An American,who teaches Christians to meditate.

Many believers avoid meditation, unaware that a Christian form exists. Says Edward Groody in an interview, who also teaches the so-called prayer of consent in Slovakia.
It is not about perfect concentration, but about letting God be more fully present
Photo: private archive of EG

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Christian prayer traditionally involves gratitude, praise, and petitions to God. However, a contemplative form of prayer, rooted in centuries of Christian spirituality, encourages practitioners to release thoughts and rest in God’s presence. While this meditative approach waned during the Reformation, it has experienced a resurgence in recent decades. Says Edward Groody of the international organization Contemplative Outreach, who teaches the so-called prayer of consent and conducts community-building seminars around the world.

Groody emphasizes that it’s natural for some individuals to transition from traditional to contemplative prayer, allowing God to work within them. He reassures that those who don’t experience this shift are not morally deficient.

In the interview, Groody discusses the prayer of consent and contrasts Christian contemplation with Eastern meditation. He explains that while Buddhism emphasizes present-moment awareness, Christian contemplative prayer aims to deepen one’s relationship with Christ. Groody asserts that by surrendering to God’s presence, individuals open themselves to divine healing and transformation..

Edward Groody, a certified prayer of approval lecturer, relocated from New York to Tennessee. As the founder of Community Building International, he also consults for businesses and non-profit organizations..

Some Christians are wary of meditation due to its association with Eastern religions. How would you differentiate between Eastern-style meditation and the Christian meditation you practice?

In Christian practice, contemplative prayer or the prayer of assent more accurately describes what is often referred to as meditation. The term “meditation” in popular discourse typically alludes to Eastern traditions and self-focused mental relaxation techniques.

Unlike Christian contemplative prayer, Zen Buddhism aims for enlightenment through full presence in the current moment.

A Hindu teacher, Baba Muktananda, once claimed that God dwells within us as we are. However, this differs from Christian belief, which holds that God dwells within us as God—a concept known as divine indwelling. Some individuals have negative experiences with the church, perceiving it as judgmental rather than a place fostering love and acceptance. Consequently, they seek spiritual guidance elsewhere. It’s important to remember that we should not pass judgment on these people for their choices.

Nowadays, meditation appears more prevalent among non-believers as a mind-calming practice than prayer is among Christians. This disparity may be partly due to many Christians being unaware of Christian meditation traditions. However, a growing interest in meditative practices among Christians, both in the US and elsewhere, suggests this trend is shifting.

Mindfulness, the practice of being fully present and attentive, has gained widespread popularity. Regina Chow Trammel, a professor at Azusa Pacific Christian University, offers guidance on incorporating mindfulness into Christian practice. Along with her colleague John Trent, she authored a book on Christian mindfulness for therapeutic use. Is there any issue with employing mindfulness solely as a relaxation technique, rather than as a religious practice?

The term mindfulness, though popular, can be misleading. While it originates from Buddhism and emphasizes awareness, Christian meditation differs in its purpose. Both practices encourage being present, but Christian meditation specifically aims to deepen one’s connection with God. It involves relinquishing thoughts and images to allow divine guidance.

One might contend that both Buddhist and Christian practices lead to increased calmness and presence. However, the purpose behind meditation is crucial. What, then, is the objective of contemplative prayer?

Contemplative prayer in Christianity aims to foster a deeper relationship with God, distinguishing it from typical prayer forms. Unlike Buddhist meditation, which focuses on present-moment awareness, Christian contemplative prayer seeks to strengthen one’s connection with Christ through a prayer of assent. This approach allows for a more intimate experience of the divine, aligning our desires with spiritual growth.

By surrendering to God’s presence, we open ourselves to healing and transformation. This deepened relationship with the divine can mend our wounds and remove barriers, enabling us to become more compassionate and loving Christians. Through this process, we may discover the gifts of the Spirit within us. Ultimately, contemplative prayer can guide us towards divine union, the pinnacle of spiritual mystery.

The contemplative prayer of consent has a purely Christian origin, despite the understandable skepticism surrounding it. In today’s world, where numerous spiritual practices and techniques are promoted, it’s natural to approach new methods with caution. However, this particular form of prayer is firmly rooted in Christian tradition.

Its source is the Holy Scriptures, God’s word embodied in Jesus. Its source is trinitarian, it is about total giving and receiving between the Holy Spirit, the Father and the Son.

Several verses from Scripture form the foundation of the prayer of consent, with Matthew’s Gospel offering particularly notable examples. One famous passage advises, “When you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen.” Another reminds us, “Your Father knows what you need before you ask him.” These verses emphasize the intimate and personal nature of prayer, as well as God’s omniscience.

For 1600 years, contemplative prayer was central to Christian spirituality, aiming to foster a deep connection with God. This practice declined after the Reformation but has experienced a revival in recent decades, largely due to efforts by Christian orders and the Second Vatican Council. Today, it is increasingly recognized that this form of spiritual communion should be accessible to all believers, not just those in monastic life.

The medieval mystical text “Cloud of Unknowing” is a renowned work on contemplative prayer. In the 20th century, monks Thomas Keating and Thomas Merton drew upon the teachings of desert fathers and mothers to popularize this form of prayer. A Slovak translation of the book is forthcoming.

Key figures in contemplative prayer include John Cassian, Saint Augustine, Saint Gregory the Great, Saint Teresa of Avila, and Saint John of the Cross. Many Christians are unaware of meditation practices within their faith tradition, and even those who are aware often struggle to maintain silence for brief periods..

In Cloud of Ignorance , it is written that contemplative prayer is not for everyone.

Contemplative prayer, while open to all, is often misunderstood. The author of The Cloud of Ignorance emphasizes the importance of establishing a strong prayer foundation before pursuing contemplation. Although God welcomes everyone to deepen their spiritual connection, most people are accustomed to discursive prayer, which involves intellectual and emotional engagement through asking, praising, and adoring. While discursive prayer is fundamental to Christian practice and serves as a stepping stone to contemplation, many remain unaware of this more profound form of spiritual communion.

