February 28, 2014

Franciscan Obedience

Twice a week I take a little walk with one of the brothers so that he can practice his English. He wants to be able to teach and preach in English, and so he teaches me a little something on a Franciscan theme or document while I supply words and offer corrections.

February 27, 2014

I'm lovin' it

So I guess, the birthday of the American brother having come around, the brethren wondered what special thing they might do for him. The result was my finding this when I arrived at my place in the refectory for dinner:

And according to the holy Gospel, let it be licit to eat of all foods that are set before them. (Rule, III:14)

Not for nothing, but the other brethren had gnocchi and steak.

February 25, 2014

Corrected Prayers

Lord, may I be your servant today.

Lord, grant me the grace to be your servant today.

Lord, I know you give me the grace to be your servant today. Help me to welcome and accept it.

February 16, 2014

Cutting Off Your Right Hand

So we continue our series on Charles, free from responsibility to preach to the people of God on Sundays, being able to have as crazy and personal a reflection on the Sunday gospel as he could want.

And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one of your members than to have your whole body go into Gehenna. (Matthew 5:30)

February 9, 2014

Salty Ramble

Jesus said to his disciples: "You are the salt of the earth. But if salt loses its taste, with what can it be seasoned? It is no longer good for anything but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot. (Matthew 5:13)
Two days before Christmas the fog lifted just enough to allow a single chopper to work its way up to us, a dangerous journey, squeezing beneath the cloud ceiling just a few feet above the jungle-covered ridges. Along with food, water, mail, and ammunition came the battalion chaplain. 
He had brought with him several bottles of Southern Comfort and some new dirty jokes. I accepted the Southern Comfort, thanked him, laughed at the jokes, and had a drink with him. Merry Christmas. 
Inside I was seething. I thought I'd gone a little nuts. How could I be angry with a guy who had just put his life at risk to cheer me up? And didn't the Southern Comfort feel good on that rain-raked mountaintop? Years later I understood. I was engaged in killing and maybe being killed. I felt responsible for the lives and deaths of my companions. I was struggling with a situation approaching the sacred in its terror and contact with the infinite, and he was trying to numb me to it. I needed help with the existential terror of my own death and responsibility for the death of others, enemies, and friends, not Southern Comfort. I needed a spiritual guide. (Karl Marlantes, What It Is Like To Go To War)

February 7, 2014

Meister Eckhart on Worry

Do not upset yourself, whatever form of life or devotion God may give to anyone. If I were so good and holy that they were to raise me to the altars with the saints, still people would be talking and worrying about whether this were grace or nature working in me, and puzzling themselves about it. They are all wrong in this. Leave God to work in you, let him do it, and do not be upset over whether he is working with nature or above nature; for nature and grace are both his. What has that to do with you, what it suits him to work with, or what he may work in you or in someone else? He must work how or where or in what way is fitting for him.

There was a man who would dearly have liked to make a stream flow through his garden, and he said, "If the water could be mine, I should not care what sort of channel brought it to me, iron or timber, bone or rusty metal, if only I could have the water." And so anyone is quite wrong who worries about the means through which God is working his works in you, whether it be nature or grace. Just let him work, and just be at peace.

(From the "Counsels on Discernment" in Meister Eckhart: The Essential Sermons, Commentaries, Treatises, and Defense, eds. Edmund Colledge, OSA and Bernard McGinn (Paulist, 1981), 284-5)

February 2, 2014

Presentation of the Lord

Thus says the Lord God:
Lo, I am sending my messenger
to prepare the way before me;
And suddenly there will come to the temple
the LORD whom you seek,
And the messenger of the covenant whom you desire.
Yes, he is coming, says the LORD of hosts.
But who will endure the day of his coming?
And who can stand when he appears?
For he is like the refiner’s fire,
or like the fuller’s lye.
He will sit refining and purifying silver,
and he will purify the sons of Levi,
Refining them like gold or like silver
that they may offer due sacrifice to the LORD.
Then the sacrifice of Judah and Jerusalem
will please the LORD,
as in the days of old, as in years gone by.
(Malachi 3:1-4)
I love the feast of the Presentation of the Lord. It's one of those days that just seems so mystical. Falling on the cross-quarter between the winter solstice and the vernal equinox, it recalls that the Light, born at Christmas and adored by the wise men, born away from any home, now arrives in his historical home, his Temple.