If you are looking for my blog titled, The Contemplative Catholic Convert, you are at the right spot.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

I Think I Know

I posted this some time ago. I have thought of the concept often since then. It makes a lot of sense to me.
And any man from the house of Israel, or from the aliens who sojourn among them, who eats any blood, I will set My face against that person who eats blood and will cut him off from among his people. For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you on the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood by reason of the life that makes atonement (Leviticus 17:10-11). 

 . . . the things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to demons and not to God; and I do not want you to become sharers in demons. You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons; you cannot partake of the table of the Lord and the table of demons (1 Corinthians 10:20-21).

So Jesus said to them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in yourselves. He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. For My flesh is true food, and My blood is true drink. He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him (John 6:53-56).

I think I know
why God warned Israel,
“Don’t drink blood.”
For somehow,
in some mysterious,
mystical way
the life of the animal
is in the blood,
and God did not want His people 
spiritually and physically
joined with animals.

I think I know
why God told Christians at Corinth,
“Don’t participate in pagan communion.”
For somehow,
in some mysterious,
mystical way
their communion
joined them with demons.
And God does not want us
spiritually and physically
joined with demons

And so
I think I know
why Jesus commands us,
“Eat My flesh,
drink My blood.”
For somehow,
in some mysterious,
mystical way
the Holy Eucharist
joins us with Christ.

And God wants us joined
spiritually and physically
with Himself.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

The Fragrance Remains

As we get closer to Lent, my mind is taking me to Golgotha more often than usual. I posted this about a year and a half ago. You might not have seen it before. Even if you have, I hope you find it useful.

You will see me . . . .” (John 14:19).


My mind couldn’t rid itself of the memory. Yeshi hurt so badly. And I could do nothing to help him. Nothing.

I stared at my food. Yohanan told me to eat something. I needed my strength. He would return for me, help me take what I wished to his home where I would stay with him and his family. Then he left to meet the others.

“Woman, behold your son,” Yeshi said. And to Yohanan, “Behold, your mother.”

What will I take to their house? What will I leave behind? So many things. So many memories. This table and chair. As solid as when Yeshi built it, how many years ago? Five? Seven? And the dishes. My dear Joseph bought them for me when we wed so many decades ago. I miss him so.

My clothing. The parchments. The walking stick. . . .

But Yeshi. My Yeshi.


Deep in thought, forcing back my tears, I thought I heard a whisper behind me.

What was it the old man said to me, “A sword will piece your soul”? I never understood what he meant.

I do now.

“Mother.” A little louder.

The voice startled me. And the fragrance. Suddenly the room smelled of, of . . . flowers. Like – yes, like roses. Roses of Sharon.

“Mother.” A command.

I knew that voice. I turned. Color drained from my face. The room spun. If he had not caught me in his arms, I would have fallen.

Still swooning, I let him hold me. The fragrance of roses rose from his robe. He cupped my chin in his hand and lifted my face to look at him.

“Yeshi!” “Yeshi!  . . . But how?”

He smiled. The same smile he always smiled when he spoke with me. “How? I have authority to lay down my life,” he said. “I have authority to take it up again. And now, he who believes in me will live, even if he dies. And everyone who lives and believes in me will never die.”

I reached for his face, caressed the scars in his forehead. My tears would not stop. “You’re alive! My son. My son. You were dead, but you’re alive.”

“Mother, I must go.” He grasped my arms and held me away from him.

“But . . . .”

“Magdalena and the others are at the tomb. I must meet them.”

“Yeshi! You can’t go. Not now. Not like this . . . .”

“I must. But you will see me again.” He let go of my arms, and his eyes locked with mine. “Momma, I love you.”

Then he was gone. In the time it took for me to blink, he was gone.

But the fragrance . . . oh! the fragrance remains. 

Friday, February 7, 2014

We Do Not Know

“Father, forgive them for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34).

Most who know me know I was born and raised in a Jewish home. Like most of my friends during my childhood years, I didn’t think much about God or religion. But when I was 22 I discovered an astounding truth: Jesus was the Jewish Messiah. God was real. He loved me.
At the time, of course, I knew virtually nothing about Christianity in general, or of Catholic faith in particular, but suddenly discovering my Messiah, I went to my knees by my bed and committed my life to Jesus. It was December 24, 1972. I told Him I would follow Him wherever He led and do whatever He wanted me to do.  I will not recount again the sins I’d been so very guilty of during my teen and young-adult years. I’ve rehearsed them many times before in my essays and books. But on my knees, I meant what I’d just said to God. I determined to change my life.
Conversion does that to a man or woman. It changes your life.
I was so suddenly passionate about my new found savior that I read the Bible twice that first year. I attended evangelical Protestant church services each Wednesday evening and Sunday morning. I joined prayer meetings and Bible studies.  My understanding and my devotion to God soared.
About a year and a half after my commitment to Jesus, I thought I was at the pinnacle of spiritual life. I thought I’d ‘arrived.’ And in my childish ignorance I honestly thought I wasn’t sinning any more.  But, not wanting to take too much for granted, I decided to ask God if there still was anything in my life that offended Him, if there was anything I needed to repent of.  So I went to my knees and asked Him – not really expecting Him to mention anything more than a minor error or oversight here and there.
That is not what He showed me.
As I knelt beside my bed, the Holy Spirit unveiled to my eyes such sin that remained in my life that I literally fell prostrate to the floor. That happened in 1974. I will never forget it. Anger. Pride. Lust. Arrogance. Selfishness. Jealousy. Envy. Rebellion against almost all of God’s laws. In a few moments on my knees He showed me so many things I had done during that year and a half of my “soaring” Christian faith – and so many things I failed to do – that I felt as if I had personally hammered those nails into His hands and into His feet.
I lay there in shock and ashamed at the evil that was still a part of my life – so many things of which I was unaware.
Jesus said of those who nailed His hands and feet to the cross, Father, forgive them. They do not know what they do. And oh, how I did not know what I had done.
The season of Lent is one time among many times in the Church calendar during which the faithful contemplate anew Christ’s passion, and the reason He spent his holy, innocent, and redemptive blood on that cross. As we approach this season it would be good for us to ask our God how often we do, or fail to do, things that offend Him. How often do we unknowingly slash the whip across His back, and pound nails into His hands? How much do we really understand how we grieve Him with our sins? I believe if we had the remotest clue, we would not be so cavalier to do the things we do.
Father, forgive them. They do not know what they do.
Many times over the last 40 years since that day I knelt beside my bed and asked God to reveal to me my sins, many times have I asked – Lord, search me and know my heart, and tell me what there is in my life from which I must turn away. Reveal to me what I do not know I do.
And, of course, He does. Yet at the same time, I am always greatly encouraged to remember His words as He hung bloodied and bruised on that old rugged cross as a mob of priests, soldiers and rabble mocked Him, cursed Him:
Father, forgive them. They do not know what they do.
As we enter the 2014 Lenten season I will ask God to again reveal to me my sins. To show me if there is any wicked way in me of which I must repent and from which I must turn. Perhaps you might think of asking Him for yourself the same.
Because we so often do not know what we do.