Reflection on God Alone

Seeking

“For God alone my soul in silence waits, truly, my hope is in him.  He alone is my rock and my salvation, my stronghold, so that I shall not be shaken.  (Psalm 62:6-7.  The Book of Common Prayer, p.669).

I wish I had the faith the Psalmist must have had when these words were written.  The author had many things going on around him.  He had a lot of enemies it seems.  Yet in the middle of what must have been going on, he found this faith in him that he knew that his soul in silence waits for God, and that God was his only salvation who could fill him with the courage he needed to face the turmoil he was experiencing.

When we speak of silence and solitude in the Monastic life, we are not only talking about exterior tranquility and seclusion.  When we finally do put aside what is going on around us, and spend time in a quiet withdrawal, we find ourselves with that much more noise and the crowds within us.  Plans we haven’t made.  Phone calls we didn’t return.  The emotions we feel after being disappointed.  The relationship (s) that were interrupted by death or a break up.  All of these and our feelings of self inadequacy find their way of shaking us and keeping us from that peace of God.  Much of all this comes from our indulging with our false-sense of self.  Somehow we internalized that everything is up to us.

Centering prayer is sitting quietly and using a word or phrase while we journey to our center and be with God alone in solitude.  In Centering Prayer, we don’t push the things going on in our life aside.  We accept them as they are, and let them go.  When God is so present with us, everything else becomes something we acknowledge is there, but we don’t cling to them.  We let them go.  Because now we know and are experiencing that “For God alone our souls in silence waits, truly our hope is in God.”   Centering prayer opens our interior selves to the contemplative experience of God’s mysterious love and transforming grace.  When we allow ourselves to be with God alone and center ourselves on God, we are brought into a perfect union with God by which God is all we are seeking, for the sake of God alone.  Everything else becomes irrelevant.

The Brief Rule of St. Romuald

1. Sit in your cell as in paradise.
2. Put the whole world behind you and forget it.
3. Watch your thoughts like a good fisherman watching for fish.
4. The path you must follow is in the Psalms never leave it.
5. If you have just come to the monastery, and in spite of your good will you cannot
accomplish what you want, take every opportunity you can to sing the Psalms in your
heart and to understand them with your mind.
6. And if your mind wanders as you read, do not give up; hurry back and apply your mind to the words once more.
7. Realize above all that you are in God’s presence, and stand there with the attitude of
one who stands before the emperor.
8. Empty yourself completely and sit waiting, content with the grace of God,
like the chick who tastes nothing and eats nothing but what his mother brings him.
“Listen readily to holy reading, and devote yourself often to prayer.” (RB:1980: The Rule of Saint Benedict in English, Chapter 4 On the Tools for Good Works, verses 55-56. p.28).
Have you spent anytime in silence while your soul waits for God alone lately?
Amen.
Brother Anselm Philip King-Lowe, OSB-CoS
Peace be with all who enter here.

 

Reflection on Thirsting

ThirstyDeer

 

“Just like a deer that craves streams of water, my whole being craves you, God.  My whole being thirsts for God, the living God. When will I come and see God’s face?” (Psalm 42:1,2 Common English Bible).

What do you find yourself thirsting for these days?  Peace?  Wealth? Popularity? Narcissism? Being noticed and liked?  Personal satisfaction with everything and/or everybody? Our various addictions or obsessions?

All of us in one way or live with the illusion that we need to be satisfied by something exterior.  Being satisfied is not a terrible thing, as long as we do not seek satisfaction for the sake of itself.  When what we desire to satisfy us becomes what we desire to possess for the sake of itself, that is when we are thirsting for something much deeper within our whole being.

There is something to be said for spending time in prayer while being physically hungry or thirsty.  In so doing, we fulfill the words of Jesus in His temptation. “People won’t live only by bread, but by every word spoken by God.” (Matthew 4:4 Common English Bible).  When we bring our hunger and thirst into our contemplative and/or centering prayer we acknowledge for ourselves what the Psalmist wrote. “My whole being thirsts for God, the living God.”  By letting go of all that keeps us attached with our false-sense of self, we are able to follow Jesus through the Holy Essence of God into our own essence to search and find that perfect union with God.  God’s love gives the sweetest tasting water turned into wine to satisfy our thirsting souls, and gives new life to ours.

“Prefer nothing to the love of Christ.” (St. Benedict’s Rule for Monasteries. Chapter 4: The Instruments of Good Works, p.15).

“4. The Path you must follow is in the Psalms–never leave it.” (From The Short Rule of St. Romuald).

What is it that you are thirsting for today?

Br. Anselm Philip King-Lowe, OSB-CoS

At this time, I would like to make a very exciting announcement to my blog readers.

I have just been admitted to continue my Monastic Formation with the non-canonical and ecumenical Community of Solitude.  They/we are a Benedictine-Camaldolese Community that uses the tools of Solitude, Silence, Community and Witness.  The Community follows The Rule of St. Benedict, and The Rule of St. Romauld, through the influence of the Scriptures and The Desert Mothers and Fathers.  This is why you now see the CoS designation added to the OSB following my name.