It is a completely natural development of the Christian’s journey from traditional prayer to contemplative prayer, in which we let go of our thoughts and rest with God. You are not a bad person if you do not feel called to it, but it is normal when such a development happens in a person and we give ourselves to God and let him act in us.

Saint Gregory the Great defined contemplative prayer as a state of restful communion with God, transcending mental imagery and concepts. For 1600 years, this form of prayer was the church’s primary focus. However, it gradually lost prominence, only to be rediscovered in recent times. The question remains: what led to the decline of contemplative prayer’s significance in Christian practice?

The Reformation led to this disconnect. And that is why many people think that there is only discursive prayer.

Let’s go to the actual practice of the prayer of consent. Several people have told me that when they try to pray in silence, their thoughts immediately start swirling in their heads, so they give up after a while. The prayer of approval “cleans” the thoughts with the help of a sacred word chosen by the person praying.

Common misconceptions about prayer include the belief that we should eliminate thoughts entirely. However, the goal is not to suppress or fight against thoughts, but rather to detach from them. This skill develops with practice. The prayer of consent, also known as the prayer of faith, involves turning to God with confidence whenever thoughts arise, gradually learning to separate oneself from them. Through this process, we come to realize that we are not defined by our thoughts. The aim is not to empty our minds of thoughts, but to release our attachments to them.

Cultivating awareness of our thoughts is challenging. The initial step is acknowledging their occurrence. For instance, during prayer, a pleasant thought about a vacation might arise. Instead of dwelling on it, we can use a sacred word to refocus. By committing to two daily 20-minute sessions of silent meditation, we can learn to detach from our thoughts and deepen our connection with God.

I distinguish my thoughts and make a solemn commitment. By separating myself from my thoughts and surrendering to God, I relinquish my desires and accept His presence. I believe God’s power to heal and transform us into more loving and conscious beings far exceeds our own capabilities..

Upon beginning the practice of consent prayer, I experienced intense spiritual moments filled with joy and peace. Initially, I felt special, but I soon realized that while many people may experience similar effects, such as lowered blood pressure, the true purpose of contemplative prayer is to deepen one’s relationship with God.

The Cloud of Ignorance teaches that some individuals may not feel anything during prayer, yet this doesn’t negate its impact. God understands who needs experiences to persevere and who doesn’t. Those with stronger personalities may not require such motivations, while others might. This realization was humbling for me, as it challenged my initial perceptions of my spiritual journey.

I remember one lady at a lecture on the prayer of consent, who said that during this prayer she does nothing but say her sacred word, because as soon as she says it, another thought comes and it goes round and round. Does it still matter?

It clearly has meaning. By saying the sacred word, we are actually surrendering ourselves to God. We separate ourselves from our thoughts and say, “God, you are much wiser than I am.”

A prayer of agreement in a group is very powerful. I have no explanation for this except as it says in the Bible that “where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.”

Group prayer sessions can enhance the experience of peace and closeness with God. Weekend or ten-day retreats involving all-day silent prayer are particularly impactful. While such retreats are not currently available in Slovakia, they could be organized in the future. Finding a local group that meets regularly, such as twice a week, can be beneficial. For those unable to attend in person, online group prayer options are available through the Meditation Chapel website, though face-to-face meetings are generally preferable.

Practicing prayer of consent in parishes not only cultivates spiritual growth but also fosters community building. As people pray together, they naturally develop care and connection with one another. The effectiveness of this practice relies on belief and dedication, as emphasized by the rule “It will work when you do it.”

Regarding the choice of a sacred word, while it was humorously suggested that even “sausage” could be used since the word’s primary function is to express surrender to God’s presence, it may be more beneficial to select a word that carries inherent spiritual power when repeated throughout the prayer.

The joke highlights a common misunderstanding of the sacred word in contemplative prayer. People often mistake it for invoking a specific entity, like the Virgin Mary, when chosen as the word. However, the prayer of consent differs from ordinary discursive prayer, where one communicates with God through requests, praises, or seeking intercession. In contemplative prayer, we aim to release our thoughts and simply express our presence. We let go of our agendas and attachments, focusing solely on being present in the moment.

So it is good to use a word that is sacred to you, but at the same time understand that the word expresses consent and surrender.

The prayer of consent focuses on returning to a sacred word rather than actively listening for God’s voice. While silence can foster receptivity to divine guidance, this prayer is not meant for dialogue. Instead, it cultivates deep peace. Any perceived messages or visions should be gently set aside, returning focus to the sacred word.

Although insights may arise during this prayer, its primary purpose is not to receive guidance. Nonetheless, many find that after practicing the prayer of consent, they experience clarity about their daily tasks and priorities, making it an unexpectedly effective tool for time management.

But when insights and guidance come, according to the rules, you also have to “let go” and return to the sacred word.

Yes, but when it’s important, that thought comes back. He will stay with you.

It often happens that when we sit in silence, all the tasks and duties that need to be done come to mind. Is it appropriate to write it down somewhere at the beginning of the prayer so that it does not bother us?

At the beginning of the prayer of approval, I recommend including the so-called vestibule time. I sit down, I can drink tea, light a candle, write something in my diary, pray the Lord’s Prayer or with the Word of God in the lectio divina way, and after this time to calm down I go to the prayer of approval.

For some people, the best time for this prayer is right after waking up. In the morning, our mind is not so distracted.

We can hardly say the prayer of consent late before going to bed, because we would fall asleep with it, even if there is a lot of noise in the house. Do you have any tips on how to create this time?

According to many recommendations, the best time to pray is the just-mentioned morning, when we are in a better mood. The time in the afternoon, around two or three in the afternoon, also worked well for me. It depends on the life situation.

