Saturday, July 2, 2016

PILGRIMAGE INTO MYSTERY AND SILENCE




MARIE-ROSE FERRON

Robert Trabold


Quiet warm breeze
blows over the grave site.
Sun is strong
feel noon heat coming.

Quiet in the cemetery
no one around.
Noise of a few passing
cars on their way to someplace.

Made a long trip
pilgrimage to come here.
Wanted to meet a holy
person, feel the presence at the grave.

Marie-Rose suffered
her wounds reflected
violence and harshness
of life, the world.

I feel the same
that is the reason
I came here asking
Marie-Rose’s help.

I feel the violence of
the world, wars
hatred. I long for
peace,  justice.

We have no answers
to the problems.
Marie-Rose did not
have answers either.

She put her confidence
in Jesus. Gave to Him
her world, its people.
That is the example for me.

                                                         -------------------------------



PILGRIMAGE INTO SILENCE AND MYSTERY

Robert Trabold


            Recently, I had the opportunity to make a contemplative pilgrimage to Massachusetts where several stigmatics lived and died. Stigmatics are people who during their lifetime had the wounds of Jesus on their body. So far there have been five American stigmatics and two of them lived in Massachuetts and Rhode Island and one Venezuelan stigmatic, Marie Esperanza, worked there and founded a spiritual and retreat center. This was the third time that I have made this pilgrimage and I always have found it a very profound experience to visit their grave sites and the houses where they lived and suffered. One of the stigmatics was Marie Rose Ferron, 1902 – 1936, who was of an immigrant family from Qu├ębec and lived most of her life in Woonsocket, Rhode Island. She was quite famous and many people came to visit her asking for advice for their problems and healings to their illnesses. The second one was Audrey Santo, 1983-2007, who live in Worcester, Mass. She was a very young person when she received the stigmata of Jesus. For Audrey Santo, one can visit a small shrine in the house where she lived, the room where she suffered from the wounds and her gravesite at a local cemetery.

            In visiting these sites, I had a profound sense of their presence. As they helped and counselled people in their life, there were still present and wanted to hear about our needs and those of the world. In the three pilgrimages which I have made over the years, these were contemplative ones where I went by myself.  I wanted to enter into silence and meditation. At the two gravesites, I had a deep experience of their presence and that of Jesus. I told them of my concerns for the contemporary world with its violence and wars and also my personal problems. I did not do much talking because they knew already what my problems were. I rested in the silence of the gravesites and the house and left there the problems which disturb me and our world. This silence and peace which I experienced carried over into the rest of the day and gave a contemplative aura to the whole week. I did not do much talking during the week except for a few passing conversations with people in the hotel.

            While I was there, there was a questioning on my part about the mystery of human beings having the wounds of Jesus on their body.  Certainly, the whole reality of the suffering and wounds of Jesus is a big mystery.  He was a good man and had such a painful ending, so unjust and violent. When we look at our world, we are quite disturbed by the endless violence, hatred and wars which plague us. How and when will it all end? What is the meaning of it all? Jesus and these stigmatics labored under the sufferings of their wounds. Their wounds are like the problems, violence and wars of our world and we have to bear them as the stigmatics carried the wounds of Jesus on their body. Certainly, Jesus must have felt confusion and pain of his quick and sudden death. The stigmatics also felt the similar confusion with the presence of the same wounds of Jesus on their body. Ultimately, in the life of Jesus and the stigmatics, it was faith that got them through. Jesus had his Easter Sunday and the stigmatics had the same faith which got them through all their trials.

            In visiting Massachusetts with the houses and grave sites of the stigmatics, they gave me the message that we have to carry the burdens of our life and those of our violent world.  We do not have the answer to all these things. Someday when we reach eternal life, things will be put into place but for now on earth, we have to live in mystery and much darkness. In this pilgrimage, I believe that I received insight and strength to continue on and not give up on life and the world. I have to keep on living following the path of Jesus and living in the same darkness and questioning that He experienced. We get strength from the words of St. Paul, “For those who have faith, all things will work out for the good.”

