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Center for Action and Contemplation

Paul: Week 1 Summary

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Paul: Week 1

Summary: Sunday, March 6-Friday, March 11, 2016

In the spiritual journey you come to the day when you know you’re not just living your own life. You realize that Someone Else is living in you and through you, and that you are part of a much Bigger Mystery. (Sunday)

For Paul, there is a complete, organic, and even ontological union between Christ and those who are loved by him, which he eventually realizes is everyone. (Monday)

True union does not absorb distinction, but actually intensifies it. The more one gives oneself in creative union to any other, the more one becomes oneself. (Tuesday)

God keeps looking at what is good in the human person. What is entirely good in me is called God, and of course, God finds this always and entirely lovable. (Wednesday)

I like to picture the unity of spirit as an energy field, a dynamic force field, created by sharing the Spirit of Christ, the Spirit of Love. (Thursday)

The twentieth century Jesuit, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, “described the human species in evolution toward the fullness of unity in love.” —Ilia Delio (Friday)


Practice: Praying through Art

Paul’s prayer in his letter to the Ephesians is perhaps my favorite succinct statement of his wisdom, and it is my prayer for you, as well:

I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name, that [God] would grant you, according to the riches of [God’s] glory, to be strengthened in power through [the] Spirit . . . , so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God.

Now to [God] who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to [God] be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen.

—Ephesians 3:14-21, NASB

I invite you to set aside some quiet time to meditate with this passage through art. Collect whatever materials you wish to use—colored pencils, paint, pictures for a collage, or simply pen and paper.

Reread the prayer slowly and aloud a few times. As in the practice of lectio divina, don’t try to analyze the text, but listen deeply to what it has to say to you in this moment. Notice if there’s a particular word or phrase that stands out. What images, colors, or shapes do you see?

Begin to fill the blank page with body, heart, and mind fully engaged. Don’t judge or critique your creation, but allow it to emerge and evolve without an agenda. The process may lead you in a different direction than you first anticipated. Let it take shape organically. If you become distracted, perhaps return to the passage or focus on the physical sensation of the materials in your hands.

When you are finished—when you feel a sense of completion or when your time has ended, not when you think it is perfect—offer up your artwork with gratitude. Remember that you are a co-creator of Love in this world with God.

Gateway to Silence:
My life is not about me. I am about Life.

For further study:
Richard Rohr, A New Way of Seeing, A New Way of Being: Jesus and Paul (CD, MP3 download)
Richard Rohr, Great Themes of Paul: Life as Participation (CD)
Richard Rohr, St. Paul: The Misunderstood Mystic (CD, MP3 download)

Image Credit: Conversion on the Way to Damascus (detail), Caravaggio, 1601.  Santa Maria del Popolo, Rome, Italy.
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