Tag Archive: faith


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This week The Carmelite Centre has hosted a Symposium called: The Once and Future Reformation: The Way of the Spirit.  The Symposium, 500 years on from Luther event, offers an opportunity to talk about the current need for renewal and reformation today, in the churches and in the world. The Symposium was diverse, ecumenical, and imaginative. Three days of lectures, reflections and discussion on ways of learning from the past, of living in the present and of looking to the future.

Dialogue Today & Tomorrow – Ken Petersen

O that today you would listen to his voice!
Harden not your hearts as at Meribah
Psalm 94

 

Contemplative listening requires the 3 R’s

Resonance – what rings true to your experience/affirms?
Resistance – what am I resisting?
Realignment – as a result has something shifted for you? what?

 

We are here to awaken from the illusion of our separateness.
Thich Nhat Hanh

 

Dialogue is two-way communication speaking/listening, giving/receiving for mutual growth and enrichment.

  • human level reciprocal listening àinterpersonal communion
  • respect and friendship
  • religious plurality “all positive and constructive interreligious relations with individuals and communities of other faiths.

Dialogue is rooted in the nature of the person and their dignity.
Pope Saint John Paul II

Forms of dialogue: sharing life, action – liberation of people, theological exchange, religious experience. Praying is not about “talking” but listening. Why can’t we (people of different faiths) sit together in silence.

In true dialogue both sides are willing to change.
Thich Nhat Hanh

Dialogue is not simply an exchange of ideas.
In some ways it is always an exchange of gifts.
Pope Saint John Paul II

Hie ist gotes grunt mîn grunt und mîn grunt gotes grunt”: “Here, God’s ground is my ground and my ground God’s ground” – Meister Eckhart… then man is no longer simply on the way towards unity (unio). Instead, unity is something that has always already been achieved.

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Pierre Marie Teilhard de Chardin – A modern religious crisis – David Moore

Teilhard spent half his life in exile. Buried in New York an there were only 10 mourners. Teilhard illuminates:

  • new paradigm
  • long view-evolutionary
  • radiant example of a human being

Despite war, revolution, atomic threat, exile… Teilhard maintained constant optimism and held no bitterness… how? Mysticism.

Mysticism

  • unitive (vision for humankind and everything)
  • supreme loving consciousness “Without mysticism there can be no successful religion” love and fire (were the same thing as he writes it).
  • evolutive (sacred heart and evolution/science) Contradictory truths of faith and science. “I am a child of earth before I am a child of God” and “the nature of nature is to change”

What is your crisis? What is your diagnosis?

Matter becoming spirit – “spirit-matter” – the process that restores this dualism.

Materialism suggests “there is no mind because you can’t prove it” – we’ve got down to atoms and we know that there’s still more beyond that >> soul >>”spirit-matter”.

Scientific and religion crises are rooted in the same problem. Prognosis – need both. They are animated by the same life. Noosphere = interconnectedness of mind/consciousness e.g. precursor of internet. Humans need to fulfil our obligation. “We are the axis and the arrow of evolution” >> reciprocity.

God is the centre of the cosmos but evolution depends on both the human and divine energies.

DIAGNOSIS PROGNOSIS
GOD Externalised, concretised As: dynamic, Omega Point > towards completion
SPIRIT/MIND/

CONSCIOUSNESS

Severed from matter Unified: brain/mind/spirit
CREATION Static/fixed – separated from the Creator Dynamic, evolutive, unfolding process converging towards completion. “Complexity Consciousness”
CHRIST Single, individual superhero – law/judgement Archetype of consciousness, anthropogenesis, cosmogenesis àgenesis is still happening
HUMANKIND Mere spectators Creation becoming conscious
SALVATION Rescue, doctrines, fall/original sin Noogenesis >cost of labour and suffering

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Seeking the Way of the Spirit living Jesus’ commands to love: for Christians, our church in our world, learning from our past, for our future hope through Love in our present – Carol McDonough

Old ways as well as new ways.