                                           -----------------------------------------------------

            I am anxious to know of the reaction of the readers to this poem and article. I would appreciate it if you would leave your reaction in the comment box.
           
Question: Have you reflected on the mystical wounds and experience of the stigmatics and what is their meaning for our life and world?
           
Please leave also your name and e-mail address and I can contact you for other important spiritual information.

                              -------------------------------------------------------




Wednesday, June 1, 2016

DEPTHS IN PRAYER




‘FOR YOU ALONE, MY SOUL WAITS IN SILENCE!’

Robert Trabold


Slowly distinctly, I whisper:
“For you alone, my soul waits in silence!”

My voice arises from the depths
words vibrate in my whole body
coming from deepest parts of my center
whose depth is infinite
endless tunnels, stairs, deep darkness
so still noise never penetrates there.

I enter, descend slowly but am hopelessly lost in mystery
mystery of an encounter in my depths.
I meet my Beloved utter stillness.
My Beloved speaks in silence
clue to the divine’s presence.

I repeat: “For you alone, my soul waits in silence!”
feel resonance of the words
words of love,  longing, words of waiting.
I sit in utter silence, I feel nothingness
but emptiness is full
out of darkness out of mystery comes light.
What meeting could be more beautiful!

                                                  
                                                     ---------------------------------------



DEPTHS IN PRAYER


ROBERT TRABOLD


            Reflecting on our Christian life, it is evident that there are many forms of prayer and each has a place in our life.  We have verbal and vocal prayer where for example we say the ‘Our Father.’ There is singing done by individuals or groups like a choir which we do in liturgical events. We have discursive prayer where we reflect on a biblical passage and some truth of our Christian faith in order to understand it more deeply and apply it to our life. We participate in liturgical prayer where we assist at different events in our local church in order to praise God and have contact with the divine. We meditate and participate in contemplative prayer where we pray in silence and which opens for us another dimension to our Christian life. From our Christian faith, we know that we are created in God’s image and we are to reflect this in the way we live.

            It is a challenge however for us to grow in this realization that we are temples of God’s presence and the divine is present at our center and still point. The Holy Spirit lives in our inner most being. To grow in this awareness of the sacred presence within us, it is important for us to grow in contemplative prayer. In this prayer or meditation, we go beyond words, images and discourse. We then meet a presence deep within us who helps us understand our true value in life as sons and daughters of our Father in heaven and gives us the motivation and strength to transform ourselves into this new dignity. This realization of the divine presence within us will also change and transform the way we see ourselves, other people and all creation. We will begin in a deep way to see things as Jesus did and wanted to teach us. We become more deeply and truly images of the divine and manifest this to others.

            To grow in this vocation which Jesus wants us to do in our life and the world, it is important for us to realize that all forms of prayer are valuable but also to understand the very crucial role that contemplative prayer and meditation add to our Christian life. Each way of prayer fills out the picture of where we are in the world and to what God calls us. However, we have to go beyond them and enter into silence where we forget ourselves and touch the silent presence of Jesus at our center and still point. This silent encounter of the Lord is an essential part to our growth. We are not thinking about ourselves but just being with the divine presence within us and so drawn closer to Him. If we are faithful in our contemplative prayer and this journey into silence, the Lord will slowly remake us into His image. We will become the sons and daughters of God which Jesus wants us to be. John Main suggests that we try to meditate twice a day for 20 minutes each and quietly recite our mantra. This requires fidelity to commit ourselves to grow in contemplative prayer and an effort to regulate our daily schedule to allow this.

            It is important for us to realize the different kinds of prayer and their function in our life. Each makes a contribution to our life and Christian growth.  In contemplative prayer, we will grow to realize that there is no one closer to us on earth, even beyond our closest friends, as the Lord is. This will be the source of joy and direction of our life. We touch the divine hand which leads us in a good path and gives us confidence not to give up despite all the disappointments and troubles of living a human life in this troubled world.

