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Jean
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PostSubject: Ask your questions here   Thu Mar 15, 2007 12:03 pm

Please, do ask your questions here.
(In order to do so, you need to subscribe first (it is free).)
Just click on "postreply" (see below) and write your questions.
Looking forward to reading more from you.
Jean
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PostSubject: Re: Ask your questions here   Thu Mar 15, 2007 12:14 pm

Jean,

I hope this e-mail finds you well. I attended the course on Sunday and was very happy. I don't know what you said when you prayed for us but it definitely worked for me I think. The challenge now is to be like ' the good soil' and produce fruit.
Anyway I have a question regarding something I read yesterday in True Devotion to Mary. In the part called 'All in Mary', St Louis says that we cannot enter into Mary except by a particular grace of the Holy Spirit.

How do I know or get this grace? Does this mean that when we try and assume Mary's capacity we should first pray to the Holy Spirit to enable us to do so?


Another separate question is with regard to God within us. Is this what is meant when it is said that the Kingdom of God is within you? In fact I think I took the meaning of the Kingdom of God for granted. What exactly is the Kingdom of God? I pray for its coming everyday in the Our Father but have realised that I do not fully understand it.

Looking forward to hearing from you soon.

Regards
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PostSubject: Re: Ask your questions here   Fri Mar 16, 2007 2:38 am

Dear R
Many thanks for your message, and many thanks also for your 2 questions. I am glad by what you say.

The first question: "the particular grace":

Here is the paragraph of the translation I have (the original is in French):

"263. But how difficult it is for us to have the freedom, the ability and the light to enter such an exalted and holy place. This place is guarded not by a cherub, like the first earthly paradise, but by the Holy Spirit himself who has become its absolute Master. Referring to her, he says: “You are an enclosed garden, my sister, my bride, an enclosed garden and a sealed fountain.” Mary is enclosed. Mary is sealed. The unfortunate children of Adam and Eve driven from the earthly paradise can enter this new paradise only by a special grace of the Holy Spirit which they have to merit."

So as he says: "only by a special grave of the Holy Spirit" and he adds something important: "which they have to merit". So in a way he is starting to give us his explanation by saying: "which they have to merit". Then, in the following paragraph he continues:

"264. When we have obtained this remarkable grace by our fidelity, we should be delighted to remain in Mary. We should rest there peacefully, rely on her confidently, hide ourselves there with safety, and abandon ourselves unconditionally to her […]"

He is clearly stating that entering in Mary (in order to dwell in her in a stable way) is a journey, and this journey has steps, stages. By saying "fidelity" (being faithfull) he alludes to a journey. By saying "remain in Mary" he alludes to a stable state that is the result of the journey.
My answer is the following:
You can perfectly consider that entering in Mary in a definite and stable way is the "Union with God" of the "Spiritual Marriage". It is the same thing.
You remember how I described the steps of this journey in the first lectures 1a and 1b.
The "special grace" to dwell in her, is simply the grace of "spiritual marriage". But this very special grace is preceded by hundreds of other graces. Starting from the coming Day (on lectio divina) we will study the way to receive the graces of God, every day. But to say it in 2 words: each time one listens to the Word of God and put it (with the help of the Holy Spirit) into practice, he receives a grace that is leading to that special grace of "spiritual marriage". You may also say, that starting from the beginning, we have an experience of Mary, but not a "stable" one. It is alternate, not constant. Until, by growing, we reach that "special" grace he mentioned, of dwelling in her in a definitive way.
So, one has graces first, in order to be prepared to "the" special grace. Ok?

So, we need to go, step by step, and you will see how we can "merit" this special grace, you will see all the steps that precedes it, and how to reach it, by the Grace of God.

The second question: the kingdom of God

Here is your question: "Another separate question is with regard to God within us. Is this what is meant when it is said that the Kingdom of God is within you? In fact I think I took the meaning of the Kingdom of God for granted. What exactly is the Kingdom of God? I pray for its coming everyday in the Our Father but have realised that I do not fully understand it."

"God within us" is yes, like what Jesus says: "the kingdom of God is within us" (see Luke 17,21). It is true that we all take for granted the meaning of the Kingdom of God. While with this Course (and I beg you to remain till the 5th day, because I will still be speaking about it till the last day) will give much deeper and clearer explanations about it. You remember the diagram of the journey, the stages of spiritual life, you remember the entrance in the "supernatural"? this is the entrance. But it is a long beautiful and exciting journey with many stages. So yes, we can't take it for granted, we need explanations.
You will see, during this Course, especially the last 2 Days many explanations and avenues that will be opened to you. Just be patient, I can't say all of it in one shot.

