Thursday, 21 June 2012

22: First things first

The aim of this Blog

Hello to you. If you are new to this Blog, welcome to you. I will explain the aim of this Blog. If you are already a good reader of this Blog, well, first: thanks for being faithful, and I am sure you wouldn't mind just reminding ourselves “why are we bothering to gather and come here”.

As you can see, the Blog is focused on "spiritual theology", I share things very openlydeeply, in a constructive way. Sometimes (or often) what books say in the cover is not what they deliver inside. What I teach is "Spiritual Theology", not of a particular 'School of spirituality' or 'Spiritual family', but the Common Treasure of the Church; my choice is to deepen the amazing richness we have in the Church.
This is how I proceed: I start with what the Church believes and then, I go deeper. The richness of the Church is often buried under meters of sand, so one has to unearth it, do a bit of cleaning, explain, present, translate, and make it alive. From years, it breaks my heart to see how superficial we became in our spiritual life, it breaks my heart to see the discrepancy between: from one side the richness, the amazing richness we have, and from the other side, the ignorance we are in, and, as a consequence, a very superficial spiritual life. Good will is not enough. We are all full of Good-Will. Not only that but we are blessed by the fact that today in the Church, lead by the Pope Benedict XVI we are invited to have a spiritual life. Is that enough? Ignorance, to my knowledge, doesn't excuse us.
Ignorance, and lack of real formation lead to dilution, and change of spirit. I am gobsmacked to see the depth of ignorance.
There is always hope, of course! My words don't lead to depression, but to curiosity ('what are these richnesses that we don't know?'), I am trying to wet your appetite...  this is why we work, relentlessly, we sow.

Today, I had a chat with a friend, a chat that you will hopefully appreciate. This is why I decided, with her permission, and after editing it for you, to publish it here.

Remember to practice

Jean: Remember to practice. It is not about learning only. If we do not practice our daily Lectio divina, we achieve a great deal. But I really mean: daily. First things first.
Janet: I start with Rosary, then I go to Mass, I do pray the Liturgy of the Hours daily, then I have my job that I do, but then there is also adoration after, and Chaplet of Divine Mercy, which is my favourite, I say it several times a day.
Jean: you are not doing your lectio divina! There is food for you given in the Mass: the Table of the Word. First things first.
Janet: you mean reading the Bible, I do that too
Jean: "reading" is not "lectio divina". Listening to Jesus who wants to speak to you and give you, through the Readings of the Mass, is a Real Meal everyday.
Janet: that happens at Mass then, doesn't it?
Jean: no, it goes too fast, the same applies to the Eucharist (the Communion)
Janet: i do 30 minutes meditation after Mass for that, because Eucharist does go too fast and I like to spend time with Christ.
Jean: what is meditation?
Janet: Adoration
Jean: you mean "Prayer of the Heart" or "lectio divina"? Is it done “in silence”, or “with the Word of God”?
Janet: both
Jean: both in 30 mins?
Janet: usually is longer more like an hour
Jean: I do not advise to mix them, because they are two different activities, but till today, we do live in this confusion
Janet: usually am quiet before Mass
Jean: you are doing then: Prayer of the heart (mental prayer). Mind you, the two “tables” of the Mass are different (they are one, as Christ is one, but they are two types of good, one for the mind and one for the heart, the spirit).
Janet: but maybe I need to read them again. I can do that. And I re-read the readings after
Jean: it is not about reading, it is about meeting Jesus who wants to speak to you, the difference is huge
Janet: I think He speaks to me when I go to adoration
Jean: see the short video I made about lectio divina. Adoration usually is Adoration (it is of the same family of the Prayer of the heart), not lectio divina. They are two different , distinct, activities (types of prayer) not to be mixed.
Janet: Father taught us to contemplate the Mass readings during Adoration, so that we don't get sidetracked with other things.
Jean: This is why I do study and teach "Spiritual Theology", to avoid confusion and increase efficiency as God planned it for us. He taught us, in the “Our Father” to ask everyday for the Bread, and the Bread, according to his teaching is double: his Word, and His Body. These two beads are not the same. Listening to Jesus is something, and being immersed in Him (receiving his Love) is another. This is why we have to two Tables of the Mass, the two Parts of the Mass, the two types of food. Some will argue that it is only one Table, ok, sure, but there are two forms of good, not to be confused, and not to be either separated. They do communicated deeply, but this doesn't allow us to mix the two moments of the Mass.
Janet: yes
Jean: the Word of Jesus, and then, His Body and Blood (as you notice, adoration and prayer of the heart are the same for me, they are the extension of our Last Communion). Mixing them (which is today's wrong habit) weakens the activity of each, and stops it from making clear sharp fruits. Already trained people don't like that remark because it challenges their actual practice and they don't see why doing so, why changing what they are used to. But, on the other hand, people who are practising the two, in different moments, benefit immensely much more. So, sadly, so each remains in his "belief", and the Church, the faithful loose a lot. We should bother addressing deeply and professionally (theologically) these issues. They are not matters of random choices or “different spiritualities” (as “legitimate”). No, this is the common fundamentals of the Church. I am sure, Brandy, you understand my aim in commenting on these issues: we should reach clarity on these matters and not challenge them by superficial answers like: 'well this is how we do it', or 'this is how they transmitted it to me'...
Janet: I will do that. I'm learning, I know I have much to learn.

