This is really the heart of Christianity, and is so very simple and intimate that we often avoid it for more sophisticated pre-occupations.
Those finding solace in the New Age for all its neutral ground may not bother to consider that Christianity offers something unique, although not as an exclusive path to God. God meets us in a multitude of ways, but none more personal and intimate than through His Son.
There is no amount of other considerations that will lead us back to this, except perhaps by exhaustion as our seeking bottoms out from time to time.
Here is Mother Teresa of Calcutta's invitation:
"I worry some of you still have not really met Jesus - one to one - you and Jesus alone. We may spend time in chapel - but have you seen with the eyes of your soul how He looks at you with love? Do you really know the living Jesus - not from books but from being with Him in your heart? Have you heard the loving words He speaks to you? Ask for the grace; He is longing to give it."
And from St. John of the Cross:
"What more do you want, o soul! And what else do you search for outside, when within yourself you possess your riches, delights, satisfaction and kingdom -- your beloved whom you desire and seek? Desire him there, adore him there. Do not go in pursuit of him outside yourself. You will only become distracted and you won't find him, or enjoy him more than by seeking him within you."
It would be interesting, and beneficial, if posts on this thread were cause for more than intellectual reflection. IOW, taking what is shared and speding a few minutes, even right there in front of the computer, letting it carry us to God, open us to Him.
As far as I know, we've never invited each other to this sort of communion in the moment on-line, even though the timing is inherently staggered.
Well, I'll start off again by saying...great post, and I really like both the quotes!
oops..sorry....cross-posted there w.c.
I come from a hindu background. I was a person who was very religious, going to the hindu temples twice everyday. I had learned Carnatic Music(Songs in worship to the hindu "gods") for over ten years.
At the age of nine, I was struck with cancer(sarcoma). Though I was a religious person and was proud of my religion, I felt a hollowness within me. But then when I met with Jesus, he filled me and made me whole all over. I was healed of cancer, and set free from the hands of the devil.
From there started my journey of intimate relationship with the living Christ.Before I met with the Lord, I used to peep into these traditional churches and wonder why this man was hanging on the cross. But my encounter with Him, made me realize that my sins held him there on that tree of shame. The first thing that amazed me was: "He's real!". His love is a love that flows like a mighty ocean, no one who truly has received His love can explain the extravagancy of His love. But the bible tells us we can know this unlimited, unconditional love through His Holy Spirit. How great the love He has lavished on us that we should be called sons of God!
Beloved, all that matters is your relationship with Him. Nothing else in the world is of worth. If you have Him, you're complete.
The Lord is looking for people who will be obedient to His faith, and voice today. Absolute obedience.
The Church today has lost obedience to the voice of the Spirit. They have lost God's standard of Holiness. They say, "Everyone sins". The greatest part of the relationship is Holiness: you separate from the world, and get attached to the Lord. Without living holy, no man need to expect to see God.
Because of the rotten lie of Predestination Calvin put forth many have a cold attitude to sin. We as the Church of this last hour must take a stand against sin, and live in the purity, and holiness of God. He will present unto Himself a Church without any spot or wrinkle, and we are to co-operate with Him. It's not a do-it-yourself job, it's a combined work.
Yours related through the Blood,
I admire your creativity with this approach, WC. But not to reflect or analyze. NOT ALLOWED TO ANALYZE!!!! I could go nuts, you know.
All I can honestly say is that I don�t know. But when I walk the trails I sometimes think I don�t-know a little less. It struck me yesterday how pleasure and pain were both the unmistakable telltale signs of a Creator. Sure, maybe atoms could swoosh into and out of existence for no reason. Matter could exist and not matter. But who put pain and pleasure into the recipe? Matter does not need this in order to do material things. But we need it in order to advance into complex biological formations�or so it seems.
I commune, if that is what I am doing, when I am in pain. It is when I suffer that the questions of "who?" and "why?" come to the forefront. And it is when I suffer that such questions seem to have a chance of ever getting answered.
