Br. Christopher reflects on last things: “November is the month the Church traditionally dedicates to the remembrance and reflection on the Four Last Things pertaining to our eternal destiny: Death, Judgement, Heaven and Hell. So here goes!
We share a little advice from Blessed Oglerio of Locedio, (c. 1136-1214) a medieval Italian abbot of our Order: “O bride of Christ, and you, monk of the Mother of the Most High, you who have come to partake in the Order of Our Lady and consecrated yourself as a Cistercian religious- say, together with every people and tribe and tongue, with the angel Gabriel and with Elizabeth the mother of the Prophet of the Most High:
Br. William speaks on our Saint: "In August 2022, I was honored with the assignment to provide a blurb for the back cover of “TO LIVE FOR GOD ALONE- The Life and Spirit of St. Rafael Arnaiz y Baron” by Mark OKeefe and Maria Gonzalo-Garcia, a new book on the life of St. Rafael. Here is my contribution: An inspiring work, full of insights on the life of a beloved of God.
Fr. Placid speaks on Virtues and Vices: “The parable of the wheat and weeds (Matt 13:24-30) is rich food for consideration as we reflect on the harvest season.
In the case of the Grape Harvest, which cluster to pick and which one to leave for the birds?
Harvest Time is always a good time to evaluate our strengths and weaknesses; or, putting it another way, assess our virtues and vices.
A particular virtue may be helpful at one time in our lives, but then not so much later on.
From a talk by the Prior to the monks of New Clairvaux on the glorious Hail Mary:
Good evening brothers. Tonight I want to talk about a prayer we are all very familiar with. In fact, we pray it 9 times a day as a community, at morning, noon, and night, albeit silently; and judging from the number of rosaries I would find left in brothers’ pockets when I was community launderer, far more often than that as well. I’m speaking of course of the Hail Mary.
Fr. Thomas on Monastic Fountains: “Fountains and pools are popular these days during intense heat where there is no access to ocean beaches. Sacred Scriptures propose water as a source of life and a means of renewal. A powerful symbol in a Cistercian cloister quadrangle was the splashing fountain, giving a sense of peace, abundance, and refreshment. The monastic fountain was not only an earthly symbol of the font of life and a source of spiritual refreshment.
Br. Christopher on Practical Discernment: "What is the Meaning of Life? Even if many people today could not give an explicit answer to this question, it is inevitable that every one of us, shaped by our own personal experiences and life history, will form underlying attitudes toward the world which will, in turn, shape the course of our lives. Often these attitudes are unspoken and unexamined, but nevertheless have their unconscious effect on all our decisions and relationships.
Fr. Placid’s take on the Sower and the Seed: “The parable of the sower as found in the Gospel of Luke, Chapter 8 is usually interpreted as being about the preaching of the Kingdom of God and the various reactions to it. There is another way of seeing it though, and that is to understand the seed as a religious vocation and the reply to its call.
The seed that falls on the hardened path and is eaten up by birds is one response to the vocational call. In this case, the person does not listen and lets the "seed" be taken away by other concerns and fancies.
Some thoughts by Fr. Thomas on the importance of our Image of God: “When persons come into their own identity, they ask the question: To whom do I belong? The response to this question is central for us as we are created for relationships.
For Christians, “we belong to God” is the proper response. Accordingly, we need to proceed with a further question: what image of God do we have?
On August 15 we celebrate the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Patroness of the Cistercian Order. Br. William presents a look at the life of Our Dear Lady: “Mary refers to herself as the Handmaid of the Lord. The term Handmaid comes from two Hebrew words (shiphchah and ‘amah) both meaning a female slave.
The Blessed Virgin used this term as a sign of humility and respectfulness in the presence of great men, prophets and kings. In that instance of the Annunciation from the angel Gabriel because he was a messenger of God.
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