Lent From Another Angle — Law Fulfilled in Love Not Law or Love

As Lent approaches we need to be reminded of the goal. The goal of Lent is not spiritual athleticism but an increase of love in and through disciplines that address the passions (vainglory, pride, and self-love). The goal is not more information about love but “lived Love” as Jesus the Christ lives and expresses His life in us and through us for the salvation of the world. This involves purgation and establishment and release.

One danger, and there are many, is legalism and pride in the observance of the very disciplines that are designed to bear the fruit of love.

The warning of Jesus is clear. As a matter of fact it is so important that in the Western Church, Matthew 6:1-6, 16-21, which is the passage in which Jesus issues His warning about legalism and pride is the gospel reading for Ash Wednesday.

Notice that Jesus does not counsel “throwing out the baby with the bath water.” He does not say, “Don’t observe the disciplines.” He doesn’t label them as unnecessary. For Jesus, it is not “if” but “how” the disciplines are observed. The form is not to be abandoned, but rather filled with right content – the humble and contrite desire for love. Indeed, “A broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.”

So, the warning is not just a warning. It is an invitation that holds a promise – abundant life in Him.

Here is the counsel of Elder Paisios the Athonite on the subject:

A Christian must not be fanatic; he must have love for and be sensitive towards all people. Those who inconsiderately toss out comments, even if they are true, can cause harm.

I once met a theologian who was extremely pious, but who had the habit of speaking to the (secular) people around him in a very blunt manner; his method penetrated so deeply that it shook them very severely. He told me once: “During a gathering, I said such and such a thing to a lady.” But the way that he said it, crushed her. “Look”, I said to him, “you may be tossing golden crowns studded with diamonds to other people, but the way that you throw them can smash heads, not only the sensitive ones, but the sound ones also.”

Let’s not stone our fellow-man in a so-called “Christian manner.” The person who – in the presence of others – checks someone for having sinned (or speaks in an impassioned manner about a certain person), is not moved by the Spirit of God; he is moved by another spirit.

The way of the Church is LOVE; it differs from the way of the legalists. The Church sees everything with tolerance and seeks to help each person, whatever he may have done, however sinful he may be.

I have observed a peculiar kind of logic in certain pious people. Their piety is a good thing, and their predisposition for good is also a good thing; however, a certain spiritual discernment and amplitude is required so that their piety is not accompanied by narrow-mindedness or strong-headedness. Someone who is truly in a spiritual state must possess and exemplify spiritual discernment; otherwise he will forever remain attached to the “letter of the Law”, and the letter of the Law can be quite deadly.

A truly humble person never behaves like a teacher; he will listen, and, whenever his opinion is requested, he responds humbly. In other words, he replies like a student. He who believes that he is capable of correcting others is filled with egotism.

A person that begins to do something with a good intention and eventually reaches an extreme point, lacks true discernment. His actions exemplify a latent type of egotism that is hidden beneath this behavior; he is unaware of it, because he does not know himself that well, which is why he goes to extremes.  Spiritual Counsels II: Spiritual Awakening, by Elder Paisios of Mount Athos.

Jesus said, “Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill.  For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled.  Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.  For I say to you, that unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5.17-20)

From my vantage point all of this is Good News to me a sinner.

Lent – Becoming More Him The Lover and Less Me The Judger

We get great satisfaction out of judging. We get great satisfaction out of solving. We get great satisfaction out of measuring. We have a need to know who is worthy and who is unworthy to help us navigate life.

You might even say, at some point, satisfaction turns into our sense of what fulfillment and love mean. The Word of God warns us that there is a line where one becomes the other. Where our identity get wrapped up in our ability and need to engage in these things. Richard Rohr said, “Our lust for certitude and our need to be right is what keeps us in conflict.” Well said.

The Scriptures and collect for today (and others just like it I could list but will not) in the Western Church run speak of a way of life that is exactly the opposition of judging, solving, and measuring. They speak of a God who loves and of His people who love. They do not speak of the suspension of a sense of right and wrong but of way completely different way of responding that does more to defeat wrong than any other alternative. A way of coming to understand and relate to right and wrong that does not end up robbing us of life instead of fostering life. After all, when did worthiness become the standard?? Thank goodness it was not the standard that governed whether or not He would go to the cross!!

