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.
When a person is baptized, he or she officially acknowledges no longer wanting to live an inauthentic life. The “old” is drowned in the waters of baptism, and a renewal person rises. Invariably, the “old” will try, again and again, to make its presence known. Complaints and protests rise repeatedly. But just as insistently you shall arouse your confidence, the confidence that the old egoism is truly and irreversibly dead, since, through baptism, you have united yourself with the death of Christ on the cross where he, once and for all, died to sin.
The “old” no longer has any real influence over you. It can no longer have any control over you. As much as the “old” may try to entice and ensnare you, you can no longer be manipulated if you only keep to your belief that in Christ you have received new life.
Many years may have passed since your baptism—years in which you have not shown any attention to God and the new life he has given you. However, these years have not been able to eradicate the transfiguring power of baptism. You can, at any time, activate your baptism by forgetting everything that is behind you and focusing on the new life you have already received. Perhaps, for a long time, you have let the “old” live on in you. But from the moment you take your new life seriously, the “old” is helpless.
~ A Meditation by Fr. Wilfrid Stinissen, O.C.D.
Happy & Blessed Solemnity of the Baptism of the Lord!
The astrologers from the East presented gold, myrrh, and frankincense as a way to worship the unknown child of God. You—who know fully who the child in the manger is—can present him even more appropriate gifts.
You know that this child is your Creator. To create means to make something of nothing. If you really want to worship this child as your Creator, then give him your nothingness: your inner emptiness, powerlessness, and inadequacy. Without your nothingness, he cannot create you. With your nothingness, he makes your life his creation.
The child in the crib is also the Word. He is the Word of the Father. The Word will make itself heard, and seek those who will listen. You can offer him your openness, your silence, and your listening.
The child is also Christ your Savior. He comes to heal your wounds, and to free you from your sin. You can never get to know him if you do not reveal your sins to him. The third gift you can give this child is your need of his healing. Then he will change your sin into bright signs of his love.
~ A Meditation by Fr. Wilfrid Stinissen, O.C.D.
Happy and Blessed Feast of the Epiphany of the Lord!
To seek God is an adventure. Nobody knows beforehand what lays ahead. Just like the magi, who wanted to adore the newborn king of the Jews, you will have to travel without a road map. You will feel that you lose your way, get lost, and make time-consuming detours. However, in the eyes of God, it is always a straight highway as long as you deliberately seek only him.
The only thing that can really lead you astray is losing your aim at the goal. If God is not your constant goal in all that you do, you will unavoidably lose much time. If you no longer know where you are headed, you will feel old and tired inside. But if you keep the goal in view, your heart will remain young and fresh.
It is appropriate from time to time to ask yourself whether you are staying on the original course or if you have lost some of your initial love and devotion. Is not the rootlessness of our time mainly a consequence of no longer having a definite goal before oneself? Wholeness comes to you when you know why you are alive and whereto everything is aiming. Faith is the star that leads you toward the goal. If you do not lose sight of the star, you can rest secure that you will reach the goal.
Here is an excerpt from the book ‘The Way of the Dreamcatcher’
Spirit Lessons with Robert Lax: Poet, Peacemaker, Sage.
By S.T. Georgiou.
Robert, it’s been said that you eventually left Marseille and later went on to Greece and Patmos because of a “sign” you saw in your room. Over your bed there was an icon of St. John the Divine writing his Revelation. This image prompted you to start thinking of Patmos and the famous cave wherein John experienced his vision.
That’s a true story. And up there on my wall, among all the other pictures and postcards, is a copy of that very icon. The original is from an illustrated manuscript of the fifteenth century.
Oh yes, there’s St. John writing his Apocalypse.
And the fact that he’s writing also led me to believe that Patmos would be a good place to write and meditate.
So Patmos was love at first sight?
Definitely. Things were clearer here, much more real, rooted, you might say. No distractions. Excellent climate, at least for most months. A fertile, unfolding quiet. Beautiful, inspiring light. Something about the light – so many tones, hues beaming into the soul. And there was also a classical influence as well. It was a ruggedly Homeric place ringed by a “wine dark sea.”
