Daily Riches: The Community of Sinners and Saints (Miroslav Volf and Thomas Merton)

“Forgiveness flounders because I exclude the enemy from the community of humans even as I exclude myself from the community of sinners. But no one can be in the presence of the God of the crucified Messiah for long without overcoming this double exclusion – without transposing the enemy from the sphere of monstrous inhumanity into the sphere of shared humanity and herself from the sphere of proud innocence into the sphere of common sinfulness. When one knows that the torturer will not eternally triumph over the victim, one is free to rediscover that person’s humanity and imitate God’s love for him. And when one knows that God’s love is greater than all sin, one is free to see oneself in the light of God’s justice and so rediscover one’s own sinfulness.” Miroslav Volf

“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.  …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

“love your enemies” Jesus in Luke 6:27

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Have you reached the point where you have transposed your “enemy from the sphere of monstrous inhumanity into the sphere of shared humanity?”
  • Of yourself “from the sphere of proud innocence into the sphere of common sinfulness?”
  • Do you practice “a love which asks no questions about worthiness?”

Abba, let me overcome hatred with love.

For More: Exclusion and Embrace by Miroslav Volf

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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 Need for Action that Proceeds From Contemplation (Rowan Williams, Evelyn Underhill, Richard Rohr, and Thomas Merton)

“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 comes 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 practice is to learn what we need so as to live truthfully and honestly and lovingly. It is a deeply revolutionary matter.” Rowan Williams

“For [mystics,] contemplation and action are not opposites, but two interdependent forms of a life that is one – a life that rushes out to a passionate communion with the true and beautiful, only that it may draw from this direct experience of Reality a new intensity wherewith to handle the world of things; and remake it, or at least some little bit of it, ‘nearer to the heart’s desire.'”  Evelyn Underhill

“The opposite of contemplation is not action, it is reaction. We must wait for pure action, which always proceeds from a contemplative silence.” Richard Rohr

“Do you think the way to sanctity is to lock yourself up with prayers and your books and the meditations that please and interest your mind, to protect yourself with many walls, against people you consider stupid? …in the refusal of activities and works which are necessary for the good of others but which happen to bore and distract you? …by winding yourself up in a cocoon of spiritual and aesthetic pleasures, instead of renouncing all your tastes and desires and ambitions and satisfactions for the love of Christ, Who will not even live within you if you cannot find Him in other people? Far from being essentially opposed to each other, interior contemplation and external activity are two aspects of the same love of God.” Thomas Merton

“I have seen you in your sanctuary
and gazed upon your power and glory.”
Psalm 63:2

 Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Is much of what you do “pure action” that “proceeds from a contemplative silence”, or are you typically just reacting?
  • Do you have a practice to help you escape the insidious influence of our “unreal and insane world?” If not by contemplation, then how?
  • Do you believe in contemplation? Do you “practice daily” what you believe?

God of Reality, may I commune with you before attempting to “handle the world of things.”

For More: New Seeds of Contemplation by Thomas Merton

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

Daily Riches: Brokenness and Prayer (John Cassian, Dan Clendenin, Thomas Merton, Peter Traben Haas and Jonathan Martin)

“In prayer we seek what John Cassian (360–430) called ‘integrity of heart’ or ‘integral wholeness.’ But when you’re honest before God, that can feel far off. Here’s Cassian’s self-diagnosis in his Institutes and Conferences – lethargy, sleeplessness, unsettling dreams, impulsive urges, self-justification, seething emotions, sexual fantasies, pious pretense that masked as virtue, self-deception, clerical ambition and the desire to dominate, crushing despair, confusion, wild mood swings, flattery, and the dreaded ‘noonday demon’ of acedia (“a wearied or anxious heart” that suggests close parallels to clinical depression). Cassian further admits that ‘there are many things that lie hidden in my conscience which are known and manifest to God, even though they may be unknown and obscure to me.’ And this is a monk who had devoted his entire life to prayer!” Daniel Clendenin

“I get so tired of beholding my brokenness. But the deeper I go into the depths of it, the deeper I experience my belovedness too.” Jonathan Martin

“The man who does not permit his spirit to be beaten down and upset by dryness and helplessness, but who lets God lead him peacefully through the wilderness, and desires no other support or guidance than that of pure faith and trust in God alone, will be brought to the Promised Land.” Thomas Merton

“I belong to my beloved,
    and his desire is for me.”

Song of Songs 7:10

 Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • I can never help but smile reading Cassian’s list – it’s so familiar at points. Are you in touch with your “dryness and helplessness” like Cassian, Martin and Merton are?
  • Do you keep seeking God in prayer even when overwhelmed by your brokenness? …when you’re “beaten down?”
  • Have you attempted to let the experience of brokenness move you into a deeper experience of belovedness?

Beloved Silence: Thank you for listening to my confessions and failures. Under the shadow of your light, my darkness is no more. Amen. (Peter Traben Haas)

For More: Centering Prayers by Peter Traben Haas

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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. Thanks!  –  Bill (Psalm 90:14)

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

Daily Riches: A Modern Monastic Movement (Thomas Merton)

“It would perhaps be too much to say that the world needs another movement such as that which drew these men into the deserts of Egypt and Palestine. Ours is certainly a time for solitaries and for hermits. But merely to reproduce the simplicity, austerity and prayer of these primitive souls is not a complete or satisfactory answer. We must transcend them, and transcend all those who, since their time have gone beyond the limits which they set. We must liberate ourselves, in our own way, from involvement in a world that is plunging to disaster. But our world is different from theirs. Our involvement in it is more complete. Our danger is far more desperate. Our time, perhaps, is shorter than we think.” Thomas Merton

“We do not go into the desert to escape people but to learn how to find them; we do not leave them in order to have nothing more to do with them but to find out the way to do them the most good. …For the monk searches not only his own heart; he plunges deep into the heart of that world of which he remains a part although he seems to have ‘left’ it. In reality the monk abandons the world only in order to listen more intently to the deepest and most neglected voices that proceed from it’s inner depth. …The only justification for a life of deliberate solitude is the conviction that it will help you to love not only God but also other men.” Merton

”Beloved, I urge you as aliens and strangers
to abstain from fleshly lusts
which wage war
against the soul.”
1 Peter 2:11.

 Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Do you agree that ours is “a time for solitaries and for hermits?” Is God calling you to a life somehow separate from the crowd which would enable you “to love not only God but also other men?”
  • Do you see our world as “plunging to disaster?” Is there a way for you to “liberate” yourself from it today as the desert monastics did in theirs? What would that look like?
  • Are you able to listen intently to the “deepest and most neglected voices” of our world? What can you to do grow in that capacity?

Abba, guide me in my day as you did the monastics before me.

For More: New Seeds of Contemplation by Thomas Merton

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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: A Dialogue of Love That Never Stops (Thomas Merton and Elizabeth of the Trinity)

“This is the real end of meditation – it teaches you how to become aware of the presence of God; and most of all it aims at bringing you to a state of almost constant loving attention to God, and dependence on Him. [It teaches] …a man how to work himself free of created things and temporal concerns, in which he finds only confusion and sorrow, and enter into a conscious and loving contact with God….” Thomas Merton

“I love to penetrate beyond the veil of the soul to this inner sanctuary where we live alone with God. He wants us entirely to himself, and is making there within us a cherished solitude. Listen to everything that is being sung … in his heart. It is Love, the infinite love that envelops us and desires to give us a share … in all his blessedness. The whole Blessed Trinity dwells in us, the whole of that mystery which will be our vision in heaven. Let it be our cloister. You tell me that your life is passed there. So is mine. I am ‘Elizabeth of the Trinity’ – Elizabeth disappearing, losing herself, allowing herself to be invaded by the Three. Let us live for love, always surrendered, immolating ourselves at every moment, by doing God’s will without searching for extraordinary things. Then let us make ourselves quite tiny, allowing ourselves to be carried, like a babe in it’s mother’s arms, by him who is our all…. In the morning let us wake in Love. All day long let us surrender ourselves to Love, by doing the will of God, under his gaze, with him, in him, for him alone…. And then, when evening comes, after a dialogue of love that has never stopped in our hearts, let us go to sleep still in love. And if we are aware of any faults, let us simply abandon them to Love, which is a consuming fire….” Elizabeth of the Trinity

“I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine….”
Song of Solomon 6:3

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Can you imagine giving “constant loving attention to God?  … living a day under (and aware of) his gaze?
  • What are you doing to become more aware of God’s presence in your day? …to become less aware of “temporal concerns?” … to be better at “attending” to him?
  • Can you simply abandon yourself and your faults to Love?

Abba, before I die, may I experience at least one day under your gaze, with you, in you alone, where a dialogue of love between us never stops.

For More: Voices 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. –  Bill (Psalm 90:14)

Daily Riches: How the Poor Bless Us (Bob McCahill, Thomas Merton, Eduardo Galeano)

“The mask that each man wears may well be a disguise not only for that man’s inner self but for God, wandering as a pilgrim and exile in His own creation.” Merton

“It seems to me that the poor evangelize us by giving us various types of good example. They instruct us in patience by their patience under adversity. They edify us by their uncomplaining struggles. They inspire us by undergoing suffering without becoming bitter. They encourage us to face our own problems more bravely by grappling with the pain in their lives. They teach us about the simplicity with which one can live a human life. They offer us a good model for prayer life by their dependence on God: that is, in times of great need they look to God before all else. They do not appeal to God secondly or lastly after other possibilities have failed them. When we witness their efforts to survive with dignity amidst the hardships they constantly encounter, they help us to put into perspective our own overblown problems. Through the struggling poor we begin to understand how good God is to us and how stingy we are with our thanksgiving to God. If we think about them deeply enough, they put us to shame, for, though they are oppressed, they can still laugh and sing.” Bob McCahill

“I don’t believe in charity; I believe in solidarity. Charity is vertical, so it’s humiliating. It goes from top to bottom. Solidarity is horizontal. It respects the other and learns from the other. I have a lot to learn from other people.”  Eduardo Galeano

“You say, ‘I am rich;
I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’
But you do not realize
that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked.”
Revelation 3:17

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Have poor people helped you to realize how poor you are? how good God is to you? how “stingy” you are with your thanksgiving to God? What else?
  • Do you think of ministry to the poor in terms of “solidarity?” What would that mean?
  • Jesus wandered as a poor man, in disguise among his own creation. Does remembering that help you to love those who are poor?

