Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Father Gilbert Shaw on prayer and the Holy Spirit

Father Gilbert Shaw (1886-1967) was a barrister who became a priest and spiritual director - one of the wisest Angican spiritual directors of his day. He was part of a movement for the development of the contemplative life for both women and men, and in particular with the Sisters of the Love of God, at Fairacres, Oxford. 

Here are some of his insights about the daily workings of the Holy Spirit, given at Fairacres: 

“The Holy Spirit will never give you stuff on a plate – you’ve got to work for it. 

"Your work is listening – taking the situation you’re in and holding it in courage, not being beaten down by it. 

"Your work is standing – holding things without being deflected by your own desires or the desires of other people round you. Then things work out just through patience. How things alter we don’t know, but the situation alters. 

"There must be dialogue in patience and charity – then something seems to turn up that wasn’t there before. 

"We must take people as they are and where they are – not going too far ahead or too fast for them, but listening to their needs and supporting them in their following. 

"The Holy Spirit brings things new and old out of the treasure.

"Intercessors bring the ‘deaf and dumb’ to Christ, that is their part.

"Seek for points of unity and stand on those rather than on principles. 

"Have the patience that refuses to be pushed out; the patience that refuses to be disillusioned. There must be dialogue – or there will be no development.” 

And here are two passages from his book, The Face of Love, about the need to enter into the cell of self-knowledge and be ready to open all the avenues of our human faculties to the cleansing power of the Holy Spirit: 

"Look well, O soul, upon thyself 
Lest spiritual ambition 
Should mislead and blind thee 
To thy essential task – 
To wait in quietness 
To knock and persevere in humble faith. 
Knock thou in love, nor fail to keep thy place before the door 
That when Christ wills – and not before – 
He shall open unto thee the treasures of his love. 

"Grant me humility of soul 
That I may grow in penitence 
Dependent on the Holy Spirit’s light." 

* * * * *

"Most loving Lord, hold thou me fast to live by thee
In all occasions of my life,
In the busyness of consciousness and where the physical doth sleep.
Keep thou my heart united to thyself
To be a temple of the Holy Ghost
That he may show me of thyself
And be the power of my soul
To be more fully one with thee.

"Still thou the inmost depths of memory and will
That all my thinking may return
To know that thou dost hold my heart.
Cleanse thou the complex patterns of unconsciousness
That nothing should control the will
Or turn my heart from loving thee,
From serving thee in spirit and in truth,
That every thought and action of the day
May be controlled and rendered to thy praise,
Determining both thought and action to thy will,
That while I sleep my heart may wake
Rendering unto thee my love
To glorify thy name,
That all that is not wholly reconciled to thee
May be resolved and rectified by love
The flame which is the knowledge of thyself."


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