Hope

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Hope

We all need hope. Sometimes we forget about it until we realize our need of it. At times, the word itself seems empty and unattainable. Hope is mentioned anytime anyone aspires to encourage, rally, or inspire the masses. It resonates in our minds, hearts, and souls. It resonates because we are all in need of hope. Hope for a better, brighter tomorrow. Churchill said, “All the great things are simple, and many can be expressed in a single word: freedom, justice, honor, duty, mercy, hope.”

Hope teaches. Hope is active. Hope doesn’t sleep. Hope stands up. “We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.” -MLK Jr. Have hope. Hold it close. Never let go of it. Most of all, give it. Prayer has historically been a source of hope for humanity. The connection with human health and prayer has been studied for decades. Dr. Herbert Benson, a cardiovascular specialist at Harvard Medical School and a pioneer in the field of mind/ body medicine discovered what he calls "the relaxation response," which occurs during periods of prayer and meditation. His studies have found that the body's metabolism decreases, the heart rate slows, blood pressure goes down, and breathing becomes more calm.

This state is correlated with slower brain waves, and feelings of control, tranquil alertness and peace of mind. This is significant because Benson estimates that over half of all doctor visits in the U.S. today are prompted by illnesses, like depression, high blood pressure, ulcers and migraine headaches, that are caused at least in part by elevated levels of stress and anxiety.

In Scripture we glean wisdom and insight not to be missed. There is much to learn from the margins; those parts of the stories that aren’t the main storyline. In most of the early text of Scripture where prayer is mentioned, you will find prayer and meditation. If we are more actively grasping for the words to voice our prayers instead of meditating on a Passage or verse while being still and silent, we are missing the full meaning and purpose of prayer. Hope rings out in the stillness of prayer and meditation.

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace, Where there is hatred, let me sow love; Where there is injury, pardon; Where there is doubt, faith; Where there is despair, hope; Where there is darkness, light; Where there is sadness, joy. O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled, as to console; to be understood, as to understand; to be loved, as to love. For it is in giving that we receive. It is in pardoning that we are pardoned, and it is in dying that we are born to Eternal Life. Amen.

-Saint Francis of Assisi

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Deafening Silence

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Deafening Silence

Several years back, I stumbled upon a path of contemplative spirituality, and I will never be the same. I have heard of more and more people being compelled to the conversation and intrigued with altering their lifestyle out of necessity for a sustainable pace. I simply wanted to revisit some thoughts that I call, "Deafening Silence".

If we step back from this busy life for a moment of reflection, we will start to hear a deafening silence. The ironic thing will be that it is truly the stillness that is so deafening. The majority of people in my circle struggles with noisy, crazy, hectic schedules, running from meeting to meeting, coffee to coffee, and activity to activity. Being present and available to God through pursuing space, focus, and contemplation is something that we make hard for ourselves.

After you read this JUST TRY to take 5 minutes and sit in silent solitude. It will be difficult. NO texting, NO computer (Messaging, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram), NO music, NO iPhone, NO gaming, NO calls, NO talking. Nothing, but silence. If you haven’t experienced this in awhile, the sound will be loud. You’ll see what I’m attempting to explain. When we arrive at a place on our journey where we have run out of words to pray, we will find a brilliant presence of God in the stillness, without words.

“We are not at peace with others because we are not at peace with ourselves, and we are not at peace with ourselves because we are not at peace with God.” — Thomas Merton

In a society that breeds narcissism and instant everything, a true and even disciplined pursuer of the Holy, might feel strange and even awkward about sitting, kneeling, or laying down. Thoughts of all that we could be doing will attempt to drown out the entire purpose on getting alone to be still, silent, and contemplative. Don’t be surprised if your vices, struggles, or addictions show themselves. That will be the crossroad choice of what we do with that time. Seek peace or give in to the self- centered nature that we constantly combat. If you have not seen the Nooma video “Noise”, go check it out. Bill Hybels has been quoted, “Is the ambient noise level of my life low enough for me to hear the whispers of the Lord?” A. W. Tozer has said “in some instances, absolute silence might well become our greatest act of worship”. The silence Tozer is talking about doesn’t happen in our worship gatherings. Everything in our culture is screaming at a db level that is dulling our hearing the Creator’s voice, and sometimes His will. I myself continue to struggle with this.

