Abiding in God's Presence

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So, just a few points to carry over from last time. We mentioned that this awareness of God's presence is just another way of talking about Christian love. And not only that, it's also another way of talking about Christian faith, which is before love, so to speak, and which finds its fulfillment in love. But faith, fully lived, is, at least in the biblical perspective, is this cleaving to God in trust. We sometimes speak of the faith, and it's the various doctrines and dogmas of the church, and we want to affirm that. And that is our act of faith. But faith, again, in the biblical sense, is more primarily this cleaving to God, this


faith as trust. And this is this abiding in God. So if we stir up our faith, we're being with God, first of all. And that goes deeper than what we might or might not be feeling at a given time, how devoutly we're feeling ourselves, whatever that, even if we're feeling very undevout indeed. We make that commitment, that act of faith, and if it is an act that perdures, at least implicitly, then we're abiding in God. If we don't make the conscious, explicit decision to separate ourselves from God, that deepest level, we're with God. And to the extent that we stir up that faith, and it's alive and conscious, well, that's the same thing as abiding in God, that's the same thing as prayer, etc. Our Lord says, abide in me.


And then he, according to the Gospel of Luke, he told them a parable that they should pray without ceasing. Then remember the parable of the very insistent widow who would go and knock on the door of the judge day and night, etc. So this, that they ought to pray without ceasing. And then St. Paul also says, pray without ceasing. So this is a law, really, for us. Now that's, that makes it easier, that kind of strengthens, reinforces our commitment, because again, it doesn't depend on our being in a very devout space, or wanting to, or anything of the rest. We're just required to pray without ceasing. But to not take this as a heavy perfectionist thing, but it's there, at least as a horizon. And in this context, just wanted to mention three understandings of law. This is from a particularly interesting theologian of the Reformed tradition, Paul Tillich.


And it also follows our development as we grow as human beings. The first experience of law is as little kids. That's number one down here, is heteronomy. That's from the Greek, nomos is law, and hetero, from outside, other, coming from elsewhere. So the parent says to the kid, you've got to do this. The kid might even say, why? And the parent says, because I told you. So it, the kid experiences this as being pushed on the kid from outside, heteronomy, outside. Then the kid grows, gets into his teens and beyond, finds his or her own identity, own set of values, individuates, as a psychologist says, and then says, I'm going to be, I'm going to make up my own laws now. I'm not going to just do it because mommy or daddy said.


I'm going to think it through, and I'm going to be the lawmaker for me. That goes into autonomy. From oneself comes the law. So this is developmental. And usually we're in this kind of dialectic because also the state and the government lays on us all kinds of laws. We don't always agree with them. So we go back and forth between heteronomy and autonomy, between obeying those laws that are laid on us from outside, that we may or may not appreciate, and then wanting to be a law unto ourself. But when the moment of grace comes, that's indicated in blue here, we're carried to a new level of law, and that's a theonomy. That is the law of God. This is the law written in our hearts. This is the law according to which we were created. This is the law there for our fulfillment and joy and peace.


Now that goes beyond heteronomy. In a way, it's certainly a transcendence, so we don't just make it up. So it's different from autonomy on the one hand. So in a sense, it has some of the characteristics of heteronomy, but not in the oppressive sense, where it's just coming from other mortals who are fallible. No, this is the law from God. And it's different from autonomy. It's like autonomy in the sense that it comes right out of our own hearts. Indeed, it comes from those deepest regions that we can't even access, of our heart, of our urine. So this is the fulfillment of this dialectic, of this thesis antithesis, which is kind of interesting. So when our Lord says, pray without ceasing or abide in me, it's this kind of law. It's not heteronomy, just kind of cruelly laying on us this heavy burden. It's not autonomy. I'm going to do it because I want to.


It comes from beyond, but it comes from the deepest center. So to think of this abiding in God as fulfilling our will also, because this is our deepest journey, but also fulfilling our duty, our most primordial duty. So when we live this theonomy of abiding in God, we're coming home. We're doing finally what we most want to do. We're being finally who we most deeply want to be. That is that person serenely, joyfully, fully in communion with God. Augustine says it very eloquently, you have made us for yourself, O God, and we are restless till we rest in you. That's that theonomy. So prayer, we said, is lots of things, but it's primarily being who we truly are, doing


what we most profoundly wish to do. But when we say who we are, now which we is that? Thomas Merton makes an interesting distinction, I think, between the true self and the false self. The false self is the ego, is me as distinct from you, and me as rather more important and intelligent than you, and me who's kind of the center of the world. That's the false self. Now the false self can also get into religion, and that gets very dangerous indeed. So I want to abide in God, I want to be always with God, because that's the perfect way, and I want to be perfect, and I want to be a greater saint than you, et cetera, et cetera. So we can bring the whole ego baggage into spirituality. And this gets painful, because we're just aware something's not right here. Sir Benedict says, the way into God is the way of humility. So as we go deeper and deeper into humility, we're more profoundly united with God.


