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Title: The Word of Our Lord Jesus Christ
Post by: eschator83 on November 15, 2021, 09:40:19 AM
In other threads I've referred to my Word cards, which I began writing about 30 years ago, shortly after I started RCIA.  Today I have not just one deck of about 150 cards, but 3, and two other decks I've given to family members.  I have one deck in alphabetical order by subject, the second deck is sorted by the number and variety of Gospels which report the teaching, and the third deck is sometimes modified in order by the category of teaching (promises, instructions, prohibitions, prophecies, and explanations) or by the type of teaching (clear, difficult, or controversial).
I've been very consistent in reading, or meditating on at least one card every day, and it has given me enormous satisfaction, sometimes feeling very much as if I were actually listening to Jesus teach.   
Today's card, in alphabetic order in the clear deck, is titled suffering, which seemed a remarkable if not amazing coincidence in view of all the work I've done the past few days trying to understand Church views on that subject.  The card summarizes the three predictions of Jesus' torment reported in the three Synoptic Gospels (Mt 16.21, 17.22, 20.18, Mk 8.31, 9.30, 10.30, Lk 9.22, 9.44, 18.31)  Recently I've tried to follow some of the Contemplation methods we've discussed here instead of other meditation procedures for the cards, although I think many of the cards are too complex, like this one, for Contemplation, even though today I lightly but clearly felt that warmth and pressure in my chest that can come quite often during prayer.
I hope to share some other cards with you here because I would be very grateful for your comments, on these or any other teachings of Jesus. Would this be appropriate?

Title: Re: The Word of Our Lord Jesus Christ
Post by: Shin on November 15, 2021, 07:39:51 PM
I would be happy to hear some of your insights this way.

Title: Re: The Word of Our Lord Jesus Christ
Post by: Benedict on November 15, 2021, 09:54:09 PM
Recently I've tried to follow some of the Contemplation methods we've discussed here instead of other meditation procedures for the cards, although I think many of the cards are too complex, like this one, for Contemplation
I personally would like you to describe which method you used that we have discussed. Are you referring to Lectio Divina? Contemplation is the last step in Lectio Divina; which is reading, meditation, prayer then contemplation.

Also try to describe the complexity. You need divine grace in order to be able to perform infused contemplation otherwise you acquired contemplation requires laborious study and a high degree of focus.
Denis the Carthusian, the Ecstatic Doctor, specifically says that contemplation is very taxing and cannot be sustained for long periods of time. Furthermore, contemplation, according to Brother Chrysostomos' book on Christian Doctrine says that contemplation does not use reason and that meditation makes use of discursive reasoning. Denis the Carthusian specifically designates contemplation as being propelled upward, anagogically, by the power of divine love to heavenly realities.

Meditation in brief: consider why did Jesus predict his passion? Because people would doubt that he had been crucified? Why would people doubt the crucifixion? People expected the Messiah to be a military leader who would wage war against the Roman state through raising an army and receiving supernatural help from God to establish a Jewish nationstate like that of David. The Cross was a stumbling block to the Jewish people because they rejected the murdered Messiah and foolishness to the Gentiles who expected an exalted orator to pronounce divine doctrines until natural death. The death of the Messiah, upon a Cross no less, is a great and dreadful scandal to the world who esteems the Christ as a criminal and the Messiah as a miscreant. Yet, according to the Apostle: the Cross is our salvation and our boast and the Christ is the Wisdom and Virtue of God no less! O what sublime and incomprehensible doctrine! O what foolishness that God has wrought, that He would allow His anointed to be touched, and no less mishandled, by the grave and reprobate merciless oppressors. Yet it was through His passion, that Jesus redeemed the world.

Contemplation in brief: It was in the Garden of Gethsemane that Jesus contemplated the sins of the world; His gentle heart was forced to behold all the sins of the dead, all the sins of the living and all the sins of every generation to come! O the humanity! Was it any wonder that He was covered in bloody sweat in anticipation of His selfless passion! O depraved and wretched world! How our sins caused the Savior such anguish and turmoil that His most blessed soul was sorrowful unto death, even begging in all sincerity that He might be spared from undergoing His bloody passion, He prayed the Father three times and no less that He might not have to drink this cup of torment and bear the dreadful curse of reprobation and the lashes of torment and the crown of sorrow and the mockery of the Gentiles and the rejection of Jews and the smiting of the hands and the spitting of the face! O wretched and depraved generation of mortals! How dare they treat the King of the Universe as a common criminal with no respect for His royal lineage, nor did they take into account His many good deeds, nor did they esteem Him as the Word made flesh full of grace and truth! O blind and reprehensible mankind! Rather they esteemed God as an object of scorn and a cause for mockery! Denied by His own people according to the flesh and beaten and abused by those whom He came to enlighten, Christ was scorned and mocked cruelly, mistreated by lawless men. Commanded to bear the heavy cross which so tormented Him as to inflict so great a wound upon His shoulder as to lay bare His bones and embracing the bloody instrument of His own death, He marched onwards to the place of the skull that He might become a champion over death by the power of love and mercy! Even as He was nailed with blunt and horrible nails upon that wretched wood, His blood spilt and covering His entire frame, He thought only of mercy and love to His captors and oppressors! O blessed and most merciful God! Thy love is above the heavens and thy mercy greater than all ours sins! This most blessed man, who though God, suffered greatly as to wound our hearts with the holy wound of love! O unapproachable Godhead, you approached mankind that you might die in order to give life to those dead in sins! Exalted above the earth, the Christ was raised between two thieves, mockers came by and denied Him, demanding that He should come down as He had saved others and yet He was unable to save Himself. They esteemed Him not, and yet loving them still, He did not rebuke them nor condemn them. His blessed Mother and most beloved disciple stood in awe, watching the Light of the world died in darkness, as the entire world began to shake and the light of the sun began to be shrouded. The reprobate thief demanding that Christ, if He was so, ought to save them. And the repentant thief, rebuked the reprobate thief, seeing that he feared not God and commended him to accept the just condemnation which had befallen the two thieves but seeing the innocent Messiah amongst them declared Him to be the cause of no wickedness. Turning his heart to the loving Christ and beseeching him, with godly humility, he begged the good Lord Jesus Christ to remember him when He would come into His kingdom. The Lord, with all beneficence befitting God, declared to that godly thief, that even this very day he would enter into Paradise with Him. O sweetest consolation! O most wonderful declaration! O holy Gospel of the Blessed God! That God would be crucified to save a single thief! O ineffable and inscrutable love of God! The heart cannot fathom the designs of the Almighty! And yet, loving the entirety of mankind, the gentle Christ, with eyes turned to heaven, beseeched the Father to grant pardon to the ignorant world, for they know not what they do. Indeed, the Holy Apostle informs us "For if they had known the mystery of God, they would never have crucified the Lord of glory.?" The Holy Pope Leo the Great also says that the devil, if he had known the plan of God, would have not crucified Jesus because it was by the Cross that humanity was redeemed and so unwittingly, the devil was deceived into bringing about the redemption of mankind! O subtle design of the Almighty! O blessed Wisdom from on high! O divine and indestructible providence! Nailed to the Cross, all the sins of the world, the Lamb of God took them upon Himself and by shedding His most precious blood to the very last drop, He secured salvation for the world! O love which knows no bounds! For upon the Cross, Jesus promised Paradise, begged Pardon, received the gall and consummated the Law and the Prophets! He payed in full the redemption price of all the sons of Adam! O most wealthy Redeemer! Above every created being is the Lord God! And when the time had come, He commended His human spirit to the Father and breathed His last breath and died for the sins of the world! And all of creation cried out! The veil was torn! The dead arose! The ground was rent and quaked! For the Holy One had descended among the dead, to seek those who had been waiting since the time of the flood! And to every soul that embraced the True Light in the world of the dead, they followed Him in His ascent, as a train of captives He took their souls to heaven, where they await the general resurrection at the blessed and dreadful second coming of our great Lord and God Jesus Christ who shall judge the living and the dead with great mercy and justice!

Title: Re: The Word of Our Lord Jesus Christ
Post by: eschator83 on November 16, 2021, 10:35:03 AM
As I've previously mentioned, I renewed my effort of consistent meditation in June with Fr Kersten's book, coincidently on the same day that Pope Francis gave his General Audience prayer address on the subject of meditation, although I didn't read about his comments until the following day.  I followed Fr K consistently until Sept 13, even keeping a journal, but the Sodality Mental Prayer book started the 13th, and I continue to practice it today.  All this time, for nearly 30 years, I've read my Word cards.  Also, I have read and reread the meditation books of several Popes.
My effort at Contemplation with Word cards began rather casually in September because I wasn't very successful with the Sodality book.  For the first time I typed the clear teaching cards instead of just reading them.  Then I tried typing a comment for each, but quickly stopped that.  Now I begin with a prayer, read the card, make a second prayer, listen, imagine, reflect on key words, repeat them, and then close with that second prayer again.
Today's card is entitled treasures; it reflects Mt 6.19 and comments that LK 12.33 is similar.  This card is in the clear deck because I think I understand it even though the instruction is difficult for me to follow. 
I'm still working on and hoping for your comments on suffering, which seems certainly to entail consideration of predestination, punishment, the nature of evil, healing, hope, love, and faith.  Treasure seems almost equally as complex for Contemplation, despite my effort to seek the Presence of God or the Cloud of Unknowing.  In my experience I almost always sense God's Presence unexpectantly and without a recent prior request, although usually in prayer as I speak to Him.

Title: Re: The Word of Our Lord Jesus Christ
Post by: Benedict on November 16, 2021, 01:20:26 PM
Now I begin with a prayer, read the card, make a second prayer, listen, imagine, reflect on key words, repeat them, and then close with that second prayer again.
This seems like a suitable method.
In my experience I almost always sense God's Presence unexpectantly and without a recent prior request, although usually in prayer as I speak to Him.
Sensing God's presence is a mystical experience. Your experience shows the clear doctrine that God does not require techniques to be present with His beloved children. God delights to be with us and loves to make His presence known.

One thing I want you to know is that complexity should not discourage you but should cause you to rely upon God all the more and seek the Holy Spirit who leads us into all truth and teaches us all truth. Even a single sentence from the Holy Spirit is worth more than an entire essay by a secular scholar.

Scripture involving the word treasure:
Matthew 6:19-21
Lay not up to yourselves treasures on earth: where the rust, and moth consume, and where thieves break through, and steal.
But lay up to yourselves treasures in heaven: where neither the rust nor moth doth consume, and where thieves do not break through, nor steal.
For where thy treasure is, there is thy heart also.

Numbers 20:5
O Lord God, hear the cry of this people, and open to them thy treasure, a fountain of living water, that being satisfied, they may cease to murmur. And the glory of the Lord appeared over them.

Proverbs 2:1-11
My son, if thou wilt receive my words, and wilt hide my commandments with thee,
That thy ear may hearken to wisdom: incline thy heart to know prudence.
For if thou shalt call for wisdom, and incline thy heart to prudence:
If thou shalt seek her as money, and shalt dig for her as for a treasure:
Then shalt thou understand the fear of the Lord, and shalt find the knowledge of God:
Because the Lord giveth wisdom: and out of his mouth cometh prudence and knowledge.
He wilt keep the salvation of the righteous, and protect them that walk in simplicity,
Keeping the paths of justice, and guarding the ways of saints.
Then shalt thou understand justice, and judgment, and equity, and every good path.
If wisdom shall enter into thy heart, and knowledge please thy soul:
Counsel shall keep thee, and prudence shall preserve thee,

Isaiah 33:5-6
The Lord is magnified, for he hath dwelt on high: he hath filled Sion with judgment and justice.
And there shall be faith in thy times: riches of salvation, wisdom and knowledge: the fear of the Lord is his treasure.

Matthew 12:35
A good man out of a good treasure bringeth forth good things: and an evil man out of an evil treasure bringeth forth evil things.

Matthew 13:44-45,52
The kingdom of heaven is like unto a treasure hidden in a field. Which a man having found, hid it, and for joy thereof goeth, and selleth all that he hath, and buyeth that field.
Again the kingdom of heaven is like to a merchant seeking good pearls.
Who when he had found one pearl of great price, went his way, and sold all that he had, and bought it.
He said unto them: Therefore every scribe instructed in the kingdom of heaven, is like to a man that is a householder, who bringeth forth out of his treasure new things and old.

2 Corinthians 4:5-7
For we preach not ourselves, but Jesus Christ our Lord: and ourselves your servants through Jesus.
For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God, in the face of Christ Jesus.
But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency may be of the power of God and not of us.

