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Monk Reflections - January 2018

"In all that happens, my one desire, and my one joy, should be to know: Here is the thing that God has willed for me. In this, His Love is found, and in accepting this, I can give back His Love to Him and give myself with it to Him. For in giving myself, I shall find Him and He is life everlasting."

Thomas Merton

("New Seeds of Contemplation")

If any of your Keating group is interested, they can read pages 275-295 of Merton’s book “New Seeds of Contemplation” trying to grasp the mystery of True Self – False ego self. They will know for sure why the Church never understood Merton and could never incorporate his experiential contemplative interpretation of Christ’s “Good News” into their Catechism and teachings. Until God gifts us with the experience of His intimate Oneness with Himself (as Thomas Keating said – “There is no other”) will we ever understand the beauty of what our good God desires for each of us. Merton felt that most of us will have to die and meet God face to face before we will “get it”! Fortunately, you guys at Contemplative Network have God Himself attracting you to more and more time with Him alone in Centering Prayer, which is such an efficacious segue to contemplation. But all of us will get it for sure because we are each Christ’s Image in our own unique way and He personally chose us each to be His One and Only Beloved! That sounds impossible to our mind but it is the Truth. We are each indispensable to Him. We can’t do anything without God, but He created each of us personally in such a way that He needs us and can’t do anything without each one of us who play different roles in His plan. He even needed people like Judas to fulfill His plan. We are each so dear and loveable to Him in whom He sees His own Divine Image. Each of us is His only Tight Squeeze or Beloved. That means each of us has an intimate personal love affair with the Creator of the Universe and He can’t do without us. Our good God has gifted us with an awesome mentor – Thomas Keating – to remind us that our generous unrelenting God has through the ages tried to convince all of us in His human family how personally loveable we are to Him as His One and Only Beloved or Tight Squeeze, but our ego’s are so programmed to put ourselves down or get on our case that we inexplicably run away and are slow to accept the free gift of our "loveableness." Our good Pope Francis is always encouraging us, “Allow Him to caress you.” By accepting His unconditional merciful love for you, you in turn as Merton said, are returning His love to Him. He is loving Himself through you. He desires with desire to embrace and caress you as His most precious wounded child. We hermits here are so old we are not afraid to share what is in our heart as Truth Tellers. Merton did that 60 years ago pointing to our identification with Christ as our True Self and we don’t think the Church knew what he was talking about. If you are not a contemplative you won’t get it! Keating and Rohr in their last DVD’s and books are Truth Tellers, but we see that what probably is more efficacious in influencing ordinary people on their search for God is someone like St. Therese of Lisieux (in "Everything is a Grace").

Therese has the contemplative message and intimacy with Christ in her simplicity of life. Even the Church recognized her contemplative prayer as the most influential way to touch the lives of the whole Mystical Body of Christ (human family) when they made her a Missionary?? She was not only a Doctor of the Church but also Principal Patroness of All Missionaries and Missions equal to St. Francis Xavier, S.J.

Listen to what Merton has to say about the Mystical Body of Christ and how valuable you guys at Contemplative Network are in influencing the human family. We are each necessary for Christ to heal all of us through our Centering Prayer and intimacy with Christ:

“When we are united with God in silence, our prayer and the grace that is given to us tend of their very nature to overflow invisible through the Mystical Body of Christ and we who dwell together invisibly in the bond of One Spirit affect one another more than we can ever realize by our own union with God by our spiritual vitality in Him.”

Therese saw she had no goodness of her own that was not Christ’s own Divine Goodness abiding in the center of her being. Everything was a gift (grace) and that’s why she loved her nothingness. She trusted in God for everything. That meant her good desires for the human family had to be Christ’s own desires and that He would fulfill them especially if she was free from desiring particular results. She had no virtues or any goodness to give to Christ, but loved her nothingness and emptiness so she could depend entirely on the gifts that God so generously poured out into her heart from moment to moment. We all have been programmed to accumulate virtues and to try harder to earn our "loveableness" by the quantity and quality of what we do for Him. She knew her "loveableness" was a pure gift of Christ living intimately within her. When we have an intimate love relationship with Christ, we will automatically see Him in everyone and become virtuous and loving human beings. Our True Self recognizes the True Self of everyone else whether we like their personality of not. True love is not about ego compatibility. Even our enemies are truly loveable.

Prayer works whether we see results or not. God is pouring out His love for us in every situation and detail of our daily life no matter if it is weal or woe. Fr. Keating’s contentment and peace are born out of his complete conformity of his will with God’s Will. That inner Peace is what heals even the bad stuff.

Be assured we hold you guys at Contemplative Network close in our hearts where our good God delights to make His home. There Christ’s Spirit is crying out within each of us holding all of us, aware or not, in the peaceful contentment of His loving Presence and our Happy Place!

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