The Sign of Jonas51 by Thomas Merton

read by Bro. Mark

thesignofjonas51.mp3

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LENTEN PRACTICE – A Call To The Center


The MIND BELL is an App available from the Google Play Store or from Apple, if you have an iPhone. It’s a Free download and it works very well.  As a Lenten Practice, you can set it to Gong every hour on the Hour for 7 consecutive hours, to correspond with the Monastic Practice of Praying the Divine Office 7 times a day (Ps 119:164).  There is an additional setting to sound a second Bell at the end of 30 seconds.  So, when the first Gong sounds, one is signaled to stop whatever one is doing and Remember the Presence of God within. Then, one is to Meditate on that Presence for 30 seconds until the 2nd sound, the Bell, rings at which time you resume whatever you were doing.  I like to think of this Practice as A Call to the Center.  There are additional settings to either shorten or lengthen the period of time you will stop your activity to Meditate, also. 

Why is this such a worthwhile practice?  It is a training in Attention, for one thing.  An act of Obedience for another. As a Monastic Practice, a monk must be willing to stop immediately whatever he is doing when he hears the Bell that calls him to Prayer. It reminds him that his life IS Prayer, and his Service is to God. All other occupations must ever come second to that single-minded focus.  And so, it is also a Discipline which challenges one to put their own activities aside for the moment and follow the Lord’s more immediate Call. ( Of course, to do so, one needs to be in a situation and environment that makes it possible. I wouldn’t undertake this Practice while at Work or driving. )

This simple offering of one’s time and attention is easily practiced by people such as ourselves who have certain physical and health challenges that might prevent us from observing more strenuous Lenten Practices.  I know for me, personally, Fasting is no longer an option.  My health would be seriously jeopardized by such a Discipline.  So, this Practice of the Bell works well to remind me of what really matters during Lent.  I hope that you find something of value for yourselves, as well.  God’s Peace!

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The Sign of Jonas50 by Thomas Merton

read by Bro. Mark

thesignofjonas50.mp3

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A SIMPLE LENTEN PRACTICE

In The Rule of St. Benedict it is written of the Monks that all of their life is meant to be lived as one continual Lent. But, that during the actual Season of Lent, an additional Practice is to be taken on. St. Benedict recommends nothing too difficult. Maybe an extra Book that the monk should read, cover to cover, omitting nothing and not skipping over any chapters because of one’s personal inclinations. In other words, if you’re bored with it, too bad! I say that with a smile, having recognized myself more than once in that passage. Why would that seem so important to St. Benedict, anyway? Maybe he had his reasons for the monks of that 6th Century. But, does that still have relevance for us, today?

I say an emphatic, YES it does! Reading a Book according to this instruction makes of the Book an acceptable Lenten offering to God. And, its prayerful reading, an acceptable Spiritual Practice. To read in this particular way requires a spirit of attention. A focused and vigilant effort to remain with the words of one page at a time. Patience. An open heart to receive what the message behind the words has to offer. A slow and measured reading also takes longer. It requires a certain commitment of one’s time. Likewise, it insures one’s self-will is not to be fed by denying the monk the opportunity to read only the chapters he personally prefers.

When I first read the Rule of St. Benedict many years ago, this part of Rule would have gone right over my head. I would simply have skipped it and wouldn’t even have looked back. My head would have recorded it as “Read an Extra Book for Lent”. And I would have done so, without any understanding of how it could matter on any other than the superficial level I had relegated it to. But, Today?!

Thanks be to God, Today…. I Prayerfully select a Book. Place it on my Altar. Make my Spiritual intention. Then, offer it to God with maybe a lighted candle or some incense to represent my intention. And when Lent begins, I read the words of every page, mindfully…prayerfully. I stop every so often to rest in silence. And then I go on. After 40 days, if I have remained faithful to the instruction of St. Benedict, I may actually have been blessed to have received a glimpse into Benedictine Humility. God be Praised! AMEN

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The Sign of Jonas49 by Thomas Merton

read by Bro. Mark

thesignofjonas49.mp3

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The Sign of Jonas48 by Thomas Merton

read by Bro. Mark

thesignofjonas48.mp3

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The Sign of Jonas47 by Thomas Merton

read by Bro. Mark

thesignofjonas47.mp3

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The Sign of Jonas46 by Thomas Merton

read by Bro Mark

thesignofjonas46.mp3

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The Sign of Jonas45 by Thomas Merton

read by Bro. Mark

thesignofjonas45.mp3

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The Sign of Jonas44 by Thomas Merton

read by Bro. Mark

thesignofjonas44.mp3

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