Category Archives: Homilies and Talks

Homilies

Homily – Fr. Michael Casagram – All Souls

The Gospel:    John 11:17-27

When Jesus arrived, he found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb four days.

Now Bethany was near Jerusalem, some two miles away,

and many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary to console them about their brother.

When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went and met him,

while Mary stayed at home.

Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.

But even now I know that God will give you whatever you ask of him.”

Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.”

Martha said to him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.”

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life.

Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live,

and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die.

Do you believe this?”

She said to him, “Yes, Lord, I believe that you are the Messiah,  the Son of God, the one coming into the world.”

 

After the Gospel:

 

Today we do one of the things that has always marked us as  “Catholics”  —

pray for the Dead… continually … hopefully, pray for the dead. 

Customs have changed, but not the praying.

In the catacombs, the earliest Christians offered the Eucharistic   right at the tombs,

to bring Christ, the resurrection and the life,  to their dead, just as Martha had.  

A thousand years later, when  Saint Bernard wrote the life of St Malachy,

he included  Malachy’s       praying for his dead sister.

 

The two men first met when Malachy was Archbishop of Armagh, on his way from Ireland  to Rome, 

when he  stopped by Clairvaux to meet the famous Bernard;

they became such good friends that Malachy  obtained five monks to make a foundation at Mellifont, Ireland.

Later on, during  a second visit to Clairvaux, Malachy  fell ill, died in the arms of St Bernard,  was buried at Clairvaux.

 

In Bernard’s history,   St. Malachy didn’t get along with his sister, lost contact with her,  then didn’t see her any more before she died. After she died, Malachy  heard a voice one night telling him that his sister was hungry, she hadn’t eaten for thirty days. He remembered it was thirty days since he had offered Mass for her.  So once again he offered Mass for her, saw her  coming up to the church door  in a black garment, but she couldn’t enter.

He continued to say Mass for her and the next time she was dressed in a lighter-colored garment. The final time he saw her, she came into the church,  dressed in beautiful white, surrounded by blessed spirits.                                     

 

Not much for historians to look at, but it points out the importance of praying for the dead, reminds us  that one of the Spiritual Works of Mercy is   to Pray for the Dead.

 

Especially nowadays, as they ask if Catholics believe in Purgatory anymore,

Didn’t the Church drop that doctrine?

 Today is part of the answer.

If you want to know what the Church believes: Look at how we pray –

                             What we believe and our prayer are twins that go together.

 

The Church deliberately puts All Souls Day right next to All Saint’s Day.  

Yesterday,  we remembered  the Saints already in heaven; today, we’re  praying for the dead

  on their way to heaven.

The key is:   On their way …

When we think of  our relatives, friends, fellow monks … 

they died like us  … humans..  with all their bruises and scars,

with all their weaknesses  and failings…

not  evil, their souls  condemned to hell,

but realistically,   even though they died in God’s friendship,

still  stained by the selfishness and  sins of this life,

rendering them unworthy of entering immediately  into  heaven;

they’re in an intermediate state, a state of purification after death,

a purification that will achieve the holiness necessary to enter heaven.

 

All Souls is a day that takes us back to our roots,

a day of  memory, of  hope, reminding each of us to expect the mercy and love of Christ.

A day that says:  No matter what else changes,  never lose your memories as a family, a people,

never lose hope that Christ will accompany us, 

that He … the Resurrection and the Life … will be there,  waiting  with so much love.

 

Today is our best reminder in the Church year …

How  many saints  have said:

“All those  we’ve known and loved,  the ones  now our ‘faithful departed’ …

let us not hesitate to help them  by offering our prayers for them.”

Homily – Fr. James Conner – Prayer – 10/20/19

29th Sunday of Year – Cycle C

The readings today speak to us about the importance and necessity of prayer. Like Moses, we are to pray for the needs of the world. But his arms grew tired, and so he was assisted by Aaron and Hur who supported his arms raised in prayer. Our vocation as monks is also to support the active arms of those who minister to the needs of the People of God. Our vocation is one of prayer. Like the widow in the gospel, we are called to  trust in God for all of our needs. She persevered in asking for justice, and was finally heard. However it was not her repeated asking that was granted, but her continued humbling of herself before the unjust judge. Each time she came back was a further demeaning of herself before the judge. Our prayer is made to a Just Judge who is ready to hear us. But he grants our request only when we have true faith.

