How to die to see God

Mystical Prayer in the Holy Spirit

St. Bonaventure – Doctor of the Church

This reading on mystical (contemplative) prayer, taken from St. Bonaventure’s Journey of the Mind to God (Cap. 7,1 2.4.6: Opera Omnia, 5, 312-313), is used in the Roman Office of Readings for the Feast (liturgical memorial) of St. Bonaventure on July 15.

Christ is both the way and the door. Christ is the staircase and the vehicle, like the throne of mercy over the Ark of the Covenant, and the mystery hidden from the ages. A man should turn his full attention to this throne of mercy, and should gaze at him hanging on the cross, full of faith, hope and charity, devoted, full of wonder and joy, marked by gratitude, and open to praise and jubilation. Then such a man will make with Christ a pasch, that is, a passing-over. Through the branches of the cross he will pass over the Red Sea, leaving Egypt and entering the desert. There he will taste the hidden manna, and rest with Christ in the sepulchre, as if he were dead to things outside. He will experience, as much as is possible for one who is still living, what was promised to the thief who hung beside Christ: Today you will be with me in paradise.

For this passover to be perfect, we must suspend all the operations of the mind and we must transform the peak of our affections, directing them to God alone. This is a sacred mystical experience. It cannot be comprehended by anyone unless he surrenders himself to it; nor can he surrender himself to it unless he longs for it; nor can he long for it unless the Holy Spirit, whom Christ sent into the world, should come and inflame his innermost soul. Hence the Apostle says that this mystical wisdom is revealed by the Holy Spirit.

If you ask how such things can occur, seek the answer in God’s grace, not in doctrine; in the longing of the will, not in the understanding; in the sighs of prayer, not in research; seek the bridegroom not the teacher; God and not man; darkness not daylight; and look not to the light but rather to the raging fire that carries the soul to God with intense fervour and glowing love. The fir is God, and the furnace is in Jerusalem, fired by Christ in the ardour of his loving passion. Only he understood this who said: My soul chose hanging and my bones death. Anyone who cherishes this kind of death can see God, for it is certainly true that: No man can look upon me and live.

Let us die, then, and enter into the darkness, silencing our anxieties, our passions and all the fantasies of our imagination. Let us pass over with the crucified Christ from this world to the Father, so that, when the Father has shown himself to us, we can say with Philip: It is enough. We may hear with Paul: My grace is sufficient for you; and we can rejoice with David, saying: My flesh and my heart fail me, but God is the strength of my heart and my heritage for ever. Blessed be the Lord for ever, and let all the people say: Amen. Amen!

This is an interesting read, because in our times everything points to the opposite way of believers reaching to God’s presence. Christians are trying to find God mostly by experiencing Him, and the cavalcades of worldly distractions might suggest that the same intensity of emotional engagement with “spiritual” things (think: cool, relevant Christian church) will overpower the former and bring the soothing presence of God (with His blessings = answers to my prayers). Not so, says St. Bonaventure, and many mystics. Cherishing death is the way.

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The issue of authority in the Early Christianity

Notes from “The issue of authority in the Early Christianity” Dr Kenneth Howell teaching from Coming Home Network Conference

1. Questions that need to be asked

  • How did the authority of the Apostles expressed itself in their ministries, when the New Testament was not yet completed?
  • What kind of authority did the Apostles have? Was it just a guidence and suggestions without the force of the divine law?
  • Was the authority of apostles shared by others and passed on or did it cease with their death?
  • If the authority of the Apostles was passed, what form did it take?

2. Great Commission was given to the Apostles as the foundation of the church: the ministry of Word and Sacraments, modeled after Jesus’ ministry: preach and heal.

3. John 20 – What kind of authority did Jesus give to the Apostles when He appeared to them? It is the same authority as Christ had himself – the authority of forgiveness of sins was given to the Apostles. If ultimate authority does not derive from the Book, because the Book came from the church, the ultimate authority comes from that body of men that God planted in this world to do his work.

