Posted in End of the World Prophecies, New World, world changes

When Evil Comes Out to Play

9/1/20

Good morning sisters and brothers.  After a rough couple days, I awoke this morning feeling somewhat back to my abnormal self.  🙂  The energy for the past few days has been exceedingly disruptive and I found myself caught up in the yuk – not on purpose – I just couldn’t NOT feel the tremor of fear that raged across our planet.  A certain someone is supposed to pay a visit to Kenosha, Wisconsin today and there is much trepidation about the increasing division that his words might ignite.  I am roughly 100 miles from Kenosha, in Oshkosh, WI so the anxiety is palpable.

This anxiety is simply one more symptom in a long line of symptoms of our dying world.  That which has been hiding in the shadows (racism, classism, supremacy cults, the dark web, organized hate groups, violence, hatred, ignorance, etc. etc. etc.) continues to come out to be seen and it is HORRIBLE.  The potential for evil that dwells within humanity is appearing to be infinite.  And for those “of the good,” IT IS EXHAUSTING and disheartening.

In the face of all this evil, it is good to remember, this is nothing new!  This evil and hatred for “the (perceived) other” has always been present.  We simply live at a time that has fed these evils and that has allowed them to thrive – albeit in the darkness. Then a few years back something happened that invited them all to come out and play – and be seen.  On many days, it seems as if a war is waging in the heavens between “the evil” and “the good” and we are the unwitting pawns in this game. I can assure you, such is not the case, but knowing this doesn’t change how it feels.  We are definitely experiencing the depths of the YUK.  The sad thing is that this is a YUK of our own making and has absolutely nothing to do with that which some might call “God.”

This is why I often say, “Human beings suck.  I’m glad I’m not one of them.”  I say this (somewhat) tongue in cheek – but in many ways this is true.  Human beings, while perfect as Divine creations, are also broken and flawed.  Broken by the original wound of separation and then further broken by other wounded human beings.  We are all wounded in some way – some are simply wounded more than others.  What we call “evil” is the consequence of unacknowledged and unhealed brokenness.  This means that the “evil” can be healed.

When I look out over our broken world and ponder the healing of all this evil, I become overwhelmed and shutdown.  It seems an impossible task.  (It is an impossible task) I have learned that the world is not mine to heal.  I used to think it was, but not anymore.  I have come to understand that the only person we can truly heal is OURSELVES.  Part of healing ourselves includes letting go of all the things outside of ourselves we believe we are responsible for healing.  Like the story of the oxygen masks on airplanes.  If the plane is going down, you have to grab your own mask first before helping your neighbor with theirs.

Saving ourselves does not mean we do not have compassion for our dying world.  Neither does it mean we refuse assistance for those seeking help.  We help the world heal itself by first healing ourselves.  As we do this, those close to us begin to heal and transform.  The more authentic and whole we are with ourselves, the more those around us feel safe to do the same.  This healing begins to ripple out from us to the people we meet, the encounters we have in the world and the gifts we share with those who are ready to receive.  Saving the world begins by saving ourselves and keeping the focus on our own healing and wellbeing.  The rest simply unfolds from there.

This doesn’t mean that Lauri Lumby in Oshkosh Wisconsin by her simple acts of kindness will get a white supremacist to lay down his gun, but it might inspire the next generation to look for non-violent ways to resolve perceived conflict, or to work to eradicate the social injustices that inspire hate in the first place.  At the end of the day, all the angry voices are simply people who did not feel seen or heard somewhere along the way or who did not get their basic needs for food, clothing, shelter, safety and love adequately met.  Angry and hateful people are simply very sad people in disguise.

As the world (as we have known it) continues in its death march, growing louder and more angry as it reaches its ultimate demise, we would do well for ourselves to remember a few things:

 

  • Keep our head down!
  • Stay out of the fray!
  • Heal ourself!
  • Care for our own!
  • When tempted to meet hate with hate, remember the deep woundedness that created all this evil and PRAY FOR THEM!

 

When facing times like these, I find myself drawn back to my Catholic roots, especially to the intercession (support) of the saints.  Mother Mary, in particular is one I turn to.  When invoking her support, I pray these words.  Perhaps you will feel inspired to do the same:

 

Hail Mary, Full of Grace.

Love is with you.

Blessed art thou among women

And Blessed is the fruit of your Love.

Holy Mary, Mother of Love.

Pray for us.

Now and at the hour or our death.

Amen.

Posted in divine mother

The Divine Mother’s Help

After reading yesterday’s blog, Witness to the World’s Destruction, my mother emailed with a reminder of divine intervention that has helped in the past when the world was in a similar state of hopelessness – that divine intervention came through our Divine Mother, Mary. My mom suggested Mary might be interested in helping us again.  (Thanks for the terrific reminder mom!)

divinemothermary

For centuries, Our Divine and Blessed Mother Mary has been making her presence and her desire to assist humanity known through visual apparitions.  She appeared to Bernadette Soubirous at Lourdes, France.  She revealed herself to Juan Diego at Guadalupe, Mexico.  For several months in 1917, Mother Mary appeared to three children in Fatima, Portugal.  Since 1981, our Divine Mother has been appearing daily and delivering messages for humanity to six visionaries from Medjugorje in Bosnia-Herzegovina.   In all her apparitions, the message is the same – pray to her to help bring an end to war and to restore humanity to peace.

