October 18, 2013 · 5:20 am
“[To have Faith in Christ] means, of course, trying to do all that He says. There would be no sense in saying you trusted a person if you would not take his advice. Thus if you have really handed yourself over to Him, it must follow that you are trying to obey Him. But trying in a new way, a less worried way. Not doing these things in order to be saved, but because He has begun to save you already. Not hoping to get to Heaven as a reward for your actions, but inevitably wanting to act in a certain way because a first faint gleam of Heaven is already inside you.”
—-C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity
As Christians, Christ followers, we are called to be hands on radical servants. As Christ fed the hungry, clothed the naked , and consorted with all manner of persons, we too must be willing to go where the opportunity for ministry presents itself. Ministry is inconvenient, and doesn’t come wrapped in neat little packages. Lewis urges us to our surrender to Christ seriously. That level of seriousness requires discipline and action that come from within the center of the soul.
Prayer- Loving Christ help me to see the heart of being a Christian, and follow it wherever it leads.
Filed under C. S. Lewis, Christian Journey, Commitment, Devotional Quotes
Tagged as C. S. Lewis, Christ, Christian, Christianity, God, Jesus, Mere Christianity, Religion and Spirituality
September 26, 2013 · 6:36 am
For a number of years now I have sought to deepen my relationship with God by opening myself to His ongoing presence in my everyday living. For me this has come about by sacred reading, retreats, and prayer practices both ancient and not so ancient. I have found myself inwardly led to read and study a variety of works that are written for the specific purpose of bringing creation into contact with the Creator. Such contact is far more than knowledge-it is awareness.
A word that is often used to describe that awareness is contemplative. A contemplative is a person who dedicates himself to live where heaven and earth intersect. William Thiele is the founder and director of The School for Contemplative Living here in New Orleans. In a recent article he cut right to the heart of an important, though fundamentally misunderstood, contemplative principle. “So where exactly is the first place contemplatives belong? The answer is: wherever there are people who’ve been excluded by others. A Christian contemplative seeks to follow the Jesus who always preferred to hang out with the very people excluded by others. Aren’t there enough stories in the gospels to make it crystal clear that those sinners, (non-religious people), and tax collectors were his best buddies? And didn’t Jesus manage to also get himself excluded and eventually killed by the religious people who were doing the excluding?” I want to ponder on that a little.
There is an undeniable relationship between being a person of contemplation and one that cares and reaches out to the hurt and injustice of the world. When we are called to prayer and silence, we think we are called to isolation and abandonment. The twentieth century mystic monk, Thomas Merton, spent months at a time living as a hermit, but he reminds us of something he learned in isolation, “The whole idea of compassion is based on a keen awareness of the interdependence of all these living beings, which are all part of one another, and all involved in one another.” The desert mystics went to the desert to escape the empire, but also to direct others on a path towards God. Many of those that they taught made a great difference in their world. Can we be people of contemplation and compassion without being people of action?
I think not. Jesus assigns us to be the “salt and light” of the earth. The real thought that I am playing with here is action. As contemplatives we must be people of action. We are stirred to action by our passions. A contemplative must feel enough, care enough to do something. When you have your time of prayer and solitude, emerge from it with full awareness of the world that surrounds you.
Do you have the spiritual fortitude to think as George Bernard Shaw did? “Some men see things as they are and say why, others dreams things that never were and say, why not?”
Contemplatives are compelled by the very presence of Him they seek to say, “Why not?”
Filed under Commitment, Community, Contemplation, Social Action
Tagged as Christian mysticism, Christianity, Contemplation, George Bernard Shaw, God, Jesus, New Orleans, Thomas Merton
September 4, 2013 · 10:20 am
God the Father
He also said, ‘The nearer a man draws to God, the more he sees himself as a sinner. It was when Isaiah the prophet saw God, that he declared himself “a man of unclean lips”’ (Isaiah 6:5)
——Abba Mateo of the Desert
As I ponder these words from the desert, I am symbolically called to the stand in front of a mirror. A mirror is a reminder, sometimes a shocking one, of how we truly look. The older we get the more we are surprised at what the passing of years has done to our faces, but we must accept the true self we see in the mirror or we can become very sick and dysfunctional beings. The Abba reminds us that we must take a “God look” at ourselves to understand our true nature. As we draw closer to God and do more intense soul work we become enlightened and realistic about our place in this world. Like Isaiah of old, our ministry only begins when we see and acknowledge our uncleanness.
