New Seeds of Contemplation
A 20th Century Christian mystic, Thomas Merton is far and away one of my favorite authors. Although I haven’t read all his books yet, New Seeds of Contemplation is in my mind his greatest work. Without a doubt a modern spiritual classic.
The depth of Merton’s spiritual understanding is difficult to grasp. His words are soothing as a pool of cool water. I want to swim in them for hours.
“Every moment and every event of every man’s life on earth plants something in his soul. For just as the wind carries thousands of winged seeds, so each moment brings with it germs of spiritual vitality that come to rest imperceptibly in the minds and wills of men. Most of these unnumbered seeds perish and are lost, because men are not prepared to receive them: for such seeds as these cannot spring up anywhere except in the soil of freedom, spontaneity and love.” ~ Thomas Merton
In New Seeds of Contemplation Merton takes us to deeper levels in our spiritual walk, teaching us about faith and humility, thoughtfully helping us to find our true identity in Christ. If you are on a serious spiritual growth path, seeking a clearer understanding of your relationship to God, this is the book for you.
My feeble words fail when trying to describe the magnificence of Thomas Merton’s writing. Poetic, transcending, life-changing, mesmerizing, core-cutting, astounding, incredibly perfect, a true gift from God. It leaves me almost breathless… Always wanting more.
The highest of recommendations from my bookshelf. READ THIS BOOK!
CHANTING THE PSALMS
As my monastic spiritual quest unfolds God continues to put amazing books in my path. Each leads to another and on and on they go. My Amazon account is grateful to be sure!
In early 2014 when I was looking for books to use with my Lectio Divina and Liturgy of the Hours practices, I started reading Phyllis Tickle’s book series The Divine Hours. She spoke about the history of The Hours and how years ago monks (and some still today) would chant the Liturgy vs. speaking it.
A light bulb moment hit and I began looking for a book on chanting. Then voila’! I discovered Cynthia Bourgault’s book Chanting the Psalms. The perfect answer to my search.
Not only is this book an incredible history of chanting but it is a beautiful teaching tool of music and worship. The best part is the instructional CD that is included to help you learn the chants.
Don’t worry if you’re not a musician or a singer. Cynthia has all that covered. She does an awesome job putting us at ease with our uncertainties and inexperience. As a novice with chanting I need lots of practice. But that’s where our spiritual growth comes through our practice.
I am so excited about Chanting the Psalms by Cynthia Bourgeault and plan to use it for many years to come. I hope you will consider it as an addition to your prayer and personal worship experience.
Originally published November 26, 2014
In A Monk in the World we are learning the values, teachings and principles of Christian monasticism and how we can apply them to our lives outside the monastery walls. Today we’re focusing on the Prayer of Lectio Divina.
Lectio divina which means “holy or divine reading” is an ancient form of prayer using Scripture as the voice of God to our heart. This type of prayer is simple in concept but powerful in practice, taking us deeper and deeper in our relationship with God.
There are various takes on the practice of lectio divina. We are going to use the one I’ve learned from my resources listed below. Before beginning any prayer time we must find a quiet place to sit with the Lord. Focusing on our breath, we prepare to listen as the Holy Spirit brings openness and guidance.
- LECTIO: (Latin for reading) In this step we read a section of Scripture slowly, savoring each word as a delicious morsel that will nourish our soul. It’s helpful to read the passage aloud watching ever closely for a word or phrase that shimmers in our heart.
- MEDITATIO: (Latin for mediation) Here we take the phrase that caught our heart’s attention and ruminate on it through repetition and reflection. As we chew on the given text we connect it with our life situations.
- ORATIO: (Latin for prayer) In this next step we actually begin our conversion with God, our closest friend and confidant who we can share anything with. Here we may find much needed joy and gratitude; a renewal of hope and trust.
- CONTEMPLATIO (Latin for contemplation) Here we stop doing and just be, we still our hearts and minds, find rest in God’s loving arms as His precious child. We may continue our reading or end our prayer with thanksgiving.
Certainly one of my favorite passages of Scripture to meditate on is Psalm 23. Here are a few others you may consider:
Psalm 51 “Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love.”
Psalm 91 “You who live in the shelter of the Most High”
Romans 8 “There is therefore no condemnation…
I hope you will enjoy the practice of lectio divina. I’m looking forward to putting it more into practice for myself this upcoming year.
St. Benedicts Toolbox: The Nuts and Bolts of Everyday Benedictine Living by Jane Tomaine
Monk Habits for Everyday People: Benedictine Spirituality for Protestants by Dennis Okholm
How to be a Monastic and Not Leave your Day Job by Br. Benet Tvedten
For the last seven years God has allowed me to share my recovery journey with you. I’m very grateful and have learned a lot. Now it’s time to share the new direction God is taking me.
A few years ago I began learning about Christian Mysticism. Then in 2011 I was introduced to Benedictine spirituality, which is is derived from The Rule of Benedict written by St. Benedict of Nursia for the monks in his monastery over 1500 years ago. Known as the founder of Western monasticism, St. Benedict and his rule have had a tremendous impact on the Christian church. Surprisingly, the rule provides extraordinary insight into today’s major spiritual issues. Once I began studying it I knew I was home.
Since studying monastic spirituality I’ve been led to become a Benedictine Oblate. Oblates are ordinary people who dedicate their lives to God like monks. But rather than taking vows and living behind the wall of a monastery, Oblates make spiritual commitments that are lived outside the wall. I’m excited to share the things I’m learning with you this upcoming year. I hope you’ll tag along as my spiritual journey continues to unfold… Blessings!
Here is the Reaching Hurting Women monthly schedule for 2014:
First Wednesday: The 12 Steps of Humility
What I am most excited about this year is my focus on the topic of Humility. Each month we are going to learn one of the 12 Steps of Humility from St. Benedict. I think you will be amazed at how they line up with the recovery steps and principles.
Second Wednesday: A Monk in the World
In this column we will learn how to implement monastic spiritual practices into our daily life, enhancing our Christian walk with Benedictine principles.
Third Wednesday: The Twelve Principles
This year we are going to take a different turn on our 12 Step journey. My recovery columns for 2014 will focus on the Principles behind the 12 Steps rather than the Steps themselves. This will add a new dimension to our recovery study and growth process.
Fourth Wednesday: Books Reviews
As I have these last few years, each month I will continue to publish a Book Review. Again the topics will focus on Humility, Christian mysticism or monastic spirituality.
During Lent 2013 I studied about St. Hildegard of Bingen. She was an incredible woman far ahead of her time. Among her many accomplishments, St. Hildegard is credited for composing the first Western opera. I’d like to share her beautiful music with you. If you can’t see the screen below CLICK HERE. Enjoy…
PHOTO CREDIT: ryanking999 / 123RF Stock Photo