Daily Riches: The Mystical Vocabulary of the Saints (Bonaventure, Richard Rohr and Reginald Heber)

“We are each loved by God

in a particular and incomparable way,
as in the case of
a bride and bridegroom.”
Bonaventure

“Divine intimacy is always and precisely particular and made to order–and thus ‘intimate.’  …But which comes first? Does feeling safe and held by God allow you to deal with others in the same way? Or does human tenderness allow you to imagine that God must be the same, but infinitely so? I do not suppose it really matters where you start; the important thing is that you get in on the big secret from one side or the other. Yes, ‘secret,’ or even ‘hidden secret,’ is what writers like the Psalmist (25:14), Paul, Rumi, Hafiz, Bonaventure, Lady Julian, and many mystics called it. And for some sad reason, it seems to be a well-kept secret. Jesus praises God for ‘hiding these things from the learned and the clever and revealing them only to the little ones’ (Matthew 11:25). Well, what is it that the learned and the clever often cannot see? The big and hidden secret is this: an infinite God seeks and desires intimacy with the human soul. Once you experience such intimacy, only the intimate language of lovers describes what is going on for you: mystery, tenderness, singularity, specialness, changing the rules ‘for me,’ nakedness, risk, ecstasy, incessant longing, and of course also, necessary suffering. This is the mystical vocabulary of the saints.”

“Vainly we offer each ample oblation,
Vainly with gifts would His favor secure;
Richer by far is the heart’s adoration,
Dearer to God are the prayers of the poor.”

“Epiphany” by Reginald Heber

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“The Lord is a friend to those who fear him.”
Psalm 25:14
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Moving From the Head to the Heart
  • Does feeling “safe and held by God” make you want to deal with others so they feel the same way?
  • Does human tenderness at its best allow you to imagine God’s tenderness towards you, but “infinitely so?”
  • Is the “language of lovers” the best way to characterize your relationship with God, or have you settled for/experienced only something less? Instead of as God’s beloved, would you describe yourself as a hard-working servant? a skillful apologist? a diligent rule-keeper?

Abba, more than anything, let me lean into your intimate love for me.

For More: Eager to Love: The Alternative Way of Francis of Assisi by Richard Rohr

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

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

Daily Riches: Knowing and Not Knowing (Richard Rohr, Tobin Hart and Eugene Ionesco)

“Over-explanation separates us from astonishment.” Eugene Ionesco

“We need transformed people today, and not just people with answers. I do not want my too many words to separate you from astonishment or to provide you with a substitute for your own inner experience. We all need, forever, what Jesus described as ‘the beginner’s mind’ of a curious child. A beginner’s mind … is the best path for spiritual wisdom. Tobin Hart writes: ‘Instead of grasping for certainty, wisdom rides the question, lives the question…. When the quest for certainty and control is pushed to the background, the possibility of wonder returns. Wonder provides a gateway to wise insight.’ Incorporating negative and self-critical thinking is essential to true prophetic understanding. At the same time, we must also trust that we are held irrevocably in the mystery of God’s love, without fully understanding it. Alongside all our knowing, accompanying every bit of our knowing, must be the humble ‘knowing that we do not know.’ That’s why the great tradition of prayer is balanced by both kataphatic knowing, through images and words, and apophatic knowing, through silence, images, and beyond words. Apophatic knowing is the empty space around the words, allowing God to fill in all the gaps in an ‘unspeakable’ way. Strangely enough, this unknowing is a new kind of understanding. We have a word for it: faith, a kind of knowing that doesn’t need to know and yet doesn’t dismiss knowledge either; a kind of knowing that doesn’t need to hold everything itself because, at a deeper level, it knows it is being held.” Richard Rohr

“For now we see in a mirror, dimly,
but then we will see face to face.
Now I know only in part;
then I will know fully,
even as I have been fully known.”
1 Corinthians 13:12

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Are you on a “quest for certainty?” Can you relax and let God “fill in all the gaps” where mystery or paradox prevails?
  • Does “over-explanation” (“too many words”) interfere with your “inner experience” of God? Has extensive doctrinal explanation led to “transformation” for you?
  • Are you willing to admit mystery? Are you committed to living humbly as one who can “know only in part?”

Abba, don’t let me spoil my relationship with you by too much certainty or too many words.

For More: “A Story Bigger Than My Own” by Debie Thomas

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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: Imitating Jesus, Not Just Worshiping Him (Richard Rohr)

“One of the earliest accounts of Saint Francis, the ‘Legend of Perugia,’ quotes him as telling the first friars that ‘You only know as much as you do.’ His emphasis on action, practice, and lifestyle was foundational and revolutionary for its time and at the heart of Franciscan alternative orthodoxy (“heterodoxy”). For Francis and Clare, Jesus became someone to actually imitate and not just to worship. Up to this point, most of Christian spirituality was based in desert asceticism, monastic discipline, theories of prayer, or academic theology, which itself was often founded in ‘correct belief’ or liturgy, but not in a kind of practical Christianity that could be lived in the streets of the world. Many rightly say Francis emphasized an imitation and love of the humanity of Jesus, and not just the worshiping of his divinity. That is a major shift. Those who have analyzed the writings of Francis have noted that he uses the word doing rather than understanding at a ratio of 175 times to 5. Heart is used 42 times to 1 use of mind. Love is used 23 times as opposed to 12 uses of truth. Mercy is used 26 times while intellect is used only 1 time. This is a very new perspective that is clearly different from (and an antidote to) the verbally argumentative Christianity of his time, and from the highly academic theology that would hold sway from then on. …Francis and Clare’s approach has been called a ‘performative spirituality’ which means that things are only found to be true in the doing of them. At the level of idea, issues will be forever argued about, because thinking is invariably dualistic. Francis wanted us to know things in an almost ‘cellular’ and energetic way, and not just in our heads. This knowing is a kind of “muscle memory” which only comes from practice.” Richard Rohr

“…faith by itself isn’t enough.
Unless it produces good deeds,
it is dead and useless.”
James 2:17

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • What’s wrong with “verbally argumentative Christianity?”
  • Does your faith require you to “imitate Jesus” in specific ways? How so?
  • In reality is your Christian life more about ideas and words (right doctrine), or actually imitating Jesus (loving practices)?
  • If … “You only know as much as you do.”, how much do you know?

Abba, help me practice daily what I believe.

For More: Eager to Love by Richard Rohr

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These “Daily Riches” are for your encouragement as you seek after God and God 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.”