Meditation: What is our treasure? Our treasure is the grace of God. Where is our treasure? Our treasure is in the Kingdom of Heaven which is both within our hearts and in the world to come. Why do we treasure God's grace? God's grace is more valuable than all the gold and silver in the universe. Why is God's grace so valuable? God's grace is our salvation, it is remits our sins, it brings is unto friendship with God, it is our adoption as sons and daughters, it makes us pleasing to God, it raises us permanently to a higher plane of existence and infuses into us the theological virtues of faith, hope and love. If grace is valuable why does God give this treasure to us? God gives us the treasure of divine grace because God is Supremely Generous, Infinitely Wealthy, and Perfectly Benevolent.
Why is the treasure hidden in a field? Because it is easily overlooked unless one knows where to look and what it looks like. Thus knowledge of the hidden treasure is the first step towards recognizing it.
Knowledge of God precedes love for God, as one cannot love what one knows nothing about. The fear of the Lord or rather, awe before God is a great treasure and the beginning of Wisdom.
God is our treasure, His Word, His Wisdom, His Virtue, His Righteousness, His Holiness, His Glory, His Love: this is our treasure.
This treasure we do not lose by giving it to others but multiplying what we have, as the broken loathes filled twelve baskets, the treasure of the Divine Word we offer to enrich the poverty of this spiritually bankrupt world. For faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God and the Word of God is Jesus Christ. Seeing as the Holy Spirit is the Treasury of Blessings and the Giver of Life we are made rich by the Spirit of God who enables us to appreciate the true value of the Word of God and to accumulate interest within the bank of our mind. For if we treasure God, we shall possess Him and if we possess Him, we shall possess all things. For to have God is sufficient. Nothing more is necessary.
God gives us the opportunity to work for Him and to gain immense treasure in heaven by cooperating with His Spirit, namely merit which is the just reward for a good deed which God's grace has enabled and God's will has desired. This is the good treasure of the good man, meritorious thoughts, words and actions. Demerit is the just reward for evil deeds which man's will has desired to perform against the will of God and this is the evil treasure of the evil man. For the good man delights in the good he has performed by the grace of God and the evil man delights in the evil he has done by his own freedom.
Wisdom is a great treasure, the greatest of the gifts of the Spirit, which allows us to taste the sweetness of the Lord and behave in a manner befitting of the Gospel, for Wisdom is justified by wise deeds.

Title: Re: The Word of Our Lord Jesus Christ
Post by: eschator83 on November 17, 2021, 01:16:32 PM
Many thanks for your wonderful response.  Contemplation, or Communion with the Divine Trinity seems so much more pure than at least some of the results of meditation, especially if my mind roams to speculation or curiosity.  But as I've said before, my spiritual director said to always examine carefully my mind-wanderings in prayer, because they could be from God, and not to be dismayed by them.
 Is it irony, paradox, or coincidence that that we come back to the issue (among many other issues) of the relationship of good and evil, whether in suffering or treasure or where-ever.  Shin did a great Concordance on evil years ago, and I go back to review it periodically, but somehow there seems an aspect or manifestation or representation of a strange appearance or illusion of duality.  Not by Shin, but by portions of Scripture itself.  Last night I dreamed about suffering in several aspects, I woke up thinking about it (not to mention sore feet and shoulder) and I keep wondering if I can find anything worthwhile to say.
Note my Word card didn't reflect Mt 12.35 because NAB uses the terms store of good and evil to escape the distraction of the oxymoron of evil treasure.  I wish we could find a new word for Heavenly treasure, to more clearly distinguish from earthly mammon or wealth.

Title: Re: The Word of Our Lord Jesus Christ
Post by: Benedict on November 17, 2021, 11:19:00 PM
I wish we could find a new word for Heavenly treasure, to more clearly distinguish from earthly mammon or wealth.
Heavenly Treasure can rightly be called glory. For based upon the merits of the Saints, God rewards each with varying degrees of glory. Similarly, the wicked are punished according to their demerits in hell.

Many thanks for your wonderful response.  Contemplation, or Communion with the Divine Trinity seems so much more pure than at least some of the results of meditation, especially if my mind roams to speculation or curiosity.  
This is correct, contemplation is a higher degree of prayer which  makes use of love, rather than reason, to ascend to God.

I often think of the threefold wings of the seraphim, which with two they cover their feet, with two they cover face and with two they fly.
The feet are overshadowed by faith as we pray that our path may be guided upon the Way of Jesus.
The face is overshadowed by hope as we meditate upon the Word of God and the Sacred Mysteries with our mind.
The wings that overshadow nothing, fly with love as it is through love that we draw near to God and it is through love that our contemplation and actions acquire a wonderful and supernatural character.
In heaven, it is said, faith and hope shall be no more, but love shall remain forever. Furthermore, when our Lord Jesus Christ comes, the living shall ascend to meet Him. We spiritually ascend to meet Him when He comes to meet us through loving contemplation.
Denis the Carthusian also says that contemplation is the most similar action to what we shall do in heaven.

