Why? – Br. David Vryhof


Why this senseless violence?

Why is this good man stripped and beaten, nailed to a cross, and made to die?  Why?  What is it that prompts this kind of horrible, intentional violence against a man who went about preaching a gospel of love for God and for one’s neighbor,
who touched and healed people who were sick and suffering, who bestowed dignity on the forgotten and alienated?

Why put him to death?? Continue reading

Love Compilation

Love is of our essence. In the series’ final week, the Brothers explore God’s love for us and our love for others, which make us human.

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Love 1: How might you love someone you may not necessarily like?
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Love 2: Are your expectations too rigid?
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Love 3: How are you a lover?
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Love 4: Do you greet the day with a growl or a yippee?
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Love 5: How does your love bubble up in response to others today?
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Love 6: What is the greatest experience of love you’ve ever had?
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Love 7: What is it about you that God delights in?
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Our Vocation as Children of God – Br. Jim Woodrum

Br. Jim WoodrumDuring this past year I sustained an injury to my shoulder and have recently started some physical therapy.  A question I’ve been asked a lot on my journey from diagnosis to treatment is, “What do you do for a living?”  This question always makes me a little uncomfortable and I pause a moment before responding that I am a monk.  My uneasiness is not at the fear of their response but rather to the nature of the question itself.  For me, being a monk has never been a career, but rather a vocation.

Now, careers and vocations are not necessarily exclusive of each other, but I think the latter carries a slightly deeper meaning.  The word vocation comes from the Latin word vocare which means ‘to call.’  A vocation is something to which one feels specifically called.  People of faith believe that the calling comes from God and that they have been set a part to do this specific work for His glory. Continue reading

You Know Enough – Br. Curtis Almquist

Br. Curtis AlmquistJohn 8: 51-59

The last line of this Gospel lesson appointed for today captures my imagination:  Jesus said what was to be said, and then “Jesus hid himself…”  And it was a good thing he did.  What if Jesus is hiding himself from you now, and it’s for your own good?  You may be at a point in life when you are unclear about the future: what decision you should make, what direction you should take, what the outcome to such-and-such will be.  You don’t know.  And you may find yourself searching for an answer, maybe anxiously wondering what you should do, or what will happen?  You don’t know.  And you may desperately want to know. Continue reading

The Choice is Yours – Br. David Vryhof

Br. David VryhofFeast of the Annunciation

Isa. 7:10-14 and Luke 1:26-38

In our readings on this Feast of the Annunciation, we have the story of two visitations: one to Ahab, King of Judah, and the other to Mary, mother of our Lord.

In the first of these visitations, God promises, through the prophet Isaiah, to deliver Ahab and the people of Judah from the hands of their enemies.  Furthermore, God invites Ahab to ask for a sign so that he will have no doubt or fear about placing his whole trust in God.  Ahab declines the offer, saying he does not want to put the Lord to the test.  But what seems at first glance to be a humble and appropriate response is revealed to be a sign of the king’s stubbornness and resistance instead.  Ahab actually resents God breaking into his life; he prefers to make his own decisions and to map out his own path, and this stubbornness leads to his destruction. Continue reading

Time to Love – Br. Luke Ditewig

Br. Luke DitewigJohn 15:9-17

This Lent we have been reflecting on time as God’s gift. To review:

It’s time to stop. We were created to rest, refresh, renew, to breathe and be. We are wired for a rhythm with rests in order to be present to ourselves and others. Sabbath is not simply for sustenance but central to our identity.

It’s time to pray. God initiates connection. We don’t know how, but the Spirit prays for us with sighs too deep for words. All is welcomed and possible through our human senses and feelings. Pray however you can.

It’s time to work: to create, adapt, build, support, engineer, write, discover. Framing can help us focus. We need discipline to curb distractions. Work can be a blessing rather than an overbearing toil.

It’s time to play. For all of us at every age, play keeps us alive. “The opposite of play is not work but depression.” (1) Risk acting pure pleasure not productivity. Be imaginative. Keep learning. Our best work is playful. Play with your prayer. Stop to play.

