Wednesday, August 11, 2010

how to be alone

This remarkable and whimsical video captures the joy of contemplative awareness and solitude.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

The Shrine to the Little Flower - St. Bonaventure University

Wandering around the St. Bonaventure University campus yesterday, I happened upon the Shrine to St. Theresa of the Divine Child of Jesus, the Little Flower.

I'm pretty sure this is the shrine before which Thomas Merton was praying when he received the message that he was to join the Trappists.

Update:  This is from a brochure showing the Merton places on the St. Bonaventure campus:
St. Therese’s shrine is also known as the shrine of the “Little Flower.” It was at this shrine that Thomas Merton prayed for guidance one evening. “You show me what to do. If I get into the monastery, I will be your monk. Now show me what to do.” It was then he imagined he heard the Trappist bells of Gethsemani monastery which he had visited the previous Easter. Soon afterward he left St. Bonaventure and joined the Trappists in Louisville, Kentucky.
And there is an error in that entry.  The Trappist monastery which Merton joined is not in Louisville.  Our Lady of Gethsemani monastery is in Nelson County, Kentucky, at least 45 miles from Louisville.  I think that the official post office for Gethsemani is Nerinx, Ky.  The nearest towns are New Haven and Bardstown KY.

Update 2, 8/24/2010 from Gabrielle's comments:

  ... It's November 28, 1941. Merton is anxious and experiencing many conflicts in his mind. He finally decides to go and talk to Fr. Philotheus, but he can't get up the courage to go see him right away. "So I pray to Saint Theresa, in the grove. While I am praying to her the question becomes clear: all I want to know is, do I have a chance to be a priest after all. I don't want him to argue for or against the Trappists. I know I want to be a Trappist... I want to be a priest - but I am told there is an impediment [note: what the Franciscans told him, re his having a child]. While I am praying to her, Saint Therese of the Child Jesus, it is like hearing the bells in the tower, ringing for Matins in the middle of the night. I walk through the grove saying she will help me to be her Trappist - Theresa's Trappist, at Gethsemani."

He finally got up the courage to talk to Fr. Philotheus who gave his opinion immediately that canonically there was no impediment to Merton's being a priest, and advised him to take a retreat at Gethsemani during the upcoming Christmas vacation.

He truly loved St. Therese (he was "knocked out" by the story of her life), but not so much the typical statues of her: "...the scandal of cheap, molasses-art and gorgonzola angels that surrounds the cultus of this great saint." [Oct. 8, 1941]

I took this info from "Run to the Mountain. The Journals of Thomas Merton, Vol. 1"

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

peacemaking - loving your enemy

"Here we touch one of the greatest dangers that face peacemakers: that peacemakers themselves become the victims of the evil forces they are trying to overcome. The same fear of "the enemy" that leads warmakers to war can begin to affect the peacemaker who sees the warmaker as "the enemy." Words of anger and hostility can gradually enter into the language of the peacemaker. Even the sense of urgency and emergency that motivates the arms race can become the driving force behind the peacemaker. Then indeed the strategy of war and the strategy of peace have become the same, and peacemaking has lost its heart.

"One of the reasons why so many people have developed strong reservations about the peace movement is precisely that they do not see the peace they seek in the peacemakers themselves. Often what they see are fearful and angry people trying to convince others of the urgency of their protest. The tragedy is that peacemakers often reveal more of the demons they are fighting than of the peace they want to bring about.

"The words of Jesus go right to the heart of our struggle: "Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who treat you badly" (Lk 6: 27-28). The more I reflect on these words, the more I consider them to be the test for peacemakers. What my enemies deserve is not my anger, rejection, resentment, or disdain, but my love. Spiritual guides throughout history have said that love for the enemy is the cornerstone of the message of Jesus and the core of holiness."

-- Henri J. M. Nouwen in “Peacework”

Monday, August 2, 2010

an integrated conscience

"one woman i know has sat in and been arrested at both abortion clinics and the pentagon. thus enraging someone in both places. her crime: an integrated conscience."- Daniel Berrigan