Monday, December 10, 2018

Review of Richard Rhor's The Naked Now

This is from 2010 - Reflections on Fr. Richard Rohr’s The Naked Now: Learning to See as the Mystics See

By R. Jeffrey Grace

I’ve just finished attending a study group at Grace Cathedral for Richard Rohr’s book, The Naked Now: Learning to See as the Mystics See. I was struck by something he said within it… actually struck by many things, but the one thing I want to talk about today is on page 166-167 where he says,

The ego self is the unobserved self. If you do not find an objective standing point from which to look back at yourself, you will almost always be egocentric - identified with yourself instead of in relationship with yourself.
Most of us have been given no training or practice in this, because it was all negative self-criticism rather than calm self-observation (moral examination of conscience instead of examination of consciousness). Ego is not bad; it is just what takes over when you do not see truthfully and completely. That “lamp” does not illuminate well.
Much of the early work of contemplation is finding that stance and learning how to return there in all moments of emotional turmoil (positive as well as negative), until you can eventually live more and more of your life there. You will find yourself smiling, sighing, and “weeping” at yourself, more than either hating or congratulating yourself (which of themselves are both ego needs)…

…Ironically, the truly destructive part of the negative is exposed and falls away as now unnecessary. To see the negative is to defeat it, for evil relies upon denial and disguise.

This struck me because I saw a tie-in to a concept we are working with in my Clinical Pastoral Education program, where I am working as a chaplain in a hospital: the Johari Window. It also seems to provide the basis for an answer to a question raised by one of the participants in the study group: “Where is the good news in this book by Rohr?”

I think the good news is that, once we begin to relate to ourselves, this frees us up from the defensive ego that we all are for most of our lives, and that once we are free of this defensive ego, we are then able to see the Other… we begin to see people for the first time… we see them not as extensions of our own selves, but as individual beings in their own right. In other words we begin to see God being manifest in the billions of other beings on the planet, most of which are nothing at all like us! We can be open to them, accept them for who they are and even rejoice in their unique being as another manifestation of God. Since we are now observers of our selves, in relation to ourselves, we can see other selves rather than beings that do nothing more than reflect our own egos back to us.

I draw this conclusion through understanding the Johari Window as a model of this process of self-observation. To sum up the Johari Window, it is a model of self- knowledge, which consists of 4 “panes”. Pane 1 contains that which we know about ourselves and is also known by those in our lives (the arena); Pane 2 contains things known to others but not to our self (blind spot); Pane 3 contains those things known to our self but hidden from others (fa├žade); and Pane 4 contains things that are unknown to self and unknown to others.

One goal of a CPE program such as the one I am now in is to enlarge Pane 1 as much as realistically possible… become fully known to oneself and to others. We do this because the ultimate goal of CPE is to give one the tools to be able to be fully present to the one you are ministering to, whether they be a parishioner or a patient in a hospital. To be fully present means we have to learn how to keep ourselves from getting in the way. We need to be fully present so we can assess where they are spiritually and therefore know what we can do to help them on their path of spiritual growth.

In other words, we have to enter into relationship with ourselves so that we are able to relate to others.

In other words, we have to love others as we love ourselves.

In other words, we have to see the Truth for the Truth shall set us free.

Can I dare say that the very possibility that we can do that is good news? Can I get an amen?

Saturday, November 17, 2018

Say NO to the collection on Sunday at ALL Catholic parishes

Enough is enough.  The bishops of the USA rejected a resolution that called on the Vatican to release  documents pertaining to the McCarrick scandal.  This would have been a resolution that really had no teeth, but nonetheless they rejected it. The Vatican would have continued to thumb their nose at them and all the faithful that are calling for real action and consequences for this mess.

I say ALL parishes because while all of this is going on Bishop Patrick McGrath of San Jose was caught asking the diocese to buy a 2.3million dollar home for him to retire in.  The diocese is currently 217 Million in debt and they are begging for funding for their seminarians.  Was this bishop even reprimanded?  He should have been stripped of his office at a bare minimum.  BUT!  No consequences.

This current regime of bishops is so corrupt that its hiding and besmirching all the good bishops, if in fact there are any left.

