Sunday, August 31, 2014

Fire Burning in My Heart

The total unity of Word of God and human nature is perfectly accomplished only in Jesus himself, which is why Jeremiah and Peter must cringe with fear as they feel invaded by the fire of the Word.  They are all too conscious of their innate weakness. 

How magnificent that his suffering made Jeremiah find something in himself deeper than his fear; yes, he found the energy of God’s omnipotent Word abiding in him!  When he tries to repress that Word, he says that “it becomes like fire burning in my heart, imprisoned in my bones; I grow weary holding it in, I cannot endure it.”  He suffers the labor-pangs of the Word’s birth through him.  In the end, his yielding to possession by the Word reveals the prophet’s own deepest identity as mouthpiece of God. This is a God-assigned identity. In the end, after allowing themselves to be re-created from within by the fire of the indwelling Word, both the prophet and the apostle fulfill Paul’s pressing admonition: “I urge you to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God, your spiritual worship.  Do not conform yourselves to this age but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may discern what is the will of God.”

It was precisely this eternal Will of God—the divine Plan of redemption—that Jesus was revealing to his disciples when he proclaimed that “he must go to Jerusalem and suffer greatly … and be killed and on the third day be raised.”  Only such a suffering Savior can offer nourishing hope, for example, to those enduring unspeakable horrors at this very moment in the Middle East, since Jesus is not alien to their victimization.  But, in order to assent to Jesus’ teaching, we must believe that all along we are being “transformed by the renewal of our mind” by the work of Grace.  Only in strictest union with Jesus, and following the pattern of the Father’s Design, can we at last joyfully and freely embrace the Christian vocation to be self-sacrificing love.  I believe it was just this Jesus meant when he said “whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.”  Jesus’ Heart burns with the one desire to lose his life, to give his life away, so as to manifest his Father’s transforming love and communicate God’s very life to all. 

The supreme joy of the Father’s Heart is to look at Jesus and see us, to look at us and see Jesus.  What could bring the Father more delight than Jesus alone?  Jesus multiplied in his brethren!  He humiliated himself in a death that poured out the substance of his being eucharistically over the whole of creation.  As a result he is “raised on the third day” by the Father’s enfolding glory.  When Jesus invites us to take up our cross and follow him, what else could he intend but our indissoluble and fruitful intimacy with himself in his work of redemption?  What a calling we have, brothers and sisters!  “To [us] has been granted the grace not only of believing in Christ but also of suffering for his sake” Phil 1:29. 

Photograph by Brother Brian.  Excerpts from this morning's homily by Father Simeon.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

The Thief

It seems Jesus is always showing up when we least expect, at the most unexpected times, sometimes when we’re asleep, certainly when we’re not anticipating him. Ultimately he admits to us this morning that he is like a thief, a real sneak. “Be sure of this: if the master of the house had known the hour when the thief was coming, he would not have let his house be broken into.  You also must be prepared, for at an hour you do not expect, the Son of Man will come.’” He wants to break in. But that being said, the Gospel seems to imply that, almost playfully, he wants to be caught in the act.

We are called constantly to welcome the mystery of God in the midst of ordinariness. and our waiting is about powerlessness and poverty, for in Jesus the mystery of God is constantly revealed even as it is hidden. If indeed we seek intimacy with this Mystery, vigilance will always be essential because of the divine reversal that always obtains. God is always reversing things, turning things upside-down, doing it his way, sneaking in through the side door. 

In the crucified and risen Christ, we experience God’s modest but insistent plea for our love.* But there is always the real danger that we’ll miss him, get preoccupied. Waiting is so hard, so passive. But the thief is coming, sneaking in, rest assured. He rewards attentiveness; he is attuned to our deepest yearnings. And if we are meant, called to live in incessant desire for him, it is of course because he is always at the threshold of our yearning, yearning for us more than we can imagine. Our responsibility is incessant availability to his presence.

