Mary, the Ark of God – Br. James Koester

Br. James Koester

1 Chronicles 15: 3-4, 15-15; 16: 1-2
Psalm 113
Luke 1: 26-38

It is our custom here at the monastery to keep many Saturdays during the year as mini feasts of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Mother of the Lord. We do this, not because it is an ancient monastic tradition, although it is; rather it is an ancient monastic tradition because what we say and believe about Mary and her role in the mystery of the Incarnation says a great deal about the mystery of God and our vocation as Christians.

As you may know Mary has a variety of titles, and not just “blessed virgin” or “mother of God” or “mother of the Lord”. One of my favourite ones is “Ark of God”.

For the Israelites of the Old Testament, the Ark of God was a physical reminder of the presence of God it their midst. It was the Ark that rested in the very centre of the Tent of Meeting, the Holy of Holies, and it was the Ark over which God’s glory hovered, for within the Ark was kept some manna from the wilderness; the two tablets of the Ten Commandments; and the staff of Aaron the High Priest. Read More

Practical Mystics – Br. Mark Brown

Br. Mark BrownEph. 4:1-6/Psalm 113/Mat. 19:27-29

Today is St. Hilda’s day. What we know about Hilda of Whitby (c. 614-680) comes to us from St. Bede’s “Ecclesiastical History of the English People”, which he finished in about 731. St. Hilda was the founding abbess of Whitby Abbey, the site of a pivotal Synod of the English church.  It was this Synod in 664 that strengthened the English church’s connection with the Roman church. Hilda was known for her devotion and grace and kindness; she was also recognized as an able administrator, sought out by kings and princes for her wise counsel.

I’m inclined to put St. Hilda in the category of “practical mystics”, along with St. Teresa of Avila, who founded many monasteries. And I would put St. Paul himself in this category.  We might think of “practical mystics” as individuals who have a keen sense of the presence of God in and through all things and take on the practical work of building up the church.  In building up the church we deal with real people in real time in real situations; with all the confusion and brokenness and incompleteness of real people. Read More

What About Mary? – Br. Eldridge Pendleton

The Feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Micah 5:2-5a                                                                           Psalm 113
Romans 8:28-30                                                              Matthew 1:18-25

Several years ago, quite unexpectedly, a friend and I were invited to join the annual French national healing pilgrimage to Lourdes, to be a part of a contingent of 1,000 malades and 3,000 caregivers to spend a week at the famous holy place of healing. Read More