But this shouldn't be the kind of supreme ego trip. You know, I want to be always with God. I never forget God, or anything like that. Merton has one little book, The Birds of Appetite. We just crave, you know, and Madison Avenue feeds our cravings. So we want bigger cars, and bigger houses, and fancier clothes, and more expensive watches. Well, some of us get into the religion track. Well, we want bigger graces, and more gifts, and be a bigger saint, et cetera. Well, it's all of that craving, that kind of... But if we can go back to this humility, if we can find this truest self within, which is the self that's afraid, the self that feels inadequate, the self that's very aware that I'm mortal, the weak area in me. But when I am weak, then I am strong. It's that paradox. It's all the way through the New Testament.


So it's at this point that we abide in God, not out of our, you know, I'm something special, so that I'm always praying, or something like that. But I'm so needy that I need to be with God always. It's that wonderful little way of St. Therese of Lisieux. And this can save us from all kinds of problems. Well, the Pharisees in Jesus' time, we have a ferocious gospel today against the Pharisees. So this is the way to go. There's a beautiful passage in Merton about this deepest center within us. He calls it the point vierge, this virginal point within us. Is it our deepest self? Is it Christ abiding in us? Is it the divine spark, as some of the mystics say? Well, it's kind of all of this.


But it's at this deepest level that we want to attain through compunction, through humility, moving beyond ego, dying to the old self. St. Paul uses the language of the old self and the new self, the self of the old Adam, and the self in Christ. So it's at this level that we abide in God. If it's in that other level, it'll just be a kind of a nervous straining and a wanting that others know and all that. But at this level, there is a peace and there's finally a liberty to be a self. Also a small and self-fragile as we, in fact, are. Again, that expression, le point vierge, I cannot translate it, comes in here. At the center of our being is a point of nothingness, which is untouched by sin and by illusion, a point of pure truth,


a point or spark which belongs entirely to God, which is never at our disposal, from which God disposes our lives, which is inaccessible to the fantasies of our own mind or the brutalities of our own will. This little point of nothingness and of absolute poverty is the pure glory of God in us. It is, so to speak, his name written in us, as our poverty, as our need, as our dependence. It is like a pure diamond blazing with the invisible light of heaven. It is in everybody. And if we could see it, we would see these billions of points of light coming together in the face and blaze of a sun that would make all the darkness and cruelty of life vanish completely. I have no program for this seeing. It is only given.


But the gate of heaven is everywhere. So it's a beautiful poetic passage that many of the mystics would agree with. But this, then, this gate to heaven is everywhere. That's where the points of this abiding in God. So again, I don't really have to feel on top of it all at this moment. In fact, it's better if I don't. It's better if, in humility, I turn to God and say, well, even in this moment, I need to be with you. Help me, or I want to glorify you, I want to rejoice in you, I want to give thanks, whatever it is. But just that humility of the prodigal son, of continually coming back to the Father's house and saying, Lord, I am not worthy to be your son. Make me as one of your servants. And then celebrate with the Father in heaven. So that was our introduction. Now we go into this first dimension of abiding in God, which is the most important,


which is specifically Christian. Here's a design of three basic dimensions of abiding in God or prayer. We could add others, but these are the three basics we'll be talking about. So that vertical one up on the left, that's liturgy, that's Eucharist, that's divine office. That's also important devotions like the rosary, etc. That's when we do the official prayer of the church. And that's an extremely important part of abiding in God. So I say, if we just read Brother Lawrence, we might remember that we're to pray with God in the kitchen, in the highways and byways, but somehow we don't relate it to Eucharist, though he certainly did. But if we can root it in this liturgy, which takes us right up to heaven, then there's this taking of the liturgy and living it in one way or another throughout the whole day.


