Knowledge and Imagination

Ephesians-3.20

You only need a tiny scrap of time to move toward God. This brief moment produces the stirring that embodies the greatest work of your soul. How many desires can fill an hour? You may have as many desires as there are indivisible fractions of time in an hour.

God will forever remain incomprehensible to the knowing power. Through loving power, however, each of us may know God.

…The Cloud of Unknowing

We all seek to know God in special ways. The desire for such knowledge comes with our birth. For from that day on, we continue to grow in our thirst for the mystery of life. Here are a few insights from chapter 4 of The Cloud of Unknowing

  • If God were to bless you with absolute control of your will, you would have a constant awareness of heavenly bliss.
  • Pay attention, then, to how you spend your time. You have nothing more precious than time.
  • The past remains as far beyond my reach as the future.
  • Apply yourself diligently to both prayer and community responsibilities.
  • Tie yourself to him with love and faith, knitting your relationship together.
  • Leave your senses and your imagination at rest, because there is no function for them here.

PRAYER

Lord help me as I search for You. Give me the insight to recognize the small glimpses of your glory as the swish pass me. May I never seek to fully understand your glory but bask in the small measure of it that you reveal to and through me. Let me cherish each moment that you have given me and make those moments as precious as gold.

Amen

Leave a comment

Filed under Cloud of Unknowing

A Contemplative Beginning

Here are some thoughts from The Cloud of Unknowing on the journey toward true contemplation.

  • Cloud-of-the-unknowingLet modest love prompt you to lift up your heart to god. Seek only God.
  • Think of nothing else other than God, keep your mind free of other thoughts
  • When you begin, you will experience a darkness, a cloud of unknowing.
  • You cannot interpret this darkness.
  • You will only comprehend a basic reaching out toward God
  • Accept this dark cloud – learn to live with it,
  • I believe that God, in His good pleasure, will grant you an instant of profound religious experience.

Duet-29

The ultimate desire of every believer is to establish a regular and comfortable line of communication with God. Take some time to think about what this unknown contemplative talked about over 600 years ago when he gave this advice to his readers. We are his readers today.


Prayer

O God, all hearts are open to you. You perceive my desire. Nothing is hidden from you. Purify the thoughts of my heart with the gift of your Spirit, that I may love you with a perfect love and give you the praise you deserve.

Amen

Leave a comment

Filed under Cloud of the Unknowing

Take a Look at Yourself

Take a good look at yourself. Who are you? What makes you worthy of your call from God? (Probably, God is now disturbing the sleep of a lazy person.) Never forget your spiritual vulnerability. God’s invitation into a unique relationship does not make you better or holier than others. Instead of feeling proud of yourself, exercise humility. Christ emptied himself of equality with God when he was born in human form, humbling himself even to the point of death on a cross

—– The Cloud of Unknowing

How often do we truly take a good look at ourselves? Introspection can be painful and uncomfortable. Life goes so much easier and smoother if we just plod ahead. A plodding soul never asks questions. A plodder is one who simply walks slowly through life so as to never disturb anything or anyone. Time is never taken to examine the why’s of life nor is the uniqueness of our very creation ever given any thought. A plodder simply gets through the day.

We are God’s special creation and we were created to be the apple of His eye. He wants to hear from us. He wants us to be productive and loving to Him and all that was created. Our challenge is to realize that we are stewards of the creation. Stewardship demands humility and service humility that make us understand the nature of our creation. We are all born totally dependent and fully cared for by God. We are all equals in the sight of God. He doesn’t create some people superior to others.

With that equality in mind, we are called to be the salt and light of this world. With the sin of Adam we have invited evil into the world. Because of evil we are quite vulnerable, but God invites us into the very special relationship that is offered through Jesus. When we fully embody the grace offered by Jesus, we learn how to empty ourselves. This emptying gives us the ability to be servants to all. As servant to all we experience a freedom and joy that is like nothing else we have ever known.

