Homilies

CHRISTMAS VIGIL — 2014

Blessed Christmas, my brothers and sisters. Blessed Christmas from the monks of Mepkin to each one of you and to all your families. There are hardly any sweeter words we can say to one another than these: Blessed Christmas! Merry Christmas. And so, let us turn to each other and say it!

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JOY NEVER ENDING — November 16, 2014

Genesis 28:11-18;   I Peter 2:4-9;   John 15:9-17

Today is our feast, my brother monks.  Today we celebrate something that is very, very personal to each one of us.  Today we celebrate 65 years of monastic life in this place in the LowCountry of South Carolina called Mepkin.  Sixty-five years!  Today we celebrate 21 years in this house, this holy building, consecrated for the Church of Mepkin.  Today is our feast, my brothers.  Today we celebrate ourselves, we celebrate what God has done in our midst through our own hands.  And to each one of you who are here celebrating with our monastic community I say: Today is your feast also, all of you who find, in some way or other, your spiritual home in Mepkin.  All of you, whether you have been coming to Mepkin for over twenty years or whether — like Miss Shirley and some of our young cub scouts — this is your first visit.

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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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