Reflections on the Gospel

January 26, 2019: A Reflection for the Feast of the Founders of our Cistercian Order Quite a few years ago on a warm summer’s night, I awoke in the middle of the night. There was no moon, so the land lay in darkness and profound stillness as only the night can produce. My window was wide open to catch any stray breeze and I lay in bed quietly wondering when sleep would overcome me. Then from the heart of the stillness and dark, one lone bird began to sing. Loud and clear, as if pouring its heart into the night, it sang and sang and sang. It was of the thrush family, I am sure, because the tone was rich...

December 22, 2018: Eve of the Fourth Sunday of Advent Here we stand on the brink of Christmas. Our final candle awaits the flame. It will soon join the growing circle of light. Tonight, our candle will gather up our weeks of preparation. Listening for the approach of God in each of our moments, opening our hearts in awakening to God, receiving the Deifying Light into the secret places of our being. And tonight, to walk while we have the light of life. It is the candle of commitment that embraces action. May Jesus, the tender Son of the Father, strengthen us in our life’s journey to walk in the light. The light of the presence of the living God....

December 15, 2018: Eve of the Third Sunday of Advent A third candle awaits the flame tonight. It will join the others and swell the presence of light in the circle of our Advent Wreath. One candle sheds its light in listening, the second with eagerness and meekness that welcomes the light into its depths. This evening, our candle opens itself to the deifying light. The first week is our spiritual sense of hearing, the second our spiritual sense of an awakened heart. Tonight, it is our spiritual sense of sight. How eager are we to welcome the Deifying Light? It is a kindly light, even when it sheds it’s glow on the cobwebbed corners of our being, all the...

December 8, 2018: Eve of the Second Sunday of Advent In a few moments, another flame will kindle its warmth in the heart of the second candle. Last week our candle burned brightly to remind us of a bedrock quality in a monk: to listen. This evening we expand the listening even more. How is it that we listen? In the deepest way possible, with the ear of our heart. We hold the flame close to the center of our being and let it expand our depths with its warmth and challenge to grow. To listen with the ear of our hearts means openness to God wherever and however God comes. To receive with trust and love the coming of...

December 1, 2018: Eve Of The First Sunday Of Advent Here we stand at the beginning of a new liturgical year. Sr. Esther’s lovely Advent Wreath enfolds the four candles, poised and ready to receive light. Perhaps we can identify with each of the candles as they prepare to receive a particular point of light and burn brightly with it. This year, what if we look at some points from the Prologue of our Rule as points of light to which we open ourselves to invite light into our being. On this First Sunday of Advent, as we stare down centuries of waiting before the coming of Jesus, perhaps in some ways we can “look to the East” in our hearts...

WHERE DO YOU LIVE? A reflection on Luke 18:9-14 Jesus addressed this parable to those who were convinced of their own righteousness and despised everyone else. How many times in our lives have we been asked, “Where do you live?” Countless times, right? In the divine scheme of things we are all connected – to one another, to the universe. This is where, ultimately, we live. How is this so? How can I be connected to every person and animal and all creation? And why should I care? Today’s Gospel, at it’s deepest level, is talking about just this level. It is the place within each creature where we come from the creative heart of God. It is this “place”...

ORDINARY? Do you remember the last words we sang at Vespers yesterday, the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord? I’m sure you do, but just in case, they were: “Christ our God has made all creation holy.”  So we burst from the season of light, glory, angels and God in human flesh into what we call Ordinary Time. I suppose you have to call it something, but is it really ordinary?  Ordinary can look so boring, grey and colorless. Yes. But if you think about what we sang last evening, “God has made all creation holy,” the truth is far from boring.  Why is all creation holy?  We all know the answer to that:  because God fills every atom...

Eve of the Fourth Sunday of Advent: December 23, 2017 Tonight’s candle fairly quivers with the joy of expectation!  It will burn only one day but stands as a herald of Emmanuel.  God-with-us, God to whom we can always open more of our being in the trust and love of a child of God.  May the Child in the manger, whose coming at Bethlehem inaugurated the Kingdom of God, of love, peace and kindness, bless this advent candle.  And may we, like the candle, receive with joy the spark of the Kingdom of Love and burn brightly in and with Emmanuel for him and for the world.

Eve of the Third Sunday of Advent: December 16, 2017 As we begin the liturgy for the Third Sunday of Advent, we light this candle to burn a full week. Next Sunday we will be joyously awaiting the dawn of our salvation in the person of Jesus. This week’s candle opens its heart to receive the spark of Emmanuel into our daily lives. Lives “humble, obscure and laborious” as our Constitutions say, but how glorious when the simplicity of openness can take what seems to be a rather grey-sounding experience and set it ablaze with the Presence of God and of the Kingdom that Jesus came to manifest. “I came to cast fire upon the earth, and would that it...

Eve of the Second Sunday of Advent: December 9, 2017 Tonight, as we light our second advent candle, the glow of the reality of God-with-us spreads in all directions. We take another step in the journey of openness to The Presence. Last week our journey took us within, to our center where God and each person are one. How much do we believe that God fills everything? Literally everything! We can never be separated from God. He is inside and outside. Upside and downside. Everywhere. Of course, there’s always the option to clutter our hearts but nothing can separate us from the Presence of God that fills our being. So perhaps as we light this week’s Advent Candle, it can...