Saturday, December 31, 2022

Requiescat In Pace

We mourn the passing of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI. We were touched by these words of tribute by Pope Francis:

And speaking of kindness, our thoughts go spontaneously to our most beloved Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, who left us this morning. With emotion, we recall him — so noble, so kind. And we feel so much gratitude in our hearts: Gratitude to God for having given him to the Church and to the world, gratitude to him, for all the good he has done, and above all for his testimony of faith and prayer, especially in these last years of his life in recollection. Only God knows the value and power of his intercession, of his sacrifices offered for the good of the Church.

Thursday, December 29, 2022


It takes work to get back to the peace of knowing yourself completely loved. And perhaps we never fully get there while we’re here. But the desire is set deep inside us, that incompleteness, the ache for the surprise of love to find us. Perhaps some of us follow certain old scripts handed on to us by our own histories, stories filled with fear and failure. The script often reads- don’t trust, don’t hope. Jesus, God’s tender Word comes to us and offers us a new script, new words to rewrite our story and reimagine the old hopelessness as possibility and opportunity for grace; even allowing ourselves to believe that we are rejoiced over.

Jesus invites us back to this place where we can learn to receive life and love as undeserved and unexpected blessings. We may sense the near impossibility of opening our hearts to make a space for love and hope, a place inside us where God’s rejoicing can sprout and blossom from the hard, unpromising stump of our tired old fear and loneliness. And so each morning we go up to the altar again to receive his precious Body and Blood, the promise of his rejoicing over us. And we promise to try to enjoy God, enjoying us.
Photograph by Brother Brian.

Tuesday, December 27, 2022

With the Beloved Disciple

We imagine that all the Gospels answer a question posed by the second generation of Christ’s followers, perhaps the children and grandchildren of the apostles and disciples. “What was Jesus like? What was it like to know him? What was it like to be with him?" 

How extraordinarily attractive Jesus must have been. “The kingdom of heaven is at hand,” he says. And so perfectly does he express this good news of God’s reign, in his healing, in his preaching, in who he was, that he says, “Come away with me,” and at once the first disciples leave everything behind. Was it just so clear? Why else would they have left everything without hesitation? 

There is a rather bizarre medieval legend that John the Beloved Disciple, whom we celebrate today, was actually the bridegroom of the marriage feast at Cana. The story goes that, having witnessed the power and beauty of Jesus as he transformed gallons and gallons of water into wine, the groom abandoned his bride there and then and became Christ’s follower. As odd as it may sound, this legend has the same flavor of immediacy. 

Just as the first apostles abandon father, nets, boats - everything to follow Jesus, our work as monks is to make ourselves constantly available to the irresistibility of Jesus, available to be drawn by Christ, fascinated over and over again by the goodness and beauty of God, utterly defenseless before his call. The bells are our constant summons to put all other things aside. Such attentiveness is grace and gracefulness. 

Head of Christ by Gianlorenzo Bernini.

Sunday, December 25, 2022

A Child is Born for Us

After centuries of fiery prophecy and heightened expectation, generations of longing, suffering, and hope, that first Christmas night the Messiah, the long-awaited Savior, finally comes to inaugurate the Kingdom of God—which He in fact is. But how small and gentle is his coming, as we just heard in St. Luke’s Infancy Narrative!

It is paradoxical that the Word who was “from the beginning and was with God and was God” came into the world to make his dwelling among us, but without a sound, hidden from almost everyone, and remained for many years unnoticed. St. John Chrysostom, the 4th century Doctor of the Church who preached God as the “friend of humankind,” as the one who in Christ became the brother of the poor, marveled at this in a homily:

Christ did not come with a crash of thunder amid a great upheaval, earthquakes, flashes of lightning, and disturbance in the heavens. He did not come with an escort of angels, tearing the heavens apart to descend upon the clouds. No, he came without a sound. For nine months he was carried in the womb of the Virgin. He was born as the son of a carpenter and laid in a manger. He was plotted against while still in swaddling-bands, and with his mother he fled into Egypt. Later, after the death of the perpetrator of such great crimes, he returned and continued to live a wandering life, being to all appearance just an ordinary man.

I think it is fair to say that the two most popular images we have of Jesus is of him on the Cross, and in a manger as a newborn baby—the mystery we celebrate this Christmas night. They are not unrelated, if we listen to Luke’s telling of the story. But probably for most of us the meaning of Christmas is uncomplicated and goes way back to our own childhood. Over time it is natural to approach the nativity scene with a certain amount of sentimentality, for there is hardly any feast more familiar to us. Yet we might ask ourselves: what do we really see as we gaze at the crèche and celebrate this birth?

Caryll Houselander suggests that “there is something hidden here for each of us,” to which I would add, something ever new and at the heart of the Gospel: namely, “God approaches gently, often secretly, always in love, never through violence and fear.”

Moreover, he comes to us, as Jesus himself told us, in those whom we know in our own lives. (When he comes again he will say to us: “Whatever you did to the least of these, you did to Me.”) But very often we do not recognize him. Why? Again, Caryll Houselander: “He comes in many people we do not like, in all who need what we can give, in all who have something to give us—for our great comfort.” Tonight let us be grateful that God comes also in those whom we love—in our fathers and mothers, our brothers and sisters, our friends and those with whom we share life in this monastery. This tiny infant enables and guides us to love Him in them, with his love in us—not on our own steam, not with sentimentality, but with wonder and new freedom of heart.

That is a great mystery that takes a lifetime to encounter! But it is one that the shepherds no doubt experienced as they came in from the countryside to look on in wonder at the baby the angel told them they would find in a manger. Truly Zechariah’s prophecy we heard in yesterday’s Gospel, and every morning at Lauds, was fulfilled: “In the tender compassion of God the dawn from on high broke upon them, to shine on them who dwelled in darkness and the shadow of death, and guided their feet into the way of peace.” When they returned, walking back to the fields to tend their flocks, their hearts were full and they walked “in the way of peace,” for in the darkness of that night they had been led to see the salvation of Israel with their own eyes. They went back to the ordinary, but changed, transformed, by this soundless Word. There was something hidden for them in that encounter, and the same is true for us. We call it grace.

The Evangelist John tells us in the Prologue to his Gospel that “of his fullness we have all received, grace in place of grace, because while the law was given through Moses, grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.”

