How Jesus Frees Us from Negative Thinking

https://www.podbean.com/media/share/pb-phucm-e72a56

These days of pandemic and lockdown are creating a new pandemic of mental health issues. In this podcast I address some ways in which Jesus helps us free us from the stick, heavy, and negative thinking that is part of the difficult days we are living. We’ll talk about why it’s hard to get rid of these thoughts, what Jesus knows that we forget and how he helps us get free from these sticky thoughts, ways to intentionally focus on the freeing power of truth, and more.

The Tabernacle of the Heart: Where Christ Abides Within Us

“I know you will welcome me into your house,
for I am covered by your covenant of mercy and love.
So I come to your sanctuary with deepest awe
to bow in worship and adore you.”  (Ps 5:3f. TPT)

In these days I connect with my parents with a video call each afternoon. It has been a year since I’ve been with them and it may be another year or more before I am able to go home. Being together that 20 minutes each afternoon is a gift. As the weeks go by, however, I know they are wishing they could just hug me close and bring me into their apartment, keep me safe with them, and just…be…together. Close together.

I find myself dreaming of what it will be like…that day when I can walk into their apartment once more and be wrapped in their protective hugs…

“I know you will welcome me into your house…”

This forced separation from others is making me more sensitive to the intense longing to please them, to serve them, to protect them, to hold them, to be held by them, to be welcomed and wanted, my heart watered by their tears and warmed by the sunshine of their smiles. We are all really one after all. I am beginning to sense that.

“I know you will welcome me into your house…”

We have been suffering also, many of us, from an enforced separation from the house of the Lord. Although I have a chapel in my “house” here at the convent, I worry about those who haven’t had the experience for so long of being welcomed by Christ into his house through the Eucharist celebrated as a parish on Sundays and even, for some, each day. And even if we have the immense privilege of once again going into God’s house, we cannot be close to each other.

We all need this divine welcome, even more than we need the hugs we so long for from loved ones from whom we are separated.

“So I come to your sanctuary with deepest awe
to bow in worship and adore you.”

The sanctuary lamp that has burned continually during this pandemic next to the tabernacle is the sentinel that at once announces the presence of Christ in the Eucharist and keeps him company with the flickering of a single candle representing our hearts’ desire to be with him who won for us our salvation.

God’s own love for humanity compels him to take the initiative in providing for humanity this opportunity to experience his welcome, to be comforted by his compassionate abiding, to find the way to return to him in Jesus Christ his Son.

The tabernacle in our Churches, the sanctuary lamp that bravely remains lit in the dark to point the way to the Savior, announces the meeting between heaven and earth, of God and man, of divinity and humanity, of justice and mercy, of wisdom and ignorance, of mercy and sin.

St. Ephrem writes:

When the Lord came down to earth to mortal beings
   He created them again, a new creation, like the angels,
mingling within them Fire and Spirit. (Faith 10:9)

Mary’s womb was the first “tabernacle” or abode for Jesus. How the strings of her heart were tuned to the Father of the One who had been conceived in her. She could hear the Father’s every whisper, feel the import of his every desire. She went with haste to serve her cousin Elizabeth. She went without fear into Egypt. She went without resentment to walk with her Son to Calvary. She went without sadness to the mount from which Jesus would ascend to the Father.

St. Ephrem asserts:

“The Power of the Father, compelled by His love,
descended and dwelt in a virgin womb.”

This same Love dwells in the abode of the Tabernacle in your parish Church. He is as active in the Tabernacle as he was in the womb of Mary.

When we receive Jesus in Holy Communion, he “tabernacles” within our hearts. He takes up there his abode with the Father and the Spirit. Mary, who carried him in her womb for nine months, can teach us how to be attentive to him, led by him, welcomed by him.

“I have found heaven on earth, since heaven is God, and God is in my soul” (St Elizabeth of the Trinity).

Photo Credit: Juan Pablo Arias

God’s Promise: “I am acting” (Podcast)

https://www.podbean.com/media/share/pb-n7mwi-e4e324

Jeannette and I talk today about an experience at prayer and selection of my journal:

Iam acting:
within what breaks, I am vast Abyss
within the falling, I am depthless Depth
in the emptying, I am the Silence

Stop
Shed your mind’s unconscious gossip and still your Heart
Touch your forehead to the earth
   …My carpet
       a floral carpet Crimson Red
       on which you bumble and tumble

in My Glory.