The gospel ends with a sentence which might seem not to follow from the parable. And yet in fact it is the key to all that was said. “When the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?” Like Christ on the Cross, faith is that total abasement of ourselves before God. In a sermon, Meister Eckhart speaks of the danger of seeing prayer as something which we DO, which is heard by God and granted. Such prayer he calls that of the businessman. He does his good work in order to receive the goods that he needs. But prayer is not a business transaction. It is simply our self abasement before God in faith alone.

Even the prayer of Jesus was granted only when he had totally abased himself before the Father by hanging on the cross. His arms were held raised, not by other people, but only by the nails of the cross. And in that total self abasement before the Father, he gained a hearing for all of us before God.

We are called to follow in his path. As Paul says in the second reading, “remain faithful in what you have learned, because you know from whom you learned it.”  We have learned the lesson from Jesus Christ, hanging on the cross, and yet in that total emptiness He was heard and we have been saved. Hence Paul also reminds us to “have that mind in you which was also in Christ Jesus”.

Prayer, then, is that emptying of our self before God with total trust in His mercy because the prayer of Jesus on the cross was heard, and we have been saved – not by what we do of ourselves, but by what He has done for us. This is the faith which God will look for when the Son of Man comes. It is a faith which must be activated each day and each moment of our life. It is such faith, such total surrender of ourselves to God, which will open the way that God “will see to it that justice is done for all speedily”.

In celebrating this Eucharist we are called to enter into that mind and heart of Christ Jesus as He renews His offering of Himself and of all of us to the Father. Like the poor widow in the gospel and like Christ Himself on the Cross, we are to come before the Lord with total surrender, total faith in His prayer for us and for all the world, knowing that we will be heard by the Just Judge so long as we come before Him with full awareness of our poverty, our emptiness before God, that He may fill that emptiness for ourselves and for the whole world.

 

 

Homily – Fr. Michael Casagram -O GOD, BE MERCIFUL TO ME A SINNER   – October 27, 2019

+O GOD, BE MERCIFUL TO ME A SINNER                             30th Sunday(C), 2019

The words of Scripture this morning give comfort and encouragement to us all. We all sympathize with the tax collector who stands afar off, beating his breast and praying: ‘O God, be merciful to me a sinner.’ The words challenge us as well for we also have those moments when, like the Pharisee, we think ourselves better than others and easily judge her or him for their way of life. The lesson of humility is not an easy one to learn but it grounds us in the truth Jesus seeks to convey, opening our hearts to the continual gift of divine grace.

The readings from Sirach and letter of St Paul to Timothy are beautiful instances of this divine working. God “hears the cry of the oppressed, ..is not deaf to the wail of the orphan, nor to the widow when she pours out her complaint.” In fact their voices seem to have a power over God until they are heard. In writing to Timothy, St. Paul is at the end of a life of labor and knows that in death God will reward him. But he too knows this is only because God has rescued him from the lion’s mouth and will rescue him “from every evil threat and will bring him safe to his heavenly kingdom.” To God alone belongs the glory forever and ever.

We have grown familiar with the story of the Pharisee and tax collector so that it becomes easy to ignore the call to each of us for a continual conversion. God is not all that interested in our exterior behavior but is very interested in our hearts, in what moves us to do the things we do. The divine judgement in our parable is all about whether our lives are self-centered or God-centered. It is not about out outward performance but our inner motive.

The Pharisee’s description of his religious practice is probably pretty accurate and his negative evaluation of the tax collector, accurate as well. Tax collectors in the time of Jesus, being paid little or nothing for their work would exact money from those from whom they demanded taxes to where they often became dishonest or greedy. The stance of the tax collector standing afar off and beating his breast is  an honest one.

What Jesus shows us in the parable is the inner disposition of each of these men and in doing so reveals what God is really looking for in each of our hearts. Where the Pharisee claims superiority over the other because of his good deeds, the tax collector begs for mercy. The Pharisee has no real need but the tax collector prays out of a deep sense of inner poverty and is answered.

