June 29, 2020

A Questionable Monk




Mark Wilson, a Catholic columnist for Patheos, asked me to answer some questions. Here are the questions and my responses.

= = = =

I want to answer the first two questions together.
1. What do you like about being a Catholic Patheos Writer?
2. What is the Main focus of your particular blog?

I like to believe that I’m contributing something others will find helpful in their own relationships with God. As a monk, the hours of each day of my life weave themselves between the times of the several communal daily services of the Liturgy of the Hours and the Mass and the times for solitary prayer. The communal services are made up largely of giving voice, ear and heart to Scripture, Patristic readings and liturgical prayers. The Patristic and liturgical texts are themselves deeply connected to Scripture. Then, for a Benedictine monk, the times for solitary prayer, between two and four hours daily, also focus on Scripture, even exclusively, but with the aim being depth of receptivity, rather than specified quantities of text; this ancient discipline bears the name “lectio divina,” divine reading. Each monk can discover for himself which text he wishes to use and how much of it. He may find that one word or one line in a text arrests his attention, and he might spend that entire session on that one, or an entire season. Lectio divina has been a major influence on my homilies.

I had never thought of myself as a writer until I realized I was writing homilies all the time. So, my column is homilies. What may be distinctive about that is my underlying stance towards celebrating the Liturgy.

Each Mass begins with a Penitential Act, a renewal of conversion, and it culminates in eating and drinking the Eucharistic Covenant, a life-and-death commitment.

Similarly, the whole Liturgical Year of celebrating the Mass, the whole Liturgy, has Christ’s Passover (“Paschal”) Triduum as its source and summit, for which we prepare by Lenten penitential reconversion and at which we recommit ourselves in the Eucharistic Covenant by renewing our Baptismal Vows.

Beyond my lifelong ongoing conversion as one of the disciples of Christ, I also have my Benedictine monk’s vow that bears precisely that name, “ongoing conversion of ways.”
[St. Benedict uses the Latin frequentative “conversatio,” ongoing conversion, rather than merely the Latin “conversio.” “Conversatio morum”: ongoing conversion of ways.]

My stance behind the body of my homilies is to draw out from the Gospel Christ’s consistent call for our personal conversions, for opening ourselves in vulnerability to become intimates of God. Without our doing that, we are just making noise AT people about “the issues.” And any hypocrite can do that (I make such noise on Facebook, not in my homilies). Long before, far beneath and everlastingly after all other issues is our having issued from the intimacy of very God.

Therefore, the name of my column: “Turn. Love. Repeat.”

= = = =

3. What’s your favorite article/Post you have written?
I would not call the following “favorite,” but important. It speaks of a central theme of my pursuit of God: intentional vulnerability makes intimacy possible. Here it is, "Penance in the River and the Desert: Naked and Unfraid."

= = = =

4. What is your favorite Catholic topic to write about?
In my blog articles I frequently make the point that the Eucharist is NOT a one-way transaction of God giving all and us receiving all. Rather the Eucharist is God committing his all to us as a COVENANT, thereby asking us to commit our all to God in that covenant. It is like exchanging wedding vows: no marriage occurs if one party says “I do” and the other party says “Thank you” and nothing more.

= = = =

5. Who is your favorite Living Writer?
I don’t have one among the living. Among the dead: the holy Gospel according to John; Fr. Hans Urs von Balthasar, especially in his commentaries on Scripture.

