What’s happening to our magnificent Whales and Dolphins?

 

Dear Sisters and Brothers,

I want to share with you what I wrote to Fifty-some friends on a New Year’s note I sent in lieu of a Christmas card. . .

After realizing what our President has done, I’m so anxious about what will happen to the dolphins and whales as the oil companies start depth-sounding for their positions. He has no conscience and no consciousness. It’s beyond worrisome at this point and I hope he can be stopped. I’m in deep prayer about all this. My stomach gets nauseated sometimes.

This blog is not to slam Mr. Trump, though, unfortunately, it has to do with, what I say~ and many others also  say is~ a terrible decision that President Trump has made. My intention is to call attention to the plight of these magnificent animals whereas the DOCA children and so many other causes get a great deal of attention.

On Monday I’ll write my traditional Right-to-Life blog on the Anniversary of Roe v. Wade.

Today I’m writing on behalf of the Right-to-Life of our beloved Whales and Dolphins who will placed into mortal danger by the President’s decision to open our coastal waters to offshore drilling for oil.

Consider this:  The seismic blasts the companies use to “sound” for oil are so devastatingly loud that these animals cannot hear one another communicate.  A baby can’t hear where his mother is even nearby.

Imagine dynamite going off in your neighborhood every 10 seconds. Now imagine you can’t leave. That’s how marine life experience offshore oil and gas exploration!

Please watch this  three-minute video produced by the National Resources Defense Council and you’ll understand:  Click here.

And now here are the facts:

New York Times / Thursday, January 4, 2018 / WASHINGTON   — The Trump administration said Thursday it would allow new offshore oil and gas drilling in nearly all United States coastal waters, giving energy companies access to leases off California for the first time in decades and opening more than a billion acres in the Arctic and along the Eastern Seaboard.

The proposal lifts a ban on such drilling imposed by President Barack Obama near the end of his term and would deal a serious blow to his environmental legacy. It would also signal that the Trump administration is not done unraveling environmental restrictions in an effort to promote energy production.

While the plan puts the administration squarely on the side of the energy industry and against environmental groups, it also puts the White House at odds with a number of coastal states that oppose offshore drilling. Some of those states are led by Republicans, like Gov. Rick Scott of Florida, where the tourism industry was hit hard by the Deepwater Horizon rig disaster in 2010 that killed 11 people and spilled millions of gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico.

Mr. Zinke said the drilling plan was part of “a new path for energy dominance in America,” but said he planned to speak with Governor Scott and other state leaders before the proposal was finalized. “It’s not going to be done overnight,” he said.

Oil industry leaders cheered the reversal, calling it long overdue.

“I think the default should be that all of our offshore areas should be available,” said Thomas J. Pyle, president of the American Energy Alliance. “These are our lands. They’re taxpayer-owned and they should be made available.

As you can see, these guys have no clue to what other kind of harm they will be causing. These precious animals could go extinct. Or if they do know, they just don’t give a tinker’s dam.

Pope Francis, in a letter sent to a conference on Oceanic Development in September 2017 would remind us ~ if not our Administration.

The oceans are the common heritage of the human family. Only with a deep sense of humility, wonder and gratitude can we rightly speak of the ocean as “ours”. To care for this common inheritance necessarily involves rejecting cynical or indifferent ways of acting.  [ . . .} we remain indifferent before the loss of coral reefs, essential places for the survival of marine biodiversity and the health of the oceans, as we witness a marvellous marine world being transformed into an underwater cemetery, bereft of colour and life (cf. Laudato Si’, 41).The oceans unite us and summon us to work together. As His Holiness noted in Laudato Si’, “everything is interconnected”.

Our world today needs to see that the oceans are a crucial resource in the fight against poverty and climate change, both of which are intrinsically linked  For all too long, it has been thought that the sheer vastness of the oceans would allow for negligence, the disposal of toxic waste, and freedom from oversight by the authorities. [. . . ] It is time to work with greater responsibility to safeguard our oceans, our common home, and our brothers and sisters, today and in the future.

The book of Genesis teaches that in the beginning “the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters” (1:2). This verse reminds us that the oceans hold particular importance for many religions. Spirituality can provide powerful incentives for the protection of the oceans, and, more generally, for the care of all creation (cf. Laudato Si’, 216). “Science and religion, with their distinctive approaches to understanding reality, can enter into an intense dialogue fruitful for both” (Laudato Si’, 62).  

And my prayer. . .

O God, I’ve always wanted to swim with the dolphins in the ocean,

but never had the chance like my friends did in the buff.

Please allow us to get the President’s decision reversed

to save these magnificent creatures from suffering and death.

And even more so, even further harm to our oceans by devastating oil spills.

The oceans! The Dolphins! The Whales! The coral reefs!

These are your glorious creation, O God!

Let not these men destroy or degrade them!

This we ask as we ask all things, through Jesus Christ our Lord! 

AMEN!

Now, before you go, I have an eight minute meditation for you with music of whales and dolphins swimming together.  Please take time to watch it and learn about these magnificent animals! Click here.

 Be sure to eneteWith love,

Bob Traupman

Contemplative Writer

A Vessel of Love filled with fire

IMG_0884January 25th, 2017 ~ The Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul the Apostle

Paul was an amazing man. He was small of stature; he refused to depend on charity–thus, he worked as a tentmaker wherever he went.  After he was severely beaten, he was in constant pain, but went on and on and on, because, as I learned  tried to learn from him . . . .

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

~ Philippians 4:13

Paul before his conversion was known as Saul of Tarsus, and as recorded in the Acts of the Apostles he says, “I persecuted this Way to death, binding both men and women and delivering them to prison.” And then he tells the story of his conversion on the way to Damascus, that a great light blinded him and he heard a voice asking, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” (You can read the rest of the story in Acts 22: 1:16.)

I enjoyed what St. John Chrysostom, a bishop in the early church says about Paul in the divine office for today . . . .

