Prophets: Part One: Weekly Summary

Prophets: Part One

Summary: Sunday, June 30—Friday, July 5, 2019

A prophet is neither a fortune teller nor a foreteller. But many Christians assumed that the “Old Testament” was somehow a prophecy of our religion and of Jesus Christ. (Sunday)

True prophets are almost always concerned with social, institutional, national, or corporate evil and our participation in it. (Monday)

The Hebrew prophets were free to love their tradition and to profoundly criticize it at the same time, which is a very rare art form. In fact, it is their love of its depths that forces them to criticize their own religion. (Tuesday)

God takes the side of the defenseless. And, thus, therefore, must the true contemplative, otherwise that contemplation is not real. . . . The true contemplative, the truly spiritual person, then, must do justice, speak justice, insist on justice. —Sister Joan Chittister (Wednesday)

Civil obligations call each of us to participate out of a concern and commitment for the whole. Civil obligations call us to vote, to inform ourselves about the issues of the day, to engage in serious conversation about our nation’s future and learn to listen to various perspectives. —Sister Simone Campbell (Thursday)

To claim to be aware of the oneness of life and not to regard all of it as sacred trust is a violation of the very purpose of contemplation, which is an immersion in the God of life. —Sister Joan Chittister (Friday)

 

Practice: Allowing God to Speak

In Franciscan theology, love comes before knowledge. We truly know only that which we love. When we stand back analyzing and coolly calculating, we will never really know anything at a deep level. It is only by stepping out and becoming vulnerable with someone that we come to know them. Love precedes understanding.

Take that leap of faith in love that allows God to speak to you. I cannot prove to you with any kind of logic or philosophy that God speaks to us. But I invite you to step out, trust, and listen. Say, “Love, if you are in fact Love, then show yourself in my life and speak to my heart.”

Prayer of the Heart is a contemplative practice that engages our openness to experiencing this leap of faith and love. The following is adapted from Teresa Blythe’s book 50 Ways to Pray. [1]

  • Begin in a seated position and take five relaxed breaths.
  • Ask yourself, “What is my longing?” or “What is it that I seek from God?”
  • Name the response that arises with a word or short phrase, for example: freedom, love, inner balance, healing, or joy.
  • Consider your preferred name for the Divine: God, Jesus, Wisdom, Father, Mother, Mystery, Spirit.
  • Combine your name for God with your longing; for example, “Freedom in Christ” or “Spirit of joy.”
  • Repeat these words aloud or silently, perhaps in rhythm with your breath: “Freedom” on the in-breath, “in Christ” on the out-breath. Breathe naturally, without trying to control the body’s natural pace.
  • After several minutes, stop the repetition and rest, abiding in contemplative silence.

References:
[1] See Teresa A. Blythe, 50 Ways to Pray: Practices from Many Traditions and Times (Abingdon Press: 2006), 36.

Adapted from Richard Rohr and Joseph Martos, The Great Themes of Scripture: Old Testament (St. Anthony Messenger Press: 1988), 5.

For Further Study:
Simone Campbell with David Gibson, A Nun on the Bus: How All of Us Can Create Hope, Change, and Community (HarperOne: 2014)

Joan Chittister and Richard Rohr, Prophets Then, Prophets Now (Center for Action and Contemplation: 2006), MP3 download

Joan Chittister, The Time Is Now: A Call to Uncommon Courage (Convergent Books: 2019)

Image credit: Frieze of the Prophets (detail), John Singer Sargent, circa 1892, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Massachusetts.
Inspiration for this week’s banner image: Scripture shows the Hebrew prophets speaking to the people as one of their own, not above or apart from the community. —Richard Rohr

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