emotionally healthy woman

Resource: Everything Belongs

Fr. Richard Rohr’s outstanding book “Everything Belongs: The Gift of Contemplative Prayer” is for people who “hunger for a deeper spiritual life but don’t know what contemplation is.”

He does an excellent job explaining it, and, even more, he helps us to understand a form of prayerful living that’s not based on speech. I’ve seen the book called “meandering” in my reviews. I think it follows the forms and shapes of real life.

Repeatedly Rohr challenges us to move beyond our comfort zone to a deeper rest in God. There, he says, we can find the freedom to become all we can be. Only when we “live and see through God can everything belong.”

What does that mean? Rohr writes, “Everything belongs; God uses everything. There are no dead-ends. There is no wasted energy. Everything is recycled. … I believe with all my heart that the Gospel is all about the mystery of forgiveness.”

Contemplative prayer can help us to see that God loves us as we are. And then we can better see who we are.

But it’s not easy. Rohr notes, “Our first response to anyone calling us to truth, greatness, goodness or morality at a higher level will be increased anxiety.”

Later on, he writes, “That’s what happens in the early stages of contemplation. We wait in silence. In silence all our usual patterns assault us. Our patterns of control, addiction, negativity, tension, anger, and fear assert themselves. That’s why most people give up rather quickly. When Jesus is led by the Spirit into the wilderness, the first things that show up are wild beasts (Mark 1:13). Contemplation is not first of all consoling. It’s only real.”

Yet, once you open yourself to this journey, you discover more peace. “Know that things are okay as they are. This moment is as perfect as it can be. The saints called this the ‘sacrament of the present moment,’ ” he writes.

The book has been revised and updated with a reading guide. It received 4.25 stars out of 4,556 ratings on Goodreads and 4.2 stars out of 4,541 ratings on Amazon. It is a book to read and re-read. Enjoy the journey.

Fr. Rohr is on a journey himself as he has stepped back from public ministry after a cancer diagnosis last year. May God bless his life and work.

Cross formed by large group of Christians

How You Can Advance Christian Unity

This time of January is the traditional time to pray for Christian unity. Jesus did this at the Last Supper. You might even call it one of his dying wishes.

Today, the Christian church is far from unified. Searching about this unity online brings up a lot of material about why unity is not a particularly good thing. As well as some divisive material on both sides of the political spectrum.

Weird, isn’t it? I myself have experienced hateful behavior from other Christians who view issues differently than I do. Surely this is not what Jesus wants for us, especially when everyone in the disagreement is sure that Jesus is on their side.

What Martin Luther King Can Teach Us

Recently, I attended a Vineyard USA workshop on principles and practices that Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. used as the core of the civil rights movement. This was a nonviolent movement, so much so that Dr. King told people who couldn’t promise to remain nonviolent to stay away. His “10 Commandments” of nonviolence offered me inspiration for dealing with the divisive nature of today’s Christianity:

  1. Meditate daily on the teachings and life of Jesus.
  2. Remember always that the non-violent movement seeks justice and reconciliation – not victory.
  3. Walk and talk in the manner of love, for God is love.
  4. Pray daily to be used by God in order that all men might be free.
  5. Sacrifice personal wishes in order that all men might be free.
  6. Observe with both friend and foe the ordinary rules of courtesy.
  7. Seek to perform regular service for others and for the world.
  8. Refrain from the violence of fist, tongue, or heart.
  9. Strive to be in good spiritual and bodily health.
  10. Follow the directions of the movement and of the captain on a demonstration.

If we follow these rules (which King insisted that even nonChristians in the movement do), we will find it much easier to approach each other as Christians.

Pray for Christian Unity

Then we can truly pray for Christian unity. I’ve adapted this prayer from “Catholic Household Blessings and Prayers.”

Oh Lord, help me to speak and behave in Christian love with all who claim you as Savior.
Give me the grace to have courtesy and refrain from violence of tongue, heart, fist and online behavior. 
We pray to you for your holy Christian church in my own neighborhood and around the world.
Help us to accomplish reconciliation. 
Fill the church with your presences and your truth.
Keep it in your peace.
Where it is corrupt, reform it.
Where it is in error, correct it.
Where it is right, defend it.
Where it is in want, provide for it.
Where it is divided, reunite it.
For the sake of your Son, our Savior Jesus Christ.