Author Archive

Henri Nouwen Daily Meditation

April 15, 2010

Reading Spiritually About Spiritual Things

Reading often means gathering information, acquiring new insight and knowledge, and mastering a new field. It can lead us to degrees, diplomas, and certificates. Spiritual reading, however, is different. It means not simply reading about spiritual things but also reading about spiritual things in a spiritual way. That requires a willingness not just to read but to be read, not just to master but to be mastered by words. As long as we read the Bible or a spiritual book simply to acquire knowledge, our reading does not help us in our spiritual lives. We can become very knowledgeable about spiritual matters without becoming truly spiritual people.

As we read spiritually about spiritual things, we open our hearts to God’s voice. Sometimes we must be willing to put down the book we are reading and just listen to what God is saying to us through its words.

From: Richard’s Daily Meditations

March 27, 2010


Question of the Day:
What fruit am I bearing?

We tend to manage life more than just live it. We are all over-stimulated and drowning in options. We are trained to be managers, to organize life, to make things happen. This is what is built into our culture, and probably into human nature. It is not all bad, but if you transfer that to the spiritual life, it is always heresy. It doesnt work. It is not gospel. We might be productive and popular, but we will not be spiritually fertile or free.

If Mary was trustfully, invisibly carrying Jesus during this time, it is because she knew how to receive and hold spiritual gifts quietly. She is probably the perfect image of how fertility and fruitfulness break into this world, by trusting our pure and given being, more than by any attempts at doing, performing, or achieving.

Adapted from Preparing for Christmas, pg. 31
(see also Preparing for Christmas (CD))

Here I am Lord;
I come to do Your will.

from: Richard (Rhor’s) Daily Meditation

March 9, 2010


Question of the Day:
What good is suffering?

Suffering is the necessary feeling of evil. If we dont feel evil we stand antiseptically apart from it, numb. We cant understand evil by thinking about it. The sin of much of our world is that we stand apart from pain; we buy our way out of the necessary pain of being human.

Jesus did not numb himself or withhold from pain, as we see even in his refusal of the numbing wine on the cross (Matthew 27:34). Some forms of suffering are necessary so that we know evil, so that we can name evil and confront it. Otherwise we somehow dance through this world and never really feel what is happening.

Brothers and sisters, the irony is not that God should feel so fiercely; its that his creatures feel so feebly. If there is nothing in your life to cry about, if there is nothing in your life to yell about, you must be out of touch. We must all feel and know the immense pain of humanity. The free space that God leads us into is to be able to feel the full spectrum, from great exaltation and joy, to the pain of mourning and dying and suffering. Then we are no longer isolated, but a true member of the universal Body of Christ.

God, help me find you,
even in suffering.

Adapted from Radical Grace: Daily Meditations, p. 209, day 218
(Source: Days of Renewal)

by Henri Nouwen Society

March 7, 2010

True Hospitality

Every good relationship between two or more people, whether it is friendship, marriage, or community, creates space where strangers can enter and become friends. Good relationships are hospitable. When we enter into a home and feel warmly welcomed, we will soon realise that the love among those who live in that home is what makes that welcome possible.

When there is conflict in the home, the guest is soon forced to choose sides. “Are you for him or for her?” “Do you agree with them or with us?” “Do you like him more than you do me?” These questions prevent true hospitality – that is, an opportunity for the stranger to feel safe and discover his or her own gifts. Hospitality is more than an expression of love for the guest. It is also and foremost an expression of love between the hosts.

God Calling-Mar. 3rd

March 3, 2010

Grow Like Me

Think of Me. Look at Me often, and unconsciously you will grow like Me.
You may never see it. The nearer you get to Me, the more will you see your unlikeness to Me. So be comforted my children.
Your very deep sense of failure is a sure sign that you are growing nearer to Me. And if you desire to help others to Me, then that prayer-desire is answered.
Remember too, it is only struggle that hurts. In sloth, spiritual, or mental, or physical, there is no sense of failure or discomfort, but with action, with effort, you are conscious not of strength but of weakness–at least, at first.
That again is a sign of Life, of spiritual growth.
And remember, My Strength is made perfect in weakness.

Richard Rhor’s Daily Meditation

February 26, 2010


Question of the Day:
What does worshiping Jesus as the scapegoat teach us?

Christianity is the only religion in the world that worships a scapegoat figure as God. Its really quite amazing that we worship a visible victim rather than an apparent victor. (Catholic art never hid the scandal here!)

