Benedictine Spirituality Christ Good Shepherd Gospel Lectio Divina Liturgy Scripture Uncategorized

Christ the King

Image by Peter from

The feast of Christ the King, is a bit of a challenge. It’s impossible to separate it from our earthly experience of rulers, royal or otherwise. At best that can leave us ambivalent about it. As I reflect on the readings it’s clear that Jesus offers a different model of leadership and a kingdom vastly different from any we’ve ever experienced. Ezekiel uses the image of a shepherd who cares for all the sheep, regardless of circumstances:

“I shall look for the lost one, bring back the stray, bandage the wounded and make the weak strong. I shall watch over the fat and healthy. I shall be a true shepherd to them all.”

St Paul takes up the theme, assuring the Corinthians that the risen Christ will draw all people with him into the new life of resurrection. In the gospel Jesus explains just how different his kingdom will be, showing us again a ruler like no earthly ruler. Christ the King has no interest in the status, wealth or power of his followers. Instead he is concerned about how the poorest and most needy in society are nurtured and cared for:

“I was hungry and you gave me food; I was thirsty and you gave me drink; I was a stranger and you made me welcome…”

Jesus makes the real challenge very clear, to be part of his Kingdom we need commit to living by its’ values. He asks us to reflect on how we treat the poor, the hungry, the strangers that we encounter in our lives telling us:

“I tell you solemnly, in so far as you did this to one of the least of these sisters or brothers of mine, you did it to me.”

At the end of the liturgical year Jesus challenges us to reflect on the way we treat one another and to ask ourselves how well that matches with the values of his Kingdom.

Where are you being called to shape your life by the values of Christs’ Kingdom today?

Benedictine Spirituality Christ Gospel Lectio Divina Scripture Uncategorized

Called from the margins

Image by Silvia from

I’ve been reflecting on two gospel accounts of Jesus with people on the margins, the blind beggar who calls out for healing from the roadside and Zacchaeus, the tax collector. The beggar is marginalised both by his physical condition and by a society that makes no provision for accessibility.

At first glance it might seem that Zacchaeus is not marginal. He has wealth and the power and privilege that comes with it. Yet, in many ways he is just as marginalised as the blind man sat begging at the roadside.

Both men are discontented with their lives and have a glimmer of insight that Jesus might be able to change that. They approach Jesus differently. The blind man has the courage to call out drawing Jesus’ attention to him. Zacchaeus is more timid, hiding in a tree to see what he can learn before making a move.

In different ways, according to their needs, Jesus presents them with the same question the same:

“What do you want me to do for you?”

The blind man has his answer ready and is able to articulate it clearly without prompting. Zacchaeus needs a different approach, and Jesus takes the lead. By inviting himself to dinner he opens the door that enables that Zacchaeus to respond to the life changing love Jesus offers. It seems to me that Jesus poses the same question to each of us in the way we most need to hear it, and are best able to respond.

What do you want Jesus to do for you today?

Benedictine Spirituality Christ Lectio Divina Scripture Uncategorized

Children of light

Photo by Joanna Kosinska on Unsplash

We begin the last week of the liturgical year with a call to alertness and wakefulness. As the year darkens St Paul reminds us that we do belong to the dark, but to the light. Writing to the Thessalonians he writes:

“You are children of light and of the day: we do not belong to night or to darkness, so we should not go on sleeping, as everyone else does, but stay wide awake and sober.”

It has a particular resonance on many levels at this time of year. On a purely physical level it’s a call not to surrender to the sluggishness engendered by dark mornings and afternoons. Even in the slow, dark days of winter we’re called to be alert.

On another level St Paul’s concern is that the Thessalonians don’t give in to the spiritual and moral darkness of their time. His words are just as relevant for us today. We too live in times that can feel overwhelmed with darkness in every direction.

It such circumstances we can be drawn to despair and hopelessness. Those can easily sap our ability to be attentive and alert to the presence of God bringing us light in the darkness.

His call is not to ignore the reality of the darkness we face, either personally or communally, but not to let it overwhelm us, lulling us into escapism or despair. Instead he calls us to keep looking for the glimmers of light that remind us of God’s presence even in the darkness, to trust those and allow them to shape our lives.

Where is Christ calling you to be alert to his presence in your life today?

Christ Gospel Scripture Uncategorized

Travelling the margins.

Photo by Sue Bell on Unsplash

For the past few days I’ve been reflecting on the story of the ten lepers that we heard earlier this week. Usually I reflect on the gratitude/ingratitude of the lepers, but this time I’ve been taken in another direction, and have been sitting with this:

“On the way to Jerusalem Jesus travelled along the border between Samaria and Galilee.”

