LENT: Flaw, by Joe Hoover

From: The Jesuit Post If you have ever thrown an elbow or slid cleats high. If you have ever snapped back or punched first. If you have ever quietly stolen inconsequential things, small pieces of candy from a store, a magazine from a waiting room. If you have wiped your mouth on a dishtowel and hung it back up. If you have argued from authority. If you don’t wash your hands, not much. If you decided somewhere along the way – without even realizing it – that you would not have a relationship with the plaintive, pith-helmeted mail carrier.  Instead you two would walk by each other day after day like creatures from a sad divorce eons ago who had forgotten they ever knew each other. If you fail to give waitstaff irresistible small [...]

SATURDAY READING: In The Beginning Was The Trinity…, by Gregory Collins

From Meeting Christ in his Mysteries (Introduction) Christ’s whole Earthly life – his words and deeds, his silences and sufferings, indeed his manner of being and speaking – is revelation of the Father.  Christ’s whole life is a mystery of redemption.  Redemption comes to us above all through the blood of his cross, but this mystery is at work throughout Christ’s entire life. (Catechism of the Catholic Church) What was visible in our Redeemer has passed over into the sacramental mysteries. (Pope Saint Leo the Great) The mysteries of Christ are our mysteries. (Blessed Columba Marmion) These quotations introduce the guiding idea of this book: the mystery of Christ through which we are called into union with God [...]

MEDITATION: Learning To Be Silent, by John Main

From Word Into Silence We now need to take a closer look at the sort of silence that is needed for meditation.  Meditation is not the time for words, however beautifully and sincerely phrased.  All our words are wholly ineffective when we come to enter into this deep and mysterious communion with God whose own Word within us is before and after all words.  “I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord. In order to enter into this holy and mysterious communion with the Word of God dwelling within us, we must first have the courage to become more and more silent.  In a deep creative silence we meet God in a way that transcends all our powers of intellect and language.  We are all basically aware that we cannot apprehend God [...]

PSALMS: Psalm 1 — The “Law” Which Gives Life (a meditation), from the Taizé Community

These Bible meditations are meant as a way of seeking God in silence and prayer in the midst of our daily life. During the course of a day, take a moment to read the Bible passage with the short commentary and to reflect on the questions which follow. Afterwards, a small group of three to ten people can meet to share what they have discovered and perhaps for a time of prayer. Psalm 1 Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers, but whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on his law day and night. That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither— whatever they [...]

MEDITATION: Perfect Union, by Father Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalen

From Divine Intimacy PRESENCE OF GOD – I implore you, my God, to let nothing trouble my union with you. Meditation One.  The yes of perfect consent has surrendered the whole human will to God, placing it completely under the vivifying influence of the divine will.  Yet there are still found in the sensitive part of the soul disturbances which tend to withdraw it from the governance of God’s will: this sensitive part is subjected to the spirit only with difficulty, in consequence of the disorder produced by original sin.  Even while the soul is by its will entirely conformed and united to the divine will, the sensitive part is always pulling in its own direction, carrying the affections along with it, sometimes stirring up [...]

SPIRITUALITY: The Variety Of Gifts, by Henry C. Simmons

From In the Footsteps of the Mystics: A Guide to the Spiritual Classics Why does one person respond to a question about the spiritual life in one way, and another person answer the same question in quite a different manner?  Personal experience is a powerful factor, as are church tradition, historical era, education, age, gender, and social class. These factors may account for an array of answers too various to catalogue.  Some, however, seem to fall into patterns which give us categories for understanding the shape and flow of our relationship with God and allow us to identify our own place within the much wider spiritual tradition. What do patterns of spirituality look like?  What do they describe?  As we look at two questions which [...]

THE NECESSITY OF PRAYER, by Francis de Sales

From Introduction to the Devout Life One Prayer opens the understanding to the brightness of Divine Light, and the will to the warmth of Heavenly Love – nothing can so effectually purify the mind from its many ignorances, or the will from its perverse affections.  It is as a healing water which causes the roots of our good desires to send forth fresh shoots, which washes away the soul’s imperfections, and allays the thirst of passion. Two But especially I commend earnest mental prayer to you, more particularly such as bears upon the Life and Passion of our Lord.  If you contemplate Him frequently in meditation, your whole soul will be filled with Him, you will grow in His Likeness, and your actions will be molded on His.  He [...]