Saint Francis de Sales said that if you cannot find time to pray twice a day, pray three times a day. (Laughs.)

It is recommended to pray the prayer of consent for twenty minutes, ideally twice a day. Isn’t that too long for a beginner? Isn’t it better to start with five or ten minutes?

Twenty minutes is a good time. But if someone cannot do twenty, let him choose a fixed time and pray for five minutes, and if he can stretch, let him stay longer. But twenty minutes is recommended.

Do you know why twenty minutes are recommended?

It takes time for the mind to slow down. I personally pray the prayer of approval for forty-five minutes every morning. So it can be longer, but twenty minutes is a reasonable time.

When praying for approval, it is recommended to sit with your back straight and your head not resting, your hands freely in your lap and your legs uncrossed on the ground. Is this position important?

The nice thing about this Christian contemplation is that you don’t have to have perfect posture. Sitting up straight keeps us awake. And this position also expresses surrender.

As we go deeper and deeper into silence in the prayer of assent, the point is to be able to sit undisturbed. Silence is the first language of God. It is a place where we can be with him and where he speaks to us.

On the Contemplative Outreach website, I saw that among the contemplative prayers you engage in, in addition to the prayer of consent, you also read the Holy Scriptures in the lectio divina way. Can the prayer of consent be combined with the practice of lectio divina?

Lectio divina is from the same family of contemplative prayers, although they are two different things. In lectio divina, it is a prayer with the word of God, but not on an intellectual level. It has four steps, reading God’s word out loud, which we let penetrate into ourselves and receive through it from God what He wants to give us. It is about spending time intensively with the Word of God.

Ideally, we pray the lectio divina and then the prayer of approval.

What was your personal journey to contemplative prayer?

I grew up in a Catholic family that lived the faith very vividly, my great-aunt was a religious sister. The Catholic tradition was beautiful for me, I experienced faith also as a personal experience of friendship with God, it was not just about following the rules.

However, in my teenage years I began to ask myself questions such as why suffering exists. I didn’t understand it and I wasn’t getting good answers to them. Part of my spiritual journey was also a kind of desert, a period of doubt and mistrust. I was a bit lost during my college years. I was looking for a spiritual experience, and going to church, following the commandments, or traditional prayers were not enough for me.

So I began to discover various teachers or gurus of Eastern religions, I participated in many of their workshops. As part of my work with Christian psychiatrist and author of the community building method Scott Peck, I got to know contemplative prayer and was amazed at what a rich tradition the church has. So in my twenties I discovered Thomas Merton and Thomas Keating, St. John of the Cross, and the teachings of the desert mothers and fathers, and it was like a revelation to me. I attended a weekly prayer of consent seminar and had an experience that profoundly affected my life. It was a kind of conversion experience.

Contemplative prayer, especially the prayer of assent, became crucial to me as I yearned for a more profound connection with God.

How did it happen that you started spreading this prayer around the world?

As part of our Christian journey, it’s natural to want to share the good news we’ve experienced, though we should be mindful to share genuinely rather than forcefully. After joining Contemplative Outreach, an organization with a European presence, I began teaching the prayer of consent and received invitations from numerous churches. This contemplative prayer practice aligns well with my work in leading community-building seminars, as it essentially functions as a form of group contemplation.

You have been praying the prayer of consent for decades. How does it affect your life?

Through prayer, I’ve become less reactive and more emotionally balanced. It has enhanced my sensitivity, kindness, and ability to listen. I’m less distracted by technology and more focused on living in the present moment, fully experiencing my surroundings. Prayer has also cultivated greater gratitude, joy, and a richer sense of life overall.e.

Many people have a similar experience. You start praying the prayer of approval and after three months people start asking you, “What’s wrong with you? Have you started running or do you exercise more? You are calmer.’

Contemplative prayer fosters a deep friendship with God, fulfilling our innate longing for connection. However, this practice isn’t suitable for everyone, as it involves internal transformation and healing. As one progresses, periods of spiritual dryness and disorientation may occur, which Saint John of the Cross termed “the night of the senses.” These challenging times require complete trust in God and detachment from worldly attachments. To navigate these difficulties, it’s crucial to seek guidance from experienced spiritual mentors and remain connected to a supportive Christian community.

So would you recommend having spiritual guidance for this prayer?

Contemplative prayer fosters transformation, surrender, and growth, though it can be challenging. While initial years often bring peace and healing, practitioners may encounter difficulties in later stages. Relying on the Holy Spirit’s guidance is crucial. Although anyone can engage in silent prayer and assent, seeking spiritual direction is advisable.

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The price of the Holy Mass is priceless.

The price of the Holy Mass is infinite.

I recently learned about six holy masses celebrated for the dead, called clementines. Where can they be served? We receive the fruits of the Holy Mass all the more intensively; the more we protect ourselves from sin, the more we open our hearts to listening to God. 

Your question refers to the almost unknown custom of celebrating six masses as a sign of respect for Christ’s suffering, from his capture, condemnation, humiliation, and crucifixion to resurrection, which can be offered for the dead as well as for the living. This practice is based only on private revelations allegedly approved by Pope Clement XII and certainly does not belong to the Church’s official and guaranteed spiritual treasure. I would like to point out the essence of offering the holy Mass for the living or the dead before touching anyone who has heard of these masses or wishes to celebrate them.

ALWAYS AGAIN

The community of believers in Christ accepted his Easter gift of the Eucharistic sacrifice from the apostles and, from the beginning, perceived that by celebrating the Eucharist, they not only fulfill his command to “do this in remembrance of me” ( 1 Cor 11:24) but also participate in his sacrifice, which is always renewed, made present, and brought to God also as a sacrifice to the Church.

It includes all its members, both living and dead, and can also be offered as a Eucharistic sacrifice for specific believers.