The sweet Christian journey gets only sweeter when we know that we are a sinner among sinners, and not a judge sent to make things right. As people who have faced our true selves, we can reach out to our family, friends, and neighbors with the true heart of God. We no longer sit in judgment, but stand beside and walk with those in need. May we all draw near to God?
- Pursuing Holiness (pbsministries.wordpress.com)
Filed under Ascetics, Christian Journey, Christian Living, Commitment, Desert Fathers
Tagged as Book of Isaiah, Christian, Christianity, God, Isaiah, Jesus, Religion and Spirituality
September 1, 2013 · 6:13 am
Harry Emerson Fosdick, the minister of the Riverside Church, was making a tour of Palestine and other countries of the Middle East. He was invited to give an address at the American University of Beirut, Lebanon, where the student body comprised citizens of many countries and representatives from sixteen different religions. What could he say that would be relevant or of interest to so mixed and varied a group? This is how Fosdick began: “I do not ask anyone here to change his religion; but I do ask all of you to face up to this question: What is your religion doing to your character?”
This was a call to consider one of the great issues of human belief. He was asking them to consider: religion and life, Christianity and character, word and spirit. Emerson once said, “What you are speaks so loudly I cannot hear a word you say.”
The historical traditions of the world all have their goals. The Greeks were in search of a formula for life, a slogan by which to perform, but this never claimed to change the heart. The Jews had their Law, demanding obedience to every detail as the prerequisite to the good life, but Christianity discovered that a set of rules could never provide salvation nor solve the deadly problem of sin and moral failure. Jesus, however, came with a new key to true life: accept His spirit, surrender to Him, and allow him to be a part of your everyday life.
August 24, 2013 · 7:31 am
- Jesus’ public life begins with His baptism at the hands John the Baptist.
- Although sinless, Jesus chooses to identify Himself with the repentant sinners who flocked to baptism.
- Before embarking upon His ministry, Jesus withdraws to the desert for a 40-day period of fasting.
- The coming of God’s Kingdom means the destruction of the devil’s dominion over this world.
- Jesus now goes forth to preach the “good news” of the coming of the Kingdom.
- Jesus backed up His words with mighty miracles that inspired belief in Him.
- Jesus gathers people to Himself, and this is the begining of the Kingdom of God.
- Jesus emphasizes that everyone is called to enter the Kingdom. He reaches out to the poor, the marginalized and sinners.
- In a very special way, the Kingdom belongs to the poor, lowly, humble of heart, those who know that they need God.
- Jesus often illustrated His teaching by means of parables,and these stories call us to radical discipleship.
Live Your Faith
Rather than viewing the Gospels strictly as mini-biographies of Jesus, we should instead use our imagination to put ourselves into the stories.
Which people resonate the most with me? What would it be like to watch Jesus preach or perform a miracle?
Filed under Ascetics, Christian Journey, Commitment, Evangelism, Faithfulness, Kingdom of God
Tagged as Baptism, Baptism of Jesus, God, Gospel, Jesus, John the Baptist, Kingdom, Kingdom of God
August 16, 2013 · 7:54 am
Anicius Manlius Severinus Boethius, commonly called Boethius, was a philosopher of the early 6th century. He is venerated by the Roman Catholic Church as a martyr and saint. Boethius was both a Christian and a Hellenist, a truly rare combination. His passion in life was a closer relationship between the empires of Rome and Constantinople, and for that passion, he was jailed and executed. I share this prayer of Boethius.
Bless me in this life with but peace of my Conscience, command of my affections, the love of Thy self and my dearest friends, and I shall be happy enough to pity Ceasar. These are, O LORD, the humble desires of my most reasonable ambition, and all I dare call happiness on earth; wherein I set no rule or limit to Thy Hand or Providence. Dispose of me according to the wisdom of Thy pleasure: Thy will be done, though in my own undoing.
Filed under Christian Journey, Commitment, Devotional Quotes, Prayer
Tagged as Anicius Manlius Severinus Boethius, Boethius, Christian, Constantinople, God, Israel, Peace, Philosophy, Religion and Spirituality, Rome
August 7, 2013 · 11:16 am
He also said, ‘The nearer a man draws to God, the more he sees himself as a sinner. It was when Isaiah the prophet saw God, that he declared himself “a man of unclean lips.” ’ (Isaiah 6:5)
——-Abba Mateos of the Desert
These are great words coming from the wise monk. We should take to heart the notion that closeness to God gives us a greater awareness of our inability to live the life of perfection. With this awareness we open ourselves to the abundance of grace that God sends our way, and to a better understanding of our neighbor. In the acceptance of our own sin, forgiveness of others becomes more natural. As long as we hold on to our own pride and power, we will never fully experience the presence of God.