Adding clarity and efficiency to our practice

Jean: Janet, it is very simple: look at the Mass itself, God chose to give us two moments: His Word then, His Body. Look at the structure of the Gospel, you have two moments in Jesus' life: three years and a half of Teaching (communicating his Words that are Spirit and Life) and then His Passion, Death and Resurrection. Look at us humans, we have two areas in our being (else than our body) that need food: the soul-body, and our spirit (heart), we need to nourish both areas of our being, the trunk-branches and the roots of the tree. Sun and Water are two different nourishment – of course even if they are distinct, they complement each other.
Till today, the majority of spiritual formations remain in this confusion between meditation (that is in fact neither lectio divina nor Prayer of the heart (mental prayer)), lectio divina, and Prayer of the heart. Confusion between 'meditating', 'reading the bible', 'reading a spiritual book', 'lectio divina', 'mental prayer', 'adoration', 'rosary'. It is all put in one pot, under the same “branding name”: prayer, or meditation.
Not to mention the total incapacity of defining what is Christian Contemplation. Till today. I won't go there now.
They just say: spend 30 mins or 1 hour doing that (as stated by the Canon Law), and it will be fine. This is the general state in the Church, and this is due to some historical facts, but very few study these things, analyse them, and practise them.

Again I am trying to explain myself: the confusion comes from the fact that we do not distinguish between the types of activities... so they loose their efficiency. If you 'jump', in the same hour, from 'meditation', to 'reading', to 'lectio divina', to some 'adoration', to some 'mental prayer', to some 'rosary'.... you can't achieve any of the activities, because each one has its own completion, own supernatural triggering ways, efficiency, quality. And sadly this is today's given advice : - just sit with God, with Jesus, in silence, and read, or adore, or pray, it is all fine... Of course it is better than nothing, because God will act, but is never to be compared to the prayer of a trained formed person.

I was just pointing out that this confusion is generalized in the Church. The real richness of the Church doesn't appear to the faithful. The Church is amazingly spiritually rich. One can't imagine. But it remains hidden, buried. On the more, sadly, what I am point out is not seen as a "confusion" by the majority. It is seen as 'a time for God', for Jesus, 'a time of prayer', 'of meditation'. But in fact, it is confusion. Confusion doesn't help. Our God is a God of order. This is what I am trying to say. Note that nobody would willingly confuse others. No. But ignorance can do so, unwillingly. This is my point. Is ignorance an excuse? Is it a sin? For a Teacher or a Master of Spiritual Life: to which extent is it a sin keeping confusion and ignorance? I leave that to the experts to dig in it. From my part I just say: if you pretend to be a “Master in Spiritual life”, just know that the judgment of God is the heaviest on you. So be very careful about what you say, and the food you give to the people God puts on your way. This is a sacred mission, not to be taken lightly. It is better to take 5 or 10 years of your like now, to deepen these issues than to continue on your track.

It is urgently needed to understand the difference between the different types of “manducation” (act of eating) and increase the technical (art form) of performing them. What is at stake here is the supernatural efficiency of the Grace of God, and teaching people how to receive the Food He wants to give us.

And all this teaching and remarks I am point out to are based on Revelation. But, sometimes, clear things do not appear as such. This is why, prayer, study, analysis are needed, in union with the Church.

The same applies to the Rosary

Again: the structure of the Mass, the structure of the Gospel, the structure of the human being, the 3 of them are in two moments, two parts, like a tree: the visible part and the roots, each has its own central food. Even the Rosary could be said in two ways:

- one way: contemplating the mysteries (so lectio divina type, nourishing the mind and will, the soul)

- another way: more silent deeper way, just being immersed in the Only Mystery of God, Jesus, the Trinity... (nourishing our heart, the roots)
We are taught only the first type, depriving all Christians from receiving with Mary, the deeper food of God. It is simply a crime. Our heart has the right to receive the Rosary, and not only our brain. We forget that we have roots, a heart, the deep part in us, the spirit, the upper part of the soul, that can enter directly in relationship with God.
The actual practice of the Rosary by the Whole Church is: meditate the Mysteries with Mary. But there is another way of saying the Rosary, deeper and complementing the first one we already know. Nobody teaches it, and we loose a lot. Being immersed in Jesus, by the help of Mary, just saying the Rosary, without putting any intellectual or meditative activity into work is of utmost importance as the Prayer of the heart or Communion, because during these precious moments God outpours Himself in us.

'Am I doing something wrong?'

So as a conclusion, in all your spiritual effort you are not doing anything 'wrong': you just can improve, improve, do better, in a more focused way, each activity...
What you are doing today is not your fault, this is how everybody is taught. But my great guess is that : ignorance isn not an excuse and God says very clearly that our first duty is to find the Truth. And the “Truth” here is not only about Faith, Dogma, Liturgy, Sacrament, Moral things, it is first and foremost about learning how the Holy Spirit works in us, and what we are supposed to do in order to receive him, daily: 'Give us this day our daily Bread...'

PS On lectio divina, see as well (click here)

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