Abba, use your poor to show me the way, to bless me as I attempt to bless them.

For More: A Dialogue of Life by Bob McCahill

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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: Seeking God, Escaping Illusion (Thomas Merton – on his centenary)

“This is what it means to seek God perfectly: to withdraw from illusion and pleasure, from worldly anxieties and desires, from the works that God does not want, from a glory that is only human display; to keep my mind free from confusion in order that my liberty may be always at the disposal of His will; to entertain silence in my heart and listen for the voice of God; …to love all men as myself; to rest in humility and to find peace in withdrawal from conflict and competition with other men; to turn aside from controversy and put away heavy loads of judgment and censorship and criticism and the whole burden of opinions that I have no obligation to carry; to have a will that is always ready to fold back within itself and draw all the powers of the soul down from the deepest center to rest in silent expectancy for the coming of God, poised in tranquil and effortless concentration upon the point of my dependence on Him; to gather all that I am, and have all that I can possibly suffer or do or be, and abandon them all to God in the resignation of a perfect love and blind faith and pure trust in God, to do His will.” Thomas Merton

“So like a fish going towards the sea, we [monks] must hurry to reach our cell*
for fear that if we delay outside we will lose our interior watchfulness.”
Anthony the Great

“Any trial whatever that comes to you can be conquered by silence.” Abbot Pastor

“Go, sit in your cell, and your cell will teach you everything.” Abbot Moses

*an ancient term for a quiet, private place to be with God

“But when you pray,
go into your room [and]
close the door”
Jesus, in Matthew 6:6

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • What two or three aspirations in Merton’s words resonate most with you? Can you form a prayer around them?
  • The dessert fathers had a plan for escaping the grip of illusion, confusion and judgment, and for cultivating liberty, peace and “silent expectancy for the coming of God.” Do you have such a plan?

Abba, help me to abandon myself to you in the resignation of a perfect love.

For More: The Wisdom of the Desert by Thomas Merton

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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 Community of Sinners and Saints (Miroslav Volf and Thomas Merton)

“Forgiveness flounders because I exclude the enemy from the community of humans even as I exclude myself from the community of sinners. But no one can be in the presence of the God of the crucified Messiah for long without overcoming this double exclusion – without transposing the enemy from the sphere of monstrous inhumanity into the sphere of shared humanity and herself from the sphere of proud innocence into the sphere of common sinfulness. When one knows that the torturer will not eternally triumph over the victim, one is free to rediscover that person’s humanity and imitate God’s love for him. And when one knows that God’s love is greater than all sin, one is free to see oneself in the light of God’s justice and so rediscover one’s own sinfulness.” Miroslav Volf

“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.  …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

“love your enemies” Jesus in Luke 6:27

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Have you reached the point where you have transposed your “enemy from the sphere of monstrous inhumanity into the sphere of shared humanity?”
  • Of yourself “from the sphere of proud innocence into the sphere of common sinfulness?”
  • Do you practice “a love which asks no questions about worthiness?”

Abba, let me overcome hatred with love.

For More: Exclusion and Embrace by Miroslav Volf

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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 Knowable, Unknowable God (Anthony de Mello, Dallas Willard, Thomas Merton and Mark Twain)

“A saint was once given the gift of speaking the language of the ants. He approached one, who seemed the scholarly type, and asked, ‘What is the Almighty like? Is he in any way similar to the ant?’ Said the scholar, ‘The Almighty? Certainly not! We ants, you see, have only one sting. But the Almighty, he has two!’ …When asked what heaven was like, the ant-scholar solemnly replied, ‘There we shall be just like Him, having two stings each, only smaller ones.’ A bitter controversy rages among religious schools of thought as to where exactly the second sting will be located in the heavenly body of the ant.” Anthony de Mello

“Our idea of God tells us more about ourselves than about Him.” Thomas Merton

“We live at the mercy of our ideas, we would be wise to reflect carefully on those we have about God.” Dallas Willard

“In the beginning God made man in His image, and man has been returning the favor ever since.” Mark Twain

“This is what Yahweh says:
‘Let not the wise man boast of his wisdom
or the strong man boast of his strength
or the rich man boast of his riches,
but let him who boasts boast about this:
that he understands and knows me.”’
Jeremiah 9:23-24

“Now this is eternal life:
that they know you,
the only true God,
and Jesus Christ,
whom you have sent.”
Jesus in John 17:3

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • “What is the Almighty like?” How would you answer the question?
  • When you think about God how much does he resemble you (in values, temperament, perspective, gender)?
  • Can you live with the tension involved in the idea that you truly know God and at the same time don’t really know him? Can you entrust yourself to a God that you can’t accurately perceive or describe?

Abba, thank you for revealing yourself in Jesus your Son. Help me to strip away my preconceptions and prejudices when I look at him – and when I think about you.

For More: The Song of the Bird by Anthony de Mello

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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.”