September 5, 2013 · 7:24 am
Anselm of Canterbury was the first to attempt an ontological argument for God’s existence. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
God’s Likeness, then, may be attained by us in this way; if, musing on Him as the Good, we study to be good; if, owning Him the Just, we strive to be just; if, contemplating Him the Merciful, we make endeavors after mercy.
——-Anselm of Canterbury
The goal of every God fearing person is to somehow be like God. We all want to gain Godly attributes in our lives. Anselm used three words – musing, owning, and contemplating. His first was musing which means to meditate very deeply on a particular subject. Anselm chose to focus on the goodness of God; as a result, goodness becomes more natural to him. Anselm then moved on to seeing God as just. We all have our times of questioning the justice of God in our horribly unjust world. In owning God as a just God, Anselm, and we too, can learn the importance of striving to be just to all. Then comes a most important likeness of God, mercy. To truly understand the good and justice that Gods pours out on us, we must understand and practice mercy.
Think on these things and allow God to use you as His instrument. We serve a mighty and powerful God who wants to equip us to do the manifold tasks of ministry and to live as beacons of His presence in the world.
Filed under Anselm of Caterbury, Christian Journey, Christian Living, Faith, Sin, Spiritual Growth
Tagged as Anselm, Anselm of Canterbury, Canterbury, Christianity, Existence of God, God, Proslogion, Religion and Spirituality
August 13, 2013 · 11:15 am
“We must dig deeply in Christ. He is like a rich mine with many pockets containing treasures: however deep we dig we will never find their end or their limit. Indeed, in every pocket new seams of fresh riches are discovered on all sides.”
—St. John of the Cross
Through the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ may we treasure the gifts of life which God have given us!
Filed under Devotional Quotes, John of the Cross, Missional Living, Mystery, Mystics, Spiritual Growth
Tagged as Christ, Christianity, God, Holy Spirit, Jesus, John of the Cross, Lord Jesus Christ, Saint John
June 26, 2013 · 8:47 am
Someone said to Abba Arsenius, ‘My thoughts trouble me, saying, “You can neither fast nor work; at least go and visit the sick, for that is also charity.”‘ But the old man, recognizing the suggestions of the demons, said to him, ‘Go, eat, drink, sleep, do no work, only do not leave your cell.’ For he knew that steadfastness in the cell keeps a monk in the right way.
—sayings of the Desert Fathers
A great “demon” of all people is restlessness. This feeling can cause us to stray away from our purpose in life. We have a tendency to fill our days with meaningless activities that accomplish nothing. The greatest tool of the evil one is distraction from purpose. Most believers get up every morning with the intention to “do no evil,” but the demands of the world can sidetrack the best among us. Keeping our focus on our “cells” of life will keep us on track. We pray, we care, we are other focused, and this is the calling of all Christ followers.
June 12, 2013 · 10:38 am
Abba Poemen said of Abba John the Dwarf that he had prayed God to take his passions away from him so that he might become free from care. He went and told an old man this: ‘I find myself in peace, without an enemy,’ he said. The old man said to him, ‘Go, and beseech God to stir up warfare so that you may regain the affliction and humility that you used to have, for it is by warfare that the soul makes progress.’ So he besought God and when warfare came, he no longer prayed that it might be taken away, but said, ‘Lord, give me strength for the fight.’
—-sayings of the desert
Our society cries out that a relationship with God is all about prosperity, victory and success. The wise men of the desert voice a different view, and we have much to learn from them. Abba John the Dwarf prayed for all passions to be extinguished from his life so that he might be carefree, but the pastor (poeman means pastor) tells him that struggle is part of the journey. In our struggles we learn the important lesson of humility, which turns us away from self and toward others, especially the ultimate other-God. Humility teaches us the need to be silent, to pray, to worship, and to understand the greatness of God. Then we can know that we must pray, ‘Lord, give me strength for the fight.’
