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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Sunday, 23 November 2008

The Feast of Christ the King

23.11.08 Community Sermon of Feast – Br. Philip

The Feast of Christ the King

In his encyclical of Dec. 11, 1925, Pope Pius XI instituted a new feast, the Feast of the Christ of King, which is to be celebrated on the last Sunday of the Liturgical Year.

Why did the Holy Father want to commemorate, by a special feast, a doctrine so uncontroversial? Why was the moment ripe, did he suppose, for that particular lesson? Perhaps it is easier to understand that if you understand who the Holy Father was.

He did not belong to the ordinary tradition of ecclesiastical Rome. Until he was sixty, he was known as a librarian and a scholar; he lived in an international and interdenominational world of scholarship. He was the only Pope since the Reformation and long before it, who had visited Oxford. He was librarian of the Ambrosian library at Milan. Quite suddenly at the age of sixty, he was sent as Nuncio to Poland, that is to all that there was of Poland, when the Russian Revolution had already happened and the war was not yet over. The story is that he was chosen for the post, because he was thought capable of learning Polish in a fortnight. His position lasted on after the war; and he was in Warsaw at what was probably the most thrilling moment of history since Versailles; the moment at which the Red Armies swept through Polish territory and were at the very gates of the capital, which seemed doomed to fall. The Government was preparing to leave; it was suggested to the embassies that they should leave too. Mgr. Ratti insisted on staying; the American, Italian and Danish envoys, - no other – remained to follow his example and share his fate. But he saw onthe Feast of the Assumption, the Polish Army roll back the Bolshevists from the gates of Warsaw in defeat.

Almost immediately he was recalled to Italy and was made Archbishop of Milan. It was under his very eyes that the early struggles between the Italian Communists and the growing strength of the Fascists took place, within the walls of his own cathedral city. He had not held the position for a year when he was summoned to Rome for the conclave following the death of Benedict XV; and from the conclave he never returned.

In the course of that providential career he had seen more than it is given to most Popes to see. His background is a background of European culture; and circumstances had suddenly thrust under his eyes, after his sixtieth year, vivid impressions of that great struggle between two great forces in Europe, national and international socialism, which the rest of the world hardly suspected as yet. When he was crowned Pope, he insisted on giving his blessing to the world from the balcony of St. Peter’s, a thing no Pope had done since the loss of its temporal power. Even so early, he had made up his mind that the Papacy must come out of its retirement, and make itself felt as a moral force in the world. And he introduced this feast of the Kingship of Christ with the same ideal in view. He saw that the minds of men, of young men especially, all over Europe, would be caught by a wave of conflicting loyalties which would drown the voice of conscience and produce everywhere unscrupulous wars between nations. To save the world, if he could, from the frenzy of reckless idealism, he would recall it to the contemplation of a simple truth. The claim that the claim of Christ comes first, before claims of nationality. Peace and justice were duties to God more than any duties to his fellow men. And all that before the conflict between the Church and Fascism, before the revolution in Spain, before the name of Hitler had ever been set up in the type-room of a foreign newspaper.

The institution of this feast was not a gesture of clericalism against anti-clericalism, still less a gesture of authoritarianism against democracy. It was a gesture of Christian truth against a world which was on the point of going mad with political propaganda; it was to say to the world that the claim of the divine law upon the human conscience comes before anything else.

The prophet Daniel describing his vision says of Christ:

‘To him was given dominion, and glory and kingdom, that all peoples, nations and languages should serve him; his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his Kingdom one that shall not be destroyed’.

Wednesday, 19 November 2008

St. Mechtilde

St. Mechtilde of Hackeborn
Menology November 19
St Mechtilde of Hackeborn 1241-1298
Of a noble family, when she was seven, her parents placed her in the convent of Rossdorf where her sister, Gertrude, was soon elected abbess. The community moved to Helfta in 1258, and the five-year old St Gertrude was placed in Mechtilde's care. They became close friends and mutually influenced and helped each other. It was Gertrude who first wrote down Mechtilde's mystical experiences in what became The Book of Special Grace, a book whose "every page is alive with color and splendid with light and sound."
Mechtilde, who possessed a beautiful voice, was for many years chantress and chant-mistress at Helfta. (MBS, p. 303; Peaceweavers, CS 72, p. 213)
"What best pleases God in members of religious orders is purity of heart, holy desires, gentle kindness in conversation, and works of charity."

