Friday, September 30, 2011

Wisdom Homily

Following is an unedited homily submitted to “Faith Catholic,” Michigan. It is based on these scripture readings used in the liturgy of the Catholic Church:
1)  Wisdom 7:22b-8:1
2)  Luke 17:20-25                         

            What is Wisdom?  We can try to describe Wisdom from observing people we know to be wise.  People who make decisions that require deep discernment are said to be wise; people with good judgment or learning are also said to be wise.  In today's scripture from the Book of Wisdom, we are given an inspired teaching about Wisdom – not Wisdom as a "thing," but Wisdom as Divinity itself.  We ask not "what" is Wisdom but "who" is Wisdom.  The scripture answers us.

The section from the Book of Wisdom in this text is a very important revelation in view of our understanding of the world, the universe and all living beings.  Wisdom is a spirit who pervades all things and penetrates all that exists.  Wisdom is a reflection of God and image of God's goodness.  Wisdom is one with God and is identified with God.  The spirit of Wisdom is a godly spirit and exists in everything that God created through Wisdom. 

What this is saying is very humbling for us.  The divine life of God, from the first moment of creation, has been infused into all life.  Whether we consider the life of the universe, the vast cosmos, our planet, plant life, animal and human life, we have to accept the reality that the spirit of Wisdom and the life of God are in everything and everyone.  Pope Benedict XVI, in his Easter vigil homily, earlier this year (2011), reminded us of the Creed, "We believe in God…Creator of heaven and earth."  "If we omit the beginning of the Credo, the whole history of salvation becomes too limited and too small.  The church brings us into contact with God and thus with the source of all things.  Therefore we relate to God as creator and so we have a responsibility for creation.  Our responsibility extends as far as creation because it comes from the Creator."  As scripture says, "Wisdom penetrates and pervades all things…"  We need to open our eyes to see the living presence of Wisdom, of God, in everything.

The Gospel confirms that we need new eyes to be able to see God's presence, God's kingdom all around us.  "No one is going to announce, Look, here is the [Kingdom] or there it is.  For behold, the Kingdom of God is among you."  We are cautioned again:  "Do not go off, do not run in pursuit" – The Kingdom of God is in our midst.  May God's Divine Wisdom fill us, opening our eyes and hearts to perceive the living Wisdom God in our midst.  May God give us the conviction to take responsibility and care for the life of all that God has created.         

Rosemarie Greco, DW


Tuesday, September 27, 2011

David Darling performs at Wisdom House


Grammy Award winner David Darling performs a cello improvisation at the 9-11 Observance at Wisdom House. Visit www.daviddarling.com.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Jewish Fall Holy Days

We Jews are in the early weeks of our fall holy day period. There are three parts to this season that are of spiritual interest: Selichot, Yamim Noraim, and Sukkot.

The month of Elul is the final month of the Jewish liturgical calendar, and is devoted to the practice of seeking forgiveness. While Jews do teach about the importance of forgiving others, our primary focus is on asking others to forgive us.

When we ask forgiveness we humble ourselves, and when we humble ourselves over the hurts we have caused others, we are more willing to forgive the hurts others have caused us. Throughout the month of Elul and even more intensely during the Yamim Noraim (Days of Awe from Rosh haShanah to Yom Kippur) we approach those family members, friends, co-workers, neighbors, and others in our community with whom we interact and say, “If I have hurt you in any way knowingly or unknowingly, advertantly or inadvertently, I ask your forgiveness.”

What if the other person refuses to forgive us? We must ask again. How many times must we ask? While Jesus said we must ask 490 times (7 x 70, Matthew 18:22), our rabbis capped it at three. If after sincerely asking forgiveness three times the other still refuses, God will forgive you, and the matter, at least as far as you are concerned is settled.

Rosh haShanah, the first of the Days of Awe, is the anniversary of creation, and our time to honor God, the Source of Creation. (This year Rosh haShanah begins at sundown on September 28th) For me God is the Source and Substance of all reality, and Rosh haShanah is the time when I remember that all life is a unique yet temporary manifestation of God the way each ray of sunlight is a unique and temporary manifestation of the sun. I use Rosh haShanah as a time to realign my life with creation so that my living is in service to all life.

Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement (At-One-ment, October 7th at sundown) is the culmination of all this effort. We have made peace with our neighbor, now it is time to make peace with God. For me, making peace with God is about remembering that God isn’t about salvation or damnation, reward or punishment. God is about reality for God is reality. I make people with God by realizing that life is wild, unpredictable, often horrifying, and yet always hopeful. I remind myself to not expect things to be other than they are, and to be thankful for all that they are. With this act of radical acceptance comes radical forgiveness, and, for me, this is what Yom Kippur is all about.

A few days after Yom Kippur we celebrate Sukkot (October 12th at sundown), our holy weekcelebrating the fall harvest. We build flimsy huts to symbolize the nomadic origins of our people, our wanderings in Sinai, and the huts used to shelter the harvesters and store what is harvested. We decorate these booths (sukkah/sukkot, plural) with fruit, give thanks for the earth’s bounty in a ceremony of waving lulav (a palm front bound with myrtle and willow branches) and etrog (fruit of a citron tree) in all directions, study the Book of Ecclesiastes, and dwell in the sukkah, sharing meals with friends, for the entire week.

The sukkah reminds us of the fragility of life. The harvest decorations remind us of the power of fertility even in the midst of fragility. Eating with friends reminds us that friendship isbest way to manage life’s chaos. And studying Ecclesiastes links all of this to a way of life: eating and drinking in moderation, finding meaningful work, and cultivating strong friendships.

This is a challenging season for Jews both logistically and spiritually. There is lots to do, and much to ponder. And while the doing may be for Jews, the pondering is a good idea for everyone.

Rabbi Rami


{Rabbi Rami is a long time friend of Wisdom House and author of both Ecclesiastes, Annotated and Explained, and a contemporary rendering of Love of Eternal Wisdom}

Friday, September 23, 2011

Jo-Ann Iannotti, OP, reads her poem composed for 9/11 Observance at Wisdom House.

Jo-Ann Iannotti, OP, reciting September 11th remembrance poem

REMEMBERING


In the city Walt Whitman called,

 “City of hurried and sparkling waters!

      City of spires and masts!

City nestled in bays! My city!”

        They were born twins,

  And unexpectedly died together.

      Untimely many would say.

On that land, one of the first original 13,

     called  “Keystone” even until this day,

A field made to be ploughed

    Had the unfulfilled hopes

                 of 58 souls

           Planted in its soil.



Then, there was the place

    Defined and designed by geometry;

A place whose angles held

     Secrets supposedly

            secure.


Secure was that day

    In September,

Sun-filled, mild-mannered

        In its dawning.


Before mid-morning

     Day became nightmare,

Chaos reigned supreme

   And dust was a veil

That hung over the face of the City.

That day, more than names

    were listed as lost.

That day, futures were frozen in time.

    Nothing could move forward.



That day belief was a sign,

   Hung around our necks

With the simple message –

      “For Sale.”


Bent steel bent lives

   Into new shapes.

We were placed into a furnace

   Of transformation.

We were too surprised to make

    a rational decision.

We were never given the chance to choose.


Ten years on, though,

       we can choose.

We cannot change the past,

     But we must change

                          the present.


We can choose not to be among

   The living dead.

We can choose not to run away

   From pain.

We can choose to sit down with it

            For afternoon tea

   To share the stories that make us who we are.


  True stories change lives

   When they are given away.

Friends, let us walk through

    The remainder of the

              Days given to us,

Not side-stepping pain or

    Underestimating the

             The presence of joy.


What we know, can’t be taken from us –

  We now know more deeply than ever,

            That

All the world – all of life

              Is kindling for revelation.

Friends, stack it high,

   Build it well,

And let us start a new fire

   For clarity, for gratitude,

      For life!

                                                Jo-Ann Iannotti, OP

                                                     September 11, 2011




Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Thomasina Levy and Joan Spear 9/11/11 commemoration at Wisdom House


Composers and musicians, Thomasina Levy (dulcimer) and Joan Spear (keyboard), performed original compositions and the special song dedicated to 9-11, "Out of Many We Are One," at the 9-11 Commemoration at Wisdom House.

Listen to the song "Out of Many, We Are One" on www.Thomasina.net and visit www.JoanSpear.com.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Love!

The commandment for all of us is quite simply, "Love!" Once we know it is not a feeling but a grace empowered decision, we can all do it. And each time it is a growth in freedom...

Richard Rohr, OFM