Sunday, October 22, 2017

What Belongs to God

I am the Lord and there is no other,
there is no God beside me.
It is I who arm you, though you know me not,
so that toward the rising and the setting of the sun
people may know that there is none besides me.
I am the Lord, there is no other. Is 45


What belongs to God? Everything - all that we are, all that we have, all that we. Everything. All is gift. The sea, all living things, all times and seasons - he holds everything in his hand. "You are mine," he says to each one of us.

At that, he said to them,
"Then repay to Caesar what belongs to Caesar
and to God what belongs to God."
Mt  22

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Our Lady on Saturday

As we celebrate the Virgin Mary again on this Saturday, we ponder these words from a sermon by our Cistercian father, Saint Bernard of Clairvaux:

You have heard, O Virgin, that you will conceive and bear a son; you have heard that it will not be by man but by the Holy Spirit. The angel awaits an answer; it is time for him to return to God who sent him. We too are waiting, O Lady, for your word of compassion; the sentence of condemnation weighs heavily upon us.

The price of our salvation is offered to you. We shall be set free at once if you consent. In the eternal Word of God we all came to be, and behold, we die. In your brief response, we are to be remade in order to be recalled to life.

Tearful Adam with his sorrowing family begs this of you, O loving Virgin, in their exile from Paradise. Abraham begs it, David begs it. All the other holy patriarchs, your ancestors, ask it of you, as they dwell in the country of the shadow of death. This is what the whole earth waits for, prostrate at your feet. It is right in doing so, for on your word depends comfort for the wretched, ransom for the captive, freedom for the condemned, indeed, salvation for all the sons of Adam, the whole of your race.

Answer quickly, O Virgin. Reply in haste to the angel, or rather through the angel to the Lord. Answer with a word, receive the Word of God. Speak your own word, conceive the divine Word. Breathe a passing word, embrace the eternal Word.

Why do you delay, why are you afraid? Believe, give praise, and receive. Let humility be bold, let modesty be confident. This is no time for virginal simplicity to forget prudence. In this matter alone, O prudent Virgin, do not fear to be presumptuous. Though modest silence is pleasing, dutiful speech is now more necessary. Open your heart to faith, O blessed Virgin, your lips to praise, your womb to the Creator. See, the desired of all nations is at your door, knocking to enter. If he should pass by because of your delay, in sorrow you would begin to seek him afresh, the One whom your soul loves. Arise, hasten, open. Arise in faith, hasten in devotion, open in praise and thanksgiving. Behold the handmaid of the Lord, she says, be it done to me according to your word.

Photograph by Brother Brian. 

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Saint Ignatius of Antioch

All the pleasures of the world, and all the kingdoms of this earth, shall profit me nothing. It is better for me to die in behalf of Jesus Christ, than to reign over all the ends of the earth. For what shall a man be profited, if he gain the whole world, but lose his own soul? Him I seek, who died for us: Him I desire, who rose again for our sake. This is the gain which is laid up for me. Pardon me, brethren: do not hinder me from living, do not wish to keep me in a state of death; and while I desire to belong to God, do not give me over to the world. Allow me to obtain pure light: when I have gone there, I shall indeed be a man of God. Permit me to be an imitator of the passion of my God. If anyone has Him within himself, let him consider what I desire, and let him have sympathy with me, as knowing how I am straitened. My love has been crucified, and there is no fire in me desiring to be fed; but there is within me a water that lives and speaks, saying to me inwardly, Come to the Father. I have no delight in corruptible food, nor in the pleasures of this life. I desire the bread of God, the heavenly bread, the bread of life, which is the flesh of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who became afterwards of the seed of David and Abraham; and I desire the drink of God, namely His blood, which is incorruptible love and eternal life.

Photograph of the Abbey church by Brother Brian. Lines composed by Saint Ignatius of Antioch just before his martyrdom.

Monday, October 16, 2017

You Yourself

O Lord, you yourself are that Spring, always and forever to be desired, always and forever to be drunk from. Christ our Lord, give us this water as the Samarian woman once asked you, so that in us also it can be a spring of living water welling up into eternal life. It is an enormous gift I am asking – everyone knows that – but you, King of glory, have given great gifts in the past and made great promises. Nothing, after all, is greater than you; and yet you have given yourself to us and given yourself for us.

Therefore we beg you that we should come to full knowledge of the thing that we love; for we pray to be given nothing other than you yourself. You are everything to us, our life, our light, our health and strength, our food, our drink, our God. Jesus, our Jesus, I beg you to fill our hearts with the breath of your Spirit. Pierce our souls with the sword of your love... 

Photograph by Brother Brian of Lac Marie on the Abbey grounds. Lines from the Instructions of Saint Columban.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Everything

Christ Jesus wants more of each of us. What the more is, each of us probably knows somewhere, way down in the depth of our own heart. Each of us will be asked now or later on to give the more we are capable of offering, all that we have to live on. Perhaps for some of us, a bit of dawdling might seem the cushion we need when life gets to be too much. But Jesus asks us for a bit more. Clearly, we hear the divine impatience with anything that might impede Christ Jesus’ access to our hearts. He wants us to come to him for everything we need. His loving regard is healing, drawing us, calling us away from all the stuff to become “all fire” in him, poor with him even unto the cross.

He wants everything. And in the Eucharist, he promises to give us everything— his very self. For he is our inheritance, our hope, our fulfillment, well worth all he asks of us now. Riches, accomplishments- whether spiritual or material- are nothing in comparison with him. 

Crucifixion from Miserere by Georges Rouault.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

God's Faithfulness

God so loved the world that he gave his only Son so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal love.

Even as we switch back and forth between our infidelities to God, he patiently reaches back to us, each time calling us to himself. God's love cannot be undone by our ongoing infidelities. All he waits for is that split-second turning of our hearts back to him, and in order that this tiny miracle of turning may take place, his grace is there to see us through. But what about our constantly falling back? Are we able to look beyond our ongoing disappointment in ourselves and more importantly, are we able to believe in the dynamism and the completeness of his each forgiving?

Living as best we can through the reality of these infidelities, we eventually come to understand and taste the meaning of those words of Christ, "Without me, you can do nothing." We have to accept the humiliations of those many failings, small or great, because Christ uses them to convince us that our modest efforts have to be harnessed to his own powerful might and that ultimately we have to turn over the brunt of the battle to him. His love will not be outdone by those infidelities; he looks beyond them because he revels at the thought of what he will bring about in us through his own great love.

Photograph by Brother Brian. Excerpts from Father Gabriel's homily for the Twenty-seventh Sunday 

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Saint John XXIII

On Christmas Day in 1958 very early in his papacy, Pope Saint John XXIII visited Queen of Heaven Prison in Rome. We love to remember his most kind words to the inmates who had gathered to see him that day - “You could not come to me, so I came to you.”

Perhaps Jesus says something similar to us in his Incarnation.  “You could not come to me, so I came to you.” As we celebrate Saint John XXIII today, may we, who are often prisoners of our own foolishness and sinfulness, welcome the Lord who is with us, always closer to us than we realize.