Tuesday, May 31, 2011

My Soul Proclaims the Greatness of the Lord

Today we celebrate the Feast of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary.  In the Gospel for this feast, we hear those words that today we know as the Magnificat that is sung each day at Vespers as well as have part of the text that has become the much loved prayer, the Hail Mary. 

Can you imagine the scene in your mind?  Mary comes to Elizabeth's home and at the sound of her greeting, the child leaps in Elizabeth's womb and she is filled with the Holy Spirit and she proclaims Mary's blessedness and recognizes the presence of the Lord in their midst.

What is even more moving is Mary's response, a song of praise to God for all that He has done, His mercy, His remembrance of His promise of old.  What joy must have been welling up and overflowing from Mary's heart.

Today, take a moment to pray the Magnificat and make it your own hymn of praise to the Lord.

Monday, May 30, 2011

The Prologue and Chapter 73

In reading the Prologue and Chapter 73 of the Rule of St. Benedict (RB), there are several relational themes that readily become apparent.  Both the Prologue and RB 73 are addressed to beginners – those who are ready to give up their own will…to do battle for the true King, Christ the Lord.  It also addresses that it is through sloth – our own laziness – that we fail to follow the Lord.  A third parallel that is immediately obvious is that in the last lines of both, Benedict is calling the monk to live in the heavenly homeland.  A fourth link is the “theme” of a journey.  The final, and most important, relationship is the need for the monk to rely on the help of Christ Jesus and the guidance of the Gospel.

In the Prologue, verses 1-3 open by addressing the beginner who desires to follow the master’s instructions.  In RB 73, verses 7-8 again reflects that theme.  St. Benedict seems to be aware that even though a monk may pass through conversatio at the beginning of his monastic life, that it is an ongoing process.  An expression that has been used in my monastic community is that we “never graduate” from this school of the Lord’s service in this life – that it is only in eternity that we have reached that goal.

Sloth was also a relational link – it was the sloth of disobedience that caused us to drift from the Lord (Prol. 2) and also the reason why the monks of Benedict’s day were not observant and obedient monks (RB 73.7). 

In the third parallel, St. Benedict in the Prologue urges the monk through patience to share in the sufferings of Christ that he may deserve also to share in his kingdom (Prol.50) and in RB 73 asks are you hastening toward your heavenly home? (RB 73.8).

Benedict uses the theme of a journey to Christ.  In the Prologue, St. Benedict tells the monk, Do not be daunted immediately by fear and run away from the road that leads to salvation.  It is bound to be narrow at the outset.  But as we progress in this way of life and in faith, we shall run on the path of God’s commandments, our hearts overflowing with the inexpressible delight of love (Prol. 48-49) and in RB 73, St. Benedict states, for anyone hastening on to the perfection of monastic life (RB 73.2) indicating that there is a path being followed.

The reliance on Christ Jesus and the guidance of the Gospel, permeate RB.  The Prologue shows the necessity of the monk relying on Christ in telling him that while his temptations were still young, he caught hold of them and dashed them against Christ (Prol.28).  RB 73 shows that it is with Christ’s help, the monk will keep this little rule…written for beginners (RB 73.8).  The  Prologue tells the monk that it is the Gospel that is our guide (Prol. 21) while RB 73 asks What page, what passage of the inspired books of the Old and New Testaments is not the truest of guides for human life? (RB 73.3).

Both the Prologue and RB 73 mirror each other on the important points.  After reflecting on the above, I asked myself, is RB 73 a summary statement of what Benedict hoped that the Prologue would encourage/urge the monk to do?  How did Benedict experience that idea of being a “beginner” in his life – even after he had written the Rule?  How can we keep that freshness of needing to start the journey over each day?  How can we remember that it is only with Christ Jesus – and not reliance on our own abilities – that will bring us to that heavenly kingdom at the end of our journey?

Sunday, May 29, 2011

In Conversation with God, Part II

St. Benedict knew and understood the importance of silence.  The other avenue that helps us become people of prayer is solitude.  Solitude provides the place where we can transform our lives if we are willing to put aside our old ideas of what self is supposed to be and learn to put on the heart and mind of Christ.  This type of transformation is difficult, hard work.  It is letting all the old images of self die – yes, die! – to provide space for Christ to live in and through the new self. 

