Sunday, September 16, 2018

A Love the Knows no Bounds

On Thursday for our Morning Prayer we had a reading from Leviticus 19, verses: 1-2, 17-18, 33-34.  This reading was chosen by the editors of Give Us This Dayas their Morning Prayer reading to complement the gospel on this same day.  The gospel reading for the Mass from Luke opened with these verses: “Jesus said to his disciples: ‘To you who hear I say, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.  To the person who strikes you on one cheek, offer the other one as well’” (Luke 6:27-29).
Here is what struck me about the Leviticus reading with its selected excerpts: it reads with a dynamic sensation that builds…like a musical composition that starts soft and crescendos into a climax. In verses 1-2 we hear God saying: ‘Speak to the whole community of Israel: Be holy for I the Lord your God am holy’.  What for God is ‘holiness’?  I think from this chapter 19 we could say it is ‘love’.  For the next verses, 17-18 say this:  ‘You shall not hate in your heart anyone of your kin…You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against any of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord’.  Here in these verses ‘neighbor’ is one’s own kin…it is the people of Israel. Then the circle expands to whom ‘love’ must be extended.  In verses 33-34 we hear this: ‘When an alien resides with you in your land, you shall not oppress the alien.  The alien who resides with you shall be to you as the citizen among you; you shall love the alien as yourself…’  Loving one’s kin and loving the alien as yourself:  the extent of God’s love is given more breadth, height, width, and depth.
Looking at both Luke and Matthew’s gospel passages we see how Jesus interprets ‘holiness’:  he extends God’s commandment of love to include one’s enemies:  whether those enemies are one’s own kin or alie
ns, strangers, foreigners, politicians of a different persuasion or religious belief. ‘You have heard it said…’ (Mt 5:21, 27, 33, 38, 43) but I say to you ‘love your enemies’ (Mt 5:44).  No more ‘eye for eye and tooth for tooth’ (Mt 5:38). This is true holiness.  This is non-retaliatory love…loving without any conditions, loving without lashing back with tongue or some other non-verbal communication.  No: loving as Jesus loved…loving with the love God loves us with, suffering for love’s sake…suffering in this way brings forth God’s redeeming and saving love, a love that transforms the power of darkness.
In the tools of Good Works of the Rule we hear Benedict putting Jesus’ teaching and Paul’s evangelization of the gospel way of loving into concrete practice. All of these tools offer us what it means to be holy…a reality not disconnected from our humanity and motivated by the love that Jesus embodied.
Jesus in his teaching asks: ‘Who are my mother and my brothers?’  His reply: ‘The one who does the will of God, this is my brother and sister and mother’ (Mk 3:33-35). It occurred to me that the one who strives to love as Jesus loved, forgiving as he forgave, showing compassion as he did, challenging hypocrisy while still extending mercy, indeed these are his brothers and his sisters and these are those who do the will of God

Sunday, September 9, 2018

Listen, Child of God

Ephphatha, be opened.  What opens the ear to hear?  Is it not true that when the heart is open we are able to hear?  Feel into this reality for a moment: when my heart is closed or hardened by harsh judgments, hurt, presumptions, shadow stuff, worries, and you can add to the list, we do not hear.  We hear only our noise.

The voice of God speaks: Ephphatha, be opened.  As the heart opens so does the ear!  If we turn to the Rule, St. Benedict’s teaching is a like a straight arrow in depicting the essence of this reality.  The first word in the Rule is ‘obsculta’, ‘listen’, and this emphasis on one word ‘listen’ is followed in the first sentence with even more emphasis: ‘incline the ear of your heart’.  Here is a dynamic (free) translation of verse 1 of the Rule: 

“Listen, child of God, to the guidance of your teacher.  Attend to the message you hear and make sure that it pierces to your heart, so that you may accept with willing freedom and fulfill by the way you live the directions that come from your loving Father.”  

Attend to the message, make sure the message pierces your heart… make sure you incline or bend the ear of your heart: what is heard with the ear is connected to the heart.  This first verse of the Prologue frames the whole Rule!

If we, right now, were to go outside and listen to the sounds of nature, those sounds would come to our ears pure and unadulterated; the ear connected to the heart would immediately receive these peaceful sounds of nature’s life.  To change experiences, if we begin an ordinary simple conversation with another person this experience gets way more complicated…what we hear stirs up the heart, ours and the person we are conversing with.  We quickly can feel how what we hear has multiple resonances in the heart!  I believe this awareness is important to our ‘listening’, in order to help to deepen our listening both within and without to our neighbor.   This is especially true as we hear the Word of God, which directly touches the many layers of the heart.  The monastic practice of lectio divinacultivates a listening heart; it teaches us how to open interiorly to the Divine voice that speaks to the ‘ear of the heart’: ‘Today, if you hear God’s voice, harden not your hearts’ (Psalm 94).