4. The Acts of the Apostles describes the ministry which surrounded mostly two Apostles – Peter (ch.1-12) and Paul (ch. 13-28)

5. Two important decades of the church of the first century:

  • First Ecumenical Council (Acts 15) in Jerusalem concerning the main question: Is circumcision necessary for salvation? (Do the Gentiles have to live as Jews to be saved? ) The Pharisees in Antioch were insisting on circumcising Gentiles, so Paul and Barnabas brough this question to the  Apostles and presbyters in Jerusalem. Apostles and presbyters together with the whole church made their decision, and sent the letter with their decision to inform the church of Antioch, which was looking to Jerusalem church as to the mother church. The leaders of the church recognized historical connection that must be maintained with what has proceeded them. How much connection do we need with history that proceeded us? Do we live in continuity or are we free to establish a sort of different faith based on what we read in the New Testament? The church had the sense of “catholicity” already there. They communicated the decision in the form of the letter and four messengers. The church in Antioch did now want to make the decision by themselves, but asked the church in Jerusalem for a council. This happened around 50-60 AD.
  • If Peter and Paul were in Rome in the early 60ties than what Peter says at the end of his second letter is important 2Pet 3:15 Peter is affirming the authority of divine inspiration of writings of another Apostle.
  • In the last letters of Paul to Timothy and Titus he tells them that they should be very careful to protect the sound teaching (sound words, helpful teaching) which they have received. Paul mentions that those who oppose the Gospel do not hold to those sound words of Jesus. And he tells Titus that he should ordain presbyters who are able to exhort in the sound teaching and to rebuke those who contradict them. The content of faith (deposit of faith) has to be guarded and transferred to their successors. 2 Tim 2:2: This is the pattern of the passing on of the content of faith to the next generation.
  • Paul leaves instructions how to establish permanent offices of bishops, presbyters (elders=priests), deacons. Content of the faith and the offices guarding the content.

6. From 60 AD to 120 AD all of the witnesses suggest that the notion of the Apostolic succession and the authority of a bishop is a norm and the rule within the church. Clement of Rome, third bishop of Rome after Peter, wrote a letter in the 90ties to Corinthians who wanted to overthrow their bishop. The letter explains the order of authority given: God- Jesus-Apostles and the order of continuity of authority within the church in the office of bishops, as well as the primacy of the Roman bishop.

7. The authority of a bishop and pope (bishop of Rome) is the authority of a servant. Authority does not derive from bishops themselves, but authority derives by being faithful witnesses in the offices that were established by the Apostles.

8. I live in a church where the leaders lived in a stream of continuity from the times of Jesus and Apostles. This continuity with the early church gives us the confidence that what we believe was not invented yesterday, that what we believe comes fro the very root of the church with a divine authority of Christ Himself. The church that we are part of has been established by a living Son of God, and He decided that He would commit that authority to fallible men.

Unity. part 1

wersja polska poniżej


In essentials,

unity;

in non-essentials,

liberty;

in all things,

charity


It was probably St. Augustine, who said these words, long before schisms, disunity and denominational claims and clashes took place among Christians. Since the unity of all believers in Christ is very dear to me, I am always on the lookout for good theology and practicum behind the idea. Few days ago I have found a gem.
Below is the first part of the best lecture I have heard in years on possibility of Christian (Catholic, Orthodox and Protestant) reunion without compromise. It was done by Peter Kreeft, former Calvinist who grew up in a strong evangelical Protestant family, converted to Catholicism and became an apologist, professor of philosophy, author of over 40 books and a very sough after speaker.

I will post parts of it in the next few days.  Here is the first part from the whole article titled “Ecumenism Without Compromise”:

Introduction

I’d like to give a fairly short, fairly formal semi-lecture followed by an interesting discussion about ecumenism.  If we are to witness to the world, the problem is not only the world, the problem is in us.  And the problem in us is not just that we are wicked and foolish, that’s always the case.  We are also split, we’re divided.  We can ignore that, we can be dishonest and compromise our convictions, but obviously that’s not going to do any good.

