Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ category

Self-Emptying

December 15th, 2017

Loving Our Neighbor
Friday, December 15, 2017 Richard Rohr

Given our twin planetary crises of climate change and unjust financial distribution, what is needed is not more information but the will to move from belief to action, from denial to pr
This week I’ve shared a few quotes from theologian Sallie McFague. Today I’d like to offer a longer excerpt from her book, Blessed Are the Consumers: Climate Change and the Practice of Restraint. Sallie invites us into practical methods of self-emptying—kenosis—that we need if humans and so many other species are to survive.
[W]hile other fields contributing to solving our planetary crises often end their studies with the despairing remark, “Of course, it is a spiritual, an ethical problem,” the religions of the world should offer their distinctive answer: “Yes, it is, and let us look at the process of change from belief to action.”
The fourfold process from belief to action contains the following steps.
Experiences of “voluntary poverty” to shock middle-class people out of the conventional model of self-fulfillment through possessions and prestige, and into a model of self-emptying, as a pathway for personal and planetary well-being. It can become a form of “wild space” [what I would call liminal space], a space where one is available for deep change from the conventional model of living to another one.

The focus of one’s attention to the needs of others, especially their most physical, basic needs, such as food. This attention changes one’s vision from seeing all others as objects for supporting one’s own ego to seeing them as subjects in their own right who deserve the basic necessities for flourishing. We see everything in the world as interdependent.

The gradual development of a “universal self,” as the line constituting one’s concern (compassion or empathy) moves from its narrow focus on the ego (and one’s nearest and dearest) to reach out further and further until there is no line left: even a caterpillar counts. This journey, rather than diminishing the self, increases its delight, but at the cost of one’s old, egoistic model.

The new model of the universal self operates at both the personal and public levels, for instance in the planetary house rules: (1) take only your share; (2) clean up after yourself; (3) keep the house in good repair for those who will use it after you.
. . . [I]f one understands God to be not a “substance” but the active, creative love at work in the entire universe, then “loving God” is not something in addition to loving the world, but is rather the acknowledgement that in loving the world, one is participating in the planetary process (which some identify as “God”) of self-emptying love at all levels. By understanding both “God” and the world in this way—that is, as radically kenotic—this essay can be read as both Christian and interfaith. Thus all can participate in the kenotic paradigm as a way of loving the neighbor, a process in which God’s own self may also be seen at work.

Gateway to Silence:
Let it go; let it be.

—————————-

“Approved to God”
By Oswald Chambers

Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. —2 Timothy 2:15

If you cannot express yourself well on each of your beliefs, work and study until you can. If you don’t, other people may miss out on the blessings that come from knowing the truth. Strive to re-express a truth of God to yourself clearly and understandably, and God will use that same explanation when you share it with someone else. But you must be willing to go through God’s winepress where the grapes are crushed. You must struggle, experiment, and rehearse your words to express God’s truth clearly. Then the time will come when that very expression will become God’s wine of strength to someone else. But if you are not diligent and say, “I’m not going to study and struggle to express this truth in my own words; I’ll just borrow my words from someone else,” then the words will be of no value to you or to others. Try to state to yourself what you believe to be the absolute truth of God, and you will be allowing God the opportunity to pass it on through you to someone else.
Always make it a practice to stir your own mind thoroughly to think through what you have easily believed. Your position is not really yours until you make it yours through suffering and study. The author or speaker from whom you learn the most is not the one who teaches you something you didn’t know before, but the one who helps you take a truth with which you have quietly struggled, give it expression, and speak it clearly and boldly.

Self Emptying

December 14th, 2017

Richard Rohr

Self-Emptying

Paschal Mystery
Thursday, December 14, 2017

Given our twin planetary crises of climate change and unjust financial distribution, what is needed is not more information but the will to move from belief to action, from denial to profound change at both personal and public levels. The religions of the world, countercultural in their assumption that “to find one’s life, one must lose it,” are key players in understanding and promoting a movement from a model of God, the world, and the self focused on individualistic, market-oriented accumulation by a few, to a model that sees self and planetary flourishing as interdependent. We live within our models and make decisions on the basis of them. . . . The interdependent model demands self-emptying (Christian kenosis) or “great compassion” (Buddhism) on the part of the well-to-do, so that all human beings and other life-forms may live just, sustainable lives. —Sallie McFague [1]

From evolution and the lifecycle of stars to our own lives, transformation and change appear to happen through periods of loss, crisis, stress, and even death. Physicists today would say that loss of energy or matter is not real. There is only transformation. Think of the changes water goes through in its journey from cloud (vapor) to liquid (rain) or solid (ice) and back to vapor. What may look like loss or death is in fact a becoming.