Well, that�s all I�ve got.
In one sense we have to be ready, or ripe. But actually we're never ready to surrender to His ownership of us, even though we don't really belong to ourselves. It is really threatening to think of it this way, as we struggle to the grave to be in control. But we can't even contol our own faculties.
He said "Whoever tries to save his life loses it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it."
We search endlessly because we don't find. And He's asking us to give this up and have Him instead, or rather, Him have us, which is what we're afraid of: what will He do with us?
"Come to me all who are weary, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn of me, for I am meek and humble of heart, and you will find rest for your souls, for my yoke is easy, and my burden is light."
There is just nothing more "personalizing" than love, at least as the term is used in Christianity in reference to Jesus' love. He doesn't love in the abstract -- some kind of generalized attitude of benevolence directed toward the universe as a whole. Notice how often in the Gospels he keys in on certain individuals and and deals with them in the concrete situations of their lives. The revelation is one of God's love for each of us as individuals . . . that even "the hairs on our heads have been counted."
We know how wonderful it is to be loved by another human being . . . the amazement and incredible sense of meaning that comes from knowing that your life is valued by another . . . that you're even necessary to them in some manner. So it is with Jesus as well, in my experience. In his presence, there is only love and acceptance, along with a whimsical humor concerning those aspects of self that I take too seriously. It's a healing humor, however, which is totally unlike sarcasm or ridicule. "Ah, here's Mr. Know-it-all . . . what are you going to teach me today, hee hee!" I am loved and accepted as myself . . . this individual . . . false self and all. Who needs a false self to fall back on in the presence of this kind of love?
I know the love of Christ is often compared to that of a Lover, but it seems to me that it is more like that of a Parent. Those of you who've raised children will understand, I'm sure. You love them for who they are, in their uniqueness, false self and all. It breaks your heart when they harm themselves in some manner, but you love them no less -- maybe even more. And your greatest delight is for them to find their own wings and become the person you've sensed all along they could be.
As I've stated so often, our best human experiences are but analogies to how things go with the divine. Far too often, our image of the divine isn't even as positive as that of humans. We believe the divine to be more harsh and judgmental than we are, which is absurd. Yet in
Christ, we meet a God whose goodness and love surpasses our wildest musings. We see this in the Gospels, encounter it in our lives, and still struggle to believe. The problem is not that people don't believe in God; most people do. The problem is that almost everyone (Saints being the exception) fails to believe in a good God. The evil in the world makes us doubt, but Christ knew this evil. The darkness in our own hearts draws us away, but Christ loves us through this darkness. One can believe in a good God and entrust one's life to this God because Christ has conclusively demonstrated that, in the end (which is the only time evaluations can truly be rendered), goodness, love, justice and peace win the day.
You know, I was emailing someone this morning, and I noticed my email signature in this particular account:
Lord, You have been our dwelling place in all generations. Psalm 90:1
It struck me that Him being my "dwelling place" is at the very core of my personal relationship with Him. It is the only place I can live. Anything else would be hell or death. I can't even stand to think about the emptiness of dwelling someplace other than in my Lord. Actually, it makes me almost have an anxiety attack. How could I live without the One who completes me? Who would I be?
Anyway, that's my thought this morning.
I keep coming back to what you are saying, over and over again. It is all, almost, too simple. His presence is no less concrete than a mother's for a child.
I'm also finding, through some therapy, that my tolerance for Jesus' presence, where I tend to pull away from His love because it is so good, is a similar vulnerability I struggle with among close friends, and most especially with girlfriends. The love is more vulnerable than the pain. The Holy Spirit can find His way into any of those cracks, however, but becoming more receptive to human love and its imperfections is crucial as well. You must already know this, too well, with your family.
Also, taking all our pain to Him and asking Him to relate with those parts of us, rather than holding out for some level of growth, seems important.
