Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Benedictine Vocation Directors to meet in MN...

I am shamelessly using the vocation blog to advertise a special gathering that happens only every two years. In two weeks Vocation Directors from monasteries across the US will gather at St. John's Abbey in Collegeville, MN. Sister has been part of the planning team and will have the opportunity to work with new vocation directors and offer a workshop for all interestd participants. Brother Paul-Vincent has made wonderful arrangements for the directors at St. John's. There will be time for prayer, rest, and connecting informally with one another as well as major addresses around our theme. If you haven't registered yet, there is still room. Contact Brother Paul-Vincent to register ASAP.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

The One who will be with us...

This morning Fr. Gregory Gresko, OSB, prior of Mary Mother of the Church Abbey, here in Richmond, celebrated the Eucharist with a small group of faculty and staff. Liturgical law mandates that Mass be celebrated once a month in a chapel in which the Blessed Sacrament is reserved. After Mass I told the girls at Morning Gathering that “JESUS is back in the house!” I encouraged them to reverence the Lord when they enter and leave. I mentioned the sanctuary lamp which is the tell-tale sign that the Blessed Sacrament is in the tabernacle. This wonderful mysery is hard to describe in words, but make a visit, I suggested, and you'll sense the change. The feeling of Presence is real.

The tabernacle that holds and secures the Blessed Sacrament has a long history. The people of Israel set up a tabernacle in the dessert as a “holy of holies” – a safe place for the tablets of the covenant. Our tabernacle holds the fulfillment of that covenant – the Lord JESUS - the long-awaited messiah who has promised to remain with us in a special way in the humble elements of bread and wine. Why? Good question. Here's a thought...
When Moses heard the voice of GOD in the burning bush, he asked in whose name he would be speaking. “Tell them, ‘I AM’ sent you.” This name given to Moses is too sacred to be uttered. It cannot even be written. Our Jewish brothers and sisters remove the vowels! And we, as Catholics, have finally embraced this practice. We no longer say or sing the tetragrammaton - the four letters.

‘YHWH’ can be translated several ways:
‘I AM’,
‘My favorite translation is: ‘I AM THE ONE WHO WILL BE WITH YOU.’

This is the GOD who brought Israel through the desert and sent the Son to open the gates of paradise. This is the GOD who remains in Word, in Spirit and in bread and wine. This GOD will be with us until the kingdom comes in its fullness. I think the Blessed Sacrament is evidence of this faithful love. Today, we receive the gift of the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist - with gratitude and joy.

Blessings and love to you all...

- Sister Vicki

Monday, September 21, 2009

Today the Church honors St. Matthew – the tax collector who became a disciple of the Lord and, in doing so, a friend of GOD. It’s been 7 years since I have filed a tax return, but I can still recall the dread that would precede April 15th. I worked for the Church for most of my adult life, so "Uncle Sam" always owed me. Still, the little boxes, mysterious formulas and W-2’s made me a wreck. I suspect taxes were just as pleasant two thousand years ago. Tax collectors? They were probably not the most popular guys in the Roman Empire. “Rendering unto Caesar” was a matter of life or death. No extensions. No audits to clear things up. Pay the man at the table or...suffer the consequences.

When JESUS called Matthew (aka “Levi”,) his enemies were ready to pounce. The Pharisees saw this and said to his disciples,“Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?”He [JESUS] heard this and said,“Those who are well do not need a physician, but the sick do.Go and learn the meaning of the words,I desire mercy, not sacrifice.I did not come to call the righteous but sinners.”

Mercy…not sacrifice. This divine preference was made known to Israel by the prophet Micah. A preference - it helps me to frame it this way. When faced with the easy choice between pious practices or the hard work of forgiving an old wound, most of us would choose the Novena. But, the LORD prefers that we choose mercy in our dealings with one another over Olympic acts of prayer or penitence.

This “preference” makes sense if you see Christianity as fundamentally incarnational – a religion which reveres the human person as image and likeness of GOD. When the Word became flesh, all flesh was made holy. It was St. Athanasius who wrote: “God became man so that man could become GOD (St. Athanasius, De Incarnatione 54:3).” This idea that we are destined to become GOD is called, theosis or divinization. We believe this - check the Catechism!

Do I think Matthew knew what he was in for in following JESUS? Definitely not. But Matthew did follow. So much for the sinner-theory that made the Pharisees feel clean and pure. It would seem we are all "tax collectors" – hopeful sinners who one day decide to drop our coins and follow the voice of mercy. Many such sinners find their way to the monastery and follow Christ until their last breath. Not an easy road but for those who are called, it is a joyful journey. May St. Matthew intercede for those who are ready to begin again in Christ.
Blessings and love to you all...
- Sister Vicki