Is there any hope for reunion?  I am increasingly convinced that there is much more hope than most of us think.  And my hope is based most fundamentally on the fact that the most passionate ecumenist in all of existence is Jesus Christ.  We all know His prayer to His Father just before His Crucifixion in John 17, “That they may be one even as Thou the Father art in me and I in Thee, that they also may be in Us, so that the world may believe.”  He explicitly connects apologetics and ecumenism.  “I in them and Thou in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that Thou has sent me and has loved them even Thou hast loved me.”

If you read the first three chapters of 1 Corinthians, you will see that denominationalism was not just a scandal, but absolutely unthinkable and intolerable to St. Paul.  Because denominationalism is not the multiplying of subdivisions in an organization, it’s the amputation of limbs from an organism.  Just as no sane person loves war, so no sane Christian loves the war among Christians that so scandalizes the world and weakens our witness to it.  How could a divided church unify a divided world?  No more than an infected physician can heal himself.  But our divisions seem as intractable as war!

Here are 9 grounds for hope for ecumenical reunion that are commonly given, and not a one of them has worked:

  1. Reasonable compromises.
  2. Understanding and education: the hope that deep down, we’ll find that we don’t really disagree.  That we’re all saying the same thing in different words but just misunderstanding each other.
  3. Mystical experience: if you only have one, you’ll see that the previous point is true.
  4. Tolerance:  like a mutual non-aggression pact.  Why can’t we just get along?
  5. Subjectivism: reduction of THE Truth to “my truth” or “your truth” or “our truth.”
  6. Skepticism:  no one knows the truth anyway.
  7. Rational argument: perhaps we can persuade each other as in a scientific laboratory.
  8. A vague optimism:  Dickon’s Mr. McColbers, “Something will turn up!”
  9. Merely a temporary tactical and pragmatic union to fight a common enemy: an ecumenical jihad.  Good but not enough.  None of these is the golden key to reunion.

wersja polska

W rzeczach istotnych – jedność ,

w rzeczach nieistotnych – wolność,

a we wszystkim – miłość

Prawdopodobnie są to słowa św. Augustyna, który wypowiedział je na długo przed schizmami, podziałami, denominacjalnymi roszczeniami i starciami, które miały miejsce pomiędzy chrześcijanami. Jedność wszystkich wierzących w Chrustusa chrześcijan jest dla mnie ważnym tematem, dlatego zawsze wypatruję zsdrowych przesłanek teologicznych i practicum podtrzymujących tę ideę.  Parę dni temu znalazłam skarb.

Poniżej zamieszczam fragmenty wykładów, które uważam za jedne z najlepszych na jakie natknęłam się w ostatnich latach. Dotyczą one możliwości bezkompromisowego zjednoczenia chrześcijan (katolików, protestantów i prawosławnych).  Autorem jest Peter Kreeft, były kalwinista, wychowany w protestanckiej ewangelikalnej rodzinie, nawrócony na katolicyzm, profesor filozofii, autor ponad 40 książek i poszukiwany wykładowca.

Przez kilka kolejnych dni zamieszczę kolejne fragmenty. Pierwsza część artykułu: “Ecumenism Without Compromise”:

Wstęp

Chciałbym podzielić się krótkim i na wpół formalnym wykładem, po którym nastąpi interesująca dyskusja dotycząca ekumenizmu. Jeżeli mamy być świadectwem dla świata, problemem nie jest tylko świat, lecz problem jest w nas. I ten problem w nas nie opiera się tylko na fakcie, że jesteśmy niegodziwi i niemądrzy, gdyż tak w większości postępujemy. Jesteśmy również podzieleni, rozdarci. Możemy fakt ten ignorować, możemy pójść na kompromis wobec naszych przekonań i być nieszczerzy, lecz jest oczywistym, że na nic to się nie zda.

