Daily Riches: Becoming A New Person In Jesus Christ (Rowan Williams and Augustine)

“… contemplation is very far from being just one kind of thing that Christians do: it is the key to prayer, liturgy, art and ethics, the key to the essence of a renewed humanity that is capable of seeing the world and other subjects in the world with freedom—freedom from self-oriented, acquisitive habits and the distorted understanding that come from them. To put it boldly, contemplation is the only ultimate answer to the unreal and insane world that our financial systems and our advertising culture and our chaotic and unexamined emotions encourage us to inhabit. To learn contemplative prayer is to learn what we need so as to live truthfully and honestly and lovingly. It is a deeply revolutionary matter. …To be converted to the faith does not mean simply acquiring a new set of beliefs, but becoming a new person, a person in communion with God and others through Jesus Christ. Contemplation is an intrinsic element in this transforming process. To learn to look to God without regard to my own instant satisfaction, to learn to scrutinize and to relativise the cravings and fantasies that arise in me—this is to allow God to be God, and thus to allow the prayer of Christ, God’s own relation to God, to come alive in me. Invoking the Holy Spirit is a matter of asking the third person of the Trinity to enter my spirit and bring the clarity I need to see where I am in slavery to cravings and fantasies and to give me patience and stillness as God’s light and love penetrate my inner life. …And as this process unfolds, I become more free—to borrow a phrase of St. Augustine—to ‘love human beings in a human way,’ to love them not for what they may promise me, to love them not as if they were there to provide me with lasting safety and comfort, but as fragile fellow-creatures held in the love of God. I discover … how to see other persons and things for what they are in relation to God, not to me. And it is here that true justice as well as true love has its roots.

“And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love …”
Ephesians 3:17

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • If you can, please read this again. Can you see why contemplation is so important and powerful?
  • Do you regularly practice contemplation?
  • If not, do you have another practice that promises the same results?

Abba, let me be rooted and held in your love for me.

For More: The Archbishop of Canterbury’s Address…” by Rowan Williams

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Thank you for following and sharing my blog. I really appreciate it! Please leave a question or comment. – Bill

Daily Riches: Pray For the Church As For a Terrible Sinner (Dorothy Day and Romano Guardini)

“The Church is the Cross on which Christ was crucified.” Romano Guardini

“I felt that the Church was the Church of the poor, that St. Patrick’s had been built from the pennies of servant girls, that it cared for the emigrant, it established hospitals, orphanages, day nurseries, houses of the Good Shepherd, homes for the aged, but at the same time, I felt that it did not set its face against a social order which made so much charity in the present sense of the word necessary. I felt that charity was a word to choke over. Who wanted charity? And it was not just human pride but a strong sense of man’s dignity and worth, and what was due to him in justice, that made me resent, rather than feel proud of so mighty a sum total of Catholic institutions. …When I see the church taking the side of the powerful and forgetting the weak, and when I see bishops living in luxury and the poor being ignored or thrown bread crumbs, I know that Jesus is being insulted, as He once was, and sent to his death, as He once was. The church doesn’t only belong to officials and bureaucrats; it belongs to all its people, and especially its most humble men and women and children, the ones He would have wanted to go see and help…. I am embarrassed–I am sickened–when I see Catholics using their religion as a social ornament. Peter [Maurin] used to tell me that a good Catholic should pray for the church as if it is a terrible sinner, in bad need of lots of prayers. I remember being surprised for a second to hear him say that; he was such a devout Catholic. But then I realized that it was precisely because he was so devout that he said what he said. …I think the life of our Lord is constantly being lived out: we are betraying Him as well as honoring Him–we in the church as well as those who are outside of it.” Dorothy Day

“I will build my church,
and all the powers of hell
will not conquer it.”
Jesus, in Matthew 16:18

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Can you be honest about the failings of your church, or do you insist on leaving this to outsiders and haters?
  • Can you see the church as “a terrible sinner” and still love and pray for her?
  • Can you see in yourself, a member of the church, how you both constantly honor and betray the Lord?

Jesus, as your church, may we set our face against the social order.

