Reflection on Jesus and Solitude

Seeking

“In the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up and went out to a deserted place, and there he prayed.” (Mark 1:35. NRSV).

If Jesus who was God among us, needed to withdraw in solitude and spend time in prayer, what makes us think we do not?

More times than not, the person(s) who make a prayerful relationship with God most difficult, is ourselves.  We allow ourselves to be so taken up with things that can only get us so far; while our relationship with God gets its own compartment to be opened for our convenience.  Though we may place God in a chest to be hidden and forgotten, God never places us in anywhere else but as “the apple of God’s eyes.”

Time spent in solitude, praying the Psalms with God in the cell of the whole of ourselves is how God gets to occupy us.  When we spend time in Centering Prayer and Contemplative Prayer, we seek union with the God who is already within us; calling to us to love God and be with God; never to let ourselves be so consumed by anything to the point where God becomes nothing more than another phone app to be used and set a side.  When we spend time with God in silence and solitude, the seed is planted for a new tree of life to grow from within us, that becomes the very Essence from which we live all of life.

“Benedictine Spirituality is a sacramental spirituality.  It holds all things,,,,,, as sacred.” (Joan Chittister, The Monastery of the Heart: An invitation to a Meaningful Life, p.115).

“1. Sit in your cell as in paradise.” (The Rule of St. Romuald).

“Let them prefer nothing whatever to the love of Christ, and may he bring us all to everlasting life.” (RB 1980: The Rule of Saint Benedict in English. Chapter 72:11,12).

Have you taken time in solitude lately to spend time with God?

Amen.

Peace be with all who enter here.

Brother Anselm Philip King-Lowe, OSB-CoS

See: The Community of Solitude

If you feel led to buy me some coffee, please click on the Benedictine coffee mug at the bottom of the right sidebar.  Thank you so much.

 

 

Reflection on the Spirit

“If we live by the Spirit, let us also be guided by the Spirit.” (Galatians 5:25 NRSV).

Exactly how do we define our identity?

I have written before about labels, our false-sense of self and our true selves. The times we are living through, puts labels on top of labels, on top of labels. The labels by themselves only describe many things about us. When we cling to labels and put all of our identity into the labels, we hand over our dignity and our true selves to an idol. We deprive the very essence of what makes us who we really are to something that does not satisfy our interior thirst for God. We forget what the Redemption by Jesus Christ of ourselves, has given us.

Basil Pennington in his book Centering Prayer: Renewing An Ancient Christian Prayer Form wrote;

“He [The Holy Spirit] is our Spirit, the Gift given to you at Baptism to be your very own spirit; ask Holy Spirit through the words printed in these pages to “teach spiritual things spiritually.” (p. 10).

Contemplative prayer can be thought of as a journey of our spirit in search of union with God, The Holy Spirit to be a “new creation in Christ.” (See 2 Corinthians 5:17-18). The Holy Spirit gives new life to who we are, because of God’s love for us in Jesus Christ, the Word of God. We only need to spend some time in solitude and silence to live into the Holy Essence (Spirit) who is our essence and well-spring of our new life in Christ. There in is our strength in times of weakness, our hope when we are in despair, our victory when we have lost everything.

“And finally, never lose hope in God’s mercy.” (RB:1980: The Rule of St. Benedict in English. Chapter 4 The Tools for Good Works, p. 29).

What identity are you living by?

Amen.

Brother Anselm Philip King-Lowe, OSB-CoS

See The Community of Solitude

If you would like to buy me a coffee, please click on the much at the bottom of the right sidebar. Thank you in advance.

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 St. Benedict

benedict

 

“There was a man, Benedict, who was revered for the holiness of his life, blessed by God both in grace and name.  While yet a boy, he showed mature understanding and possessed a strength of character far beyond his years, keeping his heart detached from sinful worldly pleasures.  While still in the world, he was in a position to enjoy all that the world had to offer; but, seeing how empty it was, he turned from it without regret” (Dialogs of St. Gregory the Great).

The year was 1993.  I was in my senior year of college.  I was facing a massive change in my life after graduation.  Where would I go?  What would I do?  What would happen to all the friendships I made?  As intriguing as these questions were, I knew that there was something in my heart that was yearning for a sense of direction.  I didn’t want to graduate from college without something to begin anchoring my spiritual life to.

That Fall, I visited Glastonbury Abbey in Hingham, Massachusetts.  I was introduced to Saint Benedict and his Rule.  When I first read The Rule, the first thought I had was “Is this guy crazy or what?”   Once I started to read The Rule, and experience the hospitality of the monks there, I knew something changed in my life.  I would never be the same.

