Friday, June 23, 2017

Sacred Heart

Heart of Jesus, tabernacle of the Most High.
Heart of Jesus, house of God and gate of heaven.
Heart of Jesus, glowing furnace of charity.
Heart of Jesus, desire of the everlasting hills.
Heart of Jesus, patient and rich in mercy.
Heart of Jesus, rich to all who call upon Thee.

Heart of Jesus, pierced with a lance.
Heart of Jesus, source of all consolation.


The compassionate Jesus will always be the God with a broken, open, wounded heart. And so the invitation is to honestly even joyfully take ownership of our very real need for his mercy. Our sinfulness can never estrange us from him, but instead lead us right into his broken heart, for he wants to heal and console us, if we will allow him.

Jesus notices us, lost in our isolation and confusion, all the stuff that does not fit, and he rushes toward us without delay to take us to himself, even into his wounded side as refuge. God in Christ has lost himself in love for us. Let us open our hearts to him.

Face of Christ by Georges Rouault. Excerpts from the Litany of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Rabbits

Numerous bunny rabbits have been sighted hopping around the monastic enclosure this year. We are glad to know they feel safe among us.


Praise be to Thee my Lord with all Thy creatures!
Saint Francis of Assisi

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Living Bread

We live as hungry people in a hungry world. Everyone is looking for something that will sustain and nourish life, something that will feed and energize, something that will fill and satisfy. Everyone is looking for bread. The problem is not so much that we are hungry, but the kind of bread we eat.

Think about the varieties of bread being eaten in our lives and in the world today. In Syria all sides are eating the bread of violence and war. Here in our country, Republicans and Democrats share the bread of negativity, hostility, and name-calling. Closer to home, many of us eat the bread of having to be right and get our way. We eat the bread of hurt feelings and resentment. Sometimes we eat the bread of loneliness, fear, and isolation. There are times we eat the bread of sorrow or guilt. Other times we eat the bread of power and control. Sometimes we eat the bread of revenge or one-upmanship. We eat all kinds of bread. But the bread we eat reveals something about the nature of our appetites.

But there is an appetite that we may not be explicitly conscious of, but is nonetheless the most basic and powerful of all. Only God can complete us, only he can make us happy. That is how we are made. It is a consoling truth that hunger for God, once it seizes us, does not disappear easily; for that we can be grateful to God. Indeed, he will continue to intensify this hunger, if only we respond to it.

In the Gospels people come to Jesus hungry. They want to feed themselves with bread. Jesus wants to feed them with God. “Do not work for the food that perishes,” he tells them, “but for the food that endures for eternal life.” The Good News we celebrate is precisely this: the food that endures is Jesus himself. “I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world.” He is the bread that is broken and distributed for the life of the world. He is the bread that is broken, and yet never divided. He is the bread that is eaten, and yet never exhausted. He is the bread that consecrates those who believe in him, and eat him.

Excerpts from Father Dominic's homily for Corpus Christi.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Corpus Christi

He is The Bread sown in the Virgin, leavened in the flesh, molded in His passion, baked in the furnace of the sepulchre, placed in the churches, and set upon the altars, which daily supplies Heavenly Food to the faithful. Saint Peter Chrysologus

In the Most Blessed Sacrament Christ Jesus graciously hands himself over to us in self-forgetful love, longing to be dissolved within his own creatures as our food, our life, our sweetness and abiding consolation. Too often we run after food, that we mistakenly believe can fill the deep hunger and void within us. Jesus sees clearly our need, our longing and his desire to fill us answers our deepest desire. Let us go to Him eagerly, hungrily; knowing that He indeed is Heart of all our desiring, He alone is able to satisfy us.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Fragile



















We hold this treasure in earthen vessels, 

that the surpassing power may be of God and not from us.
We are afflicted in every way, but not constrained;
perplexed, but not driven to despair;
persecuted, but not abandoned;
struck down, but not destroyed;
always carrying about in the Body the dying of Jesus,
so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our body.
For we who live are constantly being given up to death
for the sake of Jesus,
so that the life of Jesus may be manifested in our mortal flesh. 2 Cor 4


The vessels that Paul is referring to in this passage were apparently very fragile clay containers used for lowly purposes, and they were prone to cracking and easy breakage. Amazingly Paul says that is what we are. Truth be told, our own experience often verifies that, indeed as Paul would insist, we are fragile- too prone to sin and self-absorption.

