Sunday, 28 December 2008

Atlas Monks Morocco

PowerPoint slide-show

This PowerPoint slide-show, about the Cistercian Monks, moved from Tibhirine, Algeria, to Morocco, is a lovely memorial of the 7 Monks who were martyred 1996, at this time of Christmas.

"Just received this email from Sue, our new General who worked in Morocco for years. It takes a while to download this Powerpoint Presentation but the photos are beautiful."

Previous LINK from Sr. Sue (Aus) the General of Franciscan Missionaries of Mary>

"Just thought you might be interested in this PWP, our former FMM house in Midelt Morocco, that is now a Cistercian monastery.” (Chris)

Very much I enjoyed the short power-point slide show on the Tibhirine monks. Their monastery comes as across as beautifully simple against an amazing backdrop of mountains, all contributing to their monastic prayer..

Very much I enjoyed the short power-point slide show on the Tibhirine monks. Their monastery comes as across as beautifully simple against an amazing backdrop of mountains, all contributing to their monastic prayer.

In harmony with the monks of Tibhirine who gave their all to Christ through the simplest of lives but crowned with martyrdom, I pray that God may be with you most bountifully this Christmas and throughout the New Year. (Peter)

Uploaded on authorSTREAM by donevaldus

Thursday, 25 December 2008

The Infant Resting on the Cross.


The Infant Resting on the Cross.

(Infant Resting in the Father’s Will)

Have you ever read “The Passion of the Infant Christ” by Caryll Houselander? It is very insightful

The National Catholic Register’ Christmas Gift Guide featured in a past issue the handmade item ‘the Infant Resting on the Cross’ from the on line Gift Shop of the contemplative Passionist nuns. The Sisters later reported.

We have been pleasantly surprised to find that the symbol of the Infant Resting on the Cross is quickly becoming a Pro-Life image.

One woman called from Nebraska wanting to give these to the sidewalk counselors who pray in front of abortion clinics.

A wheel-chair bound elderly woman from New York City wants to give these to some of the Sisters of Life for Christmas and

another woman bought some to give to her children who have suffered miscarriages.

This prayer symbol was actually “born” in the heart of our founder and 18th century mystic, St. Paul of the Cross. Having commissioned an original painting of an infant resting on a cross, Paul then gave the image to a woman under his direction who suffered from severe illness. He told her she was to learn from it how to sleep interiorly on the cross of suffering with a sweet silence of faith and patience. This image remains a powerful help today for anyone desiring to share the trustful attitude of Jesus. Trust in the Father’s love at work in the crosses and hardships of daily life, enables one to attain an interior “resting” in the will of God even when stretched on the cross.

“The Passion of the Infant Christ” by Caryll Houselander?

A comment on the Blog said, “We pray that image will continue to inspire you…Have you ever read “The Passion of the Infant Christ” by Caryll Houselander? It is very insightful - a perfect read for Advent”. A response followed, “No I have not read “The Passion of the Infant Christ”…hm, sounds interesting, I think I should look into it…”

Many years ago I circulated a leaflet of the tenth chapter from Houselander’s book. I have rediscovered it again so appropriate at Christmas.

See below

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The Passion of the Infant Christ

Caryll Houselander Sheed & Ward 1949

Chapter 10:


IT WOULD SEEM impossible, did we not know it to be true, that God could abide with us always, in littleness and humility even more extreme than infancy. Or that His love should choose to give us the unity of His birth and death and resurrection, always taking place at the heart of the world, from sunrise to sunset, and all life, and all love, always radiating from it.

Yet this is so. Every day, every hour, Christ is born on the altar in the hands of the priest. Christ is lifted up and sacrificed; Christ is buried in the tomb of the human heart and Christ rises from the tomb to be the life of the world through His Communion with men.

This is the Host-life. Everything that has been said in this book could be said again of the Host. Everything relates to the Host.

If we live the Host-life in Christ, we shall bring to life the contemplation of the Passion of the Infant Christ and live it in our own lives.

The Host is the Bread of Life. It is the good seed that the Sower sowed in His field; it is the Harvest ready for the reaping.

It is the seed that is sown by the Spirit in every public way and every secret place on earth. It is the seed which, whenever it is buried, springs up from the grave, to Rower with Everlasting Life.

It is the mystery of the Snowflake. The Inscape of Thabor and of the Passion of the Infant. It is the whiteness, the roundness, the littleness, which at once conceals and reveals the plan of Eternal Love.

It is the littleness, the dependence, the trust in human creatures of the Divine Infancy. It is the silence of the Child in the womb: the constriction of the swaddling bands.

It is the Bread which is broken and yet is our wholeness.

The wholeness of all that is. It is the breaking of the Bread which is the Communion of all men in Christ, in which the multiple lives of the world are one Christ-life, the fragmentary sorrows of the world are one Christ-Passion: the broken loves of the world are one Christ-love.

