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We Are People of he Resurrection

“If Jesus Christ died and rose from the dead, then nothing else matters.  And if Jesus Christ died and did not rise, then nothing else matters.”

So wrote Jaroslav Pelikan, and his application of logic to the life of Jesus has profound implications for the direction of our lives.  Believe in him or not, Jesus was one of the central figures of human history.  But for Christians Jesus is more than an historical figure.  He is in fact the central figure of our lives.

I fist met Professor Pelikan when I was in college, and he was already an eminent historian at Yale.  The occasion was an appearance he made alongside Cardinal Leo Suenens of Belgium, and together they made for a striking duo in the gothic sanctuary of Riverside Church in New York.  In his red robes Suenens contrasted sharply with virtually everybody else;  but it was Pelikan who dazzled me.  During the exchange that followed their talks, someone posed a question to Pelikan.  Without a moment’s hesitation Pelikan referenced a Czech theologian, whom he quoted at length, without notes, in Czech.  Then and there I decided that someday I would study with that man.

6862A6D6-A078-4157-8421-30AA5D90AFCAYears later Pelikan was the main reader for my dissertation and, true to his sense of the dramatic moment, he announced at a dinner in the Great Hall at Saint John’s that he had signed off on my work two days earlier.  It was an energizing moment for me, as you can imagine.  But that gesture underscored for me how important people can be in our lives.  Be they teachers, parents or friends, we do not walk this earth alone.  Such people are gifts from God to us.

I’ve often mulled over Pelikan’s words on the resurrection, not just for what they say about Jesus, but for what they say about us.  If Jesus did die and rise for us, then each one of us has intrinsic value.  As sons and daughters of God, each one of us matters, and each of us is a gift sent to our brothers and sisters to accomplish something important.

So the upshot of all this should be life-changing.  If Jesus Christ did die and rise from the dead, then nothing else matters.  That means that God loves each of us and to each of our brothers and sisters you and I are a gift.  It’s an extraordinary vocation that the Lord has given us, and nothing else matters.

30B89EBF-7CD3-4198-8FF7-557F02A55148Notes

+Not surprisingly, I did not leave the abbey grounds last week.  However, I am learning once again to appreciate the value of Benedictine stability and claustral life in the monastery, though the first couple of weeks away from the airports did not come easily.  Now I’m getting used to it and have enjoyed the chance to go for long walks on the abbey grounds.

+On April 8th my dear friend Fra Carl Noelke passed away suddenly, though not unexpectedly.  Fra Carl was a Knight of Justice, that is, a member in the Order of Malta who had professed religious vows of poverty, chastity and obedience.  To look at Fra Carl’s face was to get a glimpse of the beatific vision, and he was a joy to be with.  He was widely respected within the Order, and all who knew him will miss him dearly.

On April 11th I led the Office of the Dead for Fra Carl, which we conducted via Zoom.  Ca. 60 of us joined together, and participants included members of the Order in Rome, Paris and London, across the United States, and in New Zealand.  Given my total lack of technical expertise, we were fortunate to have someone other than me to manage the entire exercise.  Following the service individuals were able to offer their personal tributes in memory of Fra Carl.  All in all it was a remarkable experience.  Fra Carl practiced law in San Francisco and was a member of the Bohemian Club, to which he contributed his deep booming voice.  He will be buried in his hometown of LaCrosse, WI.

+One of the surprises of the Triduum was the installation of an icon painted by our confrere, Fr. Nathanael Hauser.  At 7×12 feet it is certainly large, and it almost did not fit through the door of his studio.  It sits above the Abbot’s throne and dominates the space.  The last two photos in today’s post show an icon by Aidan Hart, commissioned for Saint John’s Abbey.  Aidan did significant work in The Saint John’s Bible.

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God’s Favorite People:  Deeply Flawed

In the Book of the Prophet Jeremiah chapter 20 we read something that we wouldn’t normally expect from a prophet.  Jeremiah had preached the message God had asked him to preach, and for that effort his friends turned on him.  That shouldn’t come as a surprise.  But what Jeremiah in turn asked of God certainly was.  He prayed for vengeance on his former friends.

In her reflection on this passage that appeared on April 3rd in Give Us This Day, Sr. Mary McGlone draws attention to this unfortunate flaw in Jeremiah’s character.  Unlike Jesus, who prayed for forgiveness for his persecutors, Jeremiah prayed for revenge.  He wanted to gloat as he watched his enemies suffer.

