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Wednesday, September 27, 2006

books for college... 

GC: Samuel, V. and Sugden, C. Mission as Transformation
GC: A Heretic's Guide to Eternity (Hardcover) by Spencer Burke, Barry Taylor
gc: Christ the Lord: Out of Egypt Anne Rice
GC: Pete Rollins 'How (not) to Speak of God'
gc: Counting People In: Changing the Way we Think About Membership and the Church (pub. 2003).
GC: The Seeker's Way Cultivating the Longings of a Spiritual Life Dave Fleming
gc: Creative Ideas for Quiet Days – Sue Pickering
gc: Church leavers - faith journeys Jamieson
GC: Exiles: Living Missionally in a Post-Christian Culture, M Frost
GC: Satisfy Your Soul: Restoring the Heart of Christian Spirituality (NavPress, 1999) by Bruce Demarest
GC: The Pursuit of God by A. W. Tozer
GC: Conformed to His Image: Biblical and Practical Approaches to Spiritual Formation (Zondervan, 2001) by Kenneth Boa
GC: Dallas Willard, The Spirit of the Disciplines,
gc: The Sacred Way: Spiritual Practices for Everyday Life by Tony Jones
gc: Creative Ideas for Quiet Days – Sue Pickering
gc: The Portable Seminary
gc: Why Men Hate Going to Church (Paperback) by David Murrow
Gc: The Sacred Way : Spiritual Practices for Everyday Life (Emergent YS) by Tony Jones
Gc: Small Group Leadership as Spiritual Direction : Practical Ways to Blend an Ancient Art into Your Contemporary Community (Paperback) by Heather Parkinson Webb


Saturday, September 09, 2006

Merton, T (2005) Contemplative Prayer. DLT 

Nothing is more foreign to authentic monastic and "contemplative" (e.g. Carmelite) tradition in the Church than a kind of gnosticism which would elevate the contemplative above the ordinary Christian by initiating him into a realm of esoteric knowledge and experience, delivering him from the ordinary struggles and sufferings of human existence, and elevating him to a privileged state among the spiritually pure, as if he were almost an angel, untouched by matter and passion, and no longer familiar with the economy of sacraments, charity and the Cross. Pp25

How to remove obstacles:

Those that think can use their own cleverness
Discover special gimmicks
Think higher than they are
Spiritual Inertia – inner confusion, coldness, lack of confidence.

In the language of the monastic fathers, all prayer, reading, meditation and all the activities of the monastic life are aimed at purity of heart, an unconditional and totally humble surrender to God, a total acceptance of ourselves and of our situation as willed by him. It means the renunciation of all deluded images of ourselves, all exaggerated estimates of our own capacities, in order to obey God's will as it comes to us in the difficult demands of life in its exacting truth. Purity of heart is then correlative to a new spiritual identity-the "self " as recognized in the context of realities willed by God-Purity of heart is the enlightened awareness of the new man, as opposed to the complex and perhaps rather disreputable fantasies of the "old man.)) 83

In passive purification then the self undergoes a kind of emptying and an apparent destruction, until, reduced to emptiness, it no longer, knows itself apart from God. 94

"That heart is pure which, always presenting to God a formless and imageless memory, is ready to receive nothing but impressions which come from him and by which he is wont to desire to become manifest to it. 102

But true emptiness is that which transcends all things, and yet is immanent in all. For what seems to be emptiness in this case is pure being. ... The character of emptiness, at least for a Christian contemplative, is pure love, pure freedom. Love that is free of everything, not determined by any thing, or held down by any special relationship. It is love for love's sake. It is a sharing, through the Holy Spirit, in the infinite charity of God. And so when Jesus told his disciples to love, he told them to love as universally as the Father who sends his rain alike on the just and the unjust. "Be ye perfect as your Heavenly Father is perfect." This purity, freedom and indeterminateness of love is the very essence of Christianity. Pp119

This deep dread and night must then be seen for what it is: not as punishment, but as purification and as grace. Indeed it is a great gift of God, for it is the precise point of our encounter with his fullness.126

The whole gospel kerygma. becomes impertinent and laughable if there is an easy answer to everything in a few external gestures and pious intentions.