What was it that you found holy here? The site must have certainly impressed you since you had previously gone to such inspiring locales as the Virgin Isles, the Canary Isles, and a number of the islands of Italy and Greece.
Many people who visit say that there is an ominous feel to the place as your boat approaches, but not in a bad way. There’s just a certain feeling that something spiritually significant is here, waiting to reveal itself in its own good time. When I first came I strongly felt the power of St. John’s cave as well as the great monastery and that whole area up there, but it was really the Cave of the Apocalypse that moved me.
You sound like the islanders — they’re very ” cave conscious. ”
Yes, the cave has been a magnet for all the Patmians since the days of St. John. In fact, St. John’s association with the cave has permeated the whole psychology of the people here. It has made them loving, gentle, wise. I’ve found that they never say a word in any situation that doesn’t emanate from a pure trust, a deep spiritual centre of which the cave is a part. So many times I’ve heard, “Epomoni” (Patience), “Oti theli o Theos” (Whatever God wants) and “Doxa si o Theos” (Glory be to God). Everything seems to be right here for a good rapport with the Creator. The men, women and children have a solid spiritual foundation nurtured by the sanctity of the isle and by their forefathers.
On top of that, they are always reminded of the high ideals of their classical and Byzantine ancestors. I mean, Socrates “Know thyself,” which many of the locals echo, is a good start for anyone.
So you feel Patmos is truly a sacred site, a blessed zone? Is there a unique energy here? A cosmic pulsing?
I certainly would not be inclined to doubt it. The sun, moon and stars seem to shine right into you. Yes, I very much believe the people are blessed simply by being here. Grace seems to flow here. You can’t help but sense the love of God. The gates of Patmos are as wide as the heart, open to all.
What did you feel when you first came to this holy isle?
A timeless serenity. Generative silence. Awe. The quiet imposed by the volcanic mountains and stones, a real love moving over the face of the waters. In a more familial sense, I did feel like someone might if they had run into their long-lost parents or grandparents — as if everything you’ve heard in your life, up till then, had just been an echo of something that all along had been planted right here. And the echoes of that something could still be heard. . .
It’s interesting how when St. John came here, he emphasized the need to love. “Just love one another, ” he would say. So we are meant to form relationships, to network. One star can’t illuminate the whole night sky. Constellations have to form.
Patmos then seems to be a model for harmonious living, a kind of cosmic school of higher learning.
I do believe that very much — it’s a wholesome place that naturally fosters self-discovery and genuine agape. There’s a living tradition here. I felt a great wave of peace when I came to Patmos, and I still sense these peaceful rhythms. Things are free-flowing here. The sunlight writes on the water, and the waters wave in the light. Even the birds seem to fly in a more peaceful way, as if they know that they are loved. Animals are like children because they know when they are loved, and when they are not.
Look far back, look infinitely on. Penetrate, do not appraise. Behold all things with the innocence of light. Laugh when you meet a stranger; let your glances flash together like water in sunlight. ~ Robert Lax
Happy Feast of Saint John The Evangelist! The Disciple whom Jesus Loved, St. John The Divine, St. John The Theologian,
pray for us!
A human being who was God has appeared in the world. This is the most jarring event in all of world history.
To the nonbeliever this is a scandal that turns Christianity into mythology. Christianity claims not only that Jesus was singularly transparent to God; it claims that God—he who carries the universe and to whom no name is fitting because he transcends anything we can imagine—is identical to a human being who was named Jesus, born in Nazareth, and who worked as a carpenter.
The eternal God, who can have no historical destiny since he is outside of any history limited by time, enters time and submits himself to a particular destiny. The invisible and intangible one becomes visible and tangible and ties himself to the human condition. He has a mother, a grandmother and a grandfather, and other relatives.
That God has crossed the threshold of history and entered our existence is totally incomprehensible. On our own, we would never have thought that anything like this were possible. Yet, the Incarnation of God is the central truth of Christianity.
Our faith is rooted in mystery. God has come so close that his nearness blinds us. We grow in the faith to the extent that we bow before the incomprehensible. It is only when you affirm the unbelievable that has become one of us that it is possible for you to become like him. And that is what he created you for in the beginning.