Paul, more than anyone else, has shown us what man really is, and in what our nobility consists and in what virtue this particular animal is capable.  Each day he aimed even higher; each day he rose up with even greater ardor and faced with new eagerness the dangers that threatened him.  He summed up his attitude in his words: “I forget what lies behind me and I push on to what lies ahead.” 

I never paid much attention to Paul until my later years.  And suddenly, I fell in love with him; thus, I’m writing this blog in his honor, despite the passages that show his Hebraic attitudes toward women and the misuse of his words about gay people. Here’s the reason . . . .

Chrysostom goes on to say that the most important thing of all that St. Paul knew himself to be loved by Christ.  Enjoying this love, he considers himself happier than anyone else . . . . He preferred to be thus loved and yet the least of all, or even among the damned, than to be without that love than be among the great and honored.  So too, in being loved by Christ he thought himself as possessing life, the world, the angels, the present and the future, the kingdom, the promise and countless blessings. Apart from that love nothing saddened or delighted him; for nothing earthly did he regard as bitter or sweet.

A few years ago, a priest-friend of mine sent me a Christmas card with a favorite quote from St. Paul on the cover that I framed and still sits on my dining room table that I often glance at.  As I have had my own cup of suffering from long years of manic-depressive illness it means a great deal to me . . . .

My grace is sufficient for you,

for in weakness power reaches perfection.”  

And so I willingly boast of my weaknesses instead,

that the power of Christ may rest upon me.  

For when I am powerless, it is then I am strong.  

              (2 Cor. 12:9-10) 

You see, Paul has helped me love my Lord–or rather to deeply and richly realize in tears of joy that Jesus loves me–as I am, weak and sinful.  He has raised me up and heals me, granting me the wonderful grace to share his love as best I can at the tip of my cursor, if in no other way.

And so, dear friends, know that you, too, are loved, whether you know it or not.  Our God is love!  Know that–despite whatever else you’ve been taught, despite how guilty you may feel or how unworthy you think you are.  YOU ARE LOVED!  THIS IS A MEANINGFUL UNIVERSE! And if you want, call me and I’ll try to help ~ 904-315-5268.

We’ll let St. Catherine of Siena have the last word that really grabbed me, Paul “became a vessel of love filled with fire to carry and preach God’s Word.   Amen.  Amen!  

And now, before you go, here are the St. Louis Jesuits singing the Prayer of their Founder, “Take, Lord, and Receive.”  It’s a beautiful prayer and a beautiful song. Click here. Be sure to turn up your speakers and enter full screen for the slide show that accompanies it.

And here are all of today’s mass readings if you’d like to reflect on them. Click here.

With love, 

Bob Traupman

contemplative writer

How Good it is to Give Thanks!

thanksgiving_cornucopia20141120When I was in AA many a year ago, we were taught a very simple form of prayer ~ to say “please” in the morning and “thank you” at night.  What could be simpler and more heartfelt? Thanks is on my lips and in my heart whenever I can accomplish something that I need to do ~ usually after I’ve said “Please help me do this, Lord.”  And that little conversation ‘ll take place quite often.

So, for me, every day is a thanksgiving day!  But I share here some of the things I’m grateful for this year; it’s quite a bit different from last year.   This past several months, I’ve been struggling financially.  I didn’t have food in my refrigerator   But I wasn’t thinking of myself. I was thinking of so many others who were so much worse off than I have been.  My faith is strong. And I remembered again and again what Julian of Norwich used to say, “All shall be and all manner of things shall be well.”  So that’s one thing for which I’m thankful.

And I also know what I always sign off on my emails ~ “Wait for the Lord to lead, and then follow his way.”

But I’m also strongly thinking about my friends this year ~ a few of whom I will name here.  Joan has been my friend since I was first ordained in 1969.  She lives in Melbourne, Florida, a great-grandmother and a confidante of mine, always welcome in her home.

Betsy lives in Sebastian, Florida. She’s in her nineties and lost her childhood sweetheart John a year ago. I still talk with her  by phone and enjoy her wicked sense of humor as often as I can and pray to alleviate her loneliness.

Father Jim Fetcher, pastor of St. Sebastian Church here in Ft. Lauderdale has been a wonderful compassionate friend as well with a listening ear.

And closer to home, folks that my dog Shoney and I visit almost every evening is my friend Lore  who welcomes  and treat us as family.  She also lost her beloved husband Gilberto and misses him so much.

There are others, of course.  I’m thinking of them right now: Gene and Marilyn / Betsey and Matthew  / Tom and Nancy / Jim and Jeffrey / John and Sarah / Dan and Lee / Tony and Susan / Chris and Bill, / Chuck and Chris / Ida and Ernie / Adrian and Leanor / Fathers Jim Dallen, Tim Daly and Fred Ruse.

And, of course, all of you, my dear readers.

And next to last item on my gratitude list this year is my priesthood.  I have been a priest for 47 years. I’ve tried to be as faithful as I could.

But the love of my life and the whole meaning of my priesthood is Jesus!  He is my Love! He is my Lord! He is my elder Brother!  He is my best friend!  My Savior and Redeemer!

So, I hope you’ll make your own gratitude list.  And when you sit down for dinner on Thursday, why not take a moment to ask folks to first have a moment of silence to think of something that they’re especially thankful for this year.  And then ask each of them if they’d like to share it.  (The moment to think is important! Don’t skip it or else everybody will repeat what the last one said.)

” Rejoice always,

             Pray without ceasing.

 In all circumstances give thanks,

            for this is God’s will  for you in Christ Jesus.”

  I Thessalonians 5: 16-18

Now, before you go, here’s a beautiful slideshow with great music simply entitled “Thank You, God.” Click here. Be sure to enter full screen and turn up your speakers.   

I will publish the blog for the First Sunday of Advent on the Friday after Thanksgiving.  Be sure to look for it!

Thank YOU, my beloved readers.

Bob Traupman

contemplative writer

Follow a turtle (on the edge of mystery)

IMG_0799The Feast of the Most Holy Trinity ~ Sunday, May 22, 2016

This is the Sunday when we give praise to God as we Christians understand and know God — Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

For me, it’s all about being caught up in ~ getting lost in ~ finding my true self in the awesome dynamic relationship with our God as we come to know that God is love.

