Posted in Authentic Freedom, Jesus, temptation, The Seven Deadly Compulsions

Tempted to Misuse or Hide our Greatness

In anticipation of Ash Wednesday and the upcoming journey of Lent, I am sharing a copy of this week’s Authentic Freedom Empowerment Newsletter. If you find this to be a supportive and inspiring resource for your own journey of self-development, consider subscribing.  For only $20.00 per month, you receive a weekly resource for supporting your journey toward wholeness.  If you are interested, subscribe HERE. 

Authentic Freedom Academy

Weekly Empowerment Newsletter

Jesustempted by the devil

February 14, 2016. First Sunday in Lent

Filled with the Holy Spirit, Jesus returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the desert for forty days, to be tempted by the devil. He ate nothing during those days, and when they were over he was hungry. The devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become bread.” Jesus answered him, “It is written, One does not live on bread alone.” Then he took him up and showed him all the kingdoms of the world in a single instant. The devil said to him, “I shall give to you all this power and glory; for it has been handed over to me, and I may give it to whomever I wish. All this will be yours, if you worship me.” Jesus said to him in reply, “It is written: You shall worship the Lord, your God, and him alone shall you serve.” Then he led him to Jerusalem, made him stand on the parapet of the temple, and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down from here, for it is written: He will command his angels concerning you, to guard you, and: With their hands they will support you, lest you dash your foot against a stone.” Jesus said to him in reply, “It also says, You shall not put the Lord, your God, to the test.” When the devil had finished every temptation, he departed from him for a time.

Luke 4: 1-13

 

Additional Readings:

Dt 26: 4-10

Ps 91: 1-2, 10-15

Rom 10: 8-13

 

First Sunday of Lent – Temptation

This Sunday’s gospel is the familiar story of Jesus’ temptation in the desert. What is often forgotten in the telling of this story is that the temptation in the desert takes place immediately following Jesus’ baptism through which Jesus was fully awakened to his Diving calling and the gifts that he had been given to live out that call:

“You are my beloved son, and with you I am well pleased.”

How did Jesus respond to these words? The translation from Luke’s gospel says that Jesus was led to the desert. In Mark’s gospel, “he fled.” I tend to believe it was more the latter than the former. How would you feel if a voice came out of the sky and announced your magnificence and the Divine calling (responsibility) that went along with that magnificence?

The truth is that like Jesus, we more frequently run from our gifts and our Divine calling than toward them. If we are wise, as Jesus was, we acknowledge the fear that arises in the face of our calling, and then we take the time to figure out what the Divine calling means for us and how we are being called to use our gifts.

And like Jesus, we will be tempted. Specifically, we will be tempted to abuse the powers that we have been given for the sake of our own pride and vanity, than how they are meant to be used which is in service to the Divine and for the benefit of others.

Our job is to hear the call as it arises within us from God, to take time out to discern how we are being invited to live that out and to then face the inner voices that will tempt us to ignore or deny our gifts, or alternatively, to use our gifts for our own vainglory instead of for the honor of the Divine and for the benefit of others.

How have you been tempted to either ignore/deny your Divine calling and the use of your gifts?

When have you been tempted to use your gifts for the sake of your own pride, fame, wealth, power, etc. instead of for the sake of others?

 

Spiritual Practice:

You are invited to spend time with this week’s scripture using the practice of Imagination/Contemplation, or as I like to call it, “Daydreaming as Prayer.”

  1. Read through the scripture passage slowly and prayerfully, looking for a character that stands out to you. Perhaps it is Jesus, Satan, an unnamed observer or even an inanimate object.
  2. After you have chosen your character (or object), re-read the story from their perspective.
  3. Then, using your imagination, place yourself within the narrative as the character of your choosing. Imagine the story unfolding in your mind as if you are that character. Imagine every detail – what you are wearing, what the weather is like, the scene around you, the time of day. Envision the landscape and the other characters in the story in detail. Do not censor anything that comes up for you in the imagining of the story. Allow it to go where it needs to go.
  4. As the story is unfolding in your imagination, pay attention to the thoughts, feelings, emotions, etc. that are arising in you as the story is unfolding.
  5. After the story has come to its natural conclusion in your mind, write it down. Record all that took place, being open to additional details which may emerge in your writing. Again, do not censor anything that comes up for you.
  6. After you have written your story, read it. As you are reading, reflect on how the story, as it unfolded in your imagination, is reflective of something going on in your own journey? As what your higher self might be communicating to you in the way this story unfolded in your imagination.

 

 

Authentic Freedom

In this Sunday’s gospel, Jesus was tempted by three of the deadly compulsions of the Authentic Freedom protocol:

Gluttony

Lust (for power)

Pride

As the inner adversary (Satan) tempted Jesus with these worldly measurements of power and success, Jesus was able to turn away from them because he recognized the inner fears that might cause him to use his powers for his own sake instead of in honor of God and for the benefit of the world, he then found a way to move through those fears.

