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The Contemplative Companion for Friday, February 12, 2016 in the Season of Lent

“Have mercy on me, O God, in your goodness…For I acknowledge my offense, and my sin is before me always.” – Psalm 51. 3 – 4

Such says a supple Jewish soul three thousand years ago, looking out upon his kingdom, perhaps at the hour of evening prayer – that most melancholy of hours.

The king gazed out upon the exterior kingdom he had conquered, and remembered the interior one that had conquered him, and in the process taught him much about himself.

In Lent, we can likewise follow this supple pattern set for us in this most famous of royal confessions: we acknowledge. Which is a form of honesty grounded in accurate seeing of our self and its patterns, past and present.

We can understand the phrase “my sin is before me always,” for it represents the phase of the spiritual journey in which we are identified with what we have done or left undone. When forgiveness releases us from our identification, the space for grace emerges in between our awareness and our past, and in that space of grace, we are free from whatever events or behaviors we have seen within, and felt defined or detained by.

We acknowledge through seeing; which leads to our freeing; which leads to a new way of being.

See. Free. Be.


© 2016  The Contemplative Companion

A Resource of ContemplativeChristians.com

The Contemplative Companion for Thursday, February 11, 2016 in the Season of Lent

“Then Jesus said to all, “If anyone wishes to come after me, you must deny yourself and take up your cross daily and follow me. For if you wish to save your life you will lose it, but if you lose your life for my sake, you will save it. What profit is there for one to gain the whole world yet lose yourself?” – Luke 9.23 – 25 3

Welcome to Lent. A liturgical moment in time that invites you to take a vacation from being yourself.

The exchange rate, in the realm of Christ, is very good. Give a little of yourself up and get a lot of Christ back.

Do bear in mind: Your body and the physical world are not the enemy. We are not Gnostics. We are realists who recognize that there is something to be gained by redirecting our attention and efforts beyond what our appetites desire in any given moment.

As we become more aware of the appetite’s and thought’s control over much in our life, we discover that there is another way to be and do. It’s not about which way is better. It is about which way leads to real, enduring joy and other such fruits of the Spirit, like love, wisdom and inward peace.

Be gentle with the thing called your Self. Let the fierceness of God’s hidden mercy undo you in the moments of fasting that seem to be unbearable. There is more to you than the thing in you that thinks there is a problem or that something is difficult.  Go deeper and discover your freedom from all thoughts, feelings and sensations. You are not that.

Remember Jesus’ model in his own temptations with his thoughts, feelings and sensations in the wilderness (Luke 4. 1 – 13). He knew he was not the thoughts, feelings or body sensations. He knew the Word of God could replace his thoughts and feelings and help him through the temptation.

Welcome to you.

 

 


© 2016  The Contemplative Companion

A Resource of ContemplativeChristians.com

The Contemplative Companion for Ash Wednesday, February 10, 2016

“Even now, says the LORD,
return to me with your whole heart,
with fasting, and weeping, and mourning;
Rend your hearts, not your garments,
and return to the LORD, your God.” – Joel 2:12 – 13

We receive a gift as we rest in  a twice daily rhythm of interior stillness and silence, such as through the method of Centering Prayer.

The gift is that we are rended open by the subtle  weight and loving force of the Spirit in increasingly deeper layers and levels of our being.

In contrast to the one time shock of some spiritual events, this contemplative rendering is sustainable, and as such tends to produce ripe and enduring spiritual fruit in us over the course of months, years and decades of our lifetime.

On this Ash Wednesday, as we begin the journey of Lent to the Cross of our Lord’s Release into the Hands of God and his Release from the Grip of Death through Resurrection, let us remember and return our attention and intention to the Presence of love hidden in the stillness and silence of our body, heart and mind.

Why not complement your fasting with this practice of consenting to be rend open more deeply to and by Divine Love into  the Passion of Christ?

We consent by saying yes to the Spirit’s searching presence, a reality that we may not even be aware of as it is occurring. And yet, what beautiful fruit is born from the darkness that overcomes us as the self and its desires and dynamics are infused into the All Radiating and Ever Relating Love of God,  consummating us into It.

May it be a deeply living lent through an inward dying to that in us which keeps us from remembering, returning and  releasing to Love.