The Host seems to be divided among us; but in reality we, who were divided, are made one in the Host.

It is the obedience of childhood. The simplicity which is the singleness of childhood's love. It is the newness in which Heaven and earth are made new.

It is the birth of Christ in the nations; the restoring of the Christ-Child to the world; of childhood to the children.

With the dawning of this turbulent twentieth century came the children's Pope, Pius X, to give Holy Communion to the little ones. In the hearts of the little children, Christ went out to meet Herod all over the world.

The Mass is the Birth and Death and Resurrection of Christ: in it is the complete surrender of those who love God.

The Miracle of Cana takes place. The water of humanity is mixed into the wine and is lost in it. The wine is changed into the Blood of Christ.

In the offering of the bread and wine we give material things, as Our Lady gave her humanity, to be changed into Christ. At the words of Consecration the bread and wine are not there any more; they simply are not any more but, instead, Christ is there.

In that which looks and tastes and feels like unleavened bread, Christ comes closer to us even than the infant could come, even than the child in the womb. He is our food, our life.

We give ourselves up to Him. He gives Himself up to us. He is lifted up in the priest's hands, sacrificed. God accepts the sacrifice and gives Christ back to us. He is lowered onto the altar; He who was taken down from the Cross is given to us in Communion; buried, laid to rest in our hearts.

It is His will to rise from the dead in our lives and to come back to the world in His risen Host-life.

In His risen life on earth Christ often made Himself recog­nized only by the characteristic of His unmistakable love; by showing His wounds, by His infinite courtesy, by the breaking of Bread. He would not allow the sensible beauty and dearness of His human personality, His familiar appearance, to hide the essential Self that He had come back to give.

Wholly consistent with this is Christ's return to us in the Host. We know that in It He is wholly present, Body, Blood, Soul, Divinity. But all this is hidden, even His human appearance is hidden. He insists, because this is the way of absolute love, on coming to us stripped of everything but Himself.

For this Self-giving Christ in the Host is poor, poorer than He was when, stripped of everything, He was naked on the Cross. He has given up even the appearance of His body, the sound of His voice, His power of mobility. He has divested Himself of colour and weight and taste. He has made Himself as close to nothing as He could be, while still being accessible to us.

In the Host He is the endless "Consurnmaturn est" of the Passion of the Infant Christ.

In the Host He is our Life on earth today.

There is no necessity for me to describe the average life.

Too many know it. Countless millions have to make the way of the Cross and the way to Heaven through the same few streets, among the same tiny circle of people; through the same returning monotony; while many, many others have even less variety in their lives, less outward interest and less chance of active mercy or apostleship-e-those who are incurably ill or in prison, or very old, confined not only to one town or village, but to one room, to one bed in a ward, to one narrow cell.

Everyone wants to take part in the healing and comforting of the world, but most people are dogged by the sense of their own futility.

Even the power of genius and exceptional opportunity dwindles, measured against the suffering of our times. It is then hardly to be wondered at if the average person whose life is limited by narrow circumstances and personal limita­tions feels discouragement that is almost despair.

Living the Christ-life means that we are given the power of Christ's love. We are not only trustees of God's love for man, entrusted to give it out second-hand, but miraculously, our love IS His love!

"I have bestowed my love upon you, just as my father has bestowed his love upon me; live on, then, in my love." (John xv. 9.)

The Host-life is an intense concentration of this power of love.

The Host-life is not something new or different from the Christ-life that we know already. It is the very core of it, and it was given to us at the Last Supper when Christ gave Himself to us in the Blessed Sacrament.

The Host-life is the life which Christ Himself is living in the world now. It is His choice of how to live His life among us today. At first sight it is baffling that it should be so.

Have you never stood before the tabernacle and asked yourself: "Why is He silent, while the world rocks with blasphemies and lies?" "Why is He passive while His followers are persecuted and innocent people are crushed?"

It is almost frightening to seek an answer to the question:

"Why does God remain in our midst silent and passive, knowing and seeing everything, but saying and doing nothing, while cruelty, injustice, ignorance and misery go on and on and on?"

It is a frightening question until we remember what it is which alone can restore humanity to happiness; that it is one thing only that can do it, namely supernatural life, beginning secretly in each individual heart; just as Incarnate Love began secretly on earth in the heart of Mary. It is one thing only, the birth of the Infant Christ in us, Incarnate Love.

No voice of warning could effect this. That could make men tremble; it could not make them love. No armed force could do it, not even supernatural force. That could make men slaves; love is always free.

Love must begin from within. It must be sown in the in­most darkness of the human heart, and take root and flower from the dust that man is.

This can only happen if the Holy Spirit descends from Heaven and penetrates human nature, as the rays of the sun and summer rain come down into the earth, warming and irrigating the seed that is sown there and quickening it.

Christ sowed the seed of His life in us when He sowed the world with the drops of His Blood from the Cross. Now it is Christ in the Host who draws down the Holy Spirit. For the Holy Spirit is the Eternal Love between the Father and the Son. Love which cannot resist the plea of the silence, the patience, the obedience of the Sacred Host.

In the Host Christ gives Himself to live the ordinary life as it is today, to live it fully in all its essentials, and to take into Himself, into His own living of the Host-life, the most ordinary, the most numerous, seemingly the most mediocre lives, bestowing upon them His own power to bring down the Spirit of Love.

In those who have received Him in Holy Communion Christ goes among whom He will, to whatever places He chooses to be in: with little children He goes into the schoolroom; with office-workers to the office; with shop-assistants to the shop. Everyone with whom the communicant has even a passing contact during the day is someone whom Christ wished to meet. Not only priests, but doctors and nurses and the servants and paper-sellers in hospitals take Him to the sick and the dying: to patients who have forgotten God. Not only the military chaplain, but common soldiers take Him into the barracks and into battle. In their comrades Christ marches side by side with boys who have never been told about His love. He walks in their footsteps.

An unknown martyr priest of our own times, whose anointed hands had been cut off by his persecutors, so that he might never again consecrate bread and wine, sent this message secretly from his exile, asking his friends to take it from one to another round the world:

"I can never again carry the Sacred Host or lift It up in my hands, but no one can prevent me from carrying Our Lord in my heart wherever I am. You, who are not prisoners, who are not held in one place, go often to Holy Communion. Carry Christ everywhere in your hearts. Make your souls monstrances, and go into those places where Our Lord has never been adored in the Host, where the monstrance has never been lifted up."

How often we think that but for this or that person in our lives we should be saints! That troublesome person in the office; that exasperating fellow lodger; that spiteful old rela­tive who is on our back like the old man of the sea! They are our stumbling blocks. Why is it allowed? Why is it that we cannot get away from them?

It is because Christ wishes to be with them and has chosen us to take Him to them. He loves them; He sees the depths of their loneliness: He has plumbed it with His love. Moreover He approaches us in them. They bring Him to us in just that aspect that He wishes to be known to us. His presence in them may save us from some particular sin. They may be to us Christ forgiving, Christ in His patience, Christ teaching. They may be Christ in His weariness, or Christ in His fear in Gethsemane, Christ facing His death. They may come dependent and helpless as Christ in His childhood or infancy. They may come as Christ in that par­ticular need of His to which our response means our salvation. Possibly the neglected Christ in the tabernacle to whom we have made such fervent promises of reparation, such acts of self-dedication, still awaits our rudimentary courtesy-unrecognized, unloved and lonely under our own roof.

It takes our breath away to think of Christ's self-giving in the Host. We hardly realize it, because it is so amazing that to speak realistically of it demands a daring that sounds like blasphemy to our unaccustomed ears.

In the Host Christ is silent-in fact voiceless, dependent, even helpless. He is carried in the hands of men wherever they choose. His obedience is beyond death.

Think how aptly countless lives approximate to the Host.

In His silence how many there are who must endure in silence; who, sometimes in tragic circumstances, have no opportunity to plead their case. How many, too, are silent through fear. Fear that a complaint may cost them a detested but necessary job. Fear of ridicule, like new children at boarding-school, or boys and girls in the throes of first love. How many there are who are dumb-hearted, inarticulate, unable to express themselves, or who, though they long to unburden their minds to a fellow-creature, never find a willing and sympathetic listener. And there is the religious Silence, the "Great Silence" of religious houses, in which men and women bring their whole will to entering into the silence of the Host.

In His dependence and helplessness, surely everyone, at the begml11ng and end of life, is included. Children, and old people in their last illness; and on any given day, since the supernatural life must be lived out fully every day, all those filling the crowded hospitals of the world.

In His obedience; there are vast numbers of people who are subject to others-workers, soldiers, sailors and airmen. Hospital nurses, inmates of institutions, prisoners, children. With few exceptions, everyone.

In the light of the Host-life, shining upon the modern world, it becomes clearly visible that the power of love, of comforting, if healing and alleviating suffering is given to the most unlikely people; to those who seem to be the most restricted; that the most effective action belongs to those who seem .helpless and unable to do anything at all, and that there IS a tremendous force of contemplation, unrecognized but redeeming, in the midst of the secular world.

But it would be presumptuous to suppose that the mere fact of narrow, limiting circumstances is all that is required. No .one is excluded from this contemplation in action. The genius as well as the simpleton can enter into the Host-life because it does not depend first of all upon outward things, but upon interior things.

The condition on our side is surrender as complete as that which we learn from the service of the Divine Infant: un-reserved surrender of self to the life of Christ in the Host. Surrender to Christ as complete as His surrender to us in the Host-life.