Spiritual teachers in all the great traditions have said the same thing in different ways. In Christianity, it was called the paschal mystery. Jesus became the living image of that pattern; his crucified body was transmuted, transformed into the risen Christ. Jesus taught and showed us that “unless the grain of wheat dies, it remains just a grain of wheat. But if it dies, it bears much fruit” (John 12:24).

We might say that creativity and new life have a cost. The cost looks like death but really isn’t. We perceive death and loss as enemies and afflictions because they appear to be the opposite of life. Spiritually speaking, to somehow embrace loss is to find eternal life. Death allows us to be united with what is really real. To avoid all loss, to avoid all letting go, is to avoid transformation into God, into union, into something more. Wisdom teachers say that if you spend your whole life avoiding dying, you’ll lose your real life.

This is about as counterintuitive as it gets. There is no rational explanation or proof. We have to experience it to know that it is in fact true—just as true for us humans as throughout the natural world. As Jesus said, “You must lose your life to find your life” (Matthew 10:39; 16:25).

How can we embrace the losses that are happening due to “climate change and unjust financial distribution,” as Sally McFague writes, and move through them into the higher states of consciousness, freedom, and love so urgently needed today?

Gateway to Silence:
Let it go; let it be.

_______________________________________________

The Great Life

By Oswald Chambers

Whenever we experience something difficult in our personal life, we are tempted to blame God. But we are the ones in the wrong, not God. Blaming God is evidence that we are refusing to let go of some disobedience somewhere in our lives. But as soon as we let go, everything becomes as clear as daylight to us. As long as we try to serve two masters, ourselves and God, there will be difficulties combined with doubt and confusion. Our attitude must be one of complete reliance on God. Once we get to that point, there is nothing easier than living the life of a saint. We encounter difficulties when we try to usurp the authority of the Holy Spirit for our own purposes.

God’s mark of approval, whenever you obey Him, is peace. He sends an immeasurable, deep peace; not a natural peace, “as the world gives,” but the peace of Jesus. Whenever peace does not come, wait until it does, or seek to find out why it is not coming. If you are acting on your own impulse, or out of a sense of the heroic, to be seen by others, the peace of Jesus will not exhibit itself. This shows no unity with God or confidence in Him. The spirit of simplicity, clarity, and unity is born through the Holy Spirit, not through your decisions. God counters our self-willed decisions with an appeal for simplicity and unity.

My questions arise whenever I cease to obey. When I do obey God, problems come, not between me and God, but as a means to keep my mind examining with amazement the revealed truth of God. But any problem that comes between God and myself is the result of disobedience. Any problem that comes while I obey God (and there will be many), increases my overjoyed delight, because I know that my Father knows and cares, and I can watch and anticipate how He will unravel my problems.

Self-Emptying

December 13th, 2017

Loving Fully

Wednesday, December 13, 2017 Richard Rohr

How can my life be a reflection of divine love in this time and place? The classic Christian phrase for discipleship—the imitation of Christ—means that we were made by God to become like God, loving all others, loving universally. —Sallie McFague [1]

More than any historical figure I know, St. Francis of Assisi imitated Christ. Some call Francis the second Christ. His poverty of spirit, humility, and selflessness reveal a life lived in union. In his Encyclical Laudato Si’: On Care for Our Common Home, Pope Francis writes:

I believe that Saint Francis is the example par excellence of care for the vulnerable and of an integral ecology lived out joyfully and authentically. He is the patron saint of all who study and work in the area of ecology, and he is also much loved by non-Christians. He was particularly concerned for God’s creation and for the poor and outcast. He loved, and was deeply loved for his joy, his generous self-giving, his openheartedness. He was a mystic and a pilgrim who lived in simplicity and in wonderful harmony with God, with others, with nature and with himself. He shows us just how inseparable the bond is between concern for nature, justice for the poor, commitment to society, and interior peace. [2]

[Saint Francis’] response to the world around him was so much more than intellectual appreciation or economic calculus [as in “What’s in it for me?”], for to him each and every creature was a sister united to him by bonds of affection. That is why he felt called to care for all that exists. . . . If we approach nature and the environment without this openness to awe and wonder, if we no longer speak the language of fraternity and beauty in our relationship with the world, our attitude will be that of masters, consumers, ruthless exploiters, unable to set limits on their immediate needs. By contrast, if we feel intimately united with all that exists, then sobriety and care will well up spontaneously. The poverty and austerity of Saint Francis were no mere veneer of asceticism, but something much more radical: a refusal to turn reality into an object simply to be used and controlled. [3]

Jesus told us, “You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind” (Luke 10:27). He called us to a presence that is a broader and deeper kind of knowing than just cognitive thinking. Thinking knows things by objectifying them, capturing them as an object of knowledge. But presence knows things by refusing to objectify them; instead it shares in their very subjectivity. Presence allows full give and take, what Martin Buber (1878-1965) called the “I/Thou” relationship with things as opposed to the mere “I/it” relationship. Buber summed it up in his often-quoted phrase: “All real living is meeting.” [4]

Gateway to Silence:
Let it go; let it be.