___

“Who could have thought my shrivel’d heart
Could have recover’d greennesse?
George Herbert, The Flower

Image Credit: Il Ragazzo; Cathopic

How not to become an “injustice collector” (Podcast)

https://www.podbean.com/media/share/pb-huk8q-e2f9ba

I’m almost 57. Fifty seven years of people, situations, issues, reaction, desires, disappointment, dreams, loves…. 

This year on my birthday, I’m making the resolution to “not look back.” 

To not look back at disappointment.

To not look back at rejection.

To not look back at loss. 

Of course, looking back is important to do at times. I actually began to rediscover parts of my life during the imposed solitude of the pandemic that I hadn’t taken the time to integrate precisely because I hadn’t looked back. I needed to take the time to “connect the psychological-emotional-spiritual dots” between what I had experienced and lived through and what I was still carrying today in my heart and mind. 

Making the connections is important. By making connections we can surrender to God what he has helped us recognize. We can let it go. We can understand it more deeply, even recognize where we may have been mistaken in our perception of what happened….

How not to become an “injustice collector”

I am almost 57. Fifty seven years of people, situations, issues, reaction, desires, disappointment, dreams, loves….

This year on my birthday, I’m making the resolution to “not look back.”

To not look back at disappointment.

To not look back at rejection.

To not look back at loss.

Of course, looking back is important to do at times. I actually began to rediscover parts of my life during the imposed solitude of the pandemic that I hadn’t taken the time to integrate precisely because I hadn’t looked back. I needed to take the time to “connect the psychological-emotional-spiritual dots” between what I had experienced and lived through to what I was still carrying today in my heart and mind.

Making the connections is important. By making connections we can surrender to God what he has helped us recognize. We can let it go. We can understand it more deeply, even recognize where we may have been mistaken in our perception of what happened.

When we stop to take a bird’s eye view of the context of our life, we discover that for much of our life we, like everyone else, have had a hard time differentiating between our emotionalized perceptions and the external world as it actually is.

When we have confused our perception or opinion with the facts, we put ourselves at the center as the one who “knows,” the one who is the arbiter of the truth of what really happened. If we are at the center, then our vision is skewed because what doesn’t serve the ego—me—is the enemy. Whether it is a person, a situation, a group, a rule, an event…if I believe that I am at the center, then everything is judged on whether or not it serves me. If it does not turn out to my advantage, it is perceived as an injustice.

Of course, we don’t say this in so many words, not even in our moments of deepest self-honesty, because it makes us squirm to think that we consider ourselves the center of our universe. Isn’t it true at least sometimes, however, that it puts us in a better position if we can lay the blame for something at another’s feet.

Quite frankly, every human being since Adam and Eve has had to struggle with this. In the garden they shifted the center of the universe from glorifying God to glorifying themselves.

And hence, the resolution: not to look back. Not to keep recalling events as explanations of what is happening today. Not to nurture grudges. Not to hold people’s past decisions and mistakes against them. To stop refusing others and myself the graced chance to begin again.

It is time to surrender the secret joy that comes from harboring chronic resentment. Bringing them up when it is entirely not necessary. Covering over the past with a blanket of peace.

It is time to surrender unrealistic expectations of the world and relationships.

It is time to surrender demands of convenience, agreement, approval, popularity.

It is time to surrender self-centeredness as a lifestyle.

It is time to pray for the serenity to accept the things I cannot change.

It is time to take responsibility for bringing inner self-centered “me” attitudes to the surface and subordinate them to reason and selfless concern for others.

It is time to accept human fallibility and limitation. To rejoice in the weaknesses of others. To realize each person works with what they have at any given time.

It is time to surrender the seemingly impossible scenarios of the past to God.

It is time to give up the addiction to self-righteousness.

It is time to choose calm, peace, compromise, forgiveness and self-control

It is time to embrace dedication, humility, gratitude, perseverance, and tolerance.

It is time to choose tomorrow over yesterday, a tomorrow that certainly has been shaped by the yesterdays of my life, but even more so by the choices I am making today.

On the altar of my heart, I raise my arms in praise and gratitude, my King, and walk in humble confidence in your merciful compassion. Amen.

From My Journal

God says:

I am acting:
within what breaks, I am vast Abyss
within the falling, I am depthless Depth
in the emptying, I am the Silence

Stop
Shed your mind’s unconscious gossip and still your Heart
Touch your forehead to the earth
…My carpet
a floral carpet Crimson Red
on which you bumble and tumble

in My Glory.


“Who could have thought my shrivel’d heart
Could have recover’d greennesse?
George Herbert, The Flower


Pain indicates brokenness exists.


Pain is the reminder that the real Enemy is trying to take us out and bring us down by keeping us stuck in broken places.
Lysa Terkeurst

How good it is to be marooned on “unsure ground” (Podcast)

https://www.podbean.com/media/share/pb-embb9-e2f99a

The seismic shifts that are underway in every aspect of our culture these days are nothing compared to the seismic shifts God is calling me to personally, perhaps calling all of us too if there is to be any resolution that will promote the human advancement of us all.

We can no longer face anything the same way we did five months ago. It seems like such a breath of time, and yet a centuries-wide chasm has been broken open by the processes and changes that are fracturing and reshaping the world as we have known it.

We collectively stare into a widening canyon of uncertainty as life spins into unexpected directions. Uncertainty: where will all this end? What will happen to me? Will I be able to keep what I have? Am I somehow also responsible for this? Am I all that God has put me on this earth to be and to do?

Yet a window of possibility is emerging…
The possibility that we might feel with courage…
That we might decide with love…
That we might listen with neutrality…
That we might be willing to lose something that another might have,
to die that another might live…

How good to be “marooned on unsure ground”

The seismic shifts that are underway in every aspect of our culture these days are nothing compared to the seismic shifts God is calling me to personally, perhaps calling all of us too if there is to be any resolution that will promote the human advancement of us all.

We can no longer face anything the same way we did five months ago. It seems like such a breath of time, and yet a centuries-wide chasm has been broken open by the processes and changes that are fracturing and reshaping the world as we have known it.

We collectively stare into a widening canyon of uncertainty as life spins into unexpected directions. Uncertainty: where will all this end? What will happen to me? Will I be able to keep what I have? Am I somehow also responsible for this? Am I all that God has put me on this earth to be and to do?

Yet a window of possibility is emerging…
The possibility that we might feel with courage…
That we might decide with love…
That we might listen with neutrality…
That we might be willing to lose something that another might have,
to die that another might live…

As John O’Donohue wrote in To Bless the Space Between Us: A Book of Blessings:

Weariness invades your spirit.
Gravity begins falling inside you,
Dragging down every bone.
The tide you never valued has gone out.
And you are marooned on unsure ground.

You have been forced to enter empty time,
The desire that drove you has relinquished.
There is nothing else to do now but rest
And patiently learn to receive the self
You have forsaken in the race of days.

The isolation imposed on us by the life-threatening spread of COVID-19 has been a world-wide empty time in which we touched the raw needs of our heart and soul, where we reached out for the humanity of others, where we realized that we are no different from anyone else sheltered behind doors, afraid.

We had to give up the “desires that drove us” but a few weeks before. The world changed in the twinkling of an eye as we closed the doors behind us, each facing our vulnerability…our death.

Forsaking the “race of days,” we pondered the end of our days.

John O’Donohue continues:

At first your thinking will darken
And sadness take over like tireless weather.
The flow of unwept tears will frighten you.
You have traveled too fast over false ground;
Now your soul has come to take you back.

And then as George Floyd’s days were ended and the unheard cry of our black brothers and sisters wailed through the world’s streets in a demand for justice, our front doors burst open, as we ran out into the streets, literally or figuratively. We have been pulled too quickly back into traveling “too fast over false ground,” our soul snatched from us as we live now too much on the level of senses, appearance, rage, justification, confusion, guilt and fear.

As we, during the first weeks of the pandemic, touched in a new way our own humanity and that of those we loved, and perhaps that of everyone else to whom we felt bound by bonds of sympathy, we are called now to touch the humanity of those we may not know, people for whom—for one reason or another—we may feel no compassion. To truly understand what frightens or enrages us, we need to understand, deeply understand, the humanity of the other, what matters to them, their history, their frame of reference, their desires and fears. We need to put them first. We need to let ourselves become the student.

We need the courage to care. To be kind. To assume there is more context to the particulars we see in any given situation. To have the humility to study, read, research, plead with God for enlightenment and truth and charity.

To do all this, we need to close once again the doors of our passion. Whether we walk in protest or otherwise engage in the transformation into which we all are swept, we need to dig more deeply into our souls for the sake of honoring the humanity of the “other,” whoever for us the “other” might be.

As I look into my own heart, I want to sincerely try
to carefully separate
fear from the courage to undergo the truth,
anger from the willingness to engage in constructing a civilization in which are blessed,
resentment from the humility that allows another a new beginning,
willfulness from the power of kindly compassion and goodness that builds up the other even at the cost of myself.

