Thought for the Week – SPIRITUAL STENTS

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In medicine, a stent is a tube, made of metal or plastic which is inserted into a vessel or duct to keep the passageway open.
There is variety of stents for different purposes. One type is used to open up an artery that has been narrowed by fatty deposits along its walls.
There are times when we need the equivalent of a spiritual stent to keep a passageway open to the centre
Our world is not too concerned with this task. It  is more interested in external success and the appearance of things. Our consumerist culture does its best to clog up the passageway to the centre.
But we also know that contentedness is an inside job. It requires that we keep connected with our own interior world.
If I don’t pay attention to this and use my ‘spiritual stents’, I am in danger of constantly spinning round things and never landing – never touching the centre.
Murroe Website EditorThought for the Week – SPIRITUAL STENTS
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Thought for the Week – The secrecy of my inner self

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A well know theologian has argued that we no longer believe because tradition tells us or because an authoritarian church commands us.
Belief in God’s existence is not a matter of rational demonstration
or irrational feeling.’  It is rather ‘a matter of reasoned trust’ –  an act of mystical faith. Our belief in the existence of God, to be convincing,
must pass through our  human experience.
“And why is this confidence in a totally different ‘invisible’ reality reasonable 
and intelligible? Because it is supported,and  verified in the context 
of our lived experience….
God has been obscured by churches, and often by their actions so that the 
only remaining possibility is to close one’s eyes in order to turn inwards and find the all-encompassing, all-directing God in the secrecy of my inner self, to sense, to feel and experience him at the core of my being.”  Hans Kung 
Murroe Website EditorThought for the Week – The secrecy of my inner self
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Thought for the Week – Simplicity

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I have just read a book called, ‘Think Simple’, by Ken Segall. In it he proposes simplicity as key to business success.  At the same time as I was finishing this book, I received a sermon on the importance of simplicity in the spiritual life. Simplicity seems to be the order of the day.
Segall claims that,  “simplicity is one of the most deceptive concepts on earth.”He goes on, “It is arguably the most potent weapon in business – attracting customers, motivating employees, outthinking competitors.” Ken worked with Apple where simplicity is at the heart of business and close to the secret of their success.
Simplicity is key to the spiritual life also – we are urged “to become as little children – become as wise as a serpent and as simple or as innocent, as a dove.”
As we grow up we tend towards complexity and this happens in organisations too. As we mature we return to what Richard Rohr calls, ‘a second naivete’,  a simplicity which is calm, patient, inclusive and self-forgetful. The goal of religion is to lead us back to this blessed simplicity of heart.
In business and in the spiritual life, simplicity takes work.
Murroe Website EditorThought for the Week – Simplicity
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Thought for the Week – Become Reconnected

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Having witnessed the drama of the Renaissance and the emergence of the individual and the subsequent rise of humanism in the Enlightenment, it is easy to understand how human beings came to see themselves as the measure of all things and masters of the universe. It is easier to understand how God became irrelevant and spiritual values relative and arbitrary.

Humanism has delivered on some levels but it has left our spirits ‘no less lonesome inside’ and weakened our communal ties – it has led us to become slaves to ourselves and spiritually impoverished.

We are products of this world, withdrawn from wider circles of identity, and can experience ourselves as floating off, anchor-less. Many people no longer belong to the stars, or participate mystically with nature and are disconnected from extended family and community. We need to widen our circles of identity and become reconnected.

Murroe Website EditorThought for the Week – Become Reconnected
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Thought for the Week – Nelson Mandela

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When Nelson Mandela was released after twenty seven years in prison he went into the bush, into nature to readjust, to recuperate and prepare for his life in the public arena.

It is said that Saint Bernard, the great reformer, lured the learned cleric of York, Henry Murdach, into the woods, “where the beeches and elms taught the monks wisdom”.

We were taught to be suspicious of nature, both our own nature and the world around us. Nature was dangerous and not to be trusted. Use it by all means but don’t trust it. We are were encouraged to live in the ‘super-natural world far removed from the dangers of raw nature.

We have much to learn from the natural world. If you spend any time in nature you realise there is a pace and a rhythm in the natural world. Animals don’t become workaholics and get anxious if they are not being productive, achieving something. Nature is productive when it needs to be and quiet when it needs to be.

For example, lions can spend eighteen hours in deep rest and then out of that rest comes a different rhythm, an intensity of movement as they hunt. They hunt efficiently and with total focus.

They don’t spend their rest thinking about being efficient or being really efficient wishing they were resting – they are always just where they are – this is the essence of wisdom – to be where you are and to allow action to arise out of that being when the moment comes.