It is in this soundless Word whose human birth we celebrate tonight that we have received not mere understanding, or virtue, or righteousness, or whatever else religious people aspire to, but grace. This is the wonder for us to re-discover every Christmas.

Grace comes from the primary source of love, from the heart of God—warm, renewing, creative.   

Grace reaches beyond all distinction of merit and demerit, achievement and feebleness.

Grace is the pure beginning.

Grace comes from the intimacy of God that is manifest in a unique way in the human birth of Jesus. So let us allow ourselves to be drawn in, even as we were in the Christmases of our childhood. 

In conclusion: the Good News tonight is that this newborn Savior, laid in a manger with swaddling bands, invites us to behold as for the first time the opening of the heart of God to us, just as we are at this particular time in our life. The Word came to seek us out, and lest his presence inspire fear, he made himself a tender Child. He came as a wordless revelation, that he might make us also children of God. 

Orazio Gentileschi, Madonna with Sleeping Christ Child, Harvard Art Museums/Fogg Museum. Christmas Eve homily by Father Dominic.

Thursday, December 22, 2022

O King & Desired One!


This evening at Vespers we chant:

O King of the Gentiles and the Desired of all, you are the cornerstone that binds two into one.  Come, and save man whom you fashioned out of clay. 

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 it is simply not a title Jesus chooses for himself. He has come to serve, not to be served. And so he tells us: "Whatever you did to one of these least brothers of mine, you did to me."  He, the highest, speaking from his throne of glory, thus declares himself to have wholly passed over, in his actual existence on earth, into “the least”, and these, the lowest, he also claims as his own brothers and sisters. Christ’s eternal origin in his heavenly Father, dynamically mediated through the Incarnation, creates a new brotherhood among all human beings. This is not a natural brotherhood, existing by the mere fact that we are all human beings.  This is a supernatural kinship that comes into being at a specific moment in time, as a new creation, when the eternal Son assumes the fullness of our humanity into his divine person in the womb of blessed Mary.  

Meditation by Father Simeon.

Wednesday, December 21, 2022

O Radiant Dawn


In the tender compassion of our God,
the Dawn from on high shall break upon us,
to shine on those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death
and to guide our feet into the way of peace.

This evening we call, out to the Lord Jesus:

O Rising Dawn, Radiance of the Light eternal and Sun of Justice: come and enlighten those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death.

Faith is light. In John’s Gospel, Christ says of himself: “I have come as a light into the world, that whoever believes in me may not remain in darkness.” John 12:46 

“We therefore are not the origin of this light but it is the great gift of Jesus as light of the world. As Jesus exclaims to Peter after his confession, ‘Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah. For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father.’ ”

The consequence of this supernatural gift is that “Those who believe, see; they see with a light that illumines their entire journey, for it comes the risen Christ, the morning star that never sets.” And with the light of faith we gain fresh vision, new eyes to see. This vision is never simply the assimilation of an idea, for faith  “is born from an encounter with the living God.”  And the “living God calls us and reveals his love, a love which precedes us and upon which we can lean for security and for building our lives.”

This love calls us to go out of ourselves, it summons us to a new life. When we respond, love transforms us. Through love “we gain fresh vision, new eyes to see; we realize that it contains a great promise of fulfillment, and that a vision of the future opens before us. Faith, received from God as a supernatural gift, becomes a light for our way, guiding our journey through time.” Faith “sees to the extent that it journeys, to the extent that it chooses to enter in to the horizons opened up by God’s word.”

Photograph by Charles O'Connor. Reflections on Lumen Fidei, the encyclical letter of Pope Francis, by Father Timothy.

Tuesday, December 20, 2022

O Key!


This evening we call out to Jesus as "Key of David." Keys open doors. Jesus is the key to our freedom from all that would frighten, cripple or close us in on ourselves. He offers us the small, fragile hand of God beckoning us not to be afraid. Whatever our fears, and our sins, Jesus notices and offers us accompaniment and a way out. He assures us that we are more than all that. He has come to save us from all that would paralyze and hurt us. 

Now in Him, we have the power to forgive, not because “It’s alright. It’s nothing.” No, the opposite is true- very much has happened. We’ve been hurt, ignored, and tragically we have sometimes inflicted these same ills on others. But now in Christ, we are empowered to be compassionate - we can absorb the hurt and forgive and beg forgiveness, all because we trust in Christ Jesus who is at our side, even within us, assuring us that pain and fear, and suffering are powerless to define who we truly are. We belong to him. He is our Key.

O Key of David,
opening the gates of God’s eternal Kingdom:
come and free the prisoners of darkness!

Monday, December 19, 2022

Root of Jesse


We chant this evening’s antiphon, acclaiming Jesus as the “Root of Jesse.” And we recall that he is the Origin and Source of all our good, all our hope, all our longing. This antiphon is a kind of gloss on the words of the prophet Isaiah:

On that day,

The root of Jesse,

set up as a signal for the peoples—

Him the nations will seek out;

his dwelling shall be glorious.

On that day,

The Lord shall again take it in hand

to reclaim the remnant of his people

…He shall raise a signal to the nations

and gather the outcasts of Israel...

Jesus is truly the One who gathers and joins together in hope all peoples, scattered by hopelessness, hate, and fear. As we name his “Root of Jesse,” we pray especially for all refugees.

Brother Craig Becomes A Novice

Yesterday, Sunday, December 18 our Brother Craig Musolino was clothed in the novice's habit during the weekly Chapter. We rejoice to have him as our brother in community.

O God, in that unutterable kindness by which you dispose all things sweetly and wisely, you gave us clothing, so that a triple benefit might be ours: we are covered with dignity, kept warm and protected in body and soul. Father, pour forth the blessing of your Holy Spirit upon us this morning and upon these clothes which your sons here before us have asked to receive, so that they may serve you faithfully in the Cistercian way of life. 

Photographs by Brother Brian

Sunday, December 18, 2022



O Adonai, and leader of the House of Israel, who appeared to Moses in the fire of the burning bush and gave him the law on Sinai: Come and redeem us with an outstretched arm.

This evening in our Vespers antiphon we will address Jesus, using the Hebrew title for Lord - "Adonai." Indeed Jesus is for us Lord of lords, Master and Ruler of all creation, present in the burning bush on Sinai, and still with us now in all our ordinariness. We recall the words of the poet Elizabeth Barrett Browning: 

Earth’s crammed with heaven,
And every common bush afire with God:

But only he who sees takes off his shoes.