So, again, many thanks for your questions. You may find on the web site the diagrams I showed you on the PowerPointPresentation: here is the link (you choose the link you want (you have "diagrams")): http://www.amorvincit.com/course.htm

Best regards
Looking forward to hearing from you again
Jean
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PostSubject: [b]Christ the Only Mediator[/b]   Tue May 08, 2007 10:01 am

Dear Jean,

In section 1 of your book, Lectio Divina the method, there is a subsection titled Christ's central place in this process. Part 2a says "Christ, the only mediator between God and Man". Indeed, in the bible in 1 Timothy 2:5 its says the same thing.

What of Mary and the the Saints, I thought they were mediators as well?

From this it would seem that we only had to pray to Jesus only. I know this understanding is wrong. I try to pray to all three Persons of the Trinity. In summary, I am trying to understand exactly what it means to say " Christ, the only mediator between God and Man".

Kind Regards
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PostSubject: Re: Ask your questions here   Tue May 08, 2007 4:28 pm

Dear R.,
Many thanks for your question.

Let me take an example.
A man had a full container of Bread. He gave it to his Mother. She gives big baskets to some people.
Who has the Container? Who is the owner of the container and the Provider of all the bread? The man.
Who got it from him? His Mother.
Who has big baskets? Some people.

Only Jesus is God. This is why he is the Provider, the Origin of the Bread. He is everything for us. He is our Bread too. We worship Him.
He gave everything to Mary. But she is not the origin of the Bread. She is not God. We don't worship Mary. She is a creature.
And the people who have big baskets are the saints.
But I can also add that Jesus asked us to give to our brothers from the Bread he gives us. We too are called to have full baskets of Bread to give.

I hope it is clearer! Jesus only is all together fully God and fully man this is why He is the Only Mediator in the absolute sense of the word. Only he has this characteristic! Mary is only a human being! Not God. Where is the difficulty?
But the prerogatives that Jesus has by nature, he shares them. So we participate to his divinity. We are called to become gods by participation. He is God by nature. Nobody else can be God by nature else than Him.
He is the Divine Seed. Mary is the Perfect good Earth that can receive this Seed and bare fruits.
So her position is unique! But we can't use the word: "mediator" for her. We can use the word: "Good Earth", we can use the expression: "Perfect Bride", the "New skin".
We are called to become like her, in order to love Jesus as perfectly as she loved him!

I hope this is clearer.
Don’t hesitate to come back to me if not.
Best regards
Jean
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PostSubject: Re: Ask your questions here   Wed May 09, 2007 8:51 am

The use of the word "Mediator":

The word Mediator can be used in different ways and "intensities".

1- The full and only Mediator is Jesus because he is the only being that is in the same time: fully God and fully human.
______________________________________________________

2- We may use the word in a "popular" way applying it to Mary. She is the Mother of God, she is the only one who was able to receive all Jesus in her Heart and in her Womb.

3- We may use the word for the Priests, because they represent Jesus, speak in His Name, their situation is to be in between Jesus and us.

4- We may use it for the saints but also for any human being who has in his heart the Charity of God, his Love. Because we can pray for each other and help each other. This is the New Commandment.

So as you see, the absolute use of the Word goes only to Jesus (1). And you draw a big line after that.
But, as I said previously: He shares his being and his action with us, and wants to come in us and to love the others in us. So we are truly participating to the Life and Action of the only Mediator (2, 3 and 4). So we become in a way "mediators" too, this is his will. His is Mediator by nature, we are mediators by participation.
Baring in mind that Mary has a specific role to play. She is not any secondary mediator, she is much more: she is the perfect capacity to receive the Only Mediator and His Full Mediation.
So again: we worship only Jesus, because He is the only one who is God, true and total divine Mediator.

Faithfully
Jean
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PostSubject: Talking to God within us   Mon Aug 13, 2007 4:36 am

Hi

First I would like to thank you for the replies to my two previous questions. With regards to the 'Only Mediator' question, I believe your second answer on the use of the word mediator really cleared things up.

On Day 1 of the course you explained to us how God is present in the very depths of our being. I have been trying to acknowledge him there in my heart. I read a letter written by Blessed Elizabeth of the Trinity to Francoise de Sourdon (19 June 1902). She wrote the following:

"You will have to make a little room of silence within you as I do, keep reminding yourself that God is there and go into it from time to time. When your are upset or unhappy go there and quickly tell the Master everything"

However, I read a CTS book titled " The Little Way of St Therese from the Saints own writings". In a section called Disinterested Love is the following:

" It is for us to console Our Lord, and not for him to be always consoling us. His heart is so tender that if you cry he will dry your tears, but thereafter he will go away sad, since you did not suffer him to repose tranquilly within you. Our Lord loves the glad of heart, the children that greet him with a smile. When will you learn to hide you troubles from him, or to tell him gaily that you are happy to suffer for him?."

