Friday, July 31, 2020

Ignatius

Saint Ignatius Loyola reminds spiritual directors that the "Lord wants to deal directly with his creature," meaning that the director must never intrude upon the Lord's relationship with each person.  Ignatius was so certain of the Lord's deep love for each one of us that at the conclusion of his Spiritual Exercises in an ecstatic turn of phrase he invites the retreatant to ponder: quanto el Señor desea dárseme - how much the Lord desires to give himself to me.

Given this endless loving desire of our God and Lord for each of us, our only work then is to be ceaselessly available to him. He only asks us to crack the door open. If we give him even just a little opening, he will enter and love and transform our hearts, our very selves.

Saint Ignatius of Loyola, Peter Paul Rubens, c. 1620-22, Norton Simon Art Foundation.

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Martha, Mary and Lazarus

Today we celebrate a memorial unique to the Cistercian calendar, that of Saints Martha, Mary and Lazarus, Hosts of the Lord

Our Father, Saint Bernard, compares the monastic community to a family, much like the one Jesus so often visited at Bethany. In the monastic community we find Lazarus, the penitent; Martha, the active servant and Mary, the contemplative. All three are necessary to make the monastery what it ought to be. For Saint Bernard true monastic perfection consists in "the union of all three vocations: that of the penitent, the active worker and the contemplative." Thomas Merton agreed that while the contemplative life was to be preferred to the active life, the "most perfect souls" would combine the vocations of Lazarus, Martha and Mary. 

Inside or outside a monastery the one who serves can only do so after having listened to and meditated upon the words of Jesus. The "one thing necessary" is the spiritual nourishment that we receive when we sit like Mary at the feet of Jesus. The Lord wants us to choose the better part. And when we do, it shall not be taken from us.

The Candidate's Cottage at the Abbey.  Reflections adapted from a homily by Father Emmanuel.

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Blessed Stanley

We rejoice this day as celebrate the American martyr for the faith, Blessed Stanley Rother. An Oklahoma priest he became a missionary in Santiago Atitlan, Guatemala, where he served the native tribe of the Tz’utujil. Father Rother was surrounded by extreme poverty of the Tz’utujil and ministered to them tirelessly.

During his time in Guatemala, a civil war raged between government forces and guerrillas. Despite great pressures the Church continued to catechize and educate the people. Thousands of Catholics were killed. And when Father Rother’s name appeared on a death list, he briefly returned to the States. But he was so dedicated to his people that he soon returned to Guatemala insisting, “the shepherd cannot run.”

A few months later three men entered his rectory around 1 a.m. on July 28, 1981, fought with Father Rother and then executed him. The people of Santiago Atitlan mourned the loss of their leader and friend and requested that Father Rother’s heart be kept in Guatemala where it remains enshrined today.


As monks we want our lives of hidden prayer and work to be filled with ardor and devotion like Blessed Stanley's.

Biography adapted from the website of the Diocese of Oklahoma City.

Sunday, July 26, 2020

Treasure & Pearl

Today’s Gospel of hidden treasure and of matchless pearl emphasizes the great value of what is discovered and the single-hearted response that this discovery calls forth. The struggle, the great cost to the discoverer is totally eclipsed by the unsurpassing treasure that is found, a treasure that is worth everything.*Like the wise scribe Jesus mentions at the end of today’s Gospel, we must let go of whatever impedes or is no longer useful as we seek God’s reign. Finding the treasure and selling all to acquire it demand, what the First Reading calls, "a wise and understanding heart,” a heart free to love, free to let go of all else because of love. We need clear vision, vision of simplicity even humility.

Make no mistake, the letting go is never easy. But He our pearl, our one treasure is worth all we can risk and surrender. For He is the one who proclaims and enfleshes God’s forgiveness. He has forgiven and freed me. Finding the treasure and selling all means I do as Jesus does, or I try to.

And then this most beautiful secret: Jesus Himself gives us Himself; God’s own Self, into our hands and hearts in the Eucharist. We come to know as we are known, and we can love as we are loved. For Love in flesh has gazed upon us in love. Love has descended into the darkness of our flesh- first into the dark mystery of Mary’s virginity, and this morning dropping, digging into the dark warmth of our mouths and throats and hearts, there to be dissolved in love into our very selves. In this great mystery of His outpouring, His lavish self-gift, He finds Himself to be most Himself when giving Himself away, finding in our humanity, in our flesh his treasure.


See Sacra Pagina: Matthew. Photograph by Brother Brian.