In worshiping the scapegoat, we should gradually learn to stop scapegoating, because we could be utterly wrong, just as church and state, high priest and king, Jerusalem and Rome, the highest levels of power were utterly wrong in the death of Jesus. He was the one that many of us call the most perfect man who ever lived, and yet they all missed the point. That should give us some healthy humility about how wrong power can be, and how wrong all of us can be.

If the highest levels of power can be that wrong, then be most careful whom you decide to hate, kill, exclude, and diminish. Power and authority are not always good guides, if we are to judge by much of human history. For many, if not most people, any authority takes away all of their anxiety, and often their own responsibility to form a mature conscience themselves.

Adapted from Things Hidden: Scripture as Spirituality, p. 194

Jesus, help me absorb
and transform evil.

Richard Rhor’s Daily Meditation

February 23, 2010


Question of the Day:
How do I stand against hate without becoming hate myself?

So we will pose the great spiritual problem in this way, How do I stand against hate without becoming hate myself?

We would all agree that evil is to be rejected and overcome; the only question is, how? How can we stand against evil without becoming a mirrorbut deniedimage of the same? That is often the heart of the matter, and in my experience is resolved successfully by a very small portion of people, even though it is quite clearly resolved in the life, death and teaching of Jesus.

Jesus gives us a totally different way of dealing with evilabsorbing it in God (which is the real meaning of the suffering body of Jesus) instead of attacking it outside and in others. It is undoubtedly the most counter-intuitive theme of the entire Bible. It demands real enlightenment and conversion for almost all of us.

Adapted from Things Hidden: Scripture as Spirituality, pp. 143, 145

Jesus, help me absorb
and transform evil.

Richard Rhor’s Daily Meditations

February 22, 2010


Question of the Day:
How does dualistic thinking create violent people?

We Christians, who dare to worship the scapegoat, Jesus, became many times in history the primary scapegoaters ourselvesof Jews, heretics, sinners, witches, homosexuals, the poor, the natives in the New World, slaves, other denominations, and other religions. Its rather hard to believe that we missed such a central message.

The pattern of exporting our evil elsewhere, and righteously hating it there, with impunity, is in the hardwiring of all peoples. After all, our religious task is to separate from evil, isnt it? That is the well-disguised lie! Any exclusionary process of thinking, any exclusively dualistic thinking, will always create violent and hateful people on some level.

This I state as an absolute, and precisely because the cross revealed it to me. The crucifixion scene is our standing icon stating both the problem and the solution for all of history.

Adapted from Things Hidden: Scripture as Spirituality, p. 143

Jesus, help me absorb
and transform evil.

Richard’s Daily Mediatations

February 21, 2010


Question of the Day:
Whom do I scapegoat?

On the Day of Atonement (see Leviticus 16:21-22) a goat was brought into the sanctuary. The high priest would lay his hands on the goat and all the sins and failures of the people from the last year were ceremonially laid on the goat, and the goat was sent out into the desert to die. The assumption here is that evil can be expelled elsewhere, and the goal of religion is personal purity.

What immediately follows from the scapegoat story (the escaping goat) of Leviticus 16 is what is called The Law of Holiness (Leviticus 17-27), which largely defines holiness as separation from evilwhich is exactly what they had just ritualized. In general, this is the pattern of most first-stage religion.

Three thousand years later, human consciousness hasnt moved a great deal beyond that, despite the message of the cross. Jesus does not define holiness as separation from evil as much as absorption and transformation of it, wherein I pay the price instead of always asking others to pay the price.

From the cross, Jesus is shouting to history, No more scapegoats! Look how wrong you can be.

Adapted from Things Hidden: Scripture as Spirituality, p. 142

Jesus, help me absorb
and transform evil.

Richard Rhor’s Daily Meditations

February 20, 2010


Question of the Day:
Where do I find meaning?

The spirituality behind the Twelve-Step Program of Alcoholics Anonymous is a low Church approach to evangelization and healing that is probably our only hope in a suffering world of six-and-a-half billion people.

Our suffering is psychological, relational and addictive: the suffering of people who are comfortable on the outside but oppressed and empty within. It is a crisis of meaninglessness, which leads us to try to find meaning in possessions, perks, prestige and power, which are always outside of the self. It doesnt work. So we turn to ingesting food, drink or drugs, and we become mass consumers to fill the empty hole within.

The Twelve-Step Program walks us back out of our addictive society. Like all steps toward truth and Spirit, they lead us downward. Bill Wilson and his A.A. movement have shown us that the real power is when we no longer seek, need or abuse outer power because we have found real power within. They rightly call it our Higher Power.

From Radical Grace: Daily Meditations, p. 315, day 327
(Source: Radical Grace, The Twelve Steps: An Amazing Gift of the Spirit)

Jesus said, Follow me.