Blessed Elizabeth seems to be saying that we should tell Our Lord all our upsets, troubles etc while Saint Therese says we shoul hide them from him. How is one to interact with the God within us , with regards to our upsets. troubles etc
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PostSubject: Re: Ask your questions here   Mon Aug 13, 2007 10:38 am

Many thanks for your question. You are absolutely right to mention this apparent contradiction. We can say that "both points of views are right" and match together. In order to see how they fit together we need to understand, few points.

A- It is important to understand the real issue. Deep prayer (entering in God) is an immersion in God, like entering in and oven. If we are attached to anything that is not God (even "holy" things), we cannot "fly into God", we are too "heavy". So one has first and foremost to be able to be detached from what is not God. In order to reach that first step we have 2 ways:
1- Either we don't have really a long experience with the Holy Spirit and the transformation He realises in us, therefore we need the help of God in order to reach detachment. To do it, we go through what you mentioned from Elisabeth of the Trinity (she is writing to a less experienced person): telling God about our burden but mostly: offering it to Him. We find that advice in the Word of God: "Cast thy burden upon the LORD, and he shall sustain thee" (Psalm 55,22) "Commit thy way unto the LORD" (Psalm 37,5)
2- If we have a certain experience in the Spiritual journey, some steps of purification have been already done (all what is not God has already in us much much less weight. We are detached.) so we can fly directly to the following step,: offering ourselves to Him.

B- The other point one can see easily in this issue is that saint Thérèse is inviting us, when we pray, not to be focused on ourselves, but on God. We can very easily transform prayer into an activity where we are at the centre of attention. So, while Elisabeth of the Trinity is inviting us to enter in our heart in order to find the One Who dwells in it, saint Yhérèse is telling us that entering in ourselves is step 1, but then, whilst we are inside, we need to seek Him (step 2), not ourselves. He is the one we are seeking. So it is important to come out of ourselves (not trying to find ourselves but Him). Not being centred on ourselves.

C- I would like to add other aspects that can escape from our attention. "Offering our concerns to God" as the Psalm says, can help drawing attention to us in a positive way. We can look to ourselves as we can humanly do, even in spiritual matters, and we can see ourselves under the Light of God; in which case we need His Help. The "new man" sees things with the help of God, under the Light of God. The "old man" in us, looks humanly to ourselves. This can help us understand the fundamental importance of the earth (us) for the Divine Seed (the Word of God): that without the earth, the Divine Seed cannot bare fruits just by itself, out of a magical non existing process. It needs the earth: ourselves.
So, summing up, offering our concerns to God teaches us not to hate ourselves but to love ourselves as God loves us: it is a Commandment. It could open new ways of a spiritual growth and a spiritual attention to ourselves and a better understanding of ourselves.

D- Putting our burdens under the Light of God, and offering them to Him, putting them in His Hands can become a Driving force too. Saint Thérèse speaks about that point. Anything is combustible for the Fire that is God. Anything that we have in the hands of our heart can therefore be offered to God, especially the most dear persons to us and dear relationships… We then learn "the power of offering" things to God. The pale image of the Old Temple of Jerusalem is the image of the real Temple: Jesus. The offerings God asked the People of the Old Testament to worship him with teach us how we are invited to worship God with our Heart and with His Holy Spirit: our heart offers what is dear to it, and he offers it to the Fire of the Holy Spirit. This is real worshipping ("in Spirit and Truth" (John 4)). Freed by this first step we can offer ourselves, our life. This is the highest way to worship and love God.

E- Our burdens show us also our Weaknesses. We often want to get rid of our burdens, but God, through the example of saint Paul shows us that his Grace prefers an earth that has gaps, holes, where the Grace of God can work better. Because seeing our weaknesses and acknowledging them helps us remain humble, and this is fundamental. Humility is the foundation of Spiritual life. Therefore we learn that our weaknesses are also (even more) a Place (a greater space) for the Grace of God to work in us.

F- Let us follow the quotation of B. Elisabeth: she is inviting a lay person to give more attention to God during the day: "You will have to make a little room of silence within you as I do, keep reminding yourself that God is there and go into it from time to time." So you see, her goal is to remind this lady that God is here in her heart and that it is important not to leave Him alone. One can object: "we can be upset or unhappy by many daily things and they can sidetrack us". For that B. Elisabeth replies that even if we are upset this shouldn't take us away from God. Worse case scenario, if we can't get rid of this burden we can use it to go to God: "When your are upset or unhappy go there and quickly tell the Master everything". Putting everything in His hand will bring us inside, closer to Him, and free us from what is heavy, and then, free, we will be able to Worship, to Love, to enter in Him. (we will see all that in September while explaining the Prayer of the Heart)