June 27, 2020

The Cross of Serving Cold Water to Little Ones


Carrying a Cross by Carrying a Cup






In today’s Gospel, Christ speaks dangerously.
False messiahs, false prophets and religious cults lead their followers to destruction, suicide and murder by demanding loyalty as fierce as Christ demands in today’s Gospel.
Only God would have a right to call for such steadfast faith.
So, Christ is speaking as one who knows he is truly God, or he is lying blasphemously or he is insane.
We own that he is True God and True Man.
What he demands of us is no less than what he himself fulfilled and is still fulfilling.
He offers up all that he is in love and deed, in Spirit, flesh and blood.
He offers up all that he is for the glory of the Father and the good of the world.
Our following him can only require the same:
  • to offer ourselves up, with all our mind, heart, soul and strength;
  • to offer up our all in love and deed, in Spirit, flesh and blood;
  • to offer up our all for the glory of the Father and the good of the world.
It is a high and noble ideal to live entirely for the glory of God and the good of the world.
How might we go about fulfilling it?
In today’s Gospel, Christ upholds that serving God’s glory and the good of the world can be as simple as giving a cool drink to the least of our neighbors.
If one does so little a thing while mindful of following Christ, then Christ says he will surely not lose his reward.
In the same way, we can and ought to give handouts to beggars.
We could also call for big changes that might make begging and beggars rare.
However, we must still give first aid.
When we see people get run over, we must give them first aid.
Afterwards, we could lobby for more traffic lights and lower speed limits as needed.
But FIRST aid always comes FIRST.
And giving beggars handouts is first aid.
So is— as Christ says in today’s Gospel— giving only a cup of cold water to one of these little ones to drink.
Little deeds for God’s glory can count for following Christ and loving him more than loving one’s parent or child.
Yes, we must take up the cross of self-renunciation in big ways and with big ideas.
But we must also take up the cross in little things and in little ways, or else we might be famous for the big things, but have no integrity because we don’t follow through in the little things when no one is looking.
To take up one’s cross and follow Christ— to renounce all we have and are— even, as he says, to turn our backs on our dear ones— this could be holy ONLY if it came out of love that chose the glory of God and true good of everyone over and above all else.
In today’s second reading, the word of the Lord says: you too must think of yourselves as dead to sin and living for God in Christ Jesus.
Here in his Eucharist, Christ is sacrificing his all and living for the heavenly Father in love and deed, in Spirit, flesh and blood— but under the mere seeming of food and drink.
In his Eucharist, Christ is not unlike the kind little deed he calls for in today’s Gospel: only a cup of cold water to one of these little ones to drink because the little one is a disciple.
In this, Christ simply and truly offers his all for the glory of the Father and the good of the world.
Unless we begin to do the same even in some small way, we can never begin to deserve the name of Christian.
Take … my Body … given up for you … my Blood … poured out for you and for many….  DO THIS IN MEMORY OF ME.
Christ in his Eucharist calls and commands us to give up OUR bodies and pour out OUR blood for HIM and for MANY.
We take on that mission in having come here now to celebrate the sacred mystery of this new and eternal covenant.

Turn. Love. Repeat.

June 24, 2020

For the Solemnity of the Birth of St. John the Baptist





Luke 1:57-66,80


From the time of John’s birth his father speaks to him of the tender mercy of our God.

How did John grow up into a man who punished his own body and threatened people with hellfire?


We don’t know for certain when John had his first face-to-face meeting with the Incarnate Mercy of God.


The first time we see them meet face to face, John is baptizing crowds of sinners in the Jordan River, and Jesus is among them.


John looks into the crowd, sees Jesus and says aloud: 
Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!

Right there in that cry of recognition and that choice of words is a clue for reconciling John’s prophetic penances with the tender mercy of his God.


We might like to think that God’s mercy simply consists in God saying, “Forget it ever happened— I’ve wiped it off the face of history.”


Instead, God has chosen to do infinitely much more than that.


He became a real man of real human flesh and blood.


Behold, the Lamb of God whose flesh and blood will be sacrifice to atone for sin and pay for mercy.


God’s mercy in Christ is not the mere cancellation of a debt.

God’s mercy in Christ consists in God paying the price for his own mercy— paying off the debt of sin with his own flesh and blood.

However, his flesh and blood belong to our humanity.

In Christ, our nature, bodies, flesh and blood have become the place, the event and the price of God’s mercy.

We are not spectators, but participants.

Christ’s human flesh and blood, sacrificed for sin, and present in the Eucharist— soon present on this very altar— the human body and blood of God the Son are given to us, his brothers and sisters in flesh and blood— his brothers and sisters in God the Father.

The Eucharist is the price of God’s mercy.

In the Body and Blood of Christ, we are not mere spectators of this price.

We are participants.

We are participants in Christ’s Body and Blood that prove, proclaim and pay the price of God’s mercy.

The Eucharist is the prodigy, the promise, the presence and the price God paid for mercy.

John’s penance is not an effort to buy God’s mercy.

Rather, his penance is a sign of love and thanksgiving, yearning to point forward to and echo the price of God’s mercy— a price paid in flesh and blood so as to offer more than a mere cancellation of debt.

John’s rough diet, his camel skin clothing and solitary life in the desert all point towards the price God paid for mercy.

