Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The Presence of God

I know that for the right practice of it (the presence of God) the heart must be empty of all other things, because God will possess the heart alone; and as He cannot possess it alone without emptying it of all besides, so neighter can He act there, and do in it what He pleases, unless it be left vacant to Him.

There is not in the world a kind of life more sweet and delightful than that of a continual conversation with God.  Those only can comprehend it who practise and experience it; yet I do not advise you to do it from that motive.  It is not pleasure which we ought to seek in this exercise; but let us do it from a principle of love, and because God would have us.

Where I a preacher, I should, above all other things, preach the practice of the presence of God; and were I a director, I should advise all the world to do it, so necessary do I think it, and so easy, too. 

Ah! knew we but the want we have of the grace and assistance of God, we should never lose sight of Him -- no, not for a moment.  Believe me; make immediately a holy and firm resolution nevermore wilfully to forget Him, and to spend the rest of your days in His sacred presence, deprived, for the love of Him, if He thinks fit, of all consolations.

from The Practice of the Presence of God
by Brother Lawrence

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

O Christ, Our Teacher

This hymn by Harry Hagan, OSB has some wonderful images and thoughts to carry into prayer.  We hope it is as much a blessing to you as it is to us.

O Christ, our Teacher and our Way,
Teach us to follow you this day,
And as our hearts with love expand,
To run the way of your commands.

O Christ, our Teacher and our Light,
Illumine us with truth and right
that we may see but you alone,
And by your light and truth be known.

O Christ, our Teacher and our Life,
Teach us to reconcile all strife,
To break down each dividing wall
And live this day in peace with all.

All praise to you, O Christ, our Way
Our Truth and Life, our only Day!
All praise to you, O Christ, the Son
With Father and the Spirit:  One!  Amen.

Text:  Harry Hagan, OSB, b. 1947,
(c) 1999, St. Meinrad Archabbey. 
Published by OCP Publications.

Monday, August 29, 2011


God of history and of my heart,
so much has happened to me
during these whirlwind days.
     I've known death and birth;
     I've been brave and scared;
     I've hurt, I've helped;
     I've been honest, I've lied;
     I've destroyed, I've created;
     I've been with people, I've been lonely;
     I've been loyal, I've betrayed;
     I've decided, I've waffled;
     I've laughed and I've cried.
     You know my frail heart
     and my frayed history
and now another day begins.

O God, help me to believe in beginnings
and in my beginning again,
no matter how often I've failed before.

Help me to make beginnings:
to begin going out of my weary mind into fresh dreams,
     daring to make my own bold tracks in the land of now;
to begin forgiving that I may experience mercy;
to begin questioning the unquestionable that I may know truth;
to begin disciplining that I may create beauty;
to begin sacrificing that I may accomplish justice;
to begin risking that I may make peace;
to begin loving that I may realize joy.

Help me to be a beginning for others,
     to be a singer for the songless,
     a storyteller to the aimless,
     a befriender of the friendless;

     to become a beginning
         of hope for the despairing,
          of assurance for the doubting,
          of reconciliation for the divided;

     to become a beginning
          of freedom for the oppressed,
          of comfort for the sorrowing,
          of friendship for the forgotten;

     to become a beginning
          of beauty for the forlorn,
          of sweetness for the soured,
          of gentleness for the angry,
          of wholeness for the broken,
          of peace for the frightened and hurting of the earth.

     Help me to believe in beginnings,
          to make a beginning,
               to be a beginning,
     so that I may not just grow old,
         but grew new
               each day
                    of this wild, amazing life
          you call me to live
          with the passion of Jesus Christ!

Adapted from "Guerrillas of Grace,"  by Ted Loder

Sunday, August 28, 2011

On Preparing to Meditate

You may not understand how to practice mental prayer.  I will instruct you shortly and simply.

Place yourself in the presence of God by these four means.  First, keenly and attentively realize that God is everywhere; there is no place or thing in the world where he is not.  Let us go where we will, be where we will, we shall always be where God is.  We know this as an intellectual truth, but we do not always realize or act upon it.

We do not see God, and although faith tells us that he is present, not seeing him with our own eyes we soon forget, and act as though he were far away.  Though as an act of reason we know his presence everywhere, if we do not think about his presence everywhere, if we do not thing about it, the result is the same as if we did not know it.

