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Oratory of Divine Love Reflection 670: Recognizing Jesus : A reflection on the Gospel of Luke (Luke 24 : 13-35)

13 Now that very day two of them were going to a village seven miles from Jerusalem called Emmaus, 14 and they were conversing about all the things that had occurred. 15 And it happened that while they were conversing and debating, Jesus himself drew near and walked with them,16 but their eyes were prevented from recognizing him.


17 He asked them, “What are you discussing as you walk along?” They stopped, looking downcast. 18 One of them, named Cleopas, said to him in reply, “Are you the only visitor to Jerusalem who does not know of the things that have taken place there in these days?”


19 And he replied to them, “What sort of things?” They said to him, “The things that happened to Jesus the Nazarene, who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, 20 how our chief priests and rulers both handed him over to a sentence of death and crucified him.


21 But we were hoping that he would be the one to redeem Israel; and besides all this, it is now the third day since this took place.


22 Some women from our group, however, have astounded us: they were at the tomb early in the morning 23 and did not find his body; they came back and reported that they had indeed seen a vision of angels who announced that he was alive.


24 Then some of those with us went to the tomb and found things just as the women had described, but him they did not see.” 25 And he said to them, “Oh, how foolish you are! How slow of heart to believe all that the prophets spoke! 26 Was it not necessary that the Messiah should suffer these things and enter into his glory?”


27 Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them what referred to him in all the scriptures. 28 As they approached the village to which they were going, he gave the impression that he was going on farther.


29 But they urged him, “Stay with us, for it is nearly evening and the day is almost over.” So he went in to stay with them. 30 And it happened that, while he was with them at table, he took bread, said the blessing, broke it, and gave it to them.


31 With that their eyes were opened and they recognized him, but he vanished from their sight.


32 Then they said to each other, “Were not our hearts burning [within us] while he spoke to us on the way and opened the scriptures to us?”


33 So they set out at once and returned to Jerusalem where they found gathered together the eleven and those with them 34 who were saying, “The Lord has truly been raised and has appeared to Simon!”


35 Then the two recounted what had taken place on the way and how he was made known to them in the breaking of the bread.


In the Resurrection narratives, a kind of pattern arises; Jesus is not recognized. He is a stranger as we chanted at Vigils on Good Friday. Mary Magdalene did not recognize Him; she thought He was the gardener until He called her by name.


Also, Cleophas and his companion did not recognize Him although like Mary Magdalene they knew Him well. Jesus, a stranger, a pleasant and very knowledgeable companion joined them in their journey to Emmaus and at their insistence joined them for a meal.


It will take an act on Jesus’ part to bring them into the light and so He did. St. Luke recorded that moment: “And it happened that while they were at table, He took bread, said the blessing, broke it and gave it to them.” In that instant the grace of faith, of sight flooded them and the bread of Life fed them - they were lifted up from despair, from shattered hopes, from a terrible darkness. Christ the Light illuminated their hearts.


And with that, their eyes were opened and they recognized Him but He vanished from their sight but not from their faith, from their memory. They had truly seen Him - the Risen Crucified One - and there was more - they received Him in the Holy Eucharist - the Lord Jesus literally gave Himself to them.


So with us, now, we gather to celebrate the Holy Eucharist and at this very moment we are being given the grace of desire to receive Him, the grace of sight to recognize Him as our Food of Life - these are graces beyond words, and beyond our understanding - totally gratuitous, totally merciful.


May this daily celebration consume us as it did Cleophas and his companion as it has consumed countless others so that you and I can say, “I know Him - He is no stranger to me!”


Fr. John Denburger, OCSO



Prayer: SPIRITUAL COMMUNION: My Jesus, I believe that Thou art truly present in the Most Holy Sacrament. I love Thee above all things, and I desire to possess Thee within my soul. Since I am unable now to receive Thee sacramentally, come at least spiritually into my heart. I embrace Thee as being already there, and unite myself wholly to Thee; never permit me to be separated from Thee. Amen

Quote from a Saint: “Always remain close to the Catholic Church, because it alone can give you true peace, since it alone possesses Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament, the true Prince of Peace.” - St. Padre Pio.

Questions for reflection:

  1. Was there ever a time in your life when you did not recognize Jesus? What was it that made you begin to acknowledge and follow him?

  2. Have you ever fallen away from the faith or regular attendance at Mass? Did you recognize the Lord as being present in the Eucharist at that time? Were you looking for the Lord during your time away? What brought you back?

  3. Have you or someone you know had an experience with God that left you or them radically changed?

  4. Jesus’ breaking open the Word and the breaking of bread during the road to Emmaus story are frequently referred to as the first Mass. Does this cause you to rethink your feelings about attending Mass?

  5. We no longer have the Lord bodily amongst us, but we do have him here with us in the Eucharist. Do you spend time with our Eucharistic Lord outside of Mass? Do you take time after Communion or Mass to pray to Him while He is still present inside of you?

  6. Have you ever experienced a desire to receive the Lord in the Eucharist? Do you feel this desire every time you go to Mass?

  7. Have you ever thought about just how close you are to the Lord after receiving Holy Communion?

  8. Have you ever struggled with recognizing the Lord in the Eucharist? Have you over come this struggle yet? If so, what helped you to recognize Him? If not, what are some of the things that you have tried? Have you prayed for the graces to see and believe?

  9. When you read the Road to Emmaus passage above put yourself into the story. Are you just an observer? One of the disciples? Someone who just happened to be walking upon the road at that time? How does hearing Jesus break open the Old Testament effect you? Do you think it would impact your life if you had been there?

--Benjamin & Kristen Rinaldo, CfP

Weeks 661-670

Oratory of Divine Love Reflection 669: Loving Jesus : A reflection on The Passion as recorded by Mark (Mark 14: 1-72)

1 The Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread were to take place in two days’ time. So the chief priests and the scribes were seeking a way to arrest him by treachery and put him to death. 2 They said, “Not during the festival, for fear that there may be a riot among the people.”

3 When he was in Bethany reclining at table in the house of Simon the leper, a woman came with an alabaster jar of perfumed oil, costly genuine spikenard. She broke the alabaster jar and poured it on his head. 4There were some who were indignant. “Why has there been this waste of perfumed oil? 5 It could have been sold for more than three hundred days’ wages and the money given to the poor.” They were infuriated with her. 6 Jesus said, “Let her alone. Why do you make trouble for her? She has done a good thing for me. 7 The poor you will always have with you, and whenever you wish you can do good to them, but you will not always have me. 8 She has done what she could. She has anticipated anointing my body for burial. 9 Amen, I say to you, wherever the gospel is proclaimed to the whole world, what she has done will be told in memory of her.”

10 Then Judas Iscariot, one of the Twelve, went off to the chief priests to hand him over to them. 11 When they heard him they were pleased and promised to pay him money. Then he looked for an opportunity to hand him over.

12 On the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, when they sacrificed the Passover lamb, his disciples said to him, “Where do you want us to go and prepare for you to eat the Passover?” 13 He sent two of his disciples and said to them, “Go into the city and a man will meet you, carrying a jar of water. Follow him. 14 Wherever he enters, say to the master of the house, ‘The Teacher says, “Where is my guest room where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?”’ 15 Then he will show you a large upper room furnished and ready. Make the preparations for us there.” 16 The disciples then went off, entered the city, and found it just as he had told them; and they prepared the Passover.

17 When it was evening, he came with the Twelve. 18 And as they reclined at table and were eating, Jesus said, “Amen, I say to you, one of you will betray me, one who is eating with me.” 19 They began to be distressed and to say to him, one by one, “Surely it is not I?” 20 He said to them, “One of the Twelve, the one who dips with me into the dish. 21For the Son of Man indeed goes, as it is written of him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed. It would be better for that man if he had never been born.”