I am equally excited to inform you that this blog and my work with the Facebook group Christian Contemplation and Mysticism are now a part of my own Witness with and for the Community of Solitude.

Along with this information, I must also announce that the previous project I began called The Contemplatives of Subiaco/Order of St. Benedict including the website ends effective immediately.   It would be unethical of me to be a member of one Community while trying to establish another one to compete with the Community of Solitude.

Peace be with all who enter here.

Reflection on Come and See

Serenity

 

When Jesus turned and saw (John’s Disciple) following, he said to them, ‘What are you looking for?’ They said to him, ‘Rabbi’ (which translated means Teacher), ‘where are you staying?’ He said to them, ‘Come and see.’ They came and saw where he was staying, and they remained with him that day. It was about four o’clock in the afternoon. (John 1:38-39. NRSV).

A certain brother came to Abba Moses in Scetis, seeking at word from him, and the old man said to him, “Go and sit in your cell and your cell will teach you everything.” (Daily Readings with the Desert Fathers, p. 64).

Our problem is that we spend too much time seeking God in all the wrong places.  We, like the disciples come looking for Jesus and ask where He is staying.  Jesus’ reply to them and us is “come and see.”  God is indeed everywhere around us.  The things we do, the people we see and the things we use all have an element of God’s work.  But, these are not ends in and of themselves.  They are not beginnings and stopping points.  They are merely tools for the trade.

Jesus wants us to search for union with God, with purity of heart.  To seek God for the sake of God alone, because of who God is; not what God can do.  To begin the search, we must first go into the heart of ourselves in solitude and silence and allow God to transform us from our sacred space on outward.

The point of Contemplative Prayer, of Centering Prayer is to live in the Presence of God in the here and now, by finding where Jesus is staying within us.  We must first take the important step of letting go of all that keeps us from asking Jesus “where are you staying?”  When we hear Jesus call us from within, we are drawn into the mystical experience of the joy of God having found us to united us to an intimate and new life-giving love.

“The first step of humility is to keep the consciousness of God before us at all times, and never forget it.” (The Rule of Saint Benedict, Chapter 7, On Humility, paraphrased).

Have you asked Jesus “where are you staying” from your heart, so He can say to you “come and see?”

Amen.

Brother Anselm Philip King-Lowe, OSB

Reflection on Replanted Trees

tree-word-river-22

“The truly happy person(s),,,,, are like a tree replanted by streams of water which bears fruit as just the right time and whose leaves don’t fade.  Whatever they do succeeds.” (Psalm 1:1a, 3.  The Common English Bible).

The Benedictine Vow of Conversion of Manners (also called Conversion of Life) is directly related to the other two which are Stability and Obedience.   Stability is a grounding of oneself into God and those with whom one shares their life.  All the masks come off.  We are made stable by letting go of our defenses and trusting in God to guide us forward.  The Vow of Conversion is about allowing the God to whom we have vowed stability to change us by the manners of others around us.   Obedience is about our response to God out of love, not fear. (See 1 John 4:18)

A tree that can no longer bear fruit dries up in the parched soil in which it is rooted.  It’s branches and trunk can become very hallow.  At that point there are two options.  Tear down the tree and burn it, or, uproot it and replant it by streams of water.  When option two is used, the tree can be nourished and made healthy again.  The branches and trunk fill in with new life, nurtured by the moisture.  The leaves can grow on the tree once again, and delicious fruit that can feed people and/or animals.  There is new life in the tree, and it is happy once again.

God really does want us to be happy people.  God knows that life can really stink because of a job we no longer enjoy, the death of a loved one and the grief we experience, the loss of becoming disabled.  God knows all of these things.  Often when we are grieving or unhappy, God is there helping us to heal things that we did not even know were wounded.  However, we cannot grow in a deeper relationship with God through our suffering and sadness if we don’t allow God to uproot us from where we are, and replant us by streams of living water; flowing from the grace of God.

Contemplative prayer becomes more powerful when we let go of ourselves as best as we can, to let God uproot us from our dryness.  God wants to draw us into the wondrous mystery of God’s loving mercy that is so amazing, that the only thing that matters is God.  When we spend time in solitude and silence, we can accept where we are and turn ourselves over so that the Holy Spirit can move us to a life-giving state of being; where God can draw us into our true-selves, and find God’s truth waiting for us there.

“See how the Lord in his love shows us the way of life.” (RB 1980: The Rule of Saint Benedict in English. The Prologue. p.16 vs. 20).

Will you allow God to replant you by God’s living stream, so you can be a truly happy person today?

Amen.

Brother Anselm Philip King-Lowe, OSB

Reflection on God’s Fullness

Being Filled

“From [God’s] fullness we have all received grace upon grace.” (John 1:16 NRSV).

We live in a world where we never have enough of anything.  Consumerism tells us that we always need more, the new improved, the larger, the faster, etc.  Advances in technology have given us what is faster, more convenient, more efficient. If you still feel like you do not have enough, give it only a few years and you will get even more.  Will we be satisfied then?  No.  Everything breaks down and slows down.