———————–

Intercessory Prayer
By Oswald Chambers

…men always ought to pray and not lose heart. —Luke 18:1

You cannot truly intercede through prayer if you do not believe in the reality of redemption. Instead, you will simply be turning intercession into useless sympathy for others, which will serve only to increase the contentment they have for remaining out of touch with God. True intercession involves bringing the person, or the circumstance that seems to be crashing in on you, before God, until you are changed by His attitude toward that person or circumstance. Intercession means to “fill up…[with] what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ” (Colossians 1:24), and this is precisely why there are so few intercessors. People describe intercession by saying, “It is putting yourself in someone else’s place.” That is not true! Intercession is putting yourself in God’s place; it is having His mind and His perspective.
As an intercessor, be careful not to seek too much information from God regarding the situation you are praying about, because you may be overwhelmed. If you know too much, more than God has ordained for you to know, you can’t pray; the circumstances of the people become so overpowering that you are no longer able to get to the underlying truth.
Our work is to be in such close contact with God that we may have His mind about everything, but we shirk that responsibility by substituting doing for interceding. And yet intercession is the only thing that has no drawbacks, because it keeps our relationship completely open with God.
What we must avoid in intercession is praying for someone to be simply “patched up.” We must pray that person completely through into contact with the very life of God. Think of the number of people God has brought across our path, only to see us drop them! When we pray on the basis of redemption, God creates something He can create in no other way than through intercessory prayer.

Self Emptying

December 12th, 2017

Self-Emptying

Letting Go of the False Self
Tuesday, December 12, 2017
(Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe)

Meister Eckhart, the German Dominican mystic (c. 1260-c.1328), said that spirituality has much more to do with subtraction than it does with addition. [1] Yet our culture, both secular and Christian, seems obsessed with addition: getting rich, becoming famous, earning more brownie points with God or our boss, attaining enlightenment, achieving moral behavior. Jesus and the mystics of other traditions tell us that the spiritual path is not about getting more or getting ahead, which only panders to the ego. Authentic spirituality is much more about letting go—letting go of what we don’t need, although we don’t know that at first.

Life and God ask us to let go of our false self—the passing, egoic identity we’ve manufactured in order to cope and survive. To be freed from self-preoccupation, we must be centered in the Real, our inherent and unbreakable identity as God’s beloved. Once we’re connected to our Source, we know that our isolated, seemingly inferior or superior individual self is not that big a deal. The more we cling to self-importance and ego, the more we are undoubtedly living outside of union.

We were created for union. But the place of union feels like nothing. We spend most of our lives projecting and protecting our small, separate self-image. Living instead from our True Self, hidden with Christ in God, feels like no thing and no place. It doesn’t come with feelings of success, others’ approval, awards, promotions, or wealth. In fact, others may think us foolish or crazy. And so we put off the death of our false self. We cling to our ego because it feels substantial and essential.

But the saints and mystics say, “When I’m nobody, I’m everybody!” When I’m no one, I’m at last every one. When I’m nothing, I’m everything. When I’m empty, I’m full. This is why so few people truly seek an authentic spiritual life. Who wants to be nothing? We’ve been told the whole point was to be somebody.

John of the Cross expressed it this way:

To come to the pleasure you have not, you must go by a way in which you enjoy not. To come to the knowledge you have not, you must go by a way in which you know not. To come to the possession you have not, you must go by a way in which you possess not. To come to be what you are not, you must go by a way in which you are not. [2]

Gateway to Silence:
Let it go; let it be.

_________________________________________________

Personality

By Oswald Chambers

 …that they may be one just as We are one… —John 17:22

Personality is the unique, limitless part of our life that makes us distinct from everyone else. It is too vast for us even to comprehend. An island in the sea may be just the top of a large mountain, and our personality is like that island. We don’t know the great depths of our being, therefore we cannot measure ourselves. We start out thinking we can, but soon realize that there is really only one Being who fully understands us, and that is our Creator.