  • roots, learn from tradition and current best practice
  • ways of learning from the past
  • ways of living in the present
  • ways of looking to the future

Popes of Coptics and Franciscans – blind child chooses from 3 envelopes > spirit-led

Sunni Grand Imam Ahmed al-Tayeb and Pope Francis > inter-religious dialogue. There’s more that unites than divides us.

A reformation of hope requires a reformation of faith
Prof Jurgen Moltmann

“We will keep the earth alive
by our love and by our choices”
Fay White, Universe’s Daughter

The theological implications of the contemporary
move from a culture of dispute to a culture of dialogue.
Prof Jurgen Moltmann

This is precisely the time when artists go to work.
There is no time for despair, no place for self-pity,
no need for silence, no room for fear.
Toni Morrison

In such times of civilizational trauma, when the book of life itself seems to have come unbound, where are the artists?
Maria Popova

Nothing new would ever be built if nothing was ever broken.

Christ has no body now but yours – St Teresa of Avila

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Ancient Roots, New Expressions: How the Spirituality and Praxis of Christian Contemplatives are being reshaped by the demands of living in an Evolving Universe and a Planet in ecological crisis – Ruth Harrison

Call to live contemplatively in the everyday. Raimon Panikkar had 3 PhDs in philosophy, chemistry and theology… lived out of a space of intrareligious dialogue. Left home a Christian, became Hindu, left Buddhist but would say he never stopped being Christian.  “not alone with the Alone but a harmonious complexity

“Panikkar proposes that the Christian doctrine of the Trinity reveals a structure of reality that is comprehensively universal. ‘The Trinitarian intuition is neither exclusively Christian doctrine, no a monopoly of ‘God’. It reveals the most fundamental character of Reality. Being is trinitarian.’ [Program for the Gifford Lectures, 1988/89, 1, 5.]”
– Ewert Cousins, “Panikkar’s Advaitic Trinity”, pp. 119-120 in The Intercultural Challenge of Raimon Panikkar, ed. Joseph Prabhu. Orbis Books, Maryknoll, 1996.

Panikkar’s “Radical Trinity”

Comparing 3 ways humans approach the Divine with the 3 classical paths of the Bhagavad Gita…

HINDUISM

THE TRINITY

THE  TRINITY AND
WORLD RELIGIONS

Karma = action – of worship
The spirituality of the worship of God, through a divine name e.g. Yahweh, Allah
FATHER
Silence, transcendence
BUDDHISM
The religion on the silence of the Father
The Silence of the Buddha
Bhakti = devotion – personalism
The way of devotion and love, the gift of oneself to the Lord this way demands a meeting of persons
SON
Christ, logos
JUDAISM, CHRISTIANITY, ISLAM
Revelations of the mystery of the Son
Jnana = advaita = not two – intimately related (not one) knowledge, pure contemplation
Spirit – of Absolute “being”
SPIRIT
Immanence
HINDUISM
As in the Upanishads
The religion of the unity of the Spirit

This intuition ultimately results from a mystical experience and as such is ineffable.  …It is the fruit of a simple and immediate insight which dawns upon Man’s awareness once he has glimpsed the core where knower, known and knowledge meet.

In this vision, the world is not a habitat or an external part of the whole or even of myself. The World is simply that greater body which I only imperfectly notice because I am generally too concerned with my own particular business. My relationship with the World is ultimately no different from my relationship with myself: the World and I differ, but there are not two separate realities, for we share each other’s life, existence, being, history and destiny in a unique way.

Panikkar

Man…is ultimately more than an individual.
Man is a person, a knot in the net of relationships…
reaching out to the very antipodes of the real… Man is only Man
with the sky above, the Earth below, and his fellow beings all around. But just as “individualizing” the human being is tantamount to
cutting the umbilical cord which gives him life, so isolating
Man from God and the World equally strangulates him.

Panikkar

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Holy Disruption: A Quaker Experience of Reformation Then and Now – David Buller

{have a time of meditation}
how was that? did you have your eyes open or closed? …I ask is my heart open or closed?

Quaker silence holds an anticipation that God will speak to us.

  • something of the divine is in every person
  • seekers and also finders
  • vision of the truth again and again, will grow and change.

This provides an inward teaching and there is no need for sermons/preaching.