Title: Re: The Word of Our Lord Jesus Christ
Post by: eschator83 on November 29, 2021, 11:43:49 AM
At Advent I've shifted to the section of Word cards that seem difficult for me and at Lent I've moved on to those that seem to stimulate controversy or contradiction.  I have almost never discussed these sections of the cards as a group, although I collected them so that I could readily find these teachings when a question arose.  I don't want to create difficulty for anyone who doesn't personally experience it.
The first difficult card is entitled Abomination and reflects Jesus' prophesy in Mt 24.15, Mk 13.44, and Lk 21.20.  This card seems more difficult for Contemplation than the cards I've referred to as clear (even though many of these seem too complex to concentrate on a single word or topic).  I imagine St Luke felt his audience wouldn't understand the abomination from Daniel, but they would much more certainly understand the threat of a surrounding army, which the Jews had seen and suffered at least five times.  But it is estimated nearly 3 million had fled TO Jerusalem by 67; how could they flee through the encircling army?  Yet Jews had fled Egypt.
In meditation, I try to find an explanation or comment from Church Fathers, or even something I might think of.  For contemplation perhaps the best subjects are Psalms or one Gospel at a time.

Title: Re: The Word of Our Lord Jesus Christ
Post by: eschator83 on December 01, 2021, 07:26:29 AM
I think I won't submit more of the difficult Word cards after this, but today's Word is alms, from Lk 11.41.  My NAB translation ignores complex implication of Greek version about cleansing inside and out as in Mt 23.26, teaching simply give alms and everything will be clean for you.  My recollection is of similar purification from many sources: baptism, confirmation, confession, eucharist, indulgences, martyrdom, and persecution for righteousness. Yet I also recall Pope Francis teaching that in Argentina he would not accept alms from certain unspecified sinners.  Do you suppose Contemplation could be leading me to recognize hypocrisy and to protest it?  Aren't we all sinners?  Don't the poor need our alms and support?

Title: Re: The Word of Our Lord Jesus Christ
Post by: Benedict on December 01, 2021, 01:25:27 PM
Meditation uses reason to gain insight into the faith.
Giving alms is a corporal work of mercy, it also avails to an increase in justice and charity if done out of love. The poor need our help, they are our brothers and sisters, we ought to do what we can to help them and to support the Church. The Sacred Scriptures teach that alms giving or charity blots out sins and will help as a defence on the Day of Judgment. When you give, consider that it is Christ who receives from your hand and that you are giving out of love for your Lord. During Advent all Catholics are encouraged to do penance and works of mercy. God loves a cheerful giver and the Lord tells us that it is better to give than to receive.
We are all sinners, but I think the idea is that receiving money from certain scandalous sinners gives the impression of influence and corruption which is why as a Priest or Bishop, His Holiness would have avoided the gifts of certain malignant people. Saint Francis of Assisi would not even touch money.
Honestly I don't think that you have yet contemplated anything because contemplation is said to be to grasp the truth and you have not demonstrated a grasp of the truths of the faith. You may be given the grace of God's presence in prayer but you should pray more to receive spiritual gifts of infused contemplation and infused meditation if this is the will of God. When you have these, the Holy Spirit will pray in you and you will passively receive and willingly assent to the gifts of God offered to you.

Title: Re: The Word of Our Lord Jesus Christ
Post by: eschator83 on December 08, 2021, 04:19:39 PM
I suppose it would be helpful to confess that my present view of Contemplation is primarily as a process (technique) which seeks to lead to Communion with the Divine Trinity: ie an experience of feeling the Presence and understanding the Word and Will with trust and a desire for obedience and the emotion of Love.
Many teachings indicate that Communion can be attained only by the Grace and Will of God/Trinity, and I think most Scripture suggests that Divine Inspiration, Instructions, and even Explanations have come to individuals outside of prayer and without a request or even pre-consideration.
Nevertheless, I've decided to redo St Ignatius' Spiritual Exercises and also focus on meditation of My Word of Our Lord cards, at least during Advent when I focus seeking understanding of the difficult cards.  Please pray for me.