Again, it seems, we are being invited to turn to our Divine Mother for her help and intercession.

One traditional way of praying with and to Mother Mary is through the rosary. In case you don’t remember how to pray the rosary, or aren’t familiar with how to pray it, follow this link for simple instructions: http://www.rosary-center.org/howto.htm#loaded

Or, we can simply turn to Mary, asking for her assistance using the traditional “Hail Mary” prayer as follows:

 

Hail Mary, full of Grace,

The Lord is with thee.

Blessed are you among women,

And blessed is the fruit of your womb, Jesus.

 

Holy Mary, Mother of God.

Pray for us.

Now and at the hour of our death.

Amen.

Whatever vehicle for prayer we use, we can be assured that our Divine Mother is here to help us.  For centuries and for millions of people, Mother Mary has been a source of comfort, guidance, help and support.  What has been true for over 2000 years is still true today.  When we feel as if all else has failed, we need simply turn to our Mother for help.  Thanks Mom, for the reminder!

Posted in Authentic Freedom, Authentic Freedom Book, Inspiration, Mystics, Spiritual Practices, Uncategorized, world changes

How to Change Ourselves so WE Can Change the World!

Yesterday, I responded to the current political debacle (the government shutdown) and complete failure of our government to do what WE hired them to do, by issuing an invitation, “If we want the world to change, WE need to change ourselves.”  In today’s blog, I remind us of how we can change ourselves so that we can see real and enduring change in the world.

changing ourselves/changing the world
changing ourselves/changing the world

Not Just Some Pie in the Sky Idealism!

The tools for personal change that I will share with you today are NOT just some pie in the sky idealism preached by vagrant prophets from far-off lands.  While the following tools have been tried, tested and proven to be effective by thousands of years of yoga practitioners, mystics and ascetics, we NOW have the proof of science to verify what contemplative men and women have known all along, mindfulness based practices:

  • decrease anxiety, fear and stress
  • increase physical, emotional, mental and spiritual wellbeing
  • decrease violent behaviors
  • help us to cultivate empathy and compassion – the building blocks of healthy communication and harmonious interpersonal relationships, and communities.

(If you need the science to convince you, simply Google Richie Davidson, Andrew Newberg, Jon Kabat-Zinn and Thich Nat Hahn.)

STEP ONE – Seek out a mindfulness practice that works for you! 

There are as many forms of mindfulness based practices as there are fish in the sea!  A Zen-inspired sit works for some, but not for all.  Mantra or Kirtan brings some to a state of inner quiet…but it isn’t for everyone.  A rosary or string of meditation beads may help some to focus, but others will need something more engaging.  Take comfort in knowing that if you haven’t yet found your meditation style, keep looking, there is sure to be one out there perfect for you.  Maybe it is something as simple as gardening, cooking or being in nature.  Some find running and aerobic exercise mindful.  And please disregard the ridiculous Western notion that mindfulness has a goal and that if you don’t experience a complete state of bliss any or every time you failed.  Your job is to simply SHOW UP.  And, the key to cultivating and maintaining a mindfulness practice is to find one that WORKS FOR YOU!  (For a wide variety of mindfulness based exercises, check out my book, Authentic Freedom – claiming a life of contentment and joyWhile the context is Christian Contemplative Prayer, the exercises are universal.)

STEP TWO-Identify and root out your fears

In conjunction with cultivating peace and love within us through mindfulness practices, the greatest gift we can give to ourselves in our journey toward change is to OVERCOME OUR FEARS!  FEAR is the number one obstacle to peace, contentment, love and joy!  Fear creates all the perceived separations favored by our wounded world:  prejudice, discrimination, racism, sexism, nationalism, etc.  Fear is also the root of all of our non-loving and self-centered behaviors – gluttony, lust, wrath, envy, greed, sloth and pride.  Fear causes us to seek outside of us for its remedy and makes us believe that happiness will be found in things, money, power, fame, status, power, control, other people, etc. etc. etc.  Fear also keeps us silent and ignorant of the truth that seeks to be known within us and that seeks to be expressed in the world.

STEP 2.5

In my book, Authentic Freedom, I reveal what I have come to know as the seven core fears that plague humanity, along with their resulting compulsions:

FEAR:  “There is not enough”

Compulsion:  Gluttony

FEAR:  “I have nothing to contribute to the betterment of the world”

Compulsion:  Lust

FEAR:  “I can’t” (be my most authentic self)

Compulsion:  Wrath

FEAR:  “I am not loved”

Compulsion:  Envy

FEAR: “I am not able to express my truth”

Compulsion:  Greed

FEAR:  “I do not know” (my truth, my path)

Compulsion:  Sloth

FEAR:  “I am alone/have to do it alone”

Compulsion:  Pride

You can start your journey of overcoming fear by NAMING the fears that are currently at work in your mind.  I have found that naming the fear is 99% of the journey…..like they say in classic horror books and movies, “Once you name the demon, it no longer has power over you.”  😉  Stay tuned for tomorrow’s blog where I will explore in more detail how we might move through the fears once they are named.