He is attentive to the desiring that underpins each action of our day. His coming toward us does not depend on our explicit words of prayer, but on our implicit, incessant desiring for him which he notices in the deepest recesses of our hearts. The Lord has taken us at our word; he remembers what we’ve told him we want. He is sneaking in through a low door even now. 

Bust of Jesus, Andrea del Verrocchio (1435-1488) Florentine, after 1483. Gessoed, painted, and gilded terra cotta. *OliviĆ©r Clement

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Monthly Requiem

Jesus gave a loud cry and breathed his last. The veil of the sanctuary was torn in two from top to bottom. When the centurion who stood facing him saw how he breathed his last he said, “Truly this man was the Son of God!”

In the midst of Ordinary Time, we remember the departed today with our monthly Requiem Liturgy. And during this morning's Eucharist, we heard a section of the passion narrative from the Gospel of Saint Mark. What was it about Jesus' final breath that made a Roman centurion understand so completely that it was truly God's own breathWhat was it about Jesus' last long breath that disclosed His divinity? How is Christ Jesus even now breathing His Holy Spirit upon us?

Sunday, August 24, 2014

A Question

Jesus' hauntingly beautiful question to Peter in this morning's Gospel is one that resonates in each of our hearts. Who do I say that Jesus is for me? What is my experience of Jesus? What love, what word has He spoken to me that makes it clear that He alone is my Lord and Master, my Redeemer, my only Joy and the true Consolation of my heart? Who can I say that Jesus is for me? What do I want to ask Him now?

Saturday, August 23, 2014

In Community

Love is the only reason for our life- love for Christ, love for one another, love for the Church. For those monks who have persevered, conversion clearly involves self-acceptance and the acceptance of the reality of the community as it is in all its brokenness and its beauty. For the community is truly a sacrament of the wounded and risen Christ Jesus.

We are all learning that we are most truly ourselves when we can freely give ourselves away. The challenge for all of us is to grow in compassion for weakness: our own weakness and the weakness of our brothers. And this compassion is the gateway to the contemplation we seek. 

Photographs by Brother Brian.

Friday, August 22, 2014


The Lord has placed in Mary the fullness of all good. So that if there is anything of hope in us, if anything of grace, if anything of salvation, we may rest assured it has overflowed into us from her. With every fiber of our being, every feeling of our hearts, with all affections of our minds, and with all the ardor of our souls let us honor Mary because this is the will of God, who would have us obtain everything through her hands. 

In the monastery we are reminded of Mary often; images of her are in many nooks and corners of the Abbey. And we go often to Mary for all we need from her Son, trusting that she will never forget those whom her Son has given to her.

The Rest on the Flight into Egypt, Gerard David (Netherlandish, ca. 1455–1523), oil on wood, 20" x 17.”  The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Used with permission. Lines from Saint Bernard of Clairvaux, Sermon 6: For the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Saint Bernard

All of our desires, the lot of them, the loftiest to most disreputable, have a great brilliant message. They reveal to us the depth of our need for God, for his mercy. They reveal as well the fathomless extent of God’s desire for each of us, his desire to fill our hearts with himself. He has made us for himself. He has no illusions about who we are, and he only quietly awaits a small yes from us to enter our hearts.

If only we really understood the depth of God’s love and desire for each of us, then everything would be changed, transformed. “His desire gives rise to yours,” says Saint Bernard, “and if you are eager to receive his word, it is He who is rushing to enter your heart; for He first loved us, not we Him.”

God alone can satisfy our desire. Anything less will always only leave us frustrated and empty. And God cannot bear to see us that way- empty, unfulfilled. Perhaps like Saint Bernard we long to be dissolved and be with God in Christ? Rest assured, God wants it more than we can possibly imagine.

Francisco Ribalta, Christ Embracing Saint Bernard, Oil on canvas, 1625-1627, 113 x 158 cm, Museo del Prado, Madrid.