22 While they were eating, he took bread, said the blessing, broke it, and gave it to them, and said, “Take it; this is my body.” 23Then he took a cup, gave thanks, and gave it to them, and they all drank from it. 24 He said to them, “This is my blood of the covenant, which will be shed* for many. 25 Amen, I say to you, I shall not drink again the fruit of the vine until the day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God.” 26 Then, after singing a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.

27 Then Jesus said to them, “All of you will have your faith shaken, for it is written: ‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be dispersed.’ 28 But after I have been raised up, I shall go before you to Galilee.” 29 Peter said to him, “Even though all should have their faith shaken, mine will not be.” 30 Then Jesus said to him, “Amen, I say to you, this very night before the cock crows twice you will deny me three times.” 31 But he vehemently replied, “Even though I should have to die with you, I will not deny you.” And they all spoke similarly.

32 Then they came to a place named Gethsemane, and he said to his disciples, “Sit here while I pray.” 33 He took with him Peter, James, and John, and began to be troubled and distressed. 34 Then he said to them, “My soul is sorrowful even to death. Remain here and keep watch.” 35 He advanced a little and fell to the ground and prayed that if it were possible the hour might pass by him; 36 he said, “Abba, Father, all things are possible to you. Take this cup away from me, but not what I will but what you will.” 37 When he returned he found them asleep. He said to Peter, “Simon, are you asleep? Could you not keep watch for one hour? 38 Watch and pray that you may not undergo the test. The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak.” 39 Withdrawing again, he prayed, saying the same thing. 40 Then he returned once more and found them asleep, for they could not keep their eyes open and did not know what to answer him. 41 He returned a third time and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and taking your rest? It is enough. The hour has come. Behold, the Son of Man is to be handed over to sinners. 42 Get up, let us go. See, my betrayer is at hand.”

43 Then, while he was still speaking, Judas, one of the Twelve, arrived, accompanied by a crowd with swords and clubs who had come from the chief priests, the scribes, and the elders. 44 His betrayer had arranged a signal with them, saying, “The man I shall kiss is the one; arrest him and lead him away securely.” 45 He came and immediately went over to him and said, “Rabbi.” And he kissed him. 46 At this they laid hands on him and arrested him. 47 One of the bystanders drew his sword, struck the high priest’s servant, and cut off his ear. 48 Jesus said to them in reply, “Have you come out as against a robber, with swords and clubs, to seize me? 49 Day after day I was with you teaching in the temple area, yet you did not arrest me; but that the scriptures may be fulfilled.” 50And they all left him and fled. 51 Now a young man followed him wearing nothing but a linen cloth about his body. They seized him, 52 but he left the cloth behind and ran off naked.

53 They led Jesus away to the high priest, and all the chief priests and the elders and the scribes came together. 54 Peter followed him at a distance into the high priest’s courtyard and was seated with the guards, warming himself at the fire. 55 The chief priests and the entire Sanhedrin kept trying to obtain testimony against Jesus in order to put him to death, but they found none. 56 Many gave false witness against him, but their testimony did not agree. 57 Some took the stand and testified falsely against him, alleging, 58 “We heard him say, ‘I will destroy this temple made with hands and within three days I will build another not made with hands.’” 59 Even so their testimony did not agree. 60 The high priest rose before the assembly and questioned Jesus, saying, “Have you no answer? What are these men testifying against you?” 61 But he was silent and answered nothing. Again the high priest asked him and said to him, “Are you the Messiah, the son of the Blessed One?” 62 Then Jesus answered, “I am; and ‘you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of the Power and coming with the clouds of heaven.’” 63 At that the high priest tore his garments and said, “What further need have we of witnesses? 64You have heard the blasphemy. What do you think?” They all condemned him as deserving to die. 65 Some began to spit on him. They blindfolded him and struck him and said to him, “Prophesy!” And the guards greeted him with blows.

66 While Peter was below in the courtyard, one of the high priest’s maids came along. 67 Seeing Peter warming himself, she looked intently at him and said, “You too were with the Nazarene, Jesus.” 68 But he denied it saying, “I neither know nor understand what you are talking about.” So he went out into the outer court. [Then the cock crowed.] 69 The maid saw him and began again to say to the bystanders, “This man is one of them.” 70 Once again he denied it. A little later the bystanders said to Peter once more, “Surely you are one of them; for you too are a Galilean.” 71 He began to curse and to swear, “I do not know this man about whom you are talking.” 72 And immediately a cock crowed a second time. Then Peter remembered the word that Jesus had said to him, “Before the cock crows twice you will deny me three times.” He broke down and wept.


When the Risen Jesus appeared to His disciples at the Sea of Tiberias, He had prepared a meal and afterwards directed His attention to Simon Peter in a very personal way. Three times Jesus questioned him, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me?” In turn, Peter might have questioned Jesus, “Master do You love me?” but he didn’t.

But you and I can take up that question, “Jesus, Lord, do You love me?” - we could be bold and even ask three times. And, my brothers and sisters, to our question Jesus does answer. His response encompasses the 119 verses of the Passion we just heard. But let us find His answer to just two verses clearly revelations of His love for you and me, and for all.


In Gethsemane, what Peter, James, and John witnessed and heard, St. Mark recounts for us and for all time: “Then He said to them, ‘My soul is sorrowful even to death. Remain here and keep watch with Me.’ He advanced a little and fell prostrate in prayer, saying, ‘My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; yet, not as I will, but as You will’.”


Jesus reveals what is in His soul; He exposes His vulnerability and it is a sorrow beyond telling - the sorrow of Judas’ betrayal, the sorrow of Peter’s threefold denial, the sorrow of the rejection and plotting by His own people. He bears an anguish so great that He will sweat blood and it will come to a peak on the cross, “My God, My God, why have You abandoned Me?” This anguish is the darkness of sin, of evil, of infidelities of all people, of us - we can only imagine the weight of it all but even that act only scratches the surface, if that. Do we ever consider what our redemption cost Him?

Yet, “He advanced…” He moved away from the disciples, it seems He had to be alone, anguish can be like this. “He advanced…” despite the sorrow, the anguish He advanced through them, with them to a willing, total sacrifice of Himself for all, for us. So in answer to our question “Jesus, do You love me”

He can say, “What greater proof do you want or need?” Actions speak louder than words and Jesus’ actions are a kind of thunder.


So St. Mark presents four advances or movements - Jesus advances through His inner pain to do what the Father wills. Three times He moves to His disciples - like a person in stress who paces back and forth - the Jesus they saw and spoke was not smiling - more than likely they had never seen Him in such a state - but sleep overtook them.

There is one more advance Jesus makes - not recorded in the account - the advance is here and now among us and for us. At the time of Holy Communion we will advance to receive Him in Holy Communion but He will have advanced to you, to me - will have graciously moved to you and me giving Himself totally.

“Lord, do You love me?” - with faith we literally hold the living answer, the ‘Yes’ in our hands or receive Him into our mouths. Either way - His extravagantly real love, awesome and infinitely merciful, gracious beyond words is yours, is mine.

In that moment soon to come, Jesus asks each of us, “What does this extravagant sacrificial love mean to you? What answer do you, do I give?

Fr. John Denburgerr, OCSO



Prayer: Lord, strengthen my faith so that I will never deny you. Help me to make sacrifices for you joyfully and willingly. Help me to lean into your yoke and never look back. Amen

Quote from a Saint: “There is no evil to be faced that Christ does not face with us. There is no enemy that Christ has not already conquered. There is no cross to bear that Christ has not already borne for us, and does not now bear with us. And on the far side of every cross we find the newness of life in the Holy Spirit, that new life which will reach its fulfillment in the resurrection. This is our faith. This is our witness before the world.” – St. John Paul II

Questions for reflection:

  1. Do you love Jesus? How do you show Jesus your love? Do you spend time in prayer with Him? Do you sit in adoration with Him? Do you spend time reading the Gospels to deepen your understanding of his teachings?

