HIS HOLY BIRTH CANNOT BE INDUCED

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The divine birth cannot be forced. You can only create the conditions for this birth to take place. How do you know if the new soul is born in you? The famous mystic Meister Eckhart wrote about this: Now you turn your face entirely to this birth. Yes, you will encounter this birth in everything you see and hear, whatever it is. You are like someone who looks for quite a while at the sun, and afterwards sees the image of the sun in whatever he looks at. As long as you do not seek and perceive God in everything, this birth has not yet occurred in you.

 

 

Feed the Hungry, God Directly. or Feed the Hungry God directly?

 

Non-duality Marshall

My life as a Christian pastor has convinced me that most religious people hunger for first-hand experience of the Divine. They are not very interested in religion with its doctrines, rituals, commandments and bureaucracies. They will not settle for church programs, self-help workshops or spiritual novelties. They do not need more spiritual books on their bookshelves or more spiritual insights in their minds. They may put up with organized religion and spiritual teachers, but only if they might lead to a genuine spiritual encounter.

Davis, Marshall. Experiencing God Directly: The Way of Christian Nonduality (Kindle Locations 53-57). Marshall Davis. Kindle Edition.

THE THIRD SUNDAY OF ADVENT

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John the Baptizer – Alivise Vivarinixx

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John the Baptizer was a remarkable man; odd, eccentric,

He spent 30 years preparing for a ministry that lasted nine months.  It took that long to get ready.  A great undertaking takes a long and careful preparation.  Apparently, he had learned to listen in the desert and he knew who he and knowing who he was enabled him to know who he was not.  And all of us who have any maturity at know who difficult it is to know where we end and other people begin.

John came up out of the wilderness preaching repentance of sins and proclaiming the coming of Messiah, “the anointed one”.  As an outward and visible sign of an inner and spiritual repentance, John baptized people in the Jordan River. The Jordan was a mystical river in Jewish culture and religion.  It was the boundary between wilderness and the land of promise.  It was the boundary between earth and heaven.  It was a boundary between sickness and healing.  Mobs of people flocked to John to be baptized. The movement really took off!

One day Jesus, his cousin, came to him, and was baptized, by him, in the Jordan. Not long afterward, John saw Jesus coming and said, ”Behold the Lamb of God that taketh away the sins of the World.”  He is the one who is to come.  He said this to some of his disciples.

Some of them, Peter and Andrew, his brother, and Philip went to see Jesus and stayed with him.  Soon, they also began to baptize, and more people went to them than went to John.  Someone said, “You know the one you pointed out the other day.  Well, he is baptizing now and everyone is going to him!!!”  This was the ultimate test.     What is more important?

The kingdom being preached OR John the Baptizer preaching the Kingdom.  Which is more important the message or the messenger?

Someone has said, “If you don’t care who gets the credit, almost anything can be accomplished!”  There are those that being in control is more important than winning. And who among us could blame John.  He preaches and now someone has stolen his message and his method.  But this is not what happened. Albert Schweitzer once said, “Example is not the main thing in influencing others – it is the only thing.”

Teddy Roosevelt’s eldest son once said of his father, “He loved to be the center of attention.  He wanted to be the bride at every wedding and the corpse at every funeral.”  Wanting to be the center of everything is not limited to the twenty-sixth President of the United States.  Egocentricity is evidence of our alienation from God.  We deeply desire to be in control and to be the focus of attention.  We become anxious, ‘jealous of our rights and privileges, full of ourselves.  We are determined to be perfect and to use whatever substance or strategy needed to avoid the pain of this control disease we call sin.

The Remedy for “being full of ourselves” come in three flavors.

  1. Suffering
  2. Coming to see a power greater than ourselves in the world.
  3. Loving someone other than ourselves.

Out in the desert John the Baptizer very likely encountered all three remedies.  We hear this in his response to those who tell him that someone is trying to take his place.  John said, “No one has anything unless God give it.  You know I said that I am not the Messiah.  I’m the best man at the wedding.  I’m the one who introduced the groom and the bride.  And like a best man who is only there because of the groom.  I rejoice in my friend’s joy.  He must increase while I must decrease!”

