Skip to main content
Center for Action and Contemplation

Waking up Our Conscience

Tuesday, May 30, 2023

Father Richard points to the witness of the prophets to demonstrate how the Holy Spirit works within to wake us up to who we are:  

What we see in the prophetic books of the Hebrew Bible is the clear emergence of critical consciousness and interior struggle in Israel. We see them allowing an objective, outer witness, which is the death knell for both the ego and the group ego. They have to leave their false innocence and naïve superiority behind and admit that they do not always live as they say they do at the level of “law” or inside their idealized self-image.  

In a sense, we can call the prophets the fathers and mothers of consciousness, because until we move to self-reflective, self-critical thinking, we don’t move to any deep level of consciousness at all. In fact, we largely remain unconscious, falsely innocent, and unaware. Thus, most people choose to remain in that first stage of consciousness, secure and consoled. It’s great to think we’re the best and the center of the world. It even passes for holiness, but it isn’t holy at all.  

Until an objective inner witness (the Holy Spirit; see Romans 8:16) emerges that looks back at us with utter honesty, we cannot speak of being awake or conscious. That is at the heart of what we mean by “waking up.” Until then, most of us are on cruise control and cannot see our egocentricity at work.  

Unfortunately, people so fear a negative and judgmental critic that they never seem to access the “Compassionate Witness” promised us in the gift of the Holy Spirit (see John 14:16–26). How wonderful that John calls the Holy Spirit parakletos (Greek for “defense attorney”). It is painful but necessary to be critical of your own system, whatever it is. But do know it will never make you popular. [1]  

Theologian Grace Ji Sun-Kim describes how the Holy Spirit seeks transformation for all:  

In the Hebrew Bible, the Spirit empowers the Servant of God to work for justice and peace and to create a community of liberated life (Isaiah 11). In the New Testament, at Pentecost, there is a powerful outpouring of the Spirit (Acts 2:1–3). The communities of followers of Jesus received the Spirit, which was understood to be the source of an extraordinary power. It is power beyond our worldly comprehension and beyond our worldly expectations. The Spirit empowered and directed the early church. The Spirit that created life, transformed the people, and moved the early church is not gone. Enter now that life of the Spirit.  

Christ is portrayed as a “life-giving Spirit” (1 Corinthians 15:45). The believer has a responsibility to live her life in the power of the Spirit (Romans 8:4–6, 14). This responsibility should not be taken lightly, as one should not ignore the depth of the Spirit’s power. Walking in the power of the Spirit is life-changing, as the Spirit becomes an agent through which transformations can occur. [2] 


[1] Adapted from Richard Rohr, Things Hidden: Scripture as Spirituality (Cincinnati, OH: Franciscan Media, 2008, 2022), 76–77. 

[2] Grace Ji-Sun Kim, Reimagining Spirit: Wind, Breath, and Vibration (Eugene, OR: Cascade Books, 2019), 130.  

Image credit: A path from one week to the next—Exercise in Grief and Lamentation credits from left to right: Jenna Keiper, Jenna Keiper, Izzy Spitz. Used with permission. Click here to enlarge image

On retreat, the CAC staff used watercolors to connect to our collective grief. This is one of the watercolor paintings that came from that exercise. 

Story from Our Community:  

Richard’s Daily Meditations are a way for me to stay centered in my journey. As a spiritual guide, I am aware of the importance of being grounded by the Holy Spirit. I look forward to each morning as I set my internal movement by the hopeful words shared in the Daily Meditations. I am just as grateful for the challenges that sometimes arise as I ponder the weekly topics. The meditations are lessons in re-examining my moral compass as I continue to tread the sometimes turbulent waters of life. —Tanya H.  

Navigate by Date

This year’s theme

A candle being lit

Radical Resilience

We live in a world on fire. This year the Daily Meditations will explore contemplation as a way to build Radical Resilience so we can stand in solidarity with the world without burning up or burning out. The path ahead may be challenging, but we can walk it together.

The archives

Explore the Daily Meditations

Explore past meditations and annual themes by browsing the Daily Meditations archive. Explore by topic or use the search bar to find wisdom from specific teachers.

Join our email community

Sign-up to receive the Daily Meditations, featuring reflections on the wisdom and practices of the Christian contemplative tradition.

Hidden Fields

Find out about upcoming courses, registration dates, and new online courses.
Our theme this year is Radical Resilience. How do we tend our inner flame so we can stand in solidarity with the world without burning up or out? Meditations are emailed every day of the week, including the Weekly Summary on Saturday. Each week builds on previous topics, but you can join at any time.
In a world of fault lines and fractures, how do we expand our sense of self to include love, healing, and forgiveness—not just for ourselves or those like us, but for all? This monthly email features wisdom and stories from the emerging Christian contemplative movement. Join spiritual seekers from around the world and discover your place in the Great Story Line connecting us all in the One Great Life. Conspirare. Breathe with us.