Tradition: Weekly Summary

Tradition

Summary: Sunday, January 15-Friday, January 20, 2017

If it is true, then it has to be true everywhere. (Sunday)

When prayer is authentic, it will always lead to actions of mercy; when actions of mercy are attempted at any depth, they will always drive you to prayer. (Monday)

Much of history has been recorded from the side of the winners except for the unique revelation of the Bible, which is an alternative history from the bottom, from the side of the enslaved, the dominated, the oppressed, and the poor, culminating in the scapegoat figure of Jesus himself. (Tuesday)

As the “imperial mind” took over, religion had less to do with Jesus’ teachings on nonviolence, inclusivity, forgiveness, and simplicity, and instead became fully complicit in the world of domination, power, war, and greed itself. (Wednesday)

We need nondual consciousness—the mind of Christ—to process the great questions of love, suffering, death, infinity, and divinity and to be unafraid of diversity and welcoming of union at ever higher and more expansive levels. (Thursday)

“[F]aith itself sometimes needs to be stripped of its social and historical encrustations and returned to its first, churchless incarnation in the human heart.” —Christian Wiman (Friday)

 

Practice: Prayer of the Heart

Abba Poemen said, “Teach your mouth to say what is in your heart.” Many of the Desert Fathers and Mothers, as well as the Philokalia in the Eastern Orthodox tradition, have described prayer as bringing your thinking down into your heart. It always seemed like soft piety to me until someone taught me how to do it, and I learned the immense benefits of the prayer of the heart. As a Catholic, I was often puzzled by the continued return to heart imagery, such as Jesus pointing to his “Sacred Heart” and Mary pointing to her “Immaculate Heart.” I often wonder what people actually do with these images. Are they mere sentiment? Are they objects of worship or objects of transformation? You must return their gaze and invitation for a long time to get the transformative message and healing. Such images keep recurring only because they are speaking something important from the unconscious, maybe even something necessary for the soul’s emergence.

Love lives and thrives in the heart space. It has kept me from wanting to hurt people who have hurt me. It keeps me every day from obsessive, repetitive, or compulsive head games. It can make the difference between being happy and being miserable and negative. Could this be what we are really doing when we say we are praying for someone? Yes, we are holding them in our heart space. Do this in an almost physical sense, and you will see how calmly and quickly it works.

Next time a resentment, negativity, or irritation comes into your mind, and you want to play it out or attach to it, move that thought or person literally into your heart space. Dualistic commentaries are lodged in your head; but in your heart, you can surround this negative thought with silence. There it is surrounded with blood, which will often feel warm like coals. In this place, it is almost impossible to comment, judge, create story lines, or remain antagonistic. You are in a place that does not create or feed on contraries but is the natural organ of life, embodiment, and love. Now the Sacred Heart and the Immaculate Heart have been transferred to you. They are pointing for you to join them there. The “sacred heart” is then your heart too.

Gateway to Silence:
Give us wisdom. Give us love. 

For Further Study:
Richard Rohr, Eager to Love: The Alternative Way of Francis of Assisi (Franciscan Media: 2014)
Richard Rohr, Yes, And . . . : Daily Meditations (Franciscan Media: 2013)

Image Credit: The Way of the Prophet (detail), silhouette image art work by Mike Van, concept by Vivienne Close.

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