Its value was known to Christians a long time ago, as beautifully expressed by St. Monica, the mother of St. Augustine, who told him before her death: “Bury my body anywhere, don’t worry about it.” I only ask you to remember me at the altar of the Lord, wherever you may be.”

INFINITE PRICE

The most important effect, sometimes called the “fruit” of every Holy Mass, is union with Christ. We can perceive this in two ways. On the part of the Lord Jesus, it is always about the infinite price of his passion, death, and resurrection and his complete desire to sanctify us humans.

We believe that we receive this fruit of the Holy Mass all the more intensely the more we protect ourselves from sin, open our hearts to listening to God, pray, live the Holy Mass with concentration, and long for Jesus. The most profound manifestation of this is receiving Holy Communion.

However, from our side, the ability to receive God’s blessing, the gospel of Jesus, and to experience faith is always limited because we are imperfect. From this follows the fact that although the price of the Holy Mass is infinite, we can offer it for the living and the dead many times, repeatedly.

GREGORIAN MASSES

In the case of the deceased, it is an ancient custom of the Church to celebrate Mass when the death is announced, on the day of the funeral, or various anniversaries. Of course, we can also mention the so-called Gregorian Holy Masses, part of the Church tradition.

However, the effect of the Holy Mass for the dead does not depend on where, when, or by whom the Mass is celebrated because its fruit results from the redemptive death of Jesus Christ.

From our side, the offering of the Holy Mass for the deceased is mainly a sacrifice, a prayer, and an expression of love, as expressed by Saint Ambrose when he said about the deceased: “We loved them during life, let us not leave them even in death until we lead them to the Lord’s house with our prayers.” “

SPIRITUALLY PREPARED

It is scarce if we not only “celebrate” the Holy Mass for our dead, but if possible, we also participate in it as a family and receive the Eucharist or, before that, the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

If Holy Mass is offered to us, let’s try to live it actively, religiously, with concentration, and do everything to be spiritually prepared to receive Holy Communion.

So we don’t have to worry about who and where will serve us, Clementine or Gregorian chants. Let’s focus on living the Holy Mass in faith as the most holy sacrifice of Christ and adding our sacrifice to it as a fervent prayer for our living and dead.

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Prioress Gassmann receives honorary doctorate: “I am totally overwhelmed”

The priest of the Benedictine monastery in Fahr has been awarded an honorary doctorate from the Faculty of Theology at the University of Fribourg. “The many reactions I have received show me that this is a great encouragement for many people in our church,” says Irene Gassmann. The honor came as a “complete surprise” to her.

Barbara Ludwig

You have been awarded an honorary doctorate. Did you expect it?Prioress Irene Gassmann: This honor came as a complete surprise to me. I had never thought of anything like this and am overwhelmed.

“This honour is also an honour for all my fellow sisters.”

What does the award mean to you personally?

Gassmann: This great honor touches and moves me deeply. It makes me grateful for my life, for the abilities I have been given, and for the opportunities that life has given me. This honour is also an honour for all my fellow sisters. Without my community, my life could not have unfolded as it has. I am grateful for all my companions with whom I can travel. Being on the journey together strengthens and encourages me.

Your assessment: What can the award achieve in the church?

Gassmann: The many responses I have received show me that this award from the University of Fribourg greatly encourages many people in our church, especially now in the synodal process. It is also a tribute to religious life – especially when many communities suffer from an aging population.

“All of this encourages me to continue to stand up for a credible church.”

The tribute summarises what I live every day as a Benedictine nun: “Innovation and renewal can grow from the deep layers of church tradition. It is a constant process of creative fidelity.” This encourages me to continue advocating for a credible church.

The interview was conducted in writing.Prioress Irene Gassmann spoke in March in the kath.ch podcast “Laut + Leis” about life in the convent and how she is committed to renewal and equality in the Roman Catholic Church despite resistance.

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Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves

Jesus, our Lord, sends his followers like sheep among wolves and tells them: Be cautious as snakes and simple as doves… Even though Saint Francis de Sales claims that he would not give one dove for a hundred snakes, that is, one simplicity for a hundred cautions, he still admits that he likes to obey the Lord when he tells him to love and be careful. And so it is all right It is worth noting that the Lord recommends first the serpent, then the dove. First, caution, then simplicity. And by this, he seems to be telling us: Be careful not to fall into the clutches of human beasts and predators, but if this happens to you, remain uncomplicated. Both are necessary, but this order must be maintained out of obedience to my word.

But what is the serpent’s wisdom to be seen? The wagon walls of King Saul and the military camps of the Czech “Warriors of God” give us the answer to this question… The head is in the middle, covered by the body and the tail, without which it is possible to live and defend only at the end. From the beginning, Jesus Christ formed a community of his followers, which had a head – Peter, protected by the most trusted and surrounded by the most informed for the good of the whole. The snake, as a symbol of prudence, sacrifices everything and exposes the whole body to wounds to protect the head, which is attacked in the Lord’s Church not only with a deadly weapon but also with moral beatings with the help of pamphlets, slander, and slander…

In addition, it can be harmed from within through disobedience of the body, overloading with unnecessary worries, or inaccurate or even distorted information. We are wise when we act like snakes that always defend their heads. And we are simple when some of us, despite caution, are caught and brought before rulers, where we are not to worry about what we will say but leave this concern in the simplicity of a dove to the Holy Spirit.

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St.Benedict of Nursia

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Benedict of Nursia, founder of the Benedictines.

 

Holiday: July 11

* about 480 Nursia, today Norcia, Umbria, Italy

† March 21, 547 (or 560 ?) Montecassino monastery, Italy

The meaning of the name is the one who blesses and wishes well (lat.)

