WEEKLY PRAYER

A prayer from Mechthild of Magdeburg (ca. 1210 – ca. 1285):

Heavenly Father, thank you for creating me.
Jesus Christ, thank You for saving me.
Holy Spirit, thank You for making me clean.

Holy Trinity—whole and undivided—remember my days
of trusting in You,
and send me a merciful death
that frees me from all worry.

Into Your capable hands I commend my spirit.

Source

CONTEMPLATIVE PROFILE: HADEWIJCH OF ANTWERP ON LOVE’S TRUTH

Today I bring you another poem form the medieval mystic Hadewijch of Antwerp. In her spiritual love poetry, Hadewijch expresses both the agony and the beauty of serving love, that is, God’s love.

In this excerpt from Poem 28, Hadewijch wrestles with the power of love, which can both destroy and raise up. She also asks the question, what do you do when you just can’t go on, when you’ve reached the end of the road and you can’t love anymore? Read Hadewijch’s poem for her honest take on God’s love.

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For this is love’s truth: she joins two in one being, makes sweet sour, strangers neighbors, and the lowly noble.

 

She makes the healthy sick and the sick healthy; she cripples those who are sound of limb and heals the wounded.

 

To the ignorant she reveals the wide roads they must wander in weariness and teaches them all that shall be learned in the school of highest love.

 

Burning desire is taught in the school of highest love.

 

She confounds the experienced, she brings happiness to the wretched, she makes them lords of all over which love herself holds sway.

 

Of this I am certain beyond all doubt.

 

To those who can serve love no more I give this good advice.

 

Let them still beg for her comfort if they falter and serve her with devotion according to her highest counsel.

 

Let them think how great love’s power is, for only those near to death cannot be healed.

 

They have risen high that have received love’s power, and in that power they shall read her judgment over them.

*****

Source

For reflection:

Hadewijch - love's truth

 

CONTEMPLATIVE PROFILE: THE POETRY OF HADEWIJCH OF ANTWERP

A few months ago, we dipped into one of the letters of Hadewijch of Antwerp, a thirteenth-century mystic who was probably a beguine. Hadewijch wrote many letters and is also well known for her spiritual love poetry. In her poems, love is personified and is to be understood as God’s love, which consumes all things and which fills the lover with a terrible and wonderful longing.

Sometimes poetry can help us approach our faith with new eyes. So today, let’s read one of Hadewijch’s poems. In Poem 8 below, Hadewijch speaks of the the “awesome calling” of being in love and also of its responsibilities and rewards.

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Poem 8

Born is the new season as the old one that lasted so long is drawing to a close.
Those prepared to do love’s service will receive her rewards: new comfort and new   strength.
If they love her with the vigor of love, they will soon be one with love in love.

To be one with love is an awesome calling and those who long for it should spare no effort.
Beyond all reason they will give their all and go through all.
For love dwells so deep in the womb of the Father that her power will unfold only to those who serve her with utter devotion.

First the lover must learn charity and keep God’s law.
Then he shall be blessed a hundredfold, and he shall do great things without great effort, and bear all pain without suffering.
And so his life will surpass human reason indeed.

Those who long to be one with love achieve great things, and shirk no effort.
They shall be strong and capable of any task that will win them the love of love, to help the sick or the healthy, the blind, the crippled or the wounded.
For this is what the lover owes to love.

He shall help the strangers and give to the poor and soothe the suffering whenever he can.
He shall pay loyal service to God’s friends, to saints and men, with a strength that is not human, by night and by day.
And when his strength seems to falter he will still place his trust in love.

Those who trust in love with all their being shall be given all they need.
For she brings comfort to the sad and guidance to those who cannot read.
Love will be pleased with the lover if he accepts no other comfort and trusts in her alone.

Those who desire to live in love alone with all their might and heart shall so dispose all things that they shall soon possess her all.

Source

For reflection

hadewijch - one with love2

CONTEMPLATIVE PROFILE: PRAYING FOR THE WORLD WITH AELRED OF RIEVAULX

 
Aelred of Rievaulx
Aelred of Rievaulx (c. 1110 – 1167) was an English Cisterician monk and the abbot of Rievaulx Abbey in Yorkshire. In honor of his feast day tomorrow (January 12), I wanted to share with you a beautiful passage in one of Aelred’s works, The Rule for a Recluse. In this passage, Aelred explains to his readers how to pray for a world in need. I think you’ll agree that his thoughts seem especially appropriate in our day and age.

