Richard Rhor's daily meditations 

Richard Rohr, OFM, (born 1943) is an American author, spiritual writer and Franciscan friar based in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

He was ordained to the priesthood in the Roman Catholic Church in 1970. He has been called "one of the most popular spirituality authors and speakers in the world."

Meditations@cac.org

 

Week Two Summary and Practice

A New Story

January 10 - January 15, 2021

 

Sunday

A Great Story connects our little lives to the One Great Life, and even better, it forgives and uses the wounded and seemingly “unworthy” parts.

 

Monday

A “framing story” gives people direction, values, vision, and inspiration by providing a framework for their lives. It tells them who they are, where they come from, where they are, what’s going on, where things are going, and what they should do. —Brian McLaren

 

Tuesday

The story we believe and live in today has a lot to do with the world we create for our children, our grandchildren, and our descendants one hundred thousand years from now (if?). —Brian McLaren

 

Wednesday

We are all looking for a larger and more loving story in which to participate. This is what God gives us!

 

Thursday

The new story sees the universe as primarily consciousness and the human being as body, mind, and spirit, able to locate and carry out their life’s purpose in a meaningful—indeed, fundamentally benevolent—universe. —Michael Nagler

 

Friday

The deepest truth is our union with the Absolute, Infinite Being, with God. That’s the root of our reality. —Beatrice Bruteau

 

Living a New Story

True conversion doesn’t happen just because we change our minds about something. Our choices won’t change until we truly believe a more compelling story. And as much as we want it to, the world won’t change until we ourselves become active participants in the expansion of consciousness and the restoration and healing of all things. This week’s practice from Brian McLaren provides steps we can take toward living a New Story.

 

If we disbelieve the dominant framing story and instead believe Jesus’ good news of the kingdom of God, we will suddenly find ourselves making new personal decisions—not because we have to, as a duty, but because we want to, because we are now liberated from the cramped possibilities of the old framing story. . . . “Saved by our faith,” we will pray differently. Prayer will cease to be a technique for enlisting God to help us “make it” in the dominant system; it will instead become a way of bathing our inner world in the transforming presence of God, a way we seek to be shaped by the new framing story, the new reality, the good news, so that we can be catalysts bringing transformation to the dominant system.

 

If we disbelieve the old framing story and believe the good news, we will also work differently. When we realize that the most powerful world-changing work we can do is simply to believe, as Jesus told his original disciples (John 6:29), we experience liberation from panicked, frantic, desperate, incoherent, and often fruitless or counterproductive action. We rediscover Sabbath and rest and even play, and we come to our work with a new sense of energy and purpose. We will no longer be “just” anything—just a homemaker, just a laborer, just an accountant, just a kindergarten teacher. No, whatever our work, we will do it as agents of the kingdom of God, builders of a new world.

 

We will also buy differently. For example, when faced with a choice between an inexpensive pair of pants produced by a corporation that exploits workers (whom we now see to be our neighbors), we will choose a more expensive pair produced by a corporation that treats its workers fairly. Maybe we’ll own fewer pairs of pants, but we’ll feel better wearing them. We will vote differently, drive differently, invest differently, eat differently, volunteer differently, treat our neighbors differently, and so much more. Multiply all these kinds of daily personal decisions by the increasing numbers of people for whom they make sense, and you begin to see the power of personal action inspired by a new kind of faith.

 

 Experience a version of this practice through video and sound.

Brian D. McLaren, Everything Must Change: Jesus, Global Crises, and a Revolution of Hope (Thomas Nelson: 2007), 297‒298. Brian's work with Gareth Higgins on a new story can be found at www.theseventhstory.com.

 

Image credit: Tree Trunks near Hermitage, Gethsemani (detail), Photograph by Thomas Merton, copyright the Merton Legacy Trust and the Thomas Merton Center at Bellarmine University. Used with Permission.

 

We can't always see the ways trees are in relationship because their complex world of roots lives underground. We, the human family, are also inextricably interconnected.