Collect
O Lord, you have taught us that without love whatever we do is worth nothing: Send your Holy Spirit and pour into our hearts your greatest gift, which is love, the true bond of peace and of all virtue, without which whoever lives is accounted dead before you. Grant this for the sake of your only Son Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Leviticus 19:1-2,9-18
The LORD spoke to Moses, saying:

Speak to all the congregation of the people of Israel and say to them: You shall be holy, for I the LORD your God am holy.

When you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not reap to the very edges of your field, or gather the gleanings of your harvest. You shall not strip your vineyard bare, or gather the fallen grapes of your vineyard; you shall leave them for the poor and the alien: I am the LORD your God.

You shall not steal; you shall not deal falsely; and you shall not lie to one another. And you shall not swear falsely by my name, profaning the name of your God: I am the LORD.

You shall not defraud your neighbor; you shall not steal; and you shall not keep for yourself the wages of a laborer until morning. You shall not revile the deaf or put a stumbling block before the blind; you shall fear your God: I am the LORD.

You shall not render an unjust judgment; you shall not be partial to the poor or defer to the great: with justice you shall judge your neighbor. You shall not go around as a slanderer among your people, and you shall not profit by the blood of your neighbor: I am the LORD.

You shall not hate in your heart anyone of your kin; you shall reprove your neighbor, or you will incur guilt yourself. You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against any of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the LORD.

Psalm 119:33-40
33 Teach me, O LORD, the way of your statutes, *
and I shall keep it to the end.

34 Give me understanding, and I shall keep your law; *
I shall keep it with all my heart.

35 Make me go in the path of your commandments, *
for that is my desire.

36 Incline my heart to your decrees *
and not to unjust gain.

37 Turn my eyes from watching what is worthless; *
give me life in your ways.

38 Fulfill your promise to your servant, *
which you make to those who fear you.

39 Turn away the reproach which I dread, *
because your judgments are good.

40 Behold, I long for your commandments; *
in your righteousness preserve my life.

1 Corinthians 3:10-11,16-23
According to the grace of God given to me, like a skilled master builder I laid a foundation, and someone else is building on it. Each builder must choose with care how to build on it. For no one can lay any foundation other than the one that has been laid; that foundation is Jesus Christ.

Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you? If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy that person. For God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple.

Do not deceive yourselves. If you think that you are wise in this age, you should become fools so that you may become wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written,

“He catches the wise in their craftiness,”

and again,

“The Lord knows the thoughts of the wise,
that they are futile.”

So let no one boast about human leaders. For all things are yours, whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or the present or the future– all belong to you, and you belong to Christ, and Christ belongs to God.

Matthew 5:38-48
Jesus said, “You have heard that it was said, `An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, Do not resist an evildoer. But if anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other also; and if anyone wants to sue you and take your coat, give your cloak as well; and if anyone forces you to go one mile, go also the second mile. Give to everyone who begs from you, and do not refuse anyone who wants to borrow from you.

“You have heard that it was said, `You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers and sisters, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”

The protests we throw up in reaction to understanding these passages (and other ones too) in any sort of practical sense as meaning just what they are saying are like a hermeneutical tsunami ! ! Certainly Jesus and St. Paul and the Old Testament writers could not have really meant for us to actually DO this ! ! What they REALLY meant was …

Solving, measuring, judging, etc. But now it is not others. Now it is God we are judging.

Now don’t get me wrong. The hearing and doing of these MUST be in the context of the Body of Christ across time and space and we can fall off into the ditch of literalism that is just as dangerous as the ditch of “explaining it all away.” What is required is a narrow path between these extremes. A path of impossibility. A path that is desperately in need of God’s wisdom at every moment. For indeed, doing these things (living this life) is impossible for man. But, it is perfectly possible for God. Or, to put it more aptly, for “The God-man.” For Christ Jesus, Son of God, Son of Man.

