Thursday, November 28, 2013


Thanksgiving Day is a day when we offer thanks to God for the whole of our lives. Everything. Let us never forget that God goes with us and that there is no corner of our lives that God does not inhabit with his loving presence. Let us acknowledge our too often persistent forgetfulness and lack of gratitude for God's loving presence. 

Photograph of wild turkeys on the Abbey grounds by Charles O'Connor. Reflection by Abbot Damian.

Monday, November 25, 2013


Yesterday we heard this dialog from Calvary:

"Jesus, remember me
when you come into your kingdom."
He replied to him,
"Amen, I say to you,
today you will be with me in Paradise.”

The monk's reply:

What is this Paradise, O Lord,
if not your own sacred, wounded side, your open heart?
Hide me there in the shadow of your wings,
hold me together with you in this Paradise
of your love, O Lord Jesus! 

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Christ the King

You have given all to me, now I return it. These words, at the conclusion of Saint Ignatius' prayer The Suscipe, sum up beautifully the self-offering of the Mexican martyr, Blessed Miguel Augustin Pro. With ardent love for Christ his KingMiguel renounced everything and entered the Society of Jesus. After his ordination Miguel carried on his priestly ministry in spite of the grave religious persecution of the Church in Mexico in the early 20th century. Often in disguise and continually foiling the best efforts of the Mexican secret police to arrest him, Miguel was eventually captured. On November 23, 1927 after forgiving his executioners, he was shot by a firing squad as he proclaimed, "Hail, Christ the King!" How fitting that this year Miguel's memorial fell on the eve of the Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe.

We recall that after Jesus has fed the five thousand, the gospel writer tells us, “When the people saw the sign which He had performed, they said, ‘This is truly the Prophet who is to come into the world.’ So Jesus, perceiving that they were intending to come and take Him by force to make Him king, withdrew again to the mountain by Himself alone."John 6.15 As we celebrate Christ as King, it wise and wonderful to remember this scene. For “King” may be a title we need- to remind us of the place we want Jesus to have in our lives, in our hearts. But if we are not clear about who Jesus really is, He may elude us and withdraw. King is a dangerous title- all about domination and power. And it is simply not a title Jesus chooses for himself. His life, His passion and death are all about self-offering, self-forgetfulness and loving obedience to the Father. How well Miguel Pro understood this; how beautifully and completely he imitated his King. How will we give Him all that we have, all that we are?

Photograph of the Abbey processional cross by Brother Brian. 

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Consoling Words

I will praise you, Lord my God, with all my heart, and glorify your name forever; for your love to me has been great; you have saved me from the depths of the grave. Ps 85

Whose voice prays here? Our own; that of the Hebrew psalmist, prophetically; and that of all our dear departed and all the dead. But it is above the voice of Christ our Lord in his Passion and resurrection, telling his Father that death itself cannot destroy their eternal love. Therefore Jesus promises us, "I will come back and take you to myself, so that where I am, you also may be." Could there ever be more powerful, more tender, more consoling words than this certain pledge from the Heart of him whose love for us has been great?

Photograph by Brother Brian. Reflection by Father Simeon

Sunday, November 17, 2013

To Persevere

The kingdom of our Lord Jesus, the Sun of Justice, is coming now. His presence grants healing beyond measure but may also demand a separating, perhaps even a wrenching in our hearts, as evil is separated from good. Indeed choices must be made; sometimes hard choices. And as Jesus points out in the Gospel this morning, we may even be hated by all because of his name. Still he consoles us with his promise: "not a hair on your head will be destroyed. By your perseverance you will secure your lives." 

Perseverance. The word in Greek is hupomone, signifying a steadfastness and constancy, an endurance characteristic of anyone who keeps to their purpose and is loyal to faith and piety and so willing to endure the greatest trials and sufferings with patience.* 

As Father Luke reminded us this morning, perseverance is truly counter-cultural. "Yet, it is in our perseverance in the commitments that we have undertaken in Christ's name that we will come to know Christ Jesus and the power of his cross and resurrection working within us- within weak and sinful human beings."

* see

Thursday, November 14, 2013

With Us

The Holy Spirit brings the living, transfigured Christ into humanity.  Thus does Christian interiority arise.  This does not mean that one becomes profound in a mental sense:  it means the opposite of squandering oneself in what is exterior.  It implies that there is a depth in man in which Christ lives.  It is possible to live with this Christ.  He can become the very content of life.  Then the New Man comes into being.  The old man is the one he was before, but now the New Man is sown in him.  How this happens cannot be described.  It can be that certain persons experience this reality so powerfully that they can no longer feel at home in the world.  This is how monasticism arose.  

We seek the Lord in ordinariness, this is where Christ lives with us. If we are renewed at all, it is due to our availability, our attention to Christ's Spirit speaking to us in the depths of our hearts, calling us to ever deeper conversion. Our desire is total availability to his desire for us.

Andrea del Verrocchio, Christ and Saint Thomas, detail,  bronze, 1483, Orsanmichele, Florence.  Lines from Romano Guardini, Sermon on Pentecost Monday, in:  Predigten zum Kirchenjahr, Mainz, 1998, p. 170.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Saint Martin of Tours

In this two-tiered manuscript painting of The Legend of Saint Martin, the story begins on the bottom level. There the Roman soldier, Martin, cuts his military cloak in half to share it with a shivering beggar. The upper tier shows Martin's dream vision that night in which Christ appears to him wearing the cloak and thanks him for his generosity. Our Lord's message is clear, "Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me." We want to notice the needy one in our midst; Christ Jesus assures us that He is the Needy One.

