Monday, September 29, 2014

With the Angels

In the presence of the Angels, joining them in their endless praise, we gather over and over during each day to raise our minds and hearts to God. We beg the Lord that our voices may fittingly join with theirs. 
As our Constitutions remind us, even while on earth we are to be "citizens of heaven," and "strangers to worldly behavior." In our life of solitude and silence we long for the "interior quiet in which wisdom is born."

Friday, September 26, 2014

A Gift

Each day in the Eucharist Jesus gives us infinitely more than we could ever deserve- his very self, his sacred heart, his precious body and blood. The best we can do is simply, joyfully, most gratefully open our hands and receive this Gift. Learning how to receive this Gift, how to open our hearts to be transformed by this Gift- this is everything.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Our Praying

So many write and call and drop off messages requesting our prayers for family members, for friends, for their own needs. We are humbled, and we place these requests on the bulletin board at the southwest corner of the cloister. We pass the board over and over during the day and are reminded that our praying, truly our lives belong to Christ and his Church. We remember that "the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God." In our praying as in all else, we learn that we must depend on the Lord who wants the good we desire much, much more than we know.

 Photograph by Brother Daniel. Scripture quotation from Saint Paul's Letter to the Romans, 8.

Sunday, September 21, 2014


It is that in the final scene of today's Gospel when the foreman doles out the pay that we are witness to the extravagant compassion of the landowner, (a cipher for the extravagant mercy of our God.) All the workers, even the last ones who worked for only one measly hour, receive a denarius. Aware of their need and the desperation of their situation; the landowner knows that less than a denarius will be not enough for a man and his family for a day. And he wants them all to go home happy and satisfied. Now that’s not fair; it’s excessive. But if we were part of that last crowd who had worked for only an hour, we’d be overjoyed at the landowner’s outlandish generosity.

How often I murmur because things aren’t fair. And true enough it’s the constant plea of psalmist and prophet, “Why is it Lord that the way of the wicked prospers? Why is it that you let the sun and rain and all good things come to the just and the unjust?” It’s not fair. But the good news is God’s Kingdom is not about fairness or entitlement, only mercy; never about “confidence” in my own accomplishments or sacrifices.* It’s not ever about rewards but grace- not something earned but a gift freely given in love. My brothers and sisters, God is not fair. He is abundantly, incomprehensibly merciful, way beyond our imagining. He knows we don’t always do enough, don’t always pull our weight or labor long and hard enough, that sometimes I loaf and dawdle and wait too long and make bad decisions. He sees it all, and he is merciful. It doesn’t mean that everything’s always OK, not at all. No, I mess up, and God is merciful. I am unkind, impatient, stingy, and God is merciful and gives me another chance.

Imagine if God were only fair. Imagine if he gave me what I really deserve. I’d be in big trouble. Certainly God looks into our hearts and notices the good we do, but the kingdom is all about his mercy, never payback for a job well done. It is on the contrary completely, utterly, totally gift. Gratuitous, absolutely surprising, way beyond what I am “entitled to.” Simple gratitude is the only response. For what do we have that we have received? No, God is not fair, but all loving, all giving, all forgiving. We’re all latecomers and God is always switching things around. It’s called mercy. And Jesus invites us this morning not to succumb to jealousy, to literally “having a wicked eye” which will not allow us to see clearly as God sees.

Photograph of geese in the Abbey fields by Brother Anthony Khan. Excerpts from this morning's homily. *Insight from Matthew: A Commentary, Robert Gundry, 

Friday, September 19, 2014

Ordinary Work

There are many trails on the Abbey property that the monks use for contemplative walks. From time to time these paths must be cleared of fallen trees and brush. Here we see Brother Matthew Joseph at work. 
Photographs By Brother Anthony Khan and Brother Jonah.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

The Patience of Love

Love is patient, love is kind.
It is not jealous, love is not pompous,
it is not inflated, it is not rude,
it does not seek its own interests,
it is not quick-tempered, it does not brood over injury,
it does not rejoice over wrongdoing
but rejoices with the truth.
It bears all things, believes all things,
hopes all things, endures all things.

As we hear Saint Paul's words, Love is patient, we remember that our love must wait patiently. A life lived in wonder, in patient loving and loving prayer, waiting on the Lord, waiting on His divine pleasure, such a life is what we have professed, promising to be totally available to Jesus, to one another, and ultimately to his Body the Church. We have given ourselves over to a relationship of patient love, promising to go the distance.

But how shall we tolerate- bear patiently, lovingly- the ordinariness of God in Christ, the ordinariness of one another? How shall we remember to love patiently and kindly and give as Christ Jesus did? How can we manage the overwhelming, truly astonishing love and patience and kindness of Christ for each of us? The truth is we cannot manage such love; we can only wonder, we can only try to accept it as simple mercy and try to go and do likewise, each day, moment by moment. We take heart because the God who is Love is with us. And every moment He is doing what Love loves to do- giving Himself away to us; patiently, kindly and with great tenderness. 

Photo by Brother Brian. 

Monday, September 15, 2014

Her Sorrows

As the Church celebrates today a memorial in honor of Our Lady of Sorrows, we recall often seeing images of Our Lady collapsing in Saint John's arms as Jesus breathes His last on the cross. Perhaps she was braver than that. As Mother of God, Mother of Jesus, she feels with God; she compassions with God, empathizes with Christ's sacred wounded Body even now. Yes even now Mary, given by Jesus to all his beloved disciples as their Mother, feels with us all the aches and sorrows of our hearts and minds and bodies. She is Mother of Compassion, with us always; His sorrows, her sorrows and our sorrows are one.
Virgin and the Man of Sorrow, detail, Simon Marmion, c.1485, oil on panel, Groeninge Museum, Bruges, Belgium.