Wednesday, March 31, 2010

A time of sacrifice - Great Lent

We are midway through Holy Week today...Wednesday! Imagine that!
I am going to Church tonight to a Holy Unction service and staying the night in Santa Fe.

I always love traveling New Mexico roads this time of year as there are lots of walkers on the road. You might wonder what a walker is. In the Roman Church many of the faithful walk to a church,usually El Santuario de Chimayo in this part of the world. El Santuario (The Shrine) was built between l8l4 and l8l6.

As I went down to church on Tuesday morning, there was a lone walker carrying a wooden cross. It was probably about 24" x 12", beautifully and carefully carved in a spiral design. I left early in the morning and by early afternoon as I was coming back I passed him again looking hot and tired. He had traveled about 20 miles. May God richly bless his sweet heart. He filled my heart passing him both times.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

The Jesus Prayer

I probably have used this title before and I am sure that I will use it again.

I was listening this morning to Metropolitan (used to be Abbot) Jonah's talk, From Psychology to Spirituality, (available through Holy Trinity CD's). I love having the series with me in the car as I drive around and do my errands. All I need is a little snippet of what he is saying to pray around and think about all day.

This morning's little piece had to do with thoughts...thoughts that you act on or that fill your head. He commented a few days ago during another errand, how our thoughts are 90% of who we are, an important point. Also on how thoughts run rampant. Mine were running rampant this morning.

As I left this morning to pick up a few necessities, I had to turn around midway up the road because I didn't think I had locked the back door. Sure enough I hadn't. Off again...this time I made it all the way to Walmart and realized I didn't have my purse. Hmmm. Back down the road, unlock the back door get the purse, go back to Walmart. I was exhausted already and hadn't even started. Does that tell you something about thoughts that are out of control?

Metropolitan Jonah meanwhile was saying something on the CD that was really important to my day. I am paraphrasing:'The thing to do is take charge of your thoughts and not to let them run you. Even the Buddhists feel that enlightenment is reached when the thoughts are conquered. The thing that they are missing is Christ, the Personal and the Other that comes into your being changes you, embrases you and temporaily pulls you into the Kingdom. To get there you have to work on get rid of the thoughts.'

He talks further about how if you can do this the world becomes illumined and one can see God in His creation, in those around one no matter who they are, no matter what their beliefs are.

I know because this is about the third time I have listened to this CD that the Jesus Prayer plays a very important part in taking your space back from the thoughts.

It seems to me that the Jesus prayer takes some time to get into, to break in so to speak, sort of like a pair of really good shoes. It becomes comfortable and helps you mightily down the path of life.

My goal this morning is to practice the prayer.

And by the way this CD package is highly recommended!

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Soul Saturday

On the OCA (Orthodox Church of America) website, I always enjoy the Feasts and Saints section which shows the icons of the day of Saints who are being honored, as well as telling their stories. I found in today's search that it is Soul Saturday. There is a custom, in honor of the soul of one who has reposed, that a donation is given, as well as prayer, as a remembrance to God.

In the printout it says:

"The angel who spoke to Cornelius testifies to the efficacy of almsgiving, 'Your prayers and your alms have ascended as a memorial before God." (Acts 10:4)

That is an interesting thought to me-of the spirit of giving ascending to God as a prayer, as alms. Here are a spiritual treasure and a material object side by side.

Somehow this 'picture' is very intriguing to me.

I have been thinking a lot lately about 'Mystery'. That is, that which is hidden and suddenly revealed. How are mystery and miracle alike?

An illustration of mystery:

I have had a lot of conversations with different people in the last few days about wild animals that have suddenly come into view, always surprising the viewer.

Depending on where you live that sometimes happens often, still it always seems a surprise when suddenly they are there. One realizes that they are around you, perhaps even seeing footprints showing that they are there, but not seeing the actual creature until whoa...there it is.

Mystery has that element of surprise. All of the sudden a 'wow' or
'look!' sort of thing.

Going back to the original theme, (giving alms in memory of someone, as a memorial to someone), I tend to think of that kind of gift primarily as a comfort to the family of the reposed, when in fact there is a MUCH bigger motion involved. It is an act that contains amazing mystery, an act unexpected in its outcome. Giving from your treasure (that which is carefully used, guarded even) in memory of a person for whom you have a regard.

It says that giving -period- has that power, but giving of what you guard...what you find most precious, has an even greater power.

That is a surprising mystery!