Monthly Archives: June 2017

Simply Jesus

JESUS OF NAZARETH poses a question and a challenge two thousand years after his lifetime. The question is fairly simple: who exactly was he? This includes the questions, What did he think he was up to? What did he do and say, why was he killed, and did he rise from the dead? The challenge is likewise fairly simple: since he called people to follow him, and since people have been trying to do that ever since, what might “following him” entail? How can we know if we are on the right track?

—-from “Simply Jesus” by N. T. Wright

I have recently begun a study group based on N. T. Wright’s Simply Jesus.  In his book he  attempts to explain what Jesus was up to in historical context to correct the misconceptions of modern skepticism and contemporary conservative Christianity. The goal is to frame Jesus in a way that can be acceptable to all and reach the world with His message of grace.

Read Simply Jesus

image

Leave a comment

Filed under N T Wright, Simply Jesus

The Whole World Is Our Cloister

Over the past several years I have been a real advocate of living a monastic life in the place that we are planted. For most of us it  is impossible to escape to a cloistered life. Benedictine Joan Chittister give us her offering in “Monasteries of the Heart.” We longed for peace and escape from the troubled world but are frustrated that we can’t quite pull it off. Joan Chittister offers some ways to accomplish that goal. The article below is offered to us by the Franciscan Richard Rhor and he tells his story. I share it with you today.

In the Franciscan worldview, the Christ can be found everywhere. Nothing is secular or profane. You don’t really “get” the Christ mystery until body and spirit begin to operate as one. Once you see the material and the spiritual working together, everything is holy. The Christ is whenever and wherever the material and the spiritual co-exist—which is always and everywhere! Everything is already “christened”; any anointing, blessing, declaring, or baptizing is just to help us get the point.

I wrote my undergraduate thesis on St. Francis’ break with historic monasticism. When his friars brought up well-established rules for religious life, Francis even went so far as to say “Don’t speak to me of Benedict! Don’t speak to me of Augustine!” [1] (No offence intended to Benedictines or Augustinians.) Francis believed that the Lord had shown him a different way, one which directly implied that the whole world—not just a single building—was our cloister. He did not need to create a sheltered space. We were to be “friars” instead of monks, living in the midst of ordinary people, in ordinary towns and cities. Franciscan friaries are still usually in the heart of major European and Latin American cities. We didn’t live on the edge of town because Christ is found as much in the middle of civilization as is in quiet retreats and hermitages.

Franciscan theologian Bonaventure (1221-1274) soon debated “secular priests” at the University of Paris, because some of them felt that putting together action and contemplation would not work. We became competitors for the affection of the people, I am afraid. Up until Francis of Assisi (1184-1226), most religious had to choose either a life of action or a life of contemplation. Secular priests worked with people in the parishes. The “true” religious went off to monasteries. Francis said there had to be a way to do both.

It’s as if consciousness wasn’t ready to imagine that it could find God in any way except by going into the desert, into the monastery, away from troubles, away from marriage, away from people. In that very real sense, we see a non-dual mind emerging with the Franciscan movement.

Perhaps you can find a place, interior or exterior that will allow you to cloister and moved towards God. Get in the middle of thing and experience the blessing.


PRAYER

Lead me from death to life,
from falsehood to truth.

Lead me from despair to hope,
from fear to trust.

Lead me from hate to love,
from war to peace.

Let peace fill my heart,
my world, my universe.

Amen.

1 Comment

Filed under Francis of Assisi, Richard Rhor

Some Quotes to Ponder

We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.

It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.

 What is a friend? A single soul dwelling in two bodies.

Pleasure in the job puts perfection in the work.

      ARISTOTLE

Happiness depends upon ourselves.    

I count him braver who overcomes his desires than him who conquers his enemies; for the hardest victory is over self.

The roots of education are bitter, but the fruit is sweet.

Poverty is the parent of revolution and crime.

The educated differ from the uneducated as much as the living from the dead.

All men by nature desire knowledge.

 

Augustine of Hippo

 

The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.

Faith is to believe what you do not yet see; the reward for this faith is to see what you believe.

Since love grows within you, so beauty grows. For love is the beauty of the soul.

You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in you.

Patience is the companion of wisdom.

