Prayers and More

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Naturally, the beginning of the praying of the Liturgy of the Hours from the Book of Common Prayer would lead down the rabbit hole of trying to understand the Liturgy of the Hours as a whole, and then I would begin examining Breviaries and so on because…well, that’s what happens with obsessions, compulsions, and being drawn into God.

At this point, I can’t afford to get the full Roman Breviary. The Anglican Breviary looks like a nice alternative, but I suppose that will have to come ’round the time of my birthday or so next year.

Right now, I’ve requested “Christian Prayer” for Christmas but might change my mind on that. I’m just not sure.

Being a homemaker, I certainly have the time on my hands to pray the Hours, or so one might imagine. There aren’t enough hours in the day for anyone it seems.

At one time, I would’ve considered the Divine Office and the Hours to be an atrocious excess, something that was just too much, but now that I understand from the interior world the necessity of such prayers, it makes far, far more sense. I stand by my position that the Liturgy of the Hours ultimately serves to give an external container to the inner spiritual reality, or perhaps I should say “Reality” of God; the prayers are a way to bring forth the Grace of Being Itself into this world.

Thomas Merton continues to cut right into my soul as I read Seven Storey Mountain. If anyone ever had a chance at fully and completely converting me to the Church of Rome, Thomas Merton is the person.

That being said, conversion of any sort must happen on the level of the spirit and nowhere else.

I’ve probably mentioned previously the conversation between me and an acquaintance some years about about the superiority of the Holy Trinity as a model of God. The idea can be explained like this:

If God is One, God can only be known, ultimately, to Himself. In other words, God might love me while I am relating to God, God might be God while I am relating to God and in His presence, but what happens when I’m not there? Then, only God knows how God TRULY is. There is no way for anyone else to make a statement on such a thing.

The problem is solved by the Trinity in which RELATIONSHIP is essential to God- God’s ESSENCE is then one of love shared among Holy Trinity.

Some cosmologies rely on God’s Oneness in order to explain Creation- God creates because He’s lonely. In the case of the Trinity, God is not lonely because God is never alone, so to speak.

Then why would God create at all?

My acquaintance suggested that perhaps the universe is, itself, the Second Person of the Trinity, God the Son. Relate this to the notion of the Cosmic Christ, and you’ll see how interesting it is.

But that brings us to a further problem, one that only crossed my mind tonight. The universe, as we know it, is NOT eternal; it had a starting point, even if that starting point may have existed infinitely. This is the current and dominant view by those most educated in the fields of physics.

But the Second Person of the Holy Trinity, God the Son, IS co-eternal and consubstantial with God the Father and God the Holy Spirit.

Ah, but here we see a deeper mystery revealing itself; we see that while God the Son is in fact co-eternal and consubstantial with God the Father and God the Holy Spirit, what is NOT co-eternal with the Father and Holy Spirit is the Body of Jesus.

Which is to say, the Big Bang and so on is, in effect, the Incarnation of the Cosmic Christ.

One might wonder at my Gnostic tendencies and so at this point- whence comes evil? If the universe IS the Incarnation of the Cosmic Christ in physical form, then how do we discuss the demiurge and so on?

Simply put, imagine the corrupting powers of the demiurge on the material universe as the Passion and Crucifixion of Jesus Christ, and you have your answer. There will then be the eventual Death, Resurrection, and Ascension as well.

So, really, then, whether or not the historical Jesus and the story surrounding Him is absolutely accurate is a point we don’t have to worry with too terribly much as the story of what happens IS, in fact, happening as this universe. And the story is to be lived out, too, in the lives of the faithful, for it must take place in us in order for us to be drawn into and united with the Holy Trinity and the Perfect Love of God.

I’ll think on this more later.

Stevo

Bizarre

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Just when one things that one has gotten to something, things happen, and we suddenly see how full of pride/ego we are.

I haven’t been able to sleep well today; my dogs kept barking, people kept making noise in the house, and at night, I’ve had insomnia.

And the amount of vitriol that spewed up from me, the feelings of hatred over something so mundane and ridiculous, is amazing.

So the ego has to go, or at least the emotions surrounding the ego, because it’s ultimately dangerous, not only to me but especially to others.

My schedule has been messed up lately, and I’ve faltered a few nights on properly praying the hours. *sighs* Oh, well.

Sinful Nature

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The sinful nature of the human being is often depicted in a strange sort of way.

The image present in many strains of Christianity is something like this: God, an old, grumpy man in the sky, has set forth Rules. The individual breaks a rule, which then pisses God off, and so God decides the individual must burn forever.

I condemn this view because of how weak, childish, silly, and outright dangerous it is. This idea of sin and God is at the level of understanding of a three-year-old, yet some Christians perpetuate this for the duration of their life to disastrous consequences, not the least of which that it leads no one and has never led anyway to theosis.