Attributes: cup, pastoral (bishop’s staff), raven

Patron of Europe, monks, speleologists, architects, engineers

Saint Benedict, the founder of Western monasticism and the foremost patron saint of Europe, was born in Nursia (now Norcia in Umbria, Italy) around 480 in a noble family. However, only a few historical documents regarding his person have been preserved. He was sent to Rome to study. The main subject of his studies was rhetoric – the art of persuasion through the spoken word. The successful speaker could have had better arguments or expressed the truth but used rhythm, eloquence, and technique to persuade without involving the heart. This philosophy was also reflected in the students’ lives.

Seeing the moral and intellectual decay, he fled from his studies in Rome with the thought of a monastic life. He renounced his inheritance and began to live in the small village of Subiaco in the Sabine mountains. There, he lived as a hermit under the leadership of another hermit named Romanus. In the following years, he founded twelve monasteries in the Sabine Mountains, where the monks lived in separate communities of twelve monks, each according to the number of apostles. Later, however, he suddenly left these monasteries when the envious attacks of another hermit prevented him from continuing the spiritual leadership of these monks. Subsequently, he became superior to the nearby monastery in Vicocaro, where – when part of the community rebelled against him and even wanted to poison him – he left with a group of faithful disciples to find his monastery. After many difficulties, he settled in Monte Cassino, which was dedicated to him by the Roman rich man Terculius, the father of St. Placid. Benedict, Placidus, and others, in 529, began the construction of a massive monastery. The building was already completed in 532, and in 536, the monastery became a refuge for monks and the surrounding people during the war. At that time, the Ostrogothic king Totila was preparing for an expedition against Rome. In 542, Totilo visited Benedict on Monte Cassino. As a follower of the Arians, he was deeply moved by the meeting with the founder of the Benedictine order. Benedikt predicts his future fate – r. In 546, he conquered Rome, in 549, then Sicily; in 552, he was defeated by the Byzantine duke Narzes and died.

Regula Benedicti, which he wrote shortly before his death, was the fruit of his lifelong search. It draws a lot from the results of the monastic movement of that time, from the rules and principles that were already created then. He skillfully composes and modifies them to correspond to his vision of man and the path by which he comes to the depth of knowledge of God and spiritual love. It was a view – as it turned out – far beyond the time frame in which Benedict lived. The rule became the cornerstone of the European monastic tradition.

Instead of establishing small, separate communities, he gathered his followers into a large community. His own sister st-Scholastica, settled nearby and lived her religious life here. After almost 1,500 years of monastic tradition, it seems obvious to us that Benedict was an innovator in his time. No one else before him had attempted to create such communities and to create some rules for them. What is now only a part of history for us was then a bold and risky step into the future.

Benedict valued ancient literature and had it described in his monastery, thus laying the foundations for developing post-antique literature in Europe.

In the time of St. Benedict, monastic life was already extended to the entire eastern part of the Mediterranean Sea, especially Egypt and Syria. It was characterized by a multifaceted departure from civilization – to the desert, to uninhabited territories, unencumbered by complicated administrative management. The monks here had great freedom, their organization, and at the same time, the choice of various forms of life – from giant monasteries (e.g., the community of five thousand St. Pachomius) to the respectable performances of individual ascetics. Precisely at the border of civilization, when antiquity was already formally Christian but constantly carried in its bosom much of the ancient pagan nature, its way of life became a suitable ground for the fiery zeal of the early Church, in which it found ideal conditions for its spiritual development. At that time, almost all prominent figures of the Church and theologians went through the monastic life. In the West during this period, the situation was completely different – it was necessary to consider the presence of warlike tribes. Building a monastery in these conditions was a significant risk.

The regulation was not a collection of legal tricks or principles for life. With its excellent internal organization, it opened space for the presence of the mystery of Christ both in man and in the community through the performance of the Office (Eucharist and Liturgy of the Hours), work and personal study of the Holy Scriptures (Lectio Divina). Organized this way, the monastery did not become a closed, elitist world. As it were, it became a miniature of the Church, which for the first Christians was not only a community of the baptized but, above all, a solid school of initiation under the guidance of the Supreme Shepherd himself. Sv. Benedict reserved the name School of the Lord’s Service for the monastery, in which he lays down the individual elements so that the monk, adhering firmly to them, gets to know himself and develops the graces and gifts acquired in baptism. He should find Christ’s presence in the community more and more deeply and consciously participate in His paschal mystery, made present in the sacraments and the liturgy. Loyalty to the Rule thus inevitably leads to an encounter in truth with Christ, as the Master is the King and the only High Priest.

A monk’s primary task has always been – as Regula says – the search for God and unity with him. This individual dimension of opening to grace and obedience to God’s will was transformed by God himself into a larger dimension, into the history of the Church, culture, and civilization. Therefore, every true monk was always a person of the Church in the complete sense of the word, even when he lived alone, as a hermit (hermit). The Benedictine monastery realized life in community (cenobitic), forming at the same time also those who wished to go to the hermitage when they were mature enough to combat evil even alone. A universal way of monastic life emerged in which people of different temperaments and life stories could be found. This miniature nature of the Church determined the special relationship between the monastery and the world. The community of monks was not directed to the outside, to various initiatives in the Church, or the world, but to the inside, in such a way as to reveal the very supernatural nature of the Church in the given common and historical conditions. In this way, it wants to be its visible sign and help people immersed in the reality of the present time. The task of the monks of St. So Benedict became, so to speak – not entering the world but living in a monastery so that the world could come to it to meet the Benedictine community and, in this way, find the ways of God for themselves.

All the initiatives, including pastoral ones, that the Benedictine monasteries undertook were always subordinated to this style and thinking in their actions.

There were at least 30 different rules in the 5th-7th centuries, but the Benedictine rule still needs to be achieved more successfully. Unlike most, it was not just a calculation of individual regulations, prohibitions, and punishments. Its advantage was systematicity, thanks to which it became a practical guide for organizing and managing all areas of monastic life, and a balance between strictness and moderation, the authority of the abbot and respect for the peculiarities of individual monks, pious acts and spiritual and physical activity.

