The Life of Prayer – Meditation #2

 

Jesus Let us adore Him art by annie henrie
Art by Annie Henrie

 

Since prayer does not consist in thinking much but in loving much, a life of continual prayer will consist much more in love than in thought. Nevertheless, a certain amount of mental activity is necessary, either to direct the heart toward God, or to maintain it in this direction.

The soul who applies itself well to mental prayer will easily be able to collect in itself some good thoughts which it can use during the day to keep its heart turned toward God. Therefore, it will be useful for the soul to try to recall these thoughts often in the midst of its occupations, and to apply them practically to its life.

Thus, for example, if during prayer, we have been considering God’s infinite mercy toward us, we shall strive to preserve this thought even during our occupations, recognizing many signs of this mercy in the various circumstances in which we find ourselves. in fact, many happenings which, from a purely human point of view, are unpleasant and painful, hide, in reality, great mercies of the Lord who, by means of the sorrows, fatigues, and the trials of life, wants to detach us from creatures, make us practice virtue, and advance in goodness. Likewise, in our dealings with our neighbor, we shall try to imitate God’s mercy. “Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful” (Lk 6,36). Although our prayer was spent in aridity, without leaving us any definite thought, but only a deeper realization of our nothingness and the infinite greatness of God, we shall make a treasure of it by attempting during the day to fulfill our duties in a spirit of humility and homage to God. We shall rejoice if some opportunity occurs for humbling ourselves, acknowledging our littleness—even before creatures—and exalting the grandeurs of the Lord.

In this way prayer will not be an isolated item in our day, but will permeate it, by conferring on each action and circumstance the tone of continual prayer.

 
~ A Meditation by Father Gabriel of St Mary Magdalen, O.C.D ~ Divine Intimacy

 

 

“Give me, O Lord, such great fervor and immense love that I shall see no difference between this or that life, this or that state, person, time, or place, but shall do what is most pleasing to You, whatever or wherever it may be, tending always to You by the affection of my soul. Grant that I may see all things in You, and nothing but You in them, ever eager and anxious to serve You in all things; and that, all on fire and burning with love, I may not take into consideration what is easiest and most agreeable for me, but only what is most pleasing to You.”
~ St. Bonaventure   

 

 

 

The Way of Gratitude

 

Holy Spirit by carolle powell
The Holy Spirit, art by Carole J. Powell

 

How can we cooperate with the Holy Spirit and let joy, and thus him, for he is joy, fill us?

There is a king’s highway that leads directly to the goal, and that is gratitude. It is unthinkable that one could be grateful and unhappy at the same time. The remarkable thing about gratitude is that it naturally and almost automatically grows and tends toward an ever greater unselfishness. It begins rather egocentrically: I have received a gift that makes me happy. My gratitude is kindled by the fact that one of my needs has been satisfied, that one of my wishes has been fulfilled.

But as soon as I begin to give thanks, my attention, which was at first fixed on myself, turns toward my benefactor, God. The emphasis, which before was on me, is transplanted little by little into God. I thank you because you have given me. I thank you because you are so good to me. I thank you because you are so good that it could occur to you to think of me. I thank you because you are so wonderful.

I become more and more freed from myself and ever more fascinated by God’s love and beauty.
It begins with me and ends with you. “Behold, you are beautiful, my love, behold, you are beautiful!” (Song 4:1).

Again, it is the Eucharist that gives us a splendid example of this progressive shift from man to God, from the gift to the Giver. We begin the Eucharistic Prayer thanking God for creating us, for in his mercy coming to help of all people, for sending his Son To save us.

But it always ends with the great doxology (praise), in which man, in total forgetfulness of himself, is completely absorbed in God’s glory: “Through him, and with him, and in him, O God, almighty Father, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, all glory and honor is yours, for ever and ever.”

 
~ A Meditation of Father Wilfrid Stinissen, O.C.D.

 

 

“Come Holy Spirit, come,
and enkindle in us the fire of your love.”

 

 

A blessed Pentecost Sunday to you all!

 

 

The Spirit, the Hidden Treasure in Your Field

 

Holy Spirit within ones soul by rebecca brogan
The Holy Spirit within ones soul, art by Rebecca Brogan

 

The goal of the Incarnation, the Cross, and the Resurrection is Pentecost. If God has become man, if he has suffered and died for us and risen from the dead, it is in order finally to fill us with the Holy Spirit. Jesus says it with crystal clear words: “I came to cast fire upon the earth; and would that it were already kindled!” (Lk 12:49).

In one of the manuscripts of Luke’s Gospel, it says “May your Holy Spirit come”, instead of may “Your kingdom come” (Lk 11:2). God’s kingdom is identified with the Holy Spirit. When we are filled with him, God is truly Lord in us.

