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Many respected persons made it a practice to rise in the night or in the quiet hours of the morning to seek inspiration that comes in silence.

Feb 27, 2015

pixabay-bench-in-meadow-silence-featured-w740x493A prayerful, meditative silence is the mother of truth.


God cannot be found in noise and agitation. His true power and love are revealed in what is hardly perceptible, in the gentle breeze that requires stillness and quiet to detect. In silence, God listens to us. In silence, listen to Him. In silence, God speaks to our souls and the power of His word is enough to transform our very being. We cannot speak to God and to the world at the same time. We need the sacred space that silence creates in order to turn our undivided attention toward God even if it is only for a few precious moments of our day.

Many respected persons made it a practice to rise in the night or in the quiet hours of the morning to seek inspiration that comes in silence, Plato, Einstein, and even Jesus Himself. We all should find a time and a place to be in silent prayer. In the Carmelite tradition, the spiritual life is said to have two aims: the first is about our love of God and the second is about God’s love for us. The practice of silence facilitates both of these aims.

The experience of God’s love for us

We are meant to taste in our hearts and experience in our minds, not only after death but in this life, something of the power of the Divine Presence and the bliss of heavenly glory. From this point of departure in faith, silence becomes more than a practice. It is a form of prayer—a prayer of listening, waiting, and receptivity. It is a prayer that anticipates and expects intimate communion; it believes in the possibility and holds in high esteem the value of being in relationship with God.

The value of this type of prayer is difficult for our productivity-oriented culture to grasp. It is hard for us to see that a prayer in which “being” predominates over “doing” and that a prayer in which nothing happens is a prayer in which everything happens. It is in silence that we make the interior transition from darkness to light. We become more aware of God’s presence within us, of Him speaking to us, of the hidden things which He wishes to reveal to us.

Through silence we become more deeply aware of the beauty, unity, goodness and truth all around us and within us. Through faith our whole outlook on life is changed. What used to appear as ordinary, temporal events, become reflections of these four attributes of God. These happenings become messages through which He speaks intimately to our hearts; moments of sublime personal contact with Infinite Love Itself.

Listening to the word in silence, faith and love, we hear the secret to our happiness and authentic personal fulfillment. Only in this do we truly begin to fill that deep void and satisfy the longing that consumes us as human persons.

The gift of love, however, only comes to complete fruition when it is embraced by our response of love. God gives Himself entirely to us without reserve. His one request is that we return His love in like manner. “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” (Matt 22:37-39, NASB). This is also expressed in the Carmelite tradition through the first aim of the spiritual life that we offer God a pure and holy heart, free of the actual stain of sin, accomplished both with God’s grace and our own efforts of virtuous living. The human heart in its brokenness tends to cling readily to those things among which it habitually finds itself. Our thoughts feed our emotions and our desires. So if we are placing ourselves most frequently in the noises of the world that speak to values contrary to God’s way, our desires will easily be lead astray. Ensnared by these misled desires, we cannot be free to love God with our whole being. The person who persistently seeks noise and diversion betrays his own insecurity. When we do not possess the changeless One, we seek constant change. The person who has encountered God, and seeks after Him in love, will return to the quiet places of silence where the sweetness of His presence still lingers.

“The Lord is in His holy temple, let all the earth keep silence before Him.” (Habakkuk 2:20)

With this in mind, however, we must grow to that point of spiritual maturity where we do not seek silence primarily as the setting for an exalted spirituality or for the purpose of obtaining something we want for ourselves, even if it is as good a thing as contemplation or consolation. While these may very well be the supernatural results of fidelity to the practice of silence, to make them the end goals would be to get caught in the snare of self-seeking spirituality and this is quite opposite of God’s desire for us. Silence must eventually be sought in the first place as an expression of our total gift of self back to God. It becomes a response of love and an attitude of reverence for the One who has taken the initiative to love us and give Himself to us first. “The Lord is in His holy temple, let all the earth keep silence before Him.” (Habakkuk 2:20)

Listening is an important expression of love. It’s a holy thing to listen, both to God and to our neighbor. Yet in order to truly listen, we must be silent. Do we have the ability to listen in authentic silence without interference from our own prejudice and self interest? When someone is speaking to me, when God is speaking to me, am I immediately thinking of my response to what they are saying? Am I thinking about the soup that is on the stove that might be burning? Am I wandering back to the events that happened in the day that still interfere in my mind? Or can I be totally present to the other…totally aware and receptive of what they are bringing to me? I would like to share a true story to illustrate this point.

