MEDITATION: Psalm 8:2 by Alan J. Hommerding

February 6, 2018

From Everyday Psalms From the mouths of babes and infants you have raised a fortress, a defense to silence your enemies and avengers. It is easy to read this verse as a mere sentimental statement about how much God loves children.  But here the psalmist is using an extreme paradox to illustrate God’s power and God’s ability to wield power everywhere.  In Israel’s society, babes and infants were not only physically weak and helpless, their social standing was zero, since their future was not assured, given the high mortality rate.  Yet God can use even them to build up a defense, and can vanquish enemies through them.  How often do we think we are too insignificant or helpless to be a source for God’s power in [...]

MEDITATION: Psalm 7:14 by Alan J. Hommerding

January 30, 2018

From Everyday Psalms Sinners conceive trouble, they are pregnant with wickedness, they give birth to lies. There is no greater physical connection between two human beings than that of a pregnant mother and her child.  The psalmist uses this very potent metaphor to describe how what we bear in our spiritual “wombs” is what we will, ultimately, give birth to.  It is a consistent theme of the scriptures: what is in our hearts is known only to God while it is there, but it will, eventually, be “born” in our actions.  Today we might think of this image this way: if we were to get a spiritual sonogram, would it show a healthy child?   PRAYER You see into my depths, O Lord. Help me to search my life so that it [...]

MEDITATION: Psalm 6:6 by Alan J. Hommerding

January 23, 2018

From Everyday Psalms I am worn out from moaning; I flood my pillow with weeping all night, I soak my bed with tears. This is an example of the psalms’ “don’t hold back” approach to prayer.  The psalmist finds it nearly impossible to overstate how miserable life is (“I make my bed swim in tears,” one translation has it).  Technically, this way of speaking or writing is called hyperbole, but in the psalms it’s used as a means to express utmost trust, confidence, and intimacy, all in an honest, loving relationship with God.  With whom do we share our most extreme moments of any emotion?  With those we love the most, with whom we are most at ease, and whom we rely on above all others.   [...]

MEDITATION: Psalm 5:11 by Alan J. Hommerding

January 16, 2018

From Everyday Psalms Let all who find refuge in you be glad; let them always sing with joy. Shelter them; may all those who love your name rejoice in you. The people of ancient Israel were a people who wandered, who lived as nomadic tribes or in exile, even a people who – when settled – spent much time outdoors in the fields, with herds, on the way to market, or to fetch water.  For them shelter was a big deal, whether it was refuge from the elements or enemies.  People who are victims of natural disasters understand this, but many of us don’t live this way.  Nevertheless, there are many things in life from which all of us need “shelter” from time to time.  God, for us, is still that shelter.   PRAYER [...]

MEDITATION: Psalm 4:6 by Alan J. Hommerding

January 9, 2018

From Everyday Psalms There are many who say, “O that we might see some good! Let the light of your face shine on us, O Lord!” Ancient Israel had a deep and potent personal relationship with God, and the language of personal encounter imbues their writings.  Yet for the Israelites, seeing the face of God was a frightening proposition: nobody could look upon God’s face and live.  But the countenance of God was life-giving; it was considered a source of blessing, light, and (in this passage) goodness itself.  Only in one context could one look upon the face of God and life: when called to life eternal.   PRAYER God of life eternal, let your face shine upon me. Watch over me, guide me; with your tender gaze bless me [...]

MEDITATION: Psalm 3:5 by Alan J. Hommerding

December 19, 2017

From Everyday Psalms I lie down and sleep; I wake again, for the Lord sustains me. Scriptural tradition holds that David wrote this psalm while he was fleeing from his son Absalom and other enemies.  Even in this time of trail (“stress,” we’d call it today), David doesn’t lose any sleep.  His trust in the Lord’s sustaining power is such that it allows him to sleep while enemies are in pursuit, and he also realizes that divine power is what allows him to wake each day.  Does our faith allow us to slumber peacefully?  Or are we kept awake wondering how we (not God) will handle the trials of our life?   PRAYER Keep me confident in your sustaining power, Lord. Refresh and strengthen me so I may face each [...]

