Readings for 30/10/2011

An excerpt from John Main OSB, "The Unreality of Fear," THE HEART OF CREATION (New York: Continuum. 1998), pp. 24-25.

As we read the gospel we see that a choice is set before us. The alternative is between love and fear. Fear is destructive and corrosive, whether it is the fear of disease, war or famine or whether it is fear of supernatural, angry vengeful gods who must be placated by compulsive rituals.

 The difference between a barbaric world and a civilized world is that barbarism thrives on fear. Civilization thrives on a love that gives birth to vigor, energy, vitality, creativity. Barbaric energy is negative; its main thrust is destructive and its principal art is war. The principal art of the Christian life is peace.

Our commitment to meditation is our openness to the peace of God's redemptive love, our total acceptance of it, our abandonment of self-fixation and our commitment to self-giving. While we are saying our mantra we cannot be thinking about ourselves, and it is precisely self-obsession that leads us back into fantasy. So when we find that we have stopped saying the mantra, that our mind is drifting, we must simply return to it and, with it, to reality, return, that is, to God present in our hearts. Or in other words, we return to a faith that propels us beyond ourselves into God. We all know that this self-transcendence is our salvation. Fundamentally, we all know that we must go to meet it in the silence of our hearts. The alternatives are reality or illusion.

The root function of fantasy is that it attempts to turn us from the fears and anxieties we feel by creating an alternative reality. But what happens is that the fear is just buried deeper. . . . The root-function of the gospel, which is really the only root, is to expel fear, to pluck it out by the roots so that we can go deeper and deeper into a fearless heart and there encounter profoundest love. The great gift we have to share with the world then is our experience of reality.

After Meditation, an excerpt from St. Augustine of Hippo, “Sermons 12, 7 noted in THE ROOTS OF CHRISTIAM MYSTICISM by Olivier Clement (London: New City, 1995), p. 249.

Fear not the coming of your God; fear not his friendship. He will not straighten you when he comes, rather he will enlarge you. [. . . .] You see then, if you love, how much room he gives you.
Fear is a suffering that oppresses us. But look at the immensity of love.