PRAYER: Prayer For Understanding by Athanasius

August 28, 2017

Anyone who wishes to understand the mind of the sacred writers must first cleanse his own life, and approach the saints by copying their deeds.  Thus united to them in the fellowship of life, he will both understand the things revealed to them by God and, thenceforth escaping the peril that threatens sinners in the judgment, will receive that which is laid up for the saints in the Kingdom of Heaven. Of that reward it is written: “Eye hath not seen nor ear heard, neither hath entered into the heart of man the things that God hath prepared” for them that live a Godly life and love the God and Father in Christ Jesus our Lord, through whom and with whom be to the Father himself, with the Son himself, in the Holy Spirit, honor and [...]

WISDOM: Understanding by Joan Chittister

December 19, 2015

From Illuminated Life: Monastic Wisdom for Seekers of Light Some disciples came to see Abba Poeman and said to him: “Tell us, when we see brothers dozing during the sacred office, should we pinch them so they will stay awake?”  And the old man said to them: “Actually, if I saw a brother sleeping, I would put his head on my knees and let him rest.” U   nderstanding – compassion – is the foundation of a monastic lifestyle.  Without it there is no hope at all for developing a community out of strangers.  The Rule of Benedict is brimming with the concept: Monastics are not to bother the procurator of the monastery at undue times.  People are not here simply to meet our demands.  The doorkeeper is to [...]

MYSTICISM: The Gift Of Understanding, by Thomas Merton

July 10, 2015

From New Seeds of Contemplation Contemplation, by which we know and love God as he is in himself, apprehending him in deep and vital experience which is beyond the reach of any natural understanding, is the reason for our creation by God.  And although it is absolutely above our nature, Saint Thomas teaches that it is our proper element because it is the fulfillment of deep capacities in us that God has willed should never be fulfilled in any other way.  All those who reach the end for which they were created will therefore be contemplatives in Heaven: but many are also destined to enter this supernatural element and breathe this new atmosphere while they are still on Earth. Since contemplation has been planned for us by God as our [...]

SIN: A Deeper Understanding Of Sin by Timothy Keller

June 30, 2015

From The Prodigal God With this parable [of the Prodigal Son] Jesus gives us a much deeper concept of “sin” than any of us would have if he didn’t supply it.  Most people think of sin as failing to keep God’s rules of conduct, but, while not less than that, Jesus’s definition of sin goes beyond it. In her novel Wise Blood, Flannery O’Connor says of her character, Hazel Motes, that “there was a deep, black, wordless conviction in him that the way to avoid Jesus was to avoid sin.”  This is a profound insight.  You can avoid Jesus as Savior by keeping all the moral laws.  If you do that, then you have “rights.”  God owes you answered prayers, and a good life, and a ticket to [...]


March 19, 2015

From The House of the Soul “The utmost that we know of God,” says Saint Thomas, “is nothing in respect of that which He is.” Such an outlook on the Unchanging redeems our prayer from pettiness, discounts our worries, brings a solemn selfless peace.  Everything drops away except awe, longing, and humility.  “Whom have I in Heaven, but thee? and there is none upon Earth that I desire beside thee.”  The soul stands over against the eternal reality of the universe, and finds there a friend and not a void, Deus Meus!  My God!  We have, in our creaturely weakness, a personal hold upon infinite reality.  The Psalms are full of this exultant certitude.  “O God, thou art my God! early will I seek [...]

HEALING: The Difference Between Knowledge And Understanding

September 30, 2014

Somewhere, sometime, someone turned the light on us. To my mind, it all began with Freud, with his glaring assertions that he could look inside me and tell me who I am. And then came the obsession with everyone, everywhere, telling everybody else everything there was to know about them. When I was three, I tripped over a tree root in the forest and got a bloody nose. And so on. It came, I think, from the belief that things known, things brought to consciousness, are good things. That in order to heal, knowledge is key. Knowledge, in today’s thinking, is our saving grace. Leaving aspects of our lives in our unconscious is considered unhealthy. It assumes, of course, that healing is up to the human being; that God and life and time [...]

GOD 101: The Value Of Understanding In Conflict Resolution

September 25, 2012

We believe that greater understanding among religions and among peoples will ultimately defeat extremism, and help nurture an environment where people can live together in peace. So reads, in part, the statement of intent for a charitable organization whose sole purpose is to educate people in one faith culture about the truth of another faith culture.  Specifically, this organization focuses on Christianity and Islam. A popular set of issues these days.  Cultures.  Faith.  Truth. Truth is a key issue here.  Or at least one of them.  Because one definition of understand is: to accept as a fact or truth or regard as plausible without utter certainty This emphasis on understanding as a means of ending conflict is ripping [...]