CREEPING TOWARDS THE PAROUSIA

Three things we humans are conditioned to do because of Original Sin are:

  • expect immediate results;
  • become restless and anancy when we are not doing something, anything to fill up dead time;
  • become compulsive about filling in the hole in our lives.

I have noticed these tendencies in myself some time ago, but it is only when I began to discover the contemplative side of my being that the change has become noticeable. This change is the application of Cistercian practices (as I know them) to how I perceive the whole realm of the Sacred. The change is almost imperceptible except for the behavioral change in how I think, what my priorities are, how I have slowed down life to, as they say in the slogan, “smell the flowers.”

The Parousia is the end result, the terminus of all efforts on earth to be with Jesus in Heaven. It is the Second Coming of Jesus, the resurrection of the body we recite in our Creed, the fulfillment of what it means to be human, and the full circle from Garden of Eden through the Garden of Gethsemane to the Kingdom of Heaven. My particular journey from false self to true self in the Christ Principle, has been one of minute changes, baby steps, as I practice each day to seek God where I am and as I am. As I wobble down the pathways of whatever I confront each day, it is like taking a nap and then waking up to a world where I am not the same person, although I only see life as one day at a time. Here are a few observations about my current behavior that I am convinced is due to the silence and solitude of trying to approach life from a contemplative point of view.

I AM MORE AWARE OF THE SILENCE AND SOLITUDE OF CONTEMPLATION AS I ENCOUNTER IT. I moved from taking an hour or more to place myself in a situation where I might experience silence and solitude (no phones, no talking with others about anything, or no watching television or YouTube) to being content to use what time I do have and make still my heart just to be present to Christ and await the Holy Spirit. I am learning to say less and listen more “with the ear of the heart” as St. Benedict bid us do in his Prologue to the Rule. I have not mastered it yet, nor will I even do so, but I am now more aware of what is going on around me.

I DO NOT THINK OF CISTERCIAN PRACTICES AS ACTIVITIES TO BE ACCOMPLISHED AS MUCH AS OPPORTUNITIES WHERE I AM PRESENT TO CHRIST AND LISTEN. I am more aware that life is not about filling holes with STUFF but with the Christ Principle.

I DO NOT WORRY ABOUT ABOUT A TIME TO DO THIS OR THAT CISTERCIAN PRACTICE, ALTHOUGH I FIND I AM PRAYING MORE THAN EVER. The change here is that the whole day becomes an opportunity to seek God in whatever comes my way (or doesn’t).

I CAN SEE JESUS IN THAT WHICH IS HIDDEN OR INVISIBLE. The problem with invisibility is you can’t see it. I am in the process of becoming more and more aware that what I have done in the past is linked through, with, and in the Christ Principle of the NOW to what I hope will come about in the future. I am reflecting more and more on my past failings and using this to try to transform how I act NOW. I can’t redo the past, but I can learn from my mistakes and ask God’s mercy on my faults and failings. I am not sin-centered but love-centered more and more. I am not there yet, but am aware of much more of the transformational processes at work within me due to just being in the presence of the Holy Spirit. I actually feel the overshadowing which envelopes me like a warm blanket and keeps me toasty warm.

I AM MORE KEENLY AWARE THAT IT IS NOT I WHO TRANSFORMS MY SPIRIT BUT THE HOLY SPIRIT IN SILENCE AND SOLITUDE MAKING A NEW PERSON CARVED IN THE IMAGE OF CHRIST. I realize that I must continue to be faithful to the promises I made in my Cistercian promises to Christ. That new person, the person I am being transformed into is ever so subtly inching toward the Second Coming. I am aware of more, I see Jesus more in daily living, like a souse who loves their significant others each hour of the day, what propels me forward is the desire to be with Jesus now and in the future in heaven, that permanent state of love and peace, the Parousia.

