Reflection on the Whole Heart

“I will give thanks to you , O Lord, with my whole heart; before the gods I will sing your praise.” (Psalm 138:1 The Book of Common Prayer, p.793).

There are twelve chapters in The Rule of St. Benedict in which Benedict lists what Psalms are to be prayed at the various Offices.   He quotes from the Psalms in any number of chapters including the Prologue.  In the short Rule of St. Romuald, he writes about the importance of the Psalms for those who observe an Eremitic version of Benedictine Monasticism as Camaldolese.  The Desert Mothers and Fathers prayed all 150 Psalms twice a day.  The importance of the Psalms in the life of Christians cannot be over emphasized.

When we pray the Psalms, we pray with the entire Church in the past, present and future.  Praying the Psalms allows us to open ourselves to the Presence of God.  God knows all of our emotions and allows us to offer them and everything about ourselves to God by praying the Psalms while surrendering ourselves to God.

What might it mean to give thanks to God with our whole heart?

When we use the word “heart” in Christian Spirituality, we are talking about the whole of ourselves.  To give thanks to God with our whole heart implies holding nothing back.  Whatever is good and wonderful we offer in thanksgiving to God with our whole selves.  Whatever is in pain, suffering or sadness, we offer in thanksgiving to God with our whole selves.   Praying the Psalms is our assurance that whatever is happening within our whole selves, we can turn ourselves over to God who loves us where we are.  When we do God draw us closer to God’s Self who walks with us in mystic journey of redemption.

When we pray Lectio Divina (the prayerful reading of Scripture) we spend time meditating on a word or sentence that moves us.   In his book Thoughts in Solitude Thomas Merton wrote the following words with regards to meditative prayer.

“In meditative prayer, one thinks and speaks not only with his mind and lips, but in a certain sense with his whole being.  Prayer is not just a formula of words, or a series of desires springing up in the heart–it is the orientation of our whole body, mind and spirit to God in silence, attention and adoration.  All good meditative prayer is a conversion of our entire self to God.” (Shambhala Pocket Classics version 1993, p.44).

Offering our whole selves to God in thanksgiving leads us to contemplation.   God who entered into our human nature in Jesus the Word, became one with all our human experiences.  Jesus offered every aspect of humanity from joy to excruciating suffering to the very heart of the love of God.  When we pray the Psalms and offer our whole hearts to God with all the masks off, our prayer, becomes the prayer of Jesus as God receives with unconditional love all that we have to offer God.

What does giving thanks to God with your whole heart mean for you?

Amen.

Peace be with all who enter here.

Brother Anselm Philip King-Lowe, OSB-Cos

See The Community of Solitude

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

 

 

Holy Monday Reflection

Mary&JesusFeet

 

Mary took a pound of costly perfume made of pure nard, anointed Jesus’ feet, and wiped them with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. (John 12:3 NRSV).

I remember the last four days of my Mother’s life.   I was next to her bed day and night. The Priest from my Parish came to anoint Mom, but also to celebrate Holy Communion with us.  My Mother was no longer able to eat or drink.  The Priest knew that I needed the Body and Blood of Christ every bit as much as my Mother did.  It was a beautiful moment at a difficult time.

Mary knew that Jesus’ time was coming soon.   She knew that this would be her last opportunity to be as close to Jesus before His death.  In this moment when Jesus was about to enter into His Passion and death,  Mary imitates what Jesus is about to do, for Jesus.  She gives the most expensive gift she has in her house and uses it to love Jesus who loved her and all of us in total selflessness.

If we ponder nothing else today, let us ponder these questions:

What in your life is your greatest and most cherished possession?

Are you willing to give your great and most treasured possession to love and honor Jesus’ unselfish sacrifice?

Amen.

Brother Anselm Philip King-Lowe, OSB

“We mean that without an order from the abbot, no one may presume to give, receive or retain anything as his own, nothing at all–not a book, writing tablets or stylus–in short, not a single item, especially since monks may not have the free disposal of their own bodies and wills.  For their needs, they are to look to the father of the monastery, and are not allowed anything which the abbot has not given or permitted.  All things should be the common possession of all, as it is written, so that no one presumes to call anything his own. (Acts 4:32).  (RB 1980: The Rule of Saint Benedict in Latin and English, Chapter 33 Monks and Private Ownership. p.231).

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