During the second week of January Dr. Fritz Bauerschmidt of the theology faculty of Loyola University in Baltimore came to Mepkin to offer classes in Christology to the men in formation. Having begun a relationship with the Mepkin community back in the 1990s when studying for his doctorate at Duke, Fritz has visited the monastery quite a number of times, and was with us last year for an abbreviated time as a monastic guest.Read More »
Genesis 12:1-4a; II Corinthians 4:1-12; Matthew 13:44-46
What a journey you have been on, Father Gerard Jonas! While still very young, growing up in a fervent Catholic family in the rural outreaches of the Philippines, you desired to be a priest. But there was great doubt this could happen, because you were a sickly youth. You persevered in your desire and received great support from the person who was to become the Cardinal Archbishop of Cebu. Ricardo Cardinal Vidal saw something special in you and God cleared the way by restoring health to you just in time for you to enter the seminary. The same thing happened as you neared ordination. Health was restored and so you were ordained twenty five years ago by Cardinal Vidal on your mother’s birthday.Read More »
Genesis 28: 11 – 18; I Peter 2 : 4 – 9; John 15 : 9 – 17
How awesome is this place. This is none other than the House of God. This is the very Gate of Heaven… You are living stones, chosen and precious… You did not choose me, but I have chosen you.
These are the Scriptures we have heard, my brothers and sisters. These are the Scriptures which give meaning to our lives and to this day, this day we call JOY NEVER ENDING. Together they form the envelop which surrounds us and in which we bathe, by which we are nourished and through which we are energized to run the race to the end.Read More »
On May 16th, Fr. Kevin Walsh joined 14 of the novice directors from other Cistercian monasteries in the United States for a meeting at Saint Joseph Abbey in Spencer, MA. Gathered were five directors from women’s houses (including one from the common observance house of women in Idaho) and ten directors from men’s houses. Sessions were focused on the topic of spiritual accompaniment using Dom Bernardo Olivera’s book A Light for my Path to organize the presentations and discussions.Read More »
The Christian journey is the journey to come to live the fullness of God’s life. Jesus shows us the way. And today we have in the scriptures examples of the process: What must happen in us to come to our true selves at the deepest level. We start with the recognition that we have constructed a false self to protect ourselves from pain, rejection, feelings of inadequacy, unworthiness, of not feeling loveable. You don’t realize it until you have an encounter with self, a moment of insight, a recognition of weakness, of sin, a realization of a real need. Then comes the moment of truth that this is not who you really are and we then come to understand that we are on two journeys in life.Read More »
On January 12th, 2016, the memorial of Saint Aelred, Father Jim Caffrey began his time as a postulant at Mepkin Abbey arriving from Dublin, Ireland. A priest of the Archdiocese of Dublin, Father Jim had visited Mepkin a number of times, lived with us for an extended period as an observer and came to hold firmly that God is calling him to join the community at Mepkin. It was all the unfolding of his response to God’s call to live the life of a contemplative monk. His years of service as a diocesan priest included parish work and many years as director of the Office for Young Adults. In each parish he offered the faithful the opportunity to learn about contemplative prayer, in particular lectio divina. Kindly keep Father Jim in your prayers and pray for those men involved in a process of discernment with us believing God may be calling them to enter Mepkin.
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We are pleased to have Jason Allen return Mepkin to in order to have a time with us as an observer. Jason has visited Mepkin previously and grown in his belief that God is calling him to take up the Cistercian life of work and prayer living according to the Rule of Saint Benedict. Travelling from Athens, Georgia where he works as a manager of a restaurant, Jason came to us having been discerning his monastic call for many years. Along the way he allowed himself to visit a number of monasteries, speaking with his spiritual director regularly, relying on the wisdom and insight of his spiritual director as he came to more fully understand God’s will for him. Please keep Jason in your prayers as he begins the formal process of application to enter Mepkin.Read More »
O holy night. Fall on your knees. God has come to us. The face of God appears in the face of a tiny babe. Jesus is the face of God and the face of God is Mercy. God is love. God is Mercy. As we enter into the Jubilee Year of Mercy, as we enter into this holy night where God-Mercy, where Jesus-Mercy pitches his tent among us and dwells with us, let us be mindful of the words of our own Trappist brother, Father Louis, Thomas Merton. I have always overshadowed Jonas with my mercy. Have you had sight of me, Jonas my child? Mercy within mercy within mercy.
Let us hear the echo of that mercy throughout the fourteen readings we will hear and the songs we will sing. Let us embrace the mercy who comes to us to save us and to lead us to the fulness of life.
Let us pray.Read More »
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!