And that's the practice of the presence of God throughout the day. That's this horizontal line. So this morning, yesterday, we had the introduction to the whole thing. This morning, we'll be looking at the vertical. This afternoon, at the practice of the presence. Then there's a third dimension. When I set aside my own personal time just to be with God in quiet and peace. This isn't exactly like being with God in the hustle and bustle of the kitchen or with others or are you running with me, Jesus kind of thing. As we'll see that afternoon, this is important, but this is where I set aside a chunk of time just for God. Quality, face to face. I go into the inner room, I close the door, unplug the phone. This is just my time with God. This isn't liturgy. I'm alone and in silence. This isn't throughout the day again with lots of other things happening. This is a third dimension. Now, each one of these dimensions very much strengthens the other.


They're extremely complementary. They're extremely mutually reinforcing. We want the whole package so that our abiding in God may be truly Christian and not just some kind of monastic thing, but can also not be constrained or limited just to when we're in church, but can go throughout the day and also again have those special moments where it's just myself and God. Is that basically clear? Or whatever I've said. This was Thomas Merton, Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander.


What page was that, Father? That's page 158. The Night Spirit and the Dawn Air. We can say here also that this all comes out of this pointier, this virginal point, this deepest center, the root of it all, whether it's liturgy, whether it's practice of the Presence. And we've said this root is faith, Christian faith, in the sense of trusting in God, clinging to God. It's Christian love. It's just this awareness. Or sometimes it's pre-aware. It's interesting. Are we, again, if we don't make a conscious intention to separate ourselves from God, that's very serious sin. But if we want throughout this day to do God's will, to be with God, even in the distracted moments, were in fact united with God's will, is there a deepest level


where we remain united with God? Certainly we do theologically in terms of the grace remaining, et cetera, et cetera. But is there even a kind of a pre-conscious there? It's an interesting question. But in any case, let's get to the basic Christian doctrine of Trinity. So we learn this as kids, presumably in our catechism, that everything comes from the Father, the primordial source of all, the ineffable. According to the Eastern Church, the Father should not be represented in icons, should not be represented in art. This is supremely the ineffable, the mysterious, indescribable one. But because of, as St. Thomas Aquinas says, of bonum est decusibum sui, the good just spontaneously wants


to communicate the good, there is this uttering forth of the word, this sharing of divinity. This is already within the life of the Holy Trinity, before even there is a creation. There's this mysterious uttering forth of the mind, of the word, of the wisdom. And the word knowing this primordial source, the Father, then is so in love with this Father, and the Father is so in love with the Son, that this fullness of love is itself, herself, himself, the fullness of person, and that's the Holy Spirit, that in the return to the Father, and then the Father, through the same life-giving Spirit, gave this upon the Son. So it's this dynamic. The Greeks, the Eastern Church,


has a very fancy Greek term for this flowing, this Father is fully in the Son, who is fully in the Spirit, and vice versa. It's not a static, kind of dead in the water thing. But this dynamism, there's a sense in which God, thus, is a verb. So this is the inner life of the Trinity. Now this is expressed quite perfectly in all of salvation history, and in Eucharist, and in liturgy, and in our own personal journey of faith. It's all this same dynamic, this Trinitarian cycle. We are created in the image and likeness of God, according to Genesis, which means we are Trinity in some mysterious way. In any case, in salvation history, if we pick up the Bible, what do we have? Well, in the beginning, there was God, and God uttered this word,


said, let there be light. And this word is so powerful that in fact there is light, and let there be earth, and all manner of creatures, et cetera. This is uttered in the Spirit, and so it's a word that's extremely for kind, that brings forth all of creation. And then remember, in Genesis, there's the Holy Spirit mysteriously hovering over the waters. And then, God takes a little clay and molds it, and then breathes this Spirit, this Ruach, this life, this divine life into the clay, and that clay becomes the living Adam and Eve. So, the story of creation is the story of this Trinitarian dynamic already there in a hidden way. And then throughout, God speaks to Israel,


the word, sends the Spirit to the judges, to the prophets, anoints the kings, gives them a word. So it's this unfolding of the salvation history that always has this Trinitarian dynamic to it. And then, as the letter to the Hebrews says at the beginning, the decisive moment comes for not a multitude of words, a multitude of prophecies, et cetera, but the word incarnate being sent. Who is Christ? And the word is conceived how? It's conceived in the Holy Spirit. So this is the Spirit-filled word who is Jesus Christ. And then remember in the baptism, the Spirit descends upon him and at the transfiguration, the full revelation, who is this Christ? And the word out of heaven,


this is my beloved Son, et cetera, the anointed, the Messiah, that is the anointed with the Holy Spirit. So it's all this. Now what do we do? Well now we're on this return journey, this new Passover journey back to the Father through Christ in the Spirit. So whether we look at Scripture, whether we look at our own life journey, what is our life journey? It's all about journeying back to the Father through Christ in the Spirit. This is our, if you take the whole long view of it, this is what my, how many years I'll be alive, that's what it's all about. If you take any moment, any given moment, I want to again return to the Father through Christ in the Spirit. Any moment of prayer is this dynamic. I've received my body, my mind, my spirit, my consciousness, I've received faith, all is a gift from the Father through Christ in the Spirit.


