Daily Riches: The Hardest World to Leave (Belden Lane, Francis of Assisi and Donald Demaray)

“Who enjoys tranquility? The one who doesn’t take seriously either praise or lack of it from people.” Thomas ‘a Kempis

“In the desert, one inescapably confronted the threat of nothingness, the loss of all one’s activities, distractions, evasions . . . . There in the desert they knew the very scaffolding of their lives to be wholly dismantled. Games were called for what they were. Utter honesty was demanded by unrelenting spiritual directors, hard as the rock beyond the cloister where they prayed. The unbending John Climacus, for example, insisted on laying bare the pretenses of people in the religious life. He spoke of those who bless silence but cannot stop talking about it; those who fast without drawing attention to themselves but then take pride in such remarkable modesty; those who weep over death and then, with tears still in their eyes, rush off to dinner. Amma Syncletica refused to let anyone deceive herself by imagining that retreat to a desert monastery meant the guarantee of freedom from the world. The hardest world to leave, she knew, is the one within the heart. In the desert Christian’s understanding of renunciation, dying to oneself also meant a dying to one’s neighbor. They knew how easy it was to invest oneself in what other people think, measuring oneself by the accomplishments of others, remaining enmeshed in a hopeless pattern of jealousy, subservience, manipulation, and resentment. ‘To die to one’s neighbor is this,’ said Abba Moses the Black, ‘to bear your own faults and not to pay attention to anyone else wondering whether they are good or bad.’ Comparing oneself to others, being concerned about their approval or disapproval, was entirely foreign to the desert way. Watching the sweep of wind over desert sand inevitably gave one practice in studied indifference.” Belden Lane

“Dear friends, I warn you as ‘temporary residents and foreigners’
to keep away from worldly desires
that wage war against your very souls.”
1 Peter 2:11 NLT

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • When you think of “worldliness”, do you think about your heart? . . . how entrenched the world is there? . . . how “hard” it is to war against that?
  • Would it be hard to quit pretending about your spiritual life?
  • Would it be hard to become “indifferent” to the approval of others?

Abba, help me to be real before you and others–no posturing, no pretending.

For More: The Solace of Fierce Landscapes by Belden Lane

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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: Indifference and Love (Belden Lane, Martin Luther and Thomas Merton)

“The desert monks learned that love thrives on the distance made possible by solitude.  …Only those who have died to others can be of service to them. Only when we have ceased to need people–desperately, neurotically need them–are we concretely able to love. …Genuine love is ultimately impossible apart from such indifference. Without it, the sinful self remains incurvatusse, as Luther insisted, curved in upon itself in hopeless self-preoccupation. Only the solitary therefore, can truly care for all the right reasons, because he or she has ceased to care for all the wrong reasons. …True love, a love that is unacquisitive and free cannot exist when the person loved is being used as an object for the satisfaction of another’s needs. To love in the sense of agape, is to treat the other person not with any preference for one’s own good but as an equal–indeed as one’s own self. Thomas Merton explained the desert Christians’ conception of love as a matter of taking one’s neighbor as one’s other self. ‘Love means an interior and spiritual identification with one’s brother, so that he is not regarded as an “object” to “which” one “does good.” We have to become–in some sense, the person we love. And this involves a kind of death of our own being, our own self.’ In love such as this, all judgment is suspended. One gives the other person  every benefit of the doubt, even as he or she would wish to be considered in return.  …Unconditional acceptance of this sort is possible only for people who, renouncing all comparisons of themselves with others, have noting invested in the failure of their peers. Admittedly this idea of compassion as the fruit of indifference may be difficult to grasp in contemporary culture. Popular conceptions of love are often limited to sentimental feelings and delusions of self-denying grandeur. As a result, we often fail to recognize the extent to which all this disguises a highly manipulative bid for our own self-aggrandizement. We are entirely too needy–too anxious about the fragility of our own self-worth–to be free to love.” Belden Lane

“to love your neighbor as yourself is more important
than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.”
Jesus in Mark 12:33

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Is your self-worth so fragile that you can’t love others well? …are you too needy, too dependent?
  • Can you imagine renouncing your right to compare yourself to others, and thus to criticize them?
  • Unless we listen to God in solitude, we will always be incurvatusse. What place does solitude have in your life?

