James K.A. Smith wrote a book entitled You Are What You Love and puts in a tangible package some of the deep things many other authors and saints have explored. One of these guys is Saint Thomas Aquinas who said that virtues are settled disposition or habits. Essentially, our Christ-likeness (virtue) comes about by the grace of God and the formation of our heart by the holy habits we form. We need holy habits to rightly order our thoughts and desires into the way of Jesus. My hope is that this week we will move us all in that direction as we examine our hearts and our desires, as we "lay our longings open before the Lord" and seek his grace to be made new.
Here are a few videos of James K.A. Smith talking about his book You Are What You Love, I hope they are helpful to you this week.
I have read this book and also have heard him present some of this material. I have my critques of it for sure but I think overall the content is really great and provides some helpful tools to think about our desires, our worship, and our cultural engagement. Check it out, you'll enjoy it!
Some extra goods for today! This icon is of Zacchaeus whom our meditation for today focuses on. To think of his desire as the key to his salvation, the key to his encounter with Jesus or as Alexander Schmemann puts it, "Zacchaeus desired the ‘right things;’ he wanted to see and approach Christ." This is a profound thought. As the reading today prompted us to think about, do we desire Jesus more than anything else? Answer this question IS the Lenten journey.
In icon above also depicts the women at the well. Jesus' words to her are key, "Those who drink of the water that I will give will never thirst again." Yes, Jesus is the one who fills our hungers and quenches our thirsts, who satisfies our desires!
[ Deuteronomy 6:4-9 ]
“Love the Lord your God with all your heart
and with all your soul (thirst, desire, being)
and with all your strength.”
“Frequently nepes means man in his ardent desire, which is like the parched longing of the man who is dying of thirst. This is how the nepes thirsts (Psalm 42)—that is to say the longing desire for the living God felt by author of the lament. The Deuteronomic command to love Yahweh with the whole of the nepesh (Deut. 6:5) means accordingly the man should carry the whole living force of his wishes and all his longing desire into his love for the one God of Israel.
—From Anthropology of the Old Testament by Hans Walter Wolff
Wolff gives A TON of great insight into this “living being” we were created to be. This idea, as he says is that “man does not have a nepesh (soul), he is nepesh (soul), he lives as a nepesh (soul).” Much like the C.S. Lewis quote I ran across. To love God with all of your soul is to love him with your desire. Sometimes that desire seems overwhelming and pushes us in any number of directions for satisfaction but from the beginning God has wanted us to love him with our desire. And this is how he created us! I think in the desert, when we are truly thirsty, when our souls, our desires rage more than ever we come understand this primal desire a bit more forcefully. Because you’re never more thirsty then when you’re in the desert, right!
Here are some slide images of a presentation I gave on this idea a while back...
Here are a few links to books and resources you might want to pick up at some point. The idea behind these particular books is that our desire is like a loud voice in our life and we realize that God’s voice often gets drown out by all the other voices and desires we confront. These books and resources are all about discerning the spirits, the voices and the desires we have, making sure we are listening to God and not everything else.
.:: Go Even Deeper (stuff that’s kinda hard to hear)
The Discernment of Spirits: An Ignatian Guide for Everyday Living
Discerning the Will of God: An Ignatian Guide to Christian Decision Making
Our Favorite Sins: The Sins We Commit and How You Can Quit
That last book is by my bishop, Todd Hunter. He is amazing, I double recommend his book!
Here's a little bit from it...
The Essential Guide for Beating Temptation
Falling for temptation isn’t inevitable. We don’t have to lose the fight. In fact, we can win if we understand the root of the problem and what Christians have done from the beginning to beat it. Our Favorite Sins shines a much-needed light in our lives’ dark corners and reveals the time-tested methods for getting victory over sin.
Are you tyrannized by your own desires?
If you are breathing, your answer is probably yes.
The question is: What are you going to do about it?
“We have in us spirit, soul, and what we do with that soul is our spirituality. At a very basic level, long before anything explicitly religious need be mentioned, it is true to say that if we do things which keep us energized and integrated, on fire and yet glued together, we have a healthy spirituality. Conversely, if our yearning drives us into actions which harden our insides or cause us to fall apart and die then we have an unhealthy spirituality. Spirituality is about what we do with that incurable desire, the madness that comes from the gods within us."