"Yes, love is indeed more vulnerable than the pain. We can become hardened and walled up against pain, but love?...true abiding love always leaves our heart and soul exposed. However, for me, it is that very vulnerability that leads me to seek out Jesus or respond to His touch, because I know that He will bring me no pain in our reciprocal love. He's my haven in that regard. That security is really the only thing that allows me to love on the human level. Also, I see His vulnerability as He walked this earth and hung on the cross. He knows the tenderness of the heart; His experience is the epitomy of love for another. I think maybe that's one reason I trust Him so much. Hope that makes sense."
Yes, it does. I guess when I say that His love is sometimes too much for me to allow completely, I'm referring to how that love loosens the grip of the false self. Sometimes it feels too precious, too tenderizing, but not at all in a bad way. Just too great a lover at times. But, as you say, we are never content to rest except in complete openness to Him, so I'm always drawn back to Him again and again.
Phil has also mentioned His sense of humor, and I have felt that before several times re: my false self tendencies. He pierces these, but is quite understanding of how we hide away in them in fear. His humor invites us out of hiding so we don't feel ashamed for being such sorry lovers ourselves.
The idea of relationship is difficult for me because of the abusive nature of the term I saw in myself and others involved in the fundamentalist especially the baptist wing. I tend to think of relationship in terms of community but I realize it is important to develop a personal relationship with God it is the way the word relationship is used in some churches that opens it for abuse.
Letting go of false self and trusting has been a huge issue for me. It means letting go of control maybe this is one of the areas that destroyed my marriage. It is also brings in the element of uncertainity. It is a tough lesson in my life.
Sounds like you've already taken some good steps that include healing relationships. Didn't you say you were working with a therapist and spiritual director? You might look at the thread "Letting in, letting go, and being with," for descriptions of therapeutic interaction which help ease us out of false self defensiveness; it is not as frightening or difficult if the therapist knows how to engage the present moment relationship rather than simply muse over the past.
It is interesting how indulgent we can be in terms of fantasy, but so neglectful of recollecting Him. We have this powerful capacity for fantasy, often driven by the automaticity of the internal dialogue, but the content of our fantasies is somewhat under our conscious control. We could spend more time thinking of Him, especially since He is a Living Presence much more so than the people and things we tend to mentally occupy ourselves with.
But one of the things that characterizes our fantasy life, and may partly explain why we indulge it the way we do - as opposed to recollection of Him - is that fanstasy life tends to objectify others and ourselves, which feeds the false self system.
We usually think of our relationship with Christ as occuring in the Mass or during formal prayer time; yet He is present to us in truth all the time, which may be the catch, as turning to Him, unlike mentally recollecting friends or family, requires facing ourselves in utter honesty. But He doesn't make this hard to do, as His crucified/resurrected presence, which is so personally Him as our friend (non-threatening) and our Lord (powerful and efficacious), is always that water finding the crevices in the false self system which allows us this degree of honesty.
One thing I do notice is that as I remember Him in this more moment-to-moment, simple way, there is less to say, or less unchecked prompting to control others, or be right, seek approval and security, etc . . . Most of my attention is in letting Him into the places that hurt that would prompt wanting approval, control and security, and then that opens to the other person in a way that requires almost nothing of them.
So I'm letting Him into despair, pride, lust, fantasy, anger, fear, shame, sorrow, humor, happiness - just as I'd want to share these with somebody else I trust, although some of those emotional states are characterized by isolation or privacy.
It kind of sounds like this:
"Oh, I forgot about You. Yes, please come in here into this place. Thank you for being here and knowing so much more about the pain than I can . . . . I know you see this. Part of me wants to change it, make it better, or get rid of it, but I know you see it. So please come in and do as you will with this, which I've never been able to heal anyway. If I try to change it I end up pushing You away at the same time."
That last paragraph has the makings of a modern psalm, w.c.
It amazes me how close He is in our sufferings, His cross a splendid shadow tender to the heart where we would ordinarily resist and fail to see how we are all connected to one another through Him in the worst moments.
