Wednesday, March 22, 2017

SPIRITUAL PRACTISES FOR LENT

SPIRITUAL PRACTISES FOR LENT
Spirituality of the Desert
To complement our sermon series in Lent, “Voices from the Desert,” each day we will post a short quote from one of the desert mothers or fathers. There will be no interpretation or explanation, but rather, we suggest that you sit in silence with the reading; reflect on it throughout the day, return to it again before day’s end.  
 
Lenten Devotion Readings:  March 26-April 1
 
ENCOUNTER

March 26 – The Discoveries of the Desert
Yesterday, you understood a little; today, you understand better; tomorrow, you will understand better still:  the light of God is growing in you.
St. Augustine of Hippo

March 27 – Desiring God
In the beginning, there are a great many struggles and a good deal of suffering for those who are advancing toward God.  Afterward, however, there is ineffable joy.  It is like those who wish to light a fire; at first, the smoke chokes them, and they cry.  Yet by this means, they obtain what they seek, as it is said: ‘Our God is a consuming fire!’ (Heb. 12:24).  So we, too, must kindle the divine fire in ourselves through tears and hard work.  Amma Syncletica

March 28 – Discerning Jesus
Christ be with me, Christ within me,
Christ behind me, Christ before me,
Christ beside me, Christ to win me,
Christ to comfort and restore me,
Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ in quiet, Christ in danger,
Christ in hearts of all that love me,
Christ in mouth of friend and stranger.
St. Patrick

March 29 – Finding Ourselves
Try to enter the treasure chamber … that is within you and then you will discover the treasure chamber of heaven.  For they are one and the same.  If you succeed in entering one you will see both.  The ladder to this Kingdom is hidden inside you, in your soul.  Isaac the Syrian

March 30 – Loving Our Neighbor
We laughed together in the desert, we who shared neither language nor country, race nor creed; only our humanity did we share and that was enough.  Edward Edwards

March 31 – Emerging from the Shadows
If you are generous, little by little you will see the divine world emerging from the shadows.  You have been living in it unawares, the hurly=burly of the world not having allowed it to be seen.  You then in y our turn will wonderingly discover that you are never less alone than when you are alone.  A Monk

April 1 – The  Healing Power of God
Those who pray stand at that point of intersection where the love of God and the tensions and sufferings we inflict on each other meet and are held in the healing power of God.  Mother Mary Clare

Thursday, March 16, 2017

SPIRITUAL PRACTISES FOR LENT



SPIRITUAL PRACTISES FOR LENT
Spirituality of the Desert
To complement our sermon series in Lent, “Voices from the Desert,” each day we will post a short quote from one of the desert mothers or fathers. There will be no interpretation or explanation, but rather, we suggest that you sit in silence with the reading; reflect on it throughout the day, return to it again before day’s end.  
 
Lenten Devotion Readings:  March 19-25

HUMILITY

March 19 – Without Pride
Now, O son of God, set in the valley of true humility, walk in peace without pride of spirit, which, like a precipitous mountain, offers a difficult, or near-impossible, ascent or descent to those who attempt to scale it, and on its summit no building can be built. For a person who tries to climb higher than he can achieve possesses the name of sanctity without substance, because, in name alone without a structure of good works, he glories in a kind of vain joy of the mind. HILDEGARD OF BINGEN, attributed, Soul Weavings

March 20 – The Path of Love
The failure of understanding is the very track to God.  Knowledge is not stones, but a voyage; Wisdom is not words, but a childlike heart.  What stands at the forefront of the mind’s stage, matters not a wrack.  Recall rather summer’s recesses and life’s secret place.  In a niche the mustard seed will grow.
Anthony, Deacon in the Church of Ephesus

March 21 – Humility in the Desert
Just as one cannot build a ship unless one was some nails, so it is impossible to be saved without humility.
Abbess Syncletica

March 22 – God Alone is All
Be thou by nought perturbed
  Of nought afraid,
For all things pass
  Save God,
Who does not change.
Be patient, and at last
  Thou shalt of all
Fulfillment find.
  Hold God,
And nought shall fail thee,
For He alone is All.  St. Teresa of Avila

March 23 – The Will to Love
The Abbot Moses said, ‘Unless people are convinced in their own hearts that they are sinners, God does not listen to their prayers.’  Then one of the brethren said to him, ‘What does it mean, this conviction in peoples’ hearts that they are sinners?’ The old man said to him, ‘They who are conscious of their own sins have no eyes for the sins of their neighbor.’ Abbot Moses

