Monday, September 30, 2013

Spiritual life

Spiritual life is like living water 
that springs up from the very depths 
of our own spiritual experience.  
In spiritual life everyone has to drink 
from his or her own well.  

~  St. Bernard of Clairvaux

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Micheal and the Angels

Known as Michaelmas this day recalls the fact that we dwell in "this vale of sorrows" a place of spiritual conflict between the Kingdom of God and the powers of darkness.

Micheal along with Gabriel, Raphael and Uriel, is one of the four archangels revered in Christian tradition.

Michael the Archangel is no sweet cherub. He is traditionally known as the commander-in-chief of the heavenly host, a strong warrior and a presence who presides from on high.

Often depicted with sword in hand, subduing a dragon or with a snake under foot, Michael represents divine strength and courage in the face of evil. In Church tradition he is seen as a champion of the weak and sick, a defender of the oppressed and the righteous.

We find him in the Book of Daniel in chapters 10 and 12, where he is referred to as “the great prince, the protector of your people” (Daniel. 12:1). In the last book of the New Testament, Michael figures prominently in the great war in heaven: “And war broke out in heaven, Michael and his angels fought against the dragon.” (Revalation. 12:7)

Possibly because they are close to the skies, high places have been seen by Christians through the ages as strategic places to claim or capture. Hills mountains and churches at high altitude are often named after or deicated to Micheal. In the Celtic lands of Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Cornwall and Brittany, various high places are dedicated to St. Michael—Mont St. Michel off the northwest coast of France, for example.

His intervention is called to mind at the time of dying, carrying the soul saftley " a cross the river hard to see". This idea of Micheal as the ferryer of the dying soul is also reflected in the American spiritual "Micheal row the boat a shore". Milk and honey on the other side, Hallelujiah.

Among the Celtic peoples there was a clear awareness that, even though creation is good and comes from God’s own goodness, evil is in the world. They understood the patristic teaching that God’s gracious gift of freewill, allows room to choose life or death, bringing with it the risk of our choosing evil. Michael and the host of heaven were called upon in the face of “spiritual forces of wickedness that rebel against God,” and “the evil powers of this world.” (Book of Common Prayer, p. 302)

The prayers from the Hebridean tradition of Scotland invoke Michael’s protecting presence:

O Michael of the angels
And the righteous in heaven,
Shield thou my soul
With the shade of thy wing;
Shield thou my soul
On earth and in heaven;
From foes upon earth,
From foes beneath earth,
From foes in concealment.
Protect and encircle
My soul ‘neath thy wing,
Oh my soul with the shade of thy wing. (Carmina Gadelica III, 149)

As an angel of God, Michael rides the winds of God’s creative goodness, serving Christ, the living Word through whom all things seen and unseen have come into being. He accompanies us through the twists of life’s journey and the passage of death. 

a living water reprint from 2008

Friday, September 27, 2013

The Sign of the Cross

Over the past 10 years i have developed the habit of Crossing my self. I apply this particularly when i first wake, before eating and after praying. I have found this to be a good way to put me in mind of the Presence. I've also taken to doing this instead of saying an audable grace particularly in public settings..
In the tradition of the eastern and western churches ( Roman Catholic and Orthox) it is customary to cross ones self when invoking the Trinity.

I have adopted the Orthox method for making the sign of the cross.

Use your right hand, even if you are left-handed. Hold your thumb and first two fingers together, and fold the other two fingers down against the base of your thumb.

Touch your forehead
Touch your navel
Touch your right shoulder
Touch your left shoulder
As you cross yourself, say, whisper, or think: “In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.” ( i add "the sacred three in one", my celtic connection)
The movements trace a cross on the body.
The three fingers represent the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit; the two fingers folded down represent the human and divine natures of Christ. Fully Man. Fully God.

living reprint from 2008

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Cadoc (? - 570)

St. Cadoc one of the great Welsh saints, Cadoc was born around 497 in Gelligaer he began life under a cloud of violence. His father, Gwynllyw the Bearded, was a robber chieftain and one of the lesser kings of Wales.

