Reflection on God’s Relationship with God

HolyTrinity

 

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with all of you. (2 Corinthians 13:13 NRSV).

Vicki K. Black in her book entitled Welcome to the Church Year: An Introduction to the Seasons of The Episcopal Church, quoted Gretchen Wolff Prichard as she wrote about Trinity Sunday.

As we struggle to understand the “intellectual puzzle” of the doctrine of the Trinity, she suggests, we need to remember that in our worship the concept of the Trinity “serves  rather to draw us into contemplation of God’s experience of God.”  Pritchard reminds us that God’s life is a relationship of love, so that when we draw near to that life in worship, we too, are drawn “ever more deeply into love” (p.116).

Contemplative prayer is by itself a mystical experience.  The contemplative is open to God’s presence in the ordinary of the day.  While contemplative prayer is best experienced in a moment of solitude and silence; the Holy Spirit is certainly not confined to a particular action, at any one moment in time.  The Spirit can invite us to worship God in a great Cathedral, a small oratory, out camping, or in the middle of a struggling relationship.  The Trinity is about God’s relationship with God with us.  The Contemplative seeks to know the fullness of God in relationship; to be opened to the mysterious and tangible God.  God who is unseen is visible in our relationship of seeking union with God.

In The Rule of St. Benedict he wrote,

We believe the divine presence is everywhere and that in every place the eyes of the Lord are watching the good and the wicked (Prov 15:3). But beyond the least doubt we should believe this to be especially true when we celebrate the divine Office (RB 1980: The Rule of Saint Benedict in English, Chapter 19, p.47).

Our relationship with God is in our prayer as we live through life.  The Divine Office reminds us that everything about us, anything going on with us is part of our interaction with God.  As contemplatives, we live into that relationship because our God who loves us completely, is finding us by interacting with us.  All that we must do, is remain open to respond to our relationship with God, the Holy Trinity.

How do you experience the mystery of God in your relationship with God?

Amen.

Brother Anselm Philip King-Lowe, OSB

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

 

Not One, Not Two

OceanWaves

Once upon a time, the story begins, some seekers from the city asked the local monastic a question:

“How does one seek union with God”?

And the Wise One said, “The harder you seek, the more distance you create between God and you.”

“So what does one do about the distance?”  the seekers asked.

And the elder said simply, “Just understand that it isn’t there.”

“Does that mean that God and I are one?” the disciples said.

And the monastic said, “Not one.  Not two.”

“But how is that possible?” the seekers insisted.

And the monastic answered, “Just like the sun and its light, the ocean and the wave, the singer and the song.  Not one. But not two.”  (Taken from Wisdom Distilled From the Daily, p. 195. Written by Sr. Joan Chittister, OSB).

The wonderful story told to us by Sr. Joan reinforces an inescapable truth about prayer.  Prayer deepens our relationship with God and one another.  I would tend to take what she wrote a step further by writing that not only are we not one, and not two with God; we are also not one, nor two with one another.  Genesis 1:26 confirms that we are created in the image of the Holy Trinity; a Community of relationship through the love of God who is in Community with God’s Self in each of the Three Persons.  In the death and resurrection of Christ, we are redeemed and set free to live into that relationship through our common Baptism.  As prayer is a means for taking such a relationship with God to a deeper level; prayer also deepens our relationships with one another.

Thomas Keating in his book One Mind, One Heart wrote about how through all of the things we attach ourselves to, we move further away from God who is at the center of our being.  Centering prayer is a fantastic means of taking us back to the presence of God who is there waiting for us to spend time with God.  In centering prayer, we are not looking for anything magical or a feeling that will psychologically satisfy us.  Keating recommends that if we experience something that we feel or satisfies our psychological impulses during centering prayer, that we detach our thoughts even from those.  Feelings or emotions (whatever word you want to use) are good in and of themselves, until we begin to identify ourselves on the basis of them.  “I am a happy person.”  “I am a charismatic person, because I feel the Spirit within me.”  What Sr. Joan and Thomas Keating are telling us is that we are not one, not two with God and one another except by the walls we put up to create a distance that God has already removed.

Jesus calls you and I today to live into a relationship with God through that purity of heart that searches for God for God’s sake alone.  Jesus invites us into a deeper contemplation of His presence so with all the obstacles out of the way; including all those labels so that only the love of God and one another radiates from the relationship of community we share together.  What could be more awesome than that?

Amen.

Br. Anselm Philip King-Lowe, n/OSB

With Us, God is Well-Pleased

BaptismoftheLord

In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. And just as he was coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens torn apart and the Spirit descending like a dove on him. And a voice came from heaven, “You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased” (Mark 1:9-11 NRSV).

Tomorrow, Christians will be celebrating The First Sunday after The Epiphany and The Baptism of the Lord.  Of this great feast, St. Maximus of Turin wrote:

For when the Savior is washed all water for our baptism was made clean, purified at its source for the dispensing of baptismal grace to the people of future ages.  Christ is the first to be baptized, then, so that Christians will follow after him with confidence. (The Liturgy of the Hours, Volume 1, Advent and Christmas Seasons, p.612).

At Christ’s Baptism, our identity as Christians was bestowed on us in the Person and action of Jesus.  Even more so, by the Holy Spirit descending and the voice from heaven that said, “You are my Beloved; with you I am well-pleased.” In God’s own words that proclaimed Jesus, God’s Incarnate Word; as God’s Beloved; with whom God was well-pleased; are also bestowed upon all of us by our common Baptism into the life of Jesus.

It does not matter what we have done in the past.  Those labels that others use to divide and define us, are meant to stamp us out for what we are.  God welcomes us to live into who we are, and who we are to become.

“You are my Beloved; with you I am well-pleased.”

That is just something much too wonderful not to contemplate.

Amen.

Br. Anselm Philip King-Lowe, n/OSB

Advent Reflection: Keeping Watch in Relationship

HolyTrinity

We are created to be a social being, as God is a social Being. And as the Three Divine Persons have no life whatsoever except in this relativity of action, so have we no life whatsoever except in relative actions towards others. -Richard Meux Benson, SSJE (1824-1915).

Genesis Chapter 1:26a reads, “Then God said, “Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness,,,” (NRSV).  Notice the absence of the word “my”.  God relates to God’s Self in community. God relates to us in the great community of the Holy Trinity.  While we correctly understand the Holy Trinity in our Baptism as Christians, we often miss the mark.  The Holy Trinity is about the relationship of God with God’s Self, with us, and us with one another.

The mystery we will celebrate this week in the Nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, is one of God relating to all humankind through the Incarnate Word.  In Christ, God is present among us, relating to us and calling us to relate to God’s presence in one another.  Every relationship we are in in the here and now, is an extension of the relationship of God with us, and us with God.

Our Christian Faith, prayer and contemplation are full of opportunities to encounter Jesus, the Word in a relationship deep within ourselves; as we seek God’s presence beyond ourselves.  As we will see in the Nativity, God is looking to relate with us when we are in the midst of our messes and most vulnerable state.  When we find ourselves in such situations, God reaches out to us through relationships with one another.  God hears our cry to be kept warm from the cold.  God entrusts Jesus to all of us in a wondrous mystery of relationship, through which the best is yet to come.

Amen.

Br. Anselm Philip King-Lowe, n/OSB