Reflection on Our Eyes

Eye

“Turn our eyes from watching what is worthless; give me life in your ways.” (Psalm 119:37, The Book of Common Prayer, p.766).

A very wise spiritual director once told me that the reason our lives do not make more significant progress is because of how much attention is paid to nonsense.

Think of what a different world we could live in if the tabloids went bankrupt because no one stopped to read and buy their nonsense in checkout lines.

The world we live in with its lure of wealth, power, fame and the widespread heap of nonsense keeps our eyes on what is worthless.  Our false sense of self keeps us focused on what is worthless.

The Psalmist recognizes that by ourselves, we are powerless to change the direction of our interior vision.  When we try to do everything, thinking that we can do it all; we are keeping our eyes on what is worthless.  Nonsense just consumes us.

In contemplative and centering prayer, God draws us into the depth of God’s Self.  In God’s extravagant love and mercy, we are whole and complete.  In God’s way is that life that leads us into a deeper relationship with our true self; our eternal truth that is God’s goodness and graciousness poured into our hearts “through the one who has loved us” (See Romans 8:37).  In God’s way of life, we are drawn into the mysticism of God’s perspective of us in the holiness of Jesus who is God’s face revealed in the Word.  When we trust in God to turn our eyes away from what is worthless, God teaches us God’s way of life that fills us with a sense of purpose with the hope seeking union with God in purity of heart.

“What, dear brothers, is more delightful than this voice of the Lord calling to us?  See how the Lord in his love shows us the way of life.  Clothed then with faith and the performance of good works, let us set out on this way, with the Gospel as our guide, that we may deserve to see him who has called us to his kingdom (1 Thess. 2:12).” (RB 1980: The Rule of Saint Benedict in Latin and English, p.161).

Where are your eyes focused?

Amen.

Brother Anselm Philip King-Lowe, OSB

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

Lenten Reflection: Purity of Heart

St.JohnCassian

 

Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. (Matthew 5:8 NRSV).

Every leap year on February 29th, The Episcopal Church commemorates my favorite Monastic Saint after St. Benedict.  St. John Cassian.  The Spirituality of St. Benedict and The Rule, and much of the Spirituality of the Western Church came from St. John Cassian.

St. John Cassian spent a great deal of his time with the Desert Mothers and Fathers learning about how they searched for holiness by withdrawing from worldly distractions.  St. John Cassian integrated their wisdom as to be lived out in community.  Benedictine Spirituality borrows from Cassian.   The Benedictine model of community is best understood as “Growing into who we  are through our relationships with others” (Benedictine Values at St. John’s University in Collegeville, MN).

We are now deep into Lent.  We are turning the corner between Ash Wednesday towards Holy Week and Easter Day.  We are continuing to fast and in acts of self-denial as we approach the Easter Triduum.  It is so easy for all of us to forget why we are doing what Christians do during Lent.

In the first of The Conferences, Chapter VII, How Peace Ought to Be Sought, Abbot Moses tells us that if we are fasting, praying vigils, prayerfully reading Scripture and praying without purity of heart being our goal; then we will not find peace we.  If we are doing all of those things and not caring about our neighbor, then all the things we do will bring us no fulfillment.  Purity of heart is nothing more than seeking the other for the sake of the other and not wanting anything else in return.

Thomas Merton wrote “The beginning of love is to let those we love be perfectly themselves and not to twist them to fit our own image.”

How is God calling you to purity of heart?

Amen.

Br. Anselm Philip King-Lowe, n/OSB

Lenten Reflection: Take Up the Cross

Cross

 

Then [Jesus] said to them all, ‘If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. (Luke 9:23 NRSV).

The Season of Lent takes us all through a journey of meditating on the Cross.  The day after Ash Wednesday, The Episcopal Church takes us to the Gospel of Luke 9:18-25 where we find the words I have quoted above.  The words, “deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me” seem to strike all of us a little differently.  Each of us have a different kind of cross, in a unique place where God intersects with us.