 

 


© 2016  The Contemplative Companion

A Resource of ContemplativeChristians.com

The Contemplative Companion for Tuesday, February 8, 2016

“You nullify the word of God in favor of your tradition…” – Mark 7.13

On the cusp of Lent, this Gospel reading often appears in the daily lectionary reading assigned for the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday. It’s a reminder to become aware of our motivation(s) driving our behavior, especially our so called “spiritual” practices.

Right ritual reminds us and rehearses in us the feeling and the knowing that we are One in Christ by the Spirit.

We are all too aware of “religious” practices gone awry because their motivation is disconnected from the Wisdom dimension of the participant’s faith tradition, and most of all  love-denying in the name of fear-affirming.

Check your own motivations as we begin the Lenten journey. It’s easy to see our all too human comparative and competitive nature come out in such a season as this. God doesn’t need Lent. God doesn’t need your fasting or your meditation or your lectio.

Perhaps Bernard of Clairvaux provides an helpful insight here. In his nearly 900 year old essay “On Loving God,” Bernard indicates four degrees of love, which to my mind, also reveal levels or aspects of our motivation. Here are Bernard’s famous four degrees of love:*

First Degree: Loving yourself for your own sake.

Second Degree: Loving God for your own good.

Third Degree: Loving God for God’s sake.

Fourth Degree: Loving yourself for God’s sake.

During this Lent and beyond, let us not nullify anything. Let us flourish in, by and toward love.

Let us deny, fast and serve so to love more deeply.

A quote attributed to Meister Eckhart concludes our companion well: “What we take in by contemplation, we pour out in love.”**

It is so, even if it is not so for us right now.

And  it can be, because it already is in Christ, by God’s Grace:  A Perfected Love that Neutralizes Fear (1 John 4.18).

*  Bernard of Clairvaux, Selected Works (New York: Harper Collins, 2005) 73 – 81.

**Quoted by Aldous Huxley, The Perennial Philosophy (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1945) 115, 299.

 

 

 


© 2016  The Contemplative Companion

A Resource of ContemplativeChristians.com

The Contemplative Companion for Monday, February 8, 2016

“Then Solomon said, “The LORD intends to dwell in the dark cloud; I have truly built you a princely house, a dwelling where you may abide forever.” – 1 Kings 8.13

“They laid the sick in the marketplaces and begged him that they might touch only the tassel on his cloak; and as many as touched it were healed.” – Mark 6.56

The movement of Presence from Prophets, to Ark, to Temple to Mary, to Jesus, to Pentecost is a beautiful thread to follow in the scriptures. Presence is a primary theme then as it is today.

We thrive on Presence – whether mediated through a screen or experienced in person. Presence conveys the energy of another’s life.

Presence is also what heals us inwardly and indeed physically. And our awareness and attention to this Presence is what can expand or contract. Presence is always available. Our consent and attention to it is not.

That is one of the gifts that a meditative prayer method cultivates: our inward consent to the Reality of Divine Presence that loves us and can heal us  and help us think, feel, do and be in new ways.

Discover  and remember this  living gift for yourself today.

Presence is underneath, in, and through every moment, everything, and everyone. And from our encounter with Presence,Presence will do the rest, which will most likely be different for each one’s journey.

 

 


© 2016  The Contemplative Companion

A Resource of ContemplativeChristians.com

The Contemplative Companion for Friday, February 5, 2016

“God’s way is unerring.” – Psalm18.31

We are connected with a Wisdom that guides our lives. In scripture and sacrament, nature and relationships we read the words of life that reveal who we are to ourselves and point to what God’s love is doing for us.

I particularly give thanks for Maurice Nicoll’s Commentaries, bound wisdom in book form. I cherish the way each feels in my hands, and more importantly, the way they feed me.

And for the silence, which reveals more than I can say and helps me experience the wisdom and love I read about that is unerring and completely trustworthy.

 


© 2016  The Contemplative Companion

A Resource of ContemplativeChristians.com

Daily Devotional for Lent and Holy Week

If you are looking for a daily devotional for Lent and Holy week for yourself or for your spiritual community, consider the Revised Edition of Peter Traben Haas’ contemplative reader A Living Lent.  Click on the image to read a sample from the book, or order at Amazon. com.

RevisedLivingLentHaasfront cover

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