Saturday, March 28, 2015

Saturday March 28 Reflection by Father Robert Barron

With Jesus Christ, something altogether new has entered the world, something that is deeply pleasing to God and therefore of salvific significance to us. Called "redemptive suffering," it is beautifully stated in the first letter of Peter: "If you put up with suffering for doing what is right, this is acceptable in God's eyes. It was for this that you were called, since Christ suffered for you in just this way and left you an example to have you follow in his footsteps."

What, precisely, is redemptive suffering? Well, it is not just suffering per se. Suppose you are being physically abused; suppose you are being economically and politically oppressed, and you suffer. That's just suffering, plain and simple - and there is nothing good about it. Nor is it the suffering that comes from resisting evil through violence. That has its place - as a last resort - but that is not redemptive suffering. It might be morally justified or even heroic, but it is not redemptive.

Redemptive suffering is what Jesus did on the cross: putting up with suffering for doing what is right. This is pleasing in God's eyes, precisely because it is redemptive for the world, precisely because it takes away something that God hates.

How does it work? Well, it is not tantamount to being a doormat in the presence of evil or just allowing oneself to be walked on. It always involves a clear naming of the violence or injustice or disorder. It entails speaking the truth publicly and unambiguously. And then it is being willing to suffer the effects of the injustice or violence.

What does this do? It allows the perpetrator of the injustice (and the whole world) to see what his violence has done, to really see it. And it signals that the sufferer of the injustice is living in an entirely different spiritual space.

Redemptive suffering literally redeems (i.e., buys back) the perpetrator of injustice.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Thursday March 19 Reflection for Lent by Father robert Barron


Lent Day 30 – Beasts of the Earth

by Fr. Robert Barron

During Lent, we may spend time doing battle with what we call our “animal passions.” But this may not be the right way to put it because God’s covenant is made, not just with men and women, but with the animals as well.

I know this sounds strange to us, but that is because we are the heirs of modernity, a philosophical movement that tends to separate human beings radically from other animals and from nature. Modernity sees them as, at best, things that might serve us or be mastered by us. But God has a much more integrated vision of things. All creatures, coming forth from God, are ontological siblings—brothers and sisters of the same Father. In finding oneness with God, we find, ipso facto, oneness with the rest of creation.
This idea is reflected in much of the great tradition prior to modernity. St. Thomas Aquinas says that vegetable, plants, and animals are ensouled like us. In fact, the word “animal” just means “thing with an anima [a soul]”. Thomas saw us as part of a great chain or hierarchy of being. But for the modern consciousness, we are disconnected from this chain. We have so mastered nature that we are, effectively, alienated from it.
In biblical terms, this alienation is an outgrowth of sin. Sin is the caving in on oneself, prompted by fear and pride, effectively cutting us off from each other. But sin also cuts us off from the non-human world around us. It cuts us off from our love for it, our curiosity about it, our care for it, and our fascination with it.
But Jesus, in his own person, joins together the disparate elements of creation, the spiritual and the material, angels and wild beasts. He brings them together and re-links the chain of being.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015


FW: Elections - Chesterfield, NJ

Sisters Left to right -Miriam, Etta and Barbara
Sister Miriam asked me to email you with the good news of our Elections:
Abbess Sister Etta Patton
Vicaress Sister Miriam
Councilor Sister Barbara

We thank them for their williness to serve the community
and to help us follow the Gospel Way of Life
after our Mother Saint Clare
and promise of prayers





Tuesday march 17 Reflection by Father Robert Barron

Father Robert Barron
The story of Lazarus is rich in meaning for us, especially during Lent. At the tomb of Lazarus, Jesus "groaned in spirit." Jesus' trouble here is the result of his identification with sinful humanity. He goes all the way to the bottom of it, letting its truth affect him. Jesus does not just love us abstractly or from a distance. He comes close to us.

More to the point, this groaning of Jesus signals the pain that God feels at our imprisonment. If his glory is our being fully alive, then his agony is tied to our sin. How salvific it can be to listen to this groaning of the Lord at our own lack of life.