Let us notice and honor the Lord in the ordinary events of our day.
Abbey colored glass photographed by Brother Daniel.

A Rose Has Blossomed


Many years ago, after a family discussion when I was smug and disrespectful, I recall my mother saying wearily, “I’m sorry, I know your father and I have never met your expectations.” It’s embarrassing to remember. Anyhow, it’s odd but I sense the Spirit of God speaking like that in today’s Gospel, as if pleading for our understanding, “Now this is how the birth of Jesus took place…This is the way, no other way, sorry to disappoint you but it really is as amazingly beautiful and as crazy mixed up as this.” So it is that the Christmas story unfolds each year. “Now this is how the birth of Jesus came about.” And each year those few words sound so promising, almost like, “Once upon a time…” But as the story unfolds, things fall apart, and it’s more like a fractured fairy tale, not at all neat and uncomplicated. There is Mary’s unexplained pregnancy, Joseph’s sense of betrayal and his decision to put her aside, then an angel’s reassurance in a dream; you know the rest of the story so well - an uncomfortable journey for a census, demanded by tax-greedy Romans, not a room to be had, and God’s Son ends up being delivered in a cattle stall; and very soon these three will be refugees fleeing to Egypt. All of it seems a glaring reproach to our pretentions, whatever they may be. But this is how the birth of Jesus God’s only Son took place. And like those two disciples on the way to Emmaus, we may still wonder, “Did it have to be like this?”

Perhaps all of these circumstances were appropriate because God was doing something so unprecedented in Christ. A sign has been given to us from on high; the sign we’ve been longing for. And it is all a sober reminder of who Jesus is, and who he wants to be. For God points to the precarity and brokenness, the mess and inconsistencies and ambiguities of our lives, our smelly flesh and guts, and bones, and asks quietly, “May I dwell there?” And as the angel spoke to Joseph in a dream, so he speaks to us, “Do not be afraid. Instead, go to the low stable of your weakness and you will find me waiting for you there.” You see the Christmas story is after all harsh and terrible, full of struggle, with the shadow of the cross falling over it.* Jesus enters our world anonymously, clandestinely, born to insignificant parents from a nowhere town because like a warrior he is slipping in behind enemy lines* in order to subvert the way we thought things were supposed to be.

We call this the scandal of the Incarnation - that God Most High has become God most low, small, hidden, weak, and unremarkable; this is God’s embrace of all that we are in its beauty as well as its shoddiness. And still, each Christmas the reality of it all may come as a surprise. Why would God do this? The early Church struggled with it for centuries. Who is Jesus? Was he divine pretending to be human? Human at one time, divine at another? Finally, the conclusion is reached after praying, and searching the Scriptures – no, Jesus is fully human, fully divine. But how? Even centuries later Catherine of Siena will call God foolish for it - “You’ve fallen in love with what you created.” God has lost himself in love. Only the foolish extravagance of his love for us can explain any of it, whether gurgling in the manger or disfigured and blood-drenched on the cross, nowhere is God more divine than in his weakness, in his humility and humiliation.*

Many of us will remember our Br. David West. He was an artist who had worked in the advertising department of a large department store in Texas before entering the monastery. David loved to tell the story of the time he was assigned to do a watercolor painting of a single rose for an ad campaign. He had struggled with it all evening; after his final attempt, he turned the paper over in desperation and discovered there in what had bled through the paper the perfect rose. He added a few touches and that was it. With Mary and Joseph and David, we too must learn to trust upside-downness and continue searching for the Rose – hoping against hope, turning things over, and discovering the beauty of God. 

Mary and Joseph show us that there is no security but faith and loving surrender to God. For his part, God reveals that he cannot be enfleshed without our faith and the cooperation of our weakness. It is what he longs for, delights in, and depends on in order to be with us. And he wants to make new Bethlehems in us,* if we will make room for him. But how slow we are to understand that confusion is grace, how reluctant to trust that God wants to turn things over and show us beautiful opportunities for his grace in the mess. If we await neatness or easy success and fanfare, we will always be disappointed. This is how the birth of Jesus comes about: God places a baby in our midst and says, “Here I am - in the smallness of your reality.” Perhaps it is like an apology after all.

Everything’s not OK. It’s much better than that: everything is falling apart around us, within us. But this is great, good news, for in Christ we have been grasped by the love of God and drawn irrevocably into the fullness of his desire for us. For God has, at last, heeded the lonely cry of his creatures, “Please surrender yourself! Lower the heavens. Come down to us.” And he begs for us to surrender to him in return, even as he astounds us, perhaps even disappoints us, with his unpretentiousness and weakness. A Rose has blossomed from Mary’s tender stem. And from this altar we receive his self-surrender to us in a scrap of bread, rose-red with his precious blood.

 ****References:  Raymond Brown.CS Lewis, Jorgen Moltmann, and Gerard Manley Hopkins. Reflection on today's Gospel by one of the monks.

Saturday, December 17, 2022

O Wisdom!


As we begin this evening our novena in preparation for Christmas, we name Jesus first of all "Wisdom." And we recall Paul's words to the Corinthians, "Let no one deceive himself. If anyone among you considers himself wise in this age, let him become a fool so as to become wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in the eyes of God." So it is that the promised Messiah, God Most High, will come to us hidden, small, clothed in the flesh of our precarious humanness. This is the wisdom of God, God's way of doing things.

O Wisdom, you came forth from the mouth of the Most High, and, reaching from beginning to end, you ordered all things mightily and sweetly. Come, and teach us the way of prudence.

Wednesday, December 14, 2022

Saint John of the Cross

If we were to go to John of the Cross with a complaint, perhaps he would remind us that "the road is narrow" that leads to life and those who wish "to travel it more easily must cast off all things" and use the cross as their only "cane," and so be ready to suffer all things willingly for the love of God.

Because sometimes we may have sought satisfaction apart from Christ or preferred other crutches or cushions to his cross, we beg his mercy.

Monday, December 12, 2022

Our Lady of Guadalupe

Today we remember Our Lady of Guadalupe, Patroness of our Land. Each year on this day we set up a special shrine in the transept of our church with her image adorned by flowers and two candles that are illumined throughout the day. She is our Mother and our Refuge in all tribulation. We are greatly consoled by her words to Saint Juan Diego in 1531: 

Do listen, do be assured of it, my littlest one, that nothing at all should alarm you, should trouble you, nor in any way disturb your countenance, your heart. For am I not here, I, your mother? Are you not in the cool of my shadow? In the breeziness of my shade? Is it not I that am your source of contentment? Are you not cradled in my mantle, cuddled in the crossing of my arms? Is there anything else you need?