It made me aware of how often Jesus is a marginal figure in the Gospels. His teaching, his lifestyle, the people he chooses to engage with all mean that he often walks a fine line along the borders of his day. He chooses to embrace this risky endeavour, knowing that as well as risk it gives insights and opportunities that might otherwise be lost.

Part of our call to follow Jesus is a call to the risk being on the margins. It’s a call that can leave us feeling like outsiders, alienated and even abandoned. Yet, it also carries hope, possibilities and blessings. It can give us insights and perspectives that we might otherwise miss. Being open to that when we feel the vulnerability of marginalisation isn’t easy. It requires the openness to change that Ezekiel talks about when he says:

“I shall give you in your heart, and put a new spirit in you; I shall remove from your bodies the heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh instead.”

This is one of my favourite texts, yet it’s also a hard one. To allow our hearts to be released from their protective covering of stone isn’t easy. It may only be possible if we are able go out to meet Jesus in those border places.

Where is Christ calling you to explore the border places in your life?

Benedictine Spirituality Christ Gospel Lectio Divina Saints Scripture Uncategorized

On loving

Image by susanotruba from

Today I’ve been reflecting on St Paul’s letter to the Romans. His words bring us back to the heart of the gospel, love. It’s a message that we can easily take for granted when life is going along in it’s normal course.

When life falls apart or begins to feel uncertain that we begin to realise how essential love for us. Then we have to move away from a superficial understand of what love means and begin to discover its true riches and depths. St Paul was no stranger to suffering and challenges, and his experience will have shaped his understanding of love. He writes:

“You must love your neighbour as yourself. Love is the one thing that cannot hurt your neighbour; that is why it is the answer to every one of the commandments.”

His words include a balance I find easy to forget…We are called to love our neighbours as ourselves. I think we can easily hear the call to love our neighbour and miss the call to love ourselves. Echoing the gospel St Paul points out that they are intimately connected, to love other we have to be able to love ourselves.

It’s easy to dismiss this as self indulgence, but true love is much more than self indulgence. It doesn’t mean surrendering to every passing whim. It means being attentive to our whole being, body mind and spirit. It requires that we take care of ourselves, being as gentle and compassionate to ourselves when we are in pain as we are to others. From that self love we can reach out in love to others in ways that bring healing, not hurt.

Where is God calling you to learn to love today?

Christ Gospel Lectio Divina Scripture Uncategorized


Photo by Reign Abarintos on Unsplash

Today we’re celebrating the feast of the Dedication of our Oratory. It’s a feast that call us back to reflect of the core of our faith and our monastic life. Every year it seems to offer me something from the core of our faith to reflect on. This year I’m reflecting on the gospel’s call to forgiveness:

“So then, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your sister or brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar, go and first be reconciled with your sister and brother, and then come and offer your gift.”

It’s a call that’s full of challenge and that has to be at the heart of any life that involves human relationship. It’s impossible for us to be in relationship with one another without discovering both our need to forgive and to be forgiven. That makes the call to forgive one of the most essential and practical ones we need to respond to.

It’s not an easy call. To forgive we have to both acknowledge the pain of our hurt, and be willing to put it aside. It can be tempting to refuse forgiveness, it gives us a superficial feeling of control when we are vulnerable and brought low. Forgiveness asks more of us than that. It doesn’t remove the pain we experience.

It asks us to acknowledge the pain, and still risk to risk trying again. That leaves us exposed to the risk of more hurt. Yet to refuse forgiveness imprisons us and ties us to the past. If we want to build the Kingdom together our only hope is to embrace this challenging and risky call as much as we can.

Where are you being called to consider forgiveness today?

Christ Lectio Divina Liturgy Resurrection Saints Scripture Uncategorized

All Souls Day.

Image by wagrati from

A reflection from our archives for the feast of All Souls. Every year I’m struck by the mood shift between the feast of All Saints to that of All Souls. All Saints is full of light and joy as we celebrate those who carried the bright light of Christs’ love into the lives of those around them.

As we move into All Souls the mood becomes more sombre. This is a day for allowing ourselves time to grieve and to mourn for all our losses and all that we lack.

Taken together these feasts speak of the intimate connection between life and death, sadness and joy, telling us that both are part of life and that we can’t have one without the other. I’m struck by how the readings for All Souls offer hope in the promise of new life and resurrection. I’m reflecting on these words from St Paul:

“Hope is not deceptive because the love of God has been poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit.”

