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Book of the Month: Schola Caritatis: Learning the Rhythms of God's Amazing Love

  Starting a new feature for the next several months called Book of the Month.  I will present one of my books and tell you a little of the ...

Saturday, March 30, 2024

holy saturday 2024

The silence must’ve been deafening as they sat idly by.  Their world had stopped spinning; nothing could be done.  A forced solitude had taken hold of them, meant to accomplish eternal purposes.  Space needed to be made; space to reflect, space to grieve, and space to hope.  That’s what this day is all about.

There is a certain powerlessness to Holy Saturday that is really good for us.  We can’t produce, manufacture, or control resurrection; we can’t hasten it or hurry it along.  All we can do is wait.

So, today, ask God to help you to stop.  Ask him to help you stop doing and to start being.  Ask him to help you to stop talking and to start listening.  Ask him to help you to stop initiating and to start waiting. 

O Lord, there is still some emptying that needs to be done.  Give us the patience, the courage, the strength, and the trust to make room for that to happen.  Help us to learn how to wait for you during this holy day of waiting and resting.  Sunday will come soon enough, but there is still something you want to do in us first.  Prepare our hearts, Lord Jesus, for your resurrection.

Sunday, March 24, 2024

a ride (palm sunday)

a long season of lent
is finally coming to an end
but the beginning of the end
involves a ride

a ride into the depths
of death and dying
a painful but necessary journey
a dying that must take place
to make room for living
for in the kingdom of God
death always leads to new life

so now Jesus turns
to each of us and asks
will you ride with me
it will not be an easy ride
in fact it will demand all
it will require absolute trust
and total surrender
but this death will be
the doorway to new life

so what do you say
will you ride with me

Friday, March 22, 2024

i am weak

if God’s power
is best displayed
in weakness
then why do we
go to such lengths
to hide ours
from each other

doesn’t that keep
us from being able 
to see him work

Monday, March 18, 2024

humble us

O Lord, our God, forgive us when our pride, arrogance, and self-centeredness keep us from turning to you in humble obedience and dependence.  Forgive us when we get too full of ourselves and too big for our britches to realize that apart from you, we can do nothing.  Forgive us when we fall in love with our own opinions and observations and stop listening to your voice and seeking your face.  Forgive us when we begin to think that we can handle this life on our own, or make things happen for ourselves.

Humble us, O God, and remind us of who we are and of who you are, so that we might, once again, return to you with our whole hearts in prayer and self-surrender.

Saturday, March 16, 2024

pruning

More is not always better, especially when you are talking about the spiritual life.  When it comes to life with God, quality always seems to be more important than quantity.  Jesus knew that, which is where the whole idea of pruning comes in. (John 15:1-2) 

Pruning is about decreasing quantity in order to increase quality.  It is about making space for beauty.  Pruning is the difference between growing a hundred good roses, as opposed to growing twenty-five great ones.  Thus, the act of pruning is about God cutting away the old and lifeless parts of us in order to bring about more beautiful fruit.  Which means that when God prunes us, it is to make us a more beautiful expression and reflection of his goodness, love, and creativity.

The word for prune, in the Greek, is kathairĊ, which also means to cleanse or to purge.  It is a necessary part of growth, both for a plant and for a heart and soul.  A thing can only grow if there is room to do so.  Space must be made.  Pruning is about making that space.

The saints of old understood this.  They often referred to this stage of the spiritual growth process as purgation.  It is one part of a three-fold pattern: purgation, illumination, and union.  Thus, the soul must first be purged of the many things occupying it, in order to make room for something more beautiful to come about.  The old state of being might have been okay for a time, or for a season, but in order for a new season to begin, the old must be done away with.  Autumn leaves must fall to the ground before the leaves of spring can arrive.  And so it is with a soul.

The great part is that we are not solely responsible for this pruning, it is in the hands of the Gardener.  He knows just how and where to do it, and he has very gentle hands.  He also has a vision of the beauty he is making room for.  All we need to do is to trust him, to be open and receptive and responsive to his divine touch.

Thursday, March 7, 2024

a pure heart

In the life of the Spirit, we see through the eyes of the heart.  Therefore, if our hearts are not pure and clean, our seeing is twisted and distorted.  The mess within us skews our vision and keeps us from seeing things—our world, ourselves, and our God—as they really are.

That’s why the words of this ancient prayer are so important: “Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.” (Ps. 51:10) It’s also why Jesus tells us: “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.” (Mt. 5:8) For only when our hearts are pure, will our eyes be clear enough to see him accurately.

Thus, a daily purifying is necessary.  “Cleanse me with hyssop and I will be clean; wash me and I will be whiter than snow.” (Ps. 51:7) Each day we must confess and repent.  Each day we must turn from our sinful, broken, and self-consumed ways of being and seeing, and ask God, once again, to create in us a pure heart.  He is the only one who can do that.  We can’t clean it up ourselves.  God is the only one who can rid us of all that distorts, hinders, and deforms us, so that we can be made clean, whole, and new.