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Center for Action and Contemplation

Initiation: Weekly Summary

Saturday, May 28, 2016


Summary: Sunday, May 22-Friday, May 27

Throughout most of history, the journey through death into life was taught in sacred space and ritual form, which clarified, distilled, and shortened the process. (Sunday)

The heart is normally opened through a necessary hole in the soul, a sacred wound. Our wound is the only way, it seems, for us to get out of ourselves and for grace to get in. (Monday)

Eventually we must learn to hold the paradox of our finite self held within the eternal and infinite Love. (Tuesday)

Your life is not about you. It is about God and about allowing Life and Death to “be done unto me,” which is Mary’s prayer at the beginning and Jesus’ prayer at the end. (Wednesday)

Having control is a major desire and illusion in the early years of life, yet many hold on to it until their last breath. Try practicing to release control early; it will make your second half of life much happier. (Thursday)

We cannot experience rebirth, being “born again,” without experiencing some very real form of death first. (Friday)


Practice: Rites of Passage
Though initiation was forgotten in the West for a long time, more and more people are rediscovering its power as a catalyst to help us pass from life to death and back to life again—dying to the false self so the True Self can live fully. Rites of passage take many forms, but they often include periods of solitude, fasting, rituals to symbolize letting go and dying, and council (sacred dialogue with a guide and other initiates). Initiation frequently takes place in nature, whether deep wilderness or a retreat setting.

Rites are not to be entered into lightly. It is important to be psychologically stable first before having your familiar, egoic identity shaken. I encourage you to find a trustworthy spiritual teacher to guide you through this experience when you are ready. There are now many groups offering structured rites of passage or vision quests for men and women. Here are a few you may wish to explore:

A special invitation to men: This November I’m speaking at Illuman’s conference, Drawing from a Deep Well. Together we’ll explore the paradox of transformation and soul work in the beautiful high desert of New Mexico. Bring your empty container—open heart, mind, and body—and draw from the well that has no end. You can learn more at

Gateway to Silence:
From death to life

For Further Study:
Richard Rohr, Adam’s Return: The Five Promises of Male Initiation
Richard Rohr, Beloved Sons Series: How Men Change (CD, MP3 download, DVD)
Richard Rohr, Beloved Sons Series: Men and Grief (CD, MP3 download)

Image Credit: Men’s Rites of Passage (MROP). CAC archives.
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