Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Monday, February 25, 2013

"Our job is to love others without stopping to inquire whether or not they are worthy. That is not our business and, in fact, it is nobody's business. What we are asked to do is to love, and this love itself will render both ourselves and our neighbors worthy if anything can."

Thomas Merton, Letter to Dorothy Day, quoted in Catholic Voices in a World on Fire (2005) by Stephen Hand, p. 180

Sunday, August 5, 2012

The Gift of Asher Lev

"We have our faith. We have our work. Our work is to bring God into this world. Look at what has been done to this world in this godless century. It is a horror. Our task is to redeem this horror. We cannot redeem it by offering ambiguity."

spoken by Asher Lev, p. 343, in The Giff of Asher Lev by Chaim Potok

Monday, July 16, 2012

On Retreat at Gethsemani Abbey

This place, Gethsemani. It is a place. But is it "just" a place, or is it more? Like many other "places" it is a destination, and while like others, it is also like no other. Or better, no other is like it; no other place is like this place. What makes Gethsemani different? It is a monastery, but there are many monasteries. Even narrowing the lot to Cistercian monasteries leaves many. Is the question "what makes Gethsemani different" best answered by answering "who makes Gethsemani different?" Cut to the chase: Thomas Merton lived here - for more than a quarter-century. It was a destination for him. he came here; studied here, was ordained here, was taught and he taught here, wrote here, prayed here, read here, cried here and laughed here, entertained and drank here, walked here and rarely left here, and now his bodily remains rest here. For me this is what makes Gethsemani more than "just" a place; though there is much more to Gethsemani than the legacy of Fr. Louis, it is the history held here of Merton's memory that attracts me. But it is not celebrity, at least not celebrity as popularly understood, though what I share next may seem so: As I write this I am seated in the shade of the tree closest to the bell tower and less than thirty feet from Merton's grave. Coming here is not "just" a retreat...for me it is a pilgrimage. To be able to pray as I gaze on the grave of Fr. Louis interrupted only by the same bells heard by Merton at the same intervals is a distinct privilege and a grace. Why? Primarily the message of his life and how he delivered it - through his writing (in particular, for me, it was the early writings of the 1940's and 1950's which made Merton Merton), and the fact that his influential penmanship flowed from Gethsemani. His pulse is still felt here, and throughout the world; but the geographic source of that pulse was and remains Gethsemani. It is palpable here still today because the message he delivered continues to resonate. And what is this message? In his own words: "Whatever I may have written I think it all can be reduced to this one root truth: that God calls human persons to union with Himself and with one another in Christ, in the Church which is His Mystical Body."* Gethsemani feels like an ideal place to fine-tune how one tries to answer that call ... even if only for a few days.

*November 10, 1963 an excerpt from Concerning the Colection in the Bellarmine Library

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Guest Blogger: St. Mark the Ascetic

'Do not say: "I do not know what is right, therefore I am not to blame when I fail to do it." For if you did all the good about which you do know, what you should do next would then become clear to you, as if you were passing through a house from one room to another. It is not helpful to know what comes later before you have done what comes first. For knowledge without action "puffs up", but "love edifies", because it "patiently accepts all things" (1 Cor. 8:1; 13:7).'
- St. Mark the Ascetic

Saturday, December 17, 2011

I don't know how to meditate!

Really? If you know how to worry, you know how to meditate. But worry is a compulsive pagan prayer.