In the mystery of God’s Word made Flesh in Jesus the Christ; in the in Child born of Mary, the fullness of God has given to us; God’s grace upon grace.  That grace is not only a historical event, it is something that takes place in the here and now.  God’s grace comes to meet us in our present moment to draw us into a deeper awareness of the Presence of God in the Holy Spirit.  The fullness of God comes to fill us to overflowing, as God enters into our human nature in an infant who is so vulnerable, so beautiful.  It gives us so much potential at this moment to encounter God in the heart of our true selves.  We don’t have to have everything figured out, or be sure everything is working just right.  God comes to us as we are, where we are and invites us to receive the fullness of God, which God has given us; grace upon grace.

Contemplative prayer brings us face to face with the grace of God as something to be experienced.  God sees us from God’s point of view and asks that we allow God to lead us on a greater search for union with God, by letting go of our false-sense of self to be embraced as God’s Beloved.  There is no greater mystical experience than that.

“What is not possible for us by nature, let us ask the Lord to supply by the help of his grace.” (The Rule of Saint Benedict, the Prologue).

Are you ready to respond to the fullness of God that you have received as grace upon grace?

Amen.

Brother Anselm Philip King-Lowe, OSB

See; http://www.cos-osb.net

 

Reflection on the Potter

Clay

Yet, O Lord, you are our Father; we are the clay, and you are our potter;
we are all the work of your hand. (Isaiah 64:8 NRSV).

As we begin the Season of Advent, I found these words from the Prophet Isaiah speaking to me.

During this season of hope, peace, love and joy we are waiting to remember the arrival of the Incarnate Word as a vulnerable, innocent child.  The season is full of endless chatter, holiday parties, shopping, holiday musak, and end of the year thank yous.  The radio plays the old song Silver Bells with the words “and above all this bustle; you’ll hear…”   But, at what point do we stop for a little solitude and silence to contemplate this great Season of Advent?  What will it take for us to “listen, and incline the ear of our heart” (Prologue of St. Benedict’s Rule), as we wait in joyful expectation of God’s Love in revealed in the human flesh?

The words from Isaiah tell us that God is the potter and we are the clay.  These words are echoed in the old hymn “Have Thine own way, Lord.  Have Thine own way.  Thou art the potter, I am the clay.”  When we meditate on these words, we are immediately confronted by our false-sense of self.   The self that must be approved and approving, happy no matter what, self absorbed and self centered.  God came to us in Jesus Christ, because God is the potter.

God sees in us just how beautiful we are and how gorgeous we can be.  If only we will spend some time in quiet contemplation of viewing ourselves from God’s perspective as a people destined for greatness by letting go in humility our understanding of who we think God is.  We must let God reveal God’s Self to us, so that God can mold, shape and prepare us to become beautiful vessels that bless the world one hundred times over.

“The second degree of humility is that a person love not his own will nor take pleasure in satisfying his desires, but model his actions on the saying of the Lord, “I have come not to do My own will but the will of Him who sent Me.” (St. Benedict’s Rule for Monasteries, Chapter 7 On Humility, p.24).

Will you allow God to mold and shape you during this Advent Season?

Amen.

Brother Anselm Philip King-Lowe, OSB

See: http://www.cos-osb.net

Reflection on Our Identity

IMG_0102

 

And the king will answer them, “Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.” (Matthew 25:40. NRSV).

All guests who present themselves are to be welcomed as Christ, for he himself will say, I was a stranger and you welcomed me (Matthew 25:35). (RB 1980: The Rule of Saint Benedict in English. Chapter 53:1, p.73).

What is it about these words that disturb us?

These are the words used for the commemoration of St. Martin of Tours every November 11.  St. Martin had a mystical vision of Jesus.  He saw Jesus wearing the half of the cloak he gave a needy person.  St. Martin of Tours served Jesus, because he knew Jesus intimately within himself.  He had reached the summit of contemplative prayer.  St. Martin saw the vision of Jesus in mystery, that he looked at in the flesh.  He knew who he was in himself, and who Jesus was in the other.

The Contemplative perspective of God’s glorious presence seeks us out, to respond by seeking union with God within ourselves; and from ourselves in to others.  How?  Not entirely sure.  However, unless we see Christ within ourselves who is hungry, thirsty, naked, in prison, the stranger, etc, we will not see Christ within others who experience the same things; figuratively, literally or spiritually.  This wonder is as mystical experience that we may contemplate how much God thinks of us, sees us and wants for us and from us.

On this Christ the King Sunday, we are called to see Christ in one another and “*listen, incline the ear of the heart” so that we may hear what Christ has to say to us in the other; that others in turn might hear Christ in and through us.  While some may interpret this as evangelism, I suggest that it is much deeper.  It is beyond mission.  It is a relationship with Christ that is so deep, so important and yet so tender and giving; that the Holy Spirit is the communicator looking for who takes God’s love seriously enough to let go of the labels and our false-sense of self; to see Jesus in us as we are, so that we may know Christ beyond ourselves.

Do you know your identity in Jesus Christ, the King?

Amen.

Brother Anselm Philip King-Lowe, OSB

See: http://www.cos-osb.net

*The Rule of Saint Benedict, the Prologue.