Holy Values

The Beatitudes give us insight into those values that Jesus honors in his followers.  We have a glimpse of what meets God’s approval, the attitudes that bring delight in heaven and a smile to the Father.  We see God’s personality in these verses. With His sanctifying grace we must make these principles become the essence of our souls as Christians.

Jesus presented to us characteristics of a blessed, holy person.  He said that those who are poor inspirit, those who recognize their need for God, and who understand their own spiritual poverty are a part of God’s Kingdom.  In their unworthiness, they depend on God for spiritual sufficiency. They will live in heaven.

Jesus spoke of those that mourn, those that have sorrow because of their sin, those that understand they have offended God. These people grieve because they realize their unworthiness and lack of holiness.  Jesus promised them comfort in sorrow, healing in pain, and joy in sadness.

Jesus affirmed the meek.  He blessed the humble, those who know who they are in relation to who God is.  A ready willingness to submit to God brings its permanent reward.

He also promised that those people who hungerand thirst after righteousness will find that righteousness and be spiritually completed with it. When knowing God is one’s driving passion more than eating or drinking, more than being alive, that passion will be satisfied, filled, and honored.

Christ promised those who live life in the spirit ofmercy that they will be blessed by the Father’s mercy.  Sowing human mercy brings in a harvest of divine mercy.  Those whose hearts are pure, whose motives are honest, who have an inward holiness not just outward piety will see God because they recognize purity when they see it.

The Prince of Peace blessed those who give their lives to the reconciliation of people with each other and with God.  He gave peacemakers the special honor of being God’s children, because they look just like their Father.

Jesus also offered blessing and comfort for those who do not hide their faith to avoid persecution. He gave His support to those that bear insults, who are lied about and who watch people turn their backs on them.  Jesus said to take each insult, each lie, each isolation, and consider it an honor. Persecution can bring joy when we consider the great faith of all the prophets and saints that have suffered before us.  We are in holy company!

Living according to these values that Christ blessed all bring reward, all of them spiritual – the comfort of the spirit, the mercy of the Father, life in the Kingdom, joy in persecution, and an understanding of holiness.  Being blessed is being filled with the peace of Christ, living beyond the restlessness of the world, and finally seeing the face of God.

Reflection – Reflect on how to make these eight values part of your spiritual journey.

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Passing Through

From Luke 4

When he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, he went to the synagogue on the sabbath day, as was his custom. He stood up to read, and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written:

‘The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,

   because he has anointed me
     to bring good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives
   and recovery of sight to the blind,
     to let the oppressed go free,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.’ 

When they heard this, all in the synagogue were filled with rage. They got up, drove him out of the town, and led him to the brow of the hill on which their town was built, so that they might hurl him off the cliff. But he passed through the midst of them and went on his way.

Jesus went home.  After ministering in Galilee he decided to go back to Nazareth, to reconnect with those who had known him as a little boy, to visit his mom, to speak at the synagogue that he knew like the back of his hand.  At the synagogue, he spoke about his mission.  The locals were at first offended and then enraged.  They took him to the cliff which marked the edge of town with plans to throw him off.  Then the miracle happened.  Scripture says, “But he passed through the midst of them and went on his way.”  One man in an angry mob and “he passed through the midst of them!”  He did not call for help or fight his way clear.  He just passed through them.

When we think of Jesus’ miracles we consider events like healings, resurrections, calming the sea, walking on water, or turning water into wine.  We never see this miracle listed, but I see it as an incredible moment that relates to our journeys so often.  How many times have you walked through Jesusfrightening, dangerous, heartbreaking situations and gone on to live out your life?  How many times have you not been able to explain how you did it, how you made it through?  How many times have you weathered opposition and hostility and continued to live victoriously?  How many times has your broken heart healed?  How many times has your mind been calmed by an unexplainable peace?  How many times has your soul been restored?  How many times have you been at the edge of the cliff sure you were going over, when some Presence led you through the fear and pain and hurt and death?  Each of those times was a miracle.

