A Word from Thomas Merton

My Lord God,
I have no idea where I am going.
I do not see the road ahead of me
nor do I really know myself,
and the fact that I think I am following your will
does not mean that I am actually doing so.
But I believe that the desire to please you
does in fact please you.
And I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire.
And I know that if I do this,
you will lead me by the right road
thought I may know nothing about it.
Therefore will I trust you always
through I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death.
I will not fear for you are ever with me,
and you will never leave me to face my struggles alone.
Amen.

The Meaning of Love

by Sr. Spero

We sang some verses from Habbakuk in Lauds this morning that show me the meaning of hope.

Although the fig tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines; the labor of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat; the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls: Yet I will rejoice in the Lord. . . .” [Habakkuk 3:17-18a]

Food is pretty basic. Habakkuk is saying that even if he starves to death, he is still choosing to rejoice. This is hope—and trust in a loving God. God wants to give us the desires of our hearts, but he also allows various kinds of famine in our lives. This is when we understand the challenge of hope, and, ultimately, the meaning of love.

grapevines at the Community of Jesus

Deep Calls to Deep

By Sr. Spero

A wise abbot recently described lectio divina as taking a bite of scripture and chewing on it, like gum. I tried this with a verse from Lauds this morning, Psalm 42:7, “deep calls to deep in the roar of your waterfalls.” I soon realized my bite was too big, that “deep calls to deep” was enough to chew on. After a while, I understood that deep calls to deep is exactly what God wants for us. Out of the depths of his love, he calls to the depths of our souls. I may be personally satisfied with a surface life, but he wants more. And sometimes he has to ruin my plans and destroy my superficial life so that I can hear the depths calling to me. Deep calls to deep. And what about “the roar of the waterfall”? That is for another time of chewing.

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Making Room

 

 

 

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By Faithful Finch

We received a beautiful Christmas card with a picture of Mary & Joseph, and the shepherds huddled in light  around Baby Jesus and the words, “Let every heart prepare Him room.” I put it up on our bathroom mirror to remind me as I dry my hair to “prepare Him room.”  But how do I do that? I feel so small in the pains and inadequacies of my puny life as I scurry from thing to thing to make space for Christ the King. As I wash my face at the end of the day, and look at the beauty and simplicity of that card, I once again feel convicted from the words, “Let every heart prepare Him room.”  I say, “Ok, I want to get there. I do, but all I have to offer is sin and the pain that comes with it. I’m sorry. Help me.”

A peace comes on me as I realize that not one person in this Nativity scene came to “prepare Him room” without pain, without sacrifice, but with so much blessing. That’s what the preparing is all about: making room every day of the year.

Annunciation by John Donne

Salvation to all that will is nigh;
That All, which always is all everywhere,
Which can not sin, and yet all sins must bear,
Which can not die, yet cannot choose but die,
Lo! faithful Virgin, yields Himself to lie
In prison, in thy womb; and though He there
Can take no sin, nor thou give, yet He’ll wear,
Taken from thence, flesh, which death’s force may try.
Ere by the spheres time was created, thou
Wast in His mind, who is thy Son, and Brother;
Whom thou conceiv’st, conceived; yea, thou art now
Thy Maker’s maker, and thy Father’s mother,
Thou hast light in dark, and shutt’st in little room
Immensity cloister’d in thy dear womb.

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Love Overcomes All

By Hummingbird

My little four-legged friend has upbraided me for not heeding him, and tells me that I have been far too serious for too long. He wants to say that love overcomes all.

Indeed it is true, and he is right. Love is the only unconquerable power and the all-conquering power. I try to imagine, as I look at him, how small a world his eyes see in comparison to mine, and yet it is his whole world. I see his short four legs and how little of the world he could experience on his own. Heights of any greatness are denied him under his own power; closed doors are a barrier to any progress. Water or snow more than six inches deep could mean death. Yet he has traveled far, gone high, passed through many doors, seen much, and endured great depths of water and snow. How? I carry him. He goes with me. Why? Because I love him.

So it is with our Savior. It is his love that carries us in much the same way. Our small world, our littleness—the closed doors, the great heights—are available to us because we go with him. His love overcomes our lack. He show us that loving others with his love is a conquering power over all troubles, all darkness. No barrier exists to his love. In the end, we must succumb to his love. He waits for us to be a vessel for his love to others.

small-dog-breeds

Growing Love

 In the Lauds reading today, it was quoted, “Heat makes things expand, and in the same way, love expands the heart.”

