Saturday, September 30, 2017


Readings of the day: RB 7:31-33
Mass: Zechariah 2:5-9;14-15a; Resp. Psalm (Jer. 31); Luke 9:43b-45

The Council is clear in explaining why we are to be lovers of the Word: “For in the sacred books, the Father who is in heaven meets His children with great love and speaks with them; and the force and power in the word of God is so great that it stands as the support and energy of the Church, the strength of faith for her sons and daughters, the food of the soul, the pure and everlasting source of spiritual life” (Dei Verbum, 21).

Today’s liturgy is rich with reminders for the faithful to embrace the Word as the everlasting source of the spiritual life, apt for the celebration of Saint Jerome who did not mince words: “Ignorance of the Scriptures is ignorance of Christ” (Saint Jerome in Dei Verbum, 25). 

One may look to the Presidential Prayers and both antiphons for inspiration. Included here are my favorites.

O God, who gave the Priest Saint Jerome
a living and tender love for Sacred Scripture,
grant that your people
may be ever more fruitfully nourished by your Word
and find in it the fount of life.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity
of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.
(Collect, Mass)

Lord, God, your words were found and I consumed them;
your word became the joy and the happiness of my heart.
(Communion Antiphon, Mass)


Friday, September 29, 2017


Readings of the day: RB 7:24-30
Mass: Daniel 7:9-10 or Revelation 12:7-12ab; Resp. Psalm 138; John 1:47-51

A most fitting commentary for today’s Feast can be found in the Preface, God Glorified through the Angels:

It is truly right and just, our duty and our salvation,
always and everywhere to give you thanks,
Lord, holy Father, almighty and eternal God,
and to praise you without end
in your Archangels and Angels.

For the honor we pay angelic creatures
in whom you delight
redounds to your own surpassing glory,
and by their great dignity and splendor
you show how infinitely great you are,
to be exalted above all things,
through Christ our Lord.

Through him the multitude of Angels extols
       your majesty,
and we are united with them in exultant adoration,
as with one voice of praise we acclaim: Sanctus, Sanctus, Sanctus…  

In the sight of the angels I will sing your praises, Lord.
(Resp. Psalm 138, Mass)


Thursday, September 28, 2017


Readings of the day: RB 7:19-23
Mass: Haggai 1:1-8; Resp. Psalm 149; Luke 9:7-9

When thinking about Herod the Tetrarch the first thing that came to mind was Psalm 1: “Blessed the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, nor stand in the way of sinners, nor sit in the company with scoffers.” Then I read Pope Francis’ tweet for today: “Encountering Jesus can give a decisive direction to our life, filling it with meaning.” Herod encountered Jesus; he encountered John the Baptist.

What direction do I take when I encounter Jesus?

The LORD knows the way of the just, but the way of the wicked leads to ruin.


Wednesday, September 27, 2017


Readings of the day: RB 7:10-18
Mass: Ezra 9:5-9; Resp. Psalm (Tobit 13); Luke 9:1-6

It sounds so simple: Jesus summons the Twelve. He gives them power and authority over all demons and to cure diseases. Jesus then provides a rather straightforward job description: proclaim the Kingdom of God; heal the sick; take nothing for the journey—no walking stick, sack, food, money, or a second tunic. When you enter a house, stay there and leave from there. If you aren’t welcomed then shake the dust from your feet and leave town. The Twelve went right to work—proclaiming the good news and curing diseases—everywhere. O blessed are those who hear the word of God and act on it. Why do I make it so complicated?

Trust in the Lord with all your heart;
and do not rely on your own insight.
In all your ways acknowledge him,
and he will make straight your paths.
(Proverbs 3:5-6)


Tuesday, September 26, 2017


Readings of the day: RB 7:5-9
Mass: Ezra 6:7-8,12b,14-20; Resp. Psalm 122; Luke 8:19-21

The Holy Wonderworkers and Unmercenary Physicians 
Cosmas and Damian 

In our daily reading of the Holy Rule of Saint Benedict, we are in the thick of Chapter 7, “Humility.” What is humility? Cardinal Basil Hume (1923-1999) used these words to describe humility: “it is facing the truth about who God is, and the truth of who I am.” He continued:

It is my experience that men and women of true eminence and real wisdom often have a deep humility. They know their own limitations and how much they do not know. It is good to meet a learned but wise person, and to find in that person the wonder and simplicity of a child.
(To Be a Pilgrim: A Spiritual Notebook, 67)

Do you know anyone with a deep humility? What qualities do you find in him or her?



Monday, September 25, 2017

Monday,Twenty-Fifth Week in Ordinary Time

Readings of the day: RB 7:1-4
Mass: Ezra 1:1-6; Resp. Psalm 126; Luke 8:16-18

What Jesus says to the crowd today reminds of a radio program I listened to years ago. There was a segment where people would call, “Mr. Obvious,” asking a question to which the answer was, well, obvious. I imagine someone in the crowd raising his hand, then Jesus calls on him: “Excuse me, Jesus, but I bought a lamp to light up my front porch. The lighting is so poor that when my friends come calling at night, they can’t find the door. So, I lit the lamp and put it under my bed. My friends still can’t find the door. Is there something wrong with the lamp? After a brief pause, Jesus looks up and answers: “No one who lights a lamp conceals it with a vessel or sets it under a bed; rather, he places it on a lampstand so that those who enter may see the light.”

