Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Wednesday of the Second Week of Lent

Readings of the day: RB 22 Sleeping Arrangements for the Community
Mass: Jr 18:18-20; Resp. Ps 31; Mt 20:17-28
The Prophet Jeremiah, Michelangelo
The reading from the Prophet Jeremiah and the Gospel make me think of Psalm 1. The psalmist provides a commentary of sorts on both. Somehow it fits, not without a shift in the verses, to be shared for further pondering. 

Happy indeed is the man
who follows not the counsel of the wicked;
nor lingers in the way of sinners
nor sits in the company of scorners,
but whose delight is the law of the Lord
and who ponders his law day and night.

Jeremiah warned the people of Judah and the citizens of Jerusalem to return from their evil ways; to reform their ways and deeds. In response, the people plotted against Jeremiah; to destroy him by his own tongue. 

Must good be repaid with evil that they should dig a pit to take me life?

Jesus predicts the Passion for the third time.

The Son of Man will be handed over,
condemned to death, mocked and scourged and crucified.

The choice to stand out from the crowd and do good, or join the crowd and do evil.

For they are like winnowed chaff
shall be driven away by the wind.
When the wicked are judged they shall not stand,
nor find room among those who are just;
for the Lord guards the way of the just
but the way of the wicked leads to doom.

Still, we remember Jesus’ words: The Son of Man will be raised on the third day.

He is like a tree that is planted
beside flowing waters,
that yields its fruit in due season
and whose leaves never fade;
and all that he does shall prosper.
Not so are the wicked, not so!

It is easier said than done. Even when we think we have the strength to go against the masses, to not join in the jeering, to not bring down the winner or the most popular, we aren’t able to carry through. We remember St Paul’s words: ‘What I do I do not understand. I do not do what I want, but I do what I hate’ (Rm 7:15). The following commentary on Psalm 1 provides another approach: ‘It is better still to remember that we have a powerful companion along the one road, but along the other we are alone.’ Or the words of Thomas à Kempis (1380-1471): ‘When there is a choice to be made, take the narrow way. This alone will make you more like Christ.’


We can support one another,
and face every kind of challenge with courage and hope,
when we draw our strength from Jesus.
(Pope Francis, Twitter, Feb. 28, 2018)

Let us pray for the grace.

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Tuesday of the Second Week of Lent

Readings of the day: RB 21 The Deans of the Monastery
Mass: Is 1:10, 16-20; Resp Ps 50; Mt 23:1-12

The greatest among you must be your servant.
Whoever exalts himself will be humbled;
but whoever humbles himself will be exalted.

Jesus’ words contradict contemporary ways of thinking where the richest, strongest, fastest, smartest, and best looking are served and taken care of. As are St Benedict’s qualifications for the deans of the monastery, that is, those selected to serve and take care of the needs of those placed under them. Deans are selected because of their upright lives and the wisdom of their teaching. If a dean becomes prideful, she is given ample opportunity to humble herself. If she is unwilling to change for the better, the dean is removed from her position. We are meant to serve God and one another with our God-given gifts and talents as well as with any power, prestige, and authority granted us.  


We are called to live the joy that comes from the encounter with Jesus,
to overcome our selfishness, and to move beyond our comfort zone.
(Pope Francis, Twitter, Feb. 27, 2018)

Monday, February 26, 2018

Monday of the Second Week of Lent

Readings of the day: RB 20 The Ideal of True Reverence in Prayer
Mass: Da 9:4b-10; Resp Ps 79; Lk 6:36-38

Our Gospel requires little commentary:

Do not judge, and you will not be judged;
do not condemn, and you will not be condemned.
Forgive, and you will be forgiven;
give, and it will be given to you.


Sunday, February 25, 2018

Second Sunday of Lent

Readings of the day: RB 19 Our Approach to Prayer
Mass: Gn 22:1-2, 9a, 10-13, 15-18; Resp Ps 116; Rm 8:31b-34; Mk 9:2-10

This is my beloved Son.
Listen to him.

Today’s Gospel prompted me to pull out picture postcards from a 2000 pilgrimage to the Holy Land. One of my favorite excursions was the trek to the top of Mount Tabor and the Basilica of the Transfiguration. I have three cards: one a view of the landscape with Tabor rising in the distance; the other two from the basilica—the stained-glass window of the crypt with peacocks and the Transfiguration mosaic. To reach the basilica the pilgrim could either walk up the Mount or take a wild car ride. One memory that lingers is the sight of people hang gliding off the mountain—oh how I wished I could join in. I also remember the sun and heat of the day—the enriching time had by all. I could have stayed on the mountain all day; it was one of those experiences I didn’t want to end. 