St. Paul spoke The Mystery of possible impossibility when he said, “I can do all things through Him Who strengthens me.” St. Paul was/is the temple of the Holy Spirit.

St. Innocent of Alaska (1797-1879), in his classic, Indication of the Pathway into the Kingdom of Heaven, says,

“…without the help and assistance of the Holy Spirit, it is impossible not only to enter the kingdom of heaven but even to take a single step toward it. And therefore we must seek and ask for the Holy Spirit and have Him within us, just as the holy apostles had Him. But how we can receive or obtain Him, we shall soon see.”

It is Christ-indwelling in the person of the Holy Spirit, Who does all things in and through St. Paul. In and through you and me. What is require is humility. And, of course, humility at with all of this, is not what he think it is…

St. Tikhon of Zadonsk said,

“Try to know yourself, your own wickedness. Think on the greatness of God and your wretchedness. Meditate on the suffering of Christ, the magnitude of Whose love and suffering surpass our understanding. Ascribe the good that you do to God alone. Do not think about the sin of a brother but about what in him is better than in yourself …. Flee from glory, honors and praise, but if this is impossible, be sorry that such is your lot. Be benevolent to people of low origin. Be freely and willingly obedient not only to those above you but to those below …. The lowlier we are in spirit, the better we know ourselves, and without humility we cannot see God.”

“For love does not seek its own, it labors, sweats, watches to build up the brother: nothing is inconvenient to love, and by the help of God it turns the impossible into the possible …. Love believes and hopes …. It is ashamed of nothing. Without it, what is the use of prayer? What use are hymns and singing? What is the use of building and adorning churches? What is mortification of the flesh if the neighbor is not loved? Indeed, all are of no consequence …. As an animal cannot exist without bodily warmth, So no good deed can be alive without true love; it is only the pretence of a good deed.”

We can, of course, take issue with St. Tikhon’s statements based on a belief that the institutional Church has gotten it all wrong and his words reflect a shame-based spirituality, etc, etc.  Be that as it may be or may not be. I agree, the institutional church and its members have fallen short of the glory they espouse to be sure. Reading the writings of the saints requires great care. But, the beautiful essence of what he said, when rightly understood and applied, still stands.

The Christ-ian life is not about “figuring it out.” No about doing good stuff in the name of Christ even our of what we would call a spirit of gratitude. The Christ-ian life is about “abiding in and being abided in” with a spirit of gratitude. It is about letting go of “my” life and receiving Christ’s life as my real life. That means Christ Himself performs in and through us what He comes us to perform. It means the criteria for wisdom is not solving, measuring, and judging but abiding faithfully and co-operating in the doing of Christ regardless of how the world solves, measures, and judges.

You may ask, “But how in practical terms?”

I say, “I don’t know. I see through a glass darkly. But, I see at least this much. All I know is this is the way. It does not suspend unconditional love or boundaries. It mysteriously upholds and fulfills them both.”

And that is an upward call that requires in my life a lot of transformation. The reality of this truth and the infinite saving beauty of it, I have only just begun to comprehend.

“Thus says the Lord:
‘Stand in the ways and see,
And ask for the old paths, where the good way is,
And walk in it;
Then you will find rest for your souls.
But they said, ‘We will not walk in it.’” (Jeremiah 6.16)

“Your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying,
‘This is the way, walk in it,’
Whenever you turn to the right hand
Or whenever you turn to the left.” (Isaiah 30.21)

“Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it.  Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.” (Matthew 7.13-14)

Lord, Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy.  Grant me to walk in this Way more than I have before.

Blind to the Plain Truth – Here Comes Lent

A friend of mine sent this link to me. It is well worth the read. It hit me hard.

It points out the degree to which all of us may (we almost certainly do, I believe) have a huge blind spot when it comes to encountering the Biblical text and/or living any aspect of the Christian life. The author of the post mentions only one such blind spot.

Again I say, I believe we all have such a blind spot(s). We are soooo “out to lunch” when it comes to our pontifications and presuppositions regarding our maturity and lack of “foibles” to use a term that gives us too much of the benefit of the doubt. They are reflections based on illusions and ways of approaching the disciplines that miss the mark. And here is the kicker, we don’t even realize it. The “emperor has no clothes.”