Cadoc's father stoled a cow belonging to the Irish monk, St. Tathyw. When the monk came fearlessly to reclaim the animal, Gwynllyw asked him to baptise his son and surrender him to the monks care. Cadoc was raised at Caerwent in Monmouthshire by Tathyw, who later became a hermit.

In adulthood, Cadoc refused to take charge of his father's army and instead founded a hermitage at Llancarfan that grew into a Monastery. The monastic community near Cardiff became a famous centre of learning in Wales.

He proselytized over a large area of his own country and went as a missionary to Brittany coast in France.

Cadoc went on pilgrimages to both Jerusalem and Rome and was distressed that the Synod of Llanddewi Brefi was held during one of these absences.

Returning to Britain he was martyred near Weedon, England by the occupying Saxons.

Cadoc's story appears in a
Vita Cadoci written shortly before 1086 by Lifris of Llancarfan. He came into conflict with king Arthur, who is mentioned twice in the vita, as great and bold but willful. The reference is important as one of seven sources mentioning Arthur independently of Geoffrey of Monmouth's Historia Regum Britanniae and adds credance to the historicity of Arthur.

living water reprint from 2008

Monday, September 23, 2013

John Tauler (1300 - 1351)

John Tauler considered one of the primary German mystics along with Meister Ekhart and Henry Suso was born about the year 1300 in Strasbourg, entered the Dominican order (probably at the age of about fifteen) and was educated at the Dominican convent in that city.  Ekhart, who greatly influenced Tauler, was active in Strasbourg c1313-26, though it is unclear what relationship they may have had.

 Around 1330 Tauler began his preaching career in Strasbourg. The city contained eight convents of Dominican nuns and perhaps seventy smaller beguine communities. It seems likely that (as with Meister Ekhart, and Henry Suso), much of his preaching was directed to holy women. Most of Tauler's nearly eighty sermons seem to reflect a convent situation, although this may partly reflect the setting in which such sermons were most likely to be written down and preserved.

 Tauler worked with the Friends of God, and it was with them that he taught his belief that the state of the soul was affected more by a personal relationship with God than by external practices.

 Tauler traveled  extensively in the last two and a half decades of his life. He made several trips to Cologne. A number of his sermons were clearly delivered there, as indicated by their survival in the Cologne dialect of Middle High German.

Tauler left no formal treatises, either in Latin or the vernacular. Rather, he leaves around eighty sermons. His sermons began to be collected in his own lifetime - three fourteenth-century manuscripts date from around the time of Tauler's return to Strasbourg after his exile in Base. His sermons,  were considered among the noblest in the German language -- not as emotional as Suso's nor as speculative as Eckhart's, but rather intensely practical, touching on all sides the deeper problems of the moral and spiritual life.

 He was one of several notable Christian universalists in the Middle Ages, along with Amalric of Bena  John of Rusybrook, and Juilan of Norwich. He taught that "All beings exist through the same birth as the Son, and therefore shall they all come again to their original, that is, God the Father."

According to tradition, Tauler died on 16 June 1361 in Strasbourg. He was buried in the Dominican church in Strasbourg with an incised gravestone that still survives

compiled from several sources

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Henri Nouwen (Jan. 24, 1932 – Sept 21, 1996)

 Henri Nouwen was a writer, teacher, spiritual guide and Roman Catholic priest why was pastor of the L'Arche Daybreak community from 1986 until his death in 1996. Henri's desire for community and passionate conviction that those rejected by society have essential and prophetic gifts to offer took shape during the 1960's through his involvement with the American civil rights movement led by Martin Luther King, Jr.

