Laudate Si

‘Praise be to You, Lord’  …words of St. Francis

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Week 4 Lent Today’s Readings: Exod 32:7-14 Jn 5:31-47

“Laudate Si” provides a new platform for dialogue in the world and a new commissioning for the church.

I am convicted by Pope Francis’ treatment of relationships between poverty of heart and matter, technology, greed, individualism, consumerism, real common good and ethical horizons.

Our intimate connectedness with all creation in space and time brings a new perspective to our ethics and behaviour.

Moral reflection calls us all to ecological conversion.

Ecological theology crystalises moral accountability in the light of connections between injustice and exploitation.

It  contrasts the sacrament of creation with sacrilege in the degradation and destruction of the environment, species and human dignity and integrity.

Pope Francis states: “This conversion calls for a number of attitudes which together foster a spirit of generous care, full of tenderness.

First it entails gratitude and gratuitousness, a recognition that the world is God’s loving gift, and that we are called quietly to imitate his generosity in self-sacrifice and good works.”

He calls us to take seriously our responsibilities as custodians and kin in the sacred universe “stemming from our faith and capacities”, to examine and amend our lifestyle and become educators and activists in a world in need.

Elizabeth Johnson says:

“This perspective brings social justice and ecological care into a tight embrace.”…

“Love, as Jesus enfleshed and enacted it, is the meaning encoded at the heart of the universe itself.

The loving God’s original and ultimate intent is fullness of life – not just for a slice of the world – but for all, including poor human beings and all living creatures.”

Ongoing destruction of God’s good earth, bears the mark of deep sinfulness.”


Pope Francis. Laudato Si: On Care for Our Common Home. An Encyclical Letter on Ecology and Climate. St. Pauls Publ., Vatican City, 2015. Aust. Edition. p.97

Quote by Elizabeth Johnson, author of  “The Cosmos: An Astonishing Image of God”. Published in Origins, Vol.12/96, Sept.

 

Water of Life

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Week 4   Lent Today’s Scriptures: Ezek 47:1-9, 12 Jn 5:1-3, 5-16

The water that God called into being  is at the heart of all that lives.
Mindful of the many ways water affects our lives,
let us pray for our waters and for the life of the world around us.
(silence)
Lord, in Your mercy,
hear our prayer.

We ask your prayers for all people of faith,
and for the transformations in their lives that are marked by the sacredness of water:
at the Red Sea, in the Jordan and the Ganges Rivers,
in ritual baths, in the washing of feet, and in Holy Baptism.
(silence)
Lord, in Your mercy,
hear our prayer.

We ask your prayers for the leaders of nations, corporations, and communities around the world,
that they may exercise wise stewardship over the waters of their lands,
so that all people may have clean water to drink and live free from waterborne diseases. (silence)
Lord, in Your mercy,
hear our prayer.

We ask your prayers for the wisdom to shape creative solutions to conflicts over water
in the dry places of our planet, and for justice and peace in desert lands.
(silence)
Lord, in Your mercy,
hear our prayer.

We ask your prayers for the oceans, seas, rivers, lakes, watersheds, streams,
ponds, deltas, marshes, and swamps of our planet,
for the waters beneath the ground,
and for all creatures that live in the waters of the earth.
(silence)
Lord, in Your mercy,
hear our prayer.

We ask your prayers for all who travel or work at sea or on inland waterways.
(silence)
Lord, in Your mercy,
hear our prayer.

We ask your prayers for all who suffer from too much water
in the destruction of flood, storm, tsunami, and ice;
and for those people and creatures who suffer as the glaciers and ice floes vanish.
(silence)
Lord, in Your mercy,
hear our prayer.

We ask your prayers for all who thirst for water, for health, for love, for wisdom, for God,
that their cups may be filled to overflowing.
(silence)
Lord, in Your mercy,
hear our prayer.

Blessed God, in your wisdom you uphold creation
and renew it again and again.
Help us to see all water as holy water,
and all our concerns as bathed in the living water Christ gives us,
in whose name we pray. Amen.

Extract From The Episcopal Ecological Network.

Quoted with permissions from   http://foodgrainsbank.ca/

Awesome One

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Week 3 Lent Today’s Scriptures Hosea 14:2-10 Mark 12:28-34

I am praying again, Awesome One.

You hear me again, as words

from the depths of me

rush toward you in the wind.