Thursday, July 23, 2020

Abbot Vincent

This morning after prayerful discernment,  the community elected Father Vincent Rogers as our new abbot. He succeeds Father Damian who has been abbot for twenty-four years. Father Vincent is a monk of prayer and silence and great generosity. Having served for many years as director of The Holy Rood Guild before attending seminary, Vincent is completing ten years as abbey cellarer, the monk in charge of all the temporalities of the monastery. Thus he brings many organizational skills to his new work as superior of our community. Like the early monks of the Cistercian Order, we can describe Father Vincent as "a lover of the brethren and the place." We rejoice. Please join us in praying for Father Vincent as he commences this new ministry as abbot of Saint Joseph's Abbey.
Top Photograph by Father Emmanuel.

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Feast of Saint Mary Magdalen

We rejoice today on this new feast of Saint Mary Magdalen, first witness to the Resurrection, apostle to the apostles, truly an evangelist who announces the joyful message of Easter to the apostles, indeed to the whole world. 

We love Mary Magdalen because of the way in which the boldness of her love for Jesus made her stare death down beyond all human logic or hope.  For her there is no question that the Messiah of Israel, sent to redeem all humankind, and the Beloved of her most intimate heart are one and the same person. She perseveres in weeping at the entrance to the tomb because she perseveres in her love: the presence and actions of Jesus in her own life had taught her that love is indeed stronger than death. Against all odds and logic, in a sort of sublime madness, she clings to her Jesus dead or alive; and she does not reason about a her relative physical strength when she says ironically to the man she thought was the gardener, “Tell me where you laid him, and I will take him away.” Because she loves Jesus so much, she is prepared to carry his body away single-handed.

Such passionate intensity surely was born from her gratitude at having had no less than seven demons driven out of her by Jesus. As one transformed by the healing power of Jesus’ love, she becomes “the apostle to the Apostles,” since more than any of them she can easily believe in Christ’s Resurrection. For all time St. Mary Magdalen stands as the foremost embodiment of the soul thirsting for God, the soul passionately seeking God.  And in the end she does find him. “He whom her heart loves” is also the Beloved of the Father who had first come seeking her. Mary could find him because he first chose, in utter love, to put himself within her reach.
Fresco from the Arena Chapel in Padua by Giotto. Reflection by Father Simeon.

Sunday, July 19, 2020

Weeds and Wheat


Today’s Gospel presents us with the question of the relationship of the “wheat”, the “children of the kingdom” and the “weeds”, the “children of the evil one”. The slaves of the householder propose to him what appears to them the obvious solution: pull up the weeds. Concerned that they might pull up the wheat as well, he says to let them grow together until the harvest. If this is the case, the question is how this co-presence of wheat and weeds is to be lived out; specifically, by us as monks?

The slaves of the householder know enough to recognize the difference between good seed and bad seed, wheat and weeds, but they do not know the householder’s mind. Reflecting on the word ‘slave’, I thought I might revisit St. Bernard’s distinction between the slave, the hireling and son and see where it might lead. Bernard originally treated this in his Letter on Charity to the Holy Brethren of Chartreuse, which he later appended to his treatise On Loving God. The love of a slave only gets so far as to recognize that the Lord is powerful. He relates to him out of fear for himself. 

I apply this to the present context of today’s Gospel in this way. The slave relates to the householder in terms of the logic of power and self-interest. Therefore, his process of discerning the will of the householder would follow the same logic. We can imagine it going something like this: “It would surely be in the best, that is self, interest of the householder to use his authority and power to yank up the weeds and so be rid of them.” In Bernard’s scheme, the perspective of the hireling is somewhat better because he recognizes that the householder is good, but only that he is good to him. Therefore, he also is unable to move beyond the realm of self-interest to the good of the other. It is likely then, that he too would suppose that the will of the householder would be to pull up the weeds. In Bernard’s view, only the Son, who honors the Father, understands that the Father acts in charity and models his own life as son according the law of charity. “Charity is found only in the son”, says Bernard. “Charity does not seek its own advantage.” “Charity is unspotted” because “it keeps nothing of its own for itself.” “The unspotted law of the Lord is that love does not seek what is useful to itself, but what is good for the many.” “Pure and sincere charity” (1 Tim 1:5). “makes us care for our neighbors good as much as for our own.” (On Loving God, XII.34-35)

The weed is and remains, a unique, singular, unrepeatable, incommunicable form made in the image of God; a status, Bernard insists, no human being can ever lose, and, therefore, worthy of love. A being, who by the very fact of its existence is good, and, therefore, as such, makes a claim on all who encounter him, a demand to be loved. This is not a matter of exerting one’s rights, but a simple matter of existing. The capacity of the slave and the hireling to respond to this summons to love is severely diminished because self-interest distorts their vision. Only the son has the freedom from self-interest to begin to see his brother in the light of God.

