Monday, February 25, 2008

Maggie Ross in Maine March 1-9 and BBC Radio 4

Maggie Ross will be in Maine March 1-9. There will be at least two Contemplative Eucharists in addition to discussion groups, preaching, individual meetings and other activities. For further information contact

"The Museum of Curiosity" is a new series of six half-hour programmes that will begin airing on BBC Radio 4 on February 20, 6:30-7 PM GMT. In one of the programmes, to be broadcast March 26, host John Lloyd (of "Spitting Image" fame), comedian Bill Bailey (the "curator" of the museum) and guests John Gribbin (cosmologist), comedian Alan Davies, and Maggie Ross (using her other name, Sr Martha Reeves) discuss whether their donations of The Big Bang, Epping Forest, and Silence should be included. You can listen online and download these programs after the fact (, click on Radio 4). Making the programme was a gas; I have never laughed so hard for so long as I did during those two hours of taping.

A reminder also that "The Fire of Your Life: A Solitude Shared" and "Pillars of Flame: Power, Priesthood and Spiritual Maturity" with a new forward by Archbishop Desmond Tutu have recently been republished by Seabury Books. (See link to Church Publishing).

At the end of March, Maggie Ross will also be teaching an online course, "The Uses of Silence" for the continuing education program of the Church Divinity School of the Pacific. For futher information, see their website.

II Liturgy in Truth: Transfiguring the Mind and the Heart

The purpose of liturgy is not to distract us from our emotions and trials, but to help us gather these fragments into an offering that is returned to us made whole in the divine life that willingly is broken for us. As the philosopher Erazim Kohàk has said, using wilderness as analogy: In this unimaginably vast and beautiful landscape we are awakened, our pain is taken from us and forgotten, and our lives returned to us transfigured. [7]

Good liturgy will help this ongoing and largely imperceptible death and resurrection to take place. It will lead us gently to pay attention to our struggles, our emotional state, our suffering. It will then subtly attract our attention toward a vanishing point even as these memories are flitting across the screen of the mind. Gradually, through a succession of signs presenting and effacing, that is, pointing beyond themselves, the liturgy will draw us into an imageless, timeless Love.

Good liturgy has the capacity to lead us beyond words and beyond “experience,” by which I mean encounters that we notice and interpret through self-reflection, and by which we tend to encapsulate our selves. By leading us out of this prison of “experience,” good liturgy makes something of truth available to us, the truth that lies beyond our thoughts and ways, our own truth and God’s, whose nature we share. Finally it returns us to our ordinary tasks, and while our lives may not seem altered from day to day, over time we become obliquely aware that something has shifted slightly, that something has been justified––not in the sense that we have been proved right and everyone else wrong, but rather in the sense that all our fragments have become slightly better aligned, integrated, infused with the ineffable welcome we call “grace.”

Good liturgy, faithfully practiced, is transfiguring. The best liturgies––and the most gifted people who preside at them––will tend to disappear even as the liturgical action goes forward, enabling the worshipper to seek into the beholding of the face of God. [8] A litmus test of every facet of religion, but most particularly of liturgy, is this: Every true sacred sign effaces itself.

Effacement does not mean destruction. It means pointing the attention of participants beyond themselves, their ideas, their expectations: language, symbol, action––all gesture beyond. This rule of thumb is a test of every sacred sign, no matter what its context. Even Jesus disappears in the Ascension. “Noli me tangere,” he tells Mary Magdalene, “Do not touch me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father.” [9]

Do not cling to your image of me as Jesus the human person, the risen Christ is saying to Mary Magdalene, but go and tell the others to follow me in faith beyond all images and words to behold the truth of Love outpouring, there to be transfigured, and in that transfiguration to live the truth of your selves. It is not that the images are left behind; we return to them again and again in the dialogue with silence.

This effacement is the essential life of God described in Philippians 2:5–11: “He [Christ] did not think equality with God a thing to be grasped.” [10] That is, he realized that his shared nature with God was precisely ungrasping, outflowing love. [11] He knew that the self-reflexive activity we call “experience,” particularly our “religious experience”––that is, our interpretation made up of concepts and words––may be necessary to being human but is always distorting. He shows us that the way forward through this hall of mirrors is continually to seek beyond the images, so that our gaze on the Father is neither distracted nor broken.

