Story about “The Silence” by Contemplative Writer is published in the MB Herald

Hark, the MB Herald says, listen to the silence…

On the opening page (p. 2) of the October 2010 Mennonite Brethren Herald is a descriptive story called In the shelter of God’s wings. This is an imaginary account about prayer, visualization and conversations with angels that ultimately leads the author to ‘the silence,’ a place of altered consciousness reached only by shutting out noise and distractions by going inward until you hear your heart beat and then the voice of God in the stillness within. It’s written by Esther Hizsa, a writer, pastor, and spiritual director. Hizsa also leads an Imago Dei Community in Port Moody, B.C. (Canada) and serves part time at New Life Community Church in Burnaby, B.C. (www.newlifecom.org). New Life Community Church is a member of the Reformed Church in America. The church website tells us that she is a graduate of Regent College (M Div), a trained spiritual director at the extremely contemplative SoulStream.

Why has the MB Herald published such a story by this writer, a spiritual director in contemplative spirituality, in their opening page? Have the influences of this new spirituality finally infiltrated the Mennonite Brethren so deeply that its effects now seem normal enough to publish in a magazine that states it is primarily written to equip the MB community for ministry by reflecting MB theology, values and heritage? Is contemplative spirituality now the theology, values and heritage of the MB’s?

Many pages could be written about the contemplative spirituality of Imago Dei (affiliated with the MB Conference of BC) which links to the Ignatian Jesuit Centre and teaches Ignatian spirituality. [If you don’t know who Ignatius of Loyola was, click here.] The small groups of the contemplative Imago Dei Community (one of which the MB Herald writer leads) are encouraged to use Guided Prayer Liturgies to keep the mind “focused and guided” in 5-10 minutes of silence between each passage that is read. These Contemplative Liturgies include selections and meditations by Christian mystics from the past like St. Teresa of Avila, Thomas Merton, Evelyn Underhill, and Julian of Norwich, to name a few. They have even included one by Fr. Richard Rohr, a Franciscan priest who teaches the equality of Buddha with Christ and the indwelling of God in all things.

Is it any coincidence that it takes 5-10 minutes to achieve altered state of consciousness during relaxation meditation? Is this biblical Christian meditation? Should we be concerned about compromise by linking to those who believe Buddha and Christ are equal?

Should readers of the MB Herald be concerned that at SOUL STREAM (where MB Herald writer Hazsa is a trained spiritual director) a myriad of contemplative courses, retreats, links and resources can be found? For example, this November they are promoting a Continuing Education Event for Lower Mainland Spiritual Directors. The topic is The Enneagram and the presenter is John Kiemele, SoulStream Partner, recently returned from Loyola University in Chicago. [Source: http://soulstream.org/blog/continuing-education-event-for-lower-mainland-spiritual-directors/%5D

Here are the links recommended by Soul Stream:

SoulStream Home / Resources / Links
Links
*Contemplative opportunites

Contemplative Fire

Contemplative Fire Canada
(A Monastery without walls, Contemplative Fire in Canada is just in the early days, founded in 2009 by a team in Toronto led by The Rev Anne Crosthwait. Their resources included everything contemplative imaginable, see here.)

Selah Center – A place to pause in Gig Harbor, Washington.

SoulStreamRipples Blog

(Note: see their videos of Richard Rohr and Thomas Keating, father of the modern day contemplative prayer movement, here)

*Organizations

Fresh Wind Press
Fresh Wind Press is a small publishing company dedicated to helping quality authors take their manuscripts through editing, proof-reading, layout, and cover-design to final print. Kevin Miller (author, teacher, editor, screenwriter) oversees the work of a network of professionals who get self-published authors onto the bookstore shelves.
Fresh Wind Press specializes in the “Listening Prayer Resources” of Brad and Eden Jersak. These include books and study guides that equip all of God’s people to hear the voice of God more clearly, more accurately, and more frequently.

Henri Nouwen Society
Henri Nouwen spent his life helping people respond to the universal “yearning for love, unity, and communion that doesn’t go away”. Is it possible to touch and taste the love of God? How can we live a spiritual life that embraces the pain and suffering of our lives and in the world, and gives us the freedom to love deeply wherever we are? Join us in this way of the heart!

Imago Dei Community

King’s Fold Retreat and Renewal Centre

*Colleges

Carey Theological College
Programs include a number of non-degree initiatives including a Centre for Spiritual Formation which provides interactive engagement focused on the disciplines and practice of the spiritual life. Academic programs include Master of Pastoral Ministry and Doctor of Ministry Degrees.

SOURCE: http://soulstream.org/resources/links/

[Also of interest to some might be the fact that Brad Jersak is on the board of directors at Soul Stream. For those who have studied his teachings on Listening Prayer, this will make perfect sense.]

