Friday, October 17, 2014

Amazing Grace

I subscribe to periodic meditations that my dear friend Gerry Straub, founder of Pax et Bonum Communications sends out.  Today I received the following reflection:

Amazing Grace

Sin is saying no to grace. Sin closes my eyes to the truth. Sin erodes the will and renders it impossible to stand against the tyranny of lust in all its manifestations. Sin weakens us, then kills us.
Christ’s resurrection turned disgrace into grace. Grace opens the door to the possibility of change. Grace changes a person. Conversion is about being changed.
Grace is the breath of Love. Beg for the grace of prayer. Hail Mary, full of grace, help me to pray.

Think about it... sin and grace... in other words:

Sin - being hood-winked into resentment, refusing to ask for forgiveness and not forgiving.

Grace - awakening after hearing the cock crow, recognizing complicity in sin and humbly asking for forgiveness.

Amazing Grace

Whenever I reflect on amazing grace I am always lured back into song. Though I have a lot of favorite versions of Amazing Grace, this one stands out for me because of he includes the "amazing grace history."  I hope you like it.  

Amazing Grace History/"Amazing Grace" By Wintley Phipps

Are you coming into or going out of focus?

Focus in life is everything.

focus fo·cus (fō'kəs): to adjust a lens or instrument to produce a clear image. To converge on or toward a central point of approach or way of looking.
Have you ever lost focus?
There are no 'sidelines' in life; we are always in motion, even standing still we are coming into focus or we are going out of focus. There is no fixed or static place lacking movement as if on the ‘sidelines’. 
We can often be coerced into thinking we have been regulated to the 'sidelines' and thus deny the “interconnectedness” of living a life lived in responsibility - in focus. 
Interconnectedness is the human mimetic dynamic and choosing to participate is the beginning of prayer entering into the realm of holiness and conversion.
Some nuggets to focus on:

In his book, Dostoevsky: Language, Faith and Fiction Rowan Williams wrote that a holy image or 

icon not only reveals the mystery it portrays; it reveals what is hidden in the person who is confronted by it.

Søren Kierkegaard, the Danish philosopher, poet, theologian, social critic and religious author once said, 

The function of prayer is not to influence God, but rather to change the nature of the one who prays.

The great 20th century theologian Karl Barth is famous for saying, 

Courage is fear that has said its prayers.

François Fénélon, Archbishop and spiritual director of many, writes:  

There is nothing in me that preceded all his gifts and that could have served as a vessel to receive them. The first of his gifts, the basis of all the others, is that which I call my own "I": God has given me this "I"; I owe him not merely everything I have but also everything I am.... Everything is a gift, and he who receives the gifts is himself first of all a gift received. (cited by von Balthasar 1986, 152)

Remember, if out of focus there is always prayer.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

October 4 - Canticles of St. Francis

Click on this links below for videos and meditations on the life and words of St. Francis of Assisi. The videos feature music composed by Richard Blackford, from his Mirror of Perfection CD, and narration by Jeremy Irons. The video series capture 5 of the 7 pieces from the CD. Enjoy.

Canticles of St. Francis

More meditations on the words of St Francis from The Writings of St. Francis: "The Canticle of Love."
Love of loves, why have you so wounded me? My heart, torn from its dwelling, is consumed with love.
It is on fire, it burns, it finds no resting place, it cannot flee because it is chained up. It is consumed like wax in the fire. Dying it lives. Its languor is sweet, it prays for power to escape for a while and finds itself in the middle of a furnace. Alas, where will this terrible faintness lead me? The burning heat of this fire so stifles me that it is death to live like this.
Before making trial of it, I prayed to Christ asking for his love. I thought that I would find sweetness in his love and that I would delight in his gentle peace so much that no worries would be able to trouble me. But I experienced a torment that I could never have imagined. The heat breaks my heart. I cannot describe how I suffer. I am dying of sweetness and I live deprived of my heart.
My heart wounded by divine love, is no longer my own. I have no judgement, no will, no ability to enjoy myself or sense of feeling. All beauty seems to be like mud and delights and riches are perdition. A tree of love, laden with fruit, is planted in my heart and nourishes me. It transforms me so much that it expels my self-will, intelligence and strength.
If I was able to love more I would, but my heart can love no more. Clearly, I cannot give more than myself, even if I desire to give more than that. I have given everything to possess this Lover who has made a new man of me since I found him. O goodness old and always new, immense Light whose splendour is so sweet!
My heart is enraptured, and I can no longer see that I have to do or what I have not to do. People who observe me ask if a love without deeds can please thee, O Christ. If it does not please you what can I do? My heart is worn out with abundance of Christ’s love. Love, which enfolds me, takes away all action and all initiative. I lose all sense of feeling.
Before, I knew how to speak; now, I am dumb. Before, I could see; now, I am blind. There has never been such a great capture. I am silent, and I speak; I fly, and I am chained; I fall, and I am raised up; I hold, and I am held. All at the same moment I am inside and outside; I pursue and I am pursued. Insensate Love, why dost thou make me mad, why dost thou kill me in such a raging furnace?
Why have you led me into such a furnace if it is your will that I should keep within bounds? In giving yourself to me without measure you have taken all measure from me. Since I am small you fully satisfy me and as you are great I cannot possess you any more. If this is foolishness, O Love, it comes from you and not from me. You, O Love, have directed me along this path.