                                   
                                     -------------------------------------------------------------

I would be appreciative if you would take a moment to answer the following question.  I am interested in knowing the reaction of readers to this poem and article.

Question:  In your experience through the years, have you experienced the different kinds of prayers and the various roles they play in your growth in the Christian life? Have you experienced the particular benefit and richness of meditation and contemplation in silence?

            Also, if you leave your name and e-mail address, I could send you special announcements and information that might be helpful to you.


                                  -----------------------------------------------------------------











Monday, May 2, 2016

RUSSIAN MARIAN ICON SHOWS US THE WAY





RUSSIAN ICON:

OUR LADY OF VLADIMIR


ROBERT TRABOLD


Soft touch, gentle head
bows touches baby’s face.
Mother’s eyes deeply mysterious
looking into eternity.

Baby looking up holding on to mom
mother’s head  covered with black shawl
dropping down golden background
light from heaven shot through with divinity!

I am touched, feel quiet beauty
wrapping around me
washing me in mystery
touches of the Divine
the Beloved!

Mother’s eyes reach me
include me in her meditation.
Wants me to stay quiet
not run away.
Mother loves me too, taking me
by the hand leads me to her son.

I feel delirious, ecstasy in my eyes.
Mystery overwhelms me radiance
of Russian icon tells me
“You are loved!”  “Do not worry!”

Mystery of the mother is beyond
me but her eyes watch me
holding me taking me by the hand
until my journey ends.


                                                        -----------------------------------------


MARIAN RUSSIAN ICON – OUR LADY OF VLADIMIR


ROBERT TRABOLD


            The Russian icon, Our Lady of Vladimir, is a famous Russian one because of its beauty and meaning it can have in our spiritual life. The mother and child sit with a wall of gold in the background. The mother looks at the child with tenderness and the child feels this and returns the gaze. The picture takes on meaning because this is the Virgin Mary and Jesus is her son who was sent by the Father on earth to preach the good news. The good news is that our Father in heaven loves us and wants us to reciprocate this love. He sent his Son Jesus to teach and his message should help us learn how we can reciprocate this love and become worthy sons and daughters of Our Father. The icon with its beauty touches us and has us rest in this beauty. In the beauty of the icon, the Virgin Mary is touching us and inviting us to follow her Son. She wants us to contemplate this beautiful picture and listen to the words and advice that she offers us. This is a very famous Russian icon and through the centuries, Christians have looked on the picture and drawn inspiration to advance and grow in their Christian life. Mary was close to Jesus and was his mother and now she teaches us how we can be good disciples of Him.

            In our journey on earth, there are many paths open to us and pull us to live in a variety of ways. However, Mary wants to lead us and have us follow the Christian path. She encourages us to be faithful in our meditation and good works so that we can overcome the confusion of human life and find the path of her Son which cuts through this confusion.  Mary leads us to the real path which opens up for us the knowledge of who we are and our place in the world. We then understand and know the position of other people on earth. This new vision of life grows in depth as we realize that we are to be rooted in God.  Mary encourages us to be constant in our journey to base ourselves in the Divine and so overcome the different ways that the world pulls us to lead our life.

            In this journey to root ourselves in God and the Christian message, our daily prayer and meditation are important tools. For a while each day, we put aside our many activities and responsibilities so that we can focus our attention on the presence of the Lord who is present at our center and still point. We do this whether we feel like praying or not. We discipline ourselves to get control of our daily routine so that we can have time for meditation. We are already putting things into perspective and making room for this important event in our life, our daily meditation. As time goes on, other things will fall into place and we will see how Jesus saw the world and life and this becomes our vision.

            During the month of May which is the month where we honor and think about the Virgin Mary, she offers herself to help us grow in this Christian vision of ourselves and the world. Mary loves us as she loved her son, Jesus. The same tenderness that she shows in the lovely icon, she has for us. This is important for us to realize because in our Christian journey through the years, we have Mary at our side and she encourages us.  We are not alone in this trip. This Russian icon is famous not only for its beauty but because Christians during the centuries have realized this role of the Virgin Mary and prized her help.  This is an example for us. Let us use this beautiful Russian icon to lead us into the mystery of Mary and her Son so that we can become faithful servants of the Lord in the years to come.


