A Monk in the World

SILENCE

EACH MONTH IN MONK IN THE WORLD WE ARE LEARNING THE PRINCIPLES OF CHRISTIAN MONASTICISM AND HOW WE CAN APPLY THEM TO OUR LIVES OUTSIDE THE MONASTERY WALLS.

 

There are times when good words are to be left unsaid out of esteem for silence. ~ The Rule of Benedict

I kept quiet, not saying a word, not even about anything good! ~ Psalm 39:2 (GNT) 

Words, words, words… They are everywhere! Billboards, sides of buildings, flashing street signs, bumper stickers in traffic, even the sky isn’t immune with its skywriters and planes tugging advertisement banners. The plethora of words in our world dilute their meaning to the point of overload and burnout!

Where in the world can one go to find silence?

Even if we find a place with the precious quiet we’re craving we still have the noise in our mind to deal with. We must somehow change the internal noise into a gentler sound.

The one who sits in solitude and quiet has escaped from three wars: hearing, speaking, and seeing; yet against one thing shall he continually battle: that is his own heart. ~ Anthony of Egypt*

As our body needs rest, our spirit needs silence for our inner life to grow. When we keep out the weeds (noise) the garden of our soul can flourish. Too many words can hinder our relationship with God, preventing us from hearing the most important Word of all!  

Spiritual growth requires insights that only solitude and silence can provide. No one can do this work for us. We must be intentional to build times of silence into our day. It won’t happen otherwise.  

In Buddhist countries children routinely spend time with monks and are taught to sit in the lotus position and learn to meditate. Quaker communities also have silence as a regular part of their daily routine. 

Who is teaching us or our children how to sit in silence? Instead of hiding away in our prayer closet we must include our children and grand children in our practice of silence. They will learn best by watching our example.

If you are unaccustomed to silence (I was and most people are) begin with a simple plan. You may choose an activity that can be done in quiet: gardening, painting, walking or cooking. You may just want to sit. Either way start out small. If you want five minutes of silence, give yourself ten minutes. You will need the buffer time to get settled in. Gradually you will add more time. Before you know it you will prefer the silence!

Silence is an indispensable discipline in the spiritual life. It is our portable monastic cell that we take with us into the world to minister to others. 

RESOURCES:
The Way of the Heart: Connecting with God Through Prayer, Wisdom, and Silence by Henri J.M. Nouwen
Finding Sanctuary: Monastic Steps for Everyday Life by Abbot Christopher Jamison*
The Path of Life by Cyprian Smith OSB
The Rule of Benedict Edited by Timothy Fry, OSB
The Oblate Life Edited by Gervase Holdaway OSB
Originally published September 10, 2014

Deep Calls Unto Deep

In nature, when there’s a storm raging on the surface of the water, down deep the water is always calm and undisturbed.

When life surrounds with conflicts and commotion, the trials and tribulations engulf us, we may start to feel overwhelmed, then anxiety begins taking over. In times like these, we must dig deep to find the Spirit of Peace within us.

We can take ourself aside, find a quiet space and get in touch with The Holy Spirit who is able to bring us the peace that is without human understanding. He is always there waiting for us.

When we abide in the Spirit our peace isn’t swayed by the fluctuating storms of our outer world.

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. ~ John 14:27

 

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As We Trust We Are Filled

What if you could control your level of peace and joy?

It’s often said our levels of peace and joy are connected to our thoughts and attitude. That can be true but it really goes deeper than that.

 

When we are lacking joy and peace it’s usually because we are angry, fearful or worrying; which really comes down to not trusting God.

If I’m holding on tightly to life situations, trying to control potential outcomes or just plain angry about the circumstances, there’s no way I am trusting God.

One of my life verses is Romans 15:13 which reads:

So I pray that God,  who give me hope, will keep me happy and full of peace as you believe in him. May you overflow with hope through the power of the Holy Spirit. (NLT)

Over the last decade I’ve taken many verses and rewritten them in first person affirmations. Then I declare them over my life and the life of my friends and family. Here is Romans 15:13 rewritten as an affirmation:

The Lord of hope fills me with all joy and peace as I trust in Him. I overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. ~ Roman 15:13

If I truly believe this verse, the more I trust God, the more joy and peace I will have. And not only that, I will be overflowing with power from the Holy Spirit which will help me battle the life situations that are trying to suck life from me.

I want to encourage you to meditate on this verse. Maybe even rewrite it in words that speak to you. I promise you will find yourself more hopeful, more joyful and more peaceful as a result.  Blessings…

 

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The Road to Recovery :: STEP 8

IN THE ROAD TO RECOVERY COLUMN WE ARE WORKING THE EIGHT PRINCIPLES OF CELEBRATE RECOVERY THAT ARE BASED ON THE BEATITUDES ALONG WITH THE TRADITIONAL 12 STEPS OF RECOVERY AS THEY ALIGN WITH THE MONTHLY CALENDAR.

STEP 8: We made a list of all persons we had harmed and became willing to make amends to them all.