* * * * *

It was a dark, cloudy evening in mid-October. The perfect prelude to a night of thunder and rain, not unlike our nights lately here in Southern California. I was with my friend Lori at her old white farmhouse. Lori and I had been friends for a long time, since second grade. And ever since I can remember she loved to go out in the evening on the veranda to wait for her father to come home.

This particular night was not an extraordinary night, no different from the others. We had both grown beyond the age of playing jacks and pushing each other on the porch swing to pass the hours as we waited for the old Ford to rumble down the driveway. These days we had grown accustomed to sitting quietly on the front porch steps, sharing our dreams and our disappointments until we could see the dust in the distance as Lori’s father made his way down the old farm road. She would immediately spring up to her feet as soon as she saw the car and squeal with joy, hardly able to contain herself until she had her arms wrapped around her father’s sturdy neck and a joyful kiss planted firmly on his cheek. The ritual always fascinated me, and I always felt blessed to witness such a genuine expression of love.

Yet this particular night there was an added depth of meaning. You see the night was already dark and this meant that we could not see in the distance to detect when the smoke and the dust from the car would be coming. Not only that, but it was also difficult to hold a conversation on the dimly lit veranda. Lori was almost completely deaf and relied heavily on lip reading when the other person, such as myself, was not proficient in signing.

Comfortable with Lori’s limitations, we sat contentedly on the steps as usual but with very few words passing between us. We waited patiently, peering out into the darkness, exchanging an occasional insight or observation, mostly from myself as my mind continually wandered from one thought to another. Suddenly, out of the blue, Lori jumped up and squealed with her familiar recognition of her father’s car coming in the distance. I strained into the darkness but I couldn’t see a thing. “Lori,” I said, “Sit back down. I don’t see him coming yet.” In her excitement it took me a while to first get her attention. I repeated myself, but Lori was convinced that her father’s car would come into view at any moment.

Just then a pair of dim headlights rounded the corner and the old Ford pulled up next to the white-washed porch. Lori ran down the stairs and the usual greeting took place. I was dumbfounded. How did she know her father was coming? Not being able to contain my curiosity I asked her later that evening as we sat on the floor of her bedroom. Her response was, “I felt him coming.” “You felt him coming?” “Well yes,” she replied, “Over the years I’ve learned the feel of the vibrations from the ground as my father’s car approaches. When I’m very still and quiet, it is easy for me to tell when he is coming.”

* * * * *

A profound lesson etched itself into my soul that evening. When we truly love, we make every effort to block out all that distracts us, all which can be an obstacle to anticipating and receiving the one we love. Lori’s life of silence had taught her to be sensitive to the vibrations that daily announced her father’s arrival. My friend, who had hardly heard a word in her life, knew what it meant to truly listen, to set aside her own expectations and make her whole being available and receptive to the approach of another.

How deep is my love? How much do I long for the arrival of my heavenly Father? Enough that I’m willing to wait in silence so that I may learn the signs of His gentle approach and relish His loving touch? God has given us a very eloquent example of this attitude in the witness of St. Joseph. Silence for him was not just a matter of mortifying his speech, but by it he made his own posture of extreme surrender and abandonment to God’s will and expressed it in his daily life.

Three times, we are told in scripture that an angel came to him with a command from God. “Do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife” (Matt 1:20, NASB). “Get up! Take the Child and His mother and flee to Egypt” (Matt 2:13, NASB). “Get up, take the Child and His mother, and go into the land of Israel; for those who sought the Child’s life are dead” (Matt 2:20, NASB). To these three commands, only one response is recorded: immediate fulfillment of the task in silent, loving solicitude. His complete surrender was the interior disposition from which all the signs of true love flow: patience, kindness, gentleness, unselfishness, and uncomplaining, unresentful obedience. Silence keeps us close to the loving, providential presence of God and fits us to meet and respond to it without hesitation in total and loving generosity to God’s will.

