Reflections upon the meditation writing prompts from the Ignatian Spiritual Exercises. As follows:
(All of these essays have been collected from writings composed starting on Saturday 9/29/18, and continuing on to 5/20/19.)
The material, which was originally intended for use during a one-month period of solitude at a private spiritual retreat, is spaced out over the course of eight months if done instead over the course of everyday life, with material that would be covered in one day at a private retreat taking the space of one full week when done in everyday life. When the Spiritual Exercises are done in this way, one day becomes one week, and the exercises take roughly eight months, or 33 weeks, rather than one month.
Preparation Days/1: Settling into Prayer
Preparation Days/2: Praying over How I Am Loved by God
Preparation Days/3: I am constantly being created by God in the particular circumstances of my life.
Preparation Days/4: God’s Project hidden deep in things: Save all
First Week/1: Called by Name within the Vastness of Creation
First Week/2: Principle and Foundation—God’s Purpose in Creating Me
First Week/3: Principle and Foundation—My Response of Indifference that Enables Me to Fulfill God’s Purpose in Creating Me
First Week/4: The Nature of Sin—A Meditation on Three Sins
First Week/5: My Own Sins and My Call to Reconciliation
First Week/6: Forgiving Myself, Forgiving Others—My Response to God’s Mercy
Second Week/1: The Kingdom of Christ
Second Week/2: The Incarnation: How It Happened that God Became Human
Second Week/3: Jesus is Born
Second Week/4: Jesus Grows up in the Circumstances of His Time
Second Week/5: Jesus Enters upon His Public Ministry
Second Week/6: Jesus Calls People to Follow Him
Second Week/7: Jesus as Healer
Second Week/8: Jesus as Guide
Second Week/9: The Challenge of Following Jesus
Second Week/10: Jesus as Savior
Second Week/11: Jesus as Friend
Second Week/12: The End Draws Near
Third Week/1: The Last Supper
Third Week 3/2: The Night of the Gardens
Third Week/3: Jesus Faces His Judges
Third Week/4: The Way of the Cross and the Crucifixion
Third Week/5: Jesus Dies on the Cross
Third Week/6: The Longest Sabbath
Week 4/1: Jesus Christ Rises Joyfully from the Dead
Week 4/2: Jesus Comes to Comfort His Bereft Disciples
Week 4/3: The Risen Lord Shares His Mission
Week 4/4: Jesus’s Ascension and the Sending of the Spirit Introductory Letter
Fourth Week/5: Living the Kingdom
Ignatian Spiritual Exercises: 9/29/18-12/13/18
Dear God and Jesus,
As we begin to embark upon these Spiritual Exercises of Saint Ignatius, please let us to meditate together in a singleness of vision and focus in that sacred inner space of the soul, so that brought together into conformity and divine union with you, through Christ, my God, we may as one unfurl this beautiful gift of the Holy Spirit in loving contemplation. Please let us to explore without fear and with holy and abiding humility the contours and caverns of this retreat of faith, these secret places of my innermost soul and highest self, so that we may in heavenly unity and openhearted willingness, with reverence and lowly confidence, of loving, suffering, steadfast patience, discover this beatific vision of thy will, discerned from my own mortal self, to be followed and praised as the one and only supreme good, the good that is only You, my Best Friend and loving “Accomplice” in that dark night of the soul’s escape, from the prison of self, the Lord God Yahweh through Christ Jesus Son of God, my Lords forever.
Love Tyler, The Holy Ghost
Preparation Days/1: Day 1
John 4:1-29. Whoever comes to Jesus Christ never thirsts.
-In spirit and in truth, not an actual physical place, but within the heart and soul of my inner being, my spirit and honest communion with You—receptive to Your voice without fear nor hesitation but only loving trust.
-To be willing to do Your will no matter what I must sacrifice in order to do so is the most precious (and reciprocal) gift there is—this interplay between my willingness to suffer and sacrifice self-interest for You, and Your recompense for my gift/offering to You (of peace of mind) is priceless and the only true nourishment I can receive.
Preparation Days/1: Day 2
Barry, “Why Do You Pray?” How do I respond to God’s presence?
-Fear to give up self-will or clinging to a habit of (sin) or an action we think God won’t approve of causes fear to approach God in many cases—fear of God can drive us apart when caused by sin.
-Desire closeness to God accompanied by total willingness to do whatever is necessary to do His will—no fear of God, but fear of the absence of God (which is sin).
-Satisfy longing for God by desiring and acting in accord with God’s will (and being willing to suffer or sacrifice self-interest entails that there be no fear nor separation from Him in prayer).
-Offering of obedience (humility and confidence)
-Openness by trust in His love and desire to provide for my “real needs,” not the ones instilled by man/sin.
(I trust Him, He is “Love,” I am open to Him.)
Love transforms—Love/desire God, and become as like the object of desire.
Preparation Days/1: Day 3
Sirach 17:1-13. God’s hope for us.
-God created man as a special creature, to be like Himself with power over other creatures, and a heart and mind to discern good from evil—a man made to think, and speak, and understand as to be “according to His image,” almost as like a companion for the Lord, in the capacity for higher order operations in mind and heart. He set in man His decrees, in word and Scripture, but also inn heart and conscience. All beings are made to praise and glorify God in their own unique way, but man’s ability to know and ponder this makes him unique and uniquely able to know (relate to and empathize with and understand) God, as a friend.
-Gave them knowledge, and the Law of life, for a heritage.
-Saw and heard Him—His glory
“He put fear of him into their hearts to show them the grandeur of his works” (Sirach 17:8).
-He put fear in them to praise Him, into their hearts, as consciences.
-“To behold His glory and to know Him,” because the greatest gift is God Himself.
Preparation Days/1: Day 4
Mark 9:14-29. I have faith; help my little faith.
-Lord I believe, help mine unbelief! Even believing, the spirit would not come out of the boy, and the father implores the help of Jesus. He rebukes them all as a faithless generation, a world to be “endured” and not enjoyed. Privately, He discloses to the confounded disciples that that type of spirit could only be cleansed by prayer and fasting.
-The denudation of the soul and prayerful purgation of all sinful stirrings (first movements) or inordinate appetites cleanses the spirit of any vexation. “Only by prayer and fasting.” Prayer to conform one to God’s Holy Spirit, and fasting to cleanse one of all other spirits. A biblical account of a powerful exorcism, that prescribes lifestyle habits to cleanse, mortify, and cure.
-Nor just an instance of a miracle cure of Jesus, but also one of the only instances of a prescription of “behavior modification” as a remedy.
Preparation Days/1: Day 5
John 10:1-21. Jesus is the Good Shepherd; He knows my name.
-The Good Shepherd knows His sheep, and all who are good know Him. He comes “to give life and give it more abundantly” and does so by laying down His life for the sheep. He faces the danger of wolves and submits to their will to kill Him (lays down His life), so that He can call in all to His fold (gentleness, goodness, inflicting not harm, even to defend oneself), so all good ones can follow His example, and let God be the defender of the good, and raise them up in spirit to a better, spiritual and eternal life. He is the door, and He is “of God” and goes to Heaven or back to Earth of His own nature and volition. He ushers and herds all good and gentile and kind ones into this door (that is the cross—never return insult/harm for insult/harm), so that God’s favor will smile upon the humble goodness of the flock and be their strength as they preserve their purity of goodness, and rely on Him.
Virtue and faith: God exalts/raises the lowly/humble.
“No man takes His life, He lays it down willingly” so God may raise Him up (because He is pure).
Preparation Days/1: Day 6
Sirach 17:1-13 (Day 3 again). God’s hope for us.
-God gave us supremacy over other creatures—He gave us minds and ears and consciences after His own image—as like His own. He showed us the difference between good and evil, and gave us His Law (the Commandments showing us righteous living and goodness) as a source, not just of life, but of a fulfilling and meaningful life, so we would see it as “good” just as God did when He created it.
“He set before them knowledge, and allotted to them the law of life” (Sirach 17:11).
“and praise his holy name” (Sirach 17:10).
-Praise His holy name and His greatness—He gave us insight (or understanding in our hearts) so we could “see the majesty of His creation (awe and wonder).”
“…Fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom” (Proverbs 9:10).
-…There is no higher attainment in life (all else is vanity/dust and ash and ego) than to follow His Law and commands to see His goodness in all (in humility and in fear/love of God). (As like the point of the Book of Ecclesiastes.)
-The height of life: to see the splendor, majesty, and glory of God—to live simply and humbly before God.
Preparation Days/1: Day 7
John 10:1-21 (Day 5 again). Jesus is the Good Shepherd; He knows my name.
-Jesus claims that He is “the Door.” Literally, He lays down His body as the gate of the sheep pen as the sacrificial lamb to protect the fold from wolves by offering Himself as the living door to keep all the others safe. Only in being the door, the armor, the willing defender (of a sacrificial victim) and living defense does He prove His love for the fold. Only by love, for love, as love can He shepherd into love (the Father’s Kingdom), and so when the wolves come He must lay down His life in love rather than act contrary to the strict and strait gate/confines of “love.” The Father loves Him for this sacrifice of self to protect the sheep. Any not willing to die for the herd are not truly shepherds but merely hirelings (for money). He does it not for money, but out of love, as the Son of God. The Father loves Him for the sacrifice because that act is love (paschal love), and love is begotten of love.
-Agapē, not philos (love of God, not of man).
-To love is to give “all.”
Preparation Days/2: Day 1
1 John 4:7-16. Love begins with God; God loved us first.
-Men that don’t follow God don’t know what love is because God is love.
-Live justly and righteously.
-God is love—to dwell in love is to dwell in God. Love always originates in and from God. If we love truly, we ourselves don’t produce that love, we just become open channels by which to spread the love that comes from the bit of God indwelling in the soul. God has given us His Spirit of Holiness within so that we may know Him. When we adhere to holiness in thought, word and deed, we embody His love and love each other (because holiness is to embody His commands because we love Him—to love Him is to do His will and thereby know Him), whereas if we deviate from His love and goodness in word and deed it is impossible to love each other, as there would be no love/Spirit of God upheld in our soul by which to love. To love God is to love all His creation and brethren—by following His decrees, because He is love and so His commands bestow love naturally. To live in accord with God is to dwell in God and is love and is to love.
Preparation Days/2: Day 2
Barry, “Does God Communicate with Me?” How has God made Himself known to me?
-“In desiring us, God makes us desirable to God”—we have these “we know not what” experiences often where we feel we act out of self to be moved to perform some act of compassion, generosity, or mercy—at these times we feel deeply in awe and astounded and “beside ourselves” because that beautiful moment was God occupying that space of the self, and me just standing “beside Him” to marvel in awe.
–The Road to Emmaus.
-The disciples had hearts burning as He spoke, but they didn’t realize this and His presence (God affecting them) until later. In looking back, at that moment they had to be selfless and unaware because that was God burning within them, not themselves. In losing themselves they became selfless vessels of God’s action and grace (opening and occupying their hearts). To have received that awareness at the time, would have been like rapture, but the heart would have caught God in the moment of His activity for the good of the self, rather than to let His good of God flow through this channel to effectuate His will.
-Attention to God versus letting go to let Him use my service to Him.
-To be as God or to receive Him as self (in loving).
-Prayer and communion and receiving His love verses employing it outward to give to others.
Preparation Days/2: Day 3
Tetlow, “The Prayer of Consideration.” How do I communicate with God? Do I bring my concerns and my joys to Him?
-When I pray, I really never stop praying. To live a prayerful life is to pray properly. I seek to love the Lord and serve Him in all my endeavors. So although I set aside time each day for formal prayers, contemplating the Scriptures, the most notable part of this experience, is that it does not end when my formal prayer activities come to a close. That special time set aside for my undivided attention to be placed on Him through His Holy Word must direct all my thoughts and actions in all my other, more mundane experiences and duties as well. When I lift up my heart and will to the Lord, I do not turn back from the Kingdom—I remain as one (in thought and will) with God in spirit even though my actions are chores and work of the world/body. I seek to place God always before my eyes to direct all my actions. I am not my own, but His, and so I must strive to think my thoughts to Him (as You), rather than to myself. I never consider myself as an entity that exists as apart from God, but rather, I consider God, with myself as a small part of Him.
Preparation Days/2: Day 4
Matthew 6:25-34. Consider the lilies of the field. How has God clothed me? Where do I have control over my life? Where do I not?
