Reflection on Contemplative Listening

Transfiguration

 

Then a cloud overshadowed them, and from the cloud there came a voice, ‘This is my Son, the Beloved; listen to him!” (Mark 9:7 NRSV).

My blog readers know from the title of this reflection what I am going to use from The Rule of Saint Benedict.  So, here it is.

“Listen, my son, to your master’s precepts, and incline the ear of your heart.” (St. Benedict’s Rule for Monasteries, p.1).

Listening is essential to contemplative living.  To listen as a contemplative requires the seeker to be silent.  Silence in solitude opens us up to letting go of all that we cling to, so that we can “incline the ear of the heart” to hear God more clearly.

The Transfiguration is more than what is described in the Gospel texts.  It is about Jesus showing us what happens when our humanity infused with God the Incarnate Word becomes One with the God who always was and ever shall be.  The disciples’ fear in the presence of such splendor is more than understandable.  The cloud and the voice that follows what happens is for the disciples so that they may let go of their fear and hear God more clearly in Who Jesus is.

“Their exterior and interior senses were quieted by the awesomeness of the Mystery manifested by the voice out of the cloud.  Once their senses had been calmed and integrated into the spiritual experience which their intuitive faculties had perceived, peace was established throughout their whole being, and they were prepared to respond to the guidance of the Spirit.” (The Mystery of Christ: The Liturgy as Spiritual Experience by Thomas Keating, p.44).

Contemplative listening in solitude and silence makes us docile to the Holy Spirit.  It involves a surrendering of our egos and fears of what was and may be, to the God who knows us more intimately than we know ourselves.  The Transfiguration is a symbol of the magnificence of what God wants to do in us through Contemplative and Centering Prayer.  When we leave ourselves totally available to the Presence and Power of God through the vulnerability of contemplative listening, we can and will listen to God’s Beloved who tells us that in Jesus, we too are God’s beloved.

“Abba Nilas said, ‘The arrows of the enemy cannot touch one who loves quietness; but he who moves about in a crowd will often be wounded.” (Daily Readings with the Desert Fathers, p.38).

Have you spent some time in silent listening recently?

Amen.

Peace be with all who enter here.

Brother Anselm Philip King-Lowe, OSB-CoS

See: The Community of Solitude

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Palm Sunday Reflection: Laying Ourselves Before Jesus

TriumphalEntry

“So let us spread before his feet, not garments or soulless olive branches, which delight the eye for a few hours and then wither, but ourselves clothed in his grace, or rather, clothed completely in him.  We who have been baptized into Christ must become the garments that we spread before him.” (From a Sermon by St. Andrew of Crete.  The Liturgy of the Hours, Volume II, Lent Season and Easter Season, p.419-420).

As we begin Holy Week, we are led to ponder the thought of laying ourselves before Christ.  St. Andrew of Crete’s profound words invite us to something deeper than mere ritual for the sake of itself.  He urges us to the act of total self surrender.  To do less, is to miss what Jesus really did during Holy Week.

In The Rule of St. Benedict, whenever he wrote about a monk making amends for faults and/or respecting his seniors, the total prostration of the body was among the requirements.  Why?  Because to prostrate oneself on the floor before someone we have offended is an act of complete self surrender.  We gladly give up everything, including our “right’ to be right about everything.  We give over being the last word about anything and/or everything for the sake of the healing of the relationship.

Holy Week is about the healing of relationships.  It is about God identifying with our human condition with nothing held back.  God is completely in it with us now.  Including the experience of being betrayed by a dear friend, and/or having our friends whom we rely on disappear when we need them most.  Yes, Jesus has lived through that too this week.  Yet, the one thing that does not change is that God is there facing it with us.  Therefore, we too must hold nothing back.  We must lay ourselves completely before Christ as God’s people ready and willing to give up everything to and for God.

As we ponder the work of God in Christ this week, may we too be ready to lay ourselves before Jesus.  May we serve others in His Name in imitation of Jesus’ example of humility and obedience to God.  The greatest of contemplative experiences cannot be complete without it.

Amen.

Br. Anselm Philip King-Lowe, n/OSB

Lenten Reflection: God’s Treasured Possession

Treasured Possession

Moses convened all Israel, and said to them: You are a people holy to the LORD your God; the LORD your God has chosen you out of all the peoples on earth to be his people, his treasured possession. (Deuteronomy 7:6 NRSV).

These words are both a reason for celebration and a word of caution.  God really does love and cherish us as God’s own treasured possession.  We also have a tremendous responsibility to the One who treasures us.

In this reading from the Hebrew Scriptures, God has brought Israel out of the slavery of Egypt with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm.  God is challenging the people through Moses to see how much they are loved by God, that God let nothing stand in God’s way of delivering them.  Not even the Red Sea.

As Christians, our God showed us how much we are treasured by giving us Jesus Christ who died a horrible death to save us from our own bondage.  The bondage of living and believing that we are only worth what we say, do, think, believe, own, smell, taste, see and touch.  Through the death and resurrection of Jesus, we have been redeemed and reclaimed by God.  We have not been reclaimed to continue to live by our false-sense of self.  We have been redeemed to own nothing.  God is so madly in love with us, that God wants us to search for and find union with God with a pure heart.

May we contemplate on this Thursday after Ash Wednesday, how much we are treasured by God.  May we bask in the Light of God’s love and enjoy being God’s treasured possession.

Amen.

Br. Anselm Philip King-Lowe, n/OSB