Silence can become the single, most powerful source of true love for man when it is God-centered, because through it we become aware of God’s profound love for each human person.

“If someone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for the one who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen” (1 John 4:20, NASB).

Love of God cultivated in silence must take on the prophetic and missionary dimension of proclaiming and showing his love to his neighbor. A prayerful, meditative silence is the mother of truth in which we not only surrender ourselves to God but also nurture our love for our neighbor while we are apart from them. Conversation with God, sustained in silence, strengthens us in grace so that when we come together as family, as community, as friends, or even when we come into contact with strangers, we are able to temper our broken natures and wills with the result that our interaction leads to growth in virtue. However, without this quiet rootedness in God, we instead perpetuate and can even further the weaknesses of each other through empty interactions. Silence can become the single, most powerful source of true love for man when it is God-centered because through it we become aware of God’s profound love for each human person.

Every aspect of our Christian lives must be pervaded by this joint love of God and neighbor. A true test of the genuineness of our love and our grasp of the wisdom of silence will be the manner in which we speak to one another. “For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks” (Luke 6:25, NIV). Since the purpose of speech is to share with others, our aim as Christians should always be to speak in a way that communicates love and preserves the dignity of all people.

Our current culture lays assault on the nobility of language by consumerism, irresponsible journalism and the everyday deluge of words. Speech is one of the greatest powers in the world. When used to its full potential, it can form alliances, sway opinions, make or break reputations of people and nations. It can build up or tear down walls of resistance and defense. It can create or destroy relationships among men. Yet the most powerful of all words is the one spoken in integrity, and it is silence that is the generator of this word. Without silence, the spoken word loses its power and its meaning. It becomes the empty gong and the clanging cymbal of St. Paul’s First Letter to the Corinthians.

This following passage is taken from the Book of Sirach 20:5-8, “There is one who by keeping silent is found wise; while another is detested for being too talkative. There is one who keeps silent because he has no answer, while another keeps silent because he knows when to speak. A wise man will be silent until the right moment, but a braggart and a fool goes beyond the right moment. Whoever uses too many words will be loathed; and whoever usurps the right to speak will be hated.” In silence, we learn the right moment for our words and how to speak them in truth and in love. God himself is the prime model of this truth. Psalm 12:6 explains that “The promises of the Lord are promises that are pure. Silver refined in a furnace on the ground, purified seven times.” The innocence of God’s word is so full of love and so powerful that what He speaks comes into being. He has merely to breathe forth the thought of His heart and a new creation ensues.

And so it is that God’s promises, His words, are always true and He is always faithful to them. If He were not, His creation would cease to be. The ultimate and most perfect manifestation of this was His promise that He enfleshed. It is in the eternal silence of God that is spoken the eternal Word, His son, the only means of our promised redemption. Created to be imitators of God, made in His image and called to be molded into His likeness, we too are people of our word. What is in the very depths of our hearts is what forms the words on our lips. So the question we must ask ourselves is “What words?” If we are to be true imitators of God, faithful to our proper goal of union with Him, we must imitate Him in our words: holy purified and free from sin, free from selfishness, arrogance, vanity, competition and gossip. On our lips must be words that speak of both human and divine wisdom that build up our neighbor and encourage conversion. How will this transformation of our speech come about? Through silence. In silence, we commune with the One Whose first language is silence. And when we have sufficiently learned this language, we will have facility of speech. We will no longer speak words that distract, create noise, or vanquish good. Our words will contain in them something of the power of God. They will be words that truly influence others and participate in bringing to completion their redemption and our own. They will be words of healing, growth and love. And they will be spoken at the right moment.


Sister Mary Clare, O.C.D.


To learn more about the Carmelite Sisters of the Most Sacred Heart of Los Angeles, read their biography below and visit their website.

We encourage you to support the work of the sisters with your prayers and through donations and planned giving. Click here to learn more..