TAKE A LOOK AT YOURSELF – GOD WANTS TO HELP


Prayer

Lord help me to examine myself today and show me your way. Allow me to understand your love -a love that allowed you to sacrifice yourself for me in spite of my perpetual unworthiness. Bestow upon me the grace necessary so that I may bestow love, peace and grace to all that I encounter. Allow your grace to shine through me and forgive me when I fail.

Amen

Leave a comment

Filed under Cloud of Unknowing

Clear Vision

John 9:1-12

As he walked along, he saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked him, ‘Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?’Jesus answered, ‘Neither this man nor his parents sinned; he was born blind so that God’s works might be revealed in him. We must work the works of him who sent me while it is day; night is coming when no one can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.’ When he had said this, he spat on the ground and made mud with the saliva and spread the mud on the man’s eyes, saying to him, ‘Go, wash in the pool of Siloam’ (which means Sent). Then he went and washed and came back able to see. The neighbours and those who had seen him before as a beggar began to ask, ‘Is this not the man who used to sit and beg?’Some were saying, ‘It is he.’ Others were saying, ‘No, but it is someone like him.’ He kept saying, ‘I am the man.’ But they kept asking him, ‘Then how were your eyes opened?’ He answered, ‘The man called Jesus made mud, spread it on my eyes, and said to me, “Go to Siloam and wash.” Then I went and washed and received my sight.’ They said to him, ‘Where is he?’ He said, ‘I do not know.’

He was born blind.  A perfectly formed, beautiful baby boy kicking his tiny legs and swinging his arms in a sea of darkness.  He had little hope for a quality life in the first century Jerusalem.  His father daily led him to his unofficial, but reserved location near a small pool.  Others who had forfeited in some way God’s blessing spent their wretched days there – begging.  Some days he collected nothing.  Some days a hateful boy stole the few pennies resting in his cup.  Everybody in Jerusalem knew that either he or his parents had a great sin for which God was exacting vengeance by taking his sight.  They all wished they knew what that family had done wrong!

One day, just like thousands of other black days, Jesus passed by.  He put some mud on those sightless eyes, gave instructions to wash off the mud in a nearby pool, and left the man to respond in faith.  At first, he saw a blurry light, then large shapes.  He blinked quickly several times.  His vision cleared!  He could see!  Out of darkness!  When questioned by religious authorities already concerned about the miracle worker, the formerly blind man could only explain the phenomenon this way:  “Only one thing I know, I was blind, but now I see.”  What Joy!

Many of us born with sight, still have a clouded vision of Jesus.  We’ve allowed so much to distort our image of the Savior!  The Bible is full of stories of people who did the same.  Let’s learn from them.

He’d been in the field all day, but as he approached the house, it was evident something big was happening.  It was a party!  Why in the world, in the middle of the work week, with no previous notice would Father be throwing such a huge party?  Confusion gave way to anger when he saw him. So, he was back – the spoiled little brother who took his inheritance and left home to have fun.  He’d lost it all!  The older brother couldn’t feel relief that his younger brother was alive, joy for his father, hope that things had changed – just ANGER!

Jesus was coming for lunch.  Martha had peeled the vegetables, cooked the lamb chops, mixed the fruit salad, and baked the bread.  She had straightened the house, set the table, washed up all the cooking utensils, mopped the kitchen floor, and dusted the living room.  Mary, her sister – sat!  Jesus and Mary were talking and laughing and Martha was Jealous.  Why did Mary always get preferential treatment from everyone?  Jesus was telling Mary and Lazarus about his work, but Martha was too JEALOUS to listen!

He was young, handsome, wealthy, – a good man.  Although everyone thought he had it all – he knew he did not.  He spoke out of a sense of frustration when he inquired of Jesus, “what am I missing?  What’s this hole in my heart that my possessions cannot fill?”  Jesus suggested he give away all his possessions in order to clear up his priorities.  The rich young man wouldn’t even consider the suggestion.  He preferred his POSSESSIONS to Jesus.

