Contemplation is the highest expression of man’s intellectual and spiritual life. It is that life itself, fully awake, fully active, fully aware that it is alive. It is spiritual wonder. It is spontaneous awe at the sacredness of life, of being. It is gratitude for life, for awareness and for being. It is a vivid realization of the fact that life and being in us proceed from an invisible, transcendent and infinitely abundant Source.
– Thomas Merton. New Seeds of Contemplation. (New York: New Directions Books, 1961) p. 1
our little chapel
It’s the start of the traditional novena masses leading to the celebration of the birth of the Son of God. I decided to structure my reflections on the Beatitudes, the laws of love, in addition to the theme of the mass. There are eight of them so I figured I even have one day off.
Happy are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. This is the first beatitude and one that I always had trouble understanding because of the phrase poor in spirit.
When I was in high school I once asked my teacher in my Christian Living subject why God is giving the kingdom of heaven to those people who lost their spirit, to the unhappy people. I got a C, for losing the translation. Apparently, someone is not poor because he/she lost something or lack something.
A person is poor because he/she is in need. For example, a person is poor in materials things if he needs to have those material things. If he doesn’t need those things then he cannot be poor material-wise. So, a person who is poor in spirit is the person who is in need of the Spirit, of God and the life He offers. The contrapositive form of this statement is equally true: He who does not need God cannot be poor in spirit. Then who can be welcomed in the kingdom of heaven? He who desperately need God, who depends on God, who can’t live without God. To be poor in spirit is the condition we must meet to enter the kingdom of God.
Our need controls us, calls the shot for us. Who and what would you rather have to call the shot for you?
Father, in the midst of all the things I possess, help me to be poor in spirit by keeping my life open to You, by putting my trust totally in You, and by holding you always as the most precious element in my life.
May we be angels to each other this season of love. We all need one.
Jesus Master, the Way, Truth and Life
I love to start and end my prayer with Jesus as Master, the Way, Truth, and Life, have mercy on us. I have probably uttered “Jesus Master, Way, Truth and Life …” consciously and unconsciously a thousand times. Blessed James Alberione who gave the Pauline Family this prayer wrote that, “Everything is school” and Jesus is the Master or teacher in that school.
If everything is school, then every thing is a learning experience. In the school of Jesus, the master Himself designs the learning experiences that will enable us to learn the truth. These learning experiences are tailored to our needs. Who else will know and understand our uniqueness except the one who crated us to be unique?
If everything is school, then we should always be in the learning mode, not wanting to miss a class, always trying to be in his presence. We know that he does not conduct his classes in a classroom. He likes to do it through field trips, in the temple, in the market, wherever there are human interactions. But he also gives one-on-one tutoring to those humble enough to admit they’re really finding it hard to learn. His motto: ‘Life is only a onetime experience, live it in my presence‘.
If everything is school and we have been admitted to the best school we would do everything to stay in that school. It would be foolish for us to leave the class simply because we think we are not doing well or because the assignment are difficult and challenging or our classmates aren’t cool. It would be foolish not to take the class seriously knowing that it is the only way to surely land a job in the company of the Father. (Yes, I think we will still be working when we get there. It will be very boring if we will just be sitting there and listening to the choirs of angels singing.)
I like to keep things simple. I have very few needs, I have very few demands, and it only takes a little to make me happy. It would need a truckload of baggage to tip my balance. The truckload came last week in the form of tiny tingling, hissing sound in my ear – tinnitus and meniere’s disease. I am still feeling very angry about the whole thing. I want to ask why me but how about those people with fatal diseases? At least I know that my probability of dying in the next few years is small. But I also know that I have a very high probability of going deaf in the few years! How’s that knowing your future?
There isn’t anything I can do now but try to live healthy. It’s not like I haven’t already except on coffee and chocolates. I just learned that caffeine aggravates my condition so it has to go. I am now on my fourth caffeine-free day and its killing me, what with the tinnitus to go with it. I can’t concentrate, I am having headaches and I’m always sleepy. Yesterday was a real challenge. My only hope is that according to Google, it’s only for nine days. After that, the symptoms will ease out. I hope so. I pray so.