Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Balance and the Franciscan calling…

Franciscans... Wordless witnesses of life...
These are faithful who, in the midst of their own community, demonstrate their capacity for understanding and acceptance, sharing of life and destiny, solidarity for what is noble and good. They radiate their faith in values and their hope in something that is not seen.
We stir questions in the hearts of those who see how we live:
Why are they like this?
Why do they live this way?
What or who is it that inspires them?
We are who God calls us to be: witnesses to the Gospel by action. Servants of the unworthy servants of God.

From Wrestling with Angels


Every great secret makes one poor, it seems.  Like a powerful sexual encounter, it cannot be shared and therefore it cannot be understood or valued by others.  As a result, it is almost always misunderstood, especially by those who have not yet discovered their own secret or found their own “private room.”  The secret of divine intimacy is by definition unshareable, ineffable, and mysterious even to the one who enjoys it.  It makes you great, but it also makes you very lonely, and often the subject of cruel accusations, comparisons, and spiritual competition.

Being a beloved son [or daughter] will not make you fit in, but in fact will make you an outsider in almost all circles—sometimes even to yourself, as you question your own self-assuredness and doubt your own best moments.  Every secret makes one poor and lonely, living alone in rooms of doubt—the doubt that comes from an unshareable ecstasy.

Richard Rohr, from Soul Brothers: Men in the Bible Speak to Men Today,
pp. 91-92, 93


I’ve been much troubled, recently, by the need for balance in my life. Balance between prayer and action, between music and (non-musical) writing, between solitude and community, between Church and the world, and especially between the expectations of others and my obligations to them.

In our daily Third Order cycle of prayer, the 24th of the month is the day for praying for one’s calling as a Franciscan, and so these things were on my mind and heart as I came into my time of silent prayer. Three quarters of that prayer time were, predictably, anything but silent, and were divided perhaps equally between distractions and turmoil. However, in the last quarter a great peace settled on me. Here am I, writing about the Jesus Prayer, about the intercessory dimension of contemplative prayer, and all things like that, and the answer to all these things is right there with me, only I hadn’t seen it…

It is so simple. If I come to the Lord with these things on my heart, with anything on my heart really, all I need to do is trust, and the answers will be given me. I don’t need to know how they’ll be given – directly, through the words or actions of others, through circumstances or the movement of my own longing – I just need to trust that they will be given, and go on with the Prayer. As Michael Ramsey once wrote, “Contemplation is for all Christians... [It] means essentially our being with God, putting ourselves in his presence, being hungry and thirsty for him, wanting him, letting heart and mind move towards him; with the needs of the world on our heart…” And am I not myself of the world? Only too clearly I am!

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