It is opening the door to allow Christ in to work in our lives.  But this transformation – this openness – is not possible unless we are people of prayer:  people who desire, want and allow Christ in their lives.

Real prayer then is about transformation of our lives.  In silence and solitude we hear the Word and allow that Word to change us.  That Word will allow us to be the Word to each other.  In being that Word to each other we can and will change the world. 

Saturday, May 28, 2011

In Conversation with God, Part I

In his Rule, our Holy Father St. Benedict does not give us a program or description of how the monk is to pray.  He assumes that a monk is a man of prayer.  In his Prologue (17-19) we find these words addressed to the man who is seeking God:  If you desire true and eternal life, keep your tongue from evil and do good; let peace be your quest and aim.  Once you have done this, my eyes will be upon you and my ears will listen for your prayers; and even before you ask me, I will say to you:  Here I am.  What, dear brothers, is more delightful than this voice of the Lord calling to us?  God is ever listening for our prayer – our invitation to enter into our lives – so that He can respond to us.

It has been said that God is the most patient – and the most courteous – never imposing His will on our lives but waiting for us to turn to Him.  The painting, Christ Knocking at Heart’s Door wonderfully illustrates this point.  The door in this painting does not have a handle on the outside.  Christ will stand outside and knock, but we must be willing to open the door to Him from the inside.

That opening of the door is what prayer is about.  It is about a dialog, a conversation, with God.  While there are many types and practices of prayer and devotion, the one that seems to me to be the most intimate is the one of simply being before the Lord, open to hear His word in the quiet of one’s heart. 

How do we become people of prayer?  How do we open the door of our heart to God and invite Him in so that we can speak with Him heart to heart? 

Silence and solitude are the two avenues through which we can become people of prayer and begin to open the door of our heart.  Silence does not simply mean a lack of external noise.  Many times it is the internal noise that is more distracting to our prayer.  We do not need to do the mental checklist of things that need to be done, what we need to do next, etc.  Nor do we need to go over our mental list of things we have suffered wrongfully, what someone else did or was allowed to do; murmuring is murmuring whether or not someone else hears it.  It poisons the soul.  Quieting the mind also quiets the heart; then one can begin to hear the voice of the Lord speaking. 

Friday, May 27, 2011


Understanding, simply defined, is noticing what another person means, recognizing why the person acts as he or she does, and why the person lives as he or she lives.  It comes from the Latin words intus legere, meaning "to read inwardly."  In everyday conversation, we often use phrases that reflect this root meaning like:  "I can't read him or her," or, "We don't have a reading yet on which way the storm will go."  The root meaning of understanding creates the image of our entering into an author's mind or observing some phenonenon with a wish to grasp meaning.
Other related meanings of understanding are:  to comprehend, fathom, grasp, perceive, observe, notice, discover, differentiate, discriminate, and distinguish.
The scriptures are particularly colorful when describing understanding.  For example, the Book of Proverbs teaches us:  By wisdom a house is built, and through understanding it is established" (24:3).  Isaiah rebukes the stiff-necked Hebrews for not wanting to understand God's ways with the words:  "Therefore my people will go into exile for lack of understanding" (Is 5:23).
In Summa Theologiae, St. Thomas Aquinas directs us to the very essence of understanding.  He sees it as a gift of the Holy Spirit that enlightens our minds and graces them with greater penetrating powers to comprehend that which we hear and see.
From The Promise of Virtue
by Eugene F. Hemrick

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Living with Others

It is only as I learn to accept, to love and to forgive myself as I really am -- the person without the mask, the person who lets go of appearances -- that I can accept, love and forgive others with the same reality... 

Giving and receiving of love is at the heart of God's plan and purpose for each of us.  Unless this is the true centre of my being I am not livng as wholly or as deeply as I should be.  It is a phrase that I say to myself so easily, "You are made the giving and receiving of love".  It sounds so simple.  Yet I also know from experience thatI shall probably spend a lifetime trying to discover its full meaning and to live it out.  But here again, St. Benedict, who knows human nature so well, is able to help me.