Filed under Abba Poeman, Ascetics, Commitment, Community, Contemplation, Desert Fathers, Humility, Spiritual Growth, suffering
Tagged as Abba, Abba John, Christianity, God, Humility, Lord, Prayer, War
May 14, 2013 · 9:59 am
Asceticism describes a lifestyle characterized by abstinence from various worldly pleasures, often with the aim of pursuing religious and spiritual goals. Many religious traditions (Buddhism, the Christian Desert Fathers) include practices that involve restraint with respect to actions of body, speech, and mind. The founders and earliest practitioners of these religions lived extremely austere lifestyles, refraining from sensual pleasures and the accumulation of material wealth. They practiced asceticism not as a rejection of the enjoyment of life, or because the practices themselves are virtuous, but as an aid in the pursuit of physical and spiritual health.
From these ascetics much of our prayer and contemplative practices were given to us. In these day of stress and multiple pressure of life we can learn much from them. One of these ascetics was medieval mystic Ignatius of Loyola. Today I present a very simple practice known as the Daily Examen. The Daily Examen is a technique of prayerful reflection on the events of the day in order to detect God’s presence and discern his direction for us. The Examen is an ancient practice in the Church that can help us see God’s hand at work in our whole experience. Here’s how it works.
At the close of each day find a quiet place, and perform these tasks.
1. Become aware of God’s presence.
2. Review the day with gratitude.
3. Pay attention to your emotions.
4. Choose one feature of the day and pray from it.
5. Look toward tomorrow.
I believe that these simple steps can change your perception of God and yourself.
Filed under Ascetics, Christian Living, Contemplation, Dedication, Ignatius of Loyola, Meditation, Monasticism, Prayer, Spiritual Growth
Tagged as Asceticism, Buddhism, Catholic Church, Desert Fathers, Examination of conscience, God, Ignatius of Loyola, Religion
May 7, 2013 · 12:26 pm
Some sixteen hundred years ago men and women who sought a deep relationship with God went to the Egyptian desert to find a sense of peace and unity with Him. These men and women became known as the Desert Fathers and Mothers (the Abbas and Ammas.) They lived a simple and somewhat isolated life of work and prayer, and followed a three step program to mysticism. The goal of every monk was to see and feel the mystical presence of God.
The first level was Purgatio, a time when the young monks through prayer and ascetic practices sought to control their “flesh.” Specifically they were challenged to control their desire for wealth, lust of the flesh, and gluttony. This period of purgation could last for years, and didn’t conclude until they realized that the only control was found through grace. This grace came directly from the Holy Spirit.
Then the young monk went to the second step, Illuminatio. During this period the monks practiced the paths to holiness as revealed in the Gospel, identifying strongly with the Christ who taught the Sermon on the Mount. At this point the monk began to guide others in their paths of purgation, helping them to discover the grace of God. They entertained visitors and took on students as their resources allowed. Often the monk stayed at this stage until his death.
The final stage was Unitio, a period in which the soul of the monk was meant to bond with the Spirit of God in a union often described as the marriage of the Song of Solomon. At this point, many monks withdrew to the deep desert, modeling their journey after resurrected Christ, when he hid himself from His disciples, and appeared to them sparingly.
Amazingly, we can learn so much from desert monasticism. These pioneers of spirituality provide for us a personal path to God that works so well. Just imagine what life would be if we would follow the path of the desert, as we sought God. Many of the conflicts and worst church experiences could be avoided. If each Christian saw as his first task to purge himself of the desires of the flesh (not just sexual lust), and then share his journey, without judgment, with someone else, we would teach and hold up each other. It would be the burning desire of every believer to assist others in finding their path.
I am not sure that any of us will ever get to this final stage. John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, taught an order of salvation: justification, sanctification, and glorification. Unitio and glorification are similar theologies, and Wesley concluded that glorification was not possible in our lifetime. I agree with Wesley’s conclusion, but we can have such a joyful journey if we are mindful of ourselves and those around us.
Filed under Christian Living, Commitment, Desert Fathers, Methodist, Missional Living, Monasticism, Sermon on the Mount, Spiritual Growth
Tagged as Christ, Desert Fathers, God, Holy Spirit, John Wesley, Methodism, Monk, Religion and Spirituality