Tag Archives: Christianity

A Word on Prayer

When we wish to suggest our wants to persons of high station,

we do not presume to do so

except with humility and reverence.

How much the more, then,

are complete humility and pure devotion necessary

in supplication of the Lord who is God of the universe!

And let us be assured

that it is not in saying a great deal that we shall be heard (Matt 6:7),

but in purity of heart and in tears of compunction.

Our prayer, therefore, ought to be short and pure,

unless it happens to be prolonged

by an inspiration of divine grace.

In community, however, let prayer be very short,

and when the Superior gives the signal let all rise together.

On Reverence in Prayer – Rule of St. Benedict


There are countless books written on prayer. How to pray? When to pray? Why to pray? Who to pray for? Nearly 1500 years ago the monk “Benedict “gave us a short paragraph that shed light on these questions. Let’s us look at his suggestions to his fellow monks, and I dare say, to us.

First, we are humble in our approach to people we wish to help us. We seldom get help when we are very haughty towards those who could easily help us. Benedict notes that when we approach persons of high station (money and power,) we do it with reverence and humility. Simply stated, our wants are wrapped with respect and deference. We do not approach people preaching at them about what they owe to others because they as so blessed by God.

prayer-conversations-with-god

Second, he reminds us that we owe abundantly more respect and deference to God when we approach Him. Let’s not go to God quoting the “ask and receive” verses that we find so handy when we need something. We tend to use these verses to force the hand of God. He will not be forced.

Third, many words will not impress God, especially when they are uttered publicly so as to impress those around you who hear them. Such words ring hollow in the ear of God.Prayer-9-20-17

Fourth, prayer should have purity of heart and emotion bearing repentance. When prayer bears these characteristics, it is pure and worthy of the ear of God. Benedict suggests that prayers ought to be short and pure.

 

 

God calls for prayers that are reverent and non-attention getting.


Prayer

Lord, remind me that you deserve my reverence and respect no matter how dire my present need may seem. Let me pray to you and learn to wait patiently for your answer. Relive me of the temptation to pray with many words to impress others and to wear you down.

Amen


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Over Thinking

Live simply and without thinking too much, like a child with his father. Faith without too much thinking works wonders. The logical mind hinders the Grace of God and miracles. Practice patience without judging with the logical mind.

Elder Paisios of Mount Athos

 

The dualistic mind is essentially binary, either/or thinking. It knows by comparison, opposition, and differentiation. It uses descriptive words like good/evil, pretty/ugly, smart/stupid, not realizing there may be a hundred degrees between the two ends of each spectrum.


—- Richard Rohr

Listen and attend with the ear of your heart.

—-Benedict of Nursia


We Americans Christians have a real problem with over thinking. Our burning desired is to have a definitive answer for everything, even things that are Over-Thinking-3unanswerable. Richard Rohr points out that there are a hundred degrees of truth between right and wrong. Methodist founder John Wesley felt that in most cases there was more than one right answer. Today we face a real danger of narrowing the love of God by over thinking the words and work of God. It is a sad day when religion is more interested in certainty than mystery. Without mystery there is no God, because He is the ultimate mystery.

Our first consideration should be the concept that logic hinders the work of God. Would Jesus have ever healed the first person, preached the Sermon on the Mount or raised Lazarus from the dead if He wanted people to believe in His mission based on logic? The things He did, the words He uttered defied Jewish, Greek and Roman logic. By what He did, he proclaimed Himself as not of this world. Jesus didn’t come into the world to teach us to be logical but to urge us to be mystical. The church is not about logic but about grace and mystery.