The good news is that this knowledge of our weakness combined with a desire for God's grace-filled healing makes us perfect candidates for God's overwhelming, loving presence and action in our lives. With Saint Paul then we can rejoice in our weakness because it grants us availability to the grace that God in Christ always longs to lavish 
upon us.

We long to be more and more transparent to the  powerful presence of Christ Jesus within the earthen vessels that we are.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

His Body

Your hand holds up the world
and the universe rests in your love.
Your life-giving body is the heart of your Church;
your sacred blood protects the Bride. 


Supplication to God by Cyrillonas, Syrian, 4th century. 

Corpus from a Crucifix 
Italian, Doccia, ca. 1745-50 
Hard paste porcelain, h. 25 3/8" (67 cm) 
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. 
Used with permission. 

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Friends

You are my friends if you do what I command you.
I no longer call you slaves,
because a slave does not know what his master is doing.
I have called you friends,
because I have told you everything I have heard from my Father.
It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you
and appointed you to go and bear fruit that will remain,
so that whatever you ask the Father in my name he may give you.
This I command you: love one another.”
   John 15:12-17    

       
What might it be like to know myself liked by God, truly appreciated, loved with great tenderness, understanding, compassion? Could God be at least as good as my best friend, a friend who knows my goodness as well as my sometime cantankerousness and angularity and still just loves being with me?  What might it be like to imagine a God like that?

Photograph by Brother Jonah.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Trinity Sunday


It is God's radical love that gives our world its importance. It is the same love that gives all of us our essential dignity. God's love is all the more significant because it is fully aware of the sin, brokenness and stupidity that are part of who we are. At the center of the mystery of God is his everlasting love and fidelity to us. Given our often shabby response, this radical love  may be difficult for us to understand.

In his ceaseless love for us, God sent us his beloved Son. In his faithful love the Son faced the ultimate infidelity and was put to death by those he dearly loved. But God raised his Son and sent us his Spirit so that we might share the very life of God.

As we honor the Blessed Trinity, we celebrate the awesome stubbornness of God's extravagant love for us. We can depend on this love always and everywhere. It is a love that sets no limit to forgiveness and mercy. Loved so boundlessly, so extravagantly, we must go and try to do likewise.

Excerpts from Father Aquinas' homily.

Friday, June 9, 2017

Ephrem

Today we remember Saint Ephrem a fourth century scholar from Syria. Although he later retired to a cave on the outskirts of the city, he was a well-respected preacher in Edessa. Ephrem's concern was always to oppose local heretics, who spread their false teachings by setting them to popular tunes. So it was that in defense of the faith, very creatively Ephrem began to compose his own poetic lyrics to be sung to the same tunes. He then trained a choir of local women to chant these tunes during the liturgy. It is said that this is the beginning of organized hymn singing as a part of worship and as a means of religious instruction. Saint Ephrem became known as the "Harp of the Holy Spirit.”

Supported by the prayers of Saint Ephrem, we promise to use all our talents, all that we have and all that we are to praise our Lord.

See Butler's Lives of the Saints, the July volume, for Saint Ephrem's complete biography. 

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Love

The first and greatest commandment is love. Thanks to love, the spirit sees the original Love, namely God. For by our love we see God's love for us, as the psalm says, 'He teaches his ways to those who are gentle.'

Photograph by Brother Brian.  Lines from Evagrius of Pontus, Letter 56.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

If You Can Remember...

If you can remember what it was like if you were ever the new kid on the block, the new kid in the classroom, the new kid on the team and how you just wanted to fit in, be hidden... Or if you ever loved from afar and dreamed of being with a person who seemed too good, too beyond you and you can remember your clumsy efforts, how you just wanted to be close and somehow you just didn’t know how to do it... Or if ever you were all alone, far from home and had to eat in a restaurant all by yourself at a teeny table and longed for family, someone familiar, a friend, the warmth of home and table, then perhaps you get a glimpse of what God was trying to do in the Incarnation. It as if for ages God had been trying to get closer, longing to be with us, like us, longing to be ordinary and hidden in our midst. God has made, is always making the first move toward us. We could say that God in Christ is indeed always toward us. “Love consists in this, not that we have loved God, but that God has loved us and sent us his Son...” 

Window at the Abbey Cottage photographed by Ted DeSaulnier.