 

For Further Study

 Joanna Macy and Chris Johnstone, Active Hope: How to Face the Mess We’re in without Going Crazy (New World Library: 2012).

 

Pearson, Paul M, ed., Beholding Paradise: The Photographs of Thomas Merton (Paulist Press: 2020).  

 

Week One Summary and Practice

A Time of Unveiling

January 3 - January 8, 2021

 

Sunday

The beginning of the new year seems like a good time to pause, “pull back the veil” and ask, “Where is this all going? What is the end goal for all of us, and—for that matter—for the cosmos in its entirety?”

 

Monday

Contemplative prayer is a form of unveiling, because it reveals what is going on beneath the polished and busy surfaces of our minds, our hearts, and our bodies.

 

Tuesday

Only in “the cave of the heart,” as the mystics are fond of calling it—does a person come in contact with his or her own direct knowingness. And only out of this direct knowingness is sovereignty born, one’s own inner authority. —Cynthia Bourgeault

 

Wednesday

While in the midst of an epiphany, the more accurate statement would be, “Eureka! I have just awakened to a long-standing reality that an inner unveiling has finally allowed me to see.” —Barbara Holmes

 

Thursday

The universe is God’s creative project, filled with beauty, opportunity, challenge, and meaning. It runs on the meaning or pattern we see embodied in the life of Jesus. Newness multiplies. Freedom grows. Meaning expands. Wisdom flows. Healing happens. Goodness runs wild. —Brian McLaren

 

Friday

If we trust the universal pattern, the wisdom of all times and all places, including the creation and evolution of the cosmos itself, we know that an ending is also the place for a new beginning.

 

Tonglen

When the veil is lifted and we see things as they truly are, we might experience sadness or anxiety. Tonglen is a method for facing our fear of suffering and for dissolving the tightness in our hearts. Today I share a version of this meditation from Tibetan Buddhist teacher Pema Chödrön. I encourage you to be gentle with yourself as you try this practice. As we tell our Living School students when we practice this together, we are not holding or healing the pain of the world ourselves; we are simply breathing in and out with the one breath of our loving God. As Chödrön describes:

 

Tonglen practice, also known as “taking and sending,” reverses our usual logic of avoiding suffering and seeking pleasure. In tonglen practice, we visualize taking in the pain of others with every in-breath and sending out whatever will benefit them on the out-breath. In the process, we become liberated from age-old patterns of selfishness. We begin to feel love for both ourselves and others; we begin to take care of ourselves and others. . . . Breathe in for all of us and breathe out for all of us. [1]

 

When you do tonglen as a formal meditation practice, it has four stages:

 

1. First, rest your mind briefly, for a second or two, in a state of openness or stillness. This stage is traditionally called . . . opening to basic spaciousness and clarity.

 

2. Second, work with texture. Breathe in a feeling of hot, dark, and heavy . . . and breathe out a feeling of cool, bright, and light—a sense of freshness. . . . Do this until it feels synchronized with your in- and out-breaths.

 

3. Third, work with a personal situation—any painful situation that’s real to you. Traditionally you begin by doing tonglen for someone you care about and wish to help. . . . If you are stuck, you can do the practice for the pain you are feeling and simultaneously for all those just like you who feel that kind of suffering. For instance, if you are feeling inadequate, you breathe that in for yourself and all the others in the same boat, and you send out confidence and adequacy or relief in any form you wish.

 

4. Finally, make the taking in and sending out bigger. If you are doing tonglen for someone you love, extend it out to those who are in the same situation. . . . Make it bigger than just that one person. . . . You could do tonglen for people you consider to be your enemies—those who hurt you or hurt others. Do tonglen for them, thinking of them as having the same confusion and stuckness as your friend or yourself. Breathe in their pain and send them relief. [2]

 

Pema Chödrön and other teachers often close their practice times with the traditional words of the Buddhist Metta (Lovingkindness) Prayer: May all beings be filled with lovingkindness. May all be well. May all be peaceful and at ease. May all be happy.

