Friday, December 30, 2011
Saturday, December 24, 2011
Thursday, December 22, 2011
photograph of stone Madonna by Brother Jonah
Sunday, December 18, 2011
The Lord’s approach is so often unremarkable, so quiet that we need to keep watch, that is the essence of our life as monks. For we are always learning God's way of doing things, how he moves in silence and obscurity. Hidden first of all in the warm womb of a very young, virgin mother; he then lives a hidden small town life as a carpenter and wandering preacher. Then in the excruciating hour of his death on the cross, all his beauty and divinity will be obscured by the blood and spittle of his passion. And even after his resurrection he will sneak in quietly through locked doors and whisper to his disciples, “Peace.”The Lord is disguising himself in our ordinariness over and over, hidden in mystery. But rest assured it is our love and desire that give us clear vision. Love is knowledge and assurance, because if we want to be with him, see him; he wants it more than we do.
Truly God in Christ is hidden and yet revealing himself over and over, doing anything at all to get our attention; “playing in ten thousand places,” in nature and grace all day long. We must keep watch, willing to be surprised at every corner of the cloister, as St. Bernard would say, because angels will be there reminding us, as one did our Blessed Lady, that Someone is here. Someone is coming. Someone wants to take our flesh. Someone we love has seen our sad predicament and is coming down to be with us now.
Monday, December 12, 2011
Do listen, do be assured of it, my littlest one, that nothing at all should alarm you, should trouble you, nor in any way disturb your countenance, your heart. For am I not here, I, your mother? Are you not in the cool of my shadow? In the breeziness of my shade? Is it not I that am your source of contentment? Are you not cradled in my mantle, cuddled in the crossing of my arms? Is there anything else you need?
Thursday, December 8, 2011
A garden enclosed is my sister, my bride; a garden enclosed, a fountain sealed up. Song of Songs 4
Tuesday, December 6, 2011
No one can celebrate a genuine Christmas without being truly poor. The self-sufficient, the proud, those who, because they have everything, look down on others, those who have no need even of God — for them there will be no Christmas. Only the poor, the hungry, those who need someone to come on their behalf, will have that someone. That someone is God, Emmanuel, God-with-us. Without poverty of spirit there can be no abundance of God.
Artwork by Elisabeth Jvanovsky
Saturday, December 3, 2011
Wednesday, November 30, 2011
Saturday, November 26, 2011
Wednesday, November 23, 2011
Saturday, November 19, 2011
Jesus always speaks of and embodies a different kind of power- that of service, self-forgetfulness and honesty, a strength that comes from deep trust in His Father. Jesus invites us into this same place of deep trust and freedom. His dominion has nothing to do with pushing others out of the way so that he can be number one and have control. He enters Jerusalem meek, riding on an ass. And He will receive the only crown we could manage to offer him- one woven out of cruel thorns. And so we may call Him king, if we understand that He has turned the whole idea of power and majesty absolutely upside-down, inside-out, for His power is made perfect in littleness and weakness.
Jesus holds us in love, empowering us to go forward in courage and faith because nothing can really harm us; we belong to Him. The worse may happen, truth be told, it already has, and in Christ we are the victors, because He has made us a kingdom of priests, and kings. Baptized into the resurrected, victorious Christ we are of His royal, kingly line.
Includes some insights from James Alison. Photograph by Brother Daniel of Renaissance glass fragment in an Abbey window.
Tuesday, November 15, 2011
In a photograph taken by Brother Jonah, Brothers Terence and Philippe share a joyful moment in the sacristy just before the entrance procession on a solemn feastday.
Those who humbly choose what is folly in the eyes of the world clearly contemplate the wisdom of God himself. What could be more foolish in the eyes of the world than to abandon one's possessions... to return no wrong for the wrongs one has suffered? By virtue of this wise folly, one catches a glimpse of God's wisdom in the light of contemplation. Saint Gregory the Great
To do the Father's will was aways Jesus' desire and his delight, and so "for the sake of the joy which lay before him he endured the cross, heedless of its shame." We seek to follow Him in faith and joy and self-forgetfulness as we live an ordinary and hidden life in the solitude of the cloister.
Friday, November 11, 2011
for the original source of beauty fashioned them.
For from the greatness and the beauty of created things
their original author, by analogy, is seen.
As one poet remarked when regarding the beauty of a wildflower, "I knew the beauty of Our Lord by it."
Thursday, November 3, 2011
Saturday, October 29, 2011
Friday, October 28, 2011
from The Constitutions of the Monks
Saturday, October 22, 2011
Thursday, October 13, 2011
Above a photo of Lac Marie on the Abbey property.