Twenty three years since, my life has experienced many twists and turns.  Many successes and failures.  Yet, any time I felt like my life was going on a wrong path, The Rule of Saint Benedict time and again has redirected me to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Thomas Merton in his book The Rule of Saint Benedict: Initiation into the Monastic Tradition wrote;

“The Purpose of the Rule is to furnish a framework to build the structure of a simple and pure spiritual life, pleasing to God by its perfection of faith, humility, and love.  The Rule is not an end in itself, but a means to an end. and it is always to be seen in relation to its end.  This end is union with God in love, and in every line of the Rule indicates that its various prescriptions are given us to show us how to get rid of self love and replace it by the love of God: (p.6).

Saint Benedict, his life and Rule, shows us how to live the contemplative life by being open to God’s Providence and listen to God “with the ears of the heart” (Prologue of The Rule).  If a mystical experience is to happen, it begins with letting go of all that holds us back.  It is a letting go of the many things we attach ourselves to, and see the power of God illuminating us with grace and “the inexpressible delight of love” (Prologue of The Rule).

Whoever your favorite Saint is, who’s spirituality you are drawn to and whatever draws you closer to God; it begins with letting go.  As Saint Benedict wrote in The Rule, Chapter 72, “Let them prefer nothing whatever to Christ, and may he bring us all together to everlasting life.”

Amen.

Brother Anselm Philip King-Lowe, OSB

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

Lent Reflection: I Am Resurrection and Life

Reflections

 

Jesus said to her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?’  She said to him, ‘Yes, Lord, I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, the one coming into the world.’ (John 11:25-27 NRSV).

Jesus gives new hope to Mary and Martha in today’s Gospel story.   They already demonstrated their courageous faith.  Their belief in who Jesus was, enabled them to believe that if Jesus had been there when Lazarus was dying, He could have prevented his death.  Mary and Martha’s faith and hope in Jesus was evidence of their openness to more than what they saw by sight.  Jesus responds by proclaiming that He is the resurrection and the life, and follows His claim up by raising up Lazarus’ body.   I believe that all of what we read about in John’s Gospel today is faith becoming visible and tangible.  There are new opportunities, because faith opened the flood gates.

This is where the contemplative experiences the presence of Jesus in which no words are necessary.  As contemplatives, we know that all we have to do is crack open that barrier just a little, and The Holy Spirit will gush in the holiness of God in abundance.   If we believe just a little bit that Jesus can change what is right in front of us into a moment of resurrection and life; we will experience this new life in the mystical moment of God’s grace.

In chapter 35 of The Life and Miracles of St. Benedict, is the story of how he was standing at the window of his monastery before the night office.  He was so deep in his watching, that he had the experience of a great light through which he could see all the world in that one moment of light.  The mystical experience was so transparent for St. Benedict, that he saw the soul of Germanus ascending into heaven.  Just a little bit of openness and watching, and Benedict saw resurrection and life in front of his eyes.

What is the barrier you are willing to open just a little, so that Jesus can be resurrection and life for you?

Amen.

Brother Anselm Philip King-Lowe, OSB

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

Lent Reflection: St. Benedict & Death

Benedict Leaving

 

“Day by day remind yourself that you are going to die” (RB 1980: The Rule of Saint Benedict in Latin and English. Chapter 4:47. p.184).

The above quote from Chapter 4 On the Tools of Good Works in The Rule hits us square in the face with a reality that will happen to all of us.  Just as the ashes we receive at the beginning of Lent; Benedict gives us these words to remind us of our mortality.  Benedict tells us to face this reality and do what God gives us to do in the here and now.   He tells us to remember that we will die everyday as one of the tools for good works, so that we will make good use of everything we have been given to use. Especially the sacrament of time.  We are not going to be on this earth forever.  We are given time and tasks to do. We have been given those tasks because of God’s love for us.  God wants us to do what we are to do in the here and now in response to that great love.

Today, we commemorate the day that Saint Benedict “raised his hands to heaven and yielded his angelic spirit into the hands of his Creator.”

St. Benedict spent his life seeking union with God through a life of continuous prayer in relationship with God and others.  The Rule of St. Benedict which is a combination of The Rule of the Master, with texts borrowed from The Conferences and Institutes by St. John Cassian, and Benedict’s own additions; was his way of passing on the wisdom he learned from his life experience.  It has been used, revised and adapted for the past 1500 plus years as a guide for monastics and non-monastics alike.

At the point in which Benedict handed over his spirit, he was able to surrender his entire self into the hands of God because of his trust and devotion to God.  He made use of the tools God gave him to accomplish God’s will.  As St. Gregory the Great wrote in The Dialogues “Benedict could not have lived in any other way, than what he taught.”

Our contemplative prayer and mystical experience happens when we live with the awareness  of God’s Presence in the ordinary tasks of life.  Washing dishes.  Cleaning our homes.  Doing our job well.  Attending to the relationships God has entrusted us with.  Consoling the sorrowful, clothing the naked and welcoming the stranger.

What are you doing with the tools and time that God has given you in the here and now?

What do the words “Day by day remind yourself that you are going to die” say to you?

Amen.

Brother Anselm Philip King-Lowe, OSB

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