 

[1] Pema Chödrön, “How to Practice Tonglen,” Lion’s Roar: Buddhist Wisdom for Our Time (August 26, 2020). Available at https://www.lionsroar.com/how-to-practice-tonglen/

 

[2] Pema Chödrön, When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times, 20th anniversary ed. (Shambhala: 2016), 95–96

 

For Further Study

Barbara A. Holmes, Race and the Cosmos, 2nd ed. (CAC Publishing: 2020)

 

Richard Rohr, Everything Belongs: The Gift of Contemplative Prayer (The Crossroad Publishing Company: 2003

 

Pearson, Paul M, ed., Beholding Paradise: The Photographs of Thomas Merton (Paulist Press: 2020). 

Summary: Week Fifty-two

Contemplation and Action

Summary

December 27, 2020 - January 1, 2021

 

 When we experience the reality of our oneness with God, others, and creation, actions of justice and healing naturally follow. If we’re working to create a more whole world, contemplation will give our actions nonviolent, loving power for the long haul. (Sunday)

 

I’ve often said that we founded the Center for Action and Contemplation to be a place of integration between action and contemplation. I envisioned a place where we could teach activists in social movements to pray—and encourage people who pray to live lives of solidarity and justice. (Monday)

 

God offers us quiet, contemplative eyes; and God also calls us to prophetic and critical involvement in the pain and sufferings of our world—both at the same time. (Tuesday)

 

Rather than being about hiding out in the chapel for hours on end, my contemplative practice has led me to an activism that is expansively grounded in compassion and care for others. —Sister Simone Campbell (Wednesday)

 

Saint Teresa of Calcutta’s Missionaries of Charity have that amazing and rare combination of utter groundedness and constant risk-taking that always characterizes the true Gospel. (Thursday)

 

The gaze of compassion, looking out at life from the place of divine intimacy is really all I have, and all I have to give. (Friday)

 

Practice: A Commitment to Nonviolence

 

My longtime friend, Catholic priest and peace activist John Dear, has dedicated his life to the practices and teaching of nonviolence. His work with the Fellowship of Reconciliation and other organizations is truly an example of contemplation expressing itself in action for peace and justice. He has now founded “The Beatitudes Center for the Nonviolent Jesus.” Our executive director, Michael Poffenberger, and I recently visited John at his new home in California, and received much gracious hospitality and kindness.

 

The Fellowship of Reconciliation [FOR] has worked to bring together people on all sides in all the conflicts of the world, in pursuit of peace and reconciliation. . . . FOR started a wide variety of campaigns—sending delegations around the world . . . teaching people creative alternatives of nonviolence. . . . In the 1940s, FOR helped form the Congress of Racial Equality and set up “Journeys of Reconciliation,” which promoted integration in the segregated South. . . . [Today,] after nearly a century of dedicated peacemaking, members of the Fellowship of Reconciliation remain as committed as ever to the mission of promoting peace, justice, and nonviolent action. . . .

 

FOR is learning the great wisdom of the ages: that making peace requires persistent reconciliation. Peace does not happen overnight. There is no immediate result. It is a lifelong struggle and requires a lifetime commitment. It necessitates patience and dedication, even facing the worst odds. The challenge of reconciliation is to keep at it—to keep opponents talking, to encourage compassionate listening, to invite forgiveness, to compromise for the sake of peace, and to never give up the dream.

 

When FOR moved from being exclusively Christian to truly interfaith in the late 1950s, it broadened its mission to include building bridges between all the world’s religions for the sake of peace. Today, FOR embraces Christians, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, other people of faith, and those with no formal religious affiliation. Through this interfaith commitment to nonviolence, we are forging a modest, new path into a new future for us all.