It is seldom, when much is asked for, that human nature fails to respond. It is when too little (as we think) is asked of us, when we have little to offer, that we fail.

When the offering seems too slight or too fragmentary; something absurd in the face of the Eternal Love that consecrates it, and the immensity of the human suffering that needs it.

In every normal lifetime certain days stand out when some crisis-such as acute pain or danger-integrates, points and concentrates the offering of self; when, momentarily, human nature is vested in a little majesty, and so the idea of immo­lation seems less absurd. But in the ordinary way it seems futile.

In spite of the heaviness with which they afflict us personally, we have, after all, such trifles to offer: boredom, hurt vanity, uncongenial environment, self-consciousness, little aches and pains, trifling disappointments, brief embarrassments, half-imaginary fears and anxieties. We can hardly be­lieve that God accepts these!

Christ has forestalled all that. The offering to be changed into His Flesh is the most fragile wafer of unleavened bread, light as the petal of a rose; flexible, colourless, only just substance at all. It is made out of tiny separate grains. It is this that Christ chooses for His supreme miracle of love. Moreover, He chooses that it shall be offered every day anew. That every day this offering shall be changed into His Body.

We are asked to offer only what we have, what we are today. That it is so little means nothing: it is our wafer of unleavened bread.

If we are troubled by the fact that we are not at one with ourselves, that we are full of conflict and distraction, that we have not even achieved singleness of heart sufficient for one perfect prayer, that we are broken up by distractions, by scattered thoughts, emotions, desires, we must realize that our offering, too, begins by being many separate grains.

We must take one grain, the nearest at hand; a momentary joy, a particular anxiety, a slight discomfort, an aching limb, an embarrassment, and offer that. But in order to offer that, our whole self must be gathered in, integrated in the offering. The offering cannot possibly be made otherwise.

We must bring our minds to it, our will, our heart. We must close our thoughts round it, at least for a second in a shining circle. Thus the offering itself integrates us: in it the scattered grains of our life become one bread.

Imitating Christ in the Host literally, we must make our offering daily, not grieving at the failure of yesterday, but through the offering of today being made new today, and this every day.

The Host is Rest. Still, infinite Peace. In this rest is the mysterious activity of Love. It is the rest of the love between the Persons of the Blessed Trinity.

It is the rest of Christ on earth.

It is Christ's rest in Advent: the silence, the dependence, the secrecy of the unborn. In the Host-life men contribute to this rest by giving themselves to be Himself, as Our Lady gave herself. It is the rest of surrender.

It is Christ's rest by the well, when He asked the woman of Samaria for a drink of water. The rest of the Human Christ, who allows Himself to be tired for our sake and asks for refreshment. It is the rest that asks for reparation, for the cup of cold water, for which Christ will give back the living water of immortality. It is the rest of the Humility which allowed the woman-a sinful woman at that-to achieve, through His weariness, what He Himself did not achieve through His power: the conversion of a whole village.

It is the rest of Christ sleeping in the boat, while the storm terrified His Apostles. The Faith which enables the children of God to sleep on His heart while the storm of evil and suffering rocks the world around them.

It is the rest of Christ in the tomb, the profound rest of Communion, when Christ is laid in the human heart and asks of those who receive Him there Silence, Darkness, Death. Silence, which is the stillness of the heart at Holy Communion, not broken by fear or thought or wilfulness: the wordless silence of trust. The Silence of the trust in the Father into whose hands we commit not only our little life, comparable to a sparrow's life and the life of grass, but the Real Life, Christ in us, our Being. The Silence of the lips closed upon the "Consummatum est!"

The Darkness is the darkness of Faith which is content to see nothing, to feel nothing; the darkness and obliteration of the senses, the Faith which asks for no reassurance, no sign of the Divine Presence, no stir of life in the sown field. The Faith which accepts the appearances in which the Divine life is concealed in the Host as its own soul's portion, and is content without colour or odour or sound or taste.

The Death is the death of self. In this death the life of self which is the life of corruption, the restlessness of the worms in a corpse, ceases in silence and darkness: in this death is peace: like the peace which embalmed the dead Christ in the tomb. All the sensible sweetness that is foregone is the precious ointment spilt put of the broken alabaster box for Christ's burial: what is left in the box is emptiness, the spikenard is there to comfort the wounded Body of Love.

That spikenard, that lovely waste is, as we have seen, one with the frankincense and myrrh poured out for the Divine Infant. The Rest of Christ in the tomb of our hearts is the sleeping of the seed in winter. The Midnight of Bethlehem is the Morning of Resurrection.

Holy Communion - the Holy Eucharist - is thanksgiving.

Ultimately our trust, our faith, our peace, is all summed lip in thanksgiving, thanksgiving to our Heavenly Father for His Son, His Gift to us.

