Contemplate Guidance with John Ruusbroec

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Tuesday, May 2, 2017

 

immeasurable prayer power.jpg

Contemplate Guidance with John Ruusbroec

Fr. Ruusbroec lived in the 1300’s in the Flemish part of what is now Belgium. When a teen, he went to live with his uncle (a priest). John studied for the priesthood himself, became ordained, and later entered a religious house with his uncle. Fr. Ruusbroec became known as a contemplative, a spiritual writer and thinker who wrote and published a number of treatises. Excerpts from The Spiritual Espousals are included here.

In this section, Fr. Ruusbroec discusses the importance of unity of mind and spirit, and the several manifestations of unity within a person. I was struck by the following description:
“There is no more precious vessel than a loving soul and no more beneficial drink than the grace of God. It is in this way that a person will offer to God all his works and his entire life with a simple and upright intention and will also, above that intention, above himself, and above all things, rest in that sublime unity where God and the loving spirit are united without intermediary.” [1]

My goodness! What riches there are in these short few sentences! Fr. Ruusbroec wanted to aid his readers in becoming closer and closer to God. The way for the good Father was to strive to practice regular, rigorous interior (that is, inner) exercises. And, as we reach a state of more and more closeness, we may indeed approach that “sublime unity.”

I wonder quite what Ruusbroec meant about “God and the loving spirit” are indeed united without intermediary. I suspect that if this was coming from a Roman Catholic, it verged on the outskirts of Catholic theology. (Interesting! Seriously.)

“This unity of the spirit is where we are to dwell in the peace of God and in the richness of charity. Here all the multiplicity of the virtues comes to an end, and they live together in the simplicity of the spirit.” [2]

Ah, for the good Father, it all distills down to the unity of the spirit. And, what can be more blessed and God-given than for everyone to have the opportunity to receive these blessed gifts. Dear Lord, gracious God, help the readers (me, included) to take what John Ruusbroec dearly wished. Lord, in Your mercy, hear our prayers.

@chaplaineliza

 

Like what you read? Disagree? Share your thoughts with your loved ones and continue the conversation.

Why not visit my companion blogs, “the best of” A Year of Being Kind.  #PursuePEACE. My Facebook page, Pursuing Peace – Thanks! And, read my sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er

[1] Spiritual Classics, edited by Richard J. Foster and Emilie Griffin. (San Francisco, California: HarperSanFrancisco, 2000), 286.

[2] Ibid, 287.

Seeking Guidance with Martin Luther King, Jr.

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Sunday, April 30, 2017

guidance, compass

Seeking Guidance with Martin Luther King, Jr.

Dr. King was an African-American Baptist minister, assassinated in 1968. He also was a civil rights leader, an eloquent preacher, and proponent of dignified social action with the creative weapons of love and non-violence. He believed in taking the biblical stories and transforming them into God’s prophetic voice for the present, turbulent times. [1]

I was especially struck by Dr. King’s statement: “I believe firmly that love is a transforming power that can lift a whole community to new horizons of fair play, good will and justice.” [2] Love is a transforming power, indeed!

The creative weapons of love and non-violence were indeed innovative, attention-getting, and peaceful. These creative, innovative weapons were accepted by a widespread group of people, mostly people of color—but not all. In today’s parlance, a number of allies (white folks) stood with the civil rights movement.

God’s hand was clearly in the civil rights movement, in the 1950’s and 1960’s. The prophetic voice of God was heard not only throughout this country, but around the world. Alas, today many people of color are still fearful. (Or, newly fearful.) This is because of several reasons, including the rise in xenophobia, racism, and generalized fear and anxiety. Many people find themselves fearful of the rise in xenophobia and racism, coupled with random acts of vandalism and violence.

I urge those who are frightened and anxious to come together, gather to pray and meet together in groups. If enough people gather together, and refuse to retaliate with hate and anxiety, there will be a strong, vital group expressing encouragement and love.