If the Rule of St. Benedict helps me to live with myself it also helps me to live with others.  I find a compelling image of this in the fact that after the novice has sung Suscipe me that refrain is taken up by the entire community and sung three times.  Then the novice prostrates himself or herself before each sister or brother in turn.  After accepting oneself that same acceptance is given and received from others.

From  Living with Condradictions, Reflections on the Rule of St. Benedict
by Esther de Waal 

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Without Me You Can Do Nothing

Faith which works through love is indeed a grace of God, because our believing, our loving, our doing works which we know to be good -- these are not things that we have attained by any preceding merits of ours but from the one who lavishes them upon us, and it is he who says, "You have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and I have appointed you that you may go and bear fruit."  And that we may attain eternal life on account of faith, love, and good works -- this is a grace of God, because in order to keep us from turning aside from the good pat, we always have need of that very learder to whom it is said, "Lead me, Lord, in your way, and I will walk in your truth."  And also, as if he were saying clearly, "Unless I have you as my leader when I enter upon the way of truth which I have begun, by no means am I sufficient to hold to it."
So as not to falter in good works we ought always to rely for support on the help of the one who says, "For without me you can do nothing."  Hence in order to express the fact that the start of faith and good actio is given to us by the Lord, the psalmist properly says, "My God, his mercy goes before me."  Again, in order to teach that the good things we do must be accomplished with his assistance, he says, "And your mercy follows after me all the days of my life."  In order to show that the prize of eternal life rendered for good works is bestowed upon us freely, he says, "Who crowns you in compassion and mercy."  He crowns us indeed in mercy and compassion when he repays us with the reward of heavenly blessedness for the good works which he himself has mercifully granted us to carry out.
- Saint Bede the Venerable (+735)

From Homilies on the Gospels, Book One, Advent to Lent
Translated by Lawrence T. Martin and David Hurst, OSB 

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Listening to God's Voice

Not only at the outset but throughout, that life consists in listening to God's voice, that is, in obeying him.  Obedience and disobedience, obedience and self-will, obeying or acting as a foul servant, these three pairs mark the great alternataive with which the Christian and the monk constantly find themselves confronted.  Disobedience is an accomplished fact in Adam, obedience an accomplished fact in Christ.  We must live out this contrast... by going once and for all and day after day from the disobedience of Adam to the obedience of Christ.

This is an immense task; it would be out of proportion with our human strength, if prayer did not not allow us to receive God's help in perfecting it.  Christ is not only the king who commands and the guide whom we must attempt to follow.  In him we have the grace of baptism, which makes us sons and heirs apparent, destined to share his glory.  This gift and this promiseof life demand that we act in a way which is beyond us, but simultaneously they ground the possibility of obtaining everything through prayer.

From Reading Saint Benedict, Reflections on the Rule
by Adalbert de Vogüé

Monday, May 23, 2011

The Call to the Monastic Life

The call to the life of the risen Christ works itself out in an endless variety of forms.  In following Chrish and in being conformed to him we do not lose our individuality; we find it.  In Christ is our true identy.  The incarnate Word is the norm of human living, the 'first-born of all creation' and the 'perfect man' in whom all individual personalities find their freedom and fulfillment...

There is no limit to the number of ways in which the creative freedom of God's Spirit can call men to live and grow in Christ.  The baptismal call into a life of grace creates the possibility of a further call which is rooted in baptism but which makes the response of grace specific.  One instance of this is the call to the monastic life.  However it becomes known to a person, it may be fore him who receives it the only way to realize the full implications of his baptism, and it demands a free personal response...  His business is therefore to find out whether through commitment to monastic life he can respond with his whole being to the God whose love is calling him.

The most necessary means of finding this out is prayer for God's guidance...  a candidate for Benedictine life enters not an order primarily, nor a congregation, but a monastery, a particular community with its own call, its own grace, and its own traditions.  The pragmatic test is, therefore, Does he fit here?  But there is more discernment than this.  The community has to help him to find out not merely whether he is called but in some sense why he is called, how his own unique personal contribution is relevant and assimilable, and how to integrage what he brings with what he finds and will receive. 

