A Contemplative Environment

The conditions of contemplation consists in being trained in calm, peace and serenity.  If one truly desires the contemplative life, that is, one that is calm, serene and peaceful, then the environment one finds oneself living in is of utmost importance. This environment should be one which permits the soul to be less occupied with material things. An environment that would be enveloped in silence where one could apply oneself in prayer and to wait. Wait, that is, in order to receive the gift of God: contemplation. 
People, especially today, are always in a rush – doing nothing at all! There is hardly ever a time when someone isn’t talking. However, whoever speaks much will not attain spiritual silence or the silence so necessary for a spiritual life. Then there is the constant noise: chatter, idle conversations, television, radio, music, etc. not to mention the numerous distractions that plague the modern sojourner. 
In 1 Kings 17:2-4 we encounter the journey of the prophet Elijah.
The LORD then said to Elijah:
“Leave here, go east and hide in the Wadi Cherith, east of the Jordan.
You shall drink of the stream, and I have commanded ravens to feed you there.”
The Book of Kings contains the story of the prophet Elijah from whose spirit Carmelites get the germ of their Rule. The spiritual meaning of these verses summarizes the environment that contemplatives are striving for in their lives as they seek union with God.

“Leave here…” depart from the world.

“Go east…” turn toward God.

“Hide in the Wadi Cherith…” alone and in solitude. 

“Drink of the stream…” equals “living water” not stagnant water- symbolizes divine, infused contemplation.

“Ravens to feed you…” represents holy reading.
Start today on your journey by creating an environment that will allow you time, solitude and the silence that is needed to have a deep and fulfilling prayer life.

Multitudes on Monday

Joining with the community over at A Holy Experience…..
Gratitude for His many gifts….

……….# 184-193

~ the smell of a lawn being watered by the mist of a clicking, hissing sprinkler system

~ the sound of wind rushing over my ears

~ snap peas sprouting up through the dirt

~ listening to my granddaughter tell me that she can now ride a
2-wheel bike after her seventh bike ride of the day

~ going for a walk with my husband in the evening after supper

~ all the laughter and joy with my fellow Carmelites at our meeting today

~ eating ice cream with my family

~ God’s presence at every moment

~ visiting and catching up with a neighbor

~ the honking of a lone Canada goose

Checkmate this Divine King

It was humility that drew God down to knock on creation’s door, and it was humility that let Him in. The humble handmaid of the Lord was greeted by an angel and asked to be the Mother of God. St. Teresa of Avila writes of the humility of the Blessed Virgin Mary that was so necessary for the Incarnation. She sees the Incarnation as a chess match where Mary checkmates the King by her humility. 
“The queen is the piece that can carry on the best battle in this game, and all the other pieces help. There’s no queen like humility for making the King surrender. Humility drew the King from heaven to the womb of the Virgin, and with it, by one hair, we will draw Him to our souls. And realize that the one who has more humility will be the one who possess Him more; and the one who has less will possess Him less. For I cannot understand how there could be humility without love or love without humility; nor are these two virtues possible without detachment from all creatures.”
(Way of Perfection, 16:2)
And who possess Him more than Mary who bore Him in her womb? God was to give her a truly great gift, one that would cause all generations to praise her. Mary’s humility shows that we are to accept the graces and gifts God gives to us and to others. We are not talking of false humility. Humility that is false fails to recognize the gifts as gifts. The truly humble recognize their nothingness and see all as God’s gifts. This we see in the Blessed Mother’s actions and in her beautiful canticle – the Magnificat.

A Heart Like Mary’s

Mary’s life was one filled with joys, sorrows, virtues and love for God. The Scriptures tells us that she kept all these things in her heart.
What things?

The shepherds go to Bethlehem and find Mary and Joseph and the baby lying in a manger. They tell Mary and Joseph of the message they received from the angel. The infant’s parents are amazed at what they are being told. 
And Mary kept all these things, reflecting on them in her heart. (Lk 2: 19)
Then, after having looked for Jesus for three days, the parents of this child find him in the Temple. They do not understand when he asks them why they were looking for him since he must be in his Father’s house. 
He went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was obedient to them; and his mother kept all these things in her heart. (Lk 2: 51) 
The sayings and doings of Jesus were pondered in her heart. There in her heart she would ponder over them in order to live by them
One of the features of the First Saturday’s Devotion that was popularized after Our Lady appeared at Fatima is to keep Mary company for 15 minutes, meditating on the Mysteries of the Rosary. This can be done by reading the Scriptures that are relevant to the mysteries or by a simple meditation. 
Devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary comprises a devotion to her physical heart and to her interior life. We can imitate Mary and ponder all these things in our heart. Not only the things in the Scriptures but also all those ways that God is speaking to us each day and the things He is doing in our lives.