Czy istnieje nadzieja na ponowne zjednoczenie? Jestem nieustannie pod wrażeniem, że istnieje więcej nadziei na to, niż się nam wydaje. Podstawą mojej nadzieji jet zasadniczo fakt, że najgorliwszym ekumenistą na świecie był Jezus Chrystus. Wszyscy znamy Jego modlitwę skierowaną ku Ojcu tuż przed ukrzyżowaniem, w Ewangelii Jana rozdz.17:“…aby wszyscy stanowili jedno, jak Ty, Ojcze, we Mnie, a Ja w Tobie, aby i oni stanowili w Nas jedno, aby świat uwierzył…” Wyraźnie Jezus łączy w tym fragmencie ekumenizm z apologetyką. “Ja w nich, a Ty we Mnie! Oby się tak zespolili w jedno, aby świat poznał, żeś Ty Mnie posłał i żeś Ty ich umiłował tak, jak Mnie umiłowałeś.”

W lekturze pierwszych trzech rozdziałów 1 Kor można się przekonać, że denominacjonalizm był nie tylko skandalem, lecz zjawiskiem absolutnie nietolerowanym, wręcz nie do pomyślenia dla Sw. Pawła. Denominacjonalizm nie jest pomnożeniem podstruktur w organizacji, lecz amputacją kończyn w organiźmie. Tak jak nikt przy zdrowych zmysłach nie kocha wojny, tak samo żaden zdroworozsądkowy chrześcijanin nie kocha wojen pomiędzy chrześcijanami, gdyż jest to skandalem w oczach świata i osłabia nasze świadectwo. Czy podzielony kościół może zjednoczyć podzielony świat? Nie bardziej, niż zakażony lekarz może wyleczyć samego siebie. Lecz nasze podziały są tak nierozstrzygalne jak wojna!

Oto 9 płaszczyzn, powszechnie przytaczanych z nadzieją na ekumeniczne połączenie; żadna z nich jednak nie przyniosła dotchczas efektów:

1. Rozsądne kompromisy.

2. Zrozumienie i edukacja: nadzieja, że gdzieś tam w głębi zrozumiemy, że tak naprawdę to nie ma pomiędzy nami odmiennych zdań, że wszyscy mówimy o tym samym, a przyczyną nieporozumień jest poslługiwanie się odmiennym słownictwem.

3. Doświadczenia mistyczne: jeżeli miełeś chociaż jedno, uznasz, że punkt poprzedni jet prawdą.

4. Tolerancja: wspólny pakt o nieagresji. Dlaczego po prostu nie możemy się dogadać?

5. Subiektywizm: redukcja PRAWDY do “mojej prawdy” czy “twojej prawdy” lub do “naszej prawdy”.

6. Sceptycyzm: nikt i tak nie zna prawdy.

7. Argument racjonalny: być może jesteśmy w stanie przekonać się nawzajem w sposób podobny do ltego, jak to się dokonuje w laboratorium naukowym.

8. Nieokreślony bliżej optymizm: “Coś się wymyśli!”

9. Tymczasowa pragmatyczna i taktyczna współpraca zadzierzgnięta w celu walki ze wspólnym wrogiem: ekumeniczny jihad. Dobry, lecz niewystarczający sposób. żaden z tych punktów nie jest złotym środkiem do zjednoczenia.

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Advent conspiracy

250px-icon_second_coming

Greek icon of Second Coming, c.1700

I never understood Christians, who would not want to celebrate Christian holidays. God Himself gave Israel feasts (holidays), Jesus celebrated religious feasts, early Christians did also. I know, the dates might be screwed up, the majority is more concerned with the tradition (can you hear Tevje singing: “Tradition!”) then with the spiritual meaning behind it, people are going nuts over the gifts..but

We need seasons, cycles of life, to remind us, who God is, who are we before and in Him.

Advent was celebrated by the first Christians since the fourth century, when the synod announced that as a preparation for Christmas “from the seventeenth of December to the feast of the Epiphany no one should be permitted to absent himself from church.”

