1st rdg 1 Jl 2:12-28 return, repent, rend your hearts
psalm 51 Be merciful, O Lord, for we have sinned
2nd rdg 2 Cor 5:20-6:2 be reconciled/now is acceptable time
gospel Mt 6:16-18 do deeds in secret, pray in secret, fast in secret
Ash Wednesday brings us an external ritual that calls for some serious internal work. We know that we do not wear ashes as a badge of honor but rather they are a public declaration; “I am a sinner, please pray for me.” This ancient practice is a Christian’s deep embrace of the truth of one’s fragile condition. We comprehend our need for God’s mercy and love. The reception of ashes is accompanied by the exhortation of the readings to live the ongoing conversion of being reconciled to God. Although our sins are the catalyst as it were – the emphasis is not on our sins, not even on us. God is the center. The return to God or the turning to God is what is important. And the surrender of self – the dying to self with Christ in order to fully embrace coming to life with Christ in the wonder of his resurrection is where we are being led.
For so many reasons the monastic tradition “gets” Lent. Isn’t our vow of conversatio morum loosely translated ‘ongoing conversion’? While the exterior of Ash Wednesday commands our attention it is the interior spiritual journey that deserves our effort and that really matters. The Lenten spring is about the transformative experience each believer allows God to draw us into through silence, reflection, practices of discipline, penance, curbing of appetites in order to make room for God, so as to emerge into the newness God alone brings. One can travel the path of one’s own choosing and it may give you a few insights, but God’s desire is to have us participate in a much fuller reality that can only be ours through a deeper union with God. Jesus is telling us in the gospel that the practices are only of value if they bring us to “…the Father…who will repay you.”Read More »
1st rdg: Prv get wisdom/keep hold of instruction … she is your life
2nd rdg: Col clothe yourselves with love/word dwell in you richly
Gospel rdg: Mt instruction/service/humility
My brothers in community as much as we celebrate the memorial of the Cistercian founders today, we are celebrating the means they provide us to celebrate what we are living, our vocation, the dynamism of the call God is giving us in the here and now. There is no need to remember the spiritual journey of Robert, Alberic and Stephen – with all its ups and downs – if it does not draw us to reflect on our own spiritual journey.
So we gather up some key words from our scriptures today – wisdom – clothe yourselves in love – let the word of Christ dwell in you richly – instructor – servant – humble – and we consider what message God may be offering us today.
What formed Robert, Alberic and Stephen in the monastic endeavor forms us in the monastic endeavor. Relationship with God, nurtured in solitude and quiet, in personal and communal prayer, in our manual labor, and grounded in our life as a community of faith, all this is at the heart of what we are celebrating. The whole self is being engaged by God, intellect, will, emotions, our corporeality, all leading to the interior commitment from which springs a wholesome spirituality. The author of Proverbs encourages us to “get insight” and this involves just as much the practical / the human as it does the academic. While we do gather ‘Information’, it is only when we acquire meaning from this data that we can live our response to God.Read More »
Sirach 3:17-23 + 29-31; Philippians 1:21-27; John 1:1-18
“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.” As Brother Gregory would say: Wow. Wow, my brothers and sisters, today these Scriptures are fulfilled in our presence. Wow, today Brother Gregory celebrates face to face the mystery of the flesh-taking; the mystery of God become one of us; the mystery of the one who is closest to the Father’s Heart making that Heart known to us as living Love. Wow, this is the mystery in which John Joseph Krug spent his whole life immersed. This is the mystery that would bring forth from Greg not just ‘Wow‘ but the phrase he would use when something really touched him: ‘O Wow’.
I was talking with Brother Gregory earlier this morning, asking him what I should speak about at this most sacred time in the Liturgy. He answered simply: ‘Talk about Jesus, talk about humility, talk about compassionate service, talk about prayer. That is what my life has been about.’
‘Talk about Jesus.‘ That is where the Wow Factor is most front and center. Greg’s life revolved around Jesus. Jesus present in the sacrament of the Eucharist and Jesus present in his Word. No one, to my knowledge, has used the Blessed Sacrament Chapel in the Senior Wing like Brother Gregory. One of the greatest joys of his last days on earth was being wheeled to the Blessed Sacrament Chapel in our Church to pray before the exposed Eucharist. And one look at his battered New Testament is all that is needed to convince us of his absolute love and devotion to the words of Jesus enshrined there.Read More »
Blessed Christmas, my brothers and sisters, Blessed Christmas! From our monastic community to each of you and your families we wish you the fulness of peace, the joy which never ends, and the love which surpasses all knowledge. It is all here in this feast: peace, joy, love. The angels proclaimed ‘Peace‘ to the shepherds and to all of good will. A ‘Great Joy‘ was proclaimed to all who would hear it. And ‘Love‘ is both the fruit of such peace and joy as well as the source from which they are formed and flow out to us.
But it is one thing to proclaim such gifts and a totally different one to have them become realities in the here and now. How do we allow such peace and joy and love to become part of our lives? How do we allow the message of Christmas to live in us in such a way that it becomes the most important thing in our lives? How does the mystery of the flesh-taking of the Son of God take flesh in our own flesh and bone?
This Christmas I would ask us to look at what might be called the organizing principle of our lives. What is it? Does the mystery we celebrate this evening have anything to say about it? Is tonight’s liturgy just an exercise in warm, fuzzy feelings that we bring out for this most sentimental of Christian feasts, but without any true and lasting effect in our lives?Read More »
I arrived at Mepkin abbey in the beginning of September. The weather was warm and clear and the days were starting to get shorter, giving every prayer at compline a unique character as the sun set over river and cast its last burning rays through the high church windows while the monks sang to God, asking for his protection through the night.
Whether at church singing, in my cell praying, walking through the beautiful gardens, or even snipping micro-greens for work, I found myself completely immersed in the monastery’s peacefulness and quiet I had read about.
Every day was alike and structured in a rhythm with bells and buzzers ensuring you stay on schedule. There is nothing to worry about in the immediate future. Sing, pray, read, eat – no worries. It is a precious gift, a peek into paradise. Earthly cares receded, and the trivial clamour that occupied my thoughts slowly dissipated. I could explore the excellent library at my leisure, pray with more clarity and peace than ever before and more freely accept God’s love through the brothers.
But, after all, Mepkin is still on planet earth. Petty grievances, resentment, frustration, pride, sin. It was all still in me. Glimpsing transcendence is not the same as attaining it. The struggle to be who we are called to be does not end by walking through a gate, far less so if only for a month!
But here at Mepkin, the living of my faith could attain a higher pitch. Not that I emerged from the monastery with a Zen-like wisdom, but that Mepkin is a place where God speaks. And if one goes there with even a shred of openness, one will hear far more than may be understood or obeyed. One will have a glimpse into God’s love and will not be able to leave entirely unaffected.Read More »
Please join us in praying for the men who are discerning a call to our life. Four will be making a first visit during December: Steven, Carmine, Michael, Bruce Michael and Adam. One will be making his second visit during December: Matt. Three have asked to make a first visit during January: Leo, Paul and David. And we ask you prayers for Joe who has visited a number of times and will be coming for a three month observership in the summer of 2012.Read More »