G- Then comes the highest Way, the way of sainte Thérèse, a way not opposed to what B. Elisabeth said. The sentence you quoted shows a very high way to deal with God, it is the expression of a real love that comes out of a strong relationship with Him. "It is for us to console Our Lord, and not for him to be always consoling us." A first glance to this sentence shows how she flipped the issue. But she is a very good guide to prayer, a very good guide to enter the Heart of God. She is pointing on the fact that we have to take responsibility and understand the greatness of our vocation, of our being at the eyes of God, therefore to understand that we can console God himself!! Amazing no? This can be a prayer: teach me Holy Spirit how to console Jesus. Teach me Mary how to console Jesus.
"His heart is so tender that if you cry he will dry your tears, but thereafter he will go away sad, since you did not suffer him to repose tranquilly within you." So as you see, she doesn't dismiss the first step mentioned by B. Elisabeth: "if you cry he will dry your tears". But this is not enough. PRAYER DOESN'T STOP THERE. We should go further on. Paying attention to God, to His needs allows Him to remain in our Heart! If not, he will "go away". This is the knowledge the saints have of God, we need to pay great attention to her words. "Our Lord loves the glad of heart, the children that greet him with a smile." We can give God a lot. Of course all what we have is from Him but we hardly think of giving Him back something, something that depends on our WILL. It is our decision to make God happy or not. So, after having mentioned my burdens, I can keep turning around of myself. I can look for myself, being in my heart, and not looking at him. In this case: "When will you learn to hide you troubles from him, or to tell him gaily that you are happy to suffer for him?."

I hope this made it clear. Please do read again my reply, because there are many things in it.

Best regards
Jean

PS Sorry for the length
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PostSubject: Marriage & The journey to union with God   Fri Sep 07, 2007 8:37 am

Jean,

I hope you are well. After day 3 of the course, on the Laws of Spiritual Life, your recommended reading list had a book by St John of the Cross titled 'The Ascent of Mount Carmel'.
I have read Book III, Chapter 18 where he talks of the joy of temporal blessings and how they must be directed to God.
My question regards the married state and trying to achieve union with God. Is it easier for those who are not married to achieve union with God?
Maybe I should even ask, is it possible?
How can one be married and not 'have his heart set upon the other'?

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PostSubject: Re: Ask your questions here   Mon Sep 17, 2007 1:31 pm

Rb,
It is absolutely possible to be married and to reach the Union with God.
Where is the difficulty for you?
It is true that saint Paul said that the heart of the non married is freer, but still, any single person can be attached to many things. So the fight, the struggle to be detached is an equal job.
One can't deny that theoretically, it is easier. But practically I noticed that often married persons do achieve very good goals in spiritual life.
Being a monk or a nun is not a garranty for holiness! The fight for detachement is even more hidden but still there.

What i would like to say is the following: i think that the real issue is a true serious education into spiritual life. This for me should be our main task, in order to reach the union with God.

How many times we saw single persons, and even monks and nuns being happy with much less that Union with God! Is this normal? This is simple ignorance! If Jesus gave you everything, why would you just accept less? This would be a real offence no?
Tell me your thoughts.
Many thanks
Jean
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PostSubject: Length of Mantra   Mon Dec 10, 2007 5:20 am

Jean,

Thank you for the course yesterday. I pray we may all realise what needs to be done. Inevitably, after such an intense day, there are questions.


The first is with regards to the length of the mantra we use to offer ourselves. St Therese used to say ' Draw me, we will run' which she later shortened to just 'Draw me'.

In Chapter 31 of the Way of Perfection St Teresa of Avila says :
"It is well to seek greater solitude so as to make room for the Lord and allow His Majesty to do His own work in us. The most we should do is occasionally, and quite gently, to utter a single word, like a person giving a little puff to a candle, when he sees it has almost gone out, so as to make it burn again; though, if it were fully alight, I suppose the only result of blowing it would be to put it out. I think the puff should be a gentle one because, if we begin to tax our brains by making up long speeches, the will may become active again."

My question : Is it better to have a very short mantra of a word or two?
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PostSubject: Praying with Icons   Mon Dec 10, 2007 6:47 am

Jean,

I have always had an interest in icons. On one of the previous courses you said icons 'make the invisible visible'.
I have read a ffew books on icons and have slowly learnt the meaning of colours, gestures, symbols etc. However, none have actually taught me how to pray with them.
Given that you also gave us the icon of Our Lady of Vladimir yesterday, I would like to know the practical details of praying using icons.

Kind Regards
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PostSubject: Prayer of the Heart   Mon Dec 10, 2007 7:38 am

Jean,

You have previously explained that man is made up of body, soul and spirit. At night our body needs to rest and so we sleep.
I may be wrong, but I would imagine that the spirit does not sleep. If this is so, is it then possible to continue with the prayer of the heart whilst sleeping? How would one go about actually doing this?

Sometimes one can be involved in some really engaging activity be it at work or at home. How does one maintain prayer of the heart then?

