Archive for the 'Spiritual Practice' Category

Giving glory to God with our words

Tuesday, February 5th, 2013

What follows is a short excerpt from  the Catechism of the Summa Theologia, which features short, concise responses to questions taken up by Thomas Aquinas in his foundational work.  This is from Chapter 13, with references to sections in the Summa.
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When we speak of God, or endeavour to express our thought concerning Him, have the words we use a correct meaning?

Most certainly: for these words, although used primarily to designate the perfections in a creature, can be transferred to designate what in God corresponds to these very perfections. (XIII. 1-4)

When applied to God and to creatures, have these words the same meaning or one wholly different?

When applied to God they have the same meaning but in a superlative degree, that is when used to designate perfections in creatures in the fulness of their meaning they truly signify these perfections, or whatever is attributed to God. (XIII. 5)

Then whatever we may tell of God, and however exalted by our expressions concerning Him, for us God ever remains unutterable?

Yes; but in this life we cannot do anything more salutary, more perfect, and more noble than speak of Him and of all that concerns Him even though our thoughts fall short of Him and our speech fail. (XIII. 6-12)

A new year resolution

Saturday, December 31st, 2011

Another year has gone by! It does seem that the older one gets, the quicker they pass. I am reminded, here, of the words of the Psalmist (90: 12):

Teach us to number our days aright, that we might gain wisdom of heart.

Every day is a gift, and each moment is an opportunity to grow more fully in this “wisdom of heart.” My one and only resolution for 2012 is to live these moments more fully, open to God’s loving guidance. I am also aware that a moment missed is lost forever, but this is not a total tragedy for as long as we are alive we are constantly given another moment, and another . . .

There are many obstacles to living fully in the present moment: selfishness, judgmentalism, a desire to control the outcome, comparing ourselves with others, and so forth. But even to be aware of these attitudes is a way of living fully, and we cannot re-assert our openness to God if we are unaware of our inner storm clouds. Having done so, we can then gently refocus on God’s invitation to be here now in love.

Love seems to be the key. As long as we are willing to give what is required (including simply listening or waiting) and do what needs to be done in the interest of love, we can live more fully in the moment. When this willingness to love is weakened or lost, however, we are “off to the races” with our default, fallen consciousness running the show. Lord have mercy!

May you have many moments well-lived during the coming year.

Gratitude — and video by Br. David Steindl-rast

Tuesday, November 15th, 2011

The practice of gratitude can open us to a deep appreciation for the many gifts we are given each day and move us to love God, the Giver of all gifts, in return. The following video reflection by Br. David Steindl-rast makes this point in a most delightful manner.

The prayer of praise

Tuesday, November 15th, 2011

“If I had to choose the one form of prayer that has made the presence of Chriust most real in my life and given me the deepest sense of being supported and surrounded by the loving providence of God, I would unhesitatingly choose this, the last form of prayer I propose in this book, the Prayer of Praise.  I would also choose it for the great peace and joy it has so often brought me in times of distress.

“The prayer consists, quite simply, of praising and thanking God for everything.  It is based on the belief that nothing happens in our life that is not foreseen by God — just nothing, not even our sins.”

- Anthony de Mello, S.J., Sadhanna

How to love God above all else?

Tuesday, November 15th, 2011

It is one thing to assert the importance of the First Great Commandment with one’s intellect, but quite another to try to keep it.  How can one love God above all else?

For me, the key to answering this question comes from 1 John 4:19, where it is written that we love because God loved us first.  Elsewhere, in 1 John 4:8, we read that God is love itself.  It follows, then, that God’s love for us is what enables us to love God in return.  Just as we are dependent upon God for our very existence, so, too, are we dependent upon God for the love by means of which we can love God.

There are implications for spiritual practice, here, which is why I am including this reflection in that category as well as theology.  It is difficult to love God if one does not first know that one is loved by God.  One might be able to assert the priority of God and the commandments with the mind, and even to keep them, to some degree.  But this is not yet love, for love is the force and energy that binds us closely in relationship.

God loves us first, and if we are to love God in return, we must first know that we are loved by God.  Even this we are incapable of doing without God’s help, for the sin disease that has wounded our human nature makes us numb to the divine advances.  We need God grace or help that we might be open to God’s love.  We can ask for this help; any time we move into prayer, I think God assumes that we are open to it.  Sometimes this is the best prayer — to simply be open to being loved by God, and to allowing God’s love to flow back to God in return.

It is good, at times, to set the prayer list aside, and even to put the Bible down after awhile in prayer.  Simply open yourself God’s love as you would to receiving the warm rays of the sun on a beach.  Then the love by means of which you are loved will move through you and return to God and all creatures.  You will become a channel of God’s love and life, and will realize the destiny for which God created you.