The problem is that we don’t even know we are blind until something happens that makes it obvious. That is what we call revelation. It invites/challenges us to repent and live a changed life by the grace of the Holy Spirit. Sometimes the revelation is gentle. Sometimes its pretty rough.

Thee Judeo-Christian faith is revelatory. We must come to realize this ever more deeply. We must be at all times desperately in need to “a word from God” in the best sense of that term. It is possible to rightly read the Scriptures and rightly practice each and every discipline of the Spirit. But, the prerequisite is revelatory grace and making the adjustments that bring us into more complete agreement with the Truth that God reveals.

Lent is coming… Great time to ask God to show us where we are blind (where we are disconnected from Truth) so we can embrace the healing of our sight and engage in living life as someone who can now see. A great opportunity to ask the Lord to show us what influences how we listen to the words of Jesus in the context of Scripture, prayer, fellowship, ministry, and witness; and, in turn, how we respond to those words by the way we live our life.

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on ME a sinner — a clueless blind pontificator.

Submitting to “The Appointed Prayers”

A friend and I were talking before the celebration of the Divine Liturgy this past Friday. He shared with me his experience of transformative power of “The Prayers” of the Holy Tradition. His basic point was, and I am using my words not his, when we submit to ourselves to the form and content of “the Prayers” they are effective in conforming us as pray-ers into their image and likeness. He cited an excerpt from Leon Wieseltier in his book “Kaddish:”

“On March 24, 1996, which was Nisan 5, 5756, my father died.  In the year that followed, I said the prayer known as the mourner’s kaddish three times daily, during the morning service, the afternoon service and the evening service, in a synagogue in Washington and, when I was away from home, in synagogues elsewhere.  It was my duty to say it, for reasons that will become clear in this book.

I was struck almost immediately by the poverty of my knowledge about the ritual that I was performing with such unexpected fidelity.  And it was not long before I understood that I would not succeed in insulating the rest of my existence from the impact of this obscure and arduous practice.  The symbols were seeping into everything.  A season of sorrow became a season of soul-renovation, for which I was not at all prepared.”   p. vii

This concept may seem obvious but it is often not what our prayer life reflects on a practical basis.

There is no question that praying prayers is a means to an end. The question is, “What is the end?” Let me put it another way by asking, “Who is in control?” Often, our prayers are seen by us as a tool God provides for use to take in hand and use to get something done. Namely, His will. That betrays a very subtle control issue. The tool is taken by us and used. It is prayer that is submitted to us.

Let me offer what is a very different approach. Prayer is a tool. But it is not a tool we take into our hands. Prayer is a tool God has in His hands. He invites us to participate in His use of it to accomplish His will. The control remains with God. We are co-operators with God in His work instead of persons who seek to accomplish kind of a “separate assignment” on behalf of others or God. Once again, it is a control issue. In this approach it is we who submit ourselves to the prayers.

The distinction, though subtle, is critical. “The Prayers” require us to adjust them not them to adjust to us. The reason is multifaceted. The Prayers, designed by the Holy Spirit, have authoritative emerged in the context of the life of the Old and New Covenant people of God. They are, as a result, first, the perfect reflection of the will and ways of the God with whom we co-operate in praying them. Second, they are the perfect tool to conform the human “pray-er” into perfect agreement with the will and ways of God so they are effective co-operators with God. As a result, “The Prayers” have an agenda of fulfillment outward toward the what/who is being prayed for; and inward toward the transformation of the “pray-ers.”