 “Do to others as you would have them do to you.”  ~ Luke 6:31

PRINCIPLE 6 (Celebrate Recovery): Evaluate all my relationships. Offer forgiveness to those who have hurt me and make amends for harm I’ve done to others, except when to do so would harm them or others.

“Happy are the merciful.” ~ Matthew 5:7
“Happy are the peacemakers.” ~ Matthew 5:9 

After all the searching and confessing it’s now time to take responsibility for our actions.  Similar to the moral inventory of Step 4 we will list all the persons we harmed when acting out in our addiction or dependency. In fact, using our inventory list can help us determine who belongs on our amends list.
 
Reliving how we have harmed others is difficult. But with God’s help we can recall the names and faces, making notes as thoroughly as possible we prayerfully examine each person and our relationship with them. 
 
Remembering the faces of those we have hurt, can be a very painful process. But we must write their names down, carefully considering our relationships and how we harmed them.

Total honesty with ourselves is vital so we can go forward with peace of mind. With the pain of remembering the damage we have done, comes a welcome relief that we’ll no longer cause these injuries to our self and others.

Step 8 prepares us to continue the work of making amends. After making our list we are ready to ask God to give us the willingness to make those amends. As God helps us work these steps we will have the strength and the tools to heal our broken relationships. 
If you can’t see the video screen below click here for our Road to Recovery theme song.

 

RESOURCES:
Celebrate Recovery Bible
Celebrate Recovery Leader’s Guide
Life Recovery Bible
Life Recovery Devotional
The Twelve Steps for Christians
Prayers for the Twelve Steps-A Spiritual Journey
Serenity: A Companion for Twelve Step Recovery
Recovery: The Twelve Steps as Spiritual Practice

Image Credit: alexmillos

Originally published Aug. 7, 2013

…mysticism exists only in the present moment; it’s not about what is going to happen tomorrow, or next year, or in the next life. It is about learning to live in joy, about transforming consciousness, about becoming holy… the moment you focus your attention on practice, no matter how worthy or pious or spiritual it may be, you lose touch with the mystical.

~ Carl McColman

The Big Book of Christian Mysticism (Hampton Roads Publishing Co., Inc., 2010)

The Refining Fire

When Life's Challenges Are Coming From Every Angle

In life, seasons of struggle come and go. Some seasons there would be a few areas where the struggles were tough. Other seasons maybe only one. But the struggles these last two years have been almost unbearable.

Health issues, financial difficulties, deaths in the family, job losses, multiple relocations, legal battles, recovery challenges…

My faith has been tested more than it has in 13 years. I told my friend, I don’t mind being put in the lion’s den, or in the fiery furnace, or wondering the desert, or facing the giant, but do I have to do them all at once?

Why does God put us through the hottest fire when we feel at our weakest point?

Maybe when I am at my lowest point, I am more likely to seek His face, not just his hand.

How do we stay desperate in the good times?

If we could, maybe we wouldn’t have to be put through the trials to correct our trajectories.

Jesus said that it was easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than a rich person to get into the kingdom of heaven.

Today, I’m not sure if I want financial stability again. Maybe the poverty vows of many monastic orders is the way to live.

Then maybe my priorities will stay straight and my heart where it’s supposed to be.

Does God Have You In A Purifying Season of Life?

 

 

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One of the most important events in the Gospels, this miracle is set apart from all others because it happened to Jesus himself. Atop Mount Tabor in Galilee Jesus discloses his divine glory to Peter, James and John. His presence together with Moses and Elijah was confirmation to the Apostles of what Christ had taught them about his relationship to the law and the prophets. In the Transfiguration we have the appearance of the whole Trinity: the Father in the voice; the Son in Jesus; the Spirit in the shining cloud. In it we are given a foretaste of Christ’s glorious coming when we will be changed to be like him in an instant.

 

Transfiguration Icon

This beautiful icon commemorates The Transfiguration of Jesus Christ.

Crutches

What carries you through the day?

 

 

29381594 - vector silhouettes of people walking on crutches.

What does your crutch look like?

 

  • A bottle of liquor
  • An Internet site
  • A pack of cigarettes
  • A case of beer
  • A trip to the mall
  • A box of donuts
  • A pot of coffee
  • A bottle of pills
  • A pack of cards
  • A sharp blade
  • A binge/purge session
  • A one night stand

What do you think about when you first wake up? On your way home?

 Do you think about how fast you can get your crutch because you can’t stand walking with this pain by yourself any longer?

We’re afraid to walk without our crutch because it will be too painful. And it is too painful, if we try to do it alone.

It’s better to walk with a painful limp with God’s help and be mentally, emotionally and spiritually healthy, than to walk without God using our crutch to numb the pain.

When we take our mind off ourselves, by helping others who are walking with the same painful limp that we have, we almost forget we need a crutch.

In time we grow stronger, our muscles learn new ways of walking and we aren’t in as much pain.

One day we will be pain free.

 

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The Tree of Contemplative Practices infographic is a great introduction to the variety of contemplative practices you can choose from. We will be learning about and implementing many of these on our contemplative recovery journey. I hope you will take some time to familiarize yourself with them. These practices come from several wisdom traditions, but each can be translated over to the Christian contemplative tradition.

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