Monthly Archives: February 2020

Causing to Stumble—February 29

Day 4“If anyone causes one of these little ones—those who believe in me—to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea. Woe to the world because of the things that cause people to stumble! Such things must come, but woe to the person through whom they come!

—-Matthew 18:6-7

Question—How do I avoid being a stumbling block?

Prayer – Lord, make me keenly aware of the little ones in my life

little ones whose faith is immature

little ones whose insight is not developed

little ones who need to be treated gently

little ones who are your first love

Guide me so I may be a rock of strength for them and not a hindrance as they move toward you. Amen

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New Seeds of Contemplation 6

Bird and seedsEvery moment and every event of every man’s life on earth plants something in his soul. For just as the wind carries thousands of winged seeds, so each moment brings with it germs of spiritual vitality tat come to rest imperceptibly in the minds and wills of all men. Most of these unnumbered seeds perish in and are lost, because men are not prepared to receive them: for such seeds as these cannot spring up anywhere except in the good soil of freedom, spontaneity and love.

…..Thomas Merton

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Doubt and Despair — February 28

BDay 1ut to Jonah this seemed very wrong, and he became angry. He prayed to the Lord, “Isn’t this what I said, Lord, when I was still at home? That is what I tried to forestall by fleeing to Tarshish. I knew that you are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity. Now, Lord, take away my life, for it is better for me to die than to live.”

—-Jonah 4:1-3

Question—Have you ever doubted God to the point of despair?

Prayer Lord, we all have Jonah moments. Help me when I’m so down that life doesn’t seem like living. Allow me to see your hand in things I don’t understand and learn to rejoice in them. Let me take the time to look for your imprint on events that take a different path than I think they should. Allow me to look beyond my thinking in search for your wisdom. Amen

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Cleansing February 27

Day 1Have mercy on me, O God,

according to your unfailing love;

according to your great compassion

blot out my transgressions.

Wash away all my iniquity

and cleanse me from my sin.

—Psalm 51:1-2

Question—In what ways do I need spiritual cleansing today?

Prayer-Lord, my goal for fasting and praying is to cleanse myself of transgressions through your grace. Then will I aim towards doing what is good in your sight because that is what I was created to do. I confess my sins and ask your forgiveness. Amen

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Fasting – February 26

Day 1Yet even now, says the LORD, return to me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning; rend your hearts and not your clothing. Return to the LORD, your God, for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love, and relents from punishing.

—Joel 2:12-13

Question—What will be my fasting practice this Lenten season?

Prayer-Lord, I so long to return to you. I now know that I have fled from your presence. I commit to fast and pray this Lenten season. Give me the strength to be able to lay myself before you in this way so that I may return to the joy of your presence. Amen

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Click for John Wesley Fast

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Giving Up

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New Seeds of Contemplation 5

CrowTree-v3-1200-1200x675Nothing is more repellent than a pseudo-scientific definition of the contemplative experience. One reason for this is that he who attempts such a definition is tempted to proceed psychologically, and there is really no adequate psychology of contemplation.

—–Thomas Merton

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Benedictine Spiritualty 4

#4

Do not aspire to be called holy before you really are, but first be holy that you may more truly be called so. Live by God’s commandments every day; treasure chastity, harbor neither hatred nor jealousy of anyone, and do nothing out of envy. Do not love quarreling; shun arrogance. Respect the elders and love the young. Pray for your enemies out of love for Christ. If you have a dispute with someone, make peace with him before the sun goes down.

— THE RULE

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Life and Death

Our Life and death is with our neighbor. If we gain our brother, we have gained God, but if we scandalize our neighbor, we have sinned against Christ.

— Abba Anthony


ShemaWhen Jesus was questioned by the religious leaders of his day about the first commandment he said, “The first is, Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one; you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength. The second is this, You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” This dispute of the true and best path to God is ever going. “There is no other commandment greater than these. “ This lesson from Jesus and the monk is one in the same. The sacred is in the ordinary which is found in one’s daily life – in our neighbors, friends, family, in our backyard. We have never quite gotten that idea down. Men desperately search in so many places for peace with God while in continual battle with their neighbors. Our world is mired in war, violence, crime, racism and hopelessness.

The concept that to gain a brother is to gain God is not one that we often consider. Interestingly, when we truly think about it we can say that gaining a brother is a difficult task. Perhaps gaining a true friend and brother is one of our most challenging tasks. The Urban Dictionary puts it this way,” A best friend is someone who is there for you through thick and thin. It’s someone who listens and understands you. Someone you can call anytime about anything you feel you need to ‘tell’ or ‘vent’. It’s someone who will stand up for you in the times when you need it most, keep your secrets close, and someone you can trust with your life. They will support you in any decision you make even if it’s hard for them. It’s someone who is there for you as much as they can be and does and says whatever they can to up your mood in down times.” That type of brother is hard to find, and it is no wonder that Anthony compared it to gaining God.

There was a recent incident in my city where a rather flamboyant tow truck operator was killed by his next door neighbor in his front yard for spraying him with a water hose. They were in constant dispute about one thing or another-parking, planting of shrubs- you name it. This 80-year-old man shot and killed his neighbor over ongoing disputes. These proximity neighbors fought over turf and it ended most tragically. Most conflicts are over one turf or another. We are urged by scripture and wisdom teaching to regard our relationship with our neighbor as a relationship with God. By viewing it through that lens, we truly see the importance of getting along. Pray that God will give you the wisdom to see others through His eyes. With that wisdom comes the keys to the kingdom – spiritual wholeness. Such stories are the ultimate degree of sinning against God.

We are called to honor God by honoring one another. Becoming a good neighbor to all is what is expected of us. As we achieve this, we grow closer to God. That closeness to God allows us to become all that he created us to be. All persons were created in His image and should be treated as such.


Prayer

Lord, teach me to be kind when my heart resists. Teach me to be patient when it is my nature to be short. Teach me to be giving when I am naturally selfish. Teach me to look to you when I want to look to myself. Teach me to see others as you see them.

Grant this through your spirit that dwells within me. Amen

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New Seeds of Contemplation 4

Pencil of MonkThe life of contemplation implies two levels of awareness: first, awareness of the question, and second, awareness of the answer. Though are two distinct and enormously different levels, Yet they are, in fact, an awareness of the same thing. The question is, itself, the answer.

—–Thomas Merton

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