September 24, 2014 · 8:05 am
Abba Marcarius the Great said to the brothers at Scetis, when he dismissed the assembly, ‘Flee my brothers.’ One of the old men asked him, ’Where could we flee beyond the desert?’ He put his finger on his lips and said, ‘Flee that,” and he went into his cell, shut the door and sat down.
— sayings of the desert
There is a quite popular saying in the advertising business – location, location, location. When the monk questioned Marcarius, he was saying we desert monks are in the perfect location. Surely in this desert we have retreated from everything, and are in danger from nothing. Not so, says the great master. The greatest temptation of all still plagued them, and they had overlooked it. Their greatest opponent was the corrupt communication that would come out of their mouths.
The sin of gossip, slander and others originate from the words that come out of our mouths. Silence and introspection are our greatest friends. We must all think before we speak, and remain silent instead of having an opinion on everything. In the plethora of words that spew out of our mouths, much harm is done. The brother had just been dismissed from assembly (worship/prayer) , and Marcarius urged them to go back to their cells and reflect on the revelation that had received rather than to speak idle words to each other. This is a hard but worthy lesson for us.
Prayer Thought – Lord let us see the value of times of silence and reflection.
June 19, 2014 · 9:28 am
Don’t you love to be around cheerful people? You know – the kind of person who walks into a room and fills it with a certain light of gladness. The kind of person whose bright disposition chases away the dreariness of the day and lends an infusion of happiness to the room. The kind of person that inevitably makes you stop what you are doing and smile. There is nothing artificial about this person. The pure joy of his soul just bubbles to the surface and infects everyone around him. Cheerfulness is a natural for him!
I recently saw a TV interview with a man who had been cruelly blinded by a random act of violence. Pure delight with life made his face glow. His statement was this: “When I was blinded, I had a choice to make. I could be bitter, feel cheated, and bring misery into the lives of others; or I could be cheerful, glad to be alive, and bring encouragement into the lives of others. I chose to be cheerful.”
A close friend was struck down over a year ago with a massive stroke that left him without speech or any movement on his right side. When he awoke form the coma, Luke made a decision, too. He chose to be cheerful. The contentment of his soul makes its way to his face. You can see it there in his radiant smile and bright eyes. If you visit Luke, he makes sure you feel better because you came.
Cheerfulness is a state of mind and heart. It is the result of a mind of peace and heart of contentment. It has nothing to do with outward circumstances and is not contingent on any of life’s situations. Cheerfulness is a willingness to choose joy.
People who bring cheer into this world have chosen to look at the light, not at the darkness. Their lives are not free from trouble or pain, they have just decided that darkness will not overcome them.
Today, choose to be cheerful. Dispel the darkness, and set out to bring joy and laughter to all around you. Have a peaceful mind and a truly contented heart, and allow your face to mirror that. Decide that other people and outward circumstances can not take your joy away. Jesus said, “In this world, you will have trouble, but be of good cheer! I have overcome the world!” (John 16:33)
Make sure that seeing you makes the day brighter for others. Leave them better than you found them. Let your smiles be contagious and your happiness be genuine. KEEP YOUR FACE TO THE LIGHT!
“I AM THE LIGHT OF THE WORLD!” – Jesus
PRAYER: Father – Let me be a source of gladness and light to all around me.
- God of the Impossible (denacyd.wordpress.com)
- Be of Good Cheer (samuelatgilgal.wordpress.com)
February 24, 2014 · 10:43 am
Thomas Merton is a sage of the modern contemplative and mystic world. He offers us some sound guidance for our spiritual pathways. He addresses silence and solitude and their impact on our development as whole human beings.
The world of men has forgotten the joys of silence, the peace of solitude which is necessary, to some extent, for the fullness of human living. Not all men are called to be hermits, but all men need enough silence and solitude in their lives to enable the deep inner voice of their own true self to be heard at least occasionally. When that inner voice is not heard, when man cannot attain to the spiritual peace that comes from being perfectly at one with his own true self, his life is always miserable and exhausting. For he cannot go on happily for long unless he is in contact with the springs of spiritual life which are hidden in the depths of his own soul. If man is constantly exiled from his own home, locked out of his own spiritual solitude, he ceases to be a true person. He no longer lives as a man. He becomes a kind of automaton, living without joy because he has lost his spontaneity. He is no longer moved from within, but only from outside himself.
