To prepare for the Holy Triduum, despite being far from my community at St. Monica’s in Los Angeles and my community in the PI…through the gift of technology, I have been listening to the morning meditations conducted by Dr. Jim Finley. Dr. Jim Finley is a Merton scholar and master of the “Contemplative Way.” He lived as a Trappist monk and Thomas Merton was his spiritual director. Um, awesome. 🙂
When I lived in LA, I attended his weekly 5:30am meditations during Lent, and they were absolutely beautiful. What a blessing it is to have found that this year’s meditations are recorded – along with all of the cool audio/visual links that St. Monica’s provides.
Here, he talks about the verse: “Love is Patient.” This could not have come at a better time.
** I loved the recordings and they have all helped me tremendously, so I transcribed them – here it is for you!**
|prayer and contemplation – Fr. Rudy, SJ in Cavite, Philippines|
I was thinking this year, I base this series of reflections on love. And, we’re always thinking about what we’re gonna give up for Lent, and say, we can practice giving up not being loving – we can give that up. And, ask God for the grace to be more loving, because God is love and through love we become one with God and one with each other. And the passage i would like to base these reflections on is the celebrated passage in First Corinthians Chapter 13 on Love.
If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing.
Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant,does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered,does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth;bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
Love never fails; but if there are gifts of prophecy, they will be done away; if there are tongues, they will cease; if there is knowledge, it will be done away.For we know in part and we prophesy in part;but when the perfect comes, the partial will be done away.When I was a child, I used to speak like a child, think like a child, reason like a child; when I became a man, I did away with childish things.For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known.But now faith, hope, love, abide these three; but the greatest of these is love.
and i would like to start first with “love is patient.” and i’d like to meditate on patience as a way of life. that, it often happens in life that we find ourself in the midst of a hurtful situation – in a hurtful situation from which we cannot easily or quickly free ourselves. it goes on and on, and we realize, it’s gonna take a while.
this hurtful situation can be a medical symptom in our body, it can be psychological problems, depression, anxiety, self-sabotaging behavior, addiction…it can be problems in a relationship, that are very difficult to even approach, much less resolve, but there are things that weigh us down and from which we cannot quickly or easily free ourselves.
if we flip it around, we can also say, that there are goals in life, things that we hope for, things we believe in, things we seek to achieve and we discover we cannot easily achieve them. that it takes effort, and perseverance, and we’re gonna have to hang in there, and lean into it, and keep working on it. life’s like this.
and what we find in these situations that as the difficulty in freeing ourselves from suffering, the difficulty in reaching the desired goal – is that, it is tempting, but it is not helpful to be impatient. surely, it’s not helpful to be impatient to the point that we give up. because if we give up and walk away, we abandon ourself. if we give up getting past the suffering, we fall into despair in the midst of suffering. if we give up on our dream, walk away, we never reach our dream. so then it’s not helpful to give up.
likewise, we find it’s not helpful to use force – that we’re going to apply more pressure, and make it happen. this is not helpful. because when we use force, we engage in violence – and we try to make life happen on our terms. and we just make things worse. likewise, it doesn’t help to get angry that you can’t make it happen – that the universe will not cooperate with your plans. and you quickly discover you can’t make anybody in your life do anything, and you can’t even make yourself do some things.
because there are habits in the the mind and heart that do not easily go away. and so here we are, here we are. engaging in such things, asking for the grace to be patient. to be patient. to not lose heart. don’t walk away, don’t use force. but lean into it, in an ongoing, persevering, patient way.
and when we live like this, we begin to discover that here maybe, it was most important – is not the goal we were reaching for. nor maybe it’s not most important that we get past the suffering, that we want so much to be free from. we begin to realize that in patience, we are being transformed into a patient person. and maybe what matters most is the transformation – and love, that patience brings.
you see this in people who have been transformed in long suffering, who have not fallen into despair, or who have not become bitter. you see it in people who are ripe with just lots of deep sobriety from addiction. you see it in people who are dedicated to a cause they deeply believe in and does not come without a price. you see it in people who are struggling with difficulties and patiently move on day by day. and, you see this quality in people, auspicious, graciousness about them. they’re good people to be with. and it’s good to become such a person.
and here i think we see the spirituality of patience. there’s a famous prayer of Teresa of Avila sometimes called the “Bookmark of Teresa of Avila.” i think when she died, they found it as a bookmark, hence it’s name in one of her books.
let nothing disturb thee
let nothing frighten thee
all things are passing
God alone remains
patience obtains all things
and here’s the thing – all these struggles that we’re going through, all the things we’re trying to get past, are passing. and the self that’s trying to get through them is passing. all the goals we see, as nobel as they are, attained or unattained, they are all passing. everything that begins in time, ends in time – it’s all ashes. it’s all turning to ashes. but in the midst of all that’s passing away there is the love that never passes away. and in the unexpected intimacy of the patient effort, we begin to experience His deathless love in the intimacy of our minds and hearts – it surprises us. we didn’t expect it. it calls for a shift in perception – a shift in an understanding, like a deeper way to understand what it means to understand…about what really matters – what really counts.
that God alone remains; patience obtains all things. just wait long enough, none of us will be here. all will be swept away. but there is in the fleetingness of our lives, the eternality of love that intimately gives itself to us in patience, in patience. and maybe this is what it’s about. this is what it’s about.
and so, maybe we could see that the whole gospel story is the story of the revelation of patience. Jesus was hanging on the cross as love crucified being patient with us – he hung there, watching them gambling for his clothes, casting lots, and who was gonna get his cloak. not a happy outcome. but he never gave up on us, never turned against us. “Father, forgive them, they know not what they do.”
how patient God is with us. and how we can taste the infinite patience of God and the willingness to be led by God to be patient with ourselves, patient with each other, patient with the situation, and so i think then, here is our prayer – our meditation.
you can sit with these 30 minutes in reflective prayer. who are the people in your life who have been patient with you and for who you are immensely grateful to have? who are the people that let you know how grateful they are that you’re patient with them? and how blessed you are to be blessed in seeing how grace is working in your life? what are these relational realities? what is the suffering that has been caused by the people who have not been patient with you? and the suffering that’s been caused because you’ve not been patient with them and with yourself? and how to ask God for the grace of patience.
or you can take a more contemplative approach of wordless prayer – sit still, sit straight – present, open and awake – neither clinging to nor rejecting anything, like an unlearned child in quiet awareness of the breathing.
if you want to use the word, “i love you, i love you,” as your prayer of your breath – where you inhale – silently inhale God’s “i love you” that is life itself and when you exhale, give yourself to the love that gives itself to you. and sit that way that for 30 minutes. do not daydream, do not fall asleep, do not slip away into thinking, but sit straight in the virginal immediacy of this love.
and if you try to sit that way for 30 minutes, you’ll discover you need to be very patient with yourself. because you will not do well at it – but the ability to endlessly circle back to reinstate the intention to be simply present, sitting here in silence, you can learn to be patient. and learn to be patient. and in the silence of this prayer, experience God’s infinite patience for you.