The Christian of the future will be a mystic or he will not exist at all.
Be at peace with your own soul, then heaven and earth will be at peace with you. Eagerly enter into the treasure house that is within you, and so you will see the things that are in heaven; for there is but one single entry to them both. The ladder that leads to the Kingdom is hidden within your soul.
Saint Isaac the Syrian
The grace of salvation, the grace of Christian wholeness that flowers in silence, dispels this illusion of separation. For when the mind is brought to stillness, and all our strategies of acquisition have dropped, a deeper truth presents itself: we are and have always been one with God and we are all one in God (Jn 17:21)
Nothing in all creation is so like God as stillness.
The important thing is not to think much, but to love much; and so do that which best stirs you to love.
St. Teresa of Ávila
“No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main. If a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friend’s or of thine own were: any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bells tolls; it tolls for thee.”
I pray you: seek more to embody God than to merely have knowledge of God. For knowledge can deceive us with pride, but a meek, loving awareness will not deceive. Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up (I Corinthians 8:1). Knowledge leads to travail, whereas awareness leads to rest.
The Book of Privy Counselling
Whenever anything disagreeable or displeasing happens to you remember Christ crucified and be silent.
John of the Cross
Every word, every image used for God is a distortion more than a description.
Anthony de Mello
As your meditation becomes deeper it will defend you from the perpetual assaults of the outer world. You will hear the busy hum of that world as a distant exterior melody, and know yourself to be in some sort withdrawn from it. You have set a ring of silence between you and it; and behold! within that silence you are free.
“Whether it’s in the stillness of silent meditation, walking a labyrinth, or centering prayer; the practice of engaging with scripture through Lectio Divina, the Ignatian tradition’s Daily Examen; or a combination of Buddhist mindfulness, Kundalini breath work and Taizé prayer, many young adults are happy (to borrow a line from Van Morrison) to sail into the mystic.”
It seems to me that I have found my Heaven on earth, since Heaven is God, and God is in my soul. The day I understood that, everything became clear to me. I would like to whisper this secret to those I love so they too might always cling to God through everything.
Blessed Elizabeth of the Trinity
The man who is contented to be only himself, and therefore less a self, is in prison… Here, as in worship, in love, in moral action, and in knowing, I transcend myself; and am never more myself than when I do.
C. S. Lewis
There is nothing to be dreaded in human ills except sin—not poverty, or disease, or insult, or ill treatment, or dishonor, or death, which people call the worst of evils. To those who love spiritual wisdom, these things are only the names of disasters, names that have no substance. No, the true disaster is to offend God, to do anything that displeases him.
St. John Chrysostom
True contemplation is not a psychological trick but a theological grace. It can come to us ONLY as a gift, and not as a result of our own clever use of spiritual techniques.
The central miracle asserted by Christians is the incarnation. They say that God became man.
C. S. Lewis
The Incarnation is the ultimate reason why the service of God cannot be divorced from the service of man.
Non-Christians seem to think that the Incarnation implies some particular merit or excellence in humanity. But of course it implies just the reverse: a particular demerit and depravity. No creature that deserved Redemption would need to be redeemed. They that are whole need not the physician. Christ died for men precisely because men are not worth dying for; to make them worth it.
C. S. Lewis
The purpose and cause of the incarnation was that He might illuminate the world by His wisdom and excite it to the love of Himself.
The Self-revealing of the Word is in every dimension – above, in creation; below, in the Incarnation; in the depth, in Hades; in the breadth, throughout the world. All things have been filled with the knowledge of God.
Athanasius of Alexandria
The incarnation is “a kind of vast joke whereby the Creator of the ends of the earth comes among us in diapers Until we too have taken the idea of the God-man seriously enough to be scandalized by it, we have not taken it as seriously as it demands to be taken.
Disguise is central to God’s way of dealing with us human beings. Not because God is playing games with us but because the God who is beyond our knowing makes himself known in the disguise of what we can know. The Christian word for this is revelation, and the ultimate revelation came by incarnation. … God is the master of disguises, in order that we might see.
Richard John Neuhaus
Man’s maker was made man that He, Ruler of the stars, might nurse at His mother’s breast; that the Bread might hunger, the Fountain thirst, the Light sleep, the Way be tired on its journey; that Truth might be accused of false witnesses, the Teacher be beaten with whips, the Foundation be suspended on wood; that Strength might grow weak; that the Healer might be wounded; that Life might die.