John, then, does not contradict the song of tender mercy his father sang when John was born.
Blessed be the Lord God of Israel,
for he has visited and redeemed his people...
to perform the mercy promised...
that we... might serve him without fear...
all the days of our life.
AND YOU, CHILD... WILL GO BEFORE THE LORD TO PREPARE HIS WAYS,
TO GIVE KNOWLEDGE OF SALVATION TO HIS PEOPLE IN THE FORGIVENESS OF THEIR SINS,
THROUGH THE TENDER MERCY OF OUR GOD


Turn. Love. Repeat. 


June 20, 2020

God Is for the Birds ... and Our Hairs





Matthew 10:26-33 for the Twelfth Sunday in Ordinary Time



Today’s reading from the holy Gospel ends ugly.

But whoever denies me before others, I will deny before my heavenly Father.

After the authorities arrested Christ, his own apostle Peter publicly denied knowing Christ.

We can PUBLICLY deny that we are followers of Christ.

We can also SECRETLY deny Christ.

We can turn away from Christ in ways that no one else knows.

So he tells us today: Nothing is concealed that will not be revealed, nor secret that will not be known.

There are big and small ways to deny Christ.

There are big and small REASONS to deny Christ.

The hardest ones to avoid are the small ways and the small reasons.

“It was more convenient.”

“Everyone does it.”

“I’m not perfect— so what?”

“I really needed it.”

“It was only a little white lie.”

If, on the other hand, we were faithful to Christ, would we escape inconvenience, suffering or death?

No.

Faithful servants and friends of Christ can still come to harm, and Christ acknowledges that today.

And do not be afraid of those who KILL the body but cannot kill the soul....

The Gospel is complex.

But then the complexities of our big and small choices and reasons throughout the minutes and places of our lives all boil down to two results in the end.

Either we have freely chosen to go to our heavenly Father, or we have not.

God leaves the choice to us.

With Christ speaking in today’s Gospel of denying us in the presence of his heavenly Father if we deny him in the presence of others, is Christ just trying to scare us into faithfulness?

To be honest— that can be part of what his words today contain.

He tells us today to be afraid of being destroyed both soul and body in Gehenna.

Yet, he also tells us three times today: Fear no one; do not be afraid; do not be afraid.

Are not two sparrows sold for a small coin? Yet not one of them falls to the ground without your Father’s knowledge. Even all the hairs of your head are counted. So DO NOT BE AFRAID; you are worth more than many sparrows.

Whereas Christ never told us that either God or his angels keep scorecards of our sins, he tells us today that our Father counts the sparrows, and knows the death of each one.

Then Christ tells us: you are worth more than many sparrows.

God does not count us just as he counts the birds.

Rather: Even all the hairs of your head are counted.

God freely chose to make each of us.

He chose and he continues to choose to let us also make our choices.

God makes us free; and our freely made GODLY choices boost and keep our freedom.

Freely made SINFUL choices do not make us free.

They enslave us as they always have since Adam.

Satan tempted humanity early on with the lie that we could free or remake ourselves with the same freedom with which God is free.

Enslaved by our own freely made bad choice, humanity has never been able to start itself over again for the sake of making a better choice the second time around.

What God has done in Christ is to give the human race both the gift of a new beginning and the gift of a final success story.

Christ is the new beginning of the human race, and Christ is the final success story of the human race.

Christ the Son of God chose to remain faithful to the Father, but he chose to do so as a human being— as one of us, as the head of our race.

He chose to take upon himself the consequences of our sinful choices.

By embracing, entering and swallowing OUR deadly, hell-bound poverty, Christ gave us the wealth of HIS freedom and faithfulness as Son of God.

What Adam and Eve could never have snatched from God, God has freely handed over to save them.

God has handed over to us his own freedom in his Son.

The Church sings of this every year at the Easter Vigil.

Father.... O wonder of your humble care for us! O love, O charity beyond all telling, to ransom a slave you gave away your Son!

Since God has handed over his Son to save our souls and the hairs of our heads, let us take care not to waste his Body and Blood by our choosing to do any thing that does not lead or open to God himself.

The choices we make that truly open us to freedom always reveal the Father from whom we came and the Father to whom we are returning.


Turn. Love. Repeat.


One Benedictine Monk’s Own Thoughts on Rod Dreher’s “Benedict Option”




I am a Benedictine monk, and I’ve been perplexed ever since I first heard of Dreher’s proposal of a “Benedict Option.”

