Wake up and watch – Br. Geoffrey Tristram

Br. Geoffrey Tristram

Mark 13:24-37

Today is Advent Sunday – the first day of a new Christian year. It is, as the Scriptures urge, a time to wake up. To shake ourselves, to take stock of our lives. And to do it NOW! There is an urgency to Advent. Urgent, because God is working his purposes out in our world and in our lives.  Advent proclaims loud and clear that there IS a purpose to our lives, and that there will be an end, and that that end is coming ever nearer. For that reason, Advent has always traditionally had as its themes, the ‘four last things’; death, judgment, heaven and hell. These sober realities are coming nearer to us each one of us. Or as a friend of mine used to put it with a bit of a grin, ‘None of us gets out of this alive’! So, Advent is a serious and challenging season, and challenges us to take stock of our lives, and to do it NOW.

The Gospels are full of this sense of urgency. Jesus’ words are so often full of this urgency. We hear it whenever Jesus encounters men and women. Jesus doesn’t just wander around Galilee uttering timeless, philosophical dictums or epigrams. He is not essentially a philosopher – he is a prophet. He speaks OUT, he speaks hard things which challenge, and shock, and outrage.  He tells a parable and immediately says, ‘What do you think?’ How will you respond? Now. He challenges, and confronts, and brings judgment, now. To one he says, ‘Change your life.’ To another, ‘Repent. Follow me. Sell everything you have. Leave your mother and father and family. Come. Now.’ Read More

Awakened to New Life – Br. David Vryhof

St Francis of Assisi

You may have noticed upon entering the chapel this morning that the liturgical color is white rather than green, which it would normally be during this season of the Church’s year.  It is white because we are observing the Feast of St Francis of Assisi, the little poor man (Il Poverello) who has long been recognized as one of the most beloved saints of all time.  His actual feast day is October 4, but we have transferred the feast to today to bring to a close our month-long observance of the Season of Creation, during which we have celebrated and prayed for the earth and its creatures.

I have twice had the good fortune of visiting the town of Assisi, which rests on a hilltop in the breathtakingly-beautiful central region of Italy called Umbria.  Assisi is, of course, the birthplace of St Francis, and of the religious order he founded, the Order of Friars Minor (OFM).  During my visits to Assisi, my favorite pastime has been to sit in the small chapel in the undercroft of the great Franciscan basilica, where the body of St Francis and four of his early companions are buried, to witness the silent, steady stream of admirers and devotees from all over the world, as they approached his tomb to offer their prayers and to pay their respects.  I have literally spent hours there, wondering, as I looked on, how one man, one life, could have had such an enormous impact on the world and could have influenced for good millions upon millions of lives. Read More