The disciples were riding out choppy waves on the Sea of Galilee.  Jesus, not needing a boat, simply walked out on top of the water to join them.  Impetuous Peter wanted to walk on water too.  What a thrill!  Jesus probably chuckled to himself as he gave Peter permission to join him.  At first, Peter managed the miraculous, but after a few steps he took his eyes off Jesus and began to sink.  Panic replaced exhilaration because SELF-RELIANCE replaced faith.

Pontius Pilate had a chance to b history’s greatest hero.  He had the power to set Jesus free.  He knew he should.  He recognized his innocence.  He vacillated in his judgement, but the crowd won out.  Pilate was a people – pleaser.  He didn’t want trouble from the Jews and reprimand from Caesar, so he compromised his integrity and ordered the death of the Savior.  He made a ceremony of washing his hands of the Messiah’s innocent blood, but OTHER PEOPLE kept him from allowing the stain to be washed from his soul.

James and John – brothers looking out for each other.  They didn’t feel comfortable with the question, but the obsession for power and recognition over shadowed the guilt.  They sucked in their breaths, and non- chalantly asked Jesus for a little favor.  The request – to sit on either side of Jesus on His heavenly throne.  After all, wouldn’t it be lovely to be recognized throughout all eternity as Jesus’ favorites?  How powerful the feeling would be as all the saints of all the ages took note of their importance.  Jesus dealt the brothers powerful blow with His reply – they had missed the whole point! Those who find their joy in service are great, not those who find their joy in POWER or RECOGNITION.

What clouds our vision of Jesus?  Like the blind beggar who responded in faith, let Jesus give you clear sight.  What Joy!

Leave a comment

Filed under Monica Boudreaux

Light and Life

It is no small pity, and should cause us no little shame, that, through our own fault, we do not understand ourselves, or know who we are. Would it not be a sign of great ignorance, my daughters,(Christians) if a person were asked who he was, and could not say, and had no idea who his father or his mother was, or from what country he came? Though that is great stupidity, our own is incomparably greater if we make no attempt to discover what we are, and only know that we are living in these bodies, and have a vague idea, because we have heard it and because our Faith tells us so, that we possess souls. As to what good qualities there may be in our souls, or Who dwells within them, or how precious they are — those are things which we seldom consider and so we trouble little about carefully preserving the soul’s beauty. All our interest is centered in the rough setting of the diamond, and in the outer wall of the castle — that is to say, in these bodies of ours.

— Teresa of Avila

Long ago the mystic Teresa of Avila told the sister of her convent a simple fact that so eludes us today. We are all self-centered. So much energy is expended in keeping our bodies in shape, building our self-images, removing negativity from our lives and tracing our ancestors that we give little thought to the soul that God created. Each of us is a living soul created in the image of God. Before you ask, I cannot define precisely what the image of God is. If I could, I would be God. I will say that God created us in His image so that we might be light and life to this world.

We bring light and life by recognizing the beauty that He has created. Self-love is a good place to begin. Without self-love it is impossible to love anyone else. The scripture says, He (Jesus) said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as YOURSELF.” Self-loathing and self-hatred are poison. These two rob us of our very souls and allow the evil one to become master of our lives as he promises to fix things. We are tempted to blame others for our failures and lack of success. If our relationships seem to be going wrong then it just has to be someone else’s fault. Maybe it is God’s fault because He created us after all. Our challenge is to see the beautiful soul that He created, and the beauty of the other souls that surround us.

The attitude of beauty allows us to be overcomers. Power is allotted by our creator for us to face the challenges of the world and to help others do the same. The life of a soul who recognizes its worth beyond this body is invincible. That soul has the ability to accept forgiveness and to give forgiveness, the ability to understand that humility is not self-depreciation, and the courage to stand tall when all others are shrinking away. Such behavior can make us heroes, role models and leaders. We can become modern day “Pied Pipers” for the love of God. The world love the one who marches to the beat of a different drummer.