Returning to the Rule, Sr. Aquinata Bockmann says: “Incline or bend always occurs in the Rule in the context of humility” (Perspectives On the Rule of St. Benedict, p.17).  What if in our exchanges with one another we kept this attitude in our awareness: that is, as we receive what the other says we bend the ear of the heart to listen and take in what they are saying.  This interior gesture of inclining or bending to hear keeps the heart open.  Sr. Aquinata adds: “Many might open their physical ears and hear sounds, but if they don’t bend their hearts, they will never experience truth.  Most biblical texts speak of the inclining of the ear…; but they also add that it is the heart to which the Word of God speaks” (p.17). Let me repeat what Sr. Aquinata is saying: we will not experience truth: the truth of ourselves, the truth of the other, the truth of a situation, the truth of God, if we don’t bend the heart to listen!

The heart: the early monastics saw the heart as “the core of the person with its power of loving, but also the power to think” (p.17).  So no wonder our listening must be connected to it!  Fr. Terrance Kardong in his commentary writes the following on this first sentence of the Rule: “The first verse explains the full significance of listening: complete attention of the whole person; good will; implementation. ‘Hearing’ has priority over seeing and activity in both the RB and the Bible” (Benedict’s Rule A Translation and Commentary, p.5).  Here is Fr. Kardong’s translation of verse 1 of the Prologue:

Listen, O my son (daughter), to the teachings of your master, and turn to them with the ear of your heart.  Willingly accept the advice of a devoted father and put it into action.

Listening, hearing is foundational to the monastic way.  Fr. Kardong like Sr. Bockmann lay out this pattern from the one simple verse that opens the Rule: “hear, ponder, implement” (p.7).  We hear and ponder with the heart and implement what we have received as coming from the voice of God.  To incline, to bend the ear of the heart is pivotal to hearing and receiving; otherwise the ego remains king or queen and we hear nothing more than those habitual voices, which form only a very partial view of life.  The voice of our God is much more subtle and silent…it does not shout at the street corners…but speaks as a small still voice.

‘Be opened’: these words of Jesus are addressed to the ear of the heart…the Divine voice cries out daily: ‘Be opened’.   And, then, ‘ponder, implement’.   This simple instruction evangelizes our heart and makes them ready to be an authentic witness and voice of the gospel.  Amen.

Sunday, August 26, 2018

Silence - the Womb of the Word

“Through God’s Word the monastics are trained in a discipline of heart and action to be responsive to the Holy Spirit and so attain purity of heart and a continual mindfulness of God’s presence” (CST 2). This is a profound statement given right at the beginning of our Order’s Constitutions, which explicate the ‘nature and purpose’ of Cistercian monastic life.   How can we be responsive to the Holy Spirit, how can we attain purity of heart, how can we be mindful of God’s presence without silence?  Obviously in a monastery there is to be more than a modicum of silence in the outer environment.  Further, what of the silence within our heart’s depths? Surely a modicum of silence there is not enough!  Let me add one more sentence from our Constitutions: “Living in solitude and silence they aspire to that interior quiet in which wisdom is born” (CST 3). Who does not want ‘interior quiet’? And then who does not want to receive and be motivated by the voice of wisdom?  This voice of wisdom escapes a noisy interior life!

Sr. Aquinata Bockmann has an excellent commentary on RB 6 in her book: Tools of Good Works to the Heart of Humility.  I offer this morning excerpts from her commentary and I will conclude with a suggestion for this coming week.  She writes:

“Silence enables…listening and good words; silence is the womb for the word” (p.101).

“If monachus signifies to be one, then the importance of silence is clear so that the restless voices inside and outside can be quieted.  An important tool for doing this is to guard one’s tongue” (p.103).

“Keeping silence also means not to judge.  When we are silent we know we stand before God and do not make comparisons” (p.103).

“‘I was silent about good things.’  Those who want to share everything good that arises in them become talkative and eventually garrulous.  Here the emphasis is on discretion, on recollection, and on the fact that when words are born out of silence they are authentic” (p.112).

“As motivation for keeping silent, we see in RB 6 avoiding sins in order to listen, to find inner recollection, and perhaps to facilitate words that can be life-giving.  We would add: in order to strengthen unity in the community” (p.121).

Bockmann notes that it is “apt to view silence as a virtue of wisdom” (p.121).  She supports this by indicating that in RB 5 most of the scriptural references are from the New Testament where in RB 6 this changes and the scriptural references are from the wisdom literature.

