Posted by: fvbcdm | September 9, 2014

Feast of Saint Peter Claver (9 September 2014)

As you probably know, I am now chaplain to our Dominican monastery of the Infant Jesus in Lufkin, Texas, where a wonderful community of our cloistered, contemplative Sisters lead their beautiful religious life, tucked away in the piney woods of this part of the world. And for the second time, I have the great privilege and joy of serving as their chaplain here and soaking up the silence, serenity, and peace that come from the enclosed way of religious life. Today, Tuesday of the 23rd week of the ordinary time, we have a reading from the letter of Saint Paul to the Colossians that could hardly be more appropriate for the Sisters here and in all the contemplative convents and monasteries of the world. Saint Paul says, at the opening of the reading in today’s Mass: Brothers and sisters, if you were raised with Christ, seek what is above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Think of what is above, not of what is on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. Our Heavenly Father has given to his children all sorts of vocations by which his kingdom will be promoted on earth. Most of us marry and have children and raise them to be good citizens of both this world and then heaven. Some of us are called to the single life where we can spend more time and attention on our spirituality. Some others are called to priesthood and religious life where we can shepherd our brothers and sisters of God’s flock, where we can teach or preach or bring the gospel to the far corners of the world, or nurse, or assist the dying. And then some of us—the contemplatives—are called to sit in spirit with Saint Mary of Bethany at the feet of Jesus and listen to his words and simply love him and be grateful to him for all he does for us.

There are some who do not understand the contemplative life within the Church. I’ve heard the question asked: why don’t they go out of their cloisters and do something worthwhile, something useful for others? The question betrays a misunderstanding of what is worthwhile, of what is useful. We have been made not for this world, but for heaven. And what are we going to do in heaven for all eternity? There won’t be any sick or dying to nurse; any ignorant to teach, any unevangelized corners of the kingdom into which the gospel needs to be brought, any children to raise and educate. In other words, nothing which they might consider “worthwhile” and “useful.” We will spend our eternity adoring, loving, thanking, praising God. We will all be contemplatives. Is it not appropriate that some of us anticipate that way of life here on earth? Is it not appropriate that some of us imitate Our Divine Lord who, we are told, withdrew from others into the hills and there spent the night in prayer? Let us remember that Jesus spent about 33 years on this earth. Over 90% of that time, he spend in the hidden life of Nazareth with his blessed Mother and Saint Joseph. If that doesn’t give us a clear idea of how Jesus wants us to live, I don’t know what could. So we read with joy again the words of Saint Paul: Your life is hidden with Christ in God. Let us do our best to incorporate into our lives here on earth something of the contemplative life of heaven. Thank you for seeking God’s truth.  God bless you.  Father Victor Brown, O.P.

Note:  This Message was composed some years ago.

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