Daily Riches: “It’s Good That You Exist!” (Josef Pieper)

“If a human being already exists anyhow, could we not say that it does not matter whether a lover finds it wonderful and affirms it? Does it really add or take away anything that someone says, ‘It’s good that you exist?” . . . We are basically asking what is the ‘function’ of love within the whole of existence; what it is supposed to do and accomplish in the world. . . . It admittedly does not suffice to analyze, no matter how precisely, the lover’s intention and what is ‘really’ willed and meant by the one who feels loving concern. We must . . . examine the matter from the point of view of the person who happens to be loved. What is really taking place on his side? . . . What does it mean for a person that another turns to him and says . . . ‘It’s good that you exist?’ . . . It does not suffice us simply to exist; we can do that ‘anyhow.” What matters to us, beyond mere existence, is the explicit confirmation: It is good that you exist; how wonderful that you are! In other words, what we need over and above sheer existence is: to be loved by another person. That is an astonishing fact when we consider it closely. Being created by God actually does not suffice, it would seem; the fact of creation needs continuation and perfection by the creative power of human love. But this seemingly astonishing fact is repeatedly confirmed by the most palpable experience, of the kind that everyone has day after day. We say that a person ‘blossoms’ when undergoing the experience of being loved; that he becomes wholly himself for the first time; that a ‘new life’ is beginning for him–and so forth. For a child, and to all appearance even for the still unborn child, being loved by the mother is literally the precondition for its own thriving.” Josef Pieper

“I will betroth you to me forever;
I will betroth you in righteousness and justice,
in love and compassion.”
Hosea 2:19 NIV

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Do you have someone in your life who rejoices over you?
  • Who do you have in your life who is looking to you for love?
  • When is the last time you let someone know “It’s good that you exist!”?

Abba, I desire that people who encounter me would feel much loved.

For More: An Anthology by Joseph Pieper

Daily Riches: The Downward Path To Freedom (Richard Rohr)

“Jesus himself taught and exemplified the path of descent, which Christians have often called ‘the way of the cross.’ The path downward is much more trustworthy than any path upward, which tends to feed the ego. Like few other Christians, it was Francis of Assisi who profoundly understood that. Authentic spirituality is always on some level or in some way about letting go. Jesus said, ‘the truth will set you free’ (John 8:32). Once we see truly what traps us and keeps us from freedom we should see the need to let it go. But in a consumer society most of us have had no training in that direction. Rather, more is usually considered better. True liberation is letting go of our small self, letting go of our cultural biases, and letting go of our fear of loss and death. Freedom is letting go of wanting more and better things, and it is letting go of our need to control and manipulate God and others. It is even letting go of our need to know and our need to be right—which we only discover with maturity. We become free as we let go of our three primary energy centers: our need for power and control, our need for safety and security, and our need for affection and esteem. Francis sought freedom in all three parts of life. My good friend Fr. John Dear puts it very well: ‘Francis embodies the Gospel journey from violence to non-violence, wealth to poverty, power to powerlessness, selfishness to selfless service, pride to humility, indifference to love, cruelty to compassion, vengeance to forgiveness, revenge to reconciliation, war to peace, killing enemies to loving enemies. More than any other Christian, he epitomizes discipleship to Jesus. . . .'” Richard Rohr

“the truth will set you free”
Jesus in John 8:32

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • We often think of spiritual formation as mostly an “adding on” of virtues–for instance patience or love. Have you even thought of approaching spiritual formation by subtracting behaviors–like hurry–a practice that prevents love and contradicts patience?
  • To say “we have no training” in this is an understatement. Everything in our society teaches us the opposite. Are you seeking out other voices to teach you these kinds of truths and reinforce them in your heart and mind?
  • What can you do to more effectively “epitomize discipleship to Jesus?”

Abba, help me to join Jesus and Francis on the path of descent.

