstance, sometimes by choice.  Then there are those whose choices come back on days like this to bite them in the ass.  Choices which land them in prison...  or isolated by bitterness, nastiness, or narcissism,

Whatever the way the day is commemorated there is much to consider if we allow the purpose of the day to affect us, challenge us, and even comfort us.  On the sunny days of life we can all come up with answers to what blesses our lives.  We can think of the friends, homes, vacations, toys and goodies for all ages...  On the gloomy days of life we might muster a miserable thank you for at least being alive.  That might be a challenge for some, and I realize that.  Thanksgiving Day is our human way of saying that regardless of the ups and downs of moods, the stock market, love affairs, births, deaths, and ice cream sundaes, calories, grades, salaries, and even self-esteem, we really need to remember to be grateful in life.

A few months ago I wrote a blog about the series COSMOS, and shared a song I'd written in response to that series, and the science we are all learning today.  It flowed from a profound sense of humility and gratitude that I felt.  It was that humility Carl Sagan stirred in us in his famous commentary about the pale blue dot.  Thanksgiving this year stirs some of the same feelings for me of humility and gratitude to be alive in this wondrous creation, with choices and abilities, and the blessings of family and friends, of Church community, of my Faith in Christ.

I just thought of another reference that captures that feeling, and it is from a beautiful show I watched often with our daughter Rose when she was a little girl, and many times throughout the years since.  It is called "The Last Unicorn" and its focus is on hope and gratitude!  The unicorn has long represented Christ, and it is easy to see the reference in that movie, and certainly in the theme song.

I'm alive!  I am grateful, not only for my life, but for the lives of all those I cherish, those whose lives are shared here with me still, my beautiful husband and best friend, Joe and our precious treasure, our daughter Rose!  For my many feathered and furry family members who enrich my soul and reflect their Maker with each look or lick.  I am grateful for my extended family and how good they are--credits to my brothers and sisters in law who have raised wonderful children to be wonderful adults.  Grateful their lives are shared with love. I am grateful that our Pocono community is safe (and quiet) once again after being under a near-lockdown for so long with the recent manhunt.  I am grateful for the members of my religious community and the Celtic Christian Church.  I am grateful for the fine men and women who are dedicating themselves to building up Whithorn School of Theology to help enrich the lives of others.

Yes, at the end of the day it's all about gratitude.  So, come on snow storm!  You don't scare me.  You may cause us to celebrate here at home rather than join the extended family, but you don't scare me because nothing can separate those who are bound by ties of love.  For this I am so grateful this Thanksgiving.

God bless us all.

Friday, April 11, 2014

We Sometimes Hear Goodbye

This has been a painful week for me.  I feel as though I were punched in the gut.  Have you ever had that kind of "surprise" or shock?  The kind that is more like a bomb dropping than a pleasant unexpected event!  I think most people have.  Doesn't matter though, because when you go through it, somehow if feels like nobody else ever has--or should.  This week someone else did though.  Someone I love deeply.  I felt the pain, but so did my gentle husband, a holy man, accused not quite non-verbally as much as indirectly of heresies!  Being a holy man, charitable, and far more spiritually mature than I, he handles such personal pain far better than I.  So, always, and now again, I learn from him.  But I need to learn slowly because I'm too Irish and have to get the fight out of my gut before I settle down to let Grace do it's healing.

Feelings of betrayal are difficult to process.  I've felt the feelings, and I wasn't sure what to think.  I couldn't think, really.  I could only feel.  Feel and wonder.  That was only the beginning.  Emotions have a life cycle of their own, and hurt leads to frustration, then to anger, then what?  Feeling sad and worn out.  They lead on to reevaluating relationships and boundaries, trust and self-preservation.  That all translates into one question for me:  What do I do about hospitality?    Hospitality is the sacred tradition my parents passed to me spiritually, and ritually/practically.  It is a sacred Celtic tradition, but the plain fact is it sometimes gets taken for granted by guests of the heart.  The only way to avoid it completely is to shut the door, something foreign to me.  Something lamentable to me.  Unthinkable.