I yearn to be held

in the great hands of your heart”.

 


 

Extract from  “The Book of Hours: Love poems to God” by  Rainer Maria Rilke*

One of my other favourite poems from Rilke is:

“Go to the limits of your longing”.  For recitation click red arrow.

 

To view all the words and other poems please go to:  

http://www.poetry-chaikhana.com/Poets/R/RilkeRainerM/Iamprayingag/index.html

 

Recommended Reading:

  “In the Company of Rilke:

Why a 20th-century visionary poet speaks so eloquently to 21st century readers yearning for inwardness, beauty & spiritual connection.”

by Stephanie Dowrick,  Allen & Unwin, Crows Nest. NSW.  2009

“Awesome God” can be found in Rilke’s “Book of Hours” translated by Joanna Macy, Author Anita Barrows.  Riverhead Books, Penguin. NY. 1996.*

Re-cover dis-cover

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Week 3 Lent Today’s readings: Jer 7:23-28 Luke 11:14-23

Why do we wish to recover?  What is it that we prize so dearly about a speedy recovery or a full recovery?  Most of all it seems we are in haste to re – cover our vulnerability, perhaps our fragility; our weakened self.

No real sense of self is recovered speedily. I  recall times when decimation visited me leaving but a shell.    A  pervasive numbness disengages the notions of self and any talk of recovery seems a nonsense.  For from the inside there is no sense.

One does not recover oneself.   We in fact discover ourselves.  We come to experience our poverty of spirit.  We have been exposed, revealed and found to be frail and human.  A speedy and full recovery…is but a hollow platitude.

Maybe fear, shame or humiliation shadow us in this parlous state accompanied by endless questions without answers.  Surely as life has changed in whatever way – we don’t recover.  We cannot go back to recover.   Recovery is in discovery.  It is in the now that we can compassionately discover  our deeper self, our true values and true friends.

“… it is often in useless, unpretentious, humble presence to each that we feel consolation and comfort. Simply being with someone is difficult because it asks of that we share in the other’s vulnerability, enter with him/her into the experience of weakness and powerlessness, become part of uncertainly, and give up control and self-determination.

And still when this happens, new strength and new hope is being born.”

Recovery has meaning when compassion shelters us  and we slowly discover a new integrity, gentleness and humility emanating from within.

Compassion: A Reflection on the Christian Life”  by  Henri Nouwen, Donald P McNeill, Douglas A Morrison, 1982. Dartman Longman Todd.  p.12

 

 

A Healthy God

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Week 3 Lent     Today’s Scriptures: Kings 5:1-15   Luke 4:24-30

Healthy People in a Healthy Relationship with a Healthy God

Offerings for consideration from a talk by Retired Catholic Bishop Geoffrey Robinson.

“There is only one God, but an endless variety of human misunderstandings of God. Unable to grasp the infinite God, we each create a lesser God in our minds and worship this.

In particular, we all have within us profound fears and longings, with the fears creating ideas of an angry god, and the longings ideas of a loving god. Our ideas of God will always be inadequate, but can at least be healthy, that is, enable us to grow.

To achieve this health, we must move:

from a god we can possess and dispense to others

         to a God of infinite surprise;

from an elderly male god

         to a God who is above all our limitations;

from a religion in which beliefs, duties and worship hold first place

        to a religion in which a love relationship with God holds first place;

from an angry god, not to a god of soft love, but

         to a God who, out of love is never afraid to challenge us to grow;

from divisions between sacred and profane

         to the goodness of all creation;

from a god  whose glory is to be found in our obedience

         to a religion in which we must constantly abuse ourselves before God to a religion in which self-denial and self-love work together to help us become “fully alive”;

from a world without meaning

         to a world in which our sense of meaning comes from the sum total of all the loves of our lives;

from a commercial relationship with a god whose rewards can be earned by doing right things

         to a love relationship with a God who is pure gift;

from a relationship in which we determine exactly what part God shall be allowed in our lives

         to a love relationship of total giving;

from a god who demands that we bridge the gap between us

         to a God who always takes the first step and comes to us;

from prayer which consists solely in words

         to a prayer in which our whole lives seek to express our desire for God;

from a god about whom we use many words

   to a God whose greatness and mystery reduce us to silent wonder.”