The Lord did not come to make a display. He came to heal and to teach suffering men. For one who wanted to make a display the thing would have been just to appear and dazzle the beholders. But for Him Who came to heal and to teach the way was not merely to dwell here, but to put Himself at the disposal of those who needed Him, and to be manifested according as they could bear it, not vitiating the value of the Divine appearing by exceeding their capacity to receive it.
Athanasius of Alexandria
Advent increases our hope, a hope which does not disappoint. The Lord never lets us down.
In the silence of a midwinter dusk, there is a sound so faint that for all you can tell it may be only the sound of the silence itself. You hold your breath to listen. You are aware of the beating of your heart. The extraordinary thing that is about to happen is matched only by the extraordinary moment just before it happens. Advent is the name of that moment.
The Lord is coming, always coming. When you have ears to hear and eyes to see, you will recognize him at any moment of your life. Life is Advent; life is recognizing the coming of the Lord
The celebration of Advent is possible only to those who are troubled in soul, who know themselves to be poor and imperfect, and who look forward to something greater to come.
The season of Advent means there is something on the horizon the likes of which we have never seen before … What is possible is to not see it, to miss it, to turn just as it brushes past you. And you begin to grasp what it was you missed, like Moses in the cleft of the rock, watching God’s [back] fade in the distance. So stay. Sit. Linger. Tarry. Ponder. Wait. Behold. Wonder. There will be time enough for running. For rushing. For worrying. For pushing. For now, stay. Wait. Something is on the horizon.
Jan L. Richardson
Advent: the time to listen for footsteps – you can’t hear footsteps when you’re running yourself.
A prison cell, in which one waits, hopes…and is completely dependent on the fact that the door of freedom has to be opened from the outside, is not a bad picture of Advent.
I don’t think we’ll understand Advent correctly until we see it as a preparation for a revolution.
For outlandish creatures like us, on our way to a heart, a brain, and courage, Bethlehem is not the end of our journey but only the beginning – not home but the place through which we must pass if ever we are to reach home at last.
Do not give your heart to that which does not satisfy your heart.
― Abba Poemen
Abba Zeno said, ‘If a man wants God to hear his prayer quickly, then before he prays for anything else, even his own soul, when he stands and stretches out his hands towards God, he must pray with all his heart for his enemies. Through this action God will hear everything that he asks.’
“As he was dying, Abba Benjamin taught his sons this: Do this, and you’ll be saved: Rejoice always, pray constantly, and in all circumstances give thanks.”
Abba Sisoes said: Seek God and not where God lives.
Without great vigilance a man does not advance in even a single virtue — Abba Ammonas
“Religions should be understood as only the fingers that point to the moon, not the moon itself.”
“Jesus is never upset at sinners; he is only upset with people who do not think they are sinners.”
“Most of us were taught that God would love us if and when we change. In fact, God loves you so that you can change. What empowers change, what makes you desirous of change is the experience of love. It is that inherent experience of love that becomes the engine of change.”
“God is always bigger than the boxes we build for God, so we should not waste too much time protecting the boxes.”
“Religion is one of the safest places to hide from God.”
“It’s important to note that Jesus and Christ are two different faith affirmations. Hardly any Christians have been taught that – they think “Christ” is Jesus’s last name.”
“All great spirituality is about what we do with our pain. If we do not transform our pain, we will transmit it to those around us.”
“The most common one-liner in the Bible is, “Do not be afraid.” Someone counted, and it occurs 365 times.”
“The people who know God well—mystics, hermits, prayerful people, those who risk everything to find God—always meet a lover, not a dictator.”
“The cross is the standing statement of what we do to one another and to ourselves. The resurrection is the standing statement of what God does to us in return.”
“To the degree, you have experienced intimacy with God, you won’t be afraid of death because you’re experiencing the first tastes and promises of heaven in this world.”
“Life is not a matter of creating a special name for ourselves, but of uncovering the name we have always had.”
“God comes to us disguised as our life.”
“When we sense the direction in which our heart is yearning, then we realize: In that direction lies God.”