The joy of silence and the peace of solitude are missing links in American society. Twenty first century America is searching for its soul and looking in all the wrong places. Merton calls for us to be in silence and solitude so that we might hear the inner voice. There are few among us that would not admit that all of God’s creatures are looking for spiritual peace. Such a peace is very illusive in our society. We find the ever increasing number of people who identify as spiritual but not religious. That very label is a deep interior cry for union with our inner selves. Somehow they have failed to hear the inner voice and therefore, suffer from the agony of separation from the springs of spiritual life that wait them.
Merton acknowledges the impossibility of living as a hermit as the answer for the bulk of society. He does, however, strongly urge us to discover our inner selves. He calls our inner self our “home,” and implies that we are locking ourselves out of our own homes. In this act of exile, we cease to be a true person and become some kind of automated robot that merely functions from day to day.
Let us begin today to heed the advice of this modern day sage, and seek silence and solitude whenever and wherever it presents itself.
October 3, 2013 · 8:52 am
There is an old story told about a man by the name of Ali Facid. He had a small farm and a family. One day, the story goes, a Buddhist priest came by and said to Ali Facid: You know, there are valuable stones called diamonds, and if you get one of these you could be a wealthy man.” Ali Facid went to bed that night, but the words of the old priest haunted him. He was so obsessed that he felt that he must find him one of these diamonds so that he could become a ruler. He sold his farm, put his family out to neighbors and went out to find his acres of diamonds. Months passed. He was broken in body and spirit. His funds were gone. And at the Bay of Barcelona, he threw himself into the water, never to walk this earth again.
Meanwhile, the man who bought his farm bent over one day and picked up a little stone. He laid it on the mantle that night not knowing what it was. A few days later the old Buddhist priest came by and saw it and exclaimed: Ali Facid must be back from his search. No, came the response. Then where did that diamond come from? The farmer replied: I was out plowing in the garden and found it there. And friends, did you know that from that very garden came the jewels and diamonds that today adorn the crown heads of Europe and Russia. In Ali Facid’s own back yard there were acres of diamonds and he knew it not.
This is an old and often repeated story that speaks loudly to us. We, many times, neglect to see what’s around us for the adventure of a dream. That dream takes us away from the real blessings that God has given us.
September 20, 2013 · 8:00 am
July 30, 2013 · 6:10 am
“It is my intention to make my entire life a rejection of and protest against the crimes and injustices of war and political tyranny which threaten to destroy the whole human race and the world with it. By my monastic life and vows I am saying NO to all the concentration camps, the aerial bombardments, the staged political trials, the judicial murders, the racial injustices, the economic tyrannies, and the whole socioeconomic apparatus which seems geared for nothing but global destruction in spite of all its fair words in favor of peace.”
These words uttered by the mystic monk, Thomas Merton, in the mire of the Cold War and Vietnam are still a clarion wake up call to all thoughtful Christians. We are surrounded by injustice and inequality, but in that muddle Christ-followers struggle to find their souls. Perhaps we should hear the words of Jesus when He says, “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.'(NIV) The Lord calls us to a ministry of caring about the left out and marginalized of our world because they are ALL His creation. We are so easily led astray into our own world of self absorption and ego that we forget that the ethos of the Christian is to care about others. All acts of injustice are offenses to God.
I am not naive enough to supposed that we can solve all the problems of the world, but I would propose that we can begin with a fresh attitude in ourselves. This begins with prayer, meditation, soul searching, and caring when we see or hear things that are contrary to the teachings of Jesus. We are compelled to find our spiritual centers and allow the Spirit of our God to guide us in our daily walk.
- Thomas Merton on Love (cmaynus.wordpress.com)
July 29, 2013 · 6:14 am
There are two birds that fly over our nation’s deserts: One is the hummingbird and the other is the vulture. The vultures find the rotting meat of the desert, because that is what they look for. They thrive on that diet. But hummingbirds ignore the smelly flesh of dead animals. Instead, they look for the colorful blossoms of desert plants. The vultures live on what was. They live on the past. They fill themselves with what is dead and gone. But hummingbirds live on what is. They seek new life. They fill themselves with freshness and life. Each bird finds what it is looking for. We all do.
In life, there are two birds. The one bird looks for foolishness and stupidity, the other looks for wisdom. The vultures seek to fill themselves with the rotting flesh of drunkenness and debauchery, the hummingbird sobriety, freshness, and the Spirit. In the desert of this world you have your scavengers who are angry and ungrateful, but you also have those who hum a grateful hymn of thanksgiving. The irony is that you find what you are looking for.
I’m sure that all of us want to find what is wonderful and fresh. We want to be in the company of people and things that ad value to our lives. Unfortunately we sometimes seek out the wrong things. We find ourselves drawn to things and people that diminish us rather than build us. Remember, it all there for us to find.