Mary's conception, free of original sin, was unique among all created persons. But it is our re-conception in Christ, our rebirth in Christ, our re-creation in Christ, and our vocation to be holy and blameless, without blemish, immaculate before the face of God in love. This is something we all share with Mary. It seems an impossible vocation. Mary, our model, teaches us how to follow it and prays for us as we do.

There is a famous quote: “Pray as if everything depended on God and work as if everything depended on you.”  But if we were to ask the Virgin Mother Mary about it, she would perhaps say: “Pray and work knowing that it all depends on God. Everything depends on God.”  She would be in agreement with St. Paul in his saying, “What do you have that you did not receive?  If then you received  it, why do you boast as if it were not a gift?”  The notion that each of us is called to be “holy and immaculate before the face of God in love” only seems impossible when God is left out of the process. Mary learns from the angel that nothing will be impossible for God: she, a virgin, but she will have a son who is the Son of God.

In the Magnificat, Mary never once uses the pronoun “I”. Her prayer is not a prayer of praise about herself, but about what God has done for her, for Israel, and for all generations of the lowly who know that nothing is impossible for God. Mary prays in praise of him who is her savior, a God who looks not on egocentric accomplishments but rather on our lowliness and poverty and hunger for Him, a God who ever remembers to have mercy upon us to make us blessed and holy and immaculate as we live and pray before his face.

Reflection by Father Luke.

The Third Sunday of Advent

The third Sunday of Advent, which we celebrate today, has traditionally been referred to as “Gaudete Sunday” taken from the first word of the Latin Introit for today’s Mass, “Gaudete,” “Rejoice!” Today’s Mass readings and prayers are filled with expressions of joy and expectation.

In the first Reading from Isaiah, we heard: “Let the desert and the dry lands exult, let the wasteland rejoice and bloom . . . let it rejoice and sing for joy. They shall see the glory of the Lord, the splendor of our God.” Look! Your God is coming . . . He is coming to save you!” The prophet seems to go overboard with his excitement and enthusiasm

Isaiah continues: “The eyes of the blind shall be opened, the ears of the deaf unsealed, then the lame shall leap like a deer, and tongues of the mute sing for joy.” These words will be explicitly applied to Jesus, who through his ministry, brought this healing into the lives of many people.

All this is closely related to today’s Gospel. John the Baptist, as we see has already been arrested for accusing King Herod of divorcing his wife and marrying his sister-in-law. While in prison, John hears about Jesus and sends some of his disciples to him with a question: “Are you the one who is to come, or are we to wait for another?” The one who is to come is the long-expected Messiah. The one who would make everything right.

Jesus answers as he does in other similar situations in the Gospels, by not responding directly to the question. Instead, he says: “Go back and tell John what you hear and see: the blind regain their sight, the lame walk and lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, and the dead are raised and the poor have the Good News proclaimed to them.”

These words of Jesus recall the words of the prophet Isaiah. They describe what will happen when the Messiah comes. It was not a popular image associated with Jewish expectations of the Messiah at that time. They expected a military figure who would fight the Romans, who occupied and ruled Palestine and drive them out. Other Jews were expecting a prophet like Moses.

Jesus tells John that the work of God is not bombastic or earth-shattering, as many of us imagine it to be. Jesus tells him to see beyond his narrow expectation of an angry and destructive God and open himself up to a God who heals, shows love, and desires that all might repent and show love, mercy, and compassion.

This third Sunday of Advent is meant to be one of joy and expectation. Joy must be embraced as both a goal and a characteristic of those who follow Christ and proclaim the Good News.

However, what does the word “Joy” mean in a world of suffering, war, terrorism, and inequity? In what way can God’s reign be seen as an invitation to joy for the weak and vulnerable people of our world?

Let us look at what has taken place in our world this past year. Here are a few examples. In the United States, there has been a dramatic rise in hate crimes, especially against people of Asian descent, Jews, people of color, and others considered on the fringe of society. I read recently that a “hate crime” occurs nearly every hour in the USA. This past year 611 mass shootings of some kind have been reported by The Gun Violence Archive.

Other parts of the world have their own problems. Sudan and Somalia are plagued with drought, political tensions, floods, disease, and malnutrition. Syria is in an economic crisis after a ten-year civil war. Myanmar experienced a military takeover and 330,000 people have been displaced, including the Rohingya minority. In Yemen, there has been an economic collapse that has brought about the destruction of their health and education systems. Nigeria has experienced twelve years of conflict, unrest, and insecurity due to widespread criminal activity and the rise of violent Islamic terrorist groups that target Christians. And the litany goes on.

Lest you think that the state of the world we experience today is unique to our time, let us look at what was happening in the world at the time when Jesus was born. The Romans occupied much of the known world from the ancient Near East to Britain, in the west. Palestine was in the midst of a political and social meltdown. Herod the Great was coming to an end of a long, bloody, and paranoid career. He ruled by tactics of mass murder and widespread surveillance that sounded like a foretaste of the Stalin years.

Wars and insurrections were everywhere in the ancient world. Political rebels, subversives, and religiously motivated revolutionaries, akin to ISIS, were in abundance. According to the Jewish historian, Josephus, “Now at this time there were ten thousand other disorders in Judea, which were like tumults, because a great number put themselves into a warlike posture, either out of hopes of gain for themselves or out of enmity to the Jews.” As the preacher of Wisdom in the book of Ecclesiastes, Qoheleth said: “What has been will be again, and what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun” (Eccl. 1:9)

All through Advent, the message to us has been to prepare, be watchful, and stay awake, the kingdom is here. What are we looking for? That is John’s question. Am I looking for you or another? It’s not just his question, it’s ours too.

Beneath John’s question, is the longing to know ourselves, to live with meaning and significance. It is not about the right answer but about living the right relationship with ourselves, with each other, and with God. The Messiah comes to bring life, not an answer to a question.

What do you hear and see? Look around, pay attention, watch, and listen.