I close with this call for prayer from Dr. King: “We ask people everywhere to pray that God will guide us, pray that justice will be done and that righteousness will stand. And I think through these prayers we will be strengthened; it will make us feel the unity of the nation and the presence of Almighty God.” [3]

Lord, in Your mercy, hear all of our prayers.

@chaplaineliza

 

Like what you read? Disagree? Share your thoughts with your loved ones and continue the conversation.

Why not visit my companion blogs, “the best of” A Year of Being Kind.  #PursuePEACE. My Facebook page, Pursuing Peace – Thanks! And, read my sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er

[1] Spiritual Classics, edited by Richard J. Foster and Emilie Griffin. (San Francisco, California: HarperSanFrancisco, 2000), 279.

[2] Ibid, 280.

[3] Ibid, 281.

Worship and Devotion with Andrew Murray

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Thursday, April 27, 2017

worship, definition

Worship and Devotion with Andrew Murray

Andrew Murray was a well-known missionary leader in the late 1800’s and into the 1900’s. Both his mother’s and father’s faith traditions were varied. As he grew and started working in ministry in South Africa, their influence caused Murray to be ecumenical. His influence grew, especially because of his many devotional writings. (Two of which I have read.)

Murray called his readers to a sincere, devout, daily devotion to God. As Murray and his readers worship God regularly, he gives them an analogy. (This was particularly striking to me.) “There is no more wonderful image in nature of the glory of God than we find in the starry heavens…A photographic plate fixed below the telescope will reveal millions of stars which otherwise could never have been seen by the eye…What a lesson for the soul that longs to see the glory of God in His Word. Let your heart be as a photographic plate that waits for God’s glory to be revealed…The plate must be exposed for several hours to receive the full impression of the farthest stars.” [1]

What a marvelous insight. As I am still before God, God will imprint God’s glory—the stars, and whatever wonderful insights and impressions—upon that photographic plate that is my heart. Then, I will be able to more fully appreciate and apprehend God’s magnificent works and ways. Is there any other response to make, other than to hide my face in awe and wonder and sigh, “How great Thou art!”

Further on in the reading, Murray writes these words, requesting our Lord Jesus to teach us to pray. (I cannot understand why he wrote them, since he was so connected to God…but, there it is.)  “Blessed Lord Jesus! O my Lord! You are the Great Intercessor. You alone pray and hear prayer for the sole purpose of glorifying the Father. Teach me to pray at you do.” [2]

Ah, such a request! Even more so, coming from such a man who strove mightily to do the very best he could in service, as well as to evangelism. And, especially in prayer and devotion. Dear Lord, gracious God, teach us to pray with one fraction of the intensity and fervency of Andrew Murray. Please, dear God. Fulfill this earnest prayer. Amen.

@chaplaineliza

Like what you read? Disagree? Share your thoughts with your loved ones and continue the conversation.

Why not visit my companion blogs, “the best of” A Year of Being Kind.  #PursuePEACE. My Facebook page, Pursuing Peace – Thanks! And, read my sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er

[1] Spiritual Classics, edited by Richard J. Foster and Emilie Griffin. (San Francisco, California: HarperSanFrancisco, 2000), 272.

[2] Ibid, 274.

Worship Poems by Gerard Manley Hopkins

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Monday, April 24, 2017

worship word cloud

Worship Poems by Gerard Manley Hopkins

Fr. Hopkins was born in England, studied at Oxford, and converted to Catholicism. He became a Jesuit priest, serving as teacher, scholar, preacher and administrator. He was also a poet, and wrote to document and celebrate God’s glories in nature.

Two short poems are included in this excerpt. In the first, Fr. Hopkins talks of grandeur at the beginning: “The world is charged with the grandeur of God.” “Shining,” “flame out,” “greatness.” This is Hopkins’ starting point. However, things soon get messed up from there. Sadly, “seared…bleared, smeared” come next in the downward procession. “Smudge“ and “smell” are certainly unpleasant words and thoughts.

