Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Gathered As One

God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in him should not perish but have everlasting life.  John 3:14

The Eucharist is a celebration of God so loving the world that he gave us his only begotten Son through the incarnation of the Word and in the Eucharist. By the death and resurrection of Jesus and the gift of his Spirit, we who acknowledged Jesus come-in-the-flesh and who eat his flesh and drink his blood, will not perish but have eternal life. Our eternal life begins in our gathering for the Eucharist and culminates in our glorification in the Spirit with Christ in the presence of God the Father. 

It is possible that John, when he composed his gospel in the 90's of the first century, knew the Eucharistic prayer from the ancient community rule called the Didache, written perhaps decades earlier:

                      We give thanks to you, our Father,
                      for the life and knowledge to us 
                      through Jesus your Servant.
                      To you be glory unto the ages!
                      As the fragments of bread were scattered over the hills,
                      and then, when gathered, became one,
                      so may your church be gathered
                      from the ends of the earth into your Kingdom.
                      For yours is the glory and the power,
                      through Jesus Christ, unto the ages!

The Father has given us his only begotten Son to gather up the fragments of our broken lives and fragmented relationships, to gather us into one, that none may perish, but that all may have eternal life. 

Photograph by Brother Casimir. Reflection by Father Luke.

Sunday, July 29, 2018


A conversation overheard recently: 

“I've never seen such a crowd follow him." 
"Does he realize it's getting late?"
" You know, I don't think he's even noticed." 
"They must be getting hungry, I know I am." 
"But how could we possibly feed all these people?" 
"Just wait, if I know him, I bet he's got something up his sleeve.” 
“Like what?” 
“John, get Philip to ask him what he wants to do.” 

Just as Philip is about to whisper in his ear, Jesus says, "Hey, Philip, where should we buy bread for all these people?" Without missing a beat, Andrew picks up on Jesus' humor. “Well, there's a little boy here who brought five teeny rolls and a couple of fish maybe that will help.” “Perfect,” says Jesus. “Send him over. And have the people recline on the grass.” “Now what's he going to do?” says one of them. As the little boy comes to him, Jesus stoops down and whispers in his ear. The boy smiles, nods and hands Jesus his small basket. Jesus takes it, rises, looks up to heaven and gives thanks, and then starts handing out bread, and more bread and more bread and then the same with the fish, fish and more fish. The sun is setting. Everyone is famished, and they are enjoying every bite. There are a few muffled belches; chatter builds up again. Everyone is full. "Gather all the fragments,” says Jesus. “Let's not waste anything." Many of the people now begin filling up the laps of their robes and gathering up the edges; filling kerchiefs and head scarves and bags, excited to share their leftovers with those at home who couldn’t make it to hear Jesus this time.

So, it is that once upon a time a little boy's picnic lunch was transformed by a Word of love into a huge banquet with baskets and baskets of leftovers. This is not a story about what a friend's mother would refer to as a "genteel sufficiency," just enough. It is all about overflowing abundance and the immeasurability of God’s love and compassion. This is God's dream of the kingdom; for in this scene from John's Gospel we see that the reign of God has become a reality in Christ Jesus. In him heaven is wedded to earth forever, and a celebration is in order. God's Promised One is here to feed the poor and lowly with as much as they want. The Good Shepherd has brought his sheep to recline on the very green grass where he has prepared a banquet for them. And he has invited us to join them. 

Photograph by James O'Kane.

Saturday, July 28, 2018

Mary on Saturday

In one of her visions Christ revealed to the fourteenth century mystic, Julian of Norwich, “the high, marvelous and singular love: he has for this sweet Maiden his Blessed Mother.” And Julian understood that in Mary  “our Lord speaks to all humankind that shall be saved as if it were all to one person, as if he said ‘Do you want to see in her how you are loved?’" Julian invites us to join her in contemplating Mary, “to see in her how we are loved.” Amazingly, wonderfully we are loved by God with the same love that he loves Mary.

Madonna by Sandro Botticelli. Reflection by Father Damian.