As John O’Donohue prays in blessing:

Gradually, you will return to yourself,
Having learned a new respect for your heart
And the joy that dwells far within slow time.

I wish this for all of you.

Image: Image by Frauke Riether from Pixabay

I want conversion, not a “new normal”

The year 2020 has been a year so far that has called me to c-o-n-v-e-r-s-i-o-n. COVID-19 which has swept across the world, months of isolation, loss of so much ministry that had been built up by so many of my sisters, the breaking open of the tragic wound of racism and the violence that has filled our streets….

Nothing is as we expected.
Everything has been a surprise.
This moment alone is the entry into the still-point of presence
God’s presence
the present
the heart-presence where wisdom lies.

When I think of conversion, my soul flies first to the conversion of my father, St Paul.

On his way to Damascus to carry out what he thought was what was supposed to happen…

Something unexpected happened
Everything was a surprise
The moment was the entry point where Jesus could slip into his heart

I had my plans for 2020. We all did. Right now I can’t even remember what they were. Can you?

They seem unimportant. Trivial. Like I spent alot of time about alot of things that…well…from today’s vantage point don’t seem all that important.

Either I learned I could live without what once I felt entitled to have or do.

I discovered how quickly the conversation and plans could change.

I’ve discovered after many long mornings with extra time to pray and reflect, that I want something different. That I don’t like “normal” anymore.

I took the isolated weeks to rediscover solitude, to recover from my fragmented craziness, and to be razor sharp about what I believe is God’s call for me going forward.

The onion skin of failures, hurts, memories, beliefs, desires have started to fall away and the beauty of the inward Fountain that leaps up to eternal life is nourishing once again my soul.

Paul had his plans also. He was a good man, well-intentioned. Thought he was doing the right thing. Really we all are well-intentioned, but the music of our life is a bit out of harmony, distorted, perhaps flat or out of tune. When Jesus bursts into our life, we are surprised. Like Paul we may feel blinded by what we discover, or hear, or sense. These threshold moments allow us to step into our souls overcome by the vision of the Almighty bending low to bring us gently into his embrace, his plan, his tender forgiveness that wipes away the normal and creates something we could never have imagined.

Paul could never have planned out his life. The journeys, the struggles, the visions, the theology, the imprisonments, his final witness to Jesus. I remember staying a whole afternoon at Tre Fontaine outside Rome where I prayed before the pillar that is said to be where Paul was beheaded. Paul slipped into my heart that afternoon. His spirit, his courage, the mystic orchestra of his entire being captured by the love of Jesus. Yes. Only Jesus could surprise Paul with a change of life so complete, so beautiful, so graced…a life that would bless every Christian till the end of time.

Another person I think of when I consider conversion is St Augustine. While Paul speaks of blindness until the moment of his baptism, Augustine tells us of being overcome with light in the innermost places of his being. I have experienced, as I am sure have you, this blindness, when we are for a time knocked off course by something, until we find ourselves moved into a life that can only be of God’s design.

But I’ve also experienced this overwhelming light, when I knew that within me is the One who is above me, who made me, who loves me.

Augustine describes it this way in his Confessions:

Urged to reflect upon myself, I entered under your guidance into the inmost depth of my soul. I was able to do so because you were my helper. On entering into myself I saw, as it were with the eye of the soul, what was beyond the eye of the soul, beyond my spirit: your immutable light. … This light was above me because it has made me; I was below it because I was created by it. He who has come to know the truth knows this light.

O Eternal truth, true love and beloved eternity. You are my God. To you do I sigh day and night. When I first came to know you, you drew me to yourself so that I might see that there were things for me to see, but that I myself was not yet ready to see them. Meanwhile you overcame the weakness of my vision, sending forth most strongly the beams of your light, and I trembled at once with love and dread. I learned that I was in a region unlike yours and far distant from you, and I thought I heard your voice from on high: “I am the food of grown men; grow then, and you will feed on me. Nor will you change me into yourself like bodily food, but you will be changed into me.”

Late have I loved you, O Beauty ever ancient, ever new, late have I loved you! You were within me, but I was outside, and it was there that I searched for you. In my unloveliness I plunged into the lovely things which you created. You were with me, but I was not with you. Created things kept me from you; yet if they had not been in you they would not have been at all. You called, you shouted, and you broke through my deafness. You flashed, you shone, and you dispelled my blindness. You breathed your fragrance on me; I drew in breath and now I pant for you. I have tasted you, now I hunger and thirst for more. You touched me, and I burned for your peace

Both St Paul and St Augustine knew that their experience of God was not meant for them alone. Neither is our conversion meant for us alone. They and we are “positioned” on the world stage to play our part in the drama of God’s heart and each person’s eternal salvation. Here are some quotes I’m reflecting on in these deeply disturbing times, the words of these great converts that strengthen me as witness to Christ, as they were before me, in world’s turbulence as it plays out today.

