MYSTICAL LOVE - From Richard Daily Meditations

One of the things that amazes me these days is the wonderful wisdom that is so easily accessible. One source of wisdom that I have greatly appreciated is Richard Rohr's Daily Meditations. Todays mediation, below, is one of the reasons why I love his writing. If you want to sign up for his daily e-mails click here

Historically, mysticism was often seen as the opposite of prophecy. There was the prophetic strain, which was working for social justice, making a difference, solving problems, fixing the world, and bringing about the Kingdom of God. Then there were these other “mystified” people who locked themselves in hermitages and didn’t care about the suffering of the world. Now we know that was a radical misunderstanding of both sides.

When we read the prophets, we see that without exception they talk about an intimate relationship with God that, itself, led to radical social critique. Jeremiah talks about a love that “seduces him and that lets him be seduced” (Jeremiah 20:7). The normal language of the prophets Amos and Hosea is an intimate language of divine encounter that always overspills into social concerns. It seems to blast their previous understanding of Judaism and temple worship, and puts them in competition and tension with the priestly class.

In the Jewish Scriptures, the priests are invariably competing with the prophets and the prophets are critiquing the priests, and this tells me it must be a necessary and creative tension. Maybe both sides get refined because of it. Today, in our church, we have mostly priestly concerns—or as Jeremiah put it, “the sanctuary, the sanctuary, the sanctuary” (Jeremiah 7:4)—and little concern for immigrants, health care for the poor, the acceptance of the marginalized, or even minimal peacemaking. The patterns never seem to change, since the “priests” control the home front and the “prophets” work at the edges.

Practices of Transformation: Devotions

Devotions

What practices lead to transformation? It is a good question. There is no single answer, but we need a place to begin. 

The place that I would recommend most to begin with is the daily practice of devotions. This may seem boring or old fashion, but there is really no practice that I know of that is more important then this for people who want to deepen their faith.

Devotions are times set apart for prayer, dwelling in God’s Word, resting in God’s presence and being called into God’s mission in the world. The benefit of devotions is how they call us to set aside time in our daily routine to be open to God’s guidance and to be fed by God’s love.

So how does one have devotions. There are many patterns. The most important first step is to set aside a dedicate time each day for devotions. A basic out line for devotions is:

  1. Begin by quieting you body and mind.
  2. Pray to be open to God's presence and Word
  3. Read a passage of scripture or other spiritual writing one or more times.
  4. Listen for what God might be trying to say to you. What is God's Word of Love for you? 
  5. Pray about what God may be saying to you and then simply rest in God's presence.
  6. Reflect on how you have experienced God's presence or silence in the last day.
  7. Look ahead at the opportunities that God is placing before you to serve others and share Christ. 
  8. Pray for others.

Most importantly, for devotions to do their work, it takes commitment. Which means even when we miss a day week, we start again, and again, and with great compassion for ourselves, again.

A Life of Faith

So what does a life, shaped by faith look like? This is an important question, after all it is how particular people live lives, formed in the image of Christ, that we discover what Spirituality looks like in practice. This is one part of the tradition of Saints. People that we call saints are in many ways people whose lives give us an example of what it means to be faithful. Yet while others can act as examples, it is up to each of us to live out our faith in our own particular lives: hearing in our life the call of God; responding to those we encounter; brining light to the darkness that haunts our own soul and our own neighbourhood.

Over the next three Sundays at Advent we are going to focus on what passionate spirituality is about. This Sunday we will look at a life of faith. Next Sunday we will focus on one of the most important ways that we feed our spirit, devotions. Then on the last Sunday I will give a summarizing overview of what Christian Spirituality is about.