Think of the times when you have had new insights in your life when your thinking about a person or situation changed. Think of times when you discovered beauty in a place or person that you thought just couldn’t be. Think of the times when you felt that you were stuck in a place, hit rock bottom, and could not go on. Suddenly you see change and progress. Think of the times when you experienced shame, guilt, and embarrassment and wished the earth would open and swallow you up. Then one day you realize God loves you as you are. Think of the times when you felt empty and had nothing left to give. Then unexpectedly, someone gives you encouragement, hope, or love. Are we not the blind who see again, the lame who walk, the lepers who are cleansed, and the deaf who hear?

These are the moments of our life when we recognize the One to come. Yes, God comes – to us! As the Letter of St. James says: “The coming of the Lord is at hand.”

“Those whom the LORD has ransomed will return and enter Zion singing, crowned with everlasting joy; they will meet with joy and gladness, sorrow and mourning will flee.”  Look! Your God is coming . . . He is coming to save you!”

Photograph and homily by Father Emmanuel.



Thursday, December 8, 2022

Immaculate Conception

The baby in the cot may be quite passive and vulnerable to the whims of others, but he is also quite safe and will never again be so receptive; he is all ear, all eye, no judgment, no defensive irony.’ This observation on the relative innocence from which we all originate, by the contemporary British novelist Patrick Gale in his most recent novel Mother’s Boy, seems very relevant to the mystery of perfect innocence we celebrate today. While innocence practices total receptivity spontaneously, sin breeds obtuseness, judgmentalism, and fear leading to self-defense. But let us here and now wake up and see the truth before us. Like today’s resplendent full moon shining with incandescence into the pre-dawn darkness, Our Lady’s radiant purity reflects to us the beams of the Sun of Justice, Christ our Lord, that infuse life into our souls.

Sinlessness, to us poor sinners, is a state of soul and a relationship with God which by its very nature is as unimaginable as it is intensely desired. The long practice of sin, the habit of rebelliousness against God and the resulting alienation from him who is the very Source of our being, have all put us humans in a condition of self-contradiction, indeed, on a course of self-destruction. Unbelievably, we rebel violently and consistently against the very thing we most desire and most desperately need. We yearn for sinlessness as for a lost paradise, because we know that only there intimacy can thrive with the God who is our joy and only hope. We know instinctively that only the sinless person, only the person free of all slavery to the self, has the pure heart required to see and enjoy God as he is, in the fullness of his majesty, beauty and love.

For this reason, in celebrating today the feast of the Immaculate Conception of our Blessed Lady, we are at the same time celebrating that urgent longing that inhabits our deepest heart that impels us to emigrate once and for all beyond the stifling realm of sin and enter the Kingdom of God’s pure love. There, we are predestined to take our place in the assembly of the saints gathered around the throne of the immaculate Queen of Heaven, whom the Eastern Church lovingly honors with the singular title of Panaghía, ‘the All-Holy One’.

All three readings this morning showcase God’s fidelity to the human race, which constitutes the sturdy backbone of the single story of salvation related to us by Scripture. The reading from Genesis drives home the crucial centrality and durability of God’s very first promise to man, what has been called the proto-evangelion or ‘first Gospel’. God’s words on this occasion are also a prophetic preview of the development of all salvation history. God promises our first parents that, in the unrelenting hostility between the offspring of the woman and the offspring of the serpent, it is the woman’s progeny who will eventually carry the victory. The Lord says to the tempter-serpent: I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers. He will strike at your head, while you strike at his heel. A hit to the heel may cripple, but one to the head is lethal. The Mother of the Messiah, Mary of Nazareth, is here prefigured as the leader in a new faithful people—‘the poor of the Lord’—who will oppose evil and serve God’s project of salvation whole-heartedly. By conceiving the Christ and bringing him forth into the world, Mary sows in our earth the indestructible Seed of goodness, justice and hope. This seed, Jesus the Savior, will take root among us and transform the whole of humanity from the inside.

The Genesis story stresses one major consequence of original sin: it makes man cast off all responsibility for his deeds. First, Adam blames his wife for the catastrophe: The woman whom you put here with me—she gave me fruit from the tree, and so I ate it… Eve, in turn, blames the tempter: The serpent tricked me into it… (3.12-13). The disobedience of sin makes us fall into the perverse mechanism of always blaming the other for everything that goes wrong. (As far as my ego is concerned, only I am immaculate!) By stark contrast, the Gospel presents Mary as a woman fully in touch with her inner being, a woman steeped in the truth who tenderly yet robustly assumes responsibility for the message the Lord is entrusting to her: May it be done to me according to your word (Lk 1.38), she says with rare boldness. In the second reading St Paul exhorts Christians to assume responsibility for the level of charity in the world, in order both to live and to share the holiness grace has bestowed on them, since God intends us all to follow our Mother in her innocence: [The Father] chose us in [Christ], before the foundation of the world, to be holy and without blemish before him. In love he destined us for adoption to himself through Jesus Christ.

As mother and figure of believers, Mary is shown by Luke to believe the impossible: she, a virgin who has no sexual relationship with a man, is told she will have a son, and she believes it. She thus teaches us that faith is a force that prevents us from lying down and giving up when confronted by an apparent dead-end. Faith is a force that urges us not to yield too meekly to what feels like a relentless fate or an oppressive destiny. Mary’s bold faith is the kind that does not surrender to the inevitability of death and to the inexorable grinding of the laws of nature, evidenced in Elizabeth’s old age and hopeless sterility, in Mary’s own very unpromising virginity, and above all, in Christ’s destiny of death. Faith chooses to rely wholly on the God to whom nothing is impossible, the God who raised Christ from the dead.

In today’s gospel of the Annunciation, Mary questions but she does not doubt; the purity of her freedom of will, and her detachment from the workings of her individual reason, enable her spontaneously to take God at his word simply because it is God who speaks it. Her perfect obedience to God’s message surges from her serene holiness and corresponds fully, at the human level, to God’s own eternal wisdom and power. Her faith is so untainted, robust and dynamic, that she not only hears God’s words spoken to her by the angel, but, as a result of this generous hearing, she conceives God’s eternal Word in her womb. Boldness of faith, indeed, always results in the conception of the Word! Unlike our Mother, we not-so-immaculate Christians are often afraid of grace, afraid of being passionately loved by God, or anyone else for that matter. We are afraid of a love that we know will wreak havoc on our selfishness. However, the Blessed Virgin, unshackled by sin, dared to say to God: ‘Here I am! Do to me and with me whatever you will!’ We, in our spiritual wishy-washiness, want to belong to God and share in his glory and bliss and at the same time cling to what we regard as  indispensable vices. We often pray in the equivocal manner of the sixteen-year-old Augustine: ‘Give me chastity and continence, O Lord, but not just yet!’ Such is our cowardice and lack of freedom.

