Friday, April 11, 2014

Lectio for Lent: Palm Sunday

Salvador Dali's Sacrament of the Last Supper
National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.

NOTE: Each week during Lent, I am posting a set of reflection questions based on the Sunday Gospel. There are no "answers." The questions are simply meant to help the reader (or group of readers) engage the Scripture for the corresponding week in the context of the Church's observance of Lent. Ultimately, the goal is to help one meditate on the following questions: What does this text mean for me? What is God saying to me through his Word--here and now? How ought I respond to it? I encourage you to spend some time reading and thinking about the Gospel passages indicated before turning to the reflection questions here. In the process, if you discern the "still, small voice" of God speaking to your heart and leading you into prayer, then go with it! -- Br. Francis
 
PALM SUNDAY (YEAR A)
The Passion of Jesus Christ
(Matthew 26:14--27:66)
 
As you read/listen to the Passion on this Palm Sunday, what is it about the phrases "this is my body" (spoken at the Last Supper) and "[Jesus] gave up his spirit (on the cross) that has meaning for you?
 
How do you live it out?
 

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Life, death, and eternity

"Yearn for everlasting life with holy desire.
Day by day remind yourself that you are going to die."

Rule of St. Benedict 4:46-47


Lent is a reminder that the world as we know it is not the be-all and end-all. Something—or, more precisely, Someone—infinitely better awaits us. The joy of this knowledge, derived through faith, fills us with that holy desire needed to live radically here and now.

This is the hope that fills our days with joy without denying our deep sorrow. It is what makes us Christian. When things go terribly wrong, when failure and hardship seem to frame our days, and when people age and die, what we are really lamenting is the brokenness of Creation. We should feel sorrow, because the life for which God created us was not meant to be that way. However, we should also embrace the joy of knowing that in Christ, God has restored all things, and rightly ordered them as they are meant to be.

It is true that from our limited perspective, we cannot fully perceive that right-ordering. In Christ, however, the act has been completed, but is still growing to fulfillment. Similarly, when we plant a flower bulb in the earth during the lengthening shadows of autumn, we know that it will be months before it springs forth from the ground with life and color and fragrance—but its work has begun. The Incarnation continues to this very moment as the Body of Christ grows to maturity in each one of us. The moment has been redeemed, and eternity calls out to us from the dark moments just before the dawn.

As Christians, it is fitting us--particularly during this Lenten season--to meditate on such things. With that in mind, here are some further thoughts on life, death, and eternity:

***
"Why should I worry about losing a bodily life that I must inevitably lose anyway, as long as I possess a spiritual life and identity that cannot be lost against my own desire? ... Solitude is not death, it is life. It aims not at living death but at a certain fullness of life. But a fullness that comes from honestly and authentically facing death and accepting it without care, i.e., with faith and trust in God. ... The child in the womb does not know what will come after birth. He must be born in order to live. I am here [in the monastery] to learn to face death as my birth."
-- Trappist monk Thomas Merton
***
"What will separate us from the love of Christ? Will anguish, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or the sword? ... No, in all these things we conquer overwhelmingly through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor present things, nor future things, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord."
-- Romans 8:35, 37-39
***
"Let us prefer nothing whatever to Christ, and may he bring us all together to everlasting life."
-- Rule of St. Benedict 72:11-12

Friday, April 4, 2014

High water

 
We have had a bit of rain here lately. It finally stopped this morning; during the previous 36 hours, I'd estimate we had somewhere between 6 and 7 inches of rainfall. Needless to say, many low-lying areas have flooded, including much of the valley directly below Saint Meinrad Archabbey, in and around the town of St. Meinrad. Several roads around the Hill are covered. Earlier today, nearby Interstate 64 was reportedly closed due to high water in a few locations. Above is the view from near the Abbey Press (Plant 1) downhill toward the St. Meinrad community center and park just across the road. Below are a few more shots I took this afternoon.
 
 
The appropriately named baseball field in the park.
I'd say today's game is a rainout.
The nearby community park.
Looking toward the other end of the valley, toward the gift shop.
Looking toward the St. Joseph Shrine, barely visible in the center of the
photograph. Somewhere beneath the water is a state highway.
The parking lot of the Archabbey Gift Shop.
 
Looking up toward the Hill from the gift shop.
The lake in the foreground should not be there.
 

