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God Speaks in Many Languages

Exclusion in the name of God is the very worst of religious sins. God speaks in many tongues and to every color and age of people. It is not ours to decide where God’s favor lies. But it is ours to see as a spiritual task the obligation to come to our own opinions. We are not to buy thought cheaply. We are not to attach ourselves to someone else’s decisions like pilot fish and simply go with the crowd. We are meant to be thinking Christians.

—from the book In God's Holy Light: Wisdom from the Desert Monastics by Sister Joan Chittister

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The Spiritual Problem of Our Time

The great spiritual problem of the day is being “like fish out of water.” A life without spiritual regularity drifts through time with little to really hang onto when life most needs an anchor. Instead, we often get caught up in someone else’s agenda most of our lives. We put the cell aside for work and its never-ending deadlines. We forget the cell when we need it most and make play a poor substitute for thought and prayer. We think that we can run our legs off doing, going, finding, socializing, and still stay stolid and serene in the midst of the pressure of it all. And then we find ourselves staring at the ceiling one night and thinking to ourselves, “There must be more to life than this.”

—from the book In God's Holy Light: Wisdom from the Desert Monastics by Sister Joan Chittister

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Listen with Your Whole Heart

There is a whole dimension of life to which we have to listen with our whole heart, mind-fully, as we say. Mindfulness is necessary to find meaning—and the intellect is not the full mind. The intellect, one has to hasten to say, is an extremely important part of our mind, but it isn’t the whole mind. What I mean here when I say “mind” is more what the Bible calls the “heart,” what many religious traditions call the “heart.” The heart is the whole person, not just the seat of our emotions. The kind of heart that we are talking about here is the lover’s heart, which says, “I will give you my heart.” That doesn’t mean I give you part of myself; it means I give myself to you. So when we speak about wholeheartedness, a wholehearted approach to life, mindfulness, that alone is the attitude through which we give ourselves to meaning.

—from the book The Way of Silence: Engaging the Sacred in Daily Life by Brother David Steindl-Rast



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It's Not about Perfection

Perfection is not what being human is about. Perfection is simply not attainable in the human condition. The function of being human is to become the best human beings we can be, one insight, one mistake, at a time. Then, knowing the struggle that comes with trying and failing over and over again, we become tender with others who are also struggling in the process.

—from the book In God's Holy Light: Wisdom from the Desert Monastics by Sister Joan Chittister

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Leisure Is a Virtue

We tend to think that the opposite of work is leisure. Leisure is not the opposite of work; play is the opposite of work, if you have to have a polarity like that. And leisure is precisely the bridging of this gap between the two. Leisure is precisely doing your work with the attitude of play. That means putting into your work what is most important about playing, namely, that you do it for its own sake and not only to accomplish a particular purpose. And that means that you have to give it time. Leisure is not a privilege for those who can take time for leisure. Leisure is a virtue. It is the virtue of those who give time to whatever takes time, and give as much time as it deserves, and so work leisurely and find meaning in their work and come fully alive. If we have a strict work mentality we are only half alive.

—from the book The Way of Silence: Engaging the Sacred in Daily Life by Brother David Steindl-Rast



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Learning Spiritual Discipline

 

In the spiritual life, we are meant to prod our souls to regular discipline so that in doing so our hearts will be softened to serve those whom Jesus served. The gentle Jesus wants clean hearts from us, not sacrifice; deep down basic commitment, not simply blue ribbons for winning the spiritual marathons we’ve run to make ourselves feel holy.

—from the book In God's Holy Light: Wisdom from the Desert Monastics by Sister Joan Chittister

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Do We Limit Belonging?

All morality that was ever developed in any tradition in the world can be reduced to the principle of acting as one acts toward those with whom one belongs. And the differences between the different codes of morality are only the limits that we draw for belonging: “These are the ones toward whom you have to act morally, and the others are ‘the others,’ outside.” And when you really live with common sense, that has no limitations; you live out of a morality that includes everybody, and therefore you behave toward everybody as one behaves when one belongs. That is what Jesus meant when he said “the kingdom of God”—and any other term of that sort that you get from any religious tradition will fit in here.


—from the book The Way of Silence: Engaging the Sacred in Daily Life by Brother David Steindl-Rast



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What the Desert Monastics Knew

Clearly one of the pillars of the spiritual life, as far as the Desert Monastics were concerned, was a time and place for reflection. A cell. A place to which we can retire in order to find our way back to our best ideals, our fullest selves, our life with God. A physical place, not a mental one, where we are truly alone and truly in peace. The cell is the place where clamor and chaos stop at the door. It’s the place where we get back in touch with our best selves. It’s the center of our very own, private, spiritual universe.

—from the book In God's Holy Light: Wisdom from the Desert Monastics by Sister Joan Chittister

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The Soul Desires, Loves, and Lets Go

An ego response is always an inadequate or even wrong response to the moment. It will not deepen or broaden life, love, or inner laughter. Your ego self is always attached to mere externals, since it has no inner substance itself. The ego defines itself by its attachments and revulsions. The soul does not attach nor does it hate; it desires and loves and lets go. Please think about that, it can change your very notion of religion.

—from the book Breathing Under Water: Spirituality and the Twelve Steps by Richard Rohr, OFM

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