Betrayal is felt when one opens not only the door to one's home, but more profoundly when one opens the door to one's heart, welcoming another in, as family, as friend, as a trusted other, only one day, down the road, to discover all the conversations were shallow, disingenuous and words ultimately meaningless because they were untrue.  Betrayal.  It's comes in different forms, and arrives by word of mouth or action, directly or indirectly. 

So what?  What do you do with it, about it, when it happens?  I'm still learning.  After the hurt and anger came the wonder, and now I'm thinking more clearly.  It takes time to process reality when reality sucks.  The bottom line, at the end of the day, is that some people use people.  Some do it unconsciously, unintentionally, only to survive periods of loneliness between relationships that they ultimately destroy, or find such fault with them they need to run away...  They find a hideout with some schmuck bleeding heart like me.  Then move on to the next adventure.

At the end of the day we all need to take stock and learn from the various relationships in our lives.  We learn about love from the good ones, and we learn about the need for healthy discernment from the abusive or painful ones...learn to be more careful and have our boundaries securely in place so that a healthy spiritual detachment allows us to remain in peace should we sometimes hear "Goodbye."   At the end of the day, life goes on, and I grow stronger.  What choice is there?

Saturday, August 24, 2013

We give -- Buiachas Le Dia! Thanks to God!

Today I’m celebrating my feast day! The feast of St. Patrick.

He was the cause of the first serious argument, and act of rebellion I had as a youth with my mother. I was given a tremendous love of my Irish heritage and the Faith passed to me by my parents and grandmother grows deeper each day of my life. At the age of 12, however, I don’t think my mom realized how very serious I was about my religious choices.

In May it was normal for 6th graders in our school to be confirmed in the Faith. Looking back now, from this old age, I realize most kids that age don’t have a clue about what it truly means, and I’m grateful we gave our daughter Rose the choice to be confirmed or to wait when her turn arrived at a similar age. Although I believe Rose was a graced child, and was ready to make such a step, she herself decided to wait. Then during her college years, she was confirmed in Boston, in the middle of the worst scandals in US Church history! I admire that kind of Faith in Jesus!

When it was my turn, there were no choices given. We were trained, sometimes well, and ushered down the aisle to the bishop who gently smacked us upside the head and our faith was confirmed. Mine truly was. I too was a child of grace, gifted with a love I thought everyone had, presumed everyone had for God! God was my friend, my companion, my buddy, my God! Always together, never apart. Of course I longed to be confirmed. There was no thought of anything else.

The problem was not one of faith in our home, but one of tradition (not the big "T" Tradition, but the little human "t" tradition). What name to take? My father had taken Aloysius for his confirmation name (God only knows why). So, when my oldest brother was born, he was named after our father, then when his confirmation came around, he too took Aloysius--after our father. When my turn came, I, who had been named after my mother and Catherine of Siena, was expected to take my mother’s confirmation name, Mary.

My first battle was over the mother of God and St. Patrick! You know it’s a Catholic family with that kind of turmoil! I announced that I was taking Patricia for my name after St. Patrick, because I admired him (from having read his biography, and from hearing about him all my life from my beloved Irish grandmother). My mother was hurt. I never realized that she was more hurt than angry, until years later. But it came across as anger to me then, and I dug my heels of faith in and stood my ground. This was, after all to be my name forever into eternity! This was my choice to follow the steps of a particular saint. I wanted to be a saint, like Catherine of Siena, and now to follow in Patrick’s steps of sharing the good news of Jesus to others. That seemed like what we were told to do in religion class. The good sisters never mentioned taking our parents’ names, but the names of saints we admired. (uh, it must be made clear here that I admire Mary the mother of Jesus Christ...never let it be said otherwise, but I had this love for Patrick, or what I knew of him then.)

