Monday, August 31, 2020

Our Experience

And as we experience suffering and divisions in our Church, our country and our world, we recall Saint Paul's admonition to the Philippians: "...whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things."

We pray with confidence; we live in hope.

Photograph by Brother Brian.

Sunday, August 30, 2020

Our Willingness

“To come after me you must deny yourself, and take up your cross.” It is always sobering to hear these words of Jesus.

But we know the great beauty of the gift he first gave us - the gift of his very Self - which has drawn us beyond ourselves. We are willing to lose ourselves, for we have found in his love the very reason for our being itself.

Our promise to follow him inevitably entails an availability, a surrender, a willingness to suffer and die with him.

Jesus wants all that we are. And he deeply desires to give all of himself away to us. Let us open to him.

Saturday, August 29, 2020

As John is Beheaded

 The Beheading of John the Baptist, Rembrandt (Rembrandt van Rijn) (Dutch, Leiden 1606–1669 Amsterdam), Etching and drypoint

We have the normal bodily response, which is fight or flight, fear and anger. But another style of response emerges from our souls. From that core piece of ourselves that doesn’t have any shape, size, color or weight, but gives us infinite value and dignity. And this response is an aesthetic response. It’s the one that causes us to hunger for beauty, to be called by beauty to partake in beauty, to pay attention to compassionate actions, to sacrifice for a neighbor, to keep a neighbor safe.

These actions and these acts of beauty, like the Sermon on the Mount, like the Lincoln Second Inaugural often involve flipping the script, upending values. On one level, these acts of beauty and pure gift and loving care are radically illogical. They are vulnerability in the face of danger. They are gentleness in the midst of bitterness. They are compassion in the midst of strife, but these are the acts that have the power to shock. These are the acts that have the power to open hearts. These are the acts that have a power to shock a revolution in our culture and in our consciousness.

We don’t get to choose our condition. We do get to choose our response. And even in the bitterness of this hard time, I’ve seen individual acts and collective acts of giving and change and facing hard truths and uncomfortable conversations that are a little sparks of beauty in what has all been rocky and dark.

We are grateful for the witness of courageous women and men throughout the history of our Church, our nation and our world.

The Beheading of John the Baptist, Rembrandt van Rijn, Dutch, Leiden 1606–1669 Amsterdam, etching and drypoint. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Used with permission. Lines by David Brooks.

Friday, August 28, 2020

With Saint Augustine and Saint Bernard

"Your desire is your prayer; and if your desire is without ceasing, your prayer will also be without ceasing. The continuance of your longing is the continuance of your prayer." Saint Augustine

The Lord always wants to stir up our desire for him, and perhaps most of all to stir up our confidence in his desire to share all that he is, all that he has with us. Our confidence in his desire is so essential. The God who is at once totally available and at the same time altogether beyond our reach draws us into the mystery that he is; draws us into himself. For God in Christ is always moving toward us. "His desire gives rise to yours," says Saint Bernard, "and if you are eager to receive him, it is he who is rushing to enter your heart; for he first loved us, not we him." Jesus enfleshes this towardness of God -  going out of himself, rushing toward us as he seeks to captivates us with the “spell of his love and his desire.”Dionysius the Aeropagite

Imagine then the awesome daring of our prayer - we hope, we believe that we can be intimate with the living God - we have built our lives around this. And we know that this desire, this reaching out toward God, is possible only because of God’s desire in the first place. Best of all God’s most tender desire for communion with us has taken flesh in Christ Jesus our Lord. Jesus is God’s desire for us coming toward us moment by moment across the depths of otherness. Jesus is the Bridge, our Bridge to the Father. And to have the gumption to pray at all we must, like Peter walking across the water, allow our foolish overreaching desire to trump the imbalance of reality - our puny humanity vs. his sublime divinity. What prudence would surely caution against, we do when we dare to pray. And it is awesome to say the least.

Jesus' desire for communion with us teaches us confidence, fiducia for Saint Bernard. For within our very bones, our guts, planted there by the invisible, unfathomable, living God is our capacity, our natural need and longing for God, indeed, for an intimacy and union that is our rightful possession. We are built for it, built for Jesus, Jesus whose name means  “God saves, God frees." In Christ Jesus God is constantly giving us himself, his very life, “that life that flows in abundance from his pierced side, from his empty tomb."Olivier ClĂ©ment If indeed God in Christ is constantly coming toward us, constant in his desire for us, how shall we respond?

Thursday, August 27, 2020


My being is present in others as guilt or grace. We are not just ourselves; or more correctly, we are ourselves - with others and through others.

Truly we belong to each other and understand ourselves in communion, in community, in connectedness.

Photograph by Brother Brian. Lines from Eschatolgy by Joseph Ratzinger.

Wednesday, August 26, 2020


As monks we have come to realize more and more that God alone is enough for us; and so we have surrendered our lives and fixed our gaze upon the Lord, retreating into the cell of our heart in the solitude of the cloister and fraternal life in community. In this way, we seek to become more and more an image of Christ Jesus our Lord. 

Photograph by Brother Brian. Lines adapted from Pope Francis' Apostolic Constitution: Vultum Dei Quaerere.

Tuesday, August 25, 2020