Hope seems easy when life is going well. When life is challenging or we are grieving hope becomes much harder and we’re more likely to mistrust it. It’s in these times that St Paul reminds us that Christ’s hope does not deceive. Whatever griefs we carry on this All Souls Day, the love of Christ that we hope in will sustain, console and lead us into the new life Christ promises.

As we celebrate All Souls what hope is sustaining you?

Beatitudes Divine Office Gospel Lectio Divina Saints Scripture Uncategorized

Blessed are the Peacemakers

Image by Annette from

Our celebration of All Saints began last night with Vespers. As part of the service we sing the Beatitudes, which we then hear again proclaimed in the gospel at the vigil and then at Mass. This helps keep them in my mind all through the feast. Sometimes approaching the Beatitudes can be a bit bewildering, I don’t know which one to focus on and focussing on all of them together can be a bit overwhelming.

Today I haven’t had that difficulty, each time I encountered the Beatitudes the same words leapt out at me:

“How blessed are the peacemakers, they shall be called the children of God.”

They have particular resonance because I’m so aware of how desperately the world needs peace at this time. So many people are having their lives torn apart by in these times when war is causing so much pain and suffering in so many places.

It’s left me reflecting on this essential call to make peace. It can sometimes appear to be a soft option, but that’s not the case. It requires commitment, courage and strength. To be peacemakers we have to find ways of working round personal hurts and grievances, however justified.

We’re called to be open and vulnerable, to acknowledge the hurts we carry and to do all we can to heal the hurts of others. Peacemakers are called to reach out across barriers that can seem insurmountable in trust and hope.

Where is Christ calling you to be a peacemaker today?

Benedictine Spirituality Christ Gospel Lectio Divina Scripture Uncategorized

Encircled by the love of God.

Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash

In today’s gospel Jesus is challenged by the Pharisees and the Sadducees. Hoping to trip him up the ask him:

“Master, which is the greatest commandment of the Law?”

Unfazed by their question Jesus has an answer ready that they cannot disagree with:

“You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind… You must love your neighbour as yourself. On these two commandments hang the whole Law and the Prophets.”

His answer takes us back to the most basic principle of Christian life, the call to love wholeheartedly. This is not just a fine principle based on spiritual or devotional practice. It is a call to give surrender ourselves and our lives wholeheartedly to God, to respond with our whole being to God’s call. But it is not only that, the love of God that we are called to is to be lived out in the practicalities of daily life. By itself it is not enough.

Love of God has to go hand-in-hand with love of our neighbours and (though we so often forget it) of ourselves. But Jesus words are clear, we are called to love our neighbour “as yourself”. Challenging as we find it I sometimes think we better understand the call to love our neighbour than the call to love ourselves.

The call to love is a call to ensure that no one is left outside the circle of God’s love. It’s a call to love everyone as precious and valued children of God. That applies to our neighbours wherever we encounter them. Uncomfortable as it may make us feel, it also applies to ourselves.

Where is Christ calling you to widen the circle of his love so that it includes everyone you encounter?

Benedictine Spirituality Christ Gospel Lectio Divina Scripture Uncategorized

Standing ready

Photo by Elias Maurer on Unsplash

This week I’ve been struck by the gospel’s call to be prepared. In yesterday’s gospel Jesus told his disciples:

“See that you are dressed for action and have your lamps lit… Happy those servants him the master finds awake when he comes.”

In today’s gospel he picks up the same theme, saying to his disciples:

“You may be quite sure of this, that if the householder had known at whatever the burglar would come he would not have let anyone break through the wall of his house. You too must stand ready, because the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.”

His words are a reminder that there are some things in life that we can have absolutely no control over, we can do nothing to prevent them or to make them happen. We can only respond to them as they unfold. That can make us feel powerless and hopeless, at the mercy of unseen, uncontrollable forces. A quick look at any news channel or social media platform will quickly reinforce that view, we know all too well how little control we have over events. That can be challenging and disempowering viewpoint.

But the good news of the gospel is not about disempowerment. Alongside his reminder of the things we have no control over Jesus points out the areas where we do have control. Even if they do not know when the Son of Man will come, they can choose to live in ways that prepare their hearts for that coming.

In this area we do have agency and power. If we choose to prepare our hearts for Christ’s coming it will effect real change. It will not stop us from facing hardships, challenges or distressing circumstances, but it will enable us to respond to them in ways that bring glimmers of light and hope to dark places.

Where is Christ inviting you to prepare your heart for his coming into your life today today?