Friday Fifth Week Lent 2011

Today's Mass readings are here

 Today : Psalm 18

Since 1848 the Trappist monks of Gethsemani Abbey, Kentucky, where Thomas Merton and Matthew Kelty lived have lived a life of work and prayer. 

Each day, seven times a day, they gather to lift their voices to sing the divine office. Vigils, Lauds, Terce, Sext, None, Vespers and Compline are the seven "hours" of the liturgy of the hours or work of God as St. Benedict called it in his Rule. 

They are common prayer services, the prayer of the Church as well as the prayer of the community. None of these "hours" actually lasts an hour. All seven add up to two and a half or two and three-quarters hours. 
The backbone of these services is the 150 psalms, sung or recited according to a two-week cycle.
Benedictine worship emphasises beauty and harmony, celebrating God’s presence,


I was struck by the phrase from the gospel today "throwing rocks at Jesus" and the notion of what is meant by "good works."

It also made me think about how Jesus here invited dialogue even when he was being threatened in contrast to next week at his final trial when He is mainly silent.

This somehow morphed into various reflections on how the church is criticised  and then onto the work of a monk and how their work is often overlooked and minimised.

Taken From Mark Patrick Hederman's book  Kissing The Dark : Veritas publication 1999. He is a Benedictine monk and Abbot of Glenstal Abbey, Limerick, Ireland

"There are those who no longer believe in any God or any religion because of the disappointment with the Churches or because of disillusionment caused by the scandalous and criminal behaviour being daily reported among so called professional representatives of the clergy and religious orders.

Nothing of this sort should allow us to be deflected from our own particular journey, our own personal connection with the living God. 

Image above from here : One of the labours of Hercules was to clean out the Augean stables.

Indeed such revelations are a healthy clearing of the Augean stables. The manure being spread by such puncturing of the cess-pool which is long overdue, can only contribute to more healthy abundant growth when the springtime comes.

Because the truth is still present, the reality is still alive; God so loved the world that he sent his son to live with us and to show us how to live in the fullest way possible."

Dostoyevsky wrote these words a hundred years ago, three months before his death :

"Fathers and teachers, what is a monk ? Among the educated this word is nowadays uttered with dersion by some people, and some even use it as a term of abuse.

It is true, alas, that there are many parasites, gluttons, abusers and arrogant hypocrites among the monks. 
Educated people might point out : " you are idlers and useless members of society- you live on the labours of others. You are shameless beggars."
Ant yet think of the many meek and humble monks there are, monks who long for solitude and fervent prayer in peace and quiet. 

These attract less their attention, and how surprised they would be if I told them that the salvation of Russia would perhaps once more come from the monks...
In their solitude they keep the image of Christ pure and undefiled for the time being, in the purity of God's truth, which they received from the fathers of old, the apostles and martyrs, and when the time comes, they will reveal it to the wavering righteousness of the world. That is a great thought. The star will shine forth from the east.
That is what I think of the monk, and is it false, is it arrogant ?

Look at the worldly and all those who set themselves up above God's people on earth ; has not God's image and God's truth been distorted in them ?

They have science , but in science there is nothing but what is subject to the senses. The spiritual world, the higher half of man's being, is utterly rejected, dismissed with a sort of triumph, even with hatred. 

The world has proclaimed freedom, especially in recent times, but what do we see in this freedom of theirs ? Nothing but slavery and self-destruction.

The monastic way is different. people even laugh at obedience, fasting and prayer, and yet through them is a way to real true freedom. I cut off all superfluous and unnecessary needs. I subdue my proud and ambitious will and with God's help I attain freedom of the spirit and with it spiritual joy.
Which of them is more capable of conceiving a great idea and serving it - the rich in their isolation or those freed from the tyranny of habit and material things ? 
The monks are reproached  for their solitude but it is the rich not the monks who live in isolation.
In the olden days, leaders came from our midst, why cannot it happen again now ? 
The salvation of Russia comes from the people... Therefore, take care of the people, and educate them quietly. That is your great  task as monks, for this people is a Godbearer. "

James Tissot (1836-1902).
The Jews Took Up Rocks to Stone Jesus  1886-1896.

Gospel John 10 : 31-42

The Jews picked up rocks to stone Jesus.

Jesus answered them, “I have shown you many good works from my Father.
For which of these are you trying to stone me?”

The Jews answered him,
“We are not stoning you for a good work but for blasphemy.
You, a man, are making yourself God.”

Jesus answered them,
“Is it not written in your law, ‘I said, ‘You are gods”‘?
If it calls them gods to whom the word of God came,
and Scripture cannot be set aside,
can you say that the one
whom the Father has consecrated and sent into the world
blasphemes because I said, ‘I am the Son of God’? 

If I do not perform my Father’s works, do not believe me;
but if I perform them, even if you do not believe me,
believe the works, so that you may realize and understand
that the Father is in me and I am in the Father.”

Then they tried again to arrest him;
but he escaped from their power.

He went back across the Jordan
to the place where John first baptized, and there he remained. 

Many came to him and said,
“John performed no sign,
but everything John said about this
man was true.”

And many there began to believe in him.

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1 comment:

claire said...

Thank you for the chants from the Monastery of Gethsemane :-)