Understanding emotions are very important for spiritual development.
I recommend the Eckman’s Atlas of Emotions:
Understanding emotions are very important for spiritual development.
I recommend the Eckman’s Atlas of Emotions:
I have had a great dream. In my dream I get the golden key. It was very beautiful and precious key decorated by deep blue arabesque pattern.
I just started to study the Benedictine Rule before this dream. Getting the golden key can be the symbol of learning the Benedictine Rule. This over fifteen hundred years old rule is the true precious Gold Key to happy life. I’m looking forward to discover the all possibility to use this special key.
Arabesque pattern on the Golden Key (digital picture by the author of the blog):
“Let nothing be preferred to the Work of God”
What is the source of joy in religious life? In response to my question the most of the sisters say that praying the Divine Office (Liturgy of the Hours) is the source of their joy. This answer drew my attention, because the opportunity to pray the Divine Office was the main motive for me to join a monastery.
What is the spiritual power of the Divine Office? There is something unusual in the group praying. Our praying combines in one voice. The Holy Spirit is among us. If we put our whole heart and soul in the prayer, we become one in the community and one with the Holy Spirit at the same time.
A special moment of Divine Office is “Sacred Silence” – quiet meditation and contemplation that are interspersed with the prayer. Shared prayer affects our minds, stays with us also during the rest of the day, transforms and shapes our whole lives. The more we put our hearts in to the prayer the more we get in return. This is our spiritual food which provides understanding, wisdom and joy of everyday life.
This gift entails the obligation of sharing, especially that the gifts we received from a generous God completely free.
In May this year I participated in the meeting of NADI (Novice and Director Institute). I met twelve novices and their directors from different states and cities. This meeting confirmed my feeling that today is probably the best ever time for monastic life in all history, especially in our country. We have great religious freedom and our understanding of other religions has increased a lot.
Being Benedictine today means belonging to strong, well organized and vibrant network. Being Catholic in religious profession means not only cooperation inside Catholicism, not even only between other Christian denominations, but also with different faiths and cultures.
We had many amazing presentations during NADI. I will give as an example a great movie, which we were able to see during NADI. It was a movie about meeting between Benedictine sisters, brothers and members of Buddhist and Muslim monasteries. This was very fascinating to see in one movie how similar ways of monastic life were developed in completely different cultures. We are living as celibates, limiting our belongings, praying and eating together. We are doing different works, like carrying for the garden. We are chanting sacred texts from our scriptures. The text, melody and language of the chanting can be different, but the Spirit is really the same. Option of monastic life is just part of human nature and does not depend on culture. Different religions create different cultures. Religion defines culture, but our nature and out spirit are the same. This is fantastic to be part of such a wide human network.
The word “religion” coming from Latin “religio” which means: “bond”. This is good that religious communities are creating bonds also with monastic people from other cultures. You can find more about this on website: http://www.dimmid.org/ (in French: Dialogue Interreligieux Monastique, in English: Monastic Interreligious Dialogue). Here is the link to the movie, which we were able to see. Movie is in French with English subtitles:
One of the persons from this movie discovered that practicing other religions help us understand better our own religious tradition much better. I have the same experience after my own contact with other spiritual traditions. This experience helped me understand my own culture from the wider perspective.
The problem I have set myself is a hard one: first to defend …
“experience” against “philosophy”as a being the real backbone of the world’s religious life (William James The Varieties of Religious Experience)
Taste and see that the Lord is good;
blessed is the one who takes refuge in him
My first Easter in the monastery was enriched by the daily practice of Lectio Divina. This helps me discover the meaning of the Easter a new way. This Easter I was able to experienced the Paschal Triduum as a Mystery of Trinity and the Mystery of the Church as a Body of Christ.
As far as I remember I was interested in the mystery of the Trinity. My first personal diary text about the Trinity was written when I was ten years old. That time I tried to uncover the secret of the Trinity by my small childish mind. There are a lot of Christian philosophers who try to write about the Trinity. We know that it is not possible to uncover this mystery with our logical minds. However it is possible to experience, to meet the Trinity inside our soul. After Saint Thomas had experienced this Mystery near the end of his life he said that everything what he had written during his life is not worth more than straw.
Jesus teaches us about the Trinity. All what we have to do is just to listen by the ear of our heart:
“If you known me, certainly you would also have known my Father. And from now on, you shall know him, and you have seen him (John 14:7)
“Do you not believe that I am in the Father and Father is in me?” (John 14:10)
“Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me, or else, believe because of the works themselves” (John 14:11)
“I will return to you. … In that day, you shall know that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you.” (John 14:18-20)
“But when the Advocate has arrived, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, he will offer testimony about me.”
Some of the passages are not possible to understand by logical mind. However in Contemplatio they can be powerful like the lightening in the sky. They are able to wake us up and bring the light to the soul if we just let them do this.
