The solemnity of the Ascension: now there is no more separation between heaven and earth, they are one…now there is no separation between our earthly lives and the heavenly life….all creation and humanity are now contained within the total mystery of God. The sending of the Spirit, of Christ’s Spirit will confirm this profound unity and will be our link to this profound communion and unity of God’s life. In Pope Francis’ words: “Jesus declares that there is a power ‘in heaven and on earth’. It is, first and foremost, the power to connect heaven and earth. Today we celebrate this mystery because when Jesus ascended to the Father, our human flesh crossed the threshold of heaven: our humanity is there, in God, forever. Therein lies our trust, because God will never distance himself from mankind” (Homily, May 27, 2017).
“Anybody who receives my commandments and keeps them will be one who loves me; and anybody who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I shall love him and reveal myself to him” (Jn14:21). Christ is made visible when we ‘receive and keep’ the commandments that he has given. And at the heart of Jesus’ commandments is love. He tells us this is the greatest commandment: to love God with the whole of our lives and the ‘second’ which is not separate from the first, ‘to love our neighbor as our self’. To love Christ is to keep his commandments and in keeping his commandments we will know more deeply God’s love and with this Christ will be revealed, meaning he will be more known to us…more known to us in an incarnate way.
I have been reading Bonnie Thurston’s book, Shaped By the End You Live For. She quotes material from Thomas Merton that I have not read before and you will hear more of these pithy texts in a moment. I like to return to the ‘false self – true self’ dynamic that was important to Merton’s journey and to his understanding of monastic, contemplative life. Recalling our brief discussion several weeks ago I chose not to use the word ‘dichotomy’ in terms of the false self-true self relationship, so as not to give the sense that there is a split between these two realities.
Prayer for Discernment
LORD, help me:
TO boldly take charge of my life, aim for the most beautiful and profound things, and keep my heart pure.
TO respond to your call, with the aid of wise and generous guides, and realize a proper plan for my life to achieve true happiness.
TO dream great dreams and
always have a concern for the
good of others.
TO stand with you at the foot
of the cross and receive the gift
of your mother.
TO witness to your Resurrection and the hope
that it brings.
TO be aware that you are at
my side as I joyously proclaim
you as Lord. Amen.
— Pope Francis
Commemorate the 57th Annual World Day of Prayer for Vocations by reading the Pope's message. (click "Read More)
I begin with these words of Thomas Merton: “Prayer itself is obedience. Our deepest obedience takes place when we pray. Prayer is an act of surrender; it is essentially an act of surrender to God’s love” (quoted in: Shaped By the End You Live For, Bonnie Thurston, p.73). These words of Merton were written at the end of his life and should give us great pause for reflection. What does it mean that ‘our deepest obedience’ happens when we pray’?
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