How and where have you been tempted by worldly measures of power and success? How might you employ Authentic Freedom to help you overcome these temptations when they arise in the future?

If you found this to be meaningful, consider subscribing to the weekly Authentic Freedom Empowerment Newsletter.  For only $20.00 per month.  Subscribe HERE. 

Posted in creativity, Gifts of Contemplation, Spiritual Practices

Meditation for the Active Mind

Join us during Lent: Meditation for the Active and Creative Mind

Tuesdays 6:30 – 8:00 pm

February 24 – March 31, 2015

Facilitated by Lauri Lumby

1103 School Ave.  Oshkosh, WI

Fee: $150.00

  • Have you read or heard about all the benefits to meditation (decreased anxiety, lower stress, increasing wellbeing, increasing health, greater clarity of mind, increasing focus, etc.) but struggled to establish a practice?
  • Have you tried meditation and found it so challenging you gave up?
  • Have you become frustrated with your inability to find the silence promised in meditation?
  • Have you wanted to learn to meditate but don’t know where to begin?
  • Have you attended meditation gatherings only to become frustrated by what seems to look so easy to others but feels difficult to you?

You are NOT alone!

Mercedes Benz Ad Campaign 2011
Mercedes Benz Ad Campaign 2011

Meditation that is comprised of “sit down and be quiet” simply does NOT work for most people.  This is especially true for those with an active, creative or even restless mind.  Instead of diving directly into silence, we need something to first engage our active mind allowing it to unwind, thereby leaving space for silence to take root.

Join us in this six week class where you will learn six individual meditation practices geared toward engaging the active mind.  The goal will be for you to find one or two practices that work for you so that you can use it to establish a more regular meditation practice and enjoy the benefits of meditation that everyone is raving about!

To register for this course, call Lauri Lumby (920) 230-1313 or email lauri@yourspiritualtruth.com.  Class limited to 15, so register early.

Learn more about making meditation easy HERE.

Posted in Truth, Virtual Church

Good Friday

On this day, we commemorate the trial and death by crucifixion of our beloved, Jesus.  On this day, we remember the price he paid for standing in his truth.  I invite you today to spend time with scripture by reading the gospel account of these events, and offer a visual meditation through clips from some of my favorite Jesus movies, along with an excerpt from my yet to be released novel, Song of the Beloved – Jesus through the eyes of Mary Magdalene. 

 

From Jesus Christ Superstar:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OJHCVR8vQCA

From Jesus of Nazareth: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0fAMDYlJgpU

dali13

 

Some music to accompany your reading:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ePe0XyJwdJE

In the words of Mary Magdalene:

As Jesus released his final breath, my resolve gave way and the grief and horror that I had contained erupted into wailing and screaming. I tore at my hair and at my garments wanting to be freed of anything that might stand in the way of release.

It was finished. Jesus was dead. As we poured out our grief, some of the Roman soldiers who had been moved by Jesus’ love drew toward us, knelt on the ground and offered their own prayers.  I, in turn, was moved by their compassion and in awe over the ability of Jesus’ love to transcend even the perceived separations of culture, belief and rank. Lazarus, Martha, Judas, Nicodemus, Joanna and Mary’s brother Joseph who had joined them after the noon hour soon joined us at the top of the hill. After a time, the commanding officer came and said, “We must take him down from the cross so you have time to entomb him before the sun sets. We nodded in our assent.

We stood in silence as the soldiers worked together to remove Jesus from the instrument of his torture and death. They removed the spikes from his feet, and then lowered the crossbar as Joseph, Lazarus, Nicodemus, Judas and John bore the weight of his lifeless body. They laid him out on the ground as they removed the spikes from his wrists and the crown of thorns from his head. The men gathered about Jesus’ lifeless body as Mother Mary and I laid out the red cloak – the only thing we had in which to wrap his body. As they laid his body upon the cloak, I fell upon him, wrapping myself around his lifeless body. I held him to my heart as I cried and I rocked him as I would a child. My heart was broken, my soul torn in two. But as I held him to me, I was more and more certain that this body had been just a shell and that my beloved, no longer dwelled within it. And I heard my beloved’s voice as I had all those many times before, ‘Mary, do not be afraid. I am with you always, even to the end of time.” These words gave me the strength I needed to release his body. I stepped back and allowed the men to gather him up to be carried to the place of his entombment.