Personality is the characteristic mark of the inner, spiritual man, just as individuality is the characteristic of the outer, natural man. Our Lord can never be described in terms of individuality and independence, but only in terms of His total Person— “I and My Father are one” (John 10:30). Personality merges, and you only reach your true identity once you are merged with another person. When love or the Spirit of God come upon a person, he is transformed. He will then no longer insist on maintaining his individuality. Our Lord never referred to a person’s individuality or his isolated position, but spoke in terms of the total person— “…that they may be one just as We are one….” Once your rights to yourself are surrendered to God, your true personal nature begins responding to God immediately. Jesus Christ brings freedom to your total person, and even your individuality is transformed. The transformation is brought about by love— personal devotion to Jesus. Love is the overflowing result of one person in true fellowship with another.

Self-Emptying

December 11th, 2017

We Love by Letting Go
Monday, December 11, 2017 Richard Rohr

We cannot love God unless we love God’s world. Christians [should] have always known this, because an incarnate God is a world-loving God; but now it takes on new meaning and depth as we realize the radical interrelationship and interdependence of all forms of life. . . . In sum, we are not called to love God or the world. Rather, we are called to love God in the world. We love God by loving the world. We love God through and with the world. But this turns out to be a kenotic, a sacrificial love. —Sallie McFague [1]

The key to kenosis is knowing that your life is not about you. Everything—each breath, heartbeat, morsel of food, seeming success—is gift. We are entirely dependent upon God’s loving us into being, and keeping us in being, interdependent with all other beings. Your life does not really belong to you, as countercultural and difficult as that is to understand in our individualistic, competitive, consumer culture. As the Trinity reveals, life and love are poured into us that we may pour into others. “It is in giving that we receive.” This is precisely what Jesus modeled for us through his life, death, and resurrection.

Cynthia Bourgeault, one of CAC’s core faculty members,” explores kenosis or letting go as “the Jesus trajectory”:

“Do not store up treasures on earth,” [Jesus] teaches; do not strive or be afraid—“for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom” (Luke 12:32). All will come of its own accord in good time and with abundant fullness, so long as one does not attempt to hoard or cling.

It is a path [Jesus] himself walked to the very end. In the garden of Gethsemane, with his betrayers and accusers massing at the gates, he struggled and anguished but remained true to his course. Do not hoard, do not cling—not even to life itself. Let it go, let it be—“Not my will but yours be done, [Father]. Into your hands, I commend my spirit” [Luke 22:42, 23:46].

Thus he came and thus he went, giving himself fully into life and death, losing himself, squandering himself. . . . It was not love stored up but love utterly poured out that opened the gates to the Kingdom of Heaven.

Over and over, Jesus lays this path before us. There is nothing to be renounced or resisted. Everything can be embraced, but the catch is to cling to nothing. You let it go. You go through life like a knife goes through a done cake, picking up nothing, clinging to nothing, sticking to nothing. And . . . you can then throw yourself out, pour yourself out, being able to give it all back, even giving back life itself. That’s the kenotic path in a nutshell. Very, very simple. It only costs everything. [2]

Gateway to Silence:
Let it go; let it be.

———————-

Individuality
By Oswald Chambers

Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself…” —Matthew 16:24

Individuality is the hard outer layer surrounding the inner spiritual life. Individuality shoves others aside, separating and isolating people. We see it as the primary characteristic of a child, and rightly so. When we confuse individuality with the spiritual life, we remain isolated. This shell of individuality is God’s created natural covering designed to protect the spiritual life. But our individuality must be yielded to God so that our spiritual life may be brought forth into fellowship with Him. Individuality counterfeits spirituality, just as lust counterfeits love. God designed human nature for Himself, but individuality corrupts that human nature for its own purposes.
The characteristics of individuality are independence and self-will. We hinder our spiritual growth more than any other way by continually asserting our individuality. If you say, “I can’t believe,” it is because your individuality is blocking the way; individuality can never believe. But our spirit cannot help believing. Watch yourself closely when the Spirit of God is at work in you. He pushes you to the limits of your individuality where a choice must be made. The choice is either to say, “I will not surrender,” or to surrender, breaking the hard shell of individuality, which allows the spiritual life to emerge. The Holy Spirit narrows it down every time to one thing (see Matthew 5:23-24). It is your individuality that refuses to “be reconciled to your brother” (Matthew 5:24). God wants to bring you into union with Himself, but unless you are willing to give up your right to yourself, He cannot. “…let him deny himself…”— deny his independent right to himself. Then the real life-the spiritual life-is allowed the opportunity to grow.