From Consider Your Call, A Theology of Monastic Life Today
by Daniel Rees and Others

Sunday, May 22, 2011

I am the way, the truth and the life...

Today's Gospel reading from John we hear again from our "Doubting Thomas":  "Master, we do not know where you are going; how can we know the way?"  Yet, doesn't that sound a lot like all of us?  We question.  We wonder.  We're indecisive. 

Thankfully, we have Jesus who is the way, the truth and the life who can help us around the pitfalls of our own indecisiveness, who leads us into an ever deepening relationship with the Father.

Saturday, May 21, 2011


I believe though I do not comprehend,
and I hold by faith what I cannot grasp with the mind.
- St. Bernard

Friday, May 20, 2011


Do you wish to be great?
Then begin by being.
Do you desire to construct a vast and lofty fabric?
Think first about the foundations of humility.
The higher your structure is to be,
the deeper must be its foundation.
- St. Augustine of Hippo

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Praying the Hours through Christ, with Christ, in Christ

Hearing the words through Christ, with Christ and in Christ may bring to mind the moment during Holy Mass when the priest holds aloft the precious Body and Blood of our Lord, it is also the way we experience Christ’s presence during The Liturgy of the Hours. 

Dom Marmion, in Christ, the Ideal of the Monk, writes:
We must never forget this capital truth of the spiritual life:  all is summed up, for the monk as for the simple Christian, in being united, in faith and love to Christ Jesus in order to imitate Him… He is the center of monasticism as of Christianity:  to contemplate Christ, to imitate Him, to unite our will to His will in order to please the Father, that is the sum total of all perfection.  The Father has placed all things in His beloved Son; we find in Him all the treasures of redemption, justification, wisdom, heavenly knowledge, sanctification; for us everything lies in contemplating Him and drawing near to Him.[1]
What does this mean?  While praying the Hours, our relationship with Christ is developed and deepened.  We draw near to His heart, enter in and allow ourselves to be transformed into His image and likeness.
In the Hours, we encounter Christ and pray the same words He prayed.  As a faithful Jew, Jesus knew the words of the psalms by heart – the very same words we pray during The Liturgy of the Hours.  In so doing, we experience with our Jewish brothers and sisters their covenant relationship with God and the wealth of emotions that relationship entails.  And in that experience, we enter into union with Him.

It is also during this time that we lend our hearts and voices to all creation so that it too may join in glorifying God.  Of everything that God created, only the human person is able to praise and glorify Him.  Only to us has He given the gift of reason and that enables us in turn give thanks for all things in the name of all creation.

Additionally, it is in our prayer during the Hours that we unite our prayer to Christ’s prayer to the Father and make intercession for the needs of the world, of the Church, of those who have asked for our prayer in their needs and necessities, and those intentions we each hold in the secret of our hearts.

May we through The Liturgy of the Hours pray through Christ, with Christ and in Christ so that in God, all things may be glorified (Rule of St. Benedict, Chapter 57).

[1] Marmion, Dom Columba.  Christ, the Ideal of the Monk, 6th Edition, B. Herder Book Co., St. Louis, Missouri, (1926), Page 317.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

The Benedictine Vows, Part III

Obedience is one of those words whose dictionary definition does not fully describe the dynamic that the vow expresses.  According to "Webster", obedience refers to being deferential to authority or submissive while obey means to accept or comply with. 

While the obvious expression of obedience is that given to the superior, obedience is also manifested in the mutual obedience shown to one another.  It is also expressed in being punctual for The Divine Office and community functions. 

Perhaps it is best expressed as "a listening as a return to God.  Though obedience requires effort at the beginning, it is still service for Christ...  On this way of obedience we 'go to God'[1]." 

In looking at stability and conversatio morum, one find obedience already intertwined with them both.  It is a needed and necessary element to bind that binds the three together and makes seeking God the aim and goal of the monastic's life in the monastery.

