A Bright Sadness

There is a gravitas in the second half of life, but it is now held up by a much deeper lightness, or “okayness.” Our mature years are characterized by a kind of bright sadness and a sober happiness, if that makes any sense. There is still darkness in the second half of life—in fact maybe even more. But there is now a changed capacity to hold it creatively and with less anxiety. It is what John of the Cross called “luminous darkness,” and it explains the simultaneous coexistence of deep suffering and intense joy that we see in the saints, which is almost impossible for most of us to imagine.

Life is much more spacious now, the boundaries of the container having been enlarged by the constant addition of new experiences and relationships. You are like an expandable suitcase, and you became so almost without your noticing. Now you are just here, and here holds more than enough. Such “hereness,” however, has its own heft, authority, and influence.

One’s growing sense of infinity and spaciousness is no longer found just “out there” but most especially “in here.” The inner and the outer have become one. You can trust your inner experience now, because even God has allowed it, used it, received it, and refined it. As St. Augustine dramatically put it in his Confessions:

You were within, but I was without. You were with me, but I was not with you. So you called, you shouted, you broke through my deafness, you flared, blazed, and banished my blindness, you lavished your fragrance, and I gasped.

— Richard Rhor

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Potent Prayer

“The most potent and acceptable prayer is the prayer that leaves the best effects. I don’t mean it must immediately fill the soul with desire . . . The best effects [are] those that are followed up by actions—–when the soul not only desires the honor of God, but really strives for it. “

—-Teresa of Avila

prayer young man 1Prayer must be more than offering to God your requests for actions you wish Him to take on your behalf. Teresa says ” potent” prayer effects actions that are taken by you. Whether this is the reversal of a bad habit  or the beginning of a new form of ministry, the action is yours to take. God wants His people to be people of prayer and actions that make their prayers effective. He provides us with the ability to recognize the results.

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Augustine on Scripture

augustine-quotes-3

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October 21, 2014 · 4:33 pm

Seeing God

If therefore we seek Jesus, the word, we must be able to see Him in theautumn-forest created things around us – in the hills, the fields, the flowers, the birds and animals that he has created, in the sky and the trees. We must be able to see him in nature. Nature is no obstacle to our contact with him, if we know how to use it.

—-Thomas Merton

Most of you who read this blog are seeking Jesus even if it is from the perspective of a doubter. Many people go through great lengths to prove the existence, or non-existence, of God. Merton writes these words to young men who were seeking to live the life of a monastic in the day when the rules were tighter than most of us can imagine. He was the novice master of a Cistercian (Strict Observance) Abbey. These young men were seeking to commit themselves to a truly other worldly life. When one approaches such a task, it is only natural for him to want an anchor to grasp. I am sure the young looked with great desire to Merton to provide this for them. He, instead, told them to look to nature, the hills, the trees, created things, and therein they could find what eluded them. The great qualifier was knowing how to use this knowledge.

For all of us the real challenge is to learn how to use the creation for the glory of God. When we see a majestic wild animal, do we see something that must be conquered, or is it a gift from God? Does God’s creation give us a glimpse of Him?

In God’s conversation with Job, He said: “Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell me, if you have understanding. Who determined its measurements—surely you know! Or who stretched the line upon it? On what were its bases sunk, or who laid its cornerstone when the morning stars sang together and all the heavenly beings shouted for joy?”

Job, like us, had many questions about God and how He interacts with us, but God challenged Job with nature. He was paralyzed by this challenge and had to admit that God was far more than he could have ever imagined. Take the time to see God in the sunset. Remember, He is the creator and sustainer of all things. God is not simply a cerebral belief: He is an active partner in your everyday life.

Prayer Thought – Lord let me see you in all that you have created. Help me to see your loving hands in all that surrounds me. Like the hands of the skillful artist, you have given me the beauty of your being. You are my Creator and God. Amen

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Making a Difference

English: The church of SS Andrew and Mary - St...

Our Lord God wills that we have great regard to all the deeds that He has done: in the great nobleness of the making of all things; and the excellency of man’s making, which is above all his works; and the precious Amends(intercessions) that He has made for man’s sin, turning all our blame into endless worship. In which also our Lord says: Behold and see! For by the same Might, Wisdom, and Goodness that I have done all this, by the same Might, Wisdom, and Goodness I shall make well all that is not well; and thou shalt see it. And in this He wills that we keep us in the Faith and truth of Holy Church, not desiring to see into His secret things now, save as it belongs to us in this life

—–Julian of Norwich

In this thought Julian tells us of the great work of Jesus our redeemer and invites us to make a difference in our world. We must ask ourselves:

  • What is it that we are making well?
  • Does our touch make a positive difference in the world?
  • Do we do our best to help make those we touch better persons?
  • Do we learn from the goodness of others?