Without dread, the Christian cannot be delivered from the smug self-assurance of the devout ones who know all the answers in advance, who possess all the cliches of the inner life and can defend themselves with infallible ritual forms against every risk and every demand of dialogue with human need and human desperation.

The purpose of the dark night, as st. John of the cross shows, is not simply to punish and afflict the heart of man, but to liberate, to purify and to enlighten in perfect love. The way that leads through dread goes not to despair but to perfect joy, not to hell but to heaven..

But prayer is defiled when it is turned away from god and from the spirit, and manipulated in the interests of group fanaticism. 143


Friday, September 01, 2006

Leech, K (1994) Soul Friend – Spiritual Direction in the Modern World DLT 

I am worried, finally, because much spiritual direction assumes a view of spirituality which is not wholesome and only tenuously Christian, and which reflects the individualism and privatizationof religion in the West rather than any embodiment in a corporate tradition. 1 have warned for many years of the dangers of a new gnosticism. Now Christopher Lasch claims that gnosticism is 'the characteristic form of contemporary spirituality ' and I find myself agreeing with him. Nor is this gnostic illuminism only a problem outside the church. Much current Christian writing on spiritual direction, as on spirituality as a whole, has lost its roots in Scripture and tradition and has colluded with the current culture of contentment and narcissism. Xviii

The motion of spiritual progress is an essential element in the biblical revelation, for its concern is with the progress of a people, progress marked by sin and repentance, by wilderness and exile, by conflict and struggle. It is a progress which includes the illumination of the Spirit, the prophetic vision, and it culminates in the Incarnation. The Christian life is described in the New Testament as progress: putting one's hand to the plough and not looking back (Luke 9:62.), enduring to the end (Matthew 24:12., 13), preparing for a race or conflict (i Corinthians 9:24-6). There is the clear call to perfection, to holiness, to fullness of life in Christ. The call to be perfect (teleios) (Philippians 3:15) is variously translated as a call to spiritual maturity (RSV and NEB) and to spiritual adulthood (j. B. Phillips). It is this process of spiritual maturing which is the purpose of spiritual direction. 33

The Shepherd is one who feeds and nourishes the flock , makes the weak strong, seeks the lost, cares for the sick, and bandages the wounded (Ezekiel 34:3-4; 15-16). This Shepherd image recurs frequently in the history of the cure of souls. In Ezekiel, the Shepherd is concerned not only with healing (34:16) but also with the achievement of harmony and of shalom, peace (3 4:24). And in the New Testament, there is a bringing together of the themes of the wounded healer, the slain lamb, the stricken shepherd, and the guide who nourishes the flock. 33

So the director's role can be summarized under four main functions:

a evaluation of the person's prayer-potential, and guidance in finding the right forms of prayer;
b assessment of the persons progress and help in evolving new ways of prayer;
c identification of aids and obstacles in the person's spiritual life;
d enabling the person to become more open to God and less dependent on the human director. 58

Agnes Sanford, have termed 'inner healing'. 95 Inner healing, or the 'healing of the memories', means that the wounds which still remain from the past, and which still affect the present, are healed, and the poison of past hurts and resentments is drained away and replaced by an inflow of love. It is 'the application of Christ's healing power to what we now know of the emotional nature of man'. 121

Spirit = an internal impulse

Signs of good spirit
Signs of bad spirit
Signs of good spirit
Signs of bad spirit
Inner peace
Not concerned with useless affairs
Useless, vain pre-occupations
True humility
False humility
Illumines intellect
Darkness, or deceptive lights in imagination
Trust in God
Presumption or despair
Docility of intellect
Obstinate opinion
Flexible will
Obstinacy of heart
Excess and exaggeration
Right intention
Devious intentions
Humble thoughts
Pride and vanity
Patience in pain
Impatience in pain

