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Merton’s Voice: No matter how distracted you may be, pray by peaceful, even perhaps inarticulate, efforts to center your heart upon God, Who is present to you in spite of all that may be going through your mind. His presence does not depend on your thoughts of Him.

Thomas Merton. New Seeds of Contemplation. (New York: New Directions Books) p. 224.

Prayer: Those who have clean hands and pure hearts, who do not lift up their souls to what is false, and do not swear deceitfully. They will receive blessing from the Lord, and vindication from the God of their salvation. NRSV Psalm 24: 4-5.

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Nouwen’s Voice:  I think that we have hardly thought through the immense implications of the mystery of the incarnation. Where is God? God is where we are weak, vulnerable, small and dependent. God is where the poor are, the hungry, the handicapped, the mentally ill, the elderly, the powerless. How can we come to know God when our focus is elsewhere, on success, influence, and power? I increasingly believe that our faithfulness will depend on our willingness to go where there is brokenness, loneliness, and human need.

If the church has a future it is a future with the poor in whatever form. Each one of us is seriously searching to live and grow in this belief, and by friendship we can support each other. I realize that the only way for us to stay well in the midst of the many “worlds” is to stay close to the small, vulnerable child that lives in our hearts and in every other human being. Often we do not know that the Christ child is within us. When we discover him we can truly rejoice.

Henri J.M. Nouwen.  Sabbatical Journey: The Diary of His Final Year (Sunday December 24, 1995, Freiburg, Germany).  Published by The Crossroad Publishing Company.

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