Now we need to think about the truth that we hold so dear. Jesus said to Pilate. “What is Truth?” I believe that truth is where you intersect with God and become one with Him. One man’s truth can be another man’s enemy. Our God calls us to love Him and His creation. He gives each of us the proper amount of grace to accomplish this elusive task. God never intended faith to be a “one size fits all” concept. Faith is an ongoing journey of personal experiences with God. Our interaction with his indwelling spirit forms us every day. There is no single handbook that tells us how to practice our faith. The reason we are told in scripture to not forsake the assembling ourselves together is so we might share the diversity of our journeys. In these assemblies we find out what the work of God looks like today, not two thousand years ago. Rest assured there will be many similarities, but there will also be some things that are laser focused on current time and place. Never forget the degrees of truth on the spectrum.Over-Listen-1

Oh, how different would the world be if we listened with the ears of our heart? Heart listening would surely end racism, war, crime and all other manner of sin. Long ago it was conceded that we will never attain perfection on this side of heaven, but we must try. Winston Churchill’s famous and short speech was given at his alma mater, Harrow. Here’s the complete text, “”Never give in, never give in, never, never, never, never—in nothing, great or small, large or petty—never give in except to convictions of honor and good sense.” I urge you to never give up the idea of listening at all times with the ears of your heart. Heart listening will march us steadily on to Christian perfection and an ultimately more peaceful world.

Over-Listening-2The simplicity of living without over thinking every little detail of our spiritual walk will lead us to that peace that surpasses all understanding that is referenced in the Bible.


PRAYER

 

Lord help me to truly listen to you without allowing my thinking to block you out. I submit myself to your way and cast aside the way of the world. free me from the chain of my logic and open up for me your infinite river if grace.

AMEN


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Quotes to Ponder

9-6-17

For the past  six years I have been sharing quotes, reflections and prayers with you by way of this blog and my emails.Today I give you a collection of quotes as fodder for your prayers and journaling. I hope you will find them helpful and inspiring.

Surely we cannot take an open question like the supernatural and shut it with a bang, turning the key of the madhouse on all the mystics of history. You cannot take the region of the unknown and calmly say that, though you know nothing about it, you know all the gates are locked. We do not know enough about the unknown to know that it is unknowable.”

—G.K. Chesterton

The eye through which I see God is the same eye through which God sees me; my eye and God’s eye are one eye, one seeing, one knowing, one love.

—Meister Eckhart

If there is anywhere on earth a lover of God who is always kept safe, I know nothing of it, for it was not shown to me. But this was shown: that in falling and rising again we are always kept in that same precious love.

—Julian of Norwich

I will soothe you and heal you, I will bring you roses. I too have been covered with thorns.

—Jalaluddin Rumi

Every word, every image used for God is a distortion more than a description.

― Anthony de Mello

For if the will has nothing to employ it and love has no present object with which to busy itself, the soul finds itself without either support or occupation, its solitude and aridity cause it great distress and its thoughts involve it in the severest conflict.

—Teresa of Ávila

That which we cannot speak of is the one thing about whom and to whom we must never stop speaking.

—Peter Rollins

I used unexpectedly to experience a consciousness of the presence of God, or such a kind that I could not possibly doubt that He was within me or that I was wholly engulfed in Him. This was in no sense a vision: I believe it is called mystical theology. The soul is suspended in such a way that it seems to be completely outside itself. The will loves; the memory, I think, is almost lost; while the understanding, I believe, thought it is not lost, does not reason—I mean that it does not work, but is amazed at the extent of all it can understand; for God wills it to realize that it understands nothing of what His Majesty represents to it.

—Teresa of Ávila

Faith is the door to the full inner life of the Church, a life which includes not only access to an authoritative teaching but above all to a deep personal experience which is at once unique and yet shared by the whole Body of Christ, in the Spirit of Christ.”

—Thomas Merton

Have you ever wanted More? Not more stuff . . . or success . . . or fame . . . but more intimacy, more connection, more mystery, more awe

—Mariah McKenzie

Anyone who truly loves God travels securely.

—Saint Teresa of Avila

All shall be well, and all shall be well and all manner of thing shall be well.