During the evening and into the morning, Joseph had accomplished the preparations for Jesus’ burial. First he returned to Bethany to retrieve the burial nard that had been set aside for Martha’s dowry, along with the burial cloths that were all housed in the wedding chest beneath her bed. He located a humble tomb near Jerusalem since their family tomb was several days’ journey to Capernaum. The tomb he had procured was in the potter’s field just outside the city walls in the hillside caves usually reserved for the poor. We took up Jesus’ beaten, broken and lifeless body and walked in procession the short distance to the potter’s field intoning the Kaddish, the Hebrew song of mourning. Three Roman soldiers followed us at a respectful distance, having been ordered to see that Jesus was properly buried and to stand guard at the tomb until three days had passed. The High Priests wanted to make sure that no one was able to fake a resurrection, thereby confirming Jesus’ prediction that he would be raised from the dead. We arrived at the tomb, a small cave hollowed out in the limestone. The space was large enough for us to enter and stand upright. The men lay Jesus upon the floor of the cave while Mother Mary and I prepared the burial cloths. The burial cloths were strips of linen which we first covered in the burial nard – a mixture of resin, oils and spices which were to mask the stench of death while deterring insects, vermin and other animals from feasting on our dead. We soaked each strip and carefully bound his body from foot to head. A separate cloth was used for the head which we first covered in nard, then draped over his face from neck to crown, then over the back of his head to his shoulders. This was wrapped in strips of linen as the rest of the body had been. After his body was anointed and bound, we said our final prayers, our individual goodbyes and departed the tomb.

I waited outside the tomb as John, Lazarus, Nicodemus, Joseph and Judas, along with three of the Roman soldiers rolled the stone in front of the tomb. Mary, Martha, Salome and I held each other as we waited. After the tomb was safely sealed, the men returned to us, John holding in his arms, Jesus’ scarlet cloak. He came toward me and gently laid it into my arms. I wept at his thoughtful generosity. We said our goodbyes as Mary, Judas, Joseph and John turned toward Jerusalem to deliver the news to the Galilean disciples waiting in the Upper Room. Lazarus, Salome, Martha and I turned toward the road to Bethany. As we turned toward home, I heard my beloved’s voice for what I was sure would be the final time, “Mary I am with you always, even unto the end of time.” This time, I found no comfort in these words, only the finality of death.

copyright Lauri Ann Lumby

 

Posted in Divine Revelation, Empowerment, Initiation, Inspiration, Jesus, Midlife Journey, Mystics, Raised Catholic, world changes

Catholic Woman Shamanic Priest?

Why Are We Here?

If you are reading this blog, chances are that you found yourself here because you are searching for meaning, purpose, fulfillment and connection in your life. Additionally, you most likely find yourself haunted with a desire to do something to contribute to the betterment of our world.  In short, you were born a Changemaker and the Divine in you is urging you to do something about it.  I’m here because I’m a lot like you and because the Divine in me continues to urge me to speak to the process that brings us into the fullness of our Divine mission, quite often through my own journey of realization and self-actualization.

What Does This Have to Do with Lent?

As I write this, we are smack dab in the middle of Holy Week – the time on the Christian calendar when we journey with Jesus through the final days and hours of his life.  I know it’s no longer fashionable to call ourselves Christian, and this is especially true for those that were raised Catholic (or any other Christian denomination) and who currently find themselves either on the fringe our outside the Church all together.  It’s way cooler to be Buddhist or some sort of Western version of neo-Hinduism, or even better, agnostic or atheist. But, in my journey of being raised Catholic, becoming disillusioned with Institutional religion and eventually realizing I no longer felt welcome in the Church where I had been worshipping, Jesus NEVER came into question.  In fact, my relationship with Jesus only deepened and my faith in God became stronger.  Why?  Because the Jesus I have come to know is one of the greatest men to ever walk the earth, and from a Western, rational, pragmatic, logical and reasonable perspective, he is the perfect model for the rest of us on how to become fully human and to realize the fullness of our Divine call.  I look to Jesus during Lent, not as the sacrificial lamb, but as the perfect example of how to transcend the fears that prevent us from realizing our greatest potential.

Women and Shamans and Priests?  Oh My!

Here’s the my journey helping you with your journey part.  🙂  I have already written much about my journey toward embracing my call to be priest and have accepted that call (in part) through the launch of the Virtual Church.  I naively thought that with this revelation, I was done….in my truth….living the fullness of my call.  HA! HA!  God,  apparently has something else up her sleeve!  I’m still in midst of allowing all the pieces to come together but suffice it to say that apparently it isn’t weird enough to be a woman, raised Catholic, with a call to the priesthood.  Just to make things even more strange, God has included some sort of shamanistic call into the mix.  Thanks to my PhD studies at the university I have come to affectionately refer to as “Hogwarts,” I have learned that for YEARS I have been undertaking shamanic journeys and I didn’t even know it!  Specific experiences I have had, usually accompanied by certain types of music, are apparently shamanistic in nature and not simply a product of my imagination or the fruits of contemplative prayer.   Instead, as I learn the traditional hallmarks of a shamanistic call, I find that I fit every one:

  • Able to achieve alternate states of consciousness at will.
  • Called to make a lifetime commitment of service to the community.
  • A mediator between the sacred and the secular.
  • Emerge where and when there is a need and called forth by the community.

Then there is the final proof of a shamanistic call, that when someone looks into the eyes of a shaman, they either choose to stay and grow, or they run away in fear.  I can tell you, this particular quality makes for some really interesting human encounters.

Bipolar Disorder-Windows to the Soul

 

What Does it Mean Jelly Bean?