- An Older Gospel (laymansbible.wordpress.com)
Filed under Ascetics, Commitment, Contemplation, Desert Fathers, Fear, Isaiah, Sin
Tagged as Book of Isaiah, Christianity, God, Isaiah, Jesus, Old Testament, Religion and Spirituality, Sin
August 3, 2013 · 12:54 am
Saint Basil’s Cathedral (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
He was born to serfs in December of 1468 or 1469 in Yelokhovo, near Moscow (now in Moscow). It’s believed, he was born on the portico of the local church where his mother prayed for easy birth. He is thought to have died in 1552 or 1557
St Basil’s Cathedral in Moscow is named after the saint. Originally an apprentice shoemaker in Moscow, he adopted an eccentric lifestyle of shoplifting and giving to the poor to shame the miserly and help those in need. He is thought to have had the gift of clairvoyance. Once a man came to the shoemaker asking for good boots that would last him for years. Basil laughed and said the man did not need the boots as he would die tomorrow, and it happened just as Basil said.
He went naked and weighed himself down with chains. He rebuked Ivan the Terrible for not paying attention in church, and especially for his violent behavior towards the innocent.
When he died on August 2, 1552 or 1557, St. Macarius, Metropolitan of Moscow, served his funeral with many clergy. Ivan the Terrible himself acted as pallbearer and carried his coffin to the cemetery. He is buried in St. Basil’s Cathedral in Moscow, which was commissioned by Ivan IV to commemorate the capture of the Khanate of Kazan. The cathedral is also known as “The Cathedral of Intercession of the Virgin on the Moa”. In 1588 Tsar Fedor Ivanovich had a chapel added on the eastern side above the grave of Basil Fool for Christ.
Filed under Basil of Russia, Christian Living, Commitment, Dedication
Tagged as Basil, Basil Fool for Christ, Cathedral, Ivan, Ivan the Terrible, Moscow, Russia, Saint Basil's Cathedral
July 28, 2013 · 5:24 pm
There is a powerful scene in the movie, The Godfather, Part III. Perhaps some of you remember when the Godfather, Don Corleone, is forced to visit the distinguished Cardinal Lamberto to tell him the bad news that a legitimate business deal involving the Vatican Bank has gone bad. The bank is run by the Archbishop and a coalition of Catholic businessmen. The Cardinal listens to the Godfather; then the Cardinal says something quite profound. He picks up a stone and says, “Look at this stone. It has been lying in the water for a very long time. The water has not penetrated it.” Then he smashes the stone. “Look,” he says peering at the smashed insides of the stone, “perfectly dry. The same thing,” the Cardinal continues, “has happened to men in Europe. They have been surrounded by Christianity for centuries, but Christ does not live in their hearts.”
July 18, 2013 · 9:11 am
There are some fascinating words of Jesus in John 17: 23&24, “The glory that you have given me I have given them, so that they may be one, as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become completely one, so that the world may know that you have sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.” Have you ever pondered on this passage? What does it mean to be one with God? Further, why are we one with Him?
The contemplative monk Thomas Merton had this to say about the passage. “The seeds of this perfect life are planted in every Christian soul at Baptism. But seeds must grow and develop before you reap the harvest. There are thousands of Christians walking about the face of the earth bearing in their bodies the infinite God of whom they know practically nothing.”
Life would be so different if only we recognized and nourished these precious seeds we bear in our souls. God has given each of us a small part of himself. After all, we are created in the “image and likeness” of God. The pilgrimage of a lifetime is to discover and nurture that precious gift God has given us. We discover this gift as we spend time with Him-fully open to His presence. We can pray, fast, meditate, worship and engage in sacred reading, all with the objective of allowing our master to complete this process. It is so very sad that so many people never allow for the development of the divine within themselves.
Filed under Ascetics, Christian Journey, Commitment, Faith, Focus, Thomas Merton
Tagged as Baptism, Christian, Christianity, God, Jesus, Religion and Spirituality, Thomas Merton