God has given each one of us gifts, one this and another that. We might think of these gifts as lamps. We are not meant to conceal our lamps by putting them under the bed or a bushel basket. We are meant to light our lamps and let the light shine so that in all things God may be glorified.

Let your light shine before others,
that they may see your good deeds and glorify your heavenly Father.

(Gospel Acclamation, Mass)

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Twenty-Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Readings of the day: RB 6
Mass: Isaiah 55:6-9; Psalm 145; Philippians 1:20c-24, 27a; Matthew 20:1-16a

In Chapter 6 of the Holy Rule, Saint Benedict addresses the importance of cherishing silence in the monastery. We read: “the disciple’s role is to

be silent and listen.” A most fitting prayer for today can be found in the Gospel Acclamation for Mass and Saint Paul’s Letter to the Philippians.

Open our hearts, O Lord, to listen to the words of your Son.
Grant us the grace to conduct ourselves in a way worthy of the Gospel of Christ.

Saturday, September 23, 2017


Readings of the day: RB 5:14-19
Mass: 1 Timothy 6:13-16; Resp. Psalm 100; Luke 8:4-15

Today I remember a dear friend, mentor, and teacher, Father Paschal Cheline, OSB (1936-2015), who inculcated me with a love of and reverence for all things liturgical. In one of his classes, Fr Paschal offered a definition of liturgy: “The celebration of the presence of Jesus Christ the Lord among us in signs.” He also gave his students the definition taught him by his friend and confrere, Abbot Bonaventure Zerr, OSB (1936-1988). Abbot Bonaventure defined liturgy as Psalm 100, today’s Responsorial Psalm.

Psalm 100
Padre Pio

Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth.
Worship the Lord with gladness;
come into his presence with singing.

Know that the Lord is God.
It is he who made us, and we are his;
we are his people, and the sheep of
his pasture.

Enter his gates with thanksgiving,
and his courts with praise.
Give thanks to him, bless his name.

For the Lord is good; his steadfast love endures forever,
and his faithfulness to all generations.

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the Living God, as we celebrate the Holy Eucharist, “the source and summit of the whole Christian life” (Lumen Gentium, 11), grant us the grace to worship you with gladness and thanksgiving; with praise, singing joyful songs to the Lord. 


Friday, September 22, 2017

Friday of the Twenty-Fourth Week in Ordinary Time

Readings of the day: RB 5:1-13
Mass: 1 Timothy 6:2c-12; Psalm 49; Luke 8:1-3

Mary, called Magdalene, Joanna, Susanna, and many others—the women who accompanied Jesus and the Twelve as they journeyed from one town and village to another. These courageous women continued to follow Jesus and were witnesses to his death and resurrection.

Lord Jesus Christ, grant us the grace to follow you wherever you go, just like these faithful women. Increase our faith. Help us to do your will. Amen.


Thus says the Lord: Let whoever is thirsty come to me and drink.
Streams of living water will flow from within the one who believes in me.
(Communion Antiphon, Mass)

Thursday, September 21, 2017


Readings of the day: RB 4:63-78
Mass: Ephesians 4:1-7,11-13; Psalm 19; Matthew 9:9-13

It’s as if Saint Paul is cheering us on as we complete Saint Benedict’s chapter on the Tools for Good Works: “I, prisoner for the Lord, urge you to live in a manner worthy of the call you have received, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another through love, striving to preserve the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace: one Body and one Spirit, as you were also called to the one hope of your call; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.”

Which tool will guide you today as you live in a manner worthy of the call you have received? 

63The way to become holy is faithfully to fulfill God’s commandments every day:
64By loving chastity.
65By hating no one.
66By avoiding jealousy.
67And envy.
68And hostile rivalry.
69By not becoming full of self.
70Showing due respect for our elders.
71And love for those who are younger.
72By praying in the love of Christ for those who are hostile to us.
73By seeking reconciliation and peace before the sun goes down whenever we have a quarrel with another.
74And finally never despairing in the mercy of God.
75These, then, are the guidelines to lead us along the way of spiritual development. 76If we follow them day and night and never on any account give up, so that on judgment day we can give an account of our fidelity to them, that reward will be granted us by the Lord which he himself promised in the scriptures: 77What no eye has seen nor ear heard God has prepared for those who love him.

78The workshop in which we are called to work with steady perseverance along these guidelines is the enclosure of the monastery and stability in community life.  



Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Lectio: Tools for Good Works (con't)


Readings of the day: RB 4:44-62
Mass: 1 Timothy 3:14-16; Resp. Psalm 111; Luke 7:31-35

Day three of Saint Benedict’s tools for good works. What tool speaks to you today; how will it guide your words and deeds?

44You should recognize with awe that there will be a day of judgment for all of us,
45which should make us fear the doom of an evil life.
46Above all, however, you should cultivate a longing for eternal life with a desire of great spiritual intensity.
47Keep the reality of death always before your eyes.
48Have a care about how you act every hour of your life.
49And be sure that God is present everywhere and that he certainly sees and understands what you are about.
50Whenever evil thoughts occur to you mind, cast them down at the feet of Christ and talk about them frankly to your spirit)tual father or mother.
51Take care to avoid any speech that is evil and degenerate.
52-53It is also well to avoid empty talk that has no purpose except to raise a laugh.
54As for laughter that is unrestrained and raucous, it is not good to be attracted to that sort of thing.
55You should take delight in listening to sacred reading.
56And in often turning generously to prayer.
57You should also in that prayer daily confess to God with heartfelt repentance any evil you have done in the past.
58And for the future have the firm purpose to right any wrong you may have done.
59Don’t act out sensuous desires that occur to you naturally.
60Turn away from the pursuit of your own will.
61Rather, you should follow in obedience the directions your abbot or abbess gives you, even if they, which God forbid, should contradict their own teaching by the way they live. In such a case just remember the Lord’s advice about the example of the Pharisees: Accept and follow their teaching but on no account imitate their actions.
62No one should aspire to gain a reputation for holiness. First of all, we must actually become holy; then there would be some truth in having a reputation for it. 

Your words, Lord, are Spirit and life, you have the words of everlasting life
(Gospel Acclamation, Mass)


Tuesday, September 19, 2017


Readings of the day: RB 4:22-43
Mass: 1 Timothy 3:1-13; Psalm 101; Luke 7:11-17

Saint Benedict presents us with 22 more tools for good works. One might see some similarities between Saint Paul’s First Letter to Timothy, and Benedict’s tools for today, for example, to not be addicted to drink, to be temperate, gentle, and not deceitful. Which tool will you use to help guide your search for God?

22Don’t let your actions be governed by anger.
23Nor nurse your anger against a future opportunity of indulging it.
24Don’t harbor in your heart any trace of deceit.
25Nor pretend to be at peace with another when you are not.
26Don’t abandon the true standards of charity.
27Don’t use oaths to make your point for fear of perjury.
28Speak the truth with integrity of heart and tongue.
29If you are harmed by anyone, never repay it by returning the harm.
30You should never inflict any injury on another but bear patiently whatever you have to suffer.
31Love your enemies.
32Refrain for speaking evil but rather call a blessing on those who speak evil of you.
33If you are persecuted for favoring a just cause, then bear it patiently.
34Avoid all pride and self-importance.
35Don’t drink to excess.
36Nor overeat.
37Don’t be lazy.
38Nor give way to excessive sleep.
39Don’t be a murmurer.
40And never in speaking take away the good name of another.
41Your hope of fulfillment should be centered on God alone.
42When you see any good in yourself, then, don’t take it to be your own, but acknowledge it as a gift from God.
43On the other hand, you may be sure that any evil you do is always your own and you may safely acknowledge your responsibility.

Whoever wishes to come after me, must deny himself,
take up his cross, and follow me, says the Lord.
(Communion Antiphon, Mass)


Monday, September 18, 2017

Lectio: Monday of the Twenty-Fourth Week in Ordinary Time

Readings of the day: RB 4:1-21
Mass: 1 Timothy 2:1-8; Psalm 28; Luke 7:1-10

Today and for the next three days we are immersed in one of the longest chapters of the Holy Rule; a favorite of mine, namely, Chapter Four, “The Tools for Good Works.” In this chapter, Saint Benedict provides what one translator calls, “Guidelines for Christian and Monastic Good Practice.”[1] These guidelines command our attention; the attention of anyone searching for God, no matter their vocation in life. What follows are the first 21:

1The first of all things to aim at is to love the Lord God with your whole heart and soul and strength.
2To love your neighbor as much as you love yourself.
3The other commandments flow from these two: not to kill.
4Not to commit adultery.
5Not to steal.
6Not to indulge covetous and base desires.
7Not to give false evidence against another.
8To give due honor to all.
9Not to inflict on someone else what you would resent if it were done to yourself.
10Renounce your own desires and ambitions so as to be free to follow Christ.
11Control your body with self-discipline.
12Don’t give yourself to unrestrained pleasure.
13Learn to value the self-restraint of fasting.
14Give help and support to the poor.
15Clothe the naked.
16Visit the sick.
17Bury the dead.
18Console and counsel those who suffer in time of grief.
19Bring comfort to those in sorrow.
20Don’t get too involved in purely worldly affairs.
21Count nothing more important than the love you should cherish for Christ.

Some may find these tools daunting. For today, why not choose one and write it down. Next, write down how you will specifically use that tool today to guide you in your search for God. Stay tuned for more guidelines.

You laid down your precepts to be carefully kept;
may my ways be firm in keeping your statutes.
Psalm 119(118):4-5, Communion antiphon, Mass 

[1] St Benedict, Saint Benedict’s Rule, trans. P. Barry, 3rd ed. (Santiago, Chile: Manquehue Apostolic Movement, 2007), 53.