THURSDAY OF EASTER III

May 9, 2019

LUKE 24:28 As they came near the village to which they were going, he walked ahead as if he were going on. 29 But they urged him strongly, saying, “Stay with us, because it is almost evening and the day is now nearly over.” So he went in to stay with them. 30 When he was at the table with them, he took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. 31 Then their eyes were opened, and they recognized him; and he vanished from their sight. 32 They said to each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he was talking to us on the road, while he was opening the scriptures to us?”

Our Lord took, blessed and broke the bread.    In the Second Rite for Eucharist in the Book of Common Prayer [page 364], the rubrics (stage directions) are emphatic on one point.  After the bread is broken,

The Breaking of the Bread
The Celebrant breaks the consecrated Bread.
A period of silence is kept.
Then may be sung or said
[Alleluia.] Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us;
Therefore let us keep the feast. [Alleluia.]

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Although this is more often than not ignored, rushing as we are toward lunch, I believe it the most solemn moment of the service.  Why?  On a good day, humidity willing, an audible cracking is heard.  This action, called the Fraction, is the moment when mystically the broken body of Jesus becomes one with all the brokenness in us.  The words of the Prophet Isaiah (53:5) are fulfilled (or filled full), “But he was wounded for our transgressions, crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the punishment that made us whole, and by his bruises we are healed.

In the face of such love and sacrifice, all we can do if fall into a length of silence. It is my practice at Saint John’s to pause for 10 or so seconds. Speechlessness is the only response to the magnitude of just what God has done for us in the resurrection.

In hope, in spite of the facts.

John

 

 

 

Justin Welby 3_0 What advice might you give to a local parish or other group that’s trying to discern where its call is?

First of all, just because you can’t do everything, it doesn’t mean you should do nothing at all. There’s a sort of a sense (that says), “I can’t solve the problem of world poverty and inequality, so I won’t do anything.” Do what you can. Not what you can’t. That comes out of prayer. So for a local church community, pray. Start with prayer about your local community. Contemplate, listen in silence. Allow the spirit of God to speak, and look and see what happens.

Secondly, be outward looking and engaged and take risks. Take risks, but risks that are based out of a life of prayer in your community. We are based in a relationship of love for Jesus Christ, so start with what we know and see what he calls us to do.

Excerpt from an interview with The Most Reverend Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury – Trinity News, Trinity Wall Street

Aside

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The ruins of the chapel and main buildings of Mount Grace Priory

Yesterday a friend and I drove about an hour north of York to the ruins of a medieval monastery.  Mount Grace Priory was a house of the Carthusian Order.  I’m borrowing quite a lot from Wikipedia rather than summarize the material.  I have added photos to the text. Then I will share some of my initial thinking about how Mount Grace Priory and its vision of Christian practice.

There are no Carthusian abbeys as they have no abbots, and each charterhouse is headed by a prior and is populated by choir-monks, referred to as hermits, and lay brothers.

The monk's cells formed great square called the great cloister as there was a covered walk around plot.

The monk’s cells formed great square called the great cloister as there was a covered walkway around the green space. Most of the buildings dismantled for the stone.

Each hermit —  that is, a monk who is or who will be a priest  — has his own living space, called a cell, usually consisting of a small dwelling.  The reconstructed cell has three rooms on the first floor: a living room with fireplace, a study and bedroom. The bedroom in addition to the bed has an alter for the hermit monk to say daily Mass.

Bed (curtains to keep warm in - cold out.

Bed (curtains to keep warm in – cold out.

Each cell has a high walled garden, wherein the monk may meditate as well as grow flowers for himself and/or vegetables for the common good of the community, as a form of physical exercise.

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Next to the door of each cell is  a small opening in the wall.  A tray would be pushed to the back and the hermit could then pull the tray into the cell without having to see anyone.

Most meals are provided in this manner, which the hermit then eats in the solitude of his cell. There are two meals provided for much of year, lunch and supper. During seasons or days of fasting, just one meal is provided. The hermit makes his needs known to the lay brother by means of a note, requesting items such as a fresh loaf of bread, which will be kept in the cell for eating with several meals.

The hermit spends most of his day in the cell: he meditates, prays on his own, eats, studies and writes (Carthusian monks have published scholarly and spiritual works), and works in his garden or at some manual trade. Unless required by other duties, the Carthusian hermit leaves his cell daily only for three prayer services in the monastery chapel, including the community Mass, and occasionally for conferences with his superior.

Additionally, once a week, the community members take a long walk in the countryside during which they may speak; on Sundays and feast days a community meal is taken in silence. Twice a year there is a day-long community recreation, and the monk may receive an annual visit from immediate family members.

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The Carthusians do not engage in work of a pastoral or missionary nature. Unlike most monasteries, they do not offer retreats and those who visit for a prolonged period are people who are contemplating entering the monastery. As far as possible, the monks have no contact with the outside world. Their contribution to the world is their life of prayer, which they undertake on behalf of the whole Church and the human race.

Fr. Tim Jones in the great cloister with the chapel in background.

In addition to the choir monks there are lay-brothers, monks under slightly different types of vows who spend less time in prayer and more time in manual labor; they live a slightly more communal life, sharing a common area of the charterhouse.

The lay brothers provide material assistance to the choir monks: cooking meals, doing laundry, undertaking physical repairs, providing the choir monks with books from the library and managing supplies. All of the monks live lives of silence.

A contempory statue of the Virgin Mary offering Jesus to the nations - such is the work of Carthusians

A contemporary statue of the Virgin Mary offering Jesus to the nations – such is the work of Carthusians