MEDITATION: The Prince of Peace, by Jonathan Holt Titcomb, Bishop of Rangoon

From Before the Cross In His days shall the righteous flourish; and abundance of peace so long as the moon endureth. (Psalm 72:7) What a contrast between the reigns of David and Solomon!  I see the former reaching his throne through suffering and persecution, and then occupying it in perpetual warfare against his enemies.  I behold the latter inheriting his throne without a struggle, and occupying it as a Prince of Peace.  He builds a magnificent temple for the glory of God, without the noise of a chisel or hammer; he reigns amidst a profusion of wealth for which there was no parallel in history; and he speaks, both as prophet and king, with a wisdom which was never equaled by man.  Thus conflict and bloodshed came first, and [...]

MYSTICISM: The Degrees Of Prayer, by Evelyn Underhill

Printed for the Guild of Health, 1922 The subject of this paper is man’s fundamental spiritual activity – prayer.  Every religious mind is, of course, familiar with the idea of prayer; and in one degree or another, with the practice of it.  Yet we sometimes forget how very little we really know about it; how personal and subjective are the accounts spiritual writers give of it; how empirical and how obscure in its deepest moments, even for the best of us, our own understanding of it must be.  Here we are, little half-animal, half-spiritual creatures, mysteriously urged from within and enticed from without to communion with spiritual reality.  If and when we surrender to this craving and this attraction, we enter thereby – [...]

PRAYER: The Stages Of Prayer, by Carlos Carretto

From Letter from the Desert Prayer is words, poetry, song. Turn your ear, O Lord, and give answer For I am poor and needy. Show me, Lord, your way, so that I may walk in thy truth Guide my heart to fear your name. (Psalm 86) Often it contains a shout, a cry, a groan of anguish. Lord my God, I call for help by day; I cry at night before you. Let my prayer come into your presence. O turn your ear to my cry. For my soul is filled with evils; my life is on the brink of the grave. I am reckoned as one in the tomb: I have reached the end of my strength, like one alone among the dead; like the slain lying in their graves; like those you remember no more, cut off, as they are, from your hand. (Psalm 88) And sometimes an explosion of joy: I love [...]

THE PRODIGAL SON: Walk With Me Into The Story, by Henri J. M. Nouwen

From Home Tonight Read with a vulnerable heart.  Expect to be blessed in the reading.  Read as one awake, one waiting for the beloved.  Read with reverence. (From, A Tree Full of Angels, by Macrina Wiederkehr) From the outset I encouraged you to allow the Scripture story of the return of the prodigal son to descend into you – to move from your mind into your heart – so that images in this story become etched in your [...]

PRAYER: The de Mello Three-Minute Mediator, by J. Francis Stroud, SJ

From Praying Naked: The Spirituality of Anthony de Mello, by J. Francis Stroud, SJ (Anthony de Mello was a priest and psychotherapist and is a popular Ignatian writer.) Meditation offers five advantages or rewards 1. Meditation helps you to live in the present.  It eliminates the tendency to relive now not only all the ills of the past, such as resentments, guilt, fears, but even the good experiences of the past.  Tony de Mello described it graphically by saying that when something good happens to you, you tuck it away in your little silver box and then, instead of enjoying the present moment (which is new, energizing, and exciting), you stop and look into your little silver box and contemplate nostalgically those past happy times. [...]

SERMON: The Heart Of Prayer, by Francis de Sales

I still have to point out the distinction that exists in prayer, whether mental or vocal prayer.  In prayer we go to God in two ways, both of which have been recommended to – namely, sometimes we pray directly to God, and at other times indirectly, as when we say the anthems of our lady, the Salve Regina and others.  When we pray directly we exercise the filial confidence which is founded upon faith, hope, and charity; when we pray indirectly and through the intercession of another, we practice the holy humility which springs from self-knowledge.  When we go directly to God we proclaim his goodness and mercy, in which we place all our confidence; but when we pray indirectly, that is, when we implore the assistance of our lady, of the [...]

MEDITATIONS: Nightmare Interlude, by Martin Thornton

From A Joyful Heart: Meditations for Lent My recurrent nightmare grows out of a pastoral dilemma.  I have hinted more than once against the prevalent habit amongst clergymen of treating their congregation, not only as an audience but as a near moronic one.  In the bad old days when a congregation was regarded as a crowd of individual spectators, there may have been some excuse, but with the concept of full participation within the organism of the Body of Christ such an attitude will no longer do.  Traditional Anglicanism claims appeal to mature religion, to a laity who are informed and knowledgeable.  Yet the idea persists: everything has to be simple, nice little moral tenets, and above all, no theology. It is a nineteenth-century [...]