Interfaith Friendship

December 8th, 2017

Interfaith Friendship
Jesus and Buddha

Friday, December 8, 2017


In his book Jesus and Buddha, New Testament theologian Marcus Borg (1942-2015) highlights numerous sayings in the teachings of Jesus that are strikingly similar, if not identical, to the teachings of the Buddha who lived some six centuries earlier. There have been some attempts to explain these similarities through historical access, which is a remote possibility. Borg suggests a more meaningful view: that Jesus and the Buddha had both discovered the same spiritual goal and destiny, or I would say the one Holy Spirit that is guiding all of history. The Jewish Kabbalah, Muslim Sufism, and the teachings of the Tao also reveal a map toward non-dual consciousness and oneness.
Let me just share just a few of the parallel teachings Borg gathers in his book [1], and you will see how they are coming from the same non-dual perspective:
Jesus says, “Do to others as you would have them do to you” (Luke 6:31). The Buddha says, “Consider others as yourself” (Dhammapada 10.1).
Jesus says, “If anyone strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also” (Luke 6:29). Buddha says, “If anyone should give you a blow with his hand, with a stick, or with a knife, you should abandon any desires [to hurt him] and utter no evil words” (Majjhima Nikaya 21.6).
Jesus says, “Truly I tell you, just as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me” (Matthew 25:45).  Buddha says, “If you do not tend one another, then who is there to tend you? Whoever would tend me, he should tend the sick” (Vinaya, Mahavagga 8.26.3).
Jesus and Buddha diagnose the human dilemma similarly. Our suffering is primarily based on ignorance. The vast majority of humanity lives in blindness about who we are and where we are going. Jesus and Buddha both speak about anxiety, attachment, grasping, craving, and self-absorption.
Unfortunately, Christianity became so concerned with making sure everybody believed that Jesus was God (faith in Jesus) that we largely ignored his teachings on detachment, simplicity, nonviolence, and anxiety (the faith of Jesus). Our Buddhist brothers and sisters can help us remember these teachings at the core of our faith; they can help us be better, truer Christians. And we can help them, or at least give them very few reasons to dislike us! Why not try this novel idea?
On many levels, Jesus and Buddha talked about the same experience of transformation. In the end, all spirituality really is about transformation, dying before we die and being reborn as our True Selves in Love.

________________________________________________________________

The Impartial Power of God
By Oswald Chambers

By one offering He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified. —Hebrews 10:14

We trample the blood of the Son of God underfoot if we think we are forgiven because we are sorry for our sins. The only reason for the forgiveness of our sins by God, and the infinite depth of His promise to forget them, is the death of Jesus Christ. Our repentance is merely the result of our personal realization of the atonement by the Cross of Christ, which He has provided for us. “…Christ Jesus…became for us wisdom from God— and righteousness and sanctification and redemption…” (1 Corinthians 1:30). Once we realize that Christ has become all this for us, the limitless joy of God begins in us. And wherever the joy of God is not present, the death sentence is still in effect.
No matter who or what we are, God restores us to right standing with Himself only by means of the death of Jesus Christ. God does this, not because Jesus pleads with Him to do so but because He died. It cannot be earned, just accepted. All the pleading for salvation which deliberately ignores the Cross of Christ is useless. It is knocking at a door other than the one which Jesus has already opened. We protest by saying, “But I don’t want to come that way. It is too humiliating to be received as a sinner.” God’s response, through Peter, is, “… there is no other name…by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). What at first appears to be heartlessness on God’s part is actually the true expression of His heart. There is unlimited entrance His way. “In Him we have redemption through His blood…” (Ephesians 1:7). To identify with the death of Jesus Christ means that we must die to everything that was never a part of Him.
God is just in saving bad people only as He makes them good. Our Lord does not pretend we are all right when we are all wrong. The atonement by the Cross of Christ is the propitiation God uses to make unholy people holy.

 

December 6th, 2017

Interfaith Friendship — God Is Diversity
Wednesday, December 6, 2017 Richard Rohr

I have been drawn to the living heart of every spiritual tradition I have encountered. . . . What I found irresistible was the essential unity at the core of all that diversity; each faith tradition was singing the same song in a deliciously different voice: God is love. —Mirabai Starr [1]

As Thomas Merton reflected, “We are already one.” We just need to start becoming what we already are. —James Finley [2]

One of my favorite mystics, Lady Julian of Norwich (1342-1416), used the old English term “oneing” to describe what was happening between God and the soul. The divisions, dichotomies, and dualisms of the world can only be overcome by a unitive consciousness at every level: personal, relational, social, political, cultural, in inter-religious dialogue, and spirituality in particular. This is the unique and central job of healthy religion (re-ligio = to re-ligament). It is precisely the contemplative mind that can see things in their oneness instead of emphasizing their distinctness.

