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Blessings to you! Some days I get sidetracked and find myself avoiding writing this Notebook because I am not sure what I will write about. Often it is simply a matter of starting to write and then things emerge. This response within me is a form of blockage at times that requires effort on my part to surmount.

The biggest news this past week was that our little Beagle, Joshua, ate 32 anti-inflammatory pills and spent a week in the hospital. He returned home with no lasting damage or side effects, thanks to the veterinarian. There was, of course, a lot of drama involved and some fear that he would have renal failure or that his liver would not be able to handle the challenge. Instead, he vomited most of the pills up and so had some damage that was treatable. Thanks be to God.

Prior Christian, Brother André and Brother Oblate Augustine went to Albuquerque over the past weekend to sell gift shop items at the Southwest Charismatic Conference. These are small ways to keep augmenting our income and to try to pay as many of our own bills as we can. Without the help of others, we would never make it, but we still need to do our part.

Our Father Luis Regalado is having some studies done on his heart. Father Luis is clearly in failing health at this time. His memory no longer works very well and his diabetes complicates his life also. Now, with heart problems, life is a bit more complicated. We don't yet know the extent of these heart problems or how serious his condition is, so please keep him in your prayers.

Johnny Serna, the brother of Mother Benedicta from Our Lady of the Desert, died on the night of July 28th. Please pray for the repose of his soul and for Mother Benedicta and her family.

On July 11, 2014, the Monastery of San José was established in the Diocese of Cartago in Costa Rica. Abbot Guillermo from Guatape in Colombia and myself will walk with this community to encourage it and to help it grow into a fully autonomous monastic community. At present it is under the care of the Bishop of Cartago. Please pray for this new beginning.

So much of my personal spiritual life is simply doing the small ordinary things day after day. There is nothing glamorous about my spiritual life but it seems to be a fairly steady faithfulness to the Lord. When I was young, I had hoped for various graces in my spiritual life. Now I pray for perseverance and a deepening love of the Lord and a faithful service to others.

What are the ordinary things of my spiritual life? Daily Scripture reading, common prayer with others, daily Mass, personal prayer and attention to the duties of my state in life.

Although I am faithful to these elements of my spiritual life, I still fail in them. Long ago I had to accept that I am a sinner and that a basic element in my life is asking forgiveness and trying to avoid sin and do good. As I grow older, I see more and more how faithless I am and how faithful He is. God becomes more the center of my life, even as I see my lack of faithfulness.

There were times in my life when I was worried about salvation. At this point, I entrust my life into the hands of a God who loves, with all of my failings, and who is faithful even when I am not. Some years ago, when I had a near death experience, my last conscious thought was: Have mercy on me, I am coming to you, I am not worthy of your love--yet I trust in you.

Who knows if I would have the same experience when I actually do come to death? On the other hand, that experience gave me confidence that I am aware that salvation is a gift of God and nothing that I earn. My only hope for salvation is to trust in Him and ask His mercy.

All my life I can see that He is faithful. That does not mean that He answers my prayers the way I want or that He does what I want. It is a much deeper level than that. I recognize that whatever happens to me can be received as a gift and as a doorway to the Lord. It is not always immediately that I see this, but the years of my life have brought me to the point of believing it and then eventually seeing it in every situation.

Being faithful to daily reading of the Scriptures helps me come to know God more. Am I always faithful? No! But I keep returning to it and seek to be faithful daily. I am probably more faithful to the common prayer with others. Do I always pray when I am in common prayer? No! But I keep working at it year after year, month after month and day after day. Am I always faithful to daily Mass? Pretty much, but sometimes when I am traveling it just does not work. What about personal prayer? I am probably more faithful to this than to any of the other ordinary activities. The duties of my state in life consume me at times. There are times when I resent being a monk and even more so, resent being the abbot. That resentment or bad feeling is because I am not free to do what I want to do so much of the time. I am confined! Yet if I can accept this confinement, I am liberated. That is the goal when I want to arrive at.

When I was younger, I thought that perhaps one day, I would do everything right and be worthy of God's love. Now I recognize that I will never do everything right and never will be worthy of His love. Yet He loves me. His love makes me worthy. It is not my work, it is His love. And in that awareness I keep on trying to do the best I can. I even try to do things very well because He loves me. Yet I seem incapable of being consistent in my faithfulness to Him. What I can be faithful at, possibly, is to keep on trying.

If I share anything about my own personal life, it is with a hope to encourage others to keep on responding to God's action in their own lives. Always He loves us.

As always, I will celebrate a Holy Mass for you and for your needs and intentions. Please continue to pray for me and for all of the sisters and brothers associated with our communities.


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