Contemplate the truth of these passages; read them slowly, meditatively, allowing them to arouse the heart to prayer. Let them simply remind you of your heart’s chief desire–to be always close to God.
“My soul finds rest and peace in God alone.”
Letter from Taize, Brother Roger, 2003.
The Holy Spirit dwells in our hearts and whispers constantly to each one of us, “Surrender yourself to God’s will, in all simplicity.”
“A desire that calls out to God is already a prayer. If you want to pray ceaselessly, then never stop desiring.” St. Augustine
“Great simplicity of heart sustains contemplative prayer.”
Simplicity is the source of joy. It enables us to surrender ourselves to God, to allow ourselves to be led to him.
God, who remains invisible, does not necessarily communicate with us by means of human words. God speaks above all by silent intuitions.
So let us not use a great many words when we pray, but let us take time to pray in the silence of our heart.
Singing prayer with others allows the desire for God to well up in us and helps us enter into a contemplative prayer.
Thy Will Be Done, by St. Francis de Sales, Sophia Press, Manchester, NH, 1995
Souls differ more widely from each other than do human faces. But however different souls might be, all of them ultimately have the same vocation to glorify God by their holiness.
Those who are good people walk in the way of God; but the devout run, and when they are very devout, they fly.
Whoever is not fully resigned to God, whether he goes here or there, he will never have rest.
As your spirit looks elsewhere than where you are, it will never apply itself rightly to profiting from where you are.
Let us be who we are, and let us be it well, so that we can do honour to the Master whose work we are.
We cannot require from ourselves what is not in ourselves.
All we do has its true value from our conformity with the will of God. Never shall our heart live, save in Him and for Him.
Let us withdraw our minds into our heart, and bring it to its duty of loving God most solely.
Be attentive to make yourself every day more pure of heart. This purity consists in estimating and weighing all things in the balance of the will of God.
When you come to Him, speak to Him if you can. If not, stay there. Be seen, and care for nothing else.
Remain near God in this gentle and quiet attention of heart and in the sweet slumber of His holy will, for all this is agreeable to Him.
Above all, three little virtues are the most pleasing to God sweetness of heart, poverty of spirit, and simplicity of life.
There is no better way to perfect the spiritual life than always to begin again.
It is a very true thing that the company of well-regulated souls is extremely useful to us to keep our own soul well-regulated.
It is necessary before all things to obtain tranquility; it is the mother of contentment. The opportunities of practicing it are daily.
As I pray, I perceive deep within a certain sweetness, tranquility, and a certain gentle repose of my spirit in divine Providence, which spreads abroad in my heart a great contentment, even in its pains.
If we had nothing else but God, would it not be enough?
If you keep Jesus’ company, you will learn His disposition.
Let us always be moving; however slowly we advance, we will make plenty of way.
The highest point of humility is not only to know one’s abjection, but to love it.
It is a good thing to aspire in a general way to the highest perfect of the Christian life, but we do need to know its nature in detail, except insofar as it concerns our improvement and advancement in our daily growth of Spirit.
Cast yourself into His arms like a little child who, in order to grow, eats from day to day what his father gives to him, confident that his father will give to him in proportion to what he needs and is able to eat.
Wish not to do all, but only something; and without doubt you will do much.
Your heart is God’s; love happily in being so well-accommodated.
You must form clearly in yourself the idea of eternity.
Whoever thinks well on this troubles himself little about what happens in these three or four moments of mortal life.
To advance well we must apply ourselves to make good way in the road nearest to us, and to be prepared to always do the first day’s journey again.
We must not busy ourselves with wanting to do the last, but remember that we are to do and continually work out the first.
In order to become fervent in prayer, desire very much to be so, and willingly read the praises of prayer that are given in many books because the appetite for food makes us very pleased to eat it.
The truer way is not to examine whether your heart pleases Him, but whether His heart pleases you.
When we have lost our discipline, let us arise in peace and tranquility, knot again the thread of resolution, and then continue our work.
We must not break the strings nor throw up the lute when we find a discord; we must bend our ear to find where the disorder comes from, and then gently tighten or relax the string as required.
We must hate our faults, but with a tranquil and quiet hate, not with an angry and restless hate; and so we must have patience when we see them, and draw from them the profit of a holy abasement of ourselves.
We always want God to speak to us in the small wind, gentle and fresh, as He did with Elijah, but sometimes God wishes to speak to us in the thorns and the bush, as He did with Moses.
“In patience you shall possess your souls.” To possess fully our souls is the effect of patience, made more perfect as it is less mixed with disquiet and eagerness.
Grow familiar with your burden, as if you and it were always to live together. You will find that when you are no longer thinking of deliverance, God will think of it.
While a temptation displeases you there is nothing to fear; for it displeases you because you do not will it.
We must do all by love, and nothing by force; we must love obedience rather than fear disobedience.
We need only to keep ourselves well in the two virtues of humility and charity; one the lowest, and the other the highest. All the other virtues are attached to these.
It is the great good of our souls to be ‘for God,’ and the greatest good to be only ‘for God.’
Everything Belongs, Richard Rohr, Crossroad Publ. NY, 1999.
You do not resolve the mystery of God in your head or in your actions. It is resolved in you, when you agree to bear in yourself the mystery of God.
Most of us fabricate all kinds of religious trappings to avoid taking up our own inglorious, mundane, and ever-present cross.
We collapse back into the Truth only when we are naked and free.
We do not really know what it means to be human unless we know God. And, in turn, we do not really know God except through our own broken and rejoicing humanity.
Prayer, in the early stages, is often a profound experience of the core of who we are.
Healthy religion and true contemplation lead to calmly held boundaries, which don’t need to be constantly defended.
True contemplatives are paradoxically risk-takers and reformists, precisely because they have no private agendas, jobs or securities to maintain. Their security and identity are founded in God, not in being right, being paid by a church, or looking for promotion in people’s eyes. These people alone can move beyond self-interest and fear to do God’s necessary work.
People who have learned to live from their center in God know which boundaries are worth maintaining and which can be surrendered.
We have no real access to who we really are except in God.
Only when we rest in God can we find the safety, the spaciousness, and the freedom to be who we are, all that we are, more than we are, and less than we are.
We must keep in mind that the purpose of the exploration of prayer is not to get anywhere. We cannot attain the presence of God because we’re already totally in the presence of God.
Prayer is not primarily saying words or thinking thoughts. It is a stance. It’s a way of living in the Presence, living in awareness of the Presence, enjoying the Presence.
The contemplative is not just aware of the Presence of God, but trusts, allows and delights in it.
We must always be ready to see anew.
What blocks spiritual teaching is the assumption that we already know, or that we don’t need to know. We have to pray for the grace of a beginner’s mind.
Spirituality is about seeing. It’s not about earning or achieving. Once you see, the rest follows. You don’t need to push the river, because you are in it.
If the great mystery is indeed the Great Mystery, it will lead us into paradox, into darkness, and into journeys that never cease.ï¿½ That is the journey that prayer is all about.
The only true perfection available to us is the honest acceptance of our imperfection.
The beginner’s mind is a posture of eagerness, of spiritual hunger. It knows it needs something. That’s why the poor have a head start. They can’t resort to an instant fix: entertainment, a trip somewhere, aspirin. They remain empty whether they want to or not.
To acknowledge oneself as a beginner is to be open to transformation.
Religious energy is found in the questions, seldom in the answers. Answers are the way out, but questions are the way in.. When we look at the questions we are looking at the opening to transformation.
The last experience of God is frequently the greatest obstacle to the next experience of God.
What is, is the great teacher.
Feeling God’s presence is simply a matter of awareness.
When we live out of ego, we impose our demands on reality. But when we live in God’s presence, we await reality’s demands on us.
Who I really am. That’s a place of utter simplicity. Perhaps we don’t want to go back there often precisely because it’s so simple. It feels so unadorned. There’s nothing to congratulate myself for. I can’t prove any worth, much less superiority. There, I am naked and poor and I feel like nothing.
The desert is where we go to be voluntarily understimulated. No feedback. No new data.
We don’t know just how ephemeral our thoughts and feelings are until we take the time to sit and observe. That’s the early stages of contemplation; where you begin to notice how this feeling grabs you, how that identity grabs you, how that hurt grabs you, and even so, you want to identify with it because in some way it gives you some ground to stand on.
True contemplation looks for the place of perfect simplicity. You can’t stay there, but if you know this simplicity once, it is enough for a whole lifetime. You know your life is radically okay. That you are a child of God. You are in union. There is nothing to prove, nothing to attain. Everything is already there.
All we really need to be with God is surrender and gratitude. Our job is simply to thank God that we are a part of it all.
Prayer lives in a spacious place. It is free of personal needs or meanings or even interpretations. Prayer lies in pure moments of right here, right now.
As long as we stay in the world of preference and choice, we keep ourselves as the first reference point.
In contemplative prayer we move from the arena of merit, of reward and punishment, to the realm of pure grace and freedom.
Spiritual discernment is the ability to stand away from ourselves and listen and look with a kind of calm, non-judgmental objectivity. Otherwise the ‘I’ that I am cannot separate from its identification with its own thoughts and feelings.
Most people become their thoughts. They do not have thoughts and feelings; the thoughts and feelings have them.
In the silence of contemplation we begin to observe the process whereby we actively choose and create what we pay attention to. That is why the first twenty minutes are usually so tedious. For the first twenty minutes only the primary agenda shows itself.
If we haven’t been trained to recognize our fears and to let go of them, we will feed them.
In extended silence we can observe ourselves and can feel the changes that take place in us. We can feel emotional changes, moment by moment in our body.
Only non-knowing is spacious enough to hold and not distort the knowing that is possible in the Spirit.
God comes to us disguised as our life.
Forgiveness is God’s entry into powerlessness, as seen in his image on the cross.
Grace will lead us into fears and voids, and grace will fill us, if we are willing to stay in the void. We mustn’t engineer an answer too quickly. We must not get too settled too fast. For it is so easy to manufacture an answer to take away the anxiety. To stay in God’s hands, to trust, means that to a certain degree I have to stop taking hold of things myself. I have to hold instead to a degree of uncertainty, fear and tension. This takes practice and grace.
We must sacrifice the attachment and the strange satisfaction that problem-solving gives us.
God refuses to be known except by love.
Prayer gives us a sense of abundance and connectedness. It is the ultimate empowerment of the people of God. When the church is no longer teaching the people how to pray it has lost its reason for existence.
Overemphasis on social prayer has left many of our people passive, without a personal prayer life and too comfortable with handed-down religion instead of first-hand experience.
The prayer of words attempts to express our dependence on the great mystery of God. The prayer of silence is not so much to express, but to experience that dependence.
Church only works with people who have some real life with God; otherwise it’s all smoke and mirrors.
God looks at the places in us that are trying to say ‘yes’.
The Inner Way, by Joseph Allen
Fragmentation, the crisis of identity and meaning, touches the lives of each of us. Yet the potential for growth and transformation inherent in life’s breakdowns evade most of us. We fail to realize that dark times condition us for God; they invite us to a transformed identity through a deeper faith, hope and love.
Crises appear in each life as a form of death, a disintegration of life. At such times God speaks to interpret our fragmentation and begin our transformation.
Divine grace and human will must work together for transformation to occur.
As in all of nature, disintegration and fragmentation precede rebirth. If we are to grow into a deeper union with God we must accept, even befriend, the diminishments of life inherent in such circumstances.
The modern human being believes that life springs from itself and that he generates his own power and vitality. The proper question for true identity is not ‘who am I?’ but ‘to whom do I belong?’
Prayer puts us in a new context of surprise and amazement about our life. It is the spiritual director’s task to ‘bring people to such a knowledge of self in the presence of God.’
Human interpretation is by definition limited by what our senses can perceive and our minds can grasp, but room must always be left for that which lies beyond our limitations.
The experiences of the past always have a bearing on how one interprets the experience of the present.
The focus of spiritual direction is on experience, not ideas. Moreover this experience is viewed not as an isolated event, but as an expression of the ongoing personal relationship God establishes with each one of us.
God’s question to Adam and Eve ‘Where are youï¿½’ marked the beginning of salvation history. And Adam’s response, ‘I was afraid..and I hid myself’ typifies the human experience ever since.
God did not relent in his question but continued to search for the lost Adam taking on human flesh in Jesus Christ who identified himself as the one who ‘came to seek out and save the lost’.
The truth is that, planted deep within the heart of every human person, fearful in hiding and resistant as we may be, is a yearning to be healed, to be found, to be restored.
Unless we can accept that our sinfulness has been forgiven we will never be able to answer the question ‘Where are you?’ with the reply ‘Here I amï¿½’ the reply that says I truly want to be found.
Good choices come only by way of cooperation with God whereas wrong choices are made without cooperation with God.
God reveals himself in the uncreated parts of your life.
Wherever healing, liberation and growth are taking place, God’s purpose is being realized. Where people are finding one another in true love and reaching their greatest possible fulfillment, God’s activity is achieving its goal. God stands against all that oppresses and limits us, He labours with us, but not in place of us, for liberation, healing, reconciliation, harmony and joy.
God is already at work in us on the side of all that will promote freedom, healing and growth and against everything that afflicts these.
God is there to help draw out of their situation all the good that can possibly be drawn out. And when as spiritual directors we guide others to these same ends, we are collaborating with God’s own work.
God works with us in our sufferings to bring whatever good can be brought out of it.
When we have determined what we most deeply want, we have found what God wants for us.
We should view everything that happens as an opportunity given us by God. Whoever believes in accidents does not believe in God.
Waiting on God, by Andrew Murray, 1895, Nisbet & Co., London, Eng.
We need to train ourselves more to wait on God, and to make the cultivation of a deeper sense of His presence, of more direct contact with Him, of entire dependence on Him, the main purpose of our ministry.
The three steps needed to grow spiritually are: a clear view of the possibilities of Christian attainment; a deliberate purpose to live this life; and the disposition to look up and wait upon the Lord for all that we need to enable us to grow.
“My soul waits only upon God, for all my expectation is from Him.” (Psalm 62:1)
Waiting on God is itself the highest salvation. It is ascribing to Him the glory of being All; it is the experiencing that He is All to us.
Waiting on God combines the deep sense of our helplessness within ourselves to work what is divinely good, with the perfect assurance that God will work out our salvation by His divine power.
To wait upon God and have the heart filled with faith in His working, and in that faith to pray for it to do so in us, is our only wisdom.
Waiting on God gives Him time in His own way and divine power to come to us.
Be still before Him and allow the Holy Spirit to waken and stir up in our soul the child-like disposition of absolute dependence and confident expectation.
God has so ordained it that waiting on Him should be the greatest honour we give Him.
Our prayer should appeal to God to remember that we are waiting for Him, looking for an answer. It is a great thing for a soul not only to wait upon God, but to be filled with such a consciousness that its whole spirit and disposition is that of a childlike confidence that says, ‘Lord, you know that I wait on You.’
Christ has redeemed us wholly for God, and made a life of continual abiding in His presence possible. Our highest blessedness therefore is in having as much of God as we can.
Faith, in waiting on God, comes from the quiet confident persuasion that it is not in vain.
In waiting on God our eye, looking up to Him, meets His, looking down upon us.
All the exercises of the spiritual life, our reading and praying, our willing and doing, have their great value. But they can go no farther than to point the way and prepare us in humility to look to and depend alone upon God Himself, and in patience to wait for His good time and mercy.
God is able to do for us exceeding abundantly above what we ask or think, and we are in danger of limiting Him when we confine our desires and prayers to our own thoughts of them.
Patience is our highest grace and blessedness. It honours God by giving Him time to have His way with us. It is the highest expression of our faith in His goodness and faithfulness. It brings the soul towards perfect rest in the assurance that God is truly carrying on His work.
True patience is the losing of our self-will in His perfect will.
It is God, revealing Himself in us as our life and strength, that alone can enable us to leave all things in His hands.
God has promised to make known His will to us by His Spirit. Our position is to be that of waiting for His counsel, as the only true guide to our thoughts and actions.
The great danger in all our assemblies is that, in our consciousness of having our Bible, and our past experience of Godï¿½s leading, our sound creed, and our honest wish to do God’s will, we will trust in these and not realize that it is in every step that we need and can have heavenly guidance.
More stillness of soul to realize God’s presence; more consciousness of ignorance of what God’s greater plans may be; more faith in the certainty that God has greater things to show us; more longing that He Himself may be revealed in new glory; these must be the marks of the assemblies of God’s people if they would avoid the reproach, “They waited not for His counsel.”
It is what we really know of God in our personal experiences, conquering the enemies within, witnessing God reigning and ruling within, revealing Himself in His Holiness and Power in our inmost being that will be of true spiritual blessing to our fellowmen.
Everything that is not God, that excites our fears, or stirs our efforts, or awakens our hopes, or makes us glad, hinders us in our perfect waiting on Him.
The quiet rest in Him alone is the confession of our desire to sink into our nothingness, and to let Him work and reveal Himself.
With Open Hands, Henri J. M. Nouwen, Ave Maria Press, Notre Dame, Ind., 1972
I believe that what is most personal is also the most universal.
Praying is no easy matter. It demands a relationship in which you allow God to enter into the very center of your person, allow him to speak there, allow him to touch the sensitive core of your being, and allow him to see so much that you would rather leave in the darkness.
You feel a bit of a new freedom when praying suddenly becomes a joy, a spontaneous reaction to the world and the people around you. It becomes effortless, inspired and lively. You begin to suspect that to pray is to live.
To be calm and quiet all by yourself means being fully awake and following with close attention every move going on inside you.ï¿½ It involves a self-discipline where the urge to get up and go is recognized as a temptation to look elsewhere for what is really close at hand.
Perhaps there is some fear and uncertainty when we first come upon this discipline, but slowly we begin to see developing an order and a familiarity which summons our longing to stay home.
We recapture our own life from within.
Through prayer we learn the mastery of the gentle hand. This is the hand of the gardener who carefully makes space for a new plant to grow and who doesn’t pull weeds too rashly, but only uproots those which threaten to choke the young life. Under this gentle regime, we find ourselves once again becoming masters of our own house.
It is in the silence of the ‘poor in spirit’ that you learn to see your life in its proper perspective. In this silence, the false pretenses fade away and you can see the world again with a certain distance.
Prayer is acceptance. A person who prays is someone standing with their hands open to the world.
Prayer is living in constant expectation that God who makes everything new will cause you to be born again.
In prayer I am constantly on the way, on pilgrimage.
The most important thing about prayer is not whether it is classified as petition, thanksgiving or praise, but whether God sees it as a prayer of hope, or of little faith.
The prayer of little faith is filled with wishes which beg for immediate fulfillment. It has a great deal of fear and anxiety about it.
Hope is an attitude where everything stays open before me. It is daring to stay open to whatever today will offer me, or tomorrow, two months from now or a year from now, that is hope.
Whenever we pray with hope, we put our lives in the hands of God. Fear and anxiety fade away and everything we are given and everything we are deprived of is nothing but a finger pointing out the direction of God’s hidden promise.
A prayer of hope is a prayer that disarms you and extends you far beyond the limits of your own longings.
The praying person not only says, ‘I can’t do it and I don’t understand it,’ but also, ‘Of myself, I don’t have to be able to do it, and of myself, I don’t have to understand it.’
Prayer is primarily a calling to find what your own place is in the world and to live in that place.
As your life itself becomes more and more of a prayer you notice more than ever that you are always busy being converted.
You are a Christian only in so far as you look forward to a new self and a new world.
Prayer means being constantly ready to let go of your certainty, and to move on further than where you now are. That is why praying demands poverty, that you always begin afresh. Whenever you willingly choose this poverty you make yourself vulnerable, but you become free to see the world in its true form.
God is a deeply moved God whose heart is greater than mine.
St. John of the Cross: a spirituality of substance, edited by Peter Slattery, St. Paul’s Press, NY, 1994
We need to abandon any imperfect notion of God and convert ourselves to the one, true God–the one who cannot be manipulated, nor domesticated, nor allow us to remain comfortable in our illusions.
We are called to the God who challenges us to continual conversion. Only if we believe and follow this God will our spirituality develop.
The desert is a form of liberation because it forces us to face the truth about ourselves, our lives and our relationships. In the desert, we are stripped away from all our illusions about ourselves we are set free.
Purification helps us encounter God without deforming him, but rather letting him be God in us. St. John’s writings represent the encounter and the experience of love with a God who has been set free from our projections and manipulations, a God who makes us share in his way of being.
A theology of the spiritual life attends to what God is doing, and where his ‘first loving us’ wants to lead us.
When we see ourselves in truth, we assume our own poverty and eliminate from our ways of thinking anything that smacks of the powerful.
“The glory of God is the human person, fully alive in the kingdom.” -Irenaeus.
We have no need to desire anything because, in desiring the All, we find everything else.
We seek to be God’s delight, not to have God become our delight.
True spirituality begins in the dark, in powerlessness. It replaces the certainties of overconfident belief with the purity of longing.
Prayer, by its nature, involves a sense of incompleteness and thus of longing in truth.
Prayer is not so much a matter of speaking to God but listening to him at work in the world as well as in ourselves. It is listening to what the Spirit, more intimate to ourselves than we are, is saying within.
Prayer ultimately leads us to go beyond anything that can be known. We travel unknowing into an unknown land and we learn how to stay there, knowing naught.
The high point in this sense is also the lowest, humility, the truthful realization that we are not in charge of our lives, but beholden to the one who draws us to him in order to complete us.
Prayer is movement, the clearly imprinted trace of God which is revealed to the soul and which it follows in response to the call to faith.
The soul lives in that which it loves.
All spiritual life involves an alternation of light and darkness, consolation and desolation. God leads by way of both manifestation and obscurity.
The contemplative light and love seem to originate from a place in us that is prior to psychological and conceptual consciousness, from what some spiritual writers call the ground of the soul.
The more one is able to let go and abandon psychological and conceptual ideas of God and the life of faith, the more aware one becomes of the deeper substance present in oneself, and of the way in which God reveals his presence there.
Even thoughts about God can be a distraction from a deeper and different knowledge of God. As well, one’s feelings about God can at times of prayer also block us from a deeper participation in God’s reality.
In our continual conversion, experiences of both richness and poverty under God are elements of his transforming action of love.
As our relationship with the Holy Spirit is intensified, that in us which is in opposition to God, or contrary to the form of Christ, becomes increasingly painful and intolerable.ï¿½ The unconverted elements of the self that are unlike Christ appear as poverty in the light of God’s nearness.
Another cause of psychological pain in contemplative growth is the breakdown of our sense of effective mastery of ourselves and of our propensity for self-projection in the spiritual life. In short, there is an erosion of the sense of being able to deal with God on our own terms.
In spiritual growth, one loses and moves beyond the old sense of reality and self, one that was largely self-constructed, and begins to take on, in a far more radical way, the form of Christ.
In following Christ in this way, without laying down one’s own ground rules and conditions, we grow into dimensions of the reality of God’s love which lie beyond what we can comprehend, experience or place in any systematic order.
We are stripped of all guarantees which are rooted in the self, and we begin to live on the faith, trust and love that we have for God. We now experience God more as he is as sheer Mystery.
The night is not just about our learning to wait until what we want comes our way. It is about being so widened in the waiting that it changes our wanting.
As we grow in spiritual truth we become aware that what we really want is God, and nothing but God. As we are willing to consign all of our life and experience to God, we will begin to discover a strange fullness in the emptiness.
One must be prepared to abandon all projections that involve self-constitution before God and consign oneself in an ongoing act of trust that allows oneself to be constituted only by God. For to consign oneself freely to the action of God’s love is to truly love God.
Growth in God means being stripped of all guarantees which are rooted in the self, and demands an existential shift towards placing our trust and hope upon the guarantees that God provides in Christ alone. It is hardly surprising that such growth will present us with some difficulties.
The abandonment of self-mastery and the taking on of a radical dependence on God will necessarily be accompanied by a sense of being undone. We might feel we are being annihilated, yet such an anxiety is quite ungrounded.
The very fact that one can no longer find one’s guarantees in oneself may indeed be a sign that progress in the life with God is happening.