Whatever this may say about Jeremiah, this passage says something profound about God’s willingness to choose flawed people to do his work.  Among others, God called Moses, who didn’t speak well at all and also happened to be a murderer.  Then there was David, who was a philanderer and abused his power.  Later came Mary, who was a young girl with little in the way of power or connections.  Certainly to be counted among these stars was Paul, who had been a persecutor of Christians.  And then, as people called out of time, God most recently has called us.

Despite our flaws and in spite of our sins, God has plans for us.  It’s why God gathers us around the altar.  And so in the Eucharist Jesus Christ feeds us and then sends us out to do his will.  Much like the apostles, we go, ready or not.

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NOTES

+On April 3rd I celebrated the community Eucharist at Saint John’s Abbey, and today’s post is the reflection that I delivered that day.  Give Us This Day, which I reference in the sermon, is a monthly publication of The Liturgical Press at Saint John’s Abbey.

+Just as was the case the week before, this week my furthest journeys were walks on the abbey grounds.  It was wonderfully quiet, and despite a dusting of snow on one day, the weather was largely pleasant.

+After much technical difficulty, the live-streaming of the abbey liturgies finally seems to be on track.  To view the liturgies of Holy Week, including that of the Easter Vigil on Saturday at 9:00 pm, please visit http://www.saintjohnsabbey.org.

+My major task this past week was the composition of a prayer that I was asked to prepare for members of the Order of Malta.  Because of restrictions on public gatherings, this will be for most members the first time in their adult lives when they are unable to attend Easter services.  The prayer, appended at the bottom of today’s post, is meant to accompany the lighting of a candle at sunset on Holy Saturday.  Please feel free to share this text with any who might wish to participate and proclaim from their homes that Christ is their light and the light of the world.

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AN EASTER VIGIL PRAYER

Loving Father,

We gather around this candle whose flame pierces the darkness and proclaims by our faith that Jesus Christ is the light of the world.  We thank you for your Son, our Savior, and ask You to bless us and grant these petitions:

May this candle be our Easter candle in troubled times.

May Christ’s light warm the poor and heal the sick.

May Christ’s light caress the lonely and embrace the lost.

May Christ’s light reach into the corners of our hearts and dispel our darkest fears.

May we, by our charitable words and deeds, be Christ’s light to others and so light up the world.

And may we draw ever more closely to Jesus Christ, our light and risen Lord.
In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.

Amen.

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The Power of Routine

I thought I’d never see the day when millions of people would consciously decide to become hermits.  For decades people have lived alone in apartments and suburban enclaves;  but the life of a hermit came as an unintended consequence rather than a deliberate choice on their part.  But today, for at least a few weeks, people have embraced or been forced into isolation.  We’ve now became a nation of hermits and small intentional communities.

Given our experience with this sort of life, we monks have been waiting for the phone to ring off the hook.  But to my surprise, we’ve waited in vain.  With hordes of unwilling novices across the country, I had expected at least a few to phone up and ask for one or two helpful tips on how to make a go of isolation and life in a closed community.  Alas, there’s been scarcely one email.

In his Rule Saint Benedict dispenses lots of wisdom on how to get along with other people — or at least with other monks.  Precisely because of that abundance of wisdom I hesitate to try and boil it down to ten “best practices.”  Still, if I had to distill his thought into one practical tidbit, it would focus on the adoption of a healthy routine.

D3651E4E-11DD-4E68-977F-88BEF05917FERoutine has a bad reputation these days.  It hints of tedium, lack of imagination, and ruts out of which it can be difficult to climb.  Yet, I know from experience that routine brings benefits that surprise.

If there’s one thing we have plenty of in the monastery, it’s routine.  For starters, morning prayer, noon prayer, evening prayer and Mass provide the framework for our lives; and they do so seven days a week, week in and week out.  They are predictable, and sandwiched between them are meals, work, recreation, reading and sleep.  Save for weekends the schedule never varies, but it’s the variation that reminds us that it’s the weekend.

Then there are the peculiar customs and courtesies that accomplish at least two things.  Courtesies, for one, may be inconsequential, but try and live without them.  As one writer noted, courtesies are those little compromises that make life possible and sometimes even pleasant.  Along with other elements in the routine, they smooth out the basics of life so that we don’t have to re-invent the wheel each day.  Even more important, they can minimize the little tensions that can easily evolve into big tensions.