[1]Perspective on the Rule of St. Benedict by Aquinata Boeckmann.  Liturgical Press, Collegeville, 2005.  Page 123.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

The Benedictine Vows, Part II

Conversion to a monastic manner of life (or conversatio morum) is somewhat to difficult to interpret, as it does not refer to one particular aspect as it does to a way of living, a way of loving.  (Poverty and chastity are part of this vow.)

As Benedictines, we strive to live a manner of life that has the Gospel as its guide as seen through the lens of the Holy Rule.  What does this mean?  We endeavor to see Christ in the superior, in our fellow community members, in the guest, and in the stranger.  St. Benedict in his Rule, gave us a list of various "tools" to help guide us in this endeavor, as well as directives about silence, humility, how to pray The Divine Office, taking counsel, caring for each other, caring for the property of the monastery, care of the infirm, the young and the old, receiving guests, and much more. 

In this vow we translate all this into our own life.  It is a constant turning toward God.  We, like everyone who lives on the face of the earth, always need to begin again.  Hence, conversion is not something static but rather something dynamic that we need to say "yes" to daily.  And yes, it requires a lot of death to self andself-will, and is a continual turning toward Christ to live in the fullness of His life.

Monday, May 16, 2011

The Benedictine Vows, Part I

Sr. Gaudentia's 78th profession anniversary is the inspiration and springboard for this three part series. 

Unlike the vows most people think of in regard to religious life (i.e., poverty, chastity and obedience), St. Benedict who wrote his Rule much earlier, identified the vows his monks should make as stability, conversion to a monastic manner of life and obedience. 

What is meant by the vow of stability?  It means that we make vows to this particular monastery -- our lives are spent here.  However, it has even deeper meanings. 

Stability also means to stand firm, to hold one's ground even in times of personal temptation and difficulties.  It is to persevere in this way of life, as understood and interpreted in this monastic community, under the guidance of the Holy Rule and the spiritual leadership of the Prioress. 

Simply put, it could also be translated:  Bloom where you're planted.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Happy 78th Profession Anniversary, Sr. Gaudentia!

(pictured above renewing her vows on her 70th anniversary) 

Sr. Gaudentia entered our motherhouse, Abtei St. Walburg, Eichstaett, Germany, at the tender age of 17 and at 19 made her first monastic profession at age 19.  Just 1-1/2 months shy of her 20th birthday, Sr. Gaudentia left Germany to come to St. Vincent Archabbey, Seminary and College, Latrobe, PA where our Sisters served in the kitchens and dining rooms. 

For over 50 years, Sr. Gaudentia was in charge of the monk's refectory and became an "unofficial" Novice Mistress to the monks who were in formation.  Even today, we hear stories about her influence on their lives.  She was in the last group to come to St. Emma's in 1987.

We are blessed to have Sr. Gaudentia with us today.  She is our last living link to our founding Sisters who provided us with the firm foundation upon which we build today.  While declining health robs Sr. Gaudentia is her ability to fully participate in our liturgies, her prayerfulness, her smile, her gratitude speak volumes to us of what it means to be a lover of Jesus.

Thank you, Sr. Gaudentia, for your example and we ask God to bless you abundantly today and always...

I Am the Good Shepherd

I am the good shepherd,
and I know mine and mine know me...
and I will lay down my life for the sheep.
(John 10:14-15)

Today is Good Shepherd Sunday.  Although not from today's Gospel, this quote from the Gospel of John speaks of the wonderful relationship our Lord has with each of us.  He know us, He calls to us, He cares for us, and yes, He laid down His very life for us. 

We on our part need to nurture this relationship with our Lord Jesus.  We need to spend time with Him in prayer and meditation, love Him, receive His gifts in the Sacraments, spend time listening to His word by reading and praying through the Scriptures, praising Him, and serving Him by serving our brothers and sisters.

Let us turn to Jeus, the Good Shepherd today, and ask Him to guide us as we seek to do His will.

Today is also the World Day of Prayer for Vocations.  The following prayer was used by Pope Paul VI in launching the first World Day of Prayer for Vocations, and we think it appropriate today:

  O Jesus, divine Shepherd of the spirit,
You have called the Apostles
in order to make them fishermen of men,
you still attract to you
burning spirits and generous young people,
in order to render them your followers and ministers to us.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Creation of man by science...

