Directors / Administrators of Religious Instruction of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia had a two-day retreat at Malvern Retreat House. Resources and web sites discussed can be found here.
Posts from the ‘Reflections on Sunday Readings’ Category
I was reading an article recently that was discussing the difference between a neophobe, a neophile and a neophiliac. It was related to the Apple announcement about the “new” iPad 3. In comparing the iPad 2 to the iPad 3, the differences seem to be:
- Mostly about processing power and internet speeds. The screen also offers a better view of applications gaming.
- The iPad 3 looks quite similar to last years iPad 2.
- Its actually a bit thicker and heavier.
- Price: between $499 – $600.
Nevertheless, it was reported that some people “camped out” to be first in line to purchase the new device. Now, why would you stand in line – outside – in the winter – ALL NIGHT – just to get one of the first ones?
Psychology researchers have shown that each of us has our own level of craving for new things. They call this “novelty-seeking,” or, to use the “newer,” sexier alternative, neophilia.”
The lure of the new applies to consumers with a particular personality style. I read an article by journalist and “cultural critic,” Winifred Gallagher who was commenting on the research done by Dr. Robert Cloninger and other personality researchers. She mentioned that people could be classified as:
- Neophobes – People who don’t like anything new.
- Neophiles – People who “kind of“ like new stuff.
- Neophiliacs – People at the extreme who not only have to have the new stuff but HAVE TO HAVE IT NOW.
Is this good or bad? Well according to some research:
- People with HIGH degrees of novelty-seeking are drawn to new situations, experiences, and, of course, possessions.
- They tend to make impulsive decisions, be disorganized, and are highly oriented toward seeking and getting rewards.
- Some research also shows that more extreme novelty-seeking can be associated to addictive disorders, including substance abuse.
“I, the LORD, am your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, that place of slavery”
Is this novelty seeking possibly a new form of slavery?
On the other hand, during his research, Dr. Cloninger also identified other types of people who seemed to be generally happy and satisfied with their lives and the amount of “their stuff.” What was the secret to their happy temperament and character? A trio of traits emerged. Such people scored high in:
- Novelty-seeking. They’re generally interested in what is going on around them in the world and what is new.
- Persistence. Another word could be “discipline.” If they wanted something new, they exhibited a high degree of discipline applied to achieve the latest device, experience, etc….
- “Self-Transcendence.” These people seemed to understanding themselves as part of a bigger picture – that they were figures in a larger process or part of a bigger life project.
To quote from St. Paul in the Scriptures, “Jews demand signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we proclaim Christ crucified.” We don’t profess something uplifting and exciting but something mundane and demeaning.
Are these “happier people” on to something? Discipline is not exciting. Admitting that you are only a small part of something MUCH bigger is not exciting. “Measured” sober interest in the latest and greatest is not exciting. Is it possible that happiness and joy is NOT in the excitement, but perhaps meeting God in the midst of the mundane?”
After Benedict XVI was elected Pope, Catholic author George Weigel was asked, “Why kind of Pope will Benedict be? What will be his program?” Weigel answered, “Well look at the name he took…. Benedict. What was St. Benedict known for? Order, education and hospitality”
- For over 1500 years, what have the Benedictines invited into their houses? Mostly people. Retreatants, travelers, spiritual seekers, aspirants to the religious life. Its all about the Benedictine charism of hospitality.
- For over 1500 years, what have the Benedictines left outside their doors? Practically everything. Not a lot of “stuff” in there. Their monasteries are clean, orderly, uncluttered, simple but also warm and inviting.
Who or what are we “inviting in” into our lives?
Who or what are we “throwing out” from our lives?
I read a recent scriptural commentary. Before the Exodus age, the Hebrews had been living in the midst of a pagan culture. They were slaves, for YEARS! Once on their own, they didn’t know exactly what to do, what not to do and how to act as “God’s People.” They needed guidelines; they needed the Covenant and the Decalogue.
The author said that before that, during the age of the Patriarchs (Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph) they did not have the 10 Commandments. Yet they knew what to do and what not to do. It was mostly common sense, part of their nomadic lifestyle (You don’t keep a lot of “stuff” if you have to carry it yourself in your back pack over a few hundred miles) and woven into the fabric of their belief system.
Today, we’re people of the “new covenant.” What do we need or no longer need? Who or what are we “inviting in” into our lives? Who or what are we “leaving out” (or throwing out) from our lives?
I close with two questions related to the Scripture readings from the 3rd Week of Lent:
- What does it take for you to cleanse your “temple?”
- How do you know that – what you’re doing in this case – is right?
Ah yes, The Jersey Shore, why we love it so….. The sand beaches, the sunshine, the ocean water, swimming and playing in the waves, Mack and Mancos pizza (Personally, I can do without Snooki and her friends)
But what happens when we get too much of a good thing like too much water or too much sun? You get floods and deserts and “The Great Flood” and Jesus in the desert are two images of Lent that we see in the readings for the First Sunday of Lent.
If you stay under WATER for any length of time…
- You can’t speak.
- You can’t breathe.
- You can move.
- You can hear, somewhat.
- You can see, somewhat.
- Drink? You can drink ALL that you want!
Stay in the DESERT for a length of time and…
- You can see.
- You can move, but only for a time and with difficulty.
- You can breathe.
- You can speak.
- You can hear.
- But you DON’T get a drink.
Some of the classical themes of Lent are repentance, turning around, changing direction, going in a new and better way.
- The REASON is to develop a deeper relationship with the Trinity.
- The GOAL is charity. To not only become more loving but, perhaps more importantly, to be more LOVED.
- The CHALLENGE is:
- To get to a place where we feel worth of that love,
- To recognize that love when it is offered,
- To accept it and appropriate it in our lives.
And sometimes God uses floods and deserts as a means to get us where he wants us to be during Lent. This happens when whatever healing needed in our lives is accomplished. So besides repentance, turning around, changing direction, going in a new a better way, we are called to let this healing begin.
- Words (of affection)
- Time (simply spent with the loved one)
- Help (like with chores around the house)
After 30 years of counseling couples, he found that each of us seems to have ONE of the 5 “love languages” that we prefer more strongly than the others.
An example… I remember a story about a couple who was seen in a restaurant. The sunglasses and the red-and-white cane indicated that the man was blind. What was striking was that through the entire dinner, the couple held hands. Even while eating, they seemed to have mastered the dexterity to maneuver the forks while not letting go of the other person. He could not see her and he could certainly hear her voice but touch seemed to be the “love language” of one of the partners that was so important.
So, back to the Lenten images… Ask yourself some questions concerning Lent both now and throughout the season:
First question – Are you in a desert? Does your spiritual life seem dry, void and lifeless? Are you just aching to drink from the well of the Lord’s compassion and consolation? Or do you feel underwater in the midst of the flood? Are you feeling simply overwhelmed by what is happening in the world around you? Are you drowning in events and desperately trying to get above everything just so that you can breathe?
Next question – You are there for a reason. What is the reason why God has you there?
Last question – Remember the five “Love languages?” In which of the 5 love languages is God speaking to you?
- Words ..from Scripture or Mass or a song offering consolation, explanation or encouragement?)
- Time (Suddenly appointments are cancelled, the calendar is opened and you have some quiet time to spend with the Lord)
- Gifts (Parking spot RIGHT IN FRONT of the storefront door on a rainy day? Package from a friend you didn’t expect?)
- Help (Someone makes an offer to assist when you least expect it and need it the most?)
- Touch (A spontaneous hug from that special person? A “spiritual touch” from above?)
Coincidence? “Coincidences are God’s way of remaining anonymous.” (Attributed to Albert Einstein)