Friday, July 15, 2011

It is with great pleasure that I move over and give some space to a meditation that does justice to the spirituality of "SHALOM."  This reflection comes from the heart of a person who knows that security in life comes only to those who live it in the constant presence of God.  The effective presence of God is the true SHALOM.  I invite you all to open yourselves to our brother's reflection.  Let us thank him for giving us permission to hear God speak to us through Brother Phil's expression of SHALOM.
There is a state of mind that is a help in being receptive to the answers to prayer. This state of *Being* or 
mind is the urgent help of calm confidence, and peace-filled open mindedness, to our Father God's Word.
Shalom is this alignment, this connection, to the Divine Directions given us in the stillness of the present
moment. Our Lord Jesus Christ purchased this 'alignment ' for us so that we may partake of the many
Blessings that our Father God has for us.     In, with, and through, 'Shalom' we are above the inactive,
stagnant, uncertain, and fear driven mindsets that often surround us. Unshakeable Trust envelopes our
*Being* causing even our understanding to be still and  to know that God is God. Shalom shows us our Lord
Jesus Christ moving with and through our actions, moment by moment.      Each moment we (you and I)
have the 'Now' opportunity to allow God-Omnipotent to change disorder into order, chaos into cosmos,
death into Life. This assurance of Shalom gives us the trust we need to be healthy, happy, prosperous, and
Loving, no matter what the surrounding circumstances may dictate to us.      Shalom is the Peace that
is felt, and the security found in our Trust of a renewed Faith.    Shalom in, with, and through us
does not demand, (command) our Father God to do according to our desires. With Shalom we trust
that the *Perfect Fulfillment of  Good* will occur properly and at the *Now* appointed time through God's Will.
Shalom is always available, always present to be found.     So, with this focus known as Shalom !!
Let's let our Father God be our Father God, and show His marvelous  actions in all that we do !!!
                                                                        Br. Phil Bara. 7-12-11

Saturday, July 9, 2011


Thank you, Doug Savage.  This is a very demanding thought.  The "thought" of competition came to me this morning while listening to the story of how the sons of Jacob had to swallow their pride and their guilt since they had decided to throw themselves at the feet and the mercy of their brother Joseph.  He, whom they had nearly killed, but subsequently saved by selling him to some Egyptian merchants.  He, in turn, saved his whole family from sure death by starvation by using the high position of power and influence that he had attained in Pharaoh's court.  I had to think that he had to be one tough competitor to be a lowly stranger in the land of the highly civilized and rise to a position of authority and power in the capitol. I admire people like that.  I admire people who are starving, yet go to New York to jump-start a career.  It's the thing to do for certain people.  You know, "If you make it here you can make it anywhere."
I remembered Joseph, of course.  I fairly wept when I heard the reader declare the forgiveness with which Joseph covered his brothers.  It got even more emotional when he had them swear an oath that when his prophecy that they would someday be liberated, came to its realization, they were to bring his bones back to the Promised Land so that he could be buried by his ancestor, Abraham.  It is powerful when someone who has won it all doesn't forget where he/she came from.  
I was also thinking of the time when, at the very front edge of my change of careers I was talking to an older friend of mine about my career plans.  I said that I was not really afraid about being jobless for very long since I have a master's degree and speak, read and write four of the popular languages of California.  He was not impressed.  He prophesied that I would soon find out that the world is populated with people with more education, better focused education and who speak read and write seven languages and who have five certificates to prove their value to the world.  The truth of his words was soon slamming head-on into my life.  What a lesson!
I did OK, but I never forgot that prophecy.  How could I forget?  I had to confront its existence in fact, every single day.  
It took a long time, but along the way I discovered that I would win some and loose some, not simply based on cold, hard reality, but helped along by that other little respected, but highly effective reality, politics.  I hate them.  But I also like to eat.  Slowly but surely I came to realize that as difficult as it is, getting into league with the competition can contribute the key to the answer to tomorrow's dilemma.  I didn't learn that in the vast ocean of me vs them, all 5 billion of them.  It was more me, side by side with the strict few immediately below and immediately above.  I learned this from observing the behavior of lawyers in the courtroom, and in the "courtyard" so to speak.  In the courtroom they are locked in "deadly battle," yet they are civil to one another once they cross the threshold and go to lunch.  Go back to the cartoon by Doug Savage and think about it a little bit more.  The lawyers know something that we don't always know and appreciate.  They know that the key to their winning the argument is perhaps to be more clearly revealed to them through the behavior of their direct opponent than through the efforts of their very own labor, both individual and corporate.  This is an extremely counter-intuitive conviction that I have about life.  This is a conviction that I have developed because I came to this conviction by going back to my friend Karl Marx and his philosophy of material dialectics.  It is in the fruit of the tension between the negative and the positive that new manifestations of the truth are born.  The courtroom is the perfect laboratory for this exercise.  I saw it on two occasions from the jury box and at least four other times in the deposition room when I sparred face to face with the claimants' attorneys for hours on end.  There were two of those.  One who taught me how not to be a human being and the other taught me some of the positive lessons illustrated above.
I leave you now with one of my favorite sayings.  It does not come from anyone famous, but from a fondly remembered fiery ice hockey opponent against whom I enjoyed "playing." He used to say, "Competition is good for the soul."  I agree and I respect his insight. I did not cry at his funeral, and he, naturally, will not cry at mine.
...neither should you.