Lauri Ann Lumby

http://yourspiritualtruth.com

Posted in Raised Catholic, Spiritual Practices

When All Else Fails: Hail Mary!

This morning’s blog reminds us of the value of rote repetition and mantra prayer, especially during times when all else seems to fail us. (also explored in this week’s issue of The Agape’ Project)

Over the Top Stress

I’m not sure if it is the universe, earth changes, hormones, perimenopause, or just “stuff happens,” but on Thursday of this week I found myself in the biggest ball of stress I have experienced in a LONG TIME!  Rampant anxiety, worry, obsessive thoughts, out of nowhere tears.  In a nutshell….I was a mess.  Such a mess in fact, that no matter how hard I tried, I simply could not fall asleep.  It reminded me of the times in my childhood and even into adulthood when I found myself sleepless due to the marathon being run in my over-active brain.  It was a feeling I had not experienced in a very long time.

I tried EVERYTHING

As I struggled with whatever that energy was on Thursday, I employed all the tactics I know for relaxation, returning to rational thought, restoring peace.  NOTHING worked.  I went for a walk.  I meditated.  I listened to music.  I journalled.  I allowed myself to be present to my tears, etc.  I even added some magnesium to my evening nutrition.  NOTHING WORKED.  Then, when I thought the repose of sleep would help, I found it only got worse.  Tossing and turning in bed, restless and stupid thoughts in my head, worry, anxiousness, feelings of being emotionally bereft.  Again I tried everything….breathing exercises, thinking “happy” thoughts.  Again NOTHING!  In a fit of desperation, I pulled open the drawer in my bedside table and rummaged around for my rosary.  Perhaps the only tool that helped me during my childhood would provide relief for 47 year old Lauri.  At the bottom of the drawer, shoved into the back corner, buried under lotion, chapstick, incense sticks and a bag of rocks I found it. Running my fingers over the beads, I began to pray:  Hail Mary full of grace, the Lord is with thee…..  I’m not sure how many decades I ended up praying, but my thoughts must have finally cleared for when my alarm sounded in the morning, I awoke with the rosary still clutched in my fist, the red crystal beads wrapped around my fingers.

When All Else Fails

Thursdays experience reminded me of the value in the tried and true, specifically in prayers of rote repetition and mantra.  As a child, the Hail Mary was always my go-to prayer.  When I was frightened, feeling alone or sleepless, I turned to our Divine Mother for intercession and comfort by invoking this prayer. As an adult, I turned to this prayer during times of crisis like the day I was held up at gun point outside my downtown Minneapolis apartment, or when I found myself caught in a wind and hailstorm with my two babies in the car.  Perhaps it is the familiarity of the prayer, nostalgia, or the rhythm that is created by rote repetition, but for whatever reason, these are the kinds of prayers that seem to be of greatest assistance when it seems all other methods of stress-relief, meditation or prayer just don’t seem to work.

An Invitation

As an exercise today, I would invite you to explore your own repetoire of spiritual tools in search of “the tried and true.”  What is it that you can turn to when all else fails?  Maybe it is the rosary, the Hail Mary, the Lord’s Prayer.  Perhaps it is a Sanskrit mantra or the Hebrew Kaddish.  Or maybe it is just a single word – love, peace, Jesus.  Whatever that “tried and true” might be, I invite you to acknowledge it and put it in your hip pocket (or the drawer of your bedside table) so it is ready to use when all else seems to fail.

Lauri Lumby

Authentic Freedom Ministries

http://yourspiritualtruth.com

Posted in Spiritual Formation, Spiritual Practices

Blowing the Doors off the Vatican Vault – Unleashing Spiritual Practices

In yesterday’s blog, I promised to relieve you of some of the obstacles to beginning and maintaining a spiritual practice.  Today’s blog reveals tools for sound spiritual practice that come to us through the Judeo-Christian contemplative (mystical) traditions. 

Lucas and Spielberg had it right

Remember that scene from the movie, Raiders of the Lost Ark, where they show a custodian wheeling the Ark of the Covenant, now locked up and crated deep into the bowels of the Smithsonian Institute’s basement?  The very Ark that Indiana Jones worked so hard to find and rescue from the clutches of the Nazi’s?  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q6-rQ6Jay6w Well, that scene is exactly how I imagine the rich tradition of Mystical (aka Magdalene) Christianity…..locked up in a steel vault somewhere deep in the bowels of the Vatican.  Some pope, a long time ago, gathered up the richness of these traditions and locked them up….far away from the reaching arms of the hungry laity.  The good news is that the monastic communities of the Christian tradition also had knowledge of the tools and practices of the mystical church and preserved them, keeping them safe and waiting for the days that someone would blow the doors off the Vatican vault, unleashing these tools for the benefit of all….and perhaps for the salvation of “Mother Church.”  (another topic for another day.)  Well, here I am…..the uppity Lay Minister, Lauri Ann Lumby.  I’ve got the keys to the vault and I’m not afraid to use them.  🙂

Dun Da Dun Dun Dun Da Dun (Sung to the opening theme from Raider’s of the Lost Ark)  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vg7C9qwLoqE

So, without further ado……below you will find a resource that I developed for the students and facilitators who have crossed the threshold of Authentic Freedom Ministries.   Tools for sound spiritual practice from the Judeo-Christian mystical/contemplative tradition.  Make a copy of this and keep it as instructional material as you begin to develop or deepen your spiritual practice.  And because I’m a huge brat…..a few words to the pope and his cronies in Rome right out of this morning’s scripture:

“Therefore I say to you, the Kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people that will produce its fruit”

Matthew 21: 45 

I’m just sayin’!