In his “Rulebook” for monks, chapter 66, St. Benedict wrote:

“The monastery should, if possible, be so constructed that within it all necessities, such as water, mill and garden are contained, and the various crafts are practiced. Then there will be no need for the monks to roam outside, because this is not at all good for their souls.”

In the next chapter, St. Benedict wrote of monks whom the abbot has for some reason sent on a journey:

“When they come back from a journey, they should, on the very day of their return, lie face down on the floor of the oratory at the conclusion of each of the customary hours of the Work of God. They ask the prayers of all for their faults, in ease they may have been caught off guard on the way by seeing some evil thing or hearing some idle talk. No one should presume to relate to anyone else what he saw or heard outside the monastery, because that causes the greatest harm. If anyone does so presume, he shall be subjected to the punishment of the rule.”

St. Benedict clearly wanted his monks to have little knowledge of and influence from the world outside the physical enclosure of the monastery. This restriction is a legitimate aspect of the monastic charism, but it is not something appropriate for the whole Church.

Here are the “options” Christ wanted for the Church as a whole.

[Matthew 5:13a,14-16] You are the salt of the earth. You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hid. Nor do men light a lamp and put it under a bushel, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.

[Matthew 28:19-20a] Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.

[Mark 16:15] Go into all the world and preach the gospel to the whole creation.

It would be exceedingly difficult for the Church to obey Christ in these matters if the Church as a whole were to live as St. Benedict wanted monks to live.

During his public ministry— and I emphasize the word “public”— Christ withdrew frequently for solitude and prayer, but he didn’t live as a Benedictine monk.

Why not propose instead the original “Gospel Option” that Christ gave for the Church as a whole? There’s no need to reinvent the wheel.

June 19, 2020

What Did Jesus of Nazareth Look Like?

Jesus of Nazareth was a descendant of Judah, one of the twelve sons of Israel.

The Samaritans descend from four other sons of Israel: Ephraim, Manasseh, Levi, Benjamin.

These are photographs from around 1920 of Samaritans who lived in Nablus, Biblical Shechem, less than forty miles from Nazareth.







Words from the Heart




For the Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus




Here in his Gospel today, Christ offers a goal of “rest” for those “who labor and are burdened.”

Come to me … and I will give you rest.

In leading up to these words today, Christ marked the road to the goal of rest.

First, he told of his doing mighty works among us, expecting us to turn and come to him with faith, open minds and willingness to change [11:20-24].

He bemoaned those who saw his mighty works, but did not repent.

Then, he spoke a prayer of thanks to his Father that some indeed had turned and opened up to what the Father wants to give through Christ.

I give praise to you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth,
for although you have hidden these things
from the wise and the learned
you have revealed them to little ones.
Yes, Father, such has been your gracious will.
All things have been handed over to me by my Father.
No one knows the Son except the Father,
and no one knows the Father except the Son
and anyone to whom the Son wishes to reveal him.

You and I see and believe his mighty works, especially in his sacraments, most especially in his Eucharist.

He calls for us to turn and come to him with faith, open minds and willingness to change.

If we do, we shall learn from him to be meek and humble of heart, and he will reveal the Father to us.

We will come to know the Father, and the Father will give us all things.

That the Father would give us all things in Christ was the last thing the Lord said in leading up to today’s Gospel.

All things have been handed over to me by my Father.
No one knows the Son except the Father,
and no one knows the Father except the Son
and anyone to whom the Son wishes to reveal him.
Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened....
and learn from me....

We are about to come to him in his Eucharistic Flesh and Blood.

However, the Eucharist is not merely a goal at which to rest.

Come to me…. Take my YOKE upon you and LEARN from me.

The Eucharist is a beginning of bearing the YOKE of Christ upon the road of LEARNING from him.

After all, the Eucharist is one of the three sacraments of Christian INITIATION.
INITIATION, not the finish!

Baptism, Confirmation and the Eucharist— the first two are never repeated.

However, the Eucharist must be repeated throughout our lives as the sacrament of ONGOING Christian initiation.

At this moment, here at this altar, we are NOT about to “arrive” at the Eucharist.

No, we are about to start all over again.

We are about to initiate our CONVERSIONS again, to repent again, and we must do so throughout the rest of our days.

To start again to bear the yoke of Christ!

To start again to learn from him with open minds and willingness to change!

That is the only road at whose end we can find rest in seeing and receiving from Christ all things that his Father has delivered to him.


Turn. Love. Repeat.