We're not sure who the author of this is, but someone shared it with us.  We hope it brings you a laugh just as it did us.

God is sitting in Heaven when a scientist says to Him, "Lord, we don't need you anymore. Science has finally figured out a way to create life out of nothing. In other words, we can now do what you did in the beginning!"

"Oh, is that so? Tell me..." replies God.

"Well, " says the scientist, "we can take dirt and form it into the likeness of You and breathe life into it, thus creating man."

"Well, that's interesting.  Show Me. "

So the scientist bends down to the earth and starts to mold the soil.

"Oh no, no, no..." interrupts God, "Get your own dirt."

Friday, May 13, 2011

Never Less Alone Than When Alone

Numquam minus solus, quam cum solus
(Never less alone than when alone)
When one is alone, one can invite into his life anyone he wishes.
Alone, we have the opportunity to invite God into the silence.  When we open our hearts in faith to that presence of God, we can also do something quite paradoxical.  Alone with God, we can tap the reality of any and every person and every situation in the world.
This is why the contemplative life is dedicated so much to the benefit of the world.  This is why those behind the walls, so to speak, are so much for those who live outside of them in the world.  They invite them in.
We are never really alone when we see with the eys of faith.  If we do not perceive this truth we then need to join the prayer of the two blind men of Jericho, "Lord, let our eyes be opened" (Matthew 20:33).
Latin Sayings for Spiritual Growth
by Archabbot Lambert Reilly, OSB

Thursday, May 12, 2011

The Kingdom of God Is Within Us

More Wisdom from the Desert Fathers...
Abba Antony said, "Become familiar with virtue.  Itis not something that is far from us; neither is it outside us.  We have the capacity for virtue and we can have it if we desire it.  The Greeks sail across seas to expand their knowledge, but there is no necessity for us to travel for the kingdom of God.  We do not need to cross an ocean to find virtue.  Our Lord told us the kingdom of God is within us.  We possess everthing we need to become virtuous."

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Blessed are those who have not seen...

There are certain things we like about various saints.  A lot of people can likely identify with St. Thomas the Apostle, or as some may like to refer to him, the "Doubting Thomas." 

Undoubtably there are a lot of us that find "seeing is believing."  We need/want to satisfy our curiosity and to have our senses verify the reality.

We have Thomas' words as recorded in the Gospel of St. John that show what he needed in order to believe that Jesus risen from the dead:  Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands and put my finger into the nailmarks and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.  A pretty tall order, to say the least.

A few verses later, we hear Jesus' words to Thomas:  Put your finger here and see my hands, and bring your hand and put it into my side, and do not be unbelieving, but believe...  Have you come to believe because you have seen me?  Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed.  

This last line is about us.  We weren't present 2000 years ago when Jesus walked on the face of the earth, yet we do believe in Him, love Him, and develop a relationship with Him.

How is Jesus inviting you today to develop a deeper relationship with Him today?

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

We Love Him, Because He First Loved Us

There is not one who does not love something, but the question is, what to love.  The psalms do not tell us not to love, but to choose the object of our love. But how can we choose unless we are first choosen?  We cannot love unless someone has loved us first.  Listen to the apostle John:  We love him, because he first loved us.  The source of man's love for God can only be found in the fact that God loved him first.  He has given us himself as the object of our love, and he has also given us its source.  What this source is you may learn more clearly from the apostle Paul who tells us:  The love of God has been poured into our hearts.  This love is not something we generate ourselves; it comes to us through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.

Since we have such an assurance, then, let us love God with the love he has given us.  As John tells us more fully:  God is love, and whoever dwells in love dwells in God, and God in him.  It is not enough to say:  Love is from God.  Which of us would dare to pronounce the words of Scripture:  God is love?  He alone could say it who knew what it was to ahve God dwelling within him.  God offers us a short route to the possession of himself.  He cries out:  Love me and you will have me for you would be unable to love me if you did not possess me already.