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About the Author

Promoting a Deeper Spiritual Life Among Families through Healthcare, Education and Retreats

The Carmelite Sisters of the Most Sacred Heart of Los Angeles strive to give striking witness as a vibrant, thriving community of dedicated women with an all-consuming mission. It is our God-given mission, a mission of the heart, a mission of loving service to the poor, the sick, the needy and the uneducated. Our loving service overflows from each sister’s profound life of prayer. We strive to reflect His life and hope and His promise to all that light has come into our world and darkness has not overcome it.

A look at the history of our community, with its motherhouse in Alhambra, California, reveals how its life-giving presence has come about. During the beginning decades of the 1900s just as the epic Mexican revolution was subsiding, a ruthless religious persecution was gaining momentum in Mexico. This horrible persecution accompanied the birth and humble beginnings of our community, a legacy that Mother Luisita, our foundress, and her two companions brought with them as religious refugees entering the Unites States in 1927.

Those seeds planted by Mother Luisita, now a candidate for sainthood, have taken deep root in the United States since those early days. People and places have changed throughout the years, yet the heart of our mission remains. As an autonomous religious institute since 1983 we continue to carry out our loving service in our healthcare facilities, retreat houses and schools which remain to this day centers of life and hope. Today we are moving forward together “Educating for Life with the Mind and Heart of Christ” in schools, being “At the Service of the Family for Life” through health and eldercare and “Fostering a Deeper Spiritual Life” through individual and group retreats. At the heart of our vocation is a passionate mission of loving service which facilitates our life-giving encounter with the living God.

The heritage of the Carmelite Sisters of the Most Sacred Heart of Los Angeles is rooted in the spirituality of Carmel, the Gospels, the Church, with our particular charism derived from our beloved Foundress, Mother Maria Luisa Josefa of the Most Blessed Sacrament.

In His merciful goodness, God has graced our Institute with the Carmelite charism which has its roots in a long history and living tradition. The spirituality of St. Teresa and St. John of the Cross is rooted in this tradition. Carmel means enclosed garden in which God Himself dwells. The divine indwelling in the soul is the foundation of Teresa’s doctrine. Thus our vocation is a grace by which contemplation and action are blended to become an apostolic service to the Church.

Our ideal finds a living expression in the life and charism of our beloved Foundress, Mother Maria Luisa Josefa of the Most Blessed Sacrament, whose spirit we faithfully preserve and foster.

Our life is characterized by: – A life of prayer and union with God – A deep love for Jesus in the Holy Eucharist – Devotion to our Blessed Mother – Steadfast fidelity to the Magisterium of the Church – Praying for priests – Commitment to works of the apostolate in ecclesial service

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1 Comment

  1. Very good article. Although the first line says “we cannot speak to God and the world at the same time,” this article is actually about HEARING God. We cannot LISTEN to God and the world/ourselves at the same time.

    Without listening to God, we mostly speak at Him. When we listen to Him, we are more able to respond to or speak to Him–sometimes without words at all.

    The world is noisy on many levels. It intrudes electronically, in our busy thoughts, in our reading materials, even by listening to Catholic radio or internet extensively. I

    Although this article is longer than some, it is worth the read. I want to read it again, more slowly, and ponder it to digest, not for information.

    Brava to Sr. Mary Claire.

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Am I good enough to be a Sinner? thumbnail
Pope Francis

I am a sinner. This is the most accurate definition. It is not a figure of speech, a literary genre. I am a sinner.

From America (2013)

 

Richard Rohr OFM

The absolute religious genius of Jesus is that he ignores all debt codes, purity codes, religious quarantines, and the endless searching for sinners.  He refuses to divide the world into the pure and the impure, much to the chagrin of almost everybody – then and now.  Unlike most churches, he is not into “sin management.”  He is into transformation.

Jesus is shockingly not upset with sinners! He is only upset with people who do not think they are sinners.  In most of history, religion thought its mission was to somehow expel sin and evil. As if it could.  After Jesus we find out that the real sin lies in the very act of expelling.  Jesus knew there is no place to expel it to.  It only hides underground.

Either we carry and transform the evil of human history as our own problem, or we increase its power by hating and punishing it “over there.”  It will eventually come back to bite us.  Jesus taught us how to hold, absorb, and transform the human situation, not to deny it, punish it, or project it elsewhere.  He then dramatically illustrated this pattern on the cross, and it became resurrection!