 

In contemplation, we empty ourselves of our own hurts, agendas, and even some of our most treasured beliefs. It is a practice of inner nonviolence, which gives us confidence to join with others to create a more peaceful world. John Dear continues:

 

The work of peace and reconciliation is not only political, it’s human work, and it’s spiritual. The God of peace is determined to reconcile the human race, and employs whomever will help in this great project. . . . As we have seen from the abolitionist, suffragist, civil rights, antiwar, human rights, and environmental movements, patient grassroots organizing and reconciliation over time has the power to transform nations and the world.

 

True contemplation always leads to action on behalf of a world in desperate need of healers and peacemakers, channels of God’s grace by any name. How might you join in that work in the year ahead?

 

 John Dear, Living Peace: A Spirituality of Action and Contemplation (Doubleday: 2001), 207–208, 210–213.

 

Image credit: Going to Church (detail), William H. Johnson, 1940‒1941, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, D.C.

 

 For Further Study:

 

Simone Campbell, Hunger for Hope: Prophetic Communities, Contemplation, and the Common Good (Orbis Books: 2020).

 

Contemplation in Action, Richard Rohr and Friends (The Crossroad Publishing Company: 2006).

 

John Lewis with Brenda Jones, Across That Bridge: A Vision for Change and the Future of America (Hachette Books: 2017, ©2012).

 

Albert J. Raboteau, American Prophets: Seven Religious Radicals and Their Struggle for Social and Political Justice (Princeton University Press: 2016).

 

Richard Rohr, Dancing Standing Still: Healing the World from a Place of Prayer (Paulist Press: 2014).

 

“Unity and Diversity,” Oneing, vol. 6, no. 2 (CAC Publishing: 2018), especially the essays “Unity and Diversity in the Land of Nonviolence,” by John Dear, and “Love and Kenosis: Contemplative Foundations of Social Justice,” by Gigi Ross.

 

Summary: Week Fifty-one

Incarnation

December 20 - December 25, 2020

We do the Gospel no favor when we make Jesus, the Eternal Christ, into a perpetual baby, who asks little or no adult response from us. (Sunday)

Christianity’s true and unique story line has always been incarnation. That means that the spirit nature of reality (the spiritual, the immaterial, the formless) and the material nature of reality (the physical, that which we can see and touch) are one. (Monday)

Christianity believes that God and humanity truly coexist in the same body, in the same place! (Tuesday)

Sophia is the eros of God become one with all creation, the love of God that longs for incarnation from before the beginning. She is the co-creativity of God, always inviting, never compelling. —Christopher Pramuk (Wednesday)

The symbol of Christmas—what is it? It is the rainbow arched over the roof of the sky when the clouds are heavy with foreboding. —Howard Thurman (Thursday)

How might we experience the Christ born in us today, “utterly real . . . transformed . . . and radiant in His light”? (Friday)

Practice: Storydancing

I asked a theologian friend “What comes to your mind when I say the word ‘incarnation’?” Without hesitating, he responded, “Dance.” Dance is an art that allows all of our body to express itself beyond boundaries. Sacred dance, ritual dance, and many other forms of dance allow individuals and communities to experience the grace and joy of being incarnated into a body. You don’t have to be trained or even skillful to experience this; you simply have to be willing to move beyond your comfort zone. Today’s practice invites you to explore telling your story through movement. Trauma therapist Dr. Jamie Marich writes:

A dynamic practice can be simply challenging yourself to look deeply into your heart and tell your story to the dance floor, a process I’ve come to call storydancing. This can be the story of your whole life or the story of what you’re living through right now. . . . You may feel called to use this practice for the purpose of transformation and manifestation, allowing the dance to help create a new ending, or usher in a new chapter. . . .

Perhaps you’ve already explored dancing with your breath, your heart, your mind, your body, and your concept of spirit. Notice what’s happening within you. I now invite you to allow all the elements to work together and create your story.

    Tell your story to the earth below you, the space around you.

    Your space is your canvas, your body is the paintbrush. Allow your story to be created in your space. The colors and the elements are being sent to you right now through your breath, through your spirit.

    Paint your story, create your story, dance your story in this space!

