Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Summer Monastic Experience Weekend 2016

Last weekend we had a fantastic Monastic Experience Weekend - nine wonderful young women came! The participants share in our life, singing the Divine Office with us in choir, eating with us in the refectory, working alongside us, and having talks on monastic life and prayer. It's a joy and privilege to have these "Come and See" weekends and know that there is such vibrant life in the Church! Please keep these young women in your prayers as they continue their discernment journey.

Friday night Vespers in choir
Listening to reading in the refectory
Saturday pizza night
The participants

Sunday, June 19, 2016

12th Sunday of Ordinary Time, Year C

Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. These words of Jesus to his disciples in today's gospel (Luke 9: 18-24) are not always easy to hear. And yet, this is what he asks of us. During the Way of the Cross at Brazil's 2013 World Youth Day, Pope Francis told his young audience:
Christ carrying the cross, Titian ca 1565.
We have come here today to accompany Jesus on his journey of sorrow and love, the Way of the Cross, which is one of the most intense moments of World Youth Day. At the end of the Holy Year of Redemption, Blessed John Paul II chose to entrust the Cross to you, young people, asking you to carry it throughout the world as a symbol of Christ’s love for humanity, and announce to everyone that only in the death and resurrection of Christ can we find salvation and redemption.”
...[T]he Cross of Christ invites us also to allow ourselves to be smitten by his love, teaching us always to look upon others with mercy and tenderness, especially those who suffer, who are in need of help, who need a word or a concrete action; the Cross invites us to step outside ourselves to meet them and to extend a hand to them. Dear friends, let us bring to Christ’s Cross our joys, our sufferings and our failures. There we will find a Heart that is open to us and understands us, forgives us, loves us and calls us to bear this love in our lives, to love each person, each brother and sister, with the same love.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

11th Sunday of Ordinary Time, Year C

In today's gospel, taken from Luke 7:36-8:3, a woman who was a sinner comes to Jesus as he is eating in the house of Simon the Pharisee. She stood behind him at his feet weeping and began to bathe his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them, and anointed them with the ointment. Jesus, knowing Simon's judgmental thoughts, says to him I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven because she has shown great love. A sinful woman, an anonymous Syrian writer says,
Christ in the House of Simon by Dieric Bouts (ca. 1420-1475)
has proclaimed to us that God’s love has gone forth in search of sinners. For when he called her, Christ was inviting our whole race to love; and in her person he was drawing all sinners to his forgiveness. He spoke to her alone, but he was drawing all creation to his grace. No one else persuaded him to help her come to forgiveness; only his love for the one he himself had formed persuaded him to do this, and his own grace besought him on behalf of the work of his hands.
....In order that you may have the same experience, reflect within yourself that your sin is great, but that it is blasphemy against God and damage to yourself to despair of his forgiveness because your sin seems to you to be too great. He has promised to forgive your sins, however many they are; would you tell him you cannot believe this and dispute with him, saying that your sin is too great; he cannot heal your sickness? Stop at this point, and cry out with the prophet, Lord, I have sinned against you. At once he will reply, “As for me, I overlooked your fault: you shall not die.” Glory to him from all of us, for all the ages. Amen.

Sunday, June 5, 2016

10th Sunday of Ordinary Time, Year C

Today's Gospel account is of the resurrection of the widow of Nain's only son. Luke tells us that Jesus had compassion for her and said to her, “Do not weep.” Then he came forward and touched the bier, and the bearers stood still. And he said, “Young man, I say to you, rise!” The dead man sat up and began to speak, and Jesus gave him to his mother. The crowd is seized by fear and they glorify God.

In a sermon on this gospel, St. Augustine told his congregation:
All believers are moved when they hear the accounts of the miracles wrought by Jesus, our Lord and Savior, though they are affected by them in different ways. Some are astounded by his wonderful physical cures, but have not yet learnt to discern the greater miracles that lie beyond the world of sense. Others marvel that the miracles that they hear of our Lord working on people’s bodies are now being accomplished more wonderfully in their souls.

No Christian should doubt that even today the dead are being raised to life. Yet, while everyone has eyes capable of seeing the dead rise in the way the widow’s son rose, as we have just heard in the gospel, the ability to see the spiritually dead arise is possessed only by those who have themselves experienced a spiritual resurrection.

It is a greater thing to raise what will live for ever than to raise what must die again. When the young man in the gospel was raised, his widowed mother rejoiced; when souls are daily raised from spiritual death, mother Church rejoices. The young man was dead in body, these latter are dead in spirit. Those who witnessed the lad’s visible death mourned openly and visibly, but the invisible death of the dead in spirit was neither seen nor thought about.
Jesus raises the widow of Nain's son, Codex Aureus of Echternach, ca 1030-1050

Saturday, April 23, 2016

5th Sunday of Eastertide, Year C

Today's Gospel recounts some of Jesus's words at the Last Supper. I give you a new commandment, he says, love one another. As I have loved you, so you also should love one another. This is how all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.

