The Mountains of the Lord

Head of Christ, art by Leonardo da Vinci 1495

‘Head of Christ’ , art by Leonardo Da Vinci 1495

Innocence never lost and innocence restored—
these two went up the mountains of the Lord.
And I addressed them, glowing and intense:
under the auspices of innocence
what amid holy places did you see?
And the untarnished spirit answered me:

I saw a city gleaming on a hill,
and one triumphant road divined its site.
I saw a fire no storm could ever still,
feeding upon the branches of delight.

I heard a Harp pluck its own serenade;
I drank the Living Water from cool streams.
I breathed the Wind that blows far down earth’s shade
The scent of petals from eternal dreams.

Tables were spread on greensward and in grove
with Bread the angels coveted afar.
I walked beneath the shadow of a Dove
who made a marriage with a Morningstar.

Then I went upward where the summits glistened,
lighted by love, the unconsuming flame.
I heard a Voice, and when I stopped and listened
it was the Bridegroom’s voice and called my name.

I questioned innocence renewed by grace:
What did you see on hills beatified?
What voices heard you in the holy place?
With words of light the penitent replied:

Under the night’s impenetrable cover
wherein I walked beset by many fears,
I saw the radiant face of Christ the Lover,
and it was wet with tears.

 

~ A poem by Sister Miriam of the Holy Spirit (Jessica Powers), O.C.D. (1905-1988)

 

 

 

 

 

Your Heart…The Mirror of God

Heart by Janice VanCronkhite

Heart, art by Janice Van Cronkhite

Seeing God does not necessarily have to do with visions or extravagant gifts of grace. It can be a simple and quiet consciousness of God’s presence and reality. It can be an unshakable confidence in him who gives you a solid grounding.
To see God can also be an insight and conviction that your whole life rests in the hands of God, and everything that happens is a message from him. Or it can be a deep insight into the human longing for an infinite love which only God can fill.
The pure heart can see God already in this life, since he reigns in our midst. God wants to be mirrored in your heart. But if the mirror is stained and soiled, it can’t reflect God’s image. And so it is not God’s fault if you don’t see him.
If you want to see and experience God, you must let your heart become what it was meant to be from the beginning: a clear and pure mirror for the one who is love and who loves all that is.
To let your heart recover its originality, you must first discover and admit that you are an abyss crying out for God’s infinity, and then you must empty your heart of all the surrogates with which you have tried to fill it.

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

 

A Dark Night In My Garden

The night garden by Emily Winfield Martin

The Night Garden, art by Emily Winfield Martin

My Beloved is night time in my garden.
I feel so weary. I come here to be with You. To be in your presence.
I need to rest in your precious heart, a place where I find all consolation and peace.
I need to be wrapped around your arms and feel whole once again. Oh Blessed Jesus,
thank You for coming to be with me in my garden at night.

Beloved, at times the path gets so foggy and it seems uncertain where I’m stepping.
It is so dark sometimes, that I can hardly see. I guess the way towards light and truth is filled with some dark spots, and that is why I need to be close to You in those moments.
Oh my Beloved friend and teacher, at times I feel tired and hopeless in this narrow path towards holiness. It is an arduous road till I caught a glimpse of You along the way and everything transforms and becomes new and alive in me. Your peace fills me and brings me trust and consolation.

Lord, why do I feel so discourage if I know that You are my faithful companion along the way? Why is so difficult Blessed Lord? This path is difficult but knowing that I’m walking by your side, all fog and confusion is dispelled.
Oh my Blessed Jesus, giver of life and love, allow me to be as close as I can to You.
When darkness sets in, your light is a refreshing balm of peace and assurance that all is well and will be well. Lord, I know this is part of growing into You. All those growing pains are making me whole. I can go on in this journey only if You meet me here and instruct me and encourage me on the way. Sweet Jesus, strengthen my mind, body and soul to continue in my journey towards wholeness and inner freedom, a journey that You invited me to trod next to You long time ago.

My Beloved, you transform my night into day. My inner noise into quiet calm. You bring hope and light into any difficult moment. Your presence is all healing. Your gentleness is all I need. Divine friend and lover of my soul, stay with me, I pray. 

May your light and inspiration be always within me. May your love and peace filled me
day by day, night by night.

My Rabonni, my God and my all. Thank You for coming to our meeting place,
is night but soon will be day.  

~ My Personal Reflection 

 

 

Simplicity Serves Best

 

Nativity ~ By unknown artist

Nativity ~ By unknown artist

To a Christian it is very simple to come into contact with God. God is not just the goal at the end of a long and hard journey. In Jesus Christ, God is the way itself. As soon as we take the first stumbling steps on this way, we are together with God. 
No demanding exercises in concentrating are needed, no heroic asceticism. The only thing needed is to genuinely love Jesus. Love entrusts itself to the beloved, opens itself to him or her, trusts him or her. If such a genuine love of Jesus fills our hearts, then everything else will follow.
Jesus is Immanuel: God with us. We don’t need a telescope to scout for God. God is near; he is our traveling companion. We need only let him take us by the hand. Since God has shown himself on the earth and has pitched his tent among us, he is “grab-able” to all.
It is not through profound speculation that we grow in our relationship with God, but through the unsophisticated faith of the heart, and the trust in what transcends human understanding. When we bow before the mystery that has come so close to us in Jesus, then he reveals himself most clearly. 