I for one am DONE funding this BS.  I don't have much to give, but what little I can give is not going to go to this kind of evil. Maybe McGrath and the rest can retire and go work for the Democratic National Committee... they seem really at home there and that's where their hearts seem to reside anyway.  

Monday, June 11, 2018

New series from The Acton Institute

The Acton Institute has released episode one of their new video series The Good Society. I have embedded it here and provided the text from their YouTube page for the video:

In 1950s Brooklyn, a young boy’s idyllic childhood is changed after a simple interaction with his Jewish neighbor.

*** Volume 1 of The Good Society is a 6-part series that that focuses on the intersection between the human person and economics and explores themes of work and creativity, entrepreneurship, and exchange. Each human person is unique and unrepeatable and created in the image of God. This series proposes a human-centered vision of the economics and commerce, and shows how global collaboration and competition unlock human ingenuity and play a role in building a free and virtuous society. Visit for updates on The Good Society.

Friday, May 18, 2018

Exegesis of Matthew 12:38-42

by R. Jeffrey Grace

I. Introduction

We begin with some preliminary comments about the gospel of Matthew in general, followed by an in-depth analysis of the passage, Matthew 12:38-42, and then end with a reflection on what the message of the particular passage in question means for us today.

There is a general consensus among biblical scholars in dating the composition of the gospel of Matthew around 80 to 90 A.D. This would have been a period in time after the destruction of the temple and when the early Jewish Christians were being expelled from synagogues and facing strong opposition from the Jewish community led by the Pharisees. There are exceptions to this opinion among scholars but the majority go with this date. The location of the gospel text is generally considered to be in Antioch but there are also exceptions to this opinion.1 The authorship of the gospel is also a matter of debate among scholars, with the majority holding the opinion that the author was an unknown (to us) Jewish Christian.2 The presumptions made in this paper will go with the general, majority consensus.

Science & Faith

by R Jeffrey Grace

One of the most vexing issues facing ministers in the Church is the pastoral impact of the debates raging in our media and schools over the implications of evolution for those of us who believe that God created "the heavens and the earth" which includes human kind. At the heart of this vexation lies a very critical and fundamental issue: The nature of sacred doctrine and how it relates to the disciplines of science. There probably isn't a better thinker to turn to for this issue than St. Thomas Aquinas. At the very beginning of his Summa Theologica, he lays the foundation for the study of sacred doctrine and its relationship to the rest of the sciences. We will begin with a careful look at Aquinas' starting point and then see how it might be applied to some scientific issues which have seemed to conflict with sacred doctrine.

The Monkey Business of Religion

by R. Jeffrey Grace

As I argued in my article The Church and the Cosmological Revolution, the opposition by the Catholic Church to Galileo and the cosmological revolution in general, was due to a pastoral concern.  To summarize my argument, the news that the Earth was NOT the center of the universe shattered the common understanding of how everything was put together.  In that understanding, the new vision of the sun at the center of the universe and Earth as one body among many that circled the sun was tantamount to saying that there was no God.  The church leaders knew very well that such a radical change in world views would leave the vast majority of believers without a framework for understanding who God was and where we stood in relation to God.  They may not have articulated it quite this way, but they understood the threat.  It would take a very long time for theologians to articulate an understanding of God within this new vision… and in fact, to this day the struggle to do so continues.  It’s not only the Catholic Church nor even Christianity that struggles with the new vision… many religions are still going through the same struggle. The modern day version of this struggle is being played out in the so-called “Intelligent Design” debate.

The Church and the Cosmological Revolution

By R. Jeffrey Grace

In order to understand why the cosmological revolution in early modern Europe was first met with resistance by the Catholic Church we can take a closer look at the most famous example of this resistance: the confrontation with Galileo over the heliocentric view of the universe. To place it all into context, recall that the accepted view of the world and the cosmos at that time was of an orderly hierarchy of sorts, where the earth sat at the middle of it all. As one ascended into the heavens one encountered perfect spheres within which the heavenly bodies were embedded. God was located beyond the outermost sphere. This realm where God was located was a realm of pure perfection and as you descended from this realm you became further removed from perfection, until the lowest realm, the material realm, was reached. That is where we were located on Earth.