John uses the word “Friend” to describe his relationship with Jesus, the Messiah.  What does that mean? Laurence Thomas writes in an essay, “Friendship and other loves”, that there are three features of companion relationships that are present in most relationships

CHOICE: You can’t choose your family or your boss, but you can choose your friends.  Being a friend requires each person to choose to be a friend.

CONTROL: Neither party to the relationship is under the authority of the other. They may not be equal to each other and they have influence on each other but they do not control each other. If they do it is not friendship.

TRUST: There is an enormous bond of mutual trust between such friends. This is a bond cemented by equal self-disclosure and, for that very reason, is a sign of the very special regard that each has for the other.

John uses the word friend.  He goes further and uses the expression:  “Friend of the Bridegroom” or as we would call it, the best man.  The function of the best man at the wedding is to tend to the interests of the groom.  His greatest delight is in the joy of his friend.  He is at the wedding because of he chose to be a friend. He is there as a gift.  The point here of course is that the best man decreases/he doesn’t have to be the center of attention.  This happens as a token of his friendship and love for the groom.

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Sergius Bulakov Grave

Sergius Bulgakov in an essay,   “The Friend of the Bridegroom” writes,  “St John the Baptist was the first human being, after the Fall, who repented of Adam’s sin and was ready for salvation, ripe for the Kingdom of God.  He transferred his centre from himself to God; he alienated himself from his own self and thereby became fit to be the friend of the Bridegroom.  And his soul entered into the joy of this friendship, as testified by the fiery words of the fourth Gospel: ‘The friend of the bridegroom which standeth and heareth him, rejoices greatly because of the bridegroom’s voice: this my joy therefore is fulfilled’   (John 3.29)”

Advent is the time to wait, to watch, to ponder, to do less, John the Baptizer calls us by example. The way to increase is by decreasing:  less is more.  John the Baptizer calls us to transfer our center from ourselves to God.  There is a radical truth.  If we want to be made whole, we have to be empty first!  That is a message of hope, not a message of work harder, be good, be nice.  The message of hope is:  let go, be empty, do less, be real:  increase by decreasing.  This is a process.  So let us begin again to make a place for the coming Messiah.  As we decrease God promises us that new life will increase. That is good news.  Amen.

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“I am struck by how sharing our weakness and difficulties is more nourishing to others than sharing our qualities and successes.”

― Jean Vanier, Community And Growth

Saint John says, ‘I saw the word in God’

St John says, ‘I saw the Word in God.’ God is abstract being, pure perception, which is perceiving itself in itself. St John means that the Son is in the Father, in his nature. ‘I saw the Word with God.’ Here he is referring to the intellect which, flowing into God eternally, proceeded forth from God in distinction of Person, namely, the Son. ‘ I saw the Word before God.’ This means that the Son is ever being born of the Father and that he is the image of the Father. ‘In the Word there is only the Word,’ refers to the eternal emanation of creatures in the Word. ‘I saw the Word under God’; the Son becomes man, as God said, ‘I have loved you in the reflection of my darkness.’ God’s darkness is his nature which is unknowable. Good people know it not and no creature can divine it; therefore it is a darkness. While God was flowing in his own darkness the Son was not distinct from him. In the darkness of his nature the Father flowed as Person so far as he was pregnant. The Father gave his Son birth and gave him his own nature; he gave him not his Person: his nature he can give away but he can give to none his Person for that is the product of his unborn essence. The Father spoke himself and all creatures in his Son; the Father spoke himself to all creature in his Son. The Father turning back into himself speaks himself in himself; he flows back into himself with all creatures. As Dionysius says, ‘God proceeded himself,’ meaning that his hidden nature suffices him, which is concealed from creatures. The soul cannot follow him into his nature, except he absorb her altogether, and then in him she is made dark of all created lights. The darkness of creatures is their incomprehensibility in their simple nature, that is, in the nothing from which they were created. In this uncreated light they discern his uncreatedness. Into his uncreatedness they flow in the reflection of his darkness.