—Julian of Norwich

Benedict-9-6-17

Live simply and without thinking too much, like a child with his father. Faith without too much thinking works wonders. The logical mind hinders the Grace of God and miracles. Practice patience without judging with the logical mind.

—Elder Paisios of Mount Athos

Listen and attend with the ear of your heart.

—-Benedict of Nursia

Mental prayer in my opinion is nothing else than an intimate sharing between friends; it means taking time frequently to be alone with Him who we know loves us. The important thing is not to think much but to love much and so do that which best stirs you to love. Love is not great delight but desire to please God in everything.

—- Saint Teresa of Avila

When Abba Anthony thought about the depths of the judgments of God, he asked, ‘Lord, how is it that some die when they are young, while others drag on to extreme old age? Why are there those who are poor and those who are rich? Why do wicked men prosper and why are the just in need?’ He heard a voice answering him, ‘Antony, keep your attention on yourself; these things are according to the judgment of God, and it is not to your advantage to know anything about them.

—Anthony the Great


PRAYER

God, of thy goodness, give me Thyself;
for Thou art enough for me,
and I can ask for nothing less
that can be full honor to Thee.
And if I ask anything that is less,
ever Shall I be in want,
for only in Thee have I all.”

AMEN

___Julian of Norwich


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Finding Silence


Thomas-Merton-8-23-17

Soon silence will have passed into legend. Man has turned his back on silence. Day after day he invents machines and devices that increase noise and distract humanity from the essence of life, contemplation, meditation.

—-Jean Arp

Silence has many dimensions. It can be a regression and an escape, a loss of self, or it can be presence, awareness, unification, self-discovery. Negative silence blurs and confuses our identity, and we lapse into daydreams or diffuse anxieties. Positive silence pulls us together and makes us realize who we are, who we might be, and the distance between the two. Hence, positive silence implies a choice, and what Paul Tillich called the “courage to be.”

—–Thomas Merton


For over seven years we lived on a very busy city street. During that time I began to believe that silence was just a myth that is found in some far off place. I, like the German sculptor Jean Arp, began to believe that silence was passing into legend. Two and a half years ago I moved into a much quieter, though not silent, neighborhood. Once again, I enjoyed birdsong and could hear the sound of the wind flowing through the trees. It was as though I was rediscovering creation. Soon I realized that my new home has noise as well. Determined not to let my silence be taken away from me, I began to embrace the noise as a pathway to inner silence. That sense of silence acted as a catalyst for a new and stronger spirituality.

Merton refers to the damage caused by negative silence in “Love and Living.” My observation is the more we are surrounded by noise the more likely we are to fall into negative silence. I believe that it is caused by the constant awareness of that background noise that is always present. We become so frustrated by our inability to escape the uproar of humanity and position ourselves at the feet of the creator. We fight so hard to escape the uproar, we never find peace. The path remains elusive to us because we are concentrated on the negative. True silence is out there waiting for us to discover it.

True silence is positive silence, which is August-23-Personal-quotea time and a place of self-discovery. From that place we can be in the presence of God. The prophet Zephaniah says, “Be silent before the Lord God! For the day of the Lord is at hand; the Lord has prepared a sacrifice, he has consecrated his guests. “I believe that only way to truly be before the Lord is in silence. How can we really hear God above the din of the world unless we clear our minds and focus on Him? The Bible, early Christians, medieval mystics, modern monastics and all other sorts of people in sincere search of God have a common cry -SILENCE!! This cry instructs us to find a quiet place and present ourselves to God. The quietness allows God to calm us, settle us and speak to us, and more importantly, for us to hear God.

No matter what your circumstance, try not to believe that the quiet place is a thing of the past. Take the time to hear your surroundings and listen to God wherever you may be. The throng of urban life doesn’t have to drive us into the negative silence of brooding and moping. Discover the glimpses of silence that God allows you. Try not to be frustrated with the sounds of His creation but to offer them up as part of your journey to your inner self.


