I am currently reading Christianity After Religion: The End Of Church And The Birth Of A New Spiritual Awakening by Diana Butler Bass.
Why did Diana write this book?
“This book is concerned with religion and change—specifically how Christianity, especially Christianity in the United States, is changing and how people are questioning conventional patterns of faith and belief.”
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“To awaken spiritually means that we develop a new awareness of God’s energy in the world in order to discern what is needed to open the possibilities for human flourishing. Discernment leads to new understandings of self, neighbor, and God—a vision of what can and should be. Thus, awakening demands we act upon the new vision. Wake up, discern, imagine, and do. What will make a difference to the future is awakening to a faith that fully communicates God’s love—a love that transforms how we believe, what we do, and who we are in the world.”
Four actions jump out at me: wake up, discern, imagine, do.
Let’s discuss them one at a time.
Centering Prayer helps me discover God’s energy both in the world and in my inner world. Centering Prayer slows me down. When I slow down I am better able to open to both the presence and action of God within. I have discovered that I can also take this slowness into my non silent times of the day and open to the presence and action of God that is all around me.
Centering prayer helps me better discern the actions that I need to take. What tasks do I need to complete at work? How can I resolve an issue at work? What should I do after work? Who can I help today? When someone annoys me or hurts my feelings what next steps should I take or not take? When is silence the best course? When is no action the best action? I have noticed that when I slow down I am better able to discern the inner actions and nudges of the Divine.
When I slow down I am better able to imagine new possibilities. That once impossible task at work now seems to have a solution. I discover a better way to help my child with a situation that preciously caused him to struggle. I find a new book to read or a new show to watch that opens new vistas for me. I seem more open to trying, exploring and doing new things. At the end of the day, I like to look back and review with God the new and exciting highlights from the day.
Centering prayer reveals what actions God wants me to do today. I am better able to discern my daily and future tasks and actions. I am better able to partner with God and discern the small steps that will complete my future goals and tasks. I am better able to discern when to take no action and when to just shut up when I discern it is my emotions and not God’s inner nudge.
As I continue to wake up, discern, imagine and do, I will as Diana states communicate God’s love to both me and others that I come into contact with each day. And more importantly, God’s love will transform how we believe, what we do, and who we are in the world.
Grounded: Finding God in the World-A Spiritual Revolution by Diana Butler Bass
Grateful: The Transformative Power of Giving Thanks by Diana Butler Bass
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Contemplative Discernment by Fr. Carl Arico, Pamela Begeman, Gail Fitzpatrick-Hopler: A contemplative practice of discernment is not about decision-making, although this may be an eventual outcome. Rather, contemplative discernment is receptive in nature, a process of opening to receive clues about who we are in God. We focus on ever-deepening levels of relationship and trust in God’s will for us. We learn how to listen deeply to our motivations and sort through and purify any mixed motivations. As this relationship deepens, we learn to allow the love of God to motivate our actions and manifest through us. We discover what it means to truly pray “not my will, but Thy will.”
Embracing Living: The Welcoming Prayer by Contemplative Outreach, Mary Dwyer, Therese Saulnier, Cherry Haisten, Jim McElroy: The Welcoming Prayer is a method of consenting to God’s presence and action in our physical and emotional reactions to events and situations in daily life. If Centering Prayer (or another daily prayer) is practiced for one hour of the day, the Welcoming Prayer is for the other 23 hours. It is a “letting go” in the present moment, in the midst of the activity of ordinary life.
Practicing the Presence of God by Pamela Begeman, Mary Ann Brussat, Gail Fitzpatrick-Hopler, David Frenette: We live in a world of complexity, fragmentation, noise, and haste. We sometimes find ourselves overwhelmed by the sheer quantity of tasks, appointments, and commitments facing us. How can we experience God in the midst of the busyness, responsibilities, and activities of our daily lives? By practice. By living more in the present mome
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