Twenty-Sixth Sunday – A – 2014

1st rdg  Ez 18:25-28; psalm 25; 2nd rdg Phil 2:1-11; gospel  Mt 21:28-32

Jesus powerfully teaches on the theme of conversion in offering the story of the two sons and the vineyard in this passage from Matthew’s gospel.  Who among us has not said yes to God and reneged or said no and revisited and changed our decision.  Ongoing conversion – at the heart of our vow of conversatio morum – means that we are dealing with a process.  This is not like shutting on or off a switch.  The conversion of one’s heart as well as the conversion of one’s mind precede the behavioral changes that manifest the consistent turning to God a life of conversion entails.

When the prophet Ezekiel speaks the words: ‘turn from your transgressions’ – we realize that first there must be some comprehension of having transgressed which means there is an awareness that there is a way and an appreciation that that way has not been followed.  We hear Ezekiel enter a dialogue acknowledging the disposition many – even today – have to say that God is unfair – when in truth, that accusation is a means of trying to excuse oneself from the good behavior that is the mark of a Godly person.  So rightly Ezekiel asks – is it God’s way that is unfair or rather the reverse?

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Seventeenth Sunday – A – 2014

1 Kgs 3:5-12;  psalm   119; Rom 8:28-30; Mt 18:44-52

Jesus’ teaching in today’s gospel invites us to ask ourselves: Do I think of myself as on the way home to heaven?  I do and I suspect you do as well.  Perhaps more deliberately at some times than at other times, nevertheless it is living toward heaven.  In today’s gospel Jesus offers three parables, each having to do with heaven, what we value and what we strive for.  They lend encouragement to, give or lend impetus to a little more thought – but not worry – on this important consideration.  Paired with this gospel our first reading presents us Solomon answering God who has invited him to ask for something, Solomon asks for an understanding mind and receives both a compliment and the gift he asks for.  This exchange pertains to the consideration of what we give our lives to – what we sell everything for – what we value.  In writing to the Romans, in the very powerful 8th chapter of this letter, Paul calls us to be mindful that we are predestined to be conformed to the image of God’s Son.  Now there’s a passage to spend time with in lectio!!  Be it treasure in a field, or pearls of great value or a net filled with a variety of fish – these conceptions stir us to think and to evaluate our way of being engaged with God – the way we live our faith!

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Fifteenth Sunday Of Year A – 2014

Homily was given on July 13, 2014 by Abbot Stan

Isaiah 55: 10-11; Romans 8: 18-23; Matthew 13: 1-9

“The seed that falls on good ground will yield a fruitful harvest.”

Are not our hearts burning within us, my brothers and sisters, when we hear the parable of the sower? When we see Jesus broadcasting the seed liberally, scattering it on every nook and cranny of the field; when we hear of the harvest of thirty and sixty and a hundredfold? Do we not spontaneously burst forth into a heartfelt prayer: Lord, make me good ground, break up the clods that have formed in my heart, drench it with the water of your grace, soft’ning it and making it fertile and fruitful?

We know intuitively that the seed which Jesus scatters is the word which comes forth from his mouth. And if that’s not enough, the Church helps us by giving us the reading from Isaiah. Jesus’ word, Isaiah tells us, is a word which does not return to him void; a word, a seed which has the power to transform us, to make us fruitful beyond our imaginings. And we want that word to do just that. Our deepest desire, our innermost longing, is to be reborn into everlasting life, is to be transformed and transfigured. In the words of the desert father: to become all light, all fire. Or to keep the metaphor of the seed, to die to our individuality and to become fruitful thirty and sixty and a hundredfold.

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Father Feliciano’s Funeral – July 1, 2014

Homily was given on July 1, 2014 by Abbot Stan

Sirach 1: 1-10; I Corinthians 1: 18-29; John 14: 27-31

“Peace I give to you, my own peace I give you, a peace the world cannot give, this is my gift to you.” Such are the words with which Jesus welcomed Father Feliciano last Tuesday morning at 5:30 AM earth time. Peace, this is my gift to you. Through all the labyrinthian ways of his life, Peace, God’s Peace, is what Feli always sought. From the countryside of Pampanga to the big city of Manila, to Ava, Missouri, to Mepkin, to Norfolk, VA, and back to Mepkin, to the Philippines again, and then back to Mepkin. There was a restlessness about him which could only be satisfied with the fullness of God. As Cardinal Rosales wrote on hearing of Feli’s death: At the end of a trying and difficult wait our Brother Feliciano, ocso, was finally gifted with the Peace (with a capital P) he was looking for. And then the Cardinal added the beautiful words: I thank you Father Stan & Fr Kevin & the Mepkin community for waiting with patience and compassion for this gift of Peace for a Beloved Brother – Feli!

Peace, the gift of God, was what he sought, but his life was also marked with other prominent searches. Wisdom stands at the top of the list: vigorous intellectual grappling with the truth. Ministry and service: a life poured out to benefit others. Prayer: the whole raison d’etre of monastic Cistercian life. And finally, the mystery of suffering which so characterized the last twenty plus years of his time on earth.

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Homily For Father Joe’s Solemn Monastic Cosecration

Homily was given on June 28, 2014 by Abbot Stan

Ezekiel 36: 23b – 28; Colossians 3: 1 – 4; Matthew 22: 36 – 40

What is the monastic life to which you are consecrating yourself today, Father Joe? Is it something esoteric to which only certain tried and true warriors can aspire? Is it something for the elite in mind and body — like a religious Navy Seals outfit? The Green Beret of Catholicism? We laugh at such a comparison, don’t we? And yet, in our heart of hearts isn’t that what we feel? Even believe? Father Joe has reached the retirement age for priests in the diocese of Trenton. Through prudent planning he had a lot of money saved up for his later years; he has a good pension from the diocese and social security. Not to live exorbitantly, that is not Father Joe’s style. But comfortably, yes.

Instead, he has given it all away. Doesn’t that make him something like the elite forces? Wow! Father Joe must be a super-hero. I could never aspire to something like that. Monastic life must be only for the holy, monastic life must be only for the special, the few, the chosen.

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First Sunday of Lent – A – 2014

Gen 2:7-9;3:1-7;  psalm 51;  Rom 5:12-19; Mt 4:1-11

With so many possible paths in life it is sad to realize that one may get on the path that goes to nowhere, but this is not our choice.  As we begin Lent we know where we are going – to Easter – to the celebration of Jesus’ resurrection – to the hope and promise of participating in the fullness of Christ’s life. Our scriptures today remind us to know where we are going and to know that it may take more effort than we expected to stay on course.  For there are many forces demanding that we shift our focus away from God.  When we listen to texts speaking of the desert, of disobedience, of being led, and of being confronted with temptation, our hearts know the texts are not an anonymous ’this could be somebody’s experience’. The texts are urging us to find in them a vehicle, a means, to reflect on our own experience.   Truly I am humbled to be in the company of Adam and Jesus who each experienced temptation.  And I know that my choices are a mix, at times choosing to disregard God’s voice, God’s teaching going right along with Adam and at other times like Jesus I rely on God’s Word to quiet the voice of the tempter and choose to rely on God’s voice of love.  Notice that all Jesus’ responses to Satan in the gospel are passages of scripture.

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