Talk given at Faith Formators Colloquium, Mittagong, N.S.W. Nov. 2006.

We are not converted

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Week 2 Lent  Today’s Scriptures  Mic 7:14-15, 18-20   Lk 15:1-3,11-32

 

We  are  not converted

Only once in our lives

But  many times  and

This endless series of

Large and small

Conversions,

Inner revolutions,

Leads to our

Transformation 

In Christ

But while we may have

The generosity to

Undergo one or two

Such upheavals, we

Cannot face the necessity

Of further and greater

Rendings of our inner-self,

Without which we

Cannot  finally 

Become free!

 

Thomas Merton. “Life & Holiness”
Herder & Herder, NY:1963. p.159

 

Energy of Faith

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Week 2 Lent
Today’s Readings: Gen 37:3-4,12-13,17-28 Matt 21:33-43,45-46

It is an interesting reality – our personal energy.   In some ways  I have often had high energy… it is a clear gift.  I see others do not have it in the same way it comes to me.   But it is there in each of us.  It is the power with which we each embrace life and live it.

Our energy for life is in some way tied particularly to our faith and values.  It is a zeal for life itself and a strength of conviction allied to a sense of meaning and purpose.  In times when I had become disillusioned or lost my way, my energy also waned until I found a new connection to meaning within myself.

There seems a correlation between the amount I give of myself in circumstances and the personal sense I have of it being  in accord with my values.  It is a faith that I am in the right place, or the right work or right standing with others….it is an outworking of my core beliefs about myself, my path and place at the time.

Faith in the rightness of things  generates the energy that things are worth doing and enables me to go the extra mile when needed.  Our commitment to our core beliefs, whether specifically religious or not, is lived out in small steps daily.  We step out incrementally growing in our faith and test its limits.

Two Insights from Thich Nhat Hanh, Author and Buddist monk.
Taken from:
“Taming the Tiger Within: Meditations on Transforming Difficult Emotions.”

“Faith is the outcome of your life.   As faith continues to grow, you continue to get the energy, because faith is also an energy like love.  If we look deeply into the nature of our love, we will also see our faith.  When we have faith in us, we are no longer afraid of anything.”

and

“When you have faith, you have a lot of energy.  When you believe in something really good, true, and beautiful, you are very alive.”


Thich Nhat Hanh -“Taming the Tiger Within: Meditations on Transforming Difficult Emotions.”p239, 241. Riverhead Books, Penguin Publ. NY. 2004.

Are we there yet?

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Week 2 Lent   Jer 17:5-10   Lk 8-15

Most unexpectedly, whilst driving on a country trip, a voice from the back seat enquired most sincerely…’are we there yet?‘  It seemed so strange – the adult asking what seemed a child-like question.  And clearly we were not there yet with still some way to go.

All our journeys are a little like that. We venture out upon the path, carrying our hopes and expectations.   But we walk in darkness really.  We don’t know the way. We must seek out light and guidance constantly.

We are always yearning for the being there – in that place of rest and solace; the place of promise and fulfillment. As St Augustine and others have remarked – our hearts restless till we find our God. If we are in familiar terrain for too long,  we fear we maybe  going nowhere or maybe we’re just bogged down.  Maybe we are circling in passivity and no longer on the path.

This is the being there we seek -being present to the now of our life  as we  follow Jesus with the Holy Spirit as our guide.  Ours is to remain and abide in simply being; a follower on the journey.

Gregory of Nyssa in the Life of Moses* tell us:”… someone who does not know the way cannot complete their journey safely in any other way than by following behind their guide. .. The one who follows will not turn aside from the right way if they always keeps the back of the leader in view.

For the one who moves to one side or brings themselves to face their guide assumes another direction for themselves than the one the guide shows them. Therefore, He says to the one who is led, ‘My face is not to be seen’ (Exod 33:23), that is “Do not face your guide.”

If the follower does so, their course will certainly be in the opposite direction, for good does not look good in the face but follows it….for what looks virtue in the face is evil.”

Discernment and companioning are gifts to each of us till we reach the end of our journey. We are simply following the way ahead to our own personal wholeness.   I am touched by the concluding retort  in “Everyone’s Way of the Cross” –

Christ speaks –       “I told you at the start, my other self,
my life was not complete until I crowned it by my death.
Your ‘way’ is not complete unless you crown it by your life.”


