Dear Associates and Friends,
The Lord be with you.
The Solemnity of Pentecost, which closes the Paschal season by celebrating the coming of the Holy Spirit, finds our Paschal candle reduced from its original impressive tall size to a more modest height. We will light that candle mostly on Sundays, so it lasts the rest of the time until next Easter.
Our Vietnamese monks pray the Rosary together after Vigils each day. Our entire Liturgy is in English, but they close their Rosary with a prayer to St. Joseph in their tonal Vietnamese language, which sounds like a pleasant chant, or a prayer in tongues.
Usually April showers bring May flowers, but this year the weatherman reversed it. The mild winter brought out flowers in April, while it seemed to rain all through May.
Our local Doulas County has had only three confirmed cases of Coronavirus infection. Our Guest House will remain closed all through June, and perhaps through July, since retreatants come from all over.
Fr. Thaddeus and Br. Ambrose have been clearing the area between the repair garage and the very large car/truck port, which they built a couple of years ago. This provides more room for machinery to operate between those buildings and our bakery.
Tending the garden and cutting the grass are in full swing. The barn swallows have returned in double numbers. They and the four white pigeons add graceful life to the courtyard.
The challenge of Coronavirus and violence in the whole world and in particular within our United States faces us all. As contemplative monks our vocation is to remain aware and informed of the efforts of active workers, and to support our brothers and sisters by our intercessory prayer and sacrifice, asking God to bring healing and Christ’s justice and peace to His people.
The first shall be last and the last shall be first
Do you remember when James and John, the sons of Zebedee, asked Jesus to sit at His right hand and left hand in His Kingdom? Jesus told them that it was a question for the Father to decide.
In the closing days of Easter season Holy Mother Church in her Liturgy gives us the answer. We hear St. Paul, the last called to be an Apostle, finally succeeding to bring his Gospel teaching to Rome—but he comes as a prisoner in chains, winning a divine victory through human defeat in a very Christlike way.
The fourth Gospel tells us how the Risen Christ brings reconciliation to Peter by means of a triple profession of love to make up for his triple denial of Jesus. Our Lord confirms Peter in his role of Shepherd of Christ’s flock.
In the first three Gospels Jesus calls Peter to follow Him at the very beginning of His public ministry. In St. John’s fourth Gospel Jesus does give Simon, son of John, the nickname Cephas, which means Peter, at the very beginning, but Jesus does not say to him, “Follow Me,” until Peter has completed a three year time of training at the end of the Gospel.
Then Jesus explains how Peter will follow Him: “Another will tie you and lead you to crucifixion.” So Peter also wins a divine victory through human defeat in a very Christlike way.
This seems to be the answer to the question of who is seated at Our Lord’s right hand and left hand in His Kingdom. As a person enters the vast two circular columns at the entrance of St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome, there are two great statues at the right and the left: Peter holding the keys of the Kingdom and Paul with the double-edged sword of God’s Word.
At the end of John’s Gospel we may also find an answer to the question of what is the place for John, the Beloved Disciple (who asked for first place) in the Father’s plan. John is called to remain firm, to persevere, until our Lord Jesus comes to bring him into full union with Himself and the Father. That is also our Christian vocation—how we share in Christ’s divine victory through human defeat—by persevering to the end.
In the Sacred Heat,
Your Ava Monks