Let us move inward to the greater part that God put in us. Let us discover that when we are marching to the “God beat” of our lives we are so much more that what we can see. Relish the mystery that YOU are a living soul created by God. Stop trying to analyze things and just live life in the spirit which allows us to be the light and life of the world.


Prayer

Lord help me to put down the crutches of self-sufficiency and self-hatred. These are mere excuses that hold me back from discovering my true potential as a soul created by God. It is not easy to trust in something I cannot see or explain but it is key to becoming all that I can be.

Amen

Leave a comment

Filed under Teresa of Avila

Capturing Humility

Look at your weaknesses, not at your strengths, and pay attention to what you still need to do, instead of rehearsing in your mind what you’ve already accomplished. This is the best way to get and keep humility.

—-Cloud of the Unknowing

Humility-1The greatest among you will be your servant. All who exalt themselves will be humbled, and all who humble themselves will be exalted.

—Jesus of Nazareth

Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, so that he may exalt you in due time.

—-Peter the Apostle

There is nothing noble in being superior to your fellow man; true nobility is being superior to your former self.

― Ernest Hemingway

Becoming humble of action and deed is the great calling of all Christ followers. Our words only speak as loud as the deeds and actions that people see in us. There is a great deal said about being humble. Humility defines us in many ways.

HUMILITY – Preachers preach it scholars teach it. Here are a few thoughts on humility.

  • Humility helps us to know when to say yes.
  • Humility is our best friend when given a demanding task.
  • Humility is the best mirror we will ever own.
  • Humility teaches us how to handle power and wealth.
  • Humility guides when ego pushes us to stray.
  • Humility is passing over the mistakes of others,
  • Humility is the ability to accept insult without revenge.
  • Humility is our friend when we are all alone.
  • Humility is the cures pride.
  • Humility builds real confidence.
  • Humility is minding your own business.
  • Humility is the only path to God.

Prayer

Lord help me to discover that healing powers of humility. Release me from the chains of pride and ego. Allow me to flourish in being no more, or less, than you have made me to be. Guide me through this day as a real person who can put aside the arrogance that so besets me.

Amen


Humility-1

Leave a comment

Filed under Humility

Lessons from the Passion

Matthew 26:30-39

When they had sung the hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.

Then Jesus said to them, ‘You will all become deserters because of me this night; for it is written,

“I will strike the shepherd,

and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.”

But after I am raised up, I will go ahead of you to Galilee.’ Peter said to him, ‘Though all become deserters because of you, I will never desert you.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Truly I tell you, this very night, before the cock crows, you will deny me three times.’ Peter said to him, ‘Even though I must die with you, I will not deny you.’ And so said all the disciples.

Then Jesus went with them to a place called Gethsemane; and he said to his disciples, ‘Sit here while I go over there and pray.’ He took with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to be grieved and agitated. Then he said to them, ‘I am deeply grieved, even to death; remain here, and stay awake with me.’ And going a little farther, he threw himself on the ground and prayed, ‘My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me; yet not what I want but what you want.’

The last hours of Jesus’ life bear powerful truths for our daily living.  Lessons and principles for following Christ are to be learned in almost every event of those last hours.