Secondly, God is specially in your heart and spirit.  He is heart of your heart, spirit of your spirit.  David calls him the God of his heart (Ps. 17:28).

Thirdly, reflect that our Lord in his humanity looks down always upon us from heaven. 

Fourthly, in imagination behold Jus in his humanity as actually present with us.

Make use of some of these methods to place yourself in God's presence.  Let what you do be short and simple.

From Athirst for God
by St. Francis de Sales

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Strengthen the Heart

The word encourage is a powerful one.  Since it comes from the Latin word for heart, cor, one could say that encourage means “strengthen the heart.”  In fact, we have the roughly equivalent word hearten.  We also sometimes say, “Do not lose heart.”  Since in spirituality the heart is a person’s core or deepest center, where he or she encounters God, encouragement in the Christian sense serves to strengthen faith and to nurture relationships with God, especially amid feelings of doubt and fear...  

From Lessons from Saint Benedict, Finding Joy in Daily Life
by Donald S. Raila, OSB

Friday, August 26, 2011

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Squirrel Nunning?

One of the miracles of our monastery is that we have no hired help, just incredibly generous volunteers who give tirelessly of their time and talents to help us.  Several of our volunteers also donate time to the local wildlife shelter where our little "friend," Josephine, was brought after she fell from a tree shortly after she was born. 

Josephine has made several visits to the monastery with her surrogate "mommy" and we have enjoyed seeing how she is growing and developing.  The above photo is from her second visit.

And God made them all, great and small... 

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Prayer to St. Bartholomew

O Glorious Saint Bartholomew,
Jesus called you a person without guile
and you saw in this word a sign
that he was the Son of God
and King of Israel.
Obtain for us the grace
to be ever guileless and innocent as doves.
At the same time,
help us to have your gift of faith
to see the Divine hand in the events of daily life.
May we discern the signs of the times
that lead to Jesus on earth
and will eventually unite us to him
forever in heaven.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Jesus Saves...

Jesus and Satan were having an on-going argument about who was better on the computer.  They had been going at it for days, and frankly God was tired of hearing all the bickering.

Finally fed up, God said, "That's it!  I have had enough. I am going to set up a test that will run for two hours, and from those results, I will judge who does the better job."  So Satan and Jesus sat down at the keyboards and typed away.

They moused.

They faxed.

They e-mailed.

They e-mailed with attachments.

They downloaded.

They did spreadsheets!

They wrote reports.

They created labels and cards.

They created charts and graphs.

They did some genealogy reports

They did every job known to man.

Jesus worked with heavenly efficiency and Satan was faster than hell.

Then, ten minutes before their time was up, lightning suddenly flashed across the sky, thunder rolled, rain poured, and, of course, the power went off.

Satan stared at his blank screen and screamed every curse word known in the underworld.

Jesus just sighed.

Finally the electricity came back on, and each of them restarted their computers.  Satan started searching frantically, screaming:  "It's gone! It's all gone!  I lost everything when the power went out!"

Meanwhile, Jesus quietly started printing out all of his files from the past two hours of work.

Satan observed this and became irate.

"Wait!"  he screamed.  "That's not fair!  He cheated!  How come he has all his work and I don't have any?"

God just shrugged and said, "Jesus saves."

Monday, August 22, 2011


Gold helps those who help things grow
With seeds of kindness...that they sow.
For those who serve Him...every day some small way,
His blessings pour out...our reward.
We are the vessels...of the Lord.

Our gardens grwo...our fields will flourish
For every soul...we help to nourish.
Growing...stretching...reaching out
To those in need...and those who doubt.
We are...extensions...of His love,
His hand...holds our glove.

By our good works...and each kind deed
We manifest...His name...His creed.
Then mortals...such as you and I
Are to glorify.
With a cheerful heart...that gladly gives
We prove to all...that Jesus lives.

by Patience Allison Hartbauer
in Candles of Hope from the Salesian Collection

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Beginning to Say Good-bye

Friday was a different day.  Our 97-year-old Sr. Gaudentia was her normal, usual – if sleepy – self.  Then it was like someone turned off a switch.  She began to have difficulty breathing and indicated she had chest pain and was terribly cold and shivering even though she was recording a 101º temperature.  After she vomited, she stabilized some, but we could still see that something was not right. 

