Tuesday, July 17, 2018

To Appreciate

Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida!
For if the mighty deeds done in your midst
had been done in Tyre and Sidon,
they would long ago have repented in sackcloth and ashes. Matthew 11


Some years a go a visiting scholar remarked in a presentation to us that not being appreciated was one of the most painful experiences for anyone living in community. As we hear Jesus' words in today's Gospel, we can detect his real sadness and disappointment.  What are the wonderful deeds the Lord Jesus has worked on our behalf that we have failed to appreciate with fitting gratitude?

Photograph of a field behind an old Abbey barn by Father Emmanuel.

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Abandonment

He instructed them to take nothing for the journey but a walking stick—no food, no sack, no money in their belts. Mark 6

In this morning's Gospel Jesus instructs his Apostles to go forth trusting only that their heavenly Father will supply their needs along the way. We were reminded of these words said to be written by the 18th century French Jesuit, Jean-Pierre de Caussade:

To escape the distress caused by regret for the past or fear about the future, this is the rule to follow: leave the past to the infinite mercy of God, the future to His good Providence, give the present wholly to His love by being faithful to His grace… In the state of abandonment the only rule is the duty of the present moment. In this the soul is light as a feather, liquid as water, simple as a child, active as a ball in receiving and following all the inspirations of grace… In a word, their disposition resembles the atmosphere, which is affected by every breeze; or water, which flows into any shaped vessel exactly filling every crevice. They are before God like a perfectly woven fabric with a clear surface; and neither think, nor seek to know what God will be pleased to trace thereon, because they have confidence in Him, they abandon themselves to Him, and, entirely absorbed by their duty, they think not of themselves, nor of what may be necessary for them, nor of how to obtain it. 

Photograph by father Emmanuel.

Saturday, July 7, 2018

Come Away

Our annual week-long retreat begins tomorrow, a time for greater silence and focus; a time of less work and more time for quiet prayer. As we prepare for this subtle shift in our rhythm, we remember why we have come to this place; we are aware of our desire and Christ's desire somehow coinciding. We recall the words of a favorite antiphon that we sing, a paraphrase of the words of Jesus: “Come away awhile to a desert place and watch and pray with me to the Father. Listen to the Word, dwelling within the silence.” 

All week long we will try to notice the loving presence of the Lord Jesus in all things, drawing us to Himself over and over. We send our prayers to all follow this blog, to all our benefactors and all our friends. 

Photograph by Father Emmanuel.

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Independence Day

The freedom we are invited to by Jesus goes far beyond what even our good Christian founding forebears envisioned in the Declaration of Independence. It’s so much more than just life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Remembering Jesus is never about simply protecting our rights or privileges, never about our entitlement or only about fairness but always about trying little by little to make the graceful choice for self-forgetfulness and compassion and giving a little more with joy. No document can make you do that, but a relationship with Christ Jesus just might.

In our pain, in our prosperity we are invited to remember him, remember to whom we belong and graciously allow this remembering to change us, inform our choices, so that we too can love and forgive our enemies as he did; we too can be lavish in our generosity without any worries of running short. We may doubt, wonder how, hang back, but Jesus shows us that our hearts are big enough. Our love can be perfect and complete because we belong to him, the wounded and risen Lord Jesus, who empowers us to be lovingly vulnerable with him, in him. 

Then the kingdom happens, Christ Jesus working through us, teaching us to overthrow the powers of this world through our subversive acts of kindness, of forgiveness and compassion, through our sufferings born in peace, through our stuttered, halting prayers. We must believe that what we do matters, not because we’re better or holier but because it is our duty, our privilege as beloved ones to do no less. Our allegiance belongs to Christ Jesus our Lord. He can only work in and through us. And so we absolutely refuse ever to yield to cynicism, but ever cling to his memory.

Possessed by Jesus, inflamed with his desire for our world, we can be perfect lovers like God. We must believe it. Or else frightened and angry we may be tempted to batten down the hatches, shut down the borders of our generosity, of our hospitality and become stingy with our compassion and our forgiveness. No. We are called to do more and be more – freely invited to act in freedom - to relieve and console and welcome. 
Photograph by Father Emmanuel.

Sunday, July 1, 2018

Faith

Again in this morning's Gospel, we are struck by the exquisite, inexhaustible, irrepressible compassion of Jesus. His heart is moved by what we suffer. 

And as Jesus reminds the once-hemorrhaging woman that it is her faith that has made her well, he is not being shy or diffident. He is speaking the truth.

Faith is everything. Faith allows God to be God for us. Faith is abandonment to Christ Jesus and confidence in his incessant compassion for us. It is such faith that allows Jesus to act on our behalf and opens us to his healing presence.

Photograph by Father Emmanuel.