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A Hermit’s Life Story ~ Fr. Lazarus ElAnthony

Irvin J. Boudreaux:

This guy is really very fascinating. He has several other videos on YouTube, and they are well worth the time.

Originally posted on Vox Eremita ~ The Voice of the Desert:

“I saw her. I heard her. I felt her love.” (Fr. Lazarus ElAnthony, in the 4th part).

This is a very interesting series. Really worth viewing, also as part of a group discussion, and for vocational discernment and considering many important issues in life. There appear to be at least twelve parts…

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Goodness or Resentment

English: Richard Rohr at a conference in Pragu...

 Richard Rohr at a conference in Prague 

People who are already good, tend to be good and forgiving to me. People who are already resentful or negative, tend to be that way with me too. Why do I bother to take either the credit or the blame? It is mostly about them! Yet it still has much to teach me too.

Richard Rohr

This thought has two messages. First,understand that not all  the bad things that come your way are your doing. Second, are you good or resentful?

Lord God our greatest rewards come when we make life more fulfilling for others. May you give us the wisdom to spend this day as “other centered” people. Center us in your circle. Forgive when we vie for the chief seats and make our ways a blessing to all we meet. Amen

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Moments of enlightenment

There are moments in life-both spiritual and intellectual—that are like no other. They change us. They redirect us. They complete us. Between these moments of Enlightenment—all of which are relatively rare—we simply go from one life event, one change point,

But after such times of acute insight, life takes on a different hue.

Enlightenment is a matter of coming to see life—to see ourselves—differently. It transforms us from average, everyday kind of people to people with a purpose in life.

Sometimes it is the moment in life when we simply know, absolutely know, that the person we have just met is the person we are going to marry. Or sometimes it is the awareness that what we have studied so hard to become is not what we are going to be. Or it might be the awareness that where I am is not where I belong. For me, it had to do with coming to understand that I would spend my entire life simply following the presence of God that consumed me more than anything else I could imagine in life. I dedicated my life to trying to unravel what that entailed in the present world and passing on those thoughts to others.

Where these moments of Enlightenment come from can seldom be identified with any kind of certainty. They just are. They are within us, unspoken and often unseen, but never unknown. They strike us like lightning and burn within us all our lives.

Joan Chittister

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Don’t worry about your apparent lukewarmness

CelticCross1Don’t let yourself get demoralized or discouraged if it seems to you that you’re not doing anything, that you’re cowardly and lukewarm. Or if you see that you’re still subject to natural affections, thoughts of pride, and sadness. Just try to forget these things. Turn your mind toward God, keep yourself before Him with the peaceful and continual desire that He should make of you, and in you, the holiest things that He wills. Seek only to forget yourself and to walk before Him amidst your poverty without ever looking at yourself… As long as you worry about these movements of nature, you will be busy with yourself. And as long as you are busy with yourself, you won’t advance very far in perfection. These movements will only stop when you scorn and forget them. Besides, I assure you, they are of no importance or consequence whatsoever—make fun of them and look only toward God. And do so in a spirit of pure and simple faith.

Excerpt from: “Look For Peace and Pursue It”

Jacques Philippe,

ed. des Béatitudes.

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The Eternal Now


I share with you some words of Richard Rhor taken from “Living the Eternal Now.” I hope they speak to you.

Jesus’ primary metaphors for the Eternal Now are “the kingdom of God” and “the kingdom of heaven.” He is trying to tell you that there is a place where you can live connected to the Real and to the Eternal. That place is simply the here and now, which always feels like nothing, like nowhere (now-here), but is where everything always happens! So be sure to be here—and not somewhere else!

The reason we can trust the Now so much is because of the incarnation and because of the divine Indwelling. The Word has become flesh, God has entered into the human, God is here and everywhere!

John Duns Scotus, one of the great Franciscan teachers, said that God did not create genus and species; God only created what Scotus called “thisness,” in Latin “haecceity.” He said that until you can experience each thing in its specific “thisness,” you will not easily experience the joy and freedom of divine presence. In other words, I can’t be present to all women in general. I’ve got to be present to this woman, right here, right now, in her specificity and particularity, and maybe even her eccentricity. Might that be what love means?

In that way, the here and now has the power to become the gateway and the breakthrough point to the universal. The concrete, the specific, the physical, the here and now—when you can be present to it in all of its ordinariness—becomes the gateway to the Eternal. I call this the very foundational Christian principle of Incarnation. It is the great and unique insight that we offer to all world religions, yet we ourselves have often not celebrated this immense breakthrough.

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