Staying Tender: contemplation, pathway to compassion
Publication Date: May 12, 2020
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This book is a kind of retreat, a coming away to find where Jesus dwells. The author, a Benedictine monk, ponders the word of God and the testimony of poets as he asks: What does it mean for the Lord to “abide in us” and we in Him? The “disciple whom Jesus loved”—the timeless model of all contemplatives—is our principal guide, as we look now at one, now at another aspect of the indwelling of God in our soul and in the people He has given us to love.
Fr Luke takes as his structure “seven great chairs, the thrones of the seven days,” which trace out a spiritual itinerary illuminated by the ancient meaning of the “days” and their cosmic associations: the creation of new light in the resurrection (Sunday); the invitation Jesus makes to come and see where He dwells (Monday); the struggle to love, which requires spiritual armor, weapons, and combat (Tuesday); the gift of love, which gently calls for our personal response (Wednesday); the real presence of this unfathomable love and the possibility of befriending Him in the gift of the Holy Eucharist (Thursday); suffering as the price and proof of love and as a source of tenderness (Friday); and finally, the wisdom that comes with faithfully abiding in the Word, together with Mary, as we prepare to enter our heavenly dwelling (Saturday).
The aim of Fr Luke’s meditations is to help us become like the Apostle St. John: prayerfully rooted in what is eternal, so as to be a source of compassion for others—in need and in friendship. This illuminating journey from earth to heaven, from within to without, from isolation to communion, helps us look afresh at the world God has made and remade, at the soul wherein He abides if only we will welcome Him, at the Church to which we are blessed to belong, and at the mystery of the Trinity that is the primal font and ultimate meaning of all reality.