Why I have chosen to be ‘spiritual-plus’
“I don’t need organized religion.”

I hear that now and again. Too often at family get-togethers in friends’ homes.
Or, “I’m not religious. I’m spiritual.”

Sometimes the individual will add that she or he doesn’t see the need of going to church: “I can be spiritual all on my own.”

The Entirely Inadequate Trinity: Me, Myself, & I

It’s hard to argue against being spiritual. But in our increasingly isolated society — where individuals largely communicate with others through electronic devices and spend more time with video images of people than with flesh-and-blood people — I do wonder what sort of spirit the individual is receiving and celebrating and letting direct his or her life.

The spirit of self? Or worse, the spirit of self-orientation? The spirit of self-seeking?

When I was a kid back in the 1960s, I played Freeze Tag and Kick the Can with neighborhood kids. Today, I have to explain to younger folks that these are not video games or cell phone apps.

Many of us go to work alone. We work in cubicles alone. When we get home, we surf the Internet alone. We watch movies alone. Decked out with iPods, we work out on treadmills alone. We find virtual friends on chatlines. We even read books on personal success or personal enlightenment — all by and for oneself.
Many wonder why they’re spiritual, successful or independent — and yet unfulfilled — even achingly lonely.

Reflecting and Meditating Alone is Important. But not enough.

I never try to guilt these individuals into going to church, of course. Nor do I try to best them in an argument.

First of all, they do have a point. It is indeed important to find some time with oneself for meditating, reflecting, praying. 

But I do find that argumentation, and certainly shaming, simply reinforces why they avoid gathering with others. 

I simply invite. And I explain that – for me and many others – it’s all about being church . And not always inside a church. It’s about connecting and building trust with others. It’s about being there for others … and letting others be there for you.

And when the solo-spiritualist disdains “organized religion,” perhaps they’re really expressing that they’ve had bad experiences within intentional communities similar to Jesus’ experience with the Pharisees et al. 

My goodness, they’ve certainly read enough headlines on their smart phones to be wary of hanging with and listening to clergy. Or even with a community they rejected as a teen … as they rejected anything else associated with mom and dad. 

I suppose it’s possible to drag a teen to, or shame a spouse into going to, church. But if not engaged with others, they remain simply surrounded by hundreds of strangers. And they will find ways to stay away.

The Trinity of Loving Is the Love within the Trinity

Let’s be real: balancing self-interest with other-interest is hard when with a lot of folks. Especially those not pre-selected through Facebook. Especially in a society structured around minimizing inconvenience. Maximizing pleasure. Avoiding the messiness of a life as “we.”

I choose to be “spiritual-plus.” That is, spiritual plus others. Spirituality as communion with God — and all others. “Relationship-ing” — and the community that it both comes from and creates — is really the essence of Christ’s teaching on the Kingdom of God:
Loving God, Loving others, and Loving yourself. ~ Mark 12:30-31 (This really should be every church’s mission and vision statement.)

Remember, this teaching on Loving is not the same as our notion of liking. It’s not even an emotion or sentiment. It’s better understood as compassion-in-action. At the very least, respecting the humanity of every person. 
Such Loving simply imitates the dynamic within and radiating from the Holy Trinity.

Together We’re More Complete

And not only on Sundays, but in all sorts of ways throughout the week. Again, it’s not just about going to church on Sundays. It’s also about being church the rest of the week .

If you know of someone dissatisfied with solo-spirituality, simply invite them into “spirituality-plus-others.” Believe me, when they see how happy and fulfilled you are, they’ll often accept your invitation.

St. Bridget’s Parish Community is worshipping at St. Austin’s Campus – 4050 Upton Avenue N., Mpls – throughout the month of November, and also Dec. 1 & 2. Weekend Masses: 4:30 pm Saturday, 9;30 am Sunday. Weekday liturgies at 8 am. 

However, on Thanksgiving, Thursday, Nov. 22, Mass will be at St. Austin’s at 9:30 am.

