Reflection on Prepare the Way

“….the word of God came to John son of Zechariah in the wilderness. He went into all the region around the Jordan, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins, as it is written in the book of the words of the prophet Isaiah, “The voice of one crying out in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight. Every valley shall be filled, and every mountain and hill shall be made low, and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough ways made smooth; and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.’” (See Luke 3:1-6 NRSV).

The Second Sunday of Advent features one of the best Biblical figures on the subject of desert monasticism; St. John the Baptist. His life, message and ministry creates a splendid example of contemplation and mysticism. Not to mention his humility when St. John the Baptist later said, “he must increase, as I must decrease.”

To prepare the way for God to come, we must begin with putting all else aside for a little while. Many probably will not walk out into a desert physically or geographically. We can if we will spend some time in silence and solitude, let go of everything that holds us down in Centering Prayer. Just spending time letting all our thoughts go and settle for nothing, not even warm fuzzy spiritual feelings; and just be with God. St. John the Baptist shows us how to allow ourselves to lose what we cling to go so we can repare the way for God to be all that matters. In so doing, our experience of God, becomes a window for Jesus to make Himself known to the world around us.

“Your hidden life speaks to the world, but only gives light in so far as it fuses with concentrated love. The Forerunner was a peerless witness to Jesus Christ, being charged with the mission to point him out: ‘Here he is’, “Ecco’.” (The Hermitage Within: Spirituality of the Desert, by A Monk, translated by Alan Neame, p.21).

Contemplative prayer is the work of God’s grace to prepare the way for God the Holy Spirit to make within us a residence for Jesus. In the Prayer of St. Anselm taken from his work, the Proslogion, we pray “Let me seek you in my desire, let me desire you in my seeking. Let me find you by loving you, let me love you when I find you.” The desire is the pathway we are preparing to journey on. It is the love of God we have yet to find, in the love of the God who has already found us. This is the Mysticism we contemplate during this season of Advent. It is the mystery that we long for that comes to us in the celebration of Christmas.

“Clothed then with faith and the performance of good works, let us set out on the way, with the Gospel for our guide, that we deserve to see him who has called us to his kingdom (1 Thess 2:12). (RB 1980: The Rule of St. Benedict in English, p.16).

How are you preparing the way for Jesus during this season of Advent?

Amen.

Peace be with all who enter here.

Brother Anselm Philip King-Lowe, OSB

If you feel led to buy me some coffee to help support this ministry, please scroll down to the bottom of the right sidebar and click on the Benedictine Coffee Mug. Thank you so very much.

Reflection on God’s Will

I want to do your will, my God. Your instruction is deep within me. (Psalm 40:8 The Common English Bible).

[Abba Nelius] said, “Do not be always wanting everything to turn out as you think it should, but as God pleases, then you will be undisturbed and thankful in prayer. (Desert Fathers and Mothers: Early Christian Wisdom Sayings, Annotated and Explained, by Christine Valters Paintner, p.61).

How do we actually know what God’s will is? It is easy to read a particular passage of Scripture, interpret it and from there decide what God’s will is. Does that mean we really know what God’s will is?

God’s will is as much a mystery as any other aspect of God’s movement in our lives. The vastness of space, the depths of the oceans of the world, the strength of the mountains all sing to our God. Yet, nothing is so big, so indestructible that prevents God from being so madly in love with each of us, so as to want us to love God back.

To want to do God’s will means letting go of the assumption that we understand what God wants of us from our own perspective. Contemplative Prayer is the work of the Holy Spirit that allows us to just be with God, and to want nothing more than God for the sake of God alone. God has already planted God’s will and instruction deep within us, in our desire for the God who desires us. God sees with us the person that God loves and has redeemed in Jesus the Christ.

During this season of Advent, we are watching and waiting to celebrate the mystery beyond all human logic. God saw God’s goodness in all of humankind, and came to us as one of us in the Incarnate Word. God’s will has been given to us, to “listen and incline the ear of the heart.” God’s will is not found in beating ourselves up for what we have not done, or should have done. God’s will is in the truth of God in and through the life of Jesus, that brings us to the eternal truth about who we are in God’s heart.

“Do not be daunted immediately by fear and run away from the road that leads to salvation. It is bound to be narrow at the outset. But, as we progress in this life and faith, we shall run the way of God’s commandments, our hearts overflowing with 5e inexpressible delight of love” (RB 1989: The Rule of St. Benedict in English, p.19).

What does wanting to do God’s will mean for you?

Amen.

Peace be with all who enter here.

Brother Anselm Philip King-Lowe, OSB

If you feel led to buy me some coffee to help me support this ministry, please scroll down to the bottom of the right sidebar and click on the Benedictine Coffee Mug. Thank you so very much.

Reflection on God’s Fullness

Being Filled

“From [God’s] fullness we have all received grace upon grace.” (John 1:16 NRSV).

We live in a world where we never have enough of anything.  Consumerism tells us that we always need more, the new improved, the larger, the faster, etc.  Advances in technology have given us what is faster, more convenient, more efficient. If you still feel like you do not have enough, give it only a few years and you will get even more.  Will we be satisfied then?  No.  Everything breaks down and slows down.

