January 31, 2014

The Last Exhortation of a Poustinik to her Friends, Everywhere

Beloved of God,
Suddenly, we are in the throes of winter:
It has been absolutely frigid -
a time to pray and be still
a time to be drawn into the heart of the Trinity.
How exquisite is God's magnificent silence!
How desperately we need it
to purify us of the rancours of the modern world -
so evil, so pagan and so seductive,
so confusing because good appears evil and evil, good -
How I pray for you
so you can deepen your love affair with God -
regardless of the pressures on all sides.

Lucille Dupuis, Dec. 8, 2013
- the Poustinik of Estes Park, Colorado
Born 1934 and Died 2014

January 25, 2014

Contemplation - its length and breadth, height and depth

Saint Paul reveals to us a vital dimension of Christian prayer when in his prayer for us:  I pray that you may have the power to comprehend, with all the saints, what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.  (Eph. 3:18-19).

To be filled with the fullness of God; to understand the breadth and length, the height and depth; to know the love of the Visible Image of the Invisible God surpassing all knowledge; all of this is what we avail ourselves to every time we begin to pray.  It is the whole purpose, the vital reason, the animating and sanctifying Spirit of contemplation.   It is the familiar ground of those who humble themselves before the almighty Father and who avail themselves to the presence of the Risen Lord at work in the world.   

Saint Bernard calls this length, "eternity"; this width, "love"; this height, "power"; and this depth, "wisdom."  It is so totally other than ourselves, so unfamiliar, so hidden.  And yet, the humble prayer of faith dares such wonders and does not fear such splendor.  Why?  Because it boldly stands on the love of Christ Jesus and it knows the hope we have in Him never disappoints.  Such is the greatness of what faith in Christ accesses - a glory known in this world not of it, a joy that fills this life but completely beyond what this world can contain, a light this world needs now more than ever and which shines in its midst unvanquished.

January 22, 2014

The Hope of the Church

My heart is with all the young people marching today in D.C. and other parts of the Country for the unborn and for mothers and for families.  In the cold weather and in a hostile culture, sometimes without the support they should receive, there they are taking a stand, a sign of courage in a society that has lost its heart -- and their courage is a source of hope for us.   They are so remarkable - not only do they not fail to make a good public witness for the most vulnerable in society through political demonstrations, we also hear about them working in soup kitchens, with special needs children, with the elderly and offering many other expressions of heartfelt generosity and love.  They are also open to all the new ways God might call them into vocations of service.   We are so blessed to have these heroes as our sons and daughters, our grandchildren, our brothers and sisters.   They remind the Church about the generosity of God who is always raising up and making all things new.   Blessed John Paul II called the young people living signs of hope for the Church - he did not mean because of what they may do in the future, but he meant because of what they are doing now.  This is as true today as it was when he was Pope.  No wonder he seemed to be energized whenever he was around them.   We need to hold our young people up in prayer so that the good work the Lord has begun in them might be brought to perfection.  

January 17, 2014

The Inner Mountain - Witness of Antony of the Desert

In the life of Antony, after he has suffered all kinds of trials and overcome all kinds of irrational powers, he is drawn to a mountain to pray.  But people come to him seeking counsel and help.   The solitude he needs is threatened.  This is why he begins to make a plan to find a more remote and protected place that will allow him to enter into the intimacy with the Lord for which his heart longs.

It is as he is making his plans that God warns him that if he tries to acquire solitude by his own effort, he will lose what little he currently has.  What is remarkable is that at this point in his life, Antony has grown accustomed to these kind of interventions. He is familiar with the Lord and knows how to respond.  Because of this, the Lord is able to invite Antony to a deeper trust, a deeper obedience of heart.  Antony submits to the Lord's request and lets go of his own schemes.  Following the guides the Lord gives him, the Lord is able to lead him to the Inner Mountain - a place of greater stability and intimacy with the Lord.

The Inner Mountain is a real geographic place in Egypt where Saint Antony is believed to have lived.  At the same time, the inner mountain is also a spiritual place - a deeper recollection and peace only the Lord can lead us to.   There comes a point in prayer where our own cleverness is not enough. When our own resourcefulness is getting in the way rather than helping us in prayer, we must let go of our own schemes and trust in what the Lord provides.

Prayer is something the grows and develops - requiring our own effort, but also requiring trust in God even more.  The place and time for prayer that the Lord gives us is always so much better than anything we can get for ourselves when we are limited to our own resourcefulness.  This truth does not excuse us from seeking and  from cooperating with what the Lord is doing.  But it keeps our efforts to pray grounded in our trust in God rather than what we think we can accomplish.

There are some who do not understand the importance of solitude and silence in the Christian life.  They stress community and how much we need one another -- and this is true.  God prefers to work through broken humanity to reveal his glory.  He is glorified in our love for one another.  He has given us all different gifts in such a way that we are bound to one another and we share in one another's joys and  sorrows.  At the same time, we also need to withdraw into prayer and allow the Lord to strengthen us with His love.  This means we need to order our lives so that we can find the solitude and silence this kind of prayer requires.   Saint Antony's witness to this end helps us understand that this effort to establish our lives in prayer is not something we can do on our own.  God is ready to help us when we are ready to listen with our hearts.