Here is a story I love to tell when I’ve preached on Trinity Sunday.  I hope you enjoy it, even if you’ve heard me tell it before.

My first assignment as  a priest was to Holy Name of Jesus Parish across the street from the Atlantic Ocean.  I have fond memories of that place, not only of  the whole parish but also of its geographical and ecological setting.   Today I see it as one of the finest parishes in the continental United States in the wonderful ways in that hundreds of parishioners are involved in 85 ministries.

And so, that first year of priesthood rendered a story that I’ve told on Trinity Sunday almost every year of my priesthood.  It’s about some sea turtles.  You’ll probably be wondering as you read what turtles have to do with the Trinity.  But I’ll save that for the end.  It is a powerful connection.

Indialantic, Florida, summer 1969.  I had just arrived in the parish and was meeting my new parishioners.  Several asked, “Have you seen the turtles yet?”  I assumed they were talking about turtles who came to our beach but I couldn’t figure out what the big deal was.  So I accepted Tony’s invitation, a teen from the youth group I had just met:  “Meet me on the beach at 9:00 tonight; bring a small flashlight.”

I was a little early, so I sat on the steps watching the 2-foot waves lap the shore.  It soon learned what a joy it was to live across the street from the ocean!  I lived there the first three years of my priesthood.  That night was a quiet, dark night; there was no moon.  I took off my shoes and put them beside a small-sized dune.  I could see the light of flashlights bouncing across the sand towards the south  but the beach  was dark to the north.  Apparently, prize turtle-watching happened on the south stretch of beach.  Indeed, the most active area for loggerhead turtle nesting is south of Cape Kennedy.

Tony came along and we walked south and the waves washed further up the shore.  He quietly explained that loggerhead turtles grew to about 38 inches and had huge loggerhead_emily_mannionheads with short necks and powerful beaks that can break open mollusk shells.  He said they weigh from 200 – 350 pounds.

We were silent for a while.  I noticed that the flashlights were all turned off; apparently the sea creatures are spooked by light.  A dark night is best.

“What will we see?” I asked.

“The huge creature will lumber slowly up the beach to reach an area above the high water line. The tracks she makes resemble caterpillar or loggerhead-turtle-4331tank tracks.  She will then turn around facing the ocean and use her rear flippers to dig a hole. Sometimes she will not leave any eggs and fill in the hole again to fool us turtle-watchers.  There are sometimes egg poachers around. But if she does lay eggs there will be about 100-126 white-colored eggs about 2 inches in diameter.”

We soon saw some turtle tracks, leading out of the surf up the beach.  None of us used our flashlights, keeping some distance and, interestingly, even the children kept silent,  as if there were a spell over us.

That was my first experience of turtle watching.  I had many more.  But there was one night I will long remember.  It is that night that I have told in my Trinity Sunday homilies all these years.

I was alone that night — no companion, no other turtle-watchers. The moment opened up for me to be a profound mystical awareness, a moment I still remember vividly.  I watched the giant turtle lay her eggs and slowly make her way back toward the surf.    I moved  a little closer as she came to the edge of the water.  It was really dark.

I felt drawn to her by some compelling or impelling force.  I wanted to follow the turtle! As it disappeared beneath the waves, I was drawn to follow her, to enter  the unknown world beneath the sea.

But I hesitated.  I pulled back.

I was on the edge of mystery.

The turtle has its own mystery; the turtle is at home in two worlds — land and sea.  We also live in two worlds — the physical and the spiritual, the seen and the unseen.  For a brief  moment, I was drawn to follow the turtle down beneath the waves. But actually  I was drawn into the mystery of the life of God which the feast of the Holy Trinity celebrates for us.  And there, too, I hesitate.  I pull  back.  I prefer to get close, but not too close.  I prefer to stand upon the shore, to walk along with my toes only in the water, not to plunge in.

The shoreline is  highly symbolic.  It is the liminal space (the margin) between land and sea.  As such, it is a powerful space, a place of mystery in its own right,  as any liminal space can be.  I have stood on several of the shores of the world and it’s always a powerful experience.  Perhaps the shoreline runs down the middle of my soul.

So, what do we make of this feast of the Holy Trinity? 

In having this feast the church is telling us we live on the edge of mystery.  We live on the edge of God’s wonderful life — Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

This is not to be solved like a Perry Mason or Agatha Christie mystery.  In religious experience, a mystery is to be lived and to be unfolded as we uncover its multifaceted dimensions, as we allow it to envelop  and sometimes enrapture us.

The immensity of God’s love is a mystery for us, for sure.  But we should not be afraid of mystery.  We should not be afraid to immerse ourselves in the mystery of God as the turtle immersed herself in the mystery of the ocean.

The day will come, sooner or later, for me and for you to let go of our hesitancy and fear and to fall into the ocean of God’s love.  To no longer live on the edge of mystery but to be immersed fully in  the mystery of God’s love — Father,  Son and Holy Spirit.

I had the experience a couple of years ago when I got off the shore and onto a dive boat. After three years, I finally got my Scuba certification, and like the turtles went below the surface of the Atlantic ocean for the first time and entered a brand new astonishingly beautiful, silent world!

There’s a similar story told about the great St. Augustine who lived in the Fourth Century. The story or legend goes that he was walking on the beach contemplating the mystery of the Trinity when he saw a boy in front of him who had dug a hole in the sand and was going out to the sea again and again and bringing some water to pour into the hole. St. Augustine asked him, “What are you doing?” “I’m going to pour the entire ocean into this hole.” “That is impossible, the whole ocean will not fit in the hole you have made” said St. Augustine. The boy replied, “And you cannot fit the Trinity in your tiny little brain.” The saint was instantly confronted with the mystery of God.

And so, dear friends . . . .

Follow a turtle!

IMG_0533

Before we quit, let’s ask, what of the baby turtles?

