Category: The Big Picture: theological, cosmological, and mystical

On the measure of souls and animal liberation. Part I.

“What you do to the least of these, you do to me,” says the Son of Man, the ultimate Judge and Abiding Presence of the Christian scripture. “By me is this entire universe pervaded. All things are in Me, and I in them,” declares Lord Krishna, an avatar of Vishnu himself in the Bhagavat Gita …

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On watchful waiting, or Last Day versus the World.

The first generation of Christians expected the Son of Man to come back in their lifetimes, literally any day. They were an apocalyptic Jewish sect, whose Messiah had come and saved and risen in triumph over death—and promised to come back soon to finish the job. And for Jewish apocalyptics, finishing the job meant ending …

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On the big and small.

Unoriginally, I must start with a sunrise. Yet another sunrise. I thought I would write today about the parable of the prodigal child – today’s gospel, but the sunrise, you see… Here at the monastery, I live on the roof. Well, on the fifth floor of a four-storey building, so a door leads right out …

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On changing God’s mind.

My parish priest, Father Fran, once told a story during a homily: A little boy came to his father and said, “Daddy, can I please, please have a little brother? I want a little brother!” The man smiled knowingly and replied, “All right. If you pray really hard, every day, twice a day, for about …

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On the Name of God. Part II.

Continued from On the Name of God. Part I. This is where we left off: The Hebrew Bible, the patchwork of myth and the ages and folktale and hindsight and inspiration and gut feeling and politics that it is, refuses to name God. I like that. But that is where I encounter a problem. Two problems, …

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On the Name of God. Part I.

You say I took the name in vain. I don’t even know the Name. But if I did, well, really, what’s it to you? There’s a blaze of light in every word. It doesn’t matter which you heard – The holy or the broken Hallelujah. (from Leonard Cohen, “Hallelujah”)  “Hallelujah” is one of Cohen’s most …

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On obligation to love.

This essay started with a random glance at the next year’s possible retreat topic. I think that’s what it was. The topic was “Love as an Obligation.” And my first response was to turn to a sister next to me and to ask, feeling everything slow down as it does when something in my head …

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On prophethood, predation, and the difference between nice and good.

There are no unsacred places; there are only sacred places and desecrated places. Wendell Berry I am on retreat this week, and our preacher, Catherine Hilkert, OP, read this line from “How to Be a Poet” during Monday night’s sharing. In the morning she reminded us that St. Francis had called sun and moon and …

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On taking up my cross.

For a reflection dedicated entirely to the Eucharist, see the essay entitled “On the Bread of Life.” Today is the feast of the Body and Blood of Christ, so I thought I’d be writing about the Eucharist, my most precious mystery. Or about the Last Supper, the story we tell of the historical source of …

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On the least of His.

Toward the end of the Gospel of Matthew, chapter 25, Jesus follows a series of behavior-guiding parables with something that suddenly and uncomfortably no longer sounds like a parable. He shifts into the future tense and into the time of the end-world. Judgment Day. When the King – the Son of Man – will see …

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