Daily Reflections

Wednesday of the Fifth Week of Easter

May 13, 2020

I want you to notice something vitally important in the first reading today: honest argument. While we will not hear the rest of the scene presented (I encourage you to read the rest of it), a remarkable thing happens: the Church, split in its understanding of what it takes to be a true Christian, argues,…

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Tuesday of the Fifth Week of Easter

May 12, 2020

Over the last few days, we have had the opportunity to reflect on Jesus’ summons to live a radical life of obedience and charitable service. The readings today continue that theme, but this time with an emphasis on gratitude. Our responsorial psalm reveals another necessary attitude that of appreciation: “Let all your works give you…

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Monday of the Fifth Week of Easter

May 11, 2020

In yesterday’s reflection on the Fifth Sunday of Easter, we heard Jesus make a remarkable claim: “Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever believes in me will do the works that I do, and will do greater ones than these.” We explored the remarkable claim by the fact we will do great things, even greater…

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Fifth Sunday of Easter

May 10, 2020

  The first reading, and its accompanying story, has held particular interest to me for many years. As one of the men chosen to be a deacon – Stephen – is my monastic patron. My name, Etienne, is French for Stephen, and so the story surrounding Stephen, and his own, has shaped my monastic life.…

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Saturday of the Fourth Week of Easter

May 9, 2020

Sometimes we think, often to our later embarrassment, that we have a sudden insight about someone or something. Feeling pretty good about ourselves, we pose what we think is a very astute statement or question. Just imagine this one:  “Teacher, are there known genetic factors that cause brown cows to give chocolate milk and brown…

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Friday of the Fourth Week of Easter

May 8, 2020

When I was growing up in rural Iowa, it was not uncommon for someone to pull in off the highway, knock at the door, and ask for directions to find someone living in the area. Deferring to the adults, what we heard sounded something like this:  “Oh, yeah, well you take this dirt road east…

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Thursday of the Fourth Week of Easter

May 7, 2020

We who live in the northern hemisphere are so fortunate, liturgically speaking. The timing is perfect and we can celebrate the Easter season in the spring of the year, which is usually marked with beautiful promises of growth. Nature mirrors the kind of energy and new hope that the Christian community finds in the magnificence…

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Wednesday of the Fourth Week of Easter

May 6, 2020

Certainly one of the most ancient and powerful symbols used in the Easter Vigil was the Paschal Candle. What could be more impressive than a single lighted and decorated candle held aloft, challenging the darkness when the deacon sings the ancient proclamation: “Light of Christ?” It becomes even more impressive as the flame of the…

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Tuesday of the Fourth Week of Easter

May 5, 2020

Some years ago, you could buy posters that, at first glance, seemed to be nothing more than a poster of haphazard dots. Only after staring at the page for a few moments would the face or the picture suddenly emerge from the dots. Much to their frustration, some people tried hard but only ever saw…

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Monday of the Fourth Week of Easter

May 4, 2020

There are many jokes about meeting St. Peter at the pearly gates of Heaven someday. Peter the fisherman could be characterized as impulsive; he was quick to make a decision and quick to speak his mind. But what happened to Peter after he met Jesus and answered the call to follow this traveling rabbi?  The…

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Fourth Sunday of Easter

May 3, 2020

  Sometimes hearing a few words at the right moment can make all the difference. When things are really hectic, and we wonder how we are going to handle conflicting needs and how they will turn out, we begin to feel a great deal of stress. But if a friend comes along and promises: “I…

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Saturday of the Third Week of Easter

May 2, 2020

  Often when I am visiting with people and encouraging them in their prayer life, they will respond: “Yes, I know…but it’s hard.” I can’t disagree—the spiritual life is hard. Maintaining a consistent prayer life is very hard. There is a subsection in the Catechism of the Catholic Church entitled, “The Battle of Prayer,” which…

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Friday of the Third Week of Easter

May 1, 2020

  “Here I am, Lord.” The words are uttered by the disciple Ananias who is residing in Damascus and about to take a significant role in Saul’s conversion. This response, “Here I am,” is familiar to the Scriptures, echoing as an expression of openness and willing to do what the Lord asks. Abraham said it…

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Thursday of the Third Week of Easter