And now I want to return all this in any moment of prayer, in any moment of good act to glorify the Father, to be in communion with the Father through Christ in the Spirit. Every liturgical prayer, practically 95% are addressed what? To the Father, Heavenly Father. Addressed through Christ our Lord and sometimes even in the Spirit. So it's sometimes explicitly only one or two of the members of the Trinity, sometimes all three, but always this Trinitarian dynamic and to the liturgy at Eucharist. First of all, it's the Father who gathers us as worshiping community through the Word inviting us, making us community. So we start with the liturgy of the Word, we listen to the Word that comes to us, the Word which is Scripture, which is what? Inspired by the Holy Spirit. Whose Word? God's Word. God the Father. We listen to this


and then we do it. Do this in memory of me. So all of Scripture culminates in the paschal mystery of Christ's suffering and death. We hear about that and then we do it. We render it present through Eucharist. So then we take the gifts of bread and wine, but especially of our own lives and bodies, and then we in Christ, who is the One-Eyed Priest, offer all this back to the Father in the Offertory, in the Consecration, in the Holy Spirit, the famous Epicles prayer, which is the prayer that the Spirit come in and animate from within all of our Eucharistic prayer. And then, in this, what do we enjoy? We enjoy deep communion. So, here's the Word of His Christ. But as Christians, we are baptized into Christ. We are made members of Christ. So this member of the Holy Trinity now includes us.


So as Christ now suffered, died, we need daily to suffer and die to the old self, to ego, etc. To live anew in the Holy Spirit, to present ourselves with Christ to the Father. Christ, in the Letter to the Hebrews, and in the wonderful ancient art in Rome, for instance, in the catacombs, Christ is the One Prayer. He's often presented there. He's called the Liturgist, the One who has His hands extended. It's He who, at the right hand of the Father, now glorifies the Father in eternity, filled with the Holy Spirit. So this, again, is the life within the Holy Trinity, but it's also the life at extra. It's the life as the Trinity reveals themselves, Himself, Herself, to us, and gathers us into the same dynamic, leading us back to the Father. So, again,


in every little moment of Thanksgiving or prayer or petition, we're living this Trinitarian dynamic. We're caught up in this wonderful, ultimate source and fulfillment of all things. Is that? So this, again, is what salvation history is about in Scripture. This is what my own salvation history is about. This is what our community of faith here is all about, what your parish life is all about, what your family life is all about, as Christian, et cetera. It's all this dynamic. Well, now, this kind of situates our wanting to abide in God. Again, it's not a just agnostic thing of some impersonal divine force or something. How many of you have seen the Star Wars kind of thing? You know, the force be with you. It's not this just vague energy out there


that we want to commune with, but it's being incorporated in Christ, opening our heart to the fullness and life of the Holy Spirit, going to the Father, that whole Trinitarian thing. And we may not, it's not necessary at all in the depths of prayer to have all this consciously present. It's too much. But to know that the richness and fullness of all this is always there, and so also the converging of all these elements of word of God, of scripture, of church, of hierarchy, of liturgy, of ministry, of works for other, of asceticism, the whole thing is summed up in this. And that's what abiding is all about. We can't be anywhere else if we're Christians. We can only be in this one salvation history,


in this one new Adam, in this one high priest filled with the one Holy Spirit, abiding in, glorifying, petitioning God the Father. Questions, comments about any of that? Yes? Just in looking at your diagram for a second, where I see Christ in word, all of a sudden, in furtherance of the abiding theme, I saw the head there, Christ is the head, and then all of a sudden they could become... Absolutely. Just the body, sort of drawn down from the... Absolutely. So that's where we are. So if we're not abiding, we're out of touch with reality, because we are members of Christ. So that's the body image and head and members, which is such a rich theme in St. Paul. And then again, St. John uses the other image of the vine.


