#CCLent17 / Day 21 / March 24 / Contentment

For we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world.  But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content. (Paul, in 1 Timothy 6:7-8)

Nobody who gets enough food and clothing in a world where most are hungry and cold has any business to talk about “misery.”  (CS Lewis)

Lewis was a well-known professor and author who, for much of his life, was able to live very comfortably. But his personal letters and his long time friends reveal a humility and deep joy that led him to a very simple lifestyle. He believed we should feel the pinch of not having what we may want at the moment so as to care for those we see in need. Each day is a new sense of dependence on God.

This day, let me again depend on You, Lord and so learn what it means to be content.

#CCLent17 / Day 19 / March 22 / Pursuing the Secret Place

Van Gogh, The Church at Auvers
Van Gogh, The Church at Auvers

When you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. (Mat. 6)

C. S. Lewis was asked about his view of a Christian’s daily discipline of prayer:
“I would take it for granted that everyone who becomes a Christian would undertake this practice. It is enjoined upon us by Our Lord; and since they are his commands, I believe in following them. It is always just possible that Jesus Christ meant what he said when He told us to seek the secret place and to close the door.”

Lord help me to run to the secret place of being alone with You!  

#CCLent17 / Day 18 / March 21 / A Most Dangerous Delusion

                  The Starry Night, Van Gogh

As Christians, we talk freely about the fact that we are all sinners. The rub comes when we are blind to our own sins while focusing on those of others. C.S. Lewis, in response to one of his many correspondents, points to the delusion of missing our own faults. It sounds very much like the end of the Ephrem of Syria prayer we looked at last week.

May God’s grace give you the necessary humility. Try not to think — much less, speak — of their sins. One’s own are a much more profitable theme! And if on consideration, one can find no faults on one’s own side, then cry for mercy: for this must be a most dangerous delusion.  

“God goes against the willful proud;
God gives grace to the willing humble.”
(James 4:6, The Message)

#CCLent17 / Day 17 / March 20 / Living Humbly

towel-and-basin1Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another …
            (1 Peter 5:5)

Two quotes and a quiet example from CSL:

True Humility is not
thinking less of yourself,
but thinking of yourself less. 
(Mere Christianity)

After all, almost the main work of life is to come out of ourselves, out of the little dark prison we are all born in.
(Yours Jack, correspondence)

NOTE: C. S. Lewis wrote and broadcast for the BBC during the WWII to help lift the spirits of his countrymen. The broadcasts later became part of Mere Christianity. The money he was paid, he would not accept. Instead, he privately sent the editor of The Guardian newspaper a list of widows and orphans, and the amount he wanted each to receive.

#CCLent17 / Day 16 / March 18 / New, not just improved!

Fledge ecd6a9c11c323a4f87d9706c74e61f95So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation. Everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new!  (2 Cor. 5:17)

C.S. Lewis anyone? In The Magician’s Nephew, the Narnia book that explores creation, Aslan, the ‘Christ-Lion’ turns an old horse named Strawberry into a winged horse named Fledge (from an Old-English world meaning to acquire the feathers to  fly.) In this case, Fledge is a horse dramatically changed, not just improved!

In Mere Christianity, Lewis notes that God came “to produce a new kind of man:”

It’s not like teaching a horse to jump better and better,
but like turning a horse into a winged creature!

Lord, You’ve made me new and I want to ‘Fly!’  Amen.

#CCLent17 / Day 15 / March 17 / A prayer from the real St. Patrick

Screen Shot 2017-03-14 at 7.55.12 PMToday is St. Patrick’s day. Another Hallmark holiday? Good excuse for a party?

A few facts about 5th century Patrick: He wasn’t Irish! He was from Scotland. He wasn’t the first missionary to Ireland but was the most fruitful. He had been a slave in pre-Christian Ireland as a teenager and returned, years after escaping, to preach the Gospel.

Patrick made missionary journeys all over Ireland, and it soon became known as one of Europe’s Christian centers. Here is a portion of his famous prayer often called, “I Rise Today.” It displays why the Celts are known for exalting both the creation and the creator:

I rise today
invoking the Trinity
believing in three-ness,
confessing the oneness,
of creation’s Creator.

I rise today
in the power of Christ’s birth and baptism,
in the power of his crucifixion and burial,
in the power of his rising and ascending,
in the power of his descending and judging…

May Christ protect me today
against poison and burning,
against drowning and wounding,
so that I may have abundant reward;
Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me;
Christ within me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me;
Christ to the right of me, Christ to the left of me;
Christ in my lying, Christ in my sitting, Christ in my rising;
Christ in the heart of all who think of me,
Christ on the tongue of all who speak to me,
Christ in the eye of all who see me,
Christ in the ear of all who hear me.

#CCLent17 / Day 14 / March 16 / See Christ everywhere!

e2809cdo-not-grieve-or-complain-that-you-were-born-in-a-time-when-you-can-no-longer-see-god-in-the-flesh-he-did-not-in-fact-take-this-privilege-from-you-c2a0as-he-says-e28098whatever-you-havYesterday I quoted Kallistos Ware’s summary of his prayer life:  First, is “Create Silence!” Second is, “See Christ Everywhere!”

This also is spoken by Augustine in the 4th century North African church. His words here reflect Jesus’ words in Matthew 25.

God is constantly speaking; “everywhere present and filling all things…”

Go into your day today with God:

“Do not grieve or complain that you were born in a time when you can no longer see God in the flesh. He did not in fact take this privilege from you. As he says, ‘Whatever you have done to the least of my brothers, you did to me’.” 


#CCLent17 / Day 13 / March 15 / “Create Silence!”

Jamestown, RI
Jamestown marsh

Kallistos Ware, who lives in Oxford, England spoke a few years ago at Wheaton College and at North Park University in Chicago. He summarized a beautiful talk on prayer with 2 phrases: Create Silence! and See Christ Everywhere! Today we look at silence.

Mother Theresa of Calcutta wrote this about silence. Ponder each statement:

The fruit of silence is prayer.
The fruit of prayer is faith.
The fruit of faith is love.
The fruit of love is service.
The fruit of service is peace.

Try this today when you can be alone. Begin your prayer time by setting your phone timer for 5 minutes. Then prayerfully repeat this verse from Psalm 62: “For God alone my soul waits in silence; for from Him comes my salvation.”
Listen for God to speak out of the silence!

#CCLent17 / Day 12 / March 14 / Freedom from Judging

Transfiguration, 'Listen to Him!'
Transfiguration, ‘Listen to Him!’

The prayer of Ephrem the Syrian closes with two petitions that keep our focus where it needs to be! “Yes, O Lord and King! Grant me to see my own errors and not to judge my brother or sister.

O Lord and Master of my life!
Take from me the spirit of
apathy, faintheartedness, love of power, and empty talk.
But give rather the spirit of
purity, humility, patience, and love to Your servant.
Yes, O Lord and King!
Grant me to see my own errors
and not to judge my brother or sister;
For You are blessed forever, to ages of ages.  Amen!

Once more, Alexander Schmemann has a strong word for us:
…Ultimately there is but one danger – pride. Pride is the source of evil, and all evil is pride. Yet it is not enough for me to see my own failings, for even this apparent virtue can be turned into pride. Spiritual writings are full of warnings against the subtle forms of pseudo-piety which, in reality, under the cover of humility and self-accusation can lead to a truly demonic pride. But when we “see our own failings” and “do not condemn our brothers,” when, in other terms, chastity, humble-mindedness, patience, and love are but one in us, then and only then the ultimate enemy—pride—will be destroyed in us.

But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” (James 4:6)

ruminations on biblical thought and human flourishing