PRAYER

 

MY LORD GOD, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think that I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you. And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road though I may know nothing about it. Therefore will I trust you always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.


Amen.

 

—-Thomas Merton


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The Everywhere God

There is a character in the classic work Don Quixote named Pancho Sanchez. Pancho Sanchez hangs in fear from the ledge of a window all night long, too frightened to let go. When morning dawns he discovers his toes are only an inch off the ground. Peter saw Jesus walking on the water and he wanted to join Him. Matthew’s gospel tells us, ‘Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.’ Jesus said, ‘Come.’ So Peter got out of the boat, started walking on the water, and came towards Jesus. But when he noticed the strong wind, he became frightened, and beginning to sink, he cried out, ‘Lord, save me!’ It’s amusing to think of Simon Peter climbing out of the boat trying to imitate his Lord by walking on the water. Then, like a cartoon character, he makes the mistake of looking around. “What in the world am I doing?” he asked himself and suddenly he begins to sink.

Abba Doulas, the disciple of Abba Bessarion said, ‘One day when we were walking beside the sea I was thirsty and I said to Abba Bessarion, “Father, I 8-9-17---Pic-1am very thirsty.” He said a prayer and said to me, “Drink some of the sea water.” The water proved sweet when I drank some. I even poured some into a leather bottle for fear of being thirsty later on. Seeing this, the old man asked me why I was taking some. I said to him, “Forgive me, it is for fear of being thirsty later on.” Then the old man said, “God is here, God is everywhere.” ‘

—-Coptic sayings of the desert

Pancho Sanchez, Peter and Abba Doulas have something in common, – their fear ruled them. The character Pancho feared the unknown ever though he was quite safe. Life works that way. We have countless numerous fears that are unnecessary. These fears cause us to hold on and suffer in our ignorance.

Franklin Roosevelt once said, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” That was the type of fear that Pancho was facing. He was holding so tightly to fight a danger that wasn’t real. When the sun came up, the light of the morning assured Pancho that there was really nothing to fear. Jesus said, “I am the way the truth and the light…” We could be saved from untold number of fears if we would allow the light of Jesus to illumine our lives.

Peter had been a follower of Jesus from the very beginning. His enthusiasm and sometimes stupidity was legend. There was absolutely nothing that Peter wouldn’t try. This story finds him confronted by the scary sight of seeing Jesus walking on the water like a ghost. Naturally, Peter being Peter, wanted to join Jesus. After a few steps into the water, the reality of fear came crushing down and he sank. That is the way it is for most of us. We get really excited about our faith and being brought to earthly reality causes doubt to begin its rule. We sink from the excitement that could only come from heaven and fall into the despair of the earth. We are overcome by fear but we have an out. When Peter said to Jesus, “Help me” Jesus did so quickly and brought him to safety. The message is, we can’t walk on water but we can count on Jesus to carry us to high ground.

The desert story tells us of a young Monk of the desert who went to his mentor with a difficult situation. He was walking in the desert sand on the seashore and became overwhelmed by his thirst. This land is arid and hot and a drink of water is a lifesaving event. Hapless and helpless he asked his master for some help and he was told to drink sea water. Anyone who lives near the ocean knows that drinking sea water will not quench your thirst but lead to your death. The faithful monk drank the water and miraculously it was sweet. It was a miracle! The young monk being fearful of becoming thirsty tried to store the miracle by collecting more water. His fear was that God would not continue to deliver him in the future, so he decided to make plans to deliver himself. God is always with us and we should never try to bottle a miracle out of fear.

8-9-17-Pic-2

The key to overcoming our fear is to have faith in the everywhere God.


Prayer

Lord help me to be aware of your presence and your promise to provide for me. Allow me the strength to turn to you in my time of need. Allow me the humility to be dependent on You from day to day and not try to build up reserves for myself. Your blessings are sufficient for today, and tomorrow’s blessings will be sufficient for tomorrow. May my life be lived in this day by day faith.