-One should be clothed in good deeds, and thoughts over material concerns detract from spiritual priorities. “O ye of little faith…”. Not by taking thought can I perform any miracle of God, even of the smallest measure (one cubit). If I learn to allow my soul and heart to reside in faith rather than in the intellect of human thought, then I can allow the soul to ascend in spirit to God, whereby in faith alone and in the darkness of intellectual, merely human, thought, I can access the contemplative life of faith; in God, in purity and in holiness. The less I rely on the human, the more as like God/or spiritual, I can become. God can add one cubit by faith—by miracles, and so residing in faith and in spirit, much more is possible than if I rely on my own mortal capacity (of thought). Solomon was arrayed in spiritual wisdom—these glories/fruits are not eliminated with human thought, but are rather enhanced when I refrain from human thought—because then it is wisdom and knowledge from God in faith.
-“Sufficient unto the day is the evil of taking the thought”—don’t worry about the needs of tomorrow; the more I waste thought/mental occupation on material trivialities, the further my mind strays from abiding in God. The sheep abide.
“Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof” (Matthew 6:34).
Preparation Days/2: Day 5
Isaiah 43:1-7. You are precious in my eyes and I love you.
-God will help us endure tribulation caused by our own iniquities and lead us back to salvation/His good graces (without sin).
-God calls His people, those of Jacob/Israel whom He has favored. He calls them by name, as He Himself named Jacob Israel, because He claims him for Himself (as Adam named the creatures of Earth as his). God looked well upon Jacob, and because he was precious to God (and not by merit), Israel became honorable—by being loved by God. The Lord calls all those who are His to show His glory—those who follow after the ways of the Lord that He has given us and set in our hearts and consciences He calls back into the land of His good grace and peace (internal, in spirit, after the manner of Israel’s own heart is the promised land—favor in God’s sight).
-The Lord is our Savior, from self and exile on Earth/the world, and from sin. He has paid for us with the death (and Resurrection) of His Son to pay the debt of our human wretchedness/inherent sin and reclaim us in Christ’s sacrifice as His own. God is with us, our Redeemer and Savior, to protect us in faith from all evils as we honor and abide in His will and way.
Preparation Days/2: Day 6
1 John 4:7-16 (Day 1 again). Love begins with God; God loved us first.
-When we do as God does—sacrificial, humble, universal love like Christ, God is in us, because God is that love we choose.
-“Let us love one another; for love is of God”—The greatest commandment is to love God with all our heart, strength and soul, and second, to love our neighbor (fellow man/mankind) as ourselves—as being inferior to God and beneath Him just as we ourselves are, but being in need of His mercy and compassion just as we ourselves are (for all of man are of sin and only God is good). To make God happy and proud of us is to emulate Him and live and do as He does. God is the source of all goodness and His primary, core essence, is perfection in love. God loves us not because we are worthy, but because if He does not love us, we can never be worthy—only by grace and through faith are we ever worthy—our worth is His gift to us, and merit is faith in His goodness to give it. We must love each other as God loves us—we are wretched and merely human mortals, but we need to be loved by Him to be somehow complete. We love each other not because we are deserving of that love, but because that’s what God does and would do—love without reason nor question—the perfect virtue of charity.
Preparation Days/2: Day 7
Isaiah 43:1-7 (Day 5 again). You are precious in my eyes and I love you.
-Fear not I am with thee.
-God shall be my Savior.
-God tells us twice in these verses, to “fear not.” He calls us back from the land of exile for our sins and transgressions to return to the promised land (Earth to Heaven). He reassures us that there will be struggles—waters we shall have to pass through, these rising waters of the passions of man, but they shall not overflow and overpower our will, as God will bridle our will with His to guide us safely through the rivers. The fire of purgation and purification of inordinate appetites (or desires other than just God) we shall have to pass through, but in our spiritual purity it shall not harm us as the Lord is that fire of our desire—we are the flame of God by virtue of desiring He that is the eternal flame within the heart (made to be like what we love). God wants us greatly and He Himself shall be our Savior as we trust in Him. The one whom God calls will overcome much (Egypt, Ethiopia, Seba) because He was formed for God’s glory—to show how wondrous His deeds are (as God) to save those whom He loves (e.g., Moses, and Exodus).
Preparation Days/3: Day 1
Isaiah 45:7-13. God creates me more surely than a potter creates a pot. He makes my shape and even my clay. He determines how I will be used.
-One knows God by faith and love, not by the questions of the intellect.
-God is truly our Father. In some cultures, it is extremely disrespectful and impudent to question an elder. Children are expected to listen and to obey. God works in this way. We are considered disobedient (and insolent) to His Word and command when we ask, “why are we here, and where did you come form, and what are we?”
-These questions were answered in Scripture for centuries now, and to further inquire is to set His Word at naught, and to fail to proceed forth in faith. These questions arise from a failure to live as God (had instructed) and wishes—to love without question, discrimination, or a “need to know why” is the purity of heart in love that comes forth of faith. Faith necessitates not knowing so that it can rest upon the root of love (love of God) rather than upon the merely mortal intellect. It must be beyond question and beyond explanation to be of God—to question Him is not to know Him, and not to live by faith that requires love, especially in the face of the unknown (for this is what true love, God’s love, is).
Preparation Days/3: Day 2
Van Breemen, “The Courage to Accept Acceptance.” Can I accept that God loves me as I am at this moment even as He calls me to become more truly myself?
-My own acceptance? I never got it from self or man, only ever from God.
-The idea of “acceptance” is something that only ever occurs in my mind when I recognize the presence and influence of God. “Based on my own qualities—such a foundation would collapse.” I cannot nor ever have been able to accept myself as I am (I am just inherently never good enough) except indirectly, on the basis that God accepts me, and I cannot in good conscience defy Him by rejecting what He has accepted. I am honest enough with myself (however impossible that may be)—I am wretched and worthless and of no value, because I am not God (YHWH, and Christ Jesus) and “only God is good.” Any worth, value or merit I can ever hope to attain is only God’s grace given to me—righteousness is only ever of God—of my own self I am nothing. I crave and recognize and feel and absorb this loving “radical acceptance (DBT)” of God, while dialectically recognizing that without God, I cannot accept myself—I just know too thoroughly the evils of man and self—and grasping this tension and duality (in truth), I am so grateful (my Savior). So grateful.
Preparation Days/3: Day 3
Psalm 139. God, you create my inmost self.
-Nothing compares to David’s psalms <3.
-I just feel immense love and yearning in the furthest parts of my soul when I read this Psalm. An aching and tender pang of love/heartsickness reaching straight through me from and to You. Your knowledge and wisdom is too marvelous for a mere human to attain—only by grace do You stretch down from within that holy peak of my spirit to satisfy my eyes that seek and hunger for You alone. This Psalm shakes me to the core of my spirit as I feel your Word in Gospel truth enjoining us as one, me in You and You in me, in Christ, in David, in God… I am truly terrified to ever be apart from You—this “fear” of the Lord—the beginning of Your gift of wisdom (Proverbs 9:10), truly enkindles that flame of love in the heart and most delicate substance (piety) in my soul as I can feel that You have given me that which I seek, that substance and agápē that is my soul nourished, preserved and satisfied and cared for by You, my Lord. Wow—this truly is the stuff. I love You too.
Preparation Days/3: Day 4
Romans 8:14-17, 26-27. From within my own life, the Spirit seized me and taught me to know God. I am to inherit life with Jesus, God’s child. Does my own spirit know God as loving parent, not as The Force?
-My spirit knows God as the only true and loving Caregiver and Parent that one can have—we have many brethren, but only one Father. I can relate to the idea of being, first and foremost and in the most true definition of who we are—a child of God. The more I elaborate and embellish and stray from this fundamental core of my being a child of God—co-heir and co-sufferer with Christ—the less and less pure in truth my definition or understanding of myself becomes. God is my one true Father, and He is a Person Who knows and wants what’s best for me—so much more so than any fallible, mortal “dad of the year.” The spirit within me knows how to reach Him, and in faith I allow this highest point of my soul—His Holy Spirit—to make intercession according to God’s will—as I am led by the faith that works by love, and trusting obedience to His Word/commands.
Preparation Days/3: Day 5
Luke 4:14-22, 40-44. What purpose does God have for me? Do others have conflicting purposes for me? Who knows who I really am?
-I believe that my spirit knows its own purpose, being given by God for me to commune with Him in holiness as a temple of the Lord—I am a “therapist” at the core of my occupational calling. I am an artist, a painter, a ballet dancer, a religious layperson, and an avid learner. I am a child of God and a student of Christ. I do not guess, I listen to His own words etched into my heart. Christ was called to preach and teach and be our Savior, and so with Him, I am called to be saved and to follow Him in His teachings. This is how I know I am saved—I set my soul at liberty from my self (the flesh), the world, and the devil, the three enemies of a spiritual warrior, and I obey the Word of the Lord in spirit. I am an idealist grounded in realism, a dreamer, a peacemaker, and a lover. I do not lend ear to others’ purposes for me unless God directs me to hear Himself in them, lest I be led astray. I feel pressures from others to “be happy,” but I feel the ❤ need for penitence. Only God and Jesus know me. No one else knows me at all. (Loner.)
Preparation Days/3: Day 6
Romans 8:14-17, 26-27. From within my own life, the Spirit seized me and taught me to know God. I am to inherit life with Jesus, God’s child. Does my own spirit know God as loving parent, not as The Force?
-What it means to be a child of God.
-Spirit vs. Flesh/Body.
–We Receive Spirit…
-The Spirit not of bondage (to flesh, sin, the Law whereby we receive condemnation), but of adoption is the Spirit we receive of God. We are to follow after not just any spirit (for there are many), but after the Spirit of God in holiness. We suffer with Christ to follow after Him (in spirit with His Spirit) rather than following after the lusts/desires of the flesh. We are fulfilled by God in spirit, not by the world in appetites of the body. In being called after the manner of the Son of God—we can follow Him as adoptive co-heirs—in suffering with our own unique “cross” (of a burden to bear us down under the weight of the world, to force us to seek Him within, in spirit, and in this truth we do find Him) and in glory, and most of all, in love. For where love is, there is God, and where that love is forced inward from the hatred of the world, without deviating from that virtue, by grace, that love is holy.
-In spirit and in holiness we conform to His will.
-Sons follow Fathers: We forsake the world to follow and be fulfilled by God—Abba!
Preparation Days/3: Day 7
Luke 4:14-22, 40-44. What purpose does God have for me? Do others have conflicting purposes for me? Who knows who I really am?
-The only greatness in my life comes from God, not myself.
-Ordinary life to show God’s greatness.
-Jesus knew, by God, Who He was, what He must do, and what was required of Him to fulfill God’s will for Him. His brethren wondered at Him—“Is this not Joseph’s son?” They expected very ordinary things of Him, as “like any prophet, He was not accepted in His own town.” Those men had conflicting purposes for Him, mocking Him, “physician, heal thyself,” but He knew that their hearts were in conflict with God’s purposes. Not all were privy to His miracles in His hometown, for they believed not upon Him, expecting more ordinary things of Him (there were many widows in the time of Elijah in Israel, but only one worthy of a prophet’s gifts/healing).
-Others’ expectations of me are not to be so religious perhaps, nor to adhere to God instead of to them, but my job is not to waste myself on their own shortsighted, and perhaps well-meaning, but faithless intentions (absent of God) for me. I am here by God, for God, to be with God, and to listen to Him and not to the people who know only their own hearts and not His at all. A simple, humble, and ordinary life would suit me, so that His Word and marvels may shine in it all the brighter. I am not here to do great things of my own, because only God is great.
Preparation Days/4: Day 1
Luke 15:11-32. The prodigal son’s father wants to love both of his children. He waits for them to turn to him. How do I feel about his waiting? Which child am I?
-God is immoveable—He always waits for us to come to Him.
-The prodigal repents (me) and the elder son resents.
-I feel like this Parable is about God’s glory in the conversion of repentant sinners. The prodigal son turned from God to explore the world and came to know sin. But the merciful, generous, gracious, loving Father welcomes him back, always, with joy, because to sin is to die and be apart from God. In returning, the Father gains a son back from the death of sin, and like the preceding Parable of the Lost Sheep, He glories/rejoices more over this conversion than over the son who was in the Father’s good graces (without sin) the whole time. The son who lived righteously, resented the younger, but thought he should be punished for his sin, or that he himself should receive some reward for having not sinned. The Father wills not to punish, but to save, and the spiritual victory of a conversion ought always to be a prize to a Christian, not an occasion for shaming or condemnation, as the elder son expected. The elder was always in the safety of God, but he sinned in his heart in envying the younger. The Father’s example is love and forgiveness for a repentant convert—we as His children are expected to rejoice with Him likewise for God’s gain in Heaven.