A predictable daily routine can often accomplish far more than you’d think, and only when it starts to fall apart  do you realize the civilizing effect it can have.  For instance, we process into the abbey church by seniority.  It doesn’t have to be that way;  but everybody accepts that practice rather than arguing for change every day, just for the sake of variety.  Granted that a few in our number would relish that discussion, most of us don’t need that kind of aggravation.

7492D346-3072-4CEF-B045-102E0F68E440Then there are moments when routine can morph into ritual.  For years two good friends of mine have enjoyed drinks before dinner.  However, she prefers the tv talking heads with her drink, while he has never really cared that much for them.  Rather than making each other suffer together , they long ago reached a happy compromise.  With drinks prepared, she watches the news and he reads in an adjoining room.  Then, refreshed, they meet and have dinner together.  Some might see this as a rut, but such routine is one of the little compromises that makes life healthy and social relationships work.  And often enough we begin to look forward to them.

Of course what makes routine fruitful are the principles upon which it is built.  Love and respect cause us to make those mutual accommodations, and in turn they can enhance the love and respect.  And for lots of people — monks included — it’s in the middle of routine when we glimpse those bits that make life extraordinary.  It’s precisely then when the face of Christ peeps through from the most ordinary things in life.

In the monastery, then, we don’t do routine for routine’s sake.  Nor do my friends who share drinks together every evening.  Instead, these are the practices that become customs that then morph into the rituals that add texture to life.

So if the self-isolation of contemporary life depresses you, try and introduce a little routine and ritual into your life.  You might just discover a richness to life you’d never imagined.  It’s what we try to do in the monastery, in case you were wondering.

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NOTES

+I did not go anywhere during the past week, save for a walk to the end of our property.  Now that the weather is nicer it’s great to take long walks.

+For the next few weeks the daily Mass at Saint John’s Abbey will be available online.  Please go to http://www.saintjohnsabbey.org and follow the directions to access the daily Mass as well as recent Masses that have been archived.

+Not a lot happened in the monastery this week, except that we are trying to find a new rhythm that can accommodate things we’d not done before.  Meals in the refectory require care that we never imagined.  The same goes for the daily cleaning of the choir stalls.  That too we’ve never done before, and we now do it after every prayer service.  I’ve volunteered for duty with the latter three evenings a week, and I’ll continue to do so until all this passes.

+On Saturday evening, following evening prayer, our confreres Frs. Bob Koopmann and Michael Peterson gave a brief concert on piano and recorder.  It’s great to have such talent in the house, and they are two among several wonderful musicians in our community.

+The transition from winter to spring is one of my favorite times.  Along with late autumn it’s one of those few moments when we can study the contours of the landscape, unobstructed by snow or greenery.  There is a pensive quality about it all that I really savor.  The photos in today’s post give a glimpse into those woods.

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Our Lives — a Truce in Eternity

In the prologue to his Rule, Saint Benedict speaks of our lives as a truce.  From my own perspective I like to think of this truce as that little segment in the march of eternity when I celebrate my own incarnation and have the chance to do more than merely exist.  It’s akin to Shakespeare’s description of our lives as the interlude when we are allowed to strut on stage, and then the curtain comes down.  Neither writer intended that these words depress or frighten us.  Rather, they both remind us that we don’t have forever to create a legacy.  Life is a gift, and now is our chance.  We must make the most of it.

I’ve never lived through a period of such anxiety, and small wonder.  COVID-19 has left us all wondering about the present and about the future.  We’d be crazy not to worry; but all the same that should not deflect us from our life’s mission.  God calls each of us to make the most of every day, and our corner of the world should be a tiny bit richer because of our presence.

6967F924-9D92-40F3-B72C-6849FA3C36EAI’m not used to doling out practical advice on how to translate ideals into reality.  Then again, this is a different situation, and anxiety is among the most insidious of enemies.  So what’s a person to do in the face of a boat-load of anxieties?

For myself I’ve come up with a few items that help.  First of all, I’ve reminded myself to keep busy.  Do something!  I should not allow myself to drift through the day wondering what’s going to happen a week or a month or a year from now.  Instead, accomplish at least one useful task — today — and the time will rush by and the tension will ease.

A second item on my to-do list is to get some exercise.  So I try to exercise as if there will be a tomorrow.  I’ll certainly feel better tomorrow if I stretch a bit today.