Just being poor, oppressed or brokenhearted does not necessarily bring us closer to God. But if we allow such experiences to lead or move us to turn to God rather than to ourselves we will be sure to know the power of grace. God is all merciful and strengthens us as often as we turn to God in our need. This is what St Paul had done throughout his life and knew that he would be forever rewarded for it. One sees here the basis of so much of what St Benedict wrote in his Rule about the value of humility so as to run in the way of God’s commands.

There is always the danger for Religious to fall into a kind of self-righteousness, attributing to themselves the good they do. And as brothers we know how easy it is to begin judging one another for failures to meet our expectations of how one should live the life.

God sees us in a clearer light, for God sees what’s going on deep down within our hearts. The one we see sinning may well be asking for God’s mercy while we, because of our self-righteousness, fail to see our dire need. Ironically enough, to presume righteousness through our own power is to fall into sin, the self takes center stage rather than God. When God is at the center of our lives, we know by experience that God’s merciful love endures forever.

To know our own frailty is to be continually open to the wonderful gift we are about to receive in this Eucharist. It is a sharing in the infinite love God has for us in Christ Jesus, a becoming one with his very own Body and Blood. To do so is not only to go home justified but to be exalted already here below as a bearer of God’s very own life and love.

Sirach 35:12-14, 16-18; 1 Timothy 4:6-8, 16-18; Luke 18:9-14

Homily – Feast of St. Matthew – Fr. James Conner

Feast of St Matthew – September 21

Fr. James Conner

Today we celebrate the memory of St Matthew, the author of the first gospel. He tells us today the story of his own conversion. He was a tax collector. Jesus passed by his place of business and said to him: “Follow Me!”. Matthew looked down at his money. Spread out before him, and seemed to hesitate before leaving this means of security. But finally he left that security for a life of insecurity.

Every Christian is called by Jesus Christ to follow Him. Some are called to totally leave the securities of this world and follow Him in the call of the monastic life. But some are also called to follow Him by a different path – still one of total trust in Him, but a trust that calls one to manage the goods of this world rather than to renounce them.  This is the path of the Lay Cistercians. You are called to remain in the world and provide for yourself and your family, but beyond that, to be conscious of the needs of the poor of the world. St. Paul  reminds us: “What have you that you have not received? And if you have received it, why do you act as if it were your own?”

Part of the reason why the tax collectors were so hated by the people of that time is the fact that they not only collected the taxes of the Roman occupiers of the land, but frequently also took more than necessary for their own selves. They were acting as if the very people whom they were called to serve were actually servants of their own.

In other words, they were acting with injustice rather than mercy. And Jesus ends the gospel by telling us that God says: “What I desire is mercy and not sacrifice.” This showing of mercy begins with our own home and family, but must extend beyond that to our places of work and service.

Might there be a danger for each one to treat even their own family and relations as if they were simply their own? On the contrary, Jesus tells us that we are all called to be servants of one another, just as He came as a servant of all. We are to provide not only for our selves and those closest to us, but for all who are in need and who come within our lives.

Our nation today is threatened by a spirit of individualism – caring for myself first. But Jesus calls us on another path – the path of the Son of Man and the path of those called to follow Him. “I came not to be served, but to serve, and to give my life for the sake of all”.

Being called to be a Lay Cistercian entails more than simply coming to the monastery a couple of times a year. It entails following Jesus Christ every day of the year, every moment of our lives, in seeking not what is for my own good, but what is for the good of all. Truly, as St Benedict says: “To prefer NOTHING to Christ”. On this way we are all called to follow Him = both those of us who are called to life within the monastery and those of you who are called to build your own monastery within the world. On this way we are all called to truly follow Christ in His mission to love and serve all.

 

Homily 8/31/19 – Fr. Seamus – Humilty

Today marks the beginning of the fifth observation of the annual Season of Creation – from Sept.1 until Oct 4, the feast of St Francis of Assisi. This year’s Season of Creation is spotlighting threats to our biodiversity and focusing on “protecting the web of life in all its variety, because each species reveals the glory of the creator.” In a recent interview, Pope Francis called the loss of biodiversity among his greatest fears for the planet, saying, “devastation of nature can lead to the death of humanity.” To respond to Pope Francis’ words is not easy. Taking care of our planet, our “common home” – which is God’s gift to us, is a huge undertaking. This is a very humbling situation and well worth our attention. (ncronline … )

