Posted in Agape Project, Authentic Freedom, church, Jesus, Spiritual Practices, Virtual Church

Virtual Church Meditation Supplement – the Body and Blood of Christ

Please find below Agape’ meditation supplement for the Authentic Freedom Virtual Church for this coming Sunday, June 22, 2014, the feast of Corpus Christi.

 

Agape’ Meditation Practices Newsletter

Supplement to the Authentic Freedom Virtual Church Service

 

Scripture Reading:

Jesus said to the Jewish crowds: “I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world.” The Jews quarreled among themselves, saying, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” Jesus said to them, “Amen, amen, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day. For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him. Just as the living Father sent me and I have life because of the Father, so also the one who feeds on me will have life because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven. Unlike your ancestors who ate and still died, whoever eats this bread will live forever.”

John 6: 51-58

 

Additional Readings:

Dt 8: 2-3, 14b-16a

Ps 147: 12-13, 14-15, 19-20

1 Cor 10: 16-17

Embodying Christ
Embodying Christ

 

Eucharistic Theology

By the time the Gospel of John was written in around 95 – 100 C.E., the practice of breaking bread and sharing wine was already well established within the worship practices of the early Christian communities. In fact, these practices were so well established that the author of John did not even mention them in his/her retelling of the Last Supper (John Chapters 13 – 17). Instead, the author took this as an opportunity to provide a thorough meditative exploration of the meaning and purpose of the Eucharist. When Christians receive the bread and wine in the ritual of the Eucharist, we are participating in the very life of Christ. In other words, when we receive the Eucharist, we are agreeing to follow Jesus’ example, taking his teachings to heart and applying them in our lives and we are agreeing to continue his work in the world through the power of God’s grace. In taking in the Eucharist, we are taking in Christ and allowing him to live in and through us – becoming co-creators with him in bringing forth the fullness of love (the kingdom of God) in our world.

Where have you found meaning in the Eucharist?

If you are not participating in the public celebration of Eucharist, how are you “taking in Christ” so that he might live in and through you?

 

Spiritual Practices – Divine Reading

Set aside 20-30 minutes to enter into this meditation practice. You will be applying Lectio-Divina (divine reading) to your spiritual practice in the following way:

  1. Slowly and meditatively read the scripture above. As you are reading, look for a word or phrase that jumps out at you. Receive this word/phrase as God’s nourishment for you today.
  2. Meditate and reflect on that word or phrase. What might God be saying to you through these words? How might they apply to something currently going on in your life?
  3. Write your thoughts and reflections on that word or phrase in your journal or a notebook. Offer a response to God about what you have received.
  4. Sit in silence and allow this meditation to take root within you.

 

Authentic Freedom

In Authentic Freedom, we draw a connection between the seven sacred truths and the seven sacraments of the Catholic/Episcopal traditions. The Eucharist reminds us that in God, we have the fulfillment of all of our needs and that through God, all our needs are met in abundance. Or as Etienne Carpentier reminds us in his book, How to Read the New Testament (Crossroad Publishing, 1992):

“Whatever people ask him, Jesus had one answer, The Father (God). Where have you come from? God. Where are you going? God. What are you doing? The work of God, God’s will. What are you saying? Nothing of my own, but what I learned from God. (p. 100)”

It was in his strict adherence to God that Jesus found the truth of abundance, and it is to this same path that Jesus invites us.

 

How are you being invited to understand, like Jesus, that God is all there is – that you come from God, are returning to God?

How are you being invited, like Jesus, to look to God for guidance and direction and to follow only God’s will?  

How are you being invited to do God’s work in the world?

 

 

Posted in Gifts of Contemplation, Inspiration, Mystics

Seeking the Beloved – Guest Blogger Bob Russo

Today’s blog comes from reader, Bob Russo.  Raised Catholic and bothered with a soul that is discontent, Bob has found peace in the contemplative journey and the life of a mystic.  Thank you Bob for your inspiring words and humble witness.  (See Bob’s personal bio below)

BobRusso

Where does one begin to discuss a spiritual journey that from the “outside” has no particular appearance or definition?   I lead an ordinary life – going to work – doing stuff around the house – calling friends – viewing old Westerns with my wife – and watching an occasional football or baseball game.   As a youth, I played a lot of baseball.  Sports saved me, especially as a young boy with a lot of nervous energy.

