Category Archives: Homilies and Talks

Homilies

Homily of Dom Timothy Kelly for the funeral of Br. Patrick Hart

DOM TIMOTHY KELLY, O.C.S.O.

Homily for Funeral Mass of Br. Patrick Hart

February 28, 2019

[Wis 3:1-9; Rev 21:1-5a, 6b-7; Jn 19:17-18, 25-30]

A Life of Service for Others

We have gathered this afternoon to remember Brother Patrick Hart. It is the appropriate thing to do because we know that Brother Patrick would remember each of us. Brother was always a most thoughtful and considerate person – looking for ways to make connections, to bring persons together, to develop a project to complete the publishing of Merton’s works; or just to have persons share interests and push their horizons.

The Gospel reading is very appropriate. Brother Patrick had begun his spiritual quest with the Brothers of the Holy Cross at Notre Dame. In that context, through Merton’s autobiography, “Seven Storey Mountain”, Brother Patrick’s heart was opened to the monastic way of living the Gospel. He entered the Choir Monk’s novitiate here at Gethsemani and transferred to the Lay Brothers a year later.

It is the last section of our Gospel which seems to touch Brother Patrick’s way of following the Gospel. The violence of Jesus’ solitary death for our salvation as presented in the first lines of the Gospel and is balanced, not softened, by the reality of the women and probably St. John and Nicodimus who were at the foot of the cross; who remained with Jesus; who wanted to care for him in his last hour. These persons were faithful to the one in whom they believed.

When I remember Brother Patrick it is in the context of serving others who were not necessarily deserving of such service. Brother Patrick was my secretary for twenty-seven years and so had many opportunities to practise patience and bear with the incompetence of his Abbot. After the example of the faithful followers at the foot of the Cross, Brother Patrick was always in the background doing what was necessary, making-up for the omissions of others.

I remember an incident when Brother Patrick was at the Generalate in Rome and there were six student-monks of Gethsemani resident at the Generalate. The seven of us would get together after the noon meal on occasion. After complaining about the meal and the Father Master of the Students the topic turned to the common source of our anxiety, our Abbot. On this particular occasion as we exchanged episodes that sounded a little like a game of “Can you top this?”, Brother Patrick abruptly left the group. Later I asked him about his sudden departure from the gathering. With a certain passion he pointed out the selfishness and the lack of respect in the conversation of the group. He acknowledged his gratitude not only for what the Abbot, Dom James Fox, had done for him but also the service of the Abbot to the Order and in particular the opportunity that he provided to each of us, the students. Brother Patrick did not think it possible for him to confront the students as a group but shared his position with us individually.

This is the Gospel witness-gift that Brother Patrick offers each of us – faithfulness to the person who had encouraged him; service to his Brothers in teaching by example and support of others just because they are Brothers and Sisters in following Jesus.

It was almost a mission that Brother Patrick took upon himself when Abbot Flavian entrusted him with the responsibility of the Merton Legacy and to work in collaboration with the Trust that Merton had established for his literary work, and with the archives housed at what is now Bellarmine University. This responsibility did have its perks since it meant working with Mrs. Tommie O’Callaghan and sharing her dynamism and culinary creativity.

Brother Patrick was untiring in locating new Merton material for publication, bringing scholars together on various aspects of Merton’s work. Brother even took responsibility for doing some editing of the Letters and Journals while he searched for competent persons to continue the work. Perhaps the most comprehensive and somewhat controversial work was the publication of the Merton Journals and Letters. There was a great deal of anguish about the amount of editing that should be done to these texts. The final decision was to publish them as they were written.

Granted, that in the midst of the worries and concerns there were opportunities that Brother Patrick relished; meeting with friends and colleagues of Merton’s and forging friendships that would support the Merton legacy and Merton’s message of Christian Peace and Justice for our world, and the call that each person live from the depths of the true self that is the foundation of contemplative prayer.

We are here this evening to express our appreciation for our Brother Patrick and his life of service for others. Be it to editors and publishers; University Presidents and archivists; a student with an initial interest in Merton and needing encouragement – serving in the monks’ refectory or cleaning the wash room or correcting an Abbot’s blunders. We remember our Brother who always remembered us.

We remember our Brother Patrick as we celebrate the Eucharist, the mystery of Jesus giving his life that we might live in eternity. We realize like Brother Patrick, who lived from the example of Jesus, that it is only in giving our life for others that we will have life.