So….here are the tools we have all been waiting for:

I.                   Lectio Divina

Lectio Divina is Latin for “divine reading,” “spiritual reading,” or “holy reading” and represents a method of prayer and scriptural reading intended to promote communion with God and to provide special spiritual insights.

A.    Lectio – Reading the Bible passage gently and slowly several times. The passage itself is not as important as the savoring of each portion of the reading, constantly listening for the “still, small voice” of a word or phrase that somehow speaks to the practitioner.

B.     Meditatio – Reflecting on the text of the passage and thinking about how it applies to one’s own life. This is considered to be a very personal reading of the Scripture and very personal application. Asking the question, how is God speaking to me personally through this passage?

C.    Oratio – Responding to the passage by opening the heart to God. This is not primarily an intellectual exercise, but is thought to be more of the beginning of a conversation with God. This stage can be accomplished through journaling, or offering a silent or spoken prayer to God.

D.    Contemplatio – Listening to God. This is a freeing of oneself from one’s own thoughts, both mundane and holy, and hearing God talk to us. Opening the mind, heart, and soul to the influence of God.

 

 

II.                Centering Prayer/Silent Contemplation

Silent Contemplation is allowing oneself to simply rest in God.  The goal of contemplation is “no goal.”  The practitioner is to simply be.  Repeated practice opens the contemplative to the fruits of contemplation – deepening peace, insight, creativity, guidance, consolation and compassion.

A.    Practitioner finds a comfortable place where they can sit in silence.

B.     Practitioner chooses a focal point – the breath, a sacred word or phrase (love, peace, Jesus,Om, etc.)

C.    Practitioner sits in silence.  When they find their mind wandering, they return their attention to their focal point.

D.    Practitioner continues in this manner for the period of time pre-determined for contemplation.

III.             Love Letter from God

This type of practice works best with scripture passages that seem to be God addressing us.

A.    Read through the passage slowly and meditatively.

B.     Re-read the passage as if it is a letter written to us directly from God.

C.    Practitioner allows themselves to receive the words into their heart.

D.    The remainder of the practice follows a similar pattern to Lectio-Divina.

Read, receive, respond, contemplate

IV.             Free-Form Journaling/Automatic Writing

Through this approach, the practitioner brings a question or a thought to the meditation session.   The practitioner offers the question/thought to God, then allows God to speak to them through their pen as they write in their journal.  Through this method, the practitioner allows their own thoughts, etc. to step aside to make room for the words of God.

V.                Mantra Meditation

A.    Practitioner chooses a favorite sacred phrase/mantra.  (Om Mani Padme Om; Hail Mary Full of Grace; Om Shanti; Give us this day our daily bread; Abwoon d’bwashmaya; etc.)

B.     Practitioner repeats mantra silently or aloud, over and over, allowing the mantra to draw them into a place of peaceful calm.

C.    Practitioner continues with mantra until they find it no longer necessary and are able to enter into silent contemplation.

D.    Practitioner returns to mantra when they find their mind wandering.

VI.             Prayer Beads

Practitioner engages in practice above, using prayer beads/rosary to “count” mantra repetitions.  The benefit of using prayer beads is that is adds another sense to the process – tactile touch.  This is especially helpful for those with a restless mind.

VII.          Imagination-Contemplation/Daydreaming Meditation

A.    Practitioner chooses a narrative story from scripture.

B.     Practitioner reads through the story slowly and meditatively

C.    Practitioner chooses a character from the story (named, or unnamed).

D.    Practitioner re-reads the story from the vantage point of their chosen character.

E.     Practitioner enters into their creative imagination, placing themselves as their chosen character in the midst of the story.  They allow the story to unfold in their imagination in great detail, being mindful of thoughts, reflections, emotions that may surface through the process.

F.     Practitioner writes what they witnessed through their imagination, allowing additional details to surface as they write.

G.    Practitioner reflects on two questions:

1. How is God speaking to me through what was revealed in this daydreaming?

2. How is the revealed story reflective of something going on in my current life journey?

VIII.       Art as Prayer

Practitioner is given the task of creating a visual representative of their prayer/reflection.

IX.             Music Meditation

Music is used as a vehicle through which the practitioner can find that place of peaceful calm within.

A.    Choose the musical selection (chant, classical music, instrumental music works well here)

B.     Practitioner listens to musical selection with rapt attention, allowing the movement of the music to draw them into peaceful calm.

C.    Practitioner rests in silent contemplation once music is finished.

X.                Mindful Meditation/Theological Reflection

A.    Practitioner chooses an ordinary activity or object as the focal point of their meditation.

B.     Practitioner observes the object or engages in the activity with rapt attention.

C.    Practitioner becomes aware of the object or the activity in a way that transcends their typical experience of this object/activity.

