Because we do not always see these seeds growing, we need an interior certainty, a conviction that God is able to act in every situation, even amid apparent setbacks: “We have this treasure in earthen vessels” (2 Cor 4:7). This certainty is often called “a sense of mystery”. It involves knowing with certitude that all those who entrust themselves to God in love will bear good fruit (cf. Jn 15:5). This fruitfulness is often invisible, elusive and unquantifiable. Continue reading
Blessed art thou, O Lord God, and blessed be thy holy Name for ever, who hast now vouchsafed to feed me with the Bread of Life, and hast given me to drink the Cup of Eternity, the holy and heavenly Mysteries of the Body and Blood of my Saviour; thereby assuring my Soul of thy Favour and Goodness towards me, for the increase of my Faith, for the Pardon of my Sins, for obtaining of my Peace, and all other Benefits of Christ’s blessed Passion.
I now most humbly beseech thee to assist me with thy heavenly Grace, that I may continue thine for ever, and be made a Temple of the Holy Spirit; and that having now Christ dwelling in me by Faith, I may accomplish the rest of my Life in Repentance and Godly Fear, in mortifying my own sinful desires, and in keeping thy holy Commandments; for which end, guide me with thy Power, enlighten me with thy Word, quicken me with thy Spirit, elevate my Senses, compose my Memory, and order my Conversation aright; for thou art able to do abundantly above what I can ask or think; by which thy great and bountiful Goodness towards me, thou wilt glorify thy Name in me, and bring me at last to thine eternal Kingdom of Glory, through him who is the King of Glory, my blessed Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
— Susanna Hopton (1627-1709)
When the Spirit dwells within a person, from the moment that person has become prayer, the Spirit never leaves them. For the Spirit himself never ceases to pray within us. Whether we are asleep or awake, from then on prayer never departs from our soul. Whether we are eating or drinking or sleeping or whatever else we may be doing, even if we are in the deepest of sleeps, the incense of prayer is rising without effort in our heart. Prayer never again deserts us. In every moment of our life, even when it appears to have ceased, prayer is secretly at work within us continuously.
One of the Fathers, the bearers of Christ, teaches that prayer is the silence of the pure in heart; for their very thoughts are the movements of God. The movements of the heart and the intellect that have been purified become voices full of sweetness with which such people never cease to sing in secret to the hidden God.
— From The Ascetical Treatises of Isaac of Nineveh (613-700)
This morning’s sermon is about a kind of prayer called “mystical prayer.” “Mystical prayer” may seem a little much for a beautiful May morning, but I know we’re up to the task. I’m going to begin by reminding us about Wile E. Coyote and gravity.
Where would Wile E. Coyote be without gravity? If you’ve seen the cartoons, you know how many of the coyote’s attempts to catch the roadrunner rely on gravity: Now the coyote sets up a boulder to push off the cliff and onto the roadrunner below. Now the coyote pours a pile of birdseed over the bridge and bungees down to catch the roadrunner. Now the coyote dons roller skates to skate down the hill after the roadrunner. Even if we haven’t seen the show, because we’re familiar with gravity, we can guess how the coyote fares in each of his attempts: The road runner appears at the cliff’s edge with his signature, “Meep, meep!” and, instead of the boulder, the startled coyote plunges with a whistle to the canyon floor. The coyote bungees off the bridge toward the pile of birdseed and catches, not the roadrunner, but the front end of truck. The coyote with roller skates sees the sign, “Bridge Out Ahead”… but can’t stop, and plunges with another whistle to the canyon floor.
Where would Wile E. Coyote be without gravity?
If we knew nothing about the Holy Spirit except what we read in the Acts of the Apostles, we might well ask, “Where would the Holy Spirit be without gravity?” Continue reading
The Lord calls himself the vine and those united to him branches in order to teach us how much we shall benefit from our union with him, and how important it is for us to remain in his love. By receiving the Holy Spirit, who is the bond of union between us and Christ our Saviour, those who are joined to him, as branches are to a vine, share in his own nature.
On the part of those who come to the vine, their union with him depends upon a deliberate act of the will; on his part, the union is effected by grace. Because we had good will, we made the act of faith that brought us to Christ, and received from him the dignity of adoption that made us his own kin, according to the words of St Paul: ‘Whoever is joined to the Lord is one spirit with him.’ Continue reading