To submit ourselves to praying “The Prayers” regularly, frequently, consistently, over the long term, as a fellowship is to be irrevocably and astonishingly changed. We become “righteous.” This is a struggle. We struggle with prayer, we struggle with what to pray, and we struggle to even pray at all. The journey of transformation in relationship with “The Prayers” is a long one and not without much inner pain and turmoil. We (at least I) attempt to make all kinds of deals with “The Prayers” and with God in the context of prayer. But, if we persevere in the struggle with integrity, we will become real, honest to goodness “pray-ers.” We will become prayer. The Scriptures quoted so often with regard to prayer in light of this approach, carries an new import. Indeed, when we submit ourselves to “The Prayers” rather than force them to submit to us, we become deeply righteous. And, we know, “The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.” (James 5.16)

Inner Blindness

“Sin, having deprived the wretched soul of all the supernatural blessings, strips it also of the natural ones, for it takes away the keenness of the mind, the light and discrimination of reason, the tenderness and perception of the heart, the peace of thoughts and of conscience, and the purity of all the powers. It even weakens the body and defiles the senses.” St. Nicodemos the Hagiorite

Ephesians 4.17-24
[17] Now this I affirm and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds;
[18] they are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart;
[19] they have become callous and have given themselves up to licentiousness, greedy to practice every kind of uncleanness.
[20] You did not so learn Christ! —
[21] assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus.
[22] Put off your old nature which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful lusts,
[23] and be renewed in the spirit of your minds,
[24] and put on the new nature, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.

Romans 12.1-3
[1] I appeal to you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.
[2] Do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may prove what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
[3] For by the grace given to me I bid every one among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith which God has assigned him.

“The In-Temple-ment of the Lord” a.k.a. “The Feast of the Presentation”

This post follows importantly upon my previous one about beholding, embracing, and becoming. The fruit of repentance and death to self is the new life of theophany. God exorcises and “in-temples” us. We die and rise with Him, in Him, and He in us.

I have blogged previously on the “in-temple-ment” of the Lord. The Feast of the Presentation of Our Lord in the Temple is another opportunity to “be attentive” to the manner in which God saves us and the shape/content of this salvation in everyday life to the glory of God.

Let me add a little more to what I have already shared in this regard. Hopefully, I am not needlessly re-plowing the same row. I think not, for indeed, we are apt to forget and in so doing lose touch with the fact that today is always the day of our salvation, to paraphrase St. Paul.

There are many ways in which God seeks, in the Gospel accounts, to make His point regarding His desire to dwell in the midst of His people and in-dwell them.

  • The Annunciation in which we see, in the Theotokos, the icon of Israel and the Church.
  • The Nativity of Christ Jesus in which He dwells in the midst of His creation.
  • The Presentation (Entry) of the Lord in the Temple according to the Law of Moses.
  • The lingering of the boy Jesus in the Temple conversing with the elders as “the Father’s business.”
  • The events of the Theophany and first words and works of ministry in which He reveals to all humanity that He seeks, by way of their repentance, to dwell not simply among them but within them.
  • All of the sayings of Jesus in which He speaks, in various ways, about the impending “indwelling” of His disciples by the Holy Spirit.
  • The various ways in which Jesus enters Jerusalem and the temple throughout the Gospel accounts. Paramount being the triumphal entry on Palm Sunday.
  • His miracles of exorcism in which He casts out the demons who have illegitimately taken up residence in people – the cleansing of the temple for His entry.
  • The imagery of the wedding and the coming of the groom who will be united with His bride.
  • The dual saying, “I am the light of the world” and “You are the light of the world.”
  • I am sure you can add your own examples to this list…

This theme has, of course, its beginnings in the Old Testament. Here are a couple of examples: from today’s lectionary. Once again, you can, I am sure, add examples that are more profoundly appropriate. But these are from today’s lections:

Ezekiel 43.1-5
[1] Afterward he brought me to the gate, the gate facing east.
[2] And behold, the glory of the God of Israel came from the east; and the sound of his coming was like the sound of many waters; and the earth shone with his glory.
[3] And the vision I saw was like the vision which I had seen when he came to destroy the city, and like the vision which I had seen by the river Chebar; and I fell upon my face.
[4] As the glory of the LORD entered the temple by the gate facing east,
[5] the Spirit lifted me up, and brought me into the inner court; and behold, the glory of the LORD filled the temple.