The theology of the West is sometimes criticized for its “mono-Christ-ism”. It seems that theologians have devoted themselves in a biased, almost exclusive way toward Christ. But we cannot understand Christ, the truth, if we are not led by the Spirit of truth, who leads us into all truth (Jn 16:13). Perhaps this is also the reason why the theology of the West is so cold, dry, and abstract. The flame is missing. We have needed the Charismatic Renewal to become aware that the Church is not only the Church of Christ but also the Church of the Holy Spirit.

There are three Persons in God. We may not omit or pass over any one of them. Each one of the three Persons has his own function and his own role. We miss out on something essential if we limit ourselves to one or two Persons.

In the beginning, God’s Spirit hovered over the waters (Gen 1:2). We could speak of a cosmic Pentecost, which prepared, and in some way even anticipated, the actual and definitive Pentecost. The Spirit is present from the beginning, and he sighs in creation and makes it sigh with him. “We know”, writes Saint Paul, “that the whole creation has been groaning with labor pains” (Rom 8:22). It begins already on the first day of creation, and this groaning is the work of the Spirit.

It is man’s calling to be a conscious pneumatoforos (Spirit bearer). What is unconscious in creation becomes conscious in man. It is his function to interpret the language of creation, to be in harmony with it and articulate it, so that it becomes a song of praise that not only God but even his fellowmen can understand.

 
~ A Mediation by Father Wilfrid Stinissen, O.C.D.

 

God Alone Suffices

 

Icon 3
Icon of the Holy Trinity, by Paternitas 1855 (State Museum of Palekh Art)

 

Ultimately, there really is only one thing you unequivocally can ask God: that he be your all. There is no need to coach God as to how best he ought to fulfill your needs. God is all, and, when he gives himself, he gives you everything you need. If you possess God, there is nothing more for which you can ask.

The first part of the Lord’s Prayer is completely focused on God himself: hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done. Following that, you are free to ask for what you think you need, but these special petitions must always be rooted in surrender to—and longing for—God’s very self.

The closer you are to God, the more emphasis is on the first part of the Lord’s Prayer. The more you trust God, the less you are inclined to specify your prayers for the various needs you may have for yourself and others.

There is a restless concern that is not of God, a restlessness that comes from trying to carry the suffering of the world on your own shaky shoulders, rather than laying it in God’s hands.

The one who in surrender commends the world to God will continue to feel compassion for all who suffer. But it is a compassion that is held up by a deep peace rooted in the knowledge that God, who is almighty, loves everyone and can assimilate everything in his plan to save the world.

~ A Meditation by Father Wilfrid Stinissen, O.C.D.

God Is Not Angry!

 

Cross in a blizzard art by jozef chelmonski 1907
Art by Jozef Chelmonski (1907)

 

Our God is different than we think. We have all heard of a God who demands atonement, a God who is just and wants restitution for the injustice he has been suffering. But our God is not justice. Our God is love.

We don’t need to reconcile God to us. God is reconciliation itself. God has never turned his gaze from us. It is we who have turned away from him. God had been waiting for us all along. No, not only waited. . .God has run to meet us with such overwhelming proofs of his love that it ought not possible for us to close our eyes to them.

It is not for us to appease God’s anger. God is not angry with us. Love is not resentful (1 Cor 13:5). It is, rather, God who tries to calm humanity’s anger. But he hasn’t been able to, since humanity is still angry at God. Has there ever been a time like our own in which humanity has been so cruel toward God? God is accused as never before: “What kind of God is it that allows for so much evil?”

Much of this human revolt against God is in reality directed toward a caricature of God—a God who seeks to judge, a God who looks for the first opportunity to punish. Such a God is only to be feared or despised.

But a God who hangs defenselessly on a cross, and who—with arms outstretched in a worldwide embrace—tries to unite all people with himself and one another, such a God is not hard to love.

 
~ A Meditation by Father Wilfrid Stinissen, O.C.D.

 

 

My thoughts and prayers are with everyone at this trying and unprecedented times with COVID-19 Global Pandemic. . .
May God’s strength, healing and peace be with us all and the whole world!

 

Tend to the Seed of Faith in Your Heart

 

mustard seed art by jane n
Art by Jen Norton

 

Doubt and despair have their deepest roots in a fundamental distrust of God. It is quite often a long journey before a human being is truly convinced that God really wants the very best for him or her.

As long as your heart remains unconvinced that the one who has created  and sustains you, loves you and leads you, through whatever happens, you will not find lasting peace.

You have several resources with which you can help yourself toward a firm belief in love. You can try to confront your doubt by emphasizing trust and confidence; you can open your heart to receive testimony and preaching about God; most importantly, you can listen to God’s own word.

God’s preeminent message is that he is love. This message is in itself effective and active. If you listen to it openly, it will reach your innermost recesses.

Emotions of love will not reach the core of your being; only faith does that. The capacity for faith is like a small seed laid down in you. To some extent, it is up to you to decide whether weeds and drought are to suffocate the faith when it begins to sprout. You have within you an ability to turn your gaze toward God and turn yourself over to him with trust. Then the seed will flourish.