Adapted from Hope Against Darkness (2001)

 

 

Henri Nouwen

God’s mercy is greater than our sins. There is an awareness of sin that does not lead to God but rather to self-preoccupation. Our temptation is to be so impressed by our sins and our failings and so overwhelmed by our lack of generosity that we get stuck in paralyzing guilt. It is the guilt that says, “I am too sinful to deserve God’s mercy.” It is the guilt that leads to introspection instead of directing our eyes to God. It is the guilt that has become an idol and therefore a form of pride.

Lent is a time to break down this idol and to direct our attention to our loving Lord. The question is: “Are we like Judas, who was so overcome by his sin that he could not believe in God’s mercy any longer … or are we like Peter who returned to his Lord with repentance and cried bitterly for his sins?” The season of Lent, during which winter and spring struggle with each other for dominance, helps us in a special way to cry out for God’s mercy.

From A Cry for Mercy (1983)

God is a gardener

The gardener supports total reconciliation and the possibility for all creatures to live together:

God is a gardener thumbnail

 

Christophe Boureux O.P.

Christ appears as a gardener to Mary Magdalene. He assumes the figure of God who established a garden when the world was being created, a garden that was later entrusted to human beings. At these two fundamental moments of the creation and resurrection, humankind was therefore put in a garden and it is there that we were first called to respond to God. In a way, humankind first responds to God as a gardener.

A garden is a place of universal friendliness. When you’re working in a garden, people stop and start up a conversation. Gardeners exchange plants. More fundamentally, the gardener’s task is to enhance this friendliness. In the garden, the gardener sees to it that each plant has its own place, that it has enough space, shadow and nourishment. The gardener is a one-man-band who is responsible for this arrangement. In the process, the gardener also announces the union of all things in Christ, the ultimate organization of all creatures. In contact with the Earth, the gardener supports the prophecy of Isaiah, announcing total reconciliation and the possibility for all creatures to live together: “The wolf shall be the guest of the lamb and the leopard shall lie down with the young goat” (Isaiah 11, 6-9).

Why were Adam and Eve driven out of the Garden of Eden? When they ate the forbidden fruit, they short-circuited the time required for work, maturation and production. They rejected the slow rhythm of plants. God had asked them to watch over the garden, in other words, to respect the essential temporality of nature. Gardening does just that: it restores a better-adjusted relationship with time. As does the liturgy, by the way, which presents us with a different rhythm. It helps to free us from the fast pace that monopolizes our lives.

Thinking about creation also means thinking about the type of space in which we live. I am especially sensitive to this as I live in a place that is visited by many “professionals of space,” namely architects. Space is a place to think about and organize in order to promote conviviality. All too often we think of space as a neutral place, as a place that is not determined by the creatures that inhabit it….

Broadly speaking, from the 17th-to-20th century, thought was dominated by a theism inherited from enlightenment philosophy. God was conceived of as a strict, almost impersonal principal, without any subjectivity and far removed from any figure of Christ. Here again, one of the goals of my work is to rediscover the path of Christological creation that one encounters in the fathers of the Church. I’m thinking of the medieval miniatures showing the seven days of creation, in which we clearly see Jesus presiding over everything. For the illuminator, the figure of the visible God mentioned in the Epistle to the Colossians (1:15) was the figure of Christ, “first-born of all creation.” It is only through Christ that Christians can truly enter into the mystery of creation.

From La Croix (2015)

Temptation is not a sin. It’s how you respond to it that matters.

February 22, 2015

 

“Be alert. Continue strong in the faith.

Have courage, and be strong.” (1 Corinthians 16:13 NCV)

temptations

Many people are intimidated by the fact that they are tempted,
like they shouldn’t even be in that situation or that they should be able to control it.
But you shouldn’t feel guilty about temptation.

It’s not a sin to be tempted.
It’s a sin to give in to temptation.

The Bible says that Jesus experienced every temptation known to man, but he didn’t sin.
Temptation is not a sin.
It’s how you respond to it that matters.

be alert

The Bible says we need to flee temptation:
“Be alert. Continue strong in the faith.
Have courage, and be strong” (1 Corinthians 16:13 NCV).
To “be alert” means to know what tempts you so that you can stay away from it.