Think of this as the living vine. The vine is also a wonderful scriptural image all the way through from the Old Testament. Israel is Yahweh's vine, and God goes there and tends his vine. So the Eucharist as fruit of the vine. So you do all kinds of things with it. But yeah, the basic message is we're incorporated into Christ. So we're incorporated into this dynamic, thinking it's a little like being in a very wonderful Amtrak train compartment, and you're moving like crazy, and you're with friends, and you're just celebrating with the open wine bottle and the muncheon, etc. And you're going ever, ever deeper into God the Father through the Holy Spirit, through this energy of the Spirit that's driving you. So it's not, again, something kind of dead in the water, but it's this dynamic. So yeah, we're in this compartment who is Christ. We're incorporated into Christ.


And thus the abiding theme, as you say, is the only way to make sense of any of it, of Scripture, of Eucharist, of prayer, of salvation history, of whatever. Yes? So abiding is based on baptism? Absolutely. We're going to see that now, yeah. We, I think most all of us, have been baptized as kids, so we lose some of the force of the baptism that the early Christians had when you were baptized as an adult. At first you went through this long, rigorous preparation period. We now have a bit of that with our CIA and with adult. But yeah. So in baptism, we descend into the death of Christ. We rise up into the newness of life of Christ, and we are incorporated into Christ. Just a couple of quotes from the Vatican II documents.


By the sacrament of baptism, a person becomes truly incorporated, what if a word, put into the body of, made one body with, the crucified and glorified Christ, and is reborn to a sharing of the divine life. That word sharing is beautiful. That comes out of the Greek word koinonia. But that's what abiding is about. It's sharing in the divine life, but in an ongoing way. As the apostle says, for you were buried together with him in baptism, and in him also rose again through the faith in the working of God, who raised him up from the dead. Baptism, therefore, constitutes a sacramental bond of unity, linking all who have been reborn by means of it to God and to one another. So it's this bond, it's this, another, to use the Johannine image, it's the moment when we are engrafted into the vine, so we become one living vine. So, another way to put it is this,


abiding is simply living out our baptism. And this is the primordial sacrament in which we're all made members of Christ. This, by the way, is a tremendous resource of the whole ecumenical movement, where all of the mainline churches baptize in the one baptism of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. So we're all made Christ. In fact, that text I read about baptism comes from the Declaration on Ecumenism. But, as they note here, baptism is just the beginning. You don't just say, well, I'm baptized and that's the end of it because I'm incorporated into Christ. But it's a dynamic thing, it's a growing thing, it's a deepening thing. But baptism of itself is only a beginning, a point of departure, for it is wholly directed towards the acquiring of fullness of life in Christ, so always again in Christ. Baptism is thus oriented


towards a complete profession of faith, a complete incorporation into the economy of salvation, such as Christ himself voted to be, and finally towards a complete participation in Eucharistic communion. So we Catholics believe there are seven sacraments. They're not all on the same level, one right next to another, but it's better to think of, say, a circle of six, all oriented towards, one, two, three, four, five, six, the center, which is Eucharist. Eucharist is the fulfillment of all the other sacraments, and the Eucharist is this profound communion in the body and blood of Christ. So this is our whole sacramental order. Now, the Eucharist, as Eucharist, lasts only a period, so we could think of it as something different from our abiding theme. But another way of thinking it is


it's that moment of profound communion with God that nourishes us for the rest and also is kind of the archetype or model, as we'll see for all the rest. Eucharist sums it all up. Again, Eucharist sums up this Trinitarian dynamic as does Baptism. In Baptism, again, we're called by the Father to be Christians. We then are united to Christ, going into the water, dying, and then we're raised up again with Christ in the Holy Spirit. And all of this is very explicit in the Baptismal rite, and it's also there in Eucharist very explicitly, as some mention. So, again, it all comes together at this deepest level, and finally, we said all this is prefiguring of what? Of the heavenly banquet, when we'll be abiding in God forever


and in a conscious way. We won't be so troubled by all these tasks and distractions and troubles. Well, the Eucharist, which is supreme prefiguring of the heavenly banquet and foretaste of the heavenly banquet, of this joyful abiding in God. So, again, all this just to see that it's not just some techniques we want to learn about being more mindful and focused. Also, that we'll get much more to that this afternoon and tomorrow, but it's wanting to understand the why of all this. If we understand the why, then the how can take care of itself. Chesterton said, there's nothing more practical than a good theory. Well, this is kind of our theory. This is our theology of abiding in God, so we'll know why we're doing it all and why it's all Christian.