They hatch in sixty days and are completely on their own.  The hundreds of condominiums on the Florida shoreline are in themselves a threat to the newborn because the little ones are drawn to the light and away from the ocean where they should be.  There is a law that only a few lights are to be on the sea-side and these are to be covered.  Like so many other little babies they are endangered.  May we protect them all!

Now, before you go, here’s a cute music video about “Caretta, the Sea Turtle.” Click Here.  Be sure to turn up your speakers and enter full Screen.

And here are today’s Mass readings. Click here.

And to complete our feast day celebration, here’s a lovely rendition of Holy God We Praise Thy Name.  Click here

With love,

Bob Traupman

contemplative writer

A vessel of love filled with fire

IMG_0884January 25th, 2016 ~ The Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul the Apostle

Paul was an amazing man. He was small of stature; he refused to depend on charity–thus, he worked as a tent-maker wherever he went.  After he was severely beaten, he was in constant pain, but went on and on and on, because, as I myself learned . . . .

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

~ Philippians 4:13

Paul before his conversion was known as Saul of Tarsus, and as recorded in the Acts of the Apostles he says, “I persecuted this Way to death, binding both men and women and delivering them to prison.” And then he tells the story of his conversion on the way to Damascus, that a great light blinded him and he heard a voice asking, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” (You can read the rest of the story in Acts 22: 1:16. 

I enjoyed what St. John Chrysostom, a bishop in the early church says about Paul in the divine office for today . . . .

Paul, more than anyone else, has shown us what man really is, and in what our nobility consists and in what virtue this particular animal is capable.  Each day he aimed even higher; each day he rose up with even greater ardor and faced with new eagerness the dangers that threatened him.  He summed up his attitude in his words: “I forget what lies behind me and I push on to what lies ahead.” 

I never paid much attention to Paul until recently.  And suddenly, I fell in love with him; thus, I’m writing this blog in his honor, despite his passages Hebraic attitudes toward women and the misuse of his words about gay people. Here’s the reason . . . .

Chrysostom goes on to say that the most important thing of all that St. Paul knew himself to be loved by Christ.  Enjoying this love, he considers himself happier than anyone else . . . . He preferred to be thus loved and be the least of all, or even among the damned, than to be without that love and be among the great and honored.  So too, in being loved by Christ he thought himself as possessing life, the world, the angels, the present and the future, the kingdom, the promise and countless blessings.  Apart from that love nothing saddened or delighted him; for nothing earthly did he regard as bitter or sweet.

In 2012, a priest-friend of mine sent me a Christmas card with a favorite quote from St. Paul on the cover that I framed and still sits on my dining room table that I often read.  As I have had my own cup of suffering from long years of manic-depressive illness it means a great deal to me . . . .

My grace is sufficient for you,

for in weakness power reaches perfection.”  

And so I willingly boast of my weaknesses instead,

that the power of Christ may rest upon me.  

For when I am powerless, it is then I am strong.  

              (2 Cor. 12:9-10) 

You see, Paul has helped me love my Lord–or rather to deeply and richly realize in tears of joy that Jesus loves me–as I am, weak and sinful.  He has raised me up and heals me, granting me the wonderful grace to share his love as best I can at the tip of my cursor, if in no other way.

And so, dear friends, know that you, too, are loved, whether you know it or not.  Our God is love!  Know that–despite whatever else you’ve been taught, despite how guilty you may feel or how unworthy you think you are.  YOU ARE LOVED!  THIS IS A MEANINGFUL UNIVERSE! And if you want, call me and I’ll try to help ~ 904-315-5268.

We’ll let St. Catherine of Siena have the last word that really grabbed me, Paul “became a vessel of love filled with fire to carry and preach God’s Word.   Amen.  Amen!  

And now, before you go, here are the St. Louis Jesuits singing the Prayer of their Founder, “Take, Lord, and Receive.”  It’s a beautiful prayer and a beautiful song.  Click here. Be sure to turn up your speakers and enter full screen for the slide show that accompanies it.

And here are all of today’s mass readings if you’d like to reflect on them. Click here.

With love, 

Bob Traupman

contemplative writer

Here’s to those who have fathered us!

photoFATHER’S DAY 2015

As I waited for my appointment at the Genius bar at the Apple story in Ft. Lauderdale a while back,  I mused about this young dad and his little son Tyler for a long while.

The New York Times reported that we would spend 9.6 billion dollars that year on Father’s Day gifts.

But what I saw in this encounter between father and son is absolutely priceless — an exchange of loving touch, an intimacy, a comfortability that many of us never received or feel that we know how to give.

If you did have that kind of closeness to your own father, rejoice and give thanks for it is quite rare; determine to give it to your children.

It’s a simple gift, after all, the gift of loving touch, attention and loving presence.  Little  else is necessary.

And so, here’s to all the fathers I know!

And those I don’t.

To grandfathers, great grandfathers
and fathers-to-be.

Rejoice in your daughters and sons!
Give thanks today for what you have wrought,
not only from your loins
but from your spirit.

Perhaps you have been a great father,
Perhaps not.

IMG_0516

Just be as good a father as you can be.

That’s all your children want.

The most important part of being a father, I think,
is not what your provide for your family ~
nice home, good food,
health care, education, lots of cool stuff, all that.

The most important part of being a father

is the time you spend getting to know each one as unique individuals
and to call forth their gifts –
to encourage them to be who they are,
to find their own identity,
–  not what you want them to be,
but to find their own place in the sun (Son).

Guess who's the father
Guess who’s the father

If life circumstances have caused you
not be the greatest of fathers,
it’s not too late.
Just be the best father you can.

Focus on your kids first.

Some fathers who have lost their jobs are discovering their children for the first time.
The most important thing is to be real.
To be honest, a man of integrity. To love.

You are also somebody’s son.

Maybe you have had a great relationship with your own father.                                                                                                                                                                                                                   Maybe not.

Whether living or dead, honor them today as well.

Just keep trying.  Rejoice in your kids.026_26
They are the greatest gift you have in life.
Be proud of them and they will be proud of you.