As Christians we believe that it was on the Cross that God reconciled with humankind through Jesus Christ.  We also believe that God identified with every form of human suffering when Christ gave Himself for us on the Cross.

Thomas Keating tells us in The Mystery of Christ: The Liturgy as Spiritual Experience that on the Cross, Jesus even gave up His relationship with God.  When Jesus cried out, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken Me?” (Psalm 22:1), He gave up his relationship with God, his Father, and embraced that relationship through faith alone.  Jesus had to cling to God with purity of heart; as in, seeking union with God for God’s sake, looking for nothing else in return.  Such is why Jesus is exalted through His humility.  (See Philippians 2:5-11).

Our contemplation on what it means to deny ourselves and take up our cross challenges us to seek union with God with a total abandonment of everything else and to only want God.

The two most important words during Lent and/or any form of contemplative prayer are, “let go!”  Letting go is a great way to deny ourselves and take up our cross.

How is Jesus asking you to deny yourself, take up your cross and follow Him?

Amen.

Br. Anselm Philip King-Lowe, n/OSB

Reflection on The Spirit of the Lord is Upon Me

JesusSynagogue

Jesus unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written:

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor.” (Luke 4:17b-18a NRSV).

As the Church leads us through the Easter Season to Pentecost, we are reading about the Holy Spirit.  In this Gospel reading we join Jesus in the synagogue as He reads from this scroll, these words from the Prophet Isaiah.  “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor.”  In these words, Jesus is leading us into a deep meditation and contemplation of how God sees us through the person of Jesus.

The same Spirit that was upon Jesus is also upon each of us.  The Holy Spirit is also known as The Holy Essence of God; meaning that the source of divine truth in the heart of the Christ follower, leads us into a deeper relationship with God in our own essence.  As we seek union with God, we find that we meet the good news of Jesus in the poverty of our own spirit leading us to purity of heart.

If you are like me, you are a very long distance walk before arriving at having purity of heart.  The last thing most of us want is to seek union with God for the sake of God alone.  We want a relationship with God to get only what we want out of it.  That in and of itself is our poverty of spirit.  That is why we need the message that Jesus is anointed with the Spirit to bring good news to the poor one in each of us.

As we contemplate on how much God loves each of us that God anoints us with the Spirit to hear and respond to the good news that Jesus brings; may we also be open responding to the poor in and around us.  That would in thought, word and deed be very good news.

Amen.

Br. Anselm Philip King-Lowe, n/OSB

The Hill of The Lord

Hill

“Who can ascend the hill of the LORD?  and who can stand in his holy place?”  “Those who have clean hands and a pure heart,,,”  (Psalm24:3,4a).

There is quite the irony in these words from Psalm 24.  To climb (or ascend) the hill of the Lord or stand in God’s holy place is impossible; from a human perspective.  Speaking only for myself, I certainly do not possess such holiness to be worthy to stand in God’s holy place.  There is so much about myself and my life that is not perfect.  Among them, I am often way too focused on myself.

Thomas Merton in his book Bread In The Wilderness wrote, “The highest and most perfect fruition of God is found in a love that rests in Him purely for His own sake alone” (p. 128).

The purity of heart that Merton mentions is exactly what the Holy Spirit is saying through the words of this Psalm verse.  To ascend to God’s holiness requires of us a heart so pure that it seeks union with God for the sake of God; without wanting anything from God for ourselves.  Not even a warm fuzzy feeling.  Warm fuzzy feelings in and of themselves are not good or bad.  However, like most things, if we cling to them for the sake of themselves and/or for ourselves alone; the result can be that God becomes our least concern.  On the other hand, God often provides these for us because God knows that we have not yet reached “the summit” of a pure heart.   So God out of God’s pure love for us; gives us a glimpse of God’s Self in the Contemplative Vision.  Through the gift of Contemplative Prayer we can see everything and everyone; including ourselves; from God’s perspective.  God’s perspective is holy and unconditional love.  Even for those of us who have yet to obtain a pure heart.

Amen.

Br. Anselm Philip King-Lowe, n/OSB