D.    Practitioner records what they observe in the object or activity, asking what how God is being revealed through the object or activity.

Lauri Lumby

Authentic Freedom Ministries

http://yourspiritualtruth.com

Posted in Agape Project, Gifts of Contemplation, Spiritual Formation, Spiritual Practices

Why Bother with a Spiritual Practice?

Today’s blog explores the value of a personal, spiritual practice….and answers the great marketing question:  WIFM?  You will learn that you can’t afford NOT to cultivate a sound spiritual practice if you desire peace and joy in your life.   

Thus says the LORD: Cursed is the man who trusts in human beings, who seeks his strength in flesh, whose heart turns away from the LORD. He is like a barren bush in the desert that enjoys no change of season, But stands in a lava waste, a salt and empty earth. Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, whose hope is the LORD. He is like a tree planted beside the waters that stretches out its roots to the stream: It fears not the heat when it comes, its leaves stay green; In the year of drought it shows no distress, but still bears fruit.

Jeremiah 17: 5-9

WIFM?  What is in it for me if I embrace a spiritual practice?

The first reading from today’s scripture pretty much says it all.  I don’t think I have read anything that more accurately describes the contrast between a life without spiritual practice and a life that is firmly rooted in meditation, contemplation, creative endeavors….anything that is directed toward knowing God and knowing ourselves.  When we give time to God in meditation, contemplation and prayer, life takes on a quality of ease, peacefulness, contentment.  We are able to be present to the ebb and flow of the human condition – facing adversity, challenge, loss with a sense of surrender and peace.  We are also able to celebrate the gifts of the human condition with fulfillment and joy.  When we do not have our lives rooted in spiritual practice, life tosses us about like a plastic bag in the wind and life feels like a barren wasteland….stark, depressing, blech.

Fruits of Contemplation

In the Western Contemplative tradition, these benefits of sound spiritual practice are referred to as “the fruits of contemplation.”   Teresa Tillson speaks of these fruits in an article she penned for the St. Olaf college website:

Jesus taught no specific method, but did regularly withdraw to be alone with God. The fruits of prayer described by Paul the Apostle are love, joy peace, patience, generosity, faithfulness, kindness, gentleness, self-control, and purity. (Galatians 5:22-23). According to Thomas Keating, the fruits of centering prayer are freedom from self-centered motivation, action in service to others, a sense of interconnectedness with all creation, dis-identification with our self-image, healing of fear, conviction of our basic goodness, and capacity for union with God.

 The Way of Meditation and Contemplation by Teresa Tillson  http://www.stolaf.edu/people/huff/classes/religion/Essay.html

In short, spiritual practice is good for us.  It helps us to be happy and to find peace.  It fills us up, nourishes us, makes life palatable.  If it is so good for us, why don’t we do something about it?

All Good Things, Right!?

That is a really good question.  If spiritual practice is so dang good for us and centuries of teachers seem to know this, why don’t we do it?  The first answer is that maybe life hasn’t yet kicked our butt enough.  The second answer might be lack of motivation.  The third answer might be the illusion or false perception that ” I don’t have time.”  The fourth answer might be that you have never been given the tools or taught effective means of contemplation that SPEAK TO YOU.  Not everyone is called to silent meditation and the rosary doesn’t speak to everyone.  In the coming days and in support of the March 15th global launch of the Agape’ Project…..I hope to blast through some of the obstacles to spiritual practice, while providing you the tools and support you might need to either begin or further develop your existing practice.  Because more than anything in the world…..I hope for you to know the peace, joy and love that I have discovered through sound spiritual practice and to find those things for yourself.

If you do not have a daily spiritual practice……why not?

Where do you seek more peace, fulfillment, love and joy in your life?

How are you being called to deepen your existing spiritual practice if you have one?

Lauri Lumby

Authentic Freedom Ministries

http://yourspiritualtruth.com

Posted in church, Gifts of Contemplation, Spiritual Practices

Manifesting a Vision

In today’s blog, we explore the topic of “Contemplative Worship” and “Contemplative Community” as a complement to our traditional western forms of worship and church.

Coming to Fruition

On Sunday, January 8, 2012, Authentic Freedom Ministries will start offering a Sunday worship service, manifesting a vision that has been nearly 20 years in the making.  What will set these worship services apart from traditional worship is that it will be rooted in sound spiritual formation and focused on the contemplative journey of the individuals in attendance.  In other words, those who participate will not be told about God, they will not be told what to believe based on someone else’s experience of the Divine, or by an institution’s dogma or doctrine, instead, they will be given tools through which they can come to KNOW God – to know God in a deeply intimate and personal way that is unique to their own life experience and to their own unique giftedness and call.  They will be empowered to know the Divine that resides within their own hearts as the source of Truth, Guidance, Comfort, Healing, Love, Compassion, Peace, Joy, Mercy, Justice and Empowerment.  In coming to KNOW the Divine that lives within, we are healed of the fears and false perceptions that prevent us from remembering love…specifically, the love that we are.  When we remember this love, we are free to know peace and joy and to discover, cultivate and share our own unique giftedness so that we can experience the fulfillment that is intended to be known in the human journey.

Speaking of Love

After years of trying to figure out how to describe the work and the ministries that I offer, it seems I have found the words.  My job, the work that I do, is all directed toward helping my clients, students, readers, etc.   REMEMBER THE LOVE THAT YOU ARE.  And it turns out that it is through sound spiritual formation, combined with contemplative practices that we remember this love.  This is another one of those things that will set apart the worship, along with the expanded offerings of spiritual formation (more on that later).  Departing from the Western model of religious formation that begins with the idea that there is something inherently wrong with us (ie: original sin), and that there is a formula by which we strive to re-earn God’s love and approval so that we can know eternity in heaven, we discover instead that there is NOTHING WRONG with us.  In fact, EVERYTHING about us is good, benevolent, loving, kind, peaceful and filled with joy.  The problem is not that we “sinned” –  but that we forgot.  Through sound spiritual formation and engagement in contemplative spiritual practices, we REMEMBER  We are inspired (like Jesus and other spiritual masters) to identify the fears that keep us from remembering this love, we allow these fears to be healed and we are restored to the recollection of our natural state which is love.  From this perspective, we don’t follow the Ten Commandments or the Beatitudes just because we are told to do so, instead, a virtuous life flows effortlessly and naturally out of the knowledge that we are love.  Rosaries are said because they help our minds quiet so that we can connect with God, not to earn indulgences that will buy our way out of purgatory.  Service is done because love naturally flows outward….not because we are expected to do “Good works” to earn God’s favor.  Providing a foundation of spiritual formation that encourages contemplative practice allows the human spirit to blossom into the fullness of its natural magnificence….AND we come to know heaven on earth.

A Word on Traditional Worship

“In this model, is there still a place for traditional worship?” you may ask.  In a nutshell….you bet!  As I observed while working as a Lay Minister in the Catholic Church, Religious Formation (as we experience through the Catechism, study of theology, scripture, etc. and in attending the mass) is necessary for those who choose a specific set of beliefs and desire to live that in community.  Traditional worship provides the Yang to the Yin of Spiritual Formation.  Traditional worship gives us form, structure, ritual that allows us to live our beliefs in a public forum.  In my opinion, the healthiest, most balanced of religious institutions would provide equal opportunities for both.  Unfortunately, most Western religious institutions aren’t there yet, hence the vision and ministry of Authentic Freedom Ministries – providing opportunities for men, women and children to balance the religions of the mind with the Divine in their heart.

Where have you been given opportunities to KNOW not just about God but to actually KNOW God in your heart?

Where have you learned and explored opportunities for contemplative practice?

Where do you find the balance between the traditional religious experience and spiritual formation?

Lauri Lumby

Authentic Freedom Ministries

http://yourspiritualtruth.com

Posted in church, guilt, Raised Catholic

Catholic Guilt (and any other religious guilt for that matter!)

The statistics cannot be denied.  My Blog traffic has QUADRUPLED since I revisited Catholic stuff.  HMMMM  Are Catholics searching?  Hurting?  Wondering?  Longing?   Maybe.  So, today’s blog addresses the topic of Catholic Guilt – or any other guilt for that matter that is imposed upon us from outside perceived authorities (ie: religious institutions). 

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Don’t Get Me Wrong

I have said it before, and I will say it again.  I LOVE my Catholic faith.  I love the spiritual traditions, the rituals, the sacraments, the art and architecture, the lives of the saints, Catholic devotionals, the rosary, Mary, I can even throw a novena or two into the pot of things that I love about my Catholic upbringing….oh yea….and the Catholic school uniforms.  LOVED my uniform!  I love the amazing nuns and religious brothers that taught us (ok, with the exception of a few), and I have great respect for many of the priests who have led the various Catholic parishes in which I claimed membership.  These are the things that allow me to continue to claim my Catholic heritage and to even admit that as a grown up, I still consider myself to be Catholic even though there are certain teachings, rules, etc. that I no longer choose to observe.  If that makes me a “Cafeteria Catholic,” then so be it.

 

What the Institution Got Wrong (in my maybe not so humble opinion)

But here’s the problem.  Somewhere along the way, the Institution of the Catholic Church missed the WHOLE point of Jesus’ message – GOD IS LOVE.  Instead, here is the image of God that Catholics are taught (and other religions with them) and here is the image that keeps us chained in the cycle of guilt imposed upon us by the Institution:

God is a judging, condemning God whose approval we have to earn and who will deny us HIS love if we do not toe the line.

Yes, we have all heard the moral platitudes:  God is loving and forgiving.  If you seek God’s forgiveness, you will be forgiven.  If you confess your sins to the priest and receive absolution, you will be freed of your sins and made ready to join God in HIS glory. 

But here’s the problem….no one really believes this, and I’m not sure the Institution wants us to.  Instead, what is presented to us is a system of rules and regulations that we are supposed to follow and only if we follow these rules (as set forth by the Institution), AND confess our sins, AND receive the sacraments, AND perform certain acts of prayer and service in order to receive indulgences (YES….indulgences are still in full force…even today), AND NEVER miss Sunday mass, AND refrain from using birth control, AND vote pro-life, AND give 10% to the Church, AND never get divorced, etc. etc. etc.   only then can we have any hope of going to heaven after we die.  But even all of this might not be enough as the threat of purgatory is forever waved in our face.  No wonder Catholics feel guilty all the time.  Once you start to seek, ask the questions, explore, make other choices, there is someone waving the flag of “hell and damnation” in your face.  “Don’t question the Church…or you will go to hell.  Father knows best.  The ONLY truth is in the Catholic Church.  You’re not welcome here if you can’t obey our rules.”

 

Guilt is the Devil

So, what does this cycle of fear and guilt do to us?  It keeps us quiet, small, blindly obedient, afraid.  It keeps us firmly locked in the beginning stages of spiritual development where we do what we are told and believe it because it is what we were told to believe.  It keeps us from using the mind that God gave us to reason, discern and exercise truth.  It keeps us from ever becoming spiritually mature adults and from becoming the empowered, self-motivated apostles that the Institution claims they want us to be.  (For more on the stages of spiritual development, see the work of James Fowler:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fowler’s_stages_of_faith_development)  Fear, intimidation and guilt are the tools used by an Institution that does not want us to seek, to ask the tough questions, to challenge, to balance theology with reason, to hold the Institution accountable.  It is for this reason (among others) that I say GUILT IS THE DEVIL.  Used in this way, guilt does nothing but keep us from the truth that God would reveal to us on a deeply intimate and personal level.  So, my answer to Catholic guilt when it shows up, trying to keep me from asking the questions, challenging perceived and assumed authority, “GET BEHIND ME SATAN,” because I know that God is love…..we are loved without condition…..abundantly, freely, generously, and that there is nothing we could ever do that could separate us from the love of God….regardless of what the Institution might want us to believe.

 

Where do you struggle with Catholic (or other) guilt?

Where do you feel called to question, search, challenge the beliefs you were brought up with?

How might God be calling you to explore the truth within your own heart?

Lauri Lumby

Authentic Freedom Ministries

http://yourspiritualtruth.com

Posted in About Lauri, Spiritual Practices

Special Edition – The Mystic’s Curse

Some people, as they move and grow along the spiritual path discover that their’s is the unique path of the mystic.  The mystic’s path is a profound gift, but at the same time in a world that might label the mystic as “just plain nuts,” it can sometimes seem like a curse.  This special edition of “Your Spiritual Truth” came about as I realized that yet again, my body was somehow reacting to the volatile weather patterns of Mother Earth – this time in honor of the hurricane’s currently hammering the East Coast.  ARGH!

 

Defining Mysticism

In searching for a concise and valid definition of mysticism (at least as I have experienced it), a found a great one in all places, The Catholic Encyclopedia: 

Mysticism, according to its etymology, implies a relation to mystery. In philosophy, Mysticism is either a religious tendency and desire of the human soul towards an intimate union with the Divinity, or a system growing out of such a tendency and desire. As a philosophical system, Mysticism considers as the end of philosophy the direct union of the human soul with the Divinity through contemplation and love, and attempts to determine the processes and the means of realizing this end. This contemplation, according to Mysticism, is not based on a merely analogical knowledge of the Infinite, but as a direct and immediate intuition of the Infinite.

What seems to set mysticism apart from other philosophical of religious paths is the piece about DIRECT EXPERIENCE.  What this means is that the mystic knows the Divine not just as an intellectual construct based on theologies, thoughts, ideas, etc. but that the mystic has experienced the gift of a direct, intimate, emotional experience of Oneness with that which we might call “God.”  As such, the mystic’s experiences are those of the heart, the soul and the intuition and are not limited by the constructs of the mind.  In a rational, logical, pragmatic, intellectual world, this path is often perceived as irrational (because IT IS!) maybe even bordering on insane.   It is this tension between the “real” world and the world of the mystic that creates what I have come to refer to as “the Mystic’s curse.” 

The First Signs of the Mystic

You know, it is never really much fun to be the “weird kid.”  As early as I can remember, I had what I can now define as “mystical” experiences.  Knowing truths I should not have known, sensing other people’s emotions, feelings, thoughts.  Being able to read “the energy” of a room.  Knowing there was something bigger, greater, kinder, more loving that what I had observed in the human condition.  Finding myself confused over the fear-based and often violent ways of humankind.  Not understanding certain “institutions” and their “laws.”  Finding comfort and inspiration in fairytales, magic, mystery, fairies and witches on broomsticks.  The “world” that I inhabited within myself bore a marked contrast to the world I saw “out there.”  Thanks to my Catholic upbringing, I found the perfect vehicle through which I could indulge these mystical tendencies, quietly, in private and just between me and God…and that was the mass, along with the spiritual practices of my Catholic faith.  I was the weird kid who actually liked going to mass and praying the rosary.  Weird, insane, irrational?  Right?

You can run but you can’t hide!