Also on my list are reading and prayer.  When we read we engage in a conversation with the author.  At the very least new ideas push us to think, and perhaps we might even learn something.  When we pray we engage in a conversation with God.  It helps to speak with someone who might be able to help.  For the believer God not only can help, but God also cares.  For me the liturgy of the hours, the Eucharist and the Bible are nutritious.  For others it may be saying the rosary of doing some other form of meditation.  Regardless, from these conversations with God we learn that God cares about us.

Finally, it helps to be attentive to the needs of others.  Others are anxious, just as are we.  It helps to show others that we care.  It helps to show “kindness, patience, love, enthusiasm and a positive attitude,” as one anonymous source pointed out.  That writer concluded with this bit of wisdom:  all these decent gestures are contagious.  “Don’t wait to catch it from others.  Be the carrier.”

That’s my short list, and I remain convinced that it will make all the difference in the world.  For me I think it is likely the best use of the earthly truce that the Lord has given me.  It may be equally true for you.

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+On March 17th we celebrated the Mass of Christian Burial for our confrere Fr. Don LeMay.  As you might expect, the congregation was small, consisting of our monastic community, a sprinkling of Fr. Don’s relatives, and a few colleagues from Saint John’s University.

+We monks have met several times recently to discuss how we are dealing with the corona virus.  As Abbot John pointed out at a community meeting on Sunday evening, we’ve made some remarkable changes in less than a week, but there is still much more for us to do.  Among the guidelines for us is the elimination of all but emergency travel.  That order I followed completely this week, and I did not leave campus.  That will be the case next week as well.

+On March 21 we celebrated the feast of the passing of Saint Benedict.  After the Mass Fr. Bob played a stunning postlude, and it brought out wonderful new sounds from the expanded abbey organ.  That evening Brother Jacob gave a short concert of organ music for us, following evening prayer.  He had been scheduled that day to play in a celebration of Bach’s birthday, sponsored by Minnesota Public Radio.  Unfortunately for him but happily for us the St. Paul concert was cancelled.

+Our deliberations take place in the abbey chapter house.  In today’s post I have included photos from the chapter house of Yorkminstser, the cathedral of the city of York in the UK.  It’s among the most impressive chapter houses I’ve ever seen.

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EMERGENCY DECLARED!

So blared the headline on the front page of The Minneapolis Star-Tribune last Saturday.  Below it was a photo that should have shown the thoughtful response of normally sober and often stoic Minnesotans.  Instead, however, it showed store-length lines of people waiting to buy cartloads of toilet paper at a local Costco.  Who would have guessed?!

I almost laughed out loud, but later in the day my brother confirmed that this wasn’t a one-off.  At the Home Depot in Oklahoma City where he works pallets and pallets of tissue had sat, untouched, for months.  Then, all of a sudden, customers rushed in like a plague of locusts and stripped the pallets bare.

DC3DDE5B-660A-4CA7-A835-DAF68B4C669ECrises tend to produce unusual reactions, but this was something I never saw coming.  I was completely taken aback that a pandemic would lay bare a pervasive anxiety over toilet paper as a major social issue.  How did all the social scientists miss this?

The responses to the Coronavirus have ranged from the serious to the ridiculous, but most see the need to do something.  In our monastery at Saint John’s we’ve revamped our refectory service, and we’ve spread ourselves out in the choir stalls.  We’ve also limited access to our elderly monks in the abbey health center.  And while I cannot speak for everyone, my own hands are starting to chap from too much washing.

Still, the image of people in desperate search for toilet paper in a time of crisis sticks in my mind.  Is it time to dust off those old Fellini films about the absurdities of life?  Could it be time once again to do some soul-searching and decide what values — if any — should shape our lives?

For monks this situation evokes a treasured bit of wisdom from the Rule of Saint Benedict.  “Keep death daily before your eyes” was Benedict’s advice, and by it he meant to drive us neither to despair nor pious escapism.  Rather, he meant to encourage us to set personal priorities that would define our lives.  Among those, love and respect for others should top the list.  Commitment to mutual service should count for something as well.  A certain graciousness should also pervade our lives, and all this rests on a vision of Christ whom we see in our fellow monks and in virtually everyone else.

