Today’s blog explores Jesus, Church stuff and timing – specifically ushering in the Age of the Holy Spirit.
Out of the Mouth of Babes
Yesterday, I received an enormous tidbit of wisdom for a twenty-something whippersnapper. And I use these terms tongue-in-cheek because in truth, I have found the twenty-somethings to have WAY MORE wisdom than most of the rest of us. I asked this young man to give me some feedback on the Sunday evening meditation circle that I host and that he attended once with some of his friends. They had not come back and I wanted to find out why. In short, there were three words that scared them away: Scripture. Jesus. Catholic. Please note that all three of them had been raised Catholic. We discussed this further, in particular, how I approach these three apparent hot-buttons in the work that I do. Then came the “out of the mouth of babes” wisdom. “Lauri,” said the twenty-something young man, “I think you are just ahead of your time.” Sigh.
When I look at the three words that scared those twenty-somethings away, I feel like shaking my head in frustration. Three words that in my not-so humble opinion have been given a really bad rap and which have been used to forward the agenda of the fearful few. I could just walk away from these words – stop talking about Jesus, stop using scripture, stop being all Catholicky…..but I find that I cannot. Why? Because there is some strange force within me that compels me to redeem these words and our relationship to them. Why? Because in twenty years of praying, meditating, contemplating scripture, Jesus and Catholicism, I have found some really cool things…things that unfortunately most churches are reluctant to share. Let’s start with the man:
In my own prayer, meditation and contemplation of scripture as it relates to Jesus and with Jesus himself as he shows up in my prayer, I have found Jesus to be a really cool dude. Compassionate. Kind. Loving. Filled with Wisdom. Gentle. HUMAN. To me, Jesus is my guru, teacher, rabbi, friend and beloved companion. So, I feel frustrated, angry, sad when Jesus is portrayed as anything but all of the above. The Jesus I know is unconditionally loving and accepting of ALL and asks us to do the same. This is the Jesus I want people to know and seek to help them recognize by moving past the doctrine that might teach otherwise.
Scripture, when approached through contemplative prayer and meditation, is one of the ways that we get to know this Jesus. Even more than Jesus, scripture also helps us to find the God that is unconditionally loving, gentle and kind. When we approach scripture from a place of prayer, allowing it to be a vehicle through which God can speak to us intimately, personally and directly, we find a God that is beyond doctrine, tribal customs and societal conditioning. Instead, we find peace, love, joy, wisdom, insight, guidance, healing and comfort. Mix in the historical/critical analysis of scripture and doctrine simply falls away and all we have is God – unencumbered by our human agenda of control. HMMM Now scripture suddenly isn’t so bad.
Then there’s the whole Catholic thing. Yeah, the Institution keeps digging itself a bigger whole with the sex scandals, pay-offs, and now the attack on the women religious (and the rest of women for that matter.). And yes, I have been accused of being dysfunctionally attached to my Catholicism and to my related wounds. All that being said….I still love many, if not most, of the things that have been part of my Catholic upbringing. So, no apologies about the fact that the work I do probably reeks of ritual, incense, candles, mystery, mysticism, music, art and even magic. Perhaps in my next life I’ll choose Wicca or Hinduism, but in this life, I was born into the Catholic tribe, and here I will remain. And I don’t think that is a bad thing. In fact, I would love if we could just scoop up all the things that rock about being Catholic and repackage it in something less judgmental and arrogant. (Ahem, we aren’t the only ones going to heaven!!!!)
In the Company of Prophets
As I roll all these things around in my mind, I am reminded of the work of the twelfth century prophet Joachim Di Fiore. He identified what he referred to as three spiritual ages: The Age of the Father, The Age of the Son and the Age of the Holy Spirit. The Age of the Father was the time from Abraham to Jesus marked by the development of Judaism. The time of the Son was the time after Jesus’ birth to the present age – marked by the transmission of the Jesus message and the building up of the Institutional Church. The Age of the Spirit, in Joachim’s words is:
When mankind was to come in direct contact with God, reaching the total freedom preached by the Christian message. The Kingdom of the Holy Spirit, a new dispensation of universal love, would proceed from the Gospel of Christ, but transcend the letter of it. In this new Age the ecclesiastical organization would be replaced and the Order of the Just would rule the Church. Only in this third Age will it be possible to really understand the words of God in its deepest meanings, and not merely literally. In this year, a new Epoch of peace and concord would begin, thus making the hierarchy of the Church unnecessary.
So, maybe I’m not really ahead of my time, but just in time. HMMMMM
Authentic Freedom Ministries