Mary is the believer par excellence because her faith became a choice, at a precise moment in her life; and this faith had a revolutionary impact on her existence, including her very flesh. Mary’s faith, her fiat in response to the archangel’s words, causes a change in her body, which is now drastically reshapen by the freshly conceived Child she suddenly finds herself carrying in her womb. We are astounded, and rightly so, by this result; and yet faith always follows this pattern: even the tiniest act of faith, if it is genuine, will take body in our life, will modify our existence, will become enfleshed in our world. And then we must accept the consequences of our generous adherence to God’s will, whether these consequences are gratifying or not.

In praising Mary, we are principally praising the work of God in her, as well as the courage of her faith in the face of the unknown. For Mary, to be ‘immaculate’ means that she is fully consecrated to the Kingdom and the work of the Kingdom. Her ‘immaculateness’ is the very opposite of either passivity or indifference or ignorance! Mary puts herself fully at the disposal of God’s designs for the whole world. How much more ‘global’ could someone’s believing heart become? Our Lady’s greatest accomplishment is to be the one human being who has, from the beginning of her existence, fully embraced the salvation offered her. As a consequence, she becomes a fellow worker with her Redeemer Son in the Father’s great project of spreading salvation to all humanity—from the anxious flight into Egypt to the foot of the Cross.

Now, by our baptism, we ourselves are called to play the very same role as the Mother of God, the Theotokos, ‘she who gave birth to God’. When we were created, God already intended that we, like our Blessed Lady, should also, like her, become theotokoi, God-bearers, not of course in her unique, all-encompassing manner of motherhood but nevertheless in a true and dynamic spiritual way. That is what Christian disciples ought to be: birthers of the living Word, which presupposes that the incarnate Word pervades our whole being. Everything in our nature, in our heart, in our soul’s deepest yearnings, is geared to precisely this vocation. The act of bearing God to the world over a lifetime is the demonstration that our union with God is real, because whoever houses God and sits down at table with God must yield divine fruit for the benefit of the many. In this, as in every other aspect of our life of faith, our Blessed Mother Mary is our precursor, our model, our intercessor, and the cause of our joy. Through the hidden alchemy of faith and love, the power of her immaculate heart can come to the rescue of our sinfulness, if we would but summon her. For, what mother does not run to the rescue of her children, to make up for their blunders, deficiencies and even crimes? And this is all the more true so when the parent in question is the compassionate Mother of all those living the life of Christ, whose most beautiful name is the Lover of Man.

The Immaculate Conception, Diego Velázquez, 1599 – 1660, oil on canvas, 135 × 101.6 cm, The National Gallery. Homily by Father Simeon.


Tuesday, December 6, 2022

With Saint Nicholas

Today the Church celebrates Saint Nicholas remembered through the ages for his generosity to the poor. We recall these words of the martyred archbishop Saint Oscar Romero, which we always imagine the holy bishop Saint Nicholas would have appreciated.

No one can celebrate a genuine Christmas without being truly poor. The self-sufficient, the proud, those who, because they have everything, look down on others, those who have no need even of God — for them there will be no Christmas. Only the poor, the hungry, and those who need someone to come on their behalf will have that someone. That someone is God, Emmanuel, God with us. Without poverty of spirit, there can be no abundance of God.

Artwork by Elisabeth Jvanovsky.

Sunday, December 4, 2022

Second Sunday of Advent

In those days John the Baptist appeared, preaching in the desert of Judea 2 [and] saying, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!" It was of him that the prophet Isaiah had spoken when he said: "A voice of one crying out in the desert, 'Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths.'"

John is not the Word but a voice, yet as Augustine points out, in order to be a voice he must first have the word within him. “A word,” he says to his congregation in Hippo, “is in the heart before it is in the voice, so the Word, Christ, is before the voice, John,”. Just as Jesus says to his opponents in John, “before Abraham was, I am” so is he, as God’s Word, present and active in John the Baptist.

John is the forerunner. In John, the whole of the old covenant cries out for its fulfillment. God gave his people John to prepare the way for his Son so that his people could see the first covenant shine forth once again in its original brightness. He is its embodiment not just in his message, but through his profound obedience. His dwelling place, in the desert, his diet, locusts and wild honey, his manner of dress, camel’s hair, and a leather belt, all evoke the history of the relationship between God and his people Israel.  Yet these would mean nothing if they were not grounded in a heart and mind that was pure and free, wholly at the service of the word and its demands. God needs him to be the appearance of his divine glory in its old covenant form to get his people ready for the appearance of his divine glory in the new covenant form, in his only-begotten Son, the Word made flesh. He continues to play that role for us today.

By heeding the word of John and surrendering to the act of baptism in repentance for their sins, the people have been marked by grace. While not liberating them from the slavery of sin in the fullness of the sacrament of the baptism of Jesus, nevertheless insofar as their repentance has been genuine, this experience has marked them in a way that will remain in them always and can never be fully shed. They have been claimed anew by God and stamped by his truth as his own. In the voice of John, the yearning of the people has been awakened, it holds them in a heightened state of alertness and readiness, in suspended expectation for what is to come.

From within this indeterminate crowd emerges a smaller group, the religious leaders, Pharisees, and Sadducees, who have also come to John, not to be baptized but as representatives sent to investigate.

As such, they remain detached observers. Instead of exposing themselves to the power of the divine word given through John, and surrendering themselves to it in the necessary humility, faith, and love, from the start, they place themselves outside and above it, calculating, judging, and weighing according to a scale they themselves have contrived from within the confines of their religious system. From within this configuration of laws and rituals, they believe they can survey the whole and make a judgment regarding any particular part. Whereas the message of John demands that one place oneself under judgment in sincere repentance and desire to renew one’s life, they have set themselves up as its judge.