“We also grow together in silence, not only when we communicate with each other.  Bonhoeffer says:  The word that creates a new community and unifies it is only a word that emerges out of silence” (p.123).

Indeed Sr. Aquinata’s words tease out the essence of silence as put forth in chapter 6 of the Rule.  Even though this chapter of the Rule is on ‘silence’, in my view, this chapter could as well be titled: ‘Cherishing Silence for the Sake of the Word’!  Let us, then, hold in our consciousness this reality:  that ‘silence and the word’ belong together.

I propose for this coming week, that we give special attention to the practice of silence.  Observe the words that we speak: have they come out of this ground of silence or do we notice that they have the noise of anxiety, of busyness, of judgments toward a sister?  Notice what happens when we just sit in silence…do we get quiet enough to hear the ‘silent still voice of the Spirit’?  Pay particular attention when listening to God’s Word at Mass or during lectio, can we sense the silence that is woven into Jesus’ words?  The Word of Life is a word born out of silence…it is a Spirit infused Word and thus this word woven with silence is always a word of Life, a word of healing, a word of compassion, a word that forgives and unites.  Amen.

Sunday, August 19, 2018

Loving with God Love

“What God longs for us to do is to live in the truth Jesus reveals.  This means believing in God’s absolute, unconditional love, not in a notional way but one that transforms our attitudes and whole approach to life” (Essence of Prayer, p.51-52).  These words of the Carmelite Ruth Burrows would delight St. Bernard whose feast we celebrate tomorrow.  Bernard was the great teacher of ‘love’.  Whatever book we pick up with his teaching will be laced with the reality of God’s unconditional love revealed, embodied in Jesus.   

What Sr. Ruth is saying is radical in this sense:  by ‘believing in’, meaning living into, God’s unconditional love, this will ‘transform our attitudes and whole approach to life’.  And surely we all are in need of this attitudinal transformation!  We can ask our selves what are those attitudes, which I get taken by, that need to be transformed?  Just observe my attitude towards a sister I have difficulty with. Or, observe interiorly my murmuring heart, or the harsh criticisms that come up towards others…Are we not being taken by those same negative, judgmental attitudes of the Pharisees whom Jesus faced on a regular basis?  Love is obscured when we are overcome by this judgmental, ‘better than thou’ attitude. In fact the larger horizon of God’s love and mercy is all reduced if not lost in the moment…our hearts shrink into an ego-serving mode of being!  Let us not forget: we love with God’s love…and when we do this, our love is free of any ego claims or expectations…it is a love that freely pours itself out for the sake of God and our neighbor.

Ruth Burrows continues: “What can be more important for a disciple than constantly to reflect on the truth of God, on this unspeakable, incredible love with which we are encompassed? But how often do we do this?” (p.52).  Ok: so let us honestly look at how often we reflect on God’s love for us, a love that is constant and unconditional?  Why is this so important?  We love with God’s love.  When we get a taste of God’s love what does it do within us?  Imagine our lives without a felt knowing in heart and soul of God’s love for us.  Imagine a life in which we are not loving the ‘other’:  God, and all those ‘others’ who we live with and who cross our path. Here are Bernard’s evocative words: “The capacity of any person’s soul is judged by the amount of love he or she possesses.  Hence she who loves much is great; she who loves a little is small; she who has not love is nothing.  As Paul said: ‘If I have not love, I am nothing’” (The Spiritual Teachings of Bernard of Clairvaux, p.106).  The choice is ours:  will our loving be ‘small’ or will it be ‘great’ in the sight of God?

I was thinking that when Jesus prayed ‘your will not mine’, that it was motivated by unconditional love. This prayer is a profound exchange of love between Father and Son.  Perhaps we need to pray each day, ‘your will not mine’ for this prayer places us in the landscape of the One who loves us and as pray these words we are offering our love, ‘your will O God, not mine’.  As we come to know God’s love we want to give our all in return!  In his book The Spiritual Teachings of Bernard of Clairvaux, John Sommerfeldt writes: “Bernard asks the obvious question: “‘What can I give to God in return for himself? Even if I could give God myself a thousand times, what am I to God?’  Bernard’s answer is that one should love God with all one’s heart. However, inadequate a response this is, it is all that is expected” (p.113).  What is being asked of each of us is possible.  It is as simple as this:  to know in heart, soul, mind, and body God’s constant love for us, a love that encompasses us always whether we ‘feel’ it or not.  And if we are in a dry spell where we do not sense this presence of love, we still have our anchor of faith.  A living faith reminds us of those moments in the past where we had a palatable sense of this love.  Memory in the patristic writings brings an experience of the past into the present moment, where that experienced memory becomes fresh, new, sustaining.  In the same vein, Bernard speaks of the ‘book of our experience’ (Song of Songs I, p.16)).  This book of experience will not let us forget the encompassing love of God. With Jesus at the center of our lives the way into God’s immense love is opened up for us…As we listen to him, as we follow him we will be met by Love, the Love that will continue to ‘transform our attitudes and approach to life’ so that we, in turn, will be vessels of God’s healing and transforming love.