This whole liturgical thing is also what some theologians and experts in the spiritual life call the objective dimension of spirituality. This is important. We need the personal subjective, or it's not personal, I don't really claim it, but if it's just that, there's a danger that I just become obsessed with my own kind of experiences and feelings and subjective states, and it becomes very kind of narcissistic. I just had a wonderful, mind-blowing experience of Jesus this morning, and I moved from the fourth mansion to the fifth mansion, and I had this dream. It's all I, I, I, but the liturgy gets us into community, gets us into church, gets us into the objective. Praying the psalms is good for that. You know, I pray an angry psalm. Maybe I'm not feeling angry at all, but somewhere in the universal church, there's someone angry,


and in the salvation history, there are moments when Christ was angry, et cetera, so I moved beyond just me, myself, and I in liturgical prayer to give a solid, objective, reality basis, but then again, I want to claim it personally and make it a matter of my heart, and that'll be the agenda this afternoon and tomorrow. Any comments about any of this? Yes? A little bit confused about Christ inside and outside. A little bit. Well, yeah. Christ transcends us. Christ is other than us, is outside of us, but Christ is also the deepest center, both and. There's the texts of whoever does my word, I will come to him, and I, my Father,


will make our abode in him, so there's both a spirituality and indwelling, where our deepest center is Christ, is the Father, is the Spirit. We are temples of the Holy Spirit, temples of the indwelling Trinity, someone like Elizabeth of the Trinity, wonderful at exploring that, but it's not just inside me, it's all around me, it's transcending me, it's before I was and after I will be, at least on this earth, etc., so it's both and, with Christ, with the Spirit, with the Father, with God, etc., with the Word of God, which is written in our hearts, but also comes to us from without, so it fulfills the best of heteronomy and autonomy, carrying them to a higher level, is another way to put it. It fulfills the best of the subjective and the objective, you know, both and. All these images are just


kind of struggling ways to put into words a mystery with a capital M that just transcends our capacity to express. This also with Scripture, or this also with the infallible documents of the Church. They all are very limited and partial, but they just kind of point us in the right direction, they give us little glimpses. So to talk of God, of Father, that's very important language, but God isn't the Father like any father we've ever known, who had to have a wife and had to, with the wife, conceive of us and gets old and has moments of crankiness, etc. This isn't that ineffable one. Jesus is the Son, but not like we're the son of our Father, you know, again. The Holy Spirit, which basically comes from the Hebrew meaning breath, and the Greek, pneuma, meaning breath.


But the Spirit isn't like our breath, you know. So all these are just, St. Thomas Aquinas says, every example limps. So to be aware of the limits of all this language, but to rejoice, that hopefully it can at least give us little intuitions of the mystery. So as we go deep into prayer, we go just into the ineffable silence. But we go sustained by and safeguarded by all this language that kind of keeps us on the right. So the liturgy also, again, opens up the whole ecclesial side. It's just not me doing my own thing in a kind of a New Age way, but it's I as member of the church, which is the body of Christ, abiding in God, because the whole church abides in God. I'm doing myself what the whole church does. The church is imperfect.


The church is made up also of sinners. And so, thank heavens, there's space also for me and you. But the church is also body of Christ. And so we rejoice in this also ecclesial dimension of our abiding in God. So again, it's not just a kind of an intimistic, feely thing. On the other hand, again, I need to claim it, so we'll be seeing that a bit. So, any other questions about this? So let's look at Eucharist in its basic structure to see how that's model and example of how any Christian moment of prayer will be any Christian act of faith that unites me with God again. It might just take a split second, but it is little Eucharist. So the Eucharist is the archetype


for all of Christian prayer. And it's our deepest moment of communion. We talk about Holy Communion. And it then is what our ongoing life wants to be. It wants to be Eucharist. Eucharist as liturgy is wonderful because it feeds the whole person, body, mind, and spirit. I want to be community. And in Eucharist, I am. I do have a body. I want to hear things and see things and even smell things. Well, that's what the church and her wisdom, therefore, has candles and gestures and chalices and music and incense and the whole thing. So I'm caught into it. What do they call it? Inclusive way, a holistic way. That's the famous word today. This is holistic spirituality, liturgical spirituality.


