Reflection on Seeds & Listening

Wheat Seeds

 

Other seeds fell on good soil and brought forth grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. Let anyone with ears listen!’  (Matthew 13:8 and 9 NRSV).

No wonder St. Benedict began the Prologue of The Rule with, “Listen.  Incline the ear of the your heart.”  It is only with an openness of our entire selves listening for the Holy Spirit to plant the seeds of God’s love into the good soil within us.  If our interior soil is to bear good fruit, we must first yield our entire selves to all of God’s Goodness.

Contemplative prayer is about letting our soil be tilled by God’s sanctifying Grace as God reveals God’s Self to us in solitude, relationships and within the depth of our heart.  Once the Word is planted deep within us, and we trust in God to provide the water, the sunlight and the sun; the God who knows us better than we know ourselves will give us the mystic experience of new life.  We do not have to decide what is going to happen as we grow all by ourselves.  However, we must let go of our false-sense of self so that the center where our eternal truth will search for and find union with God’s Spirit of Truth; so that our true sense of self can grow from the good soil that God cares for.

Are you listening for God to bring good fruit from within you?

Amen.

Brother Anselm Philip King-Lowe, OSB

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

Reflection on God’s Relationship with God

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The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with all of you. (2 Corinthians 13:13 NRSV).

Vicki K. Black in her book entitled Welcome to the Church Year: An Introduction to the Seasons of The Episcopal Church, quoted Gretchen Wolff Prichard as she wrote about Trinity Sunday.

As we struggle to understand the “intellectual puzzle” of the doctrine of the Trinity, she suggests, we need to remember that in our worship the concept of the Trinity “serves  rather to draw us into contemplation of God’s experience of God.”  Pritchard reminds us that God’s life is a relationship of love, so that when we draw near to that life in worship, we too, are drawn “ever more deeply into love” (p.116).

Contemplative prayer is by itself a mystical experience.  The contemplative is open to God’s presence in the ordinary of the day.  While contemplative prayer is best experienced in a moment of solitude and silence; the Holy Spirit is certainly not confined to a particular action, at any one moment in time.  The Spirit can invite us to worship God in a great Cathedral, a small oratory, out camping, or in the middle of a struggling relationship.  The Trinity is about God’s relationship with God with us.  The Contemplative seeks to know the fullness of God in relationship; to be opened to the mysterious and tangible God.  God who is unseen is visible in our relationship of seeking union with God.

In The Rule of St. Benedict he wrote,

We believe the divine presence is everywhere and that in every place the eyes of the Lord are watching the good and the wicked (Prov 15:3). But beyond the least doubt we should believe this to be especially true when we celebrate the divine Office (RB 1980: The Rule of Saint Benedict in English, Chapter 19, p.47).

Our relationship with God is in our prayer as we live through life.  The Divine Office reminds us that everything about us, anything going on with us is part of our interaction with God.  As contemplatives, we live into that relationship because our God who loves us completely, is finding us by interacting with us.  All that we must do, is remain open to respond to our relationship with God, the Holy Trinity.

How do you experience the mystery of God in your relationship with God?

Amen.

Brother Anselm Philip King-Lowe, OSB

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

 

Ash Wednesday Reflection

Beginning Lent

 

The life of a monk ought to be a continuous Lent.  Since few, however, have the strength for this, we urge the entire community during these days of Lent to keep its manner of life most pure and to wash away in this holy season the negligences of other times.  This we can do in a fitting manner by refusing to indulge in evil habits and by devoting ourselves to prayer with tears, to reading, to compunction of heart and self-denial.  During these days, therefore, we will add to the usual measure of our service something by way of private prayer and abstinence from food or drink, so that each of us will have something above the assigned measure to offer God of his own will with the joy of the Holy Spirit (1. Thess. 1:5).  In other words, let each one deny  himself some food, drink, sleep, needless talking and idle jesting, and look forward to holy Easter with joy and spiritual longing. (RB. 1980: The Rule of Saint Benedict in Latin and English, Chapter 49, p.253).

The only season that St. Benedict writes a whole chapter about in The Rule is Lent.

Benedict tells us that Lent is the time to make new efforts to be what we say we want to be.  We applaud the concept in most things. We know, for instance, that even people who were married years ago have to keep working at that marriage consciously and intently every year thereafter, or the marriage will fail no matter how established it seems.  We know that people who own businesses take inventories and evaluations every year or the business fails.  We too often fail to realize, however, that people who say they want to find God in life have to work every day too to bring that Presence into focus, or the Presence will elude them no matter how present it is in theory. (The Rule of Benedict: A Spirituality for the 21st Century. Sr. Joan Chittister, OSB, p.220).

On this Ash Wednesday, we are invited by Jesus to begin to take a new look at our spiritual and personal lives.  It is time to “take inventory” of what we have been doing vs. what we have been putting off far too long.  During these forty days of fasting and abstinence we are encouraged to grow into our relationship with God, others and ourselves.  Through living a contemplative life during Lent, we are urged to meditate on how we are all  inter-connected with nature, people, places and God.

St. Benedict is helping us see that when we give some things up for a while, we need to add on to the usual measure.   He encourages us to do that, because when we give up something there is a void in our lives.  St. Benedict and Jesus invite us to spend time in silence and prayer so that we may begin to see our true selves lost in those voids as “my soul is athirst for the living God” (Psalm 42:2).

What is Jesus calling you to take inventory of in your life this Lent?

Amen.

Brother Anselm Philip King-Lowe, OSB

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

Reflection on Isaiah 48:17

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“Thus says the Lord your redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: I am the Lord your God, who teaches you for your own good, who leads you in the way you should go.”  (Isaiah 48:17.  NRSV).

Perhaps you have heard this joke. “Why did the People of Israel under Moses wander in the desert for forty years?  They forgot to stop and ask for directions.”

What a great invention the GPS is.  If you want to go somewhere you have never been, just program the GPS and it will guide you intersection by intersection until you arrive at your desired destination.  Yet, even the best GPS has its drawback.  If it is an older program, it may not be able to give you information about road construction, a street change or a different obstacle along your route.  Some GPSs do not give you the shortest and easiest route.  There is another major disadvantage.  Unless there is a malfunction in the GPS, we almost never have to ask someone for directions. We rely on a machine, not another human person to assist us. Nor does it allow us to help someone else.   Its true that crime and the concern for basic safety can be a hazard.  But, it basically gets us off the hook if you will, from welcoming the stranger.

On this Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul the Apostle, we commemorate how Jesus through the Holy Spirit brought a life-changing experience to the man named Saul.  Once he was knocked off of his horse; Paul had a new direction in his life.

All of us make our plans and begin our journey of a new direction in our life.  We gather what we know and think we know it all.  We become content in our own little world.  We rely on our false-sense of self; based on labels, being happy with everything we have, those who like us the best, who agree with us and feed our egos.

The reading from the Prophet Isaiah that I quoted for this reflection, invites us to contemplate God’s perception of us.  God sees in us the potential to go in a direction that is based on seeking union with God with purity of heart.  God wants us to bring our brokenness, our being lost in ourselves into union with God’s will; and let God “lead us in the way we should go.”  God’s direction for each of us is different.  None of us will have the exact same course as another.  God invites us to live into who God is from our hearts as our God, our Redeemer, the Holy One.  God wants to teach us about our true selves in and from our essence of who we are and “lead us in the way we should go.”

“Listen carefully, my child, to the master’s instructions, and attend to them with the ear of your heart. This is advice from a father who loves you; welcome it, and faithfully put it into practice.” (Prologue, RB:1980: The Rule of Saint Benedict in Latin and English, p.157).

What are you open to listening to God teach you today?

Amen.

Brother Anselm Philip King-Lowe, OSB

 

Christmas Reflection: Receiving and Responding to the Word

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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 was the light of all people.  The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.  (John 1:1-5 NRSV).

“But to all who received him, he gave power to become children of God, who were born, not of blood or of the will of the flesh or of the will of man, but of God.  And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory of the only son, full of grace and truth.  (John 1:13,14 NRSV).

I want to wish everyone a most blessed and holy Christmas Season.  What a joy it is to share this reflection with you.

The beauty and wonder of this Christmas Eve/Day/Night catches all of our human senses.   We find ourselves caught up in the wonder of God’s love born in Jesus Christ.  The Word made flesh.  The Word that is spoken, written is born into our living and troubled humanity.

The romantic and cozy feeling of Christmas is a bit of a disillusionment. Oh we sing and read those beautiful words of the Angels: “Glory to God in the highest and peace to His people on earth.”  However,  Jesus was born into our human messes.  He came in very dark times with a lot of violence, poverty and helplessness all around Him.  God was born as a vulnerable child into our poverty as one so helpless to tell us that God walks with us as one of us.

The Word came to us in grace and truth so that we who open our hearts to listen to His voice and accept Jesus are given the power to become children of God.  God revealed to us through Christ God’s perspective of all of us being God’s Beloved, with whom God is well-pleased.

God coming to us in the Incarnate Word is the wondrous mystical experience we can breath in and out in our Contemplative and Centering Prayer.  Christ comes to lead us to a deeper awareness so that we may seek union with God.  As we search for that union, God reveals to us through Christ that God has already found us.

May the Word who comes among us on this Christmas Eve/Day/Night, fill your hearts and lives with the love with which He taught us to love God. one another and ourselves.

Amen.

Brother Anselm Philip King-Lowe, OSB

Visit The Contemplatives of Subiaco-Order of Saint Benedict at: http://www.cos-osb.org

July 11: Commemoration of St. Benedict

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Let all guests who arrive be received like Christ, for He is going to say, “I came as a guest, and you received me.”  (St. Benedict’s Rule for Monasteries, Chapter 53, p.73).

We have very little information about the life of St. Benedict.  The Life and Times of St. Benedict that comes from book two of the Dialogues of St. Gregory the Great, tell us about the high points of St. Benedict.  There is a great deal we do not know about the Father of Western Monasticism.  What we do know about Saint Benedict and what his philosophy about the Monastic Life, comes from The Rule.  He borrowed much of what he wrote in The Rule from St. Basil and St. John Cassian.  The Rule of St. Benedict is best understood as being about relationships.

Lonni Collins Pratt and Father Daniel Homan, OSB in their book, Radical Hospitality: Benedict’s Way of Love, write about three important relationships.  A Benedictine’s relationships are made up of the “cloister, community and hospitality”. (See chapter 7).  The cloister is the time the monastic spends with God and oneself.  The community is the time spent with those closest to her/him.  Hospitality is the relationship with everyone else.  In the end, Christ is present in all of these relationships.  It is in and through these relationships that the Benedictine learns to “listen and incline the ears of our hearts.”  At the end of the day, Benedictine hospitality is not as much about listening and greeting Christ in others to see what we can do for the individual(s).  It is about listening carefully to what Jesus may be calling us to through that other person.

Contemplation and the mystical experience within the context of St. Benedict is about being attentive to what God is saying to us through all aspects of life.  Prayer, work, the prayerful reading of Scripture, the things we handle, and living in relationship with others are all moments to be listening for God with attentive hearts.  They are opportunities to encounter Christ in that which challenges and changes us from the outside on inward.  By listening and engaging the presence of God, we are able to see all things a new from God’s viewpoint.

God our Father, you made St. Benedict an outstanding guide to teach us how to live in your service.  Grant that by preferring your love to everything else, we may walk in the way of your commandments.  We ask this through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Br. Anselm Philip King-Lowe, n/OSB

Advent Reflection: Keeping Watch in Relationship

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We are created to be a social being, as God is a social Being. And as the Three Divine Persons have no life whatsoever except in this relativity of action, so have we no life whatsoever except in relative actions towards others. -Richard Meux Benson, SSJE (1824-1915).

Genesis Chapter 1:26a reads, “Then God said, “Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness,,,” (NRSV).  Notice the absence of the word “my”.  God relates to God’s Self in community. God relates to us in the great community of the Holy Trinity.  While we correctly understand the Holy Trinity in our Baptism as Christians, we often miss the mark.  The Holy Trinity is about the relationship of God with God’s Self, with us, and us with one another.

The mystery we will celebrate this week in the Nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, is one of God relating to all humankind through the Incarnate Word.  In Christ, God is present among us, relating to us and calling us to relate to God’s presence in one another.  Every relationship we are in in the here and now, is an extension of the relationship of God with us, and us with God.

Our Christian Faith, prayer and contemplation are full of opportunities to encounter Jesus, the Word in a relationship deep within ourselves; as we seek God’s presence beyond ourselves.  As we will see in the Nativity, God is looking to relate with us when we are in the midst of our messes and most vulnerable state.  When we find ourselves in such situations, God reaches out to us through relationships with one another.  God hears our cry to be kept warm from the cold.  God entrusts Jesus to all of us in a wondrous mystery of relationship, through which the best is yet to come.

Amen.

Br. Anselm Philip King-Lowe, n/OSB