The passage from Mark’s Gospel recounts Jesus leading Peter, James, and John up a high mountain apart, by themselves. There, Jesus was transfigured before them—his clothes became dazzling white, such as no one on earth could bleach them. Now Elijah and Moses appear talking with Jesus. This was an experience Peter didn’t want to end. He exclaims: ‘Rabbi, it is good for us to be here; let us make three dwellings, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.’

We’ve all had moments we wish could last forever: time alone with a loved one; a really good party; the vacation of a lifetime; enjoying a favorite meal with your best friends; receiving accolades; watching your favorite team win the Super Bowl. We know life isn’t like that though. Life is full of joys, delights, thrills. At the same time, we experience times of sadness, grief, illness, diminishment, loneliness, times when we are not recognized or appreciated for our contribution to the family, community, work team. Jesus calls us to come down from the peaks and walk with him on the daily pilgrimage to death and resurrection. Jesus asks us to pick up our cross and follow him. We are on our way to everlasting life; now, we live the ups and downs of daily life; we struggle, we suffer, we die to self. Jesus accompanies us to the mountain tops, to the valleys, into the pits. Jesus is with us; He is with you. Jesus loves us; He loves you. May we walk more closely with Him during this Lenten journey and ‘look forward to the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come’ (Profession of Faith, The Niceno-Constantinopolitan Creed).

I consider that the sufferings of the present time
are not to be compared with the future glory that is to be revealed in us.
(Rm 8:18)

If God is with us, who can be against us?
(Rm 8:31b)

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Saturday of the First Week of Lent

 Readings of the day: RB 18:20-25
Mass: Dt 26:16-19; Resp. Ps 119; Mt 5:43-48

We are to walk in God’s ways.
(Dt 26:17)

In his first sermon for the Season of Lent, Preacher of the Papal Household, Fr Raniero Cantalamessa (preacher since 1980), preached on Saint Paul’s exhortation in the letter to the Romans: ‘Do not be conformed to this world’ (Rm 12:2). Vatican Radio provided this summary: ‘Those who “feel called to transform the world or the Church,” are first called to transform themselves. The logical conclusion to “Do not be conformed to this world,” would seem to be ‘so, transform it!” Instead Paul tells us, “Transform yourselves!”,’ says Fr Cantalamessa.

Two ways to transform ourselves are given to us by Jesus in today’s gospel: ‘love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you.’ God ‘makes his sun rise on the bad and the good, and causes rain to fall on the just and the unjust.’ In other words, God extends his love and mercy to everyone, even those who offend, persecute, rub us the wrong way, irritate, or challenge us to be better people—all of us. Jesus poses a few questions: ‘For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers and sisters, what is unusual about that? Do not the pagans do the same?

We offer a gift pleasing to Jesus when we spend time
with a person who has difficulties or we help someone for the sake of helping.
(Pope Francis, Twitter, Feb. 24, 2018)

Friday, February 23, 2018

Friday of the First Week of Lent

Saint Polycarp (- 155), Bishop, Martyr

Readings of the day: RB 18:12-19
Mass: Ezk 18:21-28; Resp. Ps 130; Mt 5:20-26

If you are angry with a brother or sister, you will be liable to judgement;
and if you insult a brother or sister, you will be liable to council;
and if you say, ‘You fool,’ you will be liable to the hell of fire.
(Mt 5:22)

We turn again to Pope Francis and Evangelii Gaudium:

We all have our likes and dislikes, and perhaps at this very moment we are angry with someone. At least let us say to the Lord: ‘Lord, I am angry with this person, with that person. I pray to you for him and for her’. To pray for a person with whom I am irritated is a beautiful step forward in love, and an act of evangelization.
(EG, 101)

Our heavenly Father always listens to His children when they cry out to Him in their pain. Today let us offer the Lord a day of prayer and fasting for peace.
(Pope Francis, Twitter, Feb. 23, 2018)

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Feast of the Chair of Saint Peter the Apostle

Readings of the day: RB 18:7-11
1 P 5:1-4; Resp. Ps 23; Mt 16:13-19
The Chair of Saint Peter, Bernini
Being Christian is not the result of an ethical choice or a lofty idea,
but the encounter with an event, a person,
which gives life a new horizon and decisive direction.
(Pope Benedict XVI, Encyclical Letter Deus Caritas Est, 1)

Jesus questions Simon Peter: ‘Who do you say that I am?’ Simon Peter responds: ‘You are Christ, the Son of the living God.’ This encounter with the living and true God certainly gave Peter’s life a new horizon and decisive direction. May we open our hearts and minds and respond to an on-going invitation: I invite all Christians everywhere, at this very moment, to a renewed personal encounter with Jesus Christ, or at least an openness to letting him encounter them; I ask all of you to do this unfailingly each dayNo one should think that this invitation is not meant for him or her, since ‘no one is excluded from the joy brought by the Lord’ (Pope Francis, Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, 3). 