The slave, the hireling and the son have their correspondence in Bernard’s four degrees of love, which we can’t explore that this morning. Instead, I’d like to focus on the fourth degree. As a reminder, the four are (1) man loves himself for his own sake, (2) man loves God for his own benefit, (3) man loves God for God’s sake, and (4) man loves himself for God’s sake.  

In the fourth degree, man receives back his initial love for himself, which he possessed in the first degree, but transformed. He now loves himself for the sake of God. This, Bernard says, is a place of peace, in which “the mind inebriated with divine love, forgets itself, hastens toward God and clinging to him, becomes one with him in spirit.” This experience is rare, but “blessed and holy [is that man] to whom it is given to experience something of this sort, even if it be but once and for the space of a moment.” “To lose yourself, as if you no longer existed, to cease completely to experience yourself, to reduce yourself to nothing is not a human sentiment but a divine experience.” “To go through such an experience is deifying”, says Bernard.

It is only in the resurrection, that is, “in a spiritual and immortal body, calm and pleasant, subject to the spirit in everything, that the soul hopes to attain the fourth degree of love, or rather be possessed by it.” Souls that have been reunited with the body in the resurrection, have received a “second garment” and “are that much more freely and willingly borne towards God’s love because nothing at all remains to solicit them or hold them.” The soul, “taking leave of itself and passing into God entirely… becoming more and more like God”, drinks of “wisdom’s pure wine”.  This condition of self-forgetful love in which the body is wholly at the service of the soul in charity is what Bernard calls “intoxication”. This is what the fullness of charity looks like. In the rare moments of experience of the fourth degree we get some sense of this intoxication. This experience is of great importance because we carry it in our memory back into our everyday lives. The soul and body are granted a foretaste of how they are to relate to one another without the burden of sin. (On Loving God, X.27-XI.33)

But there is also a being drunk with the wine of charity that Bernard refers to as a way of being, relating and serving in the monastery, which he develops in Sermon 23 on the Song of Songs. Commenting on the verse “The King has taken me into his rooms” (Sg 1:3) Bernard speaks of admission to the wine room by the King as the result of an arduous process of conversion, which follows the process of monastic formation.  First one must enter the room of discipline, in which “Our primary task is to tame [our] willfulness of character by submission to discipline, where the stubborn will, worn down by the hard and prolonged schooling of experienced mentors is humbled and healed.” In so far as we undergo this, we “learn to live peaceably and sociably with others, no longer out of fear of discipline but by the impulse of love.” From the room of discipline we pass into what he calls the room of nature, “For when morals are disciplined there comes…the good of nature. Such a man becomes pleasant and temperate, a man without a grudge, who neither swindles nor attacks nor offends another; who never exalts himself nor promotes himself at their expense, but offers his services as generously as he accepts theirs.”

Last, there is the “wine room”. In this room is found “the wine of an earnest zeal for the works of charity (caritas).” Of this room Bernard says, “One who has not been admitted to this room should never take charge of others”. “This wine should be the inspiring influence in the lives of those who bear authority, such as we find in the Teacher of the Nations, when he said: “Who is weak and I am not weak? Who is made to fall and I am not indignant? In the wine room “grace is especially found in its fullness. For ‘love is the fullness of the law’ (Rom 13:10) and if your love your brother you have fulfilled the law.” (Rom 13:8)

“Those who exercise authority for the welfare of others are comparatively few and fewer still those whose power rests in humility. These both are achieved easily by the man of perfect discretion, the mother of the virtues, the man who is drunk with the wine of charity even to contempt for his own good name, to forgetfulness of self and indifference to self-interest. This is the unique and exquisite lesson of the Holy Spirit infused in the wine room.” (SC 23.III.5-8)

In prayer and the life of conversion one is prepared for admission to the wine room, which is granted only by invitation of the king, where we may have a foretaste of the resurrected life in the fullness of joy and blessedness. Such an experience is not only to be had in rare moments of prayer and lectio but also in acts of service infused by the Spirit, marked by self-forgetfulness and indifference to self-interest. Here, too, in service, one may know the peace in which “the mind inebriated with divine love, forgets itself, hastens toward God and clinging to him, becomes one with him in spirit.” Such a one is well beyond the love of the slave for the householder. And the wheat, the children of God, who walk along this path of charity, bear fruit when they are infused with the joy of this divine life and radiate it to their neighbors. Only the Holy Spirit can touch the soul of those who have closed themselves off to him, but in this way the children of God can become his servants, mediators of his love. In this hope let us now go to meet him in this Eucharist.

