Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Early Advent Days

In the unseasonable warmth and brightness of these early Advent days, we are reminded of Him for whom we wait- the Dawn from on High, Jesus, the Sun of Justice.

This photograph of the Abbey lavabo tower by Brother Casimir.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Come, Lord Jesus

Tonight at First Vespers in the fading light of eventide, we will begin our Advent watch. In these darkest days of the year, the shortest days, we will light the first Advent candle and recall the Lord's endless desire to come to us. We will recall our desperate need for Him, our only Hope and Deepest Desire. And so we will try to make more room for Christ in these Advent days, a place in our hearts, in our community where Hope can grow and flourish, as He did in the secret darkness of Mary's womb.

Overshadow us, come down O Love divine, and invade our space, fill our lonely hearts with your more than imaginable benignness and tenderness and compassion. Fill us with yourself; for left to ourselves, we may believe our hearts too small, too lonely, too afraid and forgotten to be able to hold you.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Giving Thanks

Focusing on gratitude we lifts our hearts this day. Amazed like Mary at the marvels the Lord has done for us- in little ways, in great ways, through joys and difficulties- we are filled with wonder. As Fr. Abbot reminded us in his homily this morning, there is no entitlement. All is gift- God's gracious desire to care for us with "love beyond all telling." The Lord is always, always with us, accompanying us as we accompany one another on the pathways of the Kingdom. Our wonder at God's gifts fills us with gratitude. Wonder and gratitude move us into deeper contemplative love.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Christ as King

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.

Someone very gentle and loving is trying to lead us forward in hope; Someone who leads by falling down, being spat upon, shoved and tortured. Not to teach us how to be doormats; that is not what His kingdom is about. It is about refusing to fight evil with evil, about absorbing hurt because of hope and trust in One who is at our side, even within us; and witnessing to the reality that pain and fear and suffering are powerless to define who we truly are. They are simply not our destiny. We belong to Christ Jesus our Master, our King.

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

Passing beauty

A few stray blossoms remain on tattered plants in our gardens. We notice their fragility and passing beauty. This morning the words of the author of the Book of Wisdom in the First Reading at Mass reminded us to leap ahead from beauty to Beauty: far more excellent is the Lord than these;
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

Holy Souls

The month of November is dedicated to special prayer for the faithful departed. On All Souls Day we processed through the cloisters in the predawn darkness. We paused in the south cloister chanting psalms as the Abbot and his assistants went into the cemetery to sprinkle the graves of our deceased brethren with holy water. The Abbot reminded us as we began the Liturgy that we pray for the dead because we "need to." For the departed "life is changed, not ended;" they have have entered the great mystery of Christ's resurrection. As we beg the Lord in prayer to draw all the faithful departed to himself, we remember our love for them and our connectedness with all those who have gone before us in faith.