A Song Throughout the Halls of Heaven

tree of life mosaic“Jesus Christ, High Priest of the New and Eternal Covenant, taking human nature, introduced into this earthly exile that hymn which is sung throughout all ages in the halls of heaven.” (On the Sacred Liturgy/Vatican II Document)

This quote sums up the greatness we share in when we pray the Liturgy of the Hours (Divine Office/Opus Dei). Coming together as God’s people we cry out with, in and through Christ, the praises of the Church and the world. United with the members of Christ’s body on earth, our voices are raised in adoration, thanksgiving and praise when we pray the Liturgy of the Hours.

This is the heart of the vocation of being a Benedictine Oblate. Making our voices the voice of the Church through the Liturgy of the Hours is the reason for our existence. Singing the praises of God is why Benedictines exist. Everything else is secondary.  “Nothing is to be preferred to the work of God.” (Rule of St. Benedict, Chapter 69)

Taking up into ourselves the cries of the poor, the sick and suffering, we cry out to God in the Psalms on their behalf. Filled with joy and expectation, we sing His praises for those who know Him not. The Divine Office is not just the prayer of the Church but the prayer of the world and the cosmos itself. We unite our voices to that one great hymn of praise which is “sung throughout all ages in the halls of heaven” through Jesus Christ our Savior in the flesh.

This prayer of the Church is not our own. We cannot claim the Divine Office to be our personal prayer. We speak with the voice of the Church on behalf of all.

There are days when the Psalms may not mean much to me personally. I may not be suffering or crying out to God in pain but I know that somewhere in smoking thuriblethe world someone is. Somewhere in the world others are suffering yet cannot find the words in their need. The poor, the hungry, the sick and the dying, we stand before God on their behalf and cry out to Him, knowing that He hears our prayer.

Each day we join our voices with the Church here on earth and in heaven to sing the praises of the Triune God, and we know that our prayer is heard because it is the prayer of Christ Himself to the Father, in the Holy Spirit.

The mystery of salvation history is made present in the Divine Office. We recall the things God has done for us and they are made present through the liturgy. They truly become present in a sacramental way because the Church brings forth that which she celebrates in Christs name.

What a great joy to be able to join our voices to the Church throughout time and history! What a great joy to know that the hymn of praise in heaven is taken up by us when we pray the Liturgy of the Hours. And what an honor it is to stand before God with, in and through Christ on behalf of those who’s voices are not heard.

May God in His goodness show us the great dignity we possess when we pray the Divine Office on behalf of all!

Feast of St. Meinrad (Martyr of Hospitality)

Icon of St. Meinrad
Icon of St. Meinrad

Today we celebrate the Feast of St. Meinrad Archabbey, the patron of the monastic community I am attached to as a Benedictine Oblate. The Life of St. Meinrad reminds us of the great act of hospitality we are all called to as followers of Christ and especially as Benedictines.

St. Benedictine tells us in his Rule that we are to “receive all guest as though they were Christ.” (Chapter 53). St. Meinrad followed this command to his death. Seeing Christ even in those who would kill him, he is known as the martyr of hospitality.

Reflecting on the life of St. Meinrad requires me to ask myself how I receive others into my life. Do I see them as Christ or as a nuisance? Working in medicine I come across a lot of different individuals who are unlike myself in a variety of ways. The rich and poor, powerful and meek, the sick and healthy all come into my life at one point or another. Not only do I have the obligation to receive them as Christ, I have the added obligation to receive them in their sickness and suffering. There are times in which I may feel overwhelmed or worn out but this does not give me permission to overlook the great apostolate of hospitality.

St. Meinrad is a reminder for me that I must go the extra mile to live out my

vocation as an oblate even when I do not feel like doing so. Am I asked to give up my life as he did for the sake of seeing Christ in others? Probably not but receiving Christ may call me to go out of myself and suffer a little in the hope of providing hospitality to all I meet. A little death might be asked of me and my ego if I truly strive to live out the Benedictine hospitality I am called

1st Class Relic of St. Meinrad (finger bone)
1st Class Relic of St. Meinrad (finger bone)

to as an Oblate of St. Benedict.