April 30, 2020

  Many people I have met with express to me their desire to know God’s will. Often they will express their frustration of “not knowing” or the uncertainty and doubts of what path they should pursue. While I understand the desire for certainty and have desired it in my own life, the question remains: What…

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Wednesday of the Third Week of Easter

April 29, 2020

  Can God really bring good out of evil? St. Thomas Aquinas wrote, “There is nothing to prevent human nature’s being raised up to something greater, even after sin; God permits evil in order to draw forth some greater good. Thus St. Paul says, ‘Where sin increased, grace abounded all the more.’” The Acts of…

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Tuesday of the Third Week of Easter

April 28, 2020

  The Acts of the Apostles highlights quite the contrast between Stephen’s relationship to the Holy Spirit versus that of the elders, scribes, and the people. Stephen demonstrates docility and confidence in the Spirit, which inspires him to forgive the very people who are stoning him. Whereas the people, on the other hand, show their…

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Monday of the Third Week of Easter

April 27, 2020

  When Jesus fed the 5,000, many of the people not only saw the miracle Jesus performed, but more importantly they experienced it, and understood what it was like to be filled. This experience put within them a strong desire to seek Jesus, so much so that they were willing to travel all around and…

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An Easter Reflection from Abbot Benedict

April 12, 2020

  Abbot Benedict and the monks of Conception Abbey want you all to know you are especially in our prayers this Easter as we celebrate the Resurrection of our Savior! The image occurred to me recently that we here in our monastery and you in your homes are like Noah and his family in the…

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Reflection for Holy Saturday

April 11, 2020

  Today is the liturgical day the Church calls “Holy Saturday.” The Church calls it “holy” for one reason: because she recognizes its character as a day of silence. This is beautifully expressed at the opening of an ancient homily she uses in her Office of Readings: “What is happening? Today there is a great…

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Reflection for Good Friday

April 10, 2020

  Though harshly treated, he submitted and did not open his mouth; like a lamb led to slaughter or a sheep silent before shearers, he did not open his mouth. (Is. 53:7) Centuries before Jesus came to his cross, the prophet, Isaiah, saw him, as we are told in the first reading for the Liturgy…

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Reflection for Holy Thursday

April 9, 2020

  “Before the feast of Passover, Jesus knew that his hour had come to pass from this world to the Father” (Jn. 13:1). One of the great beauties of the Sacred Liturgy of Holy Thursday is the mystery of how God sanctifies time. We know it in the way Jesus entered “his time” on earth.…

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Reflection for Wednesday of Holy Week

April 8, 2020

  The Liturgy today focuses on Judas’ betrayal of Jesus, a sober reminder that we are at the threshold of the Paschal Mystery of our salvation, which will unfold in the coming days of the Triduum. But as we turn our attention toward the Triduum, we monks are aware that most people will not be…

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Reflection for Tuesday of Holy Week

April 7, 2020

  Betrayal and denial: Jesus foretells these acts of Judas and Peter at the Last Supper. The people closest to Jesus were no more loyal or faithful to him than those who plotted against him and those who would call out, “Crucify him! Crucify him!” the next day. “Have I been with you for so…

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Reflection for Monday of Holy Week

April 6, 2020

  The fragrance of aromatic nard must have been quite wonderful for it to be so costly. According to today’s Gospel, when Mary poured the perfumed oil on Jesus’ feet, the fragrance filled the whole house. The story of Mary lavishing something costly and beautiful on the dusty feet of Jesus is a symbol of…

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Reflection for Palm Sunday

April 5, 2020

    After Jesus rose from the dead, he met two disciples on the road to Emmaus.  They did not recognize him but expressed to him their deep sorrow that the man they had hoped would be the Messiah had just been crucified in Jerusalem.  Luke recounts the story in his gospel:  “Jesus told them,…

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Reflection for Saturday of the Fifth Week of Lent

April 4, 2020

  “What do you think? That he will not come to the feast?” In moments of trial we are tempted to not show up. We are tempted to hide behind ignorance, behind fear, behind a sense of “I just want to be nice.” But we are called to be courageous witnesses of God’s plan for…

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Reflection for Friday of the Fifth Week of Lent

April 3, 2020

  There can be a presumption at times — well, many times — that one knows more than what Scripture offers. Or that one must always offer unique perspectives, that is, my perspective. Our readings today offer an opportunity to let Scripture speak for itself. Take a few lines to let us see what God…