John calls them “a brood of vipers.” Jesus himself uses this term in Matthew. Twice in fact. The first is in the context of the healing of a blind and mute demoniac.  There we find two responses to Jesus’ miracle: on the one hand, “All the people were amazed, and said, “Can this be the Son of David?” Confronted with such an extraordinary and unheard-of event, their response is spontaneous: astonishment, wonder. They have been caught up in the mystery of what they have seen and heard. In this state, all horizons are opened up. Astonishment naturally flows into a question, which is, at the same time, an act of praise, which has been shaped and then articulated in speech from their experience. They know that such healing can only be of a supernatural origin. So they ask, “Can this be the Son of David?” Their hearts and minds are again in a state of heightened expectation, disposed to hear more, ready to receive the next revelation and to follow where the question takes them. They are ready to enter upon a journey or, better, they are ready to be led on a journey to places they’ve never been before, into a world that they did not know, that they could not imagine, was possible, because their present categories could only point to the Word made flesh and never arrive on their own at what God has done in Jesus. Only God can reveal him, and only then can it be seen that indeed all the images and lines of the old covenant point precisely to him, and nowhere else. In him, all the flights of human speculation are infinitely transcended. In him the heavens are opened, the mystery of God as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit is made known, and we are welcomed into the divine life. Their question, borne of amazement, frees up Jesus to disclose all that he has come to reveal to them of his Father. Unlike other marvels, the source of this one is truly from above. No amount of questioning will ever exhaust its mystery. On the contrary, every answer will only open another entryway into the ever-greater mystery of the inexhaustible exchange of divine truth and love in the One God.

On the other hand, there are the Pharisees, who also respond, but with a judgment, not a question, and a negative one at that, a swift and authoritative declaration: “It is only by Beelzebul, the prince of demons, that this man casts out demons.” In the place of astonishment, of being filled with joy and wonder, we have a calculating spirit born of fear. Like the crowd, they know that the healing of a blind and mute demoniac can only be the work of a supernatural power so since they cannot deny its power, they question its source. Alarmed by the messianic language, they are determined to stamp it out. Thus they muddy the waters and sow confusion and doubt where there was only joy at the obvious truth of what everyone had seen. They shift the debate to the realm of personal abuse and character assassination. They are out to destroy Jesus’s credibility in the eyes of a crowd ready and disposed to believe. Their accusation shows they have already made a fundamental choice to take sides against Jesus. In this context, Jesus says “You brood of vipers! How can you speak good, when you are evil? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.” By their judgment, they have themselves come under judgment, from truth itself.

The expression “brood of vipers” appears again in chapter 23, this time in the midst of the seven woes Jesus addresses to the Pharisees and scribes. The flawed religious understanding that appeared at the beginning has now shown itself to be no minor thing but has continued to blind them to the divine plan as it’s been unfolding before their eyes. Not only are they blind to it, the more it is revealed to them in Jesus, but the more their response also becomes hardened resistance, then outright opposition, and finally the desire to kill him. Our expression “brood of vipers” occurs in the seventh and final woe, in which we hear these terrible words: "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites. You build the tombs of the prophets and adorn the memorials of the righteous, 30 and you say, 'If we had lived in the days of our ancestors, we would not have joined them in shedding the prophets' blood.' 31 Thus you bear witness against yourselves that you are the children of those who murdered the prophets; 32 now fill up what your ancestors measured out! 33 You serpents, you brood of vipers, how can you flee from the judgment of Gehenna? 

The harshness of these words is difficult, but the consequences that follow from the response to the witness of John are serious. John is pointing the way to becoming a genuine child of God and remaining a child of God, by accepting the revelation of the Father of his Son and believing in him, and following him. This is the Father’s will. This is no imposition, no impingement on personal freedom, but an utterly gratuitous act of pure love, an offer of true liberation and genuine intimacy that will last forever. We are to make space for this Son in every corner of our souls. Wherever our heart is closed off to God, we are no longer his children. Sin cannot claim an origin in God, but only in the evil one, the father of lies. When we sin, we have surrendered to his deceitful voice. He is the father of our actions, and we are his sons. He is a viper, and we are his brood. This mystery goes back to the beginning of the human story. By means of lies and deceit, he robbed Adam of the Lord’s original promise of immortality. He is thus a liar and a murderer.

John is pointing the way to truth and life. The words of these difficult passages are meaningless unless we are willing to apply them to ourselves in this way; to see them as an invitation into the real, and to change our lives. And we can only do this if we ourselves see according to the whole, that is, that God is love, that he, therefore, never says or does anything outside of love, and that he never rejects anyone who turns to him in their need.

“His winnowing fan is in his hand.” Our sins weigh us down like heavy chains but, in reality, they lack all substance and so are light as air. The divine glory on the other hand has weight, it is the weightiest of all things and has the most substance, yet by its weight we become light, the lightness of freedom, knowledge, and love, ready to be lifted up into the heavenly kingdom. The Lord is waiting to blow our sins away like chaff, assigning them to oblivion, and leaving nothing but persons heavy with the indwelling light of divine glory, friends of the Son, born of the same Father, united in his will. But he is awaiting our permission, our “Yes”. “Can this be the Son of David?” Yes, indeed. And we know that this Son has come, and yet in hope we await his coming, yet at the same time, he is present to us now, in our midst, in this Eucharist. 

Saint John the Baptist, c. 1230,  North Portal, Chartres Cathedral.  Today's homily by Father Timothy.

Saturday, December 3, 2022

Saint Francis Xavier

One friend wrote of Francis Xavier “I have never met anyone more filled with faith and hope, more open-minded than Francis. He never seems to lose his great joy and enthusiasm. And anything he is asked to do, he does willingly, simply because he loves everyone.” And so, when St. Ignatius asked his dear friend Francis Xavier to go on mission to the Far East he was "overjoyed." He is said to have "walked with a joyful, calm face" and easy laughter. What we now know is that this vitality was not without its cost, for while on mission Xavier very often suffered from depression, loneliness, and a gnawing insecurity.

Nonetheless, like Jesus in this morning’s Gospel, Francis Xavier’s heart was ever moved with pity for the crowds of people whom he evangelized, and his only desire was to bring them to Christ.

As we continue our Advent journey, let us pray that the steadfast joy and zeal of Francis Xavier may be ours. And for any traces of half-heartedness let beg Christ’s mercy.