  2. Do you believe that Jesus loves you? Why or why not?

  3. Have you shown Jesus your love for Him like Mary Magdalene did by sacrificing something of value for Him or by intentionally living a less indulgent lifestyle in order to give more to His church and the poor? Was there anyone in your life who responded like Judas, with shock or outrage about your gift to the Lord?

  4. Have you ever found yourself behaving like Peter and denying our Lord or that you are a follower of His? Or, perhaps you did not actively deny Him, but maybe you made choices or participated in something that would make it hard to know that you were one of His followers?

  5. Do your actions speak louder than words when it comes to loving Jesus and living in a way that pleases Him? When you do fall do you immediately repent once you realize what you have done and, if it is serious, seek out confession? Or, do you use it as an excuse to indulge in sinful pity party?

  6. Have you ever found yourself in Jesus’ position of asking God to take this “cup” from you?” Were you still able to accept God’s will if he did not take it away?

  7. Have you ever felt like God has abandoned you? During your next prayer time pray Psalm 22 (the Psalm that Jesus quotes from as during the crucifixion) and remember to pray this Psalm the next time you feel like He has abandoned you.

  8. Have you ever resisted Jesus’ advances towards you? If you have, reflect upon why.

  9. When you receive the Eucharist do you ever reflect upon the sacrifice that the Lord made in order so that we can receive Him regularly? Do you tell the Lord that you love Him when you receive?

--Benjamin & Kristen Rinaldo, CfP

Oratory of Divine Love Reflection 668: Trial and Repentance : A reflection on the Book of Daniel (Daniel 3: 14-20, 91-92, 95)

14 King Nebuchadnezzar questioned them: “Is it true, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, that you will not serve my god, or worship the golden statue that I set up?

15 Now, if you are ready to fall down and worship the statue I made, whenever you hear the sound of the horn, pipe, zither, dulcimer, harp, double-flute, and all the other musical instruments, then all will be well; if not, you shall be instantly cast into the white-hot furnace; and who is the God who can deliver you out of my hands?”


16 Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego answered King Nebuchadnezzar, “There is no need for us to defend ourselves before you in this matter. 17 If our God, whom we serve, can save us from the white-hot furnace and from your hands, O king, may he save us! 18 But even if he will not, you should know, O king, that we will not serve your god or worship the golden statue which you set up.”

19 Nebuchadnezzar’s face became livid with utter rage against Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. He ordered the furnace to be heated seven times more than usual 20 and had some of the strongest men in his army bind Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego and cast them into the white-hot furnace.


91 Then King Nebuchadnezzar was startled and rose in haste, asking his counselors, “Did we not cast three men bound into the fire?” “Certainly, O king,” they answered.


92 “But,” he replied, “I see four men unbound and unhurt, walking in the fire, and the fourth looks like a son of God.”


95 Nebuchadnezzar exclaimed, “Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who sent his angel to deliver the servants that trusted in him; they disobeyed the royal command and yielded their bodies rather than serve or worship any god except their own God.

"Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who sent his angel to deliver the servants who trusted in him; they disobeyed the royal command and yielded their bodies rather than serve or worship any god except their own God" (Dan. 3:95). What God did for these three young men would serve as a beacon of hope for the Babylonian captives. Nebuchadnezzar’s shock was nothing compared to the encouragement the exiles felt every time they retold the story. Like our Jewish ancestors in the faith, we need to build each other up in faith by telling and retelling the stories of God’s loving-kindness. The gifts God has bestowed on us will continue to be fruitful if we use them to his greater glory. It is the task of every believer to proclaim the message of God’s merciful love thereby becoming a light for all around. The seed of the Word can only bear fruit when it is sown with abandon. The more we share the Good News, the more we grow in love of the Word incarnate. The more we love the Word Incarnate, the more we love the people that God loves.


Because God so loves the world, Jesus came to seek out the lost who have hidden themselves due to fear and shame. Once he found them and recognized their distress, Jesus called them by name and assured them that he loved them. Not only that, he reminded them that they were precious to him. That being said, he lovingly picked them up and gently cradled them close to his heart. Until the end of time, the divine physician promises to heal their blindness so that they can see the beauty of life in Christ. He continues to open their ears so that they can hear the Good News of salvation that will strengthen their faith. He stretches out his arm to heal the lame so that they can jump and dance and run in his presence. What I find the most interesting thing about God’s saving grace is that He desires to make us whole even more than we desire to be made whole.


It is not a matter of knowing how exactly to express our sins. Rather, it is essential that we recognize ourselves as sinners in need of mercy and throw ourselves into the outstretched arms of Jesus who was crucified for our sake. “Yet it is not so much that we go to the Lord, but that he comes to us, to fill us with his grace, to fill us with his joy. Our confession gives the Father the joy of raising us once more. It is not so much about our sins as about his forgiveness. Think about it: if our sins were at the heart of the sacrament, almost everything would depend on us, on our repentance, our efforts, our resolves. Far from it. The sacrament is about God, who liberates us and puts us back on our feet… The Lord's gaze on each one of us is not a blinding beacon that dazzles and puts us in difficulty, but the gentle glow of a friendly lamp, which helps us to see the good in us and to realize the evil so that we can convert and be healed with the support of His grace.” (Pope Francis)


Fr. Jerome Machar, OCSO



Prayer: Jesus grant me a faith like Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego’s. Strengthen me so that I will be able to stand the trials if persecution comes my way. Amen.

Quote from a Saint: “Our own evil inclinations are far more dangerous, than any external enemies.”—St. Ambrose (340-397)

Questions for reflection:

  1. How would you react if you were in the situation that Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego found themselves? Would you compromise your faith if the ruling government told you to?

  2. It is likely that you have found yourself in situations where you have been tempted to compromise your faith in small ways. Have you ever gone along with the crowd and participated in something that is contrary to your faith? Perhaps you kept silent about something when you should have spoken up about an issue of faith or morals or went to a place or event that would be considered scandalous.

  3. Do you build people up by retelling stories from the Bible or from the lives of the saints? What has been your experience when you do? What holds you back when you do not?

  4. Are you a light shining for others that will draw them into living out and spreading Christ’s Gospel? If not, what changes do you need to make to be a light? Bring this with you to your next time of prayer.

  5. Have you experience a growth in your love of the Word of God the more that you share it? Have you tried sharing the Word with others? Why or why not?

  6. Have you experienced the Good Shepherd finding you when you were lost?

  7. Do you see yourself as a sinner in need of God’s grace?

  8. Have you ever considered that the Lord wants to make you “whole even more than you desire to be made whole”? Does this change how you understand God’s Divine Mercy

  9. When was the last time that you went to confession? If it has been a while (more than a month) find out when confession is available in a parish near you and unburden your soul.

--Benjamin & Kristen Rinaldo, CfP

Oratory of Divine Love Reflection 667: The Greatest Commandment (Mark 12: 28-34)

28 One of the scribes,  when he came forward and heard them disputing and saw how well he had answered them, asked him, “Which is the first of all the commandments?”  


29 Jesus replied, “The first is this: ‘Hear, O Israel! The Lord our God is Lord alone! 30 You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’

31 The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”

32 The scribe said to him, “Well said, teacher. You are right in saying, ‘He is One and there is no other than he.’

33 And ‘to love him with all your heart, with all your understanding, with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself’ is worth more than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.”