During the Lection Divina, after reading the text, analyzing by mind and imagining scenes we have time for contemplation. During the Contemplatio we just stay in the presence of God. Only during the contemplation our soul have a chance to meet personally the Holy Trinity.
We have a chance to experience, feel, taste and see the Holy Trinity in contemplation. This experience becomes the source of our knowledge. However we are not able to express this by words and describe to people who are not able to experience this. Bernard Lonergan was able to explain this very well in “Method of Theology” that there is not understanding before experiencing. Psychology (Jean Piaget) also confirmed importance of experience in learning and gaining knowledge.
We don’t have to practice many years to experience the mystical unity with God. We can stay in the presence of real God immediately after we dedicate ourselves to contemplation completely and unconditionally.
The most fascinating characteristic of the Trinity is the unity. The Paschal Triduum starting from the Last Supper and the first celebration of the Eucharist, the new covenant between God and Church. Eucharist became the new symbol of the unity between Jesus and the Church.
“For the husband is the head of wife, just as Christ is the head and Savior of the church, which is His body” (Ephesians 5:23)
The same way, like Trinity, we have to be united with each other like one body:
“For just as we have many parts of body, and not all parts have the same function so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and all are parts of one another.”
During the Easter time Jesus teaches us and reminds us to be the true Body of Christ. Jesus asks us to eat His Body, drink His Blood, wash each other feet and dedicate life in service to others.
The members of monastic community have special role and special vocation to be the best example in this field. I’m praying to God for help in this matter.
There is no reason to feel afraid, or even die for each other. Someone who is united with Body of Christ will never die. I can say even more, someone who is really united with the Body of Christ is already in Heaven. This is because in the spiritual world time and space does not exist. Contemplation is the way to take and experience the “refuge in Him”. This is the place when even a prisoner becomes free.
My novitiate began in March 13, 2016. This inspired me to ask myself again: Why am I here? The answer is simple. This is because spiritual development is the highest priority in my life.
How do I know that I have a religious vocation? Life in the monastery is not always easy, but every day brings me joy, peace and miraculous events.
If I write in this blog that I see or hear God, please understand that it is from hearing or seeing with eyes or ears of the soul. There is nothing unusual in this. Anyone can get it through regular prayer. Especially through this form of prayer when we speak less and listen more, like meditation or contemplation. Contemplative prayer can be found in all the great religions of the world.
If we say we see or hear God how can we know we are not mistaken? How do we know it is not illusion or some dark power possessing us? Answer is in the Matthew 7: 15-20: “So you will recognize them by their fruit”
It was August 2015 when I joined Mother of God Monastery. It was great. I was finally completely free to start to become fully myself. My first week was exciting but very busy, full of workshops, prayer and meeting new people. It was really a wonderful experience. However, I longed for a bit of relaxation, solitude and for sun bathing.
I started the Journey program first. This program was based on Spiritual Exercises by Saint Ignatius Loyola. The art of prayer was our first topic. After I had done all my assignments, scripture reading and prayer, I sat down on the rooftop to rest in the sunshine. It was supposed to be half an hour just for me. I relaxed completely. I thanked God for the knowledge of prayer received from the sisters this week and I entered naturally into a state of deep contemplation. There is nothing more pleasant than resting in peace and silence in the presence of God.
Suddenly in my head appeared the inspiring words: “Go to the library, grab a book written by John Cassian and read about prayer.” However, this was not my plan for this half hour. “Oh, no!” I replied in my mind. “I can do this later”. I closed my eyes and turned my face toward the sun. Then I saw that Jesus is two steps away from me. Jesus looked at me and firmly said: “Read what John Cassian writes about prayer.” In these instances such direction received from Jesus, is difficult to resist. Immediately I got up and went to the library.
Finding the book was not easy, because I did not know how to spell John Cassian. But after a few minutes I found “The Conferences” by John Cassian (Paulist Press New York 1997). In the list of contents I found chapter 9 and 10 on prayer. In chapter 10 on page 379 I found the following text: “This, then is the devotional formula proposed to you as absolutely necessary for possessing the perpetual awareness of God: ‘O God, incline unto my aid; O Lord, make haste to help me’. (Psalm 70;1).
I have heard these words many times as part of our prayer in the chapel. However, now I understood their depth and meaning. A true understanding of this event will take me probably the next few years. But then I understood one thing. Life in the monastery is not only a community of sisters. God is with us all the time and will make haste to help us.
After few months of this event, words from Jesus are constant in my mind. I am in process of discovering a deep meaning of God’s Assistance. I have learned in my classes with Sister Rose that accepting the priority of God in my life is the first step of humility. Recognizing that we can’t completely control our life but can welcome God to help us is the first step of Anonymous Alcoholics program. I am thankful to Jesus who came by person to teach me this.
Most of the time in my life I feel as a strong, vital and powerful person. However I have to recognize now that I’m not at the center of the World. I will remember forever that Someone Greater exists and is always ready to come to my assistance. Every time when I hear words: “God come to my assistance” my heart beats faster and tears come to my eyes.