Well, I thought to myself, how appropriate! Last week I had just been confessing to a wise friend of mine (and asking for some help) about the lack of love in my heart for someone. I was so frustrated with my complete lack of control to expand my heart, to “grow my love.”

My friend listened to me, and after a minute said, “It’s not up to you to put the love in your heart. That’s God’s job. Your job is to confess and get rid of the anger, hatred, hurt, and anything that takes space in your heart that blocks God from being able to bring His love in.
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Dependence

By Hummingbird

I have noticed a curious hold my four legged friend has on me. I have long puzzled over it. He comes and fixes me with his eyes and is communicating something. If I am slow to respond, he may punctuate his look with a sharp bark. He is obviously telling me his need is urgent in his opinion! The hold is this; as I turn my attention to him I am ever aware –he has no hands to open doors, or get his food. His needs are ever before me. He has utter unfailing confidence that I will see to his needs. He is not passive but takes his job as actively informing me of his status and presenting himself in my presence as if reminding me, “Remember I have no arms and you are my chosen sole provider.” He is never embarrassed at his need but accepts and seems to joy in this dependence—even at times seems to show me off with pride. His need and that he depends totally on me lead me to never fail to respond.

Then I am struck to the heart. O, God, am I proud of my dependence on you? Do I joy in being actively involved in presenting myself before you? Do I have utter confidence that you never fail me and always meet my needs? Do I accept that I can’t change my heart anymore than my little friend can grow “arms”? Do I rest in the knowledge that my need excites the love of my Savior who gave his life for me, of my Father who never sleeps, and my Comforter who flies to my side?

Dear God, help me to be so proud of your relationship to me. May I ever be constantly active to present myself before you,  and to joy in my love and need of you.
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Our Source of Life

By Sr. Nun Other

While weeding our vegetable garden at the Community of Jesus, I was amazed — well, maybe dismayed — at the tenacious strength of those wily weeds. Clearing a path was hard work, but it got me thinking about “roots” and multiple ways we use the word.

As a noun, roots attach a plant to the ground and convey water and nourishment. They’re a source of life, established deeply and firmly. A second definition for root is “a semantic unit,” the part of a word after all prefixes and suffixes are removed. It’s also a verb: to root for a team or an individual is to lend support and encourage enthusiastically.

Perhaps it’s a Pennsylvania phenomenon — or a well-taught civics class — but when I meet someone from my home state, I connect. “You’re from Pennsylvania? Which part? Pittsburgh? No kidding.” And then we’re apt to converse in a language resembling English, but native to Western Pennsylvanians, words such as chipped chopped ham, city chicken and “redd up” a room. These are my roots by birth and they bring life through remembrance, forming part of who I am. We also put down spiritual roots, and there are several Biblical verses that employ the metaphor. In Ephesians 3:17, the Apostle Paul speaks of being rooted and grounded in Christ, “that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith, as you are being rooted and grounded in love.” Just imagine! Jesus is that love, our source of life, and stands with us when all pretenses are removed.

The Community of Jesus

 

Gregorian Chant: The Eternal Song

By Sr. Fidelis

The Reading for Lauds at the Community of Jesus this morning was from an Epistle of Clement I. The last paragraph read, “Even the Creator and Lord of the universe rejoices in his works.  By his supreme power he set the heavens in their place; by his infinite wisdom he gave them their order.  He separated the land from the waters surrounding it and made his own will its firm foundation.  By his command he brought to life the beasts that roam the earth.  He created the sea and all its living creatures, and then by his power set bounds to it.  Finally, he formed humanity, the highest and most intelligent of his creatures, the copy of his own image.  We must recognize, therefore, that all who are upright have been graced by good works, and that even the Lord himself took delight in the glory his works gave them.”

This seemed like a summary of the beautiful Vespers hymns we’ve been looking at these past weeks with themes of the various days of creation!  The Friday hymn is the last in the set, with text mostly likely attributed to Saint Gregory the Great. Here is as description of true Paradise on earth.

O God, shaper of man, you who, alone, ordaining all things, order the earth to produce species of creeping and wild beasts;

You, who gave the great bodies of creatures, made alive by a word of command that they might serve in their place subduing them to mankind:

Drive away from your servants, whatsoever, by uncleanness, either suggests itself by customs, or insinuates itself by actions.

Give the rewards of joys, grant the gifts of graces; dissolve the chains of quarrelling, bind fast the agreements of peace.

Grant this, O most loving Father, and you, the only One equal to the Father, with the Spirit, the Paraclete, who reigns through every age.  Amen.

The Community of Jesus