Tuesday, October 11, 2011
All great architecture has its antecedents. The barn at Great Coxwell in Oxfordshire, England located on one of the Cistercian Abbey of Beaulieu’s most significant granges, is dated to the late 13th or early 14th century. It seems to have been the inspiration for Spencer’s church and chapter house. The exterior with pitched roof extending down to low side walls is certainly reminiscent. And our chapter house’s open timbering on the interior seems to echo the interior of the Great Coxwell barn.
Friday, October 7, 2011
Tuesday, October 4, 2011
Detail of Saint Francis Of Assisi Receiving the Stigmata by Giambattista Tiepolo.
Saturday, October 1, 2011
We are always consoled by these words of Saint Thérèse of Lisieux:
If you are willing to bear in peace the trial of not being pleased with yourself, you will be offering the Lord Jesus a home in your heart. It is true you will suffer, for you will feel like a stranger in your own house. But do not fear, for the poorer you are, the more Christ will love you.
Wednesday, September 28, 2011
Friday, September 23, 2011
They discuss there the salvation of their own souls and of those committed to them. They take measures regarding the observance of the Holy Rule and of the Order where there is something that needs to be corrected or added. They foster anew among themselves the benefit of peace and charity. They devote themselves to maintaining the patrimony of the Order and safeguarding and increasing its unity.
When Father Abbot returns the one-page reports that each community of Order prepared for the Chapter decribing their monastery will be read to us during the noon meal.
Wednesday, September 21, 2011
Friday, September 16, 2011
Christ Crowned with Thorns and the Mourning Virgin (Ecce Homo), detail
Adriaen Isenbrant, Netherlandish, active by 1510, died 1551
Oil on canvas, transferred from wood
41 1/2 x 36 1/2 in., ca. 1530-40
The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Used with permission
Monday, September 12, 2011
Sunday, September 11, 2011
As we remember the tragedy of September 11, 2001, the readings at today's Eucharist remind us that Jesus calls us to keep on forgiving as we have been forgiven. But we may feel that our hearts are too small, the hurt too big, the horror, the sadness all too much, almost incomprehensible. Forgiving may seem impossible one time let alone the zillions of times Jesus asks of us.
Perhaps our helplessness is the key. We are right; we simply cannot do it on our own. Forgiving seventy times seven times is impossible for us on our own. The invitation is to realize over and over again how powerless we are without Christ Jesus our Lord. We must depend on him. Our hearts are too small, we need his heart, the heart of God. Then the little we bring will become a banquet of forgiveness. Poverty joined to deep faith brings abundance. Mary experienced it, Jesus knew it on the cross. That’s how things work in the Kingdom. Jesus uses what we bring, meager as it is, to make the Kingdom happen; nothing is too little for him to use. He has forgiven and freed me. Finding the treasure means I do as Jesus does, or I try to. I go to him; I hide in him, in his heart.
Forgiving does not mean that nothing has happened, too much has happened to each and everyone one of us. Hidden in Christ, baptized into him, we dare to believe in the possibility of forgiveness. And indeed forgiveness takes time; perhaps it does not happen all at once or once and for all. It may begin with a desire to forgive, or even a desire to desire to forgive. I let myself be forgiven, and I learn to forgive. Forgiving is a work of love that must be rehearsed, repeated, seventy times seven times.
Christ Jesus calls us into the unfathomableness of God’s love for us. Loved so much, forgiven by God so much and so often, we must go and do likewise, consoling with the same consolation we have received, forgiving as best we can or at least beginning to. Forgiveness, even the longing to forgive makes a future of freedom and hope and love possible.
Peace to all men of evil will! Let there be an end to all revenge, to all demands for punishment and retribution. There are already too many martyrs...Lay not their sufferings to the torturers’ charge to exact a terrible reckoning from them, Lord. Instead put down in favor of all men of evil will the courage, humility, dignity, love and spiritual strength of the others. Let it be laid before Thee for the forgiveness of sins. And may we remain in your enemies’ memories not as their victims; not as haunting specters but as helpers...there is nothing more we want for them.
From a note scrawled on a piece of worn paper and tucked between the cracks in two old boards, found in a shed in the concentration camp at Buchenwald.
Saturday, September 3, 2011
Wednesday, August 31, 2011
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.
Saturday, August 27, 2011
The spiritual character of the community is especially evident in the celebration of the liturgy. The liturgy strengthens and increases both the inner sense of the monastic vocation and communion among the brothers. Each day in the liturgy God's Word is heard. A sacrifice of praise is offered to God the Father, there is a sharing in the mystery of Christ and the Holy Spirit's work of sanctification is accomplished. The changing seasons of the liturgical year have great power to nourish and enrich the contemplative life of the brothers.