In truth, I don’t really know what it all means.  As a species, we are in the midst of a significant period of evolution and change (which some might call ascension), and I think that all Changemakers are experiencing an enormous amount of flux – being hurled into the unknown, clutching a trail of clues in our hands, but having no idea what they mean or how we are being called to use them.  For myself personally, I am aware of the clues – pieces that have to do with Jesus, being raised Catholic, priesthood, some sort of shamanistic call, something that has to do with my Irish ancestry, gifts of counsel, discernment, writing, teaching, healing and leadership, all rooted in my unique reformer/recovering perfectionist/introverted/thriving on order and routine/intuitive/empathic temperament, but I have no idea what it will all look like.  So, again, in the spirit of Lent and Jesus’ journey toward the cross, I take up my own cross of HAVING NO FLIPPING IDEA, facing the fears of all the unknowns, and turning it all over to God.  My mantra for the past 6 months has been,”Let it be done to me according to your word.”  In the spirit of Lent, I change that to:

“Into your hands I commend my Spirit!”

++++++++

What is the unknown you currently find yourself facing?

What are the clues that might be part of your Divine call?

What are the fears that surface in connection with that call?

How can Jesus be a model for you of how to move through your fears and enjoy the fullness of you Divine call?

 

Posted in Virtual Church

Virtual Church Service – Holy Week Retreat

This coming Sunday, April 13, 2014, marks the beginning of Holy Week with Passion Sunday.  During this week, we recall the final days of Jesus’ life, leading up to the observance of his death by crucifixion on Good Friday.  In preparation for the celebration of Christ’s resurrection on Easter Sunday, we pause to remember the very human Jesus who faced the pain of betrayal, the temptation of doubt and the very real human fear of suffering and death. We also have an opportunity to witness the tools that Jesus used to help him continue through the worst of human experiences, and to learn through his example. Holy Week is a terrific time to remember Jesus as an example of what it means to be fully human so that we can grow in our ability and comfort with our own humanness. 

Maryanointsjesus

In the spirit of Holy Week, instead of offering a traditional service, I have created a Holy Week Retreat experience.  I am inviting you to set aside 1-2 hours this week to enter into your own Holy Week Retreat using the resources provided on the Weekly Service page. Please go to the “Weekly Service” page HERE for your video instructions and appropriate links in support of your retreat.  You may wish to divide the experience into two or three parts:

1) scripture reading

2) music meditation activity

3) processing the above meditation through journaling, etc.

I hope you find this retreat experience rewarding and an appropriate way to prepare for the celebration of Easter.

Remember, if you find these services helpful and supportive of your spiritual journey and inner growth, consider supporting Authentic Freedom Ministries through a financial donation. 

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

Virtual Church Meditation Supplement – Passion Sunday

This Sunday, April 13 marks the beginning of Holy Week – the time set aside in the Church calendar to remember the events that led up to the death of Jesus.  I encourage you in the coming week, to set aside your own remembrance – to take extra time out for prayer, reading and reflection on scripture and contemplation.  It is in the silent places in our hearts that the true meaning of Jesus’ death is revealed.  As a way to facilitate this remembrance, I invite you to go to the USCCB website and explore the daily readings featured there. 

I also want to take this time to help you prepare for this Sunday’s Authentic Freedom Virtual Church service. In lieu of a traditional service, I will be providing an opportunity for you to attend your own pre-Easter retreat.  The retreat will include scripture and a unique meditation and reflection experience that I hope will help you to connect with the human Jesus – the flesh and blood man who allowed God to be his source of guidance and support and who, without compromise, adhered to the truth that God revealed to him.  This is the Jesus that struggled, who experienced fear, who sometimes doubted God’s direction, and who, through prayer, found the support he needed to accept the difficult direction of his life.  I think you will find in this Jesus a kindred spirit and powerful teacher – like us in our humanness with access to powerful tools for transcending the struggles of the human condition.

jesus   

Scripture Reading:

Christ Jesus, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God something to be grasped. Rather, he emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, coming in human likeness; and found human in appearance, he humbled himself, becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Because of this, God greatly exalted him and bestowed on him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, of those in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.           Phil 2: 6-11

 

 

Additional Readings:

MT 21: 1-11

IS 50: 4-7

Ps 22: 8-9, 17-18, 19-20, 23-24

MT 26: 14-27: 66

 

Humility and Spiritual Obedience

“Jesus, though in the form of God, did not regard equality with God something to be grasped.”

These words from scripture, perhaps more than any, give us a glimpse into the focus and motivation of Jesus’ life and ministry. While he knew he was One with God, he did not consider himself as equal to God. Instead, Jesus continued to turn to God for guidance, direction and support. Instead of allowing his own desires to guide his life, he turned to God for direction and then. Then, without compromise, Jesus adhered to God’s direction, trusting that God knew what was in the highest good, even when the consequences of adhering to God’s truth seemed dire (like death on a cross). In this Jesus provides the perfect model of humility and spiritual obedience. Humility is acknowledging that God alone is the Source of our life and that God alone knows what is in our highest good. Spiritual Obedience is taking the time to listen and hear God’s truth for our lives and then adhering to this truth no matter what the consequences of that truth might be – even if the consequences would lead to our own death, trusting that even in our death, a higher good is being made manifest (we need only look to the lives of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Gandhi for examples of this in our own lifetime).