                                           -----------------------------------------------------

QUESTION:   Does the Russian icon and perhaps other works of art touch you so that they give you the inspiration and strength to grow in your Christian life, prayer and work?  During the years, I have been very influence by icons and other works of art encouraging me to grow in faith and prayer.  Beauty in the material world can impact our spiritual life.

            I would be very interested if the readers of this blog would leave a comment. I would like to know how others feel. If you leave also your name and e-mail address, I will keep you posted on announcements which may be of interest to you.




Saturday, April 2, 2016

DIVINE LOVE IN EASTERTIME





STILLNESS AND QUIET

Robert Trabold


Hardly anything moves – no wind
neither bushes nor trees swaying – surprising
for a winter’s day at the seashore.
Everything is in suspended animation
blinding sunshine gives same impression
even its gentle warmth is motionless.

Vast blue sky does not move
no clouds to break it up
all is still!
Not even vastness of the sky
disturbs silence.

Is this why I came to the sea?
I leave behind my hectic life
house cleaning – garden pruning – e-mails
anti-war demonstrations – neighborhood meetings.
Am I looking for something else?
Is someone pulling me to the seashore?

Stillness - emptiness
start fires burning within me.
I am waiting – catch my breath
my eyes are straining – Absolute overwhelms me.

My Beloved is knocking at my inner most door
a door He can only knock at.
No one else can enter so deeply within me.

Fire burns – my heart beats faster
my breathing speeds up
my whole body trembles.
My Beloved is touching me – wooing me
to love
I lay back my head - rest in
ecstasy.


                                                      --------------------------------------------


DIVINE LOVE IN EASTERTIME



Robert Trabold



            We have just passed the six weeks of Lent where with our prayer and sacrifices, we tried to orientate ourselves to the events of Holy Week and Easter.  In the former, we remembered the great voyage of Jesus to Jerusalem where He had His triumphal entry but also the sad reality of His rejection and death on the cross.  He was a good man who preached the Good News that God our Father loves us and wants a relationship of love with us.  The Father then gave to Jesus His victory of the Resurrection and invited all men and women to participate in it.  These were certainly momentous times in our Christian faith and the past six or seven weeks of Lent and Holy Week gave us time to grow in this faith. In this Eastertime where we celebrate and remember the Resurrection of Jesus, His victory might give us an opportunity to reflect on the enormous love of God for us and how it transforms our life and the life of the world.

            The love of God for us is very different from the one which we experience in the world with other human beings.  In our human relationships, we develop friendships and love and affection can grow between ourselves and others. This can be a long process depending on the relationship. It can be a casual love between friends or a deeper one between a married people.  We work on this love, change ourselves and in one sense, the love between two people has to be earned and then it flowers.  It is a challenge and hard work.

            In our relationship with God, the dynamic is quite different.  If we recall the parable of the Prodigal Son, the father waited and watched each day for his son to return.  When he saw him in the distance, he ran out to greet him and welcomed the lost son back home. In a very real sense, this is a scenario of the love of God for us.  In our human existence, the Lord does not wait for our conversion and then love us.  God the Father loves us in our sinfulness and unworthiness and uses this love to work for our change into better people. So in one sense, we do not have to earn the love of the Father for us but it is available to us.  God the Father loves us so that this generosity can help us be better sons and daughters.  He does not wait for our conversion but in His love for us, encourages us to grow into true sons and daughters of Him. This is too good to be true.  It is not what we experience in human life where we have to earn the love of the other person for us but it is there each day and the Father offers it to us.

            In this Eastertime, we might take time to realize the wonderful gift that the Father gives us each day. It should  rouse us up to realize this gift and use it for our transformation into His faithful children.  There is no more beautiful time to grow in this realization than Eastertime.  Through Lent and Holy Week, we have experienced the great mysteries of our faith and these will help us grow into and appreciate the unearned love of the Father for us.  During Eastertime, He is looking down the road as He did in the parable and welcomes us back.  We are given a beautiful gift and this is the time to grow in an appreciation of it.

                                            ----------------------------------------------------













Wednesday, March 2, 2016

WALKING THROUGH LENT TO EASTER




STILLNESS AND QUIET

Robert Trabold


Hardly anything moves – no wind
neither bushes nor trees swaying – surprising
for a winter’s day at the seashore.
Everything is in suspended animation
blinding sunshine gives same impression
even its gentle warmth is motionless.

Vast blue sky does not move
no clouds to break it up
all is still!
Not even vastness of the sky
disturbs silence.

Is this why I came to the sea?
I leave behind my hectic life
house cleaning – garden pruning – e-mails
anti-war demonstrations – neighborhood meetings.
Am I looking for something else?
Is someone pulling me to the seashore?

Stillness - emptiness
start fires burning within me.
I am waiting – catch my breath
my eyes are straining – Absolute overwhelms me.

My Beloved is knocking at my inner most door
a door He can only knock at.
No one else can enter so deeply within me.

Fire burns – my heart beats faster
my breathing speeds up
my whole body trembles.
My Beloved is touching me – wooing me
to love
I lay back my head - rest in
ecstasy.


                                                      --------------------------------------------


 
 
JOURNEY THROUGH LENT TO EASTER
 
 
Robert Trabold
 
 
            We entered the month of March and continue our journey through Lent and reach Holy Week and feast of Easter.  This is a rich time in our Christian life because it brings us to important events of our faith.  During Lent, we take time for prayer and fasting or other penances to remind us that we are pilgrims on earth and we constantly have to take stock of our life so that we follow the way of Jesus more and so reach our eternal destiny. In Holy Week, we are reminded of the momentous events in the life of Jesus - His suffering and death and ultimate victory on Easter Sunday. In this journey through Lent to Holy Week, our faithfulness to meditation can help us enter into these Christian mysteries.  In our daily contemplative prayer, we take 20 minutes, twice a day to sit in silence in an attempt to encounter the Divine. We do not try to think about God and solve deep theological questions.  Rather it is an attempt by us to touch God’s presence present at our center and still point. This journey to our center in silence is a capsule of our spiritual journey through Lent. We discover in a deep way to meet the Lord without many words and thoughts but touch someone who loves us and want us to reciprocate this love.
 
            In one sense, our daily contemplation is a journey to the ground of our being, to our origin, to the point from where we come. We leave behind our thoughts, desires and plans and sit in silence.  It is a silence of love where we meet the Beloved who wants to walk with us on earth and lead us to eternal life. In contemplation, we attempt to orientate ourselves completely to God. We want Him/Her to be the center of our human journey and desire to orientate all our values and activities as Jesus wants us to do. We enter into an area of simplicity in our life in which all other things find their place. We are not overwhelmed by the complexity of all the movements of the world but put them in perspective. We see things as Jesus saw them and not have the things of the world dominate us.
 
            To reach this point, we have to focus our attention and do this by reciting faithfully our mantra. The mantra helps us put aside all thoughts, words and images and so that we can touch the Divine around whom we want to orientate our life and respond to the love with which the Lord showers us. We are not torn in many ways with which the world tempts us. Our journey in daily contemplation is a capsule of what our journey through Lent to Easter Sunday should be. During the weeks of Lent with our extra prayer, penances and other good practices, we want to refocus our life. The world has many things and movements which can and do pull us in many directions. The concentrated and simple experience we have of Jesus in contemplation helps us find this good focus of our life. For twenty minutes, twice a day, we attempt to be in God’s presence and put other things aside. This simple experience can be a model of the refocusing of our life during Lent in our journey to Easter Sunday.
 
