Tag Archives: spirituality

Contemplate, Imagine and Pray

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Psalter - Westminster_Psalter_David playing the harp. c. 1200

Contemplate, Imagine and Pray

When I think about Ignatian prayer, the first thing that comes to mind is using my imagination. My “imagining cap” is never very far away, and I find imagining is often a fairly easy thing for me to do—to think and to pray in a way that invites imagination.

As Father Gallagher describes Ignatian contemplation, he says it is very much tied to the spiritual imagination. However, he also stresses personal reflection.

Is it that I am becoming more reflective as I find myself in my middle years, or is it my middle years that make me more reflective? I can sit and contemplate and pray at the drop of a hat, it seems. I mean, contemplate and pray for a half hour at a time now. In my thirties, that used to be much more of a challenge. Has my life and activities slowed down? I tend not to think so. Have I slowed down more, internally? Spiritually? Slowed myself down to the speed of contemplative prayer and meditation? Or, is it that I am finding more ease in the act of contemplation and prayer? Perhaps so. I am not sure which, but—perhaps.

Father Timothy describes the three steps of Ignatian contemplation in bullet points:

  • I see the persons
  • I hear the words
  • I observe the actions

“The process by which I imaginatively see the person, hear he words, and observe the actions of a Gospel [or, to speak more broadly, of a Biblical] scene, participating personally in the event, is Ignatian contemplation.” [1] He then addresses the questions that may come up as a matter of course: “Can I be personally active in the scene? Can I trust that God’s grace will operate in this imaginative approach? How can I know it is not ‘just my imagination?’” [2]

I can still vividly remember instances when I did use my imagination, and Ignatian prayer and contemplation. It was some years ago when the most vivid time happened. Yes, it is real. Yes, I can remember it with crystal clarity—and that does not happen very often at all.

Dear Lord, help me to practice Ignatian prayer and contemplation more often. I want to encounter You in a more intimate way, a way I have not been experiencing lately in my prayer times. Thank You for those times of prayer in the past. May I—may we experience more of You, Your heart, Your love for us and for others. In Your Son’s precious name we pray, amen.

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] Meditation and Contemplation: An Ignatian Guide to Praying with Scripture, Timothy M. Gallagher, OVM (United States of America: Crossroad Publishing, 2008), 36.

[2] Ibid, 37.

Karl Rahner, and the Daily Routine

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Karl Rahner

Karl Rahner, and the Daily Routine

Karl Rahner—a major Christian theologian of the 20th century, professor of Dogmatics and Theology at several prestigious universities, and one of the men who had a part in crafting the language of Vatican II. He was also a man of intense spirituality and service to his fellows.

“Look at this routine, O God of Mildness….Isn’t [my soul] just like a noisy bazaar, where I and the rest of mankind display our cheap trinkets to the restless, milling crowds?” [1] This is what Fr. Rahner wrote in Encounters with Silence. This is what he considered his life to be: a life of diligent service to God.

Rahner wished that he might experience God’s mercy. This was one of his most fervent wishes—between the times that the daily, everyday routine cluttered up his life, that is.

“How can I redeem this wretched humdrum? How can I turn myself toward the one thing necessary, toward You? How can I escape from the prison of this routine?” [2] And then, Fr. Rahner answers this very question: “Aren’t You my Creator? Haven’t You made me a human being? And what is man but a being that is not sufficient to itself, a being who sees his own insufficiency, so that he longs naturally and necessarily for Your Infinity?” [3]

Oh, how perceptive is Karl Rahner. How petty is humanity in its unrepentant, even unwashed state! Fr. Rahner echoes Psalm 8 in his musings, finally announcing that the long-lasting stars will remain, long after you and I and our friends are all gone. (For that matter, after our enemies are gone, too.)  Yes, even the disillusioned heart/person can take heart in God, for God is truly all that we really need.

Dear Lord, thank You for being with us, day or night. Thank You for coming to us unexpectedly, visiting us with your care, concern, and encouragement. For, it is as Fr. Rahner said: “only through You can I continue to be myself with You, when I go out of myself to be with the things of the world.” [4] Lord, in Your mercy, hear all 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), 217.

[2] Ibid, 219.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Ibid, 221.

Meister Eckhart: Be of Service

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Friday, April 7, 2017

serve one another, Mark 10

 

Meister Eckhart: Be of Service

We come to another medieval spiritual writer, Meister Eckhart. Yes, and much more than that. He entered the Dominican order, studied in Paris and Cologne, became Dominican prior at Erfurt, and soon started serving as Professor of Theology at Strasbourg. All the while, he also preached and served as spiritual director. Although he was brought up on charges by inquisitors in Cologne, some time later these charges were found to be largely fabricated and politically motivated—but, too late. Meister Eckhart had died while traveling to clear his name. [1]

This excerpt from one of Eckhart’s sermons features Martha and Mary. He lifts up Martha as mature and a person of depth. Interesting that she was more of the servant of the two sisters. “Now Martha says, ‘Lord, tell her to help me.’ Martha did not say this out of anger. She spoke rather out of a loving kindness because she was hard pressed. We must indeed call it a loving kindness or a lovable form of teasing.” [2]

Now, let’s look at Mary, sitting at our Lord’s feet. Eckhart’s words: “she yearned without knowing what it was she yearned after, and she desired without knowing what she desired!” [3] Ah, to be Mary, and to think “that she can already do what she wishes so long as she is only seated beneath your consolation.” [4]

Indeed, as our Lord Jesus says to Martha, only one thing is necessary: “I and you, embraced one by the eternal light—that is one thing.” [5] Yes, Jesus calls us to serve. And, yes, Jesus calls us to study, sit, and drink in the presence of the Lord. Both/and, not either/ or. As I reflect upon this interpretation of Martha and Mary, I tend to agree with Richard Foster. Yes, I appreciate Eckhart’s central point. Yes, “spirituality and service are inseparable twins.” [6]

Dear Lord, as I read this narrative again, I am also reminded of my tendency to swing to extremes on the pendulum. Help me—help all of us—to find a healthy balance. 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), 205.