Experience New Testament church without the cumber of previous generations.  He has come and is with us, we don’t need to wait.  He is not a Jew that is won outward but inward. Quakers believed you told the truth ALL the time. Often played a role as mediators.

Faith getting in the way of comfort. Quakers taken to court for possessions lost cases because they wouldn’t take the oath.

You can’t negate (kill) someone in whom God dwells.

No war tax/profit from violence/slave trade or asylums. The Retreat was a therapeutic model providing a humane space for those experiencing mental illness.

“The likeness we bear to Jesus is more important
than our notions of Him”
Lucretia
(hiding slaves and boycotting products)

Quakers work on education for peace, skills to handle violence, build peace, non-violent activism, engage with broader movements > Greenpeace, Oxfam, UN.

A Quaker who owned a factory might provide social housing for the workers employed and run a school providing education for women and children.

Sit in silence. Talking with God.
You’ll get a job to do.

“turning on a tap impacts others….
let me live as lightly and delicately as possible”.

 

Respond to the presence of Spirit, light and truth.
Recognise other wisdom – written and lived.

 

“This I know experimentally, ” Elizabeth Watson,
“we augment one another and we need one another”

The inner light is not frozen it is dynamic…

Ref: Quakers in Aotearoa booklet

A Holy Remnant – whatever other chaos is going on. Meet in North Melbourne in the Kathleen Symes Library. New building 484 Williams St. “Hold this in the light”

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Reform: Spirituality and the Person of Jesus: Christian Holiness as Deification (Theiosis) – Francis (Frank) Moloney

500 years on from Luther, I’m going to talk about reform, spirituality and the personification of Jesus.

Blessed Isaac of Stella, French monk 1100-1169, concept of theiosis “The faithful and spiritual members of Christ can say they are what he is” What is his nature, they are sharing; what he births, they adopt.

Pope & Emperor – the power of the two keys – corruption in Princes and church leaders.
11th century saw a shift from a Church whose foundation was law to Church preserved from secular authority.

1082-1084 Henry besieged Rome, forced Gregory VII into Castille > both died in exile. Isaac of Stella living in the midst f this.  Recaptured theiosis. Exiled for harbouring Thomas Beckett (1164) Isaac died (1169). Popes in Avignon. Schism resolved by Catherine of Sienna. Rome needed to be restored to its former glory – theological and spiritual dissatisfaction increased.

Martin Luther Oct 1517 affixed thesis – he didn’t come from nowhere, broke ranks.

  • lost touch with its roots
  • liturgical rhythms and practices
  • Word of God, Work of Jesus

“only Word, only faith, only Christ”.  Principle rejected everything that couldn’t be found in the Old Testament.  Purity of Christian thought and practice didn’t last – series of wars… Protestant town but then the next town Catholic… whatever the religion of the Priest, the region must take it.

Erasmus, Catholic priest. Back to beginnings. Church not perfect but self-sufficient. “Enlightenment” rejected as false, something that could not be proved.  US/Germany/ Russia revolution against Catholic church.

1870 Infallibility of Pope – Vatican I, took further than Council intended.

1491-1660 Frances de Sales, Vincent de Paul, Teresa of Avila… these figures living out the reform – cared for sick, dying…

Vatican II honoured what these people did and lived for.  What was considered dangerously close to Protestant thought now endorsed by the highest authority.  COuncil of Trent “return to the sources”. Fierce opposition to Pope Francis > he speaks to gospel and concern for humankind.  Time of rebirth. Divinisation of the individual at the heart of God.

Instead of a top-down reflection on who we are, return to sources in bottom up.  Whatever is honorable, pleasing… worthy of praise, dwell on these things (Paul) Christian humanism – benign relationship between nature and grace.

1965 Jesuit le mystere (the mystery of the supernatural)
Natural > supernatural > showed that to be a false idea. The development of human excellence depends on an understanding of what it means to be human.  Based on ‘do’ sport/IT/social… >sense of self-worth, used by Government, funding depends on it. Danger > lose sight of who we are, lose sight of that when we focus on what we can “do”.

