Reflection on Humility and Anxiety

St.BenedictStainedGlass

 

“Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, so that he may exalt you in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him, because he cares for you.” (1 Peter 5:6-7 NRSV).

I am drawn to these words today because I am a Benedictine who loves Chapter 7 in The Rule of Saint Benedict; and because I live with Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD).

Before I continue on, I want to give a very strong word of advice to Priests, Ministers, Preachers, Spiritual Directors, etc.  Never tell a person with any kind of anxiety disorder to just hand it over, do not be anxious and all will be fine.  It never works that way.  In fact, the more things like that are said, the more anxious a person with an anxiety disorder gets; because she/he just can’t measure up to the high expectations.  There is a false sense of guilt for things the individual is not responsible for.  People with anxiety disorders upon hearing “do not be anxious” will shy away from the advice and the advisor.

I am drawn to these words from 1 Peter because I do have an anxiety disorder.  Just giving over anxiety in prayer helps relieve it, but it is never completely gone.   When I read the words, ” Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, so that he may exalt you in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him, because he cares for you.,” I hear the Spirit drawing me in with everything that I am and experiencing, accepting me with God’s extravagant love; with a home in Christ that is safe, and offers me consolation.

We are now in the time in our Liturgical Year between the Ascension and Pentecost.  The Apostles who lost Jesus once in His Crucifixion, were so happy after He was raised from the dead; now find themselves with Jesus gone again.  Can we just imagine for a moment the anxiety they must have experienced?  They were in a no win situation, until after Pentecost when the Holy Spirit came upon them.

The contemplative is drawn through these words to relinquish everything that is shaking us up, and trust in God with humility.  It is time to stop trying to handle it all ourselves.  It is time for us to stop thinking that all this stuff defines who we are.  It is time to sit in silence, with all the noise within and let the Holy Spirit bring a peace into our hearts, because we are in the Presence of the God who cares about what shakes us to pieces, and is somewhere in the middle of it all.  In humility we are not being asked to measure up.  On the contrary, the Holy One is lovingly and tenderly moving us to let it go.  God is telling us “It is okay.  You are not alone. Let us work through this together.”

“Let a [person] consider that God is always looking at him from heaven” (St. Benedict’s Rule for Monasteries, p.22).

How are you managing the anxieties of your life as you sit in the presence of God?

Amen.

Brother Anselm Philip King-Lowe, OSB

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

Reflection on The Ascension

Ascension

 

So when they had come together, they asked him, ‘Lord, is this the time when you will restore the kingdom to Israel?’ He replied, ‘It is not for you to know the times or periods that the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.’ When he had said this, as they were watching, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. While he was going and they were gazing up towards heaven, suddenly two men in white robes stood by them. They said, ‘Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking up towards heaven? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.’(Acts 1:6-11 NRSV).

There are two sentences n this reading from Acts that is catching me. The first is “When he had said this, as they were watching, he was lifted up,,,,”

What I meditate on in those words is Jesus showing us what Contemplative prayer is.  Contemplative prayer and the mystical experience of God happen as our hearts and souls are “lifted up” beyond our limits in the wonder and holiness of God.  We can sit in silence before a cross, an icon or just in a beautiful grassy field with a stream flowing.  The Holy One can lift us up to the vision of Christ as He speaks to our hearts to give us a view of ourselves from God’s perspective.  Where there are no labels, no situation, place or thing to hold us down or blur what we see.  Only the Light of Jesus gazing His eyes at us, while we see His face.  No words are adequate to explain or describe the experience.  We just know that God is present to us in a marvelous and mysterious way.

The second set of words that speak to me are “why do you stand looking up towards heaven?”  As contemplatives, we seek union with God in the here and now.  We can stare into heaven all we want.  We may catch a mysterious glimpse of God, however, the longer we stay there, the more likely we will miss God’s presence in our spouses, children, and our local communities.  The same Ascended Jesus who is in heaven is closest to God with our humanity with all our wounds interceding on our behalf.  Yet, God is so madly in love with us, wounds including, that “nothing can separate us from the love of God, in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:39).

“Without doubt, this descent and ascent can signify only hat we descend by exaltation and ascend by humility” (RB 1980: The Rule of Saint Benedict in Latin and English, Chapter 7;7, p.193).

How does meditating on the Ascension of Jesus impact your life today?

Amen.

Brother Anselm Philip King-Lowe, OSB

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

Ascension Day Reflection

Ascension

 

Christ has entered, not into a sanctuary made with hands, a copy of the true one, but into Heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf.  (Hebrews 9:24).

The Ascension is a mystery of our Christian Faith that is not easy to wrap our heads around.  It is a glorious occasion without a doubt.  Christ enters into an existence in which space and time have no claim over Him.  The image of Jesus at the right hand of God with our wounds on his body representing our humanity interceding on our behalf as accepted without condition; is just wonderful.  It is very comforting and reassuring in a time when we need more than we can adequately ask for.

There is another important aspect of the Ascension for us to meditate on.

If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, were Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. (Colossians 3:1).

God came to us in Christ to draw us closer to God’s Self so that we may love God in holiness with trust and hope.  In Christ, God sees another side of us that we do not see for ourselves.  God sees how deeply we are all loved and cherished in the wounds and Risen Christ.  Our woundedness does not have the last word, because God’s grace can use it to draw us into a deep relationship with the Divine Presence of God that brings a greater peace of mind and life.  In Christ, God has chosen all of us to become God’s workers in the vineyard where we cultivate the gifts of the Holy Spirit that God freely gives to all of us.

In the Prologue to The Rule of Saint Benedict, he wrote:

“What, dear brothers and sisters, is more delightful than this voice of the Lord calling to us?  See how the Lord in his love shows us the way to life.  Clothed then with faith and the performance of good works, let us set out on this way, with the Gospel for our guide, that we may deserve to see him who has called us to his kingdom” (1 Thess 2:12). (RB 1980: The Rule of Saint Benedict, p.16).

How is God moving your heat to see yourself as before God in Christ in your woundedness to bring healing and love to the world around you?

Amen.

Brother Anselm Philip King-Lowe, OSB

 

 

Ascension Day Reflection: Seek The Things Above

sky-matthew-bohrer

Thank you to Matthew Bohrer for this splendid image that I have chosen to use for this blog reflection.

If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. (Colossians 3:1).

As human beings who tend to think by logic, we have a real problem with the Ascension do we not?  We have the account of the Ascension in Acts 1:1-11.  However, we were not physically there looking up to heaven and witnessing Jesus taken from their sight with those first Apostles.  All we have to go on is faith and the oral and/or written tradition through which the Holy Spirit has handed us the story throughout the ages.

If we consider the Ascension from the perspective of contemplative and/or centering prayer; now we have something that is mysterious and as real as grass and water.  Contemplative prayer is a grace through which we are given a glimpse of heaven and earth from where Jesus is.  Though the Risen Body of Jesus bears our wounded humanity, in Christ we are already healed.  The Holy Spirit desires more than we could ever wish, that those wounds in our own lives that have been healed in Christ; would actually be healed for ourselves.  God also knows that it is only by our cooperation with God’s timing and grace that such healing will happen.  Contemplative prayer allows us to “seek the things that are above” and see what God sees.  The holiness of God and all humankind in and through Jesus Christ by the Power of the Holy Spirit in inexpressible love.  We cannot see such if we are clinging to the things of earth alone.  We must know it through our relationship with God and one another, as we journey together in faith, trust and obedience to God’s will to where Christ is seated.

As we contemplate this great mystery of the Ascension of Christ today, may we be given that extra special glimpse of God in and through the ordinary things of life.  May that vision bring us closer to God; with healing and reconciliation to our wounded and broken world.

Amen.

Br. Anselm Philip King-Lowe, n/OSB