Now for this last week of Lent: it’s time to love. This is not one more thing to do. It’s another gift to receive. It’s time to be loved. Continue reading

A New Covenant – Br. Geoffrey Tristram

Br. Geoffrey TristramJeremiah 31:31-34

This coming May, I am really looking forward to going to England.  May is a lovely time in England, but what I’m most looking forward to is marrying my niece Katherine.  That is, I will be officiating at her marriage!  It will be particularly moving because I also married Katherine’s mother, my sister Elizabeth, just after I was ordained.

As a priest, it is a great joy to conduct weddings, and there is the unique opportunity beforehand to spend time getting to know the couple, and helping them understand the nature and meaning of the commitment they are about to make.  I remember that one of the first choices the couples had to make was whether they wanted the modern or traditional wedding service.  When it came to making the vows, the modern version had each couple say to each other, “and this is my solemn vow.”  The traditional words though, had this very strange sentence, “and thereto I give thee my troth.”  So what’s a troth?  I don’t think any of the couples I married knew – but it is in fact a wonderful word, rich in meaning, and I don’t know any other word in English that is a synonym.  It’s “I give you my love and my loyalty.”  So it’s a special kind of love.  Troth is the love between two people who have made some kind of commitment to each other – who are tied by a mutual commitment, or we could say covenant – in this case, between two people who have publically promised to love, comfort, honor and keep the other, in sickness and health, forsaking all others, as long as they both shall live. Continue reading

True Confessions – Br. Mark Brown

Br. Mark BrownJohn 7:37-52

I once had a conversation with a wise woman in which the subject of humility came up.  I don’t remember what I had said—it may have been something like, “Boy, I could sure use more of that!”  But I do remember what she said: “Isn’t humility just knowing the truth about ourselves?” That’s been my definition ever since. Especially during this season of Lent, we face the truth about ourselves: we are sinners.

Jesus’s words today speak of a more provocative, even subversive truth about ourselves: “out of the believer’s heart shall flow rivers of living water.”  This living water, the Gospel explains, is the Spirit.  The Spirit shall flow out of the believer’s heart.  Like a fountain: the Spirit of God, the River of Living Water flows into us from its source and then out from us. We are conduits of God’s Spirit in the world. Continue reading

Play Compilation

Play can revive us, free us, and return us to ourselves. From molding clay to rainstorms and chicken coops, the Brothers explore how some unexpected ways to play have opened up new life.

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Play 1: Play for at least half an hour today.
How does it feel?
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Play 2: What is your favorite project?
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Play 3: In play time today risk getting lost.
What happened?
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Play 4: What helps you relax and be fully present in the moment?
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Play 5: What activities take you outside of yourself?
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Play 6: What has surprised and delighted you most recently?
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Play 7: Book yourself a play date.
What did you do?
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Super or Man? – Br. Nicholas Bartoli

Br. Nicholas BartoliLuke 2:41–52

In 1933, Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster ushered in the age of the comic book superhero when they created the character “Superman.” Superman went on to become a cultural icon, and is often credited with the success of the superhero genre we see today. He’s faster than a speeding bullet! More powerful than a locomotive! Able to leap tall buildings in a single bound! He’s a strange visitor from another planet, who came to Earth with powers and abilities far beyond those of mortal men! Disguised as Clark Kent, a mild-mannered reporter for a great metropolitan newspaper, he fights a never-ending battle for truth, justice, and the American way! Continue reading

Jesus’ Discourse to his accusers – Br. David Allen

davidallen_1Jn 5: 19-29

The narrative of today’s Gospel occurred in the Temple in Jerusalem. It was just after Jesus identified himself to the man whom he had cured at the pool called Beth-zatha. It was Jesus’ response to the accusations that he had broken the Sabbath Law and had spoken blasphemy.  (Jn 5:16-18)  After meditating on this Gospel reading over some length of time I came to see this discourse as pivotal.

When the initial period of his ministry was over, Jesus was met with hostility and opposition. Accusations and questions were put to him by those representing Jewish power. Their understanding was based on a narrow view of their own history.  They did not understand who Jesus was, or where he had come from.  They misread the signs; showing kindness and doing mercy, are not work, they do not break the Sabbath! Continue reading