Monthly Archives: June 2015

The Fisher King

It begins with the king as a boy, having to spend the night alone in the forest to prove his courage so he can become king.

Now while he is spending the night alone he’s visited by a sacred vision. Out of the fire appears the holy grail, symbol of God’s divine grace. And a voice said to the boy,

“You shall be keeper of the grail so that it may heal the hearts of men.”

But the boy was blinded by greater visions of a life filled with power and glory and beauty.

And in this state of radical amazement he felt for a brief moment not like a boy, but invincible, like God,

… so he reached into the fire to take the grail,

… and the grail vanished,

… leaving him with his hand in the fire to be terribly wounded.

Now as this boy grew older, his wound grew deeper.

Until one day, life for him lost its reason. … He had no faith in any man, not even himself.

… He couldn’t love or feel loved.

… He was sick with experience.

He began to die.

One day a fool wandered into the castle and found the king alone. And being a fool, he was simple minded, he didn’t see a king. He only saw a man alone and in pain. And he asked the king,

“What ails you friend?”

The king replied,

“I’m thirsty. I need some water to cool my throat”.

So the fool took a cup from beside his bed, filled it with water and handed it to the king.

Fisher King1As the king began to drink, he realized his wound was healed. He looked in his hands and there was the holy grail, that which he sought all of his life. And he turned to the fool and said with amazement,

“How can you find that which my brightest and bravest could not?”

And the fool replied,

“I don’t know. I only knew that you were thirsty.”

This legend holds in it the key to being a missional person. Missional people act out of the heart of God that dwells in them. For such a person there is never a decision about  ministering but rather how to minister.?

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Food for Thought-5 Good Ideas for Today June 17th, 2015

Great List

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The Disappearing Word

Abba Poeman asked him weeping, ‘Give me a word that I may be saved.’ But the old man replied, ‘What you are looking for has disappeared now from among monks.’

— Abba Macarius the Great

Sometimes it can be stunning how many things have disappeared from a church or a culture. As a United Methodist I am keenly aware of my church’s decline over the past 40 years. The decline has been steady and damArsenius 2aging. The recent Pew Study finds: “The decline of Christians in the U.S. has corresponded with the continued rise in the share of Americans with no religious affiliation (religious “nones”).” Upon hearing this news many that are predicted the fall of Christianity in America. We Americans are so short sited that we assume that such a time of decline has never happened before. Do not misunderstand, American Christianity has some deep wounds.

  I am always astounded at the “back door” messages that I receive from my study of the fathers and mystics. Abba Poeman goes to the great monk and seeks a word of salvation, and the great monk says that such words have disappeared from the community. I can just imagine the discussion about the good old days and how they wish to return to that wonderful time during the social hour of the monastery. Additionally, I hear the cry that monastery will soon have to shut its doors because of a multitude of troubles.

Hard times are not exclusive to our era; they have plagued the church throughout its existence. The answer for such woes is always the same, ”work and pray.” Those of us who believe that God will be faithful are compelled to do the work of the church as if we believe He is faithful. We must never neglect our prayer and even ramp up our prayers in this time of need. In taking these simple steps, we have opened the way for God to give us understanding and maybe growth.

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The Road

If a man wishes to be sure of the road he treads on, he must close his eyes and walk in the dark.

St. John of the Cross, Doctor of the Church.

——John of the Cross

John of the cross is the medieval mystic who gave us “Dark Night of the Soul.” In his work he challenges us to the work of being a Christian, and the strength that comes for the journey. He tells us that the strength comes from complete union with God. This union has a price, and it is separation from the world. In that dark night of separation John finds the peace of God.

Prayer Thought

Lord help us to seek union with you and to understand its cost.

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Suffering

“Might the authority of those who suffer bring the diverse cultural and social worlds together?” –Johann Baptist Metz

I believe this profound question about suffering, from a modern German theologian, succinctly and precisely expresses the religious breakthrough that Christ has offered humanity. It is also foundational to understanding the unique Franciscan view of the world. True gospel authority, the authority to heal and renew things and people, is not finally found in a hierarchical office, a theological argument, a perfect law, or a rational explanation. The Crucified revealed to the world that the real power that changes people and the world is an inner authority that comes from people who have lost, let go, and are re-found on a new level. Twelve-step programs have come to the same conclusion in our time.

