Hope Lies in Acknowledging Our Mistakes

In 1952 Sister Marie Angeline, SP taught my fellow second grade classmates and me how to solve the problems in our lives. Yes, seven-year olds have problems. She taught us to take a look at our lives, see where we were doing wrong and then do something about it. She called it examining our consciences, confessing our sins and making a firm desire of amendment. Thirty-one years later at the ripe old age of thirty-eight, I realized that I had unlearned sister’s great teaching and instead I was blaming everybody else for all the problems in my life and the world. That’s called the blame game. That didn’t work then, and I doubt if it does today.

If you want a contemporary example of how Sister Marie Angeline’s wisdom works you might enjoy watching Manwar Ali’s TEDx April 2016 talk “Inside the mind of a former radical jihadist” where he shares not the story of some scary person we read about everyday in the news, but his own. He tells us how he was misguided as a youth and how he has taken steps to change his life. Thanks Manwar for your powerful example of how each of us can change the world for the better, and we don’t even have to run for a coveted elected position in our government.

Dan O'Donnell
Dan O’Donnell

Dan O’Donnell, a layman has covenanted with the Chicago Community. In addition to the standard covenant, Dan promises to work at connecting all partners known and unknown, to a conscious following the the way of Jesus, the way of the cross which Dan believes transforms all failure, democratizing the human journey

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Serving the Wounded of the World

I suspect there’s not a person over the age of reason (I’m not sure what that is these days) that has not been wounded. That wound might be as insignificant as a scratched knee or it could be as tragic as the death of a parent or loved one. I often wonder what this wounding is all about. Sometimes I get an answer but more often, I just have to wonder why.

Jason Gray a 44 year old folk singer who is also wounded—he suffers from a speech impediment, although you’d never suspect that by listening to his recordings—shares his insight to that question with the above recording, The Wound is Where the Light Gets In.

Jason is not the first person in history to address wounds. Another person, Paul Danei (1694-1775) an Italian also struggled trying to understand why people suffered from poverty or were marginalized and ignored. His response was to found a religious group of men and women who devote their lives to answering that question for themselves and others. Catholics in the United States celebrate his life today by naming today his special day remembering his contributions in helping us all understand suffering. Way to go Paul and thanks for helping me answer my question, why do we suffer. We Are the Passionists will tell you all about this modern day religious community of priests, brothers, sisters and laity who follow in the footsteps of Paul Daneii.

Dan O'Donnell
Dan O’Donnell

Dan O’Donnell, a layman has covenanted with the Chicago Community. In addition to the standard covenant, Dan promises to work at connecting all partners known and unknown, to a conscious following the the way of Jesus, the way of the cross which Dan believes transforms all failure, democratizing the human journey

Making Peace One Person at a Time

Did I ever tell you about Mike? Mike is dead now, but for about twelve years we met regularly to share our life stories. I gave a eulogy at his funeral. We had a lot in common. Mike, like me was an Irish Catholic, we were about the same age, we both grew up in the Midwest… There was also much we didn’t share especially when it came to politics. Mike was a steadfast Republican and a big time labor lawyer who helped his clients fight unions. I am and have been all my working life, a staunch Union supporter. Those positions put us at polar opposite politically.

I had never heard of Elizabeth Lesser when Mike and I were getting together, but we were doing just what she suggests in the above December 2010 TED Talk, Take “the Other” to lunch and what I am suggesting in this short post. Find someone who thinks the polar opposite about some issue you feel strong about (if you’re like me that won’t be too difficult), decide on a goal and agree to the following rules: “…don’t persuade, defend or interrupt. Be curious; be conversational; be real. And listen…[use questions like] Share some of your life experiences with me. What issues deeply concern you? And what have you always wanted to ask someone from the other side?”

Why would you want to do this? If you are like me, in a short lunch hour, you’ll learn more about yourself and what is important in your life than if you spent a lifetime sharing with people who think like you. More importantly, I suspect you’ll learn like I do when I follow Lesser’s advice, we all have a lot more in common than what separates us. I really like how Lesser ends her brief talk with the Runi quote: “Out beyond ideas of wrong-doing and right-doing, there is a field. I’ll meet you there.”

Dan O'Donnell
Dan O’Donnell

Dan O’Donnell, a layman has covenanted with the Chicago Community. In addition to the standard covenant, Dan promises to work at connecting all partners known and unknown, to a conscious following the the way of Jesus, the way of the cross which Dan believes transforms all failure, democratizing the human journey

Think I’ll Join the Monastery

More and more often these days, I think I should just go join a monastery someplace. Of course there’s no guarantee that they’d take me, especially in the state of mind that makes me think I should go.

The BBC did a series, the first one being ten minutes long The Monastery 2005 where the monastery took five out of hundreds of men who volunteered, and sought to see if these men from all different backgrounds could live in a Benedictine Monastery for six weeks. The one thing the experiment demonstrated more than anything else in my opinion is that you can’t escape from yourself in a monastery.

The experiment also shows the many great take-a-ways one can gain from such an experience. One fact that I hadn’t thought of before is that you cannot be spiritual by yourself, you must do that in community. The Abbot in the series points this out saying that St. Benedict taught this 1,500 years ago. Another interesting thing I learned is that the gateway to the mystical is mystique. Wow!

Now, I thought I was spiritual and somewhat mystical. Guess I have a lot to learn. Thank you BBC, Abbot, Fr. Christopher and the monks of Worth Abbey, West Sussex, England for a very enlightening series.

Dan O'Donnell
Dan O’Donnell

Dan O’Donnell, a layman has covenanted with the Chicago Community. In addition to the standard covenant, Dan promises to work at connecting all partners known and unknown, to a conscious following the the way of Jesus, the way of the cross which Dan believes transforms all failure, democratizing the human journey