In the same vein, Jesus weeps for his friend. There is something heartbreaking about this for it is the only time in the Scripture that Jesus is described as weeping. Whatever form death takes within us - physical, psychological, spiritual - it is something deeply troubling to God.

One detail is particularly moving: Jesus asks, "Where have you laid him?" Sin alienates us from our God, making us strangers to him. Just as in the book of Genesis, God looked for Adam and Eve, who were hiding from him, so here God incarnate doesn't know where his friend Lazarus is.

Then the Lord comes to the tomb. We hear that it was a cave with a stone laid across it. When things are dead, we bury them away, we hide them. When we feel spiritually dead, we lock ourselves up in the darkness of our own anxiety and egotism and fear. But there is a power, a divine power, sent into this world whose very purpose is to break through all such stones. "Lazarus, come out!" Are there any words more beautiful and stirring in the whole New Testament? From whatever grave we are lying in, Jesus calls us out.

"And the dead man came out, tied hand and foot with burial bands, and his face was wrapped in a cloth." Lazarus comes out with all of the signs of death still clinging to him. So Jesus says "Untie him and let him go." Here we see it: Whatever limits, binds, controls, orders, dominates us - these are the enemies of God.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Monday March 16 Reflection by Father Robert Barron

LENT DAY 27 - LAZARUS, COME OUT! by Father Robert Barron
Jesus raises three people from the dead in the Gospel stories: the daughter of Jairus, the son of the widow of Naim, and Lazarus. In the symbolic language of the Gospels, these physical resuscitations are evocative of raisings from sin to spiritual health.

First, St. Augustine says that the young daughter of Jairus, who dies inside her house, symbolizes the sin that takes place in our thoughts and our hearts. That sin has not yet borne fruit in action.

Second, the dead son of the widow of Naim, carried to the gate of the house, represents sin that has expressed itself concretely in action. This dead man is raised and given back to his mother, who stands for the Church.

Thirdly, and most drastically, we have the case of Lazarus. He stands for the worst kind of moral and spiritual corruption, sin that has been expressed in the world and become embedded in evil custom and habit. This is the rot that has really set in, producing a spiritual stink.

In the Gospel of John, the raising of Lazarus takes place just before the Passion, just before the climactic moment when Jesus defeats death by succumbing to it. When told that Lazarus has died, Jesus says, "Our beloved Lazarus has fallen asleep, but I am going there to wake him." With these words, he signifies we are in a new world. Within the confines of the old world, the old consciousness, death is ultimate, and its very finality gives it its power. However, by referring to it as "sleep," Jesus is signaling that through God's power and purpose, death is not ultimate; it is not the final word.

When Jesus first arrives at Bethany, he learns that Lazarus had already been in the tomb four days. This is to signal that there is no mistake; the man is truly and definitively dead. But it is no concern for the one who transcends both space and time, whose power stretches beyond life and death as we know them.

Martha comes out to meet Jesus and indicates her incipient belief in his identity and power: "Lord, if you had been here, my brother never would have died. Even now, I am sure that God will give you whatever you ask him." Jesus replies, "Your brother will rise again...I am the resurrection and the life." God hates death and doesn't want its phony finality to ruin human life.

Coming to Lazarus's tomb, Jesus feels the deepest emotions and begins to weep. This is God entering into the darkness and confusion and agony of the death of sinners. He doesn't blithely stand above our situation, but rather takes it on and feels it. But then, like a warrior, he approaches the enemy. "Take away the stone," he directs.

Those who are stuck within the confines of this world protest, "Lord, surely there will be a stench." They are essentially saying, "Don't mess with death; you can't reverse it. Its power is final."

But Jesus is undaunted. He commands, "Lazarus, come out!" This is the voice, not simply of a hopeful human being, not simply of a great religious figure; this is the voice of God who hates death and has dominion over it. And therefore, "The dead man came out." Jesus then orders the onlookers to, "Untie him and let him go free."

That command still echoes today. Just as he did with Lazarus, Jesus sets us free from death and the ways of death.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Saturday Lent Reflection by Father Robert Barron

LENT DAY 25 - SPIRITUAL BLINDNESS by Father Robert Barron
During Lent we are often asked to confront our spiritual blindness. One story from the Gospels, about the man blind from birth, offers us new perspective.