Jesus put it so powerfully in his great final prayer, “I pray that all may be one” (John 17:21). Or as Julian put it, “By myself I am nothing at all, but in general, I am in the oneing of love. For it is in this oneing that the life of all people exists.” [3]

Many teachers have made the central, but often-missed, point that unity is not the same as uniformity. Unity, in fact, is the reconciliation of differences, and those differences must first be maintained—and then overcome by the power of love! You must actually distinguish things and separate them before you can spiritually unite them, usually at cost to yourself (see Ephesians 2:14-16). If only we had made that simple clarification, so many problems—and overemphasized, separate identities—could have moved to a much higher level of love and service.

We must go back to the ultimate Christian source for our principle: the central doctrine of the Trinity itself. Yes, God is “One,” just as our Jewish roots taught Christianity (Deuteronomy 6:4), and yet the further, more subtle level is that this oneness is, in fact, the radical love union between three completely distinct “persons” of the Trinity. The three members of the Trinity are not uniform—but quite distinct—and yet oned in total outpouring! If we remain monotheists, we will try to impose a false oneness (uniformity) and never learn to love, honor, and respect diversity. Christianity must return to its Trinitarian foundations to fully rebuild itself from the bottom up.

God is otherness and diversity, a pluriformity. The basic problem of “the one and the many” is overcome in God’s very nature. God is a mystery of relationship, and the truest relationship is love. Infinite Love preserves unique truths, protecting boundaries while simultaneously bridging them. While these two tasks seem initially like opposites, and impossible to reconcile, oneing is God’s essential task and the goal of all authentic spirituality.

Gateway to Silence:
We are already one.

———————–

“My Rainbow in the Cloud”
By Oswald Chambers

I set My rainbow in the cloud, and it shall be for the sign of the covenant between Me and the earth. —Genesis 9:13

It is the will of God that human beings should get into a right-standing relationship with Him, and His covenants are designed for this purpose. Why doesn’t God save me? He has accomplished and provided for my salvation, but I have not yet entered into a relationship with Him. Why doesn’t God do everything we ask? He has done it. The point is— will I step into that covenant relationship? All the great blessings of God are finished and complete, but they are not mine until I enter into a relationship with Him on the basis of His covenant.
Waiting for God to act is fleshly unbelief. It means that I have no faith in Him. I wait for Him to do something in me so I may trust in that. But God won’t do it, because that is not the basis of the God-and-man relationship. Man must go beyond the physical body and feelings in his covenant with God, just as God goes beyond Himself in reaching out with His covenant to man. It is a question of faith in God— a very rare thing. We only have faith in our feelings. I don’t believe God until He puts something tangible in my hand, so that I know I have it. Then I say, “Now I believe.” There is no faith exhibited in that. God says, “Look to Me, and be saved…” (Isaiah 45:22).
When I have really transacted business with God on the basis of His covenant, letting everything else go, there is no sense of personal achievement— no human ingredient in it at all. Instead, there is a complete overwhelming sense of being brought into union with God, and my life is transformed and radiates peace and joy

Interfaith Friendship

December 5th, 2017

Richard Rohr

Disciples of Love

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

True, what Christians are after is different from what Buddhists are after. For Christians, it’s identification with the Christ-Spirit. For Buddhists, it’s realizing their Buddha-nature. And yet, both of these very different experiences have something in common: they are unitive, non-dualistic, mystical experiences in which we find that our own identity is somehow joined with that which is both more than, and at the same time one with, our identity. —Paul F. Knitter [1]
“Putting on the mind of Christ” . . . [is] what we are actually supposed to be doing on this path: not just admiring Jesus, but acquiring his consciousness. —Cynthia Bourgeault [2]
In my (Richard’s) view, we would do better if we had the faith of Jesus (open, humble, trusting toward God and reality) instead of simply having faith in Jesus (which history has shown usually becomes competitive and sectarian).
Today James Finley, one of CAC’s core faculty members, continues reflecting on interfaith friendship:
When we seek what is truest in our own tradition, we discover we are one with those who seek what is truest in their tradition. There is a point of convergence where we meet each other and we recognize each other as seekers of awakening.
In order to do this, it’s important to understand the distinction between exoteric and esoteric aspects of religion. Exoteric qualities are the specific sets of beliefs, customs, rituals, and traditions that make each religion unique. We are not attempting to blur the line between religions at this level. As Thomastic philosopher Jacques Maritain (1906-1973) says, “distinguish to unite.” [3] Being clear about the Gospel of Jesus allows us to have a meaningful conversation with a Buddhist who is very clear about the Dharma. How could that not be good for all concerned? (Unfortunately, many Christians—both liberals and conservatives—are not at all clear about their own essential Gospel.)
Esoteric qualities have to do with transformation of hearts. In the free fall into the boundless abyss of God, we meet one another, beyond all distinctions. This is the oneness that includes and is not limited by differences.
In the Christian Scripture Paul writes, “May the mind that is in Christ Jesus also be in you” (Philippians 2:5). This is the truest depth of our Christian tradition, what it truly means to be a disciple of Jesus. We are called to recognize, surrender to, and ultimately be identified with the mystery of God utterly beyond all concepts, all words, and all designations. This is our destiny.
And, what’s more, we are to realize that this destiny—the boundless, oceanic, birthless, deathless mystery of God—is manifesting itself and giving itself to us completely in every breath and heartbeat. If we fully experienced the generosity of God loving us into existence, we would then bear witness to that realization by the way we treat ourselves, others, and all living things. There is a way to do this that will not compromise our faith in our own tradition but enrich it.