There are two things you need to stay away from:
tempting situations (circumstances)
and tempting associations (people who tempt you).

stay away

John Baker, says,
“You hang around the barber shop long enough, you’re going to get a haircut.”
It’s true!
If you have a problem with alcohol, you don’t go to the bar to eat a sandwich.
You stay away from it.

You need to know
what tempts you,
when it tempts you,
where it tempts you,
who tempts you, and then just stay away from those situations and people.

If you get tempted in airport bookstores, don’t go to airport bookstores.
If you get tempted by a certain channel, don’t have that channel on your TV.

We have parental block on our TV, and the youngest person in our house is my wife, Kay.

temptation

We don’t have kids at home any more,
but I don’t want to even risk going through channels
and stumbling upon something I don’t need to see.

You also need to avoid tempting associations.
The Bible says in 1 Corinthians 15:33,
“Do not be fooled. ‘Bad companions ruin good character’” (TEV).

bad company

There are some people you need to stop relating to.
There may be some friends who maybe should not be your friends,
because it’s always easier for them to pull you down than for you to pull them up.

If they’re leading you away from Christ, they’re not friends.
Bad company corrupts good character.

So what should you do if you try to avoid those tempting circumstances
and people but still find yourself in a sticky situation?

Get out! Don’t just walk away — run!
You don’t fight it; you flee it.
And you go after the good stuff in life instead.

– fwd: v c mathews

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Does Lent mean practicing our sense of anticipation

Lent through the Lens of Grace thumbnail

Andy Alexander S.J. and Maureen McCann Waldron

Just imagine that this Lent is going to be different from every other Lent we’ve experienced. Imagine that there will be many graces offered us this year. Let’s even imagine that God is going to help transform our lives, with greater freedom, greater joy, and deeper desires for love and service.

Preparing our hearts is a process of preparing our desires. This means practicing our sense of anticipation. If we imagine Lent as an “ordeal” or a time to dread in some way, then we’ve already pre-disposed ourselves to not get very much out of it. These days … are a time to start anticipating something wonderful that is about to happen.

Our sense of excitement and anticipation will grow more easily if we begin to imagine what God wants to give us. There is something coming that we can truly look forward to. If we get too focused on ourselves and what we are going to do or not do, we could risk missing the gift God wants to give us. We have to keep aware of the fact that grace comes from God. This is about God’s great desire to bless us. With this mindset, it is easier for us to imagine that what we really want to do is place ourselves in a space to receive what God wants to give us.

We receive God’s gifts as body-persons. We experience things with our senses, relish them with our imaginations, and share in God’s own creative and loving activity when our hearts and hands work together for and with others. We can let our homes be places full of the holy – things that help raise our minds and hearts to God. Our world is full of so many images that lure our minds and hearts elsewhere. Some symbols will carry the ongoing meaning we give them, for us and for our families and loved ones.

We can make sure that we have a crucifix in a central place in our home during Lent. A bowl of water on our dining room table can be transformed into a reminder of our preparing to renew our baptismal promises. A candle can be lit at each meal to remind us of the light of Christ among us in Lent and to prepare us for the new fire being lit at the Easter Vigil. Placing a Bible in a central place in our home reminds us of the central place of God’s Word in our lives on this Lenten journey.

This year’s Lent can be different. It will take an openness to God’s grace, a deep desire to receive what is being offered us, and a few signs and symbols to help us stay focused throughout the season. But if we do these things, God’s desire for our hearts and our desire for greater union with God will meet. Lent will no longer feel like a burden, but rather a blessing.

From Praying Lent (2009)

Donkey Shelter

My Lord God, my thanks for making me an animal so tame, peaceful, humble, and hardworking to serve my brothers – men and women – in their needs and their difficulties.

