Posted in Divine Revelation, Spiritual Direction, Spiritual Formation, Spiritual Practices

Is There Any Truth in Scripture?

In a word:  YES, but not in the way many religious institutions would have us believe.  While some (many) have used the Bible to manipulate the masses and to put forth their own hidden (or sometimes not so hidden) agendas, this is not how scripture proves relevant to us today.  I should probably qualify that statement….if our desire is for separation, then using the Bible to put forth dogma, justify separative actions, or to sell the story of a God who wants you to be wealthy, then that is how one will use the Bible.  If, however, our desire is for unity and for humanity to come together in harmony with one another, then we are required to approach scripture in a different way.

While the Bible is the inspired word of God (Truth, Love, The Divine, by whatever name you call the Source and Revelation of all that is), so too is every example of the written word.  As we become increasingly aware of the wisdom traditions and sacred writings of other cultures, we discover an abundantly flowing wellspring of wisdom.  As the Western world grows increasingly disenchanted with institutional Christianity and discovers the compassionate teachings of our friends in the East or from the Native people who were here before the European invasion, the temptation is to exchange the traditions in which we were raised for these “new age ideas.”  The problem is that there is nothing “new” about New Age, neither is there something unique in Buddhism, Hinduism, Zen, Paganism, or Native traditions that we cannot find in our own traditions.

This is where the rich tradition of Christian contemplative practices proves helpful.  (Note:  there is also nothing unique to the tradition of Christian contemplative practices, expressions of all the practices we call “Christian” can be found in the Jewish faith out of which Christianity emerged, and also within the spiritual practices of the cultures in which Judaism was immersed.) With these practices, we can approach scripture through the lens of inquiry and as a tool through which we can discover and discern our own truth.  In this way, scripture acts like a mirror, reflecting the guidance, insights, learning, comfort and healing we need in the present moment.  Whether we think of God as the Divine Source of all that is, or as a reflection of our highest self, when applying contemplative practices to scripture, “God” is providing us with what we need.  It is through these contemplative practices that we come to know the God of our own understanding while at the same time coming to know ourselves.  In this way, scripture is can be our teacher, our source of guidance and direction, our healer, our counselor and our comforter.

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Posted in church, Mary Magdalene, Mystics

Call of the Magdalene

In my email on Sunday in regards to Sunday’s blog, I received the following response from a reader of the masculine persuasion who I have come to know as somewhat of a wise and wonderful wizard:

Greetings Lauri, nicely done. On that morning, the messenger was a woman, sent to awaken the men. 

We should have learned from that story not to be afraid, to be calm and to change the world! 

I could not have said it better myself and in these words, we get a glimpse into what it means to have received the call of the Magdalene!

Yesterday, I wrote about some of the common characteristics of men and women who have received the call of the Magdalene.  Today, I hope to flesh out what the call of the Magdalene looks like and if you have received the Magdalene’s call, what that might mean in your life.

MaryMagdalene

Who Was Mary Magdalene

Mary Magdalene was a close and intimate disciple of Jesus.  Mary was NOT the adulterous or sinful woman portrayed in scripture – Pope Gregory, something or other, made a mistake when he preached on this, thereby sealing Mary’s fate in the institutional church.  But, the demise of Mary probably didn’t start there!  Canonical scripture (the ones that made the cut) tells us that Mary was healed of seven demons by Jesus.  Modern scholars suggest that the seven demons metaphorically represent a process of spiritual healing and initiation completed by Mary and facilitated by Jesus.  Canonical scripture also tells us that Mary accompanied Jesus in his ministry and supported him and that she bore witness to his death by crucifixion (unlike the male disciples, with the exception of John, who hid in the Upper Room in fear) and that she was the first witness to the resurrection and the one commissioned to bring the news of the crucifixion to the other disciples.  Non-canonical scripture tells us that Mary was much more than even this.  In the Gospel of Mary and the Gospel of Philip, along with the Pistis Sophia, Mary was shown to have been kissed by Jesus, suggesting a the possibility of a romantically intimate relationship and that she received secret teachings from Jesus that the other disciples were not privy to.  In the Gospel of Mary, in particular, Mary demonstrates higher levels of receptiveness and understanding, compared to the other disciples, and that Jesus appeared to her for instruction that the other disciples did not have access to.  These writings also reveal that Peter was jealous of Mary and her relationship with Jesus and that he struggled to accept Mary’s words, often refusing outright to do so.