Amen.

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Living the Time

When I was a small boy one of the highlights of my summers was the “Waveland Trip” Waveland is a small beach community in Mississippi. My mother’s uncle owned a camp (Southern for beach house) just a block or two from the water. Every June about 20 -25 people packed themselves into that 1000 square foot house on a tiny lot for a grand party. The fare was simple: hamburgers, chips and beer or colas for the adults; and hotdogs, chips and Wyler’s fruit punch for Beachthe kids. That was lunch and supper. Breakfast was always an abundant supply of scrambled eggs and grits with some kind of fake orange juice. This place was no resort, but going to the beach was the highlight of my summer. The trip was always short, just Saturday and Sunday, but it was grand. On the way home in a noisy, uncomfortable, non-air conditioned car I thought about next year and how very long it would be before I could return again. A year for a 6 or 8 year old is a lifetime. The last of those trips is now more than 50 years ago. I ask myself how time has sped up so furiously since a little boy’s year was so long?

I now know the importance of redeeming the time. The ability to cherish the moments becomes increasingly important as our years pile up. A few years ago the slogan “Carpe Diem’ was popularized by  Christian author, Tony Campolo, in his book by the same name. The expression was first penned by the Roman poet Horace. In his day it meant “Pluck the Day,” but today it is translated as “Seize the Day.” We all want to indeed live each moment with passion and conviction and in the process live life to the fullest. Many years ago an unknown mystic writer pick up on this idea.

You used the correct expression when you said “for the love of Jesus.” The love of Jesus is the source of the help you need. Love’s power brings everything together. Love Jesus, and everything of his becomes yours. As God made time, so God judges our use of time. Tie yourself to Him with love and faith, knitting your relationship together. This way you may become a part of the larger fellowship of those fastened to God by love. You will have friends among the saints and angels who do not waste any time.

— Cloud of Unknowing

“As God made time, so God judges our use of time.” We fail to understand the importance of time usage as we wish away our years as youngsters and as we whist our way through our productive years. If we are to cherish and enjoy the gifts of God we must take the time to be aware of His presence and calling in our lives. The writer asserts that love and faith glue us to God .This relationship opens a tremendous array of opportunities and gifts to us. We have relationships on earth and in the heavens that do not waste time but give themselves fully.

Stop for a moment and do an inventory of what you do with your day. Do you truly seize the moments of beauty, service and joy that come with each day of this extraordinary life that God has given you, or do you spend your day in a furious rush to accomplish a goal or in a funk waiting for the tomorrow that may never come? Somehow I think if we recapture the slowness of the passage of time experienced by a small boy between his trips to Waveland, we could live a richer and fuller life.

July-26.2017


Prayer

Lord help me to live in the moment. Allow me to see the beauty of the flowers and feel the refreshment of the falling rain on a hot summer day. Let me see the innocence in the face of a child and feel the pain in the face of the hurting. May I count my moments in a childlike way that allows my days and years to linger on as I experience your creation.

Amen

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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.

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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

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Choose the Incomprehensible

Therefore, leave all the things of the world that you can understand and instead chose to love that One Who you cannot comprehend. For while God may be loved, God will never be understood. God may be found by love and held by our hearts but never by our thoughts. Sometimes it may seem good to think of the special kindness and the worthiness of God.”

—-Cloud of Unknowing

5-24-17Any casual Google search or a stroll around a bookstore will quickly teach you that we, as people, want to understand everything. We want to be able to figure things out. There is, after all, an answer to every question and it is our job to find it. The writer implies that if that is our approach to God, we will never find Him. He gives some advice as to how we might find God.

God is found when we abandon the things of the world that have so tightly controlled our lives and given us our self-worth. In our quest for God we must swallow our pride and accept that we will never truly be able to put God in a convenient box. The push to understand God in simple terms is maddening. By abandoning the search for the concrete facts about God, we find the peace that was found by the desert monastics of the 4th and 5th centuries. Abba Pambo said, “By the grace of God, since I left the world, I have not said one word of which I repented afterwards.” The challenge is to “leave the world.”

