What are your favorite Psalms?

For today's Lay Cistercian meeting we have been asked to identify our ten favorite Psalms and our favorite verse from the Psalms. Here's my list:Psalm 4 Psalm 8 Psalm 19 Psalm 24 Psalm 34 Psalm 100 Psalm 121 Psalm 131 Psalm 133 Psalm 150And my favorite verse is, far and away, Psalm 37:4 — "Take delight in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart."So what are your favorite Psalms and/or verses?Here is the NIV Text of these Psalms: … [Read more...]

Saint Rafael Arnáiz

This past Sunday, Pope Benedict XVI canonized six new saints. One of them, Saint Damien of Molokai, has received the lion's share of the attention, because Father Damien (who served a leper's colony in Hawaii in the 19th century until he eventually succumbed to the disease himself) has been a celebrity for many years. But for members of the Cistercian family, just as exciting has been the canonization of a rather humble and largely unknown Spanish Cistercian oblate, Rafael Arnáiz Barón. Earlier t … [Read more...]

Cloister of the Heart

The other day I had a wonderful chat with a friend of mine who is a Lay Cistercian and who regularly makes retreats at the monastery where I work. As Lay Cistercians, we have a unique perspective on monastic spirituality and what it can mean for those of us who are not, and not called to be, monks. Lay Cistercians, incidentally, are like Benedictine Oblates, Secular Franciscans, or Third Order Carmelites: people who are not called to the consecrated religious life, but who are nonetheless drawn … [Read more...]

Lay Cistercian Promises

Yesterday I made my simple promises as a Lay Cistercian, along with six of my friends. Three others, who already were junior Lay Cistercians renewed their promises. The promises are for one year, and need to be repeated annually for at least three years before lifetime promises can be made.It was a lovely ceremony. We met in the monastery chapter room and, standing before the Abbot and the spiritual director of the Lay Cistercians, read our promises aloud, then signed three copies: one for … [Read more...]

Father Tom, Fran and Me

Here's a photograph of Fr. Tom Francis, OCSO, with yours truly and Fran. This picture was taken at a reception honoring the lifetime promises of four Lay-Cistercians who made their profession this past April.Fr. Tom is the author of an interesting booklet on the connection between angels and contemplative prayer, called Angels: Our Guides to Contemplation for the Third Millennium. The photo, incidentally, was taken by Fr. James Behrens, OCSO, author of several books, the most recent being … [Read more...]

Perfectly Perfect

"Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect."This saying of Jesus, from the heart of his Sermon on the Mount, might possibly be the single most misunderstood verse in the Bible (although it has stiff competition from "I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me"). A week ago, during the annual Lay-Cistercian retreat in Conyers, Dom Francis Michael spoke on the question of "What does it mean to be a child of God?" After insisting that … [Read more...]