Reflection on Abiding in God’s Love

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Jesus said to his disciples, “As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you; abide in my love” (John 15:9 NRSV).

I have a fascination with the power of water.  When we ponder the ocean and the waves; I am amazed at how the weather can change what those waves do within seconds.  Yet, the ocean and its waves are never separated.  Sr. Joan Chittister in her book The Rule of Benedict: A Spirituality for the 21st Century on page 81, she quotes a story from the Desert Monastics.  I am going to paraphrase the story by writing that just as the ocean and the wave are not one, but not two; so are those who seek union with God and abide in God’s love.

The Gospel quote above is from Jesus’ talk with His disciples as He prepares to leave them.  Jesus is telling them to abide in God’s love and share that love with each other.  Just as the ocean and the wave are not one, nor two: so the love of God is not one, but not two in those who abide in God’s love.

My problem when I read “abide in God’s love” is that I am drawn back to my false-sense of self.  I think abiding in God’s love is all about me and is therefore up to me.  I forget that the desire in my heart to abide in God’s love is there by God’s initiative.  Whatever level of desire I have within me to abide in God’s love, it is the job of the Holy Spirit to teach me how to do that.  Abiding in God’s love challenges the contemplative to let go and abide in God’s love by simply searching for the One who has already found us.  Abiding God’s love is a mystical experience in that it draws us to a love that is beyond explanation, expression or description.  It defies any limitation on our part.  It is the Opus Dei (the Work of God0 through prayer, meditation, silence and of course living.

In his book The Eremitic Life: Encountering God ins Silence and Solitude, Fr. Cornelius Wencel wrote,

The meeting of two loves that are present and open to each other is a necessary condition for prayer to come into existence.  It is in contemplative prayer that the hermit touches Christ’s presence most intensely.  This presence has nothing to do with static persistence.  Just the opposite, Christ’s presence is ever new, amazingly fresh and full of unknown potential.  Through our tranquil abiding in Christ, we can understand better His presence as a gift given to the Father as well as to mankind (see page 154).

Do not be daunted immediately by fear and run away from the road that leads to salvation.  It is bound to be narrow at the outset.  But as we progress in this way of life and in faith, we shall run on the path of God’s commandments, our hearts overflowing with the inexpressible delight of love. (RB 1980: The Rule of St. Benedict in English, p.19).

Abba Antony said, “I no longer fear God, I love him; for love casts out fear.”

What does it mean for you to abide in God’s love?

Amen.

Peace be with all who enter here.

Brother Anselm Philip King-Lowe, OSB-CoS

See: The Community of Solitude

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Lenten Reflection: Listen Even More

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If you hear his voice today, do not harden your hearts (Psalm 95:8).  And again: You that have ears to hear, listen to what the Spirit says to the churches (Rev 2:7).  And what does he say?  Come and listen to me sons; I will teach you the fear of the Lord (Ps 34:12).  Run while you have the light of life, that the darkness of death may not overtake you (John 12:35).  (RB 1980: The Rule of St. Benedict in English, Prologue vs 10-13, p.16).

In the Prologue to The Rule of St. Benedict there are at least twelve references to listening. The very first word in The Rule is Listen.  We can almost visualize St. Benedict as the loving father and teacher who is just fed up with a class of students who are not paying attention.  The teachers job is to teach, while it is the place of the student to be quiet and to listen.

St. Benedict tells us here that God knows how very difficult it is for us to listen.  Our personal lives are over run with noise.  The exterior noise activates and agitates our interior noise.

I have written many blog posts about listening.  This post will definitely not be the last.  I can come up with any number of excuses not to listen to God.  I bet you can too.  I can fill this post with any number of legitimate reasons not to take the time to listen to God.  Yet, there are equitable benefits that we do not consider.

When we take time to center ourselves on God in Lectio Divina, centering and/or contemplative prayer, we discover that God has been speaking to our hearts through life itself.  The argument we just had.  The letter we just received.  The burden that we are carrying.  God often speaks to our hearts when someone who loves us very much, tells us something that is very difficult to hear.  There in those moments, God is coming to us to lovingly walk with us from our place of hardness of heart to a moment of conversion that affects every aspect of our lives.  There we discover God’s compassion and love with infinite possibilities.  We can accept and let go of ourselves into God’s care, with the humility to trust in God for where God will lead us next.

Today, if we hear God’s voice, may we not harden our hearts.  May we listen by inclining the ears of our heart, as God meets us and leads us now and in the future.

Amen.

Br. Anselm Philip King-Lowe, n/OSB