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Center for Action and Contemplation

Law and Grace: Weekly Summary

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Law and Grace

Summary: Sunday, May 21-Friday, May 26, 2017

We must recover grace-oriented spirituality if we are to rebuild Christianity from the bottom up. (Sunday)

When you recognize your own radical inability to really obey the purpose of the law and, in that same moment ask for God’s mercy, you have achieved the law’s deepest purpose. (Monday)

Up to now, Christianity has largely mirrored culture instead of transforming it. (Tuesday)

Only our personal experiences of unconditional, unearned, and infinite love and forgiveness can move us from the normal worldview of scarcity to the divine world of infinite abundance. (Wednesday)

God does not love you because you are good; God loves you because God is good. And then you can be good because you draw upon such an Infinite Source. (Thursday)

God’s faithfulness has never been dependent on our worthiness or readiness. This is restorative justice, the divine form of justice. (Friday)


Practice: Trust the River

Grace and mercy teach us that we are all much more than the good or bad stories we tell about ourselves. These self-made identities are based on hurts and unconscious agendas that allow us to see and judge things in a very selective way. Strangely, your real life is not about “you.” It is part of a much larger stream.

The Spirit is described as “flowing water” and as “a spring inside you” (John 4:10-14), a “river of life” (Revelation 22:1-2). Faith is trusting the Big River of God’s providential love, which is to trust the visible embodiment (the Son), the flow (the Holy Spirit), and the source itself (the Father). This is a divine process that we don’t have to change, coerce, or improve. We just need to allow and enjoy it. That takes immense confidence, especially when we’re hurting.

Usually, I can feel myself get panicky. Then I want to quickly make things right. I lose my ability to be present, ignoring my body and heart while my mind is obsessing. I’m oriented toward goals and making things happen, trying to push or even create my own river. Yet the Big River already flows through me and I am only one small part of it.

Faith does not need to push the river precisely because it is able to trust that there is a river. The river is flowing; we are already in it. So do not be afraid. We have been given the Spirit by a very proactive God. Jesus understands this gift as a foregone conclusion: “If you, who are evil, know how to give your children what is good, how much more will the heavenly Father give you the Holy Spirit?” (Luke 11:13).

Simone Weil said, “Grace fills empty spaces but it can only enter where there is a void to receive it, and it is grace itself which makes this void.” [1] Grace leads us to the state of emptiness, to that momentary sense of meaninglessness in which we ask, “What is it all for? What does it all mean?” All we can do is try to keep our hands cupped and open. And it is even grace to do that. But we must want grace and know we need it.

Ask yourself regularly, “What am I afraid of? Does it matter? Will it matter at the end or in the great scheme of things? Is it worth holding on to?” Grace will lead us into such fears and emptiness, and grace alone can fill them up, if we are willing to stay in the void. We mustn’t engineer an answer too quickly. People of deep faith develop a high tolerance for ambiguity and come to recognize that it is only the small self that needs constant certitude or order. The Godself is perfectly at home in the River of Mystery.

Gateway to Silence:
By grace I am saved.

[1] Simone Weil, Gravity and Grace, introductions by Gustave Thibon & Thomas R. Nevin (Bison Books: 1997), 55.
Adapted from Richard Rohr, Everything Belongs: The Gift of Contemplative Prayer (The Crossroad Publishing Company: 2003), 46, 53, 142-144. 

For Further Study:
Richard Rohr, New Great Themes of Scripture (Franciscan Media: 2012), CD
Richard Rohr, Things Hidden: Scripture as Spirituality (Franciscan Media: 2008)

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