You have options—it may feel organic to simply dance the story up to this present moment. If you believe that old story lines prevent you from experiencing the joy of the present moment, perhaps just notice those different story lines that pop up as you dance. Practice the challenge of noticing them, letting them go, and then returning to the present moment. If you feel inspired to move your story from this present moment and let the dance help you create a desired ending or a new, desired chapter in the journey, keep going with that process.

Dancing the element of story in personal practice is much like writing a journal, songwriting, or creating visual art. As many musicians and artists will tell you, we often create just for ourselves, for practice, for exploration, even if we never share the finished product. So, think about your dancing practice as a way to dance what you might normally write in your journal.

Jamie Marich, PhD., Dancing Mindfulness: A Creative Path to Healing & Transformation (Skylights Paths Publishing: 2016), 114‒115, 117.

For Further Study:

Diarmuid Ó Murchú, Incarnation: A New Evolutionary Threshold (Orbis Books: 2017).

Ronald Rolheiser and Richard Rohr, Adult Christianity and How to Get There (Center for Action and Contemplation: 2004), CD, MP3 download.

Richard Rohr, Essential Teachings on Love, ed. Joelle Chase and Judy Traeger (Orbis Books: 2018).

Richard Rohr, Franciscan Mysticism: I AM That Which I Am Seeking (Center for Action and Contemplation: 2012), CD, MP3 download.

Richard Rohr, The Universal Christ: How a Forgotten Reality Can Change Everything We See, Hope For, and Believe (Convergent Books: 2019).

Mirabai Starr, Wild Mercy: Living the Fierce and Tender Wisdom of the Women Mystics (Sounds True: 2019).

Howard Thurman, The Mood of Christmas and Other Celebrations (Friends United Press: 1985, ©1973).

Summary: Week Fifty

Self-Emptying

December 13 - December 18, 2020

 

In our consumer culture, even religion and spirituality have very often become a matter of addition: earning points with God, attaining enlightenment, producing moral behavior. Yet authentic spirituality is much more about letting go. (Sunday)

 

In the garden of Gethsemane, Jesus struggled and anguished but remained true to his course. Do not hoard, do not cling—not even to life itself. Let it go, let it be— “Not my will but yours be done, O Lord. Into your hands I commend my spirit.” —Cynthia Bourgeault (Monday)

 

Jesus was uncompromising in his belief that all human beings were equal in dignity and worth. He treated the blind, the lame and the sick, the outcasts and beggars with as much respect as that given to those of high rank and status. —Albert Nolan (Tuesday)

 

When we meditate consistently, a sense of our autonomy and private self-importance—what we think of as our “self”—falls away. Little by little, it becomes unnecessary, unimportant, and even unhelpful. The imperial “I,” the self that we likely think of as our only self, reveals itself as largely a creation of our mind. (Wednesday)

 

Let us for now refer to emptying of the self in a twofold sense: as a breaking down of our cherished self-identities, wants, demands, and ego struggles; and as an openness of being, where all the doors and windows of the soul are thrown back to allow in the splendor of life. —Beverly Lanzetta (Thursday)

 

If we’re not trained in letting go of our pain, transforming it, turning crucifixion into resurrection, so to speak, we’ll hand it off to our family, to our children, to our neighborhood, to our nation. (Friday)

 

Practice: Remaining in Place

 

What if the challenges of the current moment are actually offering us an invitation to let go of our ideas of freedom and mobility and to consciously participate with reality in a new way? In The Great Within psychologist Han F. de Wit invites us to consider the discipline of stabilitas loci (or remaining in place) as a liberating practice. He writes:

 

Many contemplative traditions contain the rule of not abandoning the monastic community or the place of retreat for shorter or longer periods (sometimes for life). If one follows this rule, it is almost always preceded by voluntarily taking a vow to keep to it. In the Christian tradition, it is known as the vow of stabilitas loci (remaining in one place). This place can, for example, be where one goes into the solitary retreat. The practitioner then vows not to leave this place before he has completed a specific spiritual practice or attained a certain realization. This approach can be found in the Hindu tradition: the yogi draws a certain line around her place of retreat and vows not to step outside it until she has completed a certain practice (sadhana), until she has reached enlightenment, or until death has reached her. A well-known example of this in the Buddhist tradition is obviously that of the Buddha himself, who finally sat down under the bodhi tree and vowed not to leave that spot until he had reached enlightenment. . . .