Most of us cannot leave the world in the same fashion that the men and women of the desert did some 1500 years ago. We have responsibilities, obligations to our families, and just plain sensibilities that prohibit us from doing as they did. So then, how do we accomplish this undertaking?

The first call is the call of love. To love someone is to accept them with the full knowledge that you will never totally understand them. People have given their 5-24-17-2lives in a quest to understand God and failed at just loving him. The sure road to agnosticism is to make understanding God a prerequisite to loving Him and believing in Him. We enter into the cloud of belief with love and not knowledge. The Apostle Paul put it quite appropriately when he said, “For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.” If we choose the path of love vs understanding, we will one day see God as He is.

God is held in our hearts and not in our thoughts. Knowledge is a very powerful thing but there is nothing greater than heartfelt feeling. Such a feeling defies convention and logic and fights battles that may seem unwinnable. Our task is to give our hearts to God. We must put aside our desire to be able to explain the unexplainable and just accept Him with eyes of the heart. Christian musician Michael W. Smith says, “Lord open the eyes of my heart.” When the eyes of our heart are opened, we will see Him.

We are called upon to choose the incomprehensible as we journey with God, as we pray to God, as we trust God, for in all of these things we must put aside the norm of the world and search for the supernatural norm.

As we follow God, we choose the incomprehensible.


Prayer

Lord help me to have the courage to seek you in the incomprehensible corners of my life. Protect me from the self-centered faith that leads to ruin and give me the courage to not know, but to believe.

Amen.


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Jesus as Scapegoat

Image credit: White Crucifixion (detail), Marc Chagall, 1938, Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois, USA.

I share this piece by Rev Richard Rhor of the Center for Action and Contemplation. I hope you enjoy it.

Blessings, Irvin

Cross as Agenda

In terms of healing and symbolism, everything hinges on the cross. The cross is about how to fight and not become a casualty yourself. The cross is about being the victory instead of just winning a victory. The cross is about refusing the simplistic win-lose scenario and holding out for a possible win-win scenario.

The cross clearly says that evil is to be opposed but we must first hold the tension, ambiguity, and pain of it. “Resist evil and overcome it with good,” as Paul says (Romans 12:21). The cross moves us from the rather universal myth of redemptive violence to a new scenario of transformative suffering.

On the cross of life, we accept our own complicity and cooperation with evil, instead of imagining ourselves on some pedestal of moral superiority. As Paul taught: “everyone has sinned” (Romans 5:12) and Jesus the Lamb of God had the humility to “become sin” (2 Corinthians 5:21) with us.

The mystery of the cross teaches us how to stand against hate without becoming hate, how to oppose evil without becoming evil ourselves. Can you feel yourself stretching in both directions—toward God’s goodness and also toward recognition of your own complicity in evil? If you look at yourself at that moment, you will feel crucified. You hang in between, without resolution, your very life a paradox, held in hope by God (see Romans 8:23-25).

The goal of God’s work is always healing reconciliation, not retributive justice.  And like Jesus, we must invest ourselves in this work of reconciliation that “the two might become one” (see Ephesians 2:13-18).

Human existence is neither perfectly consistent, nor is it total chaos, but it has a “cruciform” shape of cross purposes, always needing to be reconciled in us.To hold the contradictions with God, with Jesus, is to participate in the redemption of the world (Colossians 1:24). We all must forgive reality for being what it is. We can’t do this alone, but only by a deep identification with the Crucified One and with crucified humanity. Christ then “carries” us across!

The risen, victorious Jesus gives us a history and hopeful future that moves beyond predictable violence. He destroys death and sin not by canceling it out; but by making a trophy of it. Think about that for a long time until it cracks you open. And it will!

Rev. Richard Rhor OFM

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