"They (early church folks) would always try to understand energy as coming from God and as ultimately directed back toward God. Hence, they surrounded religious and sexual energy, desire, with very high symbols. Where we use biological and psychological symbols, they used theological ones; for example, where we look at desire and speak of being horny or being obsessed, they spoke of “eternal longings” and “hunger for the bread of life.” Desire was always understood against an infinite horizon. In this type of framework, very high symbolic hedges, we can understand why St. Augustine would sum up his whole life in one line: 'you have made us for yourself, Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in you.'
The premodern world understood that spirituality is about how we channel our desire and, for them, the path needed to channel it correctly was the path that directed that desire toward God, the path of genuflection (bowing to God). That path also often became the path of fear and the path of control through external taboos, prohibitions, and laws.”
—From The Holy Longing: The Search For A Christian Spirituality by Ronald Rolheiser
This is an amazing little excerpt from the book Letters From The Desert by Carlo Carretto.
“LIVE LOVE, let love invade you. It will never fail to teach you what you must do.
The truth we must learn through faith: to wait on God. And this attitude of mind is not easy. This “waiting,” this “not making plans,” this “searching the heavens,” this “being silent” is one of the most important things we have to learn.
The moment will then follow when we are called, when we must speak out, when our hands will have grown tired from baptizing” the moment of harvest. But even then we will be blind if we think of ourselves as the sole agents in bringing it about. The extraordinary thing is that God uses us, who are so insignificant and unworthy.
I didn’t wan to reach this point, because thereis a question i loathe to tackle. Even to ask the question seems impertinent, and lacking in faith.
“Pray or act? Stay or opt out? Go out into the world or use the Church as a refuge?” And there we are at the beginning again, where man persists in posing irrelevant questions. His hankering curiosity is so much stronger than his desire to obey God.
But now i’m tired of arguing. I don’t want to go on disputing any more. My belief in the ability to convince by words alone has gone.
I am silent under these African stars, and i prefer to worship my God and Savior.
But i must react in some way to the insistence of the young people who haven written to me here; they do put their finger on an important point, and what is more, they have suffered. I can reply only that in the world everything is problematic except one thing: charity, love. Love alone is not a problem for him who lives it.
I can only say, “Live love, let love invade you. It will never fail to teach you what you must do.”
Charity, which is God in us, will point to the way ahead. It will say to you “Now kneel,” or “Now leave.”
It is love which gives things their value. It makes sense of the difficulty of spending hours and hours on one’s knees praying while so many need looking after in the world; and in the context of love we must view our inability to change the world, to wipe out evil and suffering.
It is love which must determine one’s actions, love which must give unity to what is divided.
Love is the synthesis of contemplation and action, the meeting-point between heaven and earth, between God and humanity.
I have known the satisfaction of unrestrained action, and the joy of contemplative life in the dazzling peace of the desert, and I repeat again St. Augustine’s words: “Love and do as you will.” Don’t worry about what you ought to do. Worry about loving. Don’t interrogate heaven repeatedly and uselessly saying, “ What course of action should i pursue?” Concentrate on loving instead.
And by loving you will find out what is for you. Loving, you will listen to the Voice. Loving, you will find peace.
Love is the fulfillment of the law and should be everyone’s rule of life; in the end love is the solution to every problem, the motive for all good. “Love and do as you will.”
My hope is that you are apart of a Church or community that is taking this lenten journey together, Sunday have that in mind and I will simply point you back to week ones Sunday post, linking you to reading and resources for your journey.
As mentioned, the Sunday readings in your book are for year B of the Revised Common Lectionary.
The best place to find all of these years & readings listed are CRI / The Voice website
The Church Year begins with Advent in November/December.
Take a quick look at the breakdown of years from the Revised Common Lectionary.
Click on the years below to take you to the Sunday readings you are looking for.
Year A: 2016-2017, 2019-2020
Year B: 2017-2018; 2020-2021
Year C: 2015-2016; 2018-2019
For more Sunday resources refer to the post for the 1st Sunday in Lent.