Light When It Comes

Light When It Comes
Chris Anderson
(William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2016)

I had started on this book when I received Fr. Henry Siew’s booklet Encountering the Lord in Daily Life, in which he recommends the Consciousness Examen as one of three “simple forms of prayer”, and which I decided was something I should finally take seriously. I am still struggling with it. It may be simple but it takes a lot of discipline and I have yet to develop the mindfulness to do it properly.

Light When It Comes is serendipitously the practical application of the Examen and so it is a great help for me. What Anderson is showing is that one needs to be attuned to the Lord – that is how to recognise Him in everything. It is such an enjoyable lyrical [just look at the pretty cover!] collection of snippets from the ups and downs, questions and answers, and doubts and hopes of daily life. In both light and darkness, God is always present; it is just that we miss the point sometimes.

I found the sections on “darkness” particularly helpful. They reminded me of reading Henri Nouwen’s The Return of the Prodigal Son and coming to the awful and somewhat discouraging realisation that the morose, brooding older brother was me. Everything the father had was his but he wasn’t aware of it – we can only imagine the joy and love that would have been in his heart had he known this, but he was stuck on the darker side of things, where he saw patches of light without catching its full brilliance. The older brother and I have some trouble recognising the light when it comes.

There were parts of the book that struck me like they were written just for me, and I include some of them here, with their chapter titles. I see them as glimpses of light that I need.

Seeing the Light

And the first words that Adam speaks? … the first recorded words of the first man—are poetry.

This at last is bone of my bones
and flesh of my flesh.

Dying to Ourselves

To pray the examen doesn’t just mean to revel in the light. It means to face the darkness, too: the darkness of suffering, the darkness of our own limitations.


The cross is a lens… It’s our formula for interpreting every situation. What should we do? Whatever conforms us the most closely to the cross. Whatever turns the situation upside down…

What should we do? Whatever empties us. Whatever silences us… Whatever gives us the chance to die.

Holding On

I thirst for praise, but praise doesn’t satisfy. I thirst for order, but order doesn’t satisfy. I thirst for certainty: never to be troubled, never to be confused, never to have to wrestle with things in my mind. But certainty doesn’t quench the thirst, and it’s not possible anyway. None of this water is clean and pure. None of this water is the living water.


But we’re being healed of leprosy all the time, and we’re always failing to realize it.

Going Wild

Sometimes where we find ourselves is in the desert. More and more, I think, life is about letting things go, or trying to. It’s about giving things up. It’s about holding things in memory and believing in them still.

Completing Creation

What value is it to the people in our lives if we spend the morning writing a poem, or walking in the woods, or weeding the front flowerbed?

What worth is our joy?

A worth beyond price.


I have said these things to you,” Jesus tells his disciples, “so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.”

But this is the night before the Crucifixion, this is the Farewell Discourse in the Gospel of John, and sadness fills the room. Fear.

How can joy be possible?

Jesus saith to her: Did not I say to thee that if thou believe, thou shalt see the glory of God? (John 11:40)

May we see the Lord of joy and light in all we do!

Excerpts of the book can be found here.

♫ Makes me think of In My Heart

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Pilgrimage in the Footsteps of Jesus

Binz

Pilgrimage in the Footsteps of Jesus
by Stephen J. Binz
(Twenty-Third Publications, 2006)

We’re used to making our Advent and Lent spiritual journeys. We might also walk further with Jesus, then, or walk where He walked.

Pilgrimage in the Footsteps of Jesus is one of the titles in the Threshold Bible Study series, in which Bible study programmes are organised according to themes that run through different parts of the Bible. This is an alternative to Bible study by book.  It takes us on a reading and study pilgrimage of the “geography of salvation”. We visit significant places of Our Lord’s life and study the related events and Bible passage(s) at each stop.

There are 30 chapters, moving from Nazareth (the Annunciation) to the Mount of Olives (the Ascension). Each chapter is anchored at a pilgrimage site, such as the Basilica of the Annunciation and Shrine of the Ascension, with a (rather small) picture of each place. There is a Bible passage (sometimes more than one), a write-up and reflection on the passage, questions for reflection and discussion, and a prayer.

For example, session 28 is at the Basilica of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem. The Bible reading is Mark 15:42-16:8, recounting Jesus’ burial and resurrection. The reflection reminds us that this may be the “last station of the sorrowful way of the cross” but it is also the “beginning of the glorious way of resurrection.” The angel points out the empty tomb but also says “He has been raised; he is not here”. Binz writes that the “truest pilgrimage is going out to tell others the good news and living the new life given to us by our risen Lord.”

This chapter is followed by the last two stops: Church of Peter’s Primacy at Tabgha (John 21:1-19) and Shrine of the Ascension (Luke 24:50-53; Acts 1:6-12). The final chapter reiterates a life-giving purpose of pilgrimage: “the other side of pilgrimage means going somewhere else in order to bring God in a new way to that place… We can discover God’s presence in the least likely places, and we can bring the presence of God to places that wait in darkness for the dawning light of our Risen Lord.”

In other words, we are called to share our Easter joy with others.

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Happy Easter!
Join in the Dance

Other titles in the Threshold series include Advent Light, The Resurrection and the Life, The Mysteries of the Rosary, The Beast and the Lamb and The Holy Spirit and Spiritual Gifts.

Lent and Easter Wisdom from Henri J. M. Nouwen

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Lent and Easter Wisdom from Henri J.M. Nouwen
Compiled by Judy Bauer
(Liguori Publications, 2005)

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It’s now about the middle of Lent and many of us would have started already on our personal observance of Lent, no?

This book is a meaningful Lent and Easter companion, covering every day during the period from Ash Wednesday to the Second Sunday of Easter. (I wish there were devotions for the rest of Easter as well.)

Each day’s devotion has a theme and includes a reflection from Fr. Henri Nouwen’s writings, a Bible passage (not the same as the Mass readings for the day), a prayer and a suggested “Lenten action” or “Easter action”.

For example, the theme for today, Day 17 Friday of the Second Week of Lent, is faithfulness.

The reflection is taken from Nouwen’s The Road to Daybreak: A Spiritual Journey. It is an excerpt where he writes about his desire and quest to live in a way in which “Jesus is truly the center”. Fr. George Strohmeyer from L’Arche advised him – “be faithful in your adoration”. This is what Nouwen says dawned on him:
“He kept using the word “adoration”. This word makes it clear that all attention must be on Jesus and not on me. To adore is to be drawn away from my own preoccupations into the presence of Jesus. It means letting go of what I want, desire, and have planned and fully trusting in Jesus and his love.”

The Bible passage is Luke 16:10-13 on “faithfulness in small things”.

The prayer asks God to “let the activities of my daily life be so centred on Your presence that my friendship with You is solidly entrenched in my heart of hearts.”

The suggested Lenten Action is – to spend time in adoration before the Blessed Sacrament and to be faithful to this even after Lent.

May we have a fruitful Lent and a holy and joyous Easter season!

♫ Makes me want to listen to Beyond the Days