And so may we pray:

Our Father who art in heaven,
we give you thanks for the life and love you share with us,
Help us as fathers to be there for our kids,
And if we haven’t,
May we do so from this day forward.
We are all Your children, Heavenly Father.

We give thanks for those who have fathered us,
even though they may not have given us our DNA
– uncles, teachers, friends, older brothers

And I, too, Father Bob, give thanks to the men who have initiated me into manhood and the ways of the spirit, such as Cistercian Father Edward McCorkell,o.c.s.o. IMG_0103

I also rejoice and give thanks for all those for whom I have been a spiritual father
during the forty-six years of my priesthood by helping them to realize
that it is You, heavenly Father,  who give life and love to us all.
To You be all honor and glory and praise!
Amen! 

Now, before you go, here’s Mike and the Mechanics singing The Living Years. Click Here. Grab a tissue, turn up your speakers and enter full screen!

And here are the Mass reading’s for this Sunday: Click here.

With love,

Bob Traupman
contemplative writer

Ruah! Breathe in the Holy Spirit!

Penticost4

The Great and Glorious Feast of Pentecost

Sunday, May 24, 2015

In our last blog, we talked about the Feast of the Ascension.

After Jesus left the disciples and ascended into heaven, they were cowering behind locked doors,

despondent, worried, fearful, bewildered, devastated.

“[Then] suddenly there came from the sky a noise like a strong driving wind,

and it filled the entire house in which they were. 

Then there appeared to them tongues as of fire which parted

and came to rest on each one of them. 

And they were all filled with the holy Spirit

and began to speak in different tongues, 

as the Spirit enabled them to proclaim (Acts 2:1-21.)

In the beginning, when God created the heavens and the earth, the earth was a formless wasteland, and darkness covered the abyss, while a mighty wind swept over the waters.”

“When the day of Pentecost came it found the brethren gathered in one place.  Suddenly from up in the sky there was a noise like a strong driving wind.”

The Holy Spirit is associated with that wind.  The wind that blows where it wills. The wind that stirs things up and gets them moving.

The word for “wind” in Hebrew is “Ruah” — the same as the word for “breath.”

One night as I was sitting in my chair and just paid attention to my breathing as I often do.

I imagined that the Holy Spirit was breath entering me, and when I exhaled, I was breathing out the Holy Spirit as well.

What a wonderful image is breath.  Breath is life itself.  No breath, no life in the body.

The mighty wind of Pentecost stirred things up as the church was born.  The apostles and the others who were part of their company, including the women, were given enthusiasm.  No longer afraid, they courageously preached the message that Jesus established a new order for people’s lives. They began gathering the church.  The Acts of the Apostles is in effect the gospel of the Holy Spirit.

In the beginning of scripture, there is a story about the tower of Babel, a story that tries to explain why there are so many different languages on the earth  that we cannot understand each other, so much discord,  so much disharmony.

The story has God confusing the languages of people at Babel  (Gen. 11: 1-9) and from that day onward they were scattered.

On the day of Pentecost the opposite happened.  People were gathered together.   Parthians and Medes and Elamites; people from Cappodacia, Pontus, Asia, Phrygia, Pamphylia and Egypt  — all heard the apostles speaking to them in their own languages.

On the day of my ordination, I was filled with enthusiasm.  It was day before Pentecost, May 24, 1969.

I was reminded of this prophecy of Joel:

I will pour out my spirit upon all humankind.

Your sons and daughters shall prophesy,

your old men shall dream dreams,

your young men shall see visions.

Even upon the servants and handmaids,

in those days, I will pour out my spirit.” Joel 2:28, 29)

These were the days immediately following the Second Vatican Council.  There was a lot of enthusiasm all over the Church.  Those of us who were young, had wonderful opportunities to serve.

The enthusiasm that poured onto me and into me  lasted the first full three years of my priesthood.  The Spirit really touched my ministry, as he did with another priest who was ordained the same day as me.

Nine years later, the opposite happened.  My life crashed in upon me. And I was reminded of still another scripture about the Spirit — the prophecy of the dry bones.

“Dry bones, hear the word of the Lord:”  See I will bring spirit into you that you may come to life again.   Breathe into these slain, O Spirit that they may come to life.” (Ezekiel 37: 1)

That’s what Pope Francis is trying to do. Breathe new life into the Church The Holy Spirit will draw the church together in a new way!

~ ~ ~ ~

There is still another thing to note from the Pentecost story.  A tongue of fire rested individually on the heads of each person.  The Spirit of God has a special relationship with each of us.  The Spirit will enliven us according to the gifts and talents of each one.

So this Holy Spirit does wondrous things!

The Spirit is the source of inspiration for all who would design and create.

“There are different gifts but the same Spirit; there are different ministries, but the same Lord;  there are different works but the same God who accomplishes all of them in every one.  To each person the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good.

The body is one and has many members, many though they are, are one body;  and so it is with Christ.  It was in one Spirit that all of us, whether Jew or Greek, slave or free, were baptized into the one body.   All  of us have been given to drink of the one Spirit.”     I Cor. 12

 In the seminary I learned to pray for the inspiration of the Holy Spirit before each class.  And for me it was a powerful devotion.  I realized that the work I produced was more than the sum of its parts.  I realize that is still true some 40 years later.  If we seek and cooperate with God’s grace, wonderful things can and will happen that are so far beyond what we ever imagine!

But I must realize that there were also times in my priesthood when I experienced a great deal of powerlessness.  I felt like Samson who had lost his strength.  My soul had become like the valley of dry bones.    I didn’t like my own mediocrity.

It is clear that I needed to bring the Holy Spirit to the foreground of my life again and again.  I want to have a vibrant and vital relationship with the Holy Spirit from moment to moment.  In each moment of my life I hope that I will discern and follow the Spirit’s lead.

Actually, I learned in high school to seek excellence in my endeavors.  Seek excellence; avoid mediocrity.  That was the motto of my class in our senior year of high school.

