Monday, June 02, 2008

Activism and Contemplation

These were the topics of Fr.'s homily last night.

The reading was Matthew 7:21-27 - "Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven.22 "Many will say to Me in that day, 'Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?'23 "And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!'24 "Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock:25 "and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock.26 "Now everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand:27 "and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell. And great was its fall."

A hard reading to understand, to translate to every day life. At least for me....

Fr. concentrated on looking at the interior life, on building our house, our life on rock - look not only at what we do but look at what these are built upon - what good are our good works, if we do good works without a base of faith, without the strength of God? If we are activists, good, but we can be better. Activism alone is not good enough.

How do we build our life upon the rock? How do we build our interior life?
By adding in contemplation. Prayer. The Sacraments.

And how does this help me, as a homeschooling mother, a part time business woman, a wife, a volunteer, a friend?
I am definitely a do-er.

One helpful article is this - the Domestic Monastery.

After reading this, I say Ouch. I wasn't very nice or very patient last night!
Snippet from the article -

All monasteries have a bell. Bernard, in writing his rules for monasticism, told his monks that whenever the monastic bell rang, they were to drop whatever they were doing and go immediately to the particular activity (prayer, meals, work, study, sleep) to which the bell was summoning them... The idea in his mind was that when the bell called, it called you to the next task and you were to respond immediately, not because you want to, but because it's time for that task and time isn't your time, it's God's time. For him, the monastic bell was intended as a discipline to stretch the heart by always taking you beyond your own agenda to God's agenda.Hence, a mother raising children, perhaps in a more privileged way even than a professional contemplative, is forced, almost against her will, to constantly stretch her heart.....For years, while raising children, her time is never her own, her own needs have to be kept in second place, and every time she turns around a hand is reaching out and demanding something. She hears the monastic bell many times during the day and she has to drop things in mid-sentence and respond, not because she wants to, but because it's time for that activity and time isn't her time, but God's time

What else helps me towards contemplation? I try to get to extra Masses during the week and I have a time of prayer and , sometimes, of spiritual reading, each morning.

When I was breastfeeding a baby, my prayer time was the early morning/middle of the night times of breastfeeding. Now, it is on rising - or, if I am off to early Mass or early appointments, it is during car time or workout time. Or before bed...

I think of St Theresa of Avila, when she was asked what is the most important, action or contemplation. Her response was that the most important word is the word “and”.

I think this is what Fr. was stressing. The importance of activism, yes, but activism with the basis, the fortress, the foundation, the rock of contemplation.

At least, that is my take on the homily!
( I love it when a homily really makes me think, really challenges me..)


Anonymous said...

I'm glad my homily had such a profound effect! But your take on it has got me thinking of a few things as well... thank you! Fr B

Cath said...

"time isn't your time, it's God's time."

Thanks Leonie for posting that link. Certainly puts a different spin on motherhood, and a good one at that. Must go think some more.... :-)

Leonie said...

Hey, we are all thinking..Good, huh? :-)