4B25A7DA-1B29-4F8B-B620-37AED37DC89AOther religious orders and traditions have their variations on this theme, but one ideal from the Order of Malta has long intrigued me.  For much of the Order’s history nobility meant nobility of blood.  In modern times the nobility of spirit and conduct has come to replace it.  The Statutes and Commentary go on to explain that “nobility in this deeper sense means:  carrying more responsibility than others; [and] knowing that one exists to stand up for the glory of God and for the God-given dignity of every person….”  Underscoring all this is a fundamental vision that drives the behavior of all members:  in the faces of the sick and the poor we see the face of Christ.

The feast of Ash Wednesday reminded us that our pilgrimage in this life is finite.  Ironically, the Coronavirus does the very same thing.  But there’s one critical difference between Ash Wednesday and this latest reminder of our mortality.  Lent reminds us that our end is indeed temporal, and we each have an expiration date.  That said, we also have an end that is eternal.  May we continue to pray about the purpose to which God calls us.

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NOTES

+On March 11 our confrere Fr. Don LeMay passed away at the age of 97.  Fr. Don was an extraordinary individual, and he had a facility with names that astonished all who knew him.  Always gentle and possessed of a positive spirit, he was fond of noting that “every day is a great day!”

+On March 13th we sent our students home and will shortly initiate online classes for them.  For the moment the plan is to ask them to return on Easter Monday to resume classes on campus.

+The last few days no doubt have seen great upheaval for most everyone.  In my case it has included the cancellation of every talk and meeting that I was to be involved with for weeks to come.  Now I do not need to go near the airport until mid-May, and so I feel like I have gone on summer vacation.  But of course I know it’s not quite the same, because there are still piles of snow here and there.  One other byproduct of a free schedule is the ability to be prayer leader at the community liturgy of the hours.  This weekend I realized that for the first time in ages I would be able to be present for every bit of the prayer schedule this week, and so I offered to help out Fr. Cyril, this week’s leader, if and when he needed a substitute.  His response?  “Why not take the whole week!”  It was an offer I couldn’t refuse, and so I accepted.

+On March 21st we celebrate the feast of the passing of Saint Benedict.  In his honor I have selected photos from Monte Cassino, where he founded his community of monks.  The site itself has seen more than its share of emergencies, having been sacked and destroyed several times in its history.

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Blaming Others:  A Dead End

Blaming others when something goes haywire in our lives is almost part of our DNA. The urge to do so has been there since the dawn of human self-awareness;  and perhaps that’s why it shows up so early in the Bible.  Eve may have won first prize for the originality of her sin of disobedience;  but Adam got a close second for originality when he blamed Eve for his own poor decision.

The issue of personal responsibility and the consequences of our decisions are prime themes in today’s readings.  In Daniel 9 the prophet decries the evil that he sees all around him.   Like prophets before him he called to task both leaders and followers for their reluctance to own up to their sins.  Daniel of course was not the first to be a thorn in the public conscience, however, and he rightly fretted about the fate that awaited him.

A1797C38-5F74-4582-B7DB-2D8F26E706C7In chapter 6 of the gospel of Luke Jesus pointed out the long-term results of assigning blame to others rather than admit when we fail.  If we’re the sort who spends much of the time condemning others for sins both big and minuscule, sooner or later that comes home to roost.  Suspicion and contempt for others slowly warp our lives, and more often than not we become the people whom we constantly rake over the coals.

Conversely, if we make an effort to discern the good in others, in time we’re likely to unleash the good which is deep within us.  So it is that Jesus says “the measure with which you measure will in return be measured out to you.”

Not so long ago I stumbled onto a formula that I’ve come to depend on when I preach on the sacrament of reconciliation.  In the face of a long line at a penance service my plea is now simple.  “If you’re here to confess your own sins, then great.  But if you’re here to confess somebody else’s sins, don’t.  Life is too short for that sort of thing, and it leads to the dead end it so richly deserves.”

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NOTES

+Today’s post is the  sermon that I delivered today at the abbey Mass.

+During the past week I was in Naples, FL, where I met with friends and alumni of Saint John’s University. The high point happened to be a reception on March 3rd that featured speeches by two of our students from nearby Immokalee, FL.  They did a stellar job and I was a quite proud of them.

+This week the monks of Saint John’s Abbey will undergo a monastic visitation by four monks from one Canadian and three American abbeys.  Because individual Benedictine monasteries remain largely independent from one another, unlike houses of Jesuits or Franciscans, we rely on periodic evaluations by outside consultants.  Our last visitation was in 2015, and the point of it all is to make recommendations for improvement in addition to pointing out strengths and opportunities.