As we heard in today’s readings, “Humility and self-knowledge go hand in hand. Those who conduct their affairs with humility (1) shall be exalted, while those who exalt themselves shall be humbled (3). The humble shall rejoice and exalt before God (Ps) in the assembly of the heavenly Jerusalem (2).” – (ORDO)

These readings point us to our Holy Rule. St Benedict’s chapters on the steps of humility and the expressions of good zeal (RB 7 and 72) are rightly considered to be the heart of the Rule, the quintessence of its spiritual teaching. It is the main area of spiritual discipline which Benedictine life offers as a way to God. It is the heart of Benedictine and Cistercian spirituality.

It’s worth mentioning that it is important for all of us here this morning to see that the fundamental purpose of any monk (or nun’s) life is not essentially different from that of any Christian. On the contrary, we – that is – all of us, nuns and monks, lay women and lay men, by discovering the interior attractions and instincts written by grace in our inner heart, we all touch the heart of Christ, we become capable of reaching the inner heart of those in our community. Growth in the spiritual life is often experienced as a return to this center, to one’s truest self.

Benedictine and Cistercian humility is not a secondary Christian virtue, not simply a part of the virtue of temperance. It is more like a dynamic union of faith, hope and love that could be described as a loving trust rooted in the truth. Its source is the heart of Christ, who said, “Learn from me for I am meek and humble of heart.” (Mt 11:29) It is humility that can and should guide us in this return journey, uncovering the false instincts in the human heart and finding the truth written there by grace. Humility unveils the true self, what the New Testament describes as “the hidden character of the heart, expressed in the imperishable beauty of a gentle and calm disposition, which is precious in the sight of God.” (RB 5; 7, 19-41)

The inner paradox of humility is the heart of the Paschal MysteryIt is the paradox of the Gospel itselfloss and gain of self, death and resurrection, “the last shall be first,” Mt 19:30; 20:16; Mk 10:30) “the one who humbles himself shall be exalted.” (Lk 14:11; 18:14; RB 7,1)

Humility is not merely a psychological act of the intellect and will, but above all, it is a movement of the Spirit. The Spirit of God centers both the soul and the body on the humble Christ, so that the inward movement of humility is not a matter of hiding within ourselves, but rather a liberation of what is truest and most permanent in us from what is passing and superficial. Eventually, as we become fully aware of our sins, we cry out with St Paul, “Miserable one that I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death?” (Rom 7:24) Monastic tradition replies with conviction, “The humble Christ!” (cf. Centered on Christ, 2005, Augustine Roberts, OCSO)

Humility is recognizing that every good in ourselves is a gift from God and is meant to be given back to the Lord by being shared with others. Everyone who enters a community brings with him a gift that the community needs; everyone who enters a community receives a gift that he needs from that community. The development of nations, the preservation of our planet and the achievement of human community may well depend on humility.” (The Rule of Benedict, Joan Chittister, OSB, p. 74) _________________END

 

Homily – Mary and Martha – July 21, 2019

The Gospel Luke 10:38-42

Jesus entered a village

where a woman whose name was Martha welcomed him.

She had a sister named Mary

who sat beside the Lord at his feet listening to him speak.

Martha, burdened with much serving, came to him and said,

“Lord, do you not care

that my sister has left me by myself to do the serving?

Tell her to help me.”

The Lord said to her in reply,

“Martha, Martha, you are anxious and worried about many things.

There is need of only one thing.

Mary has chosen the better part

and it will not be taken from her.”

 

After the Gospel:

Most artists  put Jesus … center of the painting … seated,  one hand raised in teaching … 

in the background:  Martha … both hands carrying a jug or basket.

in the foreground:  Mary … sitting on the floor, hands folded on her lap, perfectly still.

Sometimes they add:  disciples … Jesus didn’t travel alone.  How many dropped in with Him  may help explain Martha’s predicament.

 

When you hear the story, do you take sides?

Hooray,  Mary, true contemplative!

Way to go, Martha, woman who gets things done…  the world needs more like you!

 

Do you hear Jesus’ words to Martha … as rebuke ….    or invitation …or both??

 

Do you pick up on Martha’s irritation … tension?

           Resentment of her sister for leaving her  all the work?

                    Angry enough,  she can’t even talk to her sister directly.

Does she breach hospitality…          

                   by embarrassing her sister in front of a guest,

                             asking her guest to intervene in a family dispute,

                                      even accusing her guest of not caring!??

 

Does she miss out on true hospitality by driving a wedge between her sister and herself,

between Jesus and herself?

 

Do you agree with the writer who says: Martha may have been lonely. 

Her busyness covered up  how lonely she was …  She only knew how busy she was.

She couldn’t see anger and resentment inside her. 

Poor Martha …  More ways than one  she missed out on the “one thing needed.”

 

Did you notice how Luke left the story open-ended?  We don’t know what happened next —

how  Mary and Martha reconciled,

whether they were   all      able to enjoy the meal Martha prepared, 

whether Martha was finally able to sit down and give full attention to Jesus.

 

Most important,  do you think of monastic life, built on a tripod –

          three legs:  prayer, work,  lectio divina … 

How our personal stability as a monk depends on this triple foundation,

how you can’t build up monastic life on just one or two of the legs, it has to be all three … equal…

Prayer, work,  lectio divina … Or things get a little wobbly.

 

Martha is exactly what monks  try NOT to be….

It’s not her serving …  that’s part of hospitality,

Homily for the Feast of St. Benedict – Fr. Michael Casagram- “Called to Serve” – 7/11/19

+CALLED TO SERVE                                                           St Benedict, 2019

The last words of our gospel this morning, seem to me a wonderful summary of the life and Rule of St Benedict. Jesus saying: “I am among you as one who serves” describes the kind of person Benedict sought to be his whole life and the kind of community he hoped to realize through his Rule.

In this month’s issue of Give Us This Day, Robert Ellsberg in his short life of Benedict, tells us that “in place of an emphasis on fasting and mortification, Benedict substituted the discipline of humility, obedience, and accommodation to community life. Rather than envisioning a collection of individuals competing in the quest for perfection, Benedict stressed the role of community as a school of holiness.” Our gospel guides us toward a similar understanding of the Church when Jesus tell his disciples to “let the greatest among you be as the youngest, and the leader as the servant.” When one sees competing forces arise within the Church, one does well to question the origin of such voices.

And our gospel is not without humor today, it seems to me, when Jesus tells his disciples: “The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them and those in authority over them are addressed as ‘Benefactors’: but among you it shall not be so.” Jesus flips the whole social system of his day and ours, showing us that what truly builds an authentic society is not power, but service.

Jesus and his faithful disciple Benedict are inviting each of us to open ourselves to God’s loving presence so that it pervades the whole of our personal and communal lives. St Paul envisages as much in the selection of his letter to the Ephesians we just heard. For the Ephesians to be worthy of the calling they have received, they must do so with all humility and gentleness, patiently bearing with one another through love. Only then will they “preserve the unity of spirit through the bond of peace.” Our religious communities, our Church, our society has never been in such need of this “patiently bearing with one another through love” for then the transforming work of God is able to act freely. The talents of each are put to use for the good of all.

Going through St Gregory’s Dialogues, his Life of St Benedict, I was captivated by his words that: “Blessed Benedict possessed the Spirit of only one Person, the Saviour who fills the hearts of all the faithful by granting them the fruits of His Redemption.” As Benedict became more attentive to God’s presence within and all around him, everything he did began to reflect the work of God. The prayer that he and his monks carried out during the Divine Office spread through the whole of their day.

By turning our ears to wisdom, inclining our hearts to understanding, as the Book of Proverbs suggests, our lives become fully attuned to the working of divine grace. Wisdom enters our hearts and a knowledge that pleases the soul. The Rule of Benedict is known for its discretion, so much so that many have believed this to be just the reason for its long and pervasive influence. It is a wonderful reflection of his own inner growth.