Monday, June 5, 2017

At Pentecost

In order to see, know and love as God does, we must first experience what it is like to be seen, known and loved by God. We can view Pentecost as the Feast of God’s self-implication, God’s total self-involvement with us. The Holy Spirit allows us to affirm that our human experience, all of it, is now God’s experience. We do not have to get away from or escape from ourselves to find God. God has found us right where we are and as we are.

Here is a true story that opened up this gospel truth for me. It is a very sacred story about a boy named Billy, who was an altar boy. The pastor of his church had ordered him to do public penance- to kneel at the altar rail throughout a Sunday Mass, to repent for failing to show up for an altar boy assignment. But it wasn't Billy's fault. His father had kept him home to help with essential family chores. Billy told his dad that he would probably get some sort of penance for missing his  assignment, and his dad told him to simply do whatever the pastor required. We can imagine the shame Billy must have felt as he went up the aisle one Sunday morning to be humiliated in front of the whole parish. His legs trembled as he knelt. He wished he were dead. Then suddenly his humiliation was transformed. He felt a hand on his shoulder, looked up and saw his father kneeling at his side.
               ________________

The disciples gathered in the upper room on Easter day weren’t just fearful. They were also locked in by guilt and shame. They had abandoned Jesus in his final hours. And yet, here he was with them, offering them peace. It is as if he were saying, “I know your shame from the inside. I know what it’s like. I shared it as I was spit upon, stripped naked and hung on a cross for all to see. But now it’s OK. Here I am with you. Peace be with you. I love you anyway. And my love for you is unkillable.”

By his gift of the Holy Spirit, Jesus empowers all of us to see as God’s sees, to love as God loves, to forgive as God forgives. And when we know what it is like to be seen, known, loved, forgiven by God, we can share that Pentecost experience with the world.

I bet that Billy had been taught by the sisters in his parish school and by his parents that God is love and God forgives. But I doubt that it ever was as real and life-altering for him as that morning when he felt a hand on his shoulder, looked up and saw his dad sharing his shame. Think of that the next time you pray before a crucifix and plead for the coming of the Holy Spirit. 

Excerpts from Abbot Damian's homily for Pentecost Sunday.

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Pentecost Sunday

The Gospel chosen by the Church for this Pentecost Sunday takes us back fifty days to the evening of the Resurrection. Jesus wounded and risen has snuck in on the frightened apostles, as if on tip-toe, very quietly to introduce God’s consoling presence in the Spirit.

The disciples are in hiding, confused and probably feeling tremendously guilty, especially Peter. What should they have done to save Jesus? What could they have done? In all ordinariness Jesus seeks those whom he loves. He shows them his wounds, and he says, “Peace.” And then he breathes the Spirit on them, gently, most intimately, the warm breath of God. 

Bestowing his Spirit Jesus empowers them to forgive, for through his passion and death he has absorbed all recrimination, all reproach. God’s forgiveness is now abundant and free. God in Christ breathes the Spirit as in the beginning of creation, for this is "the beginning of new life for all believers in the risen Lord."*

*see Gerard Sloyan

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Charles Lwanga

Saint Charles and his twenty-one companions served as pageboys to King Mwanga of Uganda.  Charles protected his fellow pages, aged 13 to 30, from the immoral demands of King Mwanga. On this day in 1886 he was burned to death for endeavoring to safeguard the faith and chastity of his young friends and for refusing to submit to Mwanga  himself.

O God, who have made the blood of martyrs the seed of Christians, mercifully grant that the field which is your Church, watered by the blood shed by Saint Charles Lwanga and his companions, may be fertile and always yield you an abundant harvest. 

Photograph by Father Emmanuel.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

The Visitation


The King of Israel, the Lord, is in your midst,
you have no further misfortune to fear.
On that day, it shall be said to Jerusalem:
Fear not, O Zion, be not discouraged!
The Lord, your God, is in your midst,
a mighty savior;
He will rejoice over you with gladness,
and renew you in his love,
He will sing joyfully because of you,
as one sings at festivals.


Like Our Blessed Lady, with Our Lady we too are tabernacles of the most High God; the Lord is within us. As the Lord rejoices over us, singing joyfully because of our openness to him, we rejoice greatly with Our Lady for all that the Lord in his mercy has done for us.