*Extract from Gregory of Nyssa, De Vita Moysis, ed. Herbert Musurillo-Gregory of Nyssa, Opera. vol.7 (1964) extract from The Life of Moses in Classics of WesternSpirituality. (NY. Paulist . 1978)  Paras 252-255
Everyone’s Way of the Cross, by Clarence Enzler. Ave Maria Press, Indiana.1986

An invitation

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Week 2 Lent  Today’s Scriptures: Jer 18:18-20   Matt: 20:17-28

Recently I was as asked if I won $1m how would I spend it?

Maybe  Lent is like that…  We are reminded that we are being invited to share in a great gift of graces and a new life. How will we spend Lent?

Lent is a time where we can  ponder on the true treasures we desire, our deepest yearnings and longings  and cry out for grace to truly seek after these.   The graces of healing, forgiveness and peace are at heart of our deepest desires.     All things can be changed and made new.

I make 3 offerings:   

A meditation:

An extract from short essay by Fr. Daniel O’Leary entitled “Forging in the Smithy of the Soul –Sometimes we must sweat blood to stay faithful”. *

In part he says :  “We endeavour to short-circuit the relentless call of Christ. We want to equate the increase in our religious behaviour during Lent with growth in holiness.  There is, however, no cheap grace.   …

In our mistaking of the outward ego for the inner essence we are unknowingly denying ourselves the possibility of any radical conversion.    …

In Lent we grow by dying. There is no other way. In this dying we recognise the false face we’ve grown used to, the daily lies we tell, the thoughts of deception that crowd our minds, the infidelities we do not commit only because we might get caught, the lovelessness of our lives parading as shallow compassion, our collusion with conformity, our fear of beauty and big dreams….  p.28-29

I recommend the full very short essay, contained in “Already Within” by Fr. Daniel O’Leary and his weekly reflections at: http://djoleary.com/pages/general.htm


A song   “And So”  by Kirtana    from her album “Unseen Grace.”

According to Wikipedeia  kirtana is Sanskrit for “praise; eulogy” and is call and response chanting in India’s  devotional traditions.  It involves hymns, chanting or mantras to musical accompaniment.


An image/prayer

Some days ago, I strolled among some gums and grasses quietly pondering and there before me was this short prayer – in the photo at the top of the page.  Just as it came to me…I give it to you- the Invitation to Repentance….

Feral Thoughts

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Week 2 Lent Today’s Scriptures: Isa 1:10,16-20 Matt:23;1-12

Someone recently described parts of one of my artworks as being scattered in a disordered manner….  It made me quizical …

I thought…’oh, I term that random…and isn’t that the nature of things?’ After all, we do put our own order on things and try to make them fit our sense of propriety.  And then I enjoyed the remark ..

I smirked inside knowing there is something about the serendipitous and unexepected that delights my sense of adventure.  It suggests the advent of something new; something no eye has seen or mind has known.

Random thoughts seem a little feral at times…running their own course… but then maybe they just have the “insider running” – so to speak. As things unfold, just sometimes we surprise ourselves to find the very thing that came from our mouth was indeed  a bit of “insider knowledge“.

We all have it…the subtext of the Spirit…talking through us…and the glee when we hear our own words  showing forth a gleam of brilliance or unexpected wit.

We may spend lifetimes trying to fathom the secrets of the universe and the laws…yet nothing eclipses  the awe and wonder of the unfolding mystery of  creation in all its forms.

Randomness may be termed  disorder, but I prefer to see it as a frivolity of nature and Spirit.   The Holy Spirit hovers over chaos and in time,  brings forth a sense of meaning and connectedness that we alone are unable to perceive.

Maybe it is feral what we don’t understand…the untamed thoughts and works…It is not unusual in art to find the artist is engaged in a process of self discovery and revelation. It  is easy to cling to a lifeline of a description or interpretation thrown our way to bring order  when we flounder  fathomless in our own depths.

Befriending our  feral, allows it all to be as it is – an agency for the insider knowledge ripening to bear fruit.

Patience is the gift of  which we stand much in need.  It is only in patience with ourselves that we can enter deep reaches of  compassionate understanding and tolerance.

The fruit of compassion – bearing with suffering – grows from the same Greek root of pathos – to suffer .  Our patient, long suffering and silent vigil prepares and tames  our hearts for the outer growth in works of genuine compassion.