Anyway, my mother figured I’d obey her and take Mary, and didn’t know until I came back from the bishop, in profound tears of joy and love of God, that I’d indeed taken Patrick as my patron.

Years later, Rose made her choice in Boston, and was confirmed. We went to Boston to celebrate this day with her, and with her friends. I never thought to ask her what name she took if any (I’d heard some didn’t add names these days). As we were walking to the restaurant after the ceremony I asked if she took a name. She said yes. What was it? She looked at me and said "Patricia!"

Suddenly, I understood how my own mother felt. I never expected Rose to take the name I had taken. I had not even thought of names until that very moment. Yet, when she said that I felt the bond that my own mother wanted with me. I guess it’s that human thing that gets in the way so often, the emotions that motivate some of our hopes and decisions. My mother wanted us to share those names. She meant no harm, no pride at all, just a desire to share that bond that a name holds for parents and children within certain traditions. I suddenly felt a sorrow that I somehow hurt my mother (who had died only a few months prior to Rose’s Confirmation Day). It was part of my grief, I guess. I felt happy that Rose took Patricia. We’d named her Rose Catherine, and both names after me (no, I’m not explaining the Rose part now...). I was happy to pass Catherine of Siena along to her as her patron saint--a very strong woman of Faith. Now she too had Patrick. Did she take it for Patrick? Or for me? I don’t know.

But, I matured a bit more that day, and understood my own mother a bit more that day. Our children unwittingly teach us so much about ourselves, and our parents when we are parents. So St. Patrick’s Day is my feast day, and Rose’s feast day. The fact that it falls during Holy Week doesn’t change that one bit. We are happy today. We celebrate our heritage, our Faith, our family bonds, and those grandparents we knew and never knew who passed this Irish thing to us that we love so much. We celebrate.

Theologically I think I might differ with Pat today. Not certain. But today, that doesn’t matter much. Today it’s a celebration of our Faith, and our Family!

Thanks for bringing Christ to our people Patrick! Party on!


"Celtic Soul Song"

Our people were pagan until we met Christ.
We recognized Him from the start.
Never a martyr was made at our hands
For Christ was in the Irish heart.

And His message of Good News that God loved the world
was something we always believed
for we knew well God’s Spirit in nature and life,
and it showed in the circles we weaved.

We knew of the other world all around us
such spiritual people were we
who hungered so deeply for life and for love
outraged it was nailed to a tree!

As Conor MacNessa first led the way
defending Christ unto his death,
our people have faithfully recognized Him,
calling Him with their last breath.

But the old pagan ways and the gods that we knew
continued along by Christ’s side,
called by a new name given by Rome.
It is not from Christ that they hide,

But from those who dare to speak in His Name,
conquering culture and lore,
proclaiming that Christ would have it that way,
destroying all that came before.

But free Celtic spirits knew that in Christ
there is neither male nor female,
and threatened the power that sought to control
the mind, heart and soul of the Gael.

And ’tho they have died for Christ through these years,
their spirit submitted to Rome,
their passion subdued by Jansenist lies
invading their Faith and their home.

’tho many a priestly priest came from our land
and they had the power, we know.
That power was Love, God’s very own.
(For others it just wasn’t so.)

For others the priesthood was not to serve God
and not to bring Grace to the soul.
With goodwill we trusted and honoured them all.
Their power was meant to control.

Yet still we are Irish and still our souls yearn
for that spiritual part in our lives.
Abused and afflicted, like Christ we were led,
as children and husbands and wives.

Obeying the laws, tho they were not our own
but placed upon us from outside,
we trusted their goodwill and trusted their vows
until we discovered they lied.

We look deep within now still knowing the Love
of that God who is greater than Rome,
to the God of our people, the God of our clan,
the God of our family and home.

The misuse of power, that we trusted so,
as quietly we bore our cross!
Exposed now for what it was, treachery, sin!
Our clear vision now is Rome’s loss.

But surely it was not Christ who did wrong
nor priests humbly serving our land,
but those filled with lust of power o’er us.
Satanical, clerical band!