The Visitation, c. 1495, attributed to Rueland Frueauf the Elder, German (c. 1445 - 1507), Oil on panel,  27 5/8 x 14 15/16 in., Fogg Museum.
Lines from the Prophet Zephaniah 3.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Loved

Every year during Eastertide, we listen to excerpts from the Last Supper Discourse, about four chapters long in the second half of the Gospel of John, sections like this lovely one in today’s Gospel reading.

"I revealed your name to those whom you gave me out of the world.
They belonged to you, and you gave them to me,
and they have kept your word.
Now they know that everything you gave me is from you,
because the words you gave to me I have given to them,
and they accepted them and truly understood that I came from you,
and they have believed that you sent me.
I pray for them.
I do not pray for the world but for the ones you have given me,
because they are yours, and everything of mine is yours
and everything of yours is mine,
and I have been glorified in them."

We seem to eavesdrop on the prayer of Jesus the Beloved Son to his Father. Jesus draws us into the very heart of this prayer. There is surely a beauty to the language but also a circularity. We get confused. We listen, and perhaps we are meant to lose our bearings. And we might want to say to Jesus, “Wait. What do you mean?” But that would simply be the wrong question. Asking what it means would be beside the point. It would be like standing at the Grand Canyon and saying, “Wait I don’t get it, what does it mean?” Or asking a person who is doing an unexpected kindness for you, “What exactly do you mean?” Or interrupting someone who’s kissing you very tenderly, “Excuse me, what do you mean by that?”

We are embedded in God, as beloved as Jesus is; the relationship is ours. It is that simple, that astounding. And we are invited to let ourselves be swept into the reality of mutual love that unites Father and Son, for as Augustine says, “God is to be enjoyed.” It is happening, we are in it. And so non-resistance is crucial; it is like driving on ice, you must not put on the brakes; you have to drive into the skid, into the flow, gently, attentively. 

God has lost himself in love for us; for God is most truly Godself when He gives Himself away. We are invited to let ourselves be loved in our unworthiness.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Mary in the Upper Room

This morning Saint Luke relates that the Apostles and disciples returned to the upper room and devoted themselves to prayer, waiting for the promise of the Father, the Holy Spirit. They were to be clothed with power from on high so that they could witness to the marvel of the Risen Lord. And Luke says that Mary, the mother of the Lord, was there. Mary’s role in preparing the disciples for the coming of the Spirit was very important indeed, for in her the disciples could see that what they were waiting and praying for– to be clothed with the Spirit– had already happened in Mary. The promise of the Father had already clothed her with power, the power that Jesus had: patient endurance; loving forgiveness; unshakable peace and joy– all fruits of the Spirit’s presence. The disciples realized that being clothed with the Spirit meant becoming something like Mary.

Mary’s role in preparing for the Spirit goes deeper. She was like an open window given by the Spirit to gaze into the very life of the Trinity. That is because like Jesus she had accomplished the work the Father had given her to do. Her one desire, like that of her Son, was to receive from the Father with grateful acceptance whatever he gave her; and once received, to give back to the Father her whole self in order to glorify him. Gazing through this window which is Mary, the disciples could glimpse the eternal life to which the Spirit was calling them.  

The Scriptures say that the disciples “devoted themselves to the teaching of the Apostles and to the communal life, to the breaking of the bread and to the prayers.” It was in the breaking of the bread at Emmaus that the two disciples first recognized the Risen Lord. Perhaps something similar happened in the upper room. During the breaking of the bread, the disciples not only recognized that the Lord Jesus was present; but they recognized in Mary what the Spirit intended them to become – one spirit with the Lord; “a chosen race, a royal priesthood”…a people set apart to declare the marvelous works of the one who had brought them out of darkness into his own marvelous light. In the breaking of the bread the Spirit would bring forth the Church, patterned on Mary. 
Excerpts from Father Vincent's homily for the Seventh Sunday of Easter:A.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Welcoming God's Spirit

Come, Creator Spirit,
visit the minds of your children,
and fill the hearts you have made,
with heavenly grace.

You are called the Comforter,
the gift of God most high,
living spring, and fire, love,
and spiritual anointing. 

You are sevenfold in your gifts,
the finger of God’s right hand;
you are the Father’s  true promise,
endowing our tongues with speech. 

Enkindle your light in our senses,
infuse your life in our hearts;
strengthen our bodies’ weakness
by your never failing might.