How moving and how challenging this commandment is! St. Cyril of Alexandria comments:
Christ commands us to love as he did, putting neither reputation, nor wealth, not anything whatever before love of our brothers and sisters. If need be we must even be prepared to face death for our neighbor's salvation as did our Savior's blessed disciples and those who followed in their footsteps. To them the salvation of others mattered more than their own lives and they were ready to do anything or to suffer anything to save souls that were perishing. I die daily, said Paul. Who suffers weakness without my suffering too? Who is made to stumble without my heart blazing with indignation?
The Savior urged us to practice this love that transcends the law as the foundation of true devotion to God. He knew that only in this way could we become pleasing in God's eyes, and that it was by seeking the beauty of the love implanted in us by himself that we should attain to the highest blessings.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

3rd Sunday of Lent, Year II

In today's Gospel, taken from Luke 13:1-9, Jesus tells the parable of the unfruitful fig tree. The owner wants to cut it down, but the vinekeeper asks for more time: “‘Sir,’ the man replied, ‘leave it alone for one more year, and I’ll dig around it and fertilize it. If it bears fruit next year, fine! If not, then cut it down.’” His plea for mercy resonates with the theme of mercy emphasized over and over by Pope Francis.

St. Bernard, commenting on the Beatitudes, talks about mercy:
Blessed are the Merciful, Marble relief
Church of St. Charles Borromeo, Antwerp, Belgium
The sequence of beatitudes given in the Sermon on the Mount places the merciful before the pure in heart. The merciful are those who are quick to see truth in their neighbour; they reach out to others in compassion and identify with them in love, responding to the joys and sorrows in the lives of others as if they were their own. They make themselves weak with the weak, and burn with indignation when others are led astray. They are always ready to share the joys of those who rejoice and the sorrows of those who mourn....
Just as pure truth can only be seen by the pure in heart, so the sufferings of our fellow men and women are more truly felt by hearts that know suffering themselves. However, we cannot sympathize with the wretchedness of others until we first recognize our own. Then we shall understand the feelings of others by what we personally feel, and know how to come to their help. Such was the example shown by our Savior, who desired to suffer himself in order that he might learn to feel compassion, and to be afflicted in order that he might learn how to show mercy. Scripture says of him that he learned the meaning of obedience through what he suffered. In the same way he learned the meaning of mercy. Not that the Lord whose mercy is from age to age was ignorant of mercy’s meaning until then; he knew its nature from all eternity, but he learned it by personal experience during his days on earth.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

5th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C

On September 22, 2013, Pope Francis addressed a large meeting of young people from Sardinia. He commented on today's Gospel, in which Jesus addresses the crowd on the shore from Simon Peter's boat, and then tells Simon to launch out into the deep and let down his nets. The disciples had fished all night and caught nothing. This gospel scene holds a lesson for all of us:
Peter, in that critical moment, takes a risk. What could he have done? He could have given in to weariness and to discouragement, thinking that it is pointless and that it is better to withdraw and go home. Instead, what does he do? With courage, he steps out of himself and decides to trust Jesus. He says: “Well, alright! At your word I will let down the nets.” Be careful! He does not say: at my strength, my calculations, my experience as an expert fisherman, but rather “at your word,” at the word of Jesus! And the result is an incredible catch, the nets are filled to the point that they almost tear.
The Miraculous Draught of Fish
...When everything seems to be standing still and stagnant, when personal problems disturb us and social hardships do not meet with the right responses, it is not good to consider oneself vanquished. Jesus is the way: get him to embark on our “boat” and put out into the deep with him! He is the Lord! He changes the prospect of life. Faith in Jesus leads to a hope that goes further, to a certainty based not on our qualities and skills alone, but on the word of God, on the invitation that comes from him. Without making too many human calculations and without worrying about checking whether the situation that surrounds you coincides with your points of security. Put out into the deep, go out of yourselves: go out of our small world and open ourselves to God, to open ourselves increasingly also to our brethren. Opening ourselves to God is opening ourselves to others. Take a few steps outside ourselves, little steps, but take them. Little steps, going out of yourselves toward God and toward others, opening your heart to brotherhood, to friendship and to solidarity.

Friday, January 1, 2016

Octave of Christmas: Mary Mother of God Year C

Today we celebrate the Solemnity of Mary, the Mother of God. It is a special day for our community, as our church is dedicated to Our Lady under this title.

Basil of Seleucia was a bishop and ecclesiastical writer, who probably died between 458 and 460 AD. Forty-one extant sermons are attributed to him. This excerpt from one of his homilies is a beautiful meditation on the Incarnation:
Emmanuel came into the world he had made long before. God from all eternity, he came as a newborn infant. He who had prepared eternal dwellings lay in a manger, for there was no room for him at the inn. He who was made known by a star came to birth in a cave. He who was offered as a ransom for sin received gifts from the wise men. He who as God enfolds the whole world in his embrace was taken into the arms of Simeon. The shepherds gazed upon this baby; the angelic host, knowing he was God, sang of his glory in heaven and of peace to his people on earth.
And all these things together with other marvels concerning him, the holy mother of the Lord of all creation, the mother in very truth of God, pondered in her heart, and her heart was filled with great gladness. She was radiant with joy and amazed when she thought of the majesty of her Son who was also God. As her gaze rested upon that divine child I think she must have been overwhelmed by awe and longing. She was alone conversing with the Alone. 
Nativity, Giotto, 1304-1306 (Scrovegni (Arena) Chapel, Padua, Italy)