Wednesday, April 29, 2015


So amazed is Catherine of Siena at the endless mercy of God that she calls God “crazy.” In her Dialogues she writes, “O eternal beauty! O eternal goodness, O eternal mercy! O crazy lover! You have need of your creature? It seems so to me, for you act as if you could not live without her. Why are you so crazy? Because you have fallen in love with what you have made! You are pleased and delighted over her, as if you were drunk with desire for her salvation. She runs away from you and you go looking for her. She strays and you draw closer to her.”

Perhaps very often we foolishly run in the opposite direction; let us once again confess our own craziness, and beg God’s mercy.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Like a Deer

I arise today, through
The strength of heaven,
The light of the sun,
The radiance of the moon,
The splendor of fire,
The speed of lightning,
The swiftness of wind,
The depth of the sea,
The stability of the earth,
The firmness of rock.
I arise today, through
God's strength to pilot me,
God's might to uphold me,
God's wisdom to guide me,
God's eye to look before me,
God's ear to hear me,
God's word to speak for me,
God's hand to guard me,
God's shield to protect me,
God's host to save me
From snares of devils,
From temptation of vices.

Photograph by Charles O'Connor. Excerpts from St. Patrick's Breastplate, a prayer also known as The Lorica (The Cry of the Deer).This prayer reflects the spirit of the faith that St. Patrick brought to Ireland. 

Sunday, April 26, 2015


Beloved, we are God’s children now;
what we shall be has not yet been revealed.
We do know that when it is revealed we shall be like him,
for we shall see him as he is.

As our Brother Charbel read these words from the First Letter of John during this morning's Mass, he emphasized the word now. And we were struck anew by the realization that yes, here and now we belong to God; we are children with Christ Jesus of one Father. Father Isaac then spoke beautifully in his homily of our irrevocable union with God in Christ, a union that nothing can destroy. The resurrected Jesus reveals the brilliance of this union as he returns to his disciples still marked by the wounds of his cruel agony and death but absolutely alive, beautifully transcendent and completely Other. He is truly human, truly divine. And he reveals to us our truth, our destiny, united as we are with him through our baptism.

Photographs of early spring at the monastery by Brother Brian.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Christ's Time

“Look at my hands and my feet, that it is I myself. Touch me and see, because a ghost does not have flesh and bones as you can see that I have.” 

Here as in all the resurrection appearances, Jesus shows the disciples not only that he is real flesh but that his relationship to time has changed also. If Jesus is not a spirit but tangible flesh and bones, if he eats the same fish as the disciples, then his time is not ghost-time either. What we have here is not some fictitious appearance of duration, but time in the most genuine and real sense possible.

Christ’s time, witnessed to by all this seeing, touching, hearing, eating, and encountering, is not divorced from our time, but is in an ordinary, straightforward way continuous with it. This is immediately clear in the story of Emmaus. Recall how Jesus walks with and talks with the two disciples – the alternation, succession and interweaving of words and actions between the three of them. In Jesus' actions we see the eternal allowing itself to be drawn into time and going along with it in genuine companionship. In the freedom of the resurrection Jesus is able to move in the world of changing time without being subject to it.

The time of the forty days is thus genuine time, but no longer moving inexorably toward death; time no longer as a burden, but blessed, open, spacious time possessing the sovereignty merited by Jesus and bestowed by the Father. His manner of being, revealed in the forty days, is the ultimate form of his reality.

In the Eucharist and in the sacraments, Jesus existence and mode of duration is therefore no different than that of the forty days. For the believer this means that receiving the sacraments allows the risen and glorified Christ present in them to interact with him or her with the same naturalness, spontaneity, freshness and sovereign freedom with which he encountered and interacted with his disciples during the forty days. When we embrace these in simplicity, Jesus is able to enlighten our minds and hearts just as he does for the disciples in this morning’s Gospel.

