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The Face of God and the Dragon in Our Consciousness

The presence of the soul is no where more powerfully to be found than in the miracle of the human face.

Think of someone, someone important to you, someone you love. When we do this, what is it that appears before our mind’s eye? The answer will always be: the face of our loved one. The face, the countenance, is that physical part of someone that most manifests their soul, their inner being. In their eyes, their mouth, their subtle movements of eyebrow and chin, whole inner worlds of feeling and experience are revealed. No shoulder, elbow or knee cap will ever reveal to us what a smile or a raised eyebrow can. The inner world of the soul is revealed in the landscape of the human face and the inner essence of a being shines out of their eyes. The face is the one part of our visible, physical body that most reveals the invisible, spiritual being.

In searching for the inner essence of the divine, the invisible reality of God’s being, where, on the great body of the world, can we look? Where can we turn out gaze to discover the countenance of the divine? Read more

The Angel Michael

Emil Bock offers us thoughts from his book The Rhythm of the Christian Year. 

St. Michael by Arild Rosenkrantz

“Today, Michael is the spiritual regent of the whole age. He has grown beyond the rank of an Archangel..When we touch the Angel, it can help us come to ourselves, for all of of us are not yet fully ourselves. Only when we make contact with the Angel, are we truly in ourselves. Only when we connect ourselves with the Archangel, do we grow beyond ourselves. And every human being who senses human dignity longs for this. But when we touch the sphere of Michael, the time spirit, we learn to stand within our age, and that means to rise above mundane, daily matters. The Angel of devotion causes hearts to be peaceful; he bestows peace. The Archangel of courage steels the inner will; he gives freedom. The primal power of transformation, the Genius of the Age, Michael, creates a new human community with the seeds of embodied spirit; he inaugurates true, humanity-encompassing love.”

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Mary and Martha – inactivity vs. activity

This contemplation on the Gospel of Luke, Chapter 10.   

In this chapter, the story that is heard is about Jesus coming as a guest to the house of Mary and Martha. Mary is sitting quietly, contemplatively at his feet, listening to his word. Martha is busying herself, serving, not wanting to neglect the guest.

Mary – so we hear – has chosen the best part. Read more

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Reflections on InPower

The InPower International Youth Conference was held in Spring Valley, NY, this past June. 

The weeks following an event can feel either like I’m soaring, mourning or some combination of the two. I experienced neither after InPower. I have felt in myself and those friends around me, a serenity, calm strength and joy. The conference seems to reverberate in the way the world appears to me now. The possibility of approaching our lives out of hope and confidence has left the trees shining and the future possible. A group of people can take something on in a week spent with one another, and this particular group of 80 fresh and earnest people took responsibility for something much larger than their own lives. The capacities bursting from each room we inhabited promised that we are as brave as the world needs us to be. Feeling supported by those next to us, led by those in front of us, and nudged by those behind us, we found ways to discover something new within ourselves – maybe something scary and needing of attention. An ability to face ourselves clearly and with love enabled the possibility to approach the world’s struggles with an equal clarity and abounding love. We desired an introduction to moral development in order to accomplish transformational work in the world. We honestly tried to do that, and we watched it happen. I believe we created something we could call goodness, within us and around us.

Written by Abigail Dancey, one of the conference organizers.

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Sunday’s Massacre and Bringing the Kingdom of Heaven to Life

The caterpillar becomes the butterfly, Jesus becomes the Risen Christ, that which is bound to earth transforms so that it can live in the heavens. And yet, as Jesus must go through suffering to become new, the butterfly must awaken out of the pain of the cocoon. 

Each human heart is also a cocoon meant to become a butterfly in us, meant to become something heavenly in us. For the Christ in us is not something that is simply there, something static. The Christ in us must be awakened again and again out of the painful cocoon of our hearts. 

For pain rules this world. Is this not so? All around us there is more and more hate, anger, egotism; unbelievable acts of violence and deception. We just have to think of Columbine, Universal surveillance, economic hit men or yesterday’s tragic massacre in Gaza, and we can see, evil holds sway in this world.

But there is another world, a heavenly world, to which our hearts belong.

But this other world, which is called The kingdom of heaven, is not an afterlife reward for those who follow the rules; The kingdom of heaven is here, with us, intertwined with this evil, intertwined with the world of power and pain. They live together, because evil is the hard cocoon of His kingdom which we must bring to life if we are to see its wings.

The kingdom of heaven is brought to life when a Palestinian father whose daughters are murdered breaks through the cocoon of his hate and pain and forgives.

The kingdom of heaven is brought to life when an Israeli breaks through the mental cocoon-like prison that killing is justified if it is defensive and is transformed through deep compassion for the oppressed.  

The kingdom of heaven is brought to life when the slave finds a new strength and freedom in and through the cocoon of his oppressive suffering.

The kingdom of heaven is brought to life whenever human souls use their suffering and pain as a cocoon to become more loving, more compassionate, grace-filled. 

For the Christ in you is powerless love born from a wound.

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International Report from the Regions, St. John’s Tide 2014

International Report from the Regions, St. Johnstide 2014

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Christ’s Fragrance Fills Our Cracks

This contemplation was inspired from John 16.

There is, in our time, a fascination with perfection. We long for the problem-less life, the cushy job, the perfect partner. We long for the safe painless world where are children never have to suffer. Even in our spiritual life, we are so easily lured to think that by attaining to our true self we will have no more pain, no weakness. For there is a powerful part in all of us that longs to be the superman, with special powers, with no pain, all our problems transcended, above the muck and mire.

And yet, within each human being, there is something imperfect, unwell, brokenhearted. We know this part of ourselves intimately because of how traumatic life is. And our brokenness is not illusion. The cracks are real. This is so because the cracks are how the light is to shine in…

During The Act of Consecration, smoke rises up from the altar. And even though the smoke begins at the altar, it eventually fills the whole chapel, envelopes our broken-hearts, permeates the cracks with its fragrance…

The secret of Ascension, which we celebrate this week, is that the Christ’s being too rises up, like the smoke at the altar, but He doesn’t abandon us, He fills the whole earth with His being, permeating our imperfect humanity, enveloping our broken world.

Dear friends, Ascension shows us that Christian perfection is not this world’s idea of perfection. Christ did not come to make us into superheros. He came to envelop our cracks, to bear us with our pain.

For Christ’s touch gives us…
the strength to walk with our broken-hearts,
the faith that there is meaning in this imperfect world; the compassion to love what is sick.

May His fragrance fill us!