Be strong in the Lord

“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we are not contending against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against the powers, against the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore take the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having girded your loins with truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the equipment of the gospel of peace; above all taking the shield of faith, with which you can quench all the flaming darts of the evil one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Pray at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication.” – Ephesians 6:10-18

We are the times

Bad times, hard times, this is what people keep saying; but let us live well, and times shall be good. We are the times: Such as we are, such are the times. ST. AUGUSTINE, Sermons

Don’t hold yourselves cheap

Don’t hold yourselves cheap, seeing that the creator of all things and of you estimates your value so high, so dear, that he pours out for you every day the most precious blood of his only-begotten Son. ST. AUGUSTINE, Sermons

Bear you share of suffering for the Gospel

“Do not be ashamed then of testifying to our Lord, nor of me his prisoner, but take your share of suffering for the gospel in the power of God, who saved us and called us with a holy calling, not in virtue of our works but in virtue of his own purpose and the grace which he gave us in Christ Jesus ages ago,and now has manifested through the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel. For this gospel I was appointed a preacher and apostle and teacher, and therefore I suffer as I do.” – 2 Timothy 1:8-11

Kingdoms without justice

“Justice being taken away, then, what are kingdoms but great robberies? For what are robberies themselves, but little kingdoms?” ― Augustine of Hippo, City of God

Cherish towards evil men a perfect hatred

“He who lives according to God ought to cherish towards evil men a perfect hatred, so that he shall neither hate the man because of his vice nor love the vice because of the man.” ― Augustine of Hippo, City of God

A new creation

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! 2 Corinthians 5:17

No, I do not want it to remain the way it was before. No, I don’t want a new normal.
I want the new creation
I want justice and peace
I want to fight against the powers of darkness at work in the world
I want to tell everyone how dearly they are loved
I want to be an apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ.

And Elijah came to the mountain of God

The quiet days of lockdown from the COVID-19 virus came to an abrupt end as the country watched in disbelief the last almost nine minutes of a person’s life being cruelly taken from him…on camera.

A person.

Created by God.

Loved by God.

Embraced by God.

A person with a name: Mr. George Floyd.

And the country erupted into 14 nights of peaceful protest, greedy looting, and violence.

As I watched I felt horror, helplessness, anger, abandonment, fear….

“And Elijah came to the mountain of God called Horeb.” These words jolted me as I read them one morning this week, trying to find some footholds of meaning in the midst of the cacophony.

“Elijah came to the mountain of God.”

Elijah didn’t turn to the refrigerator, or to the internet, or the news, or television, or pick up a good book (or whatever the equivalent would have been in his day).

He went to the mountain of God called Horeb.

I sat with this word from God spoken so softly into my shattered heart and allowed him to draw me to the mountain of God.

Elijah, you remember the story, was at this point on his own roller coaster of emotions. He had just come off his famous contest with the prophets of Baal. While the prophets of Baal had called out to their god to send down fire to consume the bull, nothing happened. Elijah taunted the 450 prophets of Baal, saying: “Shout louder! Certainly he’s a god! Perhaps he is lost or wandering or traveling somewhere…or maybe he is asleep!” No fire. No response.

Elijah summoned the people to him and called down fire upon his water-soaked altar, showing that the LORD was the one, true God.

Then Elijah commanded God’s people to seize all 450 prophets of Baal, dragged them to the Kishon Brook and killed them.

So convincing was Yahweh’s manifestation of power that Elijah probably believed the whole country would turn from their idolatry and believe in the one true God, including the infamous Queen Jezebel, the woman responsible for Israel’s recent descent into unbelief.

Instead, Jezebel sought to take Elijah’s life like that of the prophets he’d killed. Elijah ran away to save his life.

And the Lord brought him to the mountain of God.

In his competition with the prophets of Baal, the Lord had appeared in fire and amazing power. But on the mountain God did not manifest himself to Elijah in such pyrotechnics. Safe from the clutches of Jezebel who sought his life, the Lord brought Elijah deeper into his own plan. I believe God wanted Elijah to know that it was not Elijah’s plans that would save God’s chosen people, that would evoke their commitment to the God who was their Father. It was the work of the Lord himself. Mysterious. Beyond our comprehension. Somehow so all-embracing that it would even hold within it the infidelity of his children.   