 

Why do people do this? What is the function of such a discipline? . . . The contemplative psychological function of this physical stabilitas and of the adherent vow is that we let go of the idea that we have an alternative, we give up the possibility of withdrawing. As we know, one of the characteristic aspects of ego is that it always wants to have alternatives available: ego reflects a mentality that always wants to keep an exit open and therefore can never come to complete surrender and acceptance. Through the vow of stabilitas loci, we confront and surrender an important part of that mentality. We say, “This is my place, my situation, and that is what I want to work with, however it develops, for better or for worse.”. . . The limitation that this discipline imposes on ego proves to have another element: a flourishing of self-confidence and strength of mind that enables us to be in the situation we are in without any reservations. What may seem claustrophobic or restrictive actually turns into vast and hospitable space. [1]

 

Richard again: Speaking from personal experience and my many years in Lenten hermitage (where I stayed in one small place for the forty days of Lent), I found a deep inner liberation in “giving up” my freedom to come and go as I chose. I am experiencing some of that same freedom in my hermit-like life necessitated by the pandemic. I cannot “fill” my life or myself up with outside experiences; I must simply “be” with myself and God.

 

 

 

[1] Han F. de Wit, The Great Within: The Transformative Power and Psychology of the Spiritual Path (Shambhala Publications: 2019), 263–264.

 

Image credit: Ajanta Caves (detail mural of the Buddha), Aurangabad, Maharashtra State, India.

 

For Further Study:

 

Cynthia Bourgeault, The Wisdom Jesus: Transforming Heart and Mind—a New Perspective on Christ and His Message (Shambala: 2008).

 

Beverly Lanzetta, A New Silence: Spiritual Practices and Formation for the Monk Within (Blue Sapphire Books: 2020).

 

Beverly Lanzetta, The Monk Within: Embracing a Sacred Way of Life (Blue Sapphire: 2018).

 

Albert Nolan, Jesus Today: A Spirituality of Radical Freedom (Orbis Books: 2006).

 

Richard Rohr, The Art of Letting Go: Living the Wisdom of Saint Francis (Sounds True: 2010), CD.

 

Richard Rohr, Letting Go: A Spirituality of Subtraction (Franciscan Media: 1987, 2005), downloadable audiobook.

 

Richard Rohr, The Naked Now: Learning to See as the Mystics See (Crossroad Publishing: 2009).

 

 

 

Summary: Week Forty-nine

Giving Birth to Christ

December 6 - December 11, 2020

 

If we try to “manage” God, or manufacture our own worthiness by any performance principle whatsoever, we will never bring forth the Christ, but only more of ourselves. (Sunday)

 

We are a part of this movement of an ever-growing Universal Christ that is coming to be in this “one great act of giving birth.” (Monday)

 

When the mystery of God’s love breaks through into my consciousness, do I run from it? Or am I virgin enough to respond from my deepest, truest self, and say something new, a “yes” that will change me forever? —Kathleen Norris (Tuesday)

 

Christmas isn’t automatic, it can’t be taken for granted. It began with Mary, but each of us is asked to make our own contribution to giving flesh to faith in the world. —Ronald Rolheiser (Wednesday)

 

It is not mystical experience we are after but radical interior transformation, so that others may experience Christ more fully in us. —Vincent Pizzuto (Thursday)

 

We are called to incarnate Christ in our lives, to clothe our lives with him, so that people can see him in us, touch him in us, recognize him in us. —Catherine de Hueck Doherty (Friday)

 

Practice: O God, I Need Thee

 

The virtue of hope, with great irony, is the fruit of a learned capacity to suffer wisely, calmly, and generously. Any form of contemplation is a gradual sinking into this divine fullness where hope lives. Contemplation is living in a unified field that produces in people a deep, largely non-rational, and yet calmly certain hope, which is always a surprise. A life of inner union, a contemplative life, is practicing for heaven now.

