to help you discover the God you already know

Author: Henry Morgan (Page 2 of 8)

The One God Whom we already know: part 3

Questions in a time of crisis

The current Lockdown presents everybody with a massive change of life style, the like of which most of us have never experienced before.  Some of us are facing death, our own or that of others, more sharply than before. Some of us are having our working lives turned upside down. Some of us are finding ourselves living solitary lives.  For most people this is a time of challenge and change. Inevitably it prods us into asking questions like: ‘What’s important to me in life?  ‘What makes life worth living? How do I want to live my life?’  In order to stimulate your thinking on these questions I share with you two pieces of wisdom from my collection, that prod and challenge me.

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The One God Whom we already know, part 2

If the women and men of prayer across all the world faiths experience the same Ultimate Reality when they pray, then they all encounter what Christians call God.  When a mixed group of Christians, for whom working together would seem like a miracle, instead share their experience of God they find themselves deeply united.  How do I reflect on these truths?

In 2001 I wrote a Report for The Spiritual Counsel Trust on the state of spiritual direction in the UK.  I wrote that. “In the course of my work, I listen to many people and try to help them discern the promptings of the Spirit of the risen Lord in their lives. Each person’s story is different, and yet I find that some themes occur frequently. When I talk with others engaged in this ministry I find that they are hearing the same themes. It seems to me to be incumbent upon me to say “I feel that the Spirit is saying these things to the churches and perhaps to society: spiritual direction leads into prophecy.” All of the themes I named then remain current. They were:

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There is One God Whom we all already know

Last summer my friend Paul told me about The Snowmass Agreement, which I hadn’t heard of. I checked it out on-line and found that this is what it is:

“In 1984 Father Thomas Keating invited a small group of contemplatives from eight different religious traditions—Buddhist, Hindu, Jewish, Islamic, Native American, Russian Orthodox, Protestant, and Roman Catholic—to gather at St. Benedict’s Monastery in Snowmass, Colorado, to engage in what he called “a big experiment.”

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Wisdom for our times?

This morning, during my time of prayer, I was listening to my friend Paul reading chapters 18 and 19 of John’s Gospel. Listening to the story being read is a different experience from reading it, and thoughts occurred to me that were new to me. I heard that after Jesus’ death Joseph of Arimathea and a secret disciple of Jesus, asked Pilate for permission to remove Jesus’ body and was obviously given permission to do so, for he with Nicodemus, a Pharisee who had visited Jesus by night earlier in John’s story, took Jesus’ body and laid it in a new tomb at considerable cost and no doubt some risk to themselves.

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Simple Prayer

Sister Wendy Beckett was a Roman Catholic contemplative who knew a great deal about art. You may have seen her on tv talking about it, or you may have read one of her many books on the subject. She also wrote about prayer, and there is a quotation that I attribute to her that has stayed with me.  “If God is love, and prayer is important, then it cant in principle be difficult.”   Certainly she was convinced that “prayer is simple.” 

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My Constant Companion

Some time ago I was sitting talking with a friend in my shed. I don’t recall the context, but I do remember very clearly something that he said. I have no memory of what prompted it. He said “ Sadness has been my constant companion throughout my life.”  It took me quite by surprise, and I have never forgotten it.

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Advent Thoughts

Recent events have left me feeling helpless and in a dark place.  Our decision, based mainly on lies, to leave the EU, leaves me with a sense of shame at being English. We are letting both ourselves and our European friends down badly.

We have a government which is already underfunding the NHS, our schools, and the social care provision for the poor and needy, as well as undermining the judiciary and making strangers feel unwelcome, while the wealthy prosper. I expect it to get worse.

We have a PM who lies, runs from difficulties and scrutiny, and lacks empathy & compassion. I wouldn’t trust him with sixpence. 

Meanwhile, the Church of England, in a state of decline, is facing the wrong way and asking the wrong questions, at a national and at a Diocesan level. 

Where is God in all this I ask myself?

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My Vision: a work in progress

Assumptions

1       Every human being has a vocation [a calling from God], probably several, and honouring them is what brings us fully alive.  One of mine is to be a priest. I will only be fully myself by being a priest, and I will be the priest I am called to be by being fully myself: priesthood will then flow naturally through me.  Every priest will exercise their priesthood in a unique way, and their other vocations will inform the way they do so.  Mine has at its core a search for meaning in life: a search that involves my body, head, heart & soul.  I also have a need to share what is shown me.

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Feeling moved

I’m recently returned from a stimulating visit to Finland, where I met up with some old friends and made some new ones. Looking back on my days there I am aware of a number of moments that touched me deeply. I visited an art exhibition ‘Silent Beauty’ which I liked very much, and there was one painting in particular that stopped me in my tracks when I first saw it. I’ve learnt that when that happens I need to pay attention. So I stayed looking at the picture for some time, and then came back to it later. There were no postcards of it for sale, so, with permission, I took a photograph of it, and have been looking at it a lot since. My experience is that when something touches me in this way, God has something to say to me through it, and so its been with this picture. There were other moments in Finland that had a similar effect, they all happened unexpectedly, as is usually the case. I attended a St Thomas Mass on the Sunday, a Mass for Doubters, and was so moved on several occasions that I was close to tears. Since returning home I’ve been mulling on why that happened and what God might be saying to me. Experience has taught me that the obvious answer is not always the deepest one, and I keep mulling.

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Real Life

I recently met up with some friends. It was a good meeting and I’m very glad that I went. But as I reflected on it afterwards I realised that the most significant thing about it for me was a chance remark that led to a brief conversation about something only loosely connected with the declared purpose of the meeting. I think that this is an example of what Gert Dumbar defines as ‘serendipity’: “find[ing] something that you haven’t been looking for but which changes everything that went before and comes after. The English word serendipity was coined by Horace Walpole, who used it for the first time in 1754 in a letter. Walpole described the adventures of the Three Persian princes of Serendip. ‘By chance and shrewdness they discovered things which they were not looking for. They looked for one thing and found another. They were very surprised about this themselves.’ ” Dumbar links serendipity with creativity, and I agree.

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