Reflection on Rivers of Living Water

MountainImage

 

On the last day of the festival, the great day, while Jesus was standing there, he cried out, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me, and let the one who believes in me drink. As the scripture has said, ‘Out of the believer’s heart shall flow rivers of living water.’” Now he said this about the Spirit, which believers in him were to receive; for as yet there was no Spirit, because Jesus was not yet glorified. (John 7:37-39 NRSV).

“Out of the believer’s heart shall flow rivers of living water.”

As we meditate on these words look with me for a while at the image I chose for this reflection.  Look with me at how the sky has a few clouds with the mountains so clearly in view.  The greenery and the river full of life; giving life to the entire scene as it flows so peacefully and naturally.  Life flows in and out of what we are seeing in this photo.  Not everything is the same, but, they live with and give life to each other.

At the very end of Chapter 72 in The Rule of St. Benedict, he wrote,

“Let them prefer nothing whatever to Christ, and may Christ bring us all to everlasting life.”

As we conclude the Easter Season on this Day of Pentecost, the Contemplative is confronted with the question of how do we respond to the Risen and Ascended Christ in a way that is life-giving?  God sent us the answer.  The Holy Spirit.  We are not alone.  The Holy Spirit gives those waters within us the life that flows with the experience of God’s Holy Essence.  The Contemplative is drawn into the heart of the living water who is Christ, because God’s Holy Essence whats us “to prefer nothing whatever to Christ.”  The Christ who is present and speaking to our hearts in all aspects of our lives.  Sr. Joan Chittister, OSB wrote in The Rule of Benedict: A Spirituality for the 21st Century, “We must learn to listen to what God is saying in our simple, sometimes insane, and always uncertain lives” (p.300).

Pentecost is our opportunity to allow the Holy Spirit to enter into our hearts and lives to renew us.  The Spirit comes to break the dams that we have build up within us because of fear and our false-sense of self.   The Holy Essence of God flows through our souls to bring healing and reconciliation within us, so that we may be God’s witnesses and “renew the face of the earth” (Psalm 104:31).

Are you open to the Holy Spirit and the living waters that are flowing in and out of your life?

Amen.

Brother Anselm Philip King-Lowe, OSB

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

 

 

 

Lent Reflection: Light

Lit Candle

 

“We must work the works of him who sent me while it is day; night is coming when no one can work.  As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world” (John 9:4-5 NRSV).

Today’s Scripture basis is taken from the Gospel for the Fourth Sunday in Lent.  This is the story of Jesus healing a blind man by spitting in the dirt and making mud to put over his eyes.  When the man born blind washes away the mud he can see.   Before Jesus begins the work of healing, Jesus tells us what He is doing.  He is doing the works of His Father, who is also our Father (see the Lord’s Prayer), and telling us to do those works while it is day.  Jesus proclaims Himself as the “light of the world” as long as He is in the world.  If I may dare to paraphrase Jesus, “I am here to do the works of my Father who sent me.  So long as I am here, I am the light in the midst of the darkness.  I will make this blind man see.”

Saint Benedict said something similar, only he was borrowing and adapting the words from John 12:35 in the Prologue of The Rule.  “Run [not walk] while you have the light of life, that the darkness of death may not overtake you.”

I wonder how different our jobs, our relationships and other daily ordinary things would be if we spent some time in contemplative prayer with the words “As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”  Or, how might we see our daily ordinariness as something so much more “we must do the works of the one who gave them to us, while we are given the opportunity to do them”?

Our defeat in contemplative prayer and what makes the mystical experience almost impossible is we have somehow convinced ourselves it is is all about us.  Contemplative prayer and mysticism is a work of God’s grace.  The works we are given to do as God’s light to the world is also a product of God’s graciousness.   We are not an island unto ourselves.  As contemplatives we are always searching for union with God knowing that it is God who initiated the desire for the search within us, because God has already found us.  God’s grace that gives us the work of being that light for the world; is drawing us closer to God through the Holy Spirit “that has been given to us.”  It is God who begins the work and who brings it to its conclusion.  As this light becomes more visible in us, others see the light of God in and through us.

“We pray. Lord, that everything we do may be prompted by your inspiration, so that every prayer and work of ours may begin from you, and be brought by you to completion.” Amen.  (Prayer based on the Prologue of St. Benedict’s Rule. Saint Benedict’s Prayer Book for Beginners. p.113).

What work are you doing to be God’s light in the world?

Brother Anselm Philip King-Lowe, OSB

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

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