March 24 – Resolute in Prayer
Among the seniors it used to be told how a brother asked one of the elders, ‘What is humility?’ And the elder replied, ‘Humility is a great and divine work and the road to humility is labor, bodily labor, while seeking to know oneself and to put oneself below everyone else and praying to God about everything:  this is the road to humility, but humility itself is something divine and incomprehensible.’  Abba Dorotheos of Gaza

March 25 – Giving God Everything
Before we can surrender ourselves we must become ourselves.  No one can give up what they do not possess.  Thomas Merton

Wednesday, March 08, 2017

SPIRITUAL PRACTISES FOR LENT



SPIRITUAL PRACTISES FOR LENT
Spirituality of the Desert
To complement our sermon series in Lent, “Voices from the Desert,” each day we will post a short quote from one of the desert mothers or fathers. There will be no interpretation or explanation, but rather, we suggest that you sit in silence with the reading; reflect on it throughout the day, return to it again before day’s end.  


Lenten Devotion Readings:  March 12-18
STRUGGLE

March 12 -- Confrontation
If you therefore go to the desert to be rid of all the dreadful people and all the awful problems in your life, you will be wasting your time.  You should go to the desert for a total confrontation with yourself.  For one goes to the desert to see more and to see better.  One goes to the desert especially to take a closer look at the things and people one would rather not see, to face situations one would rather avoid, to answer questions one would rather forget.  Alessandro Pronzato

March 12 – Warfare
When anyone penetrates deeper into the desert, they must take along with them faith, hope and charity.  Their minds must be well made up and they must be firmly determined to achieve their goal.  For combat will besiege them from every side.  A Desert Father

March 13 – Spirituality of Struggle
Desert spirituality is a spirituality of struggle, which is inevitable as we seek to know and to journey into ourselves, to face the demons in the depths of our personalities.  It is a struggle with the apparent absence of God and a struggle in the darkness of our own emptiness and insufficiency.  David Prail

March 15 –Patience
If you find yourself in a monastery do not go to another place, for that will harm you a great deal.  Just as the bird who abandons the eggs se was sitting on prevents them from hatchings, so the monk or nun grows cold and their faith dies, when they go from one place to another.  Amma Syncletica

March 16 – Perseverance
There was a monk, who, because of the great number of temptations said, “I will go away from here.”  As he was putting on his sandals, he saw another man who was also putting on his sandals and this other monk said to him, “Is it on my account that you are going away?  Because I go before you wherever you are going.”  Amma Theodora

March 17 – Creative Struggle
Christianity does not ask us to live in the shadow of the cross, but in the fire of its creative action.  Teilhard de Chardin

March 18 -- Fruit of the Desert
Let us strive to enter by the narrow gate. Just as the trees, if they have not stood before the winter’s storms, cannot bear fruit, so it is with us.  This present age is a storm, and it is only through many trials and temptations that we can obtain an inheritance in the kingdom of heaven.”  Mother Theodora

Friday, March 03, 2017

SPIRITUAL PRACTISES FOR LENT

SPIRITUAL PRACTISES FOR LENT
Spirituality of the Desert
To complement our sermon series in Lent, “Voices from the Desert,” each day we will post a short quote from one of the desert mothers or fathers. There will be no interpretation or explanation, but rather, we suggest that you sit in silence with the reading; reflect on it throughout the day, return to it again before day’s end.  

See March 5-11, below, for daily readings.

SOLITUDE
March 5 – Alone with God
Try an experiment and you will see, you will discover a number of useful things on the way.  Try to find time to stay alone with yourself; shut the door and settle down in your room at a moment when you have nothing else to do.  Say:  “I am now with myself,” and just sit with yourself.  After an amazingly short time, you will most likely feel bored.  This teaches us one very useful thing.  It gives us insight into the fact that, if after ten minutes of being alone with ourselves, we feel like that, it is no wonder that others should feel equally bored! … This is really a very dramatic discovery.  We are completely empty, we do not act from within ourselves but accept as our life a life which is actually fed in from outside; we are used to things happening which compel us to do other things.  How seldom can we live s imply by means of the depth and the richness we assume that there is within ourselves.  Abba Alonius

March 6 – Solitude of the Soul
He with whom God is
     is never less alone
than when he is alone.
For then he can enter his joy,
     then he is his own
to enjoy God in himself
     and himself in God.  William Saint-Thierry

March 7 – Waiting in Silence
Never be in a hurry.  Do not expect to hear God’s word immediately on your arrival in the desert.  You must wait in silence.  Your whole being should be in an attitude of listening.  All other activities should be subordinated to the act of waiting for God.  And God may speak through His word or through His silence.  Alessandro Pronzato