 
                                            ------------------------------------------------------------
 



Tuesday, February 2, 2016

MASTER AND WORKERS

 
 
 
CRISTO NEGRO – BLACK JESUS
 
Robert Trabold
 
Old year – New Year
 
I sit here – feel presence
of Black Jesus.
Feel old year
wonder about new one.
 
Jesus is black
color touches me
mystery – mystery of
our world.
 
Was a tough old year
endless wars – violence.
When will it end?
never ending!
 
I bring these wars – violence
to Black Jesus
Can help me
with this darkness.
 
Jesus’ life was one
of darkness
constant tensions
despite His good intentions.
 
Statue of Jesus on the cross
is black – copy of one
in a famous Guatemalan shrine.
What does the black say to me?
 
Jesus in life had no
easy answers.  His world
laid on Him – heavy
many problems – few answers.
 
Let me keep my eyes on the
black Jesus.  I have
to walk in mystery – few
answers in life – world.
 
Let me not be overwhelmed
with it all. Someday
an Easter Sunday will come
for us all – like it did for Jesus.
 
 
                                                        ---------------------------------------
 


MASTER AND WORKERS

 

Robert Trabold

 

 

            As we close one year and begin a new one, we wonder where the world is going. At times we feel depressed because despite our good efforts and those of others, the world does not seem to be better. It can be depressing as we look at the television and the newspapers where we read and see so much violence and hatred and war in the world. It seems to be never ending. There are many good people on earth who have the best of intentions and participate in many good projects. But their effect seems to be negligent in so far as the upheavals we see around us do not diminish. We notice that our government in Washington and others around the world do not accomplish what they could do in order to foster more peace and justice in the world. Political figures make many promises but do not live up to them.  So we are left with the sense of insecurity and disappointment as we look to the future and wonder what it holds for us and younger people.

 

            It may be good for us to step back and try to envision a larger picture of where all is going.  The work of making the world a better place is God’s project and in a very real sense it is beyond us. We do not direct how the world will go and in our lifetime, we accomplish a tiny part in this effort. Whatever we do and say which may be very good, is never complete because the building of God’s kingdom is always beyond us and our good work is just a small contribution to the final end. We can continually pray, do many good deeds, help many people, work in many good movements such as the peace movement, the ones to eradicate poverty, etc. All of our efforts in these endeavors are never complete nor accomplish what we would want them to do.  There is still a lot to be done and the problems of the world and its injustices continue to plague us.

 

            We have to realize that this is our lot on earth.  With our good intentions and deeds, we are planting seeds which one day will grow and bear fruit. We have to continue to plant seeds and water them with our consistency in doing good deeds and realize that it is in the future that we will see the fruits of our efforts and those of other good people. In one sense, we lay the foundation that as time passes needs further development and work. We are in a bakery where we use yeast which later will produce the finished bread.

 

            If we cultivate this sense that we cannot do everything and that the recreation of our world is God’s work, a burden is lifted from our shoulders. Let us not try to do the impossible. We have to be sincere in our efforts to lead a good life and make a contribution to the creation of a better world. We need to preserver in doing something and try our best but have to keep in mind that our efforts are incomplete. We are making our contribution to lay the foundation but it is God’s job to build the complete house. We may never see the complete house but be persevering in making our small contribution during our years on earth. The recreation of the world more in the image of the justice and peace that Jesus preached is God’s work and our small and incomplete efforts are steps along the way. Ultimately God’s grace has to come in to complete the work.

 

            Let us remember that God is the master builder and we are the workers. During our life, we are to make our small contribution. We most probably will not see the end work.  We are building a future which is not our own but belongs to Jesus and God the Father. If we can cultivate this perspective, it takes a load off our human shoulders.  We feel better, have things in perspective and realize that we are building a new world which is not our own but are called to make a contribution to its realization. We may get depressed with the world’s injustices and violence but need to continue to make our efforts to the building of God’s project and kingdom of how things should be.
 
 
                                                     -------------------------------------------------