Sunday, May 22, 2011

Embracing Holy Wood

This weekend had me reflecting on two events, one personal and one global. The personal was my visit to Holy Wood acting studios.
I came to LA to begin my discerning process to see if I was being called to join this endeavor and expand my skills in the performing arts. The global was the highly advertised message by Harold Camping and others that world was ending.

Ironically, the messages I heard on both were the opposite of what I had expected. In the personal, the first steps in discerning brought catastrophic fear the likes of which I have rarely experienced. In the global, I heard a homily moments before the supposed end of the world that took this message and brought joy and hope about how to live in this passing world.

Hollywood can conjure up images of vanity, self indulgence, self aggrandizement, idol worship and I am sure worse. This is amazing given the fact that the origins of the name were in fact Holy. According to fellow blogger Pat McNamara,,
"Mass was first celebrated in this (Hollyoood now) parish May 3, 1769, by the founder of all the California Missions, Father Junipero Serra, and upon this date also was erected the Holy Wood of the Cross, hence the name of Holywood, or Hollywood, the name which was afterward given to the place by the wife of John L. Beveridge of this place."

I thought of what the significance of the cross and that it was and is Holy Wood. Jesus brought us redemption and invites us to partner with Him in this redemption. Jesus said,"If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross, and follow me." Matthew 16:24.The cross, the Holy Wood is meant for us as well.

My personal journey met with the global concept. Serrindipitously, a voice instructor from Holy Wood Acting Studios led me to St. Monica's in Santa Monica for the 5:30p.m. mass. The Gospel message 1 Pt 2:4-9 was about not letting our hearts be troubled and trusting in the Lord. It ends with an almost unbelievable promise "Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever believes in me will do the works that I do,and will do greater ones than these because I am going to the Father.” As I discerned the fear I initially experienced was the enemy trying to set limits on my faith and subsequently on me.

Then at 5:50p.m. last night, Monsignor Lloyd Torgerson met the global. He first made us laugh and then made us think about the value of living each day as your last. First came his humor." Well the world is going to end in about 10 minutes and I know I won't be taken up because I am a sinful pastor, and so I have prepared the homily in its entirety because I know this. Some of you may be leaving your pews but the rest of us left behind will continue with mass".

After the laughs, he shared how people were talking about the world ending at a ball game a few days prior. Our fascination with this could lead to the secret of life.
He shared how a mystic in Buddhism was asked his secret for a good life. The mystic said that he lived each day as if it were his last. He lived as if a venomous snake was ready to strike now. When you are in this situation you are not thinking about how much money you have or what people think about you or even your past sins, you are focused on right now. And while this venomous snake is ready to strike at any moment, the mystic notices ripe berries and he picks them and eats them. After all, why would you deprive yourself of this joy.

The pastor then shared about the lessons that Marty Martinson, an elderly Wal-mart greeter in Brookings, SD, gave. Give a little more of yourself. The only person who can make you happy is you. Be a better you. He referenced a book written about this man.

The pastor went on with our concept of God. We worry and fret and live as if our God was a very small God. We bargain because we think God bargains. We say to our neighbor well I forgive you but I won't forget and we think God is the same way. He concluded by saying that our God is much bigger than this. His love is much bigger than this, and if we embrace and lean on our very large God then we live our lives very differently. That we must feel His love and not just think it. For when we feel His love then it becomes real.

His homily made me reflect on the personal. Our penchant for trying to control our destinies by trying to predict our future. And on the global with our penchant for trying to control God and His plan by predicting a specific time for when the world will end.

Sure, on the personal, we can have goals and dreams and can make them come true but the journey is out of our hands and there are surprises along the way we can't possibly anticipate. More than that though is that sometimes our goals are not what God has in mind for us and we fail to live up to our best potential and our fullest joy if our will does not mesh with His. If we follow Jesus and do his works then we can do greater things than He! Wow!

It has made me think how often most of us limit ourselves in one way or another because we have limits on God. Our limitless all powerful and ever living God we place limits on and when we are then blind to his aid. We also limit our potential and joy in life. We are afraid in our vocations and in our relationships and with our lives. We live half present for fear of what can happen. We give our hearts and time half heartedly often due to worry and preoccupation. Anytime, we do this we limit God and limit our joy.

As we discern our divine destiny one day at a time, some doors will close so that others can open. Let us not be afraid to walk thru a door, even though it seems we are not quite equipped to walk thru. We can't see where the road is meant to lead. Let us have courage to listen to our deepest desires, to walk with courage thru the doors and meet the obstacles we meet outside and inside of ourselves. Let us live each day as if it were our last with courage, kindness, mercy and love. And one day it will be our last, and it is my hope that all the way we were embracing our Holy Wood toward God's glory.


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