It is argued (and I concur) that existence apart from God is really a false existence--it is not real, not recognized by God because he did not create or imagine any thing to have existence outside of relationship with himself ("In him all things have their being." Col. 1:17.)
Well…I was busted again today by the Holy Spirit. One of the great truths that has emerged through the contemplatives and mystics of the ages is that we humans often prop up a false or “shadow” self into our daily lives. This shadow-self loves to pretend it is the REAL us and loves to try and control the events of our lives along with the people we encounter.
When I think about social justice issues like caring for the needs of the poor--those without basic necessities like food/water, or those on the underside of power (the sick/aged/oppressed/in prison), I have generally thought of these concerns as "outreach" or mission.
In praying this morning's Song of Creation, I couldn't help but think of the curious claim made by Genesis. Whether you take the creation story literally or not does not quash the inferences of that narrative of beginnings. According to Genesis, God creates by speaking, "Let there be..." After which these four words follow: "and it was so."
Jesus statement that when two or three are gathered in his name he is in their midst, seems to suggest that he is with us differently when we are together than how he is with us each as individuals. This would mean that there are things that happen when the church gathers that cannot happen when she doesn't.
I was thinking about the phrase from the Lord's Prayer: "Lead me not into temptation, but deliver me from evil." In this prayer we are asking God to direct us away from future temptations that would cause us to stumble into the sins that "so easily beset us" (as we would hope any good navigation program to route us around trouble on the road ahead).
One of the greatest treasures I embrace from my Evangelical/Charismatic roots is bringing the piety and passion of my heart into the prayer moment. As wonderful as that is, that is not the ONLY purpose of the Office.
The central political claim of the Church has been that one day the kingdoms of this world shall become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ. But that day isn't until the Savior breaks through the clouds and enters this dimension.
"Forgive us our trespasses" is a part of the cry of our souls twice a day as we utter the words of the Our Father and pray the Prayer of Confession. This is an acknowledgement of a number of things.
As we pray the Psalms we often pray things that seem obscure and inapplicable to our personal lives. This is when we should shift into the awareness that we are praying AS the Body of Christ, speaking for the Body the prayers that have filled the lungs of the Church since her inception.
One of the dangers of praying the Office two times a day is praying the Office two times a day in a rote kind of way. The opposite of "rote" is NOT stirring up some internal passion or by grasping a pressured focus that can produce spiritual hemorrhoids, but a pausing and waiting, refusing to do something just to do it.
Remember that one central focus of praying the Psalms is that it is not just PERSONAL, but corporate--these are OUR prayers, which means there are times we resonate with what is being said and times we don't.
Gnosticism, or the notion that there was "special gnosis for a select few," has always been a heresy that emerges and re-emerges in the Church historically.
Remember that a sacramental imagination (over against a Protestant imagination) refocuses the "agent" of activity from us (the participating humans) to God.
Remember that one of the values we embrace in the Order is fasting. Though the Bible never commands us to do so, Jesus said, "when you fast," not "if you fast." He seems to presume that fasting would be a part of our spiritual lives.