The Holy Spirit can make that happen in your life, in your children’s lives, and in mine too.

This Pentecost 2015, with all that is happening in the world and in the church, may we clearly see our need for the Holy Spirit in our life and ministry.  Without the Spirit, there is no meaning.  Without meaning, there is no reason to live.

The lesson I relearned as I wrote this reflection is that to seek the Spirit’s involvement in our work is to refuse to settle for mediocrity.  As we get older, we may not have the energy of our youth to go for the brass ring, but we still can revive some enthusiasm as we go about our work.

The Spirit of God is as close to us as our own breath.  I have trained myself to become conscious of my breathing often each day.  So too can we train ourselves to be conscious of the Holy Spirit from moment to moment.

May we celebrate today the role of the Holy Spirit in our lives, in the Church, in our world and in, indeed, all of creation!

Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful,

and enkindle in them the fire of your love.

Send forth your Spirit and they shall be created.

and You shall renew the face of the earth.

May it be so.  May it be so.

Now, here’s the ancient Sequence for the Feast ~ or if you will, a poem that occurs within the Mass . . .

Come, Holy Spirit, come!
And from your celestial home
Shed a ray of light divine!
Come, Father of the poor!
Come, source of all our store!
Come, within our bosoms shine.
You, of comforters the best;
You, the soul’s most welcome guest;
Sweet refreshment here below;
In our labor, rest most sweet;
Grateful coolness in the heat;
Solace in the midst of woe.
O most blessed Light divine,
Shine within these hearts of yours,
And our inmost being fill!
Where you are not, we have naught,
Nothing good in deed or thought,
Nothing free from taint of ill.
Heal our wounds, our strength renew;
On our dryness pour your dew;
Wash the stains of guilt away:
Bend the stubborn heart and will;
Melt the frozen, warm the chill;
Guide the steps that go astray.
On the faithful, who adore
And confess you, evermore
In your sevenfold gift descend;
Give them virtue’s sure reward;
Give them your salvation, Lord;
Give them joys that never end.
Amen. Alleluia.

And before you go, here is the haunting chant melody “Veni Creator Spiritus” and the English “Come Holy Ghost.”  Click here.    Be sure to enter full screen.  There are many images of Pentecost in art displayed there.

And here are all of today’s Mass readings. Click here.

With love, 

Bob Traupman,

Contemplative Writer

The Legacy of a martyr

National Portrait Gallery

Dear Sisters and Brothers,

Today we honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

He was 39 when he was martyred on April 4, 1968 ~ a young man who had a powerful influence on our country.

This is an excerpt of what I said on the fortieth anniversary of his death  April 4th 2008, also the fortieth anniversary of my ordination:

Forty years ago on, April 4, 1968, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr was gunned down by an assassin’s bullet in Memphis, Tennessee while he was leading a strike for sanitation workers.  He inspired and led the Civil Rights movement that achieved great change in our land.

This man is still one of my mentors.  He was a man who committed himself to absolute nonviolence like Mahatma Gandhi and my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ as the only way that justice and peace can be achieved. He inspired ordinary folks, black and white, to stand up for their rights, to sit down and accept the vicious blows of police and to have the courage to go to jail for what they believed in.

Forty years ago on the day after he was killed, April 5, 1968, I formally entered the service of the Roman Catholic Church as an ordained deacon.  I was a seminary student at the Theological College of the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. The shrill sound of sirens all over the city mingled with the ancient chant melody.  As I lay prostrate on the floor with my brothers to be ordained  I sucked in a deep breath and committed my service to the Church to be in the shadow of this man whose ideal of justice and peace and freedom I wanted to absorb into my soul and body.

On this anniversary, April 4, 2008, in this land of America, we have lost a lot of the freedoms and ideals of another great man Thomas Jefferson who declared that all men are created equal and have the right to life liberty and the pursuit of happiness.  Today, not only young black men are listless and have no hope; it’s true of young white men as well.

We are no longer a free nation when “they” can listen in on any of our phone conversations without a court order, our cell phones track and Google track our movements, when“they” deny the right to a trial, when we torture our enemies.

Where are those today who will inspire us and lead us out of our complacency?
Who will inspire us to stand up and put their lives on the line for what they believe in?
Who still dreams the dream of Martin Luther King and Thomas Jefferson?
Who is willing to sacrifice to restore those ideals to our beloved country?

O God of Justice,
raise up men and women in our day who will inspire us and restore us to the original ideals of our nation.
Enable us to wake up from our slumber and see what we have lost, that we are no longer a free nation.
Give us the strength and courage to pledge our lives, our fortunes and our sacred honor to win this spiritual revolution that now lies before us in 2008.
We pray to you, God,  for You are the God who cries for justice for your children
and who still hears the cries who know and realize they are poor without You.
We pray to You for only You can can restore us to the ideal of freedom and justice FOR ALL.

St. Luke attributes has Mary sing these words in her Magnificat sung or recited every evening in the church everywhere in the world. Would  that we would believe it and commit ourselves to it!

“[God] has shown the strength of his arm,
he has scattered the proud in their conceit.

He has cast down the mighty from their thrones,
and has lifted up the lowly.

He has filled the hungry with good things,
and the rich he has sent away empty.

He has come to the help of his servants
for he has remembered the promise of his mercy,
the promise he made to our fathers [and mothers}
to Abraham [and Sarah and Hagar]
and [their] children for ever.                                                                                                                                                                        
(Luke 1:46-55)

I call us more than a generation later, now in 2015, to the principles of Non-Violence Dr. King gave to us.

He trained them to sit down on the ground and take blows of the police because they knew that Non-Violence was a more powerful weapon than guns and bombs.

That legacy of Dr. King made it possible for Barack Obama to become president of the United States.

Would that he would have the courage to commit himself to that great man’s ideals.

Dr. King held no public office.  He persuaded us by the power of his words and the depth of his conviction.

And his willingness to give his life for what he believed in — no matter what.

Is there anything you  are willing to give your  life for?

I continually ask myself the same question.