My friend, Ian Morgan Cron, says that the “future of the Church is silence”, as we become so hungry for silence in community. To be with one another without having to frantically convince one another of how important we all are may be a form of remedy to what is ailing us.

“God’s first language is silence, and everything else is a bad translation” -Mother Teresa.

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Contemplating the Trinity

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Contemplating the Trinity

Sunday is Trinity Sunday (First Sunday after Pentecost). It is an appropriote time to look at the dynamic between the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. It is a dynamic that is important to the doctrine and heart beat of the Church.

*Let us live in this love and this happiness, you and I and all of us, in the love of Christ and in contemplation, for this is where we find ourselves and one another as we truly are. It is only in this love that we at last become real. For it is here that we most truly share the life of One God in Three Persons.

*God in His Trinity of subsistent relations infinitely transcends every shadow of selfishness. For the One God does not subsist apart and alone in His Nature. He subsists as Father and as Son and as Holy Spirit. These Three Persons are one, but apart from them God does not also subsist as One. He is not Three Persons, plus one nature therefore four! He is Three Persons but One God. He is at once infinite solitude (one nature) and perfect society (three persons). One infinite Love in three subsistent relations.

The One God Who exists only in Three Persons is a circle of relations in which His infinite reality, Love, is ever identical and ever renewed, always perfect and always total, always beginning and never ending, absolute, everlasting and full.

In the Father the infinite Love of God is always beginning and in the Son it is always full and in the Holy Spirit it is perefect and it is renewed and never ceases to rest in its everlasting source. But if you follow Love forward and backward from Person to Person, you can never track it to a stop, you can never corner it and hold it down and fix it to one of the Persons as if He could appropriate to Himself te fruit of the love of the others. For the One Love of the Three Persons is an infinetly rich giving of Itself which never ends and is never taken, but is always perfectly given, only received in order to be perfectly shared.

It is because the Love of God does not terminate in one self-sufficent self that is capable of halting and absorbing it, that the Life and Happiness of God are absolutely infinite and perfect and inexhaustible. Therefore in God there can be no selfishness, because the Three Selves of God are Three subsistent relations of selflessness, overflowing and superabounding in joy in the Gift of their One Life.

The interior life of God is perfect contemplation. Our joy and our life are destined to be nothing but a participation in the Life that is theirs. In Them we will one day live entirely in God and in one another as the Persons of god live in One another.

As Christ says ‘I in them and Father, You in me, that they may be made perfect in One…and the glory which you have given me I have given to them, that they may be One as we are One’ and ‘In this shall everyone know you are my disciples—if you have love for one another.’

*Thomas Merton New Seeds of Contemplation

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Resurrection not resuscitation

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Resurrection not resuscitation

Those following Christ are people of resurrection not simply resuscitation. This is a beautiful time to contemplate what this means! Eastertide, is the fifty days after Easter Sunday leading up to Pentecost Sunday. Though you will not find an Eastertide observation requirement in Scripture, I would suggest that reflecting on the biblical understanding of Easter will assist in a cognitive and spiritual sense of what it means to be people of resurrection.

Some Scripture for practices:

  • Reflect on the fact that death has been swallowed up (1 Corinthians 15:54-56)
  • Think of how the resurrection of Jesus is a precursor to your own resurrection (1 Corinthians 15)
  • Meditate on what the resurrection means of the character of Christ (Psalm 16:10; Acts 2:25-28)
  • Reflect upon the very power that raised Jesus from the dead is available to you (Ephesians 1:15-23)
  • Consider how the resurrection gives us “new birth into a living hope” (1 Peter 1:3)

Eastertide allows us to think deeply, meditate, and pray on what it means to embody resurrection. This will change everything. No more frantic resuscitation, grasping for air, life, and momentum. Resurrection is the power to move about freely with force, gentleness, and love. This changes everything.

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