Photograph by Brother Brian. Excerpts from Father Timothy's homily at this morning's Eucharist.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Let Us Remember

In a recent address Pope Francis recommended that each day we rediscover with joy that we are disciples of Jesus and develop “a strong friendship" with him who is our "only Teacher.” He continued, “In these days of the Resurrection, the word that resounded often for me in prayer was “Galilee,” where everything began. Peter says in his first discourse- the things that happened at Jerusalem but which began in Galilee. Our life also began in a “Galilee”- every one of us has had an experience of Galilee, an encounter with the Lord…that we do not forget, but that so many times becomes covered with things, with work, anxieties and also sins and worldliness. To give witness it is necessary to go often on pilgrimage to Galilee itself, to take up the memory of that encounter, that astonishment, and to start again from there. However if we do not follow this path of the memory, there is the danger of remaining where we are, and there is also the danger of not knowing why we find ourselves there. This is the discipline of men and women who wish to give witness- to return to Galilee itself, where I encountered the Lord; to return to that first moment of wonder."

Let us remember always whom we have encountered.

Photograph by Brother Brian.  Excerpts from Address of Pope Francis to Formators of Consecrated Men and Women, Vatican City, April 13, 2015.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015


All during Eastertide we recite the Regina Coeli silently instead of the Angelus after Lauds, after Sext and after Compline. We hear three rapid rings of the bell and there is pause for the first part of the prayer, another three rings and a pause for the second part of the prayer, a final three rapid rings and a pause for the last section of the prayer. Then a series of rings as we recite the concluding oration.

Queen of Heaven, rejoice, alleluia.
The Son whom you merited to bear, alleluia.

Has risen, as he said, alleluia.
Pray for us to God, alleluia.

Rejoice and be glad, O Virgin Mary, alleluia.
For the Lord has truly risen, alleluia.
O God, who through the resurrection of your Son Jesus Christ gave joy to the world, grant, we pray, that through his Mother, the Virgin Mary, we may obtain the joy of everlasting life. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Photographs of the Abbey Library by Brother Brian.

Friday, April 10, 2015

In the Garden

   Scripture does not say that on the day of the Lord’s Resurrection he appeared to a little child, but it does say that in the course of forty days he appeared to many. So, I’d like to think that the scene above might have occurred, when, soon after the Lord’s rising from the dead, a little child at play in that same garden where lay the tomb, drew near to Jesus in gleeful eagerness and wonder. 
  Jesus gathered up that child into his arms. As just then alighted a butterfly upon his wounded hand, he lovingly explained the mystery of what rising from the dead means in words only the child-like and pure of heart can understand. For at one time the people were bringing little children to him that he might bless them. Then as now, he took a child up into his embrace saying, “It is to just such as these that the kingdom of God belongs.” Perhaps it was the same child then as now. Perhaps, in some sense, it could be you.
Painting by Greg Olsen. Meditation by Brother Anthony.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015


When Jesus engages the two disciples on the road to Emmaus, before they relate to him their version of the events of the past few days, they stop, looking downcast. They are sad, because they had a set of expectations that were not met. It is true, Jesus did not meet their expectations; he infinitely surpassed them. How often we are the cause of our own sadness and spiritual listlessness because we cling to our own narrow, inner-worldly perspective, while all the while Jesus waits patiently to bestow on us the eyes of faith that will explode our world open and welcome us into his joy.  

Reflection by Father Timothy.

Monday, April 6, 2015

He is Risen!