Fr. Paul

Some good news...but far from done
On Wednesday, the President backed a working US Senate package on the First Step Act that would roll back some of the existing harsh penalties for low-level, non-violent drug offenders, such as mandatory minimum sentences. 
The proposal would begin the slow process of reversing the effects of "tough-on-crime policies" passed during the ‘80s and ‘90s, which have adversely impacted minority communities (e.g. the sentence of possessing cocaine being far less than for the possession of crack) have been responsible, in part, for the imprisoning of 2.3 million American citizens. More per capita than any other nation. Too often, juvenile and low-level offenders enter incarceration as non-violent offenders ... and leave as hardened, violent future criminals. Not always. But our current system often doesn't produce the desired outcome.
The legislative bill passed the House in May, with bipartisan support. It now sits in the US Senate. Please contact your US Senator; https://www.senate.gov/general/contacting.htm . The single most effective way is to call your US Senator at her/his home office.
Senate: One Step Ac t
A bigger picture:
Bipartisan Sentencing Overhaul 
H.R.5682 - FIRST STEP Act
H.R.5682 - FIRST STEP Act  (82-page text)
It’s in the Senate:
Critique of the bill
Several St. Bridget's parishioners ( www.stbridgetnorthside.com & www.facebook.com/stbridgetnorthside ) and friends have asked me to share again the Great Commandment known by all our Jewish friends.
The “Great Commandment” is a name used in Scripture to describe the first of two greatest commandments cited by Jesus in Matthew 22:35–40 and Mark 12:28–34, and upon which all the Mosaic laws and Jesus’ teachings depend.
Jesus had been asked a question typically asked among Mosaic scholars at the time. And Jesus answered as any rabbi would have with the “Shema” and “Veahavta”. Our Jewish brothers and sisters know this by heart. The Galilean rabbi would subsequently elaborate on the critical term “neighbor”.
Shema – Listen/Hear
Sh'ma Yisrael Adonai Eloheinu Adonai Ecḥad - "Hear, O Israel: the LORD is our God, the LORD is One." Deut. 6:4
Veahavta - You shall love
V’ahavta et Adonai Elohecha B’chol l’vavcha, uv’chol nafshecha uv’chol me’odecha - You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. Deut. 6:5
V’ahavta lereacha kamocha ~ You shall love your neighbor as yourself. Leviticus 19:17
“Who is our neighbor?” Parable of the Good Samaritan
Jesus radically expands who our neighbor is. Luke 10:25-37. In short, our “neighbor” is everyone. Including those in need. Including those we don’t like or who don’t like us. Including those who might regard as our enemy or dangerous.
Key to understanding Jesus’ expansion of who we are to love depends a more accurate understanding of that word. The word given to us in the New Testament -- ἀγάπη or agapé -- is not the sentimental or affectionate sense that we give to “love”. It is better understood as compassion, generous spirit, empathy. To care. To care about. To care for. At the very least, to show respect to the basic human dignity of another human being – in this sense it is not schizophrenic to “love one’s enemy.”
Just weeks after the killing spree in the Pittsburg synagogue, it is important to not only have love/ἀγάπη/agape for the twelve victims in the Tree of Life ( L'Simcha / שמחה ) Congregation. But for the killer. This love for the killer would be impossible if we understood ἀγάπη or agape as an emotion. It is, however, possible – yet challenging – when understood as concern for and respect.
Please keep these people in your prayers. The victims: Joyce Fienberg, 75; Rich Gottfried, 65; Rose Mallinger, 97; Jerry Rabinowitz, 66; Cecil Rosenthal, 59; David Rosenthal, 54; Bernice Simon, 84; Sylvan Simon, 86; Daniel Stein, 71; Melvin Wax, 88; Irving Younger, 69. The perpetrator: Robert Gregory Bowers, 46.
Please let all of your Jewish friends know that they have an agapé-loving friend in you and our parish community. ~ Fr. Paul
Remember to give thanks this week.
The Peltiers are extra thankful ... as they were able to bring their newborn, Killian, home from the hospital because sometime donated very generously for a special car seat.
The hospital wasn't going to release Killian into his family until they purcha$$$ed it.
Whoever you are ... thank you!

Since the very beginning, at its best, church has been done by church most often outside of Sunday, mostly outside of a church.
And when church gathers as church in a church, it is, at its best, a gathering of church learning and practicing more of the church revealed by Rabbi Jesus. And communing with God and some of God's other family members.
With one of the more important parts of the church gathering as church (in a church) being the dismissal to go be church in the world.
These photos were taken by a St. Bridget's community member of church -- "after church" -- who is of course not limited to being church in St. Bridget's church or parish community.
We sometimes complicate what it means to be church. What it means to Love. These photos are of Love. Are of church.
In fact, more than a few of our newer church members at St. Bridget's checked us out after experiencing church being church at Emily's. (The closest thing to "Cheer's" that I have ever experienced; where everyone knows most everyone else, and is open to meeting even more of everyone.)
If you want to experience church being church and learning how to be even more church -- loving God, loving others, love one's self -- then check out this amazing Northside community.
From now until Dec. 3, all liturgies/gatherings will be at the gathering place called St. Austin's Campus, which is one of two campuses where St. Bridget's parishioners learn and practice and celebrate all-things church. 4050 Upton Avenue North, Mpls, MN.

~ Paul Jarvis, brother in Christ, and ordained deacon and priest. www.stbridgetnorthside.com
"The kids [at CDH] know his story, and we couldn't be happier to know that this man who did the ordinary things with extraordinary attention to detail would be recognized, that his death was in the name of Christ."
Definitely worth everyone's reading.
November 17, 2018

This week, we in the United States, head into the Thanksgiving holiday. Thank you to so many of our supporters for keeping our small—but growing—non-profit going over nearly thirty years! 

While the work for a culture of peace and nonviolence sometimes seems like an uphill struggle, we're heartened by the everyday stories of people using nonviolence to make a difference in their communities. We continue to believe that nonviolence is the greatest tool we have yet to fully utilize, but with  your continued support and nonviolent activism, that day will come sooner than we imagine.

Peace and all good,
Ryan Hall, Executive Director
Freedom Riders of Central America
George Cassidy Payne
Central Americans in migrant caravan share common ground with Freedom Riders of Civil Rights Movement.
A Radical Prayer for Refugees
John Dear
A prayer for those displaced from their homes and seeking safety.
Upcoming Events...
The recent season 3 episodes is by far the most illuminating and relevant. Perfect for commuting ... you'll find yourself parking at work and hesitating going in for a few minutes. Let your friends know. This is really revealing!