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Five Consoling Messages

Watch a special video or listen to the audio of Richard Rohr introducing Holy Week and this week’s Daily Meditation theme on “Reality Initiating Us,” addressing our current global crisis as a collective initiation experience which we are all undergoing.

Reality Initiating Us: Part Two

Five Consoling Messages
Sunday, April 5, 2020 
Palm Sunday

For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you too will appear with him in glory. —Colossians 3:3-4

In the larger-than-life, spiritually transformed people I have met, I always find one common denominator: in some sense, they have all died before they died. They have followed in the self-emptying steps of Jesus, a path from death to life that Christians from all over the world celebrate this week.

At some point, such people were led to the edge of their private resources, and that breakdown, which surely felt like dying, led them into a larger life. They broke through in what felt like breaking down. Instead of avoiding a personal death or raging at it, they went through a death of their old, small self and came out the other side knowing that death could no longer hurt them. This process of transformation is known in many cultures as initiation. For many Christians, the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus is the preeminent example of this pattern. Following Jesus, we need to trust the down, and God will take care of the up. Although even there, we still must offer our yes.

If the five truths of initiation from last week seemed demanding or negative, I want to also name the energizing source that makes them possible and that becomes their long-term effect. I call these consolations the “common wonderful,” the collective beauty and security that healthy people live within, no matter what words they use for it. Some have called the lessons “the five positive messages;” I am calling them the “five consoling messages.” The “common wonderful” is a cosmic egg of meaning that holds us, helps us grow, and gives us ongoing new birth and beginnings. It is our matrix for life, our underlying worldview, and the energy field that keeps us motivated each day. In some sense it must be held by at least a few people around you, or it is very difficult to sustain absolutely alone. Perhaps such people are “the two or three” gathered in Jesus’ name (Matthew 18:20). [1]

The five consoling messages must be a part of our inner experience, something we know to be true for ourselves, not something we believe because others have told us to. These five messages, which will form the basis of the Daily Meditations this week, can be described using New Testament quotes (although there are similar messages in all the great religious traditions):

  1. It is true that life is hard, and yet my yoke is easy and my burden is light (Matthew 11:28).
  2. It is true that you are not important, and yet do you not know that your name is written in heaven? (Luke 10:20).
  3. It is true that your life is not about you, and yet I live now not my own life, but the life of Christ who lives in me (Galatians 2:20).
  4. It is true that you are not in control, and yet can any of you, for all of your worrying, add a single moment to your span of life? (Luke 12:26).
  5. It is true that you are going to die, and yet neither death nor life. . . can ever come between us and the love of God (Romans 8:38-39).

References:  
Adapted from Richard Rohr, Adam’s Return: The Five Promises of Male Initiation (Crossroad Publishing Company: 2004), 3, 152–163; and

Wondrous Encounters: Scripture for Lent, (Franciscan Media: 2011), 124.

Illuman
In 2012 as Fr. Richard Rohr’s focus shifted to founding the Living School and recovering a Christian path to unitive consciousness, his male-specific work transitioned away from the CAC into Illuman, a US-based nonprofit partnering with organizations across the world which are committed to carrying on Fr. Richard’s work to recover traditional patterns of male initiation, affirm a path to masculine healing, reveal the true and false self, and honor the path of descent. They seek to form future generations of men who will restore these practices, serving to build a world that celebrates the beauty of all beings through the power of ritual, image, story, and council. If you’re interested in learning more about Illuman, you can sign-up for information on their next event, Soularize 2020: A Path to Masculine Healing, featuring Fr. Richard as a guest speaker.

Image credit: Jesus’ Entry into Jerusalem (Entrada de Jesús en Jerusalén) (detail), Master of San Baudelio of Berlanga, Soria, Spain, 1125, Indianapolis Museum of Art, Indianapolis, Indiana.
Inspiration for this week’s banner image: “Can any of you, for all of your worrying, add a single moment to your span of life?” (Luke 12:26)

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