Gateway to Silence:
We are already one.

________________________________________

“The Temple of the Holy Spirit”

By Oswald Chambers

 …only in regard to the throne will I be greater than you. —Genesis 41:40

Paul said, “I beseech you…that you present your bodies a living sacrifice…” (Romans 12:1). What I must decide is whether or not I will agree with my Lord and Master that my body will indeed be His temple. Once I agree, all the rules, regulations, and requirements of the law concerning the body are summed up for me in this revealed truth-my body is “the temple of the Holy Spirit.”

Truth Is Known by Its Fruits

December 4th, 2017

Fr. Richard Rohr, OFM Interfaith Friendship

Truth Is Known by Its Fruits
Monday, December 4, 2017

If we are to have peace on earth, our loyalties must become ecumenical rather than sectional. Our loyalties must transcend our race, our tribe, our class, and our nation; and this means we must develop a world perspective. —Martin Luther King, Jr. [1]

Different religious traditions can engage in dialogue with one another in a true spirit of ecumenism. Dialogue can be fruitful and enriching if both sides are truly open. . . . Peace will be a beautiful flower blooming on this field of practice. —Thich Nhat Hanh [2]

The Perennial Tradition includes truths within Catholic, Franciscan, Episcopalian, Calvinist, Lutheran, and other Christian denominations and orders. It also embraces wisdom within Hinduism, Judaism, Buddhism, and Islam. In fact, if we’re honest, each of these faith traditions share something in common with Christianity. We need to honor truth and wisdom’s authority in all its forms. If it’s true, it’s true everywhere. That should make us happy—not defensive or aggressive.

In discerning truth, our first question should not be, “Who said it? Did a Catholic, Methodist, or Hindu say it?” That should be of little concern. Of greater importance is, “Is it true?” Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274), a Doctor of the Church, held that if it was true, it was always from the one Holy Spirit. [3]

Notice that two-thirds of the Christian Bible are comprised of the Hebrew Scriptures; and the Old Testament writers themselves built upon stories, traditions, names of God, and practices that existed before Israelite history. Scripture gathers together cumulative visions of the divine. Jesus befriended and affirmed Samaritans, Roman citizens, pagans, and Syrophoenicians, which was shocking to many of his Jewish compatriots. But what’s even more shocking is that, in the name of this entirely inclusive Jewish man, Jesus, we created an exclusionary religion that ended up repeating what he condemned in his lifetime. It is the non-argumentative, contemplative mind that can easily see this.

Cistercian monk Thomas Merton (1915-1968) helped Christianity recover its contemplative foundations, which quickly opened the doors to interfaith dialogue. Most Catholics were not ready for Merton before the reforms of Vatican II (1962-1965). Prophets are always ahead of their times. Merton corresponded and met with spiritual leaders from many traditions: Abraham Heschel (1907-1972), a Jewish rabbi and scholar; Sufi Muslims from the mystical vein of Islam; Bede Griffiths (1906-1993), a Benedictine monk and yogi from an ashram in India; and Zen Buddhist Thich Nhat Hanh (b. 1926).

CAC core teacher James Finley learned from Merton while living at the Abbey of Gethsemani from 1961-1967. He reflects that Merton believed the world could not survive if religion remained at the clannish level. This false competition doesn’t serve anyone. On the other hand, openness to other traditions can and should deepen our commitment to our own faith and practice. This is one of the primary fruits of obeying Jesus’ simple command to “love our neighbor.” I presume loving others means listening to them and respecting them as brothers and sisters.

Gateway to Silence:
We are already one.