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Reflection for Thursday of the Fifth Week of Lent

April 2, 2020

  Promises made by God are a tricky thing, at least from our perspective. Think about it for a moment. God promises great things: eternal life, his enduring presence, help in times of distress, and so forth. However, it seems that often, almost too often, these promises are long in coming or merely absent. Is…

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Reflection for Wednesday of the Fifth Week of Lent

April 1, 2020

  “If you were Abraham’s children, you would be doing the works of Abraham.” What are the works of Abraham? Abraham is called our father of faith. His work is his faith. Imagine being called by a god you do not know, going to a land you have never been, and receiving a promise you…

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Reflection for Tuesday of the Fifth Week of Lent

March 31, 2020

  “I AM” Moses, looking upon a miraculous event, hears God speak to him and offers Moses his name, “I AM.” This name is sacred. It is the name we are not to profane by using lightly or in vulgar speech: “You shall not take the name of the Lord our God in vain.” “I…

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Reflection for Monday of the Fifth Week of Lent

March 30, 2020

  There is, in each reading, a very simple, yet difficult, truth: we are all sinners. Not one is exempt from that reality. It also brings to light another simple but difficult fact: that we all judge others. Some of the most commonly confessed sins revolve around the judgment and treatment of others: gossiping, lying,…

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And Jesus Wept – Reflection for the Fifth Sunday of Lent

March 29, 2020

  The experiences of life and of death are difficult to bear, they push us the brink and, in the end, can cast us into the deep. We, like Mary and Martha, cry to Jesus, “Lord, if you had but been here!” And at that moment, Jesus weeps with us, pained by our suffering. Our…

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Reflection for Saturday of the Fourth Week of Lent

March 28, 2020

  Division occurs in the crowd because they are uncertain who Jesus is. Some willingly express their belief, but others struggle to accept him as the Christ because of His origin. This division is not surprising since Jesus instructed that people would become divided on his account (cf. Mt. 10:34-36). We might experience this division…

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Reflection for Friday of the Fourth Week of Lent

March 27, 2020

  The Feast of Tabernacles marks the end of the harvest year in the fall on the Jewish calendar, and it also commemorates the time in history where the Israelites dwelt during their forty years of travel in the desert after the Exodus from slavery in Egypt. The Jewish people construct sukkot (“frail huts” or…

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Reflection for Thursday of the Fourth Week of Lent

March 26, 2020

  We can all be forgetful and impatient at times, especially of God’s goodness toward us. The dialogue between God and Moses in the reading from the Book of Exodus recounts the grievous incident of the golden calf. When Moses was delayed in returning from the mountain, the Israelites turned to Moses’ brother Aaron and…

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Reflection for Wednesday of the Fourth Week of Lent — The Annunciation of the Lord

March 25, 2020

  When my brother and his wife found out they were expecting their first child, they wanted to find a creative way to share the news with my parents. They had a picture of my sister-in-law’s ultrasound and put it in a frame and wrapped it up as a gift. My mother opened the picture…

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Reflection for Tuesday of the Fourth Week of Lent

March 24, 2020

  A priest friend of mine had an encounter after Mass with a student at the Catholic Student Center where he serves. The college senior came up to him and expressed his frustration and anxiety that graduation was approaching quickly, and he did not know what he was supposed to do with his life. The…

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Reflection for Monday of the Fourth Week of Lent

March 23, 2020

  The healing of the royal official’s son is a powerful testimony of intercessory prayer (that is, praying for others). The official begs Jesus to heal on behalf of another person, his son. The love of his ill son and his faith in Jesus’ power to save are powerfully united in his request: “Sir, come down…

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Reflection for the Fourth Sunday of Lent

March 22, 2020

  Among the many levels of meaning and the rich imagery throughout St. John’s Gospel, today there is a contrast between physical sight and spiritual sight—a blind man who comes to see and the Pharisees who remain blind. Faith in Christ is a great gift—a supernatural virtue infused in us by God. We must remember…

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Reflection for Saturday of the Third Week of Lent — The Transitus of St. Benedict

March 21, 2020

  In our basilica at Conception Abbey are many beautiful murals that reflect events in the Gospels and in the Benedictine tradition. One mural, in the south transept of the basilica, depicts the St. Benedict preparing for his death. He is in his oratory, surrounded by the monks who followed him. They are holding him…

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