 
~ A Meditation by Father Wilfrid Stinissen, O.C.D.

All Creation Is in God

 

hourglass 2
Hourglass, art by Akiane Kramarik

 

The world is fundamentally good. Everything is in God. The world is sacred, because it is created by God at every moment. You don’t have to go away from creation in order to find God—creation is God’s symphony.

God and the world are not opposites. God did not create the world at one time long ago and then leave it to its own destiny. Wherever there is a creature, there the Creator is present. As perfume spreads fragrance, so creation goes out as a fragrance from God.

You are, at all times, surrounded and swaddled in the love of Christ—you are created in him. All that you do, you do in Christ. This is why sin is so repugnant. When you sin, you abuse creation and force God to live in a soiled temple. When you dishonor a creature, it is the Creator you offend.

If you open your eyes and see that God is in everything and that everything is in him, you no longer need to seek him far away or ask yourself whether he is really near or not. If you have an authentically contemplative attitude, you no longer place yourself outside of life. Rather, you see right through everything and find God hidden in everything.

Every moment God creates all you need; all you have to do is to receive everything from his hand. If you learn to see the innermost meaning of creation, you will always find reasons for thankfulness.

 

~ A meditation by Father Wilfrid Stinissen, O.C.D.

 

 

 

 

 

Known and Loved From Within

Radiant Christ by anne chapin
Radiant Christ art by Ann Chapin

 

A miracle happens every time we open ourselves to the love of Jesus, every time we allow the light to enter and shine through us. Light exposes all that is impure in our hearts, and the impure becomes light. The one who discloses his or her darkness to Jesus will see it changed into light.

If Jesus only knew us from the outside—as a doctor knows the illnesses of patients—we would not, in spite of everything, be completely set free from our inner loneliness. But he knows us from the inside as well. He has been up against the reality we experience. Jesus knows from experience how tempting the way that is not God’s way can be: “Because he himself was tested by what he suffered, he is able to help those who are being tested” (Heb 2:18).

Even though Jesus has not sinned, he has carried the sin of all humankind, yet not on his shoulders as were it a strange and unfamiliar burden which really didn’t impact him very deeply. No. He has carried this sin in his heart. Sin has entered and impacted him deeply. He has experienced—infinitely more than any of us who are sinners—how much sin hurts. Precisely because it was his nature to be one with the Father, the abandonment from the Father was, for us, an incomprehensible abyss of misery.

Jesus knows from within. No one knows us as well as he does. He is the only one who can change our darkness to light.

 

~ A Meditation by Father Wilfrid Stinissen, O.C.D.

 

Love Is Not an Ideology

 

roses and me
Art source unknown

 

Many people, believers and nonbelievers alike, are aware that love is the only transforming power in the world. But they believe in love the way they believe in democracy.

The love we Christians profess is not an ideology. Saint John writes in his first letter: “We have known and believe the love God has for us.” (4:16). This love is a personal relationship. We don’t believe the world is changed by ethical principles, however noble these may be. The Apostles’ Creed consists of twelve fundamental pronouncements about God’s love for humankind. All of the Scriptures, all of Christian theology, is nothing but an explanation of this love.

Through faith, you know you are loved by God with a creative, respectful, unique, and personal love. God calls you by name. God knows your joys and disappointments, your weakness and strengths, hopes and feelings. “You reach out my path and my lying down, and are acquainted with all my ways… You hem me in, behind and before, and lay your hand upon me.” (Ps 139:3,5).

The hardest thing for a human being is to comprehend that he or she is loved by such a love. Your whole life, every hour of prayer, all your spiritual reading, ought to deal with making this truth come alive in you. If you know yourself to be loved, you will radiate this love to the world.

 

~ A Meditation by Father Wilfrid Stinissen, O.C.D.

 

 

Happy St. Valentine’s Day to All!

 

 

Love Chooses a “You”

 

Watching a star
Art source unknown

 

Love, true love, is always directed at concrete people. Love is never anonymous. Love chooses; love doesn’t love an unknown mass.

God also chooses people onto whom he focuses his love. God wills that all people be saved, but he doesn’t begin with all. He chooses one man, Abraham. And Abraham becomes a people, Israel. Israel becomes the Church, the people of God, and the Church shines throughout the world.

To choose and be chosen is a characteristic throughout the Bible. God chooses someone from among the anonymous multitude and pours his love and gifts of grace over this person. From this person, love will in turn stream out to others.

If you want to live in love, you can’t begin by loving all of humanity. Start with your neighbor! Choose people you meet in your daily life. Love begins with a “you.”

The fire of love needs to spread all over the world, but its spark is always ignited in a relationship between two people. If you want to love everybody right away, you’ll end up loving no one for real. First, love the ones closest to you, then, through them, you may later acquire universal love.

 

~ A Meditation by Father Wilfrid Stinissen, O.C.D.