Watch and learn…

  • On Thursday night, Jesus ate the traditional Passover meal with His disciples.  That night, He performed an act of great humility.  The Messiah washed the feet of His apostles.  He taught them that to be great, you must be small.  The way to lead is to serve.  Remember Jesus washing the disciples’ dirty feet if you feel unimportant, un-empowered or small.
  • Peter didn’t want Jesus to wash his feet.  He declared his loyalty, even to the death.  But Jesus sadly informed him that he would vehemently deny knowing the Savior three times before the rooster would crow in the morning.  Remember Peter as he heard the rooster crow early Friday morning if you feel self-sufficient or confident in your own resources alone.
  • After the meal, Jesus went to the garden to pray.  His followers chose sleep, not prayer.  In the loneliness of those hours, Jesus’ heart was in great agony as He accepted death for our salvation.  Remember Jesus kneeling alone in the garden if you find it hard to do the right thing.
  • Then came the trials.  First, Christ stood before the Jewish high court, the Sanhedrin; then, the Roman governor, Pilate; next, Herod, the Jewish puppet king; and finally back to Pilate again.  In cowardice, Pilate let the people choose; Jesus or Barabbas, a convicted criminal.  Remember Jesus as he heard the crowd shout, “Crucify him!  Give us Barabbas!” If you feel wrongfully accused.
  • The Roman soldiers beat Him, crowned Him with thorns, mocked Him and made Him carry His cross.  Remember the humiliation of Jesus on the Via Dolorosa if you feel rejected or excluded.
  • Jesus was nailed to the cross with huge spikes. In the midst of His torture, He prayed for His executioners.  Remember Jesus’ words, “Father, forgive them,” if you find it hard to forgive.
  • Those same soldiers gambled for His clothes.  Remember how Jesus must have felt as the soldiers played games at the foot of the cross if you feel discouraged by power struggles, feel used or feel misunderstood.
  • There are lessons to be learned from all suffering but the passion of Christ shows us the true heart of God.  The Lenten season gives us 40 days to ponder Christ’s passion and learn from it.

Monica Boudreaux


PRAYER

Father – Give me the wisdom to learn lessons of service and humility as I consider Christ’s passion.

Amen.

Leave a comment

Filed under Lent, Lenten Prayer Guide, Monica Boudreaux

God’s Proposal

Ephesians 1:2-12

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, just as he chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world to be holy and blameless before him in love. He destined us for adoption as his children through Jesus Christ, according to the good pleasure of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace that he freely bestowed on us in the Beloved. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace that he lavished on us. With all wisdom and insight he has made known to us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure that he set forth in Christ, as a plan for the fullness of time, to gather up all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth. In Christ we have also obtained an inheritance, having been destined according to the purpose of him who accomplishes all things according to his counsel and will, so that we, who were the first to set our hope on Christ, might live for the praise of his glory.

The Genesis account tells the saga of creation in human time. Imagine… it was day six of the most fascinating week of all time. God turned to his right and looked at The Son. He made a proposal that paled the awesome creation of the previous five days. A proposal that stilled the birds in flight and the fish as they swam. A proposal that caught the undivided attention of heaven and hell. A proposal made only once in an eternity and once in a universe. A proposal only God could conceive. God said, “Let us make man! Let us make man like we are!”

Related image

All the new creation united with breathless anticipation. The Son gave a confirming nod and smiled. His agreement sealed His fate and man’s opportunity to live forever. Heaven rejoiced! Creation cheered! Hell shook! The Son approved a plan only He could accomplish.

The season of Lent is that time set aside in the church’s liturgical calendar for us to seriously contemplate the amazing proposal God made on the “sixth day” of creation. These 40 days are days to reflect on God’s fascinating design for the eternal soul of each person and how that plan was accomplished through the passion, death, and resurrection of The Son. To properly prepare for the celebration of Christ’s victory at Easter, we must make a serious, spiritual attempt to recognize the enormity of God’s grace to us – from the beginning.

Monica Boudreaux


PRAYER: Father, Give me a clearer understanding of your design for my eternal life. Thank you for the hugeness of your grace.

Leave a comment

Filed under Grace, Monica Boudreaux

The False Self

To say I was born into sin is just saying I came into the world with a false self. I was born in a mask. I came into existence under sign of contradiction, being someone that I was never intended to be and therefore a denial of what I am supposed to be. Unless I came into existence and non-existence at the same time because from the very start I was something that I was not.

—–Thomas Merton

Verily, verily, I say unto thee, except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.

Jesus of Nazareth

The ego is the false self born out of fear and defensiveness.

