Tuesday, July 28, 2015

An Excess of Love

God's love for us in Christ is far beyond what we can imagine. "It is an excess; infinite love has to be so. The Incarnation, the manger, Nazareth, the Cenacle, Gethsemani, Calvary, each was an excess...In comparison with our smallness, infinite love must necessarily be an excess. Yet, how difficult to convince souls that God loves them. If they could be convinced, how many anxieties would be alleviated."

Perhaps one of the most difficult parts of our life in monastery is experiencing over and over again the painful, boring truth of our sinfulness and allowing Christ in that very moment to gaze on us with love and exquisite tenderness. It may seem utter madness to allow ourselves to be the objects of Christ’s love and attention precisely in that moment. It is the great reversal, the sublime trick of the monastic vocation- we thought we were coming to the monastery to gaze upon Christ, but it is Christ Jesus himself who wants to gaze upon us in our lowliness and poverty, not to make us feel small and miserable, but because he loves us in excess.

Quotation  from Only Jesus by Luis M. Martinez, D. D., trans. Sister Mary Daniel, B. V. M. , B. Herder, St. Louis, 1962. Photograph by Brother Brian.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Our Lady of Mount Carmel

The Lord has placed in Mary the fullness of all good. So that if there is anything of hope in us, anything of grace, anything of salvation, rest assured it has overflowed from her into us. Truly we may call her a garden of delights, which the divine South Wind comes to and blows upon, even more comes into and blows through, causing the fragrance of its spices, that is, the precious gifts of heavenly grace to flow out and be spread around on every side. Take away from the sky the sun which enlightens the world and what becomes of the day? Take away Mary, this Star of life's vast and spacious sea, and what is left to us but a cloud of swirling gloom and thick and dense darkness.

We ponder these words of Saint Bernard of Clairvaux as we celebrate Our Lady. We share some photographs by Brother Brian of gardens throughout the Abbey tended by different monks. All remind us of the beauty of God, the fair beauty of His Mother, whom we call the Garden Enclosed.

Monday, July 13, 2015

The Other Side

Our retreat closed on Saturday evening. The brethren were deeply grateful to Fr. John Denburger of our sister Abbey of Our Lady of the Genesee. His presentations were full of insight and wisdom and set the stage for our prayer and reflection. As the retreat closed, we came upon these words of Julian of Norwich: "Our Lord is full of mirth and gladness because of our prayer." How good to remember that Christ Jesus in his love for us is attentive and delighted by our efforts at prayer, our desires to please and praise Him, no matter how feeble or faltering we may believe them to be. It is good to wonder and imagine things from the other side, God's side.

Just before our retreat began we enjoyed our annual Fourth of July picnic on the monastery breezeway.  We share below a few pictures taken by Brother Jonah.

Saturday, July 4, 2015

In All Things

The linden tree on the east side of the monastery's breezeway is in full flower. It's sweet odor wafts all over. And when we come near the tree, we hear it buzzing with bees busy at all the tiny florets. We recall these words from Laudato Si, which we heard recently in the refectory reading:

The universe unfolds in God, who fills it completely. Hence, there is a mystical meaning to be found in a leaf, in a mountain trail, in a dewdrop, in a poor person’s face. The ideal is not only to pass from the exterior to the interior to discover the action of God in the soul, but also to discover God in all things.

Tomorrow we begin our annual retreat. All week long we will try to notice the loving presence of the Lord Jesus in all things, drawing us to Himself over and over.