Tag Archives: Divine presence

Seeing the Inside

One day when he was sitting in front of the church, the brethren were consulting him about their thoughts. One of the old men who saw it became a prey to jealousy and said to him, ‘John, your vessel is full of poison.’ Abba John said to him, ‘That is very true, Abba; and you have said that when you only see the outside, but if you were able to see the inside, too, what would you say then?’

—-Abba John the Dwarf

We only reveal to others what we want them to see. All of us have to deal with the jealousy of people who envy us for one reason or another. This saying deals with just such a situation. I cannot know what it was that motivated the brother to be jealous of John, but I do admire John’s answer. He is saying, “You ought to see how really bad I am on the inside.” We all have filters that limit what we let others see of our true selves. God sees all and offers grace to us.

The lesson is one of refraining from jealousy, envy and judgment, because we contemplation-acan never really know. Our worse bouts of jealously and envy come from only what we can see – the outside. God, on the other hand, sees the in and out of all of His creation. Even though He knows the worst of us, He gives us the best of Himself. That sort of servanthood is something that we are taught by the sacrifice that God made through Jesus. God knows us and loves us. God sees all and yet He finds the grace that allows forgiveness rather than the jealously that we harbor toward one another.

In Rudyard Kipling’s “Gunga Din” he finally acknowledges the worth of a servant by saying..

Though I’ve belted you and flayed you,

By the livin’ God that made you,

You’re a better man than I am, Gunga Din!

It takes an awful lot to acknowledge the true worth of an individual, but God does.

Prayer

Dear Lord help me to stop looking at the exterior of persons around me and using that criteria to deem myself as more worthy. Release me from the bondage to jealously and envy and set me free to soar with you. Help me to see in others what you see in me. Give me the humility necessary to be a servant and the confidence to carry out the task.

Amen

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Everyday Contemplatives

There is a contemplative

in every one of us

nearly extinguished by the noise of the day

but still holding on in the hope of relief.

A contemplative craves quiet solitude,

longs for the enjoyment of God’s Now,

aching to touch the sacred silence that makes us whole.

Irvin J. Boudreaux

A Contemplative Pledge
In the early 21st century a monastery without walls, a monastery of the heart, a lay, ecumenical contemplative community is being born. We contemplatives are simply seekers of oneness with God. We remember what Jesus said,

“May all be one, as you, Father, are in me and I in you, that they also may be in us.”

As brothers and sisters of this oneness we are gathering in a time when religion is going crazy, again, defining itself by who it judges as unworthy. In such a time we create an open table to invite all spiritual seekers to come into the shelter of an inclusive community, a home for all of us sinners and saints, a refuge for Americans who are wearied by a frantic culture and an overly busy church. In such a time of distress, we will teach each other how to find our inner sanctuary and we will learn to serve the world from that True Home together. We commit ourselves to the mission of creating contemplative communities who practice the presence of God for personal transformation and radical engagement with the world.

—– School for Contemplative Living

Few of you that read these words have a monastic cell, but all of us have to grab the time that fate allows to draw near to the heart of God. I share these words there is a small contribution to those who seek the contemplative life.

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A Midday Prayer

Angels, bearers of good tiding, awaken me to joy,to divine presence whenever I experience what is good, true, and beautiful.Let me take great joy in recognizing beauty in the eyes of other good people.It is there if I take the time to really see it.


Scripture Reading

Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for see—I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people:

Luke 2:9-10


Silence

Relax and let go for a few minutes and allow your body to feel itself breathing. Let go of the cares of the morning and prepare to face what lies ahead.


Blessing of self: I affirm myself for…


Blessing of the lunch

Bless Lord those that have labored in the fields for this food

Bless those who have provided for me

Bless those who gather

Bless the breaking of the bread

Christ beside me

Christ behind me

Christ around me

Christ at the table


This is a Celtic pattern of midday prayer.

Try it. Blessings

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Ignatian Meditation

English: Ignatius of Loyola (1491-1556) França...

English: Ignatius of Loyola

Ignatius of Loyola (1491-1556) founded the Society of Jesus (commonly called –the Jesuits- Pope Francis is one). The youngest of eleven children, Ignatius left his home in the Basque region of Spain to become a page for a noblemen. His life of brawling, gambling, and womanizing was disrupted when the nobleman lost his position. He then joined the army and was badly wounded when he was hit in the leg by a cannonball. During his one year recuperation as a prisoner of France henturned to God. His Spiritual Exercises for a 30-day retreat were modeled after his own conversion experience and are considered a classic of Western spirituality. Ignatian Meditation is a part of the system Ignatius described in his Spiritual Exercises.

Ignatian meditation is counter-intuitive to our culture. Parents and grandparents who have watched their children and grandchildren “play like” have the easiest time with this prayer. Mine have played at being Harry Potter, SpongeBob and Dora. Ignatian Meditation asks that you enter into the story of scripture, and become a part of it. This form of meditation engages the imagination and asks you to become a child again.

The instructions are sometimes presented in quite a complex way, these can help you begin.

Points for Ignatian Meditation

  • Find a quiet place to pray. This may be in your room, a church, outdoors, or your office with the door closed.
  • Establish a sense of inner peace and tranquility. Let the cares and concerns of the moment slip away. Sometimes reciting the Lord’s Prayer, Psalm 23 or a favorite prayer from memory will help get into the prayer.
  • As you relax into God’s presence, take a moment to greet the Lord. Ask God to guide your thoughts.
  • Slowly read the passage. Get a sense of its geography and flow. Is there something that stands out to you?
  • Read it again, using a different Bible translation. Is there something in particular that is touching you?
  • Place yourself in the story. Are you a main character? A spectator? Think about the following:
    • What are you wearing?
    • What are the sights? Smells? Textures? Sounds?
    • What is going on around you?
  • Who else is there? Do you recognize those around you?
  • Surrender to the story. Interact with your surroundings, allow yourself to be guided by the Spirit as you speak and engage with others.
  • Do not try to control the prayer.  Let the Holy Spirit guide you.
  • How are you feeling? Is your “heart on fire?”
  • As you bring your prayer to a close, take a few minutes to speak to God about it.

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Filed under Ignatius of Loyola, Meditation, Pope Francis, Prayer

What Do You Find?

I have heard the story below in several different forms, but the message is consistent.

 

The divine essence

 A certain young girl entered a convent to prepare herself for a life of celibacy and service. The institution was one of a very strict order. Besides the requirement of the three evangelical counsels, poverty, chastity, and obedience, the order imposed three other regulations, stability, that is, no leave taking from the grounds, severity, the flagellation of the flesh, and silence, not a word dare be uttered. The Mother Superior explained to the new girl that this rule of silence was rigid. However, once every five years just two words were allowed to be spoken. So at the end of the first five years the novice was called in and instructed that she had earned the rare privilege of expressing two words. Now, what would they be? Her answer: “Food rotten!” Five years later the Mother Superior called her in again and offered her the privilege of two more words. What would she say this time? “Beds hard!” The third time she was called in the novice was exasperated and exclaimed: “I quit!” Whereupon the Mother Superior retorted: “Good riddance! All you have ever done since you have been here is to complain!”

Silence as a practice without a purpose is useless. The old story says nothing about the reason or the reward of the discipline of silence, instead it focuses on the physical rule of keeping silent. Silence as a Christian discipline is not merely for the sake of endurance, but it is to open our inner selves to the presence of God. If we are not seeking God in our quiet, then we will only feel the “hard bed.” When we open ourselves to the mystical presence of God, we find peace and comfort in our quiet times. We find renewal and freshness that takes us through our difficulties.

 

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