Abba, may I only be invested in the success of others.

For More: The Solace of Fierce Landscapes by Belden Lane

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Thanks for sharing/following my blog! I appreciate your interest. – Bill

Daily Riches: Confusing Our Will With God’s Will (Pete Scazzero and Ignatius of Loyola)

“By indifference, [Ignatius of Loyola] does not mean apathy or disinterest. He simply means we must become indifferent to anything but the will of God. Ignatius taught that the degree to which we are open to any outcome or answer from God is the degree to which we are ready to really hear what God has to say. If we are clutching or overly attached to one outcome versus another, we won’t hear God clearly. Our spiritual ears will be deafened by the racket of our disordered loves, fears, and attachments. In such a state, it is almost a forgone conclusion that we will confuse our will with God’s will. Ignatius considered this state of indifference to be spiritual freedom. We place our lives in God’s hands and trust him for the outcome. Arriving at this place of interior indifference and trusting that God’s will is good – no matter the outcome – is no small task. We are attached to all kinds of secondary things – titles, positions, honors, places, persons, and security, and the opinions of others. When these attachments are excessive, they become disordered attachments, or disordered loves, that push God out of the center of our lives. …Jesus teaches us that indifference, the key to true obedience, must be learned, struggled for, and prayed for. We see this in Gethsemane as he prayed three times. …If it took falling with his face to the ground and great struggle for the Son of God to submit himself to the will of the Father, how can we expect that it will require any less of us?” Pete Scazzero

“During the days of Jesus’ life on earth,
he offered up prayers and petitions with fervent cries and tears…
Son though he was, he learned obedience
from what he suffered.”
Hebrews 5:7-8

 Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Are you attempting to learn “indifference?” … to be “open to any outcome from God?” How exactly?
  • Are you aware of the deafening racket created by your “disordered loves, fears, and attachments?”
  • What are some “attachments” in your life that hinder hearing “what God has to say?”

Father, I am indifferent to every outcome except your will. I want nothing more or less than your desire…. (Scazzero)

For More: The Emotionally Healthy Leader by Pete Scazzero

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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 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 (Psalm 90:14)

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

 

 

Daily Riches: The Suffering of Jesus (Amphilochius of Iconium and Fulton Sheen)

“Yesterday, on the Cross, He darkened the sun’s light, and behold in full day it was as night; today death has lost its dominion, suffering itself a kind of death. Yesterday the earth mourned … and in sadness clothed itself in a garment of darkness. Today, the people that walked in darkness have seen a great light. … O new and unheard of happening! He is stretched out upon a Cross Who by His word stretched out the heavens. He is held fast in bonds Who has set the sand a bound for the sea. He is given gall to drink Who has given us wells of honey. He is crowned with thorns Who has crowned the earth with flowers. With a reed they struck His Head Who of old struck Egypt with ten plagues, and submerged the head of Pharaoh in the waves. That countenance was spat upon at which the Cherubim dare not gaze. Yet, while suffering these things He prayed for His tormentors, saying: Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do. He overcame evil by goodness. Christ undertook the defense of those who put Him to death: eager to gather them into His net; annulling the charge, and pleading their ignorance. Made the sport of their drunken frenzy, He submitted without bitterness. He suffered their drunkenness, and in His love for mankind called them to repentance. What more could He do?” Amphilochius of Iconium

“I wonder maybe if our Lord doesn’t suffer more from our indifference, than he did from the crucifixion.” Fulton Sheen

“When they hurled their insults at him,
he did not retaliate;
when he suffered, he made no threats.
Instead, he entrusted himself
to him who judges justly.”
1 Peter 2:23

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • From the cross, Jesus prayed, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.” Do you think those who killed Jesus fathomed the magnitude of their crime?
  • Imagine how often this is true of us as well – not only in our obvious sins, but in our “indifference.” Can you admit this about yourself?
  • Can you nevertheless believe that you are loved by God, just as you are? Sit with that and see what emotions arise.

Abba, thank you for your unfailing love – and for not revealing to me the full magnitude of my sin.

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For More: The Lives of the Saints by Bert Bhezzi

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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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