From a sermon by St. Augustine, bishop
Office of Readings for
Tuesday, Third Week of Easter
Volume II of The Liturgy of the Hours

Monday, May 9, 2011

In the Image and Likeness of God

In all our relationships we need to remember the important fact that each person is made to the image and likeness of God.  Thus we ought to be able to see reflected in each something of God.  Moreover each person is unique, and so he or she has something special to show which no one else has.  That is the reason why each person whom I meet has a claim on my respect.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

The Prayer of Quiet

I want to talk about a form [of prayer] which, because it is intimately bound up with the whole monastic search for God, ought to be specially treasured: the prayer of quiet.  What matters is that we acquire the capacity to be silent in the presence of God: that we cultivate a silent awareness in which the soul meets God deep within itself.  A starting point is an awareness of our limitations as creatures, of the self beyond which lies the nothing where we encounter God.  This awakes a sense of dependence, enables us peacefully to commend ourselves to God’s providence and see in the activity of daily life his guiding hand.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Pondering Vocation with Cardinal Basil Hume, OSB

Over the next several days, we will ponder some thoughts from the writings of Cardinal Basil Hume, OSB.  Prior to becoming Archbishop of Westminster, he was the abbot of Ampleforth Abbey.  We hope you find these thoughts fruitful in your discernment...

Man, I am convinced, is religious by nature.  The religious instinct belongs to his very nature, is part of his make-up.  It is part of his make-up to be oriented to God.  True, for the vast majority of persons this orientation is unknown, unrecognized.  Often it is directed toward things that are less than God, but in so far as the mind is constantly groping towards the ultimate meaning of things and in so far as man’s desire craves to be satisfied by this or that good, then the unacknowledged, unrecognized, unknown search for God has begun.

From  The Intentional Life: The Making of a Spiritual Vocation
by Cardinal Basil Hume, OSB

Friday, May 6, 2011

Your Love Is Finer Than Life

As I sat down to write, the words of a song of this title based on Psalm 63 by Marty Haugen began running through my mind.  The melody is almost haunting, and the words of the refrain certainly echo and capture the essence of giving oneself to God in vocation to the consecrated life or the priesthood. 

Together, let's pray these lyrics and let them resonate in our hearts in new and deeper levels than we ever thought possible:

Oh God, I seek You.  My soul thirsts for You.  Your love is finer than life.
As a dry and weary desert land, so my soul is thirsting for my God, and my flesh is faint for the God I seek, for Your love is more than life.
Oh God, I seek You.  My soul thirsts for You.  Your love is finer than life.
I think of You when at night I rest.  I reflect upon Your steadfast love.  I will cling to You, Oh Lord my God.  In the shadow of Your wings I sing.
Oh God, I seek You.  My soul thirsts for You.  Your love is finer than life.
I will bless Your name all the days I live. I raise my hands and call on You. My joyful lips shall sing your praise. You alone have filled my hungry soul.
Oh God, I seek You.  My soul thirsts for You.  Your love is finer than life.

Thursday, May 5, 2011


Every once in a while one comes across a something in a book that just sticks in the mind because it is so powerfully expresses a concept that is difficult to easily explain.  The following is one of those; we hope you find it as thought provoking as we did:

At my church, Deacon Harry, from Singapore, told us in one of his homilies the story of the silken drum.  A mighty warlord, realizing he was nearing the end of this days, urged his only daughter to marry and carry on the dynasty.  "The green of the plum tree has come and gone, and it is the time of the blossoms," he told her.  "And yet you do not blossom.  Will I die without seeing you married, without knowing my grandchildren?"
"No," his daughter said.  "I will fashion a drum of silk, stretched over a bamboo frame.  The man who hears the music when my fingers strike the drum, that man I will marry."
"Foolishness!"  the aging warlord said in frustration.  "A silk drum will not make any sound.  I shall die without heirs."
But his daughter had her way, and so the silk drum was fashioned as she wished.  Many young men came to listen as she played, but none heard any sound.  The months and seasons passed.  The plum tree blossoms withered and fell to the ground.  And then a handsome young man, finely dressed, came and paid his respects to the aged ruler.
"I have traveled from beyond the mountains that you can see, over the seas before the moutains, to take your daughter's hand in marriage," said the stranger, looking directly at the silent daughter who sat nearby with her silken drum.
"She will only marry the one who can hear the music of her silken drum," sighed the old man.  "Don't tell me you heard the sound all the way from your distant kingdom!"
"You are correct," said the suitor.  "No sound of the drum reached my ears."
"Then be on your way, like all the others before you," the old man said.  "Why do you linger here?"
"Because, my lord," the stranger said, "I hear its silence."
And the young woman smiled and put away her silken drum.
From:  Humble Pie, St. Benedict's Ladder of Humility
by Carol Bonomo
Morehouse Publishing
Copyright 2003
Page 178