God loves each of us as if there were only one of us.

Pray as though everything depended on God. Work as though everything depended on you.

If you believe what you like in the gospels, and reject what you don’t like, it is not the gospel you believe, but yourself.

Do you wish to rise? Begin by descending. You plan a tower that will pierce the clouds? Lay first the foundation of humility.

It was pride that changed angels into devils; it is humility that makes men as angels.

 

The Cloud of Unknowing Quotes

“The universes which are amenable to the intellect can never satisfy the instincts of the heart.”

“For I tell you this: one loving, blind desire for God alone is more valuable in itself, more pleasing to God and to the saints, more beneficial to your own growth, and more helpful to your friends, both living and dead, than anything else you could do.”

“And therefore take good heed unto time, how that thou dispendest it: for nothing is more precious than time. In one little time, as little as it is, may heaven be won and lost.”

 

Perhaps one or more of these quotes can act as a meditation or writing guide to you this week.


PRAYER

Lord, allow me to make the most of the time that you have allotted to me. Let my hours be productive. and my days be meaningful . I trust your grace to bring me through.

Amen.

1 Comment

Filed under Quotes

Our Time

Pay attention, then, to how you spend your time. You have nothing more precious than time. In one tiny moment of time, heaven may be gained or lost. God gives us time in sequence, one instant after another and never simultaneously. We only experience the present moment. God never reverses the orderly progression of time. God does not ask for more than we can handle in one moment.

“What can I do? If what you say is true, how can I account for each moment God has already given me?

—The Cloud of Unknowing


June-14

“Pay attention to how you spend your time.” Those are the opening words of the wise sage who gave us the wisdom of The Cloud of the Unknowing. Our western culture has taught us to put a monetary value on time. Time, for many people, is a way of measuring productivity. In such thinking, we become slaves to the tick of the clock. We have little time for anything but work and achievement. This writer urges us to be aware of time as a tool that brings us closer to God. When we are so busy with the worldly use of time, God seems to be sidelined. All time is given to us by the Creator and that creator wants us to use it wisely and succinctly. I would suggest that we all have to develop a sense of “God Time.” This is a time that we use to connect ourselves with the Almighty and the souls that surround us. Let me share some observations about living in “God Time.”

· TIMES IS PRECIOUS – “Time is your most precious gift, because you only have a set amount of it.” (Rick Warren) Do we live our lives as though that is true? Do we cherish the each moment that God has granted to us? The Psalmist cries out, “Teach us to number our days that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” We are all told from time to time to live each day as if it was our last. As we begin to realize that that our time is finite in this world, we begin to move closer to God.

· TIME IS SEQUENTIAL– . The concept of time being sequential and orderly allows us to live each moment. The phrase Carpe Diem (seize the day) was popularized a few years ago. We can all live better and more productive lives if we live and cherish each moment and see the next moment as an opportunity. In one tiny moment heaven may be won or lost. In that same moment a life may be saved or change irrevocably. Always be aware that time is sequential-orderly and cannot be rushed or slowed. We live in the flow.

· TIME IS NOW.—The only thing we can really effect is the task that is in front of us right now. Opportunities really don’t repeat themselves. We can never relive a single moment of time. Sci-fi writers have spent a great amount of creativity imagining time machines and portals that allow us to go into the future or return to the past. Invariably time travelers are trying fix a mistake of the past or bring something back from the future that will make life better in the here and now. When you wake up in the morning there is no past you can relive that you can change or future you can truly predict, there is only the wonderful day you have be given to live in the moment. Remember, each tick of the clock is important

· TIME IS ALWAYS UP TO THE TASK – God never gives us more than we can handle in the ticks of the clock that are allotted to us. Paul the Apostle tells us,” No testing has overtaken you that is not common to everyone. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tested beyond your strength, but with the testing he will also provide the way out so that you may be able to endure it.” God always give us the time to work through things as necessary. The challenge is to use it.


Prayer

Lord, teach me to not only count my days but to count my minutes. Let each tick of the clock be an opportunity to get closer to You or to be of service to my neighbor. May you guide me to lead a live well planned and well executed for your glory and my good.

Amen

Leave a comment

Filed under Cloud of the Unknowing