34 And when Jesus saw that [he] answered with understanding, he said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” And no one dared to ask him any more questions.

It’s not easy to like certain people, but it is possible to love them. The difference is this: liking is an instinctive and bodily reaction like the rumbling of a stomach - we don’t have much control over it. But loving is in the will, not in the glands; it is in that part of ourselves which is subject to moral command. It’s not a bodily reaction, like a wink. Liking is reciprocal, but love isn’t necessarily reciprocal. The friends we say we like, like us. But a mother can love a wayward son even though he does not return the affection. God can love us even when we turn away from his graces.


In this morning’s Gospel, Jesus doesn’t say “You shall like your neighbor” but “You shall love your neighbor”, because it is hard to like certain kinds of people, such as those who cut in front of you or keep banging their yogurt cups for the last drop. But they can be loved, at least initially, sometimes only by a good deed done to them. Doing good deeds which love demands makes the heart warmer. When there is no spontaneous love, love begins only as a duty. But just as we learn to write by writing, so we learn to love by loving. The “I ought” after a while passes to “I love”.


We know from the parable of the Good Samaritan that the neighbor is not the one next door, it is the one in need, or maybe even an enemy. But how can they be loved as I love myself? Well, how do I love myself? Do I love myself always, or at certain moments? Do I love myself when I do something embarrassing, or when I hurt my neighbor’s reputation? On the other hand, do I not love myself when I do something for the community, or for the Order, especially when it is time-consuming and unnoticed?


If you think about it, it becomes clear that I love myself when I do what is good, and I hate myself when I do what is wrong. There will be certain things in my neighbor which I love, and other things which I will not love, and they are the same things that were loved and hated in me. Applying it in a general way, I will love the sinner, but hate the sin; I will love the thief, but hate the robbery; love the pro-choicers, but hate abortion.


It’s easy to like and love those who love us. But when it comes to loving those who are not very likable, it takes the love of God to give the inspiration. Love isn’t love unless it is directed to a person. Every human being ought to be loved in the unique mystery of their concrete personality. And when we come across many persons whom we do not “like”, then we have to remember the advice of St John of the Cross: “Where there is no love, put love, and you will find love.” That is what God does with us, who are not very lovable: he puts his love and thus finds us very lovable.



Fr. Justin Sheehan, OCSO



Prayer: Lord, teach me to love others as much as I love myself. Amen.


Quote from a Saint: “Do not neglect hospitality, for through it some have unknowingly entertained angels.” -- Saint Paul in his Letter to the Hebrews


Questions for reflection:

  1. Have you ever considered that love is an act of the will and not a biological response? If not, does this make you reconsider what love is?

  2. Is there anyone in your life that you find hard to like? How does this manifest in your life? Do you find yourself pre-annoyed by just seeing or hearing their voice? Do you pray for this person or people regularly? Have you tried showing love to them through your actions?

  3. Have you ever thought of love as being a duty? Does this challenge you? If so, bring it to the Lord in prayer and ask Him to teach you to love all of those with whom you come into contact.

  4. Have you ever found yourself in the position of the Good Samaritan (helping someone who you may not like)? If not, how do you think that you would react in that kind of situation? Is your gut reaction something that would please the Lord? If not, take this to the Lord and ask Him to show you the right way to respond.

  5. In what ways do you express your love for yourself? Can you see yourself loving others (especially the unlikable) in a similar way?

  6. How are you at “loving the sinner but hating the sin”? Do you ever find yourself having trouble separating the two?

  7. Is there a certain type of person that you think it would be really challenging for you to love? If so, start praying to the Lord and St. Francis to help you learn to love and care for those people just like St. Francis learned to love and minister to the lepers.

  8. One of the things that marked early Christians was how they loved others and sought out ways to love other people. They helped the sick, the orphaned, and others that were not being helped by their communities. Do you show love like this? Do people recognize us contemporary Christians by how we love others? If not, how can we change that?

--Benjamin & Kristen Rinaldo, CfP

Oratory of Divine Love Reflection 666: Detachment: A Reflection on the Book of Exodus (Exodus 20: 1-17)


1 Then God spoke all these words: 2  I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.

3 You shall not have other gods beside me. 4 You shall not make for yourself an idol or a likeness of anything in the heavens above or on the earth below or in the waters beneath the earth; 5 you shall not bow down before them or serve them.


For I, the LORD, your God, am a jealous God, inflicting punishment for their ancestors’ wickedness on the children of those who hate me, down to the third and fourth generation; 6 but showing love down to the thousandth generation of those who love me and keep my commandments.


7 You shall not invoke the name of the LORD, your God, in vain. For the LORD will not leave unpunished anyone who invokes his name in vain.


8Remember the sabbath day—keep it holy. 9 Six days you may labor and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is a sabbath of the LORD your God. You shall not do any work, either you, your son or your daughter, your male or female slave, your work animal, or the resident alien within your gates. 11 For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea and all that is in them; but on the seventh day he rested. That is why the LORD has blessed the sabbath day and made it holy.


12 Honor your father and your mother, that you may have a long life in the land the LORD your God is giving you. 13 You shall not kill. 14 You shall not commit adultery. 15 You shall not steal. 16 You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor. 17 You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, his male or female slave, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.



“I, the Lord, am your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, that place of slavery.”


The true and living God, who is Lord, who is our God, who is intimately connected to us, is the one who set us free, the Liberator.


He is the one who constantly sets us free from our idols and attachments, as we try over and over to reduce him to our own terms, to someone or something we can grasp.


But we know the God who set us free from Egypt only by keeping to the emptiness and openness of sabbath rest… when we put everything down.  


We know him without knowing, in setting out without knowing where we’re going, like Abraham, like the Israelites wandering in the desert, breaking camp over and over just when they were settling in, to head out after the Cloud.


Both this practice of aimless wandering and the observance of the commandments train us to live in the land of promise, flowing with milk and honey.


Just as a larva, by wriggling free of its cocoon, develops the muscles it will need to fly, so we prepare ourselves to receive the rich abundance of the Promised Land by our everyday spiritual practice…  


Our Cloud and our column of Fire that constantly force us to break camp and set out again for the desert is Christ crucified.


Whether we look for signs or wisdom, he explodes our attempts to reduce God to our own terms and reveals “the foolishness of God, wiser than any human wisdom, and the weakness of God, stronger than any human strength.”


Just as the Israelites were tempted to settle in and get comfortable at a campsite and ignore the Cloud; as they set up a golden calf when Moses was away too long… so in the spiritual life we are often tempted to grab hold of what we imagine is a “silver bullet”: an insight or practice, an understanding or person that will save us.


But the only silver bullet is the realization that there is no silver bullet.


Merton wrote powerfully of idolatry as fundamentally attachment to ourselves:


Detachment from things does not mean setting up a contradiction between “things” and “God” as if God were another “thing” and as if his creatures were his rivals. We do not detach ourselves from things in order to attach ourselves to God, but rather we become detached from ourselves in order to see and use all things in and for God… There is no evil in anything created by God nor can anything of his become an obstacle to our union with him. The obstacle is in our “self,” that is to say, in the tenacious need to maintain our separate, external, egotistic will. It is when we refer all things to this outward and false “self” that we alienate ourselves from reality and from God. It is then the false self that is our god, and we love everything for the sake of this self. We use all things, so to speak, for the worship of this idol which is the imaginary self.


In Bernard’s words: “there is nothing that burdens one so heavily as oneself. For who is so wretched a master, who so cruel a tyrant—one not at all sparing of the little slave subject to it—as a person’s own will?”


Monastic life is one way—a methodical way, over a lifetime—to gradually break free from “self-will,” that is “selfish will,” the will of a small self that is simply the residue of our brokenness.