Need to recognise every human as mystery at the core of their being.
Love and be loved.

Share faith and commitment with others…sexual desire, pain, crying… why is it so important to feel love then, from death or distance, loss? Gives great capacity.  These are things that matter for the human spirit.  You are the only you to have ever existed. We each have a unique history. We allow others to shape our human history and we shape theirs.

What matters is loving and being loved. Only free action we will perform – saying yes to God in moment of death.  What we do is not the final measure of who we are.

This is what is deepest in us but what forms us is beyond our control… it transcends us. Why did I cry? Why did I love that man/woman? It’s beyond us but forms us and the choices we make about our lives. I need to find the keys to my own heart (self) before finding keys for others.  Recognise the mystery of yourself as beyond your control. we have all experiences signs of the divine within us. Be open to and transformed by the transcendent. All human beings share in the divine.

Called to develop a personal relationship with Jesus Christ – what does that mean? Lifestyle is directed by gospel values > exciting pathway to be authentically Christian. Yearn for divine home. “You have made us for Yourself, we are restless, until we rest in You”. Only human –  that’s not your weakness but your strong-point. Jesus blessed with the human and the divine.

To be Christian = to be like Christ.

Jesus was unconditionally human in all things but sin.  Loved, hoped, sang, danced, prayed, suffered… We sin when we do not respond out of our best humanity (selfish, jealous, arrogant…) Sin is rejecting the experience of divine within me that yearns for wholeness/fulfillment. John – “whoever says they are like Him must walk like Him”. Impact of our choices on how we live (gospel) > no one is talking about that.

A mystery of faith. In Jesus – the Divine Sphere invaded the Human. Good/bad, sacred/sinful… Jesus never reneged on the divine.  There was no ambiguity about His “yes” to all that was human within Him. “Abba” – unswerving commitment to living the presence of God as king.  Conflicted but trusting, not without fear or anguish but trusting God would have the last word.

The Human realised its potential and lived into the Divine in Jesus.

Christology and discipleship intersect.
Jesus’ life consisted of saying “yes” to God.
Jesus’ death consisted of God’s “yes” to Jesus.
Costs Jesus no less than everything.

Jesus could do this because He was Son, only one… can we do it?

We are all capable of repeating the lifestyle of Jesus and realising the fullness of God. Graced by baptism to have grace of discipleship. Paul: Blessed to cry out Abba Father to Romans/Galatians.

Betray our true selves, to be like unto God as Jesus was.  Called to recognise our dignity.  Revealed God to us and raised us to God.  The glory of God is the human fully realised.

There should be no separation between our secular life and Christian practice.  loving, laughter, mission, dancing, praying and eating… all form part of the journey to be as Christ was. Ref: Ignatius Loyola, Thomas of Aquinas, Karl Rainer…

I find myself in the world and on my way to God.
I find myself being both at once.
I cannot be one without the other.

John’s invitation: “Come and see…” (see joyful, loving, caring people > witness not word).

We are given chance after chance, after chance to respond in Christ-like ways… to say “yes” or “no”

Not “want you to be saved” but rather “sharing the invitation I know”.

Jesus: “Abba, I want this chalice to pass from me but Your will not mine”
John: “I will do the will of the One who sent me and brings it to perfection”

Obedience is an unconditional “yes” to God.

You are faithful

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You are faithful
beyond an expectation.
You can still surprise me
and make me laugh.
Reveal things of extraordinary beauty
and terrible emptiness.
Having both helps us to appreciate
the beauty more.
You in the hard spaces – yes
and the mundane and inane too.
I am so grateful for You.