MaryMagdaleneicon

Reading Between the Lines

Reading between the lines, what this conflict between Mary and Peter hints at is the origin of the split between the Mystical and Institutional church – Mary representing the mystical church and Peter the institutional.  The Mystical Church seeks to know God through direct and personal experience, most commonly through contemplative prayer and meditation practices and trusting these direct and personal experiences as authority.  We see glimpses of the Mystical Church within religious orders who have guarded and maintained the ancient traditions of contemplative prayer and in priests and lay people who have heard and adhered to the inner call to contemplation – regardless of their specific religious affiliation, or lack thereof.  In the simplest terms, the Institutional Church seeks to know God through tradition and dogma as handed down by the pope and his bishops.  Here, authority lies in the hands of single, (mostly) white, men.

History of the Mystical Church

There have been no direct histories written about the Mystical Church because the Institutional Church, for the most part, denies its existence.  In order to see the history of the Mystical Church, we have to read between the lines.  In spite of the attempts of popes and bishops to suppress the Mystical Church, it has always lived within the shadow of the Institution  – usually presenting itself strongly in times of grave peril within the Institutional Church when dramatic reform was needed.  The Mystical Church as been seen in the prayers of the Desert Mothers and Fathers, in the radical nature of the Franciscan call as pioneered by Sts. Francis and Clare, in the mystical visions of Hildegard of Bingen and promoted by her spiritual companion Brother Volmar, and through the ecstasies of St. Teresa of Avila and the writings of her spiritual brother, John of the Cross. (Interesting that the Mystical Church often presents itself in pairs!)

MaryMagicon

The Mystical Church Awakens

We have arrived in a time in history when the Mystical Church is trying to rise again, this time, not in order to change the Church, but instead, so that it may change the world (PS Pope Francis might be part of the Mystical Church!)!  As the wise wizard stated above, it is time to awaken, to cast off our fear, to be calm and do the work of changing the world!  It is for this reason that the Magdalene has planted herself within the hearts and minds of so many men and women.  She is calling us to awaken, to do the work Jesus asked us to do, not because some institution told us to, but because we have heard the call directly from Christ (by whatever name you call the inner voice of compassion and love) and because we are choosing to obey the voice in our hearts and in our minds that commands us to:

Love one another.

Feed the hungry.

Clothe the naked.

Set captives free.

Heal the sick.

Give sight to the blind.

If you find yourself called to accomplish any of the above, if you consider this drive to love and serve as part of your innate nature, then, regardless of your religious affiliation (or lack thereof) you have received the call of the Magdalene.  You are already awakened, now cast off your fear, cultivate peace and start changing the world!  🙂

Posted in Jesus, Mary Magdalene

Be the Magdalene

For the past week, there are three words that have been ringing in my ears and chasing around in my mind, trying to find their root somewhere in my being.  These three words have haunted me for many, many years, but have become even more present thanks to a spiritual journey in which I had the recent gift of participating.  The words spoken directly to me were:

Be the Magdalene!

I believe these words are for me, AND I believe they are for a great number of women and men who have been touched by the person of the Magdalene and perhaps by her very intimate presence.  If you are reading this blog and these words pull at your heartstrings or strike within you a chord of remembrance, you are indeed one of those people!

Lauri as Mary Magdalene by Catherine E. Case
Lauri as Mary Magdalene by Catherine E. Case

It has been my experience, that the men and women for whom these words are intended, bear some strikingly similar characteristics and interests:

