Mystics and Non-Dual Thinkers: Week 4 Summary — Center for Action and Contemplation

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Mystics and Non-Dual Thinkers: Week 4 Summary

Mystics and Non-Dual Thinkers: Week 4

Summary: Sunday, August 2-Friday, August 7, 2015

“Embrace the present moment as an ever-flowing source of holiness.” —Jean Pierre de Caussade (Sunday)

“Perfection seems simple to me; I see it is sufficient to recognize one’s nothingness and to abandon oneself as a child into God’s arms.” —Thérèse of Lisieux (Monday)

Looking at yourself from a calm distance, you begin to see your own patterns and understand that so much of your behavior is habitual, knee-jerk reactions. (Tuesday)

Imperfection is the very framework inside of which God makes the God-self known and calls us into gracious union. It’s what allows us—and sometimes forces us—to “fall into the arms of the living God.” (Wednesday)

“I understand so very well that it is only through love that we can render ourselves pleasing to the good Lord, that love is the one thing I long for. The science of love is the only science I desire.” —Thérèse of Lisieux (Thursday)

“Jesus, draw me into the flames of your love; unite me so closely to you that you live and act in me.” —Thérèse of Lisieux (Friday)


Practice: Patience

When Thérèse, even at her young age, became assistant to the novice mistress, she counseled one sister who was impatient with her own impatience: “Sister, can you be willing to be patient with yourself until God gives you the willingness to be patient with the other sisters?”

Jean Pierre de Caussade wrote to Sister Marie-Thérèse de Vioménil:

My dear Sister, it is a great grace to see others behaving badly without feeling bitterness, indignation, impatience, or even disturbance. If, for good reasons, you speak about it, watch over your heart and your tongue, so that nothing may escape you that would not be approved by God. . . . Often ask God to give you great charity and circumspection, and then remain tranquil. . . . It is for [God] to finish the work [God] has begun in you; no one else would be able to succeed in it. . . . Let us sigh for this happiness, and let us never weary of begging for it. . . .

Practice yourself . . . in being patient with regard to yourself and in this perfect submission to the divine will. When you have acquired this you will enjoy great peace, and not distress yourself about anything, nor get out of humour with yourself, but put up with yourself with the same gentleness which you should use toward your neighbor.

So I invite you to practice patience. It surely does take practice, and God will no doubt allow you many opportunities to learn. When you are in a hurry or impatient for some particular outcome, first observe the sensation in your body. Notice what this impatience feels like, where it shows up—for example, jaw, neck, chest, or gut. Be present to the feeling. Slowly expand your awareness to include what your senses are taking in from the outside world—what you see, touch, smell, or taste. Be present to this moment. Let the reality of both your impatience and the outer reality be as they are, without your attachment to them. It is what it is. And all is grace.

Gateway to Silence:
“My way is all confidence and love.” —St. Thérèse of Lisieux

For further study:
John Clarke, O.C.D., trans., Story of a Soul: The Autobiography of St. Thérèse of Lisieux
Richard Rohr, The Little Way: A Spirituality of Imperfection (MP3 download)
Richard Rohr, Franciscan Mysticism: I AM That Which I Am Seeking (CD, MP3 download)
Joseph F. Schmidt, Walking the Little Way of Thérèse of Lisieux: Discovering the Path of Love
Joseph F. Schmidt, Everything Is Grace: The Life and Way of Thérèse of Lisieux
“Non-Dual Thinkers and Mystics Timeline” (PDF)

Image credit: St. Thérèse of Lisieux, age 15 (detail), April 1888.
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