For More: You Will Be My Witnesses by John Dear

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These “Daily Riches” are for your encouragement as you seek God and God seeks you. My goal is to regularly give you something of unique value in 400 words or less. I hope you’ll follow and share my blog. Thanks for your interest! – Bill

Daily Riches: Feeling Joy In a World of Pain (Lynne Baab)

“I find it quite challenging to accept the notion that we have some sort of responsibility before God to enjoy the good things of life. For most of my adult life, I’ve had an inner dialogue running through my brain along these lines: ‘How can I truly enjoy this wonderful event when 22,000 children will die today of the effects of hunger?’ – ‘How can I relish this beautiful weather when 11.4 million Syrians are displaced from their homes?’ Ever since my mid-twenties, I’ve been much, much better at mourning with those who mourn rather than rejoicing with those who rejoice. However, I’m doing better these days enjoying God’s good gifts. I want to reflect on how that happened. …

The Sabbath.  …In Jewish tradition, prayers of intercession are not appropriate on the Sabbath because it’s a day of rest. In contrast, prayers of thankfulness are encouraged. On my Sabbath day, when I start thinking about any kind of pain in the world, the kind of situations that might motivate prayers of intercession, I tell myself, You can think about that and pray about it tomorrow. Today’s focus is rest and being present to all of God’s good gifts.’ Over many years, that Sabbath habit has helped me turn off anxiety and sorrow, albeit briefly, and focus on the gifts of the moment. …

The Psalms. In the Psalms, confession, lament, praise and thanks recur over and over, reinforcing in my mind that there is a time for everything and that life should be lived in a rhythm. Yes, it is completely appropriate to grieve over Syria and to pray for refugees. But it is equally appropriate to stop and look and enjoy the beautiful clear eyes of a small child or a flower newly unfurled.

This reality has become more real to me over time as I have practiced lack of worry and sorrow on the Sabbath and as I have practiced thankfulness. My habits have changed my thoughts. None of the shifts described here happened very quickly for me. But I can see movement over time, and I have to say that after decades of feeling so much sorrow and sadness, having a good number of moments of joy is pretty wonderful.” Lynne Baab

““For everything there is a season…
A time to grieve and a time to dance.”
Ecclesiastes 3:1,4

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Would you like a break from “feeling so much sorrow and sadness” over our pain-filled world?
  • Do you have a day in your weekly calendar where you can allow yourself to be “sorrow free?”
  • Can you see the value in such a day?

Abba, let me both weep and rejoice as I should.

For more: Sabbath Keeping by Lynne Baab

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Thanks for reading/sharing my blog. – Bill

Daily Riches: The Most Unhappy Man of All (Søren Kierkegaard, Thomas Merton, Brené Brown, Rainer Marie Rilke, Charles deFoucauld, Antoine de Saint-Exupery)

“Love me when I least deserve it, because that’s when I really need it.” Swedish Proverb

“… he who cannot love is the most unhappy man of all.” Søren Kierkegaard

“Strong hate, the hate that takes joy in hating, is strong because it does not believe itself to be unworthy and alone. It feels the support of a justifying God, of an idol of war, an avenging and destroying spirit. From such blood-drinking gods the human race was once liberated, with great toil and terrible sorrow, by the death of a God Who delivered Himself to the Cross and suffered pathological cruelty of His own creatures out of pity for them. In conquering death He opened their eyes to the reality of a love which asks no questions about worthiness, a love which overcomes hatred and destroys death. But men have now come to reject this divine revelation of pardons and they are consequently returning to the old war gods, the gods that insatiably drink blood and eat the flesh of men. It is easier to serve the hate-gods because they thrive on the worship of collective fanaticism. To serve the hate-gods, one has only to be blinded by collective passion. To serve the God of Love one must be free, one must face the terrible responsibility of the decision to love in spite of all unworthiness whether in oneself or in one’s neighbor.” Thomas Merton

“For one human being to love another: that is perhaps the most difficult of all our tasks….” Rainer Maria Rilke

“Owning our story and loving ourselves through that process is the bravest thing we’ll ever do.” Brené Brown

“One learns to love God by loving men and women.” Charles deFoucauld

“What value has compassion that does not take its object in its arms?” Antoine de Saint-Exupery

“Love is the fulfillment of the law.”
Romans 13:10

Moving From Head to Heart

  • Where do you need to practice a love “which asks no questions about worthiness?” Who do you need to take into your arms in compassion?
  • Is God teaching you to love him as you give yourself to “the most difficult of all tasks” – loving someone else?
  • Are you able to love yourself when you “least deserve it?” Can you extend to yourself the grace you extend to others?
  • Do you see “collective passion/fanaticism” at work in your religion or politics?

God of love for the undeserving, work you love in me.