The role of the Eucharist in Benedict’s time seems to have been less central than for us today. This is probably so because the whole of their day was Eucharistic, an invitation to allow Christ’s presence to feed them all day long. Through our reception of the Eucharist, the consecrated Bread and Wine, we are made sharers in God’s own life. We experience the initiating love of Christ for each of us. Benedict assures us that as we progress in the monastic way of life and in faith, “we will run on the path of God’s commandments, our hearts overflowing with the inexpressible delight of love.”  Amen

Prov 2: 1-9; Eph 4: 1-6; Luke 22: 24-27

Homily – 14th Sunday in Ordinary Time – Fr. James Conner

The words of Jesus in today’s gospel might seem quite harsh at first sight: “If they do not accept you, go out into the streets and say: ‘The dust of your town that clings to our feet, even that we shake off against you’”. However in the context of the whole text and readings today, we see that it is done only as a last resort/

Jesus is primarily sending his disciples into towns to proclaim the message of God’s love and care for all peoples. The primary word that He wants them to proclaim is: “Peace to this house!” It is a peace which only God ca give, but a peace which is promised by all the prophets for the mission of the one sent by God.

Jesus comes among us as the fulfillment of the promise of the coming of one who will be Prince of Peace. He comes to proclaim peace which comes from God’s loving care for each one of His children. Isaiah compares the peaceful person to a child on its mother’s breast. “As a mother comforts her child, so I will comfort you”. That child is each one to whom the Word of God is proclaimed. It is each one of us who have received this message that God will care for us as a mother cares for her infant.

But we don’t like to consider ourselves as infants. We want to see ourselves as self-reliant and competent to take care of ourselves and our world. We all too often act as if we did not need God’s help and protection.

But Paul tells us in the second reading that “the world has been crucified to me and I to the world”. The world that must be crucified to each one of us is the world of deceit and selfishness – a world of power and prestige. But by that very fact it is a world of lies. Jesus calls Satan the “father of lies”. The lies which Satan sows in the world and in our hearts is the lie of self-sufficiency – “I do not truly need God – I can care for myself and my world!”

It is such lies which lie at the root of all the evil and deceit in the world today. All too often, even leaders of nations are known more for their lies than for fostering truth. Such actions only sow dissent and division within a nation and in the hearts of those who follow him. It serves to divide the nation from other nations and even beget division within the nation itself. And Jesus said also: “A house that is divided cannot stand”.

In contrast to this, Jesus sends his disciples – he sends each one of us – to spread the true message of God’s love and care for every person. We may object to world leaders sowing dissent and division, but do the very same thing in our dealings with one another in daily life.

Each time that we encounter another person, it should embody the message: “Peace to you!”. The Christian should be a person of peace. Above all, the monk should be a man of peace – peace within himself and peace with others with whom he lives. The injunction of Jesus does not extend merely to mssionaries. It extends to each one of us – whether in the monastery or in our homes and places of work.

That is why we express the sharing of Peace before receiving the Prince of Peace within Communion. That brief moment cannot be simply a distraction from the Eucharist – but a call to each one of us to heed the message of Jesus and truly live as men and women of peace, knowing that our names are truly written in heaven.

The words of Jesus in today’s gospel might seem quite harsh at first sight: “If they do not accept you, go out into the streets and say: ‘The dust of your town that clings to our feet, even that we shake off against you’”. However in the context of the whole text and readings today, we see that it is done only as a last resort.

Jesus is primarily sending his disciples into towns to proclaim the message of God’s love and care for all peoples. The primary word that He wants them to proclaim is: “Peace to this house!” It is a peace which only God ca give, but a peace which is promised by all the prophets for the mission of the one sent by God.

Jesus comes among us as the fulfillment of the promise of the coming of one who will be Prince of Peace. He comes to proclaim peace which comes from God’s loving care for each one of His children. Isaiah compares the peaceful person to a child on its mother’s breast. “As a mother comforts her child, so I will comfort you”. That child is each one to whom the Word of God is proclaimed. It is each one of us who have received this message that God will care for us as a mother cares for her infant.

But we don’t like to consider ourselves as infants. We want to see ourselves as self-reliant and competent to take care of ourselves and our world. We all too often act as if we did not need God’s help and protection.

But Paul tells us in the second reading that “the world has been crucified to me and I to the world”. The world that must be crucified to each one of us is the world of deceit and selfishness – a world of power and prestige. But by that very fact it is a world of lies. Jesus calls Satan the “father of lies”. The lies which Satan sows in the world and in our hearts is the lie of self-sufficiency – “I do not truly need God – I can care for myself and my world!”

