The Sign of Jonas60 by Thomas Merton

read by Bro. Mark

thesignofjonas60.mp3

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The Sign of Jonas59 by Thomas Merton

read by Bro. Mark

thesignofjonas59.mp3

Posted in Audio Books MP3's, Christian Contemplative Practices, Christian Meditation, Contemplation, Hermits of the Holy Cross, Spirituality & Prayer, Thoughts in Solitude | Leave a comment

HOPE – The Perceivable Grace

“Why are you cast down, my Soul.  Why groan within me?  HOPE in God; I will Praise Him still….”                     (PS 43:5)

Yesterday, I spoke of a perceptible emptiness I called, Faith.  Today, it’s all about HOPE. I believe as Christians of this 21st century, we are in dire need of some language revisions to better communicate our spiritual journeys to each other. The language of years passed served the times for which they were intended.  But, unfortunately, those same word choices now carry the baggage of their years, as their meaning seems no longer to establish their original intention in a positive way.  One such word is, Grace.

In my youth, Grace was always one of those words that I had to accept as meaning something I could in no way see, feel, touch, taste or hear, yet it was a very real thing in the spiritual life of all Christians.  I knew I was in a “state of Grace” whenever I went to Confession and did my Penance.  I knew that receiving the Sacraments gave me Grace. I knew because I was taught as much. 

Here I now am as an Adult.  I have seen much failure, disappointment, un-happy endings, illness, deaths and suffered many losses, unforeseen changes, relationship issues, and so on…as have we all.  So, what of Hope, now that all the old definitions have lost their meaning?  It took me a while and several Meditation sessions to comprehend Hope in an entirely new way…as the perceivable Grace.  Why? Because that was the way it kept coming to me.  It wasn’t my idea.  But there it was…

During my time of processing, I again became Aware that, much like we already discovered with Faith, we all have spiritual faculties that can perceive very delicate energies, if we are attuned to them. But we must learn, through our Spiritual Practices and Disciplines, to focus our Attention on these energies, rather than on the more dense energies of our five senses.

What I found was that with HOPE, there IS the perceivable Grace manifesting itself as something like Wonder in the face of what is unknown, unseen and beyond our rational Mind to understand, but, yet, a thing of Certainty.  We KNOW something.  Something greater than what our circumstances are showing us.  When life is upside down and we have exhausted all possibilities to rectify it, it is Faith that first steps into the Void our helplessness leaves us in.  A certain letting go from deep within that we learn to sense, followed by an acceptance of a sort. Nothing in our circumstances or in the world of our 5 senses has changed.  But we Know through a different way of perceiving that we have, in fact, experienced an interior change that is undeniable.  Only then, HOPE is born!  If you think about that moment, you will recognize that actual, dimly perceivable moment when Hope is suddenly there and a new energy to move forward has been activated within.  And you understand that you can Trust that “something”.  That… that Moment of Perceivable GRACE…  HOPE!


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FAITH – A Perceptible Emptiness

FAITH – A Perceptible Emptiness

Speaking now of Faith as one of the three Theological Virtues, and not the faith one has in one’s youthful strength or good health or strong will or financial independence.  Such faith has little to do with God and much to do with one’s erroneous confidence in one’s self and in the all the delights and comforts one has surrounded one’s self with through either one’s own efforts or by inheritance.  No, I am speaking of that Faith which makes itself known when one has come face to face with the Cross of Interior Emptiness and does not flee. 

In our usual ordinary way of thinking, our brain does the work of connecting us with instantaneous solutions to various stages ofdiscomfort, whether physical, emotional or spiritual.  If we are cold, a sweater is at hand that we automatically reach for.  If we are depressed, a pill is at hand to automatically relieve us.  If we are lonesome, facebook fills that void with the touch of a keyboard log-in. We associate these automatic solutions as us just being US…ours…our own…belonging to US. This part of “US” is the domain of the ego which understands that it’swork is to provide satisfaction to the US we believe ourselves to be and to restore our peace as quickly as possible by re-establishing the status-quo. 

Now, if one has been observing the Spiritual Practice of Meditation, a surprisingly new Awareness may have arisen. Between the thought and the action of its resolution, there is this barely noticeable, momentary void.  A Perceivable moment of emptiness.  In the gap of this emptiness, if one be still enough, all things of life and eternity are present. But it is not a presence that our ordinary senses can perceive. On the contrary, this “presence” makes our ordinary senses seek relief and escape, rather than perception. But, this emptiness as “presence” is perceptible to our higher and much more finely-tuned spiritual senses.  It is here where many of us first become aware of our true spiritual poverty. If we do not run from it or end our Meditation session pre-maturely, we are given the valuable opportunity to look into the abyss of our fearful and frightened, ego-identified, false self (sometimes called our lower self). And even just that momentary glimpse can terrify us.  I believe it is the reason why a lot of people do not take up Mediation as a Spiritual Practice.  They fear the stilling of their ever-active, ever over-stimulated thoughts.  They fear they will not know who they are without them as the constant, ready proof that they are alive.

Returning now to the Emptiness….  In the fraction of a second between the thought and its connection to other thoughts or acts, this emptiness is extremely important to note.  If one is self-aware and proceeding toward Christian Maturity, one may then begin to observe that even after one’s Meditation session has ended, there can now be ordinary daily moments when this “gap of emptiness” becomes spiritually perceptible.  As one learns to let go of thoughts more and more even in one’s waking hours, that gap lengthens.  And with years and Grace, one finds one’s home more and more within the gap, rather than distracted from this blessed and sacred emptiness by thoughts of entertainment, the phone or the internet.  What is this spiritually perceptible emptiness?  For me, it is Faith.  Why? Because whenever I have found myself in a crisis – whether health related or other –  and have exhausted all my own best efforts to resolve it to no avail, there It Is…that same perceptible emptiness.  That utter sense of my own helpless-ness whispering terror to my senses. In that very instant, it is Faith alone that tells me to Surrender. To humbly present myself to the Lord knowing my need for His assistance and my dependence upon His Grace.  I know if I can learn the lessons of Faith offered me in Meditation, then I can also learn to understand the value of Faith in practice. And the amazing Grace it offers!  As St. John of the Cross once said, we must “learn to be at home in the darkness”.

Today, with God’s Grace, I will consciously develop the capacity to remain in Faith.  I will not seek to fill in the gaps of the day with frivolous entertainment to distract me from this precious emptiness wherein I shall make my Home.

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The Sign of Jonas58 by Thomas Merton

read by Bro. Mark

thesignofjonas58.mp3

Posted in Audio Books MP3's, Christian Contemplative Practices, Christian Meditation, Contemplation, Hermits of the Holy Cross, Spirituality & Prayer, Thoughts in Solitude | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Sign of Jonas57 by Thomas Merton

read by Bro. Mark

thsignofjonas57.mp3

Posted in Audio Books MP3's, Contemplation, Hermits of the Holy Cross, Spirituality & Prayer, Thoughts in Solitude | Leave a comment

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

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