Abandoning worldly society, choosing individual asceticism and obedience, and searching for God in prayer and meditation were essential prerequisites of the monastic life, which in St. Benedict by the School of the Lord’s Service (schola Domini servitii). The fundamental pillars of Benedictine monasticism were daily glorification of God (opus Dei), vows of obedience (oboedientia), change of morals (conversatio morum), poverty (paupertas sancta), binding stay in the monastery until death (stabilitas loci).

In these small but mighty rules, Benedict incorporated everything he had learned about the power of spoken language and the rhythm of speaking in the ministry of the Gospel. He compared rhetoric to a hammer that can be used to build a house but can also be used to hit someone over the head. Rhetoric can also be used for the sake of evil… but also for the sake of God. Benedict did not avoid rhetoric because it helps evil; he wanted to reform it and use it in the interest of God. Benedict did not want to give up the power of the word just because others used it for their destruction.

Benedict realized that God’s word is the most robust and factual basis for the power of words: Which words from the Bible are not perfect rules for contemporary life? He had experience with the power of God’s word expressed in the Scriptures: Just as rain and snow fall from heaven and do not return until they have watered the earth to make it fertile and able to bear fruit so that the world will yield to the one who sows so that it will yield bread to him that needs to eat, so is it with my word that proceeds from my mouth; He does not return to me empty, but accomplishes my will, accomplishing what I sent him to do (Isaiah 55:10-11).

Benedict chose Psalms, the most beautiful songs of the Jewish liturgy, for his prayer, which Jesus himself prayed. Benedict believed with Jesus that “man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from God.” (Matthew 4:4)

But just speaking words is not enough. Benedict urged his followers to read sacred texts to study the Scriptures. In his Lectio Divina, he and his monks memorized Scripture, studied it, and contemplated it until it became part of their being. They sat beside each other for four to six hours daily and read like this. If the monks had free time, the brothers had to read psalms. They had to know parts of the Scriptures by heart. Such sacred reading was meant to study love, not reason. It was not just an exercise of the mind; it was an exercise of contemplation so that “our hearts and voices harmonize.” Every word that has entered their mind, heart, and soul must then spring forth, not from memory, but from the interior of the being. “We realize that we will be heard for our pure and contrite heart, not for the number of words spoken.” The heart is pure when it is empty and filled only by God’s word and our desire to remain in God’s word.

Lectio Divina begins by reading the Scriptures until we find a place that inspires us and stops. We reread it, think about what it might mean, and then move on. But this is not sacred reading. His method is memorizing a specific phrase from Scripture. Repetition over and over memorizes without further reading, without thinking, just simple repetition, until it seems to come not from the mind but directly from the heart until the power of God’s word enters us. Only when the phrase has lost all meaning and only that power remains does a person shut up, remain silent without thinking, and let himself be inspired by the Holy Spirit, who will speak to us about the meaning in our hearts. And finally, one should plunge into contemplation, continue without speaking, without thinking, just sitting in the presence of the living God and God’s word.

An incident from Benedict’s life has been preserved, such as when a beggar came to the monastery and asked for some oil. The administrator refused because they had little left. Nothing would have been acceptable for the monastery if he had given these alms. Benedict was angry at the administrator’s lack of trust in God. He knelt and prayed. As he prayed, a bubbling sound came from the oil jar. The monks watched in fascination as God filled the vessel, and the oil overflowed, broke the lid, and poured onto the ground. In Benedictine prayer, our hearts are empty vessels in which there are no thoughts or intellectual struggles. Trust in God is the only thing that remains there and fills our hearts. Emptying our hearts brings us the overflowing contemplative love of our God.

Benedict founded Western European monastery-type monasticism (monasticism), which prevailed over its older hermit form. In 543, St. died. Scholasticism. Six days before his death, he had a prepared grave opened next to his sister, and on March 21, 547, at 9 a.m., he died standing in prayer before God.

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Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time Year B Mr 6,7-13

Take nothing but yourself! 

Today’s Gospel raises one problem. That is, not only the evangelist Mark writes about the sending out of the apostles, but also Matthew and Luke. And there is a difference in these three texts. The list of things that disciples can take with them on the journey varies. What is permitted by one evangelist is not allowed by another. So what can you take with you and what can’t you? What was the actual list of things that the disciples should or should not take with them? However, looking deeper at the matter, we find that the problem is elsewhere. Jesus was not at all concerned with what his disciples were not to take with them. I was primarily concerned with what they must not forget to take on their mission trip. What was that? Well, they. All of them should have remembered to take themselves with them on the mission trip.

Today, Jesus would expand the list of things we should not take. For example, he would say: don’t take your cell phone, laptop, projector, or car… Well, we know that many missionaries take all of this with them. So, are they sinning? In the time of Jesus, did those who took sandals, a stick, or a dress sin? Should they go naked or barefoot? Probably hardly. So the bottom line is this: “Take what you want if you need it, but please don’t replace yourself with anything you take. Above all, take yourself as you became when you encountered the Gospel. God’s word changed him.

Self-degassed by the Gospel. Other things may benefit you, but they must not overshadow you…” Let us look at the list of things Jesus mentions in the Gospels of Mark, Matthew, and Luke and investigate what Jesus could have had in mind when he told us so we don’t take these things with us on a mission trip. However, I have one suggestion! Since we are all young people at UPC, let’s look at the mission more narrowly: for example, as a trip to another person, let’s say to your girl would you like to create a relationship, or to your friends, etc.