Through this cycling of presence and absence, the images themselves gradually begin to change, as does our interpretation of them and of all our experience. We are trans-figured, that is, we are taken again and again beyond the form, the shape, we give to our interpretations, the way we “figure things out.” [12] We replace them with newer, better interpretations as our perspective becomes more and more that of the transfigured Christ. This transfiguration is not of the mind only but of the whole incarnate person. Transfiguration is given not that we might escape the body but that we might better inhabit it. Transfiguration, say Orthodox Christians, is our ordinary state; the rest is phantasm. A Eucharistic community is a community of solitudes made one in their seeking transfiguration in every sense.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Remarks for Churches Together Climate Change Conference, Reading, UK, February 16, 2008

[These remarks were part of a panel presentation. I have translated what the Elders (most of whom sadly have now left us) told me into language that British people will understand, and I apologize to them if I have made any misrepresentations. The discussion that followed was interesting, if sad. Everyone connected to the institution (clergy and paid lay workers) avoided saying what the church as an institution needs to do to recover credibility. The rebellious laity were not given a chance. So at the end of my remarks, I have appended a list. Readers are invited to add to it.]

In preparing these few remarks, I have asked myself what some of the elders of our indigenous peoples in Alaska would like me to say to you. First I will cite some statistics. Then I will tell you what they think the root of the problem is.

The impact of climate change increases as one goes north. On a scale of 1-10, if the impact is a 4 in Great Britain, it will be an 8 or 9 in the High Arctic.

—A few months ago, thousands of walrus died in stampedes on the narrow beaches of the Chukchi Sea because all of the ice on that vast body of water had melted.

—Because of the failure of the ice, polar bears are moving as much as 100 miles inland, threatening small villages and interbreeding with brown bears. They are also starving and drowning.

—There is so much glacial melt, so much fresh water lying on top of salt, that salmon are now swimming underneath both subsistence and commercial nets. We used to line catch them at 30 feet. In the last two years we have had to drop our lines to 80 feet.

—Our massive backyard glacier in Juneau retreated 800 ft just during the summer months last year. We could see it change from day to day.

—Winter subsistence hunting and trapping, always perilous, have been made far more dangerous by river and sea ice that no longer freeze properly and cannot support snow machines, or even dog teams.

—Without pack ice, increasing wind, sea and wave heights erode silty and sandy shores. At last estimate 235 villages in Alaska will have to move inland.

—The tree line is moving farther north every year.

I could say much more about crazy weather, seasons that are erratic, melting permafrost, heavy metals that migrate to the poles, Inuit women who give birth only to girls, methane releases, trees dying from beetle. But these are symptoms, effects.

I am certain, however, the Elders would much prefer me to spend the rest of my time telling you what they understand as the root cause of the climate change, which is that we have lost our core silence, inherent in our evolution, essential to our survival. Proof of this is our proccupation with wildlife programmes on TV: as we watch the animals' core silence at work in their relationships with each other and their environment, we are looking at our own lost nature.

The Elders know that to survive you must listen. Deeply. For them, a mistake is the same as a lie, and a lie is the same as murder. For this reason Native peoples also regard with horror the white person's habit of ripping time away from space and motion, of which it is a function, and treating it as a discrete entity.

This conference urges us to take action on climate change. But all the talk is pointless unless we recover the work of silence, which alone can help us change our habits. The work of silence enables us to want to live simply. When we repeatedly yield all our cravings, all our thoughts and ways to the silence, its mysterious transfigurative power will effect necessary changes to our habits and our lives. Without it, we are trapped in the cycle of heedlessness.

Sadly, the institutional church is incapable of helping us recover our silence because it no longer knows, understands or teaches the work of silence and the path to simplicity. By the end of 14th century the institutional church had effectively banned silence.

Religion without silence is madness, because religion is a series of metaphors about the work of silence and the relationship of silence to speech and behaviour, the resurrection of the mind through the body. Religious language becomes distorted when silence is no longer the ground from which it emerges and to which it returns. If the people making the rules and writing the doctrines do not practice the silence from which these doctrines arise, then religion gets bent out of shape.