I DON’T WORRY ABOUT BEING CISTERCIAN IN PRACTICE AS THE TERMINUS, BUT RATHER SEEK GOD BY PRACTICING OVER AND OVER HOW TO LOVE CHRIST IN CISTERCIAN PRACTICES AND CHRISMS, THOSE THAT BRING ME INTO THE PRESENCE OF GOD, THEN LET GOD JUST BE AND I LISTEN WITH THE EAR OF THE HEART. THIS IS COSMIC RESONANCE AND ITS RESULT IN THE CANTICLE WE RECITE IN THE LITURGY OF THE HOURS ON SUNDAYS. Chapter 3 of the Book of Daniel has a powerful insight into how all creation, including me, praises God by just being. Read the Canticle three time: First time read it for meaning; the second time, read it slowly realizing all creation love the Christ Principle just by being what they are created to be: the third time, pray these words that you become one with the totality of all that is in a hymn of praise and “glory to God the Father and God the Son and God the Holy Spirit, now and forever. The God who is, who was, and who is to come at the end of the ages.” –Cistercian doxology. I have included the whole text so that you get the context of this Hymn of Creation.

The Fiery Furnace.1King Nebuchadnezzar had a golden statue made, sixty cubits high and six cubits wide, which he set up in the plain of Dura* in the province of Babylon.2He then ordered the satraps,* prefects, and governors, the counselors, treasurers, judges, magistrates and all the officials of the provinces to be summoned to the dedication of the statue which he had set up.3The satraps, prefects, governors, counselors, treasurers, judges, magistrates, and all the provinces’ officials came together for the dedication. They stood before the statue which King Nebuchadnezzar had set up.4A herald cried out: “Nations and peoples of every language,5* when you hear the sound of the horn, pipe, zither, dulcimer, harp, double-flute, and all the other musical instruments, you must fall down and worship the golden statue which King Nebuchadnezzar has set up.6Whoever does not fall down, and worship shall be instantly cast into a white-hot furnace.”7Therefore, as soon as they heard the sound of the horn, pipe, zither, dulcimer, harp, double-flute, and all the other musical instruments, the nations and peoples of every language all fell down and worshiped the golden statue which King Nebuchadnezzar had set up.8At that point, some of the Chaldeans came and accused the Jews9to King Nebuchadnezzar: “O king, live forever!10O king, you issued a decree that everyone who heard the sound of the horn, pipe, zither, dulcimer, harp, and double-flute, and all the other musical instruments should fall down and worship the golden statue;11whoever did not was to be cast into a white-hot furnace.12There are certain Jews whom you have made administrators of the province of Babylon: Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego; these men, O king, have paid no attention to you; they will not serve your god or worship the golden statue which you set up.”13Nebuchadnezzar flew into a rage and sent for Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who were promptly brought before the king.14King Nebuchadnezzar questioned them: “Is it true, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, that you will not serve my god or worship the golden statue that I set up?15Now, if you are ready to fall down and worship the statue I made, whenever you hear the sound of the horn, pipe, zither, dulcimer, harp, double-flute, and all the other musical instruments, then all will be well;* if not, you shall be instantly cast into the white-hot furnace; and who is the God who can deliver you out of my hands?”16Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego answered King Nebuchadnezzar, “There is no need for us to defend ourselves before you in this matter.17If our God, whom we serve, can save us* from the white-hot furnace and from your hands, O king, may he save us!18But even if he will not, you should know, O king, that we will not serve your god or worship the golden statue which you set up.”19Nebuchadnezzar’s face became livid with utter rage against Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. He ordered the furnace to be heated seven times more than usual20and had some of the strongest men in his army bind Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. He cast them into the white-hot furnace.21They were bound and cast into the white-hot furnace with their trousers, shirts, hats, and other garments,22for the king’s order, was urgent. So huge a fire was kindled in the furnace that the flames devoured the men who threw Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego into it.23But these three fell, bound, into the midst of the white-hot furnace.

Prayer of Azariah.*24They walked about in the flames, singing to God and blessing the Lord.25Azariah* stood up in the midst of the fire and prayed aloud:

26“Blessed are you, and praiseworthy,

O Lord, the God of our ancestors,

and glorious forever is your name.