St. Albans Psalter, English, early 12th century, Dombibliothek Hildesheim, Germany.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Thirty-second Sunday

Imagine the Church’s wisdom in combining today’s readings. That frustrating Gospel scenario becomes a brilliant foil for the poignant and affecting story of the martyrdom of the seven Maccabee sons and their holy mother in the First Reading; these seven very real brothers; how unlike the seven fictional brothers of the Sadducees’ tale who are dropping like flies! Today’s First Reading is only an excerpt of the heart-rending story of those brave Jewish martyrs, a family tortured for refusing to break their covenantal “marriage” bond with the God of Israel, embodied in the dietary laws to which they adhered. For them eating pork would be idolatrous, and even more adulterous. They understand themselves as entirely dedicated to God. This is essential to who they are- they belong to God. They embrace this Mystery with courage and clarity. How like their blessed descendant Yeshua of Nazareth, Jesus our Lord whose food and deepest desire is to do the will of the Father who sent him. Imagine how his young heart must have been stirred when he first heard the story of his Maccabee forebears.

Like his ancestors, Jesus knows that God wants more for us. He has prepared a place for us. This is our destiny. Jesus wants us to be with him in God forever. And so with quiet power and self-assurance he proclaims, “God is not the God of the dead, but the God of the living.” These words are not only a statement of doctrine, but more- self-revelation. For Jesus is himself the Resurrection and the Life. Resurrection is not a far off event but a Person, a Person who longs for us even now, and is continually drawing us into more abundant life.

Now we can resist, question endlessly like stubborn Sadducees, frustrate God’s desire for us or simply believe; believe the mystery, and allow God to be God for us, drawing us to himself, into himself. Then we will notice glimpses of his presence, tantalizing foretastes of the more we’re destined for. Like St. Stephen, as he is being stoned to death, we will see the heavens open. We will glimpse the Lord even now, minute by minute, drawing us into more and more abundant life. In God’s providence this will inevitably bring us to another plateau- of holy frustration as our desire outstrips our humanity. Flesh and blood, earth-bound, we may experience ourselves somehow suspended- longing for everlasting life in Christ and yet still here. Like Saint Paul we long to depart and be with Christ.  Let us set our minds and hearts on things that are above where Christ is. For truly we have died, our lives are hidden with Christ in God.

Photographs by Brother Brian..

Friday, November 8, 2013

Filling the Void with Light

God gives us his divinity and all its bliss in exchange for our humanity and all its misery.  If God has come to invite us to share his divine life through all eternity, the process begins when Jesus first comes into our own time and space to dwell within our shabby lives and hearts—sinful, worldly, self-centered, and yet full of the hope that his teaching, touch and presence will gradually transform us into radiant children of God. We know that God’s self-emptying descent into the heart of human darkness, to fill that void with light and love, will not be without severe consequences for the Savior.
Autumn sunset with rainbow over the east road of the Abbey. Photograph by Kathleen Trainor. Reflection by Father Simeon.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Moment by Moment

We read the following in Vita Consecrata, Blessed John Paul II’s document on religious life:

The Consecrated Life, deeply rooted in the example and teaching of Christ the Lord, is a gift of God the Father to his Church through the Holy Spirit. By the profession of the evangelical counsels, the characteristic features of Jesus— the chaste, poor and obedient one— are made constantly visible in the midst of the world, and the eyes of the faithful are directed toward the mystery of the Kingdom of God already at work in history, even as it awaits its full realization in heaven.

In every age there have been men and women who, obedient to the Father's call and to the prompting of the Spirit, have chosen this special way of following Christ in order to devote themselves to him with an undivided heart. Like the Apostles, they too have left everything behind in order to be with Christ and to put themselves, as he did, at the service of God and their brothers and sisters. In this way, through the many charisms of spiritual and apostolic life bestowed on them by the Holy Spirit, they have helped to make the mystery and mission of the Church shine forth, and in doing so have contributed to the renewal of society.

We pray that we may be faithful to our Father's call and follow the Lord Jesus moment by moment with an undivided heart.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Cloister Garth

We share these photos of the cloister garth with the great golden gingko and the burning bush. Brother Jonah and Father James pose for photographer Brother Anthony Khan.

Friday, November 1, 2013

With The Saints

Even as we believe in heaven, we want to know more. Don’t we? What will it be like? One of the loveliest depictions of heaven is that given us by the Renaissance painter, Fra Angelico. He portrays a gathering of the saints, each one hand in hand with an angel dancing a kind of a minuet in a verdant, enclosed garden. It’s charming enough, but perhaps it just doesn’t quite hit the spot.

What does it mean that we are destined for everlasting life? Death is the separation of the soul from the body, the human body decays and the soul goes to meet God, while awaiting its reunion with its glorified body. And we believe that, in his power and love, God will grant incorruptible life to our bodies by reuniting them with our souls, through the power of Jesus' Resurrection.* The resurrection of the body will occur because of God’s great love and reverence for our bodies, our flesh- not just a husk for an immortal soul, but sacred in itself. God has taken our flesh to himself in Christ. Heaven and earth have been wedded together in Him. The saints our forebears are with the Lord; they are our exemplars, and they fill us with hope as they await us in heaven. *Catechism of the Catholic Church.