Not Me!

Watching television today leads me to believe that all I have to do to be happy is to buy the right car, live in the right neighborhood, eat the right food or take a particular pill–the list goes on ad infinitum. I don’t think so, in fact I truly doubt that any of that will make me happy. I believe that grappling with life’s struggles, even when I feel completely helpless and abandoned, rewards me and all of us with life.

That seems to be the theme of  Andrew Solomon’s new movie “Far From the Tree”. With this movie Solomon examines life as lived through the lives of five main characters, none of which claim to have any of the above.  I watched, I laughed, I cried and I left the theatre understanding a little better what it means to truly live and not run away, my first choice of action when confronted with a challenge.

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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We Are All Called to be Builders

Can you imagine a world “of hopes, dreams and visions…where prophets speak…where peace and justice meet…where outcasts and  strangers bear the image of God’s Face and the cross stands as witness”?

Posted by Dan O’Donnell, a layman who 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

A Sign of Hope

As students at Immaculate Conception grammar school, we would say the “Stations of the Cross” on Fridays during lent. I kind of liked them as a great diversion from the classroom. Like many of the pre-Vatican II devotions in the Catholic Church, this practice has lost its appeal and I sometimes wonder if younger people even know what those fourtreen paintings or bas-relief sculptures adorning the church walls are doing there.

The Passionist, a Roman Catholic monastic community commit their lives to keeping alive the memory of the Passion of Jesus and one of the ways they do this is to continue to encourage people coming to their retreat centers to join them on that short pilgrimage. Today in honor of Holy Week, Brother John Rockenbach, of the Passionist’s Mater Dolorosa Retreat Center near the Los Angles area leads a group on their journey. It’s a twenty-five minute trip, one that promises not only to inspire, but also to give you a chance to “retreat” to a much more peaceful and hopeful time. Happy Easter!

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

Zack Beauchamp in hisYouTube video, Three big reasons war is going away, admits that there are many reasons but then gives us just three as to why we are living in the most peaceful time in history*:

  1. The Democratic Peace
  2. Nuclear Deterrence
  3. Sovereignty

I suspect Mr. Beauchamp is onto something here, but I think there is another, and I would add, much more significant reason. I think we are living in the most peaceful time in history of the world because of people like Mahatma Gandhi, (1869 – 1948), Nelson Mandela (1918 – 2013) and Martin Luther King Jr. (1929 – 1968) who taught us how to respond to violence, marginalization and oppression with love and service. Also, people like Ethel Percy Andrus, Jane Addams, Dorothy Day and a whole host of others who may not have had the experience of marginalization or oppression, chose a life of love and service as well. Thanks to people like these and oh yes, Jesus (c 0 – 33). They taught us not only by their words, but more especially by their actions, how to make peace.

P.S. Happy Feast Day to all my Passionists friends around the world and all those celebrating the joyful memorial of the Passion of Jesus tomorrow, the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross.

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

*Mr. Beauchamp is not the only one who thinks this. The Human Security Report “…an independent research centre affiliated with Simon Fraser University (SFU) in Vancouver, Canada.” gives a similar assessment.

The Secret to a Happy Life

Dan O'Donnell
Dan O’Donnell

Some people need no introduction. Mother Teresa is one of them. Her message to the world, though thousands of years old, strikes me as new and earth shattering and more refreshing today than a hot loaf of bread just out of the oven. Thank you Mother, now Saint Mother Teresa for pointing the way. I will try to follow.

 

What is Real?

If I watch television today (I do this less and less) I get bewildered. Viewing programming like the news, I see and hear about a world full of murder and mayhem. Then I watch the advertising which seems to take up more and more of the televised time, and I get the impression that life is good—good that is if you drive a particular car, live in the right neighborhood, take the right vacations, have that “certain” look, none of which do I have or do nor frankly want.

With apologies to all the great teachers in my life, I believe that television is not only the best educator around today, but I’m afraid for many the only one in their lives. Schools and churches continue to pretend to teach, but they can’t compete with these screens we’ve allowed to take over our time and lives.

What’s missing in television, especially in what is hyped as “reality TV” is just that, the real. Margery Williams in her Velveteen Rabbit asks: “What is real…” I love her answer (you can read the book or watch the Youtube video) just as much as I like Justin Graves’ in his TEDxYouth talk above, Living with Purpose nails for me what it means to live an authentic life. He does it with no apology or cover up. In short he is everything I want to be. Thanks Justin.

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

Love and Service

“The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.”

Mahatma Gandhi

A friend recently introduced me to The Merton Prayer. I can’t believe that I’m just learning about this now—it really resonates with my experience. The first line: “My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going.” Yep, that’s me. A few lines later: “But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you.” Again, that’s me.

I don’t believe in a God who is remote, hanging around heaven wherever that is. I believe in a loving creator who reveals herself/himself to me in you my fellow travelers; in nature: the sea, the sky, the trees and yes, all the many and varied beautiful animals I encounter.

I say I love this God, but those are just words. Love takes on the cloak of reality for me when I serve those I encounter. I think the Sikh’s perspective in the above YouTube video, Nishkam – Life, Love and Service: A Sikh perspective, expresses very well, what my Catholic Faith in general and my Passionist experience in particular, have given me. It’s so great to learn that others have come to the same understanding of life from different and varied paths.

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