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Unknowing: Dying by Brightness

I die by brightness and the Holy Spirit. —Thomas Merton (1915-1968) [1] For most of us, growth is a long process of being drawn “by brightness and the Holy Spirit,” as Merton says. I interpret this brightness as being overwhelmed and undone by Immense Mystery and Goodness. Yet the Holy Spirit leads and must direct this undoing. We cannot take control, and this is our “dying” as we have to gradually let go of our need for control,

The Fourth Tuesday of Great Lent. The Lenten Struggle. Putting Off the Old Self.

The Lenten Struggle Lent is the perfect time to struggle with the ego By Abbot Tryphon, March 26, 2019 Modern psychology has told us we must feel good about ourselves and instructed us to reject the idea of guilt and sin. Sin is seen as religion’s instrument for keeping people in line, making them dependent on an institution that should be relegated to the Dark Ages. In an age where man is elevated to being

Around the Corner

By Fr. Stephen Freeman, September 7, 2015  Among the most appealing aspects of CS Lewis’ children’s fiction is at the point that I would describe as “turning the corner.” It is not that he creates a fantasy world, but that the fantasy world he creates somehow intersects with the world in which we live. It is the discovery that at this moment, quite unexpectedly, the back of an old wardrobe is a door into another

Growing in Love’s Likeness: Human Development in Scripture

It is helpful for us to know about the whole arc of life and where it is leading. Walter Brueggemann, one of my favorite scripture scholars, brilliantly connects the development of the Hebrew Scriptures with the development of human consciousness. [1] Brueggemann identifies different stages in the three major parts of the Hebrew Scriptures: the Torah, the Prophets, and the Wisdom literature. The Torah, or the first five books, correspond, Brueggemann says, to the good

Growing in Love’s Likeness: Two Halves of Life

All of us, gazing with unveiled face on the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image that we reflect. This is the work of the Lord who is Spirit. —2 Corinthians 3:18 We are created in the image and likeness of God from the moment of our conception. The Creator gives us our core identity as sons and daughters of God, “from the beginning” (Ephesians 1:4-5). Throughout our lives we co-create our

Contemplative Consciousness: Awe and Surrender

To begin to see with new eyes, we must observe—and usually be humiliated by—the habitual way we encounter each and every moment. It is humiliating because we will see that we are well-practiced in just a few predictable responses. Not many of our responses are original, fresh, or naturally respectful of what is right in front of us. The most common human responses to a new moment are mistrust, cynicism, fear, defensiveness, dismissal, and judgmentalism.

Becoming Personal

By Stephen Freeman, August 1, 2015  “Person” is among the most difficult words in the classical Christian vocabulary. It is difficult on the one hand because the word has a common meaning in modern parlance that is not the same meaning as its classical one. And it is difficult on the other hand even when all of its later meanings and associations are stripped away – because what it seeks to express is simply a very

Self-Emptying: Letting Go of the False Self

Meister Eckhart, the German Dominican mystic (c. 1260-c.1328), said that spirituality has much more to do with subtraction than it does with addition. [1] Yet our culture, both secular and Christian, seems obsessed with addition: getting rich, becoming famous, earning more brownie points with God or our boss, attaining enlightenment, achieving moral behavior. Jesus and the mystics of other traditions tell us that the spiritual path is not about getting more or getting ahead, which

Fourth Tuesday after Pascha. Death and Resurrection: Transition and Transformation

Just as we have borne the image of the earthy one, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly one. . . . Behold, I tell you a mystery. We shall not all fall asleep, but we will all be changed, in an instant, in the blink of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For that which is corruptible

Second Tuesday after Pascha. Death and Resurrection: The Illusion of Separation

Hopefully we begin life as “holy innocents” in the Garden, with a conscious connection to Being. The gaze of loving, caring parents can mirror us as the beloved and gives us a primal experience of life as union. But sooner or later we all have to leave the Garden. We can’t stay there. We begin the process of individuation, which includes at least four major splits, ways of forgetting our inherent oneness and creating an