Reflection on The Prodigal and the Desert

Then the father said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours. But we had to celebrate and rejoice, because this brother of yours was dead and has come to life; he was lost and has been found.’” (See Luke 15:1-3, 11b-32 NRSV).

The two sons in this timeless parable were each in their own desert experience. One experienced the desert of temporary wealth that he carelessly spent. The other had a different kind of everything that he held on to, and thought he deserved more than what his brother got. They both entered into a desert with their false-sense of self. Each of them found out for themselves just how lost they were.

Sr. Joan Chittister, OSB in her book Illuminated Life: Monastic Wisdom for Seekers of Light wrote,

If contemplation is coming to see the world as God sees the world, then see it clearly we must. If contemplation is means to become immersed in the mind of God, then we must come to think beyond our small agendas. If contemplation is taking on the heart of God in the heart of the world, then the contemplative, perhaps more than any other, weeps over the obliteration of the will of God in the heart of the universe” (p.65).

The Mysticism of the season of Lent is that wherever we are in our desert journey, God is with us and we are with God. The Father is this parable receives both of his sons with forgiveness, love and compassion. The celebration was for both of them; while receiving the one who returned with a banquet of rejoicing. God reveals in the heart of the contemplative; the wonder of a love so extravagant, that fills the heart of the one who seeks union with God, so that God is more than enough.

“And so to prepare ourselves for the journey before us let us renew our faith and set ourselves high standards by which we lead our lives. The gospel should be our guide in following the way of Christ to prepare ourselves for his presence in the kingdom to which he has called us.” (St. Benedict’s Rule in The Benedictine Handbook, p.11).

Which of the sons in the parable of the Prodigal Son so you identify most with?


Peace be with all who enter here.

Brother Anselm Philip King-Lowe, OSB

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Reflection on The Merciful Kingdom

“Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom; your dominion endures throughout all ages. The Lord is faithful in all his words, and merciful in all his deeds. The Lord upholds all those who fall; he lifts up those who are bowed down.” (Psalm 145:13-15 The Book of Common Prayer, p. 802).

Contemplative Prayer and Mysticism is so countercultural. Contemplation defies explanations and descriptions. We can read from the many authors on the subject of contemplative prayer and mysticism, but, we will still fall short of an adequate conversation that comes close to how awesome the experience is. I suggest that the fundamental reason is that contemplation is on the basis of faith. We know that God is present in the here and now. The kingdom is here and now. Yet, God’s mercy is our “evidence.”

Lectio Divina (The prayerful Reading of Scripture) involves the four steps of Lectio (Reading), Meditatio (meditation), Ora (prayer) and Contemplatio (Contemplation). It begins with reading from God’s word, and leads us into a greater experience of The Word. It is the kingdom of Christ that is always and forever coming to give us God’s mercy, and lift us up when we are bowed down.

The everlasting kingdom of Christ is present as we turn to Chapter 7 On Humility in The Rule of St. Benedict where we are told that “The first step of humility then, is to keep the reverence of God before you at all times, and never forget it.” When we turn to God for strength in hard times to seek union with God, we discover that God is what we truly desire. What we are searching for is in the here and now, but, it is only a window to enter more fully into the presence of God who loves us beyond our wildest expectations.

Where are you looking for God’s everlasting kingdom in your life?


Peace be with all who enter here.

Brother Anselm Philip King-Lowe, OSB

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Lenten Reflection: A Clean Heart

God and the Heart


Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. (Psalm 51:11. The Book of Common Prayer, p.657).

The Psalmist in Psalm 51 is pleading with God for mercy and forgiveness.  It is a recognition of our human mortality.  We are sinners who need God’s grace and healing.  Psalm 51 is about emptying the dirt of our personal and spiritual self and depending completely on God to redeem us.  Is it any wonder why in The Rule of St. Benedict he prescribes that Psalm 51 (50 as St. Benedict used the Grail Psalms in which they were all one number behind our current English version) be used every day during Matins (or Lauds)?   Esther de Waal in her book A Life-Giving Way: A Commentary on The Rule of St. Benedict writes, “The act of acknowledging my weakness and failure is not a morbid dwelling on sin but a turning in confidence to the God who sees a humble and contrite heart and is there to rescue me just as he rescued his people in the past” (p.79).

So what about a clean heart?  The contemplative understands that Psalm 51:11 is a deeply prayerful desire in our heart by God’s initiative that lets go of everything we are holding on to in there; and trusting in God’s view point of our hearts; to make them a clean space for God alone.  When we let go of all the stuff that weighs us down and crowds us in and put our trust in the Holy Spirit; God resides in there because the space has been cleaned out and made ready for the one who gives our hearts all that we need.  Our hearts are made clean and ready to be occupied by its Creator and Redeemer.

What do you need let go of for God to come into your clean heart this Lent?


Brother Anselm Philip King-Lowe, OSB


Good Friday Reflection: The Contradiction of The Cross


This Christ is a man who himself lived with tension and contradiction and inner conflict.

He is a man surrounded by friends who yet withdraws to be apart in the desert.

He is a son and yet he separates himself from his family and asks “who is my mother and who are my brothers?”

He stays alone with himself through long nights of prayer but still journeys on on a road that he knows will bring him to suffering and to death.

He is the redeemer who on the Cross holds together the vertical, pointing towards God, and the horizontal, arms outstretched to the world.

In Christ all things will be brought together.

In Christ all things will be well.  (Living with Contradiction: An Introduction to Benedictine Spirituality, Esther de Waal p.39,40).

Finding something to use for a meditation on Good Friday is like looking for a needle in a hay stack. One can use any Scripture reference or of the thousands of references to the Cross in hymnals, Office books, books, etc.  On this Good Friday, I chose this quotation from Esther de Waal’s book because there is no paradox or contradiction quite like the Cross.

The Cross is about torture, violence, death, shame and all the ugly words that can describe it.  Yet, because of the death of Christ upon it, it is the greatest symbol of God’s unconditional love.  All of humanity’s cruelty and malice meets its match in the self-sacrificing love of Christ who is God’s perfect revelation.  It cannot be fully grasped or understood.  Yet, it is as clear as looking through a plate glass window to what is on the other side.

To contemplate the Cross, is to sit in the presence of God who sees all of us as forgiven and redeemed.  The contradiction to that, there is nothing in all of humankind that God cannot see, understand and use to change us and the world around us.  In the naked, broken and bleeding body of Christ on the Cross, all of humanities’ ways, sins, foolishness, pride and stupidity is made visible.  On the other hand, none of that means that God loves any one of us any more or less.

If there is one thing that we can contemplate about the Cross today, what will that look like?

I see God with arms forever outstretched to embrace us all.  I hear God say, “Forgive them, they do not know what they are doing.”


Br. Anselm Philip King-Lowe, n/OSB