We are still hard wired to nature. Our ancestral instinctive tendencies are alive and well despite being neglected and denied by our culture. It would be strange if our ancestral world was completely erased from our genes. Our mental and physical well being is deeply affected by nature. A view of a parkland leads to a decline in fear and anger and promotes a feeling of peace. Walking a beach has a deeply calming effect. While sitting in our refectory, I am drawn  unconsciously to the window and beyond to the trees, shrubs.

Patients recovering from surgery who can look at trees recover quicker and need less medication for pain or anxiety then those with a view of buildings. Dental patients able to look at natural scenery register lower blood pressure and reduced levels of anxiety.

While these are only fragments of evidence they do suggest that human nature is still genetically encoded from the time we lived intimately as part of the natural world. Nelson Mandela knew this connection and knew where he could best prepare himself for the gruelling public life ahead of him.


SimonThought for the Week – Nelson Mandela
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Thought for the Week – The feast of the Assumption

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Last week we celebrated one of the great Marian feasts – the feast of the Assumption.  Father Bernard, a monk of Glenstal, used to say to me when I was having difficulties, “Mary”, ‘She’s the man for you”.  I don’t know why this phrase has stuck with me for so long ( he died year ago ) but it has and it plays back regularly.
Pope Francis has a great devotion to Mary and especially to Mary the Untier of Knots’.  This devotion goes back to the second century when St Irenaeus wrote that,  ‘the knot of Eve’s disobedience was untied by the obedience of Mary’.  In parts of Germany it has been common for centuries.
While studying in Germany, Jorge Bergoglio, the future Pope Francis, saw a painting hanging in a church in Augsburg called  ‘Mary Untier of Knots.  He liked it and brought postcards of the image back to Argentina. He enclosed copies in every letter he sent out. An artist-friend of his painted a miniature version which was hung in the chapel of Colegio del Salvador in Buenos Aires where he was posted.
The painting shows  Mary suspended between heaven and earth, dressed in crimson, and a deep blue mantle. She is surrounded by angels. In her hands is a knotted white ribbon, which she is untying. Assisting her at the task are two angels: one presents the knots of our lives to her, while another angel presents the ribbon, freed from knots, to us.

Now I pray that the Mary will intercede for us, extend her merciful hand to us and untie the knots that suffocate our lives  – so that we may be purified and move ever closer to each other and to God.
SimonThought for the Week – The feast of the Assumption
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Thought for the Week – Importance of touch

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Without a sense of touch, it is impossible to make our way in the world – we wouldn’t feel our feet walking on the earth; we wouldn’t sense when something hit, stung or cut us; we wouldn’t feel the sun warming us.

The multitude of tiny nerve endings in the skin give us a constant run-down about everything we connect with physically: slimy, sticky, furry, alive, dead, putrid.
Positive touch is essential for healthy development. Despite the presence of all other life requirements, without positive touch infants do not thrive. Doctors throughout the first half of the twentieth century were puzzled by a phenomenon called ‘failure to thrive syndrome’. In hospitals and orphanages the majority of infants did not develop normally, despite being given proper medical care, good food, and a clean environment. Lack of affectionate touch was the main cause and it has also been has been found to cause depression, violence, memory deficits, and illness.
Today we are so bombarded with stories of abuse that our world has developed a fear of touch and direct contact between human beings. But we are a tactile species, and must be careful not to create a generation of isolated individuals who don’t know how to reach out to each other.
SimonThought for the Week – Importance of touch
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Thought for the Week – Sense of Touch

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Last week during a retreat here much was made of the sense of touch. The suggestion was that truth is accessed through touch. Truth is something we touch.
Jesus touched people and healed them – the woman with the bleeding problem touched the hem of his garment and was cured. Jesus touched the blind man and he saw.
Are we losing our sense of touch in a technological age – an age where the touch screen replaces touch itself?
Ever since Plato, touch has been the poor relation of the senses – for him sight and hearing were the intellectual senses while touch and taste were the animal senses. Touch was the lowest of the senses because it is too immediate and lacks objectivity. Sight gave us objectivity and control.

Aristotle, on the other hand, believed touch was the most universal and intelligent of the senses – it allowed us to detect difference and works long after other senses fail in old age.

Plato’s won the argument and sight has dominated the hierarchy of the senses in Western thinking for over  2,000 years. The eye continues to rule in our “civilisation of the image.”

We need to find our way back into the tactile world. We need to return from head to foot, from brain to fingertip, from iCloud to earth so that we can, once again, ‘touch truth’.

SimonThought for the Week – Sense of Touch
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