Category Archives: Uncategorized

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.

Abbot Elias – Re-elected Abbot for his 3rd term of 6 years

We had our abbatial election early this morning. Fr Elias was clearly elected for
his third term of 6 years. All went well and we will have the installation this afternoon
and a gaudeamus celebration this evening after Vespers. But please keep Fr Elias in
prayer, never an easy job this day and age, especially with all that is going on,
Fr. Michael
PS: Thank you for your prayer for the election.
https://www.ocso.org/2020/07/11/gethsemani-6/

Fr. Lawrence – Fifth Sunday in lent – Hope

Fifth Sunday in Lent 2020-03-29

Dear Brothers (no sisters today, at least not with us),
hope can be difficult to define. For most of us, hope is
synonymous with expectation. I hope it’ll rain today, you
might hope it doesn’t. We’re hoping it’s a girl this time. I
hope we have grilled cheese sandwiches next Friday. This
can even be extended to the spiritual realm. Janis Joplin
once sang a song which went, “Oh Lord, won’t you buy me –
a Mercedes Benz.” So hope can simply mean expectation,
something we want to happen and will be disappointed if it
doesn’t.
But the meaning can be more subtle than that. Hope is
also an attitude. It is a confidence that despite how things
look right now, everything will turn out all right in the end. In
this case, hope doesn’t depend on particular outcomes.
Generally, this form of hope even mistrusts what we might
envision as an outcome, preferring instead to leave things to
God. I remember talking to the nurse practitioner at the
doctor’s office some years ago about our Br. Raphael. She
was the one who told him that his cancer was inoperable.
She started to cry, but Br. Raphael said, “Don’t cry. It will be
all right. Whether I live or die it will be all right.” You might
think that dying is about as far away from all right as it gets,
but Br. Raphael didn’t think so. He had a larger view of
things. He had an attitude of hope.
In this form, along with faith and love, hope is also one
of the so-called theological virtues. In the language of
theology, these virtues are unattainable in their perfection by
us as creatures. Instead they are given to us, or infused into
us, by God, for the purpose of inspiring specific virtuous
actions. However, this doesn’t mean that God is stingy with
these virtues – as we all know from experience, we do feel
hope, faith and love on a regular basis. We might take
comfort in the fact that when we do feel these common
emotions, we are in direct contact with God who must supply
them. When we feel hope, it is an echo of God.
All this said, for most of us, hope is a fragile thing.
Unless we are as spiritually advanced as Br. Raphael, it can
be broken or turned to despair by any setback or failure. We
trust in God when things are going well, but we turn back to
ourselves and our own resources when they go badly, and,
partially as a result, things tend to go from bad to worse,
confirming our suspicion that God is somewhere else taking
care of somebody else.

For the Israelites in exile in foreign lands, it must have
seemed to many that God had abandoned them. They were
conquered militarily, their homeland laid to waste, their
temple destroyed, many of them were killed, and the rest
were rounded up as prisoners and sent into exile. And this
lasted not a matter of a few years, but over several
generations. It must have seemed to them that the very idea
of the nation of Israel was completely dead. But it was at just
this point, when hope seemed to be extinguished, that God
promised, through the prophet Ezekiel, that the people of
Israel would revive, would rise from the dead, so to speak,
and once again form a nation and a people. And, as we know,
God fulfilled this promise through Cyrus the Great. Hope can
bring a whole people through a difficult time, and Ezekiel
provided that hope.
Multiple messages, each one more urgent than the last,
were sent to Jesus (it was probably Martha who sent them)
that his friend Lazarus was sick. The expectation was that
Jesus would come to them and heal Lazarus as he had
healed so many others. But Jesus didn’t come. The gospel
says that he stayed where he was for two days. It doesn’t say
that he had any particularly pressing business where he was,
just that he stayed there. There is an implication that the
disciples thought that he might be afraid to go to Lazarus,
back to Judea, because people there wanted to kill him.
Jesus replies to this with a very difficult saying. “If one walks
during the day, he does not stumble, because he sees the
light of the world. But if one walks at night, he stumbles,
because the light is not in him.” In our scripture sharing last
evening in the novitiate, we all agreed that this reply made
very little sense in the context. However, I’ve been thinking
about it since, and perhaps Jesus meant that if we have an
attitude of hope, like Br. Raphael, nothing much can go
wrong, that even physical death need not mean that we are
deprived of the light. But if we don’t have hope, if instead we
rely on our own resources, we are bound to stumble. I don’t
know if that’s what Jesus meant, but for our purposes it fits.
When Jesus does arrive in Bethany, Martha berates him –
“Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have
died,” though she adds politely, “But even now I know that
whatever you ask of God, God will give you.” Both
expectation and hope were shattered. She expected that
Jesus would come and heal Lazarus, and when he didn’t, she
was disappointed. And hope had died too – the confidence
that things would turn out well. But Jesus rekindles her
hope. She makes a confession, the same confession that
Peter made in the synoptic gospels – “You are the Christ, the
Son of God.” Now, Jesus had raised others from the dead
before this – Jairus’ daughter, the son of the widow of Nain –
but they were only recently dead. So even that remote hope
was also long past. When it seemed that the situation was
completely beyond hope, Jesus showed that he can reach
past what we can even conceive of as hope. We know that
irreversible damage occurs to the human body once it is
dead. As Martha so graphically says, “There will be a
stench,” or as the venerable King James version more
accurately puts it, “by this time he stinketh.” But to prove
that hope need never be extinguished, Jesus accomplishes
the impossible, and raises the dead body of Lazarus back to
life.
Lent is often a time of expectation. We might set out
with a list of things we wish to observe for Lent, a set of
accomplishments we “hope” to reach. If your Lent is
anything like mine, the list gets shorter as Lent progresses,
until finally none or almost none of my courageous goals is
completely met. My expectation is disappointed. I am
disappointed in myself, I am ashamed before God, I have
failed. I might even blame God, at least in part, for my
failures. I prayed for help, and no help came. Like Martha and
Mary, I sent messages to you, and you obstinately stayed
away until it was too late. Now Lent is nearly over, and I’m no
better off, even worse, probably, than when I started. As St.
Paul says in our second reading today, I am no better off
than a dead person.
But isn’t this right where Jesus wants us? Didn’t he say,
“I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners?” I have
failed only to meet my own expectations, which are almost
certainly wrong-headed. What I have accomplished, however,
if I am open to seeing it, is to prove one more time that I am
completely powerless to effect change in myself without
God’s help. And if I am also open, I can see that others are in
the same boat as I am, and feel compassion for my fellow
human beings, particularly in this uncertain time, suffering,
struggling and even dying. Once I have admitted and
accepted my own brokenness and sorrow, I can see them in
their brokenness, in their sorrow. We are all in this together,
one great family spanning the earth. We are dependent on
one another as never before in history both in our strengths
and our weaknesses, our compassion and our vulnerability.
Our expectations are constantly disappointed, our hope
dims. But we inspire one another too, with our words, with
our example. We infect one another with our sadness and
violence, with the virus inside us, but we also reach out to
one another to heal, with the light inside us. And this light is
Jesus, always there, inside our very hearts, ready to reach
beyond what we can even imagine is possible, to bring us
back to life, back to him.

LCG Compline – May 21st

Dear brothers and sisters of LCG,

Each month we have been gathering via Zoom and in time sync with the monks of Gethsemani for the Sunday evening Compline service.  This month’s gathering will be held this Sunday, May 21, at 6:30 pm CDT.   (7:30 EDT)  The contact numbers are shown below.  I hope you will be able to join us and share in this time of community prayer.

Allen Thyssen
Compline Coordinator

thyssenallen@gmail.com

Join from PC, Mac, Linux, iOS or Android: https://zoom.us/j/659403642

Or iPhone one-tap (US Toll):  +14086380968,659403642# or +16465588656,659403642#

Or Telephone:

Dial: +1 408 638 0968 (US Toll) or +1 646 558 8656 (US Toll)

Meeting ID: 659 403 642

International numbers available: https://zoom.us/zoomconference?m=C5IYuHmO0X2ViHh76WkLKgu8XPVqzlX3