SERMON: The Goal of Prayer, by Francis de Sales

Saint Bernard – whose ministry is dear to those who have to speak on prayer – in writing to a bishop, advised him that all that was necessary for him was to speak well (meaning to instruct, to discourse); then to do well in giving good example; and finally, to devote himself to prayer.  And we, addressing this to all Christians, shall dwell upon the third point, which is prayer. First, let us remark in passing that, although we condemn certain heretics of our time who hold that prayer is useless, we nevertheless do not hold with other heretics that it alone suffices for our justification.  We say simply that it is so useful and necessary that without it we could not come to any good, seeing that by means of prayer we are shown how to [...]

PRAYER: On Meditation, by Thomas Merton

From Contemplative Prayer In meditation we do not seek to know about God as though he were an object like other objects which submit to our scrutiny and can be expressed in clear scientific ideas.  We seek to know God himself, beyond the level of all the objects which  he has made and which confront us as “things” isolated from one another, “defined,” “delimited,” with clear boundaries.  The infinite God has no boundaries and our minds cannot set limits to him or to his love.  His presence is then “grasped” in the general awareness of loving faith; it is “realized” without being scientifically and precisely known, as we know a specimen under a microscope.  His presence [...]

SATURDAY READING: Intimacy, Art and Meditation, by Morton T. Kelsey

From The Other Side of Silence: A Guide to Christian Meditation One reason that we so often discuss prayer only superficially and intellectually is because this, in some ways, is the most personal and intimate aspect of one’s life.  Speaking about it is like laying oneself open for public examination.  Our meditations reveal what matters most to us, and it is not easy to stand naked before others in our weakness and fear and exaltation.  Perhaps it seems strange that contact with the Holy should be such a difficult experience to share.  Yet this is like telling of the intimate aspects of one’s love life. In reality meditation is the record of one’s love life with God.  Sharing it with another person is like taking someone into [...]

MEDITATION: Call, by Michael Kennedy

From The Jesus Meditations: A Guide for Contemplation The Grace To hear the ways Jesus calls me in my life and to be willing and courageous enough to answer yes to his call. The Scripture After Jesus was arrested, Jesus went into Galilee and began preaching the Good News of God. He said, “The time has come; the kingdom of God is at hand. Change your ways and believe the Good News.” As Jesus was walking along the shore of Lake Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net in the lake, for they were fishermen. And Jesus said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” At once, they left their nets and followed him. Jesus went a little farther on and saw James and John, the sons of Zebedee; they were in [...]

PRAYER: Orientations — B. Forms of Solitary Prayer, by Jacqueline Syrup Bergan and S. Marie Schwan

From Birth: A Guide for Prayer Orientations Lord, teach us to pray. (Luke 11:1) Prayer is our personal response to God’s presence. We approach the Lord reverently with a listening heart. God speaks first. In prayer, we acknowledge the Divine presence and in gratitude respond to God in love. The focus is always on God and on what God does. The following suggestions are offered as ways of supporting and enabling attentiveness to God’s Word and our unique response. B. FORMS OF SOLITARY PRAYER There are various forms of scriptural prayer. Different forms appeal to different people. Eventually, by trying various methods, we become adept at using approaches that are appropriate to particular passages and are in harmony with our personality [...]

PRAYER: Sunday Evening Meditation by Sarah Kirby Trimmer

O Lord, I ask not for riches, I know too well the deceitfulness of them; I ask not for pleasures such as this world can give, for they have no charms which endure.  Let me but view your glorious and beautiful works, and live by your commandments, enjoying your Heavenly favor, and let the triflers of the world share all its trifles among them.  O Lord, I cannot but desire to possess your peace and, thanks to your goodness, often is this most inestimable blessing granted me. I resolve to keep God in my thoughts and Heaven in my view, to trust in the lord with all my might, and not to lean to my own understanding; to acknowledge him in all my ways, humbly trusting that he will by his grace and goodness direct my paths.  These, most [...]

A MEDITATION: On Spiritual Formation

Henri Nouwen, on his definition of spiritual formation, writes the following: Spiritual formation, I have come to believe, is not about steps or stages on the way to perfection.  It’s about the movements from the mind to the heart through prayer in its many forms that reunite us with God, each other, and our truest selves. Henri goes on to explain that in his context, the heart is the seat of everything: it is where the body, soul, and spirit come together.  He elaborates even on this by saying that in the Jewish-Christian tradition, the heart “refers to the source of all physical, emotional, intellectual, volitional, and moral energies.” That’s quite a mouthful, don’t you think? Henri views spiritual [...]