Jesus knows all about standing at the cliff’s edge with other situations or people pushing you over.  He knows what it is like to look down at a chasm of hopelessness and despair.  He understands the pounding of your heart, the wrenching of your gut, the tears of your hurt.  He reaches out his hand and leads you as you pass through the midst of them and go on your way to love and serve Him.


What has Christ helped you pass through?

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Finding Your Way

Amma Ammonas was going to pay a visit, to Abba Anthony, one day, and he lost his way. So sitting down, he fell asleep for a little while. Upon waking, he prayed thus to God,’ I beseech you, Lord my God, do not let your creature perish.’ Then there appear to him as it were a man’s hand in the heavens, we showed him the way, till he reached about Anthony’s cave.

—Amma Ammonas

In the days of the built in phone GPS, Google maps, and a host of other apps and programs, we can find our way to just about anywhere. That is good, but it can Lost 1leave a very deep hole in our souls. We feel as though nothing is impossible and God gets thrown out like those maps you use to have in your car. The Abba had to find his path to his friend by sight and memory, and he lost his way. There is not one among that has not lost our spiritual way. We lose or way when we run out of options. No new self-help books or apps to guide us along. Running out of such options can take a while in 2015. When that process is exhausted, we may turn to God.

The wise man of the desert gives us a different scenario. As soon as he woke up from his rest, he asked God for help. There is nothing written about him retracing his steps or anything else. In this very mundane of needs, he simply asked God. How hard is it for you to go to God first? First, before you have done all you can do out of shear pride. First, when full credit for the solution would have to be given to God. I am reminded of a prayer from an old movie that encapsulates the attitude of many.

“Lord, we cleared this land, We plowed it, sowed it and harvested it. We cooked the harvest, it wouldn’t be here, we wouldn’t Be eatin’ it, if we hadn’t done it all ourselves. We worked dog-boned hard for every crumb and morsel, but we thank you Just the same anyway, Lord, for this food we’re about to eat. Amen.”                Shenandoah (1965)

That little prayer may be shocking to you but is your attitude truly that different? If we are honest with ourselves, we are reminded of two things on a Finding Your Waydaily basis. The first is that we cannot find all knowledge on our own. Secondly, we really can’t do it all. . Lingering in our shadowy places are points at which we lose our way. And we, like the monk, must turn to God and allow His hand to lead us.

Lord allow me to put aside the many things that cause me to put You on the back burner. Relieve me of the curse of self-reliance .May I be enlighten by your Spirit this day and look to the place from which my help comes. Lord, guide me in my lostness. Amen

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Where God lives

Abba Sisoes says: Seek God, not where God lives.

It is one thing to make a pilgrimage to the desert to find God. It is entirely another to be open to finding God where we are.
Then we become what the challenge of the moment summons us to be. Then Abba Sisoes’ word of spiritual advice—to seek God and not simply the trappings of the spiritual life—becomes real, becomes true.
Life is not an exercise in spiritual gymnastics. It is one long, unending attempt to put on the mind of God wherever we are, whatever happens to us on the way. We are not here to pray our way out of life’s challenges. We are here to grow through every one of them into spiritual adulthood.
The shrines and special prayers and holy pilgrimages along the way are spiritual oases meant to build our strength for the rest of the way. They are not God; they are simply signs that the God who made us is with us. It is that relationship that counts far beyond any particular devotion.
Abba Sisoes held the secret of the really spiritual life. However faithfully we have cultivated a favorite devotion, he warns us, we are not to allow ourselves to be beguiled by any of them. Each and all of them have only one purpose. They are meant simply to point in the direction of the consciousness of God at all times and in all places.

