John Paul II was heavily influenced by St. John of the Cross -- the mystic, the doctor of the Church, and the co-renewer of the Carmelite order (with Teresa of Avila). John of the Cross is most famous for his poetry that expresses the depth of human longing for God, poetry that mimics the Song of Songs, and thus invokes the same passionate marital imagery. This depth of longing deeply resonated in John Paul II, not only in his private prayer, but also in his intellectual life. Early in his academic career, John Paul II paired the first chapters of Genesis with this ardent longing that John of the Cross knew. John Paul II began his life-long intellectual exploration of the ache of the human heart, the ache not only to see God himself, but also the heart’s ache to know and be known in personal human relationships. Much of this thought is developed in his earlier work, Love and Responsibility, and of course continues to be explored in the Theology of the Body. I say all of this only because it seems to me that to really know and understand John Paul II’s Theology of the Body, we ought to also know perhaps his biggest personal and academic influence: John of the Cross’ deep, deep ache for God. This piece considers a beautiful poem alongside John of the Cross’ way of prayer, as put forth in Iain Matthew’s book, The Impact of God (an incredibly helpful book on prayer, one that has helped me more than any other).
Let’s start by reading this poem by Rainer Maria Rilke:
God speaks to each of us as he makes us,
then walks with us silently out of the night.
These are the words we dimly hear:
You, sent out beyond your recall,
go to the limits of your longing.
Flare up like flame
and make big shadows I can move in.
Let everything happen to you: beauty and terror.
Just keep going. No feeling is final.
Don’t let yourself lose me.
Nearby is the country they call life.
You will know it by its seriousness.
Give me your hand.
Episode 11 of "Encourage Each Other" with Jason Angelette of the Wilwoods Community and Brian Butler of Dumb Ox Ministries.
Episode 10 of "Encourage Each Other" with Jason Angelette of the Wilwoods Community and Brian Butler of Dumb Ox Ministries.
Episode 9 of "Encourage Each Other" with Jason Angelette of the Wilwoods Community and Brian Butler of Dumb Ox Ministries.
Episode 8 of "Encourage Each Other", a weekly encouragement from Willwoods Community and Dumb Ox Ministries.
It seems to me that for some reason, our culture today is especially anxious about the future, often day-dreaming and dwelling in never-ending “what if” scenarios. I know I’ve been stuck in these loops. So how do we get out? Well, I think typical conventional wisdom would go something like “take it one day at a time,” which can certainly be a healthy way to slow down and process things. I think the Church would say, “pray about it.” As cliché as these answers are, I think they’re both right. Let’s consider some practical advice from Scripture and from some of our great saints.
Episode 7 of "Encourage Each Other", a weekly encouragement from Willwoods Community and Dumb Ox Ministries.
(Sr. Eden Marie wrote the following letter upon receiving her habit and new name as a Sister of Life in July 2019. We are sharing it with her full permission.)
This name was first spoken to me a year and a half ago, and since then, it has continued to bloom and take on ever newer and deeper meaning in my own heart. Therefore, I feel very poor in being able to explain it to you…mainly because it is still much of a mystery to me, since within Eden Marie lies the mystery of who I am, the “great idea” that prompted my life to be created by God, which is ever unfolding!
First of all, a religious name speaks of a person’s identity…it touches on who someone is as a unique and unrepeatable human person. Therefore, Eden Marie is not the negation or end of who I was; rather, it speaks of the deepening of my identity. This new name is simply a flourishing of my baptismal name: Sharon Marie. In Hebrew, “Sharon” means fertile field, so literally “Eden” is the blossoming of this fertile field! It is His promise that He is indeed making me a new creation…that He will “make [my] wilderness like Eden.” (Isaiah 51:3)
Also, a religious name speaks of one’s mission - the unique way that God will use me to transform and heal the world. This is where the mystery of Eden Marie begins to baffle me, so I will do my best! I’ll first share what it means theologically, and then what He’s revealed to me personally.
Swaddle and Shroud - The Life & Death of Jesus, Amy Heyse
Robots are taking over the world. This is what certain filmmakers and businessmen would have you believe. Is it true? Is this possibility a legitimate source of fear?
Artificial intelligence is all around us. It's easy to take it for granted. There are simple ubiquitous forms like Siri and Alexa. There are more extravagant forms like IBM's Watson computer which competed in "Jeopardy!"... and beat some of their strongest former champions! Recently I was getting some tech support from my internet provider via text message. I'm still not sure if it was a real human texting me or just an automated Artificial Intelligence program.
I have a student in one of my advanced high school Computer Science courses, and in his spare time he writes a program that appears to "learn" and refine its own strategy for playing games like checkers and chess. Pretty impressive for a high school student! As a teacher I get overly excited when it comes time to teach my students how they can program a computer to "make a decision." Without this capability, computer programs would either be: (1) a lot less interesting, or (2) a lot more difficult to create.
Episode 6 of "Encourage Each Other", a weekly encouragement from Willwoods Community and Dumb Ox Ministries.
We are beyond blessed with an amazing community of teens, young adults, priests, consecrated men and women, and families who are striving to live out Christ's invitation to authentic love and who have gifts to share their journeys through writing.