Discalced Carmelite Friars

Province of St. Therese

Poet and Contemplative

“From the abundance of his spirit [the poet] pours out secrets and mysteries rather than rational explanation” (Prologue, The Spiritual Canticle).

“In contemplation God teaches the soul very quietly and secretly, without its knowing how, without the sound of words” (Chapter 39, The Spiritual Canticle).

In the spirit of St. John of the Cross, this blog reflects on the contemplative experience and the poetic experience, sometimes separately and distinctly, sometimes in common, as mutually enlightening.

I will also post to this blog, from time to time, my own poetry, with a short interpretive note attached.

~ Fr. Bonaventure Sauer, OCD

Prayer and Sabbath Rest - Part 2

        (3)  "The higher goal of spiritual living is not to amass a wealth of information, but to face sacred moments."
        Here is a truth we must continually remind ourselves of.  Information is power.  So we crave it, we seek it.  It gives our work, and therefore our persons, the edge over others.  It's our claim to importance and, of course, to a superior remuneration for the work we do.
        To face a sacred moment, on the other hand, is to let go and let be.  It is to ask for nothing in return.  It is to take off one's shoes and be very careful about touching anything out of fear of disrupting it.  Imagine, for example, that you are standing atop a hill looking out over a valley below.  A river winds through this valley.  There's farmland on either side.  The grass and the trees are lush.  It's a truly lovely scene.
        So you pull out your cell phone and take a picture and then text the picture to friends.  Now I have nothing against cell phones nor photography nor friends.  But such an action is, at least from one angle, a violation of the sacredness of the moment.  It is a failure to let the moment be, let it be itself, then turn and walk away and let it go.

        (4)  "The great problem [is] time rather than space; the task [is] how to convert time into eternity rather than how to fill space with buildings, bridges, and roads; and the solution of the problem [lies] in study and prayer rather than in geometry and engineering."

        My two brothers are both engineers, and I've always felt engineers don't get enough credit for how they've shaped our modern world.  One always hears about science and scientists.  But without engineering science never leaves the laboratory, and maybe never even leaves the scientist's head.  Engineering, on the other hand, is where science meets the real world.
        But both my brothers would agree that there is much in life that only the spiritual disciplines of prayer and study can find solutions for.  There is an idolatry of science that says that science is the one and only avenue to truth.  But, of course, like any ideology, life continually contradicts that simplification.
        Acoustics can tell us a lot about sound, and neuroscience has interesting things to say about what's going on in the brain when one is listening to music.  But neither can tell me much of anything about why this afternoon, while listening to a rendition of "Jingle Bells" by the Korean female trio The Barberettes, I thought to myself, "This is delightful--quirky, yes, but delightful."
        The substance of time is, so to speak, what we experience in time.  Time, therefore, is subjective in a way that space is not.  Indeed, for science time is a function of space, as Einstein's Theory of Relativity sets forth.  But time in itself, whose substance lies in experience--that is a realm where science cannot enter.

Written by Fr. Bonaventure Sauer, OCD
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