 

Spiritual Practices:

With this week’s scripture, you are invited to participate in an exercise in Creative Expression. You will need two blank sheets of paper and crayons to complete this activity.

  1. Slowly and meditatively read the above scripture from Paul’s letter to the Philippians.
  2. With crayons and paper, draw an outline of your human form, taking up as much of the paper as you are able.
  3. Inside the outlined form, write or draw all of the things that are obstacles to you taking time to listen, hear and adhere to God’s guidance and direction in your life. Fill the empty space with all the things that keep you from enjoying peace, contentment, joy and love.
  4. After you have filled the empty space, take time to reflect on all you have included there. Reflect on the obstacles you have placed between yourself and God. In your own words, or in the silence of your heart, invite God to help you be freed of these obstacles so that God can once again be the center of your life.
  5. On a second sheet of paper, or on the backside of the one you have already used, create an image of yourself being emptied of all these obstacles.
  6. Take time to reflect on the new image you have created. What does it feel like to be freed of these obstacles between yourself and God? Make a commitment to allowing this emptiness to remain so that you can instead be filled with God.

outline 

Authentic Freedom

Authentic Freedom reveals pride as the seventh deadly compulsion and the fear I am alone/have to do it alone, as the fear that causes this compulsion. It is this false perception of separation from God that is in truth, our CORE spiritual wound and the wound that causes all the fears that keep us believing that we are separate from God – the fears that prevent us from enjoying the peace, love, contentment, joy, fulfillment and connection that God intended for the human experience. Authentic Freedom reminds us that when we turn in humility toward God for guidance, direction and support, all of our needs are met in abundance and here we enjoy that peace, love and joy that God intended.

 

Where are you tempted to believe that you are separate from God?  

Where are you tempted to allow fear to direct your life instead of turning to God for guidance and direction?

Where have you forgotten that God alone can direct you to the path of your highest good?

 

 

Posted in Agape Project, Authentic Freedom, Death, Empowerment, Initiation, Spiritual Practices, Virtual Church

Authentic Freedom Virtual Church Meditation Newsletter

Below is the meditation/spiritual practices supplement for this coming Sunday’s virtual church service.  Engaging in a spiritual practice helps you to find the answers to the following questions:

  • Who am I?
  • How do I find inner peace, contentment, joy?
  • What are my gifts and how am I called to use them for my own fulfillment and in service to the betterment of the world?

Spiritual practices help to fulfill the deeper longing in our heart for meaning, purpose and fulfillment and help us to overcome the inner obstacles to living our life’s purpose.  

 

Agape’ Meditation Practices Newsletter – Fifth Sunday of Lent

Supplement to the Authentic Freedom Virtual Church Service

 

Scripture Reading:

Now a man was ill, Lazarus from Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. Mary was the one who had anointed the Lord with perfumed oil and dried his feet with her hair; it was her brother Lazarus who was ill. So the sisters sent word to him saying, “Master, the one you love is ill.” When Jesus heard this he said, “This illness is not to end in death, but is for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified through it.” Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. So when he heard that he was ill, he remained for two days in the place where he was. Then after this he said to his disciples, “Let us go back to Judea.” The disciples said to him, “Rabbi, the Jews were just trying to stone you, and you want to go back there?” Jesus answered, “Are there not twelve hours in a day? If one walks during the day, he does not stumble, because he sees the light of this world. But if one walks at night, he stumbles, because the light is not in him.” He said this, and then told them, “Our friend Lazarus is asleep, but I am going to awaken him.” So the disciples said to him, “Master, if he is asleep, he will be saved.” But Jesus was talking about his death, while they thought that he meant ordinary sleep. So then Jesus said to them clearly, “Lazarus has died. And I am glad for you that I was not there, that you may believe. Let us go to him.” So Thomas, called Didymus, said to his fellow disciples, “Let us also go to die with him.” When Jesus arrived, he found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb for four days. Now Bethany was near Jerusalem, only about two miles away. And many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary to comfort them about their brother. When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went to meet him; but Mary sat at home. Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that whatever you ask of God, God will give you.” Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise.” Martha said to him, “I know he will rise, in the resurrection on the last day.” Jesus told her, “I am the resurrection and the life; whoever believes in me, even if he dies, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?” She said to him, “Yes, Lord. I have come to believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, the one who is coming into the world.” When she had said this, she went and called her sister Mary secretly, saying, “The teacher is here and is asking for you.” As soon as she heard this, she rose quickly and went to him. For Jesus had not yet come into the village, but was still where Martha had met him. So when the Jews who were with her in the house comforting her saw Mary get up quickly and go out, they followed her, presuming that she was going to the tomb to weep there. When Mary came to where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet and said to him, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” When Jesus saw her weeping and the Jews who had come with her weeping, he became perturbed and deeply troubled, and said, “Where have you laid him?” They said to him, “Sir, come and see.” And Jesus wept. So the Jews said, “See how he loved him.” But some of them said, “Could not the one who opened the eyes of the blind man have done something so that this man would not have died?” So Jesus, perturbed again, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone lay across it. Jesus said, “Take away the stone.” Martha, the dead man’s sister, said to him, “Lord, by now there will be a stench; he has been dead for four days.” Jesus said to her, “Did I not tell you that if you believe you will see the glory of God?” So they took away the stone. And Jesus raised his eyes and said, “Father, I thank you for hearing me. I know that you always hear me; but because of the crowd here I have said this, that they may believe that you sent me.” And when he had said this, He cried out in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” The dead man came out, tied hand and foot with burial bands, and his face was wrapped in a cloth. So Jesus said to them, “Untie him and let him go.” Now many of the Jews who had come to Mary and seen what he had done began to believe in him.