It is such lies which lie at the root of all the evil and deceit in the world today. All too often, even leaders of nations are known more for their lies than for fostering truth. Such actions only sow dissent and division within a nation and in the hearts of those who follow him. It serves to divide the nation from other nations and even beget division within the nation itself. And Jesus said also: “A house that is divided cannot stand”.

In contrast to this, Jesus sends his disciples – he sends each one of us – to spread the true message of God’s love and care for every person. We may object to world leaders sowing dissent and division, but do the very same thing in our dealings with one another in daily life.

Each time that we encounter another person, it should embodythe message: “Peace to you!”. The Christian should be a person of peace. Above all, the monk should be a man of peace – peace within himself and peace with others with whom he lives. The injunction of Jesus does not extend merely to mssionaries. It extends to each one of us – whether in the monastery or in our homes and places of work.

That is why we express the sharing of Peace before receiving the Prince of Peace within Communion. That brief moment cannot be simply a distraction from the Eucharist – but a call to each one of us to heed the message of Jesus and truly live as men and women of peace, knowing that our names are truly written in heaven.

Pentecost Homily by Fr. Seamus 6/9/19

PENTECOST HOMILY + GETHSEMANI + 6/9/19

We have a birthday today! Pentecost is our liturgical celebration of the birthday of the Church: Our Paschal Candle, which we lit at the Easter Vigil, is still here: symbolic of the Light of Christ … Happy Birthday everyone!

Thomas Merton put it well, “Our life is a powerful Pentecost in which the Holy Spirit, ever active in us, seeks to reach through our inspired hands and tongues into the very heart of the world. (Search for Solitude, 86) . According to Merton, “the ongoing work of the Holy Spirit takes place through those in whom the Spirit dwells. Life in the Spirit is a life of hope and freedom and love.” Merton was inspired to see the Spirit active throughout the world, especially in the work of his contemporary, Dorothy Day and the Catholic Worker.

In fact, in the last nine years of his life, Merton wrote 29 letters to Dorothy Day, a woman he admired very much for her strong commitment to social justice, her deep concern for the poor, and her uncompromising pacifist attitude toward war.

In her book, Houses of Hospitality, Dorothy Day wrote, “Love and ever more love is the solution to every problem that comes up. If we love each other enough we will bear with each other’s faults and burdens. If we love enough, we are going to light the fire of the Holy Spirit in the hearts of others, and it is love that will burn out the sins and hatreds that sadden us … I cannot worry too much about your sins and miseries when I have so many of mine own. I can only love you all, poor fellow travelers, fellow sufferers. I do not want to add one last straw to the burden you already carry. My prayer from day to day is that the Holy Spirit will so enlarge my heart that I will see you all, and live with you all, in his love.”

In a letter of December 29, 1965, Merton wrote, “If there were no Catholic Worker and such forms of witness, I would never have joined the Catholic Church” (Hidden Ground of Love, p. 151).

 

Through their writings, Thomas Merton and Dorothy Day, were both “Beatitude Catholics:” i.e. peace-makers. They emphasized that the Christian is not only to witness to the presence of the Spirit to those outside the Church, but also to look for and to find the Spirit already present in other cultures, other religious traditions, and other human beings all of whom are made in the image and likeness of God. “The Holy Spirit,” Merton wrote, “certainly inspires and protects the visible Church, but if we cannot see the Spirit unexpectedly in the stranger and the foreigner, we will not understand the Spirit even within the Church. We must find the Holy Spirit in our enemy, or we may lose him even in our friend. We must find the Spirit in the pagan or we will lose him in our real selves, substituting for his living presence an empty abstraction “(384).

And so, Christians throughout the world believe and celebrate that the risen Lord, who has ascended to his rightful place next to God, the Father, has sent the Holy Spirit to teach us, to inspire us to reach out to the poor, to fill the earth with God’s power, to recognize our oneness with creation, to see everything is creation as subjects rather than objects. There is no Feast called “The Ascension of the Holy Spirit.” The Holy Spirit will always be with us. We must never forget that the earth is renewed each time rivalries are resolved, distinctions are recognized as merely expressions of diversity, peace is restored, comfort and solace are offered, and forgiveness is expressed. We have all been baptized into one and the same Spirit … a Spirit who teaches us every day … a Spirit who strengthens us to go forth in the name of the Lord … “to renew the face of the earth.”