Our impulse toward God will guide us as we
continue to seek the Divine.
We’ll see God in nature, in people and song
as clearly as in bread and wine.

And the ancient soul friends who’ve never left us,
who’ve always been here in our land
Daghdha and Bridget and from Tir na nOg
with Jesus they walk hand in hand.

Forget not our heritage and whence we came!
And honour the heart of the Celt.
We must be respected in Church as in home,
For before Rome knew Christ, we knelt.

T’was never a time that we did not know God,
regardless the titles we use.
And we welcomed the Truth, whatever the form.
The true God would never abuse!

So we hold fast to God as we always have,
as Pagan or Christian or Jew,
and take back the power that we gave to Rome.
Oh God, if only we knew....

Copyright 1995 Cáit Finnegan
2:50 PM - 0 Comments -

Friday, August 23, 2013

There is Renewed Life

My last blog here was in April of 2009.  I was then 58 years old, or almost.  I am now 62, and much more content.  Funny, how that is so.  My last blog here was about dealing with the loss of our store, and remembering what's important.  Now, over 4 years later, at the end of the day, I cling to what is important more than ever.

A great deal happens in people's lives over the course of 4 years.  Good things and less good.  Happy and sad.  There are highs and lows.  At the end of the day, we either learn from it all, or live our lives wasting time waiting to die.  That becomes more real as we age!  Well, I'm determined to cling to joy even when troubled by challenges or sorrow.  Joy goes beyond sorrow to focus on what I believe, what is really real to me...what is eternal, and that, I believe is Love.

These years have been and continue to be a time of fine-tuning our lives.  Retired from full-time work, we have deliberately chosen a quiet life of prayer.  We've welcomed into our house of prayer one of our sisters from the religious order to which I belong (The Order of the Merciful Christ), and living in intentional community brings my husband, Joe, and me full circle in life.  We each began our adult lives as religious, and now, at the end of the day, we recognize our lives have always been lived as such, with marriage, family, and work.   St Francis created his Third Order for people like us.  The early Celtic Church with its model of monastic life was open to house Church as well as male/female monastic houses, and that indeed is what we have lived since our marriage.  Growing old in our house Church, as religious, is comfortable for us, is who we are. 

Tomorrow I am going with Joe, to look at a location to reopen our little shop, not as a huge store, but as a small shop within a community market.  Many vendors there have gone through what we experienced, closed shops and life changes.  We've considered this before, but have not made the leap.  We may decide not to now, again.  However, we are open to the movement of the Spirit within us, the Spirit in Whom we live, move, and have our being.  That is an exciting place to be spiritually--open to the guidance of the Spirit.  Finding our peace after the storm of closing our shop by taking time apart to pray, and plan, and find our current form of community and ministry has given us some renewed spiritual energy, even as we've aged, and juggle the physical limitations we now have.  At the end of the day life in this physical realm, you know, is brief and sacred.  We embrace it, and live.  Where there is life, there is hope, and we believe in life eternal!

Friday, April 17, 2009

Only What is Really Important is Really Important

I let this blog hang for the last year. I didn't care... I didn't want to think about how much I was feeling hurt by the particulars in our lives that ended up destroying our little business in East Stroudsburg. Those who destroyed us didn't care! They still don't care. But, hey, I got over it! At the end of the day we either have to get over it or let it beat us into the ground. I'm not ready for that yet.

As those who know us already know, our brick and mortar store closed last Fall. Local priests were told to remove our store ads from their parish bulletins (some did), and my husband was accused of impersonating a Roman Catholic priest! (Slander is an awful thing coming from religious and clergy.) It goes to show how little of Church history is known by those who SHOULD know it! Joe's a priest, but not a RC priest, and why anyone would want to impersonate one is beyond me! But, there are those who think he ought to be punished for serving as a Celtic Christian priest (Independent Old Catholic)! Oh well, they lost the most in that nasty little attempt to destroy our business of selling religious books and gifts! They lost far more than we. Sad, really.