June 18, 2020

Our Father, We Need You





Matthew 6:7-15, for Thursday of the Eleventh Ordinary Week of the Church Year



Your Father knows what you NEED before you ask him.


The Lord’s Prayer, then, is a short prayer of NEED.


In the first place, we NEED our Father who is in heaven.


To call on him as Father is to confess ourselves to be CHILDREN who NEED him.


So as to be honest in confessing our need for Our Father, we must think and choose and live by knowing that we NEED nothing so much as him, and that all else is nothing if we do not have our Father.


We NEED to let go of all that may stand in the way of seeking to be filled by our Father first and above all.


We then also NEED to ask: Hallowed be thy name.


We NEED that.


Yet, how shall it be fulfilled unless we do the hallowing, and become the hallowing?


To say Hallowed be thy name is to take a stand on going the way of all hallows— a stand on walking the way of all saints.


By saying Hallowed be thy name, we command ourselves to be saints for the name of our Father.


After our Father himself, what we NEED next of all is to be saints, or else all is lost forever.


Against that loss we NEED to pray: Thy kingdom come.


Our Father is a king, and heaven is his kingdom.


We are his children, his subjects, his followers and citizens of his kingdom.


Yet we falsify, nullify, and lose it all unless we see to it that his will be done on earth as it is in heaven.


We NEED to do his will— we NEED it.


We NEED it this day and everyday more than we NEED earthly food.


His will is bread above all being [epio
รบsion, Mt. 6:11].

As the Lord Jesus says it elsewhere: My food is to do the will of him who sent me, and to accomplish his work [Jn. 4:34].


Since we defy our own greatest NEED, we also NEED to ask our Father to forgive us our trespasses.


Even in this, our Father wants that his will be done on earth by our forgiving those who trespass against us.


We NEED to do so, if we are to be children who are with their Father who is in heaven.


We are tempted to go elsewhere than heaven, but are blinded to it by our own FALSE needs by which we lead ourselves into temptation.


We NEED our Father to lead us out of our own self-temptation, and also to deliver us from the evil one who adds his temptations to the ones we make for ourselves.


Your Father knows what you NEED before you ask him.


Nonetheless, we ask him for what we NEED so that we know it ourselves, admit it with humble repentance, and commit our whole being to it with faith, hope, and love.



Turn. Love. Repeat.



June 16, 2020

The "Where are you FROM-from?" question




Many have asked me, “Where are you from?”

When I say, “San Diego” or “California,” many of them then ask another question that implies they think a brown person cannot be from the United States of America.

Questions such as “I mean where were you born?” or “I mean what is your racial background?”

So, if you ever want to know why my skin color and my features are not European, do not ask me where I’m from.

Instead, just ask about my racial background.

Because I’m as San Diegan, Californian or U.S. American as you.

And by the way, “American?”

There are thirty-five sovereign American countries in South, Central and North America.

Antigua and Barbuda.
Argentina.
Bahamas.
Barbados.
Belize.
Bolivia.
Brazil.
Canada.
Chile.
Colombia.
Costa Rica.
Cuba.
Dominica.
Dominican Republic.
Ecuador.
El Salvador.
Grenada.
Guatemala.
Guyana.
Haiti.
Honduras.
Jamaica.
Mexico.
Nicaragua.
Panama.
Paraguay.
Peru.
Saint Kitts and Nevis.
Saint Lucia.
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.
Suriname.
Trinidad and Tobago.
United States.
Uruguay.
Venezuela.


God Bless Thirty-Five Americas!



June 15, 2020

The Southern States Published Their Reason for Forming the Confederacy: Slavery

Confederate Currency. Pixabay / Public Domain.

Statues, flags and monuments of the Confederacy?
Why did the Confederacy come into being and fight a war against the United States of America?
For slavery.
Here are the documented declarations of southern states for forming the Confederacy.

  • "holding, maintaining and protecting the institution known as negro slavery - the servitude of the African to the white race within her limits"
  • "Our position is thoroughly identified with the institution of slavery - the greatest material interest of the world"
  • "A blow at slavery is a blow at commerce and civilization"
  • "Slavery is in the course of ultimate extinction"
  • "the right of property in slaves"
  • "the institution of slavery"
  • "African slavery"
  • "slave-holding"


June 13, 2020

The Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ

Byzantine Paten and Chalice. Wikimedia / Public Domain.





