See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient with it until it receives the early and the late rains. - James 5:7

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Sunday morning reflections...

The Hospitality of God.
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It seems to me that the prayer of Abraham in today's first reading has been perfectly fulfilled only through the fiat of the Blessed Virgin Mary.  Abraham expresses mankind's longing to "abide in the shade of the Almighty" when he prays, "Sir, if I may ask you this favor, please do not go on past your servant..." [Gen. 18]  Yet God, at that time had not yet made his dwelling among men, as it were.  It was only through Our Lady's consent that Emmanuel, God with us, made his dwelling amongst us:  "The Word became flesh and dwells among us."  Thus Martha's sister Mary, recognizing the presence of God, remained in adoration with him, at his feet.  Later in the Gospels we see the disciples at Emmaus echoing Abraham's prayer, imploring him, "Stay with us Lord for it is nearly evening, and the day far spent."  Only after they had recognized him in the breaking of the bread did they come to understand this mystery hidden from ages and generations past, which has now been manifested:  it is Christ in you.
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The Presence of God.
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In today's Gospel, I don't think Christ was scolding Martha as we understand scolding.  I think he was teaching her something about living in the presence of God - but I'm not sure how to explain it without referring to Br. Lawrence of the Resurrection, whose simple spirituality was the practical expression of this teaching:  The practice of the Presence of God.  To be busy about many things doesn't mean one is distracted from the presence of God.  We can accustom ourselves to an awareness of God's presence through the prayer of recollection - which means nothing more than being aware of God's presence within ourselves.  It is a very simple prayer.  Making use of short prayers, frequent spiritual communions, or using holy reminders, helps us accustom ourselves to this practice - in this sense, the prayer can be 'acquired'.  Coupled with these practices, daily prayer, spiritual reading - lectio - Mass and Communion when able, grounds us in the Presence of God.
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"Happy the man watching daily at my gates,
waiting at my doorposts;
For he who find me finds life,
and wins favor from the Lord."
Proverbs 8:34-35

The Mother of God.
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Again Our Lady is the perfect example of the union of prayer and activity, specifically in the mystery of her visitation to St. Elizabeth, for the sanctification of St. John the Baptist while still in his mother's womb no less.  What a great mystery to ponder!  Two unborn, interacting in their mother's womb, all through the mediation of Mary, the Mother of God.  Ponder this mystery and you can perhaps better understand the prayer of recollection - as well as the evils of abortion.
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Our efforts towards the practice of the prayer of recollection, or 'acquired' recollection, actually can prepare us for the grace of 'infused' recollection.  (I'll give an example of that in a bit.)  Sort of like how the prayer we make in preparation for Mass and the reception of Holy Communion prepares us to receive with deeper recollection and devotion the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Christ.  St. Teresa writes about these things, and I've also known lay people who have experienced such things.  Nevertheless, the favors of God are inscrutable and he bestows them upon whom he wishes - whenever he wishes.   
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For instance, my one friend, a really on again, off again kind of guy - as regards the spiritual life, told me how he once experienced, for nearly a week, an intense awareness of the presence of God.  (I think that may be what is called infused recollection, or the prayer of quiet.)
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He told me how he had been out grocery shopping one afternoon when suddenly a very sensible awareness of God seemed to envelope him and he was filled with joy and deep peace, somehow understanding that God was with him and in him.  He told me that no matter what he was doing, working, even watching TV, this recollection would not dissipate.  At first he wondered what he had done to merit the grace, although he quickly realized he had done nothing and became embarrassed and confused for having imagined he was even able to merit such a grace - yet even then the prayer did not cease.  He told me he had not prayed for any favor, and to his mind, much less properly prepared himself for it, telling me that it was sheer, undeserved grace obtained for him from the Blessed Virgin.  However, it occurred to him it was lasting much too long and he was afraid of becoming too attached, and suddenly it was gone. 
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Like I said - my friend is an on again, off again sort of guy, but it seems to me what he experienced was real since he told me later that he seems to be recollected all of the time now, albeit through faith, without any sensible consolation.  That is best of course.
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Anyway - these are just some thoughts on today's readings from Mass - I'm not sure it all ties together very well though.  For myself I just try to draw very near to Our Lady through the prayers of the Rosary and hope she will obtain for me the forgiveness of my sins and the grace to remain in the presence of God.
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9 comments:

  1. Thanks for this. I always take the Mary/Martha reading as a reminder to take time to "be still and know that He is God." As a Catholic I know I sometimes spend too much time on "works" and not enough on faith.

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  2. "For myself I just try to draw very near to Our Lady through the prayers of the Rosary and hope she will obtain for me the forgiveness of my sins and the grace to remain in the presence of God."

    I could drink tea with you all day Terry!! My thoughts exactly.

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  3. +JMJ+

    The use of the word "better" always reminds of St. John Chrystostom's sensible observation (At least I think it was he) that anything that is good (or better) only because something else is bad is not really good. St. Martha's attending to Jesus in her own way was not a bad thing; it was just not the better thing.

    This morning, my new parish priest put the comparison in this light: What would a man on death row, with the date of his execution in sight, care more about--getting the best meal of his life or having someone listen to his last words?

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  4. Beautiful meditation, Terry.
    Thank you!

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  5. Thanks for the meditation, Terry.
    I was on retreat this weekend, and the theme was very similar.

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  6. Terry - great meditation. I wish you had written my priest's homily for him, instead of the cr*ppy one he came up with.

    He tried to show Martha's role of "working and serving" as a basis for the expanded roles of women in ministry in the Church. Yowzers.

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  7. Hey!! What happened to all the videos??

    Anyway--to get you all drooling...here is Sunday morning breakfast....I attend the 11:30 Mass so I can have a leasurly breakfast..I usually don't have time during the workday to do this so Sundays are a treat...

    Cinnamon french toast with REAL maple syrup and butter, two eggs over easy (the eggs by the way are from my coworker whose daughter is raising laying hens for a 4-H project so I get a carton of fresh eggs each Monday morning--super organic :), two strips of bacon extra crispy, fresh squeezed orange juice, and fresh ground coffee.

    I luv breakfast:)

    Sara

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  8. P.S. the reading this morning was so ironic as just last week we were studying in St Teresa of Avila Way of Perfection, where she talks about Martha and Mary..it definitely takes a tender balance as my house does not take care of itself....nor do I have a maid or gardener...

    Also please pray for my friend Terri who got laid off from her job this past Friday...this will be quite painful as she cares for her elderly mother as well..and needs a job that can accomodate the caregiving.

    Sara

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  9. "Cinnamon french toast with REAL maple syrup and butter... two strips of bacon extra crispy.."

    :-O~~ YUM!

    "Also please pray for my friend Terri who got laid off from her job this past Friday..."

    Praying.

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