Sunday, July 26, 2015

17th Sunday of Ordinary Time, Christ feeds 5,000

From a homily on St. John's Gospel by St. Augustine

The miracles wrought by our Lord Jesus Christ are truly divine works, which lead the human mind through visible things to perception of the Godhead. God is not the kind of being that can be seen with the eyes, and small account is taken of the miracles than which he rules the entire universe and governs all creation because they recur so regularly. Scarcely anyone bothers to consider God’s marvellous, his amazing artistry in every tiny seed. And so certain works are excluded from the ordinary course of nature, works which God in his mercy has reserved for himself, so as to perform them at appropriate times. People who hold cheap what they see every day are dumbfounded at the sight of extraordinary works even though they are no more wonderful than the others.

Miracle of the Loaves and Fishes
French late 12th-early 13th c., Victoria & Albert Museum
Governing the entire universe is a greater miracle than feeding five thousand people with five loaves of bread, yet no one marvels at it. People marvel at the feeding of five thousand not because this miracle is greater, but because it is out of the ordinary.

Who is even now providing nourishment for the whole world if not the God who creates a field of wheat from a few seeds? Christ did what God does. Just as God multiplies a few seeds into a whole field of wheat, so Christ multiplied the five loaves in his hands. For there was power in the hands of Christ. Those five loaves were like seeds, not because they were cast on the earth but because they were multiplied by the one who made the earth.

This miracle was performed for the multitude to see; it was recorded for us to hear. Faith does for us what sight did for them. We behold with the mind what are our eyes cannot see; and we are preferred to then because of us it was said: Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe.


Sunday, July 19, 2015

16th Sunday of Ordinary Time

“Thus when Jesus landed he saw a large crowd He took pity on them because they were like sheep without a shepherd: and he began to teach them many things.”

From a commentary on Mark’s Gospel by St. Bede the Venerable:

Matthew relates more fully how he took pity on them. He says: “And he took pity on them and cured their sick.” This is what it means really to take pity on the poor, and on those who have no one to guide them: to open the way of truth to them by teaching, to heal their physical infirmities, and to make them want to praise the divine generosity by feeding them when they are hungry as Jesus did according to the following verses.

Jesus tested the crowd’s faith, and having done so he gave it a fitting reward. He sought out a lonely place to see if they would take the trouble to follow him.

For their part, they showed how concerned they were for their salvation by the effort they made in going along the deserted road not on donkeys or in carts of various kinds, but on foot.

In return Jesus welcomed those weary, ignorant, sick, and hungry people, instructing, healing, and feeding them as a kindly savior and physician, and so letting them know how pleased he is by believers’ devotion to him.

Christ as the Good Shepherd, Mausoleum of Galla Placidia, Italy, AD 425


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Friday, July 17, 2015

"Like the deer that yearns for running streams." Psalm 41 (42)

One of the screens was down in our cloister and a fawn leapt through! We found it when we came over to Lauds.


Friday, July 10, 2015

Solemnity of St. Benedict


We wish you all a blessed Feast of our Holy Father St. Benedict!

From a Brief by Blessed Paul VI

Saint Benedict has the reputation of being the messenger of peace, the maker of unity, the master of civilization, and especially the herald of Christianity and the author of monasticism in the West. When darkness seemed to be spreading over Europe after the fall of the Roman empire, he brought the light of dawn to shine upon this continent. For with the cross, the book, and the plough, Christian civilization was carried, principally through him and his sons, to the peoples who lived in those lands which stretch from the Mediterranean to Scandinavia, and from Ireland to the plains of Poland.

St Benedict healing a leper.
Fresco fragment from the lower church of San Crisogono, Rome
With the cross, that is, with the law of Christ, he strengthened and developed the institutions of private and social life. Through the “Work of God,” that is, through the careful and assiduous conduct of prayer, he taught that divine worship was of the greatest importance in the social order. And so he sealed that spiritual unity of Europe in which the various nations of different ethnic origins and languages felt themselves to be united into the one people of God. And so this unity, learnt from so great a master, which the sons of Saint Benedict so faithfully strove to achieve, became the principal element in that period of history called the middle ages. All men of good will in our times must strive to recover that unity, which, as Saint Augustine says, is “the form of all beauty,” and which alas has been lost in the vicissitudes of history.

With the book, that is, with the culture of the mind, this venerable patriarch from whom so many monasteries have drawn their name and their spirit spread his doctrine through the old classics of literature and the liberal arts, preserved and passed on to posterity by them with so much care.

And lastly, with the plough, that is, through agriculture, he changed the waste and desert lands into orchards and delightful gardens; and joining work with prayer in the spirit of those words ora et labora, he restored the dignity of human labor.

Not without reason, then, did Pope Pius XII call Saint Benedict the “Father of Europe,” for he inspired the peoples of this continent with the love of order upon which their social life depends. We pray he may look upon Europe, and by his prayer achieve even greater things in years to come.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

14th Sunday of Ordinary Time, Christ preaches in Nazareth

From a conference by St. Symeon the New Theologian

Many people never stop saying – I have heard them myself – “If only we had lived in the days of the apostles, and been counted worthy to gaze upon Christ as they did, we should have become holy like them.” Such people do not realise that the Christ who spoke then and the Christ who speaks now throughout the whole world is one and the same. If he were not the same then and now, God in every respect, in his operations as in the sacraments, how would it be seen that the Father is always in the Son and the Son in the Father, according to the words Christ spoke through the Spirit: My Father is still working and so am I?

But no doubt someone will say that merely to hear his words now and to be taught about him and his kingdom is not the same thing as to have seen him then in the body. And I answer that indeed the position now is not the same as it was then, but our situation now, in the present day, is very much better. It leads us more easily to a deeper faith and conviction than seeing and hearing him in the flesh would have done.

Christ preaching in the synagogue at Nazareth
14th c. fresco- from the Visoki Decani Monastery-Kosovo
Then even those of lowliest condition held him in contempt. They said: Is this not the son of Mary, and of Joseph the carpenter? Now kings and rulers worship him as Son of the true God, and himself true God, and he has glorified and continues to glorify those who worship him in spirit and in truth.... Then he was thought to be mortal and corruptible like the rest of humankind. He was no different in appearance from other men. The formless and invisible God, without change or alteration, assumed a human form and showed himself to be a normal human being. He ate, he drank, he slept, he sweated, and he grew weary. He did everything other people do, except that he did not sin.