 

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

 

Christmas Within

a child stand by Jesus crib

A manger filled with Love ~ Art by unknown artist

The mystery of Christmas is not a reality outside of you. It is realized only if it becomes a reality within you.
Mary and Joseph sought shelter. And the King of Kings  was satisfied with a poor stable and manger meant for cattle. Is there a shelter for him within you—he doesn’t ask for much—or are you so preoccupied with your own that there is no room for him?
If you let Jesus be born in you, you become a messenger of love. Then you will no longer do anything just for your own sake. Everything will be inspired by Love. If you continually make a home for him in your heart, he will continually become visible in and through you. As he is ceaselessly born of the Father, he will ceaselessly be born in you.
Do not think that you must have something big and magnificent to offer him. It is his presence that makes your poverty shine with divine light. He is most comfortable in the simple and unassuming, if only the door is opened to him.

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

My Winter Garden

My Winter Garden ~ Photo source unknown

My Winter Garden ~ Photo source unknown

Winter has finally arrived, all is white in my garden.
The beauty and stillness of this season is so good for times of prayerful anticipation of Your holy birth,
I love my garden at this holy time. I wait for Your blessed arrival one more time into my heart.

Oh precious Baby, lover of my soul and a constant companion in my life.

Beloved friend and savior, the whole earth and universe is full of Your glory. Everything is impregnated with Your precious aroma.
There is a deep quietude around my garden and around my heart. I sense Your holy presence soon to come.

There are no birds or colorful flowers in my garden at this time. The blanket of the white snow covers it all.
All nature is in reverence. It is also waiting like me for Your coming.

Oh blessed Baby, let me prepare an inn in my heart for you. A place of welcome, of warmth, of love.
A place where You can grow and unite entirely to me. Let me be still my Beloved. Let me joyfully sing praises to You here and for eternity.

Oh happy heart that rejoices in You! 

~ My Personal Reflection

Celebrating Advent In The Proper Way

Do you hear what I hear Art by Sandy Maudlin

‘Do you hear what I hear?’ Art by Sandy Maudlin

During Advent you may be looking forward to all the beautiful experiences of Christmas. But Advent is not meant as a waiting period for this. Rather, you are awaiting someone who will come closer to you than you are to yourself.
Advent is like a portal you have to walk through to enter the sanctuary of Christmas. The portal is flanked by two figures who guard the sanctuary and ask you why you want to enter, and at the same time teach you how to do it. Both figures are very dissimilar. One is big and strong, a man clothed in camels’ hair. But in spite of his size, this man wants only to be a voice calling out in the desert: “Prepare the way of the Lord.”
The other is a vulnerable woman expecting a child. She doesn’t cry out, she is silent, total attention to what is happening within her. The only thing she quietly whispers is: “I am the servant of the Lord.”
They both know who they are waiting for. They are not awaiting better times, or nicer experiences. They are waiting for God, and they know that nothing can hinder his arrival if they are open to receive him.
If you also know who you are waiting for, if you are sure about his arrival, then you are celebrating Advent in the proper way.

~ An Advent meditation By Wilfrid Stinissen, O.C.D. 

 

The Lord is Coming!…

'Waiting' by Unknown Artist

‘Waiting’ by Unknown Artist

First Sunday of Advent

The Lord is coming; I place myself in His presence and go to meet Him with all the energy of my will…

“The Name of the Lord cometh from afar…I look from afar, and behold I see the power of God coming…Go out to meet Him, and say, ‘Tell us if You are He who shall rule…'” These words are taken from today’s liturgy, and in reply, it invites us, “Come, let us adore the King, the Lord who is coming!…” 

This coming was expected for long ages; it was foretold by the prophets, and desired by all the just who were not granted to see its dawn. The Church commemorates and renews this expectation with each recurring Advent, expressing this longing to the Savior who is to come. The desire of old was sustained solely by hope, but it is now a confident desire,  founded on the consoling reality, renewed in ever deeper and fuller reality in every Christian soul. The spirit of the Advent liturgy, commemorating the age-long expectation of the Redeemer, will prepare us to celebrate the mystery of the Word made Flesh by arousing in each one of us and intimate, personal expectation of the renewed coming of Christ to our soul.  This coming is accomplished by grace; to the degree in which grace develops and matures in us, it becomes more copious, more penetrating, until it transforms the soul into an alter Christus. Advent is a season of waiting and of fervent longing for the Redeemer: “Drop down dew, ye heavens, and let the clouds rain the Just One!”    