You are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church.
I will give you the keys to the Kingdom of heaven.


Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Wednesday of the First Week of Lent

Saint Peter Damian (1007-1072)

Readings of the day: RB 18:1-6 The Order for Reciting the Psalms
Mass: Jon 3:1-10; Resp. Ps 51; Lk 11:29-32

Even now, says the Lord,
return to me with your whole heart for I am gracious and merciful.
(Verse before the Gospel, Mass)

In this year’s Lenten message, Pope Francis references the Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium. Before doing so, the Holy Father asks, ‘What are the signs that indicate that our love is beginning to cool?’ Some signs follow: greed for money and the rejection of God and his peace which together lead to violence against anyone we think is a threat to our own ‘certainties’, for example, the unborn child, the elderly and infirm, the migrant, the alien among us, or our neighbor who does not live up to our expectations. Pope Francis then turns to Evangelii Gaudium listing signs of love gone cold in communities: selfishness, spiritual sloth, sterile pessimism, spiritual worldliness, warring among ourselves, and lack of missionary zeal. For more thoughts on the signs, see paragraphs 76-109 of the Exhortation. One will find much to reflect upon during this Lenten journey. Para. 109 summons us: ‘Challenges exist to be overcome! Let us be realists, but without losing our joy, our boldness and our hope-filled commitment. Let us not allow ourselves to be robbed of missionary vigour!’ 


For Pope Francis on the 17th Anniversary of Being Named a Cardinal.
For Pope Francis and Members of the Roman Curia during their Spiritual Exercises.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Tuesday of the First Week of Lent

Readings of the day: RB 17 The Number of Psalms to be Sung at the Hours
Mass: Is 55:10-11; Resp. Ps 34; Mt 6:7-17


Let us pray as God our master has taught us. To ask the Father in words his Son has given us, to let him hear the prayer of Christ ringing in his ears, is to make our prayer one of friendship, a family prayer. Let the Father recognize the words of his Son. Let the Son who lives in our hearts be also on our lips. We have him as an advocate for sinners before the Father; when we ask forgiveness for our sins let us use the words given by our advocate. He tells us: Whatever you ask the Father in my name, he will give you. What more effective prayer could we then make in the name of Christ than in the words of his own prayer?
(St Cyprian)


If you forgive others their trespasses,
your heavenly Father will also forgive you;
but if you do not forgive others,
neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.


Monday, February 19, 2018

Monday of the First Week of Lent

Readings of the day: RB 16 The Hours of the Word of God During the Day
Mass: Lv 19:1-2, 11-18; Resp. Ps 19; Mt 25:31-46
A surprise snow fall at Redwoods today


Brethren and friends, let us never allow ourselves to misuse what has been given to us by God’s gift…Let us not labour to heap up and hoard riches while others remain in need…Let us put into practice the supreme and primary law of God. He sends down rain on the just and sinful alike, and causes the sun to rise on all without distinction. To all earth’s creatures he has given the broad earth, the springs, the rivers and the forests. He has given the air to the birds, and the waters to those who live in the water. He has given to all the basic needs of life, not as a private possession, not restricted by law, not divided by boundaries, but as common to all, amply and in rich measure. His gifts are not deficient in any way, because he wanted to give equality of blessing to equality of worth, and to show the abundance of his generosity.
(St Gregory Nazianzen)

Time is made for dying in a thousand ways,
so why be afraid of dying when a kind of dying could come all the time?
Live every day like you’re terminal.
Live every day like your soul’s eternal.
Because it is.
  1. Voskamp, The Broken Way: A Daring Path into the Abundant Life)

Just as you did it to one of the least of these
brothers or sisters of mine, you did it to me.
(Mt 25:40)

Sunday, February 18, 2018

First Sunday of Lent

Readings of the Day: RB 15 When the Alleluia Should Be Said
Mass: Gn 9:8-15; Resp. Ps 25; 1 P 3:18-22; Mk 1:12-15

The Spirit immediately drove Jesus out into the wilderness.
He was in the wilderness forty days, tempted by Satan;
and he was with the wild beasts;
and the angels waited on him.

