Reflection on Seeking and Finding

sycamore

 

Jesus said to Zacchaeus, “Today, salvation has come to this household because he too is a son of Abraham.  The Human One came to seek and save the lost. (Luke 19:9-10. Common English Bible).

I am continuing to read through Walking in Valleys of Darkness: A Benedictine Journey Through Troubled Times by Fr. Albert Holzt, OSB.

Today, I read his section on Seeking God in which he uses the Gospel story of Zacchaeus in Luke 9:1-10.

Zacchaeus was a ruler among tax collectors.  He wanted to see Jesus.  Zacchaeus was a very short man.  So, he climbed a sycamore tree to get a glimpse of Jesus as He walked by and the crowds around Him.  When Jesus saw Zacchaeus in the tree, He called him to come down so that Jesus could have supper at his house.  Those around Jesus were critical of Him because He chose to go to the house of one who as so despised by them.  When Jesus went to Zecchaeus’ home, and he said the words found at the top of this blog post.  Holtz points out that Zeccaeus climbed that tree because he was seeking Jesus.  What he discovered is that Jesus was seeking him just as much as Zeccaeus was seeking Jesus.

As Fr. Holtz wrote,

While it may look as if Christ was eating at Zecchaeus’s table, the play on the verb “to seek” points to a deeper reality: Zacchaeus was now eating at Jesus’ table, being nurtured by the intimacy of God’s forgiving love.  Jesus had successfully sought out the seeker.

We can seek union with God through any number of means.  Work.  Prayer.  Routines of Liturgical prayer such as the Offices and the Eucharist.  Relationships.  While all of these are important in and of themselves; what is even more so is that we can learn from the Gospel story of Zeccaeus is that God is seeking union with us.   If we will allow ourselves to be found by our God who is seeking us: we will find the God with Whom we are seeking union with.

“Seeking his workman in a  multitude of people, the Lord calls out to him and lifts his voice again: is there anyone here who yearns for life and desires to seek good days?” (The Rule of Saint Benedict. The Prologue v. 14).

How are you seeking and being found by God in your life?

Amen.

Brother Anselm Philip King-Lowe, OSB

Reflection on Narrow Beginnings

narrow-road

 

Do not be daunted immediately by fear and run from the road that leads to salvation.  It is bound to be narrow at the outset (The Rule of Saint Benedict:Prologue v. 48).

I have begun the process of founding The Contemplatives of Subiaco-Order of Saint Benedict.   Lord willing and others consenting, it will be a Benedictine Community with a focus on solitary contemplative prayer and responding to the Presence of Christ in the world around us.

I am feeling led to begin this work because there needs to be a dispersed  Contemplative Community of Benedictines that finds a place of religious life ministry that is inclusive of individuals with autistic spectrum disorders and/or mental illnesses.  This work is ambitious, yes, but it is also scary.  I am an individual that lives with Asperger’s Syndrome and its many social ramifications.  Isolation.  Rejection. Many failing to understand that my complications in social interactions are not because of me just not getting my act together; but a medical, neurological and developmental disorder that prevents me from fully functioning in the way I and others might like.  I find myself a bit concerned about the challenges that lay ahead as I begin this work.  Nevertheless, I feel it is what God is moving on my heart to do at this point in my life.  It certainly feels like one of those narrow beginnings that St. Benedict indicates in the selection from The Rule.

St. Benedict himself, left the nobility and the privileges he had because of  his wealthy up bringing, because he knew that God had something even more wonderful for him.  He left for the cave at Subiaco in Italy.  In that cave, he studied the Scriptures and listened intentionally to God in contemplative solitude for three years.  During that time he faced the fears he must have had. In spite of his solitude, many individuals found him and his fame spread everywhere.  There were those who were so inspired by what Benedict was doing; that they would bring him food and provisions.  This was for St. Benedict a narrow beginning that led him and many to salvation through his Monastic way of life.

God calls upon each of us to our respective and diverse vocations.  We do not always know what they are or where they will take us as we begin our journey.  This can include going to school, starting a new job, beginning a new relationship or making improvements to our home.  Our first steps on the road that leads us to salvation will be narrow and frightening.  We will have our moments of wanting to give up and run away.  Saint Benedict reminds us in this wonderful verse from the Prologue; that we never walk that road alone.  God is there guiding our steps, speaking to our hearts and walking through that narrow beginning with us.  Whether that road leads us to a successful ending or not, we can have faith in God that nothing that has happened in the past, or what may happen in the future will keep God from bringing us to where God wants us to be.

