In what simple way is God calling you to act that would draw you closer to Him? For me it was spending a year to read and study the Bible. .
These are my own contemplative thoughts. If you disagree with the below that’s ok! .
Before Christ, in the Old Testament, under the old covenant, only priests were allowed near the altar, and they acted as the mediators between God and man. The book of Esther is symbolic to this as it describes her standing in the inner court in front of the king’s hall. The king sees Queen Esther just outside his inner court, HE FINDS FAVOR IN HER (a statement we read often in scripture when God’s relationship to his people is discussed) and holds out his scepter to her as a sign that it is ok to approach him. She moves towards him and touches the very tip of his scepter, a sign of her obedience and humility. To me her approach is like those hoping to come to God either for the first time or after a long hiatus. We have to approach with humility and an open heart, yet we do not have to be pure, or holy, or of a certain worldly stature. We are allowed to come as we are. Esther, who despite knowing she was doing something against the man-made laws of the day said she would approach the king to save her people the Jews from being slaughtered, “even though it is against the law. And if I perish, I perish.” In this statement she showed her bravery. This kind of bravery is what God wants to see from us, wants us to cut through all the worldly “laws” like our own expectations, guilt, rules, etc., right to Him. And He will find favor in us for this—we will become his special students in that moment, He will take us under His wing and show us wonderful miracles and bless us tremendously, especially show us how to find His kind of joy in this life if we keep our eyes open to Him. .
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Contemplative Vision by Juliet Benner is a book about contemplating religious art with prayer in mind and using it to expand our prayer life by gazing at the face of God through it, seeing His face and meditating about the art’s purpose/story, and the artist’s time creating it. The book discusses using art as a purpose to expand our faith and awe. For instance, the artists who create icons of Christ meditate on his face for hours while painting him. Just beautiful! .
Talk about a cozy book for the season! Prairie Avenue by Arthur Meeker is that! Prairie Avenue was a really fancy neighborhood in Chicago in the early 1900’s. This story highlights the world that goes on behind closed doors—really fancy ones—and in rooms—really fancy ones with large stone fireplaces and indoor gardens. Despite what we may see, trouble can brew anywhere and people can be in pain even though their life may look grand on the outside. Arthur Meeker highlights this kind of paradox and I highly recommend it! It’s one of my favorites and it is one of the few books I would read again. .
I slipped a copy into the free library at our park last night for anyone needing an escape. It takes place in the Civil War. A couple people I know have decided to read my book during quarantine and told me it was the perfect story to calm their nerves. Don’t need a better compliment than that! My book is sold on both amazon and Barnes and Noble. If you do read it, please consider writing a review as this helps it get into new hands. Thank you. Enjoy!!
Another treasure I bought lately from Thriftbooks.com. I was surprised it came with a dustcover! This was another book recommended by Thomas Merton. This and the Confessions of St. Augustine were both recommended to him by a Hindu Monk, which, as I’ve mentioned before, led in part to his conversion to Catholicism. This copy translated by Ronald Knox is considered the best translation and recommended by scholars and priests alike.
We are halfway through the Bible! Since the Fall of 2019, I have been writing really brief reviews of the books of the Bible. They are my own contemplative thoughts that no one has to agree with, but I hope speak only truth and leave room for your own contemplation.
The order I have been following is the below. Given to me by a priest and a friend. .
Leviticus Galatians Numbers Colossians
Ruth Acts (of the Apostles)
2 Samuel Mark
2 Kings 1 Corinthians
2 Chronicles 1 Peter 2 Peter
Psalms (I SUGGEST READING ONE A DAY THROUGHOUT)
Ecclesiastes 1 Timothy 2 Timothy
Song of Solomon 1 John 2 John 3 John
Daniel 1 Thessalonians 2 Thessalonians
Jonah 2 Corinthians
I had to track this down. It was recommended by Thomas Merton, and I think it led in part to his conversion. F. J. Sheed’s translation is supposed to be the best. I’ve read compared to other translations Sheed kept the words of Saint Augustine alive and breathing, rather than dead. I’m very excited to read this! . Plus it was mailed with an old letter in German still stuck inside from the 60’s. .
The absence of God leads to a life of vanity & vexation. This is the main theme of Ecclesiastes. What are we filled with when God is absent from our souls? Ego, pride, vanity—the ‘self’. When we are consumed with ‘self’ all we produce and put into the world is filled with ‘self’ and therefore false. Without God we are empty vessels with no foundation, empty because anything we put in our vessel falls right through the bottom and we spend our lives hastily trying to fill it up again with no success. I have watched people spend their lives this way, and any mention of God makes them laugh. God hasn’t yet touched them, and they have not yet touched God. It is a mutual reaching out. I like to think of the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel when I picture this union.
Ecclesiastes is a special book to me because it began my deeper journey with God. It was the moment God reached out for me, woke me up and unlocked the door on which Christ was perpetually knocking my whole life. You see, it all began because I had a dream. A woman came to me and told me to read the Bible, Ecclesiastes specifically. It was a profound dream and it changed my life, because I listened to the woman, I read Ecclesiastes the next morning and the rest of the Bible too. And now I write these posts for the public as evidence of His calling. Christ is always knocking, waiting, calling. It is the person who listens for His voice that gets called. Those who volunteer themselves for His work and pray: ‘I am listening. What is it you’re calling me to do? Use me as you wish for good in the world.’ Then listen carefully with the ears of your soul and watch carefully with the eyes of your soul. Then make use of time to discern what you are hearing & seeing is truth, denies ‘self’ and promotes love. If it does all of these then act on that nagging notion, because God is calling
Funny thing… both these books are the same but they have completely different translations for their endings. Makes me wish I would have read the top one instead. What do you think?
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I’m excited to read this. I read Chronicles of Narnia when I was little, but I don’t remember getting through it all. Even though this story deals with Greek Mythology, I am interested in studying Lewis’ technique of applying theology to his fiction. I too have tried to do this, but the more spiritual and nonfiction writing I create the harder it is to go back to writing fiction, even though I love it. I’m in a rut, and can’t seem to do it anymore. So I thought Lewis would help inspire me and get me back into what I loved. Fingers crossed I learn something.
As a student of the American Civil War I realized to my shame that I have not one book about the African American experience. Studying military strategy and the life of soldiers kept me from really SEEING this special part of the story. So I thought I would pick up a book. Of course there are plenty of books out there about race, and I hope to read some of those too, but for the beginning of my journey I thought I would start with food. I found this serendipitously while searching for colonial history and thought it would be perfect. Michael W. Twitty is a culinary and cultural historian, he’s a TED fellow and speaker and has appeared on/in NPR, The Guardian, and has been a participant in many talks abroad.
“As he takes us through his ancestral culinary history, Twitty suggests that healing may come from embracing the discomfort of the Southern past. Along the way, he reveals a truth that is more than skin deep—the power that food has to bring the kin of the enslaved and their former slaveholders to the table, where they can discover the real America together.” — Harper Collins (publisher). It has excellent reviews. I’m so excited to begin my journey here!
“The writer hopes that this little story may be the means of leading those who read it to think and feel deeply upon the truths which it involves, and that many more similar books may be written for our Sabbath Schools, so that the young may grow up imbued with the spirit of liberty, and rejoicing to labor for that oppressed and unhappy race with ‘Aunt Sally’ represents, so, at length, this unfortunate people shall be slaves no longer, but shall find that, to them all, the Cross has been the Way of Freedom.”
Brooklyn, N.Y., May, 1858
. *Book borrowed from my grandma. Thanks Grandma! .
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