Drive far away our foe,
and grant peace without end,
that with you to lead us on,
we may escape all harm. 

Grant us, through you,
to know the Father, also the Son;
may we ever believe in you,
the Spirit of them both.
Amen.

In preparation for the great Solemnity of Pentecost, we pray our novena to the Holy Spirit. And each evening at Vespers, we chant this ancient Latin hymn. We share a fine translation completed by one of the monks.

Friday, May 26, 2017

Saint Philip Neri

We rejoice today as we remember Saint Philip Neri, ardent lover of the Lord and man of great joy and cheerfulness. Known for his playful wit, he once remarked, "A joyful heart is more easily made perfect than a downcast one." We love the story of a scrupulous Roman fashionista who came to him seeking counsel. She told Saint Philip that she feared she was too vain, as she was fond of wearing the high-heeled shoes that were all the rage. Philip told her his only fear was that she might fall down. 

Saint Philip Neri, Carlo Dolci, Italian, 1645 or 1646, oil on canvas, 17 1/4 × 14 1/4 in. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Used with permission.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Ascension

Numerous manuscript paintings, such as this one from the early thirteenth century, show the Apostles and Our Lady gazing up at the feet of Jesus as he disappears into the heavens. We can imagine their sorrow and confusion. But we rejoice, for where he has gone, we hope to follow. His glorious Ascension into heaven is our destiny, our promised inheritance. As members of his Body, the Ascension of Jesus is the first moment of our own disappearance into God. 

"I wish that where I am they also may be with me, that they may see my glory that you gave me," we hear Jesus tell his Father. His love has the power to draws us where he is in glory, our work is to be utterly nonresistant to this love.

Yes, angels tremble when they see 
how changed is our humanity; 
that flesh hath purged what flesh had stained, 
and God, the flesh of God, hath reigned.

Ascension in an Initial V, Niccolò di Ser Sozzo (Sienese, active 1348– died 1363), The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Used with permission. Lines from Ă†terne Rex Altissime, the monastic hymn for the Ascension.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

More

Jesus said to his disciples:
"I have much more to tell you, but you cannot bear it now.
But when he comes, the Spirit of truth,
he will guide you to all truth.
 John 16

Again today Jesus promises us his Spirit, the Spirit who will continue to reveal to us the more that God is. This more, this infinity of God’s self-communication, is ours in Christ Jesus. God in Christ ceaselessly pours himself out for us, to us, in us. Our work is constant openness,  incessant availability to this more that Jesus longs to bestow.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

A New Reality

John’s Gospel is believed to have been written for the church of Ephesus at the end of 1st century; it addresses an emerging Christian community in transition, adjusting to their separation from Judaism. Many or all of these early Christians had in fact been expelled from the synagogue. Certainly they were disoriented.

And so appropriately John writes a highly symbolic text, which invites them to a radical reorientation and self-understanding. It is perhaps intended as a consolation for them, a reminder that as Christians they belong to a different reality, a new world that is hidden under the outer reality of things. 

And so John’s language is one of radical relationality: “I am in my Father, and you are in me. Whoever has my commandments and observes them is the one who loves me. And whoever loves me will be loved by my Father,and I will love him and reveal myself to him." We are reminded that we are in radical relationship with God in Christ through the Spirit; we are embedded in the Trinity, for we have been born from above.

Still like those early Christians we too may experience the tension of a world not yet fully transformed, a situation that is ‘already’ and ‘not yet.’ And we monks have Saint Benedict to exhort us, “Your way of acting should be different from the world's way; the love of Christ must come before all else.” Benedict reminds us where we belong, better still to whom we belong. It is our love of Christ, but first of all His love for us that has changed everything.

Indeed only such love can reorient us. And so we live with eager longing for the in-breaking of love; transformative moments, when we can see that in Christ we are “out of this world”- out of the system that puts aggression and success first, the world of political discourse where one-upmanship takes hold, a world where ease and accomplishment grant status and prestige. We belong somewhere else; we have been called into a new order, a new cosmos named the kingdom- where Christ’s power over us is shown best in our weakness, where compassion overcomes fear, where the truth of Jesus’ suffering and death and resurrection redefine any earthly notion of success. We are poised to notice glimpses of this new world.  
Photo by Brother Brian.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Free

We once heard the story of the little boy from Italy who comes to America with his father; they are going to live with relatives in New York. They are poor; the father has scraped together just enough to buy two tickets for passage on an ocean liner. And with the bit of money that’s left he has bought a wheel of cheese and a few loaves of bread. This will be their food for the entire trip. Then one day the little boy, precocious as he is, wanders all over the ship and discovers the grand dining room. Plates full of food, so many people. And he spots a family from his village. He goes to them and learns the amazing truth. Then he races back to his teeny cabin. “Papa,” he says. “We can eat as much as we want; it’s free, e gratuito. It comes with the ticket.”