For More: New Seeds of Contemplation by Thomas Merton

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These “Daily Riches” are for your encouragement as you seek God and God seeks you. I hope you’ll follow my blog, and share it. My goal is to share something of unique value with you daily in 400 words or less. I appreciate your interest!  –  Bill (Psalm 90:14)

Daily Riches: The Mob of Men as a ‘Mob of Kings’ (G. K. Chesterton, Frederick Buechner and Richard Rohr)

“You shall love your crooked neighbour, with your crooked heart.” W. H. Auden

Saint Francis “… honored all men; that is, he not only loved but respected them all. What gave him extraordinary personal power was this: that from the Pope to the beggar, from the sultan of Syria in his pavilion to the ragged robbers crawling out of the wood, there was never a man who looked into those brown burning eyes without being certain Francis Bernardone was really interested in him, in his own inner individual life from cradle to grave; that he himself was being valued and taken seriously… He treated the whole mob of men as a mob of kings.” G. K. Chesterton

“If we are to love our neighbors,
before doing anything else
we must see our neighbors.
With our imagination as well as our eyes,
that is to say like artists,
we must see not just their faces
but the life behind and within their faces.
Here it is love that is the frame we see them in.”
Frederick Buechner

“The first gaze is seldom compassionate. It is too busy weighing and feeling itself: ‘How will this affect me?’  …This leads us to an implosion, a self-preoccupation that cannot enter into communion with the other or the moment. In other words, we first feel our feelings before we can relate to the situation and emotion of the other. Only after God has taught us how to live ‘undefended’, can we immediately stand with and for the other, and in the present moment. It takes a lot of practice.” Richard Rohr

“When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd [a mob of men],
he had compassion on them,
because they were like sheep without a shepherd.”
Mark 6:34

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Does the fact of your “own crooked heart” inform your loving?
  • Who is “the other” for you?  neighbor? spouse? family member? stranger? competitor? anyone who is not you?
  • Are you aware of the problem of “feeling your feelings” before you relate to the situation of the Other?
  • How can you practice a “first gaze” where “love is the frame” in which you see anyone who is the Other?

Abba, help me learn a compassionate first gaze so that I honor, love and respect others. Disarm me, undefend me, unpreoccupy me with myself.

For More: Saint Francis of Assisi by G. K. Chesterton

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These “Daily Riches” are for your encouragement as you seek after God and he seeks after you. I hope you’ll follow my blog, and share it. My goal is to share something of unique value with you daily in 400 words or less. I appreciate your interest!  –  Bill (Psalm 90:14)

“I practice daily what I believe; everything else is religious talk.”

Daily Riches: The Pity of a Life Without Problems (Dallas Willard and Thomas Merton)

“People [who cannot forgive themselves] refuse to live on the basis of pity. Their problem is not that they are hard on themselves, but that they are proud. …They do not want to accept that they can only live on the basis of pity from others, that the good that comes to them is rarely ‘deserved.’ …I have used the word pity … rather than the word mercy … because only pity reaches to the heart of our condition. The word pity makes us wince, as mercy does not. Our current language has robbed mercy of its deep, traditional meaning, which is practically the same as pity. To pity someone now is to feel sorry for them, and that is regarded as demeaning, whereas to have mercy now is thought to be slightly noble—just ‘give’em a break.’  …But no, I need more than a break. I need pity because of who I am. If my pride is untouched when I pray for forgiveness, I have not prayed for forgiveness. I don’t even understand it. In the model prayer, Jesus teaches us to ask for pity with reference to our wrongdoings. Without it, life is hopeless. And with it comes the gift of pity as an atmosphere in which we then can live. To live in this atmosphere is to be able simply to drop the many personal issues that make human life miserable and, with a clarity of mind that comes only from not protecting my pride, to work for the good things all around us we always can realize in cooperation with the hand of God.” Dallas Willard

“Only the man who has faced despair is really convinced that he needs mercy. Those who do not want mercy never seek it. It is better to find God on the threshold of despair than to risk our lives in complacency that has never felt the need of forgiveness. A life without problems may literally be more hopeless than one that always verges on despair.” Thomas Merton

“But let us fall into the hands of the Lord, for his mercy is great.” 1 Samuel 2:14

Moving From Head to Heart

  • Are you unable to forgive yourself? If so, why?
  • Are you done “protecting your pride” so you’re freed to show pity?
  • Is your preference “a life without problems?”

Abba, I’m very grateful for your great mercy.

For More: The Divine Conspiracy by Dallas Willard
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These “Daily Riches” are for your encouragement as you seek after God and he seeks after you. I hope you’ll follow my blog, and share it. My goal is to share something of unique value with you daily in 400 words or less. I appreciate your interest!  –  Bill (Psalm 90:14)

“I practice daily what I believe; everything else is religious talk.”

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