Tuesday, November 24, 2020

A quote of a hermit to his pastor.


After our last meeting, while reflecting on the fruitfulness of a hermit priest, I remembered that I have a few friends who are involved with the Carthusians [as I am] or are Carthusians. They do not take a vow of silence but use silence to support one another and as a tool for opening their hearts to God, and they write very little. I am honored that I do have some contact with them, and occasionally I receive some good reflections from them in our exchanges. Here are a few thoughts I have received and reflected on:
  • How efficacious for the world is the Eucharist when celebrated by a Carthusian Father alone in his chapel! « Separated from all, we are united to all for it is in the name of all that we present ourselves to the living God. » (Statutes 34.2) Commentary: The Carthusian did not choose solitude for its own sake, but because he saw in it an excellent means for him to attain a deeper union with God and all mankind. It is upon entering the recesses of his heart that the Carthusian solitaries become, in Christ, present to all men. He becomes a solitary to attain solidarity. Contemplatives are at the heart of the Church. They fulfill an essential function in the ecclesiastical community: the glorification of God. Carthusians withdraw to the desert first and foremost to worship God, to praise him [the Eucharist and liturgy of hours], to admire him, to be seduced by him, to give themselves to him, in the name of all of mankind. It is in the name of all that they are mandated by the Church to be a permanent prayer.
  • Intercession: commentary: Since the very beginning the Church recognized that monks tied to contemplation act as intercessors. Representing all of creation, on a daily basis, at all the liturgical offices and during the Eucharistic celebration, they pray for the living and the dead.
  • Witness: from their Statutes: « Turned, by our profession, solely toward Him who is, we are witness in face of a world engrossed in the earthly realities that outside of Him there is no God. Our life shows that the good from heaven is already to be found on earth; it is a precursor of the resurrection and like an anticipation of a renewed world. » Statutes 34.3 Commentary:  For the solitaries, being such a witness is not realized by speech, nor by personal contact. By his mere presence, the monk is a witness that God lives and can take over the hearts of men.
  • From Vita Consecrata, #30: In the priest, in fact, the vocation to the priesthood and the vocation to the consecrated life converge in a profound and dynamic unity. Also of immeasurable value is the contribution made to the Church's life by religious priests completely devoted to contemplation. Especially in the celebration of the Eucharist they carry out an act of the Church and for the Church, to which they join the offering of themselves, in communion with Christ who offers himself to the Father for the salvation of the whole world.

Wednesday, March 25, 2020


From my Director:
I want to share a few thoughts with you this morning, the date after the night before.

Yesterday, at my request, you made a special step forward, simple but meaningful, a step of commitment, a step of entering more clearly in the journey of yours on the way to the Ordination to the diaconate and the ministerial priesthood. You express your desire of giving yourself in Christ, you also express the willingness to respond to the grace of God. You enter into the Will of God as officially recognized by the Church or the Pastor of the local Church. The engagement and the direction are more officially acknowledged; you enter ‘officially’ on the way to the Ordination. Your vocation as a hermit was already sanctioned officially over five years ago. Your vocation takes a more definite direction to enter more deeply in the Mystery of Christ giving his life out of love for the salvation of the world and for the greatest glory of God. Congratulation and may the good Lord continue His Work in you; and continue to keep your heart open to His grace.

I think it is also meaningful that you should become a candidate to the ordained priesthood in the midst of the crisis or pandemic that we are going through, a time when all the Masses celebrated for the public or in public are now cancelled. BUT it is highly recommended that the priests would continue to pray and to celebrate the Eucharist privately for the people entrusted to their care in particular. I think, for you, this would be a very special sign that celebrating Mass ‘in private’, alone, is still very meaningful and important. It seems that it tells us that the celebration of the Mass is important on its own and not necessarily as a means of bring the faithful people together and to celebrate their communion in Christ. Encouraging the priests to celebrate also reminds us that the celebration of the Mass is indeed the representation and commemoration (and shall we say: the actualisation) of the salvific work of Christ for the world, out of love for his Father and for the good of all people. I think this is a confirmation of what you are preparing yourself for, namely the offering of your life in Christ for the glory of God and the salvation of the world, bringing the ultimate answer and victory in Christ to all ills and evil that may happen to us in our confused world.

Let us not be overcome by the fear and anxiety that the pandemic may ignite in the heart of people, but may we stand firm in Faith and Hope relying on the One who is our salvation and LIFE.  

Have a blessed day, in the Lord,
My ordination to the diaconate will probably go ahead (April 15th) as there will be few people involved. b.<><

Monday, September 23, 2019

My Soul Thirsts, no. 5

“[T]he basic challenge is to ‘show’ men the beauty of the face of God manifested in Christ Jesus so that they are attracted to Him. If we want everyone to know and love Jesus Christ and, through Him, [to come to a personal encounter] with God, the Church can not be perceived only as a moral educator or defender of truths, but above all as a teacher of spirituality and [a place in which to come to have a deeply human] experience of the living God.”

Spain's Bishops

Thursday, September 12, 2019

The Sacraments

In his sacramental theology, Aquinas makes two great points that are very pertinent in this regard. One is that we are, as animals, in need of being touched by the grace of God. This is the point of the sacraments. In the seven sacraments instituted by Christ, we are receiving what is most transcendent and what is most essential to our happiness: God and life with God. In itself, the mystery of God is transcendent and evades us, but in the sacraments, we receive what is most transcendent—what we most need—in the most connatural way, even directly through the senses. Not even through a book! That’s a very beautiful way to receive God (through the Scriptures), but really to touch God, that’s the sacramental life. It’s very interesting to watch a baby being baptized and to think about how Divine Life is being infused into the immaterial soul of this child by pouring water on its head. Or the Eucharist: you can hold it in your hand, you can receive it on your tongue. You are being nourished by the death of Christ; you are being nourished by the life of Christ resurrected. That is very mysterious, but it is so simple. It’s about receiving love from God in the most connatural way and then, when we receive these physical signs, grace truly acts upon us! When someone says the words of pardon over you in the sacrament of confession—when they say little words over you—Christ acts and your sins are forgiven. It’s amazing!

So we receive God through the most connatural forms but also, secondly, this knits together the Church as a community, not a church of my own making in my own mind, but the Church that Christ founded. We live in the Church that the Apostles founded, based on the apostolic succession of the bishops and priests. Yes, the mediocre bishops and priests and the mediocre laypeople. The mediocre people of God, but kept alive through this living bond of the sacraments that keeps us as a family bound together in the death and resurrection of Christ. This is a serious religion, a visible religion—one in which you can truly live, truly die and truly attain to eternal life. Human beings put up protests and say that Catholicism is too monolithic, but deep down our human nature is made for the kinds of challenge to conversion and holiness that traditional Catholicism presents. There is no point in proposing to other people an unserious religion. And Aquinas’ sacramental vision gives you a serious religion to propose to people. The sacraments are causes of grace. God causes grace in the soul through this set of physical gestures that Christ gave the Apostles, that the Apostles gave to the Church, and that the Church brings to us.

Fr. Thomas Joseph White, OP

Thursday, September 5, 2019

Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, communion without confession. Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ.

Costly grace confronts us as a gracious call to follow Jesus, it comes as a word of forgiveness to the broken spirit and the contrite heart. It is costly because it compels a man to submit to the yoke of Christ and follow him; it is grace because Jesus says: "My yoke is easy and my burden is light.