O sweetest Jesus, You come to me with Your infinite love and the abundance of Your grace; You desire to engulf my soul in torrents of mercy and charity in order to draw it to You. Come, O Lord, come! I, too, wish to run to You with love, but alas! my love is so limited, weak, and imperfect! Make it strong and generous; enable me to overcome myself, so that I can give myself entirely to You, Yes, my love can become strong because “its foundation is the intimate certainty that it will be repaid by the love of God. O Lord, I cannot doubt Your tenderness, because You have given me proofs of it in so many ways, with the sole purpose of convincing me of it. Therefore, trusting in Your love, my weak love will become strong with Your strength. What a consolation it will be, O Lord, at the moment of death to think that we shall be judged by Him whom we have loved above all things! Then we can enter Your presence with confidence, despite the weight of our offenses!”
O Lord, give me love like this! I desire it ardently… My poor soul needs You so much! It sighs for You as for a compassionate physician, who alone can heal its wounds, draw it out of its languor and tepidity, and infuse into it new vigor, new enthusiasm, new life. Come Lord, come! I am ready to welcome Your work with a docile, humble heart, ready to let myself be healed, purified, and strengthened by You. Yes, with Your help, I will make any sacrifice, renounce everything that might hinder Your redeeming work in me. Show Your power, O Lord, and come!
Come, delay no longer!

~ An Advent Meditation by Father Gabriel of St Mary Magdalen, O.C.D. 

Conversations with my Beloved

Art by Ilse Kleyn

Art by Ilse Kleyn

“Where are you, my God?”
I seek you all about me and you are not there and yet you seem to tell me: Here I am. Everywhere. Nowhere.

I never leave you, but you have to realize I use disguises. If you persist in seeking me under that disguise I used a month, a year, ago, you will be hurt and disappointed.
I change, and you must change with me, or be left alone, bereft, bewildered, lost.

“But why do you do it?” That you may know me better. You are my Chosen one who must discover me beneath a multitude of impermanent changes of attire and behavior.
I remain myself, absolute, infinity…and close as a lover’s kiss.

You have to learn to recognize me. It’s hard, I know.
You come running to me…arms outstretched to be enfolded by what I was to you when the season was different, and you were ardent and your heart bursting with untried love, your every gesture and word a lyric, your very speech a poem!
It was beautiful, but it was only the prelude. Now the flowers have seeded, the petals are all gone, the scent is blown away on the wind. And yet…

and yet, how beautiful this autumn is!
The prelude to our consummation by my death in you, and your resplendent life in me.

~ Selected Writings of Barbara Dent, O.C.D.S .

 

 

 

God’s Secret

Art by Ivan Konstantinovich Aivazovsky

Art by Ivan Konstantinovich Aivazovsky

Let us assume that we do want God or, at least, we want to want God, wobbly and weak though we know ourselves to be. ‘If it is you, bid me come to you upon the waters.’ (Mt. 14.28) It is the Lord and he says: ‘Come!’ So we can confidently enter into the Mystery that is God, relying solely on Jesus and not at all on ourselves. To enter into real prayer, prayer that opens us to the mystical dimension is, in one sense, to enter into an alien element. At least, it is experienced as such, though, if we are faithful we shall discover that it is in fact our true home. But we have to be willing to let go of our own criterion of what prayer is and what growth in the Spirit might mean. There are all sorts of ways of praying and there are books galore to direct us on them; yet these, at bottom, keep us in the boat. The boat might rock a bit and feel uncomfortable at times; but at least, with our method to guide us, we can man it and have some control. Real prayer lets go of the controls, or, more truly, lets go when they are wrenched away from us, and how often we experience this, even to being tipped out in squall. Oh dear! Most of us see this as an unfortunate occurrence that must never be repeated and so we refit our boat, and improve our sailing skills to ensure that we have control once more.

What does it mean in practice to say we must be there for God and let God control our prayer, let God act? Does it mean we remain inert, completely passive?
No, decidedly not! The essential thing we have to do is believe in the enfolding, nurturing, transforming Love of God which is the Reality: the Reality that is absolutely, totally there whether we avert It or not. Prayer, from our side, is a deliberate decision to avert to It, to respond to It in the fullest way we can. To do this we must set time aside to devote exclusively to the ‘Yes’ of faith.

God of Thy goodness, give me Thyself: for Thou art enough to me, and I may nothing ask that is less that may be full worship to Thee; and if I ask anything that is less, ever me wanteth… but  only in Thee I have all.
(Julian of Norwich, Revelations of Divine Love, ch.5).

If we are convinced that this is the heart of prayer, this basic decision to remain open to the inflowing of divine love, then we shall understand that we can choose any method we like to help us maintain this basic desire and intention. Our troubles and distress arise from our instinctive assumption that the method is the prayer, and so we gauge the genuineness and success of the prayer by how well the method has worked.  

We  must remember that prayer takes place at the deepest level of our person and escapes our direct cognition; therefore we can make no judgement about it. It is God’s holy domain and we may not usurp it. We have to trust it utterly to God. This is one of the principle ways in which we surrender control and “walk on the water”. We must be ready to believe that ‘nothingness’ is the presence of divine Reality; emptiness is a holy void that Divine Love is filling. Remember, we are casting ourselves wholly on Jesus, on his ‘Come’! We must give up wanting assurances either from within or without.
You see, we cannot have it both ways!

~ By Ruth Burrows, O.C.D.