In our last Lay Cistercian retreat in February, 2018, we had a commentary on one of the verses of the Psalms by Brother Cassian, O.C.S.O. which featured the word of “longing”. I remember being impressed with teasing out this one word that the Psalmist used, as in: Psalm 42:1 ] “As a deer longs for flowing streams, so my soul longs for you, O God.”
Now, I use the technique of slow reading in my Lectio Divina (Phil 2:5), not in my reading of these eight words (have in you the mind of Christ Jesus) but in what follows. What Brother Cassian was trying to show us in this session was the riches contained in the words we take for granted. This awareness of being careful to tease out all the meaning in a word has been helpful in my silence and solitude as I slow down my urge to just read the words of the Psalms to get through them. To move from saying to enjoying the Psalms takes focus and intentionality, when moving from self to God. Remember the five different levels of spiritual awarness in my past blogs, next time you read the Psalms at Morning Prayer? They are:
Just a hint as to how I use these five levels. I always begin each prayer or Cistercian practice with level one. I must work to consciously move through the rest of the levels. After a few minutes, I don’t worry about levels, but move deeper and deeper without thinking about it. It is called “capacitas dei” or making more room for God.
In my Lectio Divina that prompted this blog, I thought about “longing’ and what Brother Cassian was trying to tell us about the words we take for granted. Let me share with you what I thought about “longing”.
When was the last time you longed for heaven? St. Benedict in his Chapter 4 of the Holy Rule, sets forth some of these longings.
44. To fear the Day of Judgment.
45. To be in dread of hell.
46. To desire eternal life with all the passion of the spirit.
47. To keep death daily before one’s eyes.
48. To keep constant guard over the actions of one’s life.
Longing has to do with passion for that which you long, in this case Heaven. I have become more conscious of Heaven as my final destination, in recent years, as I get ever closer to it. While I am on earth, if I long for something, like a vacation, a financial milestone, or a happiness for a family member, it comes and then goes. When I long for Heaven, it just come, but lasts…Forever. Now that is something for which I want to long. How about you?
Here is one of my favorite Psalms in its entirety. Read it and reflect on it for ten minutes. Read it one or two times, every slowly. Read it once a day for seven days. How does this help you to long for the Lord? Notice the passages I have bolded. This is my personal longing that come from my Lectio Divina. http://www.usccb.org/bible/psalms/27:62
The LORD is my light and my salvation;
whom should I fear?
The LORD is my life’s refuge;
of whom should I be afraid?
2When evildoers come at me
These my enemies and foes
themselves stumble and fall.
3Though an army encamp against me,
my heart does not fear;
Though war be waged against me,
even then do I trust.
4 One thing I ask of the LORD;
this I seek:
To dwell in the LORD’s house
all the days of my life,
To gaze on the LORD’s beauty,
to visit his temple.c
5For God will hide me in his shelter
in time of trouble,d
He will conceal me in the cover of his tent;
and set me high upon a rock.
6Even now my head is held high
above my enemies on every side!
I will offer in his tent
sacrifices with shouts of joy;
I will sing and chant praise to the LORD.
7Hear my voice, LORD, when I call;
have mercy on me and answer me.
8“Come,” says my heart, “seek his face”;*
your face, LORD, do I seek!e
9Do not hide your face from me;
do not repel your servant in anger.
You are my salvation; do not cast me off;
do not forsake me, God my savior!
10Even if my father and mother forsake me,
the LORD will take me in.f
11LORD, show me your way;
lead me on a level path
because of my enemies.g
12Do not abandon me to the desire of my foes;
malicious and lying witnesses have risen against me.
13I believe I shall see the LORD’s goodness
14Wait for the LORD, take courage;
be stouthearted, wait for the LORD!
Praise be God the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, now and forever. The God who is, who was, and who is to come at the end of the ages. Amen and Amen. –Cistercian doxology