Photograph by Brother Brian. This Sunday's homily by Father Timothy.

Thursday, July 16, 2020

Becoming

Some years ago, we heard the story of a parish conducted by an active religious order. In the community there was one priest who was the bane of the brethren, judged by all (but especially the younger men) as lazy and inefficient, always disheveled; clearly an embarrassment to the apostolate of this eminent order. He slept in late and could only manage to preside each day at the noon Mass, then have lunch and go back to his room. They never saw much of him. And soon they never saw him at all. He didn’t show up for his Mass one day; and the superior found him dead in his cluttered, stuffy room. After he died the doctor informed the superior of the rare incapacitating disease this priest had endured for years, the bone-numbing fatigue that was part of it. The superior recounted the priest’s daily routine - the one Mass, the drowsy lunch, the laziness. “Oh no, not laziness, Father,” the doctor assured him. “The little he was able to do was truly heroic.”

Maybe we come to understand. So much has happened. So many stories, the stories that we are, that we carry within, stories that have formed and sometimes deformed and burden us still; so many triumphs and sorrows that have marked us. Only Jesus sees and really understands the little we have to live on, and what we live with. And he invites again this morning, "Come to me all you who are heavy burdened." He always notices. And slowly but surely, we are invited to begin doing likewise.

 We are reminded today that it’s always about compassion. The Gospel reveals to us a Jesus who notices when we are able to give without counting the cost. Even now, our generosity, the little things we do no matter how unremarkable give him pleasure. Please believe it. His promise to us is that when we are generous, we will have more than enough to get by. We can afford it.

Our task is to keep noticing with the compassionate merciful eyes of Christ, to have his compassionate mind in us, and so to get on our way to becoming compassion for one another. It’s hard work, but it’s worth it. Jesus invites us to become more and more the compassion that he is.

Photograph by Brother Brian.

Wednesday, July 15, 2020

Wise

At that time Jesus exclaimed:
“I give praise to you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth,
for although you have hidden these things
from the wise and the learned
you have revealed them to the childlike.  Matthew 11


How blessed are those who know their need for God. These are the childlike, wise enough to realize that all that they are and all that they have comes from their Father in heaven. Such is the great wisdom of Saint Bonaventure whom we remember today.

In all your deeds and words you should look upon this Jesus as your model. Do so whether you area walking or keeping silence, or speaking, whether you are alone or with others.  Saint Bonaventure

Photograph by Brother Brian.

Monday, July 13, 2020

Prayer & Action

What care I for the number of your sacrifices?
says the Lord.
I have had enough of whole-burnt rams
and fat of fatlings;
In the blood of calves, lambs and goats
I find no pleasure.
When you come in to visit me,
who asks these things of you?
Trample my courts no more!
Bring no more worthless offerings;
your incense is loathsome to me.
New moon and sabbath, calling of assemblies,
octaves with wickedness: these I cannot bear.
Your new moons and festivals I detest;
they weigh me down, I tire of the load.
When you spread out your hands,
I close my eyes to you;
Though you pray the more,
I will not listen.
Your hands are full of blood!
Wash yourselves clean!
Put away your misdeeds from before my eyes;
cease doing evil; learn to do good.
Make justice your aim: redress the wronged,
hear the orphan’s plea, defend the widow.
 Is 1.10-17

Today's First Reading from the Prophet Isaiah reminds us in no uncertain terms that our worship must always be accompanied by right praxis. We must do as we pray, loving one another with special concern for the needy in our midst. 