Therefore, we the laity, who are the church in fact, must go on alone. We cannot wait for the noisy institution. We need to support one another to find our way back to the core silence that reawakens our environmental and religious sensibility and brings us to spiritual maturity. Without this silence, we will be unable to change our destructive habits or realize our shared nature with God. Without silence we lose our humanity, and all that is most precious, including life itself.

This is the message from the Elders in Alaska.

[The best introduction to the work of silence is "Into the Silent Land" by Martin Laird, published in the UK by DLT and in the USA by Oxford. This is probably the best book on this subject for the last 200 years. It is very user-friendly while also being very deep. It is especially helpful for the fearful, the angry, the despairing, the addicted. My subjective opinion is borne out by objective reviews.]

CORRECTION: Since responding to Kari's comment (below) I have had a most supportive letter from the Bishop of Oxford, who seems to be an exception to the clerical norm. I ask forgiveness for a hasty judgement.

A List of Changes the Institutional Church Needs to Make

1. "Where vision fails, the people perish." The church needs to recover the vision of God and its communication as the reason for its existence.

2. The clergy need to be taught the work of silence and how to teach it: "Every true sacred sign effaces itself." They should be educated for genuine self-emptying service, not for career trajectories. They should stop infantilizing the laity and instead encourage them toward spiritual maturity.

3. The clergy need to stop despising the laity and feeling threatened by them. If the clergy insist on being a caste apart they will soon find they have no one in the pews.

4. The laity should have the courage to pursue the work of silence and spiritual maturity whether or not the clergy will go along with them. They should confront the clergy when necessary, especially on issues such as the abyss between clergy and laity. They should not support being patronized.

5. We need to read the bible using the criterion of silence. One of its major subtexts is the loss and finding of the balance between silence and speech/action, in the Old Testament, but especially in the New. The parables are especially applicable to the work of silence, as is the kenotic hymn in Phil. 2:5-11.

6. Silence should be central to our liturgies, which should be aides to deeper silence. See "Liturgy in Truth" which is in process of being posted on this blog. Making a joyful noise unto the Lord has its place but it must be balanced with leisurely silence. Liturgies should have flow, not deadlines or a relentless jumping from one distracting activity to another.

7. We should use group silence to help us in conflict resolution. Sitting in silence together resolves far more than words. It is this the Southern Cone bishops refused to do with the Archbishop of Canterbury and other primates, for example.

8. The climate crisis is like the apartheid crisis: it can be resolved only heart by heart. Even if we have passed the point of no return, as I believe we have, the Bishop of Oxford is quite right in saying that we should be bound by the moral integrity of who we are meant to be as Christians. In other words, even if the end is coming, we should clean up our act.

9. We need lay presidency of the Eucharist, not only to unclench the dead hand of clericalism, but also because of the situation in many villages. More and more villagers are refusing to use magic cookies by courier sent from another altar because they quite rightly regard such a practice not only as dreadful theology, but also demeaning to their baptismal right as a community, as well as being infantilizing of them as human beings and trivializing of the sacrament. Village churches should not be forced to take matters into their own hands. Lay presiders should not be clericalized in any way. Every adult baptized Christian should know how to celebrate the Eucharist and able to preside as needed. We should also remove the quasi-clericalized status of lay readers and so-called spiritual directors.

Monday, February 11, 2008

By Our Wounds We Are Healed

Sermon for All Saints Convent, Oxford
First Sunday in Lent, February 10, 2008
Lectionary A

Happy Lent!

I love Lent, a clean desert wind blowing through my life, sand scrubbing off extraneous concerns that adhere to my mind. Not everyone thinks of Lent this way, of course, perhaps because the church's observance of Lent has changed radically over the centuries, not necessarily for the better.

Many of us have been conditioned to observe Lent as a time of thinking about ourselves along rather negative lines, an inheritance from our Jansenist and Puritanical past. We are immersed in doom and gloom, not to mention self-condemnation and self-deprivation. Our fasting seems to stimulate an appetite for gnawing at guilt and shame. This atmosphere is intensified by bloody crucifixes and liturgical dirges; a cappuccino of emotion with a froth of lament. But for the first thousand years of its history, this focus on sin and breast-beating was alien to the church.