How and in what ways is God speaking to your heart about taking that first step on a road that has a narrow outset?

Amen.

Brother Anselm Philip King-Lowe, OSB

 

 

Reflection on Kainos

lightindarkness

 

So then, if anyone is in Christ, that person is part of the new creation.  The old things have gone away, and look, new things have arrived!  All of these new things are from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and who gave us the ministry of reconciliation. (2 Corinthians 5:17,18. Common English Bible).

As part of my grief and healing through this past year, I have been reading a wonderful book to help me.  The title of the book is, Walking in Valleys of Darkness: A Benedictine Journey Through Troubled Times written by Fr. Albert Holtz, OSB.  In the very first chapter, Fr. Holtz writes about two different Greek words in the New Testament for the English word “new.”

There is the word neos which means “recent, young”.  An example of this word, Holtz writes, is old wine skins and new wine skins (see Luke 5:37).   The other word for new, which is what Paul wrote about in the Scripture basis for this blog post.  That word is kainos which means “unheard of, unknown, previously un-thought of, entirely different from anything that went before it.” (See page 197).

The kainos for “new” that St. Paul wrote about calls us to an unheard of version of ourselves in Christ Jesus.  This is a renewed sense of self that we find within our essence.  We cannot see what is in our essence by ourselves.  All of us in one way or another live with wounds and a false sense of self within our souls.  Our souls need healing and redeeming every day by God’s mending love in Christ.  Our essence is where our true sense of self is.  It is in our essence that our spirit waits to be unleashed to live with hope that our souls will find salvation and peace.

As Christians who know of Jesus Christ and that God has plans for each of us (and the plans are all unique),  and that our essence needs to be touched by the Holy Spirit; whom I have renamed The Holy Essence of God.  Our spirit is seeking union with God the Holy Spirit is where we are kainos “new” people in Christ.  From that kainos essence comes the new creation that changes us inside and out.

Sometimes, God uses the not so good things that happen in our lives to remake us into a kainos “new” self.  This new self is found as we face the reality of our brokenness as well as in the whole person we truly are as The Holy Essence leads us through the difficult times of our lives.

Contemplative prayer and the mystical experience is often like finding the Light of Christ coming through the darkness of life.  In that Light, God seeks union with us, and moves on us with The Holy Essence of God, to return to our own essence: and rise up as a kainos people.  God sees us as kainos people in Christ, and wants us to live from that essence of new life.

“Elsewhere Scripture says: O God, you have tested us, you have tried us as silver is tried by fire.” (The Rule of Saint Benedict, Chapter 7, On Humility, vs. 7).

How is The Holy Essence of God, calling you to be a kainos “new” person in Christ?

Amen.

Brother Anselm Philip King-Lowe, OSB

 

Reflection on Stillness and Waiting

Serenity

 

My soul truly is still, and ‘waits for’ God: from ‘whom comes’ my deliverance. (Psalm 62:1, The New Zealand Prayer Book, p.256).

In our contemporary world of high speed internet, automatic teller machines and microwave ovens: the notion of remaining still and waiting seems like ancient history.

The practice of silence, solitude, being still and waiting are gifts of God to us to center ourselves on the One who gives us life and hope.  These gifts do not come in packages to be unwrapped or emails to be opened.  They come through the constant, yet, changing rhythms of daily life.  Within our ordinary moments of life, God is calling to us to pause, be still and wait for God to deliver us.

Saint Antony of the Desert once wrote, “He who sits alone and is quiet has escaped three wars: hearing speaking, seeing: but there is one thing he must continually fight: that is, his own heart.”

It also bears repeating that Saint Benedict picks up on this very theme when he begins the Prologue of The Rule with the words, “Listen to the masters instructions.  Incline the ears of your heart.”

The Psalmist, St. Antony and St. Benedict by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit urge us to give God the opportunity to make our souls still and wait for God to be our Deliverer.  We can give God that opportunity in our personal time of prayer in solitude.  We can also seek union with God in stillness through our relationships with others; even when they are not so peaceful.

How and where are you finding time to still your soul and wait for deliverance from God?

Amen.

Brother Anselm Philip King-Lowe, OSB