 At the Synod on the New Evangelization several years ago, Cardinal Toppo of India told of a Hindu teenager who had been hanging around the Catholic priests at a local school. The boy was obviously a spiritual seeker and often asked questions about Christian belief. At one point one of the priests gave the boy a copy of the Gospels and told him to read them and then come back with questions and reactions. The boy came back more or less flabbergasted and somewhat accusing. He wanted to be sure he got it right, and so he demanded clarification. “Jesus is risen from the dead?” he asked. “Really risen from the dead?” “Yes,” they calmly answered, not displeased with his excitement. “Why didn’t you tell me!” he shouted at them, astonished that they would not have told him that straight out from the start. That Hindu boy had immediately caught the enormous significance of the Christian claim. Pope Benedict XVI captured the significance of the Resurrection when he wrote, “Only if Jesus is risen has anything really new occurred that changes the world and the situation of mankind….Whether Jesus merely was or whether he also is depends on the Resurrection….the Resurrection of Jesus constitutes an evolutionary leap…a new possibility of human existence is attained that affects everyone and that opens up a future, a new kind of future, for mankind.” 
   Each of the gospel accounts of the Resurrection makes reference to it being the first day of the week, at dawn or daybreak. They are all united in this. However, from there the various details of the accounts diverge, to say the least. In fact, I don’t think that it is too far fetched to say that day breaks into chaos and confusion. The very next verse in the gospel of Mark that we just heard says that the women “made their way out and fled from the tomb bewildered and trembling; and because of their great fear, they said nothing to anyone.” Throughout the accounts of the resurrection you hear expressions of fear, joy, wonder, disbelief, hope. It is almost as if these reactions and emotions are rival claimants fighting over the hearts of the first disciples. In those first hours and days, rumors and stories abound, chasing one another throughout the community of disciples and the surrounding region. After the crucifixion most of Jesus followers were dispersed and went into hiding. Why? Why the dispersion, chaos and confusion? It is a worthwhile question, a vital, visceral, transformative question.
   When we speak of the resurrection of Jesus we speak of a reality that is inseparable from the reality of the cross and Jesus’ death. The One who is risen is the crucified One. His wounds are now and forever part of his reality. The resurrection opens the mystery of the cross and reveals that glory which is already contained in the Lord’s death.
   The death of Jesus initially provoked a profound crisis in the disciples. The death of Jesus is meant to provoke such deeply fundamental, personal questions. The Resurrection of Jesus finds its meaning in answers to three profound questions. Who is God? God is the one who did not abandon his Son. Who is Jesus? Jesus is the one raised by the Father and established as Lord and Messiah. Who are we? We are his witnesses, witnesses to what never could have been foreseen, imagined or expected ahead of time, Witnesses to a divine deed infinite in its proportions, a life-altering; a life-changing deed. Witnesses are not bystanders. There is no such thing when it comes to the cross and resurrection. There are only participants. The cross and resurrection is not just something that happened to Jesus. It happens to us throughout our lives, over and over again whenever we dare to really ask those questions.
   I invite you to join me in asking to taste a bit of the grace which allowed that teenager from India to be so flabbergasted and surprised with awe and wonder; to experience something of the “evolutionary leap” that constitutes the resurrection. And with the church throughout the centuries, may we never tire of proclaiming that Christ is Risen! Truly He is Risen!  
Excerpts from Father Damian's homily at the Paschal Vigil. 

Sunday, April 5, 2015

The Resurrection

After all the liturgies of the Triduum so full of drama and emotion, we are always struck by the simplicity of Jesus' self-presentation in the scenes of the Gospel accounts. He walks quietly in a garden, he is a fellow traveler on the way to Emmaus, without fanfare he walks through the locked doors of the upper room to greet his frightened disciples. And there he says only, "Peace,"  shows them his wounds and asks for something to eat. The quiet, the calm are astounding in their unpretentiousness. It seems Jesus wants to normalize the reality of his resurrected self for us, this new way of being intimately with us, while remaining truly, absolutely Other. His wounded, resurrected presence shows us who we are- we are meant to bear our wounds while profoundly aware that our wounds and dyings are not our deepest truth. We belong to God in Christ, wounded and gloriously risen for us. Resurrection, new life in Christ Jesus, is our destiny.
Fra Angelico, Noli Me Tangere, 1440-41, Fresco, 180 x 146 cm, Convent of San Marco, Florence, detail.