The night Jesus first gave us to eat and drink Holy Communion in his Body and Blood, he himself ate and drank a holy communion of agony and death.

He agonized that night in prayer over holy communion with his Father’s will.

The next day he agonized unto death in holy communion with sinners.

True prayer and communion can be an agony of sadness, fear, pain, suffering and death, not always peace and joy.

True prayer and communion can kill before they come to new life.

In agonized prayer in the Gethsemane garden, in communion with the Father’s will and in communion with sinners, Jesus suffered and died.

Saul of Tarsus had known of the agony of Jesus on the cross; but Saul looked on Jesus and the followers of Jesus as blasphemous enemies of the living, true God.

Near the city of Damascus, Jesus, God the Son, fell upon Saul with light from heaven, demanding, accusing, commanding and leaving Saul blind.

After Jesus stormed him that day, Saul agonized for three days without sight, food or drink.

Did he fear he would never see again?

Did he tell himself, “This is my punishment for helping at the killing of Stephen, for hunting down the followers of Jesus, my punishment for persecuting Jesus who is the Son of God, Jesus who has left me blind.”

As if such agony were not enough, one of the Damascus Christians heard Jesus say of Saul, “I will show him what he will have to suffer for my name.”

On the road to Damascus, Saul suffered in light of Jesus, and would suffer even more for the name of Jesus.

Communion, prayer, agony, suffering, conversion, more suffering and finally death— the combination is not what we would like to have from the hands of Jesus.

Yet, Jesus himself accepted it from the hands of the Father.

Jesus willingly ate and drank it, and he dished out the same for Saul of Tarsus.

In his Gospel today, Jesus also dishes out something that can be tolerated only by conversion: Amen, amen, I say to you, unless you eat the Flesh of the Son of Man and drink his Blood, you DO NOT HAVE LIFE within you.

Were it not for eating and drinking the Flesh and Blood of Jesus, his first followers would have just faded out, and Saul of Tarsus would not have needed to hunt them down for their blasphemy.

Without the Eucharistic Body and Blood of Jesus, all of Christianity would just have died out at the beginning.

Because of the Eucharistic Body and Blood of Jesus, Christianity is possible.

Amen, amen, I say to you, unless you eat the Flesh of the Son of Man and drink his Blood, you DO NOT HAVE LIFE within you.”

We know this Gospel, and we know that many of the disciples who heard it chose to give up on Jesus.

About two thousand years later, you and I are here, struggling to follow Jesus.

Not all who call themselves disciples of Jesus believe, as we do, that we really eat the real Flesh of Jesus and that we really drink the real Blood of Jesus.

Amen, amen, I say to you, unless you eat the Flesh of the Son of Man and drink his Blood, you DO NOT HAVE LIFE within you.”

The Church has said the same in our time, at Vatican Council II [Sacrosanctum Concilium, 10]:

the liturgy is the summit toward which the activity of the Church is directed; it is also the fount from which all her power flows.
From the liturgy, therefore, and especially from the Eucharist, grace is poured forth upon us as from a fountain, and the sanctification of men in Christ and the glorification of God ... are achieved....

Because we eat the Flesh and drink the Blood of the Son of God, we have life within us, but we have it not merely for ourselves.

We have the life within us for the sake of God’s glory and the good of others.

That is why the Church is still here two thousand years later.

That is why the Church continues to be able to win converts for Jesus.

It is because Jesus lives in those who eat and drink his Flesh and Blood.

In spite of sickness, stupidity and sin in the Church, the Flesh and Blood life of Jesus is in the Church.

Jesus blasted Saul with that truth on the road to Damascus: Saul, why are you persecuting ME?

Saul was persecuting men and women whom Jesus counted as his own personal Flesh and Blood.

Saul, why are you persecuting ME?”

We are sinners, and many see us as liars and fools.

Yet we are the Flesh and Blood of Jesus.

We eat and drink what look like wine and a thin wafer, yet we acknowledge them to be truly the Flesh and Blood of Jesus.

Things are not as they appear.

Agony, suffering, more suffering, death— they can all be the stuff of real conversion, real prayer, real communion with God.

Ask Saul at Damascus.

Ask Jesus and listen to him pray in the Gethsemane garden.

The agonies of Gethsemane and Golgotha opened the way for the ecstasies of rising from the dead.

Just as the living Father sent me and I have life because of the Father, so also the one who feeds on me will have life because of me.


Turn. Love. Repeat.