Crude modern stereotypes of Christianity try to intimidate us: be good and go to heaven; be bad and watch out. But early Christians were not focused on heaven and hell; they looked for a new creation by means of the kingdom of heaven within. They sought to bring the good news of freedom from the strictures of law and its tyrannizing obsession with sin; they wanted the transfiguring silence of the kingdom to relieve the noise of a heedless world.

Their approach to sin was to acknowledge it with sorrow, but in the light of God. Tears of compunction were the mingling of repentance and joy, like honey in the comb, as John Climacus says, tears caused by unbearable mercy, not concentration on sin itself. Early Christians were keen psychologists: they knew that too much emphasis on sin simply gives it more power over us, while the gaze of mercy bridging the infinite abyss brings us to awestruck wonder.

The Anglo-Saxon poem, The Dream of the Rood describes the praying person, aware of his sins, who raises his mind to the jeweled crossbeam, where it is dazzled. He is stretched on the cross with the invisible Christ beyond all thought and experience, and it is through the union of his wounds with the glorified wounds of Christ that he moves to contemplation where the observing I/eye is no longer present, where he beholds the face of God. This beholding is signified by the aporia, the blank space, that occurs about two thirds of the way through the poem.

Sorrow is present in Fortunatus' great 6th century celebratory hymn to the cross. But while he tells us that Passiontide contained mourning, this mourning was formal, ritualized, and other-directed, a far cry from the spiritually unhealthy and inward-looking devotionalism that supplanted it.

There have long been rumours of so-called secret Christianity, and there is in fact a lot of evidence that suggests that for the first thousand years of its existence, Christianity was far more about the resurrection of the mind through the body in this present life than of the body alone in an afterlife. In the 7th century, for example, Isaac of Nineveh in the tradition of semitic Christianity uses the phrase "the world to come" to refer to the deepest realms of contemplation, not the aftermath of physical death.

The discrepancy between those who understand that Christianity is primarily about contemplation and the new creation that arises from its transfiguring power, and the more behavioural view that emphasizes heaven after physical death, can be accounted for in part by transmission of the tradition through those who actually did the work of silence and those who merely talked about it. While the two views are not necessarily mutually exclusive, religious language and practice become distorted when silence is no longer the ground from which they emerge and to which they return.

The reason for this is that authentic interior work of the spirit is organic and focuses away from itself, while language can only ever be dualistic and self-referential. Religion is a series of metaphors about what goes on in silence, and its expression must continually refer to the work of silence from which its doctrines and practices are born.

However else Jesus may be interpreted, he is parable and paradigm of the work of silence. We can discern this interpretation not only in what purport to be his sayings in the gospels, but also in the writings of Paul. Anyone who practices meditation will instantly understand that the great kenotic hymn of Philippians 2:5-11 is an account of one-pointed meditation, and it is a revelatory exercise to go through the parables with the work of silence in mind, picking through the false riches of dialectic to find the pearl of great price.

What do I mean by the work of silence? It isn't complicated. As that 14th century misogynist, Jean Gerson, remarked, even women and idiots can reach the highest levels of contemplation. Anyone who watches their own mind at work realizes that there are ways to get beyond the chatter of thoughts into deep silence, sometimes so deep that the observing I/eye disappears. Far from being reserved to an imaginary elite, this disappearing of the observing I/eye happens to all of us many times each day; it is part of the normal functioning of the mind. But precisely because the observing I/eye is absent, we usually aren't aware of it, unless a noticeable period of time passes by.

The work of silence is not about silence alone but about restoring the balance of silence and speech. Deep, transfigurative silence takes all the signs by which we live and mutates, shuffles and reintegrates them. Silence itself generates an energy that seeks expression in speech. In turn, the effort to find words for what has occurred in the silence generates an energy to return to it, so that speech may be yet further refined.

We can see this transfigurative silence at work in something as mundane as consigning a writing assignment to the silence and returning to the project a week later to find that when we sit down to face the blank page, it is almost finished. We can also perceive its work in the higher reaches of meditation, where all that we are and have seems to be forgotten as we come to a single focus, yet is returned to us healed, comforted and changed as we resume our normal round.