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PostSubject: Re: Ask your questions here   Tue Dec 11, 2007 9:14 am

RB wrote:
Jean,
Thank you for the course yesterday. I pray we may all realise what needs to be done. Inevitably, after such an intense day, there are questions.
The first is with regards to the length of the mantra we use to offer ourselves. St Therese used to say ' Draw me, we will run' which she later shortened to just 'Draw me'.
In Chapter 31 of the Way of Perfection St Teresa of Avila says :
"It is well to seek greater solitude so as to make room for the Lord and allow His Majesty to do His own work in us. The most we should do is occasionally, and quite gently, to utter a single word, like a person giving a little puff to a candle, when he sees it has almost gone out, so as to make it burn again; though, if it were fully alight, I suppose the only result of blowing it would be to put it out. I think the puff should be a gentle one because, if we begin to tax our brains by making up long speeches, the will may become active again."
My question : Is it better to have a very short mantra of a word or two?

Dear RB,

Many thanks for your questions. I am glad you are enjoying the Course and doing your best to "enter" in the Prayer of the Heart".

I see that you read the photocopies I gave you, as I suggested, and this is very good. Well done. Keep reading and re-reading them, you will always find something new. Of course one may read all 3 of her great books: The Autobiography, Way of Perfection, The interior Castle.

Now, let us see your question. You are asking about the length of the short prayer, the sentence to say to Jesus, to Mary, to the Holy Spirit etc…

1- First thing, there is one important point: this sentence, this prayer are, in the end of the day, your words. So a little bit of freedom is required here. When you love somebody, you don't ask yourself: my words to her should be long or short, you just say what is in your heart. Prayer is the greatest moment of Love, giving ourselves to Him, and Him giving Himself to us. So remember to feel free. All what I teach you is an explanation on "how it works", but afterward, remember that it is "love" and "a relationship", not just a "technical method". I know you don't mean that and you are just asking a practical question, but I just wanted to make that issue clear.

2- Now let me remind you one point of "common sense". The Eastern Tradition of the Church, the Tradition that transmitted us the "Prayer of Jesus" (it is the same as the "Prayer of the Heart", just another name) invites us the sort of "link" our breath with the prayer. It doesn't have to be so in order to work, but since to remain alive we do breathe, they invited us when we say the "sentence" to say part of it while breathing in, and the other part while breathing out. It tells you how "short" in a way the sentence it. It's functions are at least 2: a) to calm down the mind, give to the dog (the mind) a bone, to make him busy, and calm and b) to express and increase our desire and thirst of Jesus and of His Love. One may add a third reason, c) linking the breathing (we notice that the breathing calms down a little bit, but never stops!! (that would be silly)) it helps our heart focus on Him, and almost in a way: breathe him.
So to sum up this point I would say: there is an indication to make it short, in order to go with the breathing. Also, it makes it a bit slow, as the breath is slow.

3- Now, all these aspects are "materialistic", in a way, one can be totally silent inside, not saying mentally nothing to God, but still being able to offer himself to the Fire of His love! So as you see, the words we say to Him are a "mean" not a "goal". Ok? This is why saint Thérèse said she wants to repeat the offering of herself as many times as her heart is beating (or as she is breathing we may say with the Eastern Tradition). Therefore she went from a long text (it can be the Our Father, mind you), to a paragraph (the last paragraph of the Act of Oblation), to a full sentence, to a word. Why? Because it is not about the words, it is not about the technical aspect, it is about offering oneself to God, and this is beyond the words.

Therefore, feel free to find out what suits you now, today. Another moment in your spiritual life you might express it, or do it in a different way.
Pick up the sentence, the word that resonates to you now, these days, that speaks to you, it can be part of a verse from the Bible, from a Psalm, and use it to express the offering of yourself. But remember that one can do the technical bit of it, repeating the word/sentence and not reach anything! Because it is about an inner act that a technique can't give you. This is a part of the teaching that is a "secret", and that you hardly find clearly, explicitly expressed by the Authors, even though one finds it always in a way or in another.

4- remember also that the more one grows in God, the more we practice the prayer of the Heart, the more it becomes easy to be immersed in God, to the point that we hardly have to start focusing on His love, or start to say something or offer ourselves that He already puts us in Him. So, remember that this will transform the "word/sentence" we say. It means that one may reach a point where you hardly started to say a word of the Our Father, that it will seem to you that you spent one hour only on the 2 words "Our Father", not even yet said once. This means that the Power of His Love takes you deeper in Him (immersion) to the point that you can't even say more. So you see that "saying" a word/sentence, as prayer, as expression of our desire, is not something equally the same all the time. It varies also according to the power of the Immersion He realises. So don't try to control the repetition of the sentence/word, just remember that the essence is the Give yourself, and that repeating is a mean never a goal, never!

Note: remember to have in your short prayer the either the Name of Jesus or the Name of Mary or both. Because their Names are so powerful and help us better enter in God. Saying their names in a way bring them closer to us, and let them act. Their Names are "action", their names are an action that introduces us in God. Jesus Means: God saves, God introduces us in Him.