Now, before you go, here’s  a  5-minute excerpt of Dr. King’s last speech the night before his assassination  in Memphis. If you’ve never heard him speak, (and I had in my seminary days), I promise you, it would be worth your time.  Click here.

Bob Traupman

contemplative writer

Follow a Turtle! (on the edge of mystery)

IMG_0799loggerhead_hatchling_marywozny-bcstp

This coming Sunday is Trinity Sunday when we give praise to God as we Christians understand and know God — Father, Son and Holy Spirit. 

For me, it’s all about being caught up in / getting lost in / finding my true self in the awesome dynamic relationship with our God as we come to know that God is love.

Here is a story I love to tell when I have preached on Trinity Sunday.  Enjoy.

My first assignment as  a priest was to Holy Name of Jesus Parish across the street from the Atlantic Ocean.  I have fond memories of that place, not only of  the whole parish but also of its geographical and ecological setting.   Today I see it as one of the finest parishes in the continental United States in the wonderful ways in that hundreds of parishioners are involved in 85 ministries.

And so, I have a story to tell.  I have told it on Trinity Sunday (this year –May 26th) almost every year of my priesthood.  It’s about some sea turtles.  You’ll probably be wondering as you read what turtles have to do with the Trinity.  But I’ll save that for the end.  It is a powerful connection.

Indialantic, Florida, summer 1969.  I had just arrived in the parish and was meeting my new parishioners.  Several asked, “Have you seen the turtles yet?”  I assumed they were talking about turtles who came to our beach but I couldn’t figure out what the big deal was.  So I accepted Tony’s invitation, a teen from the youth group I had just met:  “Meet me on the beach at 9:00 tonight; bring a small flashlight.”

I was a little early, so I sat on the steps watching the 2-foot waves lap the shore.  It soon learned what a joy it was to live across the street from the ocean!  I lived there the first three years of my priesthood.  That night was a quiet, dark night; there was no moon.  I took off my shoes and put them beside a small-sized dune.  I could see the light of flashlights bouncing across the sand towards the south  but the beach  was dark to the north.  Apparently, prize turtle-watching happened on the south stretch of beach.  Indeed, the most active area for loggerhead turtle nesting is south of Cape Kennedy.

Tony came along and we walked south and the waves washed further up the shore.  He quietly explained that loggerhead turtles grew to about 38 inches and had huge loggerhead_emily_mannionheads with short necks and powerful beaks that can break open mollusk shells.  He said they weigh from 200 – 350 pounds.

We were silent for a while.  I noticed that the flashlights were all turned off; apparently the sea creatures are spooked by light.  A dark night is best.

“What will we see?” I asked.

“The huge creature will lumber slowly up the beach to reach an area above the high water line. The tracks she makes resemble caterpillar or loggerhead-turtle-4331tank tracks.  She will then turn around facing the ocean and use her rear flippers to dig a hole. Sometimes she will not leave any eggs and fill in the hole again to fool us turtle-watchers.  There are sometimes egg poachers around. But if she does lay eggs there will be about 100-126 white-colored eggs about 2 inches in diameter.”

We soon saw some turtle tracks, leading out of the surf up the beach.  None of us used our flashlights, keeping some distance and, interestingly, even the children kept silent,  as if there were a spell over us.

That was my first experience of turtle watching.  I had many more.  But there was one night I will long remember.  It is that night that I have told in my Trinity Sunday homilies all these years.

I was alone that night — no companion, no other turtle-watchers. The moment opened up for me to be a profound mystical awareness, a moment I still remember vividly.  I watched the giant turtle lay her eggs and slowly make her way back toward the surf.    I moved  a little closer as she came to the edge of the water.  It was really dark.

I felt drawn to her by some compelling or impelling force.  I wanted to follow the turtle! As it disappeared beneath the waves, I was drawn to follow her, to enter  the unknown world beneath the sea.

But I hesitated.  I pulled back.

I was on the edge of mystery.

The turtle has its own mystery; the turtle is at home in two worlds — land and sea.  We also live in two worlds — the physical and the spiritual, the seen and the unseen.  For a brief  moment, I was drawn to follow the turtle down beneath the waves. But actually  I was drawn into the mystery of the life of God which the feast of the Holy Trinity celebrates for us.  And there, too, I hesitate.  I pull  back.  I prefer to get close, but not too close.  I prefer to stand upon the shore, to walk along with my toes only in the water, not to plunge in.  

The shoreline is  highly symbolic.  It is the liminal space (the margin) between land and sea.  As such, it is a powerful space, a place of mystery in its own right,  as any liminal space can be.  I have stood on several of the shores of the world and it’s always a powerful experience.  Perhaps the shoreline runs down the middle of my soul.

So, what do we make of this feast of the Holy Trinity?  In having this feast the church is telling us we live on the edge of mystery.  We live on the edge of God’s wonderful life — Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

This is not to be solved like a Perry Mason or Agatha Christie mystery.  In religious experience, a mystery is to be lived and to be unfolded as we uncover its multifaceted dimensions, as we allow it to envelop  and sometimes enrapture us.
The immensity of God’s love is a mystery for us, for sure.  But we should not be afraid of mystery.  We should not be afraid to immerse ourselves in the mystery of God as the turtle immersed herself in the mystery of the ocean.
The day will come, sooner or later, for me and for you to let go of our hesitancy and fear and to fall into the ocean of God’s love.  To no longer live on the edge of mystery but to be immersed fully in  the mystery of God’s love — Father,  Son and Holy Spirit.

Follow a turtle!

IMG_0533
Before we quit, let us ask, what of the baby turtles?

They hatch in sixty days and are completely on their own.  The hundreds of condominiums on the Florida shoreline are in themselves a threat to the newborn because the little ones are drawn to the light and away from the ocean where they should be.  There is a law that only a few lights are to be on the sea side and these are to be covered.  Like so many other little babies they are endangered.  May we protect them all!

Now, before you go, here’s a cute music video about “Caretta, the Sea Turtle.”  Click Here.  Be sure to turn up your speakers and enter full Screen.