Each emergence from silence is part of a new creation. The response to this gift is wonder and gratitude, a sense of unworthiness, perhaps, that such mysterious and overwhelming grace is given to mere creatures. This sense of awe is a far cry from the guilt and self-flagellation that emerged from the Gregorian reform of the 11th and 12th centuries, a moment in history that also marks the return of Aristotle's writings to the West. The tortured crucifix arrives late in the middle ages, when the church was centralizing, clamping down on both clergy and laity, and using guilt and fear as manipulative tools.

There is a complex of reasons why the character of Lent changed, but the most important one is the loss of silence, for by the end of the 14th century the church had effectively suppressed silence in favor of dialectic, and a clichéd devotionalism that was tightly controlled by the clergy. There is nothing the narcissistic mind loves more than watching itself wallowing in its own feelings; and there is nothing tyranny loves more than noise, mind control and the rigid linearity of dialectic. We might say that in our age we are living at the dead end of dialectic. The antidote to this cultural dead-end is silence. As Archbishop Desmond Tutu likes to remind us, "If governments knew how subversive silence is they would ban it."

Let's go back to basics. Silence is normative. Humans have been around for about 2 million years, but we've only been talking for about 200,000 of those years, and we've only been writing for about 9 thousand years. Our core silence evolved as an essential tool of survival. The loss of silence and with it the loss of contact with our nature in every sense has been rapid and catastrophic. One can imagine stories such as that of the Garden of Eden being written by elders who see the devastating impact on ecology and culture by heedless lives lived without the discernment that is available only from silence. That Eden is about distraction from our core silence is an interpretation advocated by Irenaeus in the 3rd century. The notion of a "fall" does not occur in scripture.

What the snake did by starting the first conversation was to distract Adam and Eve from their gaze on God, so that they became disoriented. All the curses, the flaming sword and the like are fevered projections of minds that have lost their bearings. Poor old God just heaves a great sigh and makes them some clothes.

The story illustrates what happens when our outside and our inside have lost contact with each other. When we lose contact with our core silence, anxiety and mayhem result. During the first thousand years of the church, distraction, not sex or pride, was the worst sin; monks called it fornication. They knew that most important human task is to recover our undistracted gaze on God. The fact that we must choose, seek and work for it is what makes our second innocence more precious than the first.

Paul in today's reading sounds a bit scrambled, but what he is saying is this: As long as you are distracted, as long as you place all your trust in the world of avidity, of appetite, possession and consumption; as long as you are ruled by the thoughts and opinions of others, you are condemned to death by their judgement, which is not God's law. God's law bestows autonomy and integrity for the sake of our common life, and this law of love is found in the work of silence. By faith—the letting go of all images, thoughts and opinions in order to receive what silence has to give us—we are justified, that is to say, in the silence, what is dislocated and fragmented in us is realigned. In silence we engage the great mystery of the truth and compassion of God which we are given not for our selves alone, but to share with others.

When we are distracted from our core silence, each of us is Adam; when we are stretched beyond all our ideas, opinions, pain, anxiety and fear to return to silence, each of us is Christ. We relinquish our pseudo-life to receive something of our truth, which can emerge only when we have forgotten about our selves. And it is "this grace in which we stand..." this ever-deepening core silence from which we learn to live.

We might think of Jesus in today's Gospel as the Undistracted. In the desert, the devil tempts him by appealing to human appetites for food, power and approbation. But Jesus' gaze on, and engagement with the Father never wavers even as he sends the devil packing; and angels come and minister to him.

At the end of the 14th century, just as the light of silence was being snuffed by the church, Julian of Norwich wrote her luminous text, arguably the greatest Christian theological text ever written, not only because of its insight, but also because it overcomes the profound disconnect between the seamless and other-oriented world of silence, and the dualistic, self-referential world of language. In her dialogue with Christ, she asks, "What is sin?" But he courteously disregards her inappropriate question and directs her to "seek into the beholding."

Beholding is a dynamic theological word that we have sadly lost in modern translations of the bible, and without this word, we cannot understand it. Beholding signifies engagement with God at the level of being. God, who is beyond being, by the humility of his self-emptying allows his creatures, whom he holds in being, to hold him in being in the world and time. To show how much he loves us and is with us, God, the silent Word, organic and self-emptying, is willing even to be crucified in the dualistic and reflexive distortion of our language, the original lapsus linguae. And when we mirror his self-emptying by leaving dualism behind for the work of silence, we become like him.

