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Beacons of Hope

By Fr. Gregory Dick, O.Praem.

A Perfect Storm

By Fr. Ambrose Criste, O.Praem.

20/20 Vision

By Fr. Ambrose Criste, O.Praem.

Writings About Saints

Check out these recent writings from the Norbertine Fathers.
Humility, Eucharistic Devotion, and Hope

Humility, Eucharistic Devotion, and Hope

At the beginning of today’s Gospel, Jesus says to the twelve: “Amen, amen, I say to you, one of you will betray me.” After signaling to John who it is, but not hearing the answer, Peter hears Jesus say to him: “Amen, amen, I say to you, the cock will not crow before you deny me three times.” One imagines that Peter understood Jesus to be answering John’s question by identifying him as the soon-to-be traitor.

5th Week of Lent

5th Week of Lent

Today, on this Passion Sunday, we are nourished by the dramatic scene of the recapitulation of all things in Christ Jesus made manifest by the dialogue of Christ with an adulterous woman. Here, an adulterous woman’s secretive life moves from hidden to revealed, from revealed to acknowledged, from acknowledged to forgiven, from forgiven to infectious.

Feast of St. Joseph

Feast of St. Joseph

Just inside the doorway from the abbey cloister to the chapter room, there hangs an icon of St. Joseph written by our own fr. Philip. Not unlike the secco in the center south shrine here in the nave, the carpenter of Nazareth is depicted with the Christ child on his shoulders. Just a few days ago I looked at the icon and thought, “Carries the Son of God on his shoulders for fun—Terror of Demons.”

Annunciation of the Lord

Annunciation of the Lord

Every year we hear this prophecy of Isaiah, and we instinctively know it was fulfilled in the virginal conception of Christ in the womb of Blessed Mary. And indeed that is true. It’s not just an adaptation of an ancient text to fit a mystery of our faith; this prophecy, even as it flowed out of Isaiah’s mouth, literally referred to the incarnation of the Son of God by the Holy Spirit. And yet, because the selection offered is truncated, we miss the wider historical context in which the prophecy was made, a context which only adds to the profundity of this prophecy.

Thursday After Ash Wednesday

Thursday After Ash Wednesday

On Tuesday morning, when we filed into the room where Fr. Leo was lying having recently passed, we were greeted with an unforgettable and consoling image: Fr. Leo’s hands wrapped lovingly around a crucifix, his face serene, at peace. Today we hear the Lord say to us: “Take up your cross and follow Me.”

Writings For Spiritual Growth

Check out these recent writings from the Norbertine Fathers.
Feast of St. Stephen of Hungary

Feast of St. Stephen of Hungary

When our spiritual forebears realized that communistic tyranny was ending their religious life, they fled to the land of the free and the home of the brave, and replanted their flag.  We did not arise out of a vacuum.  Divine providence uses real people and circumstances to work out our salvation.

A Reflection Before Priestly Ordination

A Reflection Before Priestly Ordination

Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends (Jn 15:13). My whole life has in one way or another revolved around the desires that make up the very core of this single verse. Sometimes intentionally, but most times unknowingly, I found that the direction of my life was set by the principles which form the bold application of this verse.

A Reflection As I Approach Ordination

A Reflection As I Approach Ordination

Even as his health declined, Fr. Leo continued to orient his life to the service of the altar, recognizing in the Holy Eucharist the source of every grace and heavenly blessing. At that moment, I knew that I, too, wanted to be a Norbertine priest, “lifting high the Holy Eucharist over the miseries and errors of this world.”

Corpus Christi

Corpus Christi

The Norbertine vocation is essentially Eucharistic. It is true, the Church expects every religious institute to “make every effort to participate in the Eucharistic sacrifice daily, to receive the most sacred Body of Christ, and to adore the Lord Himself in the sacrament.”

Trinity Sunday

Trinity Sunday

The mystery of the most holy Trinity is the most sublime dogma of our faith.  We affirm without hesitation that there is one and only one God.  And without the slightest shadow of contradiction, we likewise affirm that there are three divine Persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  Each of these Persons is entirely God. 

The Gospel passage we just heard comprises the entire fifteenth chapter of Luke, all thirty-two verses.  It reminds me of St. Justin Martyr’s second century description of the Mass: “On Sunday we have a common assembly of all our members,” he says. “The recollections of the Apostles are read, as long as there is time.”

Fortunately the three parables are fairly clear in their literal meaning; let us examine but some few points for their spiritual import.  In the parable of the lost sheep, notice how our Lord even phrases the question: “What man among you having a hundred sheep and losing one of them would not leave the ninety-nine in the desert and go after the lost one until he finds it?”  The scribes and Pharisees may not have been shepherds, but they weren’t stupid.  Not one of them would have left the ninety-nine to find the one because that’s the best way of losing the ninety-nine and still not finding the one.  

But in this they did not understand the deeper contrast Christ Jesus was drawing between God and man.  Man has to leave one place to go to another.  God remains with the ninety-nine even as He goes off to find the one.  The life of grace is not lost in the ninety-nine while He seeks by grace to draw back the heart of the one.  And the only way man can have a glimpse at how much God wants a sinner’s heart is by realizing He is so crazy with love as to leave the sure thing in favor of the impossible risk.

The other side of this perspective is the father in the parable of the prodigal son.  Without ever leaving his house, his vision extends to his son who is “still a long way off,” which implies not only that he was looking for him but that also his sight sees him where he is.  Put the two parables together, and we see that only if the Good Shepherd goes in search of the stray can the squalid son lift his head from the pig sty to dream of happiness at home.  Only then does the Father see his wretched son afar off and in mercy run out to meet him.

The reaction of son and father are perfect.  The son resolves to confess, and in his shame to accept a dignity lower than is truly his.  He does confess, but the father does not let him even ask for what is beneath him, let alone allow him to ask and then deny it to him, and instead enriches his son with tokens of love and esteem: the finest robe, a ring, sandals to wear, and the fattened calf to feast upon.

When in our sins we can no longer hide from the Good Shepherd and so we confess our sins to the Father’s representative, we are never lowered beneath our dignity as sons and daughters of God. Rather, every mark of honor we threw away is returned to us in love.  We are again clothed with the finest robe of sanctifying grace and charity which we received at baptism.  The ring is the signet whose seal of the Holy Spirit we received at confirmation.  Sandals are mortification from worldliness by separating us from the earth and keeping us from getting dirty as we tread the paths of this life; they also prepare our feet to run with the truths of the Gospel.  “How beautiful upon the mountains,” says Isaiah, “are the feet of him who brings glad tidings.”  In such a state, the full Catholic life in all its majesty, we are ready to feast on the fattened calf, Christ Jesus Himself sacrificed for our sins and given to us as food in the Holy Eucharist.

This is the happiness of our eternal Father.  His food is our salvation.  His joy is our redemption from sin.  As St. John Chrysostom says, “He feasts on the fruit of His mercy by the sacrifice of His Son.”  This is the festivity of the household ministers, the harmony of the angels, the symphony of the saints.  And it is for us every time we go to confession.

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"A priest is not a priest for himself. He is a priest for you."

– St. John Vianney

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