All the best,

Bob Traupman

contemplative writer

Follow a turtle (on the edge of mystery)

Quantcast
IMG_0799loggerhead_hatchling_marywozny-bcstp

This coming Sunday is Trinity Sunday when we give praise to God as we Christians understand and know God — Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  For me, it’s all about being caught up in /getting lost in / finding my true self in the awesome dynamic relationship with our God as we come to know that God is love.  Here is a story I love to tell when I have preached on Trinity Sunday.  Enjoy.

My first assignment as  a priest was to Holy Name of Jesus Parish across the street from the Atlantic Ocean.  I have fond memories of that place, not only of  the whole parish but also of its geographical and ecological setting.   Today I see it as one of the finest parishes in the continental United States in the wonderful ways in which hundreds of parishioners are involved in 85 ministries.
And so, I have a story to tell.  I have told it on Trinity Sunday (this year –May 30) almost every year of my priesthood.  It’s about some sea turtles.  You will probably be wondering as you read what turtles have to do with the Trinity.  But I’ll save that for the end.  It is a powerful connection.

Indialantic, Florida, the summer of ’69.  I had just arrived in the parish and was meeting my new parishioners.  Several asked, “Have you seen the turtles yet?”  I assumed they were talking about turtles who came to our beach but I couldn’t figure out what the big deal was.  So I accepted Tony’s invitation:  “Meet me on the beach at 9:00 tonight; bring a small flashlight.”
I was a little early, so I sat on the steps watching the 2-foot waves lap the shore.  It was awesome to live across the street from the ocean!  I lived there the first three years of my priesthood.  It was a quiet night, a dark night; there was no moon.  I took off my shoes and put them beside a small-sized dune.  I could see the light of flashlights bouncing across the sand towards the south  but the beach  was dark to the north.  Apparently, prize turtle-watching happened on the south stretch of beach.  Indeed, the most active area for loggerhead turtle nesting is south of Cape Kennedy.
Tony and I walked south as the waves gently lapped the shore.  He quietly explained that loggerhead turtles grew to about 38 inches and had huge loggerhead_emily_mannionheads with short necks and a powerful beak that can break open mollusk shells.  They weigh from 200 – 350 pounds, he explained.
We were silent for awhile.  I noticed that the flashlights were all turned off; apparently the sea creatures are spooked by light.  A dark night is best.
“What will we see?” I asked.
“The huge creature will lumber very slowly up the beach to reach an area  above the high water line. The tracks she makes resembled caterpillar or loggerhead-turtle-4331tank tracks.  She will then turn around facing the ocean and use her rear flippers to dig a hole. Sometimes she will not leave any eggs and fill in the hole again to fool us turtle-watchers.  But if she does lay eggs there will be about 100-126 white-colored eggs about 2 inches in diameter.  There are sometimes egg poachers around.”
We soon saw some turtle tracks, leading out of the surf up the beach.  None of us used our flashlights, keeping some distance and, interestingly, even the children kept silent,  as if there were a spell over us.

That was my first experience of turtle watching.  I had many more.  But there was one night I will long remember.  It is that night that I have told in my Trinity Sunday homilies all these years.
I was alone that night — no companion, no other turtle-watchers. The moment opened up for me to be a profound mystical awareness, a moment I still vividly remember.  I watched the giant turtle lay her eggs and slowly make her way back toward the surf.    I moved  a little closer as she came to the edge of the water.  It was really dark.   I felt drawn to her by some compelling or impelling force.  I wanted to follow the turtle! As it disappeared beneath the waves, I was drawn to follow her, to enter  the unknown world beneath the sea.  But I hesitated.  I pulled back.
I was on the edge of mystery. The turtle has its own mystery; the turtle is at home in two worlds — land and sea.  We also live in two worlds — the physical and the spiritual, the seen and the unseen.  For a brief  moment, I was drawn to follow the turtle down beneath the waves. But actually  I was drawn into the mystery of the life of God which the feast of the Holy Trinity celebrates for us.  And there, too, I hesitate.  I pull  back.  I prefer to get close, but not too close.  I prefer to stand upon the shore, to walk along with my toes only in the water, not to plunge in.
The shoreline is  highly symbolic.  It is the liminal space (the margin) between land and sea.  As such, it is a powerful space, a place of mystery in its own right,  as any liminal space can be.  I have stood on several of the shores of the world and it’s always a powerful experience.  Perhaps the shoreline runs down the middle of my soul.
So, what do we make of this feast of the Holy Trinity?  In having this feast the church is telling us we live on the edge of mystery.  We live on the edge of God’s wonderful life — Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
This is not to be solved like a Perry Mason or Agatha Christie mystery.  In religious experience, a mystery is to be lived and to be unfolded as we uncover its multifaceted dimensions, as we allow it to envelop  and sometimes enrapture us.
The immensity of God’s love is a mystery for us, for sure.  But we should not be afraid of mystery.  We should not be afraid to immerse ourselves in the mystery of God as the turtle immersed herself in the mystery of the ocean.
The day will come, sooner or later, for me and for you to let go of our hesitancy and fear and to fall into the ocean of God’s love.  To no longer live on the edge of mystery but to be immersed fully in  the mystery of God’s love — Father,  Son and Holy Spirit.

C’mon!  Follow a turtle!

IMG_0533
Before we quit, let us ask, what of the baby turtles?
They hatch in sixty days and are completely on their own.  The hundreds of condominiums on the Florida shoreline are in themselves a threat to the newborn because the little ones are drawn to the light and away from the ocean where they should be.  There is a law that only a few lights are to be on the sea side and these are to be covered.  Like so many other little babies they are endangered.  May we protect them all!

All the best,

Bob Traupman

priest / writer


About this entry

You’re currently reading “Follow a Turtle! (on the edge of mystery),” an entry on Father Bob’s Reflections

Published:
June 6, 2009 / 11:57 am
Category:
An unconventional priestly journey, My life, Ordinary moments of Ordinary Time
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