It's not just me in my pure, disincarnate spirit detached from my body or something. So it's the whole. So somehow also, even in those little moments of prayer, might be under a tree or it might be in my room or something, somehow I do want that it involve my whole being and I want to know that the whole church is there. There's a wonderful tract by one of our great Kamaldolese saints and theologians, a doctor of the church, St. Peter Damian. He comes from the famous thousand-year-old hermitage of Fontevillana where four of us will be in just a month where we're going to have our general chapter over in Italy. Anyway, one of the hermit recluses who was a priest, he'd go into his little chapel and alone say the Eucharist. He'd say, now should I turn around and say the Lord be with you when no one's there? Should I answer myself


what's happening there? And so St. Peter Damian says, well, no one's there, but you are a member of Christ. You are a member of the church. So where you are, the whole church is. And in some mysterious way, as you are a member of the church, the whole church is mystically present in you. So in that little chapel of yours in reclusion, there's all the saints and all the struggling Christians all down through the ages and there's all the angels and archangels, all are there in the chapel. So say yes with joy. The Lord be with you and respond. And also with you and say lift up your hearts. Because each one of us is in some mysterious way the whole church. Just as if I reach out and shake the person's hand, I'm not just shaking their hand, I'm communicating with the whole person. The whole person is rendered


kind of symbolically present in the hand or if it's just a glance, the whole person can be summed up in the glance, etc. So each one of us is in miniature the whole church. Each Christian community, whether it be the married couple or the parish, is the whole church summed up in that little instance. Just as they say also, I think in the DNA, the whole body is present in each member. So all this to say that the whole mystery is summed up with us also when we're alone. Also when we're not in Eucharist, we remain in that kind of Eucharistic dynamic, which is the basic Trinitarian dynamic. So again, we start out with the liturgy of the word in Eucharist. We'll be having it at 1130. We gather in that part and we're seated and the word of God is proclaimed.


This puts us in communication with the whole of salvation history. We're in touch with whatever be the readings of the day, but they presuppose all the other readings. So we get this wonderful salvation history. We listen to it. That word explains to us again who we are, why we're there, what we're doing. Well, so in every moment of prayer, there should be a moment of listening, of hearing the word addressed to us from the Father. This is the famous Shema of the Old Testament. It's the basic exhortation and even appeal of God. Listen, O Israel, hear. And so if we hear, we hear this word of God proclaimed. It might be in fact there in Eucharist with the word of God, or it might just be in silence. We hear maybe the word in silence. Elijah in his cave heard this word of God to him spoken in the sound of sheer silence.


So sometimes that'll be the word which transcends any human words. Whatever. Any moment of abiding in God wants to be on our part of listening. Then we get into the moment of the offertory, and we have this little kind of procession, which is rather neat. The monks and all the people of God go into that second space around the altar. The first space is centered on the word. The second space is centered on the altar because the word itself tells us, now do this in remembrance of me, so we do it. Now the altar symbolizes Christ, so Christ is at the absolute center, and we're these circles around it. If you're into Jung, we form a mandala. We form this very harmonious picture. It's this kind of thing in the rotunda. We are centered people, and therefore we're in communion one with the other. And the absolute center is Christ,


is the paschal mystery. That's what the altar symbolizes. So it's a dynamic. I always feel a kind of energy there. An energy of communion, of being integrated into the whole, etc. So that also, in any moment of prayer, there should be that. Again, I am in communion with all God's people. I'm in communion with Eucharists in so many, all over the world, and I'm focused on Christ. Christ, and then there's this suspended crucifix that carries me just right up there. If I'm filled with the Spirit, and there's that mysterious kind of structure coming down. Some have explained it as kind of the divine presence breaking into history. So we're here in this kind of sacred cave or sacred tent, and God breaks through and communicates with us in Christ.


So there's this horizontal being centered in Christ, and then sweeps us up to the ultimate beginning and end, the ultimate center, who is the source of it all, God the Father. And so we go into the rotunda. Again, in any moment of prayer, we should figuratively go into the rotunda, and we should be centered in the ultimate. Then there's the offertory. What do we offer? We offer the gifts of bread and wine, and they're deeply symbolic of just basic food, just basic elements of creation that sustain us, that nourish us. We've received them. Where? From the Father, through Christ and the Holy Spirit. They're there. What do we do with them? We hold on to them jealously. No, we offer them back to the Father in Christ. They become Christ, and Christ, the one high priest, offers himself, self-adoration,


and we as members of Christ in the offertory, in the consecration, we offer ourselves, our own lives, and we're consecrated. We become body and blood of Christ. Augustine has a wonderful homily when he says, yes, in the Eucharist, venerate the body and blood, which is there on the altar, but venerate the body and blood, the members of Christ, who are around you, who are yourself. They on the altar, those elements are in function to us, not vice versa. And so we become re-consecrated. We become re-transformed, renewed as body and blood of Christ. And again, this should happen in any moment of communing with God. And then the final moment is therefore communion. We give all this to God, and God always gives back


