Saturday, March 18, 2006

Interiorize Christ to Yourself

This is a quote from Meister Eckhart. Whether or not one enjoys his unique (and at times, possibly heterodox) style of theologizing, this is an urgent summons for us today.

Why do we go inside ourselves? Many people object to the idea as a form of self-worship in one of two forms.

Some say that we should retreat inside ourselves to find ourselves. This is not the immediate goal of the Christian, though we will eventually find ourselves as a result of this interiority.

Some say that we should retreat inside ourselves to find God. I would also argue that this is not the immediate goal, though it again should be what we are shooting for eventually. But if we are too hasty about it, too impatient for results, we are likely to confuse God with our feelings and inner states, neither of which is God.

God is 'more interior to ourselves than we are' according to St. Augustine, yet His presence and profound interiority are so foreign to our ways of perceiving that His coming (or our arriving at Him) will often at first have the impression of being outside ourselves.

What we seek, when we 'seek first the Kingdom of God' which is 'within [us]', is a fixed point of reference from which we can begin to identify and name our thoughts and impulses and even God objectively. When we are not still, not interior, we are 'shallow' to be sure, but even more, we are blown about by winds of various animal impulses and so unable to see clearly wherein truth lies. The paradox is that inner stillness and inner awareness creates in me not only an objectivity about myself, but an openness to others, even an attentiveness and a solicitude. We begin to approach others as grounded and stable human beings rather than as needy individuals looking to get something out of others. The Other is no longer seen as a threat. The will to embrace the Other becomes a habit as we learn, by constant reference to this stillness within, to 'pray constantly'.

This can only be accomplished with grace, which must be borne in mind before we begin seeking stillness.

Peace be with you. I invite you, as always, to visit our monastery's website.

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If I, who seem to be your right hand and am called Presbyter and seem to
preach the Word of God, If I do something against the discipline of the Church
and the Rule of the Gospel so that I become a scandal to you, The Church, then
may the whole Church, in unanimous resolve, cut me, its right hand, off, and
throw me away.

Origen of Alexandria
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