  • You have a close, intimate, familiar relationship with Jesus, or you long to have this relationship.
  • You have had direct, personal experiences of Jesus through your meditation, imagination and prayer.
  • You have a feeling of having known Jesus in a very real, lived experience – like you walked with him as one of his disciples.
  • You yearn to know more of Jesus, specifically, you want to know the REAL Jesus, not the one cooked up in someone else’s doctrine.
  • You seem to have an intuitive sense about certain Church teachings as being wrong or inaccurate.
  • Your relationship with Jesus may border on romantic (and you find yourself drawn to images of “Hot Jesus”).
  • The Jesus you know is one of compassion and love, with a little bit of fiery passion.
  • The knowledge that you have of Jesus and his teachings came through your own direct experiences with Jesus, or on meditative reflection on scripture – again, not through someone else’s doctrine (though it may have started there).
  • You have had a strong sense that Mary Magdalene played a much bigger role in Jesus’ life and ministry than how it is portrayed in canonical scripture.
  • You intuitively feel/felt that Mary Magdalene was NOT the adulterous or sinful woman as some have interpreted her as being.
  • You may have found books on the Magdalene falling into your hands, or you pursued them yourself (recommended reading list below!).
  • You might believe that Mary Magdalene and Jesus had more than just a teacher/disciple relationship, that she may even have been Jesus’ wife and that she may have co-ministered beside him.
  • When you read DaVinci Code, your response was, “DUH!”  🙂
  • In this life, you find yourself drawn toward mysticism, contemplative prayer, healing and service.
  • If you live in the Western world, the way you desire to live your life differs markedly from traditional Western values. Status, money, power, fame, wealth, the accumulation of things are not of interest to you.

If much of the above resonates with you, then congratulations, you have received the call of the Magdalene, and I share this with you today because it is time for the Magdalenes to wake up!  It is time for those who have been called by the Magdalene to BE THE MAGDALENE!  Now you may ask, what does that mean?  What does it mean to BE THE MAGDALENE?  Stay tuned for tomorrow’s blog to find out!  In the meantime, below is a recommended reading list to get you started!  🙂

By Jean-Yves LeLoup:

The Gospel of Mary, The Gospel of Philip, The Gospel of Thomas, The Sacred Embrace

By Karen L. King:

The Gospel of Mary of Magdala

By Violet MacDermot:

The Fall of Sophia

By Susan Haskins:

Mary Magdalene – Myth and Metaphor

 

 

Posted in Authentic Freedom, Jesus, Raised Catholic

New Hope, New Vision, New Church – Part 2

Today’s blog looks on in hopefulness over the actions of the new pope, Francis,  and  continues the explorations of how the Catholic Church might embrace a spirit of reconciliation and reform.  (See Part 1 here)

samdamiano

If there’s no original sin, then why do we need Jesus?

If, in an effort to create reform and thereby reconcile themselves to the millions of Catholic who have left (either because they no longer felt welcome by the Church, or found in it relevant to their own lives), the Catholic Church should change its position on original sin, the first question that comes up is, If there’s no original sin, then why do we need Jesus?  Didn’t Jesus come to save us from our sins?  From an alternative perspective on original sin as core wound, the answer is yes and no.  Yes, Jesus came to save us from our sins, but not in the way that we have formerly been taught.  If we understand the core wound, the false perception of separation from God as the consequence of choosing the human condition, then at least as long as we are in this body, we will mostly see and experiences ourselves as separate – separate from God, from ourselves, from creation and from each other.  In this state of perceived separation, we feel alone, abandoned, afraid.  Jesus came to save us from the pain of this perceived separation.  In Jesus own process of human development, cultivated through years of study and prayer, he came to understand that this perceived separation is just that…only a perception… and that in truth, we are ONE with God….always have been and always will be…we just temporarily forgot.  Jesus learned that through a process of prayer, contemplation, ritual, devotion, worship and service that we can REMEMBER this Oneness with God and in that connection, be freed of the loneliness and fears that plague us and that ultimately result in our non-loving actions.  So yes….Jesus did save us from our sins…..by reminding us that God is love, that we are made in that love and that we are never separate from that love.  Then, he showed us how we too could remember the joyful contentment that comes through the recollection of that love and that by living in that love, our non-loving actions are no longer necessary.  This is how Jesus saves us from our sins.

What did Jesus teach us about remembering this Oneness?

Pretty much everything……but in my book, Authentic Freedom, I condense it down to seven spiritual truths:

  • God meets all of our needs in abundance
  • We are each uniquely gifted to embody, reveal and share God’s love in the world
  • There is nothing outside of us that can prevent us from being the person God created us to be
  • God is love and we are made of this love.  This love cannot be denied, neither does it have to be earned
  • The truth (or our oneness with God) will set us free, as will the expression of the personal truth(s) that God reveals for us
  • All wisdom, knowledge and understanding are available to us in our connection with God and is revealed to us in a time that is in our highest good
  • We are one with God, and therefore never alone

Through Jesus’ teachings, in parable, in experiences of healing, in modeling compassion and justice and in the fact that prayer was the center of his life, Jesus showed us how to live these truths.