[2] Ibid, 206.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Ibid, 207.

[5] Ibid.

[6] Ibid. 209.

Be Careful How You Pray. An Introduction.

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Monday, May 4, 2015

experience prayer

Be Careful How You Pray. An Introduction.

I find I am fascinated by the book Inner Compass. This book is on Ignatian spirituality. And, it is also on prayer and how to orient ourselves to God.

Specifically on prayer, I love how St. Ignatius gives specific instruction in what to do. Margaret Silf also passes on the principles of Ignatian prayer. That is, a style of prayer and meditation that will deepen the pray-er’s understanding of God. One highlight that Ignatian prayer holds for me is lively use of the imagination. A close second stand-out is how reflective and deeply meaningful it can be.

My caution? Ignatian prayer can be slow and subtle. It can also be strong and sudden—just like my feelings. Not that this form of prayer isn’t unpredictable, but I would say surprising, instead.

I so want to dig deeply into Silf’s understanding of the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius; but I get the sudden feeling that this would be like jumping off the deep end of the pool. (Not unlike the way that I got into the Spiritual Exercises, ten years ago. But I digress.)

As an introduction, let me quote from the first chapter of Inner Compass: “When we open ourselves to God in prayer, we invite him to enter our Who center, bringing the gifts of the Spirit into the heart of our lived experience, with all its problems, pain, and sin.” [1]

St. Ignatius considered prayer very much a gift from God. When we enter into the adventure of prayer, what Silf calls our Who center [Who each of us is, deep down, inside] can be deeply triggered. Accessing that gift of prayer can split me wide open. Open to praise of God, yes. But open to problems, pain and sin, as well.

Be careful what you pray for, and how you pray, indeed. Especially using Ignatian prayer.

(To be continued!)

@chaplaineliza

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

Why not visit my sister blogs, “the best of” A Year of Being Kind.   @chaplaineliza And, read sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er .

[1] Silf, Margaret, Inner Compass: Introduction to Ignatian Spirituality (Chicago: Loyola Press, 1999), 4.

Day #15 – Share a Verse? Sometimes. Today? Yes.

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Friday, March 6, 2015

serenity prayer

Day #15 – Share a Verse? Sometimes. Today? Yes.

Sharing a Scripture verse in conversation? Yes, when appropriate. When it comes to mind. It doesn’t always, but today it did. The verse was quite appropriate. But, you be the judge of that.

Every few weeks, I volunteer at a hospital inpatient unit. I have a certificate in Alcohol and Drug Counseling, and I go to a drug and alcohol rehab unit to facilitate an hour on spirituality. This is one of the most rewarding things I can do. I get such encouragement out of giving people some hope and light and letting them know that there is a solution. Giving and serving, getting out of myself is truly a rewarding thing to do. On a regular basis.

These people are very early in recovery. Only a few days, in some cases. Perhaps a week or maybe ten days. I see it as my job to give them some hope, some tools, some explanation of something outside of themselves that can help them to stay clean and sober, one day at a time.

The rehab unit relies strongly on the 12 Step model of recovery. Not completely, but it is a major part of this unit’s philosophy. Accordingly, I base my facilitation on Steps 2 and 3, talking about the help of a Higher Power, and about God as each individual understands God. I try to give each person help and assistance at understanding this Higher Power. We were going around the room. I asked each person to give me a describing word that tells me about the Higher Power or God that helps each one, personally, to stay clean and sober one day at a time.

I’ve done this many times before. Everyone in the room knew that I am a pastor, and have worked as a chaplain in a hospital for most of the past ten years. So, I would transition in and out of “God talk.” When a person said they understood God in a Christian sense, I would switch and speak of God that way. However, some people in the group had difficulty approaching that idea. So, I would affirm them in their belief—of the Group of Drunks or Good Orderly Direction, or whatever their understanding led them towards.

As in the past, I received some excellent adjectives or attributes of God/Higher Power. Loving, believing, caring, helping. And several other marvelous words. About three quarters of the way around the circle, someone said “forgiving.” I made certain this patient was speaking of God in a Christian sense, and the patient and I exchanged a sentence or two about the awesomeness of God’s forgiveness of our sins. And then, it bubbled up out of me. One of my favorite Bible verses from Psalm 103. “As far as the east is from the west, so far has God removed our transgressions/sins from us.” It just popped out of my mouth. Boom.

I acknowledge that not everyone in the room was/is completely comfortable with “quoting Scripture verses.” Yes. However, I had been with the group for about 45 minutes. I believe I had some credibility with them by this time, and shown myself to be understanding and encouraging. Not divisive, rigid or negative about their individual beliefs. I think this was by far an excellent way for me to share some of my experience, strength and hope with them. And, I hope my suggestions help them to stay clean and sober, one day at a time. Today. Again, with God/HP’s help, there is a solution.

God, I pray for all the good people I saw at the inpatient unit today. Please, help them in their difficulties. Encourage and support each one as they show each other caring, support and love. And help all the people in recovery I know to stay clean and sober, one day at a time. Amen.

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

(Check out #40acts; doing Lent generously at www.40acts.org.uk )

Why not visit my sister blogs, “the best of” A Year of Being Kind.   @chaplaineliza And read #40acts sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er .