Living according to a Rule, under an Abbot, with a set schedule, guided by a tradition and community outside ourselves, we become fully ourselves by self-forgetfulness…


Like a violinist who with time surrenders his self-conscious need to impress, to impose his own way, and begins to lose himself in the music of the wider orchestra, aligned with every move of the conductor… 


Fr. Isaac Slater, OCSO



Prayer: “Father, I abandon myself into your hands; do with me what you will. Whatever you may do, I thank you: I am ready for all, I accept all. Let only your will be done in me, and in all your creatures - I wish no more than this, O Lord. Into your hands I commend my soul: I offer it to you with all the love of my heart, for I love you, Lord, and so need to give myself, to surrender myself into your hands without reserve, and with boundless confidence, for you are my Father.”--Charles de Foucauld

Quote from a Saint: “Do not be afraid to abandon yourself unreservedly to His loving Providence, for a child cannot perish in the arms of a Father Who is omnipotent.”--St. Margaret Mary Alacoque

Questions for reflection:

  1. Have you ever confessed to violating the 1st commandment (You shall not have other gods beside me)? Is there anything in your life that has become a god for you? Bring this with you to your next time of prayer and ask God if there is anything in your life that has become god-like to you.

  2. Do you have any idols in your life? Ask God to show you if you have let anything become an idol in your life.

  3. How do you celebrate Sundays? Is it a time of God, family, and rest for you or has it become just another day of the week on which you happen to go to church?

  4. Do you let the practice of your faith train you for your entrance into the promised land (Heaven)?

  5. Have you ever been guilty of reducing God to your own terms? What brought you to the realization that you were doing it?

  6. Have you been searching or found a spiritual method that you would call a “silver bullet”?

  7. Has your will ever gotten in the way of your walk with the Lord? Have you tried living the spiritual life your way? What were the results?

  8. How attached are you to your possessions, friends or even family? Do any of these attachments separate or hold you back from running after God with abandon?

  9. If you live under a rule of life, have you let it form you in your spiritual life? Have you totally submitted to the rule or do you buck against it?

  10. Are you afraid to lose yourself in the beautiful music of the God who created and redeemed you? Why or why not?

--Benjamin & Kristen Rinaldo, CfP

Oratory of Divine Love Reflection 665: Finding your Mountaintop: A Reflection on the Gospel of Matthew (Mathew 9: 2-10)

2 After six days Jesus took Peter, James, and John and led them up a high mountain apart by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, 3 and his clothes became dazzling white, such as no fuller on earth could bleach them.

4 Then Elijah appeared to them along with Moses, and they were conversing with Jesus.


5 Then Peter said to Jesus in reply, “Rabbi, it is good that we are here! Let us make three tents: one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.”


6 He hardly knew what to say, they were so terrified.


7 Then a cloud came, casting a shadow over them; then from the cloud came a voice, “This is my beloved Son. Listen to him.”

8 Suddenly, looking around, they no longer saw anyone but Jesus alone with them.

9 As they were coming down from the mountain, he charged them not to relate what they had seen to anyone, except when the Son of Man had risen from the dead.


10 So they kept the matter to themselves, questioning what rising from the dead meant.


Last Sunday, Pope Francis concluded his weekly audience with this question. "To permit the voice of God to speak to my heart and to preserve it in goodness, am I willing to retreat a little into the 'wilderness', that is, to dedicate a little space to consider this?" That voice led Abraham to the heights of Mount Moriah. That same voice spoke to the apostles atop Mount Tabor. The time of Lent is a time to mount the heights. Unfortunately, our guilt bogs us down and our shame hinders our upward progress. We pay too much attention to our sins and too little to God’s mercy.


Today, we ascend the mountain, following Jesus who brings us close to the heart of the Father. Having reached the heights, we can breathe in the fresh air of the Spirit and hear the clear voice of the Father echoing in our hearts. Caught up in God’s loving embrace, we find ourselves in harmony with one another and all creation. God’s abundant love fills our hearts with a taste of Christ, who is the flavor of Heaven.


Those who make the climb in response to the divine call are not nameless strangers. We have only to recall Jesus’s words: “I am the good shepherd. I know my sheep and my sheep know me” (Jn. 10:14). I call my sheep by name and lead them forth (CF Jn.10:3). Like Abraham, we approach the altar intending to make a sacrifice only to discover that God has prepared a better one for us. We go to lengths to destroy ourselves only to discover that he has already sacrificed his beloved son so that we might live. All we have to do is stop punishing ourselves and accept his forgiveness. The Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world calls us to come to him and partake of his blood-bought salvation. The climb is strenuous, but the sight from the heights is glorious and worth the effort.


The psalmist stood on the heights and was overwhelmed by the majesty he encountered. “What return can I make to the Lord for all his goodness to me?” (Ps. 116:12) In that moment of awe, like him, we come to realize that there is nothing we can offer that is worthy of his majesty. Unworthy and worthless as we are, we humbly approach the fountain of living water and drink the cup of salvation. We have only to recall Jesus’s words. “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink… From his innermost being will flow streams of live-giving water” (Jn. 3: 37, 38). To think that while there is nothing we can do on our own, all things are possible in Him. From the hand of God we will receive the cup of salvation and as we drink of it we will taste the sweetness of his love. We must keep in mind that our salvation, won by the passion, death, and resurrection of His Son, is a manifestation of His glory. By saving us from sin and death, our Creator revealed Himself as our Savior, and in His saving work, He is glorified. Because we are redeemed on account of His kindness and not for anything in us, the credit and glory for salvation goes totally to Him and not to us. When we try to understand the depth of our sin and the superabundance of God’s mercy, we will gain a better understanding of the glory of the Lord.


Together with the apostles, we are called to climb the Mount of Transfiguration where we will encounter the Lord of Glory. Atop the mountain, we are given a glimpse of the glory of the Father shining on the face of the Son. Jesus is all that is good and great. In him is only light and no darkness, and in his light, we see light. Bathed in this light, we see God’s glory revealed in his outgoing heart. To think that although he is sufficient in himself, God chose to indulge his heart by creating and sustaining the world. By so doing, he made manifest the inherent goodness of his nature. Because of his superabundant love, he takes great delight in the joy of his creatures. Because he only did what he saw the Father do, Jesus was never confined within himself, he lived for us and died for us so that we might enjoy the fullness of life in him. The only reason that we have ever seen God’s power is because of the tremendous love that He has for us in His heart made manifest in His Beloved Son. If we are going to see God work in our lives then we are going to have to set free the love God has planted in our hearts. Until we get to the point where the love of God is motivating everything we do, everything we say, and everything that we think, we will not see God’s power work through us. As St Paul writes to the church at Corinth ‘we have been given the light of the glory of God in the face of Christ.’ We need to be bearers of that light to all we meet.


At the heart of the Christian faith is a deep awareness that God has never grown weary of us. We believe that Jesus was born for us, that Jesus died for us, and that he rose to life for us. For a moment, the veil of the Holy of Holies was lifted, and the apostles saw the God of Glory seated upon his cherubic throne in communion with his Son. Being witnesses to this conversation, we come to realize just how much God loves us. The Son, wrapped in the embrace of the Father and the Spirit stretches out his arms to embrace us. All that is needed is that we throw ourselves into his open arms. In love’s embrace, we can journey from bondage to freedom. I loved Pope Francis’s words. “Lent is the season of grace in which the [mountain top] can become once more — in the words of the prophet Hosea — the place of our first love…In the presence of God, we become brothers and sisters, more sensitive to one another: in place of threats and enemies, we discover companions and fellow travelers.” We, like the disciples, need to find our personal mountaintop where we can set up a listening post. That which was revealed atop Mount Tabor to a chosen few has become the sign lifted up from the earth for all people to see and be drawn to.


