Monday, May 2, 2016

Jesus' Gift

Jesus gives his disciples his peace: the blessing of reconciliation that through the prophets God had promised to bestow on his people. Jesus’ peace is a fruit of his relationship with the Father, and he is to bring his disciples into that relationship. His peace arises from a total love from the Father and therefore is unlike the peace of the world, which rejects God. Jesus calls the disciples into a confident trusting faith and promises them the peace that comes from obeying the Father and knowing his love.

Jesus’ gift of his peace is, therefore, the gift of participation in the perfect harmony that exists between the Father and the Son in the unity of their wills in love. Who Jesus is, what he does and what he is called to be are one. Jesus is, in the unity of his person, the identity of mission and existence. Insofar as the disciples keep his word in love, they become sons in the Son, more and more conformed to him in his mission from the Father for mankind. Thus being caught up in the gift of his commission to love and keep his commandments they will be caught up in the gift of his peace.  The fullness of which is realized in the vision of the Book of Revelation, as the bride of the Lamb coming down out of heaven from God, gleaming with the splendor of God.

However, as Jesus points out, his self-gift evokes two fundamental responses, to love him and keep his word or to not love him and not keep his word. In fact, the disciples will discover that the more they try to embody this gift of peace the more they will encounter resistance. 

The Savior, El Greco (and workshop), 1608-1614, oil on canvas, 72 cm x 55 cm, The Prado, Madrid. Excerpts from Father Timothy's homily for the Sixth Sunday of Easter.

Friday, April 29, 2016

Mercy and Joy

Pierre Teilhard de Chardin once said that, “joy is the infallible sign of the presence of God.” Certainly joy is the fruit of real confidence in God's ineffable mercy. This is our joy as monks- we see over and over again our foolishness and sinfulness, but we learn to rejoice because Christ's mercy is always available. This is certainly reason enough for us to rejoice always, for as Saint Paul says, “If God is for us, who can be against us?”

So amazed is Saint Catherine of Siena at the endless mercy of God that she will call God “crazy.” In her Dialogues she writes, “O eternal beauty! O eternal goodness, O eternal mercy! O crazy lover! You have need of your creature? It seems so to me, for you act as if you could not live without her. Why are you so crazy? Because you have fallen in love with what you have made! You are pleased and delighted over her, as if you were drunk with desire for her salvation. She runs away from you and you go looking for her. She strays and you draw closer to her.”

Saint Catherine of Siena Exchanging Her Heart with Christ, Giovanni di Paolo, Italian, Siena 1398–1482, tempera and gold on wood, 11 3/4 x 9 1/2 in. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Used with permission. 

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Remain


“As the Father loves me, so I also love you.
Remain in my love.
If you keep my commandments, you will remain in my love,
just as I have kept my Father’s commandments
and remain in his love.
“I have told you this so that
my joy might be in you and

your joy might be complete.” John 15

Early in the Gospel of John the first disciples ask Jesus, “Rabbi, where are you staying?” Jesus responds, “Come and you will see.” The disciples follow Jesus and see where he is staying, and they stay with him that day. The disciples, all of us, are invited to stay with Jesus always, in all things.

The key word is the Greek μένω (menó) meaning to stay, abide, remainThis same word recurs here in these latter sections of the Gospel of John, as Jesus tells us, “Remain in my love.” We might translate it: “Stay with me; stay in my love. Let it console you, empower you. Abide in this love, allow it to transform you, so that you love as you have been loved.

Photo of the Abbey breezeway and cellarer's building by Brother Brian.


Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Working

       

We came upon these archival images of monks at work from our founding monastery of Our Lady of the Valley in Rhode Island. In our own ordinary daily tasks we are encouraged by the example of our holy forebears. And we pray that we, like them, may be faithful in all things.


And if the circumstances of the place or their poverty
should require that they themselves
do the work of gathering the harvest,
let them not be discontented;
for then are they truly monastics
when they live by the labor of their hands,
as did our Fathers and the Apostles.
Let all things be done with moderation, however,
for the sake of the faint-hearted. 
from the Rule of Saint Benedict, Chapter 48.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Holy Allowing

When, despite our foolishness, our sinfulness, all our resistances, we dare to say yes to the Lord, we are blessed indeed. For then we come to inhabit a place where all things are possible, a place where we can even rejoice in our nothingness as Our Lady did. As always it is a matter of letting ourselves be loved and daring to believe, to trust in Another’s love and desire. Perhaps we could call it- holy allowing. Those who are in love have always known that. They know enough to trust in the foolishness of another’s fondness and partiality. How good it is to put everything else aside each morning and go to him, up to the altar of God to receive this Best Gift of his Body and Blood, which each day reminds us who we are- deeply loved sinners, from whom Jesus our Lord will never ever depart.

A rendition of the sanctuary of the Abbey church in an etching by Margaret Walters, (1924 - 1971). 

Friday, April 22, 2016

Maria Gabriella

Blessed Maria Gabriella, a Trappistine of the monastery of Grottaferrata in Italy, died on this day in 1939 at the age of twenty-five, less than two years after her simple profession, having given her life for Christian unity. While not all of us are called to give our lives as Maria Gabriella did, we are all called, by the logic of our vows and of the Christian life in general, to the same totality of self-gift in love, to the same sensitivity, availability and responsiveness to the promptings of the Holy Spirit. In union with Maria Gabriella let us pray for the unity of Christians. And through her intercession may we too have some share in her interior freedom, courage and generosity.

Meditation by Father Timothy.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Loving kindness

To be open to a genuine encounter with others, “a kind look” is essential. This is incompatible with a negative attitude that readily points out other people’s shortcomings while overlooking one’s own. A kind look helps us to see beyond our own limitations, to be patient and to cooperate with others, despite our differences. Loving kindness builds bonds, cultivates relationships, creates new networks of integration and knits a firm social fabric. In this way, it grows ever stronger, for without a sense of belonging we cannot sustain a commitment to others; we end up seeking our convenience alone and life in common becomes impossible...Those who love are capable of speaking words of comfort, strength, consolation, and encouragement. These were the words that Jesus himself spoke: “Take heart, my son!” Mt 9:2; “Great is your faith!” Mt 15:28; “Arise!” Mk 5:41; “Go in peace” Lk 7:50; “Be not afraid” Mt 14:27. These are not words that demean, sadden, anger or show scorn. In our families, we must learn to imitate Jesus’ own gentleness in our way of speaking to one another.

During dinner in the monastic refectory, we are listening as a brother reads to us from the Holy Father's Apostolic Exhortation Amoris Laetitia. As day by day we seek to live and pray and work together in harmony here in our monastic household, Pope Francis' words strike the perfect note

 Photograph of Brothers Jude and Amadeus by Brother Brian. Lines from Amoris Laetitia, 100.