I hope that this helps.
Again thanks for your question
Kind regards
Jean
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PostSubject: Re: Ask your questions here   Tue Dec 11, 2007 9:24 am

RB wrote:
Jean,
I have always had an interest in icons. On one of the previous courses you said icons 'make the invisible visible'.
I have read a few books on icons and have slowly learnt the meaning of colours, gestures, symbols etc. However, none have actually taught me how to pray with them.
Given that you also gave us the icon of Our Lady of Vladimir yesterday, I would like to know the practical details of praying using icons.
Kind Regards


"O that his left hand were under my head, and that his right hand embraced me!" (Ct 8,3)



RB,
Thanks for your beautiful question. I am glad you are interested in Icons. They are a Treasure from God for us.
Your question is about "praying using icons". It is a very important practical question. I will do my best to give you at least something because to answer properly to your question this would require a whole article.
Icons are almost sacraments, in the sense that they bring the persons that are represented close do us, and make them present (in fact make us present to them because they are constantly present to us, but not us to them). They express part of the Mystery of God, of Jesus. They bring us the "Grace" of that Mystery. Icons are like "pipes" of Light (or beams), from one end you have the Mystery they express (the real beings) and from the other end you have the icon. This beam connects us with this Mystery, help us enter in it.
Of course Icons are theology expressed by colours, shapes, lines. They use a language, that is precise. They have their laws and codes. This is in order to express rightly the Mystery. They don’t try to express aesthetically the beauty, they speak theology. Therefore it is important to be able first and foremost to "read" it. Then after that, we need to be able to enter in the Mystery expressed by it, by just exposing ourselves to the Mysterious Rays of Jesus that come out of It. So, by being in front of the Icon, by praying God in front of the Icon, we allow Him to give us a share of the Grace of the Mystery that is expressed.
As the Iconographer entered first in the Mystery, contemplated it with all his being, mind and heart united, we, at our turn are invited and introduced to the contemplation of this Mystery.
Remember the Icon, a real Icon is the Mystery expressed brought here and now. This is why when we enter in an Eastern Church we first go to the Mother of God (her Icon), and greet her.
The main point I think we should remember at least is that we are invited to be there, in front of the Icon, during our prayers. The Icon is a Presence. This Presence has a real effect on us. Only doing it for a while will show us the mystery of the Transmission of this Ray that comes out from the Icon to us, penetrates in us and transform us.
The Icon has been venerated by the Church as a gift of the Invisible God who became visible. It is because Jesus is the Incarnate Word that this theology of the Icons can exist. They are a big Gift from the Grace of God, coming from Jesus himself, the Incarnate Word of God.

(Theologically "economy" means: God communicating Himself through the Grace of the Gift of the Visible Icon: Jesus)
In this "economical" vein - the Icon being an extension of Jesus – praying in front of an Icon helps much more the Prayer of the Heart, it makes it easier. The Grace of God transpires from the Icon to us, and helps us focus, in a simple unified attitude, bringing our mind to a calmer state; opening our physical eyes onto it allows the inner eyes of the soul and of the Heart to open and Drink God. So, undoubtedly, and Icon of Jesus, the Trinity, Jesus and Mary, well certainly help us a lot (as an exterior mean first) to do the prayer of the Heart. Lighting a candle in front of the Icon is also of a help.

The very Icon of the Mother of God (any one) is an Icon that helps us do the Prayer of the Heart much more than the other Icons. In fact we can easily notice that this type of Icon is the most spread type, and it shows how by theological instinct the People of God throughout the ages found the best attitude to "enter" in God-Jesus and be immersed in Him. The unique role of Mary is expressed in various ways in the Icons of Mary and the Child-God. But the unique Mystery and the mysterious Link (relationship) that exists between her and Him is the common denominator of all these Icons. The Icon of the Mother of God and the Child-God is an open Gate that introduces us in the Divine Circulation (The Holy Spirit) that exists between Him and Her, it rejoins us to Him, through her. The Mother of God is the One that has been able to embrace the One that even heavens (the Angels and other heavenly creatures) weren't able to embrace: Jesus-God. The mysterious relationship between Him and Her, a living Beam of Life (Holy Spirit) is also shown on this Icon (the way she embraces Him and the Way he embraces her. The way he looks at her, the way she looks (with her heart, inner eyes) at Him.
Note: We can say: "Only He knows Her, only She know him, and whom she introduces". This is why on the Icon He looks at her and she looks at us.
This is the journey the Icon offers us: by looking at Her we are introduced in Him, who is the Biggest Mystery that contains everything (Christ is everything). Entering in Her, taking place in her (because she allows us, her children to enter in her, in her womb), we are capable, in Her, to see him with the eyes of Her Heart and to love him with Her Heart. WHAT A MYSTERY!!!!! Praised be God who gave us all that!!!
As you see, the Icon is a "movement", It is Something Alive, not static. We enter in it following a journey. Starting with Her Eyes, we are introduced to the Communion that exists between Them. She is the Gate of Heaven. So, in a way, the Simple movement of the Prayer of the Heart is there, expressed in the living mystery of the Icon of the Mother of God.