For More: Dorothy Day: A Radical Devotion by Robert Coles

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

P.S. I’ve been working on a book that would be a collection of 365 daily readings–similar to and based on this blog. I’m looking for a publisher for this complicated project. If you have a contact or advice, please contact me.

Daily Riches: Attending to Your Implicit Biases (Dana Bowen Matthew)

“Implicit biases can be absolutely contradictory to your express preferences to be egalitarian, …you want to be fair, you want to be a good person, you want to treat people equally, but you don’t acknowledge or know that you have implicit biases. One of the researchers at Wayne State calls that “averse racism.” “Averse racism” because I’m averse to racism, but I have it and don’t realize it and therefore don’t treat it. …In America explicit bias and explicit racism is pretty much out of vogue, most people would be surprised to hear that when you look at the news, but … the racial climate in the United States has grown more complex, and it is implicit, not explicit bias, that is causing the kind of conflict that we have today. So explicit bias basically says I make a conscious choice to make an inferior or negative judgment of someone based on their race, their color, their ethnicity. I choose it–consciously. Implicit bias is much more subtle. It comes from the storage of all my experiences–what I saw on T.V., what I heard in the political debates, my [childhood] experience on the playground, my neighbor’s experience on their playground–and I gather this and store this in my unconscious mind as what we call “social knowledge.” It gets triggered automatically …I walk into a room, I see a person who is a member of a different race, and automatically all of the information that I gathered from living in the United States, from listening to music and news and newspapers and so forth, automatically it comes bubbling up and begins to influence and color my judgments, and my perceptions, and my conduct–my decisions about that person and how I’m going to interact with them. Here’s the rub: it’s more powerful than my explicit preferences. …People act more in accordance with their implicit biases than with their explicit preferences.”

“My dear brothers and sisters,
how can you claim to have faith
in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ
if you favor some people over others?”
James 2:1

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Are you committed to treating all people with justice–fairly and equally?
  • Could “implicit bias” be causing you to unwittingly do otherwise?
  • What specific behaviors could you use to “attend to” your implicit biases?

Abba, make me aware of my biases towards others and rescue me from the tyranny of illusion.

For More: Just Medicine by Dana Bowan Matthew (the quote is from a WNYC podcast)

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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: ‘Please Don’t Mention the Dysfunction’ (Walter Brueggemann)

“The second loss caused by the absence of lament is the stifling of the question of theodicy …the capacity to raise and legitimate questions of justice in terms of social goods, social access, and social power. …It is now noticed and voiced that life is not as it was promised to be. The utterance of this awareness is an exceedingly dangerous moment at the throne. It is as dangerous as Lech Walesa or Rosa Parks asserting with their bodies that the system has broken down and will no longer be honored. For the managers of the system – political, economic, religious, moral – there is always a hope that the troubled folks will not notice the dysfunction or that a tolerance of a certain degree of dysfunction can be accepted as normal and necessary, even if unpleasant. Lament occurs when the dysfunction reaches an unacceptable level, when the injustice is intolerable and change is insisted upon. …The lament/complaint can then go in two different directions. …the complaint can be addressed to God against neighbor [or] addressed to God against God. …the issue is justice. …the petitioner accepts no guilt or responsibility for the dysfunction but holds the other party responsible. …The claims and rights of the speaker are asserted to God in the face of a system that does not deliver … with the passionate conviction that it can, must, and will be changed. …When the lament form is censured, justice questions cannot be asked and eventually become invisible and illegitimate. …A community of faith that negates laments soon concludes that the hard issues of justice are improper questions to pose at the throne, because the throne seems to be only a place of praise. I believe it thus follows that if justice questions are improper questions at the throne … they soon appear to be improper questions in public places, in schools, in hospitals, with the government, and eventually even in the courts. Justice questions disappear into civility and docility. The order of the day comes to seem absolute, beyond question, and we are left with only grim obedience and eventually despair.” Walter Brueggemann

justice is perverted”
Habakkuk 1:4

Moving From Head to Heart

  • Do you believe “the system has broken down?”
  • Are justice issues “improper … at the throne?”
  • Have you settled for “civility and docility?”
  • Do you believe things “can, must, and will be changed?”

More: The Psalms, Patrick Miller, editor

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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.”