27For you are just in all you have done;

all your deeds are faultless, all your ways right,

and all your judgments proper.

28You have executed proper judgments

in all that you have brought upon us

and upon Jerusalem, the holy city of our ancestors.

By a proper judgment you have done all this

because of our sins;

29For we have sinned and transgressed

by departing from you,

and we have done every kind of evil.

30Your commandments we have not heeded or observed,

nor have we done as you ordered us for our good.

31Therefore all you have brought upon us,

all you have done to us,

you have done by a proper judgment.

32You have handed us over to our enemies,

lawless and hateful rebels;

to an unjust king, the worst in all the world.

33Now we cannot open our mouths;

shame and reproach have come upon us,

your servants, who revere you.

34For your name’s sake, do not deliver us up forever,

or make void your covenant.

35Do not take away your mercy from us,

for the sake of Abraham, your beloved,

Isaac your servant, and Israel your holy one,

36To whom you promised to multiply their offspring

like the stars of heaven,

or the sand on the shore of the sea.

37For we are reduced, O Lord, beyond any other nation,

brought low everywhere in the world this day

because of our sins.

38We have in our day no prince, prophet, or leader,

no burnt offering, sacrifice, oblation, or incense,

no place to offer first fruits, to find favor with you.

39But with contrite heart and humble spirit

let us be received;

As though it were burnt offerings of rams and bulls,

or tens of thousands of fat lambs,

40So let our sacrifice be in your presence today

and find favor before you;

for those who trust in you cannot be put to shame.

41And now we follow you with our whole heart,

we fear you and we seek your face.

Do not put us to shame,

42but deal with us in your kindness and great mercy.

43Deliver us in accord with your wonders,

and bring glory to your name, O Lord:

44Let all those be put to shame

who inflict evils on your servants;

Let them be shamed and powerless,

and their strength broken;

45Let them know that you alone are the Lord God,

glorious over the whole world.”46Now the king’s servants who had thrown them in continued to stoke the furnace with naphtha, pitch, tow, and brush.47The flames rose forty-nine cubits above the furnace,48and spread out, burning the Chaldeans that it caught around the furnace.49But the angel of the Lord went down into the furnace with Azariah and his companions, drove the fiery flames out of the furnace,50and made the inside of the furnace as though a dew-laden breeze were blowing through it. The fire in no way touched them or caused them pain or harm.51Then these three in the furnace with one voice sang, glorifying and blessing God:

52“Blessed are you, O Lord, the God of our ancestors,

praiseworthy and exalted above all forever;

And blessed is your holy and glorious name,

praiseworthy and exalted above all for all ages.

53Blessed are you in the temple of your holy glory,

praiseworthy and glorious above all forever.

54Blessed are you on the throne of your kingdom,

praiseworthy and exalted above all forever.

55Blessed are you who look into the depths

from your throne upon the cherubim,

praiseworthy and exalted above all forever.

56Blessed are you in the firmament of heaven,

praiseworthy and glorious forever.

57Bless the Lord, all you works of the Lord,

praise and exalt him above all forever.

58Angels of the Lord, bless the Lord,

praise and exalt him above all forever.

59You heavens, bless the Lord,

praise and exalt him above all forever.a

60All you waters above the heavens, bless the Lord,

praise and exalt him above all forever.

61All you powers, bless the Lord;

praise and exalt him above all forever.

62Sun and moon, bless the Lord;

praise and exalt him above all forever.

63Stars of heaven, bless the Lord;

praise and exalt him above all forever.

64Every shower and dew, bless the Lord;

praise and exalt him above all forever.

65All you winds, bless the Lord;

praise and exalt him above all forever.

66Fire and heat, bless the Lord;

praise and exalt him above all forever.

67Cold and chill, bless the Lord;

praise and exalt him above all forever.

68Dew and rain, bless the Lord;

praise and exalt him above all forever.

