The Sign of Jonas58 by Thomas Merton

read by Bro. Mark

thesignofjonas58.mp3

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The Sign of Jonas57 by Thomas Merton

read by Bro. Mark

thsignofjonas57.mp3

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WATER

Earlier this week, I posted a blog about entering into one’s actions consciously, rather than from learned behavior patterns automatically performed from habit; reactive conditioned behaviors proceeding from the ego- portion of our conscious Mind, if you will.  Well, it seems Grace has provided me ample material for Practice in that last night, our Building Management informed us that they would be working on the pipes and plumbing to repair some breakage in the line all day Today.  And that we would have no Water for the entire day as a result. How one can be so ignorant of the extent to which the simple and humble resource of Water is essential to every part of one’s daily life is amazing to me!  The Water has been off since early this morning and already I have gone to the tap at least 15 times. And I am trying to remain Conscious…HA! There has been the pouring of water to take my medications, the water needed to brush my teeth, to wash my breakfast dishes, to make a cup of coffee.  There has been the flushing of the toilet, the washing my face, the rinsing off of food from my hands.  No laundry can be done today.  Water needed in the iron to iron my clothing.  Water to quench my thirst.  I had made it a Practice some time ago never to waste Water, turning off the tap in between teeth brushing and rinsing, etc. But, to be without it altogether….

Beyond my own needs, I thenthought of the people of Southern California, who so often suffer from the lackof rainfall.  I thought of the farmerswho beyond doubt are much more aware of the importance of Water for thesuccessful growth of their crops and harvest than I.  I thought of the thoughtless pollution of ourRivers and Streams which render much of our Water undrinkable. I think you getthe idea.

For Lent today, my opportunityhas been offered me by Grace to accept and make use of this sacrifice of Waterand all it entails.  To ponder thesufferings of others who suffer this regularly as part of their normal lives,as well as my own 24-hour inconvenience,for which I am already repenting my ignorance to Thank God daily for thiswondrous blessing, so easily taken for granted in our modern day and age.

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LENT: A Time To Surrender What Is Most False

“Repent” means “change the direction in which you are looking for happiness.” The call to repentance is the invitation to take stock of our emotional programs for happiness based on instinctual needs and to change them. This is the fundamental program of Lent.”
Thomas Keating, The Mystery of Christ

How am I to enter into Lent? What will my choice/s be?
How to “change the direction in which I am looking for happiness.“?
What shall I give up and of what shall I partake as food
for the journey to resurrected life? **Newsletter from Contemplative Outreach

The late Fr. Thomas Keating did much to assist us in the understanding of our ego-based desire body with all its cravings, and likes and dislike programming. He showed us all that we each have been conditioned from even before our birth, as a result of the prevailing mental and emotional states of our mothers. And after our birth, by our cultural and our societal norms. These learned dispositions were implanted within our sub-conscious minds long before we actually were able to choose our own beliefs and behaviors. And it is from these unconscious patterns that many of us still function. This is what you might hear referred to as EGO-ic Consciousness, or the “false Self”. Our Conscious Mind therefore Re-acts according to these patterns, rather than Choosing-to Act from the Freedom which Our Lord through His sacrifice on the Cross attained for us, and to which we have all been granted access, by His Infinite and Merciful Grace.

Today, with the help of God’s Grace, I choose with care to Act, rather than to Re-act to any and all events and circumstances of this day. I choose to think before speaking, whether it is to comment on the News or to engage the conversation of a Friend. And I choose to be Grateful every time I am consciously aware of the opportunities to practice in this way throughout all the days of Lent, one day at a time…Amen!

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The Sign of Jonas56 by Thomas Merton

read by Bro. Mark

thesignofjonas56.mp3

Posted in Audio Books MP3's, Contemplation, Spirituality & Prayer, Thoughts in Solitude | Leave a comment

The Sign of Jonas55 by Thomas Merton

read by Bro. Mark

thesignofjonas55.mp3

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The Sign of Jonas54 by Thomas Merton

read by Bro. Mark

thesignofjonas54.mp3

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Contemplative Psalmody

“How lovely is Your dwelling place, Lord God of Hosts!”

“Oh God, be gracious and bless us…”

“Why are you cast down my soul; why groan within me?” 

After years of praying the Psalms of the Divine Office (excerpts above), one would think that one’s meditations on words such as these spoken by a Prophet or King David himself would have long come to an end.  And they probably would indeed, if one were to remain at the level of Psalmody as Public Proclamation. However, when praying the Office over time and from the more personal perspective of one’s own Contemplative journey, the stage of one’s former discursive reasoning does end, but it is not a bad thing at all. It often happens when one is invited deeper into the mystery. It is said that a person of prayer is then ready to enter the next realm of meaning which for some, such as St. Anthony of the desert, may strike right at their heart and cause them to sell all they have to give to the poor and follow Jesus quite literally. That stage is known as understanding Scripture at the Moral Level.  The same words one may have heard in the past a hundred times suddenly have an urgency about them that compels the person to heed them immediately. It happened to St. Francis of Assisi in that same way.  Wow, right?!  But, Scripture really comes alive when one perseveres in prayer unto the Allegorical Level (or Tropological).  A way of understanding that transcends the literal meaning altogether, while not negating it.  Then, the “dwelling place” of the Lord spoken of above is not the intended literal Temple being spoken about in the Psalm, but more the spiritual heart within the individual. It is not, however, an intellectual knowledge that makes that understanding available to the person simply by explanations such as I have provided.  It is rather an “experience” from within that one awakens to. And, out of that experience, the words become as if one’s own.  The fourth stage of this wondrous process of spiritual growth in the prayerful understanding of Scripture is known as the Unitive level (or Anagogical) of understanding.  When that same “dwelling place” of the Lord is revealed to one either from within or from On High as the Heavenly Jerusalem itself! When one has been blessed to understand in this way, the Scripture becomes one’s very own story, as its life and aliveness.  A truly Living Word which is at one and the same time a history of Salvation in Time and Space and a Timeless and ever-Present Realty that transcends Time by its very NOW-ness.

I have been on my own Monastic journey for over 30 years.  It never ceases to amaze me what treasures there are in the Scriptures.  New understandings, new awakenings, and ever-new invitations to further conversion and deeper levels of prayer.  And on those days when my pain brings down a veil of gloom upon my heart and I can see no further than my own mood, I know that I can recall from my spirit memory the deeper meaning of the words, (as above) “why are you cast down my soul….Hope in God; I will praise Him still!” And I will know that my Hope is well-founded.

So, now may I offer a humble prayer for us all that God in His Mercy continue to “be gracious and bless us”…Amen! 

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The Sign of Jonas53 by Thomas Merton

read by Bro. Mark

thesignofjonas53.mp3

Posted in Audio Books MP3's, Contemplation, Spirituality & Prayer, Thoughts in Solitude | Leave a comment

Suffering as Prayer

One must not think that a person who is suffering is not praying. He is offering up his sufferings to God, and many a time he is praying much more truly than one who goes away by himself and meditates his head off, and, if he has squeezed out a few tears, thinks that is prayer.
-St. Teresa of Avila

For people like us who live with physical and health challenges, saying prayers using the Church’s indulgenced Sacramentals – like the Rosary Beads – or The Psalter, isn’t always something we can do.  It may be a day of excessive pain or a night that passed without sleep that prevents it, however much we desired to.  And so, instead or in addition to these more formal methods of Prayer, we offer our very sufferings themselves to God as Prayer.  Apparently, this was a Practice known to be acceptable in the Church even back in St. Teresa’s time, as the Quote above shows.  But, just what is it that makes our suffering something that can help anyone?

Well, I can’t speak to that as a Theologian might, but in my opinion and from what I have observed, every Conscious Act offered to God for the sake of another’s well-being sends out a vibration of Love into the universe that carries with it an energy of pure spirit  Pure Spirit not because of our own purity, but because we have offered it to God, who then shows “acceptance”, if you will, by uniting that small offering of ours to His own Holy Spirit, purifying it of all that is less-than and unworthy of His own perfection.  If we make these offerings faithfully, daily, or even several times in the same day, how much Love would our Lord shower down upon us all?! 

Now I DID say, “every Conscious Act”. So what is a Conscious Act, then?  A Conscious Act is one done with Intention and Attention.  So many of our daily actions are done by habit or conditioning.  To make a truly Conscious Act, I try to focus however much of my attention my pain allows upon Jesus, knowing that all my desires are known to Him.  And then I will that this humble desire may be of use to relieve the sufferings of others, according to God’s Will, believing in Faith that such IS also God’s Will. Lastly, I let go and Trust in God to supply all the rest, so that this simple act may be brought to fruition in Him. 

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