Sunday, August 18, 2019

Fire

"I have come to set the earth on fire, and how I wish it were already blazing!" 

May the Lord Jesus, Born of the Father before all ages, breathe the warm breath of his kind Spirit into our hearts and stir into a great flame, the ardor of love he himself has enkindled within us.

"There is a baptism with which I must be baptized,
and how great is my anguish until it is accomplished!"

May the the fiery ardor of Jesus' love for us revealed in his baptism of anguish on the cross open our hearts in compassionate love.

Friday, August 16, 2019

Like Mary


“If there is no resurrection of the dead, then neither has Christ been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, then empty, too, is your faith.” (1 Cor 15:13-14) Paul goes on to explain why the resurrection of the dead is constitutive of the Gospel. And so he refers to Jesus as “the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep.” Our resurrection is essentially linked to his. He is the first to be raised up. We will follow.
           
Because Jesus has been raised up, Mary was also destined for a bodily resurrection. But unlike us, Mary does not need to wait until the last day. Because of her unique role in salvation history, by a special grace she has already been raised up into the fullness of resurrected life. Mary’s glory is a foretaste of our glory. Christ’s resurrection leads the way, and we will follow, with Mary preceding us.
           
The ordinary makes up most of our lives and often the most important part of our lives. And most of our days are similar to Mary’s as she visits her cousin Elizabeth. They do not change the course of history, but they bind us together into a fabric of friendship, care and love. In other words, there really is no small matter because at the end of our lives it will likely be the ordinary daily happenings and encounters that determine who we are. Mary is our model, she shows us how to live our ordinary lives filled with angels and angst, surprises and routines. It is not always easy because we need to move beyond our own preoccupations and ask what action or response on my part can be a blessing for someone else?
           
We are called to follow Mary’s example - asking what people need and then acting on the answer we receive. As simple and ordinary as this pattern is, the result is often more than we can imagine. When we follow the pattern of the pregnant Mary, we not only bring ourselves to others. We also carry Christ who is within us to everyone we serve.

“Taken up into heaven, she did not lay aside her salvific duty...By her maternal love she cares for the brethren of her son who still journey on earth.” (Lumen Gentium 62)

An icon written by Brother Terence, encirled with flowers and crabapples; photograped by Father Emmanuel. Excerpts from Dom Damian's homily for Assumption Day.

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Assumption Day

Today we rejoice as Jesus welcomes his Virgin Mother into Paradise. And we know her journey is a foretaste of our own – we are destined like her to be with him forever. When he ascended Jesus took our flesh into heaven. In Christ Jesus matter has been glorified forever; for our flesh, all that we are, is very precious to God. And so he has taken the sinless Virgin Mary first of all, and with her we celebrate this sacred intersection, this interconnectedness between heaven and earth.

Mary’s Assumption into heaven is a sign of things to come for all of us and for all creation, a great sign of hope, for it reveals the destiny God intends for each of us. Our homeland as human beings is heaven. All of us, all of creation, is in a vast progression toward God in Christ. He is our beginning, our way and our goal. With Mary as our guide, our confidante, our intercessor, the Mother of Mercy we live in hope and confidence.

Tintoretto, The Assumption of the Virgin , (detail),  1582-97, oil on canvas, Scuola di San Rocco, Venice. 

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Creaturely Honesty

We always overestimate ourselves when we imagine we are completely indispensable and that the world or the Church depends on our frantic activity. Often it will be an act of real humility and creaturely honesty to stop what we are doing, to acknowledge our limits, to take time to draw breath and rest – as the creature, man, is designed to do. I am not suggesting that sloth is a good thing, but I do want to suggest that we revise our catalog of virtues, as it has developed in the Western world, where activity alone is regarded as valid and where the attitudes of beholding, wonder, recollection, and quiet are of no account, or at least are felt to need some justification. This causes the atrophying of certain essential human faculties. Pope Benedict XVI

Photograph by Brother Brian.

