not of this world

“We are Christians, and strangers on earth.
Let none of us be frightened; our native land is not in this world.”

St. Augustine


(etching of a Rhinoceros by Albrecht Dürer / 1515 / The Biltmore House/ Julie Cook / 2020)

“Christian life is a retreat.
We are ‘not of this world’,
just as Jesus Christ is ‘not of this world’ (John 17:14).
What is the world? It is, as St. John said, the ‘lust of the flesh’,
that is, sensuality and corruption in our desires and deeds; ‘the lust of the eyes’,
curiosity, avarice, illusion, fascination, error, and folly in the affectation of learning,
and, finally, pride and ambition (1 John 2:16). To these evils of which the world is full,
and which make up its substance, a retreat must be set in opposition.
We need to make ourselves into a desert by a holy detachment.
Christian life is a battle …
We must never cease to fight.
In this battle, St. Paul teaches us to make an eternal abstinence, that is,
to cut ourselves off from the pleasures of the senses and guard our hearts from them…
it was to repair and to expiate the failings of our retreat,
of our battle against temptations, of our abstinence, that Jesus was driven into the desert.
His fast of forty days prefigured the lifelong one that we are to practice by abstaining
from evil deeds and by containing our desires within the limits laid down by the law of God.”

Bishop Jacques-Benigne Bossuet, p. 17-18
An Excerpt From
Meditations for Lent

pray without ceasing

“So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you;
seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.
For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds;
and to the one who knocks,
the door will be opened.

Luke 11: 9-10


(San José y San Miguel de Aguayo, the “Queen of the Missions/ San Antonio, TX/ Julie Cook / 2014)

I have, as we have been told, to pray without ceasing.

Or so it seems.

Yet words such as exasperating, frustrating, maddening creep upwards
melding with the prayerful petitions.

Silence.

Then I am reminded, once again, that God, to whom I lift my words, my petitions, my prayers
is a God without time nor space…
He is not defined nor held by the restraints of my world’s limitations…

And so I am to pray without ceasing…

which means, without ceasing….

“Knock.
Persevere in knocking, even to the point of rudeness, if that were possible.
There is a way of forcing God and wresting his graces from him,
and that way is to ask continually with a firm faith.
We must think, with the Gospel:
‘Ask, and it will be given to you;
seek, and you will find;
knock, and it will be opened to you,’
which he then repeats by saying,
‘Everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened’
(Luke 11:9-10).
We must, therefore, pray during the day, pray at night, and pray every time we rise.
Even though God seems either not to hear us or even to reject us,
we must continually knock, expecting all things from God but nevertheless also acting ourselves.
We must not only ask as though God must do everything himself;
we must also make our own effort to act according to his will and with the help of his grace,
as all things are done with his support.
We must never forget that it is always God who provides;
to think thus is the very foundation of humility.”

Bishop Jacques-Benigne Bossuet, p.35
An Excerpt From
Meditations for Lent