Friday, April 3, 2015

Good Friday

In his passion Jesus absorbs all the shock and pain- the great tornado of sin throughout history- wars, holocausts, all the evil choices, large and small, all the resistances to God, all the proud refusals that have always been and even now are tragically part of our humanity. Jesus has borne all of it because he cannot bear to have us burdened or trapped by the guilt and regret and the chaos of our sinfulness. He has allowed this immeasurable quantity of ugly debris to fall upon him as he shelters us with his own body. He has borne the brunt of sin and guilt for us, but it could not crush him for he is truly God. Still the crash has not been without effect. Gloriously resurrected, Jesus has nonetheless emerged, with real wounds that won’t go away. 

God is forever full of holes, the marks of his love and compassion and mercy. And so he is not embarrassed by the intimacy of baring these wounds for us. He gladly shows us his wounds because they are the radiant sacraments of his compassion. God is wounded by our sins just as we are, but his wounding means transformation and the revelation of the unending availability of his mercy. Jesus’ resurrection enables us to know the contingency, the non-necessity of death. In his rising Jesus sets us free from its tyranny, even the tyranny of our small daily “dyings.” Jesus sets us free “to live as if death were not,”for it is not the truth of who we are; even in our woundedness, we are made for eternal life in God.

Still it may be difficult to look at the wounded Christ, perhaps because we see ourselves too clearly: utter human fragility joined forever to resurrected divinity. In him we see our reality and our sublime destiny, as individuals, as Church, as community. It takes courage to gaze upon the passion-gashed Jesus. For he shows us who are and who we are meant to be: never poor victims of our sins and bad choices, never hapless victims of our sin-filled histories, never wounded wounders but wounded forgivers like Jesus. The holes, and we’ve all got them, can help to make us more compassionate. Jesus has been wounded by his loving us to death. To become his body now, we must go and do likewise. Looking upon him, we see ourselves. We are the body of Christ; we are his beautiful wounded body. “When you gave me yourself,” says St. Bernard, “you gave me back myself.”

Photograph by Brother Brian.
See James Alison.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Holy Thursday

Foot washing was something a Gentile slave could be required to do, but never a Jewish slave. Foot-washing was typically something wives did for their husbands, children for their parents, and disciples for their teachers. There is undoubtedly a degree of intimacy involved in these last scenarios. And in Jesus' case, clearly there is a reversal of roles.* For Jesus calls his disciples his friends. By washing their feet he overcomes in this act of loving intimacy the inequality that exists between them. And so he establishes an intimacy with them that signals their access to everything he had received from his Father, even the glory that is his as Beloved Son.* He does what he sees the Father doing, what love always does. It defers, lowers itself; it gives itself away.

Perhaps Jesus was inspired to wash the apostles’ feet because he had been so touched by what was done for him six days before Passover at Bethany. There out of gratitude for raising her brother Lazarus from the dead, Mary took a liter jar of costly perfumed oil and anointed Jesus’ feet most tenderly and dried them with her hair- an action at once most sensual, deferential and most loving. Perhaps this was something that inspired his own most loving action on this night before he died. In any event Peter cannot bear the thought of his teacher doing this. Probably it was something his wife had done for him many times. And doubtless he like the others is embarrassed by the intimacy of it, the touch, the loving condescension, and the unaffected tenderness, the unmanageability of the love that is so available. It’s too much; it’s disorienting, perhaps most of all, unmanageable in its tenderness. It is a parable, a parallel, a very tender, loving prelude to what he will do on the cross the next afternoon. “Let me do this for you,” he says.

That self-forgetful love of Father and beloved Son in the Spirit is what the cross will express. Jesus begs his Father on this night before he dies that we be swept up into this reality of the God’s own “mutual love and indwelling.”* “That the love with which you loved me may be in them and I in them.” In Christ God reveals himself as lost in love, captivated by his own creatures who tragically reject him. But his love never ends; in his delighted, unending love he empowers us to be God’s children, siblings with him of the one Father, and even more his dear friends.
Photographs by Brother Brian.
* See
* Written That You May Believe, Sandra Schneiders.

* Sacra Pagina: John, Francis Moloney.