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