Yes, we are building the online store up even more, but it's taking a long time. EVERY bit of inventory from our three room shop is piled in our home! So, little by little we are sorting our way through it all, trying to find LIVING ROOM, make some order and get ready to sell it online and in the local flea market (within the month). What a challenge!

Yet, I've come to accept that it has only been that--a challenge. The greatest challenge in one sense--the challenge to love and forgive. And it's a challenge to discover the difference between forgiveness and being stupid enough to ever expect anything different from particular individuals and populations. However, it is NOT the end of the world, and it is not the end of our Rose of Sharon! So much has been slowed by my lack of energy and my personal disabilities. My radio shows have slowed and I'm canceling two of them and keeping two--the ones that are most important to me, The Independent Catholic, and SpiritualiTEA.

And in the midst of all this we are expanding our ministry of Good Tidings to those sexually abused by clergy to include other populations. The fact that this is a necessary ministry is heartbreaking, but too real. We've worked for 26 years with one population and now we are expanding that to others, abused as children or youth as well. In addition, we're working with another spiritual director and reaching out to those who are physically disabled, left to the side too often, who are seeking spiritual direction. SOLACE is what we hope to bring in Christ's Name.

At the end of the day, only what is really important is really important. So, I thank God for reminding me of that, and what it is that is so important--vital, and that is God's Love for each of us. That's what I'm recommitting myself to in this life, just sharing that Good Tidings of great joy! We are loved. There is no reason to hurt others in God's Name!

Friday, April 4, 2008

We Await the Dawn

April 4, 2008 - Friday

This week, much like the past several months, has been very difficult for my husband and me. The little store we have, a small ecumenical religious shop, is on its last legs--humanly speaking. From a human perspective, the store is a business failure. From a ministerial perspective, the store has been a blessing, and countless people have told me so. We began this store just 2 years ago, and our approach, believing we were hearing and following God’s lead, was "Failure is NOT an option!" Both Joe and I thought about that today, and he brought it up at lunch. Is it a "failure?"

At this point I expect we will have to close our little shop this month. I will mourn it because of the good people I will not see again. Yes, we will keep in touch with some, but most we will not see again. But is it a failure? If it is, it is only financially. The good people who came to our little store to shop for family and friends, to give gifts to express their love and share their faith made our shop a blessed success! If it is God’s Will that we close now, to try to save our home, then, AMEN. We are behind in many bills. We spent the Winter without heat in our home, and this week the electric company turned off our service at the store, leaving me sitting there in total darkness.

I prayed with the psalmist: "even darkness is not dark for You, and the night is as clear as the day, for it was You Who created me and formed me in my mother’s womb." And yet, I was angry! I quickly realized it was NOT the electric company with whom I was angry. That was a just debt. I was angry with the Roman Catholic pastor who went out of his way to kick the shovel out of our hands! I was angry at the Roman Catholic priest who slandered my husband Joe, saying that he was impersonating a priest!!! Geez, even by Roman Catholic canon law Joe IS a priest FOREVER. How does one impersonate oneself? The fact is, Joe is a Celtic Christian priest, a bishop, serving in the Celtic Christian Church. If he had converted to the Episcopal Church this self-righteous pastor would not have DARED to say such things about Joe and his public ministry any more than he would publicly insult the FEMALE priests who serve in the Episcopal Churches in this area!

This was not just innocent ignorance on the part of this Roman Catholic pastor--it was a deliberate vengeful attempt to destroy a 76 year old man’s livelihood! See how these Christians do not love one another! Our store being a religious shop, we depend almost entirely upon advertising. The logical place to advertise has been in the local Church bulletins. When this Roman Catholic pastor saw our ad in his church bulletin, he called the local RC priests and told them to get our ad out of their parish bulletins. Most ignored him. Many sent parishioners to our shop!! One can only guess most of them have his number, and just ignore him. However, he and the local pastor both removed our weekly ads, and put a mortal dent in our business, by not allowing local Roman Catholics to know we are here, a dent that has brought us to this point in time--the point of closing our doors and local ministry, or continuing to wait for a miracle. Joe and I have great Faith--but we will not tempt God!

I am not a particularly good person. I pray every day for this nasty priest, and beg the Holy Spirit to touch his heart before he dies--which will be soon. I have been privy to stories that are far nastier than this, where he has deeply hurt others. Indeed, Joe has picked up more than his share of the pieces of wounded persons that this priest has left in his wake! But I’m not a particularly good person because I sat in the darkened store angrier than I have been in a very, very long time. If it were not for Jesus Christ cramping my style, I would destroy this priest. Yeah, the street kid in me was ready to rumble. How easy it would be to destroy him. Then that scripture comes drifting through my mind...what profit to gain the world and lose my soul? By allowing myself not to love him--not to pray for his soul, but to go out of my way to harm him I would destroy my own soul! Well, Jesus, when You put it that way, You leave me little choice...(mumbling to self)

God is God. I will do no harm. However, I will speak the truth of what I have experienced as bigotry toward us, especially toward Joe as a former Roman Catholic priest--now a Celtic Christian priest. Sustained and deliberate bigotry and slander intended to harm him, us--and primarily from Roman Catholic priests, and holier-than-thou religious whose gross ignorance of Church (i.e. CHRISTIAN) history is so extensive as to leave an echo in their heads when they hear the facts of history spoken, explained. OH, pardon me, you’ve never heard of "OLD CATHOLICS?" NO, it doesn’t mean we’re Roman Catholics nearing 99 yrs of age...!! No! Sorry! Old Catholic is a Church Body--as in part of the Body of Christ, just like those Episcopals, Lutherans, Methodists, and Presbyterians you pray with at those ecumenical services--the ones where the Old Catholics are not even given the kiss of peace. Yeah, Old Catholics, that denomination with valid apostolic succession and sacraments--unlike those you pray with (according to your own laws, that is).

I will speak about the intentional bigotry of priests and religious who have great nerve pointing fingers at ANY other Church body in this day and age! Shame on you! We will continue to pick up the pieces of those whose spiritual lives you harm or destroy without giving it a second thought, the youth humiliated, and adults insulted by you. Oh Father, SHAME ON YOU! Shame on you for kicking the shovel out of an aging brother priest’s hands. I do pray the Holy Spirit touch your heart, turning a heart of stone to a heart of flesh. However, until then, what is done in the dark (of a cold dark heart) will be seen in the Light.

At the end of the day, we await the Dawn. Christ is our Dawn. I pray you live to see the Dawn in this life, in the land of the living. That is the best I can do right now, just pray for you, and pray you stop hurting people. Yeah, I’m still angry, like a Mama Bear. "Don’t mess with my family" I want to roar. I guess I’ve done that here... I hope you folks NEVER meet this Roman Catholic pastor in question.

Anyway, this has all come at the very time I’ve pulled together an Internet Talk Radio Show called: "The Independent Catholic." On the show we will discuss the various Independent Old Catholic Churches in the USA and other countries. We will bring on the bishops and members of these Churches and introduce them to our listeners. Many have suffered far more from powerful Church denominations and their clergy and hierarchy than we have from our petty clerical neighbor. All that will be made known. But more importantly, we will focus on the ministries and service done by so many--without the support and the public forum of mega-Church institutional structures. The Independent Catholic! You can tune in and listen, or call in and participate at:
Listen to The I.S.M Network on internet talk radio

The first show will air on Monday night April 7th, at 11 PM US Eastern Time, and will be on each Monday thereafter. If you can’t listen that late, you will be able to download segments from our BlogRadio website or as podcasts from iTunes.

OK, I’ve vented. I feel a lot better now. Now I will try to be a better person! Pray for me, please, cause it ain’t easy!