Fr. Jerome Machar, OCSO


Prayer: “O GOD of unchangeable power and eternal light: Look favorably upon your Church, that wonderful and sacred mystery; and by the tranquil operation of your perpetual providence carry out in her the work of men’s salvation and let the whole world feel and see that things which were cast down are being raised up, that those things which had grown old are being made new, and that all things are being brought to perfection through him by whom all things were made, your Son Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.” (a prayer for the Church from the Ordinariate of the Chair of Saint Peter)


Quote from a Saint: “Prayer is not asking. Prayer is putting oneself in the hands of God, at this disposition, and listening to his voice in the depths of our hearts.”--St. Theresa of Calcutta


Questions for reflection:

  1. How does the concept of God speaking to you make you feel? Do you want God to speak to you?

  2. Do you take comfort in the idea that we are not nameless strangers to God? Is it a comfort to be known? What parts of that make you uncomfortable? How can you use this discomfort to better align your life to the will of God?

  3. Some people find themselves constantly seeking spiritual highs to keep their faith “alive,” and find it difficult to keep the faith in times of dryness. Do you ever find yourself doing this? How can you keep the faith even when you are not “feeling” God’s presence?

  4. Are you open to following God’s call wherever it may lead or do you find yourself playing it safe by not taking the time to listen to His voice?

  5. Have you accepted the Lord’s forgiveness? Is there a certain sin that you secretly believe is so bad that it is beyond the Lord’s forgiveness? If so, make an act of contrition and then get to confession as soon as possible and share it Jesus to receive His absolution.

  6. Do you fear the effort that it takes to develop a robust prayer life? It takes persistence and hard work to climb a mountain. What about this makes you uncomfortable?

  7. Reflect on this passage: “If we are going to see God work in our lives then we are going to have to set free the love God has planted in our hearts.” How does one set free the love God has planted? How have you done this in your own life?

  8. Do you ever worry that God grows weary of you? Since He does not, is that reassuring to you? How does that effect your relationship with God?

  9. How close are you to reaching your own personal mountaintop so that you can have your own listening post? What steps have you taken to get to this point?

--Benjamin & Kristen Rinaldo, CfP

Oratory of Divine Love Reflection 664: Prayer: A Reflection on the Gospel of Matthew (Mathew 6: 7-15)

7 In praying, do not babble like the pagans, who think that they will be heard because of their many words.

8 Do not be like them. Your Father knows what you need before you ask him.

9 “This is how you are to pray:

Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name,

10 your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as in heaven.

11 Give us today our daily bread;

12 and forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors;

13 and do not subject us to the final test, but deliver us from the evil one.

14 If you forgive others their transgressions, your heavenly Father will forgive you.

15 But if you do not forgive others, neither will your Father forgive your transgressions.


Lent is a graced time for serious reflection leading to repentance as our preparation for the celebration of the Resurrection of the Lord Jesus - but also with our whole life in mind, not just 40 days.


Today the Gospel draws our attention to our prayer life, so personal and unique to each of us. Jesus commands us, “In praying, do not babble like the pagans…” - in the Greek the verb used is “to stammer” but has also taken on the meaning of ‘babble’ or ‘vain repetition’.


How does prayer become vain repetition? I believe that happens when the words of prayer are used to impress God with our treasured holiness or even to impress ourselves with the heights of our piety. Is such possible? Anything is possible and it can happen to anyone, even to a monk!!!


The prayer Jesus taught is sober, to the point and touching the most important aspects of our baptismal relationships - our relationship with God, with our neighbor and ourselves. If by conscious, deliberate sin we contradict what we pray by our lives, our choices then even the Our Father becomes babble, vain repetition…noise!


At the end of the prayer we make this petition: “...lead us not into temptation” because the testing, the temptation may prove to be too difficult, too challenging. This raises another point - does my conduct, my behavior ever lead others into the testing, the temptation? God forbid that how we live becomes an occasion of sin for another!!


The Lord hears the cry of the poor, i.e. the cry of those who acknowledge and accept their need, poverty, sinfulness but not the cry of the rich, i.e. those rich in themselves who can only babble.


Fr. John Denburger, OCSO




Prayer: “Our Father, Who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name; Thy kingdom come; Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread; and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us; and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.

Quote from a Saint: “Sometimes when I am in such a state of spiritual dryness that not a single good thought occurs to me, I say very slowly the ‘Our Father,’ or the ‘Hail Mary,’ and these prayers suffice to take me out of myself, and wonderfully refresh me.”--St. Therese of Lisieux

Questions for reflection:

  1. Do your times of reflection ever lead you to repentance? If not, pray an examination of conscience and see if anything comes up that you need to repent of.

  2. When was the last time that you intentionally prayed the Our Father and reflected deeply on it? If it has been some time, try doing it during your next quiet time with the Lord.

  3. Have you ever known someone who had issues with the rosary because it seemed like vain repetition? Maybe you even thought this way at some point. What changed your mind? How is the rosary different than vain repetition?

  4. Do you ever feel as though you fall into vain repetition when praying?How do you know when you start doing this? How do you bring yourself back to more authentic prayer?

  5. Are there times when your conscious and deliberate actions and attitudes contradict what you are praying? What do you think this does to the effectiveness of your prayer?

  6. Reflect on the last line of the Gospel reading: “If you forgive others their transgressions, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, neither will your Father forgive your transgressions.” Does that make you nervous? Do you find it hard to forgive others but expect God to forgive you?

  7. Does the way you live your life lead others to sin? Why is that bad?

  8. Do you ever feel like the Lord does not hear your prayers? How do you react? Do you quit praying or do you persevere in prayer.

--Benjamin & Kristen Rinaldo, CfP

Oratory of Divine Love Reflection 663: The Gift of Trust: A Reflection on Leviticus and the Gospel of Mark (Leviticus 13: 1 - 2, 44 – 46; Mark 1: 40 -45)


[Leviticus 13]

1 The LORD said to Moses and Aaron: 2 When someone has on the skin a mark, lesion, or blotch which appears to develop into a scaly infection, the person shall be brought to Aaron, the priest, or to one of the priests among his sons.

44 the man has a scaly infection and is unclean. The priest shall declare him unclean; his infection is on his head.

45 The garments of one afflicted with a scaly infection shall be rent and the hair disheveled, and the mustache covered. The individual shall cry out, “Unclean, unclean!”

46 As long as the infection is present, the person shall be unclean. Being unclean, that individual shall dwell apart, taking up residence outside the camp.

[Mark 1]

40 A leper came to him [and kneeling down] begged him and said, “If you wish, you can make me clean.”


41 Moved with pity, he stretched out his hand, touched him, and said to him, “I do will it. Be made clean.”


42 The leprosy left him immediately, and he was made clean.


43 Then, warning him sternly, he dismissed him at once.


44 Then he said to him, “See that you tell no one anything, but go, show yourself to the priest and offer for your cleansing what Moses prescribed; that will be proof for them.”


45 The man went away and began to publicize the whole matter. He spread the report abroad so that it was impossible for Jesus to enter a town openly. He remained outside in deserted places, and people kept coming to him from everywhere.


We heard in Leviticus: “If a man is leprous and unclean, the priest shall declare him unclean…he shall dwell apart making his abode outside the camp.” And one day, the man who approached Jesus found himself declared a leper and unclean - a death sentence! We can suppose that he was married with children and supported his wife and family; it was a normal Jewish life - and then, in a few moments, through an examination, he began to exist in a living death. No hope, no cure, nothing to look forward to except death - and it could not come soon enough.