What kinds of things do these two overarching images mean to you? The first, pleasant and even wondrous. The second word? Irritating, perhaps even weary, come to mind. The poem makes me think of the height, length and breadth of the night sky: showing a number of different kinds of emotions.

And, the complete stanza:
“The world is charged with the grandeur of God.

It will flame out, like shining from shook foil;

It gathers to a greatness, like the ooze of oil

Crushed. Why do men then now not reck his rod?

Generations have trod, have trod, have trod;

And all is seared with trade; bleared, smeared with toil;

And wears man’s smudge and shares man’s smell: the soil

Is bare now, nor can foot feel, being shod.” [1]

 

Dear Lord, gracious God, praise to your name. My words are so paltry and poor, they can barely stand on the same page with Fr. Hopkins and his words of grandeur and power. Thank You for poets who write so beautifully. Amen.

@chaplaineliza

Like what you read? Disagree? Share your thoughts with your loved ones and continue the conversation.

Why not visit my companion blogs, “the best of” A Year of Being Kind.  #PursuePEACE. My Facebook page, Pursuing Peace – Thanks! And, read my sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er

[1] Spiritual Classics, edited by Richard J. Foster and Emilie Griffin. (San Francisco, California: HarperSanFrancisco, 2000), 266.

Worship with Charles Wesley’s Hymns

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Saturday, April 22, 2017

O for a thousand, words and cross

Worship with Charles Wesley’s Hymns

Ah, Charles Wesley. That great writer of hymns! He and his brother John were also the founders of a renewal group within the Church of England that later became the Methodist denomination.

As a church musician and lover of traditional hymnody, I have loved the Wesleys’ hymns for decades. I was excited to see Charles Wesley figure into this collection of spiritual giants, and excerpts from their writings. I read the complete, additional stanzas that Charles Wesley wrote, on the anniversary of his “second birth.” As I read this oh-so-familiar hymn, I could not but help but sing it as I read. (To the tune of AZMON, of course.)

I knew Wesley had written lots of verses for this hymn, and had even read several more than most hymnals usually print. However, this reading is the most complete I have yet seen.

He begins the first verse with praise to God. (As is perfectly appropriate.) The second verse makes mention of his anniversary! That “glad day the glorious Sun/of righteousness arose; on my benighted soul he shone/and filled it with repose.” [1]

I, too, feel as if my soul is benighted, sometimes. (Even after I know I have a relationship with God.) However, the third verse comes to my aid! “Sudden expired the legal strife,/’twas then I cease to grieve; my second, real, living life/I then began to live.” [2] Here at last I am comforted with the understanding that Jesus has, indeed, paid it all. He has cancelled the legal debt I owed, and set me free. I no longer need to grieve or be afraid.

So, then, I can sing with Christians from all over the world, for centuries, “O for a thousand tongues to sing/my great Redeemer’s praise! The glories of my God and King,/the triumphs of his grace.” [3] Indeed, His blood can make the foulest clean—and I believe Jesus’s blood covers my sins. Praise His name! What a wonderful Savior is Jesus, my Jesus. Amen. Alleluia.

@chaplaineliza

Like what you read? Disagree? Share your thoughts with your loved ones and continue the conversation.

Why not visit my companion blogs, “the best of” A Year of Being Kind.  #PursuePEACE. My Facebook page, Pursuing Peace – Thanks! And, read my sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er

[1] Spiritual Classics, edited by Richard J. Foster and Emilie Griffin. (San Francisco, California: HarperSanFrancisco, 2000), 259.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid, 260.

Worship with Evelyn Underhill

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Thursday, April 20, 2017

worship cursive

Worship with Evelyn Underhill

When I read about Evelyn Underhill, I get overwhelmed. I feel very small, indeed. She was such a talented academic, knowledgeable in the nature and forms of Christian worship. But, even more so, she had great understanding in the practical-theology end of worship and spiritual formation. (I can’t even begin to compare myself to her…)

Miss Underhill wrote classic texts on worship and mysticism. The provided excerpts on several aspects of worship are soul-stirring, indeed.

