Resurrection and Transfiguration

“And as they coming down the mountain, Jesus commanded them, “Tell no one the vision, until the son of Man is raised from the dead.”
(Matthew 17; 9)

A voice came from the cloud, saying, “This is my Son, whom I have chosen; listen to him”.
(Luke 9; 35)

And he said, “The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.
(Luke 9;22)

 

It was the first Holiday of Resurrection in our Transfiguration Monastery. There is a lot of connection between Transfiguration and Resurrection. Transfiguration is really the announcement and explanation of the Resurrection.

The main mission of our Transfiguration Community is to follow Transfigured Jesus and to help find the beauty and light of the Holy and Transfigured person in our own soul and in the souls of others, special the forgotten ones who we are serving.

This is also time to observe not only waking up of the nature but also the renewal and rising to life of the forgotten and neglected Nations who are taking back theirs deserved places on the Earth.

FN Workshop Edmonton

Workshop for Native American kids in the First Nation cultural center in Edmonton

Lenten Reflections about the Power of Confession of Sins

” There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus” (Romans 3; 22-24)

It was question in our community: “Should we talk about sins of Catholic Church, special sins of priests and members of religious communities?”. We ask also if there are more sins today that in the ancient time. Nobody has obligation to confessing sins in public. Also nobody has rights to judge others. There is tendency in Church to hiding difficult information to avoid public scandals and to protect people from loosing faith or respect to Church. However in the same moment there are five things important to good confession:
(1) Examination of Conscience; (2) Sorrow for having offended God; (3) A resolution of sinning no more; (4) Confession of our sins; (5) Satisfaction or penance.

I personally believe that there is less abuse in Church today than in the ancient time. Abuse in Church is just more known to the general public because is more difficult to hide information. Power of church is more limited and the new young priest and religious people have more pure motivation to the religious service.

I also believe that this is OK to talk about sins of the Church servants. This is not to judge anybody, but because we can learn from the mistakes of other people to avoid them in our lives. Examination of conscience can help us understand what we are doing wrong or what some of our (limited number) of members do wrong. This help us understand why it was happened and how to avoid this. We can sorrow for having offended God as a Church and make resolution to sinning no more.

Confessions of the sins is very important. Confession means full understanding and naming the sins. If sin is public or if there are many victims in the society, public apology is important. This can help understand that perpetrators are conscious about the sin and willing not to repeat this mistake again. In many cases form of compensation for the victims is also important. This showing that we are humans who respect others and taking full responsibility for our life and behavior. This make us grow as a people and help to grow others. This can help not only healing the victims but also heal all of us as a community of Church.

When I’m talking about this I have in mind one monastery in South Dakota, USA. I prefer not to mention the name of the community or name of the monk. I’m only willing to learn from this story. One of the monks (addicted to alcohol) was guilty of sexual abuse of the Native American school kids. Why it was possible? I think that reasons was following: (1) It was country monastery, away from villages and with limited contact with the world. (2) Abusive monk was sick person – means addicted to alcohol. (3) Indian children was away from home with no possibility to talk to parents (4) Rank of Native Americans has lower rank than people European origin. They was called “savage”.

What problem was solved? After victims ask for compensation the abusive monk (already in age 71) was moved to another place, away from monastery. Monastery give formal apology to the victims, but at the same moment they do everything to not to give any information to the public. Monastery was closed five years ago (in 2012) because only few old monks left and it was nobody young to join. Place was sold to group of lay Christians and serving now as a retreat center.

What we can learn from this. Sexual misconduct of priest popular in media today is really very rare in Church and less possible that in time when Church have had more power. However there is still enough power in the Church to bring harm and disaster inside and outside of the religious communities. Only the virtue of humility and other great Benedictine virtues practice with care can save us from this. Special humility is important. This is the most noble virtue which helping us respect others and attracting respect from others at the same moment. I have notice that more noble people in my life was more humble at the same moment. They just have no reason to search for nobility anymore, but was interested to serve others instead. I will learn to be more humble starting from this Easter. God help me and bless me in this resolution.

We will pray to Jesus on the cross to forgive our sins protect us from sins and give us peace this Easter and forever.

Blue Cloud
Photo of mentioned above monastery taken by author of this blog in 2016

New House and New Mission

Our community started from weekly meetings in room belonging to non-profit organization. Starting from January this year we have our own home in West Edmonton. What we can do with this wonderful gift? Is time to review our mission and expand our service.