While in bed this morning, praying because I was trying to go back to sleep and because I find prayer much easier in a relaxed state (but this should go without saying), a more suitable illustration came to me:

imagine that a person beholds a perfect, clear light, a light which heals and sets right any ailments the person may have in their spirit, a light which endows the individual with infinite meaning in their life and experience.

Now imagine that instead of beholding that light, the person is inclined to put heaps of mud upon their eyes because the mud provides a sort of soothing, pleasurable sensation. And it isn’t just an idea that comes to us; no, the desire to put mud upon our eyes because it feels good is a natural happening (or seemingly so).

There you have it- that’s the sinful nature of mankind in the presence and experience of Almighty God. We deprive ourselves by substituting something else that seems to be what we would like but is ultimately lacking, even if it seems sensible at the time.

Now, that being said, please understand that this illustration is by no means absolute or perfect. I’m only pushing it forward to try to give a more mature and spiritual understanding of the relationship between a human being and God.

As for the Book of Common Prayer experiment, I’ll say that’s been the best decision I’ve made in a long time, right up there next to ceasing to be vegetarian. I’ll also say that this experiment works for me because somehow I was instructed in my spirit about the matters; this is by no means an absolute rule.

Some people are strange in that the figure out a new way to do something or something that works for them, and they make an error of ultra-generalization, “Why, if EVERYONE just used the Book of Common Prayer every day, we would all be okay!” True, it would be helpful for those of us officially belonging to the Anglican Tradition to practice our tradition, but our culture is a specific one, and what works for us might not work for others.

This brings us to another point of interest with regard to theology: the night of my Confirmation Mass, I told the Bishop that I felt the theology of Anglicanism has a greater flexibility than the theology of the other considered denominations, which is what caused me to go with Anglicanism after all was said and done. (That and the lack of more mystical denominations around me also caused this decision. I also blame the Red State Mystic for making mainstream Christianity make sense to me.)

And herein lies the need of the flexibility: the Mystery the Living God is an explosive one, and if one has a theological framework that is bricked up and inflexible, the Actual, True, Real, Living Mystery will shatter the theological framework by revealing things unpredicted and for which the theology does not prepare you.

The flexibility effect, instead, allows for the containing of that Mystery so that it might be lived out and experienced and (very importantly) shared through the being of the individual.

I think this is enough for tonight.

Stevo

Return of Meaning

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For a while, life had become meaningless. What I mean to say is that a severe disconnected had erupted between me and the world around me, in the experiencing of holidays and outings and the passing of the seasons. I couldn’t enjoy life and all that life offers because I wasn’t meditating.

Of course, by meditation, I mean contemplative prayer, but that should be known by now.

So it’s strange, but the further outside of myself I tried to reach, the greater came the disconnect; my own external strivings meant little.

But surrender to the living God, that God Who is Life Itself, and lo and behold, suddenly all the meaning is poured back into my world and my life.

So now I know I can never live a life apart from God. The challenge is the same, of course, at this point- bringing that knowledge and experience of the Living God into the mundane, everyday things that most of us would rather eschew. Where can God be found in the washing of laundry and dishes and sweeping of floors?

Yet we can’t waste any moments; a general sweetness of the Presence and Knowledge of God in life is, in many ways, “good enough.” God calls us to our full potential, though, so “good enough” isn’t what we can really do.

If we are to bring about peace in this world, if we are stop wars, rapes, and all the atrocities caused by the dark side of human nature, then we must have this infinite sweetness in all moments, every one of us, regardless of our station in life.

Because nothing else really matters- the healing of the world must take place now, and it must start with the broken human soul. Once the human soul begins to heal, then the healing can move out from that person and spread.

I should also note that recently, I’ve returned to reading The Seven Storey Mountain by Thomas Merton. And my soul shakes and quakes when I read some of the things he wrote. At some points, of course, I wonder if he’s made strange leaps in reason and not realized it, and I do consider that the book was written well after his conversion, so he writes in terms of hindsight.

But rarely have I read someone’s words and felt myself so drawn to the truth that is driving the person to write in the first place. And this is coming from someone who’s read Irina Tweedie’s Daughter of Fire twice and started it for a third time.

That isn’t to suggest that I doubt Ms. Tweedie’s experiences or any other such nonsensical conclusion that might be drawn- it’s rather to say that in spite of all the wonderful things she wrote, my own spirit didn’t react this way while reading her diary.

Yes, I feel that I am at the door of a mystery, a mystery involving the God-Man Jesus Christ, though I can’t solve the Mystery alone; God must reveal it. Perhaps I’m enduring in order that my finite mind can contain the explosive Truth that will be revealed; I cannot be certain at the moment.

I am becoming more certain that in the Mass, we are offered to God as part of the sacrifice; we offer ourselves, and in receiving the Holy Eucharist, we are offered up with Christ. Confirmation and the in-dwelling of the Holy Spirit plays into this, I think, but again, exactly how it works isn’t clear in my mind. Saying the Holy Spirit takes on the role as priest would seem to remove Christ as the priest, yet Christ is the Sacrifice; so the Eternal Sacrifice is also the Eternal High Priest, all made manifest by the Holy Spirit.

But these are only words of the Christian tradition that can’t convey the true and palpable sweetness of the Black Fire blazing within.

Stevo

On the Book of Common Prayer and More

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My home parish, St. Michael’s, gave me a portable copy of the Book of Common Prayer upon my Confirmation in 2012.

And while I’ve used the BCP, I haven’t used it as much as I could or should.

Anyone reading my blog knows that I’m always pushing forward on the spiritual quest and asking questions. And honestly, sometimes the archetypal forces of the Evangelical Christianity with which I was raised rear their ugly heads, and I just feel disgusted with Christianity.

At that point, I have to refocus and realize that I’m committing a number of errors in reasoning, not the least of which is predefining Christianity and then reacting against that definition.

But when I think fondly of the people at St. Michael’s, and I think of my far-flung friends Anglican and Gnostic and Catholic and Orthodox across the world, I relax a bit, and I realize that these people are the ones that give me reassurance of Christ’s goodness in me and in the world.

Anyway, the Book of Common Prayer is a nifty little thing, though sometimes I do wish we featured more prayers to Mary and various saints beyond their being mentioned in the Collects.

So, let’s discuss how I’m currently using the BCP.

One issue that I heard of long ago from a Roman website is that the Holy Spirit must teach us how to pray. My problem, of course, is that I always seem to think of things as “this, not that,” whereby I mean that I fail to recognize the Holy Spirit or my own spirit.

But enter the Black Fire, of which I’ve spoken for so, so long. The key here is to pray with and as the inner Black Fire- by praying this, by praying the very best part of me and best experience I can have, by offering that to Christ in the Holy Eucharist (the Eternal, Cosmic Eucharistic Christ, in other word) consistently, I can pray and begin to understand the words of the Book of Common Prayer.

Mostly, it’s best effects are for the Cycle of Prayer. Many people are against the idea of consistency because they think acting whimsically is more authentic. The whimsical and random action may have its place in individuality, sure, but if one also of one’s own volition subscribes to a Cycle of Prayer, doesn’t that also express one’s own individual needs?

I wish I could get to Mass more often. I wish to receive Christ in the Holy Eucharist more often. But in my life, this has increasingly become difficult and problematic, which can only mean that a very good solution is coming my way soon (and yes, I’m praying about it.)

I confess, the last time I attended Mass was with my husband, right after we were married, at the Great Easter Vigil. It was glorious and magnificent and wonderful. But that’s been the only time this year, and we need to remedy the matter soon.

Trouble is, now my husband is on the NIGHT shift, so we’re usually sleeping in the mornings. But of course, he doesn’t work weekends, so we could hypothetically get some sleep in. If only more Vigil Masses were offered in the Episcopal Church!

Anyway, the mysticism in any religion is something that ultimately comes from the encounter of the individual spirit with that of the Ultimate Reality. Our prayers, our rituals, all such things, are the channels through which this connection grows- and while I myself have had any number of days when the prayers I said and thought and sung seemed empty and decayed, that isn’t the fault of the prayers themselves, which ultimately serve to be channels for bringing the Ultimate Reality in daily consciousness.

Thus, one might conceive of something such as the Book of Common Prayer as being a candle that must be lit; the BCP does not in and of itself contain the fire, though it can draw out the fire within one, in other words.

I also recommend highly to people to light a candle while praying. Just one will do. More are great. But one will do, I think. Incense is also lovely, but I know that if you’re like me, a lot of incense triggers allergies and stuffy sinuses and sinus headaches, yikes.

That’s why incense is preferable in the church itself, of course, because it disperses so much that one gets the heavenly scent of frankincense without a sinus headache.

Well, in typical Stevo fashion, this blog has been all over the place. However, it does function to kind of give the unfolding realizations of a mystic as I think this is extremely important. Any mystic recording their journey is good; however, to see what happens along the way is also good.

Anyway, we’ll see what happens with the Cycle of Prayer using the BCP.

Stevo

Love of God for a Few Days

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Over the past few days, when I am still and focus and relax, I can feel a combination of things welling in my heart, namely something like “love-longing-meaning-joy,” all bound up together.

The most amazing insight recently is that this experience, this love-longing-meaning-joy, which can only be coming from God Most High, is for EVERYONE. The one experiencing it is meant to GIVE this love-longing-meaning-joy to others.

This is the solution all the ills of mankind, this one powerful, mysterious movement in the heart. This is the solution to our problematic nature.

And now the words of St. Paul come to me about “if I have not love,” and I think, if this love dancing in my heart now, fluttering in my heart now, is what he meant, then he’s absolutely right. No amount of spiritual powers, no amount of insight into the universe, no amount of any political power of any kind, NONE OF THESE THINGS MATTER WITHOUT THIS LOVE.

I pray this love consumes “me” so that it might find life in others.

In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, AMEN.