This evening, after Vespers, we will extinguish our Paschal Candle … and remove it from the sanctuary … a liturgical reminder for each of us … that we are to be the Light of Christ, the Easter Light, people ready to welcome all with the words, “Peace be with you.”

HAPPY BIRTHDAY EVERYONE! 😊

 

Homily by Fr. Carlos for 5/5/19 – Union of our will with God’s will

The gospel today, on Jesus making Peter the head of the church is not exclusively for Popes or Bishops who are in such high positions, but it is also meant for us because most of us, in one way or another are placed in authority over others.  The Holy Scriptures addresses the hearts of all.  Therefore, it would benefit us to know what this requires from us.

It is required of Peter to love the Lord with utmost love (having asked 3 times) –  if he is to be in charge.  Peter was always the first to assert himself; he suggested that it would be good to build booths when they saw Jesus transfigured before them, that he would lay down his life for Jesus even if all will deny him.  He was so sure of himself and appears to be bolder than the other disciples and yet it was he who denied Jesus 3 times.  He was distressed when asked by Christ three times if he loves the Lord.   That was certainly a lesson in humility by virtue of which qualified him to be head of the church.  Jesus knew that in Peter’s betrayal he would not repeat the same mistake.

If it were left to us, we would certainly doubt to put someone in charge, with good reason, because of his dishonesty and fickle mind.  Christ did not change His plans.  Peter in spite of himself,  became head of Christ’s church.  The real reason is Peter realized that he could not betray Christ again for Christ loved him even during the betrayal, even when he was still in sin.  Sin gets a good hold on us when we focus on it and we are almost obsessed with making it up with God.   We constantly feel guilty in front of God. and could not bring ourselves to meet him when we are still in sin.  The publican approached God in the temple as a sinner.   We are not comfortable with His mercy or we can be presumptuous about it.   We would rather face God with a clean slate, as if, it were possible..  Psychologically, Catholics feel better to face God after confession but would hesitate to face God in sin.  It IS the love of God that makes us repent not because of  our effort to reconcile ourselves with God.  It is his grace that makes us go to confession.   He loved us  while we were still in sin and that is why we go back to him.  It’s called grace.   Only when we realize the great love another one  has for us would we most likely not offend the one who loves us..  We keep on sinning because we have not gotten in touch with the love of God and how much that love cost him to the extent of dying for sinful humanity.   But there were some conditions and qualities  Christ could not dispense with.  That quality is love,  Here the demand of Christ of love from Peter could not escape our attention.  Christ laid out to Peter what loving the Lord means.  If you love me he says feed my sheep.  At first glance it sounded like a utilitarian love.   It’s like when we were young Mom, it’s usually the Mom, who will say, son if you love me study hard or clean your room or some other task and we of course would obey with a grudge.  But with Jesus it is different.  It speaks about the nature of his person and mission.   Peter must do what Christ must did for all humanity.   Christ did only what he saw the Father was doing – the will to save the whole of humanity.  It was his mission to call the lost sheep of Israel and by extension the whole world.  True love is to behave like the father and the son in their passion to save all of God’s children.   It is in the union of wills where true love is found.   Peter must love Christ not as if Christ was an object but that he must allow or conform his will to be taken up into the intimacy of love within Father Son and Holy Spirit.  When this happens then Peter would behave like God,  namely, having a burning passionate desire to save and care for all God’s sheep no matter what it costs.

He must not waver nor be distracted from this mission.  He should not ask whether John will not die until Christ comes again.  He will have a hint of what would happen to him in his old age.  He too will die like Christ but he does not know how he will die.

He is not be curious as to what will happen to others who follow Christ.  Nothing matters except to do what Christ asks of him namely, to behave like God – to be  passionate in bringing others into the kingdom of heaven.   The church has so much woes and agony in our present time.  Our shepherds lost the passion for taking care of Christ’s sheep.   The sheep served the shepherds.  Human love alone can cause us so much sorrow and pain.  When our will is not in conformity with God’s will then our will reigns supreme for others and we are the sole judges of what is good for us and for others.  Peace and security can only be found in a person whose will is in conformity with God’s wall.  True love is found in the union of our will to God.  It is here where fear vanishes and the following goes on in our lives.  Then that is the time when we can be in charge in order to serve.