Psalms 24
[1] The earth is the LORD’s and the fulness thereof,
the world and those who dwell therein;
[2] for he has founded it upon the seas,
and established it upon the rivers.
[3] Who shall ascend the hill of the LORD?
And who shall stand in his holy place?
[4] He who has clean hands and a pure heart,
who does not lift up his soul to what is false,
and does not swear deceitfully.
[5] He will receive blessing from the LORD,
and vindication from the God of his salvation.
[6] Such is the generation of those who seek him,
who seek the face of the God of Jacob.
[7] Lift up your heads, O gates!
and be lifted up, O ancient doors!
that the King of glory may come in.
[8] Who is the King of glory?
The LORD, strong and mighty,
the LORD, mighty in battle!
[9] Lift up your heads, O gates!
and be lifted up, O ancient doors!
that the King of glory may come in.
[10] Who is this King of glory?
The LORD of hosts,
he is the King of glory!

Here are several reflections on this wonderful theme from the writings of the saints:

From a sermon by Saint Sophronius (560-638):

In honour of the divine mystery that we celebrate today, let us all hasten to meet Christ. Everyone should be eager to join the procession and to carry a light.

Our lighted candles are a sign of the divine splendour of the one who comes to expel the dark shadows of evil and to make the whole universe radiant with the brilliance of his eternal light. Our candles also show how bright our souls should be when we go to meet Christ.

Mother of God, the most pure Virgin, carried the true light in her arms and brought him to those who lay in darkness. We too should carry a light for all to see and reflect the radiance of the true light as we hasten to meet him.

The light has come and has shone upon a world enveloped in shadows; the Dayspring from on high has visited us and given light to those who lived in darkness. This, then, is our feast, and we join in procession with lighted candles to reveal the light that has shone upon us and the glory that is yet to come to us through him. So let us hasten all together to meet our God.

The true light has come, the light that enlightens every man who is born into this world. Let all of us, my brethren, be enlightened and made radiant by this light. Let all of us share in its splendour, and be so filled with it that no one remains in the darkness. Let us be shining ourselves as we go together to meet and to receive with the aged Simeon the light whose brilliance is eternal. Rejoicing with Simeon, let us sing a hymn of thanksgiving to God, the Father of the light, who sent the true light to dispel the darkness and to give us all a share in his splendour.

Through Simeon’s eyes we too have seen the salvation of God which he prepared for all the nations and revealed as the glory of the new Israel, which is ourselves. As Simeon was released from the bonds of this life when he had seen Christ, so we too were at once freed from our old state of sinfulness.

By faith we too embraced Christ, the salvation of God the Father, as he came to us from Bethlehem. Gentiles before, we have now become the people of God. Our eyes have seen God incarnate, and because we have seen him present among us and have mentally received him into our arms, we are called the new Israel. Never shall we forget this presence; every year we keep a feast in his honour. Source

From a hymn by Saint Ephrem of Syria (306 – 373):

Praise to you, Son of the Most High, who has put on our body.

Into the holy temple Simeon carried the Christ-child and sang a lullaby to him:
“You have come, Compassionate One,
Having pity on my old age, making my bones enter
Sheol in peace. By you I will be raised
Out of the grave into paradise.”

Anna embraced the child, she placed her mouth
upon his lips, and then the Spirit rested
upon her lips, like Isaiah
whose mouth was silent until a coal drew near
to his lips and opened his mouth.
Anna was aglow with the spirit of his mouth.
she sang him a lullaby:
“Royal Son,
Despised son, being silent, you hear;
Hidden, you see; concealed, you know;
God-man, glory to your name.”

Even the barren heard and came running with their provisions.
The Magi are coming with their treasures.
The barren are coming with their provisions.
Provisions and treasures were heaped up suddenly among the poor.

The barren woman Elizabeth cried out as she was accustomed,
“Who has granted to me, blessed woman,
to see your Babe by whom heaven and earth are filled?”
Blessed is your fruit
that brought forth the cluster on a barren vine.”

Praise to you, Son of the Most Hight, who has put on our body. Source

Finally, Saint Guerric of Igny (1070-1157):

Today as we bear in our hands lighted candles, how can we not fail to remember that venerable old man Simeon who on this day held the child Jesus in his arms – the Word who was latent in a body, as light is latent in a wax candle – and declared him to be ‘the light to enlighten the nations’? Indeed, Simeon was himself a bright and shining lamp bearing witness to the Light. Under the guidance of the Spirit which filled him, he came into the temple precisely in order that, ‘receiving your loving kindness, O God, in the midst of your temple’, he might proclaim Jesus to be that loving kindness and the light of your people.