 

This week’s practice is from the remarkably hope-filled book Conversations with God: Two Centuries of Prayers by African Americans. Howard Thurman contributed the following prayer-practice:

 

“O God, I Need Thee”

 

I Need Thy Sense of Time

Always I have an underlying anxiety about things.

Sometimes I am in a hurry to achieve my ends

And am completely without patience. It is hard for me

To realize that some growth is slow,

That all processes are not swift. I cannot always discriminate

Between what takes time to develop and what can be rushed,

Because my sense of time is dulled.

I measure things in terms of happenings.

O to understand the meaning of perspective

That I may do all things with a profound sense of leisure—of

time.

 

I Need Thy Sense of Order

The confusion of the details of living

Is sometimes overwhelming. The little things

Keep getting in my way providing ready-made

Excuses for failure to do and be

What I know I ought to do and be.

Much time is spent on things that are not very important

While significant things are put into an insignificant place

In my scheme of order. I must unscramble my affairs

So that my life will become order. O God, I need

Thy sense of order.

 

I Need Thy Sense of the Future

Teach me to know that life is ever

On the side of the future.

Keep alive in me the forward look, the high hope,

The onward surge. Let me not be frozen

Either by the past or the present.

Grant me, O patient Father, Thy sense of the future

Without which all life would sicken and die.

 

 

Howard Thurman, “O God, I Need Thee,” (1951), in Conversations with God: Two Centuries of Prayers by African Americans, ed. James Melvin Washington (Harper Collins: 1994), 183.

 

Image credit: Abiding Love (detail of triptych), Janet McKenzie, copyright © 2019. https://www.janetmckenzie.com/

 

For Further Study:

 

Catherine de Hueck Doherty: Essential Writings, ed. David Meconi (Orbis Books: 2009).

 

Catherine de Hueck Doherty, Living the Gospel without Compromise (Madonna House Publications: 2002).

 

Beverly Lanzetta, The Monk Within: Embracing a Sacred Way of Life (Blue Sapphire Books: 2018).

 

Kathleen Norris, Amazing Grace: A Vocabulary of Faith (Riverhead Books: 1999).

 

Vincent Pizzuto, Contemplating Christ: The Gospels and the Interior Life (Liturgical Press: 2018).

 

Richard Rohr, Christ, Cosmology, & Consciousness: A Reframing of How We See (Center for Action and Contemplation: 2010), MP3 download.

 

Richard Rohr, The Cosmic Christ (Center for Action and Contemplation: 2009), CD, MP3 download.

 

Richard Rohr, Preparing for Christmas: Daily Meditations for Advent (Franciscan Media: 2008).

 

Richard Rohr, The Universal Christ: How a Forgotten Reality Can Change Everything We See, Hope For, and Believe (Convergent: 2019).

 

Ron Rolheiser, Daybreaks: Daily Reflections for Advent and Christmas (Liguori Publications: 2019).

 

“The Universal Christ,” Oneing, vol. 7, no. 1 (CAC Publishing: 2019), especially the essays “Becoming Christ” by Brie Stoner and “Christ, the Future” by Ilia Delio.