There are two needs in Edmonton community ready to our service:

1. Integration with Native Americans.
There are over 70 000 of citizens belonging to Canadian First Nation living in Edmonton. There is tendency now to leaving Reservations and getting job in the city.
There is general tendency in young generation to leave country and suburbs to enjoy rich cultural life, comfort in the cities and better access to education. Indian youth are just the same Canadian youth with the similar dreams. Cities are ready now to welcome them and give equal opportunity.  Our community members will support and facilitate this process. We have in our house enough space to start Leadership Workshops for youth and to cooperate with Native American organizations in Edmonton. This mission is special important to the First Nation members of our community.

2. Integration between Psychology and Spirituality.
Recent research show that over 50% of patients with psychological problems searching for help in spiritual leaders or expecting from health professionals dealing with spiritual problems. This is a good opportunity to cooperation between spiritual community and health care professionals.
Our community starting now art therapy workshops to integrate psychology, spirituality and open to artistic expression of problems, obstacles, goals, dreams and solutions.

God lead us and give your blessings in this missions

UNeducation+Coloring+Book+(low+res)_Page_01Picture – A good example of healing by creative activity. Book by Jason EagleSpeaker from Calgary (Alberta) about experience of generation of his parents. This is the cover of coloring book version. Full book is available in Amazon:

 

 

 

 

Is this any progress in the World?

USB wall

I’m looking at USB port located very convenient way in the wall of my home and this provoking to to reflections about progress in the World. If we are talking about progress we usually have in mind technology, science or the economy. But what about moral progress?

My answer is optimistic: Yes! I believe that many events from the past just can’t be happened today. There is still a lot to do, however understanding mistakes of previous generations and have courage to apologize is the first step to the positive change and the first step of avoiding the same mistakes again. A good example of this are Veterans who have ask Native Americans for forgiveness at Standing Rock in December 2016.

As a Benedictine Sister I will apologize Native Americans for abuse in Catholic residential schools. I will not feel rights to continue my Benedictine journey if I don’t do this.

Psychological research in Canada and the USA link the boarding school traumas of abuse, neglect and separation from family and culture with very high rates of suicide, drugs and alcohol abuse, sexual abuse and violence and ever health problems like high blood pressure and diabetes.

Native Americans in USA still need financial compensation for Boarding Schools. Canadian Indian Boarding Schools survivors already get financial compensation, but according to lawyers there is not legal possibilities to ask for the same in USA. All what we can do is just healing post-traumatic stress (PTSD). But we can always apologize and promise never do this again. This apology can be a sign of our moral progress and the growing level of the perfection of our conscience.

Love itself was gone!

In Sanskrit:
“Gate gate pāragate
pārasaṃgate
bodhi svāhā”

English translation:
“Gone, gone, gone beyond,
gone altogether beyond.
Oh what an awakening! All hail!”

(From probably the most famous Buddhist scripture:
Heart Sutra)

***

There are not too many so deep spiritual songs in popular music. However Leonard Cohen, after six years of experience in Zen Buddhist monastery was able to create the one special song. This is Love Itself from album Ten New Songs (Columbia, 2001). Composition of the lyrics was inspired by talk of Sasaki Roshi.

The song Love Itself is such beautiful example of poetic expression of the spiritual experience. Voice of 67 years old Leonard is amazing.

Love Itself
(Lyrics: Leonard Cohen and Sharon Robinson)

The light came through the window
Straight from the sun above
And so inside my little room
There plunged the rays of love
.
In streams of light I clearly saw
The dust you seldom see,
Out of which the nameless makes
A name for one like me
.
I’ll try to say a little more
Love went on and on
Until it reached an open door
Then love itself
Love itself was gone
.
All busy in the sunlight
The flecks did float and dance
And I was tumbled up with them
In formless circumstance
.
I’ll try to say a little more
Love went on and on
Until it reached an open door
Then love itself
Love itself was gone
.
Then I came back from where I’d been
My room, it looked the same
But there was nothing left between
The nameless and the name
.

All busy in the sunlight
The flecks did float and dance
And I was tumbled up with them
In formless circumstance

I’ll try to say a little more
Love went on and on
Until it reached an open door
Then love itself
Love itself was gone
Love itself
Love itself was gone

And here some more explanation by the monk:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eSv5ELuujjs

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why bad things are happened to the good people?

Why bad things are happened to the good people? Why God agree to this? Why God not stop people from doing bad things to others?

We discussed this topic recently in out community. We prayed first to Saint Benedict and ask for the blessing of wisdom to understand this topic.

 ***

I remember the same discussion and questions we asked to our professor – bishop and philosopher in Department of Theology of our catholic university. His answer was simple and just enough good for me. God giving the free will to people. God not choosing what people have to do. People are choosing this by themselves. If God will stop people to do wrong things this will be against free will.

However people around me still asking the same question and not accepting answer from my professor. Lets ask Saint Benedict and listen what he will say.