Wednesday, May 4, 2011


Sunday's Gospel reading from St. John, contains those wonderful words, "Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them..." (John 20:23).  It's such a wonderful feeling one has inside after receiving the Sacrament of Reconciliation.  Yet, forgiveness doesn't just happen in the sacrament we receive; it is something that we must extend to each other as well.

Compassion perhaps becomes a synonym for forgiveness, as shown by Jesus himself during his crucifixion and death.  In extending forgiveness to those who cruelly nailed him to the cross, and assuring one of the criminals crucified along with him that "Today you will be with me in Paradise" (Luke 23:43), His last teaching spoke most eloquently of all that he had taught during his three years of ministry. 

St. Paul, in his letter to the Colossians (3:12-15), perhaps best sums up what is meant by forgiveness:
Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, bearing with one another and forgiving one another, if one has a grievance against another; as the Lord has forgiven you, so must you also do.  And over all these put on love, that is, the bond of perfection.  And let the peace of Christ control you hearts, the peace into which you were also called in the one body.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Suscipe me Domine

Each year on the anniversary of her profession, each Sister stands in the middle of choir and sings the Suscipe with the other professed nuns of the community. 

The Suscipe is taken from Psalm 119:116 (If you uphold me by your promise, I shall live; let my hopes not be in vain) to which the Gloria Patri is added.  This verse is first sung by each professed nun at the time of her First Profession of Vows.

It's both a petition and a prayer to our heavenly Father to help sustain each of us individually (and as a community) by His providence and grace. 

Please remember each of us in your prayers, as remember all of you in ours.  God bless you!

Monday, May 2, 2011

Happy Birthday, Dear Mother!

It's not often one gets to surprise the Superior, but last night we did just that!  We always celebrate the Superior's Name Day and Birthday festively.  This year we came up with the idea to have a dinner party when Mother Mary Anne would least expect it -- on a Sunday evening after a weekend retreat.  (Mother's birthday fell on Saturday, and we "promised" to celebrate it "sometime" next week.)

After we processed out from Vespers we presented Mother with a formal invitation to join us at our Monastic Guest House for dinner.  A few year's back we were given a golf cart which was also appropriately decorated to provide Mother's transportation. 

It was a wonderfully relaxing evening enjoyed by all.  And in case you're wondering (and it isn't obvious from the decorations!), Mother's favorite color is red.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

John Paul II, We Love You!

I can remember hearing those words chanted many times.  I remember his historic visit to the Unites States in the Fall of 1979.  A classmate of mine traveled with her parents from Pennsylvania to Des Moines, Iowa to see him.  In many ways, she represented all of us.

Just weeks before entering, Pope John Paul came to Denver, Colorado for World Youth Day.  I remember watching news clips (no cable at home, had to rely on what the local news channels for coverage!) about his visit.

His Pontificate covered over half my life.  And now Holy Mother Church is Beatifying this Servant of the Servants of God. 

John Paul, your very first words to us at your elevation to the Pontificate still ring true today:  "Do not be afraid!" 

May we never be afraid to proclaim our faith, and we ask that you intercede for us from your privileged place in heaven.

The Holy Father's Intentions for May

Photo:  Pressestelle Erzbischöfliches Ordinariat München

May's Intentions:

Communication Media:  That those working in communication media may respect the truth, solidarity, and dignity of all people.

Church in China:  That the Lord may help the Church in China persevere in fidelity tothe Gospel and grow in unity.

For more information about the Apostlship of Prayer, visit:  http://www.apostleshipofprayer.org/.