"Walking in the way and the love of the Lord"
By: Mary Maddox
I will never forget my first pilgrimage. It changed my life forever. This is one of the reasons, pilgrimages hold such a dear place in my heart. I have seen what happens when we give ourselves to God. When we step outside of our comfort zone, leave our homes, sit in prayer and walk with Our Lord on a journey.
"Blessed are those whose strength is in you, who have set their hearts on pilgrimage." Psalm 84:5
It was here on this pilgrimage to Medjugorje, where Our Lord grabbed hold of my heart. Sitting in the crowded church the song started. Here I Am, Lord. I started to sing the song which I had sung my whole life, yet this time it was different. I started to cry, not tears of sadness, no these were tears of joy!
I felt Our Lord, I felt His love, I felt Him hold me, I felt Him say, I am here!
I, the Lord of sea and sky
I have heard my people cry
All who dwell in dark and sin
My hand will save
Here I am, Lord. Is it I, Lord?
I have heard you calling in the night
I will go, Lord, if you lead me
I will hold your people in my heart
Make this Advent a pilgrimage, walk this road to Bethlehem with the Holy Family. Give yourself some prayer time. Are you finding it hard to find your time?
The goal of Anthony Bloom’s classic book Beginning to Pray is to address the problem of praying within the speed at which our lives are moving. It's amazing because this book was written almost 40 years ago! His book continues to be an inspiration to people for prayer today. He says, “I will spare you any description of the way in which one can make time: I will only say that if we try and waste a little less of it, there will be more of it. If we use crumbs of wasted time to try to build short moments of recollection and prayer, we may discover that there is quite a lot of it.”
Once we have found that wasted time, be it 5 minutes or more, we can redeem it for reflection and prayer by being silent.
Lets break it down:
Don't get frustrated, start small. Enjoy your time.
Here I am, Lord. Is it I, Lord?
I have heard you calling in the night
I will go, Lord, if you lead me
I will hold your people in my heart
The Christmas Woman
"Luke’s Gospel account of the Christmas event is full of activity…And yet, in the middle of the frenetic action, here is this woman wrapped in mystical silence…She demonstrates the necessity of a quiet place within ourselves at Christmastime—that place where we are most ourselves in relation to God.
"It is a place of silence, not because it is untouched by all the activity of our lives, but because it is capable of wonder. Every prayer begins with silent wonder before it turns to words. Our first response to God is dumbstruck awe at who he is and what he has done for us." ~ William Frebuger, "Making Christmas a Saving Event," Catholic Update, 12-85
"For God alone my soul waits in silence; from him comes my salvation. He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress; I shall not be greatly shaken" (Psalm 62:1–2).
Challenge: Find Silence! Find your prayer time to sit with God!
Centering Prayer is a receptive method of silent prayer that prepares us to receive the gift of contemplative prayer, prayer in which we experience God's presence within us, closer than breathing, closer than thinking, closer than consciousness itself. This method of prayer is both a relationship with God and a discipline to foster that relationship.
Centering Prayer is not meant to replace other kinds of prayer. Rather, it adds depth of meaning to all prayer and facilitates the movement from more active modes of prayer - verbal, mental or affective prayer - into a receptive prayer of resting in God. Centering Prayer emphasizes prayer as a personal relationship with God and as a movement beyond conversation with Christ to communion with Christ.
Lectio Divina, literally meaning "divine reading," is an ancient practice of praying the Scriptures. During Lectio Divina, the practitioner listens to the text of the Bible with the "ear of the heart," as if he or she is in conversation with God, and God is suggesting the topics for discussion. The method of Lectio Divina includes moments of reading (lectio), reflecting on (meditatio), responding to (oratio) and resting in (contemplatio) the Word of God with the aim of nourishing and deepening one's relationship with the Divine.
Source: ~ http://www.contemplativeoutreach.org
Pray the Rosary:
The word Rosary means "Crown of Roses". Each time we say a Hail Mary we are giving Our Lady a beautiful rose. So when we complete the Rosary we have made her a crown of roses. The Holy Rosary is considered a perfect prayer because within it lies the awesome story of our salvation. The Rosary is a meditative prayer. We meditate the mysteries of joy, of sorrow, of luminous and the glory of Jesus and Mary. It's a simple prayer, humble so much like Mary. It's a prayer we can all say together with Her, the Mother of God. She joins Her prayer to ours. Its a powerful prayer. In every apparition, the heavenly Mother has invited us to say the Rosary as a powerful weapon against evil, to bring us to true peace. With your prayer made together with Your heavenly Mother, you can obtain the great gift of bringing about a change of hearts and conversion.
This Advent find your prayer time. Find your prayerful path, whatever that may be. We have the opportunity to experience an “unworldly interior peace,” which is found in Christ. It all begins by creating space and time for God to enter our lives. This is what Advent is all about, it is a season of anticipation and waiting on God. A time for focused spiritual discipline. This is our challenge! Resist the temptation to fill our lives and our hearts with worldly things. Fill your hearts with Christ, experience the most beautiful gift of all - Christ Himself, God, the Savior of the world!
I receive emails daily from Fr. Richard Rohr and the Center for Action and Contemplation. I find these emails very helpful along my prayerful path. They teach, inspire and help guide me. Sometimes I have to admit, I get buried under my inbox. My schedule gets busy and I don't open everyone everyday.
I have learned ... don't beat myself up for not opening everyday. Sometimes I just don't have time, sometimes I have the time but just don't open it, again it is Okay. I have also learned that when I do read the emails, when I open one up and its the first in weeks, it is exactly what I need to hear. God is so good! So don't beat yourself up if you don't accomplish something you wanted to do, or don't get to the emails that are piling up in your inbox. Take a breath and click, it will be OK.