As aspiring contemplatives we can also imitate Mary’s love for God, she is a model for us of virtues: particularly humility, gratitude, obedience and adoration. 

Multitudes on Monday

In gratitude to God for all His gifts…….
– planting sets in the garden

– penciling out the garden plan on paper

– the smell of cheesecake baking in the oven

– speaking to all my children today

– windy days

– enjoying dinner and conversation with old friends

– children all dressed up in church in nice shirts and ties; in white dresses and veils all ready and eager to receive their First Communion

– crocuses blooming, yellow and purple

– the hum of the dishwasher working, washing dishes

– laughter with friends

– sorrowful tears healing my heart offering the pain for conversion

– a new hanging basket I designed and planted myself

– forever grateful for my daughter, Rachel

die ac nocte meditantes

die ac nocte meditantes –  Meditate Day and Night

meditating on the Lord’s law day and night and keeping watch at his prayers” 

This is the heart of the Carmelite Rule.
. . . to meditate on the law of the Lord
. . . watching in prayers
These two phrases are really synonymous. There is a bit of parallelism in them in the way they correspond to each other. Keeping in mind the end for which the Rule was written – that is, contemplation, what does it mean “to meditate” , and moreover, “day and night on the law of the Lord”? 
The law, taken literally, would be the law of Moses: the Ten Commandments. A second look, especially in considering where these phrases were taken, will give a deeper meaning and understanding as to what is being asked.
The first phrase “to meditate on the law of the Lord” is taken from Psalm 119 which praises the law of God. The psalmist expresses admiration of the law and desires to observe, to meditate and to fulfill it. 

To accomplish the law which is loved 
With all my heart I seek you; do not let me stray from your commands.~ Ps 119:10

To exert myself mentally on the law
Give me insight to observe your teaching, to keep it with all my heart. ~Ps 119: 34

To be occupied in keeping it
I will keep your teachings always, for all time and forever. ~ Ps 119: 44
To analyze it
I have examined my ways and turned my steps to your decrees. ~Ps 119: 59
To scrutinize it
Even at night I remember your name in observance of your teaching, LORD. ~ Ps 119: 55

and to see its moral value
May I be wholehearted toward your laws, that I may not be put to shame. ~ Ps 119: 80
To meditate on the law means to fulfill the law. How do we do this? By going to the Scriptures where the truth is found. The Scriptures make excellent matter for our prayer. Rather than going to other sources (words of men), St. Teresa of Jesus highly recommends the Word of God as a first choice for our reading (meditating). Frequent meditation on the Scriptures is a way to nourish the soul, to possess the truth and to live by it.

Now the second phrase “watching in prayers” will complete the first and will focus our attention on it -”to meditate on the law of the Lord”.
To always pray and to not lose heart (Lk 18:1-8) this was the Master’s command. St. Paul further exhorts us to “pray without ceasing” (1Thes 5:17). To pray and to watch – this is how we are  to understand this precept of the Rule. Our Lord taught us how we are to pray- “When you pray, go to your inner room, close the door, and pray to your Father in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will repay you.” (Mt 6:6). In silence and solitude we are to pray to our Father. Our Lord, Jesus, gives us the formula which begins with an act of love…  
“Our Father in heaven…” 
But the word “prayers” is in the plural, which for our Rule will be taken as vocal prayer, liturgical prayer, mental prayer, meditation and contemplation. Next, we need to consider “watching”, that would be continually. Obviously, this is not to mean a physical continuity. No one can be asked to do that not even in a convent. It would even be impossible to do so mentally, to try to do so would be mentally strenuous. 
To Watch! 
The emphasis should be to understand it as a moral continuity where one’s soul is occupied with God, recollected often. If one occupies itself with prayer faithful to the hours and times of prayer and seeks to be recollected, one will arrive at this continuity.