69Frost and chill, bless the Lord;

praise and exalt him above all forever.

70Hoarfrost and snow, bless the Lord;

praise and exalt him above all forever.

71Nights and days, bless the Lord;

praise and exalt him above all forever.

72Light and darkness, bless the Lord;

praise and exalt him above all forever.

73Lightnings and clouds, bless the Lord;

praise and exalt him above all forever.

74Let the earth bless the Lord,

praise and exalt him above all forever.

75Mountains and hills, bless the Lord;

praise and exalt him above all forever.

76Everything growing on earth, bless the Lord;

praise and exalt him above all forever.

77You springs, bless the Lord;

praise and exalt him above all forever.

78Seas and rivers, bless the Lord;

praise and exalt him above all forever.

79You sea monsters and all water creatures, bless the Lord;

praise and exalt him above all forever.

80All you birds of the air, bless the Lord;

praise and exalt him above all forever.

81All you beasts, wild and tame, bless the Lord;

praise and exalt him above all forever.

82All you mortals, bless the Lord;

praise and exalt him above all forever.

83O Israel, bless the Lord;

praise and exalt him above all forever.

84Priests of the Lord, bless the Lord;

praise and exalt him above all forever.

85Servants of the Lord, bless the Lord;

praise and exalt him above all forever.

86Spirits and souls of the just, bless the Lord;

praise and exalt him above all forever.

87Holy and humble of heart, bless the Lord;

praise and exalt him above all forever.

88Hananiah, Azariah, Mishael, bless the Lord;

praise and exalt him above all forever.

For he has delivered us from Sheol,

and saved us from the power of death;

He has freed us from the raging flame

and delivered us from the fire.

89Give thanks to the Lord, who is good,

whose mercy endures forever.

90Bless the God of gods, all you who fear the Lord;

praise and give thanks,

for his mercy endures forever.”

Deliverance from the Furnace.91Then King Nebuchadnezzar was startled and rose in haste, asking his counselors, “Did we not cast three men bound into the fire?” “Certainly, O king,” they answered.92“But,” he replied, “I see four men unbound and unhurt, walking in the fire, and the fourth looks like a son of God.”93Then Nebuchadnezzar came to the opening of the white-hot furnace and called: “Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, servants of the Most High God, come out.” Thereupon Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego came out of the fire.94When the satraps, prefects, governors, and counselors of the king came together, they saw that the fire had had no power over the bodies of these men; not a hair of their heads had been singed, nor were their garments altered; there was not even a smell of fire about them.95Nebuchadnezzar exclaimed, “Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who sent his angel to deliver the servants that trusted in him; they disobeyed the royal command and yielded their bodies rather than serve or worship any god except their own God.96Therefore I decree for nations and peoples of every language that whoever blasphemes the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego shall be cut to pieces and his house made into a refuse heap. For there is no other God who can rescue like this.”97Then the king promoted Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in the province of Babylon.98* King Nebuchadnezzar to the nations and peoples of every language, wherever they dwell on earth: May your peace abound!99It has seemed good to me to publish the signs and wonders which the Most High God has accomplished in my regard.

100How great are his signs, how mighty his wonders;

his kingship is an everlasting kingship,

and his dominion endures through all generations.b

I AM MORE CONSCIOUS OF THE GREEN OF THE TREES AND THE PASSIONATE COLORS OF THE SUNSET THAN BEFORE. I DON’T TAKE FOR GRANTED THE BLUE SKY, THE VARIETY OF GREEN TREES, THE ORANGE TREE IN MY FRONT YARD, OR THE SMELL OF THE NEW DAY AS I BEGIN TO SEEK GOD THAT DAY. ALL GIVE GLORY TO THE FATHER.

As I inch forwards toward Point Omega for me and the Alpha and Omega in the Christ Principle, what is important are not THINGS at all but the power of love as demonstrated by the Resurrection and Ascension.

uiodg

<span>%d</span> bloggers like this: