Revelation

Christ comes to save us, to heal us, to feed us. But more deeply, Christ comes to reveal to us his Father, the eternal existence that is Love itself. This is cause for joy, because that which is true about God’s nature is true of our own, as well. This is the Love of God revealed most fully; this is the Love of God to which we are called.

-Br. Lucas Hall, SSJE

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Praying with the Old Testament

“…Abraham rejoiced that he would see my day; he saw it and was glad. Very truly, I tell you, before Abraham was, I am.” – John 8:56, 58

With these words, recounted in John’s gospel, Jesus startles the crowd with whom he speaks by claiming the status of divinity. He speaks of himself as an eternal being, not bound by the constraints of mortal time. He similarly speaks of himself as the fulfillment of the long-awaited hope of the people of Israel, going all the way back to their forefather Abraham.

Understanding the relationship between the New Testament and the Old can be very challenging. It has been a challenge for Christians from the first centuries of the Church; deep misunderstandings gave rise to some of the tropes of various historical heresies, which often still impact our thinking about God and scripture today.

But the whole of scripture is a gift from God. Though it can be daunting and challenging, engaging with the Old Testament as a wellspring of prayer can illumine truths about God, the Church, and ourselves, in ways we may never expect. This article will explore several ways that readers today might draw from the Old Testament treasures both old and new. Read More

The one, true, and living God – Br. Lucas Hall

The Feast of St. Luke the Evangelist

Today, we observe the feast of St. Luke the Evangelist. There are two biographical bits of information that I think are important to understanding Luke’s theology.

First, Luke was likely a Gentile convert to belief in the Israelite God. He rejected his surrounding culture of Greek paganism, but probably had not fully adopted Israelite religion as a convert Jew. Instead, Luke was probably a God-fearer, a class of participants in Israelite religion that was not bound by the law of Moses, but was bound by the much simpler law given to Noah after the flood for all humanity. God-fearers were, then, on the margins: not quite Gentile, not quite Jew. In other words, Luke knew what it meant to be an outsider.

The second fact about Luke is that he was a physician. In this line of work, he would have treated patients from a wide variety of cultures, social standings, ethnic backgrounds, economic circumstances, and religions. Everyone gets sick. Everyone dies. The frailty of human bodies is a universal experience, something Luke would have been intimately familiar with. In other words, Luke knew that, when it comes to universal human experiences, there are no outsiders.

These two facts, Luke’s status as a social and religious outsider, and his work with universal human sufferings, seem to have worked together to craft a particular theological outlook. In his account of the Gospel, Luke focuses very much on outsiders, those ranking low in the social hierarchy. Maybe the best example of this is Mary, a young woman in a patriarchal society who acts as a direct, even priestly, mediator between God and humanity and a virgin who gives birth. This is not simply Luke expressing social concerns; he paints a picture of Mary bearing Christ in the world, and, in doing so, from her position of social weakness, encountering God more fundamentally than those in positions of high social status, and wielding great power and authority in doing so. Read More

Discernment Process: A Conversation about Vocations

Listen in on the full conversation, or read an excerpt below!

Jim: What has been happening in vocations since you took over the role of Vocations Brother in the spring?

Lucas: When I first took on this role, we were at the stage where we could begin to imagine having Inquirers visit in person again. The Brothers had just been fully vaccinated, so we could think about that again. We had roughly ten men who were inquiring into our life, and only one of them had come on an Inquirer’s visit already. The rest had been with us just through the pandemic and had never been here before. First, we hosted a virtual “Come & See” visit for them, all online, which went very well. And then we invited them on a series of in-person Inquirers’ visits over the summer. These visits were the first time we had people in the Guesthouse since the pandemic began! Read More

Truth

When people enter into difficult conversations with honest love, able to deeply disagree without questioning the human dignity of the other, they have chosen who they belong to: love, reconciliation, God. If we are to be followers of God, we must do the hard work of giving ourselves to the God of life and love. At the end of it all, the truth will burn brightly enough for all to see and no one to deny. Meanwhile, the truth of God’s love is enough.

-Br. Lucas Hall, SSJE

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Weakness

We’re taught that adopting certain ideas or identities will empower us. We’re told that following certain leaders will make us great. Jesus turns the tables. He calls us, over and over again, to join him and respond to him in weakness. He assures us we have nothing to fear when we’re weak, because God’s power is made perfect in weakness.

-Br. Lucas Hall, SSJE

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Work

Everyone, including Jesus and Martha and Mary, has been called to some fruitful, ordinary work. The work we do is not an end in itself. Our daily tasks, even very good and important ones, are not themselves eternal, and so derive their worth from how much they facilitate our encounter with Jesus, the eternal living God.

-Br. Lucas Hall, SSJE

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Good Evening, Bede – Br. Lucas Hall

The Feast of St. Bede the Venerable

Today is the feast day of St. Bede the Venerable, an Anglo-Saxon monk of the 7th century. He did lots of stuff. He was a monk, a historian, a theologian, and a preacher, to name a few. I won’t recount here everything about him. What I’d like to talk about is why his work, his life, has affected me, even to the point of my standing here today.

About two years ago, now, I was a novice brother in this community, in the midst of two weeks of retreat preceding my initial vows, at a rural monastery in another part of Massachusetts.

It was slightly bizarre to see this other monastic community. At once, it was easy to recognize much of their life. Certain features, from architecture to liturgy to dress, though not exactly the same as ours, were instantly familiar. But something very much stuck out to me about one difference in particular: the setting. The abbey is out in a quite rural area, and there’s not much in the immediate vicinity.

This bothered me. One man’s peaceful seclusion is another man’s lonely isolation, and for me, it was difficult not to see all our other similarities and immediately imagine myself in that community. And I wasn’t happy in those imaginings. The relative isolation felt claustrophobic. I was reminded of being a college student in a small town, where everything that exists seems dependent on a single institution, and the thought of my life happening in that context felt smothering. Read More

Let Go

To cling, to grab too tightly, is not love. It is fear. Fear that the one you love may leave, fear that unless you possess and control the object of your love you will enter into loneliness and despair. When Mary Magdalene first realizes she is speaking with none other than her risen Lord, Jesus immediately tells her not to hold onto him. Rather, he sends her away, instructing her to go to the twelve and tell them the Good News.

-Br. Lucas Hall, SSJE

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Prayer

Paul gives us the instruction to “pray without ceasing.” If prayer to God without ceasing is possible, it could be helpful to understand ourselves as always praying, in some form or another. Always offering up what we have been given by God. And if it’s all prayer, we can ask ourselves about any given experience, no matter how mundane or “un-spiritual”, “Who was I praying to there? To whom was I sacrificing? Was it God, or an idol?”

-Br. Lucas Hall, SSJE

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