What does the stick symbolize? Jesus says, “Don’t take the stick if you don’t have a stick.” Don’t support yourself. Go alone without her. The stick symbolizes things outside us that many rely on titles, statuses, positions, and functions. Many of us would only know who we are if we had titles. People call us Mr. Doctor, Mr. Pastor, Mr. Engineer. If we didn’t have this, what would we be? What would I be without my degree? What would I offer people? Would I still be valuable to them? Many of us like newspaper reports about ourselves or other propaganda. What would I be without them? However, I have a price even without a stick. If the Gospel transforms me, this is a great value.

So, let’s not take the stick. Let’s take ourselves. Sv. Philip Neri came from Florence, an impoverished noble family. When he left home for the world, it is said that his father gave him the family tree of his ancestors written on paper. He came from an impoverished noble family. He advised him to show it at the right moment and place, which would surely help him. Although Philip took it out of respect for his father, he eventually threw it from the bridge into the Arno River, which passes through Florence. You said: “After all, I have to prove that I have something in me.” I don’t need papers or a family tree for that!” In other words, I don’t need a stick. When you have to go without a stick, it means that although you will strive for titles and positions… you will never replace yourself with all of these. If you are of no use, a title neither position nor rank. You have to go to the people.

A pocket is a storehouse of things. But he doesn’t know how much he will need, so he becomes self-sufficient. Don’t depend on others. They will be happy when they can give you something because it is humbling . People will receive you with more love when they see that you need them, not just you. If you were self-sufficient, you would sit at the table set for you, but you would eat your food because I have mine!” We can imagine what that could cause. Another aspect is not even having plans in your pocket.

I have plans in this sense: I am going to people with a finished thing. I am going to give them things that I have already prepared and planned in advance. I am not prepared for any surprises or modifications to my plans. Everything is fixed in advance. No, I don’t have plans. Meet people halfway somewhere. And meeting another person will turn not only them but also you. Get ready for it. Get ready to modify your plans…

No money: Money is a symbol of hidden wealth. Wealth like fields, houses, and cars is visible. But the money needs to be visible. Some have money as a reserve; they can buy everything with it. Really? Can money buy friendship, closeness, and relationships with people? Money is also a symbol of power. Could you not take them? Go alone, without money.

Without pairs of clothes: They say, “Clothes make the man.” That’s what the proverb says. Really? Many of us wear clothes or use cosmetics not as a sign of need but to cover something up. To put on a mask. Today’s fashion industry does tricks; for example, you shouldn’t wear white clothes or horizontal stripes. They can cover what should be exposed, but don’t wear a mask! The truth. Just be yourself. Be “naked” what you are. Offer that to people.

Without sandals: In the Scriptures, there is a mention of how Jacob took off his shoes at the place he was going to. It was a sign that he respected the place as holy. This should also be the attitude of a missionary who goes to other people or to another person. When you approach other people, you have to take off your shoes because this place is holy… and there is a danger that he will trample the dreams of another person with his boots. Approach others with respect and gentleness.

A missionary has accepted God’s kingdom and desires to pass it on without a price tag, directly, and without delay. More precisely, a missionary is a person who gives himself to others, himself transformed by the message of the kingdom of God. In other words, giving only yourself is sometimes what people want from you. We know many people who give themselves to others as they are, who are unhappy about it. Many people are a nuisance and a burden to others. When we talk about surrendering ourselves, we mean here – as we said in the introduction – about ourselves, who are transformed by God’s word: in whose presence others feel good, who radiate love, holiness, joy, and peace. A saying goes: “People forget what you told them.” They will forget what you did for them. Well, they’ll never forget how they felt in your presence.” And that’s precisely the point.

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The knowledge of the Father surpasses words

Jesus said to the disciples: “I have revealed your name to the people you gave me out of the world. They were yours and you gave them to me and they kept your word. Now they knew that everything you gave me was from you, because the words you gave me, I gave them. And they received them and truly recognized that I came from you, and they believed that you sent me” (Jn 17, 6-8).

The knowledge of the Father surpasses words

Clinging to Jesus leads to a knowledge of the Father that surpasses words. Illustration image: unsplash.com/Marc Olivier Jodoin
Last time we thought about our Father’s house, how we should imagine it and what it means to us. But who is our Father? We certainly do not imagine him as an old man with a long gray beard that we saw in pious pictures as children. So who is the Father whom Jesus reveals to us? Who is it actually telling us about? What is his name?

THE REVELATION OF THE FATHER

The name in the biblical meaning means the essential center of the person, our essence, or according to tradition, the heart. The revelation of God’s name is the revelation of his presence to us. God surpasses our ability to express him in words, because he is not a figure, an object that we can grasp and imagine with our mind and senses.
That is why the apostle Philip was very surprised when, to the request he made to Jesus: “Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough”, he received a rebuke rather than an answer: “Philip, I have been with you for so long, and you do not know me?!” Whoever sees me sees the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father?!’ Don’t you believe that I am in the Father and the Father in me?” (Jn 14, 8-10).The revelation of the Father by Jesus is not the revelation of his appearance, but the revelation of his life. When God appears to Moses, he pronounces his name – “I am that I am” (Ex 3, 14). What is the difference between this Old Testament name and what Jesus reveals to us? “I am that I am” was an expression of the eternal being of God, who is the fullness of all, and at the same time expressed his presence on the way of the wandering people.

THE PRESENCE OF GOD

However, Jesus develops this dynamic of God’s life even more. It does not represent the Father as a separate ruler, but as one who is part of our life experience. Clinging to Jesus leads to a knowledge of the Father that surpasses words. It comes from our life, from our life practice, from our actions that we do every day, whether it is sweeping the room, managing a company, walking with a loved one.
Our experience of God will not take place like in some movie, which will be shown to us in a dream or in some special experience. If that were the case, the vast majority of people would never meet God. How then is God present for us?
We are not expected to do anything special. It is enough to simply realize that whatever we do, we should do it in the awareness of his presence in us and in what we do. Our task is to give it free rein – to do what we do in the given situation, knowing our eternal immersion in God’s life. Without him we could do nothing (cf. Jn 14:5). This is how simply the Father is in each of us through the Son, and he created us so that he could reveal himself to us and give us gifts.

