Just before Jesus entered Jerusalem that led to his death, he did one of his most powerful miracles that pointed to him as the author of life. What he did, if I was there, would not have filled my heart with joy or wonder, but instead with stark, abject, fear. To witness someone exiting a womb who was dead for four days, and tightly wrapped in a shroud, would not be something expected, or thought possible, hence the terror. I also wonder how Martha,
The meeting of a loving grandmother at the Veterans Hospital
Last week, I took my brother to the VA for a procedure. The first of six, once a week. The trip to the hospital was a slow one. We left at 7 AM, instead of 6:30, and what a difference it was. It took us almost two hours to get to the hospital, which is usually a 45-minute trip. When we arrived, I was surprised to see that there was no line for Valet Parking, so we took it. Normally I park a few miles away at a church and
This is an essay written by Fr. James Behrens, a fellow monk here and a good friend. and has a number of books published. He has given me permission to share his writings.
I will be sharing more of his writings.
There are certain little mantras that I think to myself when a day’s
load seems too heavy to carry. Of course I have always managed to get
through all my days, mantra or no mantra, but that thought does not
easily come to mind when a day arrives that seems to
Trauma in today’s world
(A Christian’s perspective)
A Lenten piece, written in 2015
When we see images of extreme violence on TV or on the internet, is it a form of trauma? About a year ago someone shared a YouTube video on Facebook. There was no warning about the nature of the clip and I right clicked it. Within five seconds I saw a man’s throat cut all the way back to his neck bone, then he was thrown into a grave and still alive, gasping and twitching. The men who did it cal
Bang, Bang, I shot the gun (I was five and he was six, and we used to play with sticks,
Bang, Bang, I shot the gun, Bang, Bang,
that Awful Sound, Bang, Bang, He hit the ground, Bang, Bang.)
---Sony and Cher
One of the retreatants came up to me on Tuesday evening to talk to me. We are having a retreat that is really about aging, how to deal with it, what it means etc. I will name this woman Edna. She is a unique person and in a world where people are all more or less unique
When do you stop helping someone?
How much should we help those who come for aid? I believe that it is a serious consideration and each person has to figure that out for themselves. One way to figure it out is to go the easy route. Those in need are there because they are lazy, or, are addicted to either drink, or drugs, and helping them is, in reality, making them worse and codependent. While I do believe that the concept of ‘codependence’ is a reality, yet I also accept as true tha
My sister Janie’s eulogy
How do you measure a life? By how much money they made? Or how powerful they were? History remembers the rich and powerful, but only their memory, death takes away all that is false from us leaving only the love that we carry with us. I do believe that Janie had a lot of love in her and that is what went with her as she became face to face with God.
Two years ago, when I was visiting family, I was able to spend a good amount of time with Janie. It is fun
One lone bullfrog
During our half hour mediation this morning that our monastic community makes halfway through our Office of Vigils, I was making my way slowly around our inner cloister garden, which I guess is a form of walking meditation that I will often partake in. In the latter part of February here in the south, you can feel a taste of spring in the air. A cool refreshing breeze, winter-like, yet also gentle, like the difference of the bravado of a young man and the more humble
Wrath, what is it?
Wrath is a scary word, and when used in relation to God it can be terrifying. In the Old Testament, it is used quite a bit, along with severe punishments towards the people of Israel. I have to be honest and say that apart from the psalms, I do not spend much time in the Old Testament; so much that I don’t understand, it being written from a cultural perspective that I have a hard time understanding. God language can only come through the person or culture where they
A man who failed every Lenten Season
(Saying the Chaplet of Mercy)
One day a few years ago, one of the retreatants here approached me and asked to see me. He looked somewhat distraught. As we sat down he told me how frustrated he was with himself over his weakness and inability to live out his resolution for Lent. “I have never had a good Lent,” he told me. I thought to myself, this might not be the best time to let him know that I am pretty much in the same boat as he is.
Jim, a young man in a wheelchair
(and trying not to blink)
As I was waking from the parking lot towards Grady Hospital, the day after Fr. Eduardo was brought in to the Trauma unit, I saw the usual diverse group of people going in and coming out. Doctors, nurses, people who worked there and those coming in to see family members who were patients there. I also noticed a young man in a wheelchair trying to get to the front entrance. You see, the whole main entrance of Grady i
A day at the Trauma Unit at Grady Hospital
Over the past year, I have gone to the Trauma Unity at Grady accompanying, once my brother, and twice, being with one of our monks. The second time was last Monday. A member of the community, Fr. Eduardo, had a very bad fall and was rushed by ambulance to Grady Hospital. I arrived about one hour after the ambulance took him from the Monastery grounds.
The Trauma unit at Grady is considered one of the best in the country. T
My struggle with water (anxiety)
When I was younger, I often thought of myself as mostly made up of fire. Strong flames lapping up from my interior, experienced as anger, or lust, or of fear, and looking around, being on alert. There were times when I would see myself sitting in a cave looking at a stone that was aflame. It gave me warmth, and I felt protected while I was there.
