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Session 4, Embracing

Contemplation Retreat Doug Floyd (2/2006) Session 4 Embracing
1. Review of Contemplative Qualities Breathing “In Him we live and move and have our being.” Acts 17:28 Eating “Man shall not live by bread alone but by every Word the proceeds from the mouth of the LORD.” Deuteronomy 8:3 Crying “Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord.” Acts 3:19 And now, Embracing “Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth — For your love is better than wine.” Song of Solomon 1:2 2. We are created to be lovers. Repentance is our response to his stings of love, his forgiving, cleansing and healing power that transforms our hearts and expands our capacity to love and be loved. Rooted in the covenant revelation of God (YHWH), man is commanded to love: Love God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength. Love our neighbor as ourselves. Through God’s loving action, we are being formed into lovers. This Von Balthasar quote is worthy of reflection: Every day should astonish us anew, just as a lover is transported in bliss through the answering love of the woman he loves…God who has no need whatsoever of creaturely love, who owes this intimacy to none of his creatures, who opens himself and gives himself to us. He gives himself to us by inviting us, lifting us op and ennobling us so that we may participate in his own divine nature. It is easily said; we are used to the words; but through hearing and contemplating the words we should unaccustom to them so that we can once more become aware of the gigantic implications of God addressing us. The word which God addresses to us is a word of love: he utters it in a loud, manly voice in the broad daylight,
Contemplation Retreat, Trinity Chapel, February 18, 2006, Doug Floyd - 8-

Session 4, Embracing almost menacing, causing man to start out of his dreams and take notice and what he hears—yet it is also a word whispered in the night, soft and alluring, beyond comprehension, a mystery incredible even to the strongest faith, which a creature, however long he lives will fathom…A whole world of lovemysteries opens up to us, stretching farther and farther beyond our sight, to the ultimate grounds of the divine life which neither has beginning nor end…. It was then, when, in temporal terms, we did not exist at all, that’s God’s gaze fell on us and knew us, like the sun which transfigures the countryside and bathes it in colors, warming it and rendering it fruitful, instilling its energy and light into things so deeply that they become capable of growing, blossoming, and bearing fruit of themselves; yet it is the grace of the sun which made this possible; only in the sunlight could they have done this. God’s gaze is not passive (otherwise it would not be a divine gaze); he does not merely “read off” or ascertain: his gaze is creative, generative, originative, by his utterly free decree….God’s loving gaze, falling on the creature, is a look of utterly sovereign preelection (predestination), dependent on nothing else; we can recognize its absolute, irreducible freedom in every act of divine love which visits us in the conditions of time. Hans Urs Von Balthasar 3. His revelation of Himself draws us toward Him in love. As we begin to grasp the magnitude of God’s love for us, it stirs our hearts, our emotions, our entire being. 4. The life of love fills the sermons and writings of Bernard of Clairvaux. He realizes that God’s love comes to us where we are at. It meets us in the carnal place and gradually leads us into his presence and to the cross of his love. (See Bernard handout). 5. Exercise As you reflect on the love that God has revealed in Christ take a few minutes to meditating upon this portion from Patrick’s Breastplate. It captures the sense of Christ surrounding us, immersing us, encircling us with His loving presence. May Christ be with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me, Christ within me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me, Christ to my right, Christ to my left, Christ where I lie down, Christ where I sit, Christ where I stand, Christ in the heart of everyone who thinks of me, Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks to me, Christ in every eye which looks on me, Christ in every ear which hears me. After a few minutes, compose a psalm of love and praise to God. When you are finished, rejoin the group. 6. Love moves moves the will toward God; cupidity moves the will toward self.

Contemplation Retreat, Trinity Chapel, February 18, 2006, Doug Floyd - 9-

Session 4, Embracing 7. The love of God compels us to love one another. A. The Trinity reveals to us the nature of love. B. Approach a conversation much like you might a time of contemplative prayer: deep listening a. Look to the Holy Spirit to guide you. b. Silence and waiting. c. Restraining the tendency to comment every time there is a pause. d. Focusing on the person sitting in front of you: no cell phone, no distraction. It is as though only they exist at this point in time. e. Asking proper questions. Questions that help them to clarify what they are trying to express—not fact-based questions that are irrelevant to the emotional energy of the story. f. Be ready to offer a prayer or a word of encouragement or whatever the moment requires. But don’t rush, let the Holy Spirit direct. 8. Exercise – Divide into pairs. To the level you feel free, talk about what you sense the Lord speaking to you today. 9. At its best, contemplative prayer leads to a contemplative life that joins the head and heart and hand. Ways to cultivate a contemplative life: • Develop habits of meditation. • Turn the car radio off sometimes. • Take a vacation day and drive up in the mountains alone. • Read slower. • If you can’t turn the TV off, mute it on some evenings. • Find a soul friend. • Keep a journal—even if you only write in it once every few months. • Try using a daily office. • Eat alone sometimes. • ?

Contemplation Retreat, Trinity Chapel, February 18, 2006, Doug Floyd - 10-