I found Advent Conspiracy site, an international movement restoring the scandal of Christmas by substituting compassion for consumption.

People of USA, celebrate Advent during Advent, and Christmas during Christmas! Don’t put Christmas tree or sing carols before Christmas Eve. Don’t buy more than one gift per person, give the spear money to those who really need them (like to my friends adopting Aiden, a boy with Down syndrome from Ukraine), but most of all give presence. Celebrate St. Nick’s day on Dec 6th (that’s why you are hanging your stockings for anyway…St. Nicholas is the one who is supposed to fill them with some sweets) with your kids, reminding them, who he really was. Have Advent evenings with your family underlining Jesus’ first and second coming as the reason of this time.

hm_4_tenets

Our family celebrating Advent.

my match for President 2008

according to the Candidate Matchmaker, which you see on the right top of this page, my match is….

45%

John McCain

Republican Sr Senator (AZ);
2000 Primary Candidate for President

43%

Bob Barr

Libertarian for President;
Former Republican Representative (GA-7)

40%

Alan Keyes

2004 former Republican challenger for IL Senate;
previously Candidate for President

35%

Frank McEnulty

33%

Cynthia McKinney

Green Party Presidential challenger
(Former Rep., D, GA-4)

30%

Brian Moore

Socialist nominee

25%

Ralph Nader

2004 Reform nominee;
2000 Green Candidate for President

25%

Barack Obama

Democratic Jr Senator (IL);
previously State Senator

23%

Chuck Baldwin

23%

Gloria La Riva

Party for Socialism and Liberation

22 weeks. the movie in the making

Forerunner Films has been making a documentary about this story ( a woman having a baby in the bathroom of an abortion clinic, trying to save the baby after initially wanting to kill it). They started 3 days ago and they should be finished tomorrow night.

It started with a vision which a guy called Ángel Manuel Soto had carried for some time. Ángel is an intercessory missionary at IHOP-KC and a freelance videographer. He also attends The Call Institute (TCI) directed by Lou Engle.

He shared this story with theCall class. Lou Engle and others started to pray for the vision to become reality in the making. This vision became Angel’s obsession (some people would use the more appropriate word CALLING). People prayed. In the natural it seemed impossible. No equipment, no money. People prayed. After one of the meetings one girl approached him and offered an amount which was like an injection of faith to look forward to this project.

Then the story goes wild. Through some miraculous intervention, He gets an invitation to chat with the director of Bella movie. People prayed. He flies to Hollywood, spends some time with Alejandro Monteverde, director of Bella. He promises some help. People are praying really seriously now.

That’s how what was impossible a month ago, is happening right now. Cinematographer, a friend of Alejandro, flew in, and some of IHOP-KC’s Media crew (including my American husband) have been engaging in everything. With the budget they have, they had only 4 days for shooting (this will be the cheapest made documentary ever). They are busy, exhausted, overtired (yesterday they were shooting till 3 am) and overworked. But it’s all for His glory.

22 weeks on MySpace22 weeks on Facebook22 weeks Website

cherubims are still

My favorite state to pray is that of stillness. It does not mean quietness, although a lot of times it requires a peaceful place to achieve this desirable positioning of heart.

In these moments I just let me be me and let Him be Him. This free flow of spiritual conversing enables me to leave the world behind, unload my burdens, come to a place of safety and surrender. The place of surrender is costly, sometimes nerve racking and quite risky. But there is no other way, there is no going back, there is no quicker solution.

In Ezekiel’s vision even the cherubims (cherubim – to be near) had moments of stillness. These throne-bearers would lower they wings and pause, for the voice of El Shaddai was about to be heard. Cherubims are the ones who were placed to guard the garden after the fatal choice of Adam which brought the curse to all humankind. Cherubims were the ones carved on the ark of the covenant, and that’s where God promised to meet with his people (Ex 25, 22; Num 7:89). They were portrayed in the temple’s curtains, carved on the temple’s walls. The glory of the Lord was rising from above them(Ez 9:3)They were entrusted to overshadow the burning coals (Ez 10,2). They were present in the temple, while the cloud of God’s glory would fill it.