I'm also aware of the importance of waiting in faith, and not for a consolation, but for Him as a friend to show us how He sees our discomfort. That wellspring of sweetness in the midst of pain is what He generates in just being Himself as Lord of hearts.
But it is humbling to see how thin our compassion can be, and how easily wearied I become under routine stresses, such that my love for others can often turn out to be a matter of convenience, lacking the roots only He can generate as we become ready for the Dark Night purification of narcissistic tendencies.
Somewhere in the middle of last night's sleep I became aware of how easily Jesus could have chosen to preserve His own life over the horrific death he was allowing for us. Of course, His entire purpose was to restore creatures to their Creator, where no amount of human intelligence or goodness had been able to. God cannot/will not overcome our choosing creatures in preference to Him, but in Jesus there is now and forever God as human choosing God for all humans, and so the potential has been renewed, so to speak.
So much of the fallen human psyche seems about creatures choosing creaturely comforts rather than taking up Christ's offer of transformation so that God can be known in the world. We're so addicted, in such subtle ways in how we think and feel and see, that allowing the Creator to re-order His own creation is quite a dark and unknown passage, given that our faculties cannot achieve what He knows is needed. Even the happiness we manage to salvage is a form of suffering, never satiating our neediness.
But one thing is pretty clear: we don't have the choice not to suffer. We can suffer and try to scrounge for our happiness, or we can choose His Cross as the path of giving and receiving love that cuts through our deceits and restores us to each other.
When we think of inviting Jesus into our most intimately shameful moments, there is usually the grave sense of needing to be clean or morally fit before making this request. But another way of looking at this is from the pov of His suffering and the way He was able to receive all of fallen humanity's sordid characteristics and transform them without feeling shame Himself. As such, in our struggles, the shadow of the Cross is already and always looming as the core presence in all human pain, however distorted. We could, therefore, make our pain, addiction, etc, a moment of devotion where we invite Him to join us, as He is already so intimately present as to embarrass us with what He knows; yet His knowledge includes what we don't know or accept in the midst of our misery and lost happiness: that the longings are primarily about our relationship with Him as creatures, as we were created through Him.
I was a couple of weeks behind on this thread, which reads as one of Merton's journals. Very happy for all of you! And blessed! caritas, mm <*))))><
We could, therefore, make our pain, addiction, etc, a moment of devotion where we invite Him to join us, as He is already so intimately present as to embarrass us with what He knows; yet His knowledge includes what we don't know or accept in the midst of our misery and lost happiness: that the longings are primarily about our relationship with Him as creatures, as we were created through Him.
That's very nicely put, w.c. It is part of the great, good news that we can encounter Christ in the midst of our suffering and find, in him, One who has personally experienced the same. Nothing can separate us from the love of God, not even our suffering. Of course, as you noted, we have to open ourselves to Christ during these times. In doing so, we can one day look back on them as among the most intimate of times in our relationship with him.
John of Cross's saying echoes that of St Augustine where he tells in one of his sermons you need to look within yourself to find God, rather than at the creation. Augustine elaborated an interesting theory in 'The Trinity' whereby the Trinity is imprinted on the deepest structures of our conciousness in the faculties of intellect, will and memory. Augustine also talks about this beautifully in his confessions where he follows the advice of the 'Platonists' to 'look within' and he finds God's reality there, meeting his interior soul.
Many Christian mystics and allegorical scripture commentators held that God's Word (Christ) unites itself with the soul of the believer. The Song of Songs was read by many mystics as an allegory of this process. St John of the Cross was probably the most beautiful arguer of this idea.
The union of our soul to God through Christ is perhaps the biggest mystery of the faith, and cannot really be explained properly in logic or words.
"Augustine elaborated an interesting theory in 'The Trinity' whereby the Trinity is imprinted on the deepest structures of our conciousness in the faculties of intellect, will and memory."
I really like this...can you (or someone else) give me a more specific reference so I can find it within the document (which is pretty long!)
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