An ambulance ride to the ER revealed that she had turned a corner and now was preparing for her final passage from this world to eternal life.  She came home that same evening on hospice.  There’s some part of us that would really like to see her get kicked off hospice for a third time because she’s doing too well, but we also realize the deeper reality that she is ready to enter into the embrace of her Heavenly Bridegroom.

We’ve individually or together have begun to shed our tears and begun the process of saying good-bye.  This will not be easy for us as a community.  Sr. Gaudentia is the last of our foundation stones; our last living link with our history.    And so we ask your prayers both for her and for us as we assist her on this last portion of her journey. 

God reward you, Sr. Gaudentia, for your 78 years of monastic profession and for all that you are and all that you have been and done for us individually and as a community.  May the Good Shepherd who you loved so well here on earth, lift you gently onto his sacred shoulders and carry you home.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

I love because I love, I love that I may love...

From a sermon by St. Bernard, abbot

Love is sufficient of itself, it gives pleasure by itself and because of itself. It is its own merit, its own reward. Love looks for no cause outside itself, no effect beyond itself. Its profit lies in its practice. I love because I love, I love that I may love. Love is a great thing so long as it continually returns to its fountainhead, flows back to its source, always drawing from there the water which constantly replenishes it. Of all the movements, sensations and feelings of the soul, love is the only one in which the creature can respond to the Creator and make some sort of similar return however unequal though it be. For when God loves, all he desires is to be loved in return; the sole purpose of his love is to be loved, in the knowledge that those who love him are made happy by their love of him.

The Bridegroom’s love, or rather the love which is the Bridegroom, asks in return nothing but faithful love. Let the beloved, then, love in return. Should not a bride love, and above all, Love’s bride? Could it be that Love not be loved?

Rightly then does she give up all other feelings and give herself wholly to love alone; in giving love back, all she can do is to respond to love. And when she has poured out her whole being in love, what is that in comparison with the unceasing torrent of that original source? Clearly, lover and Love, soul and Word, bride and Bridegroom, creature and Creator do not flow with the same volume; one might as well equate a thirsty man with the fountain.

What then of the bride’s hope, her aching desire, her passionate love, her confident assurance? Is all this to wilt just because she cannot match stride for stride with her giant, any more than she can vie with honey for sweetness, rival the lamb for gentleness, show herself as white as the lily, burn as bright as the sun, be equal in love with him who is Love? No. It is true that the creature loves less because she is less. But if she loves with her whole being, nothing is lacking where everything is given. To love so ardently then is to share the marriage bond; she cannot love so much and not be totally loved, and it is in the perfect union of two hearts that complete and total marriage consists. Or are we to doubt that the soul is loved by the Word first and with a greater love?

Friday, August 19, 2011

Struggles at Prayer

Anyone who thinks that monks are accustomed to prayer that is always full of blissful consolations is very much mistaken.  My prayer, both in private and in community, is far more often than not undramatic, frustrating, or even anguishing.  When, for example, I am sitting at my lectio divina, I am sometimes surpriesed by a strong feeling of fear, anger, or resentment that arose from some event of the previous day.  In such a case, I have come to believe that the feelings and the surrounding events come to my consciousness for a good reason.  Sometimes I think the Lord wants me to deal with the situation directly by meditating on the specific details in light of His Word.  At other times, I think He wants we to acknowledge the disturbing thought or feeling, to cast it into His hands, and then to put it aside so that I can deal with it later.  In either case, I am regularly amazed how the negative feelings have dissapated.  Surely, the Lord uses such disruptions of my lectio to make me aare of my vulnerability, to heal some of my wounds, to reconcile me to others, and to draw me close to Him in my weakness.  Yes, prayer does and should make us more and more aware of our weaknesses.

from Lessons from Saint Benedict, Finding Joy in Daily Life
by Father Donald S. Raila, OSB

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Take My Hands

This hymn by Sebastian Temple is a wonderful way to think and pray about your vocation.  We hope you enjoy it, and that it is fruitful for your prayer time...

Take my hands and make them as your own,
and use them for your kingdom here on earth.
Consecrate them to your care, anoint them for your service
where you may need your gospel to be sown.
Take my hands, they speak now for my heart,
and by their actions they will show your love.
Guard them on their daily course, be their strength
and guiding force to ever serve the Trinity above.