 Sister: Dear Saint Ben, tell us please why bad things are happened to the good people?

Saint Ben: Why you asking like this? Why you say: “good people”? Do you believe in difference between “good” and “bad” people?

 Sister: You are right Ben. You know me, I believe that are people are good. Only people’s behavior can be bad or good.

Saint Ben: We are not perfect.If all people are good is better to ask: Why good people doing bad things?

Sister: Yes, tell me why? Your life experience is a good example. Why monks from your first monastery, who choose you as an Abbot try to kill you after? Do you believe that they are “good monks”? They are just ordinary murders and they should go to Hell. How you can explain this?

Saint Ben: I have learned a lot after stay in this monastery. First, only limited number of high spiritually gifted monks will to be holly. Average kind of monk looking just for peace. Its not mean that they are bad monks. They are good people and dedicated God’s servants. But like in every profession, also in the Monastic Profession only few are true genius or holy people.

Sister: But some of them are killers. They put poison to your wine!

Saint Ben: This is because I was too hard for them. I was demanding a lot from myself and start to demand from others too. It was not this what they want. I demand to eat less meat, drink less wine, eat more simple vegetarian meals, drink spring mineral water, not waste time, study more, discuss meaningful topic and pray more.

Sister: It was the real reason to kill you? I still cant believe that they did this and don’t understand why? Tell me why? Why? Why?

Saint Ben: I was shocked too. I will not ever discuss this with them but just leave monastery in peace. You should remember that It was tradition to choosing Abbot for lifetime. If they decide that choosing me was a mistake, only one way to get rid of me was to kill me. It was not punishment or limit to kill slaves or labor workers without explained reason. Duel was for knights and noble people. For kings and formal leader was only the poison.

Sister: But they were monks! Don’t they understand that killing is a deadly sin! How you can explain this Ben? I don’t understand!

Saint Ben: Do you know that the Bad Spirit usually trying to attack religious people much stronger that any others? They were just in complete power of the Bad Spirit in this moment. I’m praying to God for forgiveness for them. The Bad Spirit is able to change the mind of good people like this. There are really limited number or people who are doing wrong things intentionally. They want kill me because they believe that this is God’s will to remove me from this monastery. They believe that I’m against vision and mission of this monastery because I was thinking about rewriting the monastic rules. But they have already they own rules and they don’t wish to have any change. They really believed that they are doing something good by getting rid of me.

 Sister: Do you know who put poison to your wine? Is not possible that everybody love you, no matter who you are. But most of the monks loved and admired you.

Saint Ben: Yes, only few were against. I know who put poison to my wine and I’m still praying for this person. I want God to forgive this monk and give him wisdom of understanding and eternal peace in Heaven.

Sister: Tell me yet where was your first monastery. People guessing about this that this is a place where are Franciscans now, but nobody really know.

Saint Ben: I can’t tell you. If God want this monastery to be forgotten, it has to be forgotten. God want people to remember me from Monte Casino only and nobody ever know where are graves of monks who put poison to my wine. But I learn a lot from this monks and a lot of inspiration to Rules came from them. I will never forgot what the teach me. Rules are much more liberal because of them.

Bad thing can be happened to good people, however we are able to learn ever more from bad events that from good. Bad events are not able to kill our true spirit if we are in good relationship with God who leading us to realize our true call. God will reward us ever more if we are open to listen his voice and if we are forgiving and kind to our enemies.

Bad events can also wake us up and helps learn the true about the World and people around. Bad events can make us more mature and less naive, but hopefully also more understanding and kind for the weak and sinful others.

monk
Picture from the book “The Monk” by Matthew Lewis
(first published in 1796)

 

 

 

 

 

Immortal Diamond

Can be something greatest and nicest in community than read the same book the same time and discuss the content?
This is what we are doing in our Saint Anna Community. We are reading now a book by Richard Rohr “Immortal Diamond: The Search for Our True Self”. My book is from Edmonton Public Library (First edition, 2013, published by Jossey-Bass).
There are some of my reflections after reading:

In the chapter about enlightenment we can read a lot about dying. This is because dying means letting go. On the way to enlightenment, to discover the True Self, to find Immortal Diamond we also have to let go our False Self. This is like dying.

Buddhist believes that many people who was not able to reach enlightenment during life are able to achieve this state in the moment of death. Death can be very interesting or ever exciting experience. Special if we face this moment with full and open consciousness.

However after enlightenment mystics are not afraid of death anymore. This is because thy was able to let go everything and find the True Self – the Immortal Diamond. They are already living in Heaven. They are for ever in Heaven and nobody is able to take this from them.

Richard Rohr writing about this (p. 54):

“The True Self not really “go to heaven” as much as live there already”.