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Having a Prayer

Some years ago, when Leonard Griffith was pastor of the famous City Temple in London, he wrote a fascinating book entitled Barriers to Christian Belief. In that book he dealt with some problems that have over the years been real obstacles and stumbling blocks for people in their faith pilgrimage… specific problems that hinder people, that burden people, that disturb people… and keep them away from the Christian faith. One of the barriers he listed was…”unanswered prayer.” It does seem to be a fact of our experience that many people do get discouraged and they do give up and drop out on the faith because they feel a sense of failure in their prayer life.

This leads us to ask then… “How do you pray?” “Why pray at all?” “When do you pray?” “Is there a special formula or a sacred language that should be used?” One thing is clear. There are many questions and there is much misunderstanding about how you pray and why. In a Peanuts cartoon Charlie Brown is kneeling beside his bed for prayer. Suddenly he stops and says to Lucy, “I think I’ve made a new theological discovery, a real breakthrough. If you hold your hands upside down, you get the opposite of what you pray for.”

Prayer must be more than an emergency magical lamp rubbed in a crisis. The truth is that many people give up on prayer because they never understand what prayer is. Much that passes for prayer is irrational, superstitious, and self-centered, and is therefore unworthy of the pattern of the prayer that Jesus offered to us his disciples.

How do you pray and why? We are not the first to ask. The disciples of Jesusyoungmanpraying w quote

came to Him one day and said, “Lord, teach us. Teach us to pray!” Notice something here. When did the disciples ask for this? When did they make this request? Was it after Jesus gave a lecture on prayer? No! Was it after Jesus led a seminar on prayer? No! Was it after Jesus preached a powerful sermon on prayer? No! None of these. Remember how it is recorded in Luke 11… “Jesus was praying in a certain place and when he finished, they said to him, ‘Lord, teach us to pray.'” They saw the power of prayer in Him. They saw how important prayer was to Him. See the point. Harry Emerson Fosdick stresses it in his book, The Secret of Victorious Living. “Note that this awakened interest in prayer came not at all from new arguments about it, but from a new exhibition of its power. Here, before their very eyes, they saw a personality in whom prayer was vital and influential! The more they lived with him, the more they saw that they could never explain him or understand him unless they understood his praying and so not at all because of new arguments, but because of amazing spiritual power released in him by prayer. They wanted him to tell them how to pray.”

The disciples sometimes were slow to learn, but at this point they were quickly and precisely on target. They saw in Jesus the answer to this question: how do we pray and why do we pray? And they learned from Him what the elements are that lead to a meaningful prayer life.


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The Peace We Seek


The peace Jesus gives to us through the Holy Spirit is more than we can ever imagine.

  • Peace means the cessation of all warfare, but it also means much more.
  • Peace means a feeling of inner well-being, but it also means much more.
  • Peace means an end to psychological tensions, but it also means much more.
  • Peace means halting interpersonal conflicts, but it also means much more.
  • Peace means the settling of silence on the soul, but it also means much more.

In Valyermo, California , the Benedictines converted a 400-acre ranch into a religious community called St. Andrew’s Priory. As you enter the grounds, you find that the land is posted: “No Hunting Except for Peace.”

The world is hunting for peace. What will we give it?

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.

— Jesus


Jesus our peace, if our lips keep silence, our heart listens to you and also speaks to you. And you say to each one of us: surrender yourself in all simplicity to the life of the Holy Spirit; for this, the little bit of faith you have is enough. Amen

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Contemplatives Go Mainstream

A nation can be considered great when it defends liberty as Lincoln did, when it fosters a culture which enables people to “dream” of full rights for all their brothers and sisters, as Martin Luther King sought to do; when it strives for justice and the cause of the oppressed, as Dorothy Day did by her tireless work, the fruit of a faith which becomes dialogue and sows peace in the contemplative style of Thomas Merton.

——Pope Francis Address to Congress

pope rolling storeI am sure that the address of Pope Francis was viewed  by millions of people, as well as  witnessed by a joint session of the US Congress. In it he affirmed four Americans of great note. Among them was Thomas Merton whom he identified as a contemplative. Such an affirmation will cause people to be curious about contemplative life. Praise God for this man and his willingness to share his bold beliefs with the world. We contemplatives are now part of the mainstream media.



