|St Lucia Spirituality Group
Newsletter June 2022GreetingsThomas Merton (1915-1968) was a Roman Catholic Trappist monk, poet, and prolific writer on spiritual and social themes, and one of the most important American Roman Catholic writers of the 20th century. James Finley, who we know as one of the leaders at Richard Rohr’s Center for Action and Contemplation, was a student of Merton at Gethsemani, Merton’s monastery in Kentucky for several years. He subsequently wrote Merton’s Palace of Nowhere, featuring and interpreting Merton’s writings.
In this book, Finley examines Merton’s interpretation of the true and false self, concepts proposed by the psychologist, Carl Jung, but further developed by Merton.
There is a great paradox in that each of us constructs our identity based on our own ego’s view of ourselves, our family and societal expectations of us, and our belief in our own independence, our autonomy. Yet this is not our true self as expressed by Finley:
“The issue is not what my father thought of me, nor my mother, my wife and others thought of me, the issue isn’t really what I think of me. The issue is can I join God in knowing who God knows that I eternally am before the origins of the universe hidden in God forever.”
Initially, the difficulty is that for most of us we don’t even think that our concept of ourselves is ill founded; as Merton says, “is unknown to God”. Merton continues: “This is the man I want myself to be but cannot exist, because God does not know anything about him. And to be unknown of God is altogether too much privacy.”
When we studied Anthony de Mello’s book Awareness in our discussion groups in the church hall in 2019, we wrestled with de Mello’s question “Who Am I?” Until we could grasp that concept and recognise our true self, de Mello said we could not be free. Or as Marianne Williamson wrote, so often quoted by Nelson Mandella, we could not let our own light shine. We continued to struggle with these concepts in our initial Butterfly series meeting on Waking Up.
How can we recognise our true self? One way is to meditate.
At our next meeting we will explore Finley’s writings further and examine these ideas, and learn about Christian Meditation –its history, how to meditate, its difficulties and benefits.
As we have reported previously, there is a trade off between holding physical meetings and Zoom meetings and we have decided, until we can resolve our location and technical issues, to continue with Zoom meetings for the time being.
Butterfly Series – Next Meeting – Introduction to Meditation
Our Episode 9 meeting on Meditation will be held on Zoom at 6:00pm AEST on Tuesday 21 June. To register your attendance, please email John at email@example.com.
If you would like a copy of our pre-reading material, simply email us. It is also available on our Facebook page. There is no obligation to join our meeting.
Butterfly Series – What’s Next?
Our practice has been to introduce the content of our meetings through our newsletters and then provide pre-reading material to those who register for our meetings on Zoom. However, we are aware that there is interest in our activities amongst some who observe from a distance or who do not wish to participate in Zoom meetings. Consequently, we are examining some options whereby we can access relatively short videos through links to the internet so that anyone receiving our newsletter can watch them if they wish. In this way, we can disseminate the material we are considering more widely. Those who wish to examine these ideas further can then meet for discussion online via our Zoom meetings. Or over coffee.
If you are aware of any videos or podcasts we could use for this purpose please let us know.
Our Facebook Page
The St Lucia Spirituality Group is a community seeking to develop a more mature understanding of what lies at the core of spiritual beliefs, embracing explanations for the nature, meaning and purpose of life. We currently have 35 members, of whom about half are active. Interaction is the lifeblood of a community. Therefore, we wish to encourage you to make posts on Facebook about questions you are considering, books you have read or interesting podcasts you have listened to. Furthermore, we would ask you to invite friends who you believe may be interested in spiritual enquiry and development to join us. You could share this newsletter and invite others to our next meeting.
We invite you to find our FB group by clicking on this link, it will take you to our page where you will be able to apply to join.
If you are not a Facebook user, we can help you set up your account with maximum privacy, you can be anonymous and even use a nick name or an alias if you wish. Consult Robert or John if you want help.
You can also contact us by email firstname.lastname@example.org.
John Scoble & Robert van Mourik