Sunday, 22 February 2009

God’s “Yes” to us

Abbot Raymond

Sent: Sunday, February 22, 2009

Subject: God’s “Yes” to us.

Second reading 2 Corinthians 1:18-22 ©

I swear by God’s truth, there is no Yes and No about what we say to you. The Son of God, the Christ Jesus that we proclaimed among you – I mean Silvanus and Timothy and I – was never Yes and No: with him it was always Yes, and however many the promises God made, the Yes to them all is in him. That is why it is ‘through him’ that we answer Amen to the praise of God. Remember it is God himself who assures us all, and you, of our standing in Christ, and has anointed us, marking us with his seal and giving us the pledge, the Spirit, that we carry in our hearts.

God’s “Yes” to us.

St Paul tells us that Jesus is God’s “Yes” to us regarding the truth, the sincerity, the earnestness of all his promises to us in the Old Testament. They all find their affirmation in Christ.

The Old Testament is like a jig-saw puzzle in which the answer to all the clues is “Jesus”. Whatever the puzzle, whatever the event or story in the Old Testament, if we apply it to Jesus we find it springs into meaning.

In the Old Testament God declares Israel to be his Chosen People, a People set apart. In the New Testament Jesus affirms this promise and tells that its fulfilment is by way of a Rebirth, a new life, a new form of existence as the Children of God by Grace in a way that the Old Testament hardly dreamed of.

In the Old Testament God proclaims his love for his People. In the New, Jesus is the living proof of that love: “God so loved the world that he gave his only Son”.

In the Old Testament God proclaims his closeness to his People. In the New, we see in Jesus just how close.

In the Old Testament there are many beautiful stories of God’s loving forgiveness but which of them can match the words of Jesus on the Cross: “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do”. In the Old Testament David expresses his forgiveness for Absalom in those poignant and unforgettable words: “O Absalom, would that I had died instead of you” These prophetic words are affirmed in the death of Jesus for us. In the Old Testament the death of Samson is proclaim to be his greatest triumph. In the New, these words too find their fulfilment in the death of Christ.

In the Old Testament Isaac says to his Father Abraham: “Here is the fire and the wood, but where is the victim” In the New Testament Jesus shows us who the victim is, but unlike Isaac, he was well aware of who it was to be from the very beginning. “Sacrifice and oblation you did not want; instead, here am I”.

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Friday, 13 February 2009

Pictures Cistercian Monastery

Cistercian Monastery, Our Lady of the Angels, Nigeria


My visit to the Monastery of Our Lady of the Angels at Nsugbe in Nigeria this January of 2009 was undertaken initially for very formal and official reasons. Firstly there was an election to be held and then an official Visitation to be held in order to send a report to the abbot general. In the event, these two tasks were completed well within the time I had allotted. This gave me the opportunity of spending a week with the Community in the more natural framework of their normal day to day life.

This was a very rewarding experience and gave me a much better appreciation of their zeal and fervour for the Cistercian way of life and so brought me to a much greater appreciation of the depth and earnestness of their commitment. They are a community well worth supporting and helping as much as we can.

Dom Raymond Jaconelli O.C.S.O.

PICTORIAL of the Election of the 1st Titular Prior

Sunday, 8 February 2009

Snnday February 8th

Abbot Raymond returned from the Foundation of Our Lady of the Angels,
Nsugbe Nigeria.

In February 2009 the first Titular Superior was elected by the community.
Prior Dom Rafael Ndubuezi received the Blessing from the Father Immediate, Dom Raymond

Abbot Raymond. Sunday February 8th

Mass 5th Sunday Ordinary Time

A Reading from the Book of JOB (7:1-4)

“Job began to speak”

The book of Job is pure poetry. It is composed in the style of the great Shakespearian soliloquies such as: “To be, or not to be! That is the question”. The soliloquies of Job are dramatic meditations on the sufferings and tragedies of life. As such, we are bound to find a bit of exaggeration and poetic licence in them. Nevertheless the Jerusalem Bile’s translators have taken quite a liberty in putting into Job’s mouth a phrase which no other translation does. The Jerusalem Bible translators have Job say that life on earth is nothing more than pressed service. We know, of course, that there is so much more to life than its sufferings and sorrows. Life abounds with joys and pleasures beyond description. Nevertheless, the phrase “nothing more than pressed service” would pass as a reasonable exaggeration, a reasonable figure of speech, on the lips of one who is so overwhelmed with life’s tragedies and miseries as Job was. But the fact is that Job said no such thing. Then why put it in at all if it is not in the original text? Nor can we find any other translations that does insert this phrase.

But, to get back to Job! Job, in all his lamentations, is voicing for us all, the inner sentiments of everyman who finds himself simply overwhelmed by life’s burdens and sorrows. And surely, no one goes very far through life before finding himself in such a situation.

By giving us the Book of Job, God is assuring us that he is well aware of the greatness of the burdens and sorrows of life. Life, as he calls us to it, is an undertaking of tremendous magnitude. We might reasonably complain indeed that it is really something quite beyond our strength as mere human beings. It’s burdens too great for us; it’s pains unbearable for us; its problems insoluble by us. Who can reasonably be expected to cope with it all? In all its oppressive cruelty, life makes the same demands on all: the weak, the strong, the young, the old, the innocent, the guilty. No one is spared its cruelty. No one is spared its burdens.

In this book of Job, God assures us that he is with us in it all and that, through it all, he holds us in his hands until we come to realise, as Job did, that: “We know our Redeemer lives and that we shall at last look upon him with our very own eyes”.

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Monday, 2 February 2009

Meditation by St. Therese Lisieux

Our Lectionary “Word in Season” (Augustinian Press) Tues. 3rd Week had a striking Meditation by St. Therese Lisieux.
The First Nocturn Readings are mainly from Romans.
St. Therese among other weighty Readings was beautiful. I was keen to find the correct reference.
After much consultation and research I was amazed to discover that the source is exactly Chapter 1 of the AUTOGRAPHY.
The Meditation to the right has a modern revision. On the left the passage from the “Story of a Soul” by N.T. Taylor still is classic.

Story of a Soul

Autobiography of St. Therese of Lisieux.

Chapter 1 January1895

First English translation T.N.T. Taylor 1926


Meditation by Saint Therese of Lisieux
No references, revised version

Then opening the Gospels, my eyes fell on these words: "Jesus, going up into a mountain, called unto Him whom He would Himself."[Mk. III:13] They threw a clear light upon the mystery of my vocation and of my entire life, and above all upon the favours which Our Lord has granted to my soul. He does not call those who are worthy, but those whom He will. As St. Paul says: "God will have mercy on whom He will have mercy. So then it is not of him that wills, nor of him that runs, but of God that showing mercy."[Rm. IX:15]

I often asked myself why God had preferences, why all souls did not receive an equal measure of grace. I was filled with wonder when I saw extraordinary favours showered on great sinners like St. Paul, St. Augustine, St. Mary Magdalen, and many others, whom He forced, so to speak, to receive His grace. In reading the lives of the Saints I was surprised to see that there were certain privileged souls, whom Our Lord favoured from the cradle to the grave, allowing no obstacle in their path which might keep them from mounting towards Him, permitting no sin to soil the spotless brightness of their baptismal robe. And again it puzzled me why so many poor savages should die without having even heard the name of God. Our Lord has deigned to explain this mystery to me. He showed me the book of nature, and I understood that every flower created by Him is beautiful, that the brilliance of the rose and the whiteness of the lily do not lessen the perfume of the violet or the sweet simplicity of the daisy. I understood that if all the lowly flowers wished to be roses, nature would lose its springtide beauty, and the fields would no longer be enameled with lovely hues.

And so it is in the world of souls, Our Lord's living garden.

He has been pleased to create great Saints who may be compared to the lily and the rose, but He has also created lesser ones, who must be content to be daisies or simple violets flowering at His Feet, and whose mission it is to gladden His Divine Eyes when He deigns to look down on them. And the more gladly they do His Will the greater is their perfection.

I understood this also, that God's Love is made manifest as well in a simple soul which does not resist His grace as in one more highly endowed. In fact, the characteristic of love being self-abasement, if all souls resembled the holy Doctors who have illuminated the Church, it seems that God in coming to them would not stoop low enough. But He has created the little child, who knows nothing and can but utter feeble cries, and the poor savage who has only the natural law to guide him, and it is to their hearts that He deigns to stoop. These are the field flowers whose simplicity charms Him; and by His condescension to them Our Saviour shows His infinite greatness. As the sun shines both on the cedar and on the floweret, so the Divine Sun illumines every soul, great and small, and all correspond to His care--just as in nature the seasons are so disposed that on the appointed day the humblest daisy shall unfold its petals.

When he had gone up the hill, Jesus called those he wanted; and they came to him. Jesus does not call those who are worthy to be called, but those he wants, or as Saint Paul says, God takes pity on whomever he wishes, and has mercy on whomever he pleases. So what counts is not what we will or try to do, but the mercy of God.

For a long time I wondered why the good God had preferences, why every soul did not receive grace in equal measure. I was amazed to see him lavishing extraordinary favours on saints who had offended him, like Saint Paul and Saint Augustine , and whom he practically forced to accept his graces. Or else, when I read the lives of saints whom our Lord was pleased to cherish from the cradle to the grave, allowing no obstacle to stand in their way that would have prevented them from rising toward him, and visiting them with such graces that it was impossible for them to tarnish the immaculate brightness of their baptismal robe, I wondered why, for instance, poor people were dying in great numbers before they had even heard God's name. Jesus kindly explained this mystery to me. He placed the book of nature before my eyes, and I understood that all the flowers he has created are beautiful, that the splendour of the rose and the whiteness of the lily do not rob the little violet of its scent or the daisy of its delightful simplicity. I understood that if all the little flowers wanted to be roses, nature would lose its spring adornment, and the fields would no longer be spangled with flowerets.

It is the same in the world of souls which is the garden of Jesus .

He wanted to create the great saints who may be compared with lilies and roses; but he also created smaller ones, and these must be content to be daisies or violets destined to gladden the eyes of the good God when he looks down at his feet. Perfection consists in doing his will, in being what he wants us to be.

I understood too that the love of our Lord is revealed in the simplest soul who offers no resistance to his grace as well as in the most sublime soul. In fact, since the essence of love is humility, if all souls were like those of the learned saints who have illuminated the Church by the light of their teaching, it would seem as if God would not have very far to descend in coming to their hearts. But he has created the baby who knows nothing and whose only utterance is a feeble cry; he has created people who have only the law of nature to guide them; and it is their hearts that he deigns to come down to, those are his flowers of the field whose simplicity delights him. In coming down in that way the good God proves his infinite greatness. Just as the sun shines at the same time on cedar trees and on each little flower as if it was the only one on earth, so our Lord takes special care of each soul as if it was his only care.