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Waiting in Prayer


Our waiting in prayer is ultimately about powerlessness, for the mystery of God’s presence is constantly revealed even as it is hidden. If indeed we seek intimacy with this Mystery, vigilance is essential because God is always reversing things, doing it his way, sneaking in quietly through the side door, even on tiptoe, trying to engage us in unexpected ways. Mindful attentiveness is our way of being in the kingdom, because with the eyes of faith all of reality becomes increasingly transparent to the transcendent beauty of the One who is always advancing toward us.

By faith we wait and pray, because we know instinctively that there is always more. Christ’s love and attentiveness and generosity will not be outdone. For in the crucified and risen Christ Jesus, we experience God’s "modest but insistent, incessant plea for our love." This plea is in our gut; we sense its presence, its power and pull even now.

But still the, the waiting can seem so passive and so much of our praying may seem unrewarding and flat. The danger is that we’ll believe that nothing is happening. Don’t be fooled. Jesus our Lord, the divine Thief is always at the door, ready to sneak in, behind the wall trying to dig through. He rewards our attentiveness; he is attuned to our deepest yearnings, our vigilance. And if we are meant to live in incessant desire for him, it is because he is always at the threshold of our desire, longing for us more than we realize.

He is the Lord who delights to find us waiting. And in an amazing reversal, it is he our Master who, no matter what the hour, wants to wait on us his servants, and serve us not a stingy snack but an all-out feast. And so, he comes in, sets the table and invites us to recline. We know that in Jesus’ day, reclining was only for banquets, regular meals were taken seated at a table.* The message is clear: a wedding banquet is happening. The Bridegroom is here, heaven has been wedded to earth, and he wants to feed us a banquet; he himself is the Banquet.

* See Gerhard Lohfink.

Sunday, August 11, 2019

Now


Jesus tells us this morning: “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 too must be prepared, for at an hour you do not expect, the Son of Man will come.” Vigilance, preparedness, indeed, but with a twist.

In a sort of coded language, Jesus seems to be dropping some clues about how he operates and how he understands himself - perhaps as a bit of a sneak, even a thief. Literally in this passage having your house being broken into means having it burrowed through. In the Palestine of Jesus’ day, walls were made of mud bricks, and to break in all a thief had to do was dig through the wall. Perhaps the Son of Man, is like a thief sneaking around in the night, just outside and trying to burrow through the walls of our resistance and fear, the thick wall of our supposed self-sufficiency. That’s hard stuff alright, and Mercy wants to dig right through, invade our space and suffuse it with his gracious presence. The Son of Man has come to dismantle all barriers to God’s tender mercy.

What is more, his coming is not only a verb in the future tense but a verb in the continuous present, a present reality. The Son of Man is always coming, trying to break through if we will only come to greater awareness of his desire. Remember he is the One who tells us, “Behold, I am coming soon,” while insisting at the same time, “I am with you always.” Life in the kingdom means living in that reality. And if, as we believe, the kingdom will come to fullness in the age to come, Jesus’ plea is for us to believe and live with the realization that it is happening even now and that it can flourish with our cooperation. The “unexpected hour” we await is now.

Friday, August 9, 2019

Edith Stein

Edith Stein
The greatest figures of prophecy and sanctity step forth out of the darkest night. But for the most part, the formative stream of the mystical life remains invisible. Certainly, the most decisive turning points in world history are substantially co-determined by souls whom no history book ever mentions. And we will only find out about those souls to whom we owe the decisive turning points in our personal lives on the day when all that is hidden is revealed.

These words of Saint Teresia Benedicta of the Cross (Edith Stein) remind us of the words of our own Constitutions which speak of the monastic life  as having "a hidden apostolic fruitfulness." In the mysterious reality of prayer for and in the mystical Body of Christ, we hope that our lives here help to draw the world closer to the heart of Christ.