I hope these few words will help.
Kind regards
Jean


Last edited by on Mon Dec 17, 2007 6:12 pm; edited 3 times in total
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RB



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PostSubject: Thanks   Mon Dec 17, 2007 9:21 am

Sir,

Thank you very much for your replies. I believe your answers will help me a lot on my spiritual journey.

Kind Regards
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PostSubject: Re: Ask your questions here   Mon Dec 17, 2007 10:15 am

RB wrote:
Jean,
You have previously explained that man is made up of body, soul and spirit. At night our body needs to rest and so we sleep.
I may be wrong, but I would imagine that the spirit does not sleep. If this is so, is it then possible to continue with the prayer of the heart whilst sleeping? How would one go about actually doing this?
Sometimes one can be involved in some really engaging activity be it at work or at home. How does one maintain prayer of the heart then?
Regards

RB,
You are absolutely right, once we start – with commitment – the Journey of feeding the spirit, the more we practice the prayer of the heart (without forgetting the Lectio divina), of course the "spirit" starts to wake up, to the Life of God, therefore we can absolutely say that the spirit doesn't sleep. Because God doesn't sleep obviously, therefore entering more and more "in God" means that the spirit awakes more and more.
This is why we find in the Scriptures the following: "I sleep, but my heart waketh" (Canticle 5,2).
In this sense the more our spirit is transformed in God, the more it participates to the Life and Nature of God, to His operations and to His missions. In this sense if we go to sleep doing the Prayer of the Heart this helps us to sleep in a different way, more restful, and as you say it is possible in this case to say that our spirit (or heart) is praying.
To show the difference between normal consciousness and a higher (not perceptible to the conscious part of us) consciousness saint Paul in his letter to the Romans says that the Holy Spirit prays in our spirit, therefore we can't perceive it, because it is situated in a higher part of our being:
"Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with sighs too deep for words. And he who searches the hearts of men knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God" (Rm 8,26-27)
The more we grow in Jesus (by lectio and PHeart practiced everyday) the more our spirit/heart is transformed, therefore, we are closer to God, and therefore He is more active in us. If we are absorbed by a work that requires a lot of mental attention, our spirit/heart will be during this work in the same state we left it before and the same state we will work on it after. This is why it is important to speak of "life of prayer" and not just prayer! Because the more we grow, the more all our day becomes different because we are becoming different, more transformed in God.
But, this doesn't stop us from time to time, during this very awareness consuming work, stop and do an Immersion in Him. Nobody can stop us from doing that. As I was telling you in the Course about these Carmelites novices who were trained to stop very 15 minutes and do an immersion in God. I will train you to do that during the coming day, God willing.
Stopping from time to time during work doesn't involve changing place or letting it be noticed by others! It is just an inner stop, inner movement, inner immersion, and exteriorly nobody sees it.
I hope this helps.
Have a blessed time preparing spiritually the Grace of Christmas to receive it fruitfully.
Jean
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PostSubject: Trying to remember God continually   Thu Apr 03, 2008 10:05 am

Jean,

Happy Easter! I hope you are well. Would like to ask for guidance on practical means of trying to immerse myself in God continually. On the course we had you mentioned some Carmelites in India who paused every 15 minutes to be aware of God's presence.
What practical steps can one make till it comes natural.

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PostSubject: Re: Ask your questions here   Thu Apr 03, 2008 12:03 pm

RB wrote:
Jean,

Happy Easter! I hope you are well. Would like to ask for guidance on practical means of trying to immerse myself in God continually. On the course we had you mentioned some Carmelites in India who paused every 15 minutes to be aware of God's presence.
What practical steps can one make till it comes natural.

Kind Regards

Happy Easter do you too R.
There are 2 ways as I mentioned during the Course:
1- Throughout the day, from time to time.
+
2- One dedicates a specific time, like 20 minutes a day, at 10 pm for instance. And during this time, you can repeat the act of immersion when you feel you are "out" of the immersion, like every on to 3 minutes... After a month or so, you will start to feel it becomes easier to do it, and you might increase it to 30 minutes. You can go to 60 minutes. But start first for 20 minutes, for a month, until you stabilise the practice, and then increase it, also for a month.
Anway keep me updated... because you might have other questions... practical ones.
Best regards
May God bless you
Jean
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PostSubject: Re: Ask your questions here   Wed Apr 09, 2008 1:02 pm

Jean,

Thanks for the reply. I was actually referring to immersing myself throughout the day. Although now that you mention it, I definitely need to dedicate myself to prayer in the heart in the morning and evening.
At first I started okay but now its more of a struggle. Actually a lack of discipline is the biggest problem. A classic case of the servant who buries the talent. I know how important it is to practise at least 30 minutes in the morning and another 30 minutes in the evening. I think if I focus on this again it will aid my efforts of trying to immerse myself throughout the day.