Prayer of the Donkey thumbnail

John Honner

I once presented a group of priests with a guided meditation. Think of a time in the past few weeks, I said, when you have really felt you were doing your proper work as a priest: it may have been a painful requiem or a happy marriage, or some inspired preaching or sensitive listening, or a moment of closeness of God in prayer….  Go back to that time and try to enter into it again with your senses: what were the sounds, what did you see, what was the light like, what were the colours, how were the people you were with? And how were you feeling – afraid, consoled, tired, blissfully happy? And then, after some time for reflection, I asked the priests to recall some scene in the gospels that matched this experience of priesthood: which character in the gospel did they identify with? One felt like the farmer in the parable who sowed seed on good soil and rocky soil. Another felt like the good shepherd seeking the lost sheep. A third felt like he was with Jesus on the road to Emmaus … and so on. And then, finally, one who had been comparatively quiet throughout the whole exercise said, “I was the donkey.”

  

Donkey Shelter

My Lord God, my thanks for making me an animal so tame, peaceful, humble, and hardworking to serve my brothers – men and women – in their needs and their difficulties. I do not understand why, since they are created in your image and likeness, they have not those eyes of tenderness, of goodwill, of understanding, that would see us as we really are, and not as they would wish that we were, as their caprices, follies or bad temper takes them.

Humbly I recognise that, like my rational brothers, I have my defects and qualities, my weaknesses as well as my desire to give them greater and better service. But like them I have my sensibilities, my hours of anguish and despair; I also need love, affection, care and patience.

The pity is, Lord, that not understanding the limits of my strength, they put such heavy burdens on my back, beyond my energy and powers. May they remember, Lord, that on this back so beaten, bruised and wounded You set the Mother of Your Son, She who left there the Cross, the mark of her tears, and rode upon me so delicately and meekly.

How many times have I not helped man to carry his load, without his feeling my hunger, my thirst, or giving me a little time to recover from my weariness and restore my lost energies.

I beg, my Lord and Creator, for me and for Man, my brother, that I may be more patient and resigned to bearing his temperament and impatience, and he more compassionate and humane, so that I might serve him with more skill and speed.

I am very happy to be an irrational animal, because as I am I know how to love You without demands and complaints, and how to be useful to my brothers – Man – without expecting reward and payment.

Lord, in me bless all my irrational brothers so that we may live the happiness and beauty of this world that You created for us.

Amen.

From www.donkeyshelter.org.au (2014)

Most people in Asia are exploited

An Asian Woman’s Theology thumbnail

Chung Hyun Kyung

Out of many contradictory teaching in the Bible, Asian women use most frequently the teaching from Genesis which contains the message that men and women are created equally in God’s image (Genesis 1:27, 28). “In God’s Image” is an important biblical phrase Asian women have adopted to define their perspectives on humanity.

From Struggle to Be the Sun Again: Introducing Asian Women’s Theology (1990)

Kwok Pui-lan

When Asian feminists talk about God … they focus on God as the source of life and the creative, sustaining power of the universe.

From Introducing Asian Feminist Theology (2000)

 

Kwok Pui-lan

Feminists in the Third World do not have the luxury of attending to gender oppression alone, without simultaneously taking into consideration class, racial, colonial, and religious oppression. Their political theology takes many forms, including the option for solidarity with the poor, the critique of cultural alienation and racial repression, the challenge of globalized economy, and activism for ecojustice and protection of nature.

From Postcolonial Imagination and Feminist Theology (2005)

Marianne Katoppo

Most people in Asia are exploited, have been exploited, and perhaps cannot conceive of a future in which they will not be exploited. They have to fight for their very existence—to say nothing of social justice and human dignity.

From Compassionate and Free: An Asian Woman’s Theology (1980)

 

Hak Joon Lee

In and through community, a person becomes a person in the truest sense, acquiring skills and the virtues that define a human … the self is the self only in relation to others: without others, the self is incomplete … the wellbeing of self and the well-being of others are inextricably connected in a community.

From We Will Get to the Promised Land (2006)

Leslie Veen

It is important to hear and to incorporate the voices from cultures and peoples long silenced so that all will truly know the life-giving love of the Triune God. We need to once again start from lived experience and only then move to finding theological words to express those experiences. When all voices are heard and all experiences are seen as valid starting points, then our theological language will more closely resemble the loving, perichoretic union that is the triune God whom we worship and adore. Then will we be more fully living into the image of God in which we were created. Then will we be honoring the God the Creator, Redeemer, and Sustainer of all that is.

From “Listening to Voices Long Silenced” (2013)

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