+On Sunday March 8th we read the gospel account of the Transfiguration.  The first three photos in today’s post show scenes from the church of the Transfiguration on the summit of Mount Tabor.  At bottom is a photo of a Zebra Longwing Butterfly, the official butterfly of the state of Florida.  I patiently waited for it to alight in a shrub in front of the home of my friends Tom and Nancy.  Unfortunately I could not coax it to move to the center of the photo.

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The Demons We Will Always Have With Us

When I entered the monastery a lot changed in my life.  To cite only the more obvious, the monastery recast my daily schedule rather drastically.  Since then life with widely-differing characters has challenged my adaptability as well as my patience.  All too often I’ve also had to surrender my desire to have everything done my way.  But early on one thing really surprised me.  I thought I’d left my personal demons behind me.  But to my amazement, they moved right into the monastery with me.

Our demons we will always have with us, whether we live in a monastery or a mansion or under a bridge.  Married or single, wealthy or poor, self-aware or blissfully ignorant, these demons flit into our lives, whether we realize it or not.  They are our lifelong companions, and we only fool ourselves if we think we can ditch them along the way of our personal pilgrimage.

814B73E6-A604-42D9-B270-E612706F4DC0The readings for the first Sunday of Lent make it clear that demons — be they literal or figurative — are our bosom companions.  Genesis 2 tells the story of the serpent who dangled before Eve the allure of godlike powers.  Her experience was enough to get buy-in from Adam, and so began the chain that links them to us.  Therein we learn a fundamental point with which the Bible begins:  evil has the power to dazzle us and take root in us at virtually any time or in any place.

For this reason the Christian tradition resists any effort to transform Jesus into some sort of superhero.  Jesus is like us in all things but sin; but like us he was not exempt from all sorts of temptations during his sojourn among us.  To tackle them head-on Jesus spent forty days in the desert, as Matthew 4 relates; and in a classic contest of power Jesus finally rejected the array of options that his demons offered.  In the process he came to terms with who he was and what he was called to do, and he elected to embrace the will of his father.

F305A4EE-BCAD-4F9B-B447-752C4C6993D9Being Christian is a noble calling, precisely because it centers on coming to terms with who we are and what we intend to do with our lives.  Like Jesus, it involves a struggle with our own personal demons.  Like Jesus, it involves prayer and a regular inventory of our lives.  Like Jesus, it involves an embrace of the unique vocation that God offers to each of us.

So how do we deal with our personal demons?  I suppose we can be rude and just shove them aside.  For my part I’ve chosen the more gentle route.  When possible I politely recognize and greet those demons for who they are.  Then, with equal politeness, I ask them to leave and not come back.  But of course I know they’ll be back.  Like a familiar friend they know my faults and foibles.  Fortunately I know many of those too.  But I have one advantage.  I know some of my strengths, and chief among them is the Lord who walks with me.

0BD1E174-883D-4CBB-90A9-3AFC7966DD8ANOTES

+On February 24th I taught a class in monastic history to Novice Felix.  We covered issues in the life of Saint Benedict.  This is the first of seven classes which we will have together.

+On February 26th we celebrated Ash Wednesday, and several hundred students joined us for the abbey Mass.

+On February 27th we learned that Saint John’s School of Theology alumnus Abbot Elias Lorenzo was named auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Newark, NJ.  Abbot Elias did his seminary studies with us for four years, and he sat in on two of my classes.  A monk of Saint Mary’s Abbey in Morristown, NJ, he was elected abbot-president of our congregation of monasteries three years ago.

+Friday February 28th was one of those days.  After a crazy morning I headed to the airport.  My plan was to stop in St. Cloud for a haircut, but when I checked in I discovered that the wait was an hour and fifteen minutes.  Naturally I wondered what in the world I could do to spend all that time, but inspiration came to me.  That’s when I realized I could use that time to drive back to Saint John’s to retrieve my luggage, which absentmindedly I had left in my office.

+The images in today’s post are from a triptych entitled The Temptation of Saint Anthony.  Artist Hieronymus Bosch painted it ca. 1500, and today it hangs in the National Museum of Ancient Art in Lisbon.  This is not the only instance of a painting in which Bosch allowed his imagination to run absolutely wild.  Click on the individual photos to fully appreciate his attention to detail.

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