–‘Tell me, good Sir, do Father, Son and Holy Ghost speak the same word in the Godhead or has each a different word? ‘ — In the Godhead there is but one word; in it the Father in the Godhead speaks into his unborn essence and into his born essence, the Father flowing into his Son with all that he is and the Son speaks the same word, and the Father and the Son flow into the Holy Ghost and the Holy Ghost speaks the same word. They speak this one simple word in their essence and each speaks the same word in his own Person, and in their common nature they discourse the truth and the Persons receive the essence as it is essentially. Yet the Persons receive from one another. They bow down to the essence in praise, lauding the essence; and the unborn essence pronounces its unborn word in the Persons, lauding the Persons, and the Persons receive the essence every whit and pass it on to one another. This unborn essence is self-sufficient, without birth and without activity. Birth and activity are in the Persons. The Persons say they are the truth and that creatures have none of the truth. When the soul attains to this divine speech she speaks this very truth and is the Deity to every creature as well as to herself. This comes of his indivisible nature and therein creatures are a matter of the will. The bad are bad and the good good, the Persons preserving justice in the Godhead. They give the bad their due and the good theirs.

St Dionysius says, ‘God is the Prime Cause, and God has fashioned all things for himself who is the cause of all; and his works are all wrought in the likeness of the First Cause.’ Father and Son show forth the first cause, and the Son is playing in the Father with all things for he proceeded forth from him. The Son plays before the Father with all things, the Son plays below the Father with all things. The Father begat his Son with his Godhead and with all things. The Father begat his Son in his Godhead with all things. The Godhead is the several Persons and the fullness of the Persons. The Godhead is not given to any thing. On coming to its knowledge the soul sees God and glancing back into herself she sees that the Godhead is in all things. Receiving into her the likeness of the creator she creates what she will but cannot give it essence: she gives it form and is herself its matter and its eternal activities are in her; these are in the eternal birth. Its temporal activities are in time, where God gives his works essence, form and matter out of nothing, which the soul is unable to do; God reduces his works to the unity of Christ and this order shall not pass away but shall be raised up to the glory of the one. Soul, transcending order, enters the naked Godhead where she is seen when God is seen in the soul as God. This soul has God as God in her, she has gotten in her the image of her creator.

Now mark the difference between the work of God and creature. God has done all things for himself, for he is the universal cause and all his works are wrought in the likeness of the first cause and creatures all work according to the likeness of the first cause. That is the intention they have towards God. God made all things from nothing, infusing into them his Godhead so that all things are full of God. were they not full of the Godhead they would all perish. The Trinity does all the work in things and creatures exploit the power of the Trinity, creatures working as creatures and God as God, while man mars the work so far as his intention is evil. When a man is at work his body and soul are united, for body cannot act without the soul. When the soul is united with God she does divine work, for God cannot work without the soul and the soul cannot work without God. God is the soul’s life just as the soul is the body’s, and the Godhead is the soul of the three Persons in that it unifies them and in that it has dwelt in them for ever. And since the Godhead is in all things it is all soul’s soul. But in spite of its being all soul’s soul, the Godhead it not creatures’ soul in the way it is the Trinity’s. God does one work with the soul; in this work the soul is raised above herself. The work is creature, grace to wit, which bears the soul to God. It is nobler than the soul as admitting her to God; but the soul is the nobler in her admissibility. This creature which has neither form nor matter nor any being of its own, translates the soul of her natural state into the supernatural.

