Friday, May 23, 2008
Thursday, May 22, 2008
The Internet is an amazing instrument of social and informational connection. If you check comments here you have noted that Dina in Jerusalem is a regular reader. That amazes me and I am grateful. Now an Anglican priest in New Zealand has tripped over this small site. He contacted me and brought me attention to his absolutely wonderful web page focusing on liturgy in general and the Liturgy of the Hours in particular. Here is the link: http://www.liturgy.co.nz/ofthehours/resources.html . Reverend Bosco Peters, married and father of two teenagers, is devoted not only to informing good liturgical practice but most particularly to encouraging praying of the Liturgy of the Hours (Divine Office) for all Christians. This is a cause I have believed in for a long time. Years ago I wrote a lengthy history of the Liturgy of the Hours for a graduate course. Its title was The People's Office. I have taught this material to parish groups and instructed them on use of the the breviary. Just recently I had began to think about offering a course here at the monastery as I am told that there is rising interest in this prayer among the laity.
Rev. Peters' site is truly comprehensive. Catholics, do not shy away because he is an Anglican priest. He is very attentive to ecumenical issues, has links to many Catholic sites, and provides a vast array of liturgical resources. In addition, Rev. Peters is fun. There is a segment on his site called "The Naked Liturgist". I think he assigned this provocative title because in regard to liturgy his believe is that 'less is more.' When I clicked on "The Naked Liturgist" last night I was treated to a very tongue in cheek bit about the placement of announcements in the Mass. Admittedly, I had to get in to the New Zealander speech patterns and the dry British-type humor, but then I had to laugh. I think you will too. Rev. Peters seems to have sound ideas about allowing the special moments of the Eucharistic Liturgy to have their full and potent effect by letting them stand alone - less is more.
So today I have added Bosco Peters' web site to the list in the side bar as Liturgy - Liturgy of the Hours Resources. Give yourself adequate time to explore the site. He tells me he has over 700 pages of information and links, not to mention photos of monasteries, slide shows and videos. Have fun!
Sunday, May 18, 2008
Monday, May 12, 2008
Just as these creatures came out of a deep, hidden and protected space, our community of contemplative nuns has emerged from a hidden space for greater withdrawal, silence and solitude and more time to just "be" with God. It is hard to leave that place, but the Rule for our daily life does indicate that these times apart are just that. While days apart are necessary and valuable for spiritual enrichment, it is not our charism to stay in the "hermitage" for ever. Rather, especially as Redemptoristines, we are to be fully involved in the prayer, work, and play of communal life, a life that our Rule describes as being "primarily a life in relationship." It is this life of relationship, lived as Jesus and with Jesus, that is the place of our formation and conversion.
Our retreat director, a Trappist monk, provided theological reflection on the nature of the ultimate model for that "life in relationship," which is the dynamic life of the Blessed Trinity. He also has a great gift for distilling the core teachings contained in documents by Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI. Here are just a few snippets I found memorable and valuable for personal reflection:
* At the Ascension Jesus went into God and brought humanity with him.
* According to Pope Benedict, salvation has already happened.
* All humanity is united with God through Jesus. The contemplative cultivates an awareness of this union - and it is worth "selling the field" to experience one moment of this union. We were created for true happiness through union with God.
* The Trinity is a cycle of total self-giving. God had to create because goodness is diffusive of the self.
* Two potent metaphors of Trinitarian self-giving are the ecstatic union of bride and bridegroom which eventual produces a child AND that of the nursing mother which illustrates the whole gamut of love from eros to agape. We are called to such self-giving.
* The reality of this kind of love proceeds from the union of the contemplative with Jesus in prayer. This is our gift of service to all of creation.
* The first Greek words used to describe the Trinity were procession and relationship.
* Pope Benedict has said, "Jesus is the face of God."
* The three most important gardens in the history of the world are Eden, Gethsemani and the garden of the tomb.
* A monastery is a true Gethsemani. Our suffering is part of the totality of human suffering. Through faith we find the meaning of human suffering. Suffering and redemption have not stopped. They continue to going on in each moment in the sacrifice of the Mass but also in human experience...The ultimate suffering of human kind is in one way or another a loss of control - a loss of self. Jesus lost himself in the Father.
* Jesus invites us into the garden of Gethsemani. This is the invitation to the surrender and the letting go that lead to freedom... All the losses are God telling me he is everything... You can ruin your day by dwelling in your inordinate desire. You can be imprisoned by clinging to desire.