Night Office
Reading from St Bernard on his Mystical Experiences
I confess that the Word has visited me, and even very often. But, although he has frequently entered into my soul, I have never at any time known the time of his coming. I have felt that he was present; I remember that he has been with me; I have sometimes even been able to have a presentiment that he would come; but never felt his coming or his departure. It is not by the eyes that he enters, for he is without colour; nor by the ears, for his coming is without sound; nor by the nostrils, for it is not with the air but with the mind that he is blended; nor again does he enter by the mouth, not being of a nature to be eaten or drunk; nor lastly is he capable of being traced by the touch, for he is intangible.
You will ask, then, how is it that if the ways of his coming cannot be traced I could know that he was present? He is living and full of energy: as soon as he entered me he quickened my sleeping soul; he aroused, softened and goaded my heart which had been in a state of torpor and was hard as stone. He began to pick up and destroy, to plant and to build and to water the dry places. He illuminated the darkness within me and threw open those places which were closed; he warmed my coldness, straightened my crooked paths and made my rough places smooth. And he did all this so that I might bless the Lord and all that is within me praise his name.
Thus, though he has several times entered into me, he has never made his coming apparent to my sight, hearing or touch. It was not by his actions that I recognized him. Nor could I tell by any of my senses that he had penetrated into the depths of my being. It was, as I have said, only by the movement of my heart that I could recognize his presence. I knew the might of his power by the sudden departure of my vices and the strong restraint put upon all carnal affections. From the discovery and conviction of my secret faults I have good reason to admire the depths of his wisdom. His goodness and kindness have become known in the amendment of my life, whatever that may amount to. And, in the renewal of the spirit of my mind, that is, of my inward man, I have seen in some degree the loveliness of his beauty and been filled with amazement at his greatness.
Adapted from The Spear of Gold (B & 0, London, 1947), pp. 261-261.

Monday, 17 November 2008

Abbot Eugene Boylan Reading

This READING is found in today's Missalette.
(Magnificat Vol. 10, No. 9)
Monday 17 November 2008

Abbot Eugene Boylan (+1963) was a monk of the Cistercian Abbey of Mount Saint Joseph Roscrea, Ireland.

Love of The Faith That Saves

God ... is the essential principle of the spiritual life; without it everything else is useless. But man is a rational being; one cannot love the unknown. So knowledge must precede love. And if that love is going to mean a complete abandonment of one's own self, a losing of one's own life, to find a new self, a new life - to find one's all, in fact, in membership of Christ, it is still more urgent to have a sure and certain knowledge of Christ and his love. But in this world, the only way one can know God supernatu­rally is by faith. Reason can give us a certain, but natural, knowledge of his existence and of some of his attributes; but faith alone can tell us of the wonders of his love and his plans for us. Faith alone can put us in vital contact with him, for when we believe in God, we share his knowledge, we lean on him, and draw our strength from him ... The Church insists that reason authorizes faith, and so far from asking us to deny our reason, she teaches that faith insists on being founded on reason. Once, however, the rea­sonableness of believing our authority is established, that authority may ask us to go beyond our reason, but never to go against it. .. "Faith," as Prat points out, "is not a pure intuition, a mystical tendency towards an object more suspected than known; it presupposes preaching; it is the yielding of the mind to divine testimony. Faith is opposed to sight, both as regards the object known and the manner of knowing; one is immediate and intuitive, the other takes place though an interactive agent. Nevertheless, faith is not blind: it is ready to give a reason for itself and aspires always to move to more clearness.”

Dom M. Eugene Boylan O.C.S.O.

A monk of Roscrea Abbey in his native Ireland, Eugene Boylan (1904-1963) served as superior of Caldey Abbey in Wales, then Tarrawarra, Australia, and finally as abbot of Roscrea before his untimely death. From his experience as confessor and spiritual director, he wrote two classic books: This Tremendous Lover and Difficulties in Mental Prayer. About 1958, Thomas Merton commented on Abbot Eugene Boylan,"This is the best retreat we ever had at Gethsemani,"