But what about earning our way into heaven?

That’s just it.  If we believe that God is love, that we are made of this love and that this love does not have to be earned and cannot be taken away, then there is no heaven to be earned.  Yes, in death, we will have the opportunity to return to full recognition of our Oneness with God, and we might call that heaven, but, this experience of returning to Oneness in our death does not have to be earned.  The good news, however, is that we do not have to wait until we are dead to get a glimpse of this heavenly abode because what Jesus taught us about the kingdom of God/heaven is that it is at once within us and all around us.

Asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, he said in reply, “The coming of the kingdom of God cannot be observed, and no one will announce, ‘Look, here it is,’ or ‘There it is.’  For behold, the kingdom of God is within/among you.”     

Luke 17: 20-21

And then, Jesus gave us a formula for connecting with and remembering this place of joyful contentment within ourselves:

When you pray, go
into your inner room, close the door and pray to *Abwoon in secret.  And Abwoon who sees in secret will repay
you.  Abwoon knows what you need
before you ask.  This is how you are to pray.

Matthew 6:6

While we do not have knowledge of the exact methods of prayer Jesus used, these readings hint at one who has embraced a contemplative path.  Jesus went off by himself to pray, and went into his “inner room” where he found his connection with God.  This is the model that Jesus invites us to follow if we are to remember this Oneness for ourselves and live in the love that Jesus came to know.  In the Catholic tradition, we are fortunate for the men and women who came after Jesus and who developed formal practices of contemplative prayer that support us in this remembering.  As the Catholic Church moves forward in reform, I think that after leaving behind the doctrine of original sin, a reclamation of the contemplative practices of the Church and sharing them with the laity would be the next best step.  After that, let’s talk about reforming the sacraments as supportive of our recollection of God’s love instead of the way they are currently taught – as tickets we must purchase if we ever hope to enter into God’s loving embrace.

copyright Lauri Lumby 2013

* Abwoon is the name Jesus gave to his experience of God.  Abwoon can mean Father, and it also means much more than that.

Posted in Empowerment, Mary Magdalene, teachers

I Am the Magdalene

Today, I give witness to the mission I am called to accomplish in this life.  As you read these words, I invite you to reflect on how you are being called to be a vessel through which God’s love is made manifest in our world and under whose influence are you called to do so?

Mary Magdalene, by Robert Lenz

I AM the Magdalene

I am the Magdalene – this is what I am called to embody.  Called to be a vessel through which Jesus’ message of love is shared in the world, continuing his mission as he has called me to do.  Confident, uncompromising, strictly adhering to the truth of Oneness that Jesus came to reveal.

  • Through word and witness, teaching and preaching and by living Jesus’ law of love through devotion and prayer,  works of healing and counsel.
  • Modeling the same commitment to contemplative prayer that Jesus embraced – the vehicle through which he came to know his own Oneness with God and the tool he shared to help others come to know this truth.
  • Helping others find healing of the seven demons of fear that reinforce our perceived separation from God so that we may once again live in the peace and joy that God intended.
  • Guided by the Inner Voice of the Divine that speak truth to the heart.
  • Confident in God’s loving counsel.
  • Uncompromising in adherence to that Inner Voice.
  • Moving in Compassion and Love for all.
  • Patient and Trusting in Divine Providence.
  • On-Fire with God’s Love.
  • With Christ as my Beloved to accompany me.

I am the Magdalene, I in her, and she in me.

Lauri Lumby

Authentic Freedom Ministries

http://yourspiritualtruth.com

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Posted in About Lauri, Raised Catholic

Loving Being Catholic and What Went Wrong?

This is a continuation in the series on my discussion about being Catholic and a response to accusations that I have “left the church to start my own religion.”

The Question of What Went Wrong

So, if I loved being Catholic so much, and there are so many things about being Catholic that I still love and if Catholicism is in my blood and part of my bones, then why am I currently choosing to fast from the Eucharist and live as a “Catholic in Exile?”  What went wrong?  Contrary to what some might think, prior to the “what went wrong,” my eyes were open to the realities of the Institution of the Catholic Church.  I knew of the abuses against children (and women!), I knew of the corruption of the Institution, I knew of the power and control.  Prior to the “what went wrong,” I was able to stand as observer and for the most part, hold the Institution in compassion, recognizing that it is a human institution complete with human frailties and imperfections.  Of course my inner reformer would have to do her justice dance from time to time, but for the most part, I was able to stand in a place of trusting that the Holy Spirit was at work and that all that needed to be healed in the Institution would be healed in its own time.  I do have to admit, however, that my inner reformer saw herself as part of the healing.  I was determined to be a source of healing, transformation and support for the church (for the sake of the people of the church) that I loved.  For a long time, I found support for this call through my Pastor (Jeff VandenHeuvel), my Spiritual Director (Judy Miller) and both the Newman Center and St. Mary’s communities.  Then it all changed and it became personal.

Reiki

In the late 1980’s, I heard the call to pursue Reiki as a model of energy healing.  It was not until years later that I found my Reiki teachers, but I did find them and in all places….IN THE CATHOLIC CHURCH!!!!!   After years of searching for a Reiki teacher, I found two Catholic nuns who taught and practiced Reiki and for me, this was absolutely perfect.  I have always seen Reiki as a vehicle through which we are able to continue Jesus’ healing ministry in the world, and these teachers echoed my sentiments.  Eventually, I heard the call to include Reiki as part of my existing ministry in the Catholic Church and our new pastor supported me in this call.  Unfortunately, the fearful minority DID NOT!   Now, I’m going to own something RIGHT NOW!  I absolutely know that what I will now share with you is part of my pain story.  As my teacher, Julie Tallard Johnson, would remind me, all of what follows is a direct reflection of my pain story, “I am rejected.”

The Inquisition

So, in a nutshell…the fearful minority did not like the fact that I was doing Reiki.  In their words, “Reiki is not the truth, because it is only the truth if it is explicitly handed down by the magesterium.”  Ok, historically, this is not even an accurate statement (practice always precedes legislation), but it was what they believed.  Long story short, in their minds, I was “doing the work of the devil” and practicing “witchcraft and sorcery” and thanks to their efforts (and the efforts of others of the same mindset), the local bishop issued a prohibition statement against Reiki which basically echoed these very words.  Not only was I a target for the local self-appointed inquisition, now they had the papers to back them up.  But it wasn’t just Reiki that made them nervous, it was also the fact that I practiced and taught contemplative prayer.  “Isn’t Centering Prayer (the Catholic form of mindful meditation), dangerous?” one of these folks asked me in a class I was facilitating on Christian Prayer.  SIGH!  I thought long and hard about this question and realized the truth is YES – Centering prayer (and any contemplative practice for that matter) is dangerous BUT ONLY if you are afraid of discovering the truth – specifically the truth of your most authentic self and the truth of God’s unending and unconditional love.

Owning my Stuff

So, how did I respond to the local self-appointed inquisition?  I felt rejected.  My inner victim wailed, “How can they say these things about me?  Don’t they know I’m a good person?  God called me to these tools and I have found healing through them and have helped others also find healing?  If God called me to this, how can it be bad?”  In the end, I allowed these circumstances to break my heart.  When the new pastor challenged me for the very same reasons the local inquisition challenged me, I just couldn’t take anymore (nor did I need to).  So I quit.  I quit my ministry in the Catholic Church (for the second time) and I quit going to church.  In my mind, I could not attend mass presided over by a priest I knew did not support me and I could not share mass with those who I knew had led the local inquisition.  Was I being a baby in making that decision?  HHHHHHMMMMMM  I’m still processing that one.  What I do know, is that since leaving work in the institution, I have experienced expansion and growth around my ministry. My own inner creativity has exploded.  People in need of spiritual healing and comfort (especially “recovering Catholics) have found me and have found enormous healing, peace, comfort and affirmation of their own inner truths.  I have received, created and facilitate a formal process of spiritual formation for adults that is rooted in Jesus’ teachings, and speaks to people of all beliefs, faiths, etc.  Oh yea….and I’ve written three books (one coming out in April, the others are still looking for a publishing home) And, except for this one wound that still remains unhealed, I feel a deep and profound inner peace and contentment in where I am spiritually and professionally.  So, the invitation for me now is to transform this part of my pain story and ask myself how I can now see it through my current intention:  I receive everything as love. And…..the answer to that will have to wait for Monday’s blog!

Lauri Lumby

Authentic Freedom Ministries

http://yourspiritualtruth.com