Sunday, May 11, 2008
So after the aforesaid spiritual Father wrote to Father Alphonsus, he immediately betook himself to Scala, and came to the Monastery. When he arrived, he had the Mother Superior and her companions called, and he told them that he was the one who had been sent by their spiritual Father, both to give the nuns their spiritual exercises and also as their extraordinary Confessor. But above all, he had been sent to their Monastery, because there was a deluded nun there (Maria Celeste Crostarosa), as was being said all over Naples; because, although the Lord had been pleased to give confirmation of the Work to six other nuns - He had so disposed things as to assist the nun who had received it, so as to be able to put it into effect at the proper time, seeing that the aforesaid was then still a novice when she received the revelation of the Work - but she alone had been declared deluded, just as the companion \and Superior/ of the spiritual Father had made known throughout the city of Naples. And so Father Alphonsus di Liguori had great fear through his zeal for the health of this soul.
He told the Superior he wanted the name of this deluded nun, as it was publicly known that she was there inside their Monastery. The Superior replied humbly that she was pleased that he would be directing the nuns in the true way of following Our Lord, and that all the nuns would cast themselves at his feet, to receive his advice as their spiritual Father had ordered.
Father Alphonsus was in no way satisfied with this vague reply and began to lay down the law to her about telling him what was the cause of all the things he had heard being said about this Monastery. So the Superior and her religious companions gave him a full account of everything that had happened, and how the demon had tried his best to prevent the aforesaid Work from being put into effect.
And when the said Father had heard it all, he replied all aflame with holy zeal that he would not be satisfied unless he first examined the aforesaid nun (Maria Celeste Crostarosa) who had received the Rules, and her six other companions to whom the Lord had afterwards confirmed His Work; and further, he wanted to examine all the nuns of the Community in the confessional, and hear what they all had to say: because either it was the work of the Lord and must not just be forgotten, or it was not the work of God and the aforesaid soul must be put back on the true road of solid perfection; and this is what happened.
The following day he sat in the confessional, and the first one he had called was the aforesaid nun who had received the new Rule, and he began his enquiry by telling her that he wanted her to shed clarity on her whole life: what God gave her as a child, and all the graces that she had received from God up to this point. So this is what the aforesaid nun did, telling him how the Lord called her to His service in a special way, when she was only about eleven years of age. When she made her First Communion, the Lord Jesus Christ appeared to her, and told her that He was washing her heart with His precious blood, and that he was choosing her for His spouse; and when He showed her the ugliness of sin, this vision caused her sorrow for all her sins and so great a contrition that she began weeping uncontrollably, and while she was there in the church hearing the Holy Mass, she let out a loud cry and said: “Oh how many sins have I committed!” without having any shame before the bystanders who looked at her and heard her. And by this grace the Lord called her to be His follower, and from then on new graces always kept coming; and God Himself led her in a special way. And she described to him all the graces she had received, and the course of her life until the time when the Work was made manifest and the new Rules received from the Lord, and all the fears and doubts that she had before she made it known, and the internal and external troubles she suffered up till this point.
And after this he dismissed the aforesaid nun, and he examined the six nuns who had received confirmation with lights of the Lord as evidence that the Work was His; then he examined the whole Community: including the previous Superior, who, now that she had been released from the office of Superior, no longer had any reason to oppose the Work of the Lord.
Saturday, May 10, 2008
Thursday, May 01, 2008
From the Letter to the Ephesians
Office of Readings for the Feast
4 And he gave some as apostles, others as prophets, others as evangelists, others as pastors and teachers, to equip the holy ones for the work of ministry, 5 for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of faith and knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, 6 to the extent of the full stature of Christ, so that we may no longer be infants, tossed by waves and swept along by every wind of teaching arising from human trickery, from their cunning in the interests of deceitful scheming. Rather, living the truth in love, we should grow in every way into him who is the head, Christ, 7 from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, with the proper functioning of each part, brings about the body's growth and builds itself up in love. 8 So I declare and testify in the Lord that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds; darkened in understanding, alienated from the life of God because of their ignorance, because of their hardness of heart, they have become callous and have handed themselves over to licentiousness for the practice of every kind of impurity to excess.
That is not how you learned Christ, assuming that you have heard of him and were taught in him, as truth is in Jesus, that you should put away the old self of your former way of life, corrupted through deceitful desires, and be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and put on
The thief must no longer steal, but rather labor, doing honest work
And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with which you were sealed for the day of redemption. 13 All bitterness, fury, anger, shouting, and reviling must be removed from you, along with all malice. (And) be kind to one another, compassionate, forgiving one another as God has forgiven you in Christ.