Sunday, July 12, 2020

Falling

We know that in the Palestine of Jesus’ day, sowing involved broadcasting handfuls of seed which were later plowed under. In the exaggerated scene Jesus depicts for us this morning, it seems the sower is a bit too generous, scattering the seeds rather haphazardly. They’re going everywhere - over brambles, rocks, well-trodden pathways and hungry birds are constantly swooping overhead. The parable gives us an image of the dynamic outward movement of God, as in the beginning of creation, always moving beyond the sphere of his own self-sufficient Being into the void of nothingness. God is constantly pouring himself in abundance into what is not-God. Fr. Simeon Leiva It is this outpouring of Godself that takes flesh in Christ Jesus Our Lord. Jesus himself is the divine Sower who gives himself away to us completely, scattering his word, his very self upon us constantly. He is that Grain of Wheat falling to the earth, dying and rising for us, and bearing abundant fruit in us if we will allow him. In the condescension of his tender mercy, Jesus has come down to restore the beauty of our long-fallow garden, neglected and weedy with our sin and blindness and what Isaiah will call, our grossness of heart.

So it is that this parable becomes for us “an extension of the mystery of Jesus’ own person.” (Donald Senior) Jesus is this amazing superfluity of God’s self-gift to us; perfectly expressed in his signs and words, in his passion, dying and resurrection. It is he who reveals once and for all the immeasurability of God's love and compassion. In Jesus, the reign of God has arrived; the day of salvation is here and now. And this lavish gift of God in Christ begs only our openness to receive its extravagant abundance. It's all there for us, our work then is ceaseless receptivity, availability. But how exactly, we might ask.

Well, one day Abba Lot went to Abba Joseph with just such a question: “Abba, as far as I can I say my little office, I fast a little, I pray and meditate, I live in peace as far as I can, I purify my thoughts. What else can I do?” The old man stood up and stretched his hands toward heaven. His fingers became like ten lamps of fire, and he said to him, “If you will, you can become all flame.” We imagine that in the Cistercian version, if there were such a thing, Abba Joseph would bend down, smile and answer instead – “If you will, you can become all dirt.”

You can become all dirt, good rich soil – absolutely grounded in the reality of your nothingness, your need and brokenness. Become all humility as you acknowledge your sins and your weakness. Do not fear to go down to that place of bitter self-knowledge, for it is there that you will receive all that the Lord in his mercy longs to give you. Humility then, my brothers, is freedom from the burden of pretension and untruth. And though “alluring in its beauty,” such humility may be “terrifying in its demands;”Robert Barron for we need courage to be all dirt and wait there. But rest assured, he will find us; he wants nothing more than our openness.

This is our place as monks - down there where Jesus has cast himself for our sake, coming down low to share unreservedly in all that we are. How blessed then to be good rich earth, humus. Humility is then not so much discipline or virtue but the way to relationship with Christ Jesus. It is good to go down low because he is down there waiting for us. Where else would we want to be?  If God is giving himself so graciously, our only task is to stay in place and receive. “The gaze of faith keeps us in place. There we abide in love.”Iain Matthew

This is how we pray best - down there where bitter self-knowledge has left us. Our only business is continually showing up, available for the abundance he longs to lavish upon us. And if we are brave enough to notice the thorns of self-righteousness and pride, our passions raging like hungry birds or most bitter of all our rock-hard hearts gross and insensitive – it’s all good, if it brings us down low to our reality.

Such is our continuous dance of descent as monks, down, down, over and over. As Thomas Merton will remind us “we are invited to forget ourselves on purpose, cast our awful solemnity to the winds” and join in the “the endless dance of the Lord in emptiness,” this endless dance of falling and rising with Christ. For when we fall, he can raise us up, which is what he delights in doing. Our business is self-forgetfulness and perseverance in prayer, in work, in love, allowing the Lord to lead, choreograph our days.

The following lines, written by the great American dancer and choreographer Martha Graham as advice to her dancers, sound like they might be good advice for us monks as well, as we try to get the steps right. Here’s what she says: "Nobody cares if you can't dance well. Just get up and dance. Great dancers are great because of their passion…There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all of time, this expression is unique...It is not your business to determine how good it is nor how valuable nor how it compares with other expressions. It is your business to…keep yourself open and aware…[There is] no satisfaction…There is only a…divine dissatisfaction, a blessed unrest that keeps us marching and makes us…alive."

In other words, just keep falling, just keep dancing, becoming all dirt for Christ’s sake, to receive with love and deep gratitude all that he is constantly scattering over us – love and truth and boundless compassion that he is. This must be our passion, our discipline, our joy.
Photograph by Brother Brian.