Trained in psychology, his career took him to a variety of teaching positions at Notre Dame, Yale and Harvard, and ongoing involvement in American peace and social justice movements. Henri constantly looked for ways to help people deepen their spiritual foundations and cultivate community. He is one of the most popular and prolific spiritual writers of the later twentieth century.
In 1985, Henri spent a year at L'Arche in Trosly, and in 1986 the L'Arche Daybreak community became Henri's home. As a member of L'Arche, Henri continued to travel and speak. He usually travelled with members of his L'Arche community.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

George MacDonald (1824-1905)

Quotes From Phantastes

“It is by loving, and not by being loved, that one can come nearest the soul of another; yea, that, where two love, it is the loving of each other, that originates and perfects and assures their blessedness. I knew that love gives to him that loveth, power over over any soul be loved, even if that soul know him not, bringing him inwardly close to that spirit; a power that cannot be but for good; for in proportion as selfishness intrudes, the love ceases, and the power which springs therefrom dies. Yet all love will, one day, meet with its return. ” 

“I learned that it is better, a thousand-fold, for a proud man to fall and be humbled, than to hold up his head in his pride and fancied innocence. I learned that he that will be a hero, will barely be a man; that he that will be nothing but a doer of his work, is sure of his manhood. In nothing was my ideal lowered, or dimmed, or grown less precious; I only saw it too plainly, to set myself for a moment beside it. Indeed, my ideal soon became my life; whereas, formerly, my life had consisted in a vain attempt to behold, if not my ideal in myself, at least myself in my ideal.”

 “I knew now, that it is by loving, and not by being loved, that one can come nearest the soul of another; yea, that, where two love, it is the loving of each other, and not the being loved by each other, that originates and perfects and assures their blessedness. I knew that love gives to him that loveth, power over any soul beloved...” 

 “...[T]wo of you can be no match for the three giants, I will find you, if I can, a third brother, who will take on himself the third share of the fight, and the preparation...I will show him to you in a glass, and, when he comes, you will know him at once. If he will share your endeavors, you must teach him all you know, and he will repay you well, in present song, and in future deeds.'

She opened the door of a curious old cabinet that stood in the room. On the inside of this door was an oval convex mirror...we at length saw reflected the place where we stood, and the old dame seated in her the feet of the dame lay a young man...weeping.

'Surely this youth will not serve our ends,' said I, 'for he weeps.'

The old woman smiled. 'Past tears are present strength,'said she.”

Friday, September 13, 2013

Fredrich Schelling ( 1773-1854 )

Schelling was an important German philosopher who understood history as an unfolding of God as absolute spirit.He asserted that everything including God moves toward self consciousness, with creation going out from God and returning enriched. Thus the universe is a work of art in the making. Schellings later work emphasized mystic intuition, influencing protestant theology through the work of Paul Tillich.

Some of Schellings  thoughts on God and History

"History as a whole is a progressive, gradually self-disclosing revelation of the Absolute." (System of Transcendental Idealism, 1800)

 As there is nothing before or outside of God he must contain within himself the ground of his existence. All philosophies say this, but they speak of this ground as a mere concept without making it something real and actual." (Philosophical Inquiries into the Nature of Human Freedom, 1809)

 "Now if the appearance of freedom is necessarily infinite, the total evolution of the Absolute is also an infinite process, and history itself a never wholly completed revelation of that Absolute which, for the sake of consciousness, and thus merely for the sake of appearance, separates itself into conscious and unconscious, the free and the intuitant; but which itself, however, in the inaccessible light wherein it dwells, is Eternal Identity and the everlasting ground of harmony between the two." (System of Transcendental Idealism, 1800)

 "Has creation a final goal? And if so, why was it not reached at once? Why was the consummation not realized from the beginning? To these questions there is but one answer: Because God is Life, and not merely Being."

Monday, September 9, 2013

Mother Theresa (1910 - 1997)

A Story

Mother Teresa visited Australia. A new recruit to the Franciscan order in Australia was assigned to be her guide and “gofer” during her stay. “Thrilled and excited at the prospect of being so close to this woman, he dreamed of how much he would learn from her and what they would talk about. But during her visit, he became frustrated. Although he was constantly near her, the friar never had the opportunity to say one word to Mother Teresa. There were always other people for her to meet. Finally, her tour was over, and she was due to fly to New Guinea. In desperation, the friar spoke to Mother Teresa. “If I pay my own fare to New Guinea, can I sit next to you on the plane so I can talk to you and learn from you?” Mother Teresa looked at him. “You have enough money to pay airfare to New Guinea?” she asked. “Oh, yes,” he replied eagerly. “Then give that money to the poor,” she said. “You’ll learn more from that than anything I can tell you.”