What a journey we have been on this evening. What a journey. And it all ends in the magnificent cadences of the Prologue to John’s Gospel. And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us. The Word became flesh and dwelt among us. How often have we heard those words? How often have we meditated on them? Some Christmases that is all I have said as I sat before the crèche, sat or knelt before the Blessed Sacrament. The Word became flesh and dwelt among us. God has become human. God has pitched his tent in our midst. God has become one of us. God is not only “out there,” or “over there” or transcendently other. God is my brother, flesh of my flesh and bone of my bone. Like me in all my vulnerability and in all my weakness and in all my frailty. Reflection on this phrase often led me to ponder that God did not just appear as an adult in majestic and manly power, but rather as a tiny, helpless infant; that God didn’t come to the palaces of the rich, but chose to be born of people who were poor; that God didn’t come to Rome, the center of power of the world at that time, but to an out-of-the-way place like Bethlehem and among the peripheries of society.Read More »
Genesis 28:11-18; I Peter 2:4-9; John 15:9-17
How can we celebrate the feast of Joy Never Ending this year without thinking of the two brothers we buried this year after over a century of monastic living at Mepkin? Joy captures and defines Brother Robert and Father Christian more than any other virtue or characteristic could. The two of them have given us an example of what monastic life is all about. It is about Joy. Not the surface, peripheral, ha-ha type of joy. No, the deep down freshness kind of joy. The joy that permeates us to the core, that says: Life is good, because God is good and God is here. As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you: abide in my love…. I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete. Our two brothers lived this reality to the full. When did we ever see Robert without his infectious smile? I lived with him for over 50 years and I can remember him angry or sad only once. He kept perspective in his life and would not allow the little daily annoyances to swerve him from the deeper reality of Joy Never Ending. And Father Christian’s constant mantra was: “Where there is more truth there is more joy.” His companion mantra built on this: “Joy is the main characteristic of the Christian…. There is no such thing as a sad Christian.” A Christian who may be sad, yes, but a sad Christian? No. Didn’t the new pieces to the monk crèche, crafted by our friends who are here with us, Karen and Michael, capture this so well? Robert’s smile and exuding happiness as he drove his mowing tractor, and Father Christian zipping around pushing his walker with the big smile on his face. With such examples before us, how can we not be inspired to make such joy our own?Read More »
Earlier this year a letter was sent to all the religious superiors of the United States to invite them and each of the novices in the United States to attend the mass of the canonization of Junipero Serra to be celebrated by Pope Francis at the Basilica National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, DC. Abbot Stan had to decline but gave his permission for our novices to participate. And so our Brother Juan and Brother Martin, accompanied by Brother John and Father Kevin travelled up to Washington by car the day before and received wonderful hospitality from Father Brian Shloth at the LaSalette community at their house of studies near the Catholic University of America. The mass was to be celebrated at 4 PM. Early the morning of the mass the Mepkin contingent joined the long lines waiting to pass through the security stations with metal detectors and went to their designated places for the mass. The novices and Brother John were with the huge number of novices inside the basilica. Father Kevin was outside in the area reserved for the priests who were concelebrating. There was a wonderful spirit of unity in faith and a prevailing sense of cordiality as the hours passed waiting for the Holy Father to arrive. As everyone knows, upon arrival the pope passed through the crowd outdoors in the ‘popemobile’ receiving a joyous welcome from all in attendance. As had been planned, Pope Francis entered the basilica, visited the Blessed Sacrament chapel for a brief time of prayer, and then slowly walked up the center aisle of the basilica waving to the novices who were welcoming him with loud and hearty cheering. (For all of us gathered outside we knew the Holy Father was with the novices as the loud cheering erupted, spilling out to where we were listening to the wonderful music provided by combined choirs and an excellent orchestra). When he reached the sanctuary, Pope Francis turned and offered prepared remarks to the novices and gave them his blessing.Read More »
1 Kgs 17:10-16; Psalm 103; Heb 9:24-28; Mk 12:38-44
God’s immeasurable generosity can be the only context within which to hear these wonderful, familiar readings. For the One who rescues us from death by offering his life for us and to us – our high priest – is the presence of God’s generosity and as we are nourished in this celebration of the Eucharist joining ourselves to Him in offering His prayer to the Father, we are strengthened to be givers after the pattern of Jesus, in communion with both the widows mentioned in the scriptures this morning. Our monastic tradition teaches us that we are created in the image and likeness of God – the giver – who inspires the poor widow of our first reading to respond to Elijah’s request to be fed by sharing the little she has. Similarly out of love for God, the widow of the temple gives her two small copper coins and receives recognition from our Lord who tells us she has given more than the others for she gave not from her surplus but from her meager budget – “all that she had” – nothing left over.Read More »