 

Summary: Week Forty-eight

Spirituality and Social Movements

November 29 - December 5, 2020

Non-imperial movements within Christianity strive not towards protecting their own power and influence, but toward supporting the supreme work of love flowing into the world. (Sunday)

Christianity began as a revolutionary nonviolent movement promoting a new kind of aliveness on the margins of society. It was a peace movement, a love movement, a joy movement, a justice movement, an integrity movement, an aliveness movement. —Brian McLaren (Monday)

Peter Maurin made you feel that you and all people had great and generous hearts with which to love God. If you once recognized this fact in yourself you would expect and find it in others. —Dorothy Day (Tuesday)

One of the most exciting things for me about being in the freedom movement was discovering other people who were compelled by the Spirit at the heart of our organizing work. —Rosemarie Freeney Harding (Wednesday)

 

Bring forth song and celebration; / So the Spirit will be alive among us. / Let the Spirit flourish and grow; / So that we will never tire of the struggle. —César Chávez (Thursday)

Let’s just use our different gifts to create a unity in the work of service, and back one another up, without criticism or competition. (Friday)

Practice: Contemplating Anger

So many works of social justice have been undone by people who do all the fighting from their angry selves. Today’s practice invites us to deal with our anger contemplatively, not just for ourselves but for those we seek to help and even those with whom we are in conflict. Teacher Dan Edwards writes:

The gift that contemplative practice brings to our emotions is awareness, the mental space to confront our emotional state in a safe way. . . .

Anger is the dominant emotion for many activists. . . . Anger is not a bad or negative thing; it is actually the fuel that feeds our quest for justice. It is when we let anger lead to hateful actions that we lose its beneficial potential. . . . It is imperative that we realize that often the injustice or wrongdoing isn’t personal but rather a societal ill and will always coexist with the peaceful lives we work hard to live.

Practice: Stop, Breathe, Reflect and Respond.

Once I am aware that anger is arising, I stop. I breathe in and out, and I pay attention to my breath, so that I can come back into my body and ground myself. I breathe until the dominate [sic] voices of anger dissipate and my focus rests comfortably on my breath and the current moment. I can now begin to reflect on the situation from a grounded place.

 

I then reflect on my personal ties to this wrongdoing and examine the reasons why it is affecting me so. . . . Most of the real work is done here, and this is where contemplative practice will become an invaluable tool. It is your contemplative mind that puts up signs like highway markers that point right back to you and encourage you to heal yourself from anger before healing others.

 

Take as much time as you need to reflect. In the end, I respond after I have reflected for some time on the act or situation. If the situation requires an immediate response, I may not respond at all—not because I am being passive or ignorant but because I am aware of how connected I am to the situation and how deeply personal my response may be. If I feel that I am not able to react from a grounded place, then I won’t. This method has helped keep me out of heated debates and actions that I would later feel the need to apologize for. So if your reactions are heated, give this method a shot. It may work for you.

Dan Edwards, “Dealing with Anger,” The Activist’s Ally: Contemplative Tools for Social Change (The Center for Contemplative Mind in Society: 2007, 2017), 46, 47. http://www.contemplativemind.org

For Further Study:

Diana Butler Bass, A People’s History of Christianity: The Other Side of the Story (HarperOne: 2009).

Can I Get a Witness? Thirteen Peacemakers, Community Builders, and Agitators for Faith and Justice, ed. Charles Marsh, Shea Tuttle, Daniel P. Rhodes (William B. Eerdmans: 2019). This collection includes profiles of César Chávez, Dorothy Day, Howard Thurman, Ella Baker, and Richard Twiss, plus others.

Frederick John Dalton, The Moral Vision of César Chávez (Orbis Books: 2003).

Robert Ellsberg, Dorothy Day: Selected Writings: By Little and by Little (Orbis Books: 2005).

Rosemarie Freeney Harding with Rachel Elizabeth Harding, Remnants: A Memoir of Spirit, Activism, and Mothering (Duke University Press Books: 2015).

Martin Luther King, Jr., “Thou, Dear God”: Prayers that Open Hearts and Spirits, ed. Lewis V. Baldwin (Beacon Press: 2012).

Brian D. McLaren, We Make the Road by Walking: A Year-Long Quest for Spiritual Formation, Reorientation, and Activation (Jericho Books: 2015).

Richard Rohr, Dancing Standing Still: Healing the World from a Place of Prayer (Paulist Press: 2014).

Mark and Louise Zwick, The Catholic Worker Movement: Intellectual and Spiritual Origins (Paulist Press: 2005).