Sunday, April 26, 2015

Now

Beloved, we are God’s children now;
what we shall be has not yet been revealed.
We do know that when it is revealed we shall be like him,
for we shall see him as he is.



As our Brother Charbel read these words from the First Letter of John during this morning's Mass, he emphasized the word now. And we were struck anew by the realization that yes, here and now we belong to God; we are children with Christ Jesus of one Father. Father Isaac then spoke beautifully in his homily of our irrevocable union with God in Christ, a union that nothing can destroy. The resurrected Jesus reveals the brilliance of this union as he returns to his disciples still marked by the wounds of his cruel agony and death but absolutely alive, beautifully transcendent and completely Other. He is truly human, truly divine. And he reveals to us our truth, our destiny, united as we are with him through our baptism.
Photographs of early spring at the monastery by Brother Brian.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Christ's Time

“Look at my hands and my feet, that it is I myself. Touch me and see, because a ghost does not have flesh and bones as you can see that I have.” 

Here as in all the resurrection appearances, Jesus shows the disciples not only that he is real flesh but that his relationship to time has changed also. If Jesus is not a spirit but tangible flesh and bones, if he eats the same fish as the disciples, then his time is not ghost-time either. What we have here is not some fictitious appearance of duration, but time in the most genuine and real sense possible.

Christ’s time, witnessed to by all this seeing, touching, hearing, eating, and encountering, is not divorced from our time, but is in an ordinary, straightforward way continuous with it. This is immediately clear in the story of Emmaus. Recall how Jesus walks with and talks with the two disciples – the alternation, succession and interweaving of words and actions between the three of them. In Jesus' actions we see the eternal allowing itself to be drawn into time and going along with it in genuine companionship. In the freedom of the resurrection Jesus is able to move in the world of changing time without being subject to it.

The time of the forty days is thus genuine time, but no longer moving inexorably toward death; time no longer as a burden, but blessed, open, spacious time possessing the sovereignty merited by Jesus and bestowed by the Father. His manner of being, revealed in the forty days, is the ultimate form of his reality.

In the Eucharist and in the sacraments, Jesus existence and mode of duration is therefore no different than that of the forty days. For the believer this means that receiving the sacraments allows the risen and glorified Christ present in them to interact with him or her with the same naturalness, spontaneity, freshness and sovereign freedom with which he encountered and interacted with his disciples during the forty days. When we embrace these in simplicity, Jesus is able to enlighten our minds and hearts just as he does for the disciples in this morning’s Gospel.

Photograph by Brother Brian. Excerpts from Father Timothy's homily at this morning's Eucharist.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Let Us Remember

In a recent address Pope Francis recommended that each day we rediscover with joy that we are disciples of Jesus and develop “a strong friendship" with him who is our "only Teacher.” He continued, “In these days of the Resurrection, the word that resounded often for me in prayer was “Galilee,” where everything began. Peter says in his first discourse- the things that happened at Jerusalem but which began in Galilee. Our life also began in a “Galilee”- every one of us has had an experience of Galilee, an encounter with the Lord…that we do not forget, but that so many times becomes covered with things, with work, anxieties and also sins and worldliness. To give witness it is necessary to go often on pilgrimage to Galilee itself, to take up the memory of that encounter, that astonishment, and to start again from there. However if we do not follow this path of the memory, there is the danger of remaining where we are, and there is also the danger of not knowing why we find ourselves there. This is the discipline of men and women who wish to give witness- to return to Galilee itself, where I encountered the Lord; to return to that first moment of wonder."

Let us remember always whom we have encountered.

Photograph by Brother Brian.  Excerpts from Address of Pope Francis to Formators of Consecrated Men and Women, Vatican City, April 13, 2015.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Rejoice

All during Eastertide we recite the Regina Coeli silently instead of the Angelus after Lauds, after Sext and after Compline. We hear three rapid rings of the bell and there is pause for the first part of the prayer, another three rings and a pause for the second part of the prayer, a final three rapid rings and a pause for the last section of the prayer. Then a series of rings as we recite the concluding oration.

Queen of Heaven, rejoice, alleluia.
The Son whom you merited to bear, alleluia.

Has risen, as he said, alleluia.
Pray for us to God, alleluia.

Rejoice and be glad, O Virgin Mary, alleluia.
For the Lord has truly risen, alleluia.
O God, who through the resurrection of your Son Jesus Christ gave joy to the world, grant, we pray, that through his Mother, the Virgin Mary, we may obtain the joy of everlasting life. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Photographs of the Abbey Library by Brother Brian.

