If a man wishes to be sure of the road he treads on, he must close his eyes and walk in the dark.
——John of the Cross
John of the cross is the medieval mystic who gave us “Dark Night of the Soul.” In his work he challenges us to the work of being a Christian, and the strength that comes for the journey. He tells us that the strength comes from complete union with God. This union has a price, and it is separation from the world. In that dark night of separation John finds the peace of God.
Lord help us to seek union with you and to understand its cost.
- The Force of The Soul (supertradmum-etheldredasplace.blogspot.com)
God is always bigger than the boxes we build for God, so we should not waste time protecting the boxes.
—–Richard Rhor from Everything Belongs
Several years ago, when such things appealed to me, I bought a “high quality” counterfit Rolex watch while on a mission trip to Mexico. My fake was so good, it had the sweep second hand, a serial number, and all the rest. After about three months the stem just came off. I hesitated but decided to bring it to a jeweler to be repaired. The clerk treated me very nicely when I brought my watch into his shop. A few days later I received a call that my watch was fixed and ready for pickup. For reasons I can’t remember, my wife went to the store for the pickup. When she arrived and presented the claim ticket, she was told it would be a few minutes because my watch had been put in the safe for security reasons. Imagine that – a fifty dollar fake Rolex locked in the safe with the real ,valuable stuff! I would call that protecting an empty box.
So many of our ideas about God are so far off base, but we defend them to the last breath. Our “boxed” God is further away from the real God that we can ever imagine. Your idea. my idea of God is limited by our ability to understand the supernatural. That’s why it is childish to be so protective of our “boxed” God. Denominations have been formed, people have been imprisioned, all to protect empty boxes.
Today I challenged you to take a look a your “God Box” and determined its value. I think you will find it lacks the true awe and majesty of God, and yet you defend it on a regular basis. Let’s all try to see God as so big that we can never fit him into a box. In doing so, life becomes a journey beyond our imagination, and God becomes more majestic.
We are caught in a bitter conflict between flesh and spirit. Jesus has delivered us from sin, but not from the weaknesses and desires of the flesh. We have to reproduce in our life the Cross of Christ so that, have died sacramentally to sin in baptism, we may also put to death sin in our flesh by restraining our evil desires and bad tendencies. This is the basis of monastic asceticism. (Or the Christian walk)
—-Thomas Merton from Basic Principles of Monastic Spirituality
There is not one among us who has not felt the tug of war caused by the conflict of flesh and spirit. This conflict of soul lives in everyone, and the battle rages with little relief. As we face this reality and own it, the conflict takes on a new aspect. The acknowledgement of our fleshly weaknesses allows us to turn to the spirit that is promised by Jesus. But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything, and remind you of all that I have said to you.(John 14:26) Through this spirit we can achieve small victories over our desires, but we have to work at it, and be vigilant.
Merton points to a very important, and the often neglected reality of sacramental grace. Through our baptism the community lift us up so that we might die to sin. That grace is an important tool in our battle with the flesh, and one that should not be neglected. When the congregation (community) says, “-we will so order our lives after the example of Christ, that this child, surrounded by steadfast love, may be established in the faith-” that pledge is the communion of saints in action. We must never abandon the strength that can be garnered from the sacramental community.
In 1991 an Air Canada flight ran into big trouble. Passengers were enjoying an in-flight movie on the Boeing 767 when the jumbo jet’s massive engines abruptly stopped. At first only those without earphones on noticed anything. However, soon it was apparent the jet was in trouble. The pilot came on the speaker system and announced that Flight 143 would be making an emergency landing. The 69 people on board were trapped in an agonizingly slow but inescapable descent to earth.
For a minute that seemed like an eternity, a desperate silence filled the cabin. That silence morphed into fear and gave way to screams as the landing neared. All the latest technology could not keep the jumbo jet in the air. What had happened was this: the electronic digital fuel gauge was out of order. The flight crew had depended on the figures given them by the refueling crew before takeoff. But someone on the refueling crew had confused pounds with kilograms. Therefore, eight hundred miles short of its destination, the jet simply ran out of fuel and was forced to make an emergency landing. Fortunately no one was injured.
A multimillion dollar airplane, headed in the right direction, but running out of fuel. That’s what’s happening to a lot of people today. They have everything in life and one day they wake up out of fuel.
Don’t let that happen to you. Jesus tells us that the power for successful living comes from God. It is the promised gift that Jesus offers us. “Peace be with you,” he says. “My peace I give to you, not as the world gives you. Let not your hearts be troubled, believe in God, believe also in me.”
1 Thessalonians 5:16-22
16 Rejoice always, 17pray without ceasing, 18give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 19Do not quench the Spirit. 20Do not despise the words of prophets, 21but test everything; hold fast to what is good; 22abstain from every form of evil.
“Acquire the habit of speaking to God as if you were alone with Him, familiarly and with confidence and love, as to the dearest and most loving of friends. Speak to Him often of your business, your plans, your troubles, your fears— of everything that concerns you. Converse with Him confidently and frankly; for God is not likely to speak to a soul that does not speak to Him.”
Prayer Starter — Lord give me reminders of my need for you.
- 1 Thessalonians 5:12 (heavenlyfoodblog.wordpress.com)
The love of Christ is not a different love from the eternal fire in the heart of God or that which flows between the three persons of the Trinity. We are loved passionately by God.the self-sacrificing love between the three persons is the joy at the center of God. What is the response from us to such love? To silently wonder. We enter into the ebb and flow of this divine love. The Holy Spirit enables us to know something of the reality of this love in the depths of our heart.
“A man who teaches without doing what he teaches is like a spring which cleanses and gives drink to everyone, but it is not able to purify itself.”
This thought may require some deep introspection. The idea that I would like to draw from this is the concept of our inability to purify ourselves. Purification, refinement, absolution are all needed to continue in the Christian life. There is a tendency in all of us to stop at a particular point and act as if we have arrived. Such an attitude is soul- endangering.
Undoubtedly, the most important aspect of the Christian walk is renewal. Renewal is ongoing conversion of the soul that leads to deeper understanding of sin and service. If we work and preach to others and never take time for the renewal of our souls we, just as the spring, will ultimately dry up. We must all take time to do a retreat or seek a director that will guide to the next step.
- Are you teaching without doing?
- Are you neglecting the renewal of your soul?
We’ve all had them. Those special moments frozen in time. Those moments that will be remembered when we are very old and sit daydreaming about life. They are gifts of God to cherish into eternity.
Everything is more sharply focused in that instant, time stands still, the rest of the world disappears. For this one tiny piece of life, everything is more precious, and God grants a brief interlude in the usual business of living.
The very last time I saw my grandmother, we shared a long, speechless look that no words could capture. In that look, we relived a lifetime of love. In that first second that I looked into the tiny face of our newborn son, the awesomeness of God, the Creator of life, was so real to me I could almost feel His physical presence in that room. Touching moments. Funny moments, Heart-breaking moments. Eternal moments.
Jesus must have had such moments while He was here among us. The look of love on John’s face as he baptized him. The look of shame on the face of the woman caught in adultery. The look of hatred on the face of the Pharisees. The look of heartbreak on Mary’s face as she watched her boy die. The look of joy on the face of Peter when he saw his Savior alive again.
If we are not careful, we will let these special times slip by unnoticed. They can never be recalled. Once passed, they are lost in an eternity of seconds, minutes, hours, days. Learn to recognize when you are part of something much larger than yourself. Take notice of “God moments” in your life.
PRAYER: Father – Thank you for the special moments in life that are from you. Help me to live each one to the fullest.