The first thing to note is that the blind man symbolizes all of us. We are all blind from birth, affected negatively by original sin.

What does Jesus do when he confronts this man? He announces who he is: "I am the light of the world." In John's Gospel there are a series of "I am" statements: "I am the bread of life; I am the Good Shepherd; I am the way, the truth and the life." And here he issues another of those powerful claims: "I am the light."

Jesus is the way to see. When we are grafted onto him, when we assume his mind and his attitude, when we live his life, we are able to see the world as it is, and not through the distorting lens of our fear and our hatred.

In the story, Jesus makes a mud paste by spitting on the ground. Many Church Fathers saw this as the mixing of divinity and humanity (the Incarnation) which effectively saves us. God bends low in order to show us what he looks like. Then he smears the paste on the man's eyes becoming the salvator, the bearer of the salve. After the man washes in the pool of Siloam, he comes back and he is able to see.

Now at this point, we would expect that everyone around the cured man would rejoice, but just the contrary; they are infuriated and confounded. The Pharisees try first to deny that a real healing took place: "He is not really the one; he just looks like him." But the man himself corrects them, "No, I'm the one alright."

Then they try to tie him up in legal knots. "This man cured on a Sabbath; only sinners cure on the Sabbath; therefore, your cure came from an evil source." Once more, the man's response is a masterpiece of constraint and understatement: "I don't know whether he was a sinner or not; all I know is that I was blind and now I see."

Why are the Pharisees so reactive? Why don't they want this man to be cured? I suggest it's because we sinners don't like the ways of God; we find them troubling and threatening because they undermine the games of oppression and exclusion that we rely upon in order to boost our own egos.

But God doesn't come to play these games. He comes to help us see.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Thursday March 12 Reflection by Father Robert Barron

LENT DAY 23 - GOD OF THE NATIONS- by Father Robert Barron
While we take comfort from much of the Bible's message, the Bible is not always comforting news. It often carries a message of warning and danger. During this penitential season, it's good for us to attend to the darker side of the biblical message.

When we read about the pollution of the Lord's Temple, we discover a familiar prophetic theme: the people have wandered from the ways of God, rendering impure what God intends to be just and upright. God sends prophet after prophet in order to bring his people back, but they are ignored, mocked, and rejected. Then God's judgment falls on the unfaithful nation.

What is the instrument of God's justice? In one case, it was the Chaldeans, one of the heathen nations. They came and destroyed the city of Jerusalem, burned the Temple, carried off its most sacred objects, and led the people into exile.

What was this? Dumb bad luck? Just the give and take of geo-political forces? No! The Bible insists that this should be read as God's action, more specifically, as God's judgment and punishment. How at odds this is with the typically modern Enlightenment view, according to which religion is a private matter, confined to the heart and the mind of the individual. For the biblical authors, God is the Lord of history and time, and hence the Lord of nations and the Lord of nature. His works and actions must be discerned in all events.

If you want an example of a boldly theological reading of political events, look to Karl Barth, widely considered one of the greatest Protestant theologians of the twentieth century. At the start of the First World War, Barth was a country pastor in Switzerland who had been trained in the confident liberal theology that was all the rage around the turn of the last century. This theology shared the common view that with the rise of the natural sciences, the development of technology, and with political and cultural liberation, human beings could build the Kingdom of God here on earth.

From the quiet of his parsonage in Switzerland, Barth followed the horrors of the First World War, the slaughter of hundreds of thousands, the devastation of nations, the collapse of the European social order. Then something dawned on him: it was precisely the inflated self-regard and hubris of nineteenth-century liberalism that led to this disaster.

He saw the European powers as descendants of the Tower of Babel builders, attempting to reach up to God on their own terms and in their own way. Behind the sunny confidence of the liberal period, he discerned arrogance, imperialism, and colonialism. The advances of science were made possible through the rape of the environment and economic comfort for some was made possible through the enslavement of others.

In the end, bad personal habits have bad consequences, but bad national habits have bad consequences as well.