I have not forgotton the importance of daily lectio. However, you said that we should dedicate 55 minutes for lectio. Does this time reduce as one practises lectio more or is it strictly always supposed to be 55 minutes?
The 55 minutes for lectio plus the 30 minutes for prayer of the heart in the morning is quite a challenge. however, I am happy to try to do both if this is the time required for both.
Please pray for me to become more committed and to overcome my laziness which has reached great heights!

Best Wishes
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PostSubject: Re: Ask your questions here   Wed Apr 09, 2008 3:14 pm

RB wrote:
I definitely need to dedicate myself to prayer in the heart in the morning and evening.
At first I started okay but now its more of a struggle. Actually a lack of discipline is the biggest problem. A classic case of the servant who buries the talent.

Yes, of course! Just question yourself, remembering that this is the way you show your love to Jesus. This is the way to become Christian... This what God is expecting from you.

RB wrote:
I know how important it is to practise at least 30 minutes in the morning and another 30 minutes in the evening. I think if I focus on this again it will aid my efforts of trying to immerse myself throughout the day.
Yes certainly... you need to concentrate your efforts on one thing at a time, and ensure you do it on a regular basis during one month! Then, and only then, you may add another commitment.

RB wrote:
I have not forgotton the importance of daily lectio. However, you said that we should dedicate 55 minutes for lectio. Does this time reduce as one practises lectio more or is it strictly always supposed to be 55 minutes?

The 55 minutes is a way to say: "roughly an hour"; it is only the experience that says that we need arround one hour. One doesn't to bind himself with his watch, but one notices that it is this amount of time that we need to eat, digest and understand the Word of God.
This time doesn't reduce as one practises it! After more that 25 years of practice, i still need that time! But please don't look at it as a matter of quantity, but as a time you spend with the One Who loves you, Jesus! He deserves to spend some time to listen to Him and enter in His intimacy.

RB wrote:
The 55 minutes for lectio plus the 30 minutes for prayer of the heart in the morning is quite a challenge. however, I am happy to try to do both if this is the time required for both.
Please pray for me to become more committed and to overcome my laziness which has reached great heights!

Yes it is a challenge! My advice is to strengthen bit by bit your prayer life! to put too much pressure on yourself! Start by braking it to small parts! Start by being faithfull to the lectio, for one hour. Practise it for one month. Then add half hour of prayer of the heart! For one month! then and the other half hour.
May Jesus bless you abundantly, keep this Hope alive, you can do it! Many others do it!
I wish you courage and determination.
Best wishes.
Jean
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PostSubject: Re: Ask your questions here   Sun Nov 23, 2014 1:55 pm

Good afternoon. First, I would like to thank you for this forum and your school. I listened to the introduction video and look forward to seeing more of them.

My question is...the Miraculous Medal or the Brown Scapula? I barely have time to pray the rosary which is required for Brown Scapula, but not for the miraculous medal...I will hope that Our Lady will extend the Sabbatine privilege to those who love Her and not just to those who wear the scapula and fulfill its requirements. Any thoughts?
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PostSubject: Re: Ask your questions here   Fri Aug 26, 2016 3:43 pm

Keith H. wrote:
Good afternoon. First, I would like to thank you for this forum and your school. I listened to the introduction video and look forward to seeing more of them.
My question is...the Miraculous Medal or the Brown Scapular? I barely have time to pray the rosary which is required for Brown Scapular, but not for the miraculous medal... I will hope that Our Lady will extend the Sabbatine privilege to those who love Her and not just to those who wear the Scapular and fulfil its requirements. Any thoughts?
Good afternoon Keith,
Thank you very much for your kind words.
So sorry, I rarely visit the Forum... so I do apologise for that huge huge silence. Not meant.
I think that there are many ways of praying with Our Lady.
Is it "not having time" or is it "difficulty to say the Rosary"?
If "not having time" comes because of exceptional circumstances, due to the duties of our state, then we are doing God's will, God sees, and gives us His daily graces.
If it is a personal difficulty to say the Rosary, but wanting to love Our Lady and be close to her, I suggest a different way of saying the Rosary, which is more contemplative and "silent" for the mind: please have a look here:
http://amorvincit.blogspot.co.uk/2013/08/spirituality-82-two-ways-of-saying.html
and here:
http://amorvincit.blogspot.co.uk/2013/08/spirituality-83-two-ways-of-saying.html
Looking forward to hearing from you. And apology again for not having seen your message for so long.
in Mary
Jean
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