Present at our thanksgiving are the angels. We enter into Christ's rest again in the presence of the angels. We are in the eternal moments in the Wilderness and in Gethsemane, when in His unimaginable humility, Christ leaned upon the comforting of His holy angels. May our own guardian angels, who are with us in temptation and with us in the Gethsemane of the world's agony today, be with us in our thanksgiving, fending the flame of Christ's life in us with their spread wings, folding them upon our peace, to comfort Him in our souls. May they roll back the stone at the door of the tomb of our hearts, that, every day, Christ in whom we die may rise from the dead in us and go back, in our lives, to the world.

The Crucifixion was public; the shame, the humiliation, the mockery, were seen by the crowd. Just as it is now. The Resurrection and the Risen Life was secret; then as now, to be discovered gradually and individually in each life, according to the individual necessity of love. The Glory of the Host is hidden, seen only by God. The glory of the Host-life is hidden, too, a secret apostolate, a secret Kingdom of Heaven on Earth.

There is no outward sign of the miracle that is taking place. Office-workers are bending over their desks, mothers working in their kitchens, patients lying quietly in hospital wards, nurses carrying out the exacting routine of their work of mercy, craftsmen are at their benches, factory workers riveted to their machines, prisoners are in their cells, children in their schools. In the country, farmers rise with the sun and go out to work on the land until sunset; the farm wives are feeding, milking, churning, cooking for their men and their children. Everywhere an unceasing rhythm of toil, monotonous in its repetition, goes on.

To those inside the pattern of love that it is weaving, it seems monotonous in its repetition, it seems to achieve very little.

In the almshouses and the workhouses old people, who are out of the world's work altogether at last, sit quietly with folded hands. It seems to them that their lives add up to very little too.

Nowhere is there any visible sign of glory. But, because in every town and village and hamlet of the world there are those who have surrendered their lives to the Host-life, who have made their offering daily, from the small grains of the common life, a miracle of Love is happening all the time everywhere. The Holy Spirit is descending upon the world. There is Incarnation everywhere-everywhere the Infant Christ is born; every day the Infant Christ makes the world new.

Upon the world that seems so cruel, mercy falls like summer rain; upon the world that seems so blind, light comes down in living beams. The heart of man that seems so hard is sifted, irrigated, warmed; the water of life floods it. The fire and light of the Spirit burn in it. The seed of Christ-life, which seemed to have dried up, lives and quickens, and from the secret depths of man's being the Divine Life flowers.

Caryll Houslander 1901-1954

As this self-portrait shows, Caryll Houselander is an artist as well as a writer. It is very like her, ex­cept that she usually looks much more cheerful.

There seems to be no end to the things she can find time to do-wood-carving, teaching drawing and toy-making to displaced children from Europe, work with the insane (for which she has a really extraordinary gift), work among the very poor. Yet she has never stopped writing, even when it has meant doing it in the early hours of the morning.

She lives in a flat at the top of a high apart­ment building in London, with a wide view

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Tuesday, 23 December 2008

eve of Eve of Christmas

December 23rd, 2008
Mary Haynes Kuhlman Theology Department Creighton University
Fourth Tuesday in Advent

Malachi 3:1-4, 23-24Psalm 25:4-5ab, 8-9, 10 and 14Luke 1:57-66

The eve before the Eve of Christmas this is an interesting reflection from this Blog. It is a relay of writers regularly.
Luke 1:57-66 Already in this first chapter, we have read of the Visitation, when, newly pregnant, Mary visits her cousin Elizabeth, whose somewhat earlier pregnancy is a sign of God’s power. Elizabeth and her unborn child recognize that Mary’s baby is the Lord. From these Gospel details Christians have liked to infer a friendship between the babies. Thus we have those many medieval and Renaissance paintings of the Madonna with two chubby little boys, with the child John reverencing the infant Jesus. Our Joslyn Art Museum here in Omaha has one particularly fine painting of this image. Its colors and composition are beautiful; the sweet-faced Mother is lovely, but the two children are, frankly, not handsome. While admiring the painting as a whole, my husband and I have amused ourselves by giving it our own title: “Baby Jesus and His Cousin John Prophesy that Neither Will Win the Prettiest Baby Prize.”

Lorenzo di Credi (1456/9-1537), Italian; Florentine Madonna and Child with the Infant Saint John and Two Angels,
This panel exemplifies Florentine Renaissance painting with its brilliant colors and lively sense of human interaction. Characteristically, it contains a number of standard symbolic elements - the Madonna's blue cloak (alluding to her role as Queen of Heaven), St. John's staff, and a rich array of flowers. Daisies represent innocence, violets humility, white roses stand for purity, red roses for martyrdom. Embedded in a multitude of references to spiritual virtues, the figures are separated from the secular world, which is represented by a view of Florence in the far distance. (Joslyn Art Museum, Omaha)
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Sunday, 21 December 2008

Fourth Monday in Advent

22 December - Fourth Monday in Advent

Joyful Expectation of the Messiah - Luke 1,46-56.

