Tag Archives: keith jagger

Contemplative Wisdom from T.S. Elliott

From “The Dry Salvages”:

To communicate with Mars, converse with spirits, To report the behaviour of the sea monster, Describe the horoscope, haruspicate or scry, Observe disease in signatures, evoke Biography from the wrinkles of the palm And tragedy from fingers; release omens By sortilege, or tea leaves, riddle the inevitable With playing cards, fiddle with pentagrams Or barbituric acids, or dissect The recurrent image into pre-conscious terrors – To explore the womb, or tomb, or dreams; all these are usual Pastimes and drugs, and features of the press: And always will be, some of the especially When there is distress of nations and perplexity Whether on the shores of Asia, or in the Edgware Road.

Men’s curiosity searches past and future And clings to that dimension.  But to apprehend The point of intersection of the timeless With time, is an occupation for the saint – No occupation either, but something given And taken, in a lifetime’s death in love, Ardour and selflessness and self-surrender.

For most of us, there is only the unattended Moment, the moment in and out of time, The distraction fit, lost in a shaft of sunlight, The wild thyme unseen, or the winter lightning Or teh waterfall, or music heard so deeply That it is not heard at all, but you are the music While the music lasts.  These are only hints and guesses, Hints followed by guesses; and the rest Is prayer, observance, discipline, thought and action.  The hint half-guessed, the gift half understood, is

Incarnation.

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Prayers of the Saints: St. John of the Cross

Living Flame of Love

1. O living flame of love
that tenderly wounds my soul
in its deepest center! Since
now you are not oppressive,
now perfect me! if it be your will:
tear through the veil of this sweet encounter!
::
2. O sweet burn-healing
O delightful wound!
o gentle hand! O delicate touch
that tastes of eternal life
and pays every debt!
In killing you changed death to life.
::
3.  O lamps of fire!
in whose splendors
the deep caverns of feeling,
once obscure and blind,
now give forth, so rarely, so exquisitely,
both warmth and light to their Beloved.
::
4.  How gently and lovingly you wake in my heart,
where in secret you dwell alone;
and in your sweet breathing,
filled with good and glory,
how tenderly you swell my heart with love.

 

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About St. John of the Cross:

Take yourself back, before the landmark wars of the 20th century, back beyond the industries of the 19th and the revolutions of the 18th.  Take yourself into Spain, just decades after Columbus sailed the ocean blue.  And head straight to the heart of the country, just hours north of Madrid. There on the upper levels a medieval Spanish fort, you will find a frail monk wasting away in a cobbled jail cell.  The room is small, plastered with his scattered notes. They are scribbles from his heart.  They are seeds of his great work written on scraps of paper which were smuggled in by sympathetic guards.  There, in the damp quarters, we find one of the world’s great Spiritual Masters, St. John of the Cross.  He is penning The Spiritual Canticle  insights of intimacy with the Father.  His work still illuminates believers today, young and old.

John of the Cross is remembered for four main works.  I will introduce them in their own time: Living Flame of Love first, The Ascent to Mt. Carmel in chapter three, The Dark Night of the Soul in chapter four, and the Spiritual Canticle in chapter five.

John wrote the The Living Flame of Love, nearer to the end of his life.  In it he dwells upon union with God, as his main theme. The spiritual life is like a burning log.  We are the wood. He is the flame. John draws his image from an ancient observation.  When you light a log on fire, the log slowly becomes the fire.  It leaves only ashes of impurity on the forest floor.  And as it transforms, it “grows much more and becomes more completely enkindled, until it gives out sparks of fire and flame.”[1]  The whole Living Flame is about this observation.  He talks about it first in the Ascent:

 “It must be known that God dwells and is present substantially in every soul, even in that of the greatest sinner in the world.  And this kind of union is ever at play between God and all the creatures. In this union He is preserving their life; so that if union of this kind were to fail them, they would at once become annihilated and would cease to be.  And so, when we speak of union with God, we speak not of this substantial union, which is continually at play.  We speak of the union and transformation of the soul with God, which is not being at play continuously, but only when there exists that likeness that comes from love.  We shall call this the union of likeness, even as that other union is called substantial or essential.”[2]

John is picking upon the great biblical tradition that spans from Leviticus to Matthew. Our spiritual life is about being changed from un-likeness to likeness, from being un-holy to holy, from being imperfect to perfect.  Genesis to Revelation is about a God who is recreating his unique world into a land of likeness.


[1] Living Flame of Love Prologue.

[2] John of the Cross, Ascent Book 2 Chapter 5.

The Contemplative New Testament: Luke 2

As a PhD candidate in Christian Origins, I spend a lot of my time in the Bible. What this means is that if you would trust a first year med student to operate on your brain, you will feel comfortable using these for your devotional life.  I have translated the texts with two main angles always in mind:  God’s Kingdom and Christian Spirituality.  I trust you will find these new paraphrases enlightening as you live out God’s counter-intuitive ways on earth as it is in heaven.
 

Luke 2.21-24

And when the eighth day arrived and it was time to make the “in God’s people cut” on his body, they named him Jesus.  The angel gave him that name even before he was placed in the womb.

So when that day of cleansing arrived, the day prescribed by the law of Moses, they led him up to Jerusalem and set him before the Lord.  They were following the Lord’s law closely: “Every firstborn that makes it through his mother’s body will be considered holy to the Lord.  Therefore give a sacrifice of two turtledoves or two young doves.