so much more than we give. And so communion is this deep receiving into ourselves Christ, and there's again the theme of indwelling. But as again Augustine says, it's not then so much that we assimilate Christ into us, but Christ assimilates us into Christ. There's many grains that are brought together into one bread, so we are brought together in the one body of Christ in this deeper way. So also there's the sign of peace. Jesus says, don't go to the altar if you're still in a situation of hostility, anger with others. So again, in any moment of prayer, we at least implicitly place ourselves in a situation of reconciliation with all our brothers and sisters. And in that peace, then go and receive communion. And then we're sent forth, eta misa est, to be Eucharist for others. There's this sociologist


up at the University of Berkeley. He's done this fascinating study about American individualism called Habits of the Heart. He did it with a whole team. He's a deep believer, an Anglican, but his concern is some of the legitimate deep values of this nation at the beginning, which is that each person is sacred, the conscience of each person, the individual. We should stand on our own two feet. We should be self-sufficient. We shouldn't just be leeches, leeching off others, et cetera. So we get this from our first years, and it gets more and more into us. Then the whole competition of those, therefore, I even against you, I competing with you, who gets to the top of the pile kind of thing, et cetera. But our culture gone wild can just isolate us into individuals who really have no communion community at the end.


I'm just interested in my trip, in my money, in my good. We can no longer talk about the common good, et cetera. So what Bella is saying is we desperately have to rediscover the balancing principle to individualism, which is good in itself, rugged individualism. And that's community. And he says a great source of this will be the sacramental, will be that whole element. The individual comes a lot out of Protestantism, he says. Here I stand, I can do no other. But the communal, so he's saying to Catholics, tap this. And Eucharist is the culminating moment of this, says he. And so he quotes this whole business of becoming Eucharist, then for others. Go out and then be food for others, nourish others, help others. This is also our way of abiding in God. And this is this communal dimension.


But also we're Eucharist for others in our intercessory prayer, for instance. Or just when we glorify God, that redounds to the good of all of humanity. St. John of the Cross says, one moment of pure contemplation is worth more than all the missions and all the preaching to tens of thousands and all of the good works, etc. So even if we're alone in solitude, just quietly being with God, again, that redounds to the good of everyone. That is Eucharist. That is living our baptismal vows. That is Trinity. Amen. Any comments, questions about this? Yes? I'd love a comment. The affirmation prayer on the covenant. That's a fantastic... It helps you to kind of get a handle on it.


That's right. This deepest mystery, which should be kind of our bread and butter, our daily bread, it can seem like just kind of a mathematical enigma. Three but one, one but three. But seen as this dynamic of the source and then the outpouring and then the ingathering and the return to the source. It's very profound. Each one of us is also Trinity. The theologians have done wonderful things about that. In me, there is some mysterious source beyond anything I can claim or grab onto or just make use of, as Merton said. That ultimate who am I that remains mystery. But that comes out and expresses itself in all my words, in all my thinking and mind and wisdom and knowledge, etc. That's kind of the dimension of the second person in my life. And then there's also the spirit,


again, the vertical, the return to the source. So each one of us is a Trinity. Each community is Trinitarian, etc. Yes? When Mother Teresa used to stay in Calcutta and she picks up a little baby in Qatar, a Hindu baby, I see Christ in that baby. So the other includes also those who are not necessarily part of our church, doesn't it? Absolutely. Potentially, yeah. Here you get in the whole thing of baptism by desire, then baptism by implicit desire, etc. But yeah, she said, when I receive an old dying person or I receive a child, I'm receiving Christ just as surely as when I receive the Eucharistic elements. So we need that veneration. So if someone asks me to do something and I do it for them and I realize this is a good thing I'm doing,


there is, again, an abiding in God in that doing. We don't abide in God just when we go into our room and close the door and get into silence, etc. That would be kind of an anti-work, anti-ministry bias. It wouldn't be healthy. But we want to see the whole thing as abiding in God, also our ministry. Well, thank you. So we'll gather again this afternoon here at five o'clock. So when we are at work, what are some means to be a little more mindful, to be a bit more aware and not just frenetically scattered and anguished, etc., etc. So there are means. So now we'll go to quite a more practical series of proposals for abiding in God. Bill, is it the case you have to be off? Do you have to leave?


Let's see. I will be with Father Isaiah. I see, yeah. Okay. So if anyone needs to leave, remember we are a community and we're vowed to pray for each other and to carry on this journey in abiding in God. Thank you. Thank you.