In the mystery of God’s Word made Flesh in Jesus the Christ; in the in Child born of Mary, the fullness of God has given to us; God’s grace upon grace.  That grace is not only a historical event, it is something that takes place in the here and now.  God’s grace comes to meet us in our present moment to draw us into a deeper awareness of the Presence of God in the Holy Spirit.  The fullness of God comes to fill us to overflowing, as God enters into our human nature in an infant who is so vulnerable, so beautiful.  It gives us so much potential at this moment to encounter God in the heart of our true selves.  We don’t have to have everything figured out, or be sure everything is working just right.  God comes to us as we are, where we are and invites us to receive the fullness of God, which God has given us; grace upon grace.

Contemplative prayer brings us face to face with the grace of God as something to be experienced.  God sees us from God’s point of view and asks that we allow God to lead us on a greater search for union with God, by letting go of our false-sense of self to be embraced as God’s Beloved.  There is no greater mystical experience than that.

“What is not possible for us by nature, let us ask the Lord to supply by the help of his grace.” (The Rule of Saint Benedict, the Prologue).

Are you ready to respond to the fullness of God that you have received as grace upon grace?

Amen.

Brother Anselm Philip King-Lowe, OSB

See; http://www.cos-osb.net

 

Meditation on Dwelling in the Presence

cropped-simplereflection.jpg

 

How dear to me is your dwelling, O Lord of hosts!  My soul has a desire and longing for the courts of the Lord; my heart and my flesh rejoice in the living God. (Psalm 84:1. The Book of Common Prayer, p.707).

We are on the Second Sunday After Christmas now.  It is also the third day of a new year.  As the Christ Child brought with Him a new beginning; a new year is also.  There are so many things around us calling out for our attention.  We have before us many choices to make.

When God came to us in the Incarnate Word, Jesus offers to us many opportunities to make choices.   Each of us will make different choices in different ways, that will have different results.  The decisions we make will be opportunities for us to grow closer to God, as God desires to be closer with us.   The questions God asks each of us is “What is the desire of your soul?”  “In what and whom do you rejoice?”

We are invited by the Psalmist to spend some time listening to God’s desire for us, to desire God.   Our desire for God is of God’s initiative.  God asks us to make the choice of how we will respond to such a deep desire.   We are invited by God’s grace to enter into the contemplative vision of God’s dwelling place.  As the sparrow finds a place, so God has prepared one for us within the depths of God’s bosom.

Do our hearts and flesh desire to rejoice in the living God?

Amen.

Br. Anselm Philip King-Lowe, n/OSB

 

 

 

Christmas Day Reflection

Nativity

 

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being.  What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people.  The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it. (John 1:1-5 NRSV).

 

I want to apologize to all of you who have been wondering where I have been or what I have been doing.   This past Fall and leading into the Advent Season, my mother passed away on November 22nd.  I was her personal caregiver and advocate during her illness.  Her death was very peaceful, and I was most blessed to have shared those final moments with her.  I miss her very much, but I believe that she is at peace in the arms of our holy God.  I ask for and thank you for your prayers as I walk this year of grief as I try to fill in the gap that has been left in my life because of her loss.

The loss of my mother and the faith and knowledge that she is in God’s care is one of the greatest things for me to contemplate today.  It is that Word that “life” that has come into being because of the Incarnation.  That faith in the Word made flesh gives us hope as we travel the hardest journeys of our lives.  Jesus is the Word that has always been there, and always will be.  He is the Word that came to us as one like us in all things, to show us what our lives can be like from God’s perspective of pure love.

In contemplative prayer, we seek union with God so that more and more, we may enter into a fuller relationship with what is visible and invisible.  Christ the Incarnate Word is not just words written down, He is the Living Word who lives in relationship with The Holy Essence of God, who seeks to live in union with our essence.  It is a union that seeks purity of heart, so that we find that union with the God who has already found it with us.

May our Christmas celebrations be filled with the wonder of God’s holy presence.   May the Word that brings life to all things, bring peace and joy to our conflicts and sadness.

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

Expanding the Heart

Rule of St. Benedict

“For as we advance in the religious life and in faith, our hearts expand and we run the way of God’s commandments with unspeakable sweetness of love”  (St. Benedict’s Rule for Monasteries, p.5).

Once again, St. Benedict gives us some words that should set off a spark within our souls.  “Advance.”  “Our hearts expand.”  “We run the way of God’s commandments.”  “Unspeakable sweetness of love.”   Either St. Benedict did not know how to avoid being redundant, or he knew that he could not repeat it enough.  I tend to think the latter is more accurate.

It is much too easy to become too comfortable or satisfied with where we are in our spiritual life.  We go to Mass.  We pray our Offices.  We spend time in Lectio Divina.  We can do all of these things and still miss the most important part.

“Clearly, great pursuers of the spiritual life know that the secret of the spiritual life is to live it until it becomes real” (Sr. Joan Chittister, OSB.  The Rule of Benedict: A Spirituality for the 21st Century., p.22).

All that we do in the spiritual life can become an abstraction, unless we allow the Holy Spirit to ignite in us the fire of living the Gospel.  We will know that “unspeakable sweetness of love” as we “run the way of God’s commandments” in so far as, we allow the Spirit to transform us.  When we ponder the Word of God as Mary did, and say yes as Mary did; Christ will again become visible to the world through us.

Amen.

Br. Anselm Philip King-Lowe, n/OSB