Talitha Fraser

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Merciful God, we offer to you the fears in us that have not yet been cast out by love

 

Let us pray for all who suffer, and ask that God would give us peace:

For all who have died in the violence of war,
conflicts or acts of terror,
each one remembered and known to God.
May God give peace

For those who love them in death as in life,
offering to God the distress of our grief
and the sadness of our loss.
May God give peace

For all the peace-keepers and peacemakers,
and all who are in danger this day,
remembering especially their families and friends.
May God give peace

For those whose lives are disfigured by war,
conflict, acts of terror or injustice,
calling to mind in penitence the anger and hatreds of humanity
May God give peace

For all who bear the burden and privilege of leadership,
political, military and religious; asking for gifts of wisdom
and resolve in the search for reconciliation and peace.
May God give peace

For our country Australia, its land and seas;
its struggles in adversity, its courage and hope;
for tolerance and our respect for one another,
and our commitment for justice and reconciliation for all
May God give peace

O God of truth and justice,
we hold before you those whose memory we cherish,
and those whose names we’ll never know.
Help us to lift our eyes above the torment of this broken world, and
grant us the grace to pray for those who wish us harm.
As we honour the past,
may we put our faith in your future;
for you are the source of life and hope,
now and forever.

Amen

 

 

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On the weekend of 24-25 September Whitley College hosted a conference called Constitutions and Treaties: Law, Justice, Spirituality – these are notes from session 5 of 9. We acknowledge that this gathering, listening and learning occurred of the land of the Wurundjeri People of the Kulin Nations and offer our respects to their elders past and present, and all visiting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island visitors present.

 

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Need to recognise culture AND faith.  Deal was made with me and with the land.  Parity not vassal treaty. Joshua violated the treaty.

What if churches dared to take the lead and make an apology – a sacred apology?

Primal is the one we share. Abraham recognised the Creator Spirit… El Elyon – Maker of Sea and Sky. Abraham made a treaty with the indigenous people of Canaan.

 

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Ch 2, p8

“The surrender of faith does not happen in one moment but is an extended journey, a trust walk, a gradual letting go, unlearning and handing over… to finally surrender ourselves to healing, we have to have three spaces opened up within us – and all at the same time: our opinionated head, our closed-down heart, and our defensive and defended body… the work of ‘a Power greater than ourselves’, and it will lead to great luminosity and seeing.”

Richard Rohr

Let me love You

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photo credit: Johan Bergström-Allen, http://www.carmelite.org/

the gold loses its lustre
candlelight yields
a warm reflection
but these are
sacred and ordinary things
fabric, candleholders, cross
they aren’t imbued with any
special strength of their own
how then shall I love You?
the dust motes suspended
in light from the window
they are golden too
and the fine
sunlit hairs of my arms
they are golden too
let me love You on
the ordinary and extraordinary days
let me love You in
ordinary and extraordinary ways
let me love You

 

Talitha Fraser

 

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Camping for Easter in the Brisbane Ranges and I have brought along Cheryl Lawrie’s beautiful Pocket Liturgies for reflection…

confession

you see all and know all
or so they seem fond of saying.

you call us beloved.
which is all well and good from your side
but you can have no idea how hard it is to be loved.

[we know the bit inside us
which is beyond loving;
too awful to be named,
too hard to save,
even for you.]

we confess that we do not believe you can change us
we confess that we do not believe that we can start again
we confess that we do not know how to have faith.

so do what you can with that.

amen.

 

[p.37, Hold This Space Pocket Liturgies by Cheryl Lawrie]


 

Let me learn how to be loved
how to let love in
how to give it freely
and receive it in
whatever form it might appear
let love in, and out, in and out
let us breathe
and give air to love

that is where I am

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that is where I am right now
in a cloud of unknowing
I cannot see the way forward
I cannot tell if I am falling, floating
or still
I say “Here I am, send me”
trusting You to lead me through
my fears
and I will not go back

 

Talitha Fraser

 

Small Things

You are a God of small  things.

Snapped shoe laces, the sticking utensil drawer

Outreaching arm over the cold side of the bed

Watching the bus you’re meant to be on go by

(and the one after that)

Siren chaser, conflict avoider, the job I don’t want to go to much today

What I needed to bring and forgot,

What I wanted to say but didn’tplaydough people

(the stupid thing I say instead)

You – in my fears, real or imagined

You – my consolation and my comfort

You – there always in all things

You

Talitha Fraser

…metabolise pain as energy.  The key to doing that is to know, to trust, and to act as if a silver lining exists if you are only willing to look at the work differently or to walk through a different door, one that you may have baulked at.

(p.135, Julia Cameron, The Artists Way)