The Path of Life

The Path of Life

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

The dew of God

Luke says that the Spirit came down on the disciples at Pentecost, after the Lord’s ascension, with power to open the gates of life to all nations and to make known to them the new covenant. So it was that men of every language joined in singing one song of praise to God, and scattered tribes, restored to unity by the Spirit, were offered to the Father as the first fruits of all the nations.

This was why the Lord had promised to send the Advocate: he was to prepare us as an offering to God. Like dry flour, which cannot become one lump of dough, one loaf of bread, without moisture, we who are many could not become one in Christ Jesus without the water that comes down from heaven. And like parched ground, which yields no harvest unless it receives moisture, we who were once like a waterless tree could never have lived and borne fruit without this abundant rainfall from above. Through the baptism that liberates us from change and decay we have become one in body; through the Spirit we have become one in soul. … We need the dew of God.
--Saint Irenaeus

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Pondering the Word (No. 4)

God desires our joy and completeness--becoming our true selves as created in God's image. "I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete," Jesus says (John 15:11). Here, he speaks not of passing, superficial joy as we often interpret it (such as getting a new electronic device for Christmas), but of deep, lasting, life-giving joy (such as holding a newborn son or daughter in one's arms).

God wants us to dwell constantly in that deep, lasting, life-giving love with which he gazes on us as children. And it is through this love we have first received from God that we are able to desire, produce, or accomplish anything good. In today's Gospel reading at Mass (John 15:1-8), Jesus says, "Abide in me as I abide in you. Just as the branch cannot bear fruit by itself unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in me. I am the vine, you are the branches. Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing."

Let us take some time today to ask ourselves a few questions: Do I trust Jesus, who promises, "I am with you always" (Matthew 28:20) ? What is the source of my joy? Can I identify specific instances in my life when this joy springing from God's loving presence has manifested itself? How do I abide in this life-giving joy each day? What fruit is it producing in and through me? Am I willing to accept God's gift of deep, lasting, life-giving joy--to become part of its rich harvest of spiritual fruit from which the world may drink?

The hope of heaven

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying,

"See, the home of God is among mortals.
He will dwell with them;
they will be his peoples,
and God himself will be with them;
he will wipe every tear from their eyes.
Death will be no more;
mourning and crying and pain will be no more,
for the first things have passed away."

And the one who was seated on the throne said, "See, I am making all things new." Also he said, "Write this, for these words are trustworthy and true." Then he said to me, "It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give water as a gift from the spring of the water of life. Those who conquer will inherit these things, and I will be their God and they will be my children."
Revelation 21:1-7

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Bells of Saint Meinrad

Many visitors to Saint Meinrad Archabbey are intrigued by the iconic bell towers of the Archabbey Church and the ringing of the bells inside them to call monks and guests to prayer several times each day. If you are one of those so interested, you may want to check out the first episode of Saint Meinrad's new podcast, "Echoes from the Bell Tower" (Click the title to the left or below, or the photo above, to access the podcast.) The initial, 23-minute episode, produced by our Development Office with the cooperation of several monks, is about the bells. Interesting insights and amusing stories alike are shared in the episode.

A few lines from the introduction to the podcast from the "Echoes from the Bell Tower" page:
The bells of the Archabbey Church are one of the first things you notice at Saint Meinrad. The bell towers themselves are a local landmark. The Archabbey is situated on a hill, so the towers are visible from some distance away. Even on a foggy morning, you can usually see the tops of the bell towers peeking above the mist. 
The bells ring every 15 minutes at Saint Meinrad, so we're pretty used to them. But if they don't ring at the right time or they ring at an unusual time, we take notice. 
In this podcast, hosts Br. Joel and Novice Tony explain the significance of the bells to those who live in a monastery. The bells and their rituals are woven into monastic life. 
They call the monks to prayer, mark the significant events in their life and, finally, announce their death. The bells have also been known to cause some consternation, as you'll hear in this episode.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Resurrection and life -- today

Jesus reveals himself at Emmaus. Guilded bronze panel by
Tom McAnulty from the Archabbey Church altar.

In John’s Gospel, Jesus says to his friend Martha: “I am the resurrection and the life; whoever believes in me, even if he dies, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?” (John 11:25-26)

At the end of Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus both commissions and assures his disciples: “Go, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age” (Matthew 28:19-20).

These words of Jesus are meant for us today as well. The Resurrection of Jesus is not merely a historical event. Nor is it simply a promise to us—something we hope for ourselves in the future. It is an eternal, universal occurrence of inestimable proportion that unfolds daily in the lives of all believers—if it is genuinely accepted in faith, hope, and love.

Before he was crucified, Jesus said: “When I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw everyone to myself” (John 12:32). He means you and me—today. We are drawn up into the Paschal Mystery of the Passion, Death, and Resurrection of Christ. Most of us—to some degree, at least—understand the Passion and Death elements of that mystery because we all experience suffering and death—or will. However, can we also identify the ways in which Christ’s Resurrection is manifested in our own lives—not merely as a historical event or a promise of future restoration and renewal, but as a present reality?

“I am the resurrection and the life,” Jesus said. “Do you believe this?”

