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

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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

The Light Through the Cracked Ceiling

CrackedCeiling

Ring the bells that still can ring

Forget your perfect offering

There is a crack in everything

That’s how the light gets in

-Leonard Cohen, Stranger Music

On this Sixth Day of Christmas, most of us are feeling the let down after the Christmas Holiday while we look forward to New Year’s Day.  The magic has sagged.  The mood is mixed.  Nevertheless, the Christ Child is still calling out to us.  In the midst of everything that is not so perfect about us, Christ is our Light that shines in the darkness.

The wonder of contemplative prayer is that God doesn’t wait for us to be perfect.  God knows about our human limitations. When it seems that the chaos of life could not get worse; God comes and enlightens our minds and hearts with the wonder of God’s presence.  The darkness around us becomes overshadowed by the love of Christ who shows us the path to God.

We do not have to be the master of anything.  Though what we are good at is God’s gift too.  Even that which seems so imperfect to us, is something God can use to do God’s perfect will through.  All we have to do is trust God with all that we are and have.  Should our trust in God have some cracks in the pot, God still uses it to give birth to all sorts of good things around us.

Amen.

Br. Anselm Philip King-Lowe, n/OSB

Contemplate the Word

Nativity

“In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God.  The Word was with God in the beginning.  Everything came into being through the Word, and without the Word nothing came into being.  What came into being through the Word was life, and the life was the light for all people.  The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness doesn’t extinguish the light.  The Word became flesh and made his home among us. We have seen his glory, glory like that of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth” (John 1:1-5, 14. The Common English Bible).

Christmas is not Christmas for me without reading and reflecting on this amazing text from St. John’s Gospel.

We do not think of the Word (as in the word itself) as being anything but a word written on paper.  Until we ponder as Mary did on this holy night/day, that the Word is a Person.  The Word is Jesus Christ.  On this celebration of the Nativity of our Lord, we celebrate that the Word is God’s perfect revelation of God’s Self in the wonder and holiness of the Son of God.

Contemplative prayer is as much a mystery as the Incarnate Word is.  We know that God is present in a way so wonderful, so incomprehensible; but, ever so real.  The experience is not the kind of thing that we can run to our best buddy and say, “You’ve just gotta come see this.”  Contemplative prayer is visible in us, in so far as Jesus, the Word is able to infuse our hearts with the grace that purifies our souls.  The evidence of contemplative prayer is that there is something so unique about us.  The only words that seem appropriate to describe what has been happening to us are, “personal growth in relationship with God, through the Word, by the power of the Holy Spirit.”

On this Christmas Eve/Day,  may the Word be reborn in us through the gift of prayerful contemplation.

Amen.

Br. Anselm Philip King-Lowe, n/OSB