Thursday, November 14, 2019


Dear All of Us,

No sense pussy footing around here.

Let's get right to it.

Forget about playing it safe.

Who cares what people will say!

So, come on.

Let's get physical - real physical 

and right now!

Before you assume this is some sort of sleezy sex solicitation,

or an invite to fight, let's right the record.

his is not digital dirty or destructive. 

Just the opposite.

This is about the goodness of the body, the physical, the material.

his is about their centrality in our spiritual living

as presence of God, and our delight and care for them.

Sad to say, there's more than a fly 

in the unction of the physical - 

it's an evil trying to pass as a good. 

The spiritual life has always been fouled 

by all sorts of movements claiming 

the body, the physical, matter, are essentially evil.

In the West that has been Gnosticism.

From shortly after the get go of Christianity,

Gnosticism insisted that the matter is evil

and that only spirit is good and will last.

That led to Plan A and Plan B as responses.

They are still around to this day 

dragging people down dead end spiritual streets.

Plan A is to knock the hell out of your body 

by avoiding the material as much as you can,

beating your body to a barely passable pulp.

It means deadening, perverted asceticism.

Plan B is, well, since only the spirit is real and good, 

go ahead and
pig out, indulge fleshly desires with abandon

because matter/the physical really doesn't count.

When I was a young man in the seminary of the 50's, 

it was Plan A all the way.

We were taught that a real spiritual life 

required that you "mortify the senses".

In Latin "mors, mortis" means destruction, death.

So kill off, destroy, limit the five God given connectors 

with God's material creation as much as you can.

Live as if you were a soul without a body.

Only eat for survival, never allow for pleasure.

If you were a hundred percenter, eat your food cold. 

Don't look at an attractive person.

Practice "Modesty of the eyes" and look down at the pavement instead.

Don't ever cut loose and dance yourself crazy with popular music.

Always take cold showers and then put on coarse underware.

Use as few blankets as you can.

Knee by the hour on hard floors. 

Be focused and dedicated to non-physical, 

non-material "spiritual" preoccupations.

Every once in a while there was a "Tu Autum," 

which meant a break for a holiday, or a special occasion -

a concession to human weakness.

Plan B is somewhat a preferment these days.

God is spirit and doesn't sweat the material stuff.

It was created by a false god anyway and won't last.

So, "If it feels good, do it."

Eat and drink until filled past full.

Blitz your mind and spirit with surround sound and distraction.

What harm is a little porn?

Treat yourself to all sorts of comfy clothes, and oh the sneakers!!

The expense be damned.

All these help burn off discomfort so you can pray and meditate better,

so you can "be spiritual."

I thank God for my spiritual director back in those early seminary days.

Father Vivona put the lie to both Plan A and Plan B.

He helped me get focused on the loving God, who is present and busy 

in spirit and matter, who shares with us, connects with us in both.

Yes, we human folk are just starting to grow up and catch on.

We do slip and slide, more commonly labelled weakness and sin.

So, a balanced, temperate discipline is required in our spiritual living.

So also is free, full embrace of God present in all physical/material creation.

Drink wine. Don't get drunk. 

Balanced openness.

Creation is sacred.

It comes from, flows out of God.

he Genesis account of matter's creation affirms that.

To damn God given matter is to reject God and God's gifts.

"Do not call anything impure that God has made clean." (Acts 11:9)

So, we reverence the physical, let it be what it is in its purity -

a presence and connect with the divine.

We love it so much that we will not abuse or debase it.

That means sexual purity and creation care.

That means having the material things we need 

and making sure everyone else has the material things they need.

That means freely, temperately, appreciatively experiencing God 

present in all forms of matter - sunsets to homemade lasagna,

seasides to a tennis match, making love to hymn singing,

gardening to sightseeing, a cozy bed to hiking,

feeding the hungry, welcoming the stranger.

To sharpen the senses and to reboot sensitivity to the divine in matter,

we occasionally fast and abstain from material good 

for a positive/purifying bit.

is indeed central to our spiritual living.

     - That's clear from the blue prints of Genesis.

       "And God saw that it was good."

        We and all about us are a wonderful synthesis 

        of what we call matter and spirit

        (I'd venture they are just different intensities 

        of the same thing), 

        and that by divine design.

      - That's clear from the Incarnation:

        "The Word became flesh and dwelt among us." 

        and that by the divine design.

        Jesus is a wonderful
unity of matter/spirit.

As an enfleshed spirit he often went off to a place and time for 

        intimate spiritual union with his Abba. 

        He experienced desert temptations and rejected the evil spirit. 

        He was well versed and practiced 

        in the scriptures and spiritual rituals of his people.

        He sure was plenty "spiritual."

        He also ate and drank, worked and went to parties,

        hung out with smelly fishermen, prostitutes, a cheating tax collector,

        disgustingly diseased lepers.

        He fed hungry crowds, made sure a young couple 

        had some really good wine at their wedding feast, cured sickness,

        brought the dead to life, shared meals with others, got tired, 

        experienced horrid bodily pain -

        he sure was plenty "physical." 

Jesus was a living integration of God's goodness  in matter/spirit.

May it be so for us.

So, we don't fall for the lie of Gnosticism, whatever form/extreme it takes.

By God's will and gift, like Jesus, 

we are and live a unity of matter/spirit, purely and freely.  

Yes, the physical/material is central to our spiritual lives

as it was for the historical Jesus.

We taste, touch, smell, see, hear God sensually and gratefully.

No sense pussy footing around here.

Let's get right to it.

Forget about playing it safe.

Who cares what people will say!

So, let's get physical - real physical

and right now  - 

just like Jesus!!!.

Thanks for this chance to use this digital matter to be spiritually together here.

                         Holding all of us in

                         The Love Who is God,

                         Matter, Spirit, Mystery,

                              John Frank


     A warm hearted welcome to all joining in here for the first time.

Our gathering was blessed this week with a large number of new folks from 

                             Uganda and Indonesia.

                 Delighted to have your good company!!


                          " frankly speaking"

                        spirituality for the street

               - posted online each Thursday evening

                          east coast USA time


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           Looking forward to all of us being together next week. 

                               See you then.

                            Have a great week!!