Inner mortification
Rebellion of passions

Simplicity and sincerity
Duplicity and dissimulation

Liberty of spirit
Soul bound by earthly ties

Zeal for imitation of Christ
Estrangement from Christ

Bitter zeal


in the NTt the powers that be in the world are called angeloi, daimoniai, arcbai and exousiai, the world rulers of this present darkness, the rudiments of the world (i Corinthians 2.:6-8; Ephesians 6: 12.; Galatians 4:3; Colossians 2:8). The symbolism, probably derived from the astral beliefs of the time, is one of cosmic warfare, involving an army of invisible beings who 'stand behind what occurs in the world'."' 126

The east does not think about salvation in terms of the individual soul returning to its maker; it is visualised rather as a gradual process of transfiguration of the whole cosmos. Man is saved not from the world but into the world.

St Ignatius saw the purpose of 'spiritual exercises' to be ridding the soul of all 'inordinate attachments', the necessary preliminary to seeking and finding the will of God. The idea of exercises is not a narrow one, for 'under the name of spiritual exercises is understood every method of examination of conscience, of meditation, of contemplation, of vocal and mental prayer, and of other spiritual operations as shall hereafter be declared'.


specific obstacles to prayer

First, refusal to forgive.

Secondly, anger and quarrelsome thoughts.
Thirdly, refusal to be reconciled. The existence of disharmony, linked with injustice in social relationships, is seen in the prophets as a barrier to prayer

A fourth area in which prayer can be hindered is that of distorted sexuality and lust.

Fith involvement in the occult and in magical rites

6 disobedience to God’s will

7 refusal o confess

8 greed and aravice

164 ff

The firist step to sanctity is self – knowledge Thomas Merton


Hughes, G.W. ( ) God of Surprises 

Von Hugel takes the three main stages in human development - infancy, adolescence and adulthood - describing the predominant needs and activities which characterize each stage. He shows that religion must take account of and nurture the predominant needs and activities of each stage, and so concludes that religion must include three essential elements, an institutional element corresponding to the needs and activities of infancy, a critical element corresponding to adolescence, and a mystical element corresponding to adulthood. As he analyses each stage of growth, he is careful to show that the needs and activities of infancy do not disappear in adolescence, nor do the needs and activities of adolescence disappear in adulthood, but they should cease to be predominant if we are to grow into the following stage. He also shows the dangers inherent in each stage of growth. Religion must include all three elements, the institutional, the critical and the mystical. There is a constant danger that one element is over emphasized to the exclusion of the other two, or two elements are emphasized to the exclusion of the third, thus stifling the religious development of its members


on perfection

There is a constant temptation to despise and reject the limitations of our human nature, and to believe that perfection consists in being as independent of it as possible, a temptation which is at the root of much Christian neurosis.


Marks of true repentance

True repentance frees from self-preoccupation because our trust is in God's goodness working in us. In his light we see our darkness.

True repentance brings joy and inner freedom.

True repentance can welcome criticism and learn from it.

True repentance brings understanding, tolerance and hope.

True repentance brings compassion and therefore a sharpened sensitivity to all forms Of injustice.

True repentance shares God's laughter and frees the mind to see the humour of all situations.

In true repentance a person feels drawn to God.

A Church with a spirit of true repentance will be concerned primarily with its mission, not its maintenance. It will see all its securities as provisional, finding its one security in God.

A Church with a true spirit of repentance will encourage the critical and mystical elements as well as the institutional in its members.

Marks of false repentance

False repentance immerses us in self-preoccupation. We delight in what we consider our virtue but are irritated by our vice, refuse to acknowledge it and project it on to others.

False repentance increases anxiety and makes us more defensive.

False repentance is touchy about criticism and learns nothing from it.

False repentance engenders a rigidity of mind and heart, dogmatism, intolerance and a condemnatory attitude.

False repentance is sensitive to justice only in so far as it promotes the interest of the individual or his group and is therefore selective in its moral condemnation.

False repentance tends to be over serious and cannot laugh at itself.

In false -repentance a person feels driven by God.

A Church with a spirit of false repentance will be primarily concerned. with its own maintenance, Whether of its doctrinal or moral orthodoxy, or of its prestige in society, the preservation of its own structures or of its material possessions.

A Church which has no true spirit of repentance will emphasize the institutional element and give little or no encouragement to the critical and mystical.74

Sin is the refusal to let God be God. One subtle way of refusing, while pretending not to, is so to emphasize the 'otherness' of God that for all practical purposes he ceases to matter.

'A Review of Consciousness'.

At the end of a day, especially before going to sleep, the mind, without any conscious effort on our part, tends to play back some of the events of the day so vividly that if the day has been particularly eventful we can find it difficult to get to sleep. We may find ourselves re-enacting a quarrel, thinking of the clever and cutting things we might have said if only we had been more quick-witted. The review of consciousness is based on this natural tendency of the mind.

Having made this prayer then let your mind drift over the day , refraining from any self-judgement, whether of approval or disapproval, attending to and relishing only those moments of the day for which you are grateful…. Having remembered the events for which you are grateful, thank and praise God for them.

After thanksgiving, the next step is to recall your inner moods :and feelings, noting, if you can, what occasioned them, but again refraining from any self-judgement. Be with Christ as you look at these moods and beg him to show you the attitudes which underlie them. For your part, do not try to analyse the moods: just relive, in Christ's presence, the events which gave rise to them. Contemplate the events of the day and pray to Christ out of your experience of them….Thank him for the times we have 'let his glory through' and beg his forgiveness for the times we have refused him rntry.


There are two obstacles frequently encountered at the start of our journey towards God which can be very difficult to surmount, namely feelings of guilt and self-worthlessness and also the memory of hurts done to us by others.

Guilt is a healthy human reaction to our own wrongdoing, but it can also become an unhealthy disease which poisons our spirit.


Salvador Dali has painted the crucified Christ suspended above the globe of the earth. Let your imagination work on that image and speak to Christ dying on the cross. He has become the sin of the world and there is no crime, however hideous, which he has not taken on himself and forgiven. Tell Christ that although he has succeeded with the rest of the human race, he has met his match in you, and that not even his death can overcome your guilt. He may find all other human beings to be lovable, but you are God's mistake which he can never put right. If you can persist in this prayer, he will uncover a hidden source of guilt, which is pride, the refusal to let God be God to you, clinging to your guilt as though it were more powerful than his love. 85

imagine you are in a room by yourself and there is a knock at the door. 'Look, 1 am standing at the door, knocking. If one of you hears me calling and opens the door, I will come in to share his meal, side by side with him' (Rev. 3:20). In imagination, take Christ on a tour of the house, which is your life. Take him into those rooms, that is, those events, in which you experienced great pain and introduce him to the people who caused it. Express to them, even although they may now be dead, and to Christ, the hurt you still feel and then look at him and see how he reacts to the people concerned. Do not force yourself into insincere gestures or words of forgiveness, but rather let him draw the feelings and the words out of you. Even if you can only say, 'I want to want to be able to forgive,' that is progress. In the same way, you can ask forgiveness of those you have offended.


If a person is led by love of truth, justice and compassion for other people, they have found God even although they may not know his name. 94

Col 2:20-3

Flesh = areas which resist God.

For those who are afflicted with gloom, it is good to pray and imaginatively contemplate the raising of Lazarus in John 11. Have a good look at Lazarus in his tomb. He is dead, corrupting, enclosed in darkness. Then hear the voice outside the tomb saying: 'I am the resurrection. If anyone believes
in me, even though he dies he will live, and whoever lives and believes in me will never die.' Without forcing anything, let your own feelings of sadness and depression surface in your consciousness so that you see yourself locked within the tomb of your own sadness. Then hear the stone being removed
and hear the vo ice of Jesus calling you by name, '. . . , arise, come forth'. Sometimes, people who pray in this way discover that they do not want to emerge from the tomb. This is not failure, but an important discovery, showing them that they are in the tomb of sadness not because God wills them to be there, but because they have chosen to be there for some reason. If this were to happen to you, do not be alarmed, but acknowledge your own attachment to th e tomb and keep asking Christ to set you free.
Ff 138


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