God wants to regale us. "God is to be enjoyed," says St. Augustine. A banquet is prepared for us; he is the banquet. Maybe too often we lower our heads and come to him with bowls that are much too small. Maybe we don’t want to risk being disappointed. But Jesus wants to fill us up with himself. Fill us with an infinity of compassion and mercy. We need to think big, bring a bigger bowl. Perhaps this is what Isaiah is trying to tell us: 

Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name: you are mine. When you pass through waters, I will be with you; through rivers, you shall not be swept away. When you walk through fire, you shall not be burned, nor will flames consume you. For I, the Lord, am your God, the Holy One of Israel, your savior. I give Egypt as ransom for you, Ethiopia and Seba in exchange for you. Because you are precious in my eyes and honored, and I love you, I give people in return for you and nations in exchange for your life. Isaiah 43
Photographs of  the Abbey in spring by Brother Brian.

Friday, May 19, 2017

To Bear Fruit

Jesus said to his disciples:
"This is my commandment: love one another 
as I love you. No one has greater love than this, to lay down one's life for one's friends.

I see you dying on the cross, your heart gashed open. I sense myself at the foot of the cross, self-absorbed, trapped in my selfishness.

You are my friends if you do what I command you.


All I have to do is to love, be compassionate this day -to myself, to others. It is all you ask, a small thing. I can manage with your kind grace.

I no longer call you slaves,
because a slave does not know what his master is doing.


You never coerce but invite me to love as you love.

I have called you friends,
because I have told you everything I have heard from my Father.


Though I feel unworthy to be called friend, I sense in the depth of my heart that this intimacy with you is my destiny, my truest vocation- to be love at the heart of your Church.

It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you


I am consoled to know that you have chosen me. I rejoice despite my foolishness and unworthiness.

and appointed you to go and bear fruit that will remain
so that whatever you ask the Father in my name he may give you.

If I can manage a small call for your help; it is you who will accomplish in me, through me, all that you invite me to do.

This I command you: love one another.


Indeed, O Lord, your yoke is easy, your burden is light. You bear everything with me. You do all through me. I want to be more and more available to do what I can through your power at work in my weakness and poverty.

Photograph by Brother Brian. Today's Gospel from John 15 with a meditation composed by one of the monks.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Remain

Remain in me, as I remain in you.
Just as a branch cannot bear fruit on its own
unless it remains on the vine,
so neither can you unless you remain in me.
I am the vine, you are the branches.
Whoever remains in me and I in him will bear much fruit,
because without me you can do nothing.
 John 15


Jesus remains in us, like a vine which gives life to the branches.  He is awaiting our call, sending His Spirit, calling on His Father on our behalf. Jesus remains in us, going before us, accompanying us on the way,  preparing a place where He can bring us to Himself.

Jesus remains in us through the community of the Trinity. The Father plants His Son in us as a luxuriant vine and grafts us in as His branches. As a vine turns to the sun, we share in the Son’s constant turning to the Father. As the Spirit is the Gift breathed forth by the Father and the Son, so it becomes our life, keeping the branches alive.

Jesus remains in us as truth. He calls us forth to encounter this truth, especially through the witness of our conscience. Our conscience helps us to recognize what the Father must prune away. Through it we recognize the truth about ourselves. This truth does not lead to us despair, even when our hearts condemn us, because Jesus is both truth and mercy. His forgiveness is “greater than our hearts.” Jesus remains in us, actively seeking our good.

Photograph by Brother Brian. Meditation by Father Vincent. 

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Awake

It is now time for you to wake from sleep; it is far on in the night; 
the day is near.
Keep awake, that the morning light may rise upon you, that is Christ, who will reveal himself as sure as the dawn.
Christ will enable those who keep watch for him to experience 
once more the mystery of his resurrection in the morning.