To his eternally elect God gives his spirit as it is, without means; they cannot miss it. Creatures God is going to make at his good pleasure he has known eternally as creatures, for in God they are creatures albeit nothing in themselves: they are uncreated creatures. Creatures are always more noble in God than they are in themselves. In God the soul shall see her own perfection without image and shall see the difference between things uncreated and created and she shall distinguish God from Godhead, nature from Person, form from matter. The Father is the beginning of the Godhead, he is the well-spring of the Godhead, overflowing into all things in eternity and time. The Godhead is a heaven of three Persons. The Father is God and a Person not born nor proceeding any; and the Son is God and a Person and born of the Father; and the Holy Ghost is God and a Person proceeding from both. St Paul speaks of the uncreated spirit flowing into the created spirit (or mind). This meeting which befalls the created spirit is her saving revelation; it happens in the soul who breaks through the boundaries of God to lose herself in his uncreated naught. The three Persons are one God, one in nature, and our nature is shadowing God’s nature in perpetual motion; having followed him from naught to aught and into that which God is to himself, there she has no motion of her naught. Aught is suspended from the divine essence; its progression is matter, wherein the soul puts on new forms and puts off her old ones. The change from one into the other is her death: the one she doffs she dies to, and the one she dons she lives in.

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‘Christ Triumphant’ –  John De Rosen – Saint John’s Episcopal Church,  Memphis, Tennessee (note Saint John as an old man at the foot of the cosmic cross. He is usually seen as a young man).

St John says, ‘Blessed are the dead that die in God; they are buried where Christ is buried.’ Upon which St Dionysius comments thus: Burial in God is the passage into uncreated life. The power the soul goes in is her matter, which power the soul can never approfound for it is God and God is changeless, albeit the soul changes in his power. As St Dionysius says, ‘God is the mover of the soul.’ Now form is a revelation of essence. St Dionysius says, ‘Form is matter’s aught. Matter without form is naught.’ So the soul never rests till she is gotten into God who is her first form and creatures never rest till they have gotten into human nature: therein do they attain to their original form, God namely. As St Dionysius hath it, ‘God is the beginning and the middle and the end of all things.’

Then up spake the loving soul, ‘Lord, when enjoyest thou thy creatures?’ — ‘That do I at high noon when God is reposing in all creatures and all creatures in God.’ St Augustine says, ‘All things are God,’ meaning, they have always been in God and shall return to God. So when St Dionysius says,’ All things are naught,’ he means they are not of themselves and that in their egress and their ingress they are as incomprehensible as naught. When St Augustine says, ‘God is all things,’ he means he has the power of all things, one more noble than he ever gave to creatures. And St Dionysius’ dictum, ‘God is naught,’ implies that God is as inconceivable as naught. As King David sings, ‘God has assigned to everything its place: to fish the water, birds the air and beasts the field and to the soul the Godhead.’ The soul must die in every form save God: there at her jouney’s end her matter rests and God absorbs the whole of the powers of the soul, so now behold the soul a naked spirit. Then, as St Dionysius says, the soul is not called soul, she is the sovran power of God wherewith God’s will is done. It is at this point St Augustine cries, ‘Lord thou hast bereft me of my spirit!’ Whereupon Origen remarks, ‘Thou art mistaken, O Augustine. It is not thy spirit, it is thy soul-powers that are taken from thee.’ The soul unites with God like food with man, which turns in eye to eye, in ear to ear. So does the soul in God turn into God; and God combines with the soul and is each power in the soul; and the two natures flowing in one light, the soul comes utterly to naught. That she is she is in God. The divine powers swallor her up out of sight just as the sun draw up things out of sight.
What God is to himself no man may know. God is in all things, self-intent. God is all in all and to each thing all things at once. And the soul shall be the same. What God has by nature is the soul’s by grace. God is nothing at all to anything; God is nothing at all to himself, God is nothing that we can express. In this sense Dionysius says, ‘God is all things to himself for he bears the form of all things.’ He is big with himself in a naught; there all things are God, and are not, the same as we were. When we were not then God was heaven and hell and all things. St Dionysius says that ‘God is not’, meaning that he bears himself in a not, namely, the not-knowing of all creatures, and this not draws the soul through all things, over all things and out of all things into that superlative not where she is not-known to any creature. There she is not, has not, wills not, she has abandoned God and everything to God. Now God and heaven gone, the soul is finally cut off from every influx of divinity, so his spirit is no longer given to her. Arrived at this the soul belongs to the eternal life rather than creation; her uncreated spirit lives rather than herself; the uncreated, eternally-existent which is no less than God. Wherewith being all-pervaded to the total loss of her own self, the soul at length returns without herself to eternal indigence, for what is left alive in her is nothing less than God. Thus she is poor of self. This is the point where soul and Godhead part and the losing of the Godhead is the finding of the soul, for the spirit which is uncreated drawing on the soul to its own knowledge she comes nearer to the not-being of the Godhead than by knowing all the Father ever gave. [The gift of the Father is the positive existence of all creatures in the Person of his Son and with the Son the Holy Ghost as well. For the Persons must be looked on as inseparate, albeit distinct illuminations of the understanding.] And so far as she attains this in the body she enjoys the eternal wont and escapes her own.

We ought to be eternally as poor as when we were not and then our kingdom shall not pass away, abiding as it does in God whose it is eternally. The Godhead gave all things up to God; it is as poor, as naked and as idle as thought it were not: it has not, wills not, wants not, works not, gets not. St Dionysius says, ‘Be the soul never so bare the Godhead is barer’: a naught from which no shoot was ever lopped nor ever shall be. It is this counsel of perfection the soul is straining after more than after anything that God contains or anything she can conceive of god. Saith the bride in the book of Love, ‘The form of my beloved passed by me and IGo cannot overtake him.’ It is God who has the treasure and the bride in him, the Godhead is as void as though it were not. God has consumed the form of the soul and formed her with his form into his form. Now she gets all things free from matter, as their creator possesses them in him, and resigns the same to God.

Ours to contain all things in the same perfection wherein the eternal wisdom has eternally contained them. Ours to expire them as the Holy Ghost has expired them eternally. Ours to be all things’ spirit and all things spirit to us in the spirit. Ours to know all and deify ourselves with all.

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The Marvelous Mosaics of Kissufim

I’m struck by this 6th Century mosaic found in Israel.  These two women have made gifts to the community.  The one of the right, the lady of s

 

Kissufim

via The Marvelous Mosaics of Kissufim, Rudolph Cohen, BAR 6:01, Jan-Feb 1980. – Center for Online Judaic Studies : Center for Online Judaic Studies

 

God as Cow

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Meister Eckhart said, “Some people want to see God with their eyes as they see a cow and to love him as they love their cow—they love their cow for the milk and cheese and profit it makes them. This is how it is with people who love God for the sake of outward wealth or inward comfort. They do not rightly love God when they love Him for their own advantage. Indeed, I tell you the truth, any object you have on your mind, however good, will be a barrier between you and the inmost truth”. (Fragments, in Blakney, p. 241)

My Emancipation From American Christianity | john pavlovitz

NOTE:  American Christianity is “different” from Classic Christianity.  There is a gnostic tendency in the American expression of faith in Jesus the Christ.  It took me a long time to express what I sensed.  Going forward I will share some my “waking up to Jesus.” JWS

I used to think that it was just me, that it was my problem, my deficiency, my moral defect. It had to be. All those times when I felt like an outsider in this American Jesus thing; the ever-more f…

Source: My Emancipation From American Christianity | john pavlovitz

Reluctance to seek God…

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Meister Eckhart asked why people are so reluctant to seek God in earnest. Then he made this comment: When one is looking for something and sees no sign that it is where he is searching, he will keep on looking there only with painful reluctance. If, however, he begins to find traces of it, then he will hunt gladly, gaily, and in earnest. The man who wants fire is cheered by feeling warmth and then joyously looks for the blaze. It is like that with people who ought to be seeking God: if they get no taste of the divine sweetness, they drag; but if a man lies in wait until he does catch the taste of the divine, ever afterward he is a glad seeker of God.

Eckhart, Meister; O’Neal, David. Meister Eckhart, from Whom God Hid Nothing: Sermons, Writings, & Sayings (p. 4). Shambhala Publications. Kindle Edition.