But the leper had heard of this Jesus of Nazareth, surely of His miracles – so with courage and hope he approached Jesus keeping his distance and kneeling cried out, “If you wish, you can make me clean!” - a heart-rending cry that touched Jesus deeply. Much to the horror of His disciples and those standing around Jesus approached the man and touched him - I believe it was not a quick touch, rather Jesus laid His hands on the man’s head - in that act He showed respect to the man’s humanity and dignity - which it seemed he had lost.


Jesus healed him immediately “I do will it…Be made clean!” At Jesus' word, the leprosy, the horror was over - like it never happened. It was a kind of resurrection in an instant. Jesus’ only request, “Tell no one anything…go to the priest” but the man couldn't contain himself, how could he? He spoke of it and often so that people then kept coming in greater numbers.


There are any number of lessons we might take from this Gospel that pertain to our own spiritual journey. I offer two.


The first - the Gospel proclaims something of the unspeakable mercy of the Lord Jesus - no matter what burden we carry, no matter what sin we have committed, great or small, Jesus is always approachable, always open to us in our humanity, always receptive - such is His unspeakable mercy. In fact, even before we are moved to approach Him in adoration, in praise, in contrition, in desire, He has already approached us; His hand is outstretched, desiring to touch us in our depths, a touch like no one else’s.


The second I offer has to do with the leper’s cry, actually a prayer; as terrible as his condition was, he did not demand, rather he begged and his plea was very, very respectful, “If you will, you can make me clean!” - “if you will” - aren’t those the very words we pray in the Our Father - Your will be done - they certainly are!


The man placed his trust in Jesus surrendering himself to the Lord’s will - he gave Jesus permission to act - isn’t that what prayer is about? We make our requests, tell the Lord what is in our heart, and the Lord so respects our freedom that He will not enter, take over, carry out His wisdom in whatever way He decides unless we truly say, “Come.” This gift of trust which raises us above our fears, doubts, anxieties is a most blessed grace…priceless.


How sacred we are to the Lord! How deeply and graciously He reverences us, respects our freedom - it is beyond our comprehension. Perhaps, the most important prayer is “Lord, reveal to me who You are, who You are for me. Grant me trust!”


Fr. John Denburger, OCSO


Prayer: “Lord, reveal to me who You are, who You are for me. Grant me trust!


Quote from a Saint: “When I was in sin, the sight of lepers nauseated me beyond measure; but then God himself led me into their company, and I had pity on them. When I became acquainted with them, what had previously nauseated me became the source of spiritual and physical consolation for me.” St. Francis of Assisi


Questions for reflection:

  1. Do you consider Jesus as being approachable and receptive? How has the way you relate to Jesus changed as you have progressed through your spiritual journey?

  2. How can we experience cleansing and surrender to the will of God in Confession? How do you feel after you go to Confession?

  3. Jesus is approaching and reaching out His hand to us before we even consider reaching out to Him. What does that say about the nature of Jesus? Does this concept change how you think of your relationship to Him, both now and in the past.

  4. Have you accepted the gift of trust entirely? Do you feel as through you are lifted above fears, doubts, and anxieties? What can you do to work toward fully accepting the gift of trust in the Lord?

  5. When you pray, do you pray like the leper, “If you will it”, or do you demand? What is the difference?

  6. Who are the “lepers” (people you see as “unclean”) in your life? Do you pray for them and give them your compassion?

  7. Have you ever been the leper seeking mercy and healing from God?

  8. Have you ever seen anyone transformed by the mercy of God?

  9. How merciful are you? Do you try to use Christ as your model for mercy?

--Benjamin & Kristen Rinaldo, CfP

Oratory of Divine Love Reflection 662: Finding rest in the Lord: A Reflection on the 1st Book of Kings and the Gospel of Mark (1 Kings 3: 4-13, Mark 6: 30-34)

[1 Kings 3:4-13]

4 The king went to Gibeon to sacrifice there, because that was the great high place. Upon its altar Solomon sacrificed a thousand burnt offerings.

5 In Gibeon the LORD appeared to Solomon in a dream at night. God said: Whatever you ask I shall give you.

6 Solomon answered: “You have shown great kindness to your servant, David my father, because he walked before you with fidelity, justice, and an upright heart; and you have continued this great kindness toward him today, giving him a son to sit upon his throne.

7 Now, LORD, my God, you have made me, your servant, king to succeed David my father; but I am a mere youth, not knowing at all how to act—

8 I, your servant, among the people you have chosen, a people so vast that it cannot be numbered or counted.

9 Give your servant, therefore, a listening heart to judge your people and to distinguish between good and evil. For who is able to give judgment for this vast people of yours?”

10 The Lord was pleased by Solomon’s request.

11 So God said to him: Because you asked for this—you did not ask for a long life for yourself, nor for riches, nor for the life of your enemies—but you asked for discernment to know what is right—

12 I now do as you request. I give you a heart so wise and discerning that there has never been anyone like you until now, nor after you will there be anyone to equal you.

13 In addition, I give you what you have not asked for: I give you such riches and glory that among kings there will be no one like you all your days.

[Mark 6:30-34]

30 The apostles gathered together with Jesus and reported all they had done and taught.

31 He said to them, “Come away by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while.” People were coming and going in great numbers, and they had no opportunity even to eat.

32 So they went off in the boat by themselves to a deserted place.

33 People saw them leaving and many came to know about it. They hastened there on foot from all the towns and arrived at the place before them.  

34 When he disembarked and saw the vast crowd, his heart was moved with pity for them, for they were like sheep without a shepherd; and he began to teach them many things.


“Come away by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while” (Mk. 6:31). This is a wonderful reading to begin a hermit day. It would be useful to remember that hermit days were instituted in response to Jesus’s invitation: “Come to me, all who labor and are heavily laden, and I will give you rest” (Mat. 11:28). Like Solomon, we need to find a resting place close to the heart of God. Once we have found that quiet place, we have to enter into it. Recall the words of the Psalmist: “Rest in God alone, o my soul, for my yearning is for him” (Ps. 62:5). Once we quiet our minds and still our hearts, the Spirit of God enables us to enter into communion with the Living God. In that quiet place, we can hear the gentle whisper of the Lord sounding in our hearts. Following the example of the young Samuel, we have only to say, “Speak, for your servant is listening” (1 Sam. 3:10). When the seed of His Word takes root in our hearts, we will find all we need and desire. Like Peter on Mount Tabor, we will say, “Lord, it is great for us to be here” (Mt. 17:4).


The encounter with the Eternal Word reveals the truth about ourselves. Solomon knew himself to be a mere child in the presence of the Holy One of Israel. Acknowledging his limitations and weakness, he begged God to give him wisdom so that he could distinguish right from wrong with a compassionate heart. The purpose of our hermit day is to encounter the Living Word and develop an understanding heart. As we open ourselves to God’s wisdom and grace we will grow in understanding and love. As we embrace our weaknesses and limitations we can cast all our cares on the Lord. St. Paul wrote: That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Cor. 12:10). Christ is not shocked or scandalized when we are frightened, tired, or confused. He knows us through and through. He desires that we find a resting place in him. To rest in Christ is not simply to chill out, but to drink deeply from the spring of Life-giving water to allow the seed of the Word to become more fruitful in us.


Be not afraid.

I go before you always.

Come, follow me, and I will give you rest.

(Be Not Afraid - John Michael Talbot)

Fr. Jerome Machar, OCSO



Prayer: Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.

Quote from a Saint: “Jesus loves hidden souls. A hidden flower is the most fragrant. I must strive to make the interior of my soul a resting place for the Heart of Jesus.”-- St. Maria Faustina Kowalska

Questions for reflection:

  1. Have you ever gone on a retreat? If so, what was your experience? If not, what is holding you back?

  2. Are you comfortable spending time with God in silence?

  3. How comfortable are you with silence? If silence makes you uncomfortable, have you ever tried to figure out why? Try to spend some time every day in silence with the Lord.