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Homily by Fr. Michael Casagram – 2/24/18 – Love Your Enemies

+LOVE YOUR ENEMIES                                                    7th Sunday (C) 2019

Jesus calling us to love our enemies, to do good to those who hate us are some of the most revolutionary words of all time. He is inviting us to enter into God’s very own loving mercy toward all people. All our human calculations fail in the face of who God is for us and how we are to be toward one another.

To claim to be Christian and yet hold hatred in our hearts is hypocrisy, to live contrary to the faith we profess but we all know how easy it is to hold resentment or hurt toward those who have harmed us in the past. The story of David with King Saul is so revealing of the mind of God. Saul was seeking to kill him and it is easy for us to identify with the suggestion of Abishai that David allow him to pin Saul to ground with one thrust of the spear but David forbids him knowing that Saul is God’s anointed.

There is the earthly and the heavenly in each of us as human beings. The first Adam in us is a living being, the second Adam a life giving spirit as St Paul speaks of in his letter to the Corinthians. Through our baptism we are all destined to bear the image of our heavenly Adam, the Christ. Are we ready to carry about with us at all times this consciousness of the heavenly Adam, the living and active Word of God? This is what gives meaning and daily happiness to our lives as Christians.

What a world we would be living in if only we as Christians put into practice what Jesus is asking of us in our gospel today. It means loving at all times, especially when the earthly person in us is inclined to become defensive or full of ill feeling toward others. It means giving without hope of being repaid, of becoming generous at all times with what we have received. We look for spiritual transformation in our lives and Jesus shows us how to arrive there quickly. For to love our enemies and do good to them completely changes our lives into living images of God’s own inner Trinitarian life. We become as Jesus tells us, God’s very own Children.

To do all that is being asked of us is way beyond our own powers. We cannot begin to forgive, to show mercy, to give, to love as Jesus is asking us to do by our own efforts and exertion. But it all becomes possible through the working of grace. Humbly knowing our weakness and relying on the gift of Divine help, we are made into a new creation after God’s own image and likeness.

The Eucharist we take and break at this Altar is the very Body and Blood of the living Christ. It is His living presence in us that allows us to accomplish all that is being asked of us in today’s gospel. He wants nothing so much as to feed us with His own Divine life so that it is no longer we that live but the Christ living in us. What we receive in our hand or on our tongue is what we become. We have only to know our need and let this life come to maturity in us. 

Homily- Abbot Elias 020219 – Presentation

ABBOT ELIAS DIETZ, O.C.S.O.

Homilette – Presentation, February 2, 2019

The Light and The Glory

It is really only today that we complete the Advent-Christmas season. And it is clear that the church wants us to carry something with us from this time into the rest of the year. Just like our procession this morning: we carry candles as we go forward; we carry with us into the future the light and glory we have discovered in the Christ Child during the darkest part of the year.

Notice, too, how the liturgy reminds us each day of the Advent and Christmas seasons, grounding us daily in the events surrounding the Incarnation: we sing Zechariah’s song at Laud’s, Mary’s at Vespers, and Simeon’s at Compline.

In the case of Simeon, it is a song of gratitude and completion: “I have seen your promise come true; now I can go in peace.” To sing these words at the end of each day is to see our daily lives as the arena for these same deep and significant events.

Ideally the Lord becomes incarnate and grows in the hearts of all believers who recall him each day.  If we are attentive like Simeon, God’s work unfolding in our lives will be as real as the warmth and weight of a Child in arms. And if we are as deeply grateful as Simeon, we will be ready at the end of each day to say: “Lord, I have seen your salvation; I’m ready to go in peace whether for this night or for all eternity.

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Homily – Holy Family – 12/30/18 by Fr. Seamus

HOLY FAMILY – (C)  –   DEC. 30, 2018   +   RDNGS: 1 Sm 1:20-28; 1 Jn 3:1-24; Lk 2:41-52

(Optional Intro: The biblical idea of family boundaries could be quite porous. Blood relationships were important, but the second sense of being a family came from acts of love and loyalty. Blood brothers like Jacob and Esau could split permanently over acts of betrayal, while unrelated persons like Ruth and Naomi (Ru 1:16-18) of David and Jonathan (1 Sm 18:1-4; 20:14-17) could establish covenant relationships with each other that were even stronger than their ties to blood relatives.)

[AD LIB: It’s all about family – Mention Gethsemani’s Family Guest House: e.g. Br Raphael’s large extended family coming from MO every year .. by bus! … and Br Christian’s also …  from NH, with his niece’s friend with them – a teenage girl … “No, I’m not family – I never met Br Christian before” she told me … whose own family, she said,  “never does anything together” … ” ]

Finding one’s place in God’s household is the reality to which today’s first reading and Gospel speak. Samuel’s parents were not members of Israel’s priestly tribe, but because of Hannah’s love and loyalty, Samuel was welcome in God’s house. It took some time, however, for Samuel to find his place as the leader of Israel. 

Jesus also needed time ‘to find his place’ in God’s house. He was God’s Son and, at age 12 he felt at home in the temple where he spent his time listening and asking questions. It is likely that the astonishment that his teachers showed came less from his display of supernatural knowledge and more from his intelligent, perceptive questions. (Home schooled? 😊 )

He had not yet discovered his role. Luke reminds his readers that Jesus still needed time to “advance in wisdom” before he found the place God intended for him. This is a great lesson for all of us who are searching for her/his place in God’s divine plan … for spiritual discernment … on what to do next on our journey of faith.

Jesus’ response to his distraught parents, “Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” are His first recorded words in scripture … and it’s a question … as was Mary’s first recorded words in scripture … also a question … to the Angel Gabriel, “How can this be since I know not man?”) Why is Luke connecting these? Perhaps this is the summit towards which today’s gospel moves? It has a profound meaning: Mary and Joseph’s complete incomprehension clearly point to this. Jesus, a child like others, obeying his parents, yet clearly possessing an incomparable wisdom, has a mysterious relationship with the Father. The mystery of his person is only revealed, little by little, through his obedience to the will of God. (And we say goodbye to Joseph … who has never been quoted … This Temple scene is/was his final appearance in scripture, he is never mentioned again … but Luke tells us he went home with Mary and Jesus … and we applaud all those parents who have also sacrificed their lives solely for the good of their children!)

Going back: We notice that Luke has Jesus travelling with his parents to Jerusalem for the feast of Passover. We see here a spiritually-rich literary coherence: The next time Luke portrays Jesus on his way to Jerusalem will be for the Feast of Passover … again … and that will be Jesus’ last trip to Jerusalem … the Jewish feast will coincide with his own “Personal Passover” … his death and resurrection … for each of us … love personified.

Going back again: The veil will not be completely lifted, however, until Easter, which is already on the horizon. We can’t help but notice that Jesus is found in the Temple – or we could say “reappears” – on the third day after his absence, as it will be three days between his death and resurrection. Also, the incomprehension of Joseph and Mary evokes that of the two disciples on the road to Emmaus (Lk 24:25) whom the resurrected Jesus reproaches by saying to them, “What little sense you have!” … or as some translations put it, “Oh how foolish you are! Did not the Messiah have to undergo all this?” … or “Was it not necessary that the Messiah should suffer these things and enter into his glory?” These words clearly reflect Jesus’ words to his parents in the Temple: “Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” Can’t help but realize how direct Jesus is … as he sometimes is with us (through others) as we look for Jesus in our lives.

Seems to me that at some point, each of us needs to follow a similar path. We know we are always welcome in God’s house, but eventually we need to discern the specific role we will play in the divine family. Isn’t this what Lectio is? Only by imitating Jesus’ extended listening and questioning will we be able to mature in the wisdom necessary to discern who we really are and where we’re going … to follow Christ. This process of discernment and our decisions may well mystify our family and/or those who know us best, but when we find the place God has made for us, we will know … and we will feel right at home. One thing is certrain: Each of us has a unique role to play in the divine family … It’s the on-going drama of the divine plan. I hope and pray we all believe this. Have we discerned what our role is? We may never fully know until we carry our cross – suffer – and hang there – naked in others’ eyes – and die to ourselves for the sake of all in God’s family … “to suffer these things and enter into his/our glory.” 

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Christmas homily – Abbot Elias

ABBOT ELIAS DIETZ, O.C.S.O.

Homily – Christmas Day Mass, Dec. 25, 2018

[Jn 1:1-14]

In Him it is Always Yes

This wonderful and mysterious Prologue to John’s gospel is the deepest expression of what we celebrate at Christmas: Jesus come among us as the Word made flesh.

But to avoid staying in abstractions, it might be helpful to consider what that Word sounds like. Saint Paul tells us that “the Son of God, Jesus Christ, whom we preached among you, … was not Yes and No; but in him it is always Yes.  For all the promises of God find their Yes in him (2 Cor 1:19–20). So, the Word with a capital W is a Yes with a capital Y, and it comes through loud and clear from all eternity.