Preparation Days/4: Day 2
2 Corinthians 5:14-18. Humanity now shares Jesus’s risen life. For God has chosen not to let people’s sins destroy His creation. This is God’s work first, not mine.
-Man is of sin—Christ is of salvation. We allow Him to save us and we follow/obey.
-“The Love of Christ constraineth us”—“If he (live), be in Christ, He is a new creature.” God reconciles us back to Him in Jesus. Christ knew no sin, but suffered under the weight of humanity’s transgressions so that (without sin) He could know the sufferings and struggles of man. All were dead and He died with us, so that the power and love of God, through Him, could overwhelm the forces of death, suffering and persecution, so God, through this innocent sacrifice, could triumph over the sins of man, while still remaining in purity. Thus incorruption put on the skin of corruptibility (flesh/humanity), to triumph over it, through it, and lead all corruption/flesh/humanity to salvation in this path He demonstrates for us. We were dead to ourselves, and now we are ransomed by Christ’s life so we rise with Him. We are crucified to the world and flesh and self to be a new creature (the Spirit) in Christ—in faith, hope and love, in holy imitation of Him. We are not at home in the world, but rather, absent, to be at home in the Spirit in Christ (self-mortification and virtue).
“For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead:” (2 Corinthians 5:14).
“Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17).
Preparation Days/4: Day 3
Psalm 103. “As far as the east is from the west, so far the lord removes our transgressions from us.” Can I accept this?
-The Lord is good and shows His love in saving us from sin, to know His glory.
-Even God does it for God, because He’s just that good.
-God is love: He crowns us with His love because He loves us, not because we are “worthy.”
-“Bless the Lord, O my soul”—”Redeemeth thy life from destruction; crowneth thee with lovingkindness and tender mercies.” The mercy of the Lord is upon those who fear Him and keep His commandments. The Lord knows our frame, of dust and sin, and so when we incline our hearts, ears and eyes open in obedience and love, He lifts us up from our humbled and downtrodden (in truth, as humanity) state to exalt us as His own act of love and generosity, not because we are worthy so much as that that is just His nature as a perfect loving God to give us His love. He removes our transgressions to demonstrate His goodness and to draw us into Him as a loving Parent would, and in our fear of Him/desire to please Him, He lifts us up along the straight and narrow path of righteousness and keeps our way clear from those sins. Our fear of departing from His open arms of such great love keeps us inclined to keep His commands—our love of God constrains us to within the bounds of His good will as He saves us from humanity (dust) and redeems/claims us as His true children, in His eternal Kingdom. (As we obey Him.)
“Bless the Lord, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless his holy name” (Psalm 103:1).
“who redeemeth thy life from destruction; who crowneth thee with lovingkindness and tender mercies;” (Psalm 103:4).
Preparation Days/4: Day 4
Savary, “Introduction to Social Sin.” How am I aware of social sin in my life? Where is God calling me to social responsibility?
-Reject societal strivings entirely. (Contemplative?)
-Alternative area of interest: Social justice and its implications for bullying in school systems
(possible bi-directional relationship between social injustice and bullying in schools)
-I am acutely aware of social sin in my life—in the way this society endorses ways of life and implicit attitudes that encourage sin and injustice, power systems that lead to the mistreatment or subjugation of minority members, and a vast array of empty values of personal, selfish achievement, materialism, greed, sloth, dishonesty, and just trying to get ahead in material successes when comparing our assets to our neighbors.
-I feel like I am being called to reject participation in this corrupt system of society and American, modern culture, and grasp on to virtues, Christian and moral values, and Scripture/Gospel-related activities to detach myself, entirely, from earthly troubles—not playing into the culture of an absent faith, but rather, imitating Christ in obedient and prayerful living centered around God.
-I am not fighting the corrupt system, I am just myself living in accord with an entirely different one, the one that lives in these readings and teachings in the Bible. I hope to live as an example of a better way, not as a futile resistant effort against a corrupt society. “Resist not evil,” but live according to God in love.
Preparation Days/4: Day 5
Luke 13:10-17. Jesus wants to heal anyone who suffers. He does not let established custom hinder God’s healing gift. What does that say to me?
-Don’t miss the point—love and compassion as the ultimate point of the customs—draw self to God by doing His will.
-This shows me the real meaning behind the established customs—to show and spread and share the love, healing and salvation of God. The customs have a purpose—to glorify God. Jesus rebukes the Jews for telling Him not to heal a woman on the Sabbath, because no “work” is permitted on the Sabbath. Jesus tries to teach us, not the Law and letter of the Jewish Law and customs, but the deeper meaning hidden within these rituals and practices, not just obedience for the sake of obedience, but obedience for the sake of understanding, knowing, appreciating, and praising God—for God’s glory, ultimately. The Jews were arguing a point that showed they completely missed the point. The Law is obeyed because it honors the will of the Lord. His will—grace, love, healing and salvation, was performed by Jesus and they reprimanded Him (hypocritically) for it. This says to me—don’t get caught up in the customs/rituals of my Catholic Faith and miss the deeper spiritual substance and meaning (know God in love) immersed within these practices. They should draw us to God in love, not just to heartless rigid conformity.
Preparation Days/4: Day 6
Wisdom 11:21-12:2. God loves all that He has created and wishes for all to repent.
-God is love, only sin separates us, and He calls us to Him in love, to love Him too. In freedom from sin, is God.
-God spares us out of love—His power is His mercy. He teaches us with His example.
-“You overlook sins for the sake of repentance,”—“Love all things because they are Yours and You made them—Imperishable spirit is in all things, Ruler and Lover of souls!”
“23 [g]But you have mercy on all, because you can do all things; and you overlook sins for the sake of repentance. 24 For you love all things that are and loathe nothing that you have made; for you would not fashion what you hate. 25 How could a thing remain, unless you willed it; or be preserved, had it not been called forth by you? 26 But you spare all things, because they are yours, O Ruler and Lover of souls, 1for your imperishable spirit is in all things!” (Wisdom 11:23-12:1).
-God, You love all things that You created because You made them—You call us back to Yourself, rebuking us for our offenses, little by little, so that we may learn, like true children of a Father, to fashion our wills around Yours and to abandon our wickedness. We were not created to be simply in Your grace, as a bird or a flower, but to be like You, God, with wills and inclinations, and freedom to make choices and have opinions. You wanted us, as humans, to learn from You just like we would an earthly dad, and so You don’t “hate” us for sinning, but rather, You chastise us and call us back to You, so we may learn to “love You” with the freedom and volition of our own wills and choosing, just as You love us as an act of Your will and conscious choice. You teach us to use our consciences to live in accord with Your love, and we can be aware that You wish not to punish us, but for us to repent and be loved and love.
Preparation Days/4: Day 7
Luke 15:11-32 (Day 1 again). The prodigal son’s father wants to love both of his children. He waits for them to turn to him. How do I feel about his waiting? Which child am I?
-The waiting. I believe God is such a perfect foundation and fortress and pillar of strength, not just because He is God, but also by virtue of this “waiting,” this act of patience. His “unmovable” and unchangeable, eternal, unperturbable nature is this foundation of patience, which I see as like a prerequisite for any of the other virtues. In His unmoving, unchanging patience, He just calmly and powerfully waits, like a dormant volcano, for His sons to turn to Him (because the elder son had sinned more greatly by his envy and resentment). I believe I am not only meant to turn to God, but also to learn to obey and abide, through heartache and tribulation, just as He waits. This is how I remain in and emulate Him—I don’t run from them (tribulations, sufferings, afflictions), but stand firm and steadfast to suffer in the cross, but in the safety of His loving presence, to learn this “endurance of saints” or “patience of Job” as the eternal fruit born of this pain. In my infirmity and suffering and weakness is His power and strength made perfect.
First Week/1: Day 1
Genesis 12:1-3. The call of Abraham—God calls me to be ready to leave every known security in order to place all my security only in his fidelity.
-Singleness of vision and faith—choosing God means choosing only God and nothing else.
-Respond to God in singlehearted purity to receive Him in truth.
-This can be a daunting call, but to be chosen as Abram was, by God, was truly the greatest of all blessings, and to respond to that call, and to forsake all and leave all behind in the world to obey God, truly does require openness, generosity and courage as indispensable tools for this mission. It is not just a blessing and a gift to be chosen and called, like Abraham, Noah, Mary, Israel, and the prophets, but more so, it is a privilege and duty (and work and task and obligation), to respond to the call as an obedient, loving child to a Parent, trusting in the call of the Lord over and above the security of the world—this is what it means to be baptized by the Holy Ghost and born again from above in spirit, rather than just from flesh and in the bodily sense. To trust in things of the spiritual substance and heavenly in origin instead of things of the world, is the call and obligation of a true Christian. This means to relinquish self and forsake all to choose God, because in choosing God, that is all one may choose. Any servant cannot have two Masters… God is all (if one is to receive God and respond to the call, one must follow God with no other attachments).
First Week/1: Day 2
1 Samuel 3:1-10. The call of Samuel—“Here I am. Speak, Lord, your servant is listening.” The simplicity of a totally open response.
-His openness is trusting love, no matter what God may say, as the love dispels any fear of hearing it, that would close him off.
-The willingness and openness of Samuel’s response signifies to me that special quality of personal and unconditional, without any qualification or requirement or standard or limit, acceptance. Speak, and tell me whatever You need to say, whatever You need to express, my Lord. This unconditional positive regard, or unconditional love, or radical acceptance (DBT—therapy) seems to be a preexisting quality in Samuel that perhaps led God to choose him as a trusty prophet and faithful confidant. Samuel’s heart and ears (and eyes of understanding, without judgment, just faithful listening in this innocence of loving, unquestioning acceptance) are open to whatever the Lord may say, because he is, basically, a child of God—without any real “fear” of what might proceed from the mouth of God, and so no internal barriers are put up to guard his heart from harm (hardness as self-protective, out of fear of injury). Samuel is open with the innocence and vulnerability of a trusting child, and so God chooses him as a servant and confidant. (“Relationships need openness and trust.”)
First Week/1: Day 3
Tetlow, “Prayer on My Dossier.” What characteristics has God chosen for me? How do I feel about them?
+compassionate, empathy/ -melancholy/depressive/self-pitying
+creative/ -very shy (too shy)
+integrity, hardworking/ -can tend towards materialism (vanity and appearances and self)
+artistic/ -perfectionistic, “OCD” (thorough and not easygoing)
+helpful, problem-solver/ -can be fearful without reason (trauma-based though)
+courageous and loyal/ -creature of habit
-My characteristics were chosen: I am who I am, and I am grateful to serve God’s purposes with them.
-I recognize my individuality in terms of my most defining personality features and characteristics. I am very courageous, shy and introverted, yet extremely determined and outspoken with my beliefs and scruples. I am extremely morally-aware and hold myself to high ethical and personal standards that I would not impose on others (penances). I am smart, quick-witted, creative and a natural problem-solver. I don’t give up, but create (thinking outside-of-the-box) solutions to overcome obstacles. I have an emotive temperament and an artistic eye and a strong sense of aesthetics, and I strive to conform to virtuosity and spiritual beauty in my soul much the same way that I do with my artwork. I am very active, and require some effort to get myself to follow a slow and even pace of serenity.
First Week/1: Day 4
Isaiah 6:1-8. I am aware of my sinfulness, but God will cleanse me in order that I may do His will.
-Isaiah prophesies as he beholds the Lord in His glory. He realizes that he is out of place, in being a lowly “sinful” human, with “unclean lips,” in beholding the glory of God on His throne. A seraphim touches a hot coal to his lips to cleanse his sin. This to me is symbolic of repentance, with the knowledge and guilt of one’s sin (-the Law in our conscience, and the Word inscribed in our hearts) as setting a searing coal of pain and guilt upon our lips, so that truly to sin is the only pain we know. When the Lord asks, who shall I send to do my will, a child (Isaiah) of God—of truth (clean lips) and of Light (beholding God’s glory—having seen Him) says, I will obey you Lord, whatever it may be, whatever is required of me by you, God, I am ready to undertake.
-This is what it means to be without sin—we are not free of sin so that we “may” do His will, but rather, to do His will is the defining characteristic and definition of what it means to be without sin.
-Isaiah’s lips are “baptized with the fire” of the Holy Ghost in symbolic preparation to speak the Word of God to His people—that they may also be made desolate of their wickedness, to bear, in purity, good fruit too.
First Week/1: Day 5
Matthew 6:19-24. “Wherever your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”
-Treasure= sense of value
-Eye= desire of the heart
-The light of the body is in the eye—if it is single, how great the light, if it is (not,) evil, how great the darkness—you can only serve one Master—God or mammon (world or Spirit, good vs. evil-one will win out in the end)
-One desire should be God and just God.
-The lusts and treasures and pride and vanity of the world, the human rat race of service to self and greed and human esteem of “mammon,” puts the darkness of sin and worldly clamor in the eye. The eye of the heart and soul is the sight and desire and aim of the heart. When in a singleness of vision and focus and singlehearted desire for God, He is here, and thine whole body (without the corruption of duplicity or impurity of that perfection of God alone), is full of the Light of His glory, as if with a halo of holiness. When the cares and thistle of worldly cares creep into the thoughts of the heart, the love of God is choked out by this greed, or this “mammon” of service to the values of men and the world, and one’s desire to serve God is no longer “single” (pure). I strive to pluck out these thoughts of self and the esteem I would wish to have in the eyes of man, to try to preserve in myself that singlehearted and uncorrupted desire for God—and for nothing else besides, so that I may be sure to receive Him in truth and purity.
-With no other attachments/desires, there is nothing to hinder the presence of God. Only in singleness of desire, by the eye of the heart and soul, is He here, and, with singlehearted desire for Him, He cannot not be here.
First Week/1: Day 6
1 Samuel 3:1-10 (Day 2 again). The call of Samuel—“Here I am. Speak, Lord, your servant is listening.” The simplicity of a totally open response.
-Centering… Simplicity—loving trust, no questions asked. Abiding at the peak of perfect love in God—stray no further in questions, thoughts, or doubts to remain in this grace of faith.
-The Lord called Samuel, but he did not yet know the Lord, and the Word had not yet been revealed to Samuel. Samuel was so eager and willing to answer the call, that without even questioning who had asked, he ran to his master, Eli (the priest) to serve him. Eli realized that Samuel was being called by God, and so instructed him to respond to the Lord God (Here I am Lord, your servant is listening) as a prophet should. The perfect simplicity of a totally open response of, showing up to service without stipulation, nor questioning what the task may require, is that that sort of response, “Here I am,” implies perfect trust—no questions asked, no need to reassure any doubts or disbeliefs or wavering faith or imperfect trust. This perfect trust—willing to answer the call of the Lord no matter what He may ask of us, is the perfection of Jesus’s own sacrificial, paschal sacrifice of love, offering Himself up upon that altar as the Lamb to fulfill the will of God with loving trust in His care and protection to overcome death, to God’s great glory… and as a shining symbol of His mercy, not just in this life, but in the life to come.
First Week/1: Day 7
Matthew 6:19-24 (Day 5 again). “Wherever your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”
-Wisdom: when you really seek God, you know better than to serve mammon.
-The heart becomes like that which it loves and desires—trash on earth to pass away, or eternal treasure in Heaven through the love of and desire for God.
-The desire (the eye of the heart and soul is one’s vision, or the sight of one’s desires, of that which they seek) for material or worldly gain, be it riches of wealth, personal gain and success in the eyes of worldly standards and of men, glory of pride and vanity, or any other such sinful gains of treasure on earth, is surely evil in the sight of God, to Whom riches, pride, and vanity are dust and ash to pass away, while the true riches and incorruptible spiritual treasures of wealth in wisdom, virtue, and good deeds, are seen as everlasting and good in the sight of God. If the desire of our heart is set upon God and spiritual goodness, that eye of the soul is full of the grace and glory of Light, as the favor and oneness of that person, in spirit, is with God. If however one desires the corruption of “self” in greed, in pride and vanity of worldly riches or sin, one will be turned away from the face of the Lord and be full of darkness caused by not desiring Him and the things, spiritual in nature, that He wishes for us. Evil is just the absence of God, and God is in the hearts of those who seek Him. One may face towards God in seeking Him, or one may turn away from Him in seeking the darkness of the world (sinful riches). One cannot choose both directions. In seeking God, one must have singleness of vision, without fault or flaw or blemish and hindrance of corruption through any other desire or attachment, and one’s eye will be single and full of light—for in seeking God, God is found.
First Week/2: Day 1
John 15:8-17. The Father creates me that I may bear lasting fruit.
-Philia= friendship/affection, brotherly love
-Agapē= highest form of love, charity—between man and God
-Philia= a feeling, emotion and product of circumstance
-Agapē= an act of the will despite feeling or circumstance (virtue), i.e., sacrificial
-Jesus commands us that we love one another. He states that the Father is glorified when we bring forth lasting fruit. He says that He is loved by the Father, and He came here to love us, His disciples, in turn—He is a messenger of God’s love, here to do God’s will (which is to love), and He states that there is no greater love and no greater message than this action, to lay down one’s life for His friends. He says that His friends are those who do what He commands, just as God has said that to love Him is not merely to feel affection for Him, but to obey His commandments.
-To obey God, and to love Him by an act of the will, rather than by a stirring of affect (emotion), is to love Him—thus transcending the passions of the heart to hear His will (and not mine), and to obey it.
-Whosoever hears the will of God and performs it (no matter how you may at first feel about doing it) is my brethren. To love God is to live rightly and justly and with compassion and service to others. This is love as a lifestyle and a sacrifice, or a cross to carry, and it is so much more than a mere sentiment of the emotions could ever provide. It is to conform to this will of God in Christ—in following Christ, in His act of loving sacrifice, through Him, we are one with God, and so no matter how heavy the cross, the burden is light.
First Week/2: Day 2
Consider the first part of the “Principle and Foundation.” Do I reciprocate the love that God has bestowed on me in bringing me to life?
-Greatest commandment—How do you obey it? (Intending to please Him.) I praise Him with prayers and actions that I undertake as a way to serve Him.
-That’s sort of the #1 command I’m given. Here’s how…
-I wholeheartedly agree that man is here to praise, reverence, and serve the Lord, with our thoughts, actions, choices, and behaviors. Each moment of my life is a spark of the infinite, just waiting to be enkindled with love for Him, to worship and nourish and nurture with loving praise and prayerful sacrifice sost that this tiny spark, this blessed gift of God’s eternal life within the Holy Spirit (or the pious elevation of my soul away from the lowliness of this world of flesh and sin), may be offered up to Him, my God, as a living sacrifice and offering of love and praise.
-Each moment is God therein, patiently waiting for me to lift up my eyes and heart from this mortal life notice Him, and then never to turn back from that grace, that minute yet infinite, unmistakable yet ineffable, all immersive and yet unfathomable, encompassing all and yet set apart as our Lord and Word and God, tiny little mustard seed of faith and of God, known to my soul and yet still unknown to the world, in my soul—waiting for me to wait too—and abide with Him in this eternal grace of His infinite and eternal life, at home within the love of Him, and Him within my soul.
First Week/2: Day 3
Isaiah 49:5-7. Is my life a light that reveals God’s love?
-A light of hope and a holy example to imitate—gentle and obedient as a lamb, resisting not evil, but suffering at their hands so we might learn mercy and love.
-This passage is about Jesus being predestined, from the womb, formed to be God’s servant. God goes “all out” here to demonstrate His love and glory through His only Son, and determines not only to call back the tribes and sons of Jacob/Israel to redemption in His grace and mercy, but also sets Christ up to be a Light and beacon of hope for salvation for the Gentiles also, thus, even the non-elect are called to behold God’s saving grace and glory in His trusting, innocent, and perfection in “Belovedness,” only Son.
-Christ shines as a light of incorruptibility, in perfect humble servitude, hated by all, only to show this virtue, shining as love in the shadow of hate, and as the truth of non-harm/non-violence/and innocence, as a glorious gateway of forgiveness and mercy. Christ died for all at the hands of sinners so that we all may come to repentance, turning from evil deeds in the world (sin), to receive that blessing of Belovedness and mercy, a light to shine upon us whensoever we shall seek His grace.
First Week/2: Day 4
Consider Tetlow’s “The Way Things Are.” Am I cooperating with God as He constantly creates me?
-E.g., Artist, painter, writer, counselor/therapist, psychologist, ballet dancer, scholar/academic, and religious layperson.
-“God’s will is our peace.” We are all (and were) created with a purpose, God’s will for us in the creative expression of our own unique and individual human qualities. Each aspect of myself was and is continually chosen, created, and improved upon in growth and progress towards good (God) and in human maturity, to glorify Him. To live as I am meant to, and fulfilling, actualizing, and making the best use of my qualities, to be the person He intends for me to be, is all I am here to do (To do God’s will in being who He created and creates and molds and conforms me to be, on this path of Christ and perpetual imitation and constraint, to be shaped as well as possible into that golden standard of God’s will for us in Christ). I try to make use of my own peculiarities and individual qualities to be the fulfillment of all my various types of potential (e.g., artist, painter, writer, counselor/therapist, psychologist, ballet dancer, scholar/academic, and religious layperson). I try to be the best that I can now, and I don’t let that define what may be the best that I can be years from now—thus I do not impede progress along the line of God’s infinite potential and possibilities in this path of eternal life—I nurture all my strengths and strengthen all my weaknesses to be a well-rounded human being, centered in God.
First Week/2: Day 5
Ephesians 2:1-10. My whole life and self are God’s work of art. God Himself chose to accomplish this. Sometimes I live as though I were not being called by God.
-I do not live as if I am of my own creation or of my own handiwork. I am not a child of Adam, or as it were, of arrogance and disobedience to the will of God and the dictates of reason and faithfulness, in kindness, loyalty, fidelity and truth, etched not only in my own open heart of compassion and human conscience, but also in the Mosaic Law etched in the Tablets of Moses. I know that any salvation or goodness that I can expect is God and of God, and never can it be from my own human will or self, as all that came from Adam, of self-will and disobedience, came from and to a fate of wrath. God shapes me, fashions me, molds me, breaks me, fixes me, loves me, tries me, and always, keeps me clutched within His heart, and I Him in mine.
-I live as though I were called by God, because I really heard His call, I hearken, and, in short, because I simply cannot resist.
-My heart is inseparable from His, but I know also, that my perfect loving Father, this God Who made me along with the rest of all creation, is a Person Whom I am not. I know that I follow not my own self, but God with me, and despite the lifetime it took for me to discover this fact, it is an irrefutable truth that my heart simply will not deny. I follow by grace, and not by my own will, for it is His will at work in me, known by faith and performed through grace, in that, it is through Christ.
First Week/2: Day 6
John 15:8-17 (Day 1 again). The Father creates me that I may bear lasting fruit.
-Command you to love one another and bear eternal fruit—to love is to bear that fruit.
-To love at all is a likeness to God.
-Jesus commands us to love one another. He wishes for us to bear lasting fruit, as the eternal virtues of our souls and as non-perishable mansions or houses in the Father’s Kingdom of Heaven. He discloses to us that He wishes to keep us, not merely as servants in this house of the Lord, but as holy brethren, as He tells us all that He receives from the Father, holding nothing back, but revealing all, to the Father’s glory in our shared salvation.
-It joys the Father, and the Son, to see our souls remain, preserved as eternal homes in Heaven, because we abide in His love (and not in sin). As we obey Him, we abide in His love, and so partake in the joy that is theirs at the salvation of our souls in passing on from this temporary Earth onto the everlasting Heaven. As we abide, in obedience, we are saved, and this is how we know that we abide in love and bear eternal fruit—that we love also each other. For not all men are called to a life consecrated to God alone, but all men who love their fellows and designated brethren abide in God’s love, in displaying and sharing it with each other, for to love al all is a likeness to God, and at the human level, it is evidence of receiving love from the Father, and all who love the Father cannot help but to love Him through those around them.
First Week/2: Day 7
Ephesians 2:1-10 (Day 5 again). My whole life and self are God’s work of art. God Himself chose to accomplish this. Sometimes I live as though I were not being called by God.
-I am God’s creation, like a Sculptor of living vessels, I am His work of art—He shapes and molds me as an eternal work in progress to live a life of progress—growing and conforming my mind, heart, and soul in this cookie cutter mold of an imitation of Christ to become ever more like Him, and ever less like myself—or rather, less like a child of the flesh, following after the carnal lusts and worldly desires of human nature, that naturally and necessarily oppose this God-given Spirit and calling to His grace indwelling within me.
-I shrug off this cloth of the flesh, of lowly human nature, or rather, clothe myself further upon this human form, with the grace of God in Holiness of Spirit. I wish not to be removed from the evil of the world and of my own corruptible body and nature, but to remain in my flesh and this world of sin and evil and impermanence, and choose, in the midst of all this temptation, to ever more so remain in God—to seek and accept and linger and dwell in this calling to grace and holiness and deep contemplative recollection in my soul, my Spirit at the best heights of Him in my soul even, sost that I may accrue and attain a level of virtue and merit from the struggle—for what virtue is it to adhere to good in the midst of good? But to remain in His protective shield of faith and righteousness and love and grace in the midst of flesh and worldly evils, what resilience and strengthening of fortification in virtue is to be attained herein! Let not me forsake this calling to Thy Cross—but rather, take it up daily so that in doing so, I may earn Your favor, and receive that grace of Your love—for this I Know—I cannot save myself, and only by Your grace and by You and in You and in Spirit is any undertaking of work, effort and labor ever righteous—all glory to You, as I perform Your will in Spirit and not my own in flesh.
First Week/3: Day 1
Consider the second part of the “Principle and Foundation.” Do I make my choices based on the end for which God created me?
-The message (which is God) and not the messenger (which is me).
-I believe that my hope and desire in this world is not (inordinately) hindered by any other desire or attachment, as making any more use of these created things than to use them to serve my own purpose here, in the service of God’s will. I recognize that created things (objects, personal traits and qualities, extraneous thoughts or roles I may fulfill) are only created as the means by which I can better know God Himself (the Person), in the form of an ongoing and “living” relationship with Him, interacting with Him by way of our use of such materials and activities, to express ourselves in loving remembrances of praise, thanks, or worship.
-When I write with my pen (which is actually a really nice pen), I attach myself not to my (pen), but to God through the use of this pen, as a way to strengthen this bond of our spiritual relationship in the course of these daily tasks and shared activities. I try not to become attached to my own (life) here such that I miss the bigger picture of God’s life and place for me with Him in Heaven, as this body and instrument (or pen of myself), is just another vehicle by which to convey and express His (living) Word of love (-the goal). Whether it is me or any other instrument of expression, the “Word” is the focus, and the self (or messenger, me), is irrelevant. I detach from “self” and “my life” to grasp the greater truth and core and essence of the Word, its inner meaning transcending the limits of this mortal container, to attain the core, of God Himself, without the rind of self.
Week 1/3: Day 2
Genesis 22:1-19. For the love of God, Abraham was willing to give up what he most cherished on earth.
-Death and life are not what we thought.
-To trust God—is life.
-This is what makes Abraham so precious in God’s eyes. In this one instance, He sees that this man may be worthy of Him, His generosity, so He tempts/tests His heart to confirm His hopes. His beloved son Isaac and most cherished thing God asks him to sacrifice to Him. “The Lord will provide the lamb,” he tells Isaac. Because he held nothing back from God but gave even his most cherished life, his son’s, God confirmed His hope in Abraham’s faith, spared the boy just before the offering, and blessed his progeny forever.
-He found a man like Him—so trusting and obedient in faith of God’s love that He would offer His son—asking not why but just trusting His love and doing it.
-Just like God offered His most cherished life, that of His Son, to try to prove once and for all how much He loves us and the lengths He will go to ensure our prosperity—not on Earth only, but forever with Him in Heaven.
-“The Lord provides,” “Yahweh-jireh,”—in that this life is His and He gave it just as He will renew and restore it, as we abide, follow and obey. I have not but my own life, so crucified to my life and my self, I take up my cross to rise in the provision, of life, in Christ. This life in Christ is life eternal and in the grace of a spiritual reality rather than the temporal façade of this mortal flesh of a veneer. In me always, is death. In love and trust and Christ—is life.
First Week/3: Day 3
Consider Tetlow’s “The Way Things Can Be.” Do I feel my authentic self stirring as a result of the choices I have made?
-It’s not about the path, it’s about the Guide—God, not the special path my life takes.
-The idea of not having a fixed determination for choosing a path through life (e.g., money, health, etc.) except that greater Guide, of God’s will, opens my life up entirely to untold of possibilities. My “goal in life,” is literally, just to fulfill His will and purpose for me. If my best understanding of His will sends me on a 180 degree turn, then so be it, because I am following Him and not my own life, or will, or desires here on Earth. I am following the Guide of Christ, His will (of God) in my heart, over and above an earthly path or concrete material choice. I thought I was meant to tread a particular career path (psychology, school counseling, etc.), but when another opening appears that seems to conform even more to His will—I will let go of my footing on that first career path lest I lose sight of the Lord (my first attachment). Then again, if He leads me back to “whence I came,” at the drop of a dime I will turn in my tracks to follow Him. I am taking my love and connection to Him as the fruit of my labor and indication of the correctness of my path, and in this way, the results of my work are good on Earth, because they spring forth from the unseen work within my soul to remain in Him. My productivity and byproducts (as fruit of my labor) here on Earth, are also good (in and by Him) and of the sort He would have of me.
First Week/3: Day 4
Deuteronomy 30:15-20. I can choose life or choose death. God reveres me so deeply that He gives me space to choose. All my ancestors in the faith have made this choice.
-To love God is to wish to please God. I love Him, so I obey. The essence of God, is truth in love, so I cannot honestly choose not to.
-God’s love is life to my soul, indwelling within my heart as my Spirit.
-I like that God uses the analogy of life and death to express to the people what is the difference between choosing to love God and adhere to Him—in turning our hearts towards a focus upon and awareness of Him (for in truth He is love and we cannot but love Him if we are honest), and choosing to go the other way. God is love, and to obey His Commandments in refraining from malice and wickedness in our thoughts and actions, is to experience life here on Earth (and on into eternity for that matter, for this is what is meant by “life”—in that it is eternal in its “virtue”). The sting of death, is sin—in that to “disobey God” in choosing to follow after the urgings of any other (for to refuse to follow God’s will is merely to follow own’s own will instead—we do not perform any will if not either that of God or that of our own selfish nature) is to veer from love.
-The love of God, is His will, and all that is outside God’s will of love, gentleness, justice, kindness, mercy, and faith in so many forms, is just the sin of selfishness and of self-focus rather than God-focus, and the absence of God’s love (with hate or self-love instead). When I choose to love God, I follow up in living up to His expectations, as best I can. In choosing not to, is the essence of sin, here likened to death, as it is, to the life of God’s love that keeps my heart and soul alive.
First Week/3: Day 5
Luke 18:18-25. The rich young man cannot make the choice that leads to life.
-Eye of the needle—single-hearted desire/focus upon God with no division nor splintering in my mind’s eye.
-“Good Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?”
-“Why callest thou me good? None is good, save one, that is, God.”
-When Jesus saw the rich young man was sorrowful when He told him to let go of his riches, the “inordinate attachment” became evident. “How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the Kingdom of God!”
-Jesus here expresses exactly what was required in that man’s beliefs when he first addressed Him—None is good except for God (in response to “Good Master”). This statement is crucial, in that it redirects us from all worldly attachments, even that of selfhood (Jesus’ human side of self, as opposed to His divine side of God), to realize that one should only attach to what is good, and only God is good.
-To pass through the eye of the needle, the purity of my soul’s desires must be in true singleness of vision (with wholeheartedness and no doubt nor duplicity nor stray hairs of scattered focus upon other pulls of extraneous desires and attachments), but with pure desire and attachment to “just God in the eye of my soul” as the aim of my heart’s desire in seeking what is good and true and love—then there is nothing that could ever prevent this beautiful union.
-P.S. Although, with God in my heart at all, He can always secure the impossible and shed those hairs of stray desires, to claim me as His as it always is in truth—by grace. Only in faith and by grace.
First Week/3: Day 6
Jeremiah 18:1-6. Whenever the object of clay which he was making turned out badly in his hand, the potter tried again. Like clay in the hand of the potter, so you are in my hand, says the Lord.
-The goodness is more important than the particular person who upholds it—if Israel won’t, another will.
-If I don’t repent of badness, another good one will take my place. Only the vessels that hold the Lord will stand.
-The Lord shows this scene to Jeremiah as reassurance about the House of Israel—that just as the vessel of clay is in the potter’s hand, so are God’s people in the hands of the Lord (if they repent, they will be saved). I find this passage reassuring in the message of repentance—if Israel turns back from its evil ways and disobedience to the Lord, the Lord will not destroy them, but rather repent Himself of the intended consequences. Likewise, just as if the vessel is marred, He will make it again as another vessel, in mercy because they repent of the mar/sin, building up anew what was broken down by its wickedness, by sin.
-He pulls down a wicked nation so that a good one, either a vessel that repents, or a brand new one, may stand in its place. Jeremiah spoke to the people to repent and pled their case to the Lord, to turn His wrath away from them and speak good for them, but they repented not. Therefore, the Lord will pull down what is marred by wickedness, just as the wicked nation seeks to kill Jeremiah for urging them to forsake their evil ways. Either way, the Lord will have a good vessel to stand for Him—i.e., if it is not the House of Israel, so shall it be the Gentiles.
-The idea I take away here is that goodness will be brought forth from God, and if one vessel and obedient heart does not stand upright, nor repent when called to change, another will be called to stand in its place. A wicked house will not stand in the name of the Lord.
First Week/3: Day 7
Genesis 22:1-19 (Day 2 again). For the love of God, Abraham was willing to give up what he most cherished on earth.
-More than just foreshadowing God’s sacrifice of His only Son in demonstrating His faithfulness to man, and His love for them in redeeming them back to Him through this sacrifice of Jesus, this demonstration of faith in Abraham’s willingness to give up Isaac to the Lord serves as a model for me to follow if I wish also to earn favor and be acceptable in God’s sight.
-This show of faith was what brought Abraham into God’s good graces, and He blessed him accordingly. In merely obeying His command and serving, by which I mean, fulfilling His will, with no hesitation, nor doubt, nor reservation, resting only in God’s will and not any earthly satisfaction, joy of man, or material security and comfort—like, for instance, the pride and joy of his only son, Abraham lived like a true child of God. For he reasoned that surely his most cherished possession, Isaac, was from God, and is of God, and so God could bring him back if He so willed—this act was imputed as faith and righteousness to Abraham, which is the only way in which one may please God—by being always willing to forsake all, on Earth and of self, as all goodness is only good because it is from God.
-To grasp upon those reins, or take the bit, of God’s will directly, which is the most direct and pure goodness (in closeness to God), the purity of just God’s will to rest upon, especially as it is when it is at the sake of all else, is the greatest good that can be found in this world—“just God.” The rich young man, had no riches whatsoever if not seeking first the Kingdom—because this is all that actually matters. After God, all else is somewhat, truly, irrelevant. Only God is truly good—no other can add nor detract from Him, yet, in His goodness, He still adds all goodness unto Him. As it says, “the Lord Yahweh provides.”
First Week/4: Day 1
The Meditation on Three Sins:
- The Sin of the Angels (cosmic sin). Luke 10:18-20. The fallen angels sinned by placing self before God and so rejected God’s love.
-I keep an eye on God, so that this forethought of what in the future I could regret will motivate my actions (towards Him/good) in the here and now.
-“He saw (them) fall as like lightning from Heaven in their subjecting the spirits to the authority of Christ’s name.” Jesus warns His disciples to rejoice not in the authority they exert in casting out devils (pride and arrogance), but to rejoice in the goodness that they are doing (for their souls and others) in Heaven (good will). The idea of plunging like lightning from God’s good graces serves as a reminder, of what it interiorly feels like if I try to act in service of myself and my own needs instead of “seeking first the Kingdom,” in serving God or trying to do something that could be considered objectively, or “selflessly” good—because of virtue or altruism and not out of self-interest.
This helps me to examine and refine, align and realign my motivations, until, hopefully, it just comes naturally to take no thought for my self, and act in faith (and by grace of union with God) to do what is right and good and acceptable in God’s sight.
-There is a poignant image from Schindler’s List (the film) that sticks in my mind at times, where he mourns that, “I could have done more…”. This is what comes to my mind when I seek to repent—remorse not at what I have done, but at what I neglected to do or what more I could have done to help others—this motivates me to keep going.