Julian tells us that what we regard as sins are necessary to our life in God. Our sense of unworthiness empties us out, and this rich poverty enables the divine to enter in, to resurrect us even in this life. Therefore let us not turn away from this cleansing light, the light of beholding that transfigures our sins into the jewels of our heavenly crown. Let us not obsess over our sins, but bring them to the silence of mercy and transfiguration. Lent is the time to realize that it is by our wounds we are healed—and to rejoice.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Liturgy in Truth: Transfiguring the Mind and the Heart

[Originally published in "Weavings"]

We were perched on a cliff carpeted with wildflowers in Glacier Bay, Alaska. Below us, jagged ice towers marked the edge of a gigantic frozen river pouring imperceptibly down to the sea. The glacier’s face was perhaps five hundred feet high, sheared ramparts of ice in shades of deep turquoise ranging to white. It cracked and groaned as gravity and meltwater shifted its tremendous weight inexorably toward the rising tide.

Occasionally one of the forward-leaning ice spires collapsed with thunderous roars, showering the saltwater with debris, explosive booms reverberating among the peaks for many seconds. Each icefall set off a mini-tsunami, generating swells that would have swamped any small boat that ventured too close.

Above us towered wind-sharpened teeth of granite, guardians of the ice field where the glacier had its source. They seemed immobile, eternal. But the three tectonic plates that formed them are still grinding together, torquing the ice and the mountains. A major seismic event could happen at any time. Nearby Lituya Bay is thirty years overdue for another catastrophic earthquake; the last one generated a wave that scoured the surrounding mountains to an elevation of twelve hundred feet.

We sat on the edge of this abyss, stupefied by glory. Far below on the beach, our brightly colored tents sprouted like tiny mushrooms; our fragile kayaks toy boats all in a row.

Simply to be in such landscape is utterly beyond words. It is not only the beauty, the vastness, the elementals; there is a kind of rightness of being, as if all the shifting fragments of life have quietly fallen into place. The whole person comes into play: subtle senses that cringed and hid from the pace and noise of modern urban life come alive in alert and relaxed attention.

We had intended to celebrate the Eucharist while we were up there, but after we scrambled through the last tumble of boulders only to be absorbed by the visionary landscape, our human rite of word and symbol became inadequate to the liturgy we were living. When the priest finally broke the silence by extracting some bread and a cup from his backpack, his action seemed extraneous, an intrusion. (Some cautionary words echoed in my mind, “It is good for us to be here. Let us make three booths....”) [1] If only he had simply reached out his hands for ours, or in silence distributed the elements that had already been consecrated far beyond the reach of any human incantation. But no, he was a by-the-book man, and pulling one out, began to drone the words I normally love but which in that context were almost an obscenity. Everything had already been said from eternity. [2]

Religion is an attempt to gesture with words toward what is beyond words. It is a dialogue with silence through icon, text, and liturgy. If religion refuses its servant role of bringing the worshipper ever more deeply into silence, if it points to itself, it muffles the silence. The dialogue becomes a noisy monologue; religion dies. It is no longer religion. It has become a caricature of itself.

People living in the Middle Ages understood this better than we do: they created churches that are each a micro-cosmos, and they knew that liturgy is ritualized wilderness. Good liturgy provides a context in which our subtle senses, dulled by daily toil, can reawaken. Good liturgy reminds us that every moment of our lives, no matter how squalid or sinful, is Eucharist, our offering of “our selves, our souls and bodies, to be a reasonable, holy and living sacrifice.” [3] It is a sad commentary on contemporary religious culture that people think more about what they get from worship than what they bring to it.

It is not the liturgy that sanctifies our lives; our lives are already sacred, and liturgy tries to remind us of that. The hours of the Divine Office do not sanctify the day; they bring us to remembrance that the day is already holy and we have the privilege of living it, that we have the choice at every moment either to be whole, to be holy, or to fragment our selves and others by focusing on one of our fantasy-generated power trips or anxieties.

