Soul Care Trellis- guiding the contemplative life
” I am the vine; you are the branches” – John 15: 5
” For in him, we live and move and have our being “
The branches rests, clings and moves on the trellis. In a similar way, a life of prayer supports the disciple’s walk with Jesus. The Benedictine motto of “ora, labora et lectio” ( pray, work and study) is a framework ( a trellis ) for a contemplative spirituality of being and doing – the contemplative and active life. Cultivating the contemplative life makes the active life contemplative and the contemplative life active.
The Being is Becoming: We were just mere human beings at the beginning of our walk with Jesus; as we follow a closer walk with Jesus, through God’s grace, we are becoming more like him (human yet divine) in his death and resurrection. The contemplative life cultivates and curates a life (of being a human) in pursuit (becoming) of a union with God through Christ.
Your spiritual life is not You: Your spiritual life is like a trellis, it is not your true self, it is just a framework to guide your life in Christ. Your true-self is like the branches in the vine on the trellis. Your spiritual life is a paradox of yourself- all in one in Jesus. The trellis serves the branches, and the branches remaining in the vine bears much fruit and lives forever.
Not all prayers are alike: apophatic and cataphatic prayers are like trellises.
Cataphatic prayers (e.g., intercession, petition, thanksgiving, healing, devotion, lectio divina) are the most common prayers practiced by Christians. When your prayer practices are mostly “active life” (doing) prayers, the apophatic (prayers beyond words, image, visual, reasoning, feelings ) prayer’s capacity to experience a mystic presence of God is diminished and missing a sense of God’s mystery is a great practice to counter what science and post-Christian time we are in right now can radically help us find stability. This not to say that cataphatic prayers are not mystical or super-natural, rather apophatic prayers are mainly prayers mystic has practiced to draw closer to God and it is a practice we, in our Protestant Christian practice that we haven’t discovered.
The “Being” prayers (e.g., centering prayer, breathe prayer, silence) are the least practiced and understood prayer practices caused by science’s pre-eminence in our thought life, our post-industrialized capitalistic society, and the rise of artificial intelligence technology. These 21st century frameworks shapes our spirituality and prayer life model of “Doing” or kataphatic prayers. BEing prayers are mystical in nature, ancient, archaic, and an outlier. We can say “Being” prayers as apophatic prayers- a prayer just to be still, and be in the presence of God. Apophatic prayers are prayers beyond words, feelings, imagination, images and does not expect instant answers, rationale or anything at all at the end of a particular prayer time. These prayers are practiced mostly by monks, hermits, mystics and contemplatives. We are grateful that we are discovering these soul care practices gifts for our busy, non-stop, tech-world and virtual community we live in today.
Why apophatic prayer?
T.S Elliot gives an insight in his poem Choruses from the Rock.
“Endless invention, endless experiment
brings knowledge of motion, but not of stillness;
knowledge of speech, but not of silence;
knowledge of words, and ignorance of the Word
Where is the Life we have lost in living?
Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge?
Where is the knowledge we have lost in information?”
Stillness and silence can give us the space and time we long just to be in the presence of God where our instant, and smart-tech world might fall short. The smart-tech world can help us find God only so far as giving us companionship. Smart technology guiding our spiritual life is like a docent talking about a work of art, or a museum curator giving what art lovers wants. Technology no matter how smart are still tools, the same as silence and solitude, they all are (prayer ) tools in pursuing God and in helping us cultivate the very grounds and depths of our spiritual life- the ground of Jesus.
Silence and solitude are companions of the contemplative life that processes informations gathered and knowledge obtained out from the daily and ordinary living into wisdom and understanding of our true self, our community and our God. A contemplative life brings comfort where our own understanding and wisdom fails. When a soul is weary, lost or confused in the cloud of unknowing, contemplative spirituality is a way that goes beyond what we know, see, touch and feel. To be in these clouds of unknowing will be enough by faith to accept the unknown yet known and to continue to carry our cross to follow and be like Jesus. These gifts of God opened by Our Lord Christ Jesus, and learned by the Desert Fathers, Mystics and contemplatives are gifts we desperately need in such a time as this.
Soul Care Trellis offers :
Spiritual Life Mentoring-
- Spiritual Direction- (In-person, Skype, Google Hang-out, phone call)
- Retreat program planning- daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, yearly
- Prayer practices coaching –prayer of examen, lectio divina, centering prayer, breath prayer.
- Guided contemplative prayer retreat for 2- 30 persons (children, youth , youth workers or church group) ranging from one day to a week long retreat.
- Choose a retreat center or we can recommend a retreat center, camp ground, your church, home or backpacking in the wilderness.
Experiential prayer space– We curate or consult to help you create a contemplative multi-sensory, experiential prayer space for you at your home or at your church.
Please contact us about cost and other inquiries
Archie Honrado, is a missionary, retreat guide, spiritual director, teacher, speaker and writer and a member of Youth With A Mission International since 1984.
Archie Honrado has served with Youth Specialties, Urban Youth Workers Institute, DeVos Urban Leadership Initiative, Youth For Christ SoCal, American Baptist Churches of Los Angeles, DC/LA, Wild Goose Festival and has guided retreat for youth groups.