Advent is a season of waiting, of longing, of active
attentiveness to what is being birthed.
Advent is a time of pregnancy, of expectation,
of yearning for the reality of Love’s presence
within us and in the whole world.
Advent is a time of being present to the darkness
of the womb during pregnancy; of being present to the unknown,
to mystery, to what is yet unseen and still being formed.
Advent is a time of trusting in the midst
of whatever darkness we are in, trusting as Mary did that
light would emerge for the path ahead.
Advent invites us to open our hearts,
to trust amidst darkness,
and make room for Love;
Love with Us
Love Birthing within Us.
This longing is made up of simplicity,
of expectancy, of hope and the
spirit of childhood and Joy.
A child—if it lives in an environment where it is allowed to be itself—has no problems. Children aren’t worried about money, food, or clothing. They are like the birds and the lilies Jesus speaks about. They figure they will always get what they need. Nothing needs to be stored. There will always be enough.
Children live in a glorious freedom. Even the smallest, insignificant gift can mean pure bliss for them, because it is received in the present moment. The joy of the present moment is not darkened by worries of a difficult past or a threatening future. Children’s ability to be present in the moment means that every moment has a gift to give and that every little occasion of joy is appreciated.
This presence in the moment also means that children make no separation between play and seriousness. Play itself is taken very seriously. They don’t perceive mistakes as calamities; they count on forgiveness as self-evidently as they count on daily food.
This lack of worry is slowly lost as we grow up and become “adult.” Life becomes full of “problems”—modern variation of the worries Jesus tells us we don’t need. Our time is a time of problems, and can only be such, because everything becomes problematic when we no longer know whether there is a Father who takes care of us. But if we return to the Father, we return to the glorious freedom of a child.
~ A Meditation by Fr. Wilfrid Stinissen, O.C.D.
“May what I do flow from me like a river, no forcing and no holding back, the way it is with children.” ― Rainer Maria Rilke
For a Christian to be afraid of death would be like being afraid of a ghost. Death no longer has any power over us. It has lost its sting. “Death has been swallowed up in victory, ” Paul writes (1 Cor 15:54). Ever since we have eaten the food of immortality that is Jesus himself (Jn 6:51, 54), we are irrevocably on the side of the living. True, all Christians must go through the physical process called “death” when “this perishable body must put on imperishability, and this mortal body must put on immortality. (1 Cor 15:53)? “I do not die; I enter into life,” Thérèse of the Child Jesus said on her deathbed.
It is important not to forget the early Christian way of speaking about death. The date of death of the saints has always been called dies natalis, their birthday, by the Church.
To die is to be born into eternal life. When Jesus, just before his death, shares his farewell discourses with the disciples, he says: “I am going to the Father” (Jn 16:10); “If you loved me, you would rejoice that I am going to the Father” (14:28). John also writes that Jesus knew “that he had come from God and was going to God” (13:3). To be born is to come from God; to die is to return to God. When we die, our true life begins.
~ A Meditation by Fr. Wilfrid Stinissen, O.C.D.
“The essential is always hidden from our eyes . . . and that lends still more ardor to the quest and sustains our advance toward the only reality.”
~ Brother Roger of Taizé
As long as we live here on earth, it often feels as if we are separated from him. Obviously, we aren’t, but because we are so dependent on what we can see and hear, it is difficult to believe fully in an invisible reality.
In our own days, it is often heard that we don’t know what happens after death; nobody has ever come back so you can never be sure. That it is even said among Christians is perplexing. The central truth in our faith is exactly that someone has come back, and that the Risen One has appeared to many. He has been seen, spoken to, eaten with.
We know very well what happens after death. When we die, we meet him who is love itself, we receive a body that is like the body of glory that he has (Phil 3:21), free from all limitations, a body that is no longer bound in time and space. We get to be with Christ, be together with him in the Father.
We can’t imagine the security, peace, and joy involved in being forever with the Lord. It transcends our comprehension. It is “what no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the human heart conceived, what God has prepared for those who love him.” (1Cor 2:9). But the fact that we can’t imagine it exactly doesn’t mean that it isn’t real.