First Week/4: Day 2
The Meditation on Three Sins:
- The Sin of Adam and Eve (original sin, or the sin of humankind). Genesis 3:1-19. Adam and Eve sinned by grasping for equality with God and so rejected God’s love.
-The idea of original sin to me is an explanation of what true human nature is, and why we are here on Earth instead of at home with our God in Heaven. This parable about human nature and story of our origins in sin makes clear to me the perils of and results I can expect from following after the advice of mankind (the woman gives fruit to Adam) or following after the values of my culture (designs and works of man), rather than heeding that inborn voice of my heart and conscience to seek the greatest good and follow the urgings and commands of God. If this is what we are of our own avail—dust and death and sin, I will choose to learn from this story to choose not to follow in their footsteps.
-I will not follow after mankind, or sin, or the Adam and Eve (or mom and dad) of my earthly origins, but rather, I will seek that higher calling of God. God, or man; Father in Heaven, or sin on Earth—there is no leeway for shades of gray (at least, in my mind) when making this choice, because it is as clear and obvious as night and day. I discern God, I choose God, and follow my connection to His love, I willingly accept what He gives for my cross, and I follow this path of Christ that is to remain in my heart—broken and exiled in my human nature, but then healed and saved as I abide with God, through obedience to His will—to complete me with love, and heal my brokenness with Him, my missing piece, my Love.
First Week/4: Day 3
The Meditation on Three Sins:
- The Sin of One Person (personal sin). Luke 16:19-31. This person sinned by his self-absorption. Despite the many good things God enabled him to acquire, he was blind to his less-fortunate neighbor and so rejected God’s love.
How have I rejected God’s love? Yet Jesus Christ died on the cross to that I might be reconciled with God, and so I ask:
What have I done for Christ?
What am I doing for Christ?
What ought I do for Christ?
-They were so hardened and closed that God Himself couldn’t convince them.
-“The little ones” as believers.
-The story of the Rich Man and Lazarus, forever separated by that gulph between Heaven and Hell, and the idea that once I die, I may be unable to rectify anything done here (or neglected to have done here) on Earth, is very scary to me.
-Just the very idea of such permanence apart from God—honestly, even the idea of being in hellish torment is not as terrifying as the idea of being permanently separated from God. I think that forgetting this “fear of the Lord” (that is to say, “fear of being apart from His presence”), of being so self-absorbed that I forget of Him, is to me the true notion of Hell.
-The end of the Parable, where Jesus says—if they didn’t believe/heed Moses and the prophets, even Lazarus sent back won’t convince them to change and repent, seemed to me most provocative—they had the Son of God Himself and still acted as hypocrites rather than practice love and Law—and they crucified the very fruit of the prophecies and the Savior Himself rather than to listen and believe. This makes me think that just the very practice of being open, listening and believing, is the crux of the matter, as an important habit, to receive the true God when He comes—(no matter what the object of that belief may have been before He reveals Himself as truth)—to these little ones, open of heart and mind and seeking instruction, care, hope, love, and in so many different words, some form or vestige of God, He is revealed.
First Week/4: Day 4
Romans 1:18-23. What images have I put in place of God?
-What led me to be Catholic: Believing in love—charity within, reveals self-evident truths.
-To vindicate God’s will in becoming believers and not hardhearted scoffers and skeptics.
-God came down, both in Eden, and again through His Son Jesus, to make known to man the unseen things of God. These men who held Jesus in contempt, who abhorred the truth and held Him in unrighteousness, can expect the wrath of God (Romans 1, etc.). These people were so hardened and darkened of heart (inward spiritual vision) and closed off to belief and openness to the salvation that is not from oneself or man, but from God—that Christ appeared Himself to them—not Moses nor the prophets nor Lazarus from across the gulph, but God Himself, and they were so fixed upon themselves and preconceived falsehoods and erroneous notions of God, that not only did they reject Him, but they executed Him in a public display of mockery in the Crucifixion, because these men couldn’t accept the true God.
-This, to me, foreshadows the necessity of a Second Coming of Christ, sost that we may have a chance to vindicate God’s will to save us by learning from past mistakes (sins of man, original and personal) and accept Him as He is—in truth, and with justice—choosing to receive His free gift of mercy with openness, and somehow atone for the sins of our historical past—because these sins—are the ongoing human nature of mankind—the humanity we must reject as a veil of temporal impermanence, to see, not only to see, but to accept, the truth of the unseen God as He truly is, and was, made manifest.
First Week/4: Day 5 (6)
Consider Bradley’s “What Is Sin?” The choice of hurting someone in a relationship is what we call “sin.”
-If you can’t love them love the speck of God within them instead.
-Be angry and don’t sin.
-I am drawn to the idea of a “sin of omission” that describes not a (positive symptom) presence of immorality, but (a negative symptom) an absence of morality. I feel like the act of neglecting to do what is right, rather than commit an intentional harm (mortal or venial sin) is more of a problem in our society. It is not that “all are sinners” that is the main issue in a “good neighborhood,” far from it—our greatest challenge in suburban America is our lack of effort (negligence, sin of omission) to remain active in good works.
-Working on abstaining from sin or selfish desires is only effective to the extent that one substitutes those actions with virtuosity—to practice charity, gentleness, compassion, generosity—these are the actions that not only save us from committing venial and mortal sin, but also save us from complacency and unintentional sin, like negligence or sins of omission. To fail to do good works and merely resist sin/temptation, is not enough for a real Christian. We must go the extra mile, out of our way to do what is good and noble and right—if he asks for a mile give him two—if he wants your tunic, give him your coat also—this is the expectation of a true adherent of the Gospel teachings—to actively perform good works—“for charity covers a multitude of sins.”
First Week/4: Day 6 (5)
Luke 7:36-50: “So I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven; hence, she has shown great love.” I am a loved sinner. Both words are essential for understanding the reality of God’s love for me.
-Even the best Pharisee is still a sinner…
-“Who is this, that forgiveth sins also? And He said to the woman, thy faith hath saved thee; go in peace.”
-Faith has saved thee—learn the love behind the deed as the meaning of the Law.
-The Pharisees (sect of Jews) had never before been exposed to the idea that God would just swoop down (as Jesus) to forgive sinners. They were required to shun and stay a certain distance away from such sinners. They, by not realizing the grace entailed for God’s forgiveness—that it must come (Redemption) from God and not from themselves, they sought to glorify themselves and their own power (leaven) in refraining from sin, and making a vain and empty pretense of upholding the Law to further enhance their own pride, egos, and group membership status, by using elitism, malice, and rejection of certain men to establish a sense of value to their own selves and tribe of Israel. These men, in following after the Law, in their pride, vanity, fear of rejection or looking vulnerable, ultimately rejected salvation, because it comes not by works of Mosaic Law (upholding and living by it), although that surely is required that one try to, but ultimately, by God’s grace—that is, by faith in His good will and mercy to save us, since original sin shows us the truth of human nature, that no mortal man can live up to God’s expectations of godly holiness. Only through Christ, God’s sacrifice of God to gather us into Him and demonstrate paschal love, can we understand Him and pray for Him to save us (not by merit, by grace).
First Week/4: Day 7
Luke 7:36-50 (Day 5 again): “So I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven; hence, she has shown great love.” I am a loved sinner. Both words are essential for understanding the reality of God’s love for me.
-The law of balance and proportion (to equilibrium), is “justice.”
-The thought of saving others is an extra mile.
-(Commandments) 1 and 2: don’t sin, then save others.
-The idea of proportion comes to me in looking at this passage a second time. Mary, dumping the alabaster box of ointment on Him to wash Jesus’s feet, did such a generous and outrageous demonstration of her love and gratitude for His forgiveness, because she had (by societal standards—as an outcast as a prostate) sinned greatly. She went well out of her way and well over the top in her worship of the Lord, in like proportion to the extent of her past sin.
-As a Christian, when one asks for one mile, we give them two, and similarly, for the one converted by that “Good Samaritan” Christian servitude and charitable service of good will, the one converted by that demonstration of love will go the extra mile in expressing her gratitude in her efforts to worship and thank the Lord for calling her back to Him. God rejoices more greatly over the lost sheep found and sinner converted than in those who never strayed, and in a like manner, these little ones led home rejoice more greatly (inwardly in spirit, and openly with actions) at being saved than those who needed not saving.
-The extra mile it takes to bring back a long shot or a lost cause, is more worthwhile to God’s will, and the prize of it even greater in serving to show God’s greatness of mercy, and in bringing back and saving others, in serving towards God’s even greater glory than going just the one required mile of abiding of oneself. For the glory of God through Christ, all things are possible. This is His will.
First Week/5: Day 1
2 Samuel 11:1-12:15. David was a good man and a great king, yet he succumbed to a grave sin. Where has sin entered my life? Where am I vulnerable to being enticed away from God?
-Confess to avoid path of deception to conceal sins.
-The lie was the path to grave sin and secrecy.
-David succumbed to a grave sin, not just because of his lust or covetousness for his neighbor’s wife, but because he did it in secret. Not only to cover up the sin of her pregnancy from Uriah, but also so that he could then have her as his own once Uriah died, he had him slain in battle. The sin of adultery or lust only led to the grave sin of murder because of the dishonesty on David’s part. By keeping it a secret and failing to confess to that first sin, he was led to lie and plot and murder in proceeding down that path of sin and temptation.
-Confessing our sins, especially while they are still but subtle or slight, is absolutely necessary, otherwise, they will spiral out as we fail to receive correction or chastisement for wrongdoing from our confessors. When one does not choose to confess and admit to faults, the only alternative is eventually, to lie to cover them up, as outright lying with dishonesty and deception is the natural progression of that initial act, of “lying by omission” in failing to own up to a wrongdoing.
-In my life, this failure to admit to the temptations I face, and tell another person of them, will eventually lead me to succumb to some sort or other of a sin of action, as they begin as sins of thought. I must confess to my inclinations toward, both covetousness, in material greed of clothing and fashion items (valuing material goods and not spiritual goods), and also to an inclination towards a “devaluation of my life” (the desire to die, or efforts made towards committing suicide), not for Christ, but for sinful reasons (to escape pain and suffering).
First Week/5: Day 2
Psalm 51:1-19. “Have mercy on me, O God… cleanse me from my sin. For I know my transgressions.” I consider my own sinfulness. Can I feel God’s loving forgiveness? Use the triple colloquy here and for the rest of the week.
-This Psalm makes me cry, because it resonates in my heart. This prayer for contrition reminds me just where I belong—as a born sinner in my human nature and as desperately in need of Thy mercy and forgiveness. I have felt in my heart a first movement, reoccurring, of despising myself, not with the intent (which would be holy) of self-abasement for the purposes of exalting Christ and You, but merely of some inner need to relieve my suffering through ways that are not contained within the range of your will (by thinking about or trying to commit suicide). This opening up, of why the thought was a sin, helps me to see how to rectify the self-loathing impulse (to die), to use it as just a springboard or starting block on which to make my faith in You, through Christ, come alive. At times I wish to die, but only to die to self, so that I may yet live for Christ, is an acceptable form of this sentiment. Please, Mary Mother of God, Christ Lord and Master, and Heavenly Father God of all, help me to cleanse, rather, I beseech Thee, grant me the grace and cleanse Thou me, of this sin. I wish not to harbor an evil thought in my heart. I’m sorry—and it is clear—only by You and in You through Christ, am I healed of this sin and led along a reasonable path to salvation. “Less of me… so there may be more of You.” (John 3:30).
First Week/5: Day 3
The Last Judgment. Matthew 25:31-46. “Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you.” “You that are accursed, depart from me into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.” What distinguishes the blessed from the cursed?
-“Insomuch as ye have done it unto the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.”
-Jesus here points out how to love God is the first commandment, but this fundamental rule and principle entails the second—to love thy neighbor as thyself. This second rule is so, because there is an element (and in this case a living soul and potential Spirit of the Lord) of God in all of His creation, by virtue of His creating it. To love God, is to love those people He’s created, because they bear witness to Him in their souls—in this way, somewhat indirectly, to help another respects God and His creation, while to neglect to care for another, shows neglect to care for God, by not being a good steward and servant of His creation and of His children.
-Only God knows what’s in their hearts, be it good or not, and so we must treat all men as His prized children, lest we fall into error by judging what we ought not to, and could not possibly know. No matter how much we may think we know a person to be good or bad—we just don’t, and humanly can’t. We must treat all men, especially the “least,” or worst, of them, as God’s pride and joy, as a testament of our adherence to His Law and our observance of His love and charity. God created them, and it is not for me to call bad what He called “good,” and if I treat with love another being with service to God as the intention of my heart, I truly, in His eyes, would have been as if I were serving Him. We love God in loving each other, for Him, and through Him. This is how we abide in Him—providing love and care.