Friday, July 27, 2018


A serious commitment to Christ leads to values that are countercultural. As Pope Benedict said, “To believe in God means allowing his commandments to guide the concrete choices one makes every day, even when the values reflected in the choices are countercultural.” “A Christian,” he said, “must not be afraid to go against the current in order to live his or her faith, resisting the temptation of conformity” to secular culture. Pope Francis echoed this sentiment when he noted: “In a culture of relativism and the transitory, many preach the importance of enjoying the moment. I ask you instead to be revolutionaries. I ask you to swim against the tide, yes, I am asking you to rebel against this culture that sees everything as temporary and ultimately believes that you are incapable of true love.”

From Jesus we receive the challenge to be a “sign of contradiction.” The monastic life has always been countercultural. Separation from the world, silence, a common life and sanctifying the hours of the day with prayer are not the values of secular culture, but the opposite. God has called each one of us to illumine the darkness. One small flame can ignite a large fire, but it has to be protected from the wind or it will be extinguished and smolder. 

Photo by Brother Brian. Reflection by Father Emmanuel.

Tuesday, July 24, 2018


"Who is my mother? Who are my brothers?"
And stretching out his hand toward his disciples, he said,
"Here are my mother and my brothers.
For whoever does the will of my heavenly Father

is my brother, and sister, and mother." Matthew 12

Baptized into Christ, we belong to him; we are his relatives, as close to him as his own Mother. This call, this reality is astounding truth and privilege and brings with it familial obligations and duties. We belong to Christ Jesus and he to us. As he expects much of us, we dare to depend on him for everything. Indeed, he is Everything. 

Photograph by Father Emmanuel.

Sunday, July 22, 2018

Jesus Our Leader

Jeremiah’s complaint in the First Reading is that the leaders of his day had refused to do justice for the poor, the alien, and the widows of the land. It was an essential aspect of their covenant with God, but they refused this justice. Jeremiah prophesied that God would raise up a shepherd who would “reign and govern wisely…and do what “ is right and just.”

This prophecy was fulfilled in Our Lord Jesus Christ. He is the king foretold by Jeremiah who would do what is just and right in the land, giving to all as their dignity deserved, for that is after all what justice is, whether it be to God or neighbor.

St. Paul says of Christ Jesus, “He is our peace, who made us both one and broke down the dividing wall of enmity…” Paul’s insight is that Jesus did this “in one body, through the cross.” He created a common space where peace is forged in truth and becomes a balm for the soul. Jesus is our peace.

A leader must have a broad vision so that no one is left outside of his concern. The Gospel tells us that when Jesus arrived at the deserted place and saw the crowd, “he was moved with pity for them…” No one was left outside his compassion. But he not only had compassion, he took action to meet their needs: he taught them many things; he took bread, blessed it, and fed them with his own hand; and he eventually would feed them with his own body and blood. Jesus combined heartfelt compassion with the steadfast will to act and relieve their misery. That is what mercy is: a heart that bears the sufferings of others and a firm and effective will to do something about it. We rightly call Jesus: the Lord our Mercy.

We have to keep our eyes fixed on Jesus. He leads us to what is right, frees us from fear, and holds everyone in his mercy. In the Eucharist he gives us the power to do the same. Let us welcome him who is our justice, our peace, and our mercy. 

Excerpts from Father Vincent's Sunday Homily.

Friday, July 20, 2018


The chief function of monastic silence is then to preserve that memoria Dei which is much more than just "memory." It is a total consciousness and awareness of God which is impossible without silence, recollection, solitude and certain withdrawal... In the last resort, monastic silence is not just a practice, it is a grace, a gift of God. Those who desire this great gift may have to recognize their natural incapacity to gain it by any effort of their own and must humbly pray for it. 

Lines by Thomas Merton.

Thursday, July 19, 2018


Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened,
and I will give you rest.
Take my yoke upon you and learn from me,
for I am meek and humble of heart;
and you will find rest for yourselves.
For my yoke is easy, and my burden light. Matthew 11

Which of us can hear these words of Jesus often or clearly enough, so that we really understand his desire to comfort and console us?

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

To Appreciate

Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida!
For if the mighty deeds done in your midst
had been done in Tyre and Sidon,
they would long ago have repented in sackcloth and ashes. Matthew 11

Some years a go a visiting scholar remarked in a presentation to us that not being appreciated was one of the most painful experiences for anyone living in community. As we hear Jesus' words in today's Gospel, we can detect his real sadness and disappointment. What are the wonderful deeds the Lord Jesus has worked on our behalf that we have failed to appreciate with fitting gratitude?

Photograph of a field behind an old Abbey barn by Father Emmanuel.

Sunday, July 15, 2018


He instructed them to take nothing for the journey but a walking stick—no food, no sack, no money in their belts. Mark 6

In this morning's Gospel Jesus instructs his Apostles to go forth trusting only that their heavenly Father will supply their needs along the way. We were reminded of these words said to be written by the 18th century French Jesuit, Jean-Pierre de Caussade:

To escape the distress caused by regret for the past or fear about the future, this is the rule to follow: leave the past to the infinite mercy of God, the future to His good Providence, give the present wholly to His love by being faithful to His grace… In the state of abandonment the only rule is the duty of the present moment. In this the soul is light as a feather, liquid as water, simple as a child, active as a ball in receiving and following all the inspirations of grace… In a word, their disposition resembles the atmosphere, which is affected by every breeze; or water, which flows into any shaped vessel exactly filling every crevice. They are before God like a perfectly woven fabric with a clear surface; and neither think, nor seek to know what God will be pleased to trace thereon, because they have confidence in Him, they abandon themselves to Him, and, entirely absorbed by their duty, they think not of themselves, nor of what may be necessary for them, nor of how to obtain it. 

Photograph by father Emmanuel.

Saturday, July 7, 2018

Come Away

Our annual week-long retreat begins tomorrow, a time for greater silence and focus; a time of less work and more time for quiet prayer. As we prepare for this subtle shift in our rhythm, we remember why we have come to this place; we are aware of our desire and Christ's desire somehow coinciding. We recall the words of a favorite antiphon that we sing, a paraphrase of the words of Jesus: “Come away awhile to a desert place and watch and pray with me to the Father. Listen to the Word, dwelling within the silence.” 

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. We send our prayers to all follow this blog, to all our benefactors and all our friends. 

Photograph by Father Emmanuel.

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Independence Day

The freedom we are invited to by Jesus goes far beyond what even our good Christian founding forebears envisioned in the Declaration of Independence. It’s so much more than just life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Remembering Jesus is never about simply protecting our rights or privileges, never about our entitlement or only about fairness but always about trying little by little to make the graceful choice for self-forgetfulness and compassion and giving a little more with joy. No document can make you do that, but a relationship with Christ Jesus just might.

In our pain, in our prosperity we are invited to remember him, remember to whom we belong and graciously allow this remembering to change us, inform our choices, so that we too can love and forgive our enemies as he did; we too can be lavish in our generosity without any worries of running short. We may doubt, wonder how, hang back, but Jesus shows us that our hearts are big enough. Our love can be perfect and complete because we belong to him, the wounded and risen Lord Jesus, who empowers us to be lovingly vulnerable with him, in him. 

Then the kingdom happens, Christ Jesus working through us, teaching us to overthrow the powers of this world through our subversive acts of kindness, of forgiveness and compassion, through our sufferings born in peace, through our stuttered, halting prayers. We must believe that what we do matters, not because we’re better or holier but because it is our duty, our privilege as beloved ones to do no less. Our allegiance belongs to Christ Jesus our Lord. He can only work in and through us. And so we absolutely refuse ever to yield to cynicism, but ever cling to his memory.

Possessed by Jesus, inflamed with his desire for our world, we can be perfect lovers like God. We must believe it. Or else frightened and angry we may be tempted to batten down the hatches, shut down the borders of our generosity, of our hospitality and become stingy with our compassion and our forgiveness. No. We are called to do more and be more – freely invited to act in freedom - to relieve and console and welcome. 
Photograph by Father Emmanuel.

Sunday, July 1, 2018


Again in this morning's Gospel, we are struck by the exquisite, inexhaustible, irrepressible compassion of Jesus. His heart is moved by what we suffer. 

And as Jesus reminds the once-hemorrhaging woman that it is her faith that has made her well, he is not being shy or diffident. He is speaking the truth.

Faith is everything. Faith allows God to be God for us. Faith is abandonment to Christ Jesus and confidence in his incessant compassion for us. It is such faith that allows Jesus to act on our behalf and opens us to his healing presence.

Photograph by Father Emmanuel.