Saturday, January 28, 2017

The Way Lost

The simplest way
to recognize if true contemplation is present in an era 
or a group 
is that there will be numerous small faith groups 
and gentle prophets.

 Such small faith groups
and gentle prophets,
speaking truth in love, 
are greatly needed today!

In 1400 there were hundreds of Franciscan-based small faith communities
all over Europe, 
small, simple communities. 

Soon after the dualistic fights of the Reformation, 
and after the over-rationalization 
of the seventeenth- and eighteenth-century Enlightenment, 
Christians took on a more rational form of thinking 
and covered it with churchy or pious words. 

Doctrines and dogma
 were presented in an all-or-nothing, argumentative way 
rather than through a contemplative, mystical knowing. 

Almost all Catholic priests and Protestant ministers 
were educated in their own version of this headiness 
until it began to fall apart in the mid-1960s.

In the 1950s and 60s,
 Thomas Merton revealed a contemplative mind 
that had largely been lost for five centuries. 

Merton was not very popular 
with many of the older monks in those early days, 
and was considered a rebel 
because he told them that they were not contemplatives. 

Twere just introverts saying prayers all day”—but still with the dualistic and judgmental mind fully in charge. You can imagine how well that was received.

Many, many young seekers
 left seminaries, ministry, religious orders, and convents 
basically because no one taught them how
to live in love.

Without a contemplative life, 
poverty, chastity, obedience, and community itself 
do not work or even make sense. 

And ministry becomes another way of running away 
or trying to find true self 
instead of real service for others.

Contemplation is a positive choosing 
of the deep, shining, and enduring divine mysteries 
that are hidden beneath the too-easy formulas. 

Contemplation is not fast-food religion, 
but slow and healthy nutrition. 

Contemplatives do not let the old get in the way of the new, 
or the new get in the way of the old. 

Like all religious geniuses, 
contemplatives reveal what the old was saying all along. 

Faith itself 
sometimes needs to be stripped of its social and historical encrustations
 and returned to its first, churchless incarnation in the human heart.

 The Contemplative Tradition cannot be repressed 
and will always show up in unsuspecting places.

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