Then indeed you will sing with a  joyful heart: The Lord is God; he has bestowed his light upon us. This is the day which the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.
Photograph by Brother Brian. Lines from Blessed Guerric of Igny.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Sentinels of the Dawn

On Saturday the one hundredth anniversary of the apparition of Our Lady at Fatima, Pope Francis canonized Francisco Marto and his sister Jacinta, two of the visionaries of Fatima. At the conclusion of his homily at the canonization, the Holy Father said, “With Mary's protection, may we be for our world sentinels of the dawn, contemplating the true face of Jesus the Savior, resplendent at Easter. Thus may we rediscover the young and beautiful face of the Church, which shines forth when she is missionary, welcoming, free, faithful, poor in means and rich in love.”

Gazing upon the resplendent face of Jesus, who is for us "the way and the truth and the life," may we be "sentinels of the dawn" who help the world to rediscover the beauty of His Church.

Photograph by Brother Brian. 

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Good News

This morning's Gospel is taken from the fourteenth chapter of Saint John, the setting is the Last Supper.  Jesus tells his disciples that he will be betrayed and go to his father's house to prepare a dwelling place for them.  Then he tells them that they know the way to where he is going.  Thomas objects, “Master, we do not know where your are going; how can we know the way?” The answer that Jesus gives is considered by eminent Catholic biblical  scholars as as the highpoint of Johannine theology. “Jesus said to Thomas, 'I am the way and the truth and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through me.”  For us who are the followers of Jesus Christ, this is indeed good news, but for the devotees of other faiths these words can seem arrogant and disrespectful of their religious experience. 

But Jesus is for us “the way, the truth and the life." When you love someone who loves you, you cannot help sharing this news with the people whom you encounter, especially when that love uplifts you and transforms your life. Thus the bottom line, according to Pope Saint John Paul is that, even as we respect other faiths, we as Church “offer mankind the Gospel, that prophetic message which responds to the needs and aspirations of the human heart and always remains Good News. The Church cannot fail to proclaim that Jesus came to reveal the face of  God and to merit salvation for all humanity by his cross and resurrection.”

“I am the way, the truth and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through me.”  We can think of this Good News as pointing to our going to our Father in heaven at the end of our lives. The words of Jesus today about going to prepare a dwelling place for us in his Father's house reinforce that notion of the other-worldliness of this statement.  Yet once the first disciples of Jesus hear about him from John the Baptist, they go to Jesus who asks them “What are you looking for?” They answer, “Rabbi, where do you dwell?” Jesus replies, “Come and see.” To be real disciples of Jesus we must dwell with him and live in him for he is our lifenot just the truth of our message. 

Photograph by Brother Brian. Excerpts from Father Luke's Sunday Homily.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Christ Jesus Calls us Out of Darkness into His Own Marvelous Light

A portfolio of recent spring photographs of the Abbey by Brother Brian.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Eucharist

On the night he was betrayed our Lord Jesus Christ took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to his disciples and said: “Take, eat: this is my body.” He took the cup, gave thanks and said: “Take, drink: this is my blood.” Since Christ himself has declared the bread to be his body, who can have any further doubt? Since he himself has said quite categorically, This is my blood, who would dare to question it and say that it is not his blood?

Therefore, it is with complete assurance that we receive the bread and wine as the body and blood of Christ. His body is given to us under the symbol of bread, and his blood is given to us under the symbol of wine, in order to make us by receiving them one body and blood with him. Having his body and blood in our members, we become bearers of Christ and sharers, as Saint Peter says, in the divine nature.

Do not, then, regard the Eucharistic elements as ordinary bread and wine: they are in fact the body and blood of the Lord, as he himself has declared. Whatever your senses may tell you, be strong in faith.

You have been taught and you are firmly convinced that what looks and tastes like bread and wine is not bread and wine but the body and the blood of Christ. You know also how David referred to this long ago when he sang: Bread gives strength to man’s heart and makes his face shine with the oil of gladness. Strengthen your heart, then, by receiving this bread as spiritual bread, and bring joy to the face of your soul.

May purity of conscience remove the veil from the face of your soul so that be contemplating the glory of the Lord, as in a mirror, you may be transformed from glory to glory in Christ Jesus our Lord. To him be glory for ever and ever. Amen

Photograph by Brother Brian. Lines from Saint Cyril of Jerusalem.