Sunday, May 29, 2016

Corpus Christi

As we celebrate today the Solemnity of the Body and Blood of the Lord Jesus, Abbot Damian began this morning's Mass with the following thoughts:

"On the eve of his Passion, the Lord Jesus took the bread in his hands and said, 'Take this, this is my body.' He then took the chalice and said, 'This is my blood.' The entire history of God's relationship with humanity is summed up in these words. These are not only the words of Jesus, they are an event in the history of the world and in each of our lives. This event is Mercy Incarnate. May we never hesitate to acknowledge our real need for this Mercy."

Lord Jesus, you give us your very self in the Holy Eucharist as the Bread of Heaven, containing in itself all sweetness and every blessing. May we grow more and more confident in your passionate desire to fill us with yourself.

Friday, May 27, 2016

May Magnificat

All things rising, all things sizing
Mary sees, sympathising
With that world of good,
Nature's motherhood.
Their magnifying of each its kind
With delight calls to mind
How she did in her stored
Magnify the Lord

Well but there was more than this:
Spring's universal bliss
Much, had much to say
To offering Mary May.

The beauty, energy and exuberance of springtime remind the poet Gerard Manley Hopkins and each of us of Our Lady’s joy as she carried Our Lord in her womb.

This ecstasy all through mothering earth
Tells Mary her mirth till Christ's birth
To remember and exultation
In God who was her salvation.

Detail of drawing by Leonardo and some photographs by Brother Brian. 
Excerpts from May Magnificat by Gerard Manley Hopkins.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Humility and Compassion

Humiliation is the only way to humility, just as patience is the only way to peace, and reading to knowledge. If you want the virtue of humility you must not shun humiliations...

We were struck again by these words of Saint Bernard. The word "humility" is derived from the Latin humilis meaning lowly, literally "on the ground," from the word humus meaning earth. Here we learn that becoming humble is not some personal project of self-mastery; it is rather owning my own weakness, sinfulness and my lowliness; and learning to look up at Jesus from down there in that low place and ask him for his mercy.

In the monastery we often refer to this as bitter self-knowledge. We realize that the monastic life is not about our achievement but about our readiness to make our weakness available to the mercy of God. Perhaps this is our most important work- to realize that we are in desperate need of this mercy. 

It’s never been about worth, but always about love; the condescension of God's tender mercy, and his mercy reflected in the compassion of brother for brother.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

A Sign

We still use some of the ancient Trappist sign language. The sign for God is the thumbs of both hands touching each other with the index fingers touching and pointing upward- forming a triangle for the Blessed Trinity. 

The sign for bread is the same joining of the thumbs and fingers making this triangular shape but pointing outward and parallel to a table top- the shape of a wedge of fresh bread. We monks delight to notice the similarity. God is our Life, our true Bread, our Nourishment on the way.
Section of glass from chapel windows in Abbey infirmary, photographed by Brother Daniel.

Friday, May 20, 2016

The Moon

May is Mary’s month. And as we gazed at the full moon on this chilly May morning after Vigils, we recalled that the moon is a symbol of the Virgin Mary. Just as the moon receives its light from the sun, so Mary as God-bearer receives and bears and radiates the True Light who is Christ Jesus our Lord, the Sun of Justice.   
The moon above the Abbey church.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016


After Christ had completed his mission on earth, it still remained necessary for us to become sharers in the divine nature of the Word, We had to give up our own life and be so transformed that we should begin to live an entirely new kind of life that would be pleasing to God. This was something we could do only by sharing in the Holy Spirit. Saint Cyril of Alexandria 

Throughout the Easter Season the Scripture readings presented us with the transition undergone by the early disciples from their knowing Jesus in a human way, as an object of their perception and someone separate from them, to knowing him through their participation in his life and the corresponding transformation of their subjectivity. With the Ascension we see that with the departure of Jesus from our midst involves a kind of losing God and so losing ourselves- entering into the experience of unknowing, where we let go of our ordinary, usual ways of trying to know, grasp, understand, and contain God, in order to learn how to wait upon God’s self-gift.

On the day of Pentecost, this self-gift of God, the Holy Spirit, is given. The very life, energy and vitality of God, fills the disciples and transforms them from within. From now on it is through and with the Spirit that disciples (then and now) are in relationship with God, themselves and others. It is because of God’s self-gift that disciples are able to know for themselves the personal love of God and to love with God’s own love and so communicate this to the world. The point of Pentecost is not that the disciples have a particularly overwhelming spiritual experience. The point is that they are no longer simply themselves, separate from God. Who they are is now internally and eternally constituted by God’s Spirit. This gift of the Spirit is given in order to draw us into the ‘inside’ of God’s life, and not just as observers but as participants; in other words, to see and love as God sees and loves. 

Photograph by Father Emmanuel. Excerpts from Dom Damian's Pentecost homily.

Sunday, May 15, 2016


The disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord.
Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you.
As the Father has sent me, so I send you.”
And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them,
“Receive the Holy Spirit.
Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them,
and whose sins you retain are retained.”

Christ's Pentecostal breath resuscitates our lives. Again and again he inspires (literally breathes into us) and fills us with his Holy Spirit. Pentecost is an act of recreation, freeing us to leave the darkness, to step out of our house into a new world and a new life. Nothing is retained against us, so let us not retain anything against ourselves or one another. We are invited to be forgiven; in other words, we are invited to be pentecosted- God and humanity sharing one breath, one life. So what are we to do with this holy breath of God? Just breathe.
Meditation by Abbot Damian.