Now the image I have of myself has changed.
I see myself sitting in a boat on waters that can be
How do you measure a life
(Love, loss, hope, and faith) “It is more necessary for the soul to be cured than the body;
for it is better to die than to live badly.”― Epictetus
I went with my brother to the VA this week. He has some health issues and we are trying to find out how serious it really is. So, we were back at the VA, and I was sitting again, in the waiting room for outpatient surgery. It is not a big space, enough room for about 20 seats. There are two TV’s but on the day tha
There are days, well you know what I mean
Continue to be patient; it will all be for your good.—Padre Pio
There are days when things go well and very smooth, I am in a good place and when a small bump comes up I glide through it. On those days, patience is not needed. I love it when everything goes my way, or my mood is such that even if events go sideways, I can just laugh it off.
Then there are days when everything bothers me. When I feel like if one more thing goes wrong, or if
My Own Incompleteness
Be at peace with your own soul, then heaven and earth will be at peace with you. Eagerly enter into the treasure house
that is within you, and so you will see the things that are in heaven; for there is but one single entry to them both.
The ladder that leads to the Kingdom is hidden within your soul- Saint Isaac the Syrian
When I first read the above quote I was put off. However, after looking back on my own life I can see how true it
Just as a covered object left out in the sun cannot be penetrated
by the sun’s rays, in the same way, once the covering of the soul is removed, the soul opens itself fully to the rays of the sun.
The more rust of sin is consumed by fire, the more the soul responds to that love, and its joy increases. — Saint Catherine of Genoa
The paradox of the Christian path is that we are called to one-ness with God, but we are also called to two-ness. Within the Trinity, there is
Below the calm surface
(written in November 2006 when on seven-day hermit's retreat)
The pond outside my window is small Surrounded by tall grass on the north end With trees slowly slipping into their winter sleep.
The water alive with gentle ripples Footprints of gentle rain disturbing the surface Still mostly undisturbed Its depth silent untouched
Life is there below the surface It's tempo hidden from prying eyes.
Life and death
A reality often hard to believe or understand I am expressing my feelings to you: my motherly love which carries me to you is inexpressible, mysterious
but real.My most beloved Son illuminates lives, dispels darkness;
and understanding and motherly benevolence:
Part of a message to Mirjana on 2 Jan 16
The human heart longs for God’s love more than anything I believe. It comes out in our seeking after relationships. Yet the problem with this deep desire is that in order to experienc
Dead air time (Time, how to deal with it)
We might not advert to it every day but our experience of time and extended time – that is duration - does influence us.
In the monastery, we might have too much time on our hands. Or try to escape the boredom of long stretches of time.
Or the classic case of the Atlas monk Br Luc who persevered by promising himself each day that he would
crash the joint the next day.—Dom Gerard
When I was a young boy growing up I always foun
(New Year 2018)
My brothers and I used to babysit for some our neighbors when we lived in Gulick Heights. I did for about three years, until I was around 16. I was always asked to babysit for New-Years- Eve. I never really got it, why all the fuss, it was just a day on the calendar. Of course, I did not understand at that young age the need for having a point from which to begin again, and the first of January was that day for many people. Though how getting drunk over
Desire and the Monastic Journey
What has brought us to the monastery? It is the desire in our heart. Of course we are not going to be as conscious of the force of desire itself but we might say something like we have come to love God or to sacrifice ourselves for others. But the fact is we want something. We want – something. I purposely stress the want – because in that lies desire. St Benedict is aware that it is desire that jump starts our journey. In the Prologue, the Lord lifts
(some memories from 1969-70)
When I was in the Navy (1967-71) I met many interesting people. Most were of course in my age range, 18-25, most enlisted men and women. All shapes and sizes, some brilliant, others not so much so. There were always some that I thought were trapped in ways of dealing with reality that were very destructive and a few ran with my crowd, as small as the group was.
Drugs were a big deal then, and I guess they still are. I met one yo
God and the Afterlife
By Jeffrey Long, M.D.
with Paul Perry
In the early 70’s, I went with a few community members, to a talk given by Kubler Ross on the Near-Death-Experience (NDE). Even though it was 45 years ago, I can still remember the talk clearly. In the audience was also a young man, named Raymond Moody, whose book was soon to be released. He stood up in the audience when Kubler Ross asked him to present himself. From the point on I have been an avid student of this phe
On Christmas day, of this year, the abbot came by the retreat house office, asking me to please talk to an elderly woman who seemed confused and may need some help. She was parked in our parking lot that is next to our gatehouse. It was around 7 PM when I went out to speak to her. There was only one car in the parking-lot so it was easy to know where to go.
She was an elderly woman and as soon as she rolled down the window, I knew that I was going to like her. She was n