 

 

Praying for the World

What is more useful than prayer? Give it. What is more gracious than pity? Spend it. Hold the whole world in one embrace of love; consider the good to congratulate them, the wicked to grieve over them; behold the afflicted and compassionate the oppressed; call to mind the miseries of the poor, the groans of orphans, the desolation of widows, the sorrows of those who weep, the needs of pilgrims, the vows of virgins, the perils of men on the sea, the temptation of monks, the cares of the clergy, the hardships that soldiers endure. Open your heart to all, spend your tears on them, pour forth your prayers for them.

Source: De Institutione Inclusarum of Ailred of Rievaulx. Ed. C. H. Talbot. Editiones Cistercienses, 1951.

WEEKLY PRAYER

A prayer from St. Catherine of Genoa (1447-1510):

Lord, I give myself to You as a present.
I don’t otherwise know what to do with
who I am.
So please let me exchange this weak and fragile self
for Your goodness.
I place it in Your hands.

You’re the only one who can hide it in Your love and so rule
over me.
Busy me so much with Your kind Self
I’ll have no time or place or inclination for anything or
anyone else.

Source

CONTEMPLATIVE PROFILE: ST. AUGUSTINE ON THE INCARNATION

Today we have a beautiful meditation on the Incarnation from St. Augustine. In this passage from one of his Christmas sermons, Augustine reflects on the many names for Christ and reveals the tension inherent in the Word made flesh. I invite you to read and revel in the paradox of the Ruler of the Stars who nursed at his mother’s breast.

Man’s maker was made man,
that He, Ruler of the stars, might nurse at His mother’s breasts;
that the Bread might be hungry,
the Fountain thirst,
the Light sleep,
the Way be tired from the journey;
that the Truth might be accused by false witness,
the Judge of the living and the dead be judged by a mortal judge,
Justice be sentenced by the unjust,
the Teacher be beaten with whips,
the Vine be crowned with thorns,
the Foundation be suspended on wood;
that Strength might be made weak,
that He who makes well might be wounded;
that Life might die.

 

He was made man to suffer these and similar undeserved things for us, that He might free us who were undeserving . . .

Sermon 191.1 (source)

CONTEMPLATIVE PROFILE: CATHERINE OF SIENA ON THE JOURNEY OF ADVENT

Around 1377/78, the Italian mystic Catherine of Siena (1347-1380) wrote her spiritual treatise, The Dialogue. Throughout this treatise, she emphasizes Christ’s poverty and his humility in choosing to come to earth as a man. Catherine gives examples of Christ’s humility from major events in his life. Her reflection on Christ’s birth provides a wonderful way for us to journey through the Advent season.

In this section of text, God is speaking to the soul (and to us, the reader):

You see this gentle loving Word born in a stable while Mary was on a journey, to show you pilgrims how you should be constantly born anew in the stable of self-knowledge, where by grace you will find me born within your soul. You see him lying among the animals, in such poverty that Mary had nothing to cover him up with. It was winter, and she kept him warm with the animals’ breath and a blanket of hay. He is the fire of charity but he chose to endure the cold in his humanity.

I love the way this text refers to us as pilgrims–as God’s people, we are on a journey through this season of expectation. How is your pilgrimage through Advent going? Are you ready to be born anew?

Read The Dialogue here.

For Reflection:

Catherine of Siena - Advent

 

CONTEMPLATIVE PROFILE: HADEWIJCH OF ANTWERP

Last week, we looked at an extraordinary passage in a letter by the Flemish mystic Hadewijch of Antwerp. In her letter, Hadewijch said that most of us think we should get a reward – from God or from other people – for carrying the cross with Christ:

We do not live with Christ, and we do not carry that cross with the Son of God, but we carry it with Simon who received pay because he carried our Lord’s cross (Matt. 27:32).

This passage really made me think. How often do I say, “Do you see, God, everything that I’m doing for you? Have you noticed how hard I’m working?” How often do I hope that other people notice (just a little bit) how spiritual or helpful or humble I am? Pretty often, it turns out. But if we’re seeking recognition for carrying the cross, we’re not really being crucified with Christ. There’s only one reason to carry the cross, Hadewijch says, and that is for love.

That cross which we must bear with the Son of the living God is the sweet exile that we bear for the sake of veritable Love, during which we must await with longing confidence the festival when Love shall manifest herself and reveal her noble power and rich omnipotence on earth and in heaven. In this she shows herself so unreservedly to him who loves that she makes him beside himself; she robs him of heart and mind, and causes him to die to himself and live in devotion to veritable Love.

Love – and not external rewards – is what makes us willing to suffer with Christ and also to do good works:

And thus we must always persevere with renewed ardor: with hands ever ready for all works in which virtue is practiced, our will ready for all virtues in which Love is honored, without other intention than to render Love her proper place in man, and in all creatures according to their due. This is to be crucified with Christ . . .

Have you been crucified with Christ today?

CONTEMPLATIVE PROFILE: HADEWIJCH OF ANTWERP

Hadewijch of Antwerp was a writer, poet, and mystic of the thirteenth century. Not much is known about her life. She lived in present-day Belgium, wrote in Middle Dutch, and was probably part of a beguine community.

In her works, Hadewijch wrote frequently about love and about Christ’s humanity. But she wasn’t afraid of showing a little fire, too. In a letter addressed (probably) to a woman in a beguine community, she wrote about the God complex so many people have. When we have a God complex, we want God’s glory and divinity but not his humanity. This has grave consequences, for it means we’re not willing to suffer as Christ suffered. Hadewijch writes:

[P]eople wish to live with God in consolations and repose, in wealth and power, and to share the fruition of his glory. We all indeed wish to be God with God, but God knows there are few of us who want to live as men with his Humanity, or want to carry his cross with him, or want to hang on the cross with him and pay humanity’s debt to the full. Indeed we can rightly discern this as regards ourselves, in that we are so little able to hold out against suffering in all respects. An unexpected sorrow, though slight, goes to our heart; or a slander, or a lie that people tell about us; or someone’s robbing us of our honor, or our rest, or our own will: How quickly and deeply any of this wounds us all!

By this we show plainly that we do not live with Christ as he lived; neither do we forsake all as Christ did, nor are we forsaken by all as Christ was . . . We do not live with Christ, and we do not carry that cross with the Son of God, but we carry it with Simon who received pay because he carried our Lord’s cross (Matt. 27:32).

I’m really struck by Hadewijch’s comment that we carry the cross for pay – we’re always looking to get paid, either by earning God’s favor or the regard of other people:

We hold in great esteem what we do or suffer for him, and we never resign ourselves to being left without recompense, or without knowing and feeling that it pleases God; we very quickly accept from him pay in the hand, namely satisfaction and repose; we also accept pay a second time in our self-complacency; and a third time, when we are satisfied that we have pleased others, and we accept commendation, honor, and praise from them.

Did you catch that? We get paid three times for carrying Christ’s cross! That, at least, is the temptation. If we don’t (or, rather, shouldn’t) carry this cross for pay, why should we do it? How do we carry the cross with Christ rather than with Simon? We’ll look at Hadewijch’s answer next week.

Until then, think on what Hadewijch said and reflect on this quesion: what kind of pay have you accepted for carrying Christ’s cross this week?

 

 

FRIDAY FAVORITES FOR PRAYER AND WRITING

Each Friday I share some of my favorite finds related to praying or writing. If I think it could help you pray or write better, or just “be” better, I’ll include it below. I’m extremely encouraged by this week’s favorites, which include the writings of a medieval mystic, reflections on the psalms, a reading list, and encouraging words for some of the difficult paths we find ourselves on in life.

Do you have someone else’s article or post to share? Find me on Twitter (@LisaKDeam) to nominate your favorite articles, blog posts, and books by Thursday at noon each week.

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“And then we shall all come into our Lord, knowing ourselves clearly and wholly possessing God” via Fr Aidan Kimel (a beautiful passage from Julian of Norwich)

Ordinary Saints via Father SJMC (a liturgical poem that might convince you that *you* are a saint)

The Secret to Praying During Horrible Times via Kate Bowler (how do we pray when our souls have been pummeled by tragedy?)

5 Reasons to be Inspired by Psalm 111 via April Yamasaki (be inspired by this Psalm of thanksgiving)

How to walk in another person’s shoes by Sharon R. Hoover (check out this awesome book list!)

Cancer Does Not Have the Final Say via Redbud Writers Guild (read these hopeful articles in the October issue of The Redbud Post)

What It Means to Be a Writer – and To Emerge as a Writer via Albert Flynn DeSilver (an extremely helpful and encouraging guest post at Jane Friedman’s site)