But, behind the outer appearance has always been a soul discontent with “ordinary” reality – or a life experienced only within the confines of the ego or condition self.  From an early age, I sought quiet time alone – often sitting in church after school (I attended 12 years of Catholic School), not so much to pray, but to be still and listen to my surroundings.  I could hear the sparrows chirping in the distance and the peace they brought to my heart.

But, the real “kicker” began on a high school camping trip in the Sierra Nevada in 1970.  One evening, I slipped away from camp alone to view the vast expanse of the starry universe.  This was my first experience seeing space with such clarity – having been raised in the city.  While viewing, I felt a sense of “nothingness” – that all the so-called problems of life were just insignificant compared to the vastness of life that we really are!  I felt a kinship and oneness with this great universe of ours.  And, I felt an immense sense of relief of having to be “somebody” to be “something”.  The experience was short-lived but had a lasting impression on me.  I was 16 years old at the time.

All through these early years, I was a practicing Catholic – attending Mass regularly, going to confession, etc.  The Church was instrumental in laying a foundation for my spiritual life.  It gave roots to this tree that would spring forth into uncharted territory.

While living in Montana in 1974, and after having read the Gospel of John, I began to develop an interest in contemplative spirituality.   I felt this longing to experience God directly instead of just talking about the Divine.  At the time, there was no mystical tradition available to lay Catholics.  So, like many others from my generation, I sought the experience of God through Eastern mysticism, which was gaining much popularity in the West by the late 60s and early 70s.

In the winter of 1975, I decided to experiment with peyote as a means of reaching a state of altered conscious awareness.  With my good friend, Carl, on a sunny Saturday winter morning in Missoula, we decided to do our peyote experiment.  We took a small dose and then went for a walk through town in the fresh snow to enjoy the adventure.

Around 3 hours later, something happened to me.  It was as though my internal dialogue and “ego” consciousness were placed on hold.   I felt completely in the present moment with an open heart.  I felt a kinship with people I would see and the mountains around me.   I felt immense love for life – all was love!

After that experience, I had faith that this experience of love, brotherhood, and oneness could be found through the inner path to God – through deep prayer and meditation.  And, consequently, this has been my path to this day – although it has taken various forms and stages.

It has been a path of joy and equally so a path of tears, dryness, and longing.   I have had periods of deep questioning asking myself, “does God even exist and is this spiritual stuff just another big joke?”  “And, what do I know about any of this spiritual stuff anyway?”  The answer that came to me brought with it a sigh of relief – absolutely nothing – there is nothing to try and figure out!!

But, even during the “dark night” periods, I have felt this inner calling to continue with spiritual practice.  I have learned to forget about any “goals” and just show up –whether in meditation or present to outer life!  And, certainly, don’t take it all too seriously!

If I were to draw a conclusion on the contemplative life it would be that the journey is the path and destination all rolled into one.   Often times, the wounds in my life have been the gateway to further insights or what Father Richard Rohr refers to as “falling upward”.   It’s in those moments that the opportunity is given to let-go of the control switch and surrender to the unknown and to God.  This requires tremendous courage, which I have failed to embark upon on so many occasions.  But, rest assured, there is always another opportunity waiting in the “on-deck circle”!

And so, the longing continues and yet it is a welcomed sign today as opposed to something to attempt to get rid of.   In the past, I often wanted a teacher, technique or practice that would make that pain subside.  But perhaps the Sufis have it right in this regard – that longing is a gift that fuels us to our Beloved in the heart.  And, in this longing is an unexpected gift or signature from God reminding us of an agreement we made with him or her a long time ago?

And so the journey continues ….

Bob Russo has been a student of Eastern and Western contemplative practice since 1974.  He enjoys quiet time in Nature along with hiking, gardening, and an occasion day in the surf.  He has been happily married to his wife, Valerie, for 31 years.  Originally from the San Francisco Bay Area, he currently resides in Murrieta California.  He has recently been influenced by the writings and Men’s Rite of Passage program of Fr. Richard Rohr and the Sufi teachings as presented by Sufi teacher Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee.