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Homily – Fr. Michael Casagram – Benedictine Saints 11/13/21

+Today we celebrate all the Benedictine Saints, including some of our own order fresh in our minds, namely the beatified Algerian martyrs of the Atlas monastery. Then there is the Bl. Cyprian Michael Tansi, the Nigerian monk of Mt St Bernard’s in England, the Bl. Maria Gabriela of Italy and St Rafael Arnaiz of Spain, all of whom remind us of our own call to holiness. And so, let us for God’s mercy as we enter into these holy mysteries.

(Isa 61:9-11; John 15:1-8)

With the Saints God makes “justice and praise spring up before all the nations” as we just heard from Isaiah. In them we see what God looks to see in each of our lives. As we remember them in the liturgy we are all given incentive to realize our full potential.

We can be sure that our own lives will be constantly pruned as were theirs, often due to circumstance they could never have anticipated. We have only to remain in Christ as he remains in us , if we are to bear much fruit, for without him we can do nothing of lasting value. There is the simple fact that without Jesus in the forefront of our undertakings, we fail in whatever good we set out to do.

The unspoken correlative of this is that remaining in him, we too will do all that the Saints we celebrate  today did, do all that is of everlasting value. May they be our constant guides us along the path.

Homilette – Fr. Lawrence – On the Consecration of St. John Lateran Church 11/9/21

Dear Brothers and sisters –

At the end of the 1942 movie Mrs. Miniver, having endured the horrible blitz of the German bombing, with tragedy and loss of loved ones, the people stand in their ruined church, the roof gone, the walls barely standing, and pray. The church is not the walls and roof of the building. The basilica of St. John Lateran has been burnt and pillaged and rebuilt any number of times over the centuries. St. John Lateran and all its children are not the walls and roof of the church. Instead, it’s walls are built of the bodies who have stood in it praying, and the roof is built of their faith. There are over a million bricks in this monastery, but the bricks do not make up Gethsemani. The thousands and millions who have gone before us and the thousands and millions who will come after us, and we, here today, praying together, we are the bricks and stones of the Church.

 

Fr. Lawrence

Homily – Fr. Anton

The Gospel          Mark 10:46-52

As Jesus was leaving Jericho with his disciples and a sizable crowd,

Bartimaeus, a blind man, the son of Timaeus,

sat by the roadside begging.

On hearing that it was Jesus of Nazareth,

he began to cry out and say,

“Jesus, son of David, have mercy on me.”

And many rebuked him, telling him to be silent.

But he kept calling out all the more,

“Son of David, have mercy on me.”

Jesus stopped and said, “Call him.”

So they called the blind man, saying to him,

“Take courage; get up, Jesus is calling you.”

He threw aside his cloak, sprang up, and came to Jesus.

Jesus said to him in reply, “What do you want me to do for you?”

The blind man replied to him, “Master, I want to see.”

Jesus told him, “Go your way; your faith has saved you.”

Immediately he received his sight

and followed him on the way.

 

After the Gospel:

 

For many Christians, it’s a favorite gospel,

because it’s not just a blind man story – we know his name, which means he was well-known, perhaps important,  to the early church,

and because, even though he was physically blind, he had spiritual vision,

and because  he didn’t just ask for a healing – stop there – but first of all he asked for something else more important.

And lastly, because  he stayed with Jesus.

 

Jesus was leaving Jericho, on his final trip to Jerusalem, where He would die and  rise.

Which makes Bartimaeus one of the last miracles, and the last follower who joined Jesus along the way:

someone who  went from being a beggar along the road to Jericho, to a disciple who walked right alongside the others on the way to Jerusalem, and waved palm branches with them.

 

This story has echoes of the Good Samaritan, portraying Jesus as The Good Samaritan who stopped and helped and healed on that famous road from Jericho to Jerusalem.

The gospel begins with Bartimaeus sitting on the sidelines, blind, no one listened to him;

when he tried to speak, they got angry, told him to keep quiet.

Why would you “Hush!” a disabled man asking for help?

Because he was a nuisance to their plans, an obstacle to whatever designs they had for Jesus as King.  Their thoughts were different from God’s thoughts.

But Jesus heard his plea, called for him to come close, and let him speak, asking “What do you want me to do for you?”

 

His first words were:  “Have mercy on me.”    In fact, he repeated it.

Only later he asked, “let me see again.”

But twice:  “Have mercy on me.”   He was sufficiently in tune with himself to know that what he needed most was deeper than restoration of sight.

You don’t need  20/20 vision to be lustful or envious or covetous,

you don’t need good eyes to be angry

or  build up your hatreds over the years little by little,

or see only the worst in people.

You can do all that with or without good vision.

But you can be blind and see that your deepest need is for spiritual healing,  something far deeper than a need for physical healing.

Grace had somehow convinced Bartimaeus that Physical blindness will not keep you out of heaven, but spiritual blindness will.

He knew himself well enough to ask for spiritual healing, mercy for his sins,

and he no doubt received it,  since he also received physical healing.

 

Notice how Jesus acted …  as a neighbor.  He didn’t sidestep the beggar, didn’t throw him a coin to shut him up,  didn’t delegate someone,  but He stopped, and got personally involved.  “What can I do for you”

His actions showed He cared, it communicated His love, and changed Bartimaeus’ life.

Jesus brought new life to a broken man.

 

Before his eyes were fixed, Bartimaeus heard Jesus say, “your faith has saved you.”

Bartimaeus must have been more than a person who prayed only in a crisis to get what he wanted from God, he must have had a relationship with God, been a person of faith.

He considered his need for salvation  the deepest need of his life, something he needed far more than restoration of sight, and he heard Jesus’ assurance: “Your faith has saved you.”

What peace he must have felt!

 

Mark mentions one last thing about Bartimaeus:

Immediately,  he received his sight and followed Jesus on the way.

When the Gospel says someone followed Jesus,   they became a disciple of Jesus.

Jesus had twelve apostles and many more disciples, all of whom listened to his teaching and allowed it to change their lives.

Bartimaeus didn’t just pray to have his sight restored and then disappear.

His healing marked the beginning of his journey following Jesus,  his becoming a disciple of Jesus and learning from Jesus.

Afterwards his whole way of life was such that it revolved around Jesus,

and what Jesus stood for, and what He taught. That’s what a disciple, a follower, does.

 

This gospel also answers the question:

“Why should we pray for what we want, when it’s obvious, when God already knows what we want?”

It’s because praying for what we need is only part of our relationship with God.

Our whole life has to be a prayer to God, has to be about following Jesus, being a disciple of Jesus, listening to his teaching and allowing it to change our lives.

If we  pray only when we are in crisis, or need something,  are we really Christian?

Prayer isn’t some magic formula to be recited, which magically brings about the desired results.

It’s a way of living, a  way of  following Jesus on the road.

 

Jesus taught the crowds: “Seek first the kingdom of God, and all these other things will be given you as well.” Bartimaeus sought the kingdom of God first – God’s mercy – and the other things, including restoration of sight, were given him as well.

 

 

 

Homily – Fr. Anton – Br Rene Ritchie

Today the community prayed especially for the Dead, friends, relatives, former

monks. Here are the reflections of Fr Anton at the Eucharist this AM. May of you 
will remember former Br Rene. Peace and blessings, Michael

Introit: If you, O Lord, should mark our sins, Lord, who could survive?  But with you there is mercy and forgiveness.

 

Brothers,

Most of the old Abbeys have their cemeteries right next to the Church, walled in, with a big iron gate over which there’s a Latin inscription meaning:

‘Remember as you pass by:

What you are, I once was,

What I am, you will become.  Pray for me!”

 

That’s what we do today  in our Monthly Mass for Dead:

Remember the names and faces of all our deceased relatives, friends, benefactors, all our dead monks,   and pray for them.

Knowing that, one day, the Church will be praying for us!

                   

Loving Father, you are our Creator, it was you who knit us together in our mother’s womb, do not discard the work of your hands, Lord have mercy.

    We are sinners, yet you trust us with the Precious Body and Blood of your Son, Christ have mercy.

    We have strayed, yet you send your Holy Spirit to forgive our sins and put a new heart within us, Lord have mercy.

 

The Gospel:   Matt 6:19-23

Jesus said to his disciples:

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth,

where moth and decay destroy, and thieves break in and steal.

But store up treasures in heaven,

where neither moth nor decay destroys, nor thieves break in and steal.

For where your treasure is, there also will your heart be.

 

“The lamp of the body is the eye.

If your eye is sound, your whole body will be filled with light;

but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be in darkness.

And if the light in you is darkness, how great will the darkness be.”

 

After the Gospel: 

We join an Abbey to stay there for the rest of our lives, and ultimately, to die and be buried there.

At Gethsemani, all of us have seen at least one death,  been part of the continual Vigil beside the body, then watched as the body was lowered into the grave, back to the mother earth from which it was taken, the common ground which bears us all.

Each Brother we buried expected prayers after his death.

That’s what we’re doing today.

Many of us remember Brother René Ritchie, who died ten years ago.

For some of us, he was Undermaster,

taught us how to mop floors,

how to  bake large Communion breads early each morning from the wheat he ground for us,

how to mix cement and pour sidewalks,

how to drive the garden tractor, since we didn’t have golf carts yet, and we needed a little garden tractor to do small maintenance jobs,  and trundle laundry carts back and forth up to the Family Guest house.

 

In what’s now our computer room, some of us helped him experiment  making Bourbon Fudge as our new product.

It didn’t take much to see that Br René had a great devotion to Mary, or that he prayed the Rosary.  His beads  came from the plants he grew in front of the Retreat House,  Job’s Tears, whose seeds became  rosaries he made and gave away.

There always seemed to be a rosary in his hand, Job’s Tears, the beads getting more and more polished as they passed between his fingers.   

When he died, at age 83, it was not easy,  there was cancer in his jaw and throat,

but a rosary still in his hand.

During my last visit with him, as we reminisced about those ‘good old days,’

I reminded him of something twenty years earlier:

my final visit as a Monastic Observer,

we were over in the woods clearing away weeds from the Statues,

and I asked to leave early because the Vocation Director had set up our final interview,

to announce  a  YES or NO on moving  ahead.

“I’m nervous,  Brother,”   I said.  “Please pray for me.”

At which Br René held up the  hand with the rosary, and said:

“I’ll finish this rosary for you.

Just  have faith that, if God wants you here,  He’ll get you here.”

 

Of course, there were so  many memories  about  working with candidates and novices …

he didn’t remember that one,

But Br René smiled through the cancer,

reached out with the hand holding his rosary,  and said:

“OK, I prayed for you then.

Now it’s your turn to pray for me.  I’m counting on it.

And don’t forget to pray for me after I’m dead.  I’m counting on that, too.”

 

Today is our chance.

Br René … and who else among  our deceased relatives, friends, benefactors, all our dead monks…

Br. Rene Ritchie, OCSO

who else is counting on our prayers?

Amanda Gorman – Youth Poet Laureate – Poem from Inauguration of President Biden 1/20/21

Amanda Gorman, the nation’s first-ever youth poet laureate, read the following poem during the inauguration of President Joe Biden on January 20:

When day comes we ask ourselves,

where can we find light in this never-ending shade?

The loss we carry,

a sea we must wade

We’ve braved the belly of the beast

We’ve learned that quiet isn’t always peace

And the norms and notions

of what just is

Isn’t always just-ice

And yet the dawn is ours

before we knew it

Somehow we do it

Somehow we’ve weathered and witnessed

a nation that isn’t broken

but simply unfinished

We the successors of a country and a time

Where a skinny Black girl

descended from slaves and raised by a single mother

can dream of becoming president

only to find herself reciting for one

And yes we are far from polished

far from pristine

but that doesn’t mean we are

striving to form a union that is perfect

We are striving to forge a union with purpose

To compose a country committed to all cultures, colors, characters and

conditions of man

And so we lift our gazes not to what stands between us

but what stands before us

We close the divide because we know, to put our future first,

we must first put our differences aside

We lay down our arms

so we can reach out our arms

to one another

We seek harm to none and harmony for all

Let the globe, if nothing else, say this is true:

That even as we grieved, we grew

That even as we hurt, we hoped

That even as we tired, we tried

That we’ll forever be tied together, victorious

Not because we will never again know defeat

but because we will never again sow division

Scripture tells us to envision

that everyone shall sit under their own vine and fig tree

And no one shall make them afraid

If we’re to live up to our own time

Then victory won’t lie in the blade

But in all the bridges we’ve made

That is the promise to glade

The hill we climb

If only we dare

It’s because being American is more than a pride we inherit,

it’s the past we step into

and how we repair it

We’ve seen a force that would shatter our nation

rather than share it

Would destroy our country if it meant delaying democracy

And this effort very nearly succeeded

But while democracy can be periodically delayed

it can never be permanently defeated

In this truth

in this faith we trust

For while we have our eyes on the future

history has its eyes on us

This is the era of just redemption

We feared at its inception

We did not feel prepared to be the heirs

of such a terrifying hour

but within it we found the power

to author a new chapter

To offer hope and laughter to ourselves

So while once we asked,

how could we possibly prevail over catastrophe?

Now we assert

How could catastrophe possibly prevail over us?

We will not march back to what was

but move to what shall be

A country that is bruised but whole,

benevolent but bold,

fierce and free

We will not be turned around

or interrupted by intimidation

because we know our inaction and inertia

will be the inheritance of the next generation

Our blunders become their burdens

But one thing is certain:

If we merge mercy with might,

and might with right,

then love becomes our legacy

and change our children’s birthright

So let us leave behind a country

better than the one we were left with

Every breath from my bronze-pounded chest,

we will raise this wounded world into a wondrous one

We will rise from the gold-limbed hills of the west,

we will rise from the windswept northeast

where our forefathers first realized revolution

We will rise from the lake-rimmed cities of the midwestern states,

we will rise from the sunbaked south

We will rebuild, reconcile and recover

and every known nook of our nation and

every corner called our country,

our people diverse and beautiful will emerge,

battered and beautiful

When day comes we step out of the shade,

aflame and unafraid

The new dawn blooms as we free it

For there is always light,

if only we’re brave enough to see it

If only we’re brave enough to be it

 

Fr. Michael’s reflections for the Feast Day of St. Clare

St Clare was only 18 when she heard sermons of St Francis at St Giorgio church in Assisi and was deeply inspired by his message. Toward the end of her life she said to one of St Francis’ followers, that “ever since experiencing the grace of Jesus through his servant Francis, I have never in my whole life met with any pain or sickness that could really hurt me.” One sees in her the child Jesus placed in the midst of his disciples saying, that whoever becomes humble like this child is the greatest in the Kingdom of heaven.”

According to Bultler’s Lives of the Saints “She always wanted to be the servant of servants, to wash and kiss the lay Sisters’ feet when they returned from begging, to serve at table, and to look after the sick: ‘Do what you want with me. I am yours because my will is no longer my own. I have given it to God.’” She had learned that humility Jesus speaks of in our gospel, that knows that all one has of worth is the gift of God, so that Christ was able to accomplished great things through her even into our own time.