Saturday, September 25, 2010

First New Member

The news is that someone e-mailed, having read the blogs, and wants to join the Order of the Present Moment. The person is happy with Catholic life, Mass, prayer, adoration, spiritual reading, family, work--but desires more. Something resonated with the call to seek and find Christ in the present moment, and also to climb the stairway to heaven.

The Lord surely desires this addition to process, for now there will be two test subjects, better in implementation. Of the two samples, one is single, parent of adult children, Catholic convert, physically disabled, lives alone. The other is married, parent of adult children, cradle Catholic, spouse non-Catholic, employed full-time. Would be desirable from an empirical standard to have even more in the test group, but whatever God wills.

One impression gleaned is that the Lord is providing a support network in what may become, in temporal communication, an online Order. Also, an "other" helps illuminate aspects I might miss, and will help check writing for clarification and relevance. No doubt about it, another person in this venture, on this side of the "veil", causes me to take the research and development phase more seriously. It is a responsibility.

In other moments today, an important point comes forth. After Mass a person shared briefly that someone recommended a book by a contemporary, popular Catholic writer. I mentioned that the book may be fine, but that perhaps the one to do the reading is really at a level of something more challenging, such as a book on the same topic by a saint. St. Francis de Sale's Introduction to the Devout Life came to mind, so suggested it. The person is capable of the saint's writing, and would reap quality by reading it. The book by the contemporary author is filtered. Why not get it straight from a saint who had union with Christ and is in the Communion of Saints?

The person replied that these other writers are good because people are at different places in their spiritual lives. Well, yes. That is not the issue, however. The point is that this person is capable and beyond that other "place". I let it drop. But this very tactic worked with the Da. He is now reading books commensurate with his 63 years as a priest.

Our new member to the Order of the Present Moment mentioned determination to practice meditation each day and is going to go to the car during lunch break at work, to enter into prayer with God through St. Teresa of Avila's advice on meditation.  This good practice caused me to re-read St. Teresa's writing on meditation, also termed mental prayer. Yes, I have prayed thus, but perhaps over time am slipshod, not formally practicing mental prayer as much as its becoming meandering prayer. This other OPM member is already helpful to me personally! Gloria Dei!

The contemplative saints recommend mental prayer or meditation, and provide examples and instruction. Went to the little library room here and pulled off the shelf the writings of St. Peter of Alcantara: A Golden Treatise of Mental Prayer.  He was one of St. Teresa of Avila's spiritual directors. Will be good to review this small volume, and to write some about mental prayer on this blog, or at least on the Order of the Present Moment blog. Prayer is part of the OPM's structure. Not everyone will read the saints who teach prayer, but perhaps a little review will encourage more to do so.

 Emphasize: It is not what I write that is good, but what I write about--the holy, outstanding books to read or holy practices to try--that may be helpful.

Last evening read in Pope Benedict's Behold the Pierced One, that prayer is the most important means to knowing Jesus. We enter into prayer and come to Jesus, and Jesus is in the Father, so we are also linked through prayer with and in Jesus, to the Father. I figure the Pope and all these saints know and live what they are writing about. As for the popular, current author, I assume he knows, but why take chances if one is (as our new member) wisely delving into St. Teresa?

And this is a point about our new member that may be helpful to this process. Our new member is now reading not only about St. Teresa, but also what the saint and Church Doctor explains and instructs. Right now, we see that choices are ours to make, and good-to-better choices are preferred. We must take care what enters our eyes (the window of the soul), as it will be what our mind absorbs. What our mind absorbs will affect the inner seat of the soul which contains the intellect and the will. Do our best, we must, to learn to love, love of trying.

The message is also a reminder that people are in different levels of their spiritual journeys, and people's personalities and temperaments are factors. One person may be open to suggestions, another may not. Some may know about meditation and mental prayer, and others not. Some may currently practice forms of prayer, and others not. There is a variety of materials for various levels of learning. Reading is but one way to learn, but as the saints haves shown, reading is an outstanding way to learn, or they would not have written for our edification, or during their lives, read books by saints in order to learn. Another glorious advantage in reading holy, quality books is that they cite much Scripture!

As St. Mark the Ascetic writes, "...grace may be hidden in advice given by a neighbor. It also accompanies our understanding during our reading, and as a natural result teaches our intellect the truth about itself. If, then, we do not hide the talent given to us in this way, we shall enter actively into the joy of the Lord."

Multiple benefits we gain in paying attention to the nuances of Christ in the present moments, throughout the day and night! Reflect upon them. Learn to anticipate and be open to the graces of suggestions, and cull the lesser from the greater. Always aim for that next step rather than the lower, for struggling just a bit to that which is challenging will keep us humble, even in something as simple as the book we choose. Enter actively into the joy of the Lord! It's what we seek on the stairway to heaven!

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