John 11: 1-45

 

Additional Readings:

EZ 37: 12-14

Ps 130: 1-8

ROM 8: 8-11

brickwall 

Dying to Rise Again

The story of Lazarus foreshadowed Jesus’ resurrection and gives us an opportunity to foreshadow the promise of new life within our own lived experience. Like Lazarus, we too are invited to enter into the tomb so that we can experience the invitation to new life. As we enter the tomb, we are invited to identify the things within ourselves and within our lives that are not life-giving, those things which keep us small, constricted and imprisoned. Then, we are invited to allow those things to be released, healed and transformed within the tomb – metaphorically giving ourselves over to death. As we allow the imprisoning parts of ourselves to die, we are making room for new life to be called forth, to take root and to grow. At that time, we, like Lazarus will be invited to “Come out” – into the new and freer life that God intends for us.

 

Spiritual Practices:

With this week’s scripture, you are invited to participate in an exercise in Creative Expression. You will need two blank sheets of paper and crayons to complete this activity. You might also find it helpful to have music playing in the background as you complete this exercise (I might recommend The Davinci Code Soundtrack by Hans Zimmer for setting the scene).

  1. Slowly and meditatively read the gospel account of the story of the raising of Lazarus.
  2. With crayons and paper, draw your own tomb. On the stones of the tomb, write your fears, your compulsive behaviors, any unhealthy attitudes or thought patters, external obstacles, etc. anything that you perceive as a hindrance to enjoying the life of freedom, fulfillment, purpose and meaning that God intends for you. Specifically, depict those things you would like to let die and leave behind in the tomb.
  3. After you have created your tomb. Imagine that you are within the tomb and that all those things you want to be freed of are being healed, released and transformed as you surrender to death in the tomb.
  4. Once you feel freed of these fears, etc. or when you have a sense of the experience of the tomb being complete, Allow yourself to hear Jesus’ voice calling out to you, “(Your Name), Come out!” Allow yourself to respond to Jesus’ words and imagine yourself arising and coming forth out of the tomb.
  5. On the second piece of paper, create a depiction of what your new life will look like after coming forth out of the tomb.
  6. If you feel comfortable doing so, take a photo of your images and post them on the Authentic Freedom Virtual Church community page on Facebook.

 emergingself

Authentic Freedom

The whole point of Authentic Freedom is to invite us into the tomb – to provide us with an opportunity to identify the fears and resulting compulsive behaviors that prevent us from living the freedom that God intended – and to provide effective tools for transforming these fears. Naming the fear, I have discovered, is 99% of the process. Once the “demon” is named, it no longer has power over us and we are more free to discover the life of meaning, purpose and fulfillment that God intends for us.

 

What are the fears that prevent you from enjoying a life that is authentically free?

 

What are the unhealthy behaviors that arise out of these fears?

 

Posted in Authentic Freedom, Healing, Spiritual Practices, Virtual Church

Virtual Church – Weekly Service

The weekly service for the Authentic Freedom Virtual Church is now LIVE.  In the spirit of the healing intention of Lent, I have created a guided meditation as this week’s offering.  As we accompany Jesus to the tomb of Lazarus and witness Lazarus’ release from death and return to life, we are reminded of the Lenten invitation to enter into our own tomb.  It is within the tomb of God’s loving embrace where we have an opportunity to examine the inner obstacles to the life of freedom, love, meaning, purpose, connection and joy that God intends for us.  It is also within the tomb, through God’s love, that we are able to be healed and released of these inner fears and compulsions that entomb us so that we can be open to the promise of new life.

To really get the most out of this week’s service, you will need to set aside 1 hour of uninterrupted time so that you may fully enter into the guided meditation.  Turn off your phones and electronic devices.  Find a comfortable place to recline or sit upright.  Turn on the meditation and simply allow the words, sounds and intentions to help facilitate your own healing and release. Using Authentic Freedom as the guide, you will be invited to remember the truths that God has promised us and confront and heal the fears that stand as obstacles to these truths.  I hope you enjoy the meditation and find it meaningful!