  4. Have you been able to “find a resting place close to the heart of God?” If you have, how did you find it? If you have not, do not give up and keep trying.

  5. Have you ever tried praying the Jesus prayer (see prayer above) as a way to quiet your mind and enter into the presence of God? If you have, what was your experience? If you have not, give it try and see what happens.

  6. Do you see yourself as a child in the presence of God? How does acknowledging your limitations and weaknesses help you to encounter the Living Word and develop an understanding heart?

  7. Have you ever had an encounter with the Eternal Word that revealed “the truth about yourself”? If you have, what were you doing when it occurred? If you have not, pray that the Eternal will help shine his light upon you in order to show you your true self.

  8. Do you “delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties”? How could living this way benefit you?

  9. How well do you handle challenging situations? Do you handle them like Saint Paul in his 2nd letter to the Corinthians? Bring this section of Scripture to prayer and ask the Lord to help you become more like Saint Paul.

  10. Can you say, “when I am weak, then I am strong” and mean it? What are the challenges in thinking about yourself this way?

--Benjamin & Kristen Rinaldo, CfP

Oratory of Divine Love Reflection 661: Repentance: A Reflection on 2nd Samuel (2 Sm 12: 1-7a, 10-17) and (Mk 4: 35-41)

[2 Samuel 12: 1-7a, 10-17]

1 The LORD sent Nathan to David, and when he came to him, he said: “Tell me how you judge this case: In a certain town there were two men, one rich, the other poor. 2 The rich man had flocks and herds in great numbers. 3 But the poor man had nothing at all except one little ewe lamb that he had bought. He nourished her, and she grew up with him and his children. Of what little he had she ate; from his own cup she drank; in his bosom she slept; she was like a daughter to him. 4 Now, a visitor came to the rich man, but he spared his own flocks and herds to prepare a meal for the traveler who had come to him: he took the poor man’s ewe lamb and prepared it for the one who had come to him.”

5 David grew very angry with that man and said to Nathan: “As the LORD lives, the man who has done this deserves death! 6 He shall make fourfold restitution for the lamb because he has done this and was unsparing.” 7 Then Nathan said to David: “You are the man! 10 Now, therefore, the sword shall never depart from your house, because you have despised me and have taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your wife. 11 Thus says the LORD: I will bring evil upon you out of your own house. I will take your wives before your very eyes, and will give them to your neighbor: he shall lie with your wives in broad daylight. 12 You have acted in secret, but I will do this in the presence of all Israel, in the presence of the sun itself.”


13 Then David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the LORD.” Nathan answered David: “For his part, the LORD has removed your sin. You shall not die, 14 but since you have utterly spurned the LORD by this deed, the child born to you will surely die.” 15 Then Nathan returned to his house. 16 David pleaded with God on behalf of the child. He kept a total fast, and spent the night lying on the ground clothed in sackcloth. 17 The elders of his house stood beside him to get him to rise from the ground; but he would not, nor would he take food with them.


[Mark 4:35-41]

35 On that day, as evening drew on, he said to them, “Let us cross to the other side.” 36 Leaving the crowd, they took him with them in the boat just as he was. And other boats were with him. 37 A violent squall came up and waves were breaking over the boat, so that it was already filling up.

38 Jesus was in the stern, asleep on a cushion. They woke him and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” 39 He woke up, rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Quiet! Be still!” The wind ceased and there was great calm. 40 Then he asked them, “Why are you terrified? Do you not yet have faith?” 41 They were filled with great awe and said to one another, “Who then is this whom even wind and sea obey?”


If ever there was a gospel before the Gospel, it’s in the brief dialogue in today’s first reading. David says to Nathan, “I have sinned against the Lord”. Nathan says to David: “The Lord on his part has forgiven your sin”. That’s all it takes. Whenever we sin, even if it’s as badly as David sinned, we have only to say the word from our heart, and hate the wrong we have done, and the Lord comes through with the whole fullness of his divine mercy and forgiving love into our broken heart.


It can be hard for us to believe that the Lord is really like that. One of the monks of the Egyptian desert came up to Abba Poemen and said to him, “If I fall into a shameful sin, my conscience devours and accuses me saying: ‘Why have you fallen?” The old man said to him, ‘At the moment when a person goes astray if he says, I have sinned, immediately the sin ceases.’”


If we still find this hard to accept, the Lord asks us in today’s Gospel, “Do you not yet have faith?” He whom the wind and the sea obey “can do immeasurably more than we ask or imagine”. No sin is so great but that, as soon as they repent, sinners may hope and believe that divine mercy will be lavished upon them. David’s penitence should lead us on to David’s hope, and David’s hope to a prayer that David could never even dream of: “Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now.”


No sin, however dark, however, repeated, should drive us to despair of ourselves, as if it alone could hide us from the power of a loving God when even the wind and the sea could not. “Never”, says our father St Benedict in the very last of the tools of good works, “never lose hope in God’s mercy”.


So whatever your evil behavior, come with it all, and cast yourself before Jesus, in whom we have redemption through his Blood, the forgiveness of our sins. He said as much at the Last Supper: “This is the chalice of my Blood, which will be poured out for you and for many for the forgiveness of sins”.


Like Nathan, your conscience may say to you, “You are the one,” because you are no better than David. But “God is greater than your conscience,” and if you respond as David did, then “you are the one” Christ referred to when he said, “If anyone thirsts, come to me and drink”; come to the Lamb of God, “who takes away the sins of the world”. And you will experience in your soul what the Church says aloud to everyone who receives communion in the Byzantine rite: “The servant of God receives the precious and holy Body and Blood of our Lord and God and Savior Jesus Christ, for the forgiveness of sins, and for eternal life.”


Fr. Justin Sheehan, OCSO


 Prayer: An Act of Contrition:  O my God, I am heartily sorry for having offended Thee, and I detest all my sins because of thy just punishments, but most of all because they offend Thee, my God, who art all good and deserving of all my love. I firmly resolve with the help of Thy grace to sin no more and to avoid the near occasion of sin. Amen.

Quote from a Saint: “In the life of the body a man is sometimes sick, and unless he takes medicine, he will die. Even so in the spiritual life a man is sick on account of sin. For that reason he needs medicine so that he may be restored to health; and this grace is bestowed in the Sacrament of Penance.”- St. Thomas Aquinas


Questions for reflection:

  1. How do you react when you find that you have fallen into sin? Are you defensive and attempt to justify your actions or behavior or do you respond like David and own your actions and bring them to the Lord?

  2. How do you respond when you see that others have fallen into sin? Do you have compassion for them and pray that they may amend their lives.?

  3. Have you ever had to be like Nathan and point out a friend or loved one’s sinful action? How did the person respond?

  4. Have you ever been in David’s position where a friend or loved one had to confront you about your sin? How did you respond? Were you able to hear their correction and accept it?

  5. Do you have trouble believing that the Lord is ready to forgive you no matter what you have done? Does it bother you that the Lord would forgive the people or person who have hurt you or that you find reprehensible? If you struggle with either of these take them to prayer.

  6. Is it easier to see sin in your own life or in the lives of those around you?

  7. When you go to confession do you have a hard time remembering the sins that you committed? If so, have you tried to do one of the many examinations of conscience that are available? Have these helped you?

  8. Does repentance come easy to you? Why or why not?

  9. Is there a sin or sins that you routinely struggle with? If so, have you tried practicing the virtue that opposes you sin?

  10. Do you trust in Jesus? Why or why not?

--Benjamin & Kristen Rinaldo, CfP

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