«Mary gave thanks to the Lord»

Mary's Magnificat—a portrait, so to speak, of her soul—is entirely woven from threads of Holy Scripture, threads drawn from the Word of God. Here we see how completely at home Mary is with the Word of God, with ease she moves in and out of it.
She speaks and thinks with the Word of God; the Word of God becomes her word, and her word issues from the Word of God. Here we see how her thoughts are attuned to the thoughts of God, how her will is one with the will of God. Since Mary is completely imbued with the Word of God, she is able to become the Mother of the Word Incarnate.

Finally, Mary is a woman who loves. How could it be otherwise? As a believer who in faith thinks with God's thoughts and wills with God's will, she cannot fail to be a woman who loves. We sense this in her quiet gestures, as recounted by the infancy narratives in the Gospel. We see it in the delicacy with which she recognizes the need of the spouses at Cana and makes it known to Jesus. We see it in the humility with which she recedes into the background during Jesus' public life, knowing that the Son must establish a new family and that the Mother's hour will come only with the Cross... At the hour of Pentecost, it will be the disciples who gather around her as they wait for the Holy Spirit (cf. Acts 1:14).

Pope Benedict XVI «Deus Caritas Est», §41

Sunday, 14 December 2008

Christmas Greeting

Christmas Greeting

May the wonders of His love
fill your heart with joy
this Christmas and
all through the year.

Nunraw; Our Lady of the Isles.

Statuette three hands high. The Sculptor, Hew Lorimer, made several maquett plaster versions of the granite Madonna and Child which looks out across the sea from the hillside above Rueval on South Uist.

God highly exalted him and gave him the Name that is above every Name, so that at the Name of Jesus every knee should bend. Phi 2:9,10

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Advent - Gaudete Sunday

3rd Sunday - Advent - Gaudete Sunday

Abbot Raymond - HOMILY

Mass Is61:1-2,1--11. 1Thess5:16-24. Jn1:6-8,19-28


John was a man sent from God to bear witness to the Light.

But surely Jesus was much better qualified to bear witness to himself than even John was. What need had he of the witness of John? Who knew better than himself exactly who he was? Who was better able to explain to men exactly who he was? John himself recognised this and when Jesus came, he immediately stepped back, and he said: “Now he must increase and I must decrease”. But the big difference between John’s witness and that of Christ, was precisely that John’s witness also had the nature of a foregoing preparation; a preliminary moulding and shaping and purifying of the minds and hearts of men to recognise and receive the Christ when he would appear.

This is what links the mission of the Baptist to the mission of all the prophets who had gone before him from the very beginning. There were thousands of years of preparation for the coming of the Messiah. And the great lesson for us all in this is that it makes us realise that just as time is an essential element the preparation of the whole human race for the coming of Christ, so also it must be an essential element in each individual human soul’s response to him. Even our very spirituality, our holiness itself, is made of time. We are creatures of time and space, and so our souls, as well as our bodies need time and space to grow to spiritual maturity.

How precious a thing then time is for us on our way to God! It’s not sufficient for us to avoid using it sinfully. St Paul speaks of “redeeming time”, that is, of appreciating it for what it is; of using it wisely and fruitfully; of not wasting and squandering it uselessly. Let us remember then that time is something precious; something that has a spiritual value. Time is something out which our eternity itself will be made.

How then do we set about “redeeming time”; using it fruitfully? Basically and fundamentally it is not so much a question of what to do with time, as of realising and believing in it; of believing that each moment comes to us from God and is a source of grace in any one of a thousand ways. It comes at us, it flows over us, precisely as something sanctifying and bearing grace, whether in the people we encounter on each day’s journey or in the things that are demanded of us by each moment’s requirements; time forces grace upon us in spite of ourselves. In short, it is the attitude of faith that makes it sanctifying.

“Whether you eat or whether you drink, or whatever you do, let it all be for the glory of God"


Monday, 8 December 2008

Br. Dominic-Maria died Dec 2

Caldey – Br. Dominic Maria RIP

Caldey Abbey – Br. Dominic Maria RIP
The OCSO (Order of Cistercians of the Strict Observance)
Necrology page announced:
December 2, 2008 : Brother Dominic Maria Morgan was born in 1922 in New York (USA). He entered Caldey in 1990 and made his solemn profession in 1995. Brother was 86 years old and had been in monastic vows for 16 years when the Lord called him.

