Jim Cogley: Reflections Tues 23rd April – Mon 29th April

Note: The seminar on Healing the Family Tree scheduled for Friday May 17th in Lady’s Island is fully booked with a waiting list. Another is planned for Saturday June 15th and bookings can be made on 087-7640407.

There is also one scheduled with the same focus for Saturday May 4th from 10am to 4pm in the Dominican Retreat House Tallaght. Bookings for that are through Retreat House Tallaght on 01-4048189.

Tue April 23rd – Living the Christian Life

Recently someone asked a very searching and far-reaching question. How can I live the Gospel message within the context of my quite limited life? The person asking was retired and quite involved with her extended family and engaged with a number of charitable organizations, but still felt that there was so much more that she could be doing. I immediately thought of a quote from the Prophet Micah 6:8 where he gives an answer that is quite balanced and can be applied to every aspect of life. What does the Lord your God require of you? The answer he gives is: ‘To act justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.’ This is always a good starting point where acting justly is our hallmark, where we are seen to practice forgiveness and we have no inflated sense of our own importance.

Wed April 24th – Coming home to myself

My sense of the Lady who asked the question posed yesterday seemed that she was already practicing what the Prophet Micah prescribed. Her question seemed to imply a deeper search, that went way beyond any external doing. The woman was retired and in that context her question needed to be addressed. The first half of our life tends to be about doing, achieving, contributing, and by our efforts hopefully making the world a better place. For most it is also about family life and, as a parent, placing others needs before your own. In that world of making a living and responding to the urgent demands of life there is usually not much time for oneself. This tends to change as we get older and then the real challenge is to radically practice self-care. This is where the second half of life is an invitation to come home to my-self. Far from this being some kind of ego trip it is also the essence of the spiritual journey where coming home to myself is also coming home to my God.

Thurs April 25th – The Growth Point

For a starter I asked this lady where did she find herself struggling the most. Usually the point of greatest pain or discomfort is also the entry point into inner life. She explained ‘too much dependence on others’ opinions and therefore not always being true to myself.’ Usually this is rooted in self-esteem where if my self-esteem is around sixty-percent it means that forty-percent of my power is being given to others, and so it is they who have the capacity to make me feel good or bad on any given day. This is always a shaky foundation because others’ opinions of us, is usually based on how they might be feeling and so what is said on a ‘bad hair day’ may have nothing to do with me personally. For this lady self-esteem had always been an issue where going into teenage years she had a physical defect that left her very self-conscious. Coming home to herself also meant issuing an invitation to that troubled teenager to come in from the cold. 

Fri April 26th – Looking for Connections

Embracing the Inner Child

‘To be or not to be’, was the question posed by Hamlet. We usually choose to be doing over simply being, and in our addiction to doing, like all addictions, we never seem to have enough of doing. The way the earlier question was posed made me feel that it contained some element of this. Gently I was trying to answer the question in a way that would be an invitation to engage in her inner work. So I invited her to look for connections between what was happening in her outer life and where that might be part of a pattern that went back even to childhood. So many of us would have loved to register our displeasure, anger or annoyance at something happening at home. To do so was not safe, we were to be seen but not heard and to be heard could have meant parental rejection. So we learned to keep quiet. As we get older the child insists on being heard and gives us no peace until he or she is heard. Learning how to integrate our wounded inner child is co-operating with the work of the Spirit who wants us to become whole.

Sat April 27th – Living twice

When heard first the concept of ‘living twice’ may sound a bit strange but it is a reality. As we journey through the first half of life we invariably leave parts of ourselves behind. Our womb experience continues to exert a huge influence on our lives as does our early formative years. Unpleasant experiences were placed on the back burner. Certain things were never spoken about, painful emotions could not find a home and particularly anger was experienced as being hurtful and dangerous. Life has a way of replicating itself according to an earlier pattern. It will present us with people events and experiences that accurately mirror what went before but was long forgotten. If we take time to reflect we will usually detect an unseen hand presenting us with earlier dramas but set on a different stage and with different actors.

Sunday April 28th

The Vine and the Branches

The passage of the vine and the branches has been described as the gospel in miniature. It’s a piece that gets to the essence of what the Christian life is all about. So I want to begin by asking that same question, what is it that constitutes the core of the Christian life?

Is it about attending church and avoiding wrongdoing? Is it about not breaking the commandments? That would be a minimalist approach and whatever it is, Christianity is not minimalist.

Is it about keeping the law, living up to a set of rules and regulations? Some think that it is but you find in the gospels that many who had done so were still searching for something more and the ones that Jesus had the greatest difficulty with were the real legalists of the time, the Scribes and Pharisees. These were the official keepers of the law. To reduce the Christian message to legalism is to do it a grave disservice.

Is it about living a moral life and doing good for others? Being kind and generous, helping out whenever we can? Being a good human being? Yes of course it is and for believers and non-believers all the great religions are in agreement that is what will constitute the final judgement, ‘Whatsoever you did the least of the brethren you did unto me’. But while it is all of that it is still so much more.

Is it about living a life that imitates as far as possible the life of Christ who loved lavishly and gave his life in service. Again yes of course it is but it is even more than about will power and simply imitating the Master.

If you take the word Christ out of Christianity there’s not much left. This suggests that Christianity is more about a person than a message. As a historical figure Christ lived 2000 years ago but as a universal spirit he lives on and the place he lives in in the hearts of all believers.

Unfortunately this is a basic truth that so many of us find hard to grasp. We tend to think of Christ being associated with Church or Christ in the Tabernacle but the idea of Christ dwelling in our hearts is, shall I say, almost foreign to us.

We have been taught from our earliest years to genuflect or bow and venerate Christ present in the Blessed Sacrament and that is as it should be. Yet the fact remains that Christ’s true dwelling place is in our hearts. That is why I prefer the Eastern greeting Namaste to the traditional handshake of peace. It literally means ‘I greet the Divine in you.’ If it is in you then it is also in me

In one sense it would be all too easy to have Christ securely locked away in a Marble box but if we grasp the significance of him being present with us then of necessity we have to look at ourselves in a different light and not only that but how we look at and treat each another has to change dramatically. If Christ is in me then Christ is also in everyone that I meet. Needless to say he often comes in disguise or in ways I don’t want to recognise him.

What the message of the Vine and the Branches is teaching us is that Christianity is essentially a spirituality of relationship. Not a relationship with a system of rules or regulations or even with a Church but a loving relationship with the person of Jesus Christ. The idea presented of the branch needing to abide in the vine is the invitation to relationship. That if we live in close relationship with Christ then our lives will be fruitful and meaningful – in other words we will bear fruit. To the extent that we are not in union with Christ then we are like a branch that has become disconnected and we are reminded that apart from him we can do nothing. In effect we might be very busy and do lots but ultimately all that we do comes to nothing.

If we were to draw out one single definition of what Christianity is about from today’s Gospel, it would have to be that Christianity is more than just the imitation of Christ but becoming Christlike in thought word and deed. This was the goal of the early Christians to become like their founder. He is the archetypal human being who shows us what it’s like to be truly human and to what extent we want to grow into that reality is really up to us.

Mon April 29th – Growing in Self-Awareness

Growing in self-awareness is a big part of the Christian agenda that in terms of importance far outweighs taking on more obvious Christian activities of what used to be called ‘the corporal works of mercy’. An important tool in this is simply to monitor our spontaneous and unrehearsed reactions to life’s situations and circumstances. Our reactions are always a pointer to pockets of unintegrated and unlived life. In a reaction we always regress to an earlier time of life and in our emotions we re-enact that old scenario. While in the throes of a reaction all reason is gone out the window and there is no point in arguing with us. We are convinced that there is only one way to see the situation and it can only be my way. Learning to become aware of whether we are reacting or relating to a situation can help us unearth so many parts of ourselves that are still on their lonely way back home while still needing our invitation. A phrase that is useful in relation to dealing with these parts is ‘learning to practice inner hospitality’.

Similar Posts

One Comment

  1. veronicafrancesclerkin says:

    Thank you so very much for reflections. May the Holy Spirit continue to inspire you.

Join the Discussion

Keep the following in mind when writing a comment

  • Your comment must include your full name, and email. (email will not be published). You may be contacted by email, and it is possible you might be requested to supply your postal address to verify your identity.
  • Be respectful. Do not attack the writer. Take on the idea, not the messenger. Comments containing vulgarities, personalised insults, slanders or accusations shall be deleted.
  • Keep to the point. Deliberate digressions don't aid the discussion.
  • Including multiple links or coding in your comment will increase the chances of it being automati cally marked as spam.
  • Posts that are merely links to other sites or lengthy quotes may not be published.
  • Brevity. Like homilies keep you comments as short as possible; continued repetitions of a point over various threads will not be published.
  • The decision to publish or not publish a comment is made by the site editor. It will not be possible to reply individually to those whose comments are not published.