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Interior Peace

Restrain yourself from affection toward many people, for fear lest your spirit be distracted, so that your interior peace may not be disturbed.

——Abba Evagrius  of the Desert

On face value it would seem to be a very harsh thing to say that we should stray away from having many friends and connections. I think we have all heard of the things that people do to gain popularity and power. When someone is obsessed with winning the affection of many people, they have very little time for anything else. Countless hours are spent in front of the mirror and reading tips on how to be the “one.” The more we are focused on such image, the more spiritually restless we become. In this journey we find little interior peace.

Colossians 3 for blogPaul tells the Colossian Church to “set their minds on things above.” The Abba says to restrain from our need for popularity. Both of these sayings are directed toward our ability to achieve peace with God. There can be no peace when we are frantically busy trying to be noticed. The only true peace is inner peace – the peace that allows us to thrive in a hostile world. Being at peace with ourselves is the most vital part of our relationship with God. Without the selfless interior peace, we remain spiritually empty.

Solomon tells us in Proverbs that charm is deceitful and beauty is vain.  Think about it, the wisest manProverb 31_edited-1 that ever lived called charm deceitful and beauty vain. Shouldn’t that say something to us in our image conscious world? Our real challenge is to remain focused on the things that are above and to take our eyes off of the crowd that we seek to gather and keep them on our spiritual journey. That focus will help us to achieve the interior peace that is so necessary to walk with God.


O Lord allow me this day to focus on the interior peace that only you can give. Suffer me the strength to resist the temptation of self aggrandizement and carry me to a place of peace. Amen

Busy Monk

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Relationship Matters

A brother said to Abba Anthony,’Pray for me.’The old man said to him, ‘I will have no mercy upon you, nor will God have any, if you yourself do not make an effort and if you do not pray to God.’

——sayings of the Desert Fathers

The real question is when we ask others to pray for us are we in prayer also. The Abba seems to imply that we must be in fervent prayer when we ask for the prayers of others. The question we ask of ourselves when we ask for prayer is – Have I been in prayer FIRST? We cannot rely upon the prayers of others until we have brought our needs to God.

Sad-Man-in-PrayerWithout an active prayer life we are like rudderless ships. Each of us must take seriously our responsibility to keep in touch with God so the when trouble comes, we will be able to function. No one can pray enough for you so as to make up for your own spiritual lifelessness.

We are compelled to develop ongoing and effective spiritual disciplines. As we practice spiritual disciplines we build a true relationship with God that allows us to be confident in the midst of the most difficult of times. The wisdom of the desert tells us that we must have our own relationship with God to receive His mercy.

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Heart Light

In the happy night, in secret, when none saw me, nor I beheld anyone, without light or guide, except that which burned in my heart. This light guided me more surely than the light of noonday to the place where He was awaiting me.

— John of the Cross


I think that we all yearn for a “heart light” that will lead us directly to God. Life is far too hard and confusing for us to figure our own path to God, so he gives us a special light that only we can see. This light can be passed on to none or borrowed by no one. God gives it to the ones who have chosen to follow Him.

John of the Cross says that it is brighter than the light of the brightest day. The light that our Creator places in us when we acknowledge His grace exceeds anything we can imagine. This light takes us to the place that He has prepared for us before we were born.

The problem is that we travel this road in the dark night of this world. In that night we are surrounded by “light eaters”, that is, forces and powers that want us to turn away from our inner light. These forces manifest themselves in a great variety of ways. Such forces can be a friendly voice that steers us in the wrong direction or a tragic circumstance that leads us to doubt God. We are assured of this by the writer of Hebrews …“We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain.” We travel in the night but not in darkness.


Lord help me this day to discover that heart light that dwells dormant within me. With that discovery, I will surely touch the hem of your garment and receive healing of the soul. Amen

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