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… we seek nothing but the particular place willed for us by God …

Then we discover what the spiritual life really is … It is the silence of our whole being in compunction and adoration before God, in the habitual realization that He is everything and we are nothing, that He is the Center to which all things tend, and to Whom all our actions are directed.  That our life and strength proceed from Him, that both in life and death we depend entirely on Him, that the whole course of our life is foreknown by Him and falls into the plan of His wise and merciful Providence; that it is absurd to live without Him, for ourselves, by ourselves … and in the end the only thing that matters is His glory.

Thomas Merton, in Thoughts in Solitude

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In the Mass readings today we hear God lamenting that His children have moved away from Him and we hear Jesus advise us to move away from those who do not receive or listen to his words.

Our dilemma is that we live in an age where many of the most public and most vocal have moved away from God and do not listen to the words of His Son.  Likewise the culture in its digital discourse and mass communication is crowded with those who operate largely by themselves – without reference to God.  Indeed, that is the bulk of present day discourse and we are obviously affected negatively by this.

What is one to do in such circumstances?

Yes, we are assured in the Old Testament reading of today (from Hosanna) that God will act mercifully as to those who rebel.  And, we know that Jesus in today’s Gospel (from Matthew) would have us separate from those who do not receive his words or listen to him.  So we have a plan: be merciful, yet separate from those who reject the Savior’s words.

But how is this to be done?

Merton offers a way: seeking time in silence and the company of God in that silence.  For in that silence the primacy of God is known and experienced and we are in the form that we are designed to know and in which we will find peace when all about are in discord and distress.

Yes, our confidence is in God and our task is to stand apart form those who reject God outright, and in their rejection of the Son, reject the Father.  Our remedy for this is silence – a singular silence where God is heard – much as the Son shows us in his regular retreats to the quiet of the desert.

In silence we can find stability, meaning and fulfillment.

Shalom.      

 

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… the Lord spoke to me, the Spirit entered into me and set me on my feet …

Ez 2:2

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In this Old Testament verse, the Prophet Ezekiel records how he was moved to assume responsibility to go to the Israelites who had consistently rebelled against their God.

Think about Ezekiel.  He was a faithful man and in his relationship with God he was moved to address the waywardness of his fellow Jews.  In this he accepted a difficult course – that of a Prophet.  He was willing to speak God’s truth to those who had strayed from that truth – from their God.

Is there not always a place for Prophets?

Are we ourselves not often in rebellion as to God?  Do we not prefer our desires to God’s intention for us?  Do we not place politics above faith?  Ideology above belief?  Are we not today the Israelies of yesterday?

Are we, as Believers, not called as Ezekiel was called?  If not you, then who?  Who might speak God’s truth to those who demonstrate they rebell and corrupt what is good?  Is our silence ever justified in such circumstances?  What if Eekiel remained silent?

Someone must speak God’s truth.  Today requires more than one voice speaking God’s truth.  A Nation of professed belief in God requires the voices of those who believe.

Shalom.

July 6th, 2018 – Hope it is a good one for you!

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If you want something too much it’s likely to be a disappointment.  The healthy way is to learn to like the everyday things, like soft beds and buttermilk – and feisty gentlemen.

Larry McMurtry, in Lonesome Dove

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Re-reading a favorite book or watching a movie you have already seen can restore a perspective you once possessed and need to acquire again.  Yes, the pace of present day secular culture occupies us so thoroughly that we can easily lose our orientation, perspective, way of being when we are at our most relaxed best.

The above words are those of Gus McCrae, a crusty old witty and practical ex-Texas Ranger with a philosopher’s disposition and a desert dry sense of humor.

Old Gus proceeded through life with joy.  He never missed the fun, nor fooled himself as to the world he lived in, the nature of people in it, or himself.  He was hassle-free.  I do not mean problem-free – for the world is the world even for honest and balanced characters in Western novels.

Seeing Gus’s humor and wisdom, sense of justice and courage, fidelity to friends and principles reminds me of how not like Gus so many people are now.  The contrast is striking.  Gus stood tall – saw what was before him and never shunned the call to honor.

Unlike many with public voice today, Gus was not a complainer – not a whiner, and in contrast to the multitude of Left and liberal voices we hear – he was not sour, frantic, perpetually irritated, obnoxious, and demanding.

Gus had fun with life – the Left and the liberals do not.  The Left today is disgruntled or angry about anything and everything that is not what they want, do, think, believe, expect, or demand.

Mind you, Gus’s life on the Western frontier in the late 19th century was hard and unpredictable.  But Old Gus took all the hurdles, bumps, twists and turns with same panache that Sinatra sang – smoothly and self-assuredly while resigned to the magistry and mystery of it all.

