From chasm to bosom
Abraham tells the rich man in torment that the great chasm separating those in hades from those with God mirrors the chasm that separated him from Lazarus in life. Such earthly chasms often grow from a fear of scarcity. The feeling of scarcity is the result of not being in touch with the soul because our soul is always in the bosom of God. St. John describes Jesus as “the One Being in the bosom of the Father.” John 1:18. Jesus’ intimacy with the Father, as though reclining on God’s chest during a meal, is the source of Divine abundance that impels Jesus to give it all away.
The more that a person is deprived of the true food of spiritual intimacy, fear about emptiness or hardship will increase producing a chasm of avoidant behavior. This chasm feels like an abyss that could easily swallow all our limited resources. This terrifying feeling intensifies our focus and control over our riches and increases our indifference to the need and pain of others.
What reduces the chasm within and between persons is reclining in deeper trustful and silent prayer. By this we are relieved of our insecurity in two ways: for a few minutes we stop our preferred practice of inflammation and, we get a little touch of the peace that is beyond understanding.
The rich man says from his chasm: “I am in agony in these flames.” His practice of avoidance has alienated him from the true source of integrity and nourishment. By asking Abraham to “send Lazarus to dip his finger in water to cool my tongue” teaches us that relief comes from touching what we have ignored within ourselves.
Reclining in contemplative intimacy with God deepens our trust that all will be well. Our liturgical prayer, devotions and ascetical discipline represent what we do for God and raises our self-esteem. Contemplative prayer attunes us to what God does for us and raises our soul esteem. Soul esteem cools our inflammation and we feel less threatened by the wounds of others.
The chasm has its origin in thinking that is more focused on the separations between things than on the unity of all things.
The mind creates the chasm, the heart crosses it.
The parable says the chasm between hades and the just cannot be crossed. But the chasms of this world are crossed by those who have tasted the peace that is beyond understanding, or separation based thinking. The unitive consciousness that results from contemplative prayer and lifestyle fosters unity and heals divisions.
Often people experience the inflammation of anxiety in the course of pondering a vocation to religious life or priesthood. But by persevering in the practice of liturgical, devotional and ascetical prayer you build a container. Persevering in contemplative prayer fills your container with something that quenches anxiety. This intimacy will permit your heart to cross every chasm the mind can create.
By Mark Blom, OMI – Vocations Director of OMI Lacombe Canada
To contact Fr. Mark for advice about discernment and vocation direction. He can meet with you by phone to conduct a short vocation assessment to help you find your way. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org to arrange for an appointment.