March 8 – Crowd of Solitude
There are many who live in the mountains and behave as if they were in the town, and they are wasting their time.  It is possible to be a solitary in one’s mind while living in a crowd, and it is possible for one who is a solitary to live in the crowd of personal thoughts.  Amma Syncletica

March 9 – Standing Before God
A hermit had persevered for thirty years.  One day he said to himself, ‘I have now spent so many years here and I have had no vision and performed no miracle as did the Fathers who were monks before me.’  And he was tempted to go back to the world.  Then he was told, ‘What miracle do you want to perform that would be more extraordinary than the patience and courage God has given you and which allowed you to persevere for so long?’  Hermit

March 10 – Solitude of Distance
I have never loved nor prayed so much for my old friends as in the solitude of the desert.  I saw their faces, I felt their problems, their sufferings, sharpened by the distance between us.  Carlo Carretto

March 11 – The Deepest Silence
In the crucible of silence you will learn holiness, since silence is the door to humility, contemplation and mercy.  By leading you to self-forgetfulness, silence will allow you to discover God and in the heart of God you will rediscover the world by God’s light.  So live outward silence and enjoy it inwardly and you will taste the perfect delight of those who keep His commandments in their hearts and dwell silently in His love.  Jerusalem Community:  Rule of Life
 

Wednesday, March 01, 2017

SPIRITUAL PRACTISES FOR LENT: Spirituality of the Desert



SPIRITUAL PRACTISES FOR LENT
Spirituality of the Desert
To complement our sermon series in Lent, “Voices from the Desert,” each day we will post a short quote from one of the desert mothers or fathers. There will be no interpretation or explanation, but rather, we suggest that you sit in silence with the reading; reflect on it throughout the day, return to it again before day’s end.  

See March 1-4, below, for daily readings.

Fasting from Words
Abba Macarius the Great said to the brothers at Scetis, when he dismissed the assembly, ‘Flee, my brothers,’  One of the old men asked him, ‘Where could we flee to beyond the desert?’  He put his finger on his lips and said, ‘Flee that,’ and he went into his cell, shut the door and sat down.
Our world is noisy, our lives are noisy, the news is noisy…   During this season of Lent we need to be reminded of and sent to the silence “beyond the desert.”  True silence is about engagement not escape, fullness not emptiness, presence not absence.  Sitting in silence invites us to repent from the need to justify, explain, and defend – so necessary in this time of constant bombardment of news and fake news and the need to validate our opinions.  The practice of silence is an act of self-offering, showing up, and making oneself available to God.  Silence creates space and place for God to show up.  It allows us to listen with our heart rather than our ears.  It is the threshold to meet God.  Deep interior silence lets us rest in God.
Prayer:  O God, the creator and sustainer of life, from your silence you spoke your creative word, “Let there be,” and brought forth life.  Let me flee to that silent place where I may be still and know that you are God.  Amen.

Week 1

March 1 — Ash Wednesday — Setting Out on the Journey
The desert is a place where the soul encounters God, but it is also a place of extreme desolation — a place of testing, where the soul is flung upon its own resources and therefore upon God.  The desert, in this sense, can be anywhere.  Elizabeth Hamilton from “The Desert, My Dwelling Place” a study of Charles de Foucauld.

March 2 —The Inner Desert
There is a physical desert, inhabited by a few exceptional men and women who are called to live there; but more importantly, there is an inner desert, into which each on of us must one day venture.  It is a void; an empty space for solitude and struggle.  Frere Ivan

March 3 — The Presence and Absence of God
The desert is a good teacher.  It is a place where we do not die of thirst.  It is a place where we rediscover the roots of our existence.  Once we grasp this lesson, we realize that the physical desert is not necessary to lead the life of a hermit.  It then becomes pointless to go in search of a desert on the globe.  You can find your desert in a corner of your house, on a motorway, in a square, in a crowded street.  But you must first renounce the slavery of illusions, refuse the blackmail of pressure, resist the glitter of appearances, repudiate the domination of activity, reject the dictatorship of hypocrisy.  Then the desert becomes a place where you do not go out to see the sand blowing in the wind but the Spirit waiting to make its dwelling within you.  Alessandro Pronzato

March 4 — Waiting Upon God
In the desert the most urgent thing is — to wait.
If you have no ambition to conquer the desert, if you do not think you are in charge, if you can calmly wait for things to be done, then the desert will not consider you an intruder and will reveal its secrets to you.  Alessandro Pronzato