To participate in this week’s service, click HERE.

And remember, if you find this offering meaningful and supportive of your own spiritual growth, healing and transformation, consider making a donation to Authentic Freedom Ministries.  To donate, click HERE. 

Posted in Authentic Freedom, Discernment, Healing, Jesus, Virtual Church

Using the Brain God Gave Us

Here is this week’s spiritual practices supplement for this coming Sunday, March 30th, the Fourth Sunday of Lent. The invitation this week is to use the brain that God gave us to reason, discern and exercise truth.  Instead of adhering to some outside, perceived authority, we are invited to turn within to the ultimate authority – God.  It is through attention to our spiritual practice that we can begin to hear the voice of God and distinguish the voice of God from the voice of our ego.  And when all else fails, turn to your spiritual director for help 😉  P.S.  If you find these resources meaningful, supportive and helpful, please consider making a one-time or schedule a monthly donation to Authentic Freedom Ministries.  (Donate button on right side-bar menu!)  THANK YOU!

 

 

Agape’ Meditation Practices Newsletter

Supplement to the Authentic Freedom Virtual Church Service

 

Scripture Reading:

jesus-heals-a-man-born-blind_1800x1200_72dpi_2

As Jesus passed by he saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Jesus answered, “Neither he nor his parents sinned; it is so that the works of God might be made visible through him. We have to do the works of the one who sent me while it is day. Night is coming when no one can work. While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” When he had said this, he spat on the ground and made clay with the saliva, and smeared the clay on his eyes, and said to him, “Go wash in the Pool of Siloam” —which means Sent—. So he went and washed, and came back able to see. His neighbors and those who had seen him earlier as a beggar said, “Isn’t this the one who used to sit and beg?” Some said, “It is, “ but others said, “No, he just looks like him.” He said, “I am.” So they said to him, “How were your eyes opened?” He replied, “The man called Jesus made clay and anointed my eyes and told me, ‘Go to Siloam and wash.’ So I went there and washed and was able to see.” And they said to him, “Where is he?” He said, “I don’t know.” They brought the one who was once blind to the Pharisees. Now Jesus had made clay and opened his eyes on a sabbath. So then the Pharisees also asked him how he was able to see. He said to them, “He put clay on my eyes, and I washed, and now I can see.” So some of the Pharisees said, “This man is not from God, because he does not keep the sabbath.” But others said, “How can a sinful man do such signs?” And there was a division among them. So they said to the blind man again, “What do you have to say about him, since he opened your eyes?” He said, “He is a prophet.” Now the Jews did not believe that he had been blind and gained his sight until they summoned the parents of the one who had gained his sight. They asked them, “Is this your son, who you say was born blind? How does he now see?” His parents answered and said, “We know that this is our son and that he was born blind. We do not know how he sees now, nor do we know who opened his eyes. Ask him, he is of age; he can speak for himself.” His parents said this because they were afraid of the Jews, for the Jews had already agreed that if anyone acknowledged him as the Christ, he would be expelled from the synagogue. For this reason his parents said, “He is of age; question him.” So a second time they called the man who had been blind and said to him, “Give God the praise! We know that this man is a sinner.” He replied, “If he is a sinner, I do not know. One thing I do know is that I was blind and now I see.” So they said to him, “What did he do to you? How did he open your eyes?” He answered them, “I told you already and you did not listen. Why do you want to hear it again? Do you want to become his disciples, too?”They ridiculed him and said, “You are that man’s disciple; we are disciples of Moses! We know that God spoke to Moses, but we do not know where this one is from.” The man answered and said to them, “This is what is so amazing, that you do not know where he is from, yet he opened my eyes. We know that God does not listen to sinners, but if one is devout and does his will, he listens to him. It is unheard of that anyone ever opened the eyes of a person born blind. If this man were not from God, he would not be able to do anything.” They answered and said to him, “You were born totally in sin, and are you trying to teach us?” Then they threw him out. When Jesus heard that they had thrown him out, he found him and said, Do you believe in the Son of Man?” He answered and said, “Who is he, sir, that I may believe in him?” Jesus said to him, “You have seen him, the one speaking with you is he.” He said, “I do believe, Lord,” and he worshiped him. Then Jesus said, “I came into this world for judgment, so that those who do not see might see, and those who do see might become blind.” Some of the Pharisees who were with him heard this and said to him, “Surely we are not also blind, are we?” Jesus said to them, “If you were blind, you would have no sin; but now you are saying, ‘We see,’ so your sin remains

John 9: 1-41

 

Additional Readings:

1 sm 16:1b, 6-7, 10-13a

Ps 23: 1-6

Eph 5: 8-14

 

Using the brain God gave us.

In this week’s gospel, we are invited to use the brain the God gave us to reason, discern and exercise truth. One of the things that helps support us in our ability to reason, discern and exercise truth is to cultivate a regular spiritual practice. Through attention to the Divine within, we have an opportunity to come to know what truth feels like and we are given the strength and courage needed to live that truth.

How are you being invited to cultivate a regular spiritual practice in support of your own discernment?

 

Spiritual Practices:

With this week’s scripture, you are invited to use the spiritual practice of Imagination/contemplation. Follow the steps below:

 

  1. Slowly and meditatively read the gospel account of the story of the man born blind.
  2. As you are reading, choose a character that stands out to you – Jesus, the blind man, the blind man’s parents, the Pharisees, the blind man’s parents, the disciples, etc.
  3. Placing yourself in the story as the character you chose. Imagine in detail the setting. What are you wearing? What is the environment like in temple? What is the weather? How are you feeling? Who is there with you?
  4. Without censoring, allow the story to unfold in your imagination. Allow yourself to daydream the story in your mind, letting it flow without censoring, questioning, critique, simply allow the story to unfold in your mind. Be attentive to all the details. Be especially mindful of any thoughts, feelings or emotions that might surface.
  5. After the story has come to a natural conclusion in your mind, write it down in a notebook or journal, being attentive to any additional details which might reveal themselves.
  6. After you have written the story, go back and read what you wrote.
  7. Reflect on the following questions: a) How is the story that was revealed to you reflective of something going on in your own life? b) What might God be trying to reveal to you through the story that came forth through your imagination?

 

Authentic Freedom

From the perspective of Authentic Freedom, this week’s gospel reading confronts the fear I do not know (my truth, my path). The truth which we are invited to embrace is that God is the source of our truth and that we are able to come to know this truth through our connection with God.

How are you aware of the fear “I do not know,” as operating in your life?

Where are you tempted to give your power over to an outside perceived authority instead of taking time to turn to God for guidance toward your truth?

Where has your truth been in conflict with the authority structures in your life? How have you responded to this conflict?

 

Posted in church, Midlife Journey, Returning book

No Longer My Fight

This week I posted a couple blogs related to the Pope resigning and my proposal for a new Church and a new lent.  I want to thank a couple blog commenters for reminding me that this is no longer my fight.  I am already living in “The new church” and have no illusions about reforming the other one (aka the Roman Catholic Church).  In the following excerpt from my upcoming book, Returning – A Woman’s Midlife Journey to Herself, I share my thoughts on my former attempts and the mostly peaceful acceptance I have come to in midlife on this topic.  (Please forgive me my humanness when I sometimes get pulled back into thinking there is something I need to reform!!!) 

Windows to the Soul by Catherine E. Case
Windows to the Soul by Catherine E. Case

 

 Illusions

As I began to see myself and the world around me more clearly, one of the most devastating realizations was that the Catholic Church, in which I had invested my faith, hope, belief, trust and now career, was imperfect and flawed.  It was not a coincidence that my awakening happened right on the heels of the priest sex abuse scandal.  As I was more diligent in asking questions about God – what did I believe, what resonated as truth for me, who was the God that I had come to know through my own prayer and explorations, the Church fell farther and farther from the pedestal on which I had placed it (with the Institution admittedly helping itself along the way).

As I came to more and more freely embrace the truths I had come to know within myself, including my call to contemplation and hands-on-healing, I came more and more in conflict with the Church that was “supposed” to love me without condition.  As the illusions I had created around my faith shattered at my feet, the more I was compelled to “make it right,” an endeavor that eventually proved to be fruitless and one that came at a terrible cost – the loss of my Church and the loss of my faith in my Church.

In spite of this, my faith in God never wavered and it was to my ever-expanding image of God, that I pledged my allegiance.  And here I found peace.

The Call of Francis

The call of St. Francis, tried and true,

“’Tis time to build the church anew,

A church in Spirit and in Grace,

Christ residing in every face.

The corruption of old has begun to unfold.

The Spirit crashing through the hold.

Power, greed, corruption and sin,

It’s time, our work is about to begin.”

Regarding in awe, the Church torn asunder.

Is the Spirit at work?  We’re invited to wonder.

Secrets held dear, throughout the years,

Covering up the trail of tears.

“You’ve missed the point,” the Spirit cries.

The Church too busy believing their lies.

Jesus’ message seems pretty clear,

“Love God and neighbor as yourself my dears.”

God’s in their minds, not in their hearts.

Only practicing Catholics, our neighbors for starts.

And you, well, you’re created in sin,

so just where is this love to begin?

Let’s start, “In the beginning,” Genesis One and Two,

“It is good,” God says of you!

Not born in sin as Augustine preached

but born in love, joy and peace.

“Jesus loves me, this I know,

for the bible tells me so.”

We are invited to believe this children’s song,

Yet sometimes the Church tells us it’s wrong.

True faith, you see, when push comes to shove:

The extent to which we believe in God’s love.

And when we believe this promise true,

There’s only one thing left to do:

to share that love with everyone,

for this the mission of Christ was begun.

From Returning – a Woman’s Midlife Journey to Herself by Lauri Ann Lumby.  Scheduled for release in 2013 through Authentic Freedom Press.