So, as long as I had the mass and the rosary, I got to keep those direct experiences of the Divine just to myself.  Me and God had lots of conversations, private moments and tender revelations.  Ah….but then I had to grow up and when I grew up I found the mystical part of myself wanting to come out of the closet (in spite of my protestations).  So, I found myself guided along many pathways, through many theologies, always finding myself at the doorstep of the world’s mystical practices – ecstatic dance, meditation, contemplation, yoga, Lectio-Divina, mantra prayer, chant, etc. etc. etc.  Little did I know that this pathway would break open the doors to my own heart and mind, while making me look even MORE insane to the outside world.  What?  You can heal with your hands?  You can feel when a major weather event will hit the earth (like today’s hurricane for example)?  You will weep tears of heartbreaking pain over the fear in the world that toppled the Twin Towers?  You can look into someone’s eyes and energy field and tell if they are lying?  Really?  Are you sure you don’t just have a vivid imagination or might just be nuts?  Come on, there’s no room for that in our logical, practical world.  HHHMMMMM  

Crazy but not alone!

As a young adult, I might have been tempted to agree with these kinds of sentiments….but now that I am a grow up….I protest!  In fact, I think as a species, we are more in need of the mystic than we ever have been before!  And the good news is that I am not alone in these mystical tendencies.  For this I give thanks to my favorite Catholic saints: Bernadette, Francis and Clare, Teresa and John, Hildegard, Joan of Arc.  And then there are the Eastern Mystics: Kabir, Rumi, Yogananda, etc. etc. etc.   Oh yea…not to mention Jesus, the Buddha, Mohammed, Moses, Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr.  And what kind of friend would I be if I did not also give thanks to my circle of crazy mystical brothers and sisters (you know who you are!!!).  HMMMM   Maybe being a mystic isn’t so bad afterall….even if hurricanes on the East Coast make you go loopy!

Lauri Lumby

Authentic Freedom Ministries

http://yourspiritualtruth.com

Posted in Inspiration

Giving Honor to the Divine Feminine

In the Western spiritual tradition, the images of God are decidedly masculine.  Let us not forget that importance of remembering that the Divine is its feminine form, hence giving honor to the feminine within ourselves as well. 


Mary Rocks!

One of the things I love about having grown up Catholic is the devotion offered to Mary, the Mother of Jesus.  In the Catholic tradition, Mary has been given many titles including:  Co-Redemtrix, Mediatrix of Peace, Mother of God, Immaculate Conception, Queen of Heaven, Theotokos (God-bearer).  In her human incarnation, Mary played the important role of saying yes to the invitation to birth the Divine (through Jesus) into the world.  She bore and raised the man that would bring God’s word of love into the world and she bore witness to her son’s suffering and death and to her word of the resurrection was delivered.  In Catholic practice and doctrine, Mary has been elevated far beyond the simply human role of mother.  She is considered to be co-redemtrix with her son in freeing us of the false perception of separation from God, thus providing for us the pathway to contentment, love and joy…in this world and in the next.

Waking up to Mary

I was first inspired to give honor to our “Divine Mother” when I awakened this morning to images of Mary in my mind.  It has been a restless night of chaotic and anxious dreams, so I found comfort in remembering that Mary is available to us as a source of healing and comfort.  Instead of jumping out of bed to tend to my daily journaling practice, I stayed in bed, placed my hands over my heart and offered prayers of surrender to Mary and her healing love.  A few Hail-Marys even found their way into my prayer.  In this time with Mary, I found my anxieties calmed and my mind quieted.  Thanks Mary!

There are NO Coincidences

After spending 20 minutes with Mary in prayerful repose, I got up, tended to my journaling and got about the business of my morning.  Then I picked up the daily scripture…….and I was forced to LAUGH!!!!   It just so happens that TODAY, May 13th is the Catholic feast of Our Lady of Fatima.   From May 13 – October 13, 1917, Mary appeared to three shepherd children in Fatima Portugal and revealed herself as Our Lady of the Rosary.  Mary reminded the world, through these children the importance of turning our attention to God, to allowing our hearts to be opened to and by Divine love, (giving her own Immaculate Heart as an example) and to the value of prayer (including the rosary).

Why does any of this matter?

Whether or not you were raised Catholic, Mary provides an important example of human witness.  She has been portrayed as a woman of prayer, of obedience to the path that she discerned God had in mind for her and followed the counsel of her heart as led by God.  In a western tradition that tends to favor the masculine, Mary reminds us that the Divine can be revealed in feminine form and what those feminine attributes of the Divine might be:  gentleness, an open and listening heart, tenderness, vulnerability and a calming presence.  As we grow spiritually, we are invited to explore, discover and embrace all the infinite experiences of God, including masculine, feminine (and other)…AND we are invited to integrate ALL of these qualities within ourselves.  Today, I invite you to explore the Feminine Divine in all its forms….most importantly….that which lies within.

Just for fun

And just for fun, and because sometimes I enjoy the oldy-moldy Catholic devotions, here is the Novena to the Immaculate Heart of Mary which is part of the Feast of Our Lady of Fatima:

Novena Prayer to the Immaculate Heart of Mary

O Most Blessed Mother, heart of love, heart of mercy, ever listening, caring, consoling, hear our prayer. As your children, we implore your intercession with Jesus your Son. Receive with understanding and compassion the petitions we place before you today, especially …(special intention).

We are comforted in knowing your heart is ever open to those who ask for your prayer. We trust to your gentle care and intercession, those whom we love and who are sick or lonely or hurting. Help all of us, Holy Mother, to bear our burdens in this life until we may share eternal life and peace with God forever.
Amen.

Lauri Lumby
Authentic Freedom Ministries
http://yourspiritualtruth.com