First Week/5: Day 4
Luke 15. The Lost Sheep—“There will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous people who have no need of repentance.” The Lost Coin—”There will be rejoicing among the angels of God over one sinner who repents.” The Lost Son—“Now we must celebrate and rejoice, because your brother was dead and has come to life again; he was lost and has been found.” God rejoices when I turn to Him, acknowledging my sins and resolving to love more as Jesus Christ loved.
-The path of the Lord, strait and narrow, is trod by Him to perfection; the rest of us must just keep turning back to Him as we begin to stray.
-To turn from mistakes and to the Lord for correction is the path of the upright and the way of repentance—the way to God.
-I feel like these three parables about repentance are a lesson to keep in mind, about how God expects us to make mistakes—no one is without sin here, no one is perfect except for God (by His love). I am reminded of the story about how one man said he’d help his father, but then did not, and another said “no” at first, but then repented and went out to help his father in hard work.
-These stories all tell us that we must expect our human will to get in the way every so often—this is unshirkable human nature—but we must never think that all is lost and we “might as well keep sinning” just because of an initial resistance, or of one or two sins. Life is an ongoing process of learning, which requires us to make mistakes—the lesson is learned when we throw up our arms in failure or distress and turn to God—for reconciliation, for divine aid, or with sorrow and in repentance.
-We will never be “perfect” in the way and path of God—we must accept this process of turning back and disregarding sooner and sooner those sideroads of transgressions, to just try to conform better to His ideal over time. All must repent, because this is the way to God.
First Week/5: Day 5
Domning’s “Excerpts on Original Sin”. Where have my instincts led me to distance myself from God?
–Instincts—repurposed to be used for God, to glorify Him by self-mortification.
-I found the idea that, not only do we learn sin from society (the serpent, and woman in Eden), but we are also genetically pre-programmed to sin (inherited behaviors of morally non-reflective great apes) through Darwinian natural selection, to be intriguing. If left without the Word of God and Christ’s living example of love and altruism, we would be subject to the sin of self, which was genetically advantageous because it led to survival; but, because we were created by a God, and we are capable of moral reflection to receive His Word, He has given and shown us a better way—to keep evolving in the alternative of His path, of self-sacrifice rather than self-advancement or self-preservation, which runs (as we choose it by free will), directly opposite the path of physical self-prosperity/perpetuation. This opposite tract to selfishness, or blind survival instinct, cuts against the grain, like swimming upstream, to bring us along the path of spiritual self-promulgation/perpetuation (not material preservation) so that our living souls can return to our origins, our Heavenly Creator, just in the way that He made us to be—in His image spiritually—by love and altruism and with a sound conscience, worthy of reflecting His own image back to Him (as if like a mirror) with our own imitation of His example.
First Week/5: Day 6
Domning’s “Excerpts on Original Sin” (Day 5 again). Where have my instincts led me to distance myself from God?
-The work of faith: I must put God’s will before any other desire, or any other desire will occupy my heart.
-I feel like my instincts, for selfishness or “self-preservation” (instead of that saintly perfection of Christ’s “self-sacrifice”) lead me to distance myself from God to the exact extent that I put my desire for anything (typically material goods, or the completion of my work, or occupational advancement or accomplishments) ahead of my desire to serve God’s will. The desire to suffer, to endure long work and emotional or spiritual pain, and to renounce all my own selfish wants, whims, thoughts and accomplishments should be in the faculty of my desire for my self., so that I can utterly die to self and receive, and also work for, the grace of humility. Then, I must try not only to die to self, but only use this necessary step as a means to the end—the end, or goal, of divine union with God, so that ultimately, when and as I yet remain alive here on Earth (though my tattered soul longs for Heaven still…), I may live for Christ—in truth and in honest, humble self-abandonment. I get distanced from God when I abhor the suffering, and want to die to end it rather than to endure it (with patience and tolerance) to receive Him, or implore His divine aid. Also, the will to “shop” enters my mind, and if I don’t keep it in check, it will nudge God out of that space of my heart’s desire.
First Week/5: Day 7
Luke 15 (Day 4 again). The Lost Sheep—“There will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous people who have no need of repentance.” The Lost Coin—”There will be rejoicing among the angels of God over one sinner who repents.” The Lost Son—“Now we must celebrate and rejoice, because your brother was dead and has come to life again; he was lost and has been found.” God rejoices when I turn to Him, acknowledging my sins and resolving to love more as Jesus Christ loved.
-Point of repentance—to know God and distinguish between Him and me.
-Without repentance, I cannot know God in His glory—just the fallacy of my ego’s pride.
-The Lord rejoices more over converts than over someone who never sinned—I feel that this lesson runs deep in me with a teaching about honesty and humility. As Jesus taught with the adulterous woman, “whosoever is without sin may cast the first stone.” God wishes for all of us to come to repentance for our shortcomings, as no one on Earth if free from the sins of our human nature, be they in deed, or just in the first movements in the heart’s desires. When I am honest about my constant and perpetual need for God, I must realize that repentance is not just a call to sinners, but a call to even the very best of saints in mankind’s race, to turn in humility to God for salvation. We inherit the Kingdom not by works nor by righteousness, but by grace, because only God is righteous and He alone gives the grace by which to perform the works of Mosaic Law, or the deeds of the Beatitudes in Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. In humility, I see the Adam and Eve of human nature in my mortal soul, and I distinguish between my dust and ash and the grace of God’s good will. The point is not to shame me, but to enlighten me to my “sinful ways and nature” so that I may feel honest gratitude, for God, His mercy, His gifts, and, just Him!
First Week/6: Day 1
Matthew 18:21-35. Jesus himself was without sin, yet He forgave unconditionally and enjoined us to do likewise. Do I, aware as I am of my sinfulness, forgive or do I condemn others for their sins?
-To forgive is God’s work, so whosoever chooses to forgive, gets to receive God in order to make it happen.
-It is a struggle to forgive—but God’s will requires it.
-…So shall the Lord do to you, “if ye from your hearts, forgive not every one his brother their trespasses.” Peter thought he was being generous when he suggested seven as the appropriate number of times to forgive offenses (sins) against oneself, but Jesus patiently rebukes him, with seventy times seven, to illustrate how the infinite capacity of God’s mercy and forgiveness must be embraced. It must be given by our hearts, which contain that soul, that mustard seed of faith that our finite and mortal minds cannot encompass, so that in accepting and taking in all that God wills of love (in its proper faculty, our hearts and souls, not our puny powers of comprehension based on pure brainpower and intellect), we may receive Him (by embodying Him via His will of love and infinity mercy). Thus, in strengthening ourselves to adhere and conform to His boundless compassion, by trying to bestow it as He bestows it, in this way do we receive Him—by willing to serve His will and perform His work. Only God can give mercy and forgiveness, so whensoever we choose to give such love, we receive good in order to do it. God is love, and so a willing and readied vessel so conformed to His purposes, receives that love that is God via the will to give it.
First Week/6: Day 2
“Space and Time.” Earth itself with its human inhabitants occupies a miniscule area in space, and my life is barely a blip on the radar screen of time. Yet God lavishes His love on me and has great hopes for me. How does an awareness of my ow limited time on earth affect my attitudes toward myself, toward others, and toward what I am doing with my life? Are resentments impeding my capacity to do God’s will for me?
-Rise above the passions to the will: “Be angry and sin not”—learn to let go of feelings to find peace within the resentment.
-Forgiveness is the ideal, resentments are a teaching instrument to help us learn how to do it.
-My awareness of my limited time here is not really a factor in my decision-making processes. The idea that for the love of God and out of respect for Him, I must (as I feel obligated) make proper use of that time is what motivates me—I never “waste” my time, because it is the most valuable resource He has given me. I try my best to invest my self and energies and time wisely to make the most of the few hours I have within any given day, and in the bigger picture, this short mortal lifespan.
-Resentments are not impeding my capacity to “do” God’s will for me, but they do cause me difficulty in experiencing His joy and peace of mind while I am making proper and responsible use of my time here.
-I end the day with a clean conscience, my “prize,” because I know that I did all that I possibly could have done and worked my ass of trying to do a good job and not waste any time. It is this life of rigor and work and fullness that to me is evidence of a fruitful life here.
-I think that resentments are definitely a challenge for me, because (especially) I have a lot to forgive and healing to embrace (past experiences, etc.). I will keep trying and hold on to forgiveness as the ideal, even though I may often fall short of this standard.
First Week:6/ Day 3
Hosea 14:2-10. God longs to forgive us and make us fruitful. Do I let Him?
-Repentance is the path to gratitude and glory to God for His mercy. Grace.
-Let Him: Repentance is a prerequisite to God’s forgiveness.
-I can’t stress enough in my own life the importance of this concept of repentance. The Lord loves a contrite heart, as the Psalmist said, and I feel like the lowering of my own ego in an act, thought, or internal motion of contrition has the unexpected effect of raising my heart (not by raising it, but by lowering me) to Him, just by that act of self-abasement or self-renunciation. When I recognize how puny my efforts are, or how short I fall in attaining to the desires of my heart (to God and pleasing Him), I cannot help but crumple in with resignation.
-But, in that bliss that is grace, when my own doings are taken out of this equation, it is just God, by my faith and belief in Him, that yet remains and stands firm and erect within me. I have given up to the futility of my strivings, keeled over in my “self-ish-ness” (or “selfiness,” and overabundance of selfness and selfhood), but my heart still remains—steadfast and strong and firm as that fortress of its desires.
-I hope in God and give up on self, in sheer distress and desperation, and yet, somehow, I keep going, somehow I remain here and keep moving and stand strong. That is the repentance at work in my selfhood that enables my heart and soul to go on and receive that mercy of God, in the fruitfulness of my endeavors. Truly, only by God, for Him, and in Him am I at all. Thanks be to God.
First Week/6: Day 4
Colossians 3:5-17. “Forgive as the Lord has forgiven you.” Do I try to do that?
-I forgive, as the Lord shows me what I am forgiving. The pain of harm incurred to me precedes knowledge of His love.
-I try, and I wait—easier said than done and God must do it.
-I try my best to forgive, as the Lord has forgiven me. It seems, that when I truly succeed, it is because God is working through me as I yield to Him and allow His powerful mercy to flow through me, as is His will. Oftentimes, though, it seems as if I am led to feel what that inability to forgive is like, and I am at once immersed in that inner resistance of a resentment—I feel the burn and scorch of my own anger as the vessel of my heart and will is clogged up with so many insults, and I grudge to a halt. Eventually, that burning fire of wrath within me bursts open my clogged-up heart, and I keel over in relief as I am once again opened up to His divine flow of mercy and love.
-I sometimes feel like I get an influx of so many assaults/offenses to forgive (within my memory or in present time) that it is too much for just one body to bear and I get a “traffic jam” in this artery of my soul and connection to God. It is horrible to experience, but good to know what my own wretchedness is without God’s love to ease the pain (of that sin, of bearing a grudge) and tip the scales of justice (indignation against harm) with His generous outpouring of mercy. I choose to forgive, but the power to make that choice transpire effectively, comes from God alone. God is my only Savior (from my self).
First Week/6: Day 5
Psalm 116. “What shall I return to the Lord for all His bounty to me?”
-For His good pleasure and to praise Him with our simple pious lives is what the Lord made us for—for His delight and glory.
-To love the Lord and listen to and obey Him, is my return to God.
-This Psalm extols the great mercy of God as David prophesies about Christ taking the cup of salvation, being loosed from the bonds of death in truly being a servant of God (as the death of the saints and martyrs is precious in God’s eyes), and then rising to proclaim the glory of God with thanksgiving.
-The Lord does not truly desire sacrifice, because the Son (Christ) sacrificed Himself. The Lord wants us to accept Christ’s sacrifice and take not the cup of affliction, but the cup of salvation, as we die to sin to live with Christ. A pure heart, and living humbly with God in accordance with His precepts (follow the Law and not flesh and sin), and gratefully offering thanks and praises to Him for His great love and mercy (living humbly, and righteously by grace in Christ), is what God desires of us.
-As David said, God will accept no more sin offerings nor burnt sacrifices, but only goodly deeds and a life of virtue, bearing the fruitfulness of a clean conscience and a goodly soul. This practice of God’s love—obeying His commands, without deceit, nor greed, nor sloth, nor cruelty, but with meekness, humility, gratitude, repentance, and a poor and contrite heart, is pleasing to God—to desire to please, honor and praise the Lord in our hearts, words, lives and actions is His bounty.
First Week/6: Day 6
2 Corinthians 3:16-18. “Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.”
-When we turn to the Lord, through the Holy Spirit of God that dwells within us, the veil will be taken away, that veil that hung over the Scriptures of Moses by the veil of a hardening over their own hearts and understandings in reading them, that prevented them from uncovering and beholding the true meaning of those words. As if beholding God in the mirror by upholding and living by that Spirit of Holiness within, by living a life of piety and reverence to God, God will be with us, and we shall see Him as He is, in glory, rather than in darkness or shadowy errors caused only by that sin or deceit or error or “mote within our own eye, that prevents us from seeing our brother as he is, to remove the beam from his eye,” or from seeing our God (in our hearts and mind’s eye of the soul) as He is, without stain or splintering off into sin, but in trueness, in purity and in singleness of vision towards Him, to see Him in His glory and not us in our error. As we turn to God in holiness, His Holy Spirit that dwells within us comes alive and is made manifest by trusting faith. It is this gift of God’s Spirit to our souls that allows us the ability to mirror Him back as He truly is, because of just our own selves without putting forth the Holy Spirit of God within us, we shall always be veiled off from Him by our heart’s deceit and the stains of our sinful pride. By faith in His grace, and obedience to obey His Laws by His grace through Christ, God reveals to us Himself as He is—only in the Holy Spirit, in truth and in purity is He beheld, as that truth and purity of love.
First Week/6: Day 7
Matthew 18:21-35 (Day 1 again). Jesus himself was without sin, yet He forgave unconditionally and enjoined us to do likewise. Do I, aware as I am of my sinfulness, forgive or do I condemn others for their sins?
-“Father forgive them they know not what they do.”
-To condemn others is not my place. To be honest about offenses and try to resist retribution (harboring the conviction in my heart that they shall be damned) in anger at them is my struggle.
-I feel like this passage is about going above and beyond with forgiveness, not just with the customary three times before condemnation, and not just Peter’s suggestion of generosity in seven times, but as an example of “infinity,” Jesus’ illustration of seventy times seven times, just to give an idea. The Father is only but generosity in love and forgiveness, and so He forgives us as we seek Him in His mercy to do so with our hearts set on contrition and repentance.
-If our brother asks us our forgiveness, we are expected to imitate and learn from God’s divine nature of love and mercy to do the same as He would, and forgive him. The place where I have a hard time is in forgiving unrepentant sinners for offenses or insults against me. I truly want to forgive wrongs done to me, but when those wrongs continue rather than are repented of, the idea of forgiveness becomes very far off from the appropriate course of action that I would prescribe for me in order to keep enduring.
-I would think it would be best to “shake the dust off my feet as testimony against them” and just leave, because if they acknowledge not the wrongs they do, there is no sin presented to forgive, and I am just left with the pain of their offenses to suffer in. I now must turn to God for His mercy for me, and the condemnation of others is His business, and not mine. As He has said to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy.” I just must turn to Him with love instead of to them with vengeance, with the conviction of bitterness harbored in my heart that they shall receive eternal hellfire after their death.
-I do feel like this is why God condemns those who do not repent, so that their offense does not burn and simmer in His heart in this way, but rather, that both they and their unrepenting offense be done away with, part and parcel, to maintain a sense of peace in His own internal Heaven.
Second Week/1: Day 1
“The Kingdom.” Jesus’s vision of the Kingdom. Compose your own offering, or oblation and use it as your prayer for the week.
-“In the presence of God” (by God’s will).
-Your will and nothing else. -General and unspecified for purity of faith in and to God.
-God, if it be Thy will to accept me, I offer my self, my life, and my (career path) to You. I feel at this point in my life that we are in a mutually devoted relationship and solid understanding of each other, and if and when there is any part of me that attaches or snags onto any desire that is not “just You and Your will,” with the exclusivity of a devoted servant, I would ask You to remove it, or to help me by grace to work to remove it.
-I know that You love me, and I know that we are pretty far along in this trust game by now, and I truly, at the core of my heart, just want to serve You and Jesus as You would most desire me to—in the way that would please You most. We have been through so many struggles and so much suffering and so many successes and also seeming failures at this point—but You have never let me down nor forsaken me, and I kind of know (“I kind of know,” sort of—but for humility), that You would never allow me to forsake You.
-Please let me be an empty vessel and instrument of Thy will. Let me suffer for You because that is what Jesus did and it pleases You for us to conform to the Beloved on this path to (and from) You. Please help me to be perfect, not as me, but as an open channel of You, loving perfectly—suffering like on a cross because that is how love is proven, in testing of pain, suffering, and even temptation to pride. Whatever You will have me do, let it be “with You.” That’s all.
Second Week/1: Day 2
Ephesians 1:3-14. Jesus Christ comes as God’s project to save humankind. Can I say yes for myself and for my world to what God projects?
-Accepting Him anew as being as challenging as refraining from Him in Eden.
-Accepting the Eucharist as atonement for stealing the forbidden fruit.
–The Christian Faith in a nutshell:
-God’s will is salvation and redemption for all mankind (“God is not willing that any should perish, but that all may come to repentance”), and I humbly submit to Him and His plan for us to the best of my ability and at all times.
-God willed to reconcile all of creation, Heaven and Earth, unto Himself through the sacrificial offering of Christ for the sins of man. He reconciled all into Himself, in that, Christ knew no sin, but was subjected to it on the Cross so that He may be wholly blameless and yet bring that knowledge and experience of sin into His person without ever doing any wrong.
-Thus, Christ contains within Himself all the perfection and goodness of God and all the knowledge of sin and evil of man in carrying the weight of those sins of others committed against Him. Thus, Christ contains all and all—all of good, and all of humanity’s evil nature, that it had borne since man’s original sin in Eden, so that through Him and God’s will of goodness and mercy we may still come to the goodness of God (through and in Christ despite our original defiance) in this divine act of reconciliation—of a willing and obedient sacrifice.
-The fruit hanging on the Tree, that Cross, submits to being plucked, so that in this consummation of a Eucharistic acceptance, we may be absorbed into His Heavenly Body, by receiving Him, as by our acceptance of Him here and His will to save us, we receive atonement for our “disloyalty” of original sin in Eden.
Second Week/1: Day 3
Hebrews 2:5-13. Jesus considers us all His brothers and sisters and hopes we will be His companions in His life’s work, which is the salvific work of reconciliation. Can I accept His hope and work with Him?
-God reconciled all of His creation, all of man and the evil of human nature and the flesh back to Himself with the obedient and willing sacrifice of Christ—so that God’s Son and embodiment (in the flesh) of perfection could contain within His perfect being our salvation—through His suffering of our sins and by His example.
-“Whosoever seeks to do the will of God (obedience of Christ, not disloyalty of Adam) is my mother and my brother,” He said. There are many who performed great works in the name of God—miracles, healing, casting out of demons, to whom on the Last Day, Christ shall say—“depart from me, I know thee not,” because they sought glory of self in their hearts, and sought not “only to do God’s will.”
-To be His brethren, we are all called. By free will, it is our obligation to follow the voice of our Shepherd, and also to restrain ourselves from paying heed to any other.
-This knowledge that none can follow that path of Christ to perfection but Him, and that this is the point of accepting Him, to receive salvation into God—acknowledging our need of His grace—to comingle our sinful and disobedient, wayward human nature in the saintly perfection of God’s divinely loving nature—is our merit.
-To recognize that we have none at all, no merit but for His, His good will of loving meekly, is what we are here for—to know God as He is—for the praise and glory of Him, and not ourselves. A real and loving and grateful relationship with our Maker is to what we are called, and from this, ultimately, we cannot turn away.
Second Week/1: Day 4
Matthew 4:18-25. Jesus calls His disciples to join Him and do what He is doing. He stays with His disciples and works alongside them. He means all who follow Him to join in this great project.
-“Our work is before us and our reward is with Him”—the greatest joy as following along in God’s will for each of our collective and unique paths.
-“Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.”
–The Catholic Church in a nutshell:
-The common trait of both Peter and Andrew, and John and James, is that immediately they left their nets and family and jobs, and went and followed Him. The Gospel of John says that those who love God and obey His commands hear the voice of the Shepherd because they have the truth in them. They know Jesus, and they follow Him.
-Also, Simon Peter knew immediately, and told Christ He knew He was Lord, because Peter had the love of God and the Truth (the Rock of the Church) in Him. The call to join Jesus is given to all, but only those who truly love God and have the honesty in their hearts, to recognize Him as the ultimate truth of reality, will straightway drop all that they are doing to follow Him, to receive Christ, and through Him God our Maker, and join Them in Their work and Their higher (spiritual) ways—this, is salvation.
-The ultimate goal of the Catholic Church is to be all-inclusive (Universal), and as it is said in Isaiah 40:10 and Revelation 22:12, “our work is before us, and our reward is with Him (God).” The peak and pinnacle of the human experience is just to be with God in His will for us, in His presence. Jesus healed all who were in need of His gifts, and each of us collectively filling in a societal need with our own unique and individual gifts, is the “Universal” calling of all people, to join Him in His project—“To help each other.”
Second Week/1: Day 5
2 Corinthians 5:17-6:2. “We are ambassadors for Christ… do not accept the grace of God in vain.”
-Imitation of Christ and Obedience to God: To accept the grace of God not “in vain,” we must follow after “in the Spirit.”
-Christ was made to be sin (in effigy), Who in truth knew no sin (wrongfully executed, without fault nor sin), so that we might be made the righteousness of God (by His mercy upon us—”imputing not their trespasses unto them”) in Him (by His sacrifice, as a path and vehicle for our reconciliation unto God, Whom Christ was, in the Trinitarian sense of God).
-Receive not the grace of God in vain, and each and every day (enlightened to the eternal sense and not the temporal sense), is the day of our salvation; every day of our mortal life is the time accepted to seek and follow and obey and accept the love of God and Christ (through Christ) in our hearts.
-It is in believing that our sins are forgiven, and through this sacrifice of Christ on the Cross that He comes alive to us in Spirit, in the Holy Spirit of God in our souls—thus, to those who proceed in faith, in trust, love, and belief, the eyes of the soul, of the inner spiritual being, are opened in truth to truth, to the higher reality of God which was veiled over with this world of flesh and material (sensory, sensible—perceived via sensation) objects.
-Christ was made to be a symbol—of what human nature thinks of its God (crucifies and destroys Him), to show us of our wretchedness and need of Him to live in goodness, to lead us to love as God loves us—redeeming us all to the glory of His great goodness and infinity mercy.
-*If we accept Him, we ought to act like it, and proceed in Spirit and not in vain; not in human nature and ego, but rather in imitation of Christ to God.
Second Week 1: Day 6
“The Kingdom” (Day 1 again). Jesus’s vision of the Kingdom. Compose your own offering, or oblation and use it as your prayer for the week.
-Precious in God’s eyes—an obedient and contrite heart.
-When I imagine “The Kingdom” with an effective leader modelled after Christ’s own teachings, I first imagine King David, but in a more contemporary context, I imagine JFK (former President John F. Kennedy), because of how innovative, and inspiring, and peaceable he was (also, he was our only Catholic president). In committing to the vision of such programs as NASA, and initiating new such programs as the Peace Corps, he showed courage and generosity in selfless giving. His statement, “Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country,” I can interpret in my relationship with God as our Leader and King—“Ask not what God can do for you, but what you can do for God.”
-I find this sentiment of faithful and devoted service, not to self, but to God, to be the heart and soul of not only this lowly person that I am, but also the very root of charity, of Jesse, and the key to the fruitful, joyous living of life itself, in God’s Kingdom. To give all of my self, keeping nothing back, to God in His plans and teachings, is the pinnacle of any human joy. To give all, and suffer loss and persecutions for His sake, for He is our Creator and perfect benevolent Love, is not a sacrifice, but an honor.
-To be called into such misery to glorify God—that is a true gift, because God never forsakes us, and as only He is righteous, only suffering, like being meek and lowly and poor as in the Beatitudes, is our only merit in His eyes; for only He is good, and the joy and glory of Him, which is the only true joy in life, is all the sweeter and more precious in my heart for my lowly, downtrodden, and humble spirit.