Archives for posts with tag: Prayer

img_20161104_091418-1It’s often difficult to turn to prayer at the start of my day. The computer summons me siren like. It is perhaps a problem with my ego that seeks to discover who has emailed me. Fortunately since pursuing the anchorite life for a while now, my inbox receives very little traffic. I am learning that it is my identity in Jesus that truly reveals who I am in this life. Again I yearn for a cup of green tea (organic Sencha to be precise), but I resist such distractions.

It is a simple exercise with which I enter my conscious day. I have a small altar to help give expression to my prayerful approach to all of life. It also provides a visual reminder throughout my day that all is about Christ. When I react from deep within my fracture, it’s always useful to be reminded that I am not the key event. Maintaining my connection with the Presence is. A visual altar helps me in this process.

So here I am before my altar. I may well quietly and internally pray the Jesus prayer as I quieten my heart. Then crossing myself as a physical reminder of my true identity gifted through the Cross, I strike a match, light the candle and make my prayer for the day. This varies, yet always includes the theme of light. Jesus, the Light of the world, to reveal my path to me, to lighten the challenges I face, to be a light within always revealing God’s presence, to enable me be to be a source of light, and thereby hope, to those who cross my path. This is a spontaneous prayer, differing each morning, yet always resonating around the theme of light.

This prayer takes no more than five minutes. I then make my way to the kettle. Prepare my cuppa, start ordering the Kitchen for the day ahead, prepare Jayne’s packed lunch. Usually I can then sit awhile before Jayne and mum emerge for breakfast. In this time I cup my tea in my hands and generally take some moments in reflective silence. However more of that another day.

Try by starting your day with a candle prayer. If a formal prayer helps then try this one I found courtesy of the Northumbria Community.

May the blessing of light be on you – light without and light within.
May the blessed sunlight shine on you like a great peat fire,
so that stranger and friend may come and warm himself at it.
And may light shine out of the two eyes of you,
like a candle set in the window of a house,
bidding the wanderer come in out of the storm.

Candles in the Dark

 

Retreat Day with Dr Micha & Jayne Jazz May 25, 2016 @ The Wisdom Centre Romsey, 9:30-16:30 refreshments and lunch provided. All inclusive price £35.

Just a few places remain for this day retreat in Romsey Hampshire. We already have a group of twenty people booked to explore deepening their understanding of contemplative activism Please do let us know if this is a day that you might value.

We shall explore the whole area of attachment and detachment with the help of the text of Cloud of UnknowingScholars date the anonymous authorship of Cloud of Unknowing to 1375, during the height of European monasticism. Written as a primer for the young monastic, the work is instructional, but does not have an austere didactic tone. Rather, the work embraces the reader with a maternal call to grow closer to God through meditation and prayer.

Our day will begin with coffee from 9:30 and we shall make a formal start at 10:00. The day will be a combination of learning together and self discovery through directed, individual activities. The objective as ever is to take a step back from the busyness of life and  deepen your personal understanding and awareness of both God and self. The core theme in our time together will be to examine the relationship between contemplation and activism.
 
You do not need to have read the text of Cloud of Unknowing and I shall have copies in a modern translation available for purchase on the day if you think you might want to explore further in this wonderful contemplative fourteenth century text. Do however bring your own notebook and pen. Slides of the day will be circulated after the retreat as a PDF via email.
To book: Email stcuthbertsoratory@gmail.com.

Brilliant short piece below by Paula Huston for reflecting upon. I love the Aristotelian thought that a Virtue is something we practice daily until it becomes a part of our life and we an enfleshment of that Virtue. It may just resonate with me since I have been thinking awhile about how my rhythm of eating (inclusive of menus) relates to my rhythm of prayer and obedience. So another delightful springboard into reflecting more on those wonderful ways of the Divine.BMS_diagram

Food absorbs a lot of my time as a cook in the Oratory, and whilst never ‘cheffy’, I do invest effort and thought into producing meals. Now, after much reading, I am engaged in a no/very low sugar, non dairy approach to food and I am seeing the impact upon the waistline battle. Nor sure if I feel any more alive than previously as some shout about. I have still got to address my love of ‘comfort eating’ and ‘boredom eating’ when I revert to full powered sugar foods like cakes and cookies. I have also followed the advice of an Orthodox contact who advocates eating, even when alone, without TV or the distraction of reading. I now sit down at table and eat carefully, enjoying every mouthful, whilst considering my guest at the table is Jesus. Battling the sense of isolation within the silence can be unnerving, yet I can glimpse some vague benefits, which will grow as I consider making this a Virtue.

My Myers Briggs ‘N-F’ characteristic suggests establishing a routine and being diligent about it is something my temperament is not naturally suited to, yet will greatly flourish as a consequence if I can apply some perseverance and live consistently. So maybe adopting non meat days as the monks and friars have habitually done might form part of eating as a spiritual discipline for me.

Anyhow take a moment to read Paula Huston‘s great little contribution here. Here new book, ‘Simplifying the Soul: Lenten Practices to Renew Your Spirit‘ might be a useful reflective follow up.

Bible-Verses-About-Weight-Loss

Everyone struggles with Prayer. We’re all invited to engage in ‘Daily Moments of Reflection’. Another way of saying this is that we choose to give a generous portion of our time to prayer and contemplation. It’s about deliberately wasting time with God for the fourfold purpose of,

* Developing our intimate friendship with Godencounter-with-God

* Acknowledging that throughout our daily life we seek to prioritise God and his Kingdom purpose

* Recognising our dependence upon God for our life and well being

* Encountering the presence of God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit personally and together with others.