First, the Spirit descends like a dove on Jesus at his baptism. Now, the Spirit drives Jesus into the wilderness. Jesus immediately faces trials. He has paved the way. We all face our own wild beasts—day in and day out. We cannot run away. St Augustine comments: ‘Our pilgrimage on earth cannot be exempt from trial. We progress by means of trial. No one knows himself except through trial, or receives crown except after victory, or strives except against an enemy or temptations.’ The option is to face trials head on. Augustine offers this approach: ‘See yourself as tempted in Christ, and see yourself as victorious in him. He could have kept the devil from himself; but if he were not tempted he could not teach you how to triumph over temptation.’ Lost, bewildered, confused, overwhelmed? Jesus waits with love and patience. He teaches us; he leads us to our heavenly home where he sits ‘at the right hand of God, with angels, authorities, and powers made subject to him.’ Keep going. 

Jesus has to enter into the drama of human existence for that belongs to the core of his mission; he has to penetrate it completely, down to its uttermost depths, in order to find the ‘lost sheep,’ to bear it on his shoulders, and to bring it home.
(Pope Benedict XVI, Jesus of Nazareth, p. 26)

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Saturday after Ash Wednesday

The Seven Holy Founders of the Servite Order: Mendicant Order, founded 1233 in Italy

Seven Founders of the Order of Servites, Rosselli Matteo

Readings of the Day: RB 14 The Celebration of Vigils on the Feasts of Saints
Mass: Is 58:9b-14; Resp. Ps 86; Lk 5:27-32

Jesus’ words for Levi are few: ‘Follow me.’ Tomorrow we enter the First Week of Lent. How might we prepare ourselves today in order to follow Jesus more closely during the coming weeks? 

Only those able to acknowledge their mistakes and ask pardon
receive understanding and forgiveness from others.
(Pope Francis, Twitter, Feb. 17, 2018)

Friday, February 16, 2018

Friday after Ash Wednesday

Readings of the Day: RB 13:12-14
Mass: Is 58:1-9a; Resp. Ps 51; Mt 9:14-15

A day acceptable to the Lord

loose the bonds of injustice
undo the thongs of the yoke
let the oppressed go free
break every yoke
share your bread with the hungry
bring the homeless poor into your house
when you see the naked, cover them
not turning your back on your own kin

How might these words from the Prophet Isaiah come to life on this Friday after Ash Wednesday? A few ways come to mind: seek to reconcile a broken relationship; invite a neighbor for a meal; contact an estranged family member; spend time with an elderly or lonely person; pray with Psalm 51, the Responsorial Psalm for today’s celebration of the Eucharist. What ways come to your mind?

O Lord, make me know your ways, teach me your paths.
(Communion Antiphon, Mass)

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Thursday after Ash Wednesday

Readings of the day: RB 13:1-11 Lauds on Ordinary Days
Mass: Dt 30:15-20; Resp. Ps 1; Luke 9:22-25

Today I have set before you life and prosperity, death and doom.

It seems to me that each one of us has these words of Moses presented to us each and every day. It is up to each one of us to choose our response.

Choose life, then, that you and your descendants may live,
by loving the Lord, your God, heeding his voice, and holding fast to him.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018


Readings of the day: RB 12 The Celebration of Solemn Lauds
Mass: Joel 2:12-18; Resp. Ps 51; 1 Co 5:20-6:2; Mt 6:1-6, 16-18


If the soul is always joyful, it is a good day.
(Pope Francis, General Audience, Feb. 14, 2018)

St Benedict outlines ‘The Observance of Lent’ in Ch. 49 of the Holy Rule. One of my favorite lines, somewhat a summary of the chapter and related to Pope Francis’s words delivered today in the ‘wind and rain….to a small crowd of pilgrims who braved the inclement Roman winter weather’ (Vatican Radio), reads: ‘In other words, let each one deny herself some food, drink, sleep, needless talking and idle jesting, and look forward to holy Easter with joy and spiritual longing’ (RB 49:7). Lent is not a time for gloom and doom and dour demeanor. As St Matthew tells us: ‘Whenever you fast, do not look dismal like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces so as to show others that they are fasting.’ Instead, ‘put oil on your head and wash your face, so that your fasting may not be seen by others but by your Father who is in secret.’ These questions come to mind: Will my Lenten practices be cause for joy? Will my Lenten practices be means that lead to greater intimacy with Jesus and deepen my love for my sisters and brothers with whom I live, work, and encounter on a daily basis? Let the people say: ‘We know they are Christians by their joy!’

Your father who sees in secret will reward you.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Tuesday of the Sixth Week in Ordinary Time: MARDI GRAS

Readings of the day: RB 11 Vigils or Night Office on Sunday
Mass: Jm 1:12-18; Resp. Ps 94; Mk 8:14-21

Every generous act of giving, with every perfect gift, is from above,
coming down from the Father of lights.
(Jm 1:17)

Like the disciples in today’s Gospel account, we forget the gifts God has bestowed upon us. The disciples had forgotten about Jesus feeding five thousand people on five loaves and four thousand people on seven—with leftovers! We see the disciples behaving like the Pharisees: wanting signs, making demands upon Jesus, being rebellious and skeptical. Jesus questions them: have your hearts hardened; have your eyes not seen; your ears not heard? What is our attitude to the presence of Jesus in our midst? Do we recognize His enduring love and mercy showered upon us day in and day out, in gifts great, namely, the Eucharist, and small alike—in a smile, a gesture of thanks, an act of courtesy, a helping hand, a word of encouragement, a warm embrace. Let us remember. Let us be thankful.

The ate and had their fill, and what they craved the Lord gave them;
they were not disappointed in what they craved.
(Communion Antiphon, Mass)

Monday, February 12, 2018

Monday of the Sixth Week in Ordinary Time

Readings of the day: RB 10 The Night Office in Summertime
Mass: Jm 1:1-11; Resp. Ps 119; Mk 8:11-13

Whenever you face trials of any kind, consider it nothing but joy,
because you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance.

Welcome to Monday. The above words from St James may bring comfort as we begin a new work week, or not. In my experience, when I face trials, I forget I knew they were going to come. Alas, they are not the trials I expected; never the ones I made up in my mind. Therefore, I am not necessarily considering the challenges nothing but joy! Were things really going to be this trying and difficult? My faith begins to waver; doubt creeps in. More wisdom from St James: ‘the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind.’ Furthermore, ‘the doubter, being double-minded and unstable in every way, must not expect to receive anything from the Lord.’ That’s me, getting all worked up and wondering what on earth I am doing and what is going to become of it all.

Patience, dear Lord, grant us patience. Strengthen our faith, dear Jesus. Please God, grant us the wisdom to persevere and not get tossed about by the uncertainties of daily life. Help us to endure. Amen. 

May we keep the words of the psalmist in our hearts and on our lips throughout this day.


Sunday, February 11, 2018

Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time: WORLD DAY OF THE SICK

In other years: Our Lady of Lourdes

Readings of the day: RB 9 The Number of Psalms at the Night Office
Mass: Lv 13:1-2, 44-46; Resp. Psalm 32; 1 Co 10:31-11:1; Mark 1:40-45

Mother Teresa ministering to the sick
Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets;
I have come not to abolish but to fulfill.
(Mt 5:17).

Jesus spoke the words above shortly after teaching the Beatitudes to the gathered crowds: ‘Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.’ We see his words manifest in our readings from Leviticus and the Gospel of Mark. First, we are presented with the man with a leprous disease on the skin of his body. The law is followed: the man must be brought to Aaron or to one of the priests and be declared unclean. Unclean, the man shall wear torn clothes and let the hair of his head be disheveled, cover his upper lip while crying out, ‘Unclean, unclean.’ As long as the disease is present, the man is outcast, made to live alone in a dwelling outside the camp.

Second, we are presented with a leper who comes to Jesus—the leper kneels down and begs Jesus: ‘If you wish, you can make me clean.’ In the words of Hans Urs von Balthasar: ‘Jesus permits the leper to approach and then does the unthinkable for a Jew: he touches him.’ Moved with pity, Jesus stretches out his hand and touches the man: ‘I will do it. Be made clean.’ What about the law? Jesus follows it. The disease-free man is told to say nothing to anyone; to show himself to the priest, and offer for his cleansing what Moses commanded, as a testimony to them.

There is progression in these accounts. Jesus’ post-Beatitude line bears repeating: ‘Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets; I have come not to abolish but to fulfill.’ Enter the law of LOVE. Jesus fulfills the law with LOVE—LOVE that touches, heals, comforts—accepting each one of us in whatever condition the Lord find us. LOVE does not cast out; LOVE does the unthinkable. LOVE embraces. LOVE is not about moral rectitude that forsakes those we find undesirable. Jesus tells us that our righteousness should exceed that of the scribes and Pharisees. Otherwise, we will not enter the kingdom of heaven (see Mt 5:20). Jesus calls the sick—the leprous, the sinner—all in need of affection and acceptance no matter their physical or emotional state.  LOVE touches the untouchable, embraces those made to dwell apart; even those with a swelling or an eruption or a spot on the skin of their body. LOVE calls us to extend mercy and love to the sick in mind and body. The touch of LOVE makes us clean.

May the sick always be shown love in their fragility and
in their inviolable dignity.
(Pope Francis, Twitter, Feb. 22, 2018)