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Center for Action and Contemplation

Grace: Week 1 Summary

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Grace: Week 1

Sunday, January 24-Friday, January 29, 2016

“How much wrong we do to God and his grace when we speak of sins being punished by his judgment before we speak of their being forgiven by his mercy.” —Pope Francis (Sunday)

Grace, arising from God’s limitless love, is the central theme of the entire Bible. (Monday)

God “punishes” us by loving us more! (Tuesday)

Water always falls and pools up in the very lowest and darkest places, just like mercy does. And mercy is just grace in action. (Wednesday)

Much of Christian history has manifested a very different god than the one Jesus revealed and represented. (Thursday)

Only a personal experience of unconditional, unearned, and infinite love and forgiveness can move you from the normal worldview of scarcity to the divine world of infinite abundance. (Friday)


Practice: Living in the Flow

By being observant of your own emotional life and perhaps getting in touch with your own unconscious, you might become aware of your psychological blockages to experiencing grace and mercy. Try to feel, especially in your body, when you are tight, emotionally stingy, constricted, and in a withholding state—and when you are “in the flow” without any holding back or reserve. If you cannot distinguish between these two inner states in your own self, you may be able to notice them in others. There are numerous nonverbal cues most of us learn to read very early. Even children can sense the difference between cold and warm people.

The cold person lives from a place of scarcity, invariably protecting and defending what little they think they have or are. A person in the flow neither protects nor guards their inner source, vitality, or emotions—any more than necessary to maintain a needed sense of identity. You can tell when someone is in the flow, when they trust that their very life is given freely; you may see it in their smile.

The natural flow of grace is largely impossible when we are “sucking in”—when we’re stingy, petty, blaming, angry, playing the victim, or in any way offended. When we’re recounting what people did to us or what they did not do for us, we’re pulling back and sucking in. We need to notice when we’re in this constrictive state right away before it takes hold of us.

I believe that’s what morning prayer is for: to bring me back in alignment with the Divine Flow so the Infinite Source can once again flow into me and through me. Great love, great suffering, and some form of contemplative practice are the usual paths that help me get my small, false self out of the way and become an open conduit for the gushing stream of water that God always is and that the believer always becomes (see John 7:38). This is the abundant life that Jesus speaks of with so many metaphors and stories (John 10:10).

People often ask me how long they should pray, and I say, “As long as it takes you to get to yes.” If your heart and emotions are still saying “No!” to the moment right in front of you, don’t leave your place of prayer until you find “Yes,” until the flow begins to happen and the constriction (which often feels like pettiness) begins to lose its hold on you. Then you’re abiding in a place of abundance where you know there’s more than enough of you left over, and you don’t need to be stingy, guarded, or hold on to even minor grudges. You can let a quiet love flow; you can let grace happen—to you and through you—toward all the world around you.

Gateway to Silence:
Open me to grace upon grace upon grace.

Adapted from Richard Rohr, “Today Is a Time for Mercy,” December 10, 2015,

For further study:
Richard Rohr, Hell, No! (CD, MP3 download)
Richard Rohr, Things Hidden: Scripture as Spirituality
Richard Rohr, “Today Is a Time for Mercy”

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