“I’m not talking about long hours of prayer, long hours of meditation, spiritual reading or studying, or anything like that – because the essence of monastic life does not consist in any of those. Those are all means to an end. The end – in all of the monastic traditions, of both East and West – consists in cultivating mindfulness, being mindful. And “mindful” may be a little misleading, because it sounds a bit much like mind-over-body, but it has nothing to do with mind over or against body. I think “wholeheartedness” is the English word that expresses better what mindfulness as a technical term means; that you respond to every situation from your center, from your heart – that you listen with your heart to every situation, and your heart elicits the response.”
“Gratefulness is the only appropriate response to that which is given – and this life is a given. Every human being can realize that: We didn’t make ourselves, we didn’t even choose this life. If you train yourself to be grateful for everything, every moment, then when you come to something that you don’t like, you realize it’s still given and you have to deal with it. You will be alert to the gift within every gift, which is opportunity. In this case it may not be opportunity to enjoy but primarily the opportunity to do something about it.”
“The Word is, by definition, immanent in the divinity and active in the world, and as such the Father’s revelation. A revelation of the Father without the Logos and his incarnation would be like speaking without words.”
― Karl Rahner, The Trinity
“The mystery of the Holy Trinity is the most fundamental of our faith. On it everything else depends and from it everything else derives. Hence the Church’s constant concern to safeguard the revealed truth that God is One in nature and Three in Persons.”
—FATHER JOHN A. HARDON, S.J
“The Father is from no one; the Son is from the Father only; and the Holy Spirit is from both the Father and the Son equally. God has no beginning; He always is, and always will be. The Father is the progenitor, the Son is the begotten, the Holy Spirit is proceeding. They are all one substance, equally great, equally all-powerful, equally eternal.”
–Fourth Lateran Council, 1215
“The Father is entirely in the Son and entirely in the Holy Spirit; the Son is entirely in the Father and entirely in the Holy Spirit; the Holy Spirit is entirely in the Father and entirely in the Son. None of the persons precedes any of the others in eternity, nor does any have greater immensity or greater power. From eternity, without beginning, the Son is from the Father; and from eternity and without beginning, the Holy Spirit has proceeded from the Father and the Son.”
–The Council of Florence, 1439
The Father, Who is Justice, is not without the Son or the Holy Spirit; and the Holy Spirit, Who kindles the heart of the faithful, is not without the Father and the Son; and the Son, Who is the plenitude of fruition, is not without the Father or the Holy Spirit; they are inseparable in Divine Majesty.
-Hildegard of Bingen
“Since my youth, I think that I have never lost the intuition that community life could be a sign that God is love, and love alone. Gradually the conviction took shape in me that it was essential to create a community with men determined to give their whole life and who would always try to understand one another and be reconciled, a community where kindness of heart and simplicity would be at the center of everything.” Brother Roger
“God is love alone” “When we try to express communion with God in words, we rapidly reach the end of our capacities. But in the depths of our being Christ is praying for more than we imagine. Compared to the immensity of that hidden prayer of Christ in us, our explicit praying dwindles to almost nothing. That is why silence is so essential in discovering the heart of prayer.
Although God never stops trying to communicate with us, God never wants to impose anything on us. Often God’s voice comes in a whisper, in a breath of silence. Remaining in silence in God’s presence, open to the Spirit, is already prayer. It is not a matter of trying to obtain inner silence at all costs by following some method that creates a kind of emptiness within. The important thing is a childlike attitude of trust by which we allow Christ to pray within us silently, and then one day, we will discover that the depths of our being are inhabited by a Presence.”
This is one video in a series of 31 hour-long talks by Thomas Keating that make up his foundational video teachings, “The Spiritual Journey with Fr. Thomas Keating.” All of these talks are now available on YouTube. Fr. Thomas was an internationally renowned theologian, speaker and author of dozens of books including “Open Mind, Open Heart.” Fr. Thomas co-founded Contemplative Outreach, which offers this series and supports Centering Prayer. Along with Fr. William Meninger and Fr. Basil Pennington, Fr. Thomas began the Centering Prayer movement in the 1970’s to renew the Christian tradition of contemplation.
Go to http://www.contemplativeoutreach.org for more information on Centering Prayer, including retreats and local chapters that offer support to practitioners at all levels in the U.S. and around the world.