GENEROUS WEALTH

Finally, the very word God (Slavic Bog) is derived from the word rich. This reveals its essence, which is also represented in Sanskrit by the word Bhaga, which means bountiful divine giving, bountiful wealth. God is truly a rich giver of life, who says: “It is good that you are, because you are my good.” For we are of him, says Paul (cf. 1 Cor 3:16).
Let’s try to think about the secret that our good is also God’s good. In this way, we will better understand Jesus, who says that God does not want to give just some gifts, but first and foremost himself. The gift is for us to reach the Giver through it, but we must be careful not to cling to the gift and elevate it above the Giver.

A TRUE SACRIFICE

Let us believe that Jesus with the Father and the Spirit is in us immeasurably simply by creating and enabling us in everything we do. Let us believe that God is so great that no man is small to him. Therefore, it is enough for us to be immediate to God, without calculating, following the benefits that feed our ego. This is where our true sacrifice lies – I do not give God something I have or some words about sacrifice, but myself by giving myself in a given situation.
Our Father does the same, who gives himself to us and to all creation in every situation of our life. With every act of kindness, we participate in the life of God. And that is why each of us is capable of God.

 

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When he saw the multitudes, he felt sorry for them because they were downcast and depressed like sheep without a shepherd » Mt 9, 36.

This is not just an event, but a profound revelation. It is Matthew’s narrative amidst miracles. The masses encircle Lord Jesus. He heals and heals. His love extends in two directions. One reaches physical wounds, the other, less visible but equally perilous, spiritual anguish. My own fervor also requires two directions to embrace the world’s suffering. Word and deed. To teach and to heal. Or heal and teach. The sequence is often crucial. For the ‘healing of the body’ can be the precursor to the ‘healing of the soul ‘. Lord, let both arms of love grow in harmony and in proportion to the suffering I encounter, for the transformative power of compassion is boundless.

But in that crowd that swallowed the Savior, not only the sick were not suffering from bleeding. Only one’s daughter died. Two blind gods, one dumb. The vast majority of them were healthy on the outside. But Jesus’ gaze went deeper. He sees a “broken and scattered flock.” Everyone is looking. Everyone is tired. Everyone is wandering. A herd with no one to lead, no one to protect it, no one to sacrifice for it. And the Lord was seized with deep compassion. “He felt sorry for them…” And that compassion turned into tireless journeys and finally into the Way of the Cross and a redemptive death. Because a good shepherd “lays down even his life for his sheep.”

Fruitful compassion has never died out in the Church. Even Don Bosco saw the multitudes worn out and scattered. Crowds of abandoned boys were beginning to be swept away by the current of crime and destruction. Others saw it too. But with different eyes. They saw a bunch of suspicious, future criminals. Perhaps they themselves stood proudly in front of the altar: ‘I thank you, God, that I am not (I, nor my children!) like those’. Don Bosco did not succumb to indignation, but to compassion. ‘He felt sorry for them.’ From the first dream, he renounced the solution with his fists. Even his compassion turned into a life full of sacrifices and efforts. ‘I have promised God that till my last breath I will belong to my poor boys…’ His enduring compassion is a reassuring thread that connects us all in the Church.

Lord, give me a compassionate heart. And good seeing eyes and seeing deeper and further. I move among the multitudes of well-fed yet starving, modernly dressed and yet shamefully exposed, educated and unwise. I am asking you, let me not betray my place among the “worn and broken” so that I do not deviate from the path to the lost sheep so that I do not succumb to the temptation of an easier, more sympathetic, and outwardly more successful apostolate. Don Bosco showed me where to look. Let pity trouble me. Let compassion stretch out both arms of my love: word and deed. And where neither word nor deed can reach, prayer can—a prayer of living faith. If I won’t be able to touch you with either word or deed, I will help the “weary and broken” from afar by prayer.

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The Resurrection of Jairus’ Daughter and the Healing of the Woman

Lord, what should I notice in this passage? » I realize with what faith Jairus came to me. He came asking me to heal his dying daughter. He believed I could do it. I could not remain oblivious to such faith and trust in my help, so I immediately went to his house.

What were you doing when Jairus came with a request? » I was just standing on the shore teaching the multitudes. Everyone wanted to hear my words and everyone was pressing me.

You healed someone in that stampede. How did that happen? » When I went with Jairus to his daughter and made my way through the crowd, I suddenly found that a power came out of me that healed someone. I stopped and asked who touched me.

Did you see the healed one? » A woman pushed her way to me from among a crowd, fell at my feet and told everyone how thanks to my power she was cured of the disease that was bothering her. With faith she touched my garment and this faith of hers found an answer. Don’t be afraid to push yourself with faith among the crowd that only wants sensations and touch me. I will heal you.

Immediately after this event, he went to heal Jairus’ daughter. How did this healing go? » When I was on my way to Jairus’ house, the servants came from there and reported that the girl had died. I saw that a greater miracle than healing would need to be performed here. But it is not a problem for me to give someone life, so I encouraged Jairus to trust me.

How were you welcomed in Jairus’ house? » There was a lot of crying and wailing waiting for us there. When a young person dies, it always shakes everyone. The girl was dead and, in their opinion, there was nothing more that could be done. I knew that the girl could be brought back to life. I did it as easily as if I woke someone up, so I told them the girl was just sleeping.

How did the residents of the house look after the girl’s resurrection? They were shocked at what they saw. Even the parents were completely beside themselves with amazement and joy, so I had to remind them not to forget to give the girl something to eat.

Lord, what do you want to challenge me to do today? » To greater faith. Trust me more. I can help you even when it seems that there is no more hope. I will help you in the fight against the enemies that are around you and in yourself.

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