How we’d help ourselves to be like Gus: funny, witty, courageous, sober, loyal, grateful, clever, loving, generous, and wise.

Right now, those most vocal among us are anxious or offended, or hostile, or loud and unhappy – unpleasant and constantly frantic.  No Gus for them.  Unlike Gus – they take nothing in stride.

Life in the West in the late 19th century, or life today in cyber-secularism?  Where’s my horse and gun?

Shalom.

The more powerful and original a mind, the more it will incline to the religion of solitude.

Aldous Huxley

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It will be 90 degrees again here to today.  In the mountains a breeze persists.  The pastures are green and bathed in sun to make them softer to the eye.

I listen to a CD entitled “Celtic Landscapes” – recordings from nature in Ireland and Scotland.

Last night I saw a Mama bear and her two small cubs.  They were given the order by Mama to take to the trees.  They did.  The little spuds hung one above the other on thin branches near the tree trunk.  No one moves unless Mama says so.

I hung my Scottish flag on the garage this morning then ate homemade raisin rumcake with a cup of dark roast.  All is good on the ridge.

I love the solitude.  The more disorder in mass culture, the better the silence and solitary life in nature.

A thunder storm erupts on the CD.  We shall have our’s this afternoon.

All the flowers are watered and trimmed.  The roses have a good number of blossoms ready to bloom.  The grass is cut.  The St. Andrew’s Cross flies free.

You see there are things that give comfort.  They are near.  They settle the soul and create space between disorder and peace of heart and the quiet of the soul.

Know this: mass culture is sick and it breeds discontent.  It takes its price from you.

Shalom.

If we remove the obstacles, the ego-self with all its paraphernalia, and surrender to God, we penetrate through the layers of our psyche until we reach the center of core of our being.

Thomas Keating, in The Heart of the World

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Quiet begets interior silence.  In quiet being itself appears as thoughts fade.  In quiet we hear the sound of silence that is deep inside us.  In this is God, awareness of God.

In interior silence social need falls to the Spirit – without others we are nearer our own being and that of all things and beings.  In interior silence eternity exceeds mortality – yes, reality becomes eternity, and all things now and beyond are of God and God.

This interior silence has no words nor need for words.  It is.  IT SIMPLY IS.

In interior silence we are subsumed with the “IS” and its inexhaustible ALL.  This: the experience of the Triune God – our center – the center of being here and beyond.  There is in this eternity and tranquility – our meaning, our purpose, our reason for being, peace and certainty – ease of being, the exceeding of all doubt or pain.

Shalom.

 

The monk is a man who lives in seclusion, in solitude, in silence outside the noise and the confusion of a busy worldly existence.

Thomas Merton, in Contemplation in a World of Action

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A monk lives in response to existing culture.  His thinking is both critical and healthy.  He sees that a present culture does not promote his values, virtue or an integrated, well-formed life.

A monk seeks wholeness and a depth of spiritual existence that cultures usually ignore in their all-consuming demands and expectations.  A monk seeks to understand life and people.  He seeks psychological, emotional and social fitness.  His path is to Truth and to God.  Clarity, peace and wisdom come to him.

His days are composed of work and prayer, silence and listening – quiet, reading and worship.  He finds time to contemplate life at large, its meaning, its best use and ways of being.

The ways of a monk are the perfect counterpoint to the disintegration that is today’s secularized America.

Today we are rife with conflict, antagonism turned to hatred in many instances, division, hostility, abandonment of virtue and morality, to the intrusion of state and the destruction of critical institutions, the lost of a nation’s boundaries and heritage, and its common understandings.

Chaos displaces the order of common understanding and mutual respect.

Each day brings evidence of disorder and often brutality – conduct whereby those who might otherwise lead discredit themselves.

We are no longer unified and living as neighbors guided by good.  Too many force their views on others, advance their disorder on others as if our acquisition of their strife and sickness normalizes them – makes true what is false.

At a time like this – in a culture like this … think of those who go “off to the mountain as the fish to the sea.”

Maybe you can learn from the way of monks.  Can you not acquire their ways in forms that create healthy distance between you and what is destructive?

Your health, wholeness, peace and wisdom resides in the ways of the monk.  In your culture today comes disintegration, illness, hostility, confusion, amorality, untruth and self-destruction.  Your life need not be composed of these things.  

Shalom.

A Book of Interest – You might like a short book entitled Essential Monastic Wisdom: Writings on the Contemplative Life by Hugh Feiss, a priest in the Order of St. Benedict.  It is a fine resource for those who wish to make healthy adjustments in the face of rank disorder and destruction that is exclusive secular culture today.  Peace be with You. 