Behold then, the candle alight in Simeon’s hands. You must light your own candles by enkindling them at his, those lamps which the Lord commanded you to bear in your hands. So come to him and be enlightened that you do not so much bear lamps as become them, shining within yourselves and radiating light to your neighbours. May there be a lamp in your heart, in your hand and in your mouth: let the lamp in your heart shine for yourself, the lamp in your hand and mouth shine for your neighbours. The lamp in your heart is a reverence for God inspired by faith; the lamp in your hand is the example of a good life; and the lamp in your mouth are the words of consolation you speak.

We have to shine not only before others by our good works and by what we say, but also before the angels in our prayer, and before God by the intentions of our hearts. In the presence of the angels our lamps will shine with unsullied reverence when we sing the psalms attentively in their sight or pray fervently; before God our lamp is single-minded resolve to please him alone to whom we have entrusted ourselves.

My friends, in order to light all these lamps for yourselves, I beg you to approach the source of light and become enlightened – I mean Jesus himself who shines in Simeon’s hands to enlighten your faith, who shines on your works, who inspires your speech, who makes your prayer fervent and purifies the intentions of your heart. Then, when the lamp of this mortal life is extinguished, there will appear for you who had so many lamps shining within you the light of unquenchable life, and it will shine for you at the evening of your life like the brightness of the noonday sun. Though you may think your light is quenched in death, you will rise like the daystar and your darkness be made bright as noon. As Scripture says, ‘No longer will you need the light of sun to shine upon you by day, or the light of the moon by night; but the Lord will be an everlasting light for you.’ For the light of the new Jerusalem is the Lamb. To him be glory and praise forever! (Celebrating the Seasons, by Robert Atwell. I highly recommend the purchase of your own copy of this volume. It will be a life-long blessing.)

See?! – I See?! / Know?! – I Know?! / Be!! – I am and am Becoming!!

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” (Matthew 5.NKJV)

“You’re blessed when you get your inside world—your mind and heart—put right. Then you can see God in the outside [and inside] world.” (Message)

“…if you commit to really struggling with the text [in all its forms], it’s always much more exiting, but could also challenge you way of seeing the Bible and yourself… God always and forever comes as one who is totally hidden and yet perfectly revealed in the same moment or event. It is never forced on you, and you do not have to see it if you don’t want to. What I will call ‘non-dual thinking’ has the greatest chance of seeing the epiphany.” Things Hidden: Scripture as Spirituality, Richard Rohr.

“What is this awesome mystery that is taking place within me?
I can find no words to express it;
my poor hand is unable to capture it
in describing the praise and glory that belong to the One who is above all praise,
and who transcends every word…
My intellect sees what has happened,
but it cannot explain it.
It can see, and wishes to explain,
but can find no word that will suffice;
for what it sees is invisible and entirely formless,
simple, completely uncompounded,
unbounded in its awesome greatness.
What I have seen is the totality recapitulated as one,
received not in essense but by participation.
Just as if you lit a flame from a flame,
it is the whole flame you receive.”
St. Symeon the New Theologian (949-1022)

“I have not written to you because you do not know the truth, but because you know it…” (1 John 2.21 NKJV)

We speak and act not to so much to inform or make present but to facilitate deliberate participation. We co-operate in the awakening of others to the awareness of pre-existent presence of the movement of The Truth, within and without their life (a non-extinguishable yearning first and last). We invite them to enter into “the change of life.” We invite them to know in the true sense, so they can, yet more can consciously and agree-ably, journey with us and we with them on the saving Life-Giving Way – Christ Jesus. Behold and embrace that you are beheld and embraced by the God/Man not a/the principle. Repent of what is not true, what is not life, and the way that is death. In other words, accept your acceptance, choose your belonging. Become who you already are in the heart and eyes of God.

[Bracket additions are mine – Fr. T]