I came to know the colourful character of Br. Dominic-Maria in the course of visiting the community of Caldey in the 1999s. The island abbey is a place of extraordinary interest. The sea and rugged surroundings are no less unique than the personalities of the monks who have come from such varied members.
Happily, Br. Dominic-Maria was free about telling me the story of his life, his discovery of Caldey and finding of his vocation as a monk.
The annals of the St Benedict Centre Still River, Massachusetts keep the account of one of the Single Brothers called Temple Morgan (Br. Dominic Maria)
“Temple Emmett Morgan was a member of the exclusive Porcelian Club at Harvard. He had been a B-19 pilot in WWII. He was converted to the Catholic Faith by Father Feeney while at Harvard. He realized the incompatibility of his Faith with all that Harvard stood for and therefore declined to accept his degree when he graduated. Predictably this caused a stir and drew the attention of the powers that be to the number of converts that Father Feeney was making among the Harvard students. At the Centre, he excelled in bookselling. He was also a barber and a cobbler and a good friend of Eddie Cunningham who was his partner in these activities. Br. Dominic Maria was one of the three brothers assigned to speak every week on Boston Common. After the move to Still River he was very active on the farm. In 1987 he left St. Benedict Centre as they were preparing to become Benedictine. After short stays at several Abbeys he entered the Trappist Monastery of Our Lady on Caldey Island off the coast of Wales where he remains”.

His name, Dominic-Maria, was rooted in his early formation in the theology of St Louis- Marie Grignon de Montfort, naming themselves Slaves of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Dominic-Maria cherished his memories with the association of the Slaves of the Immaculate Heart of Mary in which he was rooted in the spirit of Louis-Marie Grignon.
His greatest passion was to live out the Cistercian vocation and all the community witnessed his heartfelt devotion to Mary, the mother of Jesus.
In all Brother Dominic was able to express his love manifested itself in his work in and especially around the Abbey. Near the last he still served that kind service to the Brothers as the untiring faithful barber.
“His master said to him, 'Well done, my good and faithful servant. Since you were faithful in small matters, I will give you great responsibilities. Come, share your master's joy”. (Mat 25:21)

His name, Dominic-Maria, was rooted in his early formation in the theology of St Louis- Marie Grignon de Montfort, naming themselves Slaves of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Dominic-Maria cherished his memories with the association of the Slaves of the Immaculate Heart of Mary in which he was rooted in the spirit of Louis-Marie Grignon.
His greatest passion was to live out the Cistercian vocation and all the community witnessed his heartfelt devotion to Mary, the mother of Jesus.
In all Brother Dominic was able to express his love manifested itself in his work in and especially around the Abbey. Near the last he still served that kind service to the Brothers as the untiring faithful barber.
“His master said to him, 'Well done, my good and faithful servant. Since you were faithful in small matters, I will give you great responsibilities. Come, share your master's joy”. (Mat 25:21)


Immaculate Conception BVM


It is a pity that there is not a Gospel written by a woman. We could have expected a unique view of the mystery of Christ. The obvious candidate for such a gospel is Mary, the mother of Jesus. Mary is in the background in the gospels but a look at the occasions on which she does appear shows up something curious: every time Mary is mentioned it is in association with relatives. Her Son, of course, but also her husband, her cousin, her cousin’s son, her sister, her father in law, her nephews, her nieces and her relations in general are all mentioned in the same breath as her. Could this be a reflection of a typically female interest and concern for family? At any rate, today’s feast places Mary at the heart of her own family by bringing her parents into the picture.

There is another side to Mary, what Dom Bernardo Olivera, former Abbot General, has called the solitude of Mary. This is a purely positive solitude. It is the great monastic principle of being separated from all in order to be united with all operating in Mary’s life. We see this solitude of Mary in the infrequency, already alluded to, with which she appears in the Gospels. We see it at the Annunciation when the angel Gabriel finds her alone. We see it in the ‘nothingness’ of the Magnificat and we see it at the foot of the cross in the solitude of her grief, no matter who or how many others stand by her. It is the inner face of the face she turns outwards to her relatives and others. Mary could have this balance between inner and outer only because she was without sin. Sin causes an imbalance on one side or the other. Today’s society, at least in this country, has the odd distinction of being imbalanced on both sides. Latest figures show that never have so many people lived on their own and yet society has surely never been so utterly obsessed with relationships.

At the Crucifixion, Mary’s family expanded to include all disciples of Christ and indeed all the human race: ‘Behold thy mother’. That was said to the Beloved Disciple. He took her into his home. What was it like to have a sinless one in the house? To live with such a one for years? For a start she surely was the main influence behind the gospel he would write. The house of the Beloved Disciple with Mary living there was the engine room of the early Church or like a spiritual nuclear reactor.

But here is a description someone has given of Mary’s daily life: ‘looking after a very humble household, preparing the meals, grinding the corn, kneading the flour, baking the bread, going to draw water, bringing it home with pitcher on head’. That is what it is like to have one without sin around and that is why those who say that the Church’s dogmas about Mary remove her from ordinary woman and even from the human race are quite wrong. In the tombs and cemeteries of Ancient Egypt are often found small, wooden models of people doing ordinary things – eating, digging, carrying, fishing, marrying, playing. The same sort of scenes are painted on the walls of the bigger tombs. This shows that thousands of years Before Christ people sensed that their everyday tasks were of eternal worth until the time came when the preaching of Jesus and the life of Mary would confirm it.