Lectio for Lent: Week Five


NOTE: Each week during Lent, I am posting a set of reflection questions based on the Sunday Gospel. There are no "answers." The questions are simply meant to help the reader (or group of readers) engage the Scripture for the corresponding week in the context of the Church's observance of Lent. Ultimately, the goal is to help one meditate on the following questions: What does this text mean for me? What is God saying to me through his Word--here and now? How ought I respond to it? I encourage you to spend some time reading and thinking about the Gospel passages indicated before turning to the reflection questions here. In the process, if you discern the "still, small voice" of God speaking to your heart and leading you into prayer, then go with it! -- Br. Francis
 
FIFTH SUNDAY OF LENT (YEAR A)
The Raising of Lazarus
(John 11:1-45)
 
In John 5:28-29, Jesus says, "The hour is coming in which all who are in the tombs will hear his voice and will come out."
 
In today's Gospel passage, Jesus provides a foretaste of what he means by raising Lazarus from the dead. Jesus is the source of life, and has power over death and all spiritual darkness--in the life to come, yes, but also in this life here and now.
 
Consider for a moment your darkest moments in life, your deepest disappointments, failures, and fears. Place yourself in the tomb as Lazarus, and listen for Jesus' life-giving words: "Come out! Untie him and let him go."
 
How will you respond?
 

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Lectio for Lent: Week Four


NOTE: Each week during Lent, I am posting a set of reflection questions based on the Sunday Gospel. There are no "answers." The questions are simply meant to help the reader (or group of readers) engage the Scripture for the corresponding week in the context of the Church's observance of Lent. Ultimately, the goal is to help one meditate on the following questions: What does this text mean for me? What is God saying to me through his Word--here and now? How ought I respond to it? I encourage you to spend some time reading and thinking about the Gospel passages indicated before turning to the reflection questions here. In the process, if you discern the "still, small voice" of God speaking to your heart and leading you into prayer, then go with it! -- Br. Francis
 
FOURTH SUNDAY OF LENT (YEAR A)
The Man Born Blind
(John 9:1-41)
 
In very physical fashion (with saliva, soil, and touch), Jesus heals the man born blind, declaring, "I am the light of the world."
 
The man washes in the Pool of Siloam, which means "sent." In other passages, Jesus is referred to as the one "sent " by the Father (e.g. John 3:17; 4:34; 5:36).
 
What is being conveyed here in terms of spiritual sight and blindness?
 
Have your eyes been opened by the one sent by the Father? How?
 

Sacred rhythms


Lent is a time of reassessment, reawakening, and reconciliation--a time to recharge spiritually, if you will, and return our gaze and realign our wills to that of the Redeemer, Jesus Christ. It is he who leads us, and sometimes we need to hit the "pause button" in our lives in order to become reacquainted and reoriented.

Monasteries, of course, are good places to do that. But you don't necessarily have to be a monk or visit a monastery to incorporate such values and practices into your daily life. Whoever and wherever you are, and whatever you do, it is possible--and absolutely necessary!--to follow a sacred rhythm of life that allows space and time to listen with the ear of the heart to what God is saying to you. As we pray at Vigils in the monastery: "Today, listen to the voice of the Lord" (Psalm 95).

To that end, here are links to two helpful Internet articles I ran across today. They each deal with different topics and come from different sources, but nonetheless point in the same direction:

 

In addition, you may be interested in the following books from Path of Life Publications (the first one is brand new). Just click on the image for more information:

http://pathoflifebooks.com/product.asp?pn=20484

http://pathoflifebooks.com/product.asp?pn=20440

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Lectio for Lent: Week Three


NOTE: Each week during Lent, I am posting a set of reflection questions based on the Sunday Gospel. There are no "answers." The questions are simply meant to help the reader (or group of readers) engage the Scripture for the corresponding week in the context of the Church's observance of Lent. Ultimately, the goal is to help one meditate on the following questions: What does this text mean for me? What is God saying to me through his Word--here and now? How ought I respond to it? I encourage you to spend some time reading and thinking about the Gospel passages indicated before turning to the reflection questions here. In the process, if you discern the "still, small voice" of God speaking to your heart and leading you into prayer, then go with it! -- Br. Francis
 
THIRD SUNDAY OF LENT (YEAR A)
The Samaritan Woman
(John 4:5-42)
 
Jesus says to the Samaritan woman at the well, "Give me a drink." The conversation that follows changes her life.
 
However, this passage is not about drinking actual water; so, what does it signify?
 
What might the meaning be of the seemingly insignificant phrase, "the woman left her water jar"?