Take my hands; I give them to you, Lord.
Prepare them for the service of your name.
Open them to human need and by their love they'll sow
your seed so all may know the love and hope you gave.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Solitude or Loneliness is only too easy to talk about solitude as something highly desirable, to be sought after, when in fact for many lonely people (and that will almost certainly include all of us at some point in our lives) that will simply not be true.  Then being by oneself is neither beautiful nor idyllic.  Solitude and loneliness are very different things.  We may find ourselves alone, but not from choice.  We may find ourselves alone when we long to be part of a family, isolated when what we most long for is to belong.

We live in a world that is full of lonely people.  Loneliness is one of the many new diseases of our century.  We are told that if we walk down Fifth Avenue, New York and take a count we will find that eight out every then people are crying inside.

But to be able to be alone is a very different thing, and it is probably something that we all need to learn.  Perhaps once again the Rule has something to say to us.  For here we see the necessity of standing utterly alone before God, totally open.  "It is a gift, a rare gift, to be happy utterly alone," Paul Joes said after several months of his stay at Snowmass, as something of the power of that place began to work in him, and as he observed in the Trappists around him the gift of what he called "the hermit heart".  It is essntially being able to live creatively with oneself.

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

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Floral Nunning

Special care is always given to the chapel.  Besides making sure that the altar linens are carefully pressed and that everything is properly set out for holy Mass, making and maintaining floral arrangements are very important tasks.  It's just another way to show our love and devotion to the Lord.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary

From The Apostolic Constitution of Pope Pius XII on the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Your body is holy and glorious

In their sermons and speeches on the feast day of the Assumption of the Mother of God, the holy fathers and the great doctors of the church were speaking of something that the faithful already knew and accepted: all they did was to bring it out into the open, to explain its meaning and substance in other terms. Above all, they made it most clear that this feast commemorated not merely the fact that the blessed Virgin Mary did not experience bodily decay, but also her triumph over death and her heavenly glory, following the example of her only Son, Jesus Christ.
Thus St John Damascene, who is the greatest exponent of this tradition, compares the bodily Assumption of the revered Mother of God with her other gifts and privileges: It was right that she who had kept her virginity unimpaired through the process of giving birth should have kept her body without decay through death. It was right that she who had given her Creator, as a child, a place at her breast should be given a place in the dwelling-place of her God. It was right that the bride espoused by the Father should dwell in the heavenly bridal chamber. It was right that she who had gazed on her Son on the cross, her heart pierced at that moment by the sword of sorrow that she had escaped at his birth, should now gaze on him seated with his Father. It was right that the Mother of God should possess what belongs to her Son and to be honoured by every creature as the God’s Mother and handmaid.
St Germanus of Constantinople considered that the preservation from decay of the body of the Mother of God, the Virgin Mary, and its elevation to heaven as being not only appropriate to her Motherhood but also to the peculiar sanctity of its virgin state: It is written, that you appear in beauty, and your virginal body is altogether holy, altogether chaste, altogether the dwelling-place of God; from which it follows that it is not in its nature to decay into dust, but that it is transformed, being human, into a glorious and incorruptible life, the same body, living and glorious, unharmed, sharing in perfect life.
Another very ancient author asserts: Being the most glorious Mother of Christ our saviour and our God, the giver of life and immortality, she is given life by him and shares bodily incorruptibility for all eternity with him who raised her from the grave and drew her up to him in a way that only he can understand.
All that the holy fathers say refers ultimately to Scripture as a foundation, which gives us the vivid image of the great Mother of God as being closely attached to her divine Son and always sharing his lot.
It is important to remember that from the second century onwards the holy fathers have been talking of the Virgin Mary as the new Eve for the new Adam: not equal to him, of course, but closely joined with him in the battle against the enemy, which ended in the triumph over sin and death that had been promised even in Paradise. The glorious resurrection of Christ is essential to this victory and its final prize, but the blessed Virgin’s share in that fight must also have ended in the glorification of her body. For as the Apostle says: When this mortal nature has put on immortality, then the scripture will be fulfilled that says “Death is swallowed up in victory”.
So then, the great Mother of God, so mysteriously united to Jesus Christ from all eternity by the same decree of predestination, immaculately conceived, an intact virgin throughout her divine motherhood, a noble associate of our Redeemer as he defeated sin and its consequences, received, as it were, the final crowning privilege of being preserved from the corruption of the grave and, following her Son in his victory over death, was brought, body and soul, to the highest glory of heaven, to shine as Queen at the right hand of that same Son, the immortal King of Ages.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

God's Cake

Sometimes we wonder, "What did I do to deserve this?" or "Why did God have to do this to me?" Here is a wonderful explanation! A daughter is telling her Mother how everything is going wrong, she's failing algebra, her boyfriend broke up with her and her best friend is moving away.
Meanwhile, her Mother is baking a cake and asks her daughter if she would like a snack, and the daughter says, "Absolutely Mom, I love your cake"
"Here, have some cooking oil," her Mother offers. "Yuck" says her daughter.
"How about a couple raw eggs?" "Gross, Mom!"
"Would you like some flour then? Or maybe baking soda?" "Mom, those are all yucky!"
To which the mother replies: "Yes, all those things seem bad all by themselves. But when they are put together in the right way, they make a wonderfully delicious cake!
God works the same way. Many times we wonder why He would let us go through such bad and difficult times. But God knows that when He puts these things all in His order, they always work for good! We just have to trust Him and, eventually, they will all make something wonderful!

Saturday, August 13, 2011


Everyone is a unique personality.  Everyone is a unique image made by God:  one that only that person and no one else is and has.  Thomas Aquinas says that each and every one of us is a unique expression of God in this world.  The world would be poorer if every single one of us were not here to express God in his or her special way.  In his autobiography, Roman Guardini tells us that in the first place God is something fundamental about each human being -- pronounces a special set of words over him or her, as it were -- that applies to that person and to no one else.  Every human being is a word of God become flesh.  And our task is to make this unique something God has said perceptible and effective in life, to make sure it is heard as the extraordinary pronouncement it is.

Self-respect means knowing your own value.  It means discovering the unique image of God that I am, and the special pronouncement that God makes in me alone.  That won't necessarily make me superficially sure of myself, streetwise, and able to complete a deal with an up-to-date closing technique, but it will mean that I am on the way to discovering and understanding the mystery of my own existence.  I shall be able to stop comparing myself with others and trying to stress my strong points.  My uniquesness is independent of all the virtues I might lay claim to.  It means that I was shaped by God.  The Psalmist described this experience in these words:  "For it was you who formed my inward parts; you knit me together in my mother's womb.  I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made" (Ps. 139:13f).

From Building Self-Esteem, The Christian Dimension
by Anselm Gruen, OSB

Friday, August 12, 2011


Reverence is one of the underlying themes in the Rule.  In regard to material things it suggests handling with care, and it is not bad description of handling people as well.  In practice this may mean distancing myself, both literally and figuratively.  It is only too easy to crust, to impose, to manipulate.  It may mean allowing someone to make their own mistakes and being prepared to stand back and wait, however painful and difficult that may in fact be.  Yet it may be the necessary price of healing.

For we are shown the costliness of healing love when things have gone wrong and the good shepherd goes in search of the sheep.  He begins gently with the oil of encouragement, but he may have to go on to the cauterizing iron, and finally it may be that he has to apply the knife of amputation.  It is no good shrinking from this.  For there is a very real danger that we may be tempted to protect the other person from themselves, not to face them with any sort of honesty about what they are doing both to themselves and to other people.  But St. Benedict will not let us do this.  he know how wrong it is to over-protect.  he says in chapter 69 how important it is to stand aside, and to let the other be themselves.  This is not because we do not care about them.  The reverse is true.  But we have to find the right, delicate balance of concern which does not stifle, does not over-protect. 

From Living with Contradiction, Reflections onf the Rule of St. Benedict
by Esther de Waal

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Spiritual Reading: Listening with the Heart

Spiritual reading, like prayer, is more a work of the heart than the head.  We miss the very purpose of spiritual reading if we read many books in order to acquire a fund of information on spiritual topics.  Our reading should be directed to stir the heart rather than fill the head.  To inflame the heart and bring it to relish divine things it is necessary that our reading resemble prayer; our reading will be spiritually fruitful only in proportion to our loving union with God while we read.  The heart must respond to the voice of the Lord inviting it, must stop occasionally and surrender itself, must "taste and see that the Lord is sweet" (Ps. 33:9).

For St. Benedict, prayer was all but impossible without spiritual reading; indeed, the one was hardly distinguishable from the other.  In Chapter 4, after exhorting us "to listen willingly to holy reading," he immediately urges, "to apply onself often to prayer."  Commenting on these texts, one of the old abbots wrote that "prayer does not differ from reading, nor is reading different from prayer."

Just as we often make the mistake of thinking that we have to say a great deal in order to pray well, so we may be inclined to think that in order to atain sanctity we must read many holy books.  Though St. Benedict had his monks spend four hours a day in spiritual reading, yet he would be the first to deny that it was necessary to read volume after volume.  As in prayer, the important thing is that we love much, not that we read much.  The heart refuses to be stuffed and gorged; and it also refuses to be rushed.  The heart will love generously, with all its strength, if we read slowly; otherwise it soon wearies.  It is much better to read only a few pages slowly and to read them with great devotion than to devour volumes in haste.  However, the same is true of spiritual reading as of prayer; the more of it we do well, the more quickly we run the way of perfection.

From Nothing But Christ
by Kilian McDonnell, OSB

Wednesday, August 10, 2011


Having learned of some of the latest Internet phenomena that includes planking, owling, toothpicking, coning and leisure diving, we at the monastery have come up with one of our own:  "nunning."

What is "nunning", you ask?  Simply put, "nunning" is everyday occurrences at the monastery, presented to help introduce you to different aspects of our daily life, and to help you learn more about our monastic life.  Some of our posts will be fun, others show our life of prayer, and still others depict some of the aspects of our work, or as we like to describe it, love made manifest.

We hope you will enjoy our "nunning" posts which will appear approximately once a week (at random).  God bless and enjoy!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

The Highest Degree of Prayer

The limitless loving devotion to God, and the gift God makes of Himself to you, are the highest elevation of which the heart is capable; it is the highest degree of prayer. The souls that have reached this point are truly the heart of the Church.

- Edith Stein

Monday, August 8, 2011

St. Dominic and the Rosary

We can thank St. Dominic, whose feast we celebrate today, for transmitting the rosary as we know it today.  Although at an early date, it was a custom among monastic orders the practice of counting established itself not only of offering Masses, but of saying vocal prayers as a suffrage for their deceased brethren. For this purpose the private recitation of the 150 psalms, or of 50 psalms, the third part, was constantly enjoined.

While preaching to the Albigenses, St. Dominic at first obtained but scanty success: and that one day, complaining of this in pious prayer to our Blessed Lady, she deigned to reply to him, saying:  "Wonder not that you have obtained so little fruit by your labors, you have spent them on barren soil, not yet watered with the dew of Divine grace.  When God willed to renew the face of the earth, He began by sending down on it the fertilizing rain of the Angelic Salutation.  Therefore preach my Psalter composed of 150 Angelic Salutations and 15 Our Fathers, and you will obtain an abundant harvest."

Today, when you pick up your rosary, say an extra prayer in thanksgiving for St. Dominic's mediation in bringing us the form we know and cherish today.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Giving and Receiving Love

The 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 living as wholly or ad deeply as I should be.  It is a phrase that I say to myself so easily, "You are made for the giving and receiving of love."  It sounds so simple.  Yet I also know from experience that I shall probably spend a lifetime trying to discover its full meaning and to live it ou.  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 the 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 Contradictions, Reflections on the Rule of St. Benedict
by Esther de Waal 

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Transfiguration of the Lord

From a sermon on the transfiguration of the Lord by Anastasius of Sinai, bishop

Upon Mount Tabor, Jesus revealed to his disciples a heavenly mystery. While living among them he had spoken of the kingdom and of his second coming in glory, but to banish from their hearts any possible doubt concerning the kingdom and to confirm their faith in what lay in the future by its prefiguration in the present, he gave them on Mount Tabor a wonderful vision of his glory, a foreshadowing of the kingdom of heaven. It was as if he said to them: “As time goes by you may be in danger of losing your faith. To save you from this I tell you now that some standing here listening to me will not taste death until they have seen the Son of Man coming in the glory of his Father.” Moreover, in order to assure us that Christ could command such power when he wished, the evangelist continues: Six days later, Jesus took with him Peter, James and John, and led them up a high mountain where they were alone. There, before their eyes, he was transfigured. His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as light. Then the disciples saw Moses and Elijah appear, and they were talking to Jesus.

