You are called to become a perfect creation.
No one is called to become
who you are called to be.
It does not matter how short or tall,
or thick-set or slow you may be.
It does not matter whether you sparkle with life
or are as silent as a still pool,
whether you sing your song aloud,
or weep in darkness.
It does not matter whether you feel loved
and admired, or unloved and alone.
For you are called to become a perfect creation.
No one’s shadow should cloud your becoming.
No one’s light should dispel your spark.
For the Lord delights in you
Jealously looks upon you
and encourages with gentle joy
every movement of the Spirit within you.
Unique and loved you stand.
Whether beautiful or stunted in your growth
You are never without hope and life.
For you are called to become a perfect creation.
This becoming may be gentle or harsh,
subtle or violent,
But it never ceases, never pauses or hesitates.
It is the creative force calling you.
Calling you to become a perfect creation.
FOUNDATIONS OF THE SPIRITUAL JOURNEY: Prayer is consent to the presence and action of God within us. Entering into Contemplative Prayer, we gather the heart, recollect the being, enter into the presence of the One who awaits us, and abide in the dwelling place of the Lord. The spiritual journey leads to freedom from the ego / self. Thomas Merton said: “I am free. There is no self to defend. I simply love.” The spiritual journey has 3 phases, based on Luke 9:26 where Jesus says that we must (1) deny ourselves; (2) take up our cross; (3) and follow Him. The 3 phases based on this, are (1) purgative; (2) illuminative; (3) unitive.
PURGATIVE: (deny ourselves): This consists of prayer, penance, and mortification. PRAYER must be more than simply saying good morning and good night to God, and please don’t interfere with my daily life in-between! PENANCE means we look at the stuff that we need to get rid of in our life. It is the hardship that is needed to free ourselves. MORTIFICATION means we have to let go of this stuff. It is so hard to believe you are a saint. It is so freeing to admit you are a sinner!
ILLUMINATIVE: (take up our cross): In this stage, we are no longer looking at ourselves, but at Christ. We begin to open up and pray from our heart. We become less of a fixed point of reference in our life, and Christ becomes more of a point of reference. We begin to appreciate and thank God for the gifts in our life. As our faith strengthens, we become more trusting. We feel more love, peace and joy in our lives. Because there is less of us, more of God starts coming through. We see and acknowledge this, and we thank God. We wake up to our gifts and strengths.
UNITIVE: (follow me): In this stage, we start to manifest the gifts and fruits of the Spirit. It is outward moving and enhancing. Generally, while our gifts are weak, we tend to be insecure and demanding. When our gifts are strong, we are generous with them because we are secure in them. Centering Prayer is infused contemplation – the Spirit takes over and infuses your life with its qualities. The Spirit begins to lead the dance in your life. You are tired of leading the dance – trying to control everything, so you step aside. There is less of you and more of Christ. As John the Baptist said: I must decrease; He must increase.
MAKING MUSIC WITH WHAT WE HAVE: Life is a dance with God. We must never remain static, but always be willing to enter deeper into the unknown, the mystery that is God, and open our hearts and minds more fully. The wrappings of the false self keep us bound and prevent us from growing. Like Lazarus, we must remove our grave cloths if we want to enter into abundant life. The call to sanctity is to make music with what we have. We think: I must have more and do more to please God. But actually: I must have less and allow God to do more! The spiritual journey is a journey of diminishment: less of ourselves and more God / Christ / Spirit. Our true self is that part of ourselves that is in sync with the Gospel and when we are acting from our true self, good actions come naturally, because at the core of our being we are the image and likeness of God. We must “Walk in the presence of the Lord, in the land of the living.” [Psalm 116:9]
THE GIFT OF LIFE: God doesn’t want our heads, he wants our hearts. Resolutions don’t count so much as they come from the head. God wants surrender that comes from the heart. What are our motives? That is the most important thing. We must empty ourselves so that we can be filled with God. The spiritual journey is a journey of diminishment, leading to the death of the false self. Then our true self is left and that is the true gift of life.
The spiritual journey is the Pascal Mystery over and over again: dying to the false self at ever deeper levels, and being resurrected in the Spirit. The human condition is torn between heaven and earth (naked cross). God is with us (body on cross). We are forgiven. We have to sacrifice our (false) selves. We have to face our darkness (Christ went to the depths of hell to raise it up). We must move on (Christ was only on the cross for 3 hours; we are not meant to stay there). After dying, we must resurrect and ascend to our higher true self that is one with God (ascension) .... Lead us along your path, O Lord. May our territory expand so that we will do things we never thought we would do. Anyone who enters our circle, (including ourselves), treat with love, acceptance, respect, dignity and blessing.
[Extracts from talks by Fr Carl Arico from America, Vice President and one of the founding members of Contemplative Outreach, at Conference / Retreat in Cape Town in early May]
"Contemplative Prayer is a process of interior transformation, leading, if we consent, to Divine union. We come to know and live from the Divine Mystery within us. The fruit of Contemplative Prayer manifests through a growing awareness of God as the Source and Center of all, and in the increasing capacity to live ordinary life with extra-ordinary love."
May the Great Birther who created you in wholeness,
comfort you when you call.
May the name of Love be your protection
and rise up in your heart as a tower of strength.
May all you have given in gratitude and with open hands
be returned to you a hundredfold.
May your heart’s desires and all of Love’s plans for you
be fulfilled in due season.
Let us shout for joy as Love triumphs over fear;
Let our thankful hearts sing in loud acclamation to the Beloved,
who answers our heartfelt prayers for well-being.
Now I know that Love comes to all who open their hearts,
And dwells therein offering gifts of peace and harmony.
Some may boast of wealth and personal power;
but they will stumble and fall.
let us boast of the One who comes in the name of Love,
and we shall rise up strong and sure.
O Beloved, You who created us, You bless us with your Love,
For you are the Divine Guest dwelling within our hearts.
[Psalm 20 from Psalms for Praying]