The Contemplative New Testament: Luke 2

As a PhD candidate in Christian Origins, I spend a lot of my time in the Bible. What this means is that if you would trust a first year med student to operate on your brain, you will feel comfortable using these for your devotional life.  I have translated the texts with two main angles always in mind:  God’s Kingdom and Christian Spirituality.  I trust you will find these new paraphrases enlightening as you live out God’s counter-intuitive ways on earth as it is in heaven.
 

Luke 2.15-20

And after all of this the angels left them and went up into heaven.  And the herdsmen conferred with one another.  “We should go to Bethlehem and see about this sign,” they said.  According to the Lord, a baby is supposed to be there.”

And they left eagerly and sought out Mariam and Joseph and  the baby, which was lying in the manger.  And when they saw them there, they knew its significance, about the word given to them by the angels, and about this child.  And when the little family heard the shepherd’s report, they were amazed about it.   And Mary continued to add it all up in her heart. She joined their story up with the many amazing, but hidden, signs they had experienced.

And the shepherds returned to their fields giving glory and praising God for all that they heard and saw.  For it was all just as the angels had said.

The Contemplative New Testament: Luke 2

As a PhD candidate in Christian Origins, I spend a lot of my time in the Bible. What this means is that if you would trust a first year med student to operate on your brain, you will feel comfortable using these for your devotional life.  I have translated the texts with two main angles always in mind:  God’s Kingdom and Christian Spirituality.  I trust you will find these new paraphrases enlightening as you live out God’s counter-intuitive ways on earth as it is in heaven.
 

Luke 2.7-14

And there were shepherds in their fields.  It was the night watch.  They were dwelling there and guarding their sheep. And an angel of the Lord was sent to them.  And the glory of the Lord embraced them. And they trembled with a great fear.

So the angel spoke to them: “Don’t be afraid.  For behold, I bring news to you that will send rejoicing through your heart.  And it is for all the people. A sign of salvation has entered the earth, near you in the city of David. The Lord Messiah has come.

If you go there, you will find for yourself the sign: a baby swaddled and laying in a manger.

And suddenly out of nowhere there was with the angel a multitude of the hosts of heaven.  They were praising God and saying, “Everything is as it should be in the highest with God.  So let peace also be found on earth among humanity.”

The Contemplative New Testament: Luke 2

As a PhD candidate in Christian Origins, I spend a lot of my time in the Bible. What this means is that if you would trust a first year med student to operate on your brain, you will feel comfortable using these for your devotional life.  I have translated the texts with two main angles always in mind:  God’s Kingdom and Christian Spirituality.  I trust you will find these new paraphrases enlightening as you live out God’s counter-intuitive ways on earth as it is in heaven.
 

Luke 2.1-7

And the months passed.  And it happened one day that a message was delivered by Caesar Augustus.  He was taking a census of the whole world.

It was the first census ever before the one when Kurenios was ruling Syria.

And everybody packed their things to register, each to the city where his family came from.

And Joseph set off to register too.  He went with his fiancée Mary who was now eight months pregnant.  They set off from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth.  They went to Judea into a city of David, called Bethlehem.  They went there because Joseph was from that land and it used to be his father David’s.

And while they were there, Mary went into labor.  And she gave birth to her son, to the firstborn.  And she swaddled him and set him in a manger crib, because there was no place for them in the inn.

The Contemplative New Testament: Luke 1

As a PhD candidate in Christian Origins, I spend a lot of my time in the Bible. What this means is that if you would trust a first year med student to operate on your brain, you will feel comfortable using these for your devotional life.  I have translated the texts with two main angles always in mind:  God’s Kingdom and Christian Spirituality.  I trust you will find these new paraphrases enlightening as you live out God’s counter-intuitive ways on earth as it is in heaven.
 

Luke 1.57-80

And the time came for Elizabeth to have her child.  She brought forth a son. And the people that were living near her house and then her relatives heard that the child’s Lord showed great mercy to Elizabeth.  They rejoiced with her.

And when the eighth day came, they made the “in God’s people” cut on the child.  And they said, “we will call him Zachariah, after his father.”

And his Mother responded, “Not this.  He will be called John.”

And they said to her, “There is nobody in your family called John.”

And Zechariah heard them saying, “What should we call him?” And asking for a little tablet, he spoke while he wrote it: “His name is John.”

Everybody was amazed.  And he was able to speak again. And before he spoke any more words, he called out praises to God.

And all the neighbors were fearful.  And what happened in Zachariah’s family spread throughout the whole mountain of Judea.  All those who heard it treasured it in their hearts saying, “Who will this child be?  For the hand of the Lord is with him.”

And Zachariah, John’s father, was filled with the Holy Spirit, and holding John he prophesied saying,

“Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for he sheltered us and made a way out of bondage for his people.  God lifted the horn of salvation for us from the house of his son David.  He made good on the promise of salvation he spoke through the mouth of his timeless prophet.  The message was twofold: First, he is making mercy with our fathers.  Second, he remembered his Holy covenant.  And what is our salvation? It means that we are saved from the hands of our enemies and from the hands of all who hate us.

In the covenant, he swore an oath to our Father Abraham for our day too, to embolden us out of the hands of our enemies, rescuing us for this reason: so that we might dedicate ourselves to worship him and be righteous before him.

And you boy, you will be called a prophet of the most high.  For you will serve as a prophet before the Lord in two ways: first, to prepare His way and second to give the knowledge of salvation to his people, which will come through the forgiveness of their sins and from the heartfelt mercies of our God.

And it is from those mercies that the rising dawn of salvation will choose to grace us.  It will give light to those sitting in darkness even in the darkness of death.  The sun will guide our feet to the path of peace.”

And the child grew and became strong in his spirit, and he was in the desert until the day of his making known to Israel.