In the words of Meister Eckhart, a Dominican mystic:
If the only prayer you pray in your life is thank you, it will be enough.
This morning a poem by e.e. cummings provided a sense of gratitude.
Timely, any time, but even more so this week of Thanksgiving.
i thank You God for most this amazing
day: for the leaping greenly spirits of trees
and a blue true dream of sky;and for everything
which is natural which is infinite which is yes
(i who have died am alive again today,
and this is the sun’s birthday;this is the birth
day of life and love and wings:and of the gay
great happening illimitably earth)
how should tasting touching hearing seeing
breathing any-lifted from the no
of all nothing-human merely being
doubt unimaginable You?
(now the ears of my ears awake and
now the eyes of my eyes are opened)
~ e.e. cummings ~
(Complete Poems 1904-1962)
On this Feast of Christ the King we recall that Jesus came to serve, not to be served, and calls us to do the same. When He was asked by Pilate whether or not He was King of the Jews, his reply was, “You say that I am.” So we learn that claiming Christ’s Kingship is not as meaningful as living Christ’s Kingship, which is a life of service. We might also remember that when we truly claim the Kingship of Christ, it ultimately leads to the cross.
This statue is found in the chapel of the Dominican Nuns of Prouille, France. This was the original site (though not the original buildings) of the first convent of Dominican Nuns, founded by St. Dominic in 1206. Dominic founded the nuns first; the Dominican Friars were founded in 1216.
In today’s Gospel passage from Luke we read: Jesus entered the temple area and proceeded to drive out those who were selling things, saying to them, “It is written, My house shall be a house of prayer, but you have made it a den of thieves.”
Isn’t all of God’s creation sacred? How do we profane it? What is our responsibility toward this house of prayer in which we dwell?
No Christian escapes a taste of the wilderness on the way to the promised land.
“No Escape” by Evelyn Underhill
I’ve been thinking about this as I witness and experience the fragility of life all around me. I wonder how it is that we seem to approach life as if we had some guarantee that everything would go well, and we would “live happily ever after.” Then I read this morning’s quote from Gratefulness.org. I guess I’ll just keep working on letting go and trying to welcome the present moment . . . with the help of the Spirit.
I try to remind myself that we are never promised anything, and that what control we can exert is not over the events that befall us but how we address ourselves to them.
Today is the feast of a Dominican saint, St. Albert the Great. He was born sometime around the year 1200, and died in Cologne in 1280. His teachings that stretched the Church of his time to look beyond the confines of a Christian
milieu for truth could stand us in good stead in these days when many proclaim that they have a corner on the truth. Albert and his famous student, St. Thomas Aquinas, found truth in the writings of Aristotle . . . found that they complemented Christian teaching. The Church named Albert a Doctor of the Church and a saint in 1931. We would do well to cultivate the willingness to listen and study the experience and beliefs of others before condemning them out of hand. We would also do well to cultivate the discipline to rigorous study that was demonstrated by St. Albert the Great, rather than taking the easy road of listening to what we want to believe, and taking that for truth.
The first reading today, on the Thirty-third Sunday of Ordinary Time talks about a worthy wife. Obviously sisters and nuns are not wives. And in the days that the Book of Proverbs there weren’t nuns or sisters, so our lives could not be imagined. So I’ve taken a little liberty here and changed a few of the words so that it relates to women, whether married or not.
Proverbs 31: 10-13, 19-20, 30-31
When one finds a worthy [woman], her value is far beyond pearls.
[Those who] entrust their heart to her, have an unfailing prize.
She brings good, and not evil, all the days of her life.
She obtains wool and flax and works with loving hands.
She puts her hands to the distaff, and her fingers ply the spindle.
She reaches out her hands to the poor, and extends her arms to the needy.
Charm is deceptive and beauty fleeting; the woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.
Give her a reward for her labors, and let her works praise her at the city gates.
And if you happen to be a single woman, maybe you might think about joining us as we “reach out our hands to the poor, and extend our arms to the needy. Sister Anne Bertain, a Dominican Sister of San Rafael, does this every day in San Francisco at St. Dominic Catholic Church. To learn more about us, please go to our website. If you would like to pray with us, we invite you to San Rafael for an Advent Vespers service on December 1st. Please feel free to contact me to find out more.