Wednesday, November 30, 2022

With Saint Andrew


As he called his first disciples Peter and Andrew, Jesus calls each of us. Like Saint Paul and all the saints, we long to depart to be with Christ. Daily we try to set our minds and hearts on things that are above where Christ is. We have died; our lives are hidden now with Christ in God. We consider everything to be nothing at all compared to knowing Christ Jesus, our Lord. Because of him, we have set everything else aside, because in comparison everything else is a pile of rubbish. And we want more and more to know only Christ and the power of his resurrection. We share in his sufferings even now and so are becoming like him in his death. And it is worth it if somehow we attain the resurrection. So we keep pressing on to make it our own because Christ Jesus has made each of us his own. Our drawing closer to him, following him, is only possible because he draws us to himself. We need only be constantly available for this "drawing."

Again and again, our Lord said, I am he. I am he. I am he who is highest. I am he whom you love. I am he in whom you delight. I am he whom you serve. I am he for whom you long. I am he whom you desire. I am he whom you intend. I am he who is all. Julian of Norwich

Duccio di Buoninsegna, The Calling of the Apostles Peter and Andrew, 1308-1311, National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC.


Sunday, November 27, 2022

The First Sunday of Advent

You may remember the story of the Johnstown flood; we read the book by David McCullough in the refectory some years ago. It had been raining for days in Johnstown, Pennsylvania in the spring of 1889. A poorly constructed damn has broken above the town; and water is rising rapidly, higher and higher, in the town below. All is pandemonium, utter chaos. But one well-to-do family residing on the hillside in a lovely Victorian home is trying to let life go on as usual. (Denial, I think is what we’d call it today.) Their lawn and garden are submerged, and water is moving up their front steps, as they calmly finish their formal luncheon, seemingly oblivious. The maid clears the dessert dishes. And finally, the father of the family puts down his napkin, rises, and declares that they must all leave the house immediately and walk up the hill outside their home to higher ground. Everyone departs. The father has his little daughter’s hand. After a few steps his wife, walking arm in arm with her sister and the maid, disgusted at all the mud and slop and chaos, declares: “I prefer to return to the house.” “I will follow you,” says her sister. They pull the little girl away from her father, and the women reenter the house. Water is rapidly filling the first floor. They climb to the second with water at their feet. Moments later they hurry up the narrow stairway to the attic. The water rushes on. There are no more steps. The women are trapped and drowned. Miraculously the little girl is thrust out of the attic window by the force of the water, and she lands on a mattress floating by! After a harrowing journey, she is eventually reunited with her widowed father. 

Something was happening right under their noses. And tragically they weren’t getting it. It had after all been raining for days. “They did not know until the flood came and carried them all away,” says Jesus. “Therefore, stay awake. For you do not know on which day your Lord will come. Be sure of this: if the master of the house had known the hour of night when the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and not let his house be broken into. So too, you also must be prepared, for at an hour you do not expect, the Son of Man will come.” Perhaps something is happening right under our noses too. There’s always that possibility that God in Christ is doing something, asking something of us, making a move in our direction and we’re just not getting it. There could be a flood of mercy and divine presence right at our door.

There is a wonderful twist in this passage, for as Jesus puts it this morning we have to stay awake- not to keep our house, our very selves locked tight to keep a thief out but vigilant instead to do the opposite– to leave our door unlocked for the Son of Man is very near; keep our hearts open, for Jesus the divine Thief, hidden in the dark of night, is looking for a way in.

Now the first question of course is this: What does a thief do? Well, he breaks in to take what does not belong to him. A second question follows. What is ours that a divine Thief would want? The answer? Our very selves, our sinful selves, our flesh, the mess we find ourselves in right now. He wants it all; He wants us. He is sneaking in to take it, to take us to himself now, to become with us, to become us at every moment- at every moment bone of our bone, flesh of our flesh; in an endless, relentless incarnation that is at the heart of His desire. For nothing that we are puts Him off. Our weakness draws Him; He wants to get in and take it all.

The Lord’s approach is so often unremarkable, so quiet that we need to keep awake or we’ll miss out. Aren’t we all still learning His way of doing things, how He moves in silence and obscurity? Hidden first of all in the warm womb of a very young, virgin mother, He then lives a sheltered small-town life as a carpenter and wandering preacher. Then in the excruciating hour of his death on the cross, all his beauty and divinity will be smeared, obscured by the blood and spittle of his passion. And finally, after His resurrection as He returns to his disciples; He will sneak in through locked doors and whisper, “Peace” and ask quietly for something to eat. The divine Thief is back, wounded and resurrected. And this is perhaps the best news of all, for this time He has come in through locked doors. Apparently, nothing can really keep Him out. The fear and need, the love and desire of His disciples for His presence, all of it absolutely magnetize Jesus’ heart and draw Him in. He can’t stay away.

So, in the end, our life of faith is always like that journey of the two disciples back from Emmaus as they reflect on their mysterious encounter with the Stranger. “It was the Lord,” they say.  “It was He all the time who was speaking to us, feeding us though we did not realize.” It is the Lord accompanying us, longing to enflesh himself in our ordinariness over and over though we may not always realize it. There is so much we just do not understand. It’s got to be that way. We believe, but we never get it all. How could we? God is Mystery. But rest assured it is our love and desire that give us a clear vision. Love is knowledge and assurance, because if we want to be with Him; He wants it more than we do.

God in Christ is hidden and yet revealing himself over and over, doing anything at all to get our attention, “playing in ten thousand places,” in nature and grace, over and over, all day long. Vigilance is essential, a willingness to be surprised at every corner of the cloister, as St. Bernard would say, because angels will be there- heavenly messengers- reminding us, as one did our Blessed Lady, that Someone is here. Someone is coming, stealing in; Someone wants to be our flesh now. Someone we love has seen our sad predicament and has come down to be with us now; always eager to turn things upside-down, He makes opportunities for mercy out of the disasters of our sinfulness.

Finally, perhaps His call to us this morning may be not so much, “Stay awake. Watch out,” with a threat of impending doom and divine retribution. Maybe it is a bit like the, “Watch this” of a kid just back from the field, from gymnastics or a dance class with a new play, a new move, a leap, or a twirl that she can’t wait to show off. “Look. Watch this. See what I can do.” Quiet as a thief on tiptoe, Christ Jesus is coming, present in a morsel of broken bread; the God of tiny violets and of tall, tall trees, too tremendous for us to grasp fully but also astoundingly, disarmingly ordinary. Let us open to this Thief; open the doors of our hearts to the flood. There is no need to seek higher ground; let us stay low instead so that we will be overwhelmed by mystery and mercy.

Homily by one of our monks.