Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Pentecost at Gethsemani

Over the weekend I found myself in Kentucky (my family and childhood home) and was able to join the monks at Gethsemani for Terce and Mass on Sunday.
As a child I often came to Gethsemani with my father.  It is a quiet place.  Palpably quiet, making everything feel sweetly mysterious and peaceful.  The entrance way and Church look a little different now but it is still simple and stark.  There is a new retreat house on the left.
 When I was a child the lay people had to go upstairs and watch the goings on from up there.  But now there is a little place downstairs in the back of the Church.
The Church was redesigned in the late 60s by artist, William Schickel.  I love the simplicity of it, and the way the light plays throughout the space.  Harry, my Benedictine cousin, tells me that the colors of the stained glass are supposed to reflect the colors of the Trappist habit.

I watched the monks slowly file into the choir stalls for the chanting of Terce.  There were more young monks and monks-in-training than the last time I was here about 5 years ago.  After Terce, I was surprised when a monk came back to the place where the lay people were sitting and opened the gate.  We all (all 15 or 20 of us) then went up to the main alter to join the monks at Mass.
 I felt so honored to be up there that I didn't take any more photos.  Being Pentecost, it seemed impressive to me.  The celebrants - all the monks who were priests, I guess - processed in with red stoles, followed by the main celebrant who was dressed all in red.  This celebrant priest didn't look a day over 25 years old.

And yet the liturgy was very slow, deliberate, simple and above all, humble.  The radical Pentecostal insight was one of forgiveness.  During one of the prayers the monk said: during this weekend (Memorial Day weekend) we remember those who die in war, those who are fighting for us and those who are fighting against us.

The Mass lasted 1 1/2 hours.  I loved all of it.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Kiss the Ground

"Today like every other day you wake up joyless and feeling unsafe. Don’t open the door to the study and start reading again. Take down a musical instrument.
Let the beauty we love be what we DO.
There are hundreds of ways to kiss the ground.”
- Rumi    (Coleman Barks' translations)

I'm wondering if today's version of the study is not the computer, the cell phone.  So often when I turn off and away from my computer, I sense a new and different world opening itself up to me.  Even the way of movement through this world becomes a source of awe.  Just breathing, moving, just seeing and listening and being here.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

When the Soul of the Serene Disciple

On Tuesday mornings, while I am in PA, I join a local group of people for centering prayer.  After praying, we listen to CDs (or watch DVDs) of spiritual teachers.  This morning, I heard Richard Rohr, while speaking of the further journey, describe the four stages of life as depicted in the windows of Hindu church: (1) the student, (2) the householder, (3) the forest dweller who gives up the status quo, and (4) the wise sage.  He followed with this poem by Thomas Merton:

When the soul of the serene disciple
With no more Fathers to imitate
Poverty is a success,
It is a small thing to say
the roof is gone:
He has not even a house.

Stars, as well as friends,
Are angry with the noble ruin.
Saints depart in several directions.

Be still:
There is no longer
any need of comment.
It was a lucky wind
That blew away his halo
with his cares,
A lucky sea that drowned his reputation.

Here you will find
Neither a proverb nor a momorandum.

There are no ways,
No methods to admire
Where poverty is no achievement.
His God lives in his emptiness like an

What choice remains?
Well, to be ordinary
is not a choice:
It is the usual freedom
Of men without vision.

-Thomas Merton

Sunday, May 6, 2012

the crucified people

Fr. Jon Sobrino S.J.
Jon Sobrino is a the sole Jesuit priest at the University of Central America to survive the 1989 massacre that killed 6 of his Jesuit brothers, their housekeeper and her daughter in El Salvador. He is a liberation theologian and was notified by the Vatican in 2007 that his writing may be “erroneous or dangerous or may cause harm to the faithful”.

In his book, No Salvation Outside the Poor: Prophetic-Utopian Essays (Orbis Books), he writes poignantly about his Jesuit brother Ignacio Ellacuria, the theologian and university president killed with the others in 1989:
"When Ellacuria 'took hold of the reality' of the Third World, he grasped it in an important way as a 'crucified people' … Ellacuria said that the crucified people are one of the main features of our time, not merely something factual that we may consider, but something central that must be considered, without which we do not have a full grasp of reality,"

Saturday, May 5, 2012

city of the sun

In 1992, with a small Pax Christi group, I visited City Soleil in Port-au-Prince Haiti.  It was late in the afternoon, and I remember the high "energy" - tension, noise - that I felt as we walked down the narrow passageways, crammed with people and smells.  We were so barraged by people begging from us that we had to hold onto each other.  Something tells me that this is how it was during the actual Crucifixion of Christ: this intensity, violence, despair and suffering.

I often wonder if I could survive for one day (or night) in this place, and what of the people who live their whole lives there, never knowing any where else.  My brothers and sisters.  Knowing this place is some kind of blessing and grace that touches the soul.

You can read more about the documentary film Mud Pies and Kites on Gerry Straub's blog here.