Jesus’ Resurrection is manifested to us here and now through his Holy Spirit, with whom Christians are sealed at Baptism. Again, in John’s Gospel, he said: “The Advocate, the Holy Spirit that the Father will send in my name—he will teach you everything and remind you of all that I told you” (John 14:26).

This Spirit is the divine life breath of all Christians, first breathed into the Church (cf. John 20:22; Acts 2) at Pentecost, just as God “formed [the first] man out of the clay of the ground and blew into his nostrils the breath of life” (Genesis 2:7). Through this Spirit, we live and move and have our being (cf. Acts 17:28). It is the prayer, sacraments, and life of the Church that resurrect us and give us life—not only at the Second Coming but (partially, at least) here and now. Remarkably, Jesus, through the Holy Spirit sent in his name by God the Father, is more present to us today, and in more ways and places, than he ever was as a man walking this earth 2,000 years ago (cf. John 14:15-31; 16:4-15). Additionally, as St. Paul tells us, the Holy Spirit dwells within each and every one of us (cf. Romans 5:5; 8:9-14).

Through all these avenues, God offers us the resurrection and the life of Christ each day. Today’s Mass readings for Wednesday within the Octave of Easter (Acts 3:1-10 and Luke 24:13-35) offer us some specific, concrete, post-Resurrection examples. In the first reading, Peter and John (now filled with the Holy Spirit and boldly proclaiming the Good News) provide new life to a man crippled from birth (who had to be carried each day to the temple gate to beg for alms). Through their intercession, this man—who had never walked before—miraculously began “walking and jumping and praising God.” In the Gospel reading, the resurrected Jesus draws near to and walks (unrecognized) with a pair of “downcast,” “slow of heart” disciples on their way to Emmaus. Slowly, he interprets Scripture (the Word who is himself) for them and then blesses and breaks bread (the Sacrament of the Eucharist, who is himself) with them. Then, “their eyes were opened and they recognized him,” and they said to one another, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he spoke to us on the way and opened the Scriptures to us?” Spiritually revived and strengthened, the two returned to Jerusalem to share the Good News they had received.

In different circumstances, each of these persons was resurrected, given new life, through Christ—who was present to them in mysterious ways. Christ is no less present to us in our own times for those who truly believe. Through the gift of faith, we should each be able to recall occasions either remarkable or ordinary in which the Spirit seems to have breathed new life into us. From my own point of view, I can immediately recount several occurrences of the more remarkable kind: my own “spiritual reawakening”; my sobriety; my vocation as a monk, writer, and spiritual director; and the birth of my little nephew Evan in 2012. Those are just a few.

So, Easter is not over. For some, it’s just beginning. For all of us, the Paschal Mystery continues to unfold. The resurrection and the life who is Christ is looking for ways to surprise us, if we are willing to allow him. Here and now.

“Do you believe this?”

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Creeping things...

We had all kinds of visitors for the Easter Vigil in the Archabbey Church on Saturday evening. The black feline in the above photo (taken by a human guest) decided to stroll prominently through the open main doors (through which the rest of us entered minutes earlier, after the blessing of the fire and preparation of the paschal candle) and then among the guests and monks.

This cat began hanging around the monastery a couple months ago. A number of monks have named her Bakhita, though I've heard some guests call her Raven.

In any event, her timing was impeccable. Into the church she sauntered as the lector (unseen in the photo, but to the left) was proclaiming God's command in the first reading from Genesis: "Let the earth bring forth all kinds of living creatures: cattle, creeping things, and wild animals of all kinds."

Curiously enough, though I was sitting in the first row of the choir stalls, I missed the whole thing, and didn't hear anything about it until someone mentioned it this morning!

Many thanks to whomever took the photo (forwarded to me by Br. Zachary).

Saturday, March 26, 2016

"I am the resurrection and the life."

"To everyone who conquers, I will give permission
to eat from the tree of life that is in the paradise of God."

Revelation 2:7

A lifeless body in a tomb.



Wrapped in burial cloths of misery, fear, and failure.

A decaying grain concealed in darkest land.

Mystery awaits the morn.

Thin light spreads over a horizon unaware
of what the earth cannot contain.

The soil is soaked with divinity’s dew.

The seed of humanity sheds its rotten garments.

The wound within opens.

A tender shoot appears.

It emerges above the soil.

Pulled toward the rising sun, it is green, full of sap.

Roots crack through and discard the seed’s hard but fragile casing…

… surge through and clutch the earth…

… drink from the brimming river.

The stalk grows thicker, taller.

Stems become branches.

Buds blossom and leaves unfurl.

Within them the birds of heaven sing their song.

Hanging there is ripened fruit.

Good for food.

Pleasing to the eye.

Desirable for gaining wisdom.

Fruit better than gold.

A woman enters the land.

She seeks a burial plot, and finds the tree.

She is amazed at what has arisen there.

Taking some of the fruit, she eats.

Urged by an angel, she shares it.

Naked again, eyes are opened.

Wrapped in the light of faith, hope, love.



A vibrant body in a garden.

Planted in the house of the Lord.

Still bearing fruit when they are old.

Surrounding the Tree of Life.

Singing Alleluia!