—————-

The Law of Opposition
By Oswald Chambers

To him who overcomes… —Revelation 2:7

Life without war is impossible in the natural or the supernatural realm. It is a fact that there is a continuing struggle in the physical, mental, moral, and spiritual areas of life.
Health is the balance between the physical parts of my body and all the things and forces surrounding me. To maintain good health I must have sufficient internal strength to fight off the things that are external. Everything outside my physical life is designed to cause my death. The very elements that sustain me while I am alive work to decay and disintegrate my body once it is dead. If I have enough inner strength to fight, I help to produce the balance needed for health. The same is true of the mental life. If I want to maintain a strong and active mental life, I have to fight. This struggle produces the mental balance called thought.
Morally it is the same. Anything that does not strengthen me morally is the enemy of virtue within me. Whether I overcome, thereby producing virtue, depends on the level of moral excellence in my life. But we must fight to be moral. Morality does not happen by accident; moral virtue is acquired.
And spiritually it is also the same. Jesus said, “In the world you will have tribulation…” (John 16:33). This means that anything which is not spiritual leads to my downfall. Jesus went on to say, “…but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” I must learn to fight against and overcome the things that come against me, and in that way produce the balance of holiness. Then it becomes a delight to meet opposition.
Holiness is the balance between my nature and the law of God as expressed in Jesus Christ.

Rooted and Grounded in Love

December 1st, 2017

Rooted and Grounded in Love — Richard Rohr
Friday, December 1, 2017

Brian McLaren, a longtime friend and speaker at many CAC conferences, has been a leading presence in the Emerging Church movement. Today I share a favorite passage from his recent book, The Great Spiritual Migration:

The only thing that matters is faith expressing itself in love. —Galatians 5:6

Beloved, let us love one another, because love is from God; everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, for God is love. . . . No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God lives in us, and [God’s] love is perfected in us. —1 John 4:7-8, 12

In light of Scriptures like these, you might think that the primacy of love would be a settled matter in Christian faith. But here we are two thousand years into this religion, and for many beliefs still rule, and love too often waits out in the hallway, hoping to be invited in and taken more seriously. (Even Pope Francis seems to be facing some resistance in this regard among his bishops, who fear that his emphasis on mercy and love violates the tradition.) True, we may have decentered old behavior-correctness codes, but in essence, many of us have merely exchanged them for new belief-correctness codes. We couldn’t handle the call to faith expressing itself in love, so we reverted to beliefs expressing themselves in exclusion instead.

Could it be that now is the time, at long last, for Christians to migrate to the vision shared by its original founder and his original followers? . . . If Christian faith can be redefined in this way, if our prime contribution to humanity can be shifted from teaching correct beliefs to practicing the way of love as Jesus taught, then our whole understanding and experience of the church could be transformed . . . [into] a school of love.

What I believe can and should happen is that tens of thousands of congregations will become what I call “schools” or “studios” of love. . . . What I care about is whether they are teaching people to live a life of love, from the heart, for God, for all people (no exceptions), and for all creation. . . .

If our churches make this migration, if they make the way of love their highest aim, they will experience what Paul prayed for in his Epistle to the Ephesians: their members will be “strengthened in [their] inner being with power through [God’s] Spirit, [so] that Christ may dwell in [their] hearts through faith, as [they] are being rooted and grounded in love” (3:16-17). They will employ every text, prayer, song, poem, work of visual and dramatic art, ritual, rite of passage, and other spiritual resource to help people comprehend “what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that [they] may be filled with all the fullness of God” (3:18-19).

Gateway to Silence:
Rooted and growing in Love

——-

The Law and the Gospel
By Oswald Chambers

Whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all. —James 2:10

The moral law does not consider our weaknesses as human beings; in fact, it does not take into account our heredity or infirmities. It simply demands that we be absolutely moral. The moral law never changes, either for the highest of society or for the weakest in the world. It is enduring and eternally the same. The moral law, ordained by God, does not make itself weak to the weak by excusing our shortcomings. It remains absolute for all time and eternity. If we are not aware of this, it is because we are less than alive. Once we do realize it, our life immediately becomes a fatal tragedy. “I was alive once without the law, but when the commandment came, sin revived and I died” (Romans 7:9). The moment we realize this, the Spirit of God convicts us of sin. Until a person gets there and sees that there is no hope, the Cross of Christ remains absurd to him. Conviction of sin always brings a fearful, confining sense of the law. It makes a person hopeless— “…sold under sin” (Romans 7:14). I, a guilty sinner, can never work to get right with God— it is impossible. There is only one way by which I can get right with God, and that is through the death of Jesus Christ. I must get rid of the underlying idea that I can ever be right with God because of my obedience. Who of us could ever obey God to absolute perfection!
We only begin to realize the power of the moral law once we see that it comes with a condition and a promise. But God never coerces us. Sometimes we wish He would make us be obedient, and at other times we wish He would leave us alone. Whenever God’s will is in complete control, He removes all pressure. And when we deliberately choose to obey Him, He will reach to the remotest star and to the ends of the earth to assist us with all of His almighty power.