At one and the same time, the dogma of the Immaculate Conception reveals the simple humanity of Mary- conceived of parents like every other human being and highlights her altogether special place within the human family – without sin from the moment of her conception.

She had all this influence because she was ‘full of grace’. These words are the scriptural basis for the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception. From the point of view of time, she is at the beginning of Redemption but as one writer points out it is better to think of it as a mysterious circle. The circle runs from the Immaculate Conception of Mary through the Annunciation and the Birth of the Redeemer to the Cross and from the Cross it returns to the perfect act of Redemption, the Immaculate Conception – Mary’s ‘anticipated Redemption’.

It was of course, our local hero, Blessed John Duns Scotus, who had this crucial insight into the truth of the Immaculate Conception and it found its way into the definition of the dogma in the phrase ‘ in view of the merits of Christ Jesus’. It is an honour for Nunraw to be the nearest religious community to the birthplace of THE champion of the Immaculate Conception, beating the Poor Clares of Humbie to that honour by a good four miles.

Br. Barry

Sermon of Solemnity

Community Chapter

Sunday, 7 December 2008

2nd Sunday of Advent

2nd Sunday of Advent
Is. 40: 1-5, 9-11. Peter 3:8-14. Mk 1:1-8

Abbot Raymond - Community Chapter Homily

“With the Lord, ‘a day’ can mean a thousand years and a thousand years is like a day. The Lord is not slow to carry out his promises, as anybody else might be called slow”.
These words from today’s 2nd Reading remind us that we can’t judge God by our own human standards. Obviously the Church means to teach is today that the fulfilment of the hopes and promises of the Advent Season can only be understand by using God’s standards and not our own. Advent promises us one who is to come, whose “rule will be from sea to sea; from the great river to earth’s bounds”; “He will rule over the House of David”; “his reign will have no end” and so on. But the history of the Church since then just doesn’t seem to live up to those promises. Even to this present day the Kingdom of Christ seems a long way off. It still seems very far from being universal in its power or universal in its extent.
From the perspective of men, the Church, the Kingdom which Jesus came to establish on earth, can only be seen, here and now, as a struggling remnant, persecuted on all sides. It is constantly swimming against the tide of evil; swimming against the powerful currents of secular society. But this impression comes from a lack of appreciation of the past history of God’s People and from a lack of understanding of the future destiny of God’s People. All this is so well described for us in the New Catechism:
“The Kingdom will be fulfilled, not by a historic triumph of the Church through a progressive ascendancy, but only by God’s victory over the final unleashing of evil, which will cause his Bride to come down from heaven. God’s triumph over the revolt of evil will take the form of the last judgement after the final cosmic upheaval of this passing world.”
Meanwhile, from the perspective of God, the Advent claims and promises are all fulfilled in our lives hidden with Christ. It is in the minds and hearts of those who receive him; of those who welcome him, of those who believe in him and trust in him, that is where the kingdom of the Messiah is well and truly established here and now.

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Monday, 24 November 2008

Christ the King

Abbot Raymond – Community Mass. 23rd Nov. 2008

The Kingship of Christ

“Are you a King then? Pilate asked Jesus. And Jesus reply was in no uncertain terms: “You have said it! For this was I born and for this I came into the world, to bear witness to the truth.”
Christ’s Kingship is indeed well attested to in both the old and the new Testaments. In his own life he displayed his power and authority over nature and even over life and death itself: He healed the sick; he raised the dead; he calmed the wind and the waves. There is no problem in understanding the reality of the power of Christ’s Kingship. But when it comes to understanding the exercise of his authority things are not so simple and obvious. When he gave power and authority to his Apostles he warned them not to use it as did the great ones of the earth. “They like to wield their authority and make it felt.” He told them. But their power authority were to be more in the order of service.

Nevertheless, authority is authority, and from one point of view we might almost say that Christ’s own authority, paramount as it is, is a kind of embarrassment to him. If He has to exercise it over us it seems to make his mission a failure. He seems to compromise the fruit of all that he strove to win from us. Because he came, above all, to win our love, and where authority has to be invoked, love has failed. Love, by its very nature, must be free, it cannot be forced. Any of this worlds leaders may have thousands at their beck and call, thousands who must obey them, but do they have any who love them freely?

The powers of this world can say to their subjects: “Do this, Do that”, and they must do it. They can say: “Come here. Go there.” And their servants must obey. But Jesus cannot speak like that or his mission fails. The only word that can come from the lips of Jesus is “Please!” It is the only request that befits love. In our conformity to the will of Jesus there is always something of a Nuptial Assent.

In this is the true glory of his Authority, the true meaning of his Kingship.

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