NYWC: What the Monks can Teach Us

I'm blogging this morning from a seminar with Dave Ambrose subtitled "Rediscovering the Ancient Art of Listening to God." Originally, I intended to take a lot of student leadership courses, and then the schedule had them all overlapping. The other theme that caught my eye was soul-care and spiritual direction type topics, and I took those two circumstances as a little sign to adjust my course for this year's convention.

Here's my notes:

Goal: Become more in love with Jesus every day, so that I know that a) following Jesus is the hardest work I've ever done, and b) that it's worth it.

Who am I as a follower of Jesus Christ?

Where in my life can I experience silence and solitude daily?
We often tell kids to go to the Bible for information, but spiritual practices like lectio divina are designed to "let the Scripture read us." Hebrews 4:12-- "For the Word of God is living and active..."
Pay attention to senses when reading the Bible.
Scripture memory: we make excuses for not practicing this discipline but we know the lyrics of all the songs we like. It's more important to know what Scripture says than to know the chapters and verses precisely.
What you memorize is important too-- some of the things people traditionally memorize are the Commandments, Creed, Lord's Prayer, Beatitudes, Fruit of the Spirit, Psalm 23, and the Ladder of Virtue (1 Peter chapter 1 verses 5-11)
Daily Office: Prayer at specific times during the day (fixed-hour prayer), intentionally taking out time from work or other commitments to worship. General format is 3 Psalms, the Creed and the Lord's Prayer. The services help establish a rhythm and give us a base of time with God.
St. Ignatius' Daily Examen: An examination of one's conscience. There are several forms, but one of the simplest is two questions-- where did I see God today? and where did I miss God today? The goal is to prepare for tomorrow and be a little more ready to see God.
The Jesus Prayer: from Luke chapter 18, the story of the Pharisee and the tax collector at the temple. "Lord Jesus Christ, son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner." Pray back each word-- say each word or phrase in the prayer, then stop and pray over what that means.
Guided Meditation
Bodily Approaches to Spirituality (via activa): Fasting-- different kinds of fasts, fasting from different things-- all fasts are a way to gain control over something that owns me and to learn self-control.
Stations of the Cross
Creative Prayers: Use symbols, actions. Don't underestimate the power of putting your body in various postures; kneeling, bowing, standing, raising hands.
Sabbath: from Shabbot, means "ceasing"-- let God mess up your life and give you His rhythm instead
Service: start within your family, then in your church, then move to the world in need.


"In the spiritual life, the word "discipline" means 'the effort to create some space in which God can act.'" --Henry Nouwen
"All of the world's problems stem from the fact that man does not know how to be alone in his own room." --Blaise Pascal

And my responses:

We did a Lectio form with the story of the healing at Bethesda, John 5:1-15. I walked through the story as one of the disciples, and the thought I had was, when I watched Jesus heal the man, "I SO want to be able to do that too."

One of the reasons I've had trouble with spiritual disciplines lately is because I've been trying to find and practice the ones I love the best, and missing the idea that sometimes you do need to work at a discipline (imagine that) to make it something that you love and value. As I'm trying some of the new things that Dave offered us this morning, I think a better way than what I've been doing would be to work out a balance; practice some spiritual things for the sheer joy I get out of them, and others for the sense of diligence and self-control that I need in my life.

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