John O’ Donahue

The concept of “false self’ is one that we all need to freely acknowledge in order to grow and prosper as God intended. Most of us realize at some point in our lives that things are not really like we had hoped they would be. No matter how hard we try to be the person that we want to be, we always seem to fall short. We compensate for this by creating a false self. That self is totally self-sufficient and creates its own image. We were designed to be one with God and many spend a lifetime trying to deny that reality. Our vision is our false self because we can control that self.

That self drives us to do weird things, but there is an answer. Surrender to and become the “God designed” you. That requires that we give up the idea of being an all sufficient creation that needs nothing more than training or experience. We are all born flawed and those flaws only get worse if we keep denying them. We all need a true makeover. Such a makeover is called by some being “born again.” That new birth is being born of God and beginning a life that is no longer self-dependent but God dependent.


Prayer

Lord help me to be what you want me to be. Give me the freedom and grace to seek you in my journey. Give me the courage to stop pretending to be something I am not. Allow me to put aside my pride and trust the unknown that you have planted in me.

Amen.

Leave a comment

Filed under Thomas Merton

THE FIRST STONE

Early in the morning he came again to the temple. All the people came to him and he sat down and began to teach them. The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery; and making her stand before all of them, they said to him, ‘Teacher, this woman was caught in the very act of committing adultery. Now in the law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?’ They said this to test him, so that they might have some charge to bring against him. Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground. When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, ‘Let anyone among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.’ And once again he bent down and wrote on the ground. When they heard it, they went away, one by one, beginning with the elders; and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him. Jesus straightened up and said to her, ‘Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?’ She said, ‘No one, sir.’ And Jesus said, ‘Neither do I condemn you. Go your way, and from now on do not sin again.’

John 8:2-11

Image result for he who is wo sin cast the first stoneMedical doctors and counselors tell us that a great deal of sickness, both mental and physical, is brought on by the fact that people carry around a tremendous burden of unresolved guilt. As creations of God, we long for His forgiveness, even though we don’t even recognize the need. Hear a story of forgiveness.

The woman was being shoved and jostled along the dusty road. Her long, dark hair was covering her face. She could see little. She had stumbled and fallen several times and the brush burns on her elbows and knees stung.

The men harassing her called her terrible names as they roughly pushed her along. They were taking her to the right place – the church. They were taking her to the right person – Jesus. But, they were taking her there for all the wrong reasons.

The men were well dressed, finely appointed religious leaders. On the outside, they were excellent examples of the best religion had to offer, but on the inside, they were dead and filthy.

They had found this woman in the act of adultery and were anxiously anticipating stoning her to death. Thinking to entrap Jesus with a violation of the law at the same time, they took the woman to the temple where Jesus was teaching.

In response to their question about the death sentence on this woman, Jesus at first ignored them and then began writing in the dirt with His finger. The woman cowered terrified that she would be stoned to death within minutes. She dared not lift her eyes to meet any of theirs.

Jesus knew her fear – He could see it. But since He was God, He also knew her heart and the hearts of the pompous men judging her. Jesus looked at the adulterous woman as He looks at you and me. He was filled with love for this woman He had created just a few years before. Maybe as He wrote on the ground, He thought of you and me, people He would create 2000 years later.

His eyes met the eyes of the religious leaders. He looked into the emptiness of their hearts. He made a simple statement that carried with it the authority from heaven and said, “If you have not sinned, you can throw the first stone.” Those men convicted by the irrefutable authority of the Lord walked away – one by one.

Then His eyes met the frightened eyes of the woman. He asked her where her accusers were. Upon her reply, He performed a remarkable miracle. He forgave her.

God’s miracle of forgiveness continues 2000 years later. During this Lenten season confess your need for God’s forgiveness. By the grace of Jesus Christ – you are forgiven!

Monica Boudreaux


PRAYER

Father – We confess our need for forgiveness and gratefully receive it. May we forgive those who have “trespassed against us” as you have forgiven us.

AMEN

Leave a comment

Filed under Lent, Monica Boudreaux