Monday, July 6, 2020

Our Retreat

Jesus invites us back to a place of immense littleness, where with wonder and deep reverence, we will be one with him and so truly children of the Father. Perhaps he is even inviting us back to what we might call the anguish of littleness. Not to put us down, but because he knows the immense freedom that is hiding there beneath our frustrations and defeats and surrender. He points to a treasure hidden in that low place where we can only depend on God our Father to provide for us. He knows, because this is how he lived and died and rose. A treasure is there because God understands; God is waiting to meet us down there in a low place, welcoming our need of him.
During this week the community will be on our annual retreat. We promise our prayer for those who follow our blog. Please pray for us.
Photograph of the north road by Brother Brian.

Sunday, July 5, 2020

In the Spirit

Today we begin our annual community retreat. It is an important moment, not only as a special time to reflect on our monastic life, but also to think about our future and the transition to new leadership. So what is our situation? What is God asking of us at this time? What is the one thing necessary, or the two or three things? Thankfully, we can trust that God will give us a word that speaks to our situation today, and I think he does, if only we will listen to the Holy Spirit.

Jesus’ words in today’s Gospel are like a window into his intimate relationship with his Father. In Luke’s version Jesus “rejoiced in the Holy Spirit and said, “I give you praise, Father…such has been your gracious will…No one knows who the Father is except the Son…” One thing necessary for our vocation is to look through this window of Jesus’ praise to see this intimate and familiar exchange of glory and honor that proceeds from the Father through the Son and back again from the Son to the Father – an eternal round of glory to glory. But not only are we to gaze upon this glory, but actually to participate in it. This is where the Holy Spirit comes in. The one thing necessary is to allow the Holy Spirit to clear away what the wise and the learned find so absorbing, and receive from him a share in the mutual and unending gift of self that proceeds from the Father and the Son, which, in fact, is the Holy Spirit.

But there is a second thing that is necessary in our vocation. Zechariah points to it when he says: “Rejoice heartily, O daughter Zion, shout for joy, O daughter Jerusalem! See, your king shall come to you; a just savior is he, meek, and riding on an ass, on a colt, the foal of an ass.” The Holy Spirit is sent by the Father and the Son to continually urge “daughter Zion” and “daughter Jerusalem” – that is, the Church – to move in the direction of her meek and humble king, the one who by his death and resurrection removes all her indebtedness to the flesh. The Spirit accomplishes this movement by stirring up the friends of the Bridegroom to cry out, ‘Behold, the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!
’ Brothers, we are those friends of the Bridegroom. The Spirit wants us to cry out, not so much by words as by humility.

This is one of the mysteries of the Spirit. On the one hand, he manifests himself in overwhelming ways – think the giving of the Law on Sinai, when the Spirit enveloped the mountain in fire; or when Elijah was challenging the prophets of Baal, and the Spirit came down as a consuming fire and devoured not only the sacrifice, but the water, the wood, the stones, and even the dust! On the other hand, the Spirit manifests himself in hidden and discrete ways, or as the Catechism puts it so wonderfully, with a “properly divine self-effacement.” He does not speak on his own, but only what he hears. He comes to Elijah on Mount Horeb as a tiny whispering sound. He guides the Church into all truth, the very foundation of humility. This is a third thing necessary for us: to witness to humility in the heart of the Church.

This time of retreat is a blessing for us, a time to reflect on the things really necessary in our vocation and mission, that is, in the Spirit to participate in the self-giving love and glory of Father and Son; to abide in the heart of the Church like leaven kneaded into three measures of flour; and to follow the Spirit’s lead on the ladder of humility. Let us entrust our retreat to Our Lady of Citeaux. She is the Spirit’s exemplar of participation in the life of God. Her humility draws the Church to the gate of the Eucharist and to the gate of our beautiful monastery.
Photograph by Father Emmanuel. Today's homily by Father Vincent.

Saturday, July 4, 2020

July Fourth

On a sober note Father Emmanuel reminded us in this morning's homily that our country has still far to go in reaching the ideals expressed in our Declaration of Independence. For,  as recent events have made clear, racial prejudice still lurks in many hearts.

We pray this day that, as we chanted in our responsorial psalm, justice may flourish in our land and fullness of peace forever. We pray that we may be loving and wise, choosing for ourselves and for one another what is life-giving, life -nurturing: whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious. 

Photograph by Brother Brian.

Friday, July 3, 2020

With Saint Thomas

We are always touched by the humility of Christ's accommodation to Thomas' request. He does not chide him for his lack of faith. Instead he simply shows him his wounded hands and side. And it is amazing to notice, particularly during this time of quarantine and isolation, that Jesus invites Thomas to touch him and to inspect the holes in his body. 

Our own willingness to be vulnerable with God and with our brothers and sisters always brings about transformation.