From the moment of creation the Word was spoken: Yes, let there be light; Yes, what I have created is good. And in our case he meant what he said: not only did he affirm that our flesh is good, he became that flesh; God’s ultimate Yes to creation.

To paraphrase John’s Prologue: What came to be through him was life, and this life was his Yes to us, and his Yes drowns out any Nos, and no No can overcome his Yes.

We hear this Word made flesh most concretely in the garden of Gethsemani: not my will, but yours be done—the Son’s Yes to the Father.

All the important Yeses in history are echoes of the eternal Yes. Mary’s fiat, ‘let it be done’, is the key one.

And the Word became flesh

and made his dwelling among us,

and we saw his glory,

the glory as of the Father’s only Son,

full of grace and truth.

No wonder the angel called Mary “full of grace.” It takes a lot of grace and an expansive heart for a small human Yes to echo the eternal Yes of God’s Word, itself full of grace and truth.

And so a good question for you and for me this Christmas Day is how clearly this Yes echoes in your heart and in my heart. Am I saying yes when invited to stretch my willingness to help, to take part, to learn something new? Is my gaze on the world and on those around me like God’s gaze—yes, it is good—or is it a disapproving gaze and succession of nos? Ideally we will follow Mary’s lead and leave plenty of room inside for the eternal Yes to echo, and like her be filled with the grace and truth that come to us through Jesus, the Word made flesh.

Reflection at Eucharist 11/28/18 by Fr. Michael

+Being called to be a Christian we will experience at least occasionally misunderstanding and persecution. Our way of living our Christian lives will inevitably run contrary to the values of the world around us. We are faced today, both within the Church and political life a lot of conflict and division but need not be afraid so long as we are being true to our faith. In fact it is a time to realize that Christ is especially near us and need not worry about what we are to say or do for he Himself will give us just what to say so that our adversaries will be powerless to resist or refute. Any persecution becomes the very occasion for encounter with the living God. It is perseverance that secures our lives. All of life then becomes the occasion, as Eucharist reminds us, for joy and gratitude

Homily by Fr. Seamus Malvey – Christ the King 11/25/18

CHRIST THE KING – NOV 25, 2018 + RDNGS: Dan 7:13-14; Rev 1:5-8; John 18:33b-37.

“My kingdom does not belong to this world … I came into the world to testify to the truth … Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice.”

The Kingdom of God is found in every home where parents and children love each other. It exists in every country that cares for its weak and vulnerable, that welcomes strangers, “huddled masses yearning to breathe free;” 

 God’s kingdom is in every church, synagogue and mosque that reaches out to the poor and needy regardless of race, color or creed.

Dorothy Day put it well when she wrote, “I firmly believe that our salvation depends on the poor.” Then she quotes Christ the King himself, “Inasmuch as you have not fed the hungry, clothed the naked, sheltered the homeless, visited the prisoner, protested against injustice, comforted the afflicted, etc. you have not done it to Me.” Christ,” continues Dorothy, “identifies Himself with the poor.” (The Catholic Worker, November, 1949, as quoted in CW, Nov, ‘18) Then, in one of his twenty-nine letters to Dorothy Day, our own Trappist monk, Thomas 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)  Both Dorothy Day and Thomas Merton,  in their own way, reflect today’s gospel: As Christ the King within us says to the Pilate within us: “I came into the world to testify to the truth.”

Normally kingship is associated with power, prestige, and wealth. Christ’s presence and kingship are found in his suffering and death for our sakes and in the tension within our own lives as we struggle to align ourselves with the truth of the kingdom of Christ our King.

Today we celebrate Jesus Christ as our King, but St Bernard of Clairvaux reminds us, that … “Just as Jesus is Lord and King, Mary is Lady and Queen because she is the Mother of the Lord, the Mother of the King. This entitles her to be ‘queen of the world’ … Mary is queen because her Son is King. “Our queen’s diadem,” says Bernard, is lit up with twelve stars and Bernard invites us to contemplate the ‘queen wearing the diadem with which her Son crowned her’. Sharing his glory, she is raised upon a royal throne. We are her serfs, and she is our ‘gracious queen.’ “The Virgin,” says Bernard, “is the road which the Saviour came to us, but she is also the means, the path, by which we are to go to Christ”.

 

The whole of the New Testament makes it clear that response to the reign of God and the kingship of Jesus has everything to do with how we live out our earthly citizenship – how we work, pray, pay, buy, sell and vote. In this we honor Jesus (to use the words of today’s reading from Revelation) as “faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead and ruler of the kings of the earth.”