No one ever said following Christ or the Rule of St. Benedict would be easy. St. Benedict himself reminds us of this. But it is rewarding when we realize that it leads us to a fuller relationship with Christ who quite often appears to us in those who come into our lives.

St. Meinrad, Martyr of Hospitality, pray for us!

Redemptive Suffering – No Easy Task!

Suffering in one fashion or another seems to have been my lot. I don’t say this out of complaining or trying to get sympathy. It’s just the reality of my life. Not too long after my birth I was diagnosed with encephalitis which my parents thought might kill me. I grew up with severe asthma and allergies, have had migraines since the age of 7, and was diagnosed with a heart condition at 13. Nine years ago I was diagnosed with a chronic condition that will most likely one day take my life.

I have tried to look back at a time in my life where I wasn’t suffering from one illness or another yet I cannot seem to think of a period of when that would have been. There have been a few months here of there where I have been free of the burden of illness yet it all seems meshed together that I cannot really think of a time when I haven’t lived like this. It’s all I know.

As one can imagine, I now have an incessant desire to try and understand the value of redemptive suffering, not because I’m obsessed with my sufferings or why I seem to have to carry these crosses but because I want to know how to be able to use the grace God is giving me through them. I’ll be honest. There are days when I want it all to go away. There are days when I simply cannot handle another migraine this week because I’ve already had 4. And there are definitely days when you question why in the world any of this makes sense. Frankly, it’s hard to understand with faith. I couldn’t imagine what it would be like without it.

The teaching of redemptive suffering goes something like this…Christ could have chosen any way he wanted to redeem us. He could have simply willed it but he chose the path of the cross. Suffering and death was the vehicle he chose as our way of salvation. So the one thing which touches us all to our very core is flipped on it’s head and becomes the vehicle for our redemptive. But it’s even more then that. In his infinite wisdom and love, Christ chose to allow us to participate in this redemptive act of the cross for the Church and the world. He didn’t take away our suffering but redeemed it and made it a channel of grace for ourselves and others.

Now this sounds great and all but the question remains of how. How does one participate in this? How does one carry one’s cross and participate in redemptive suffering instead of just biting ones lip and praying for it to all go away soon? It has taken me years to even begin to have an inch of insight into this. I’m not too sure I’m much father along but I will share a little about what I’ve learned.

Patience and trust. These are the two virtues that are needed the most when one is asked to carry the cross. At first I tried hard to figure out why I was suffering and stressed myself out trying to figure out how to conform myself to Christ. In the process of doing this I didn’t realize that I was rely on myself way too much and not enough on Christ. I’ve had to come to the realization that I may very well never come to understand how God is using these crosses for the good of myself or others. I’ve had to rely more on believe that He is working good through them and that I must be patient for Him to reveal it to me in His on way and time.

It’s not just about bearing the suffering with patients but striving with Gods grace to accept it with open arms BECAUSE this is the way in which Christ chose to redeem the world. If Christ has chosen this way then can I be any different? I’ve also come to understand that prayer is not just about words. Sometimes I must sit in silence with the suffering and recognize that Christ is present with me. That 5th migraine of the week in itself can become a prayer which rises up like incense if I allow God to be present to me in it. But I also have to remember that sometimes carrying the cross of suffering also means crying out to God with Christ. “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?” The cry of abandonment is an honest and profound prayer which rises up to the heart of God. In it we recognize in all our weakness and pain that no one else but God can save us.

The gift of redemptive suffering is one that asks so much of us. More often then not I have found that I fail at what might be asked of me but God is generous in offering me ever more opportunities to try again. In the end, I must always remember that suffering never has the last word.