Friday, April 10, 2015

In the Garden

   Scripture does not say that on the day of the Lord’s Resurrection he appeared to a little child, but it does say that in the course of forty days he appeared to many. So, I’d like to think that the scene above might have occurred, when, soon after the Lord’s rising from the dead, a little child at play in that same garden where lay the tomb, drew near to Jesus in gleeful eagerness and wonder. 
  Jesus gathered up that child into his arms. As just then alighted a butterfly upon his wounded hand, he lovingly explained the mystery of what rising from the dead means in words only the child-like and pure of heart can understand. For at one time the people were bringing little children to him that he might bless them. Then as now, he took a child up into his embrace saying, “It is to just such as these that the kingdom of God belongs.” Perhaps it was the same child then as now. Perhaps, in some sense, it could be you.
CHRIST IS RISEN! HE IS RISEN INDEED!
Painting by Greg Olsen. Meditation by Brother Anthony.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Emmaus

When Jesus engages the two disciples on the road to Emmaus, before they relate to him their version of the events of the past few days, they stop, looking downcast. They are sad, because they had a set of expectations that were not met. It is true, Jesus did not meet their expectations; he infinitely surpassed them. How often we are the cause of our own sadness and spiritual listlessness because we cling to our own narrow, inner-worldly perspective, while all the while Jesus waits patiently to bestow on us the eyes of faith that will explode our world open and welcome us into his joy.  

Reflection by Father Timothy.

Monday, April 6, 2015

He is Risen!


 At the Synod on the New Evangelization several years ago, Cardinal Toppo of India told of a Hindu teenager who had been hanging around the Catholic priests at a local school. The boy was obviously a spiritual seeker and often asked questions about Christian belief. At one point one of the priests gave the boy a copy of the Gospels and told him to read them and then come back with questions and reactions. The boy came back more or less flabbergasted and somewhat accusing. He wanted to be sure he got it right, and so he demanded clarification. “Jesus is risen from the dead?” he asked. “Really risen from the dead?” “Yes,” they calmly answered, not displeased with his excitement. “Why didn’t you tell me!” he shouted at them, astonished that they would not have told him that straight out from the start. That Hindu boy had immediately caught the enormous significance of the Christian claim. Pope Benedict XVI captured the significance of the Resurrection when he wrote, “Only if Jesus is risen has anything really new occurred that changes the world and the situation of mankind….Whether Jesus merely was or whether he also is depends on the Resurrection….the Resurrection of Jesus constitutes an evolutionary leap…a new possibility of human existence is attained that affects everyone and that opens up a future, a new kind of future, for mankind.” 
   Each of the gospel accounts of the Resurrection makes reference to it being the first day of the week, at dawn or daybreak. They are all united in this. However, from there the various details of the accounts diverge, to say the least. In fact, I don’t think that it is too far fetched to say that day breaks into chaos and confusion. The very next verse in the gospel of Mark that we just heard says that the women “made their way out and fled from the tomb bewildered and trembling; and because of their great fear, they said nothing to anyone.” Throughout the accounts of the resurrection you hear expressions of fear, joy, wonder, disbelief, hope. It is almost as if these reactions and emotions are rival claimants fighting over the hearts of the first disciples. In those first hours and days, rumors and stories abound, chasing one another throughout the community of disciples and the surrounding region. After the crucifixion most of Jesus followers were dispersed and went into hiding. Why? Why the dispersion, chaos and confusion? It is a worthwhile question, a vital, visceral, transformative question.
   When we speak of the resurrection of Jesus we speak of a reality that is inseparable from the reality of the cross and Jesus’ death. The One who is risen is the crucified One. His wounds are now and forever part of his reality. The resurrection opens the mystery of the cross and reveals that glory which is already contained in the Lord’s death.
   The death of Jesus initially provoked a profound crisis in the disciples. The death of Jesus is meant to provoke such deeply fundamental, personal questions. The Resurrection of Jesus finds its meaning in answers to three profound questions. Who is God? God is the one who did not abandon his Son. Who is Jesus? Jesus is the one raised by the Father and established as Lord and Messiah. Who are we? We are his witnesses, witnesses to what never could have been foreseen, imagined or expected ahead of time, Witnesses to a divine deed infinite in its proportions, a life-altering; a life-changing deed. Witnesses are not bystanders. There is no such thing when it comes to the cross and resurrection. There are only participants. The cross and resurrection is not just something that happened to Jesus. It happens to us throughout our lives, over and over again whenever we dare to really ask those questions.
   I invite you to join me in asking to taste a bit of the grace which allowed that teenager from India to be so flabbergasted and surprised with awe and wonder; to experience something of the “evolutionary leap” that constitutes the resurrection. And with the church throughout the centuries, may we never tire of proclaiming that Christ is Risen! Truly He is Risen!  
Excerpts from Father Damian's homily at the Paschal Vigil.