Today was one of those days. When I was able to click, I was able to read an email from CAC and not to my surprise it was amazing. Exactly what I needed to hear. So I wanted to share it with you. Maybe, just maybe it will touch your heart as well.
There is no single way to meditate. There are, however, certain acts and attitudes inherently endowed with the capacity to awaken sustained states of meditative awareness that form the infrastructure of each specific way to meditate. Here are some suggested guidelines.
With respect to the body: Sit still. Sit straight. Place your hands in a comfortable or meaningful position in your lap. Close your eyes or lower them toward the ground. Breathe slowly and naturally. With respect to your mind, be present, open, and awake, neither clinging to nor rejecting anything. And with respect to attitude, maintain nonjudgmental compassion toward yourself—as you discover yourself clinging to and rejecting everything—and nonjudgmental compassion toward others in their powerlessness that is one with yours.
Compassion is the love that recognizes and goes forth to identify with the preciousness of all that is lost and broken within ourselves and others. At first it seems as if compassionate love originates with our free decision to be as compassionate as we can be toward ourselves as we sit in meditation. As our practice deepens, we come to realize that in choosing to be compassionate, we are yielding to the compassionate nature of God flowing through us, in and as our compassion toward our self as precious in our frailty.
When we practice meditation, we are like the repentant prodigal son returning to his father’s house (see Luke 15: 11-32). By the time we begin to meditate, we have probably come to realize how foolish we have been in the past. We are sorry about the suffering our foolish ways have caused ourselves and others. We are sincerely intent on not being so foolish in the future. But like the repentant son heading home to beg for his father’s forgiveness, we are still laboring under the illusion that our wayward ways make us unworthy in the eyes of God.
The idea that our weaknesses are obstacles to God’s love is bound up with our egocentric perception of ourselves as outside God’s sustaining love. Entrenched in the ignorance of our imagined otherness from God, we set out to meditate as a way of overcoming one obstacle after another so that we might succeed in reaching God.
The ego self struggles in its efforts to sit present and awake as a way of being open to God’s presence until the ego exhausts all its own means of overcoming its inability to realize oneness with God. Then, just as all seems lost, we look up to see God running toward us with open arms. Suddenly we realize there is no place within us that is not encountered, embraced, and made whole in a love that does not even care to hear our litany of shortcomings and regrets. We are profoundly loved by God without any foundations for being loved, except divine love itself.
Gateway to Silence: Rest in God resting in me.
Reference:Adapted from James Finley, Christian Meditation: Experiencing the Presence of God (HarperSanFrancisco: 2004), 203, 279-282.
My Utmost for His Highest
Daily devotionals by Oswald Chambers
. . . I am with you to deliver you,’ says the Lord --Jeremiah 1:8
God promised Jeremiah that He would deliver him personally— “. . . your life shall be as a prize to you . . .” (Jeremiah 39:18). That is all God promises His children. Wherever God sends us, He will guard our lives. Our personal property and possessions are to be a matter of indifference to us, and our hold on these things should be very loose. If this is not the case, we will have panic, heartache, and distress. Having the proper outlook is evidence of the deeply rooted belief in the overshadowing of God’s personal deliverance.
The Sermon on the Mount indicates that when we are on a mission for Jesus Christ, there is no time to stand up for ourselves. Jesus says, in effect, “Don’t worry about whether or not you are being treated justly.” Looking for justice is actually a sign that we have been diverted from our devotion to Him. Never look for justice in this world, but never cease to give it. If we look for justice, we will only begin to complain and to indulge ourselves in the discontent of self-pity, as if to say, “Why should I be treated like this?” If we are devoted to Jesus Christ, we have nothing to do with what we encounter, whether it is just or unjust. In essence, Jesus says, “Continue steadily on with what I have told you to do, and I will guard your life. If you try to guard it yourself, you remove yourself from My deliverance.” Even the most devout among us become atheistic in this regard— we do not believe Him. We put our common sense on the throne and then attach God’s name to it. We do lean to our own understanding, instead of trusting God with all our hearts (see Proverbs 3:5-6).
The First Gaze
Monday, June 30, 2014
I am just like you. My immediate response to most situations is with reactions of attachment, defensiveness, judgment, control, and analysis. I am better at calculating than contemplating.
Let’s admit that we all start there. The False Self seems to have the “first gaze” at almost everything.
The first gaze is seldom compassionate. It is too busy weighing and feeling itself: “How will this affect me?” or “How can I get back in control of this situation?” This leads us to an implosion, a self-preoccupation that cannot enter into communion with the other or the moment. In other words, we first feel our feelings before we can relate to the situation and emotion of the other. Only after God has taught us how to live “undefended,” can we immediately stand with and for the other, and in the present moment. It takes lots of practice.
On my better days, when I am “open, undefended, and immediately present,” as Gerald May says, I can sometimes begin with a contemplative mind and heart. Often I can get there later and even end there, but it is usually a second gaze. The True Self seems to always be ridden and blinded by the defensive needs of the False Self. It is an hour-by-hour battle, at least for me. I can see why all spiritual traditions insist on daily prayer, in fact, morning, midday, evening, and before we go to bed, too! Otherwise, I can assume that I am back in the cruise control of small and personal self-interest, the pitiable and fragile “Richard self.”
Adapted from “Contemplation and Compassion: The Second Gaze”
(article by Fr. Richard available free on CAC website)
Gateway to Silence:
May I see with eyes of compassion.
Prayerful Path/Mary Maddox
Saint James, pray for us that we may be willing to leave everything to follow Jesus as you did. Help us to become special friends of Jesus as you were. Amen