“…we are called to worship because this is the only safe, humble and creaturely way in which men can be led to acknowledge and receive the influence of an objective Reality.” [1] This deep action of the soul, as she calls it, has been found to be a reality in many people’s lives, worldwide. The impetus to worship transcends racial lines, cultural differences, differing climates and places of gathering.

“Worship, then, is an avenue which leads the creature out from his inveterate self-occupation to a knowledge of God, and ultimately to that union with God which is the beatitude of the soul.” [2] If I read Ms. Underhill’s writing correctly, she says that worship is a means of getting me out of my own head and focused away from self-occupation. I need to have something outward to direct my attention and understanding towards… If I can stop focusing on me, myself and I, that can only be beneficial.

The second part of the above statement: “that union with God which is the beatitude of the soul.” How high and lofty a statement this is. When I think of worship, I do not often concentrate on such ineffable thoughts. True. (Guilty as charged.) However, just because I rarely think of such thoughts does not make them false. Ah, “the beatitude of the soul.” I just taught a bible study sequence on the Beatitudes, so I do understand them a bit better than I did before. I understand this quote a bit better, too.

Miss Underhill, I wish I could get closer to the true heart of worship. Thank You for Your great writing and example. Dear God, gracious God, thank You for loving us far more than we deserve and caring for us even when we run away.

@chaplaineliza

Like what you read? Disagree? Share your thoughts with your loved ones and continue the conversation.

Why not visit my companion blogs, “the best of” A Year of Being Kind.  #PursuePEACE. My Facebook page, Pursuing Peace – Thanks! And, read my sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er

[1] [1] Spiritual Classics, edited by Richard J. Foster and Emilie Griffin. (San Francisco, California: HarperSanFrancisco, 2000), 254.

[2] Ibid.

Adolfo Quezada, Confession and Compassion

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Tuesday, April 18, 2017

compassion heart

Adolfo Quezada, Confession and Compassion

Adolfo Quezada is a licensed professional counselor in California. He has published several books, and is a loving, caring, supportive counselor. He specializes particularly in depression, anxiety, grief and trauma. He also leads prayer retreats.

As I alluded to in the title of this post, Quezada is all for letting go of what happened in people’s individual lives. There is the negative side: things people have said, done or thought. Quezada recommends: “Make restitution as best you can in ways that bring healing and restore harmony to your life and lives of those you have hurt.” [1]

I read Quezada’s profound statement, “When you accept God’s love, you also accept God’s forgiveness.” [2] This is truly life-changing, for some people. People who feel that whatever they might have done was so terribly awful that God would never forgive them, and—guess what? God really will forgive us. Even more so than flawed parents who sometimes interfere with their children and even reject them, God will never, ever reject us.

Then, I noticed this gut-wrenching statement: “Reconsider your expectations. Examine the demands you make on yourself. Are they realistic? What do you base them on?” [3] Ah, so painful. So much pain in these few words. God will help us all with those faulty, unrealistic expectations. We all can gain access to God’s immeasurable, bountiful love and mercy.

I can—we all can—experience God’s love. Generous and unconditional. Do you feel unworthy? Or, perhaps, disgruntled at someone, so you have something blocking you from God’s love? Nevertheless, God loves you. Abundantly, immeasurably, marvelously, God’s love lasts forever. Amazing love and grace and mercy.  Alleluia.

@chaplaineliza

Like what you read? Disagree? Share your thoughts with your loved ones and continue the conversation.

Why not visit my companion blogs, “the best of” A Year of Being Kind.  #PursuePEACE. My Facebook page, Pursuing Peace – Thanks! And, read my sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er

[1] Spiritual Classics, edited by Richard J. Foster and Emilie Griffin. (San Francisco, California: HarperSanFrancisco, 2000), 246.

[2] Ibid, 247.

[3] Ibid.