Posts Tagged ‘Monastic Notes’
Monastic Notes (Pt.25—July 17th 2011)
Find a complete file (pdf) of the Monastic Notes here
(Pecos: Day 28—July 17th 2011)
And so… my month in the School for Spiritual Direction is officially ended. I leave for the airport shortly following the mid-morning meal. Although I can say unequivocally this has been one of the memorable points in my life, I also know that I will be unraveling this experience for quite some time. I’m glad for notes I’ve taken and the discipline of journaling that have recorded many of the things I have learned, seen, and heard. It will be good to read and reflect on my memories once I’ve returned home.
God’s Word Speaking to Me as I Prepare to Depart for Home:
From Him and through Him and to Him are all things… Therefore, by the mercies of God, present your bodies as a living sacrifice holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to the world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and perfect. To Him be the glory forever. Amen. (Romans 11:36-12:2)
This is an incredibly high calling. It would seem the “bar” is set too high to reach or if we accept the challenge that there is the greater possibility that our lives will be filled with frustration because the measure of godliness is too high for human beings to attain. We push back against these thoughts: the ability of men to discern the will of God, the ability of men to be able to definitively define what is good and perfect, the ability of men to have transformed minds so they may be acceptable to God. It seems near impossible at a glance. But…God gives us hope we can believe in.
“I will put my instructions deep within them, and I will write them on their hearts” (Jeremiah 31:33)
“I will put a desire in their hearts to worship me, and they will never leave me” (Jeremiah 32:40)
“I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit within you. I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender responsive heart. And I will put my Spirit in you so that you will follow my decrees and be careful to obey my regulations” (Ezekiel 36:26-27)
I am encouraged. I have been blessed to have my heart replaced and my mind transformed. I am more than able to center and focus my attentions and affections solely upon the God who has saved me, Jesus Christ, the One who lives and reigns supreme through the guiding empowerment of the Holy Spirit who resides within my heart.
A Prayer of Psalms—
O God, you are my God; eagerly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you, my flesh faints for you, as in a barren and dry land where there is no water. So I will bless you as long as I live and lift up my hands in your Name. For you have been my helper, and under the shadow of your wings I will rejoice. My soul clings to you; your right hand holds me fast (Psalm 63:1, 4, 7-8).
I’ve been reading and meditating my way through Thomas Merton’s New Seeds of Contemplation. I’ve enjoyed Thomas Merton’s writing for quite awhile now, but this is (in my opinion) one of his best works that I have read yet. I think it will easily rank in my top-ten reads for this year. Here is a quote I copied to my journal:
What good does it do to say a few formal prayers to Him and then turn away and give all my mind and all my will to created things, desiring only ends that fall short of Him? Even though my soul may be justified, yet if my mind does not belong to Him then I do not belong to Him either. If my love does not reach out toward Him but scatters itself in His creation, it is because I have reduced His life in me to the level of a formality, forbidding it to move me with a truly vital influence.” -Thomas Merton; New Seeds of Contemplation.
Thoughts from my Lectio—
If you are returning to the LORD with all your heart, then put away your (idolatrous distractions). Direct your (whole) heart toward the LORD, and serve Him only, and He will deliver you… (1 Samuel 7:3)
My Thoughts—I think what this passage speaks to me is affirmation of what I already understand. GOD desires to deliver us from ourselves… in order to do that we must consecrate ourselves wholly to Him. We cannot serve two masters…certainly not ourselves and God. He will not share us with ourselves. Our idols are many, but always can be distilled and reduced to the root of all idolatry: “me.”Destroying the masks of the false selves I create is necessary to turn to God with my whole heart. It can always be summed up to the lowest common denominator: “I”crucified.
Be sure to carry out the ministry the Lord gave to you… (Colossians 4:17)
My Thoughts—Allow Him to be your all-in-all. Allow Him to live fully in and through you… In this, God will fulfill His purposes in your life and you will “carry out the ministry the Lord gave to you.” Amen.
Monastic Notes (Pecos: Day 3—June 22nd 2011)
My first three days have been really great, making new friends and soaking up the atmosphere and the learning. The past couple of days we were immersed in the life and culture of Benedictine Spirituality as taught by Mother Catarina Boyer of Our Lady of the Rock Benedictine Monastery. Today we were hearing from Brother Todd, the guest master of Our Lady of Guadalupe Benedictine Monastery, and discussing the nature of Carmelite Spirituality.
I really enjoyed hearing from Mother Catarina with her “folksy” nature and many relational stories. She is a treasure and it has been a real joy to be in her company as she generously shared her experience and wisdom with us. Some of my “takeaways” from Mother Catarina’s talks include the following:
- How you pray and what you pray is important
- Having a “sacred space” (a physical place to retreat to) is important
- Solitude: alone time with God without the risk of distractions is important
Another connection that I made with the talks on Benedictine Spirituality from my own spiritual journey is the importance in paying attention to how we listen (Luke 8:18). Mother Catarina told us that listening is paramount to the Benedictine mindset; what I heard her say (my paraphrased understanding), “We listen for and to God first ensuring we are open and hearing to what the Spirit of God would speak to us. We listen also to ourselves as we seek to practice discernment and we give honor to the “other” as we listen intently to the people that God brings into our life. Finally, we listen to the sum of all that we listen to as we seek to understand what all are saying…asking the question: ‘what is the collective word that God is speaking through all the devices He uses.’”
Today, our lesson was from Brother Todd (a member of the Pecos Community). He is teaching today and tomorrow about the essence of Carmelite Spirituality, its unique differences and what sets it apart from other aspects of Benedictine Spirituality. While I enjoyed today’s lecture and the information shared, I think what I most enjoyed was hearing Brother Todd’s personal story. I was intrigued and touched to hear how God has moved through the years of his life patiently drawing him ever closer in relationship and commitment unifying love of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. When I pay attention to how I listen I am always encouraged to hear God speaking to me through the lives and stories of others as God draws His creation and His people to Himself…just like Mother Catarina was sharing with us.