Archives for posts with tag: Kenosis

 

… The problem is really the problem of the self that I am busy protecting. All my fears come from concern about the self; all my thrills come from catering to the self. How can I become “unselfed” from the self so that I can attain total freedom?

… As long as [the self] is the focus of attention, we will get nowhere. What we need is the state of thoughtlessness, the state of illumination, or the state of love where we melt into another.

… How do we measure our progress in the spiritual life? The more we get out of our self-love, self-will, and self-interest, the more we progress. Unself the self. “For everyone must keep in mind that in all that concerns the spiritual life his [or her] progress will be in proportion to his surrender of self-love and of his own will and interests” (Sp. Ex. 189)

… [A]s long as I have my self-love, self-will, and self-interest, can I do the will of Christ? The love, the will, and the interests of Christ might be different from mine.

… What Ignatius is trying to bring about is rather the following. If I could mystically identify with Christ, then there are no longer two different interests, there is only one… “[It] is no longer I who live but it is Christ who lives in me” (see Gal. 2:20). That is what can happen on the experiential, mystical, and emotional levels. So there are no longer two interests, just one. Then we have unselfed the self.

Anthony de Mello, Seek God Everywhere, pp. 139-143

Last Spring, after six weeks in Manresa with the Ignatian Immersion Course, I came home with the concept of kenosis, which I tried to develop in a blog on this theme. In a way, if Jesus emptied himself of his divinity to become human (Phil. 2:7-8), we are invited to empty ourselves of our humanness to let the divine in…

I am reading Anthony de Mello’s book with the greatest interest because I am preparing for a thirty-day retreat in the Fall. I want to be ready for what is awaiting me and enter the mystagogy of the Spiritual Exercises.

Anthony de Mello, with his experiences of Eastern and Western spirituality, has a way of using one to explain the other. As I looked for an illustration for this post, I remembered a small Jain statue which represented just the outline of someone which was filled with space. He or she had reached enlightenment and was totally liberated from his or her self.

The idea of unselfing the self amuses me tremendously because I am so very self-involved, and have been for as long as I can remember. In the course of my life, however, every so often when I think, “How does this make me feel?” or “What do I want to do with this?”, the question, “Who is the “me” or the “I” I am talking about?” comes up. It never failed to give me a feeling of lightness and detachment. I can suddenly place a distance between a situation and myself.

Does this mean that I will ever unself my self, that I will indeed become one with Jesus or Godde’s will for me? I do not know. What I know, however, is that I would like to reach this point and had been dreaming of it long before I became a “returning Catholic”. It seemed to be the most beautiful path there is; and I still feel this way today. Hence, my fascination with this section of Anthony de Mello’s book.

 

Art: Sukhi Barber, The Presence of Absence.

[The Jains have an unusual concept in their art of the Siddha Pratima – the realized soul who is represented by a void. For more information on this, see here.]

 

 

Easter is about transformation. This transformation is symbolically, mythically, sacramentally, imaged as death/resurrection, in turn imaged as Baptism. We are trying to undergo the transformation by experiencing the sacramental power of these images. We are following Jesus as our archetype, as well as our teacher and our friend, the one who exemplifies the very transformation we are facing. He is also what is called in Greek the mystagogos, the mystagogue, the one who leads us into the mysteries, the one who initiates us into the secret, into that which is told with closed lips. And he is himself the Way into which he leads us, as he is the Life into which we are led.
– Beatrice Bruteau, The Easter Mysteries , seen at Suzanne Guthrie’s The Edge of the Enclosure

Every act of complete self giving in the name of the fullness, even though you feel like you are isolated, ignored, unconnected, and meaningless, connects you immediately and becomes a sacrament for the manifestation of that dance of perichoresis, the fullness of love. That’s what happened in Jesus’ case, that’s what he is teaching. It is not a renunciate path. It is not a hold back, guard your purity, don’t touch the world because you might be contaminated. It is the world of give yourself fully, hold nothing back because in this act of complete self giving you make manifest what the kingdom of love looks like.
– Cynthia Bourgeault, The Shape of God: Deepening the Mystery of Trinity

Mystery. Mystagogos, mystagogue. Mystagogy. Being led into the mystery, being initiated into the secret. Walking on the razor’s edge between life and death, finding out that the two are but one.

Kenosis, self-giving, self-emptying. Saying ‘yes’ to fear, to the unknown. Surrender, out of adoration, reverence and awe.