The majority of people when asked if they pray, will respond in the affirmative. Yet, for me, and for many, this positive response to a direct question was for many years merely the answer I felt was expected, rather than the reality, and I was a little ashamed at how impoverished my encounter with God was in practice. For many years I struggled with prayer. I found the process a challenge with my mind wandering and discovering I carried within myself a weight of expectation that had somehow taken root within me.

Consequently, I dragged myself to prayer reluctantly, prayed from a misplaced sense of duty and felt guilty when I didn’t pray.  The word ‘enough’ tormented, not least because enough is an imprecise measurement and a source for nothing greater than condemnation. And who amongst us would find much enthusiasm once we knew we stood condemned?

I remember in Youth for Christ (YFC), as I trained youth workers, I would ask, ‘what are the six most important things to impress upon a new believer?’ Invariably the first three were prayer, reading the bible and joining an active church. The next three reflected the individual’s theological preferences! Later in that same session, having moved on in the teaching, I asked what were the six most difficult aspects of the Christian life each person in the room experienced. No surprises it was usually prayer, bible reading and church attendance. It was not lost on any one of us that what we demanded of new converts was something we personally struggled with! Somewhat unkind and unrealistic.

My second observation in YFC was that I very quickly found ‘doing God’s work’ far more enjoyable than ‘seeking God’s face’ in prayer. I organised evangelistic concerts throughout the UK, ran school and campus missions, led summer camps etc. Many found faith in Christ, I loved the profile and sense of ‘getting God’s work done’ yet sadly stopped seriously seeking God as a consequence. I was too busy fulfilling my ministry and getting God’s work done! Eventually burnt out with exhaustion I was forced to take six months out. Six months in which to evaluate what went wrong! Cut off from the source of spiritual refreshment and renewal, I simply ran out of my own resource.

I was a natural communicator and organiser and drew upon my natural gifts to make projects happen. These projects gave the impression of God’s kingdom being established, yet they were mere projections of myself; what I imagined was God’s will and God’s way. Of course they were exciting and very tangible. So many people were able to participate in them and they appeared to reveal God’s hand at work in our world. These projects were not bad, and indeed many good things happened. However, I sustained them, and I was now drained and exhausted. I knew God, yet hadn’t fathomed how to engage and live out of the heavenly resources available to me. I did not know how to make my way into God’s presence. I had the theory yet lacked any meaningful practice. Practice that would require listening to the words of others, learning from their experience and working at establishing an effective life of prayer for myself. I didn’t particularly relish it; however, I knew I needed it. A journey started out of that period of exhaustion. A journey that was long in the making, and one that I shrank back from on numerous occasions.

barrenOf course a journey, as has often been said, begins with a single step. Mine was to step away from my insatiable appetite for platform, profile and personal affirmation. Whilst at the same time taking a step towards God, a step that carried me deeper into the wilderness. I had my own demons and temptations to face, identify and resist through the guidance of God’s spirit. So began what has been to date an eighteen year adventure, travelling deeper into the wilderness whilst simultaneously discovering God has personality and presence as my friend. The wilderness is a lonely place and often times it destabilises me as I observe so many worthy activities of which I am not a part. However, I choose to remain faithful to this road I am on, completely uncertain of where it might lead me.

 

108 square.inddSaturday January 4th, St. Cuthbert’s held an Epiphany Retreat looking at the Journey of the Magi. The theme was based upon how the Magi left the comfort of the familiar, pursued a star and found a king. Their journey was possible only because they reached beyond all they knew in pursuit of something they hungered for. Using the narrative of the coming of the Magi we explored living beyond life’s boundaries.

All our Retreats are small in number and so five of us spend the day initially reflecting on what we brought into the day and used a breathing prayer to set such distractions to one side in order to gaze upon Christ.

Lectio Divina on the story of the Magi recorded by St Matthew enabled each of us to connect that historic faith quest with our own journey in the footsteps of Jesus. There followed the opportunity personally to explore this in silence and solitude. So often our lives are surrounded with words – the words of others spoken or the internal narrative part influenced from our history and part impacted by the pressure of our tomorrow. Either way, we lose sight of the God we worship, the star disappears from view, because our attention is constantly diverted from our ultimate purpose of being still and knowing God. This day afforded an intentional opportunity to simply waste time in the presence of the Divine.

Lunch provided a wonderful opportunity to share stories over a fine feast, for as we feasted upon God’s revelation, so we mirrored Jesus’ own love of communicating around the meal table.

And then in the afternoon there was time to reflect upon the journey of prayer, the way of purgation, illumination and union. We focussed upon purgation – listening individually to what God had to say about those obstacles that constantly stood in the way of our setting out and leaving the seekingknown in accepting God’s invitation to explore the unknown of Divine love. The day concluded with stories around the hearth of the insights God had given and we were enriched.

All left rested and I am grateful for one comment that captures both the heartbeat of the day and the intention of the life of the Oratory here, ‘Thanks so much for our day of reflection. A great way to start the year for me. It made me realise that our spiritual life needs the help of a structure or framework to enrich our relationship with God. It poses a challenge about what I do about church now. No hurry!

Our next Retreat here in the Oratory is March 1st, 2014 – St David’s Day. We only accept six retreatants for the day. No charge although contributions to the work of the Oratory are invited on the day. The day runs from 9:15-4:30. To find out more email stcuthbertsoratory@gmail.com.

Our real journey in life is interior: it is a matter of growth, deepening and an ever greater surrender to the creative action of love and grace in our hearts‘ Thomas Merton.

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