Why has the MB Herald knowingly chosen to publish a writer with such intertwined connections to Roman Catholic contemplative spiritual formation and Ignatian spirituality? Is there any spiritual harm in it? What does it mean? Is it because Imago Dei is affiliated with the MB Conference that they are turning a blind eye to this compromise?

Since the founder of the Mennonites left the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church, have those who name themselves after Menno Simons come full circle back to Rome (with a New Age twist)? If you are a reader of the MB Herald, are you concerned about this?

These and many more questions will be asked in the next few postings as this blog continues to shine the spot light on the latest MB Herald which has clearly revealed how wide spread contemplative spirituality has spread among the Mennonite Brethren. In the meantime, here are some informative articles for those who are concerned.

Related:

An Introduction to Ignatian Spiritual Discernment – or a Bridge to Rome?
http://muddystreams.wordpress.com/2010/05/03/an-introduction-to-ignatian-spiritual-discernment/

Tell Me Who I Am, O Enneagram
(Christian Research Institute Journal)
http://www.iclnet.org/pub/resources/text/cri/cri-jrnl/web/crj0146a.html

Should We Wait in Silence?
by Pastor Larry DeBruyn
http://guardinghisflock.com/2010/05/19/should-we-wait-in-silence/

Who is Ignatius of Loyola?
http://apprising.org/2008/12/13/who-is-ignatius-of-loyola/

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7 thoughts on “Story about “The Silence” by Contemplative Writer is published in the MB Herald

  1. “Brethren, I tell you the truth and lie not. I am no Enoch, no Elias, I have no visions, am no prophet, who can teach and prophesy differently from what it is written in the word of God and whosoever tries to teach something else will soon miss the right way and be deceived in his learning. I trust that the merciful Father will keep me in his word so til at I shall write or speak nothing but that which I can prove by Moses, the prophets, the evangelists or by other apostolic Scriptures and doctrines, explained in their true sense, Spirit and intent of Christ.

    Judge ye that are spiritually minded. Again, I have no visions nor angelic inspirations, neither do I desire such, lest I be thereby deceived. The word of Christ, alone, is sufficient for me. If I do not follow his testimony, then, verily, all that I do is useless. And even if I had such visions and inspirations, which is not the case, even then it would have to be conformable to the word and Spirit of Christ, or else it would be mere fantasy, deceit and Satanic temptation.”

    (Simon, Menno. “The Reason why Menno Simon Does Not Cease Teaching and Writing”, The Works of Menno Simon, Volume 2, page 248).

  2. Since I’m in a Menno Simon quoting mood, here’s one that Menno tossed out about true preachers of the gospel and false preachers of the gospel (read “false teachers”). See if you can guess who he’s talking about here!

    “Since then the true messengers of God, taught nothing but the word of the Lord, which is the only doctrine from which our souls can obtain eternal life, as the Lord said, Deut. 8:3. So it is easily here to mark and judge what kind of teachers they are who direct the poor uncultivated people to legends, histories, fables, holydays, images, holy water, tapers, palms, confessions, pilgrimages, masses, matins and vespers; who teach of purgatory, vigils, times, bulls, offerings, and satisfaction for souls and sins, who also make a piece of bread and a drink of wine, to be the essential body and blood of Christ; who teach and say that when they have but spoken these words, Hoc est corpus meum (this is my body), the Lord, willing or not willing, must descend unto their idolatrous hands, even though the Heavens should rend assunder, and the earth crumble down, O blasphemy!

    O dear Lord ! my heart trembles in my body, that I must relate and mention such terrible abominations. But because the simple plain people, who do not guard themselves against such seducers; who, conscientiously are bound hand and foot, and are blindly rushed into eternal death, and the abyss of hell, by these useless men, therefore I cannot remain silent, but must disclose this, through undissembled love to God and your souls. Who knows but God may give grace that you may be prevailed upon to hear, your eyes opened to see, and your hearts to understand, that you may be freed from the snares of the devil, whereby you are taken.”

    (Simon, Menno. “A Foundation and Plain Instruction of the Saving Doctrine of our Lord Jesus Christ”, The Works of Menno Simon, Volume 1, page 58).

    Seems like Menno Simon would have had some words for people infiltrating the MB Church with Roman Catholic Mysticism. It seems like Menno would suggest that these people are “useless men”, the followers of whom are “blindly rushed into eternal death”.

    Menno said it, not me.

    For being a pacifist, he sure knows how to pick a fight!

  3. Pingback: Inhaling and Exhaling at BCMB Church Plant « Menno-lite

  4. Pingback: Rob Des Cotes and another article in the MB Herald that opens the door to contemplative spirituality. « Menno-lite

  5. Pingback: Disappointment in the MB Herald « Menno-lite

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