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August Retreat House Newsletter

Discussion in 'Catholic DIR' started by Mark Dohle, Jul 29, 2021.

  1. Mark Dohle

    Mark Dohle Well-Known Member

    Dec 3, 2016

    Fr. Cassian on Left, Bishop Ned, Fr. Peter Damian

    August Retreat House Newsletter

    Hello My Friends, Happy dogs days of August! Well maybe, not sure ‘dog-days’ are something we look forward to. I am thankful we are getting enough rain, but very sorry for the states out West going through a severe drought. Also the increase of earthquakes, very strong ones, can be disturbing as well. Not to mention the fires, which seem to be getting worse every year. Flooding in Europe which is very severe is also part of the world scene today. Let us not forget all the volcanoes that have become very active. Never a dull moment. Not to mention the increasing political divide in this country which is very serious and could have detrimental consequences in the future.

    So this is the time for all people of goodwill, and for those who are followers of Christ Jesus to deepen our roots in our trust and love of God. Prayer opens up our hearts to grace. When we spend time with the Lord we are making the choice to allow him to do his work in our souls.

    Much of our inner healing comes from looking to Jesus and not to ourselves, or to be too absorbed in what is going on in the world.

    As we grow in our love of God and others, we will also have a positive effect on them. Those seeds that we sow do more good than the seeds sown from discord. It is not about controlling others, but about trusting in the love that God has for them. In receiving the Eucharist, Christ Jesus fills us with his presence in a very special way.

    So at this time let us be mindful of the gift the Eucharist bestows on us. The community is doing well. We now have a novice, Br. Bernard is his religious name, and a couple more who want to enter are in the wings. So hopefully this trend will continue……so keep up those prayers! As usual, our prayers and love are with you all. -Br.MD


    Highlight – Fr. Cassian Russ

    Fr. Cassian Russell was born April 19, 1949 in Indianapolis, Indiana. He studied anthropology, French, and comparative literature at Indiana Univ., learned and taught the Montessori Method, completed a doctorate in early childhood education at the Univ. of Georgia and taught at Georgia College. He entered the Monastery on September 9, 2006, made his final profession February 29, 2012 and was ordained to the Priesthood June 28, 2019. Fr. Cassian presently is vocations director, master of novices and Monastic Advisor to the Lay Cistercians. He has also held the position of Sub-Prior. Fr. Cassian, has a wonderful sense of humor and I love watching him interact with the other monks, especially Br. Mark. His kindness and sensitivity to others is very heartwarming. We are so blessed to have him as part of our community. By Their Own Hands In his "Rule for Monks," St. Benedict stated that the monks were to work for their living "by their own hands." As such, the community at the Monastery of the Holy Spirit strives


    Reflections Homily - June 27, 2021

    In his wisdom, King Solomon presents original creation: alive, wholesome, full of being.

    We were created in intimacy with God: our mind filled with God’s truth, our will infused with his love, our memory alive. It is this which is human nature as God intended. But, turning in on ourselves to satisfy our own cravings, we fell away from God.

    We distort our human nature when our mind becomes capable of error, when love is twisted to self-centeredness when our memory is punctured by forgetfulness.

    God formed human beings to be imperishable, yet death and destruction cut short his days. We have reduced ourselves to being like grass that flowers and fades. From where did the destructive drug of death arise? Solomon states it is from the “envy of the devil.” But, is the envy of the devil not found in the human heart? From our distorted nature arise what Jesus listed: “out of the heart of men emerge evil thoughts, whorings, thefts, murders, adulteries, acts of greed, iniquities, deceit, licentiousness, a baleful eye, blasphemy, arrogance, recklessness.”

    Our acquisitive passions, our craving, our desire to dominate lead us to fantasize the destruction of our neighbor. Destructive drugs are first distilled from the human heart before they are distilled from plants.

    The Word, taking flesh in Jesus, is the Way to cleanse our hearts. Monastic theology, as presented in the Philokalia, gives us many Greek fathers, such as Evagrius and Maximos the Confessor, from whom we learn how to recover the truth of our human nature as originally created. They urge us to be vigilant of our thoughts, to release passionate attachments to acquire or to dominate.

    They encourage us to contemplate the natural world, much as Solomon seems to have done. In such natural contemplation, we are slowly drawn to see the spiritual structure of the world, the principle or unique λογος of each creature. Each such λογος is a reflection of the Word, the λογος, of God. Maximos says “We do not know god from his essence. We know Him from the grandeur of his creatures and from his providential care for all creatures. For through these, as though they were mirrors, we may attain insight into His infinite goodness, wisdom and power.” (1st Century on Charity, #96)

    Each creature is unique, a reflection of the Unique and Only Son, the Word of God. When we are able to see without passion, without the compulsion to use others as satisfaction of our own needs – then we begin to see the structure of divine wisdom throughout all creation. God “fashioned all things that they might have being; and the creatures of the world are wholesome.”

    Mark shows us the original human nature in the person of Jesus. Mark tells us of the jostling crowd around Jesus; we feel the jostling in the manner he tells the story. Jesus does not complete his encounter with Jairus before a woman interrupts him. One encounter is jostled aside by another. In the midst of this jostling we are shown the tranquil response of the truth of human nature. This woman seems drawn to this man. Something compels her to reach out, to touch just the edge of his prayer shawl with the tip of her finger. She reaches out to Life. Jesus sees her with the vision of undistorted human nature. He sees her without irritation or disdain. He sees her as she is – he sees her unique nature, her personal λογος. He knows her as no one else. And he can simply say “your faith has healed you.”

    Jesus has entered into the center of salvation history to restore human nature to its original truth and love. As we are conformed to Jesus, so we recover human nature. Paul is aware of the centrality of Jesus’ redemptive act. He became poor that we might become rich, he shared in our humanity that we might share in his divinity. This exchange is our redemption.

    Our monastic predecessors teach us that when our vision is cleared of our self-centeredness, when we are free of our passions to acquire or to dominate, we become truly ourselves, “restored to the ability to love God with a pure, uncalculating, grateful, humble, uncomplaining, absolute, deeply affectionate, and intensely joyful love,” the love shared with us by Jesus. Able to see dispassionately and truthfully as does Jesus, we are restored to the image and likeness to which we were originally made. ++Fr. Cassian Russell - June 27, 2021
    Fr. Cassian on the left.

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