Wednesday, May 15, 2013

The Presence of God

JMJT! Praise be Jesus Christ! Now and Forever!



“Let us commit ourselves entirely to Him, and banish everything else from our hearts and minds. He wants to be alone there, so we should ask him for this grace. If we do what we can, we will soon see the change we hope for in ourselves.”  

Dear Ones-

Many of us were together for the Day of Recollection last weekend where we learned different methods of meditation and practiced them.  One workshop focused on the Practice of the Presence of God. An overall thumbnail sketch of this method of praying without ceasing, and keeping Our Lord constantly present in one's heart was explored. The basics of this quest for realizing the perpetual presence of God in our hearts is based on 2 principles as outlined below:

1. Abandonment to God’s Will: (AAA)   
a. Abandon oneself to God in faith, hope, and love
b. Act in child-like trust & dependence
c. Accept our life circumstances and being in harmony with all of God’s creation:

2. Loving Mindfulness of God
a. Doing little things as they arise for love of God (The Little Way)
b. Cast out all that does not pertain to God (The way of Nada”)
c. Making an oratory of our hearts (The indwelling)

We know that remaining in the presence of God can be difficult amidst life's distractions. The question arises, how can we achieve this? One strategy used by Br. Lawrence can be summed up in the acronym CARMEL. Each letter stands for an important component of staying on God's presence and replacing our self-dialogue with constant communion with Him. 


Admit sins
Renounce all else
Meditate on & Murmur arrow prayers prayers to God continuously throughout the day
Eventual contemplative prayer will be achieved
Love & Union with God will become perpetual – a divine union

Our Carmelite saints have a strong tradition of pondering the Lord in their hearts "day and night" in loving imitation of Our Lady.  I shared some of the ways in which this beautiful practice has uniquely manifested itself in so many of our Carmelite saints. This chart starts with our Blessed Mother on the bottom along with Elijah as our Carmelite foundation, and flows upward with the firm and prayerful example of St. Teresa of Avila and St. John of the Cross who reformed the order.  It is to illustrate the dialectic nature of this type of prayer, and how we are to use the basics as outlined by Brother Lawrence of the Resurrection, but accept and know that God also determines the individualized means by which to teach us to dwell perpetually with Him within the sanctuary of our hearts. 

Carmelite Foundational History of the Practice of the Presence of God
St. Edith Stein: Practice of Presence through uniting suffering to that of Crucified Christ in radical trust. “It is easier to have oneself nailed to the cross with Christ, than to become a stammering babe with him.”

Bl. Candida of the Eucharist: Practicing the presence through Eucharistic Adoration and then becoming a living host, or one who was united to Jesus in the Eucharist perpetually in all daily activities of prayer, recreation, and work.

St. Therese of Child Jesus: Little Way of love and child-like abandonment. "Miss no single opportunity of making some small sacrifice, here by a smiling look, there by a kindly word, always doing the smallest right and doing it all for love.” May you be confident, knowing you are a child of God. Let this presence settle into your bones and allow your soul the freedom to sing, dance, praise and love. It is there for each and every one of us.

Bl. Elizabeth of the Trinity: Indwelling of the Blessed Trinity thru words of St. Paul & life of BVM who drew Trinity within herself. Wrote, “May the God who is all love be your unchanging dwelling place, your cell, & your cloister in the midst of the world. Remember that He dwells in the deepest center of your soul as if in a sanctuary where He wants always to be loved to the point of adoration.” She sought to “identify my soul with every movement of your soul.” Her mission: “In heaven, I believe my mission will be that of drawing souls into int. recollection, helping them go out of themselves, to cling to God through a movement which is wholly simple & wholly loving; and to preserve them in that great silence of the ‘within’, which allows God to imprint Himself on them & to transform them into Himself. 
Brother Lawrence of the Resurrection: Practicing the Presence of God based on 2 pillars: Abandonment of self-will to God & loving mindfulness.
To accomplish this we must cooperate, persist, and persevere in faithfulness. “Let us commit ourselves to him, and banish everything else from our hearts and minds. He wants to be alone there, so we should ask him for this grace. If we do what we can, we will soon see the change we hope for in ourselves.”  AND “We must never tire of doing little things for the love of God who considers not the magnitude of the work, but the love. In the beginning, we must not be surprised if we often fail, in the end, once the habit is formed, we will be able to act without thinking about it and with great delight.” AND “I know that to do this your heart must be empty of all other things b/c God desires to possess it exclusively, and he cannot possess us exclusively without first emptying it of everything other than himself.”
St. Teresa of Avila: Stressed humanity of Christ. Focus on Him in discursive meditation/mental prayer, which leads to prayer of quiet/recollection and eventually union. Saw prayer as ‘being on terms of friendship with God frequently conversing in secret with him who, we know, loves us.’ (Life 8:5) Describes presence of God within while representing Christ within herself. “We need no wings to go in search of Him, but only have to look upon Him within us.”
St. John of the Cross: Practice through ‘nada’ path. Remove all things that are not God in order to be united with God. Die to world and self. Die to all sensory and spiritual goods in order to realize union. “My soul is now divested, detached, alone & withdrawn from all created things, both from above and..below; & it has entered so deeply into interior recollection with you that none of them can discern the intimate delight I now possess in You.. Since my soul stays so far from them and abides in such profound delight with you   

BVM: “pondered all things in her heart.” Drew the Holy Trinity to herself at the Incarnation. Fruit of her womb: Emmanuel: God is with us

Elijah: the prophetical tradition of Carmel and is an inspiration to live in the presence of God, seeking Him in solitude and silence with zeal for God’s glory. (OCDS Const. I:5)

One of our members took this beautiful picture in the Sanctuary of the Church that revealed the presence of Our Lord.  

He is everywhere, and most especially in the Eucharist. This is the pinnacle of our faith and our starting point. We nurture his Eucharistic presence in our hearts, whether we receive Our Lord daily or each Sunday. Enjoy this inspirational video that speaks so beautifully of this reality. From the strength He imparts within, we ask the Holy Spirit to create a perpetual dwelling place for Him to reside. Amen.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

JMJT! Praise be Jesus Christ! Now and Forever!

Dear Ones-

I hope that you enjoy this special homily Fr. Doug gave on 'The Carmelite Way'  that we are all  embracing, and which he spoke about as we joined together to celebrate promises and vows within our community last month. Enjoy another beautiful teaching from our beloved spiritual assistant!