The Eucharist is not a reward for good behavior or keeping to the rules; it is medicine for the sick and welcome for the wanderer. Above all it is thanksgiving for the limitless and unconditional love that is our life and our truth.

The Eucharist is not a lordly God condescending, but a God terrifying in humility who meets us as we are where we are, even in hell. Timeless liturgical action tears open the fabric of our lives and shows us that even when we are most conflicted, we are still infused and “onyd,” as Julian of Norwich puts it. [4] The divine life-love is ours no matter how we abuse it and nothing can separate us from it; [5] it is our shared nature with God, the very substance of who we are. The rest is illusion. Julian tells us that God can see only what is like himself; therefore he ignores our sin, which has no being or existence. [6] God seeks only our choice to behold the face of love.

Just as we reverence the crumbs of bread we receive at the Eucharist, so also we are given to know that nothing in our living and our dying is wasted, no matter how frivolous, how sinful, how glorious, how mundane, how painful. Good liturgy is designed to help us understand this truth, to turn us toward the truth of who we really are, which is hidden from us, but which emerges from the silence when our attention is focused away from our selves.

[To be continued]

Friday, February 01, 2008

Nonne: Bibliography

[with apologies for the chaotic blogger typography]

Bohm, David, Wholeness and the Implicate Order, London, ARK, 1983.
Bradshaw, Paul, Liturgical Presidency in the Early Church, Nottingham, Grove Books, 1983.
Brock, S.P., The Luminous Eye: The Spiritual World of St Ephrem the Syrian, Kalamazoo, Cistercian, 1992.
–––The Syriac Fathers on Prayer, Kalamazoo, Cistercian, 1987.
–––tr., St Ephrem’s Hymns on Paradise, Crestwood, St Vladimir’s Seminary, 1990.
Brown, Raymond, Birth of the Messiah, New York, Doubleday, 1977, p. 322.
Brueggemann, Walter, Hopeful Imagination, London, SPCK, 1989.
–––The Prophetic Imagination, London, SCM, 1978.
Carthusian, A., The Way of Silent Love, London, DLT, 1993, Vol. III, forthcoming.
Corrigan, Felicitas, ed., Between Two Eternities, London, SPCK, 1993.
Gillespie, V. ‘Postcards from the Edge’ in Interpretation Medieval and Modern, ed. P. Boitani and A. Torti, Cambridge: D.S.
Brewer, 1993.
Gillespie, V. and Ross, M., ‘The Apophatic Image: the Poetics of Effacement in Julian of Norwich’ in The Medieval Mystical Tradition in England V, ed. Marion Glasscoe, Cambridge: D.S. Brewer,1992.
Girard, René, tr. Yvonne Feccero, The Scapegoat, Baltimore, Johns Hopkins, 1986.
–––tr. Stephen Bann and Michael Metteer, Things Hidden Since the Foundation of the World, London, Athlone 1984.
–––tr. Patrick Gregory, Violence and the Sacred, Baltimore, Johns Hopkins, 1977.
Gribben, John, In Search of Schrödinger’s Cat, New York, Bantam, 1984.
Isaac the Syrian, tr. Dana Miller, The Ascetical Homilies of Saint Isaac the Syrian, Brookline, Holy Transfiguration Monastery,
Johnson, E.A., She Who Is: The Mystery of God in Feminist Theological Discourse, New York, Crossroad,1993.
Julian of Norwich, A Revelation of Love, ed. M. Glasscoe, Exeter, 1986.
Kane, Aletheia, OCD, tr., Elizabeth of the Trinity: The Complete Spiritual Works, Washington, ICS, 1984.
Ranke-Heinemann, Uta, tr. John Brownjohn, Eunuchs for Heaven: The Catholic Church and Sexuality, London, Andrew
Deutsch, 1990.
Ross, M., ‘Apophatic Prayer as a Theological Model’, Literature and Theology, Winter, 1993
–––Pillars of Flame: Power, Priesthood, and Spiritual Maturity, London, SCM, 1988.
–––‘The Apophatic Ordinary’, Anglican Theological Review, LXXIV:4.
–––‘The Seven Devils of Women’s Ordination, or, She Who Lie Down with Dogs Catch Fleas’, in the volume edited by S.
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