This picture of our mission church is not true to its appearance at this time of year. First, the sun visits in a spectacular way; the picture of the church on the right side bar of this blog shows what that looks like. Second, during the Christmas season some of the pews are moved to make room for our living creche, "living" because Fr. Ed's adopted black feral cat, Phinean, and the parish's adopted white feral cat, Suli, are frequently found curled up, sleeping, among the artificial sheep. We rarely have a mass without one or the other in the creche. It is part of what makes this historic mission town charming.
I completed the book of Deuteronomy this week. It seemed rather repetitive. I guess I am not the only one God has to remind frequently of what I should do.
The description of Moses's death was interesting to me if for no other reason than I have climbed Mt. Nebo many times, seeing on a good day the Promised Land, as did Moses, and on a cloudy day nothing but the valley in which Moses is buried albeit it no one knows exactly where. Having slept in the wilderness of the Old Testament, swum in the Sea of Arabia (known today as the Dead Sea -- bobbed would be more accurate since it is not possible to swim normally there), lived among the contemporary Ammonites, and crossed the Jordan River on a regular basis over a two-year period, the descriptions of the wanderings of the Jews and their sallying forth into the Promised Land seem almost like a description of the various deeds of a past that is knowable. These are not esoteric places from some kind of "book" that I am reading. They are real places that I have been blessed to experience as a routine part of my life.
While I enjoyed reading through this history, nothing "hit" me until I reached the first chapter of Joshua, verse 8. It seemed like a nondescript enough verse, but it hit me between the eyes: "This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth, but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein; for then thou shalt make thy ways prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success."
Reading: Joshua 1:8
Meditation: God has been uncommonly kind to me since the time that He clobbered me over the head to get my attention to the matter that He really does exist. Since then, it has been a rare moment when I have not felt His presence. Feeling His presence, however, is a very different thing from meditating on His words. Meditating on His words turns monologue into dialogue.
Monologue is when I ask for help, offer thanks, sing praises. Monologue is about my relationship to God.
Dialogue comes from listening -- to that still small voice, to the words of God coming from another person, to scripture read aloud, and so on. Dialogue also comes from reading scripture and meditating on, from lectio divina, from images that God sends in answer to questioning prayer, and to observing actions that also come as answer to prayer. Dialogue is not about my relationship to God; dialogue is about God and me together, our relationship.
Meditating day and night can make constantly being in the presence of God even more meaningful. I gather great comfort, especially when chaos and promised disaster are raining down upon me at work in particular, in sensing the presence of God and knowing that I always have somewhere to turn for help. That is God keeping His promise to me. Meditating on His word is my keeping my promise to Him. So far, He has done the better job! So, this verse, as I said earlier, hit me between the eyes, and I have resolved to hold up my end of the relationship better in 2010. (Hm, that sounds like it could be a good New Year's Resolution.)
And that is far as I can go with you on this Monday morning. I must retire to prayer to repent for letting God do so much more work than I in this wonderful relationship He has accorded me (i.e. all of us who want it), to thank God for His uncommon kindness in this respect, to give praise for His supernaturally incredible way of breaking through the mundanities of life to appear right beside me just as I need Him. After that, I will spend time in contemplation, developing the dialogue that I do crave even when I seem to get distracted by daily trifles and devolve into one-way prayer.
I will now leave you to your prayer and contemplation, but first, I would like to bring to your attention a Monday morning prayer post that you might enjoy:
Fr. Austin Fleming, priest of the Archdiocese of Boston and pastor in Concord, Massachusetts, posts a prayer each Monday morning that he calls "Monday Morning Offering." I enjoy his prayers very much. I hope you also will find them inspirational. He has graciously given me permission to include a link to his blog on my Monday Morning Meditation posts.
For additional inspiration throughout the week, I would point out two sets of blogs: (1) the list of devotional blogs that follow the enumeration of Monday Morning Meditations on the sidebar of this blog and (2) my blogroll, where I am following a number of inspirational priests and writers about spiritual matters. I learn so very much from all these people. I highly recommend them to you.
Sorry for the somewhat late posting. I fell asleep while writing this in the wee hours of the morning, then had a videoconference at work (one of those daily trifles that distract?), so had to do my morning meditation following the noon Mass and before heading off for some medical tests. There was time enough for a brief morning prayer before work (monologue again!). I do prefer the wee hours of the morning for contemplation. They are more peaceful, but as the verse says, "meditate day and night!"