Friday, July 8, 2011


You've heard this before, I'm sure.  I have heard it too.  In fact, I myself confess that I have even said it a time or two too many.  With that, I plunge into a reflection about an old French Canadian saying, Qui perd sa langue, perd sa foi.
Who loses his language, loses his faith.
The truth that underlies this saying is akin to the Church saying, Lex orandi, lex credendi.  What we pray, we believe.  The Church is therefore not the place to be hearing "let 'em learn English."  The Church is a community of saints who want to pour out their hearts to God in their own language.  The mother tongue is the tongue that God understands because it is the tongue that jumps from the heart.  There is abundant fodder for reflection about this in the Bible.
A clearly narrated story about language disparity can be found in the Bible passage found here. (2 Maccabees, 7)  The mother of a son about to be massacred is asked to reason with him by the person in charge.  She speaks to her son in their own language and encourages her son to give his life for the God who created us all.  Read it.  The killing king is one person who rued the day when he did not learn the language.
Have you ever asked yourself how the Romans dealt with the Israelites? Have you ever asked yourself how the Jews were so successful in maintaining their faith in God despite so many captivities and military occupations?  Have you ever smiled at the passage when the servant woman reminds Peter of his Galilean accent?  Have you ever asked yourself how St. Paul could talk to the Greeks, the Turks and the Italians?  Did you ever ask yourself why Peter was hobnobbing with the Italians in the seaport city of Caesarea while James was left in Jerusalem with the Jews?  Did you ever ask yourself how Phillip could convert the Ethiopian?  It sure wasn't because they had the attitude of "let 'em learn Aramaic."
Did you ever ask yourself why in the 3rd century BC the Hebrews decided that they had to translate the Sacred Scripture into Greek because so many of their people had lost their mother tongue that the Word of God had to be translated into Greek so that it could be appreciated by His very own people?  It sure wasn't because they had the attitude, "They're our own, let 'em learn Aramaic."
Our history, our Tradition, is that the missionary learns the language of those to whom the Message must be brought, not the other way around. The New Testament tells stories of conversion based on the willingness of the Apostles to learn to speak the language, both of the outsider and of the Jews who had lost their very own language.  Peter learned Latin (Italian) while still in his own country.  Paul knew Latin and Greek and spoke them when he had to, to those to whom he wanted to bring the Message.
It is clear that it is not up to the missionary to force others to accommodate to him/her.  It is the other way around.  God demands that we speak to everyone.  Speaking the message of God requires that we speak the language of the heart and soul of the listener.  If we don't, we are placing the Message in second place after our personal comfort.  St. Paul never did that.  He preached in season and out of season.  He knew that it was not up to him to speak, but up to the Spirit.  He accepted the spiritual reality that the Spirit talks to people, not to Greeks, Italians, Turks, Syrians, Men or Women.  In order to let the Spirit do His work, the missionary has to accommodate his very own being to the Being of the Spirit so that the hearer can trust the Word enough to let it blossom into Faith.  (Matt. 10:20) " is not you who speak, but it is the Spirit of your Father who speaks in you." That is a long way from "Let 'em learn English."

All of this being said, I confess that when I pray in the privacy of my room, I pray in my mother tongue, not in English.  I have neither lost my tongue nor my faith.  So, I haven't learned to pray in English, nor in any other language than my own mother tongue for that matter.  I say that just so that you will have another reason not to cry at my funeral.  I refused to develop a relationship with God in English.