These are the divine wonders we celebrate today; this is the saving revelation given us upon the mountain; this is the festival of Christ that has drawn us here. Let us listen, then, to the sacred voice of God so compellingly calling us from on high, from the summit of the mountain, so that with the Lord’s chosen disciples we may penetrate the deep meaning of these holy mysteries, so far beyond our capacity to express. Jesus goes before us to show us the way, both up the mountain and into heaven, and – I speak boldly – it is for us now to follow him with all speed, yearning for the heavenly vision that will give us a share in his radiance, renew our spiritual nature and transform us into his own likeness, making us for ever sharers in his Godhead and raising us to heights as yet undreamed of.
Let us run with confidence and joy to enter into the cloud like Moses and Elijah, or like James and John. Let us be caught up like Peter to behold the divine vision and to be transfigured by that glorious transfiguration. Let us retire from the world, stand aloof from the earth, rise above the body, detach ourselves from creatures and turn to the creator, to whom Peter in ecstasy exclaimed: Lord, it is good for us to be here.
It is indeed good to be here, as you have said, Peter. It is good to be with Jesus and to remain here for ever. What greater happiness or higher honour could we have than to be with God, to be made like him and to live in his light?
Therefore, since each of us possesses God in his heart and is being transformed into his divine image, we also should cry out with joy: It is good for us to be here – here where all things shine with divine radiance, where there is joy and gladness and exultation; where there is nothing in our hearts but peace, serenity and stillness; where God is seen. For here, in our hearts, Christ takes up his abode together with the Father, saying as he enters: Today salvation has come to this house. With Christ, our hearts receive all the wealth of his eternal blessings, and there where they are stored up for us in him, we see reflected as in a mirror both the first fruits and the whole of the world to come.
From The Liturgy of the Hours, Vol IV

Friday, August 5, 2011

Doing Everything for the Love of Christ

The aim of Benedictine prayer is to assist the monk to live his whole life in eager receptivity to God’s will.  He is to become a “living prayer.”  He is to live a life progressively dedicated to God and responsive to grace in every circumstance.  The vow of stability limits the monk’s outer “coming and going” to render him more sensitive to the workings of grace here and now.  Even more significantly, the vow is meant to cultivate stability in the heart, so that the monk may faithfully focus and refocus on Christ amidst life’s undramatic demands.  Thus every task becomes a sacred task.  Early in the Rule we are urged, “Every time you begin a good work, you must pray to [God] most earnestly to bring it to perfection.”  Of course, Saint Benedict is not referring to our standards of perfection, which can plunge us into a frenzy of perfectionist impulses, but rather to God’s standards of doing everything of the love of Christ…

From Lessons from Saint Benedict, Finding Joy in Daily Life
by Donald S. Raila, OSB

Thursday, August 4, 2011

True Greatness

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

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Humor: The Divine Antidote for Exaltation of Ego

Humor helps us let go of self-centered compulsions that grip us with thoughts like, "Without me, life can't go on," "I am the only one who can do this," and "What will happen ifI am not there?"  One philosopher aptly describes humor at, "The divine antidote for exaltation of ego."

When we can chuckle at ourselves, we remind ourselves that we are human, that we need to let go every so often, and most of all, that we should stop playing God.  These admissions help us to calm anxieties that arise from a false sense of importance in which we feel everything begins and ends with us.  Humor breaks us out of a self-centered world in wich we tend to live.  G. K. Chesterton, who knew human nature well, once said that when we get totally caught up in our own little worlds, we become like the moon, which is a circle without outlets.  Once so inscribed, we are left only with ourselves, and too much of that turns us into lunatics.

- From The Promise of Virtue
by Eugene F. Hemrick

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Rising Above Struggles

You can rise above each struggle
When you place your trust in Him;
God sees the candle burning brightly
And also growing dim.
Yet, He has specific missions
For each of us to do,
And ‘oft burdens will be many
Until our life on earth is through.
Everyday, our spirit is learning
Lessons we will need someday,
Virtues that are golden,
So we’re not led astray.
Then when the Lord receives us
And our spirit yearns to soar,
Each struggle will be made clear to us
When we reach that golden shore.

By Linda C. Grazulis

Monday, August 1, 2011

Pope Benedict XVI Intentions for August

Photo:  Pressestelle Erzbischöfliches Ordinariat München

August's Intentions:

World Youth Day:  That World Youth Day in Madrid may encourage young people throughout the world to hae their lives rooted and built up in Christ.
Western Christians:  That Western Christians may be open tothe action of the Holy Spirit and rediscover the freshness and enthusiasm of their faith.

For more information about the Apostlship of Prayer, visit: