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

Leave a comment

Filed under Christian Journey, Thomas Merton

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?

Leave a comment

Filed under Julian of Norwich, Quotes

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…

View original

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

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

Leave a comment

Filed under Quotes, Richard Rhor

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


Filed under Christian Journey, Christian Living

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.

Leave a comment

Filed under Devotional reading

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.

Leave a comment

Filed under Richard Rhor

Religion and Mythology

Religion and mythology differ but have overlapping aspects. Both terms refer to systems of concepts that are of high importance to a certain community, making statements concerning the supernatural or sacred. Generally, mythology is platostorytellingconsidered one component or aspect of religion.

I have developed a real love for the works of the very early church. In this discipline, I have discovered a new appreciation of myth. In western thought, myths are “tall tales” that have little or no meaning. For the early church, however,  myths were wrought with deep meaning and were lights along the way to God. Myths were stories that expressed deep faith and allowed God to become real. Without regard to what really happened, these stories were written about what God would do, and they were of great value to the people. I want to share a few with you today.

A wealthy young orphan-girl of Alexandria saved a man from hanging himself by giving him all her wealth to pay his debts. She was reduced to prostitution, but then she repented and sought baptism, not without difficulty — for she must find guarantors. In the absence of any others willing to do so, angels in disguise stood surety for her at the font. The Pope of Alexandria recognized that this was a case of divine intervention. The girl reluctantly confessed her one good deed and then died.

When Julian the Apostate was in Persia, he sent a demon on a mission to the west, but it was delayed by a monk named Publius who prayed all the time. Julian threatened vengeance against this monk when he returned to the west, but he was slain in battle. One of his generals however sold all his goods for the benefit of the poor and became a monk close by Publius.

A brother was granted the privilege of beholding the departure of a just and of an unjust soul. A wolf took him to a hermitage by the city wall where a famous hermit (Sozomen) was expiring. But his soul was delayed in the body by the resentful devil which plunged a fiery trident into him to make him suffer as long as possible. Then, in the city, the brother saw a sick brother, a stranger, lying untended in the square, whose soul refused to be led away by Gabriel and Michael. They were sent to bring it but commanded to use no force. They requested the Lord to send David with his harp to charm the man’s soul out of him.

Leave a comment

Filed under Church, Mythology

A Monk’s Toil

1st-john-the-dwarfOne of the Fathers asked Abba John the Dwarf, ‘What is a monk?’ He said, ‘He is toil. The monk toils at all he does. That is what a monk is.”

—sayings of the desert

Toil is something most of us would prefer to avoid. Yet Abba John say that toil defines the monk, and Christians are defined by the work of monks. The monks are our prime examples of Christian living, because they have given all to follow Christ. I am sure that the “Father” who asked this question of John didn’t get the answer he expected. After all, monks are holy and just sit around getting holier all day long.

What is this toil?

I believe it is the keeping of the most important command of God, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and your neighbor as yourself.” Difficulties and toil abound when we seek to love others as we love ourselves. First, we may not really love ourselves. Many people are self-loathing and take it out on the rest of the world. God created us in His own image and for good; we must learn to believe that before we can accomplish anything. For quite a few people, that is toil. Second, we must believe that God loves everyone, and they are His special creation. Without that belief we find ourselves feeling very superior to a whole lot of people. The only way to put that aside is toil. Such toil puts us on our knees seeking His face so that we may more clearly see the faces of others.

All of this is toil – work, labor, drudgery but they are the calling of the Christian. We are to love God, ourselves and others. That is our task, and it is not an easy one.

Prayer Thought – Lord help me to put toil in its proper perspective so that I might see you in all of your glory.

1 Comment

Filed under Christian Living, Desert Fathers

A Great Fable

Running as fast as his feet would carry him, Androclus raced into the forest. He hoped he could survive there, finding roots and berries to eat and avoiding all wild animals. He had few other choices; people were always looking for runaway slaves. He wondered, however, how it would be to live in terror of being discovered. Every pine cone that fell onto the mossy surface of the forest made him jump and look around to see if soldiers were in pursuit. He needed shelter. Rain was in the air and it would soon be dark. Through a break in the trees he saw an opening in the rocks. Thinking it might be large enough for him to sleep in that evening, he headed toward it. However, he stopped short and, looking to the right of the rock formation, he spied a lion. Instinct kicked in and Androclus ran, praying all the while that the animal had eaten recently. Hearing no sound of pursuit, he slowed down and the stopped. Looking back, he saw the lion had not pursued him. Its only movement was to roll its head looking at him with a rather mournful countenance.

AndroclusSlowly Androclus retraced his steps. The lion was in pain. He spoke softly to the lion, stroking his mane and back, and looking for some injury. Finally he found it — a nasty gash on the lion’s left hind leg. It was clear that the wound had been bleeding for some time and showed no sign of letting up. Androclus tore some of the cloth from his tunic and cleaned the wound. The animal shuddered and groaned before falling asleep.

Just then the clouds opened up and Androculus crawled into the cave and immediately fell asleep. Minutes later, however, he awoke when the lion came in, dragging his wounded leg and laid down beside him. The cave was large enough for man and beast to live together, and they did just that for several weeks. Each day they would go out and hunt for sufficient food and water for the day.

One day, when drawing water from a stream, Androclus felt something sharp against his neck. “Don’t move,” said a voice. “There is a big reward for the return of a runaway slave.” Forced back to the city, Androclus often thought of his friend the lion, sad that they would never again see each other. He was taken to see the Emperor who pronounced upon him the sentence of death. Soldiers took him to a stone cell beneath the palace where he was to await the day of his execution. Finally, he was led to the arena. The crowd cheered wildly as a lion, which had not been fed for four days, was let loose on Androclus. The animal roared and ran toward its easy prey. Androclus realized he had no chance and, thus, he closed his eyes and braced for the impact and pain. Instead of searing pain, however, he felt the warm tongue of the lion who playfully licked him until he fell to the ground. Androclus opened his eyes and before him he saw his friend the lion from the forest. Instead of bouncing to kill and devour him, as would be normal, even instinctive, especially after not eating for four days, the lion, once so gently cared for, fawned over Androclus like a friendly dog.

The crowd in the arena was hushed to silence; the Emperor was stunned. He called Androclus to him. He told the Emperor the whole story. “Androclus and the lion are hereby freed,” said the Emperor. “Such amazing kindness, gratitude, and the ability to throw away the past must be rewarded.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized