June 2013

Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ, Christ is Risen!

One of the very first books I ever read (that I enjoyed) was THE MARTIAN CHRONICLES by Ray Bradbury. I found it in my father's personal collection on the bookshelf he made from planks and cinder blocks painted black in the sun room of our house on Elm Street. This was the first time I paid attention to what was on that shelf. There were other treasures there that I picked up later, but this was the book I never forgot.

Bradbury's style is unique and immensely creative. There is an element of wonder in it that is rare. He is like a little child finding beauty, strangeness, and mystery in the ordinary things of life. As he explains it, that is where his imagination was born, from ordinary things, those little moments and details that most of us miss as we plod through life from bed to job to dinner and to bed again. How is it that he developed this amazing ability?

The answer may be in a single quote from one of Bradbury's most acclaimed books, FARENHEIT 451. It goes like this.

"stuff your eyes with wonder, he said, live as if you'd drop dead in 10 seconds. See the world. It's more fantastic than any dream made or paid for in factories."

He is speaking of Mindfulness.

Look at it this way. God is everywhere and in all things, right? How is it that we miss him then? How is it that we lose "sight" of him so often? If we love him and believe in him and are reminded of him so often, and he is omnipresent, then what is the problem? One reason is this: we are weak in Mindfulness.

We cannot stay focused for very long on anything can we? During liturgy our minds wander off a thousand times. During prayer we often lose our place and can't even remember what we just said. That is because our Mindfulness is weak and needs strengthening. There are thousands of examples of mindlessness I could name, some silly, some terrible.

Mindfulness is like a muscle and like any muscle it n.eeds to be exercised to become strong. Practice is necessary. We need to strengthen our ability to stay present in every aspect of life beginning with the smallest ordinary things so that when we go to do extraordinary things, like worship and pray, our whole selves will be there to join in. Walking down the street mindfully, even without thinking of God, is spiritual work that will help make focused prayer possible.

Mindfulness is key to all true spiritual work. Without it we easily get lost.

In Christ,
+Fr. Antony