The Abbot’s Notebook for June 14, 2017

My sisters and brothers in Christ,

Blessings to you!  So I have been back in the Monastery just over a week and I continue to recover from the surgery.  Cutting the breastbone in half always causes a challenge of recovery.  Most everyone does recover, but the process can be difficult at times.  To cough after a surgery like this is a terrible experience!  Or even to clear one’s throat.  The muscles of the chest have been so offended that they won’t don’t anything without a lot of pain and resistance.  Getting one’s breath back into a normal rhythm of breathing is a challenge.

On the other hand, such challenges are a great reflection on the spiritual life.  With our physical life, we know what we must do to recover and to live well and even normally.  Spiritually we are often a bit lazier, even when we know the way and know what must be done.  With our physical life, it is so clear to us that we must try to recover a normal life.  With our spiritual life, we often seem confused and do not feel the necessity to do what is right.

We humans are really interesting!  Lots of us are just “sort of good” because it costs too much to be really good.  Some of us are incredibly good and are willing to pay whatever cost is necessary to love and serve the Lord and neighbor.  And some of us are pretty awful and bad—but even then not consistently so.

Whoever we are wherever we find ourselves as good, bad or sort of neutral– that is where our spiritual life begins.  Always the spiritual life is simply a way of living our life—it is not something that we do on the side or something that is added on top of us.  If we are suffering, that is our spiritual life.  If we are rejoicing, that is our spiritual life.  If we are doing nothing, that is our spiritual life.

This way of thinking goes along with recognizing that God is not something that I can choose in the same way that I choose the normal things in my life.  Rather, God is within all that I choose when I choose with pure motives.  Far too often today, God is seen as something that I choose or not choose, the way I would choose a new piece of clothing.  That makes God simply another object among the many objects that I choose.

And it does not work that way!  Instead, when I choose to do what is right, I am choosing God in that choice.  When I choose to see another person as God’s creation, God is in that choice.  And so on.  We often forget this.  Sure, God is person, God is three persons, Father, Son and Spirit.  Thus I can also relate personally with God.  God is also infinite and all present and all powerful.  If we think too much about God, we will still never be able to understand God entirely.

In Jesus, God is made flesh and so we can understand God both as God and Man.  God has come close to us to draw us close to Him.  None of these ways of thinking does away with the reality that when we choose anything, we are choosing for or against God.  God is in our choices even as God is present as Person.

In our Church Year, we are in that time when Pentecost has happened and we celebrated the Holy Spirit.  It is also the time when we have the great feasts and solemnities of the Trinity, of Corpus Christi and of the Sacred Heart.  God wants us!  This is so clear in all that we celebrate.  On the other hand, we don’t always want God.  We are not consistent and HE is always consistent.  Even if we become faithless, God remains faithful.

None of my musings about God takes away the pain of recovery!  I can choose God in the pain or I can reject God.  God is not a magician in my life but He is a faithful companion in all that I do—as well as being infinite and all powerful!  Yes, God could choose in an instant to heal me from surgery and from all evils.  Normally God does not do that because my own human grown comes from my ordinary human path.  Once in a while God choose to show divinity in something miraculous–but for the most part, God leaves me in the ordinary human path, striving to be faithful, to love and to serve.

Jesus suffered—even more than I suffer.  Jesus accepted all that is human, even more than I accept my own humanity.  Jesus prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane that the “cup would pass” but also prayed to accept the will of the Father.  We also–I also–pray that the “cup would pass” lots of the time.  We are not so strong on praying to accept the will of God.

So where is my spiritual life?  In embracing all that comes to me, in asking God to spare me from all evil, in asking for the strength to look always for God’s will and to strive to do God’s will.  It is really pretty straightforward and yet I spend a lot of time wishing that it were something else—even if in the end I try to do God’s will.

Please continue to pray for the repose of the soul of the mother of our Brother Dominic, the father of our Brother Philip and for all who have died recently.  Please also continue to pray for Anthony who struggles to seek God.  Pray also for my niece Olga and for all who struggle with cancer.  And let us pray for one another because God loves us!  I send you my love and prayers.  I ask your prayers for all of the sisters and brothers of our communities.  As always I will celebrate a Holy Mass for you and for your needs and intentions.  I send you my love and prayers.

Your brother in the Lord,

Abbot Philip