After the wind, earthquake and fire, the Hebrew text says there was the qôl dem̆ āmâ daqqâ.  In Hebrew that literally means, the sound of thin or sheer silence, like we experience after a storm has passed. The NRSV translates it literally as “the sound of sheer silence.” The Common English Bible says “After the fire, there was a sound. Thin. Quiet.”

And Elijah came to the mountain of God.

There to learn more about being than doing.

More about listening then proclaiming.

More about interrupted plans than perfect setups for successful ministry.

There are two authors who represent for me this thin and quiet silence found on the mountain of God when we are in times of turbulent unrest and uncertain future: Etty Hillesum and Christophe Libreton. I share below some of their words that are blessing me at this time:

Etty Hillesum, a young Jewish woman who died at Auschwitz in November, 1943 at the age of twenty nine became, in the shadow of the concentration camps that was cast over her young life, a vibrant, brave woman of great spiritual depth. Her journals were published under the title An Interrupted Life. I am learning from her to value the interruption of life’s unfolding, the wisdom of lamenting, the blessing of burdens that cannot be lifted. The silence imposed upon the heart when we suffer deep down.

July 20 [1942], Monday morning. 9:30:

They are merciless, without pity. And we must be all the more merciful ourselves. That’s why I prayed early this morning:

‘Oh God, times are too hard for frail people like myself. I know that a new and kinder day will come. I would so much like to live on, if only to express all the love I carry within me. And there is only one way of preparing for the new age, by living it even now in our hearts. Somewhere in me I feel so light, without the least bitterness and so full of strength and love.’

July 21, Thursday, 9:00 PM:

It is all a great big mess. I think to myself quite often, against my will as it were. But today I suddenly wondered why I used the word mess in the first place. It is so much hot air and doesn’t make things any better.

The most depressing thing of all is that the mental horizon of the people I work with is so narrow. They don’t even suffer deep down. They just hate and blind themselves to their own pettiness, their intrigue, they are still ambitious to get on, it is all a great big dirty mess, and there are moment when I would like to lay my head down on my typewriter and say, ‘I can’t go on like this.’ But I do go on, learning more about people all the time.

July 24, Friday morning 7:30:

If all this suffering does not help us to broaden our horizon, to attain a greater humanity by shedding all trifling and irrelevant issues, then it will have been for nothing. (Washington Square Press, copyright 1985, page 195ff.)

Christophe Lebreton, OCSO (1950-1996) was the youngest of the seven Trappist monks assassinated in Algeria by terrorists in 1996. I remember the morning that the letter written by the prior of the community Fr. Christian was read shortly after their martyrdom. I have always felt a strong yet mysterious tie to this community, and this discovery of the journal of Fr. Christophe has only served to strengthen this bond. He began the journal four months before the terrorists first visited the monastery and it ends seven days prior to the monks’ kidnapping. There are so many treasures in Christophe’s journal which has been printed under the title: Born from the Gaze of God. He showed me how to step into the story of Jesus unfolding to this day. It is by assuming the authority of humble childhood that we bring to bear the gift of Jesus’ love over against the power random events of terror seem to have over us.

01/11/1994

Good news: there is an authority in this world
            stronger than the powerful,
            an authority unshaken in the face of the terrorists:
            the authority of humility:
            of CRUCIFIED TRUTH.

03/27/1994 Palm (Passion) Sunday

Jesus is the master of events: of what happens to us here…

Jesus, facing the violence in the narrative of his Passion, in Mark. … Jesus’ way of confronting it is to make us sit down at table.

Then facing a murderous decision, this is the space that resists and holds out: a place of essential conviviality, exchange, sharing.

And then something happens: a woman comes in a performs a foolish act that professes her love there in front of everybody. Love for the Beloved.

Like that man at Bologhine who picked up a policeman, wounded by a terrorist, who was lying in the middle of the road, he got him into his car and drove him to the hospital—and saved his life.

And was himself murdered a week later.

…Jesus stands there, facing the violence aimed at him, and says: as for me, I’m going to pray. Anguish. Still he says, “Abba!”

To face murder there’s only interior childhood in its indestructible relation to Abba. Jesus obeys and leaps in—and we along with him.

Onward! Stand up!

Over against the armed gang, Jesus counters with what he is: the Word. He speaks.

07/14/1994

When he appears, he will unclutter everything: I know nothing more. (Cistercian Publications, copyright 2014)