MEDITATION: Psalm 2:10 by Alan J. Hommerding

December 12, 2017

From Everyday Psalms Now therefore, O kings, be wise; be warned, O rulers of the Earth. It is easy to think that this psalm isn’t speaking to us.  “I’m not a king.  I’m not a ruler.”  Perhaps we need to think of ourselves in this instance as the psalmist, the one offering the cautionary note to kings and rulers, speaking with the voice of God who scorns the folly of nations that turn away from God’s reign for the sake of their own.  The psalmist acts as a prophet “speaking up” in public for the voiceless, the poor, and the outcast.  Not caving in to despair or cynicism, the psalmist / prophet speaks out in prayer and action.   PRAYER Help me listen, O Lord, for your wisdom. May I [...]

MEDITATION: Psalm 1:6 by Alan J. Hommerding

December 5, 2017

From Everyday Psalms The Lord watches over the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish. We might think that the opposite of “wicked” is “good.”  But the scriptures offer us a different option: righteousness.  Acting righteously, in right relationship with the will of God and rightly toward others, is an active way of living, not merely a passive state of goodness.  How often is our passivity really the wickedness of inaction?  The scriptures have no time for those who are self-righteous, because the reign of God calls us to be God-righteous.   PRAYER Your will be done on Earth as in Heaven, O God our Father. Keep me steadfast and faithful in your way, turning away from wickedness, [...]

MYSTICISM: Meditation And Recollection by Evelyn Underhill

November 1, 2017

From Practical Mysticism Recollection, the art which the practical man is now invited to learn, is in essence no more and no less than the subjection of the attention to the control of the will.  It is not, therefore, a purely mystical activity.  In one form or another it is demanded of all who would get control of their own mental processes, and does or should represent the first great step in the education of the human consciousness.  So slothful, however, is man in all that concerns his higher faculties, that few deliberately undertake their education at all.  They are content to make their contacts with things by a vague, unregulated power, ever apt to play truant, ever apt to fail them.  Unless they be spurred to it by that [...]


March 21, 2017

From: The Jesuit Post If you have ever thrown an elbow or slid cleats high. If you have ever snapped back or punched first. If you have ever quietly stolen inconsequential things, small pieces of candy from a store, a magazine from a waiting room. If you have wiped your mouth on a dishtowel and hung it back up. If you have argued from authority. If you don’t wash your hands, not much. If you decided somewhere along the way – without even realizing it – that you would not have a relationship with the plaintive, pith-helmeted mail carrier.  Instead you two would walk by each other day after day like creatures from a sad divorce eons ago who had forgotten they ever knew each other. If you fail to give waitstaff irresistible small [...]

MEDITATION: Learning To Be Silent by John Main

June 28, 2016

From Word Into Silence We now need to take a closer look at the sort of silence that is needed for meditation.  Meditation is not the time for words, however beautifully and sincerely phrased.  All our words are wholly ineffective when we come to enter into this deep and mysterious communion with God whose own Word within us is before and after all words.  “I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord. In order to enter into this holy and mysterious communion with the Word of God dwelling within us, we must first have the courage to become more and more silent.  In a deep creative silence we meet God in a way that transcends all our powers of intellect and language.  We are all basically aware that we cannot apprehend God [...]

PSALMS: Psalm 1 — The “Law” Which Gives Life (a meditation) from the Taizé Community

June 16, 2016

These Bible meditations are meant as a way of seeking God in silence and prayer in the midst of our daily life. During the course of a day, take a moment to read the Bible passage with the short commentary and to reflect on the questions which follow. Afterwards, a small group of three to ten people can meet to share what they have discovered and perhaps for a time of prayer. Psalm 1 Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers, but whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on his law day and night. That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither— whatever they [...]

MEDITATION: Perfect Union, by Father Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalen

November 22, 2015

From Divine Intimacy PRESENCE OF GOD – I implore you, my God, to let nothing trouble my union with you. Meditation One.  The yes of perfect consent has surrendered the whole human will to God, placing it completely under the vivifying influence of the divine will.  Yet there are still found in the sensitive part of the soul disturbances which tend to withdraw it from the governance of God’s will: this sensitive part is subjected to the spirit only with difficulty, in consequence of the disorder produced by original sin.  Even while the soul is by its will entirely conformed and united to the divine will, the sensitive part is always pulling in its own direction, carrying the affections along with it, sometimes stirring up [...]

SPIRITUALITY: The Variety Of Gifts by Henry C. Simmons

July 13, 2015

From In the Footsteps of the Mystics: A Guide to the Spiritual Classics Why does one person respond to a question about the spiritual life in one way, and another person answer the same question in quite a different manner?  Personal experience is a powerful factor, as are church tradition, historical era, education, age, gender, and social class. These factors may account for an array of answers too various to catalogue.  Some, however, seem to fall into patterns which give us categories for understanding the shape and flow of our relationship with God and allow us to identify our own place within the much wider spiritual tradition. What do patterns of spirituality look like?  What do they describe?  As we look at two questions which [...]

PRAYER: The Necessity Of Prayer by Francis de Sales

July 6, 2015

From Introduction to the Devout Life One Prayer opens the understanding to the brightness of Divine Light, and the will to the warmth of Heavenly Love – nothing can so effectually purify the mind from its many ignorances, or the will from its perverse affections.  It is as a healing water which causes the roots of our good desires to send forth fresh shoots, which washes away the soul’s imperfections, and allays the thirst of passion. Two But especially I commend earnest mental prayer to you, more particularly such as bears upon the Life and Passion of our Lord.  If you contemplate Him frequently in meditation, your whole soul will be filled with Him, you will grow in His Likeness, and your actions will be molded on His.  He [...]

MEDITATION: The Prince of Peace, by Jonathan Holt Titcomb, Bishop of Rangoon

April 13, 2015

From Before the Cross In His days shall the righteous flourish; and abundance of peace so long as the moon endureth. (Psalm 72:7) What a contrast between the reigns of David and Solomon!  I see the former reaching his throne through suffering and persecution, and then occupying it in perpetual warfare against his enemies.  I behold the latter inheriting his throne without a struggle, and occupying it as a Prince of Peace.  He builds a magnificent temple for the glory of God, without the noise of a chisel or hammer; he reigns amidst a profusion of wealth for which there was no parallel in history; and he speaks, both as prophet and king, with a wisdom which was never equaled by man.  Thus conflict and bloodshed came first, and [...]

PRAYER: The Degrees Of Prayer by Evelyn Underhill

November 14, 2014

Printed for the Guild of Health, 1922 The subject of this paper is man’s fundamental spiritual activity – prayer.  Every religious mind is, of course, familiar with the idea of prayer; and in one degree or another, with the practice of it.  Yet we sometimes forget how very little we really know about it; how personal and subjective are the accounts spiritual writers give of it; how empirical and how obscure in its deepest moments, even for the best of us, our own understanding of it must be.  Here we are, little half-animal, half-spiritual creatures, mysteriously urged from within and enticed from without to communion with spiritual reality.  If and when we surrender to this craving and this attraction, we enter thereby – [...]

PRAYER: The Stages Of Prayer by Carlos Carretto

November 3, 2014

From Letter from the Desert Prayer is words, poetry, song. Turn your ear, O Lord, and give answer For I am poor and needy. Show me, Lord, your way, so that I may walk in thy truth Guide my heart to fear your name. (Psalm 86) Often it contains a shout, a cry, a groan of anguish. Lord my God, I call for help by day; I cry at night before you. Let my prayer come into your presence. O turn your ear to my cry. For my soul is filled with evils; my life is on the brink of the grave. I am reckoned as one in the tomb: I have reached the end of my strength, like one alone among the dead; like the slain lying in their graves; like those you remember no more, cut off, as they are, from your hand. (Psalm 88) And sometimes an explosion of joy: I love [...]

THE PRODIGAL SON: Walk With Me Into The Story by Henri J. M. Nouwen

March 24, 2014

From Home Tonight Read with a vulnerable heart.  Expect to be blessed in the reading.  Read as one awake, one waiting for the beloved.  Read with reverence. (A Tree Full of Angels, by Macrina Wiederkehr) From the outset I encouraged you to allow the Scripture story of the return of the prodigal son to descend into you – to move from your mind into your heart – so that images in this story become etched in your spirit. I trust that something new will be born in you that is very different from what happened in me; something that is yours alone.  Simply know that how you receive this parable is truly important.  The parable and the painting [Rembrandt’s The Return of the Prodigal Son] are inviting you in, calling you to [...]

PRAYER: The Meaning Of Prayer by Dom I. Ryelandt

March 17, 2014

From The Quest for God The secret of the serene grandeur of Saint Benedict’s moral outlook and of the perfect balance of his doctrine is to be found in the habitual elevation of his soul to God.  Saint Benedict was a man of prayer. Every disciple of the Patriarch, even though he be living in the world, must have the earnest desire to supernaturalize his personal life by prayer. Too often Christians think of prayer as being simply a hasty recitation of sacred formulas.  Through routine they fail to realize what an honor it is for man to be able to enter into relations with God, to converse with him. It may be a help to us in our effort to raise up our hearts to God if we consider what are the necessary elements of all prayer.  To pray [...]

PRAYER: The De Mello Three-Minute Mediator by J. Francis Stroud

January 13, 2014

From Praying Naked: The Spirituality of Anthony de Mello, by J. Francis Stroud, SJ (Anthony de Mello was a priest and psychotherapist and is a popular Ignatian writer.) Meditation offers five advantages or rewards 1. Meditation helps you to live in the present.  It eliminates the tendency to relive now not only all the ills of the past, such as resentments, guilt, fears, but even the good experiences of the past.  Tony de Mello described it graphically by saying that when something good happens to you, you tuck it away in your little silver box and then, instead of enjoying the present moment (which is new, energizing, and exciting), you stop and look into your little silver box and contemplate nostalgically those past happy times. [...]

SERMON: The Heart Of Prayer by Francis de Sales

March 24, 2013

I still have to point out the distinction that exists in prayer, whether mental or vocal prayer.  In prayer we go to God in two ways, both of which have been recommended to – namely, sometimes we pray directly to God, and at other times indirectly, as when we say the anthems of our lady, the Salve Regina and others.  When we pray directly we exercise the filial confidence which is founded upon faith, hope, and charity; when we pray indirectly and through the intercession of another, we practice the holy humility which springs from self-knowledge.  When we go directly to God we proclaim his goodness and mercy, in which we place all our confidence; but when we pray indirectly, that is, when we implore the assistance of our lady, of the [...]

SERMON: Nightmare Interlude by Martin Thornton

March 21, 2013

From A Joyful Heart: Meditations for Lent My recurrent nightmare grows out of a pastoral dilemma.  I have hinted more than once against the prevalent habit amongst clergymen of treating their congregation, not only as an audience but as a near moronic one.  In the bad old days when a congregation was regarded as a crowd of individual spectators, there may have been some excuse, but with the concept of full participation within the organism of the Body of Christ such an attitude will no longer do.  Traditional Anglicanism claims appeal to mature religion, to a laity who are informed and knowledgeable.  Yet the idea persists: everything has to be simple, nice little moral tenets, and above all, no theology. It is a nineteenth-century [...]

SERMON: The Goal Of Prayer by Francis de Sales

March 3, 2013

Saint Bernard – whose ministry is dear to those who have to speak on prayer – in writing to a bishop, advised him that all that was necessary for him was to speak well (meaning to instruct, to discourse); then to do well in giving good example; and finally, to devote himself to prayer.  And we, addressing this to all Christians, shall dwell upon the third point, which is prayer. First, let us remark in passing that, although we condemn certain heretics of our time who hold that prayer is useless, we nevertheless do not hold with other heretics that it alone suffices for our justification.  We say simply that it is so useful and necessary that without it we could not come to any good, seeing that by means of prayer we are shown how to [...]

PRAYER: On Meditation by Thomas Merton

February 7, 2013

From Contemplative Prayer In meditation we do not seek to know about God as though he were an object like other objects which submit to our scrutiny and can be expressed in clear scientific ideas.  We seek to know God himself, beyond the level of all the objects which  he has made and which confront us as “things” isolated from one another, “defined,” “delimited,” with clear boundaries.  The infinite God has no boundaries and our minds cannot set limits to him or to his love.  His presence is then “grasped” in the general awareness of loving faith; it is “realized” without being scientifically and precisely known, as we know a specimen under a microscope.  His presence [...]

PRAYER: Intimacy, Art, and Meditation by Morton T. Kelsey

November 10, 2012

From The Other Side of Silence: A Guide to Christian Meditation One reason that we so often discuss prayer only superficially and intellectually is because this, in some ways, is the most personal and intimate aspect of one’s life.  Speaking about it is like laying oneself open for public examination.  Our meditations reveal what matters most to us, and it is not easy to stand naked before others in our weakness and fear and exaltation.  Perhaps it seems strange that contact with the Holy should be such a difficult experience to share.  Yet this is like telling of the intimate aspects of one’s love life. In reality meditation is the record of one’s love life with God.  Sharing it with another person is like taking someone into [...]

MEDITATION: Call by Michael Kennedy

September 27, 2012

From The Jesus Meditations: A Guide for Contemplation The Grace To hear the ways Jesus calls me in my life and to be willing and courageous enough to answer yes to his call. The Scripture After Jesus was arrested, Jesus went into Galilee and began preaching the Good News of God. He said, “The time has come; the kingdom of God is at hand. Change your ways and believe the Good News.” As Jesus was walking along the shore of Lake Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net in the lake, for they were fishermen. And Jesus said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” At once, they left their nets and followed him. Jesus went a little farther on and saw James and John, the sons of Zebedee; they were in [...]

PRAYER: Orientations — B. Forms of Solitary Prayer, by Jacqueline Syrup Bergan and S. Marie Schwan

August 13, 2012

From Birth: A Guide for Prayer Orientations Lord, teach us to pray. (Luke 11:1) Prayer is our personal response to God’s presence. We approach the Lord reverently with a listening heart. God speaks first. In prayer, we acknowledge the Divine presence and in gratitude respond to God in love. The focus is always on God and on what God does. The following suggestions are offered as ways of supporting and enabling attentiveness to God’s Word and our unique response. B. FORMS OF SOLITARY PRAYER There are various forms of scriptural prayer. Different forms appeal to different people. Eventually, by trying various methods, we become adept at using approaches that are appropriate to particular passages and are in harmony with our personality [...]

PRAYER: Sunday Evening Meditation by Sarah Kirby Trimmer

January 30, 2012

O Lord, I ask not for riches, I know too well the deceitfulness of them; I ask not for pleasures such as this world can give, for they have no charms which endure.  Let me but view your glorious and beautiful works, and live by your commandments, enjoying your Heavenly favor, and let the triflers of the world share all its trifles among them.  O Lord, I cannot but desire to possess your peace and, thanks to your goodness, often is this most inestimable blessing granted me. I resolve to keep God in my thoughts and Heaven in my view, to trust in the lord with all my might, and not to lean to my own understanding; to acknowledge him in all my ways, humbly trusting that he will by his grace and goodness direct my paths.  These, most [...]

SPIRITUALITY: On Spiritual Formation

December 30, 2011

Henri Nouwen, on his definition of spiritual formation, writes the following: Spiritual formation, I have come to believe, is not about steps or stages on the way to perfection.  It’s about the movements from the mind to the heart through prayer in its many forms that reunite us with God, each other, and our truest selves. Henri goes on to explain that in his context, the heart is the seat of everything: it is where the body, soul, and spirit come together.  He elaborates even on this by saying that in the Jewish-Christian tradition, the heart “refers to the source of all physical, emotional, intellectual, volitional, and moral energies.” That’s quite a mouthful, don’t you think? Henri views spiritual [...]