Reflections from Richard Rohr and friends at the Center for Action and Contemplation this past week

“[The mystics help us] to learn the curriculum of a truly spiritual life . . . grounded in love, mercy, tenderness, compassion, forgiveness, hope, trust, simplicity, silence, peace, and joy. To embody union with God is to discover these beautiful characteristics emerging from within and slowly transfiguring us to remake us in the very image and likeness of God.” —Carl McColman (Sunday)

Radical union is the recurring experience of the saints and mystics of all religions. (Monday)

We know God by participation in God, not by trying to please God from afar. (Tuesday)

It is only through love that we can render ourselves pleasing to the good Lord; love is the one thing I long for. The science of love is the only science I desire.” —Thérèse of Lisieux (Wednesday)

The contemplative work of inner conversion, inner disarmament, and inner peacemaking as the key to peace for the world held Merton’s interest throughout his life.” —John Dear (Thursday)

“There is no way of telling people that they are all walking around shining like the sun. . . . If only they could all see themselves as they really are. If only we could see each other that way all the time.” —Thomas Merton (Friday)

Practice: Open to Love

Picture someone or a situation you feel resistance or bitterness toward. What do you feel in your body? Where do you hold the pain or tension? With gentle awareness, send loving kindness toward this part of your body. Observe your muscles relaxing and your breath coming more freely.

If you have a hard time finding the sensation in your body, clench your fists and draw your arms toward your chest. Hold this posture for a few moments; then release your arms and lay your open hands, palm up, on your thighs.

As you read aloud this prayer from Thomas Merton, allow your heart to continue to soften and let love flow through you toward this person or situation:

Oh God, we are one with You. You have made us one with You. You have taught us that if we are open to one another, You dwell in us. Help us to preserve this openness and to fight for it with all our hearts. Help us to realize that there can be no understanding where there is mutual rejection. Oh God, in accepting one another wholeheartedly, fully, completely, we accept You, and we thank You, and we adore You, and we love You with our whole being, because our being is in Your being, our spirit is rooted in Your spirit. Fill us then with love, and let us be bound together with love as we go our diverse ways, united in this one spirit which makes You present in the world, and which makes You witness to the ultimate reality that is love. Love has overcome. Love is victorious. Amen.

[1] Thomas Merton, The Asian Journal of Thomas Merton, eds. Naomi Burton, Patrick Hart, and James Laughlin (New Directions: 1975); 318-319. Merton offered this prayer at a spiritual summit in Calcutta, just after admitting “I have no idea what I am going to say.”

For Further Study:

Richard Rohr, Cynthia Bourgeault, and James Finley, Following the Mystics Through the Narrow Gate: Seeing God in All Things (Center for Action and Contemplation: 2010), CD, DVD, MP3 download

Richard Rohr and James Finley, Jesus and Buddha: Paths to Awakening (Center for Action and Contemplation: 2008), CD, DVD, MP3 download

“Perfection,” Oneing, Vol. 4, No. 1 (Center for Action and Contemplation: 2016)

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