3 Years Later

Three years ago today I made my final oblation as a Benedictine Oblate of St. Meinrad Archabbey. The memories are still vivid of offering myself to God through the monastic promises of stability, coversatio morum and obedience which all Benedictines make. Taking as my patron St. John Paul II, I promised to strive to live life a little differently then most, with the Rule of St. Benedict as my guide.

As I reflect upon this time within the Benedictine family I have to try and make an honest assessment as to the successes and failures which have come my way and how I must always continue to strive towards that which God has called me to be. This is no easy task but one that God calls us to make if we are true to our commitment to Him.

Something I have learned during this time is that striving to live out the promises we make as oblates is often a humbling experience. It is a call to look at the world through a different lens, to reorient ourselves with a long view of life and history and to strive to see life how God sees it. Many times I have failed at this endeavor but stability calls me to get back up and try again with God at my side.

I am not too sure as to why God asked me to go this route in life but I do know that I am blessed to be living it. I am not sure if I have come any closer to holiness but I do know that I want to try. I am not sure if I will ever make a difference in this world living out my vocation as an oblate but I hope that God in His goodness will see the effort I try to make and bring it to perfection in His own time. In the end I am simply grateful that He has willed that I try to come closer to Him, with the Rule as my guide, and a 1,500 year hearitage which has lead so many to holiness. May He be praised through it all!


Yesterday it came to my attention that as a member of the oblate community of St. Meinrad, permission is needed to publish on the oblate life. Therefore, I will be delaying any publishing on this site until I obtain the proper permission from the Archabbot and Oblate Director.

That In All Things God May Be Glorified!

A Mutual Gift of Self

At Morning Prayer of the Liturgy of the Hours, it came to mind that the Feast of the Epiphany very much reflects the way in which we are called to live out our lives as Benedictine Oblates.

The Wise Men first have the intuition that something might be calling them. That star in the night must be pointing to something greater than itself! So their response to the calling of the star is to seek that which is its source. So on they go. Their journey must have been met by some difficulties and they may have asked themselves why they were even seeking, yet they did not give up on their journey. Through the difficult terrain they certainly had to come to terms with their own limitations and failures yet they knew that something greater then themselves was calling them.

Did they know they were seeking the face of God? I doubt it! But once they began to understand that it was the Author of Life who had called them to Himself, their response was to make an oblation (gift) of those things which we dearest to them – gold, frankincense and myrrh. After their adoration they set off to go back into the world and live out the love they had experienced by the mutual exchange of gifts between the child God and themselves.

The life of a Benedictine Oblate is reflected here in the mystery of the epiphany. Our calling is subtle, one that requires us to search and listen for that ever so subtle voice of God which comes to us in the simplest and humblest of things – sometimes even in a star. His voice is found in the ordinary and not the extraordinary! Once we feel our hearts moved by this subtle call we then set out on foot to find its source, at first not really understanding that which we might be seeking. The journey might be rocky, long and at times twisted, yet we continue on because in our hearts we know that something or more important, Someone is to be found.

Once God shows Himself to us our only response is that of offering himself something in return. But what? We quickly come to see that the only gift we can offer Him is the gift of our lives and we do so in an act of oblation. With, in and through Christ our lives become a gift, a response to the call of God. Anything less would not suffice!

But our story does not end here. Once God has accepted our gift of oblation He then calls us to go out into the world – just like the Wise Men – and proclaim the new born King by the lives we live and the new calling we have received.

In seeking God we find Him yet as oblates we are not called to keep Him to ourselves. Our response is to turn around and show His face to the world!

The Journey Begins

I am beginning this blog in the hope of being able to share with others the wonderful vocation I have been called to as a Benedictine Oblate of the venerable monastery of St. Meinrad Archabbey.

A long and winding road I have traveled to get me to this place but God has been good to me in his kindness and mercy and finally lead me to my spiritual home

My hopes in sharing my experiences here are two fold: to glorify God and to promote the vocation to the Benedictine Oblate life. With God’s help and the Rule as my guide, I hope to achieve this in one way or another.

Ut in omnibus glorificetur deus!