 

I looked for you in everyone and they called me on that too

I lived alone but I was only coming back to you …

and springtime starts but then it stops in the name of something new

and all my senses rise against this coming back to you …

Leonard Cohen, in Coming Back to You

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Each of us has someone – and probably more than one someone – that we have lost to mortal time.  For many, the years of loss have piled up while the memories persist and set in us deeper roots.

It need not be springtime to feel those losses – but in springtime when all is new and delicate and beautiful, those losses seem to move about like the warming breezes – turning our attention to the touches we knew, the embraces we shared, the laughter we had and all those days together.

Spring is “the coming back” time.  I give you this –

So take your walk, and sit a bit when the breezes beckon you

 for in the Spring when warm sets in, I’m coming back to you.

Shalom.

 

God’s first language is Silence.  Everything else is a translation.

Thomas Keating

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Do you want to know why the U.S. Dow Jones Average dropped over 700 points yesterday?  To much frantic action: the Congress passes a $1.7 trillion dollar federal government budget which no one voting on it has read, China responses to our recent tariff position, the President changes the head of his National Security Council and losses his private attorney in the hideous Robert Mueller nonsense, Facebook and other social media companies pose security concerns and become unlawful speech censors.  Too much “stuff” in one day.

People cannot absorb multiple stimuli at once.  (Indeed, this sort of scatter-short activity says: there is an absence of control and measured behavior – rather we look like we are governed by blindfolded people swinging at a Pinata with a baseball bat.)

At times like this (and we are in one) silence speaks it truth.  This, of course, is another way of saying God calls – for the soul needs its peace.

We live in chaos.  Those who are supposed to offer reassurance and leadership do not.  When serious matters are in play and we look like we are the hands of the “fruit loops” group – you’d best retreat to silence … it makes the best space between yourself and calamity.

In short – there is silence … and then there is Babel and its folly.

Shalom.

 

Most of the time, we are lost in the past or carried away by future projects or concerns.  When we are mindful, touching deeply the present moment, we can see and listen deeply …

Thich Nhat Hanh, in Living Buddha, Living Christ

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Today with all its fury, demands, confusion, transgressions, noise, deceit, foolishness and injuries has a way of capturing us.  But we need not be locked into its mischief and destruction.  Indeed it is quite unhealthy for us to be captured by all the chaos and malfeasance, the untruths and disorder.

‘Tis much wiser and far healthier to be mindful.  To focus on our interior.  Seeking quiet and listening to it gives rest, understanding – transcendence, yes, liberation.

In the fury of today, do you hear your breathing?  Most would answer, “No.”  To them I say: “You are NOT mindful.  You have been captured by chaos.  You are forfeiting your life – cheating yourself out of the life you have been given.  Making yourself sick.  Settling for far less than you have been given.”

Cistercian monk Thomas Merton had an affinity for the existential writer Albert Camus.  He saw in Camus “a man who … loves the world yet stands apart from it with a critical objectivity which refuses to become involved in its transient fashions and its more manifest absurdities.”  (Thomas Merton, in Contemplation in a World in Action).

So many are captured by the chaos.  The digital world, much like the organs of mass “communication” (or shall we say “miscommunication“) that sow chaos and confusion – reduce us drastically from whole to but fragments.

Better to hear your breath.  Be mindful.  Stand apart.  Maintain critical objectivity – you can dismiss most of what is going on around you … there are so few healthy voices after all.

Shalom.

We are ambassadors for Christ; it is as though God were appealing through us, and the appeal that we make in Christ’s name is: be reconciled to God.  (Emphasis added.)

Cor 5:20

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St. Paul’s words fit us to a tee today.  This is precisely the core of the problem we face in America and particularly in Washington, D.C. and national politics.

We have forsaken Christ in favor of self and power and greed.  In place of Christ: we have collusion, Commies, incompetence and corruption.  Forget the swamp – we have a cesspool.

Think about it: lobbyists, lawyers, politicos and their hacks and handlers, lots of money, career politicians, dishonesty, duplicity, a partisan press and clueless media, fools running the Justice Department, FBI, intelligence agencies, in the State Department – and past Presidents asleep at the switch, and investigations that are at best “selective.”

So where are the Christians?  Their voices?  Who is to set the standard of decency?  Honesty?  Service?

Yes, there are some Members of the Congress who stand tall.  I think of Mr. Nunes of California, Mr. Goudy of South Carolina – and there are others – more in the House of Representatives than in the Senate.  But is there not a place and time for Christians to speak up publically?

Remember, America is a country which (unique in history) built a free nation on the relationship between faith and liberty.  Religion and its presence … hence, religious freedom is vital to our individual liberty and national prosperity and character.

Believers must speak when the conditions require.

Frankly we are failing our ancestors who built this Great Nation and we are failing the God who made us and entrusted us with this land and this Nation’s mission.  Shame on us.

What will you do?

Shalom.

 

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