In other words, Mary’s Son, Christ the King, who lays down his life for us, will be known only through us, through our lives of self-sacrificing love. Only in this way will the world come to know and believe. This feast of Christ the King, then, is a challenge to all of us: Do we, or do we not, reveal the God who is Love?____________________________________

 

Homily: Anointing Mass, November 20, 2018. Abbot Elias Dietz.

ABBOT ELIAS DIETZ, O.C.S.O.
Homily: Anointing Mass, Nov. 20, 2018
[Wisdom 9:9-11, 13-18 | Romans 8:14-17 | Matthew 11:25-30]

There are things that the Father reveals only to the small, to infants. Obviously, in this Gospel Jesus is not talking about chronological age, because he is addressing those who labor and are heavy laden. Among the experiences in life that make us small, weigh us down, and wear us out, sickness and physical diminishment rank high.

These hard and heavy experiences are never welcome and often seem unfair. A spontaneous outcry is normal. But when sufferings become part of life or the new normal, it is up to us to choose our attitude toward the situation.

Rather than revolting against our unfortunate lot, the Book of Wisdom invites us to turn our diminishments into occasions for discovery. The first thing to discover is how limited our perspective is: “For the reasoning of mortals is worthless, and our designs are likely to fail,” we read. God’s counsel is infinitely deeper. Wisdom begins when we leave behind our self-interested calculations of what matters and of what is fair. Wisdom begins when we turn to God: “Who has learned your counsel, unless you have given wisdom and sent your holy Spirit from on high?” the Wisdom author asks.

But this change of perspective is not a matter of intellectual gymnastics or psychological slight-of-hand. It means leaving behind our self-reliance and
our self-centered fears. To put it in Saint Paul’s terms, it means letting go
of control and letting the Spirit guide us: “For all who are led by the Spirit
of God are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall
back into fear, but you have received the spirit of sonship.”

In the middle of our assembly this evening we place those among us who
labor and are heavy laden, those who are experiencing various kinds of
diminishment, those who feel small, if you will. They need the prayers of
the strong and healthy, and the strong and healthy need to learn from
them how to turn hardship into an opportunity to draw closer to the Lord
and to find true rest in him.

May this sacrament help us all to transform our anguished outcries into the
ultimate prayer: Abba! Father!
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Homily by Fr. Michael for 11/18/18 – A Time Unsurpassed in Distress

+A TIME UNSURPASSED IN DISTRESS                        33 Sunday B, 2018  

These words from the book of the Prophet Daniel tell of the last times, of when this world is coming to an end. Jesus, in our gospel, speaks of a great tribulation, when the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, the end of time. Our readings this morning are clearly apocalyptic as is fitting enough when we move closer to the end of the liturgical year.

There are many today warning us of indications of the end of this world, of conflicts arising all around us whether between Nations or within society itself. One thinks of the political polarization in this country, the growing divide between rich and poor, racial conflicts that go on. One sees the terrible effect of sexual abuse within the Church, the growing reluctance to be a committed member of a Church or believing community. As one listens to news of floods, of the terrible fires in California, we ask ourselves whether our earth a safe place to live? It is clearly a time to take stock of our lives, to realize that this life is passing quickly and we do well to keep in view Christ’s promise of everlasting life for those who believe in him.

We need not live in fear if we are doing all that we can to be true to our Christian faith. St Benedict says that God is saying to each of us that “If you desire true and eternal life,…turn away 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.” There is the story told of St Francis working in his garden. A friar asked him “What would you be doing now if you knew that Jesus was coming back today?” Francis replied, “I would keep hoeing my garden.” Francis felt that he was doing the best he could for that moment and needed nothing more.

Each one of us lives at a different point in life and knows that God could come at any time. If our lives reflect this awareness, we will do all we can to be prepared. What prayer does and what the Eucharist is designed to do is to help us live fully in this moment of Christ’s coming. Christ’s sacrifice, the author of the letter to the Hebrews tells us “has made perfect forever those who are being consecrated.” There is made present at this altar daily the one eternal sacrifice, the one perfect act of love that transforms everyone who believes in what God has done for us in Jesus.

This love is ready to become present and fully active in every difficult situation of our lives, for God knows far better than we that we can do nothing of eternal value without the gift of grace. And here is perfect freedom, to know the depth of God’s love for us and to allow it to be present each moment of our lives.

 

Dan 12:1-3; Heb 10:11-14, 18; Mk 13: 24-32