The very anguish that arises from feeling distant from God has its basis in love. If we did not love God, we would hardly care if we were united with him or not.
In the form of Christ one perceives something of the contours and meaning of that which we experience most profoundly within ourselves. Our deepest inner experience and the reality of Christ have become one.
The heart creates idols and, in giving itself to these idols, in centering its life around them as though they were life-giving, the heart becomes enslaved. It is no longer free to respond to the invitation coming from the gracious presence of God in its center.
Only God’s love can entice us from our idols. This love re-orders our other loves. It allow us to relax our grip on life and to continue our journey in trust.
There is a remarkable transformation of the heart’s desires as a result of surrendering to God in our soul’s center. Our desire and God’s desire now join in a consonance of desire.
John of the Cross writes: “What you desire me to ask for, I ask for; and what you do not desire, I do not desire, nor can I, nor does it even enter my mind to desire it. My petitions are now much more valuable in your sight, since they come from you, and you move me to make them.”
Although the movements of the soul belong to it, they belong to it because God works them in it, for it wills and consents to His will.
The ultimate detachment would be to learn how to live without a ‘why.’
When the whole personality has been brought into harmony with its centre, it no longer wars against itself in a disfunctional manner. It is integrated in a graced whole and can love God and the world without distorting it or having the heart be fragmented or enslaved by it. This person loves with a freedom of spirit, without clutching.
In their dance, the flame of our spirit and the flame of Godï¿½s spirit touch one another, and go apart. They flicker within one another and sometimes are lost within one another. As we participate more with God, He invites us to give ourselves over to the flame without fear, but with patience, perseverance and trust.
Community and Growth, by Jean Vanier, Griffin Books, Toronto, 1979
A community becomes truly radiant when all its members have a sense of urgency about becoming who they are.
It is when the members of the community realize that they are not there simply for themselves, or their own sanctification, but in order to welcome the gift of God, to hasten His Kingdom and to quench the thirst in the parched hearts of others.
Spiritual love is not sentimental. It is an attraction to others which gradually becomes expressed in commitment.
If we come into community without knowing that the reason we have come is to discover the mystery of forgiveness, we will soon be disappointed.
A community is not simply a group of people who love each other. It is a current of life, a heartbeat, a soul, a spirit.
Simplicity, being no more or no less than we are, is discovered in community. It is knowing that we are accepted with our qualities, our flaws, as we most deeply are.
The more a community deepens, the more vulnerable and the more sensitive its members become.
Community can never take precedence over individuals. In fact, its beauty and unity come from the radiance of each individual, in its own light, truth and love, expressing free union with others.
A community which grows in prayer and love is a sign of the resurrection.
Roots, as provided by community, are there so that flowers and fruits can grow. And it’s in the fruit that you find the seeds of tomorrow.
A community has to learn how to be cheerful about letting people leave and how to trust that God will send other brothers and sisters, according to His will. If our communities are born from the will of God, if it is the Holy Spirit who is at the origin of them, our Heavenly Father will send the people we need.
The risk for people who leave one community to go into another is that they will arrive as adults and not as children. They will come to offer service. They already know what to do. I really wonder whether anyone can commit themselves in a community if they do not first live a period of childhood there.
Humility and trust are more at the foundation of community life than are perfection and devotion.
“Let anyone who is not in community beware of being alone. But also let anyone who cannot be alone beware of community.”
“We are on the road to which you have called us, but whose name you have not yet given us. We are carrying the poverty of not knowing where you are leading us.”
Community is always in a state of growth. The more it does the more it discovers its own deep meaning and ethos of life.
A community gradually discovers as it grows that it is not there for itself. It belongs to humanity. It has receive a gift which must bear fruit for others. If it closes in on itself, it will suffocate.
A community is like a seed which must grow to become a tree which will give abundant fruit, in which all the birds of the air can come to make their nests. It must open its arms wide and hold out its hands to give freely what it has freely received.
A faith community must both exist apart from society and within it, open to it at the same time.
Members of a community have to befriend time. They have to learn that most things resolve themselves if they are given enough time.
It can be a great mistake to want, in the name of progress or clarity, to push things too quickly to resolution. It is better to see time as a friend.