Eucharist, with a capital or a small e. Offering thanks, accepting the gift, answering the invitation. Once again, saying ‘yes’.

Jesus Christ forever catches up with us, with me, on the road of my life. Oh, the call of love. The sweetness of the summons. The being swept up by the love poured in my heart, as He speaks and breaks open the bread of his life, of my life.

What a mystery. What a wonderful mystery.

 

Art: Gisele Bauche, The Road to Emmaus. Found here.

 

 

 “… And this leads all of us Jesuits, and the whole Company, to be “decentred,” to have “Christ more and more” before us, the “Deus semper maior”, the “intimior intimo meo”, that leads us continually outside ourselves, that brings us to a certain kenosis, a “going beyond our own loves, desires, and interests” (Sp. Ex., 189). Isn’t it obvious, the question for us? For all of us? “Is Christ the centre of my life? Do I really put Christ at the centre of my life?” Because there is always the temptation to want to put ourselves in the centre…” Pope Francis, on the occasion of St Ignatius’ Day at Gesú in Rome.

Kenosis. Imagine my surprise when I read the Pope’s address to the Jesuits in Gesú, the church of Ignatius in Rome, on the occasion of St Ignatius’ Day, and saw that he had used the word ‘kenosis.’

In Christian theology, kenosis (from the Greek word for emptiness κένωσις), kénōsis) is the ‘self-emptying’ of one’s own will and becoming entirely receptive to God’s divine will (Wikipedia). The word ἐκένωσεν (ekénōsen) is used in Philippians 2:7-8:

Rather, he emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, coming in human likeness; and found human in appearance, he humbled himself, becoming obedient to death, even death on a cross.

I came across this word studying theology some years back. It became real to me, however, and part of my vocabulary, in the final week of the Ignatian Immersion Course in Manresa this Spring. We were explained kenosis as in ‘the dynamics of the Spiritual Exercises [that] can be envisaged as a gradual, systemic unfolding of the Paschal Way’…  The Paschal Way, the dying on the cross, is the Cruci-form of all.” (George Pattery, SJ, Pune).

I left Manresa and the Ignatian Immersion Course with a mind and a heart filled with new insights and Ignatian experiences. The word standing out most of all that I had gathered and learned there was ‘Kenosis,‘ for it seemed to me that the Risen One, the One who had emptied himself of all divinity and died on the cross for us is calling all of us to follow him in this self-emptying. “Take up your cross and follow me.” (Mat 16:24)

What does kenosis mean in ‘real life’? I would say it is pretty much everything I have not chosen, whether health issues, a breakdown in relationship, a death, a pregnancy, job difficulties, money problems, thorny exchanges. My normal reaction is to fight what I don’t want, to resist, to avoid, to ignore. With kenosis in mind, it becomes a sort of mantra, a reminder that what is coming to me uninvited is in fact an invitation to let go, to let Godde, to find Godde in what is coming to me. Kenosis is also a way of accompanying Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane all the way to the Calvary, not carrying his cross, but the one I received.

For quite a while now, I have seen the cross as the narrow gate through which one goes and passes on to another level of understanding and faith. Thus, kenosis is a way to the cross, another sort of Camino if you wish.

It does not mean that I will go out of my way to provoke kenosis in my life. I don’t really need to. It has come to me throughout the years. It is just now that I see it for what it was, for what it is — a way to be a companion on the journey.

What came through my mind also when I read Pope Francis’ remark on kenosis is that this theme may be familiar to all Jesuits, something introduced and often repeated in the course of their many years of studies. The mention of kenosis in the Immersion Course, therefore, would have been just a reminder to the many Jesuits in our midst. For me, it was entirely new and thoroughly enticing. I felt called to kenosis, without ever having the slightest idea of what this would entail. I just know that from the moment we left, anything mildly unpleasant coming my way prompted the word kenosis to my mind and helped me breathe better, to accept it rather than to reject it — all being part of a process of self-emptying.

I am not quite sure where this will all take me — even though  the famous Suscipe prayer of St Ignatius seems to be all about kenosis:

Take, Lord, and receive all my liberty,my memory, my understanding, and my entire will, All I have and call my own. You have given all to me. To you, Lord, I return it. Everything is yours; do with it what you will. Give me only your love and your grace, that is enough for me.

Inviting you to a kenotic way of life,

One with you in the Risen One.

Art: Jane Davies, Cruciform Series