Advent Reflection: Contemplate the Ordinary



Contemplation is not the stuff of charlatans, telepathists, and magicians.  Contemplation is about very basic, very real things.  It is about seeing God in everyone, finding God everywhere, and responding to all of life as a message from God.  Contemplation is not a road show of visions.  It is not spiritual snake oil. It is not an exalted state of being.  It is simply consciousness of the Ultimate in the immediate. (Sr. Joan Chittister, OSB.  Illuminated Life: Monastic Wisdom for Seekers of Light).

I am really not able to write more or better than Sr. Joan Chittister wrote so eloquently in the quote above.  Instead, I want us to reflect for a while on what does the quote have to do with Advent?

In many ways, our most sacred text known as the Holy Bible is misleading due to the many stories of miracles and extraordinary events.  Before my readers get too worked up about what I just wrote concerning Sacred Scripture; I want us to continue to ponder what Sr. Joan wrote above.  She is attempting to help us understand that contemplative prayer is about our relationship with God in the ordinary here and now.  We want God to send us some magical bolt of lightening that takes all of our problems away.  We want to use contemplative prayer and often centering prayer as a way to escape the reality of what is around us.  However, God is seeking union with us, so that we may seek union with God in what is happening in front of us, or around us at this very moment.

In this Season of Advent, we are focusing on awaiting the arrival of our Savior to rescue us. We long for Christ to come in glory and take us away from the violence and misery we are witnessing in our world.  There is another piece of Advent that is just as important.  The God we are waiting for and seeking, has already come to us in Jesus Christ, the Word made Flesh.  God who is one with us in Christ is still among us in The Holy Spirit.

In the same book of Sr. Joan’s that I quoted above, I now conclude this reflection with the following quote.

Genuine Spirituality is not spent escaping from life to live in a mental state of unconcern or other worldliness.  Contemplatives do not seek “visions.” They simply seek to know God, the God present in them and around them, in others and in everything, in Goodness and Truth, in universal love and universal peace.  To contemplatives God is not a magic trick.  God is the very breath they breathe.

How are you contemplating the presence of God in the here and now this Advent?


Brother Anselm Philip King-Lowe, OSB

Advent Reflection: No Need to Speak



For the word of the Lord has sounded forth from you not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but in every place where your faith in God has become known, so that we have no need to speak about it.  (1 Thessalonians 1:8).

Saint Benedict regarded silence as one of the most important aspects of Monastic life.  In Chapter 6 in The Rule Benedict he wrote:

I was silent and was humbled, and I refrained even from good words (Ps. 38 [39]:2-3).  Here the Prophet indicates that there are times when good words are to be left unsaid out of esteem for silence.

The words from Paul to the Thessalonians and The Rule of St. Benedict are telling us that our faith is most often best known when we maintain silence.  The Word of God sounds forth from us as we spend time silently in the presence of God; allowing God to speak to our hearts in Contemplative and Centering Prayer.  When we live in silence from the essence of who we really are and seek union with God in all we do there is no need for us or others to speak of it.  Our faith in the Holy One who has made us not one, but not two brings us to the holy union that we desire with God in faith, trust and love.

In this Season of Advent as we await to celebrate God coming among us in Christ, our silence with the Word of God is imperative to be the faithful People of God we were created and redeemed to be.

How is your silence with the Word known so that there is no need to speak of it?


Brother Anselm Philip King-Lowe, OSB


Advent Reflection: Lift, Trust, Wait



To you Lord I lift up my soul; my God I have put my trust in you; you are God my Saviour; for you have I waited all day long (Psalm 25:1,4 The New Zealand Prayer Book, p. 568).

One of the many themes of the Season of Advent is “waiting.”

Waiting is a lost art in our “get it right now” society.

Just press an icon on our iPhone (or Smart Phone) and we can make a call, check a text, play a game or find out how far Paris, France is from where we are standing.  I grew up in the age of having to own a telephone, a phone book, waiting for several days, maybe a week for a piece of mail and needing to know how to read a map.  Is it any wonder that we are society growing more impatient everyday?

The Advent themes of watching and waiting is best described in the Daily Office of Vigils.  Also known in The Rule of Saint Benedict as the “Night Office.”  After Compline (Night Prayer) the Monks slept until they were woken about 2am for the Night Office of Vigils.  The purpose of the Office was and still is to be watchful for the coming of Christ at any hour of the day or night.  In the Second Letter of St. Peter chapter 3 vs. 10 we read, “But the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night.”  In the Gospel of Matthew chapter 24:44 Jesus said “Therefore, you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an unexpected hour.”  The Monks rise to lift up there souls to God in the singing of the Psalms that they may put their trust in God and be ready to receive the Holy One they are waiting for.

God invites us in this Season of Advent to lift up our souls to God, to trust God as our Savior.  It is God’s grace reaching out for us from God’s perspective to seek union with God wherever we are, whatever we are doing.  Whether we are praying, working, relating, helping, or being quiet; God is searching for union with us in that moment.

How are you lifting up your soul to God; to trust in God for Whom you are waiting?


Brother Anselm Philip King-Lowe, OSB