The phrase “enthroned between the cherubim” is repeated several times in the OT, describing the position the Most High takes. The eternal service of those angels is to cry “Holy” day and night without end, to worship unceasingly, to be present everlastingly before the Creator and to live in His presence. What an existence.

In my yet unredeemed imagination, I am thinking about some weird sci-fi looking hybrids (lion, ox, eagle, human), flying, singing constantly, watching, moving swiftly like a lightning, making noise with their wings that sounded like a voice or waterfalls… quite ecstatic scenes and all of that is going on in the throne room. I’m taking to consideration that these were the visions Ezekiel had. Which parts are literal and which are not, I will not know.

The only time mentioned in Ezekiel’s vision where cherubims are becoming still is, when Almighty Himself is ready to speak. They cease, they fold their wings, they pause in humble and holy attention. They quite down their holy songs, they calm down their swirl of worship and become still when the Voice of the Holy One is about to resound. That tells me one thing: the messengers and beholders of God’s glory, created and positioned before El Shaddai, having worshipping The Creator from everlasting timeless times, by gloriously expressing their adoration proclaiming: Holy, holy, holy! – they become still whenever the Adored One is about to reveal the Word. The reception of This revealed Word requires stillness.

Ez 1:24-28

When the creatures moved, I heard the sound of their wings, like the roar of rushing waters, like the voice of the Almighty, like the tumult of an army. When they stood still, they lowered their wings.

Then there came a voice from above the expanse over their heads as they stood with lowered wings. Above the expanse over their heads was what looked like a throne of sapphire, and high above on the throne was a figure like that of a man. I saw that from what appeared to be his waist up he looked like glowing metal, as if full of fire, and that from there down he looked like fire; and brilliant light surrounded him. Like the appearance of a rainbow in the clouds on a rainy day, so was the radiance around him.
This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the LORD. When I saw it, I fell face down, and I heard the voice of one speaking.

St. Augustine in his sublime comment on Ps., lxxix, 2, “Who sitteth upon the Cherubim”:

Cherubim means the Seat of the Glory of God and is interpreted: Fullness of Knowledge. Though we realize that cherubim are exalted heavenly powers and virtues; yet if thou wilt, thou too shalt be one of the cherubim. For if cherubim means, Seat of God, remember what the Scripture says: The soul of the just is the Seat of Wisdom.

That comment is a striking one, for it implicates that through the ministry of the Holy Spirit within my heart, I can have an access to the same mystery as the Cherubim do: to behold the Most Holy One in the temple of my body, inside the inner parts of my spirit. The stillness is necessary on order to be attentive and to hear.

Stillness invigorates my spirit to receive with gratitude everything what comes from the All-and-better-than-I-Knowing God. It brings consolation.

by d ha rm e sh

I am praying trough these verses lately:

Exodus 14:14

The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still.”

I mostly worry, then panic.

1 Samuel 12:16
“Now then, stand still and see this great thing the LORD is about to do before your eyes!

I mostly try to do or say something before He does.

Psalm 37:7
Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him; do not fret when men succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes.

I mostly do that, although it costs me a lot of internal discussion going between my spirit and the flesh.

Psalm 46:10
“Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”

I mostly expect that.

Psalm 131:2
But I have stilled and quieted my soul; like a weaned child with its mother, like a weaned child is my soul within me.

I mostly pray for this kind of trust.

Zechariah 2:13
Be still before the LORD, all mankind, because he has roused himself from his holy dwelling.”

I mostly probably surely don’t know what I would do if God would do that.

Psalm 4:4
Tremble, and do not sin; Meditate in your heart upon your bed, and be still. Selah

I mostly meditate in my heart (while doing household stuff) and not upon my bed, but it still leads me to the same result.

God, help me.