CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Sunday, 1 September 2019

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Three-pronged vision

HONG KONG (SE): “The mystery of life is not about human perfection; it is about faith and being humble enough to open the door for God’s abundant grace to flow in,” Father Laurence Freeman said at a gathering sponsored by the World Community for Christian Meditation Hong Kong at the Honeyville Retreat House from September 12 to 13.

A Benedictine priest from Ealing Abbey in London, England, Father Freeman has dedicated his life to the practice and teaching of Christian meditation.

Lina Lee, from the group in Hong Kong, told the Sunday Examiner, “He gave two talks. The first one was a conference in celebration of the 1,400th anniversary of the death of St. Columban on September 11 at St. Judes’ in North Point, speaking to the theme of Contemplation in the Modern World.”

Lee added that the talk was well attended by religious, parishioners and guests and on September 13 he then spoke at St. Benedict’s in Shatin on Learning to Meditate: Discovering the prayer of the heart an Christ in you.

Father Freeman told the gathering at the two-day retreat in Honeyville that an amazing number of people do read the bible, but often with the same compulsion of haste with which our modern technological society teaches us to do everything.

He pointed out that the problem with this is that it inhibits the freedom of the reader to absorb the words and robs them of the impact of their beauty and inner meaning.

He explained that he believes we need to read the bible with a three-pronged vision; the eye of the body, the eye of the mind and the eye of the heart.

He called the three-dimensional approach physical vision, mental vision and spiritual vision.

Father Freeman quoted St. Augustine as saying, “We should aim at restoring the eye of the heart as a top priority of our Christina life.”

He pointed out that the eye of the heart can easily become myopic, as it gets clouded over by our everyday aspirations, and like all parts of the body that are not functioning properly, needs to be healed.

“If and when this eye of the heart recovers, we shall see God,” Father Freeman said.

But to a certain degree, the healing process lies beyond our control, as it is a gift from God rather than something that we can achieve from our own effort.

However, we have to want to healing and be open to receiving it with open arms so that we can appreciate and embrace it.

Father Freeman illustrated this by referring to the story of the disciples on their way to Emmaus where they did not recognise Jesus when he joined them along the road.

“They failed, because the eyes of their hearts were clouded,” Father Freeman pointed out. “Jesus had to cleanse and purify them with examples from the scriptures and finally their eyes were opened at the breaking of the bread.”

He also spoke of the fatigue that people suffer from the hustle and bustle of daily life in the modern world, reminding the group of Jesus’ promise of rest.

He quoted Matthew’s gospel as saying, “Come to me, all of you that are weary and carrying heavy burdens and I will give you rest.”

Father Freeman described this invitation as being a soft and gentle call to the deepest recesses of the human heart.

The invitation also asks people to take up his yoke; which is not an invitation to accept a burden, but the offer of a harness that is placed upon a beast of burden to make the job of pulling or carrying a heavy load lighter.

He concluded by saying that the healing comes in seeing what the Lord wants us to see. “In effect, the word is reading the person reading the word,” he said.


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