Richard-Rohr_home-view

Richard Rhor

Both Francis and Clare had this kind of inner authority that is still part of their essential message for the world. They let go of all fear of suffering; all need for power, prestige and possessions; any need for their small self to be important; and came to know something essential–who they really were in God and thus who they really were. Their house was then built on “bedrock,” as Jesus says .

Such an ability to really change and heal people is often the fruit of suffering, and various forms of poverty, since the false self does not surrender without a fight to its death. If suffering is “whenever we are not in control” (which is my definition), then you see why some form of suffering is absolutely necessary to teach us how to live beyond the illusion of control and to give that control back to God. Then we become usable instruments, because we can share our power with God’s power (Romans 8:28).

Such a counterintuitive insight surely explains why these two medieval dropouts–Francis and Clare–tried to invite us all into their happy run downward, to that place of “poverty” where all humanity finally dwells anyway. They voluntarily leapt into the very fire from which most of us are trying to escape, with total trust that Jesus’ way of the cross could not, and would not, be wrong. They trusted that his way was the way of solidarity and communion with the larger world, which is indeed passing away and dying. By God’s grace, they could trust the eventual passing of all things, and where it was passing to. They did not wait for liberation later–after death–but grasped it here and now.

—-Richard Rhor

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Bears are re-writing the signs

Love this type of cartoon.

Mustard Seed Budget

sin no longer sinDanger is no longer danger, sin is no longer sin.

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Desire

Cross John of the CrossTo reach satisfaction in all
desire its possession in nothing,
To come to the knowledge of all
desire the knowledge of nothing.
To come to possess all
desire the possession of nothing.
To arrive at being all
desire to be nothing.
— St. John of the Cross

Desire is a very strong emotion and it can lead us to good or bad. Our control of desire is the key to victory.

Prayer

Lord help me this day to desire nothing so that You may be able to give me more than I can imagine.

Amen

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C. S. Lewis Rules

C. S. Lewis was not only a great writer of books but a caring man who answered his mail and never missed an opportunity to encourage young writers. In 1959 an American schoolgirl wrote to C. S. Lewis asking him for advice on the craft of writing. He sent her a list of eight rules.

 

1. Turn off the radio.

2. Read good books and avoid most magazines.

3. Write with the ear, not the eye. Make every sentence sound good.CS Lewis Writing

4. Write only about things that interest you. If you have no interests, you won’t ever be a writer.

5. Be clear. Remember that readers can’t know your mind. Don’t forget to tell them exactly what they need to know to understand you.

6. Save odds and ends of writing attempts, because you may be able to use them later.

7. You need a well-trained sense of word-rhythm, and the noise of a typewriter will interfere.

8. Know the meaning of every word you use.

Not many of us even think about typewriters and radios anymore but we are still surrounded by distractions that can blur our focus and rob us of some jewel that might have been. Lewis’s advice is just as alive today as it was nearly 60 years ago when he first penned this list.

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The Soul is a River

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Everyday Contemplatives

There is a contemplative

in every one of us

nearly extinguished by the noise of the day

but still holding on in the hope of relief.

A contemplative craves quiet solitude,

longs for the enjoyment of God’s Now,

aching to touch the sacred silence that makes us whole.

Irvin J. Boudreaux

A Contemplative Pledge
In the early 21st century a monastery without walls, a monastery of the heart, a lay, ecumenical contemplative community is being born. We contemplatives are simply seekers of oneness with God. We remember what Jesus said,

“May all be one, as you, Father, are in me and I in you, that they also may be in us.”

As brothers and sisters of this oneness we are gathering in a time when religion is going crazy, again, defining itself by who it judges as unworthy. In such a time we create an open table to invite all spiritual seekers to come into the shelter of an inclusive community, a home for all of us sinners and saints, a refuge for Americans who are wearied by a frantic culture and an overly busy church. In such a time of distress, we will teach each other how to find our inner sanctuary and we will learn to serve the world from that True Home together. We commit ourselves to the mission of creating contemplative communities who practice the presence of God for personal transformation and radical engagement with the world.

—– School for Contemplative Living

Few of you that read these words have a monastic cell, but all of us have to grab the time that fate allows to draw near to the heart of God. I share these words there is a small contribution to those who seek the contemplative life.

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