Father Tom, Fran and Me

Here’s a photograph of Fr. Tom Francis, OCSO, with yours truly and Fran. This picture was taken at a reception honoring the lifetime promises of four Lay-Cistercians who made their profession this past April.

Fr. Tom is the author of an interesting booklet on the connection between angels and contemplative prayer, called Angels: Our Guides to Contemplation for the Third Millennium. The photo, incidentally, was taken by Fr. James Behrens, OCSO, author of several books, the most recent being Portraits of Grace: Images and Words from the Monastery of the Holy Spirit.

Contemplative Prayer in Decatur
Living with Hospice
Seven Lessons I'm Learning on the Grief Journey
Completing the Hospice Journey
About Carl McColman

Author of Befriending Silence, The Big Book of Christian Mysticism, Answering the Contemplative Call, and other books. Retreat leader. Speaker. Professed Lay Cistercian.

  • http://-- Emmanuel J. Karavousanos

    I must say that this is a marvelous site and I appreciate the chance to present an idea on your blog.
    After speaking at several conferences and meetings of universities and organizations that deal in science, religion and consciousness, I found they have great hope that one day, the secret to the so-called mystical state would somehow be discovered. Perhaps we have overlooked … the obvious! In his book titled “Science and the Modern World,” Alfred North Whitehead wrote, “Familiar things happen and mankind does not bother about them. It requires a very unusual mind to undertake the analysis of the obvious.” Whitehead was not alone in this idea. Hegel said that because it’s familiar, a thing remains unknown. George Bernard Shaw gave us this: “No question is so difficult to answer as that to which the answer is obvious.” Most of us overlook the importance of analyzing familiar things, obvious things and things already known to us. We have numerous exampes of this one of which is Benjamin Franklin gaining the insight to consider there may be a hidden power in lighting. He saw what countless others did not see, and electricity was born. The psychologist Gustav Ichheiser said that nothing evades our attention as persistenly as that which is taken for granted. Lightning was taken for granted and who before thought it could wield such a wonderful gift for the human race. In the realm of consciousness, each of us can analyze something we already known: our thoughts and our thinking. That specifically is not a new idea, but analyzing what thoughts have in common and sticking with that question, can yield that most important of all insights — the gift of mystical insight. Mystical insight is the onset of the mystical state which has been called higher consciousness and, of course, ultimate reality. When we are very young, we take our thinking for granted and simply go on with our lives without further care. Aldous Huxley wrote, “Most human beings have an almost infinite capacity for taking things for granted.” If we consider all this carefully, we see there is a firm and most solid foundation for analyzing our thoughts. But where does science and religion enter into this picture? Science asks questions. Religion provides faith. If we use science by asking questions about what is familiar to us, namely our thoughts and our thinking, and we have faith, we will, in time, gain the insight that will elevate our souls. When we ask a question and have faith, eventually an answer may arrive. There is a nexus here. The nexus is insight. Over the years in our life’s experience, we should have noticed that a question segues to an answer. Yes, the nexus is that sudden gift of insight that provides the answer. It may also be interesting to know, in respect to your comment on angels in the photo above, that angels are insights. Angels are insights just as surely as devils are temptations. In the Greek language an angel is angelos which has two meanings. One is angel and the other is, interestingly, messenger. An angel then would be or could be a messenger that delivers an insight. An angel is an insight that enlightens.

    Emmanuel J. Karavousanos

  • http://-- Emmanuel J. Karavousanos

    Having written the above item, I may be hoarding this wonderful blog, but I could not help responding to the idea of angels and contemplative prayer.

    Some scholars have tried to explain the creation, the existence and the nature of angels. Through Divry’s Greek-English Dictionary, we learn that in the Greek language, “angelos” means angel, but there is second meaning: an angel, “angelos,” is also … a messenger. What should become obvious is that these angels, these heavenly messengers from God … are the message (stress on the “are”). Is there a basis for this? Just as surely as a devil is a temptation (as in Matthew 4), an angel … is a messenger. This “messenger” is an insight! It is a sudden arriving insight, it is an incoming realization. We can understand rather quickly that each time we realize something … it is a messenger, it is an angel. It is a realization – an insight! Whatever we choose to call it, it helps awaken us. If we believe in the traditional idea of angels and devils, why not believe in fairies and goblins and ogres and ghosts. We now may begin to see that angels are insights just as surely as devils are temptations. Even realizing just this is an insight.
    Again, thank you for this beautiful blog.

    Emmanuel J. Karavousanos