I conclude with these striking words of Jean Vanier that we heard at vigil: “Transfigured by the Word made flesh our flesh becomes a gentle instrument of the love of God to flow in others” (Jesus The Gift of Love, p.172-173).

Saturday, August 11, 2018

Contemplative Prayer: Attending to the Heart

“More than all else, keep watch over your heart, since here are the wellsprings of life” (Proverbs 4:23). What a remarkable text from Proverbs, a text we heard at our Morning Prayer on Thursday.  There is a paradox in this selection because the very next verse reads: “Put away from you crooked speech, and put devious talk far from you” (4:24). Turning to the gospel, we have Jesus who says: “It is what comes out of a person that defiles.  For it is from within, from the human heart, that evil intentions come…” (Mk 7:20-21a). My dear sisters we are given a paradox, a paradox which takes the shape of a cross…yes, a cross, which we are asked to shoulder if we want Life, Life in abundance!  On the one hand the heart is the source of life; on the other hand from the heart also comes forth devious and crooked speech, along with an array of things that defile and profane, destroy even the beauty of life entrusted to us.

So what are to do?  We can quickly observe such darkness in others and especially now in our world where for example such devious and crooked speech seems to be the norm.  But how observant are we of our own hearts?  In John’s gospel for this Sunday Jesus is saying ‘work for food that lasts’ (6:27). Fr. Russ Terra in his homily spoke of the ongoing spiritual work that is so essential for bringing forth life and that carries the grace to transform what defiles and profanes.  

Along with the essential inner work of self-knowledge and conversion, I put forth the main reason why this monastery exists and why we each found our way here. We are part of an Order whose nature and purpose is “wholly ordered to contemplation” (CST 2). What does it mean that the focus of our lives together, that the use of our time and energy is to be ordered to contemplation?  John Main describes meditation and contemplation in this pithy way:  “‘The word meditation comes from the Latin meditarewhich breaks down into the roots stare in medio—to remain in the center.  The word contemplation suggests the same.  The word contemplation does not mean looking at anything—God or anyone else.  Contemplation is being in the temple with God.  The temple is your own heart, the depths of your own being’” (quoted in Prayer In the Cave of the Heart, Cyprian Consiglio, p.50).  Our prayer practice:  lectio, silent prayer, the Divine Office and Mass, these are to help us as we do our daily activities ‘to remain in the center’, to be in the temple of the heart with God.    The fruit of contemplative prayer is that it slowly changes us from within; it shifts our consciousness from a predominately ego-oriented one to a God-centered awareness.  Such cultivated awareness helps us to observe, to see what fills the heart and not get taken by it.  The silence, the healing silence, which is the silence of God, awaits us beneath this emotional content that arises unbidden.  Dwelling even for a moment in this silence in prayer can help us as we engage in our outer activities and relationships.  

In the gospels we hear often that Jesus goes off ‘to a lonely place to pray’.  In this lonely quiet space he nurtures his connection to his Abba and he attends to his heart.  We hear such questions in the gospels as ‘where does he get all this wisdom? (Mt 13:54)’ and we see how with such cunning he cuts through hypocrisy; we see how he accesses wisdom and the power to heal.  Where do you think he got the knowledge to say that it is from the human heart that evil intentions come?  All these things were part of a profound listening, the fruit of his prayer, the fruit of maintaining his connection with his Abba: the Father and Jesus are one…but this relationship was not automatic: it was maintained through prayer.  He went to a lonely place to pray, or in the midst of his ministry, when tested, he bent down into the silence and wrote in the sand and then stood up and spoke words of truth to the hypocrisy of those challenging him (Jn 8:1-11).  What am I getting to by referring to these statements?  Prayer, especially contemplative silent prayer, where we hear the silent voice of the Spirit, where we dwell in that secret room with Christ, we are given eyes that are clearer, a heart ready to forgive, a perspective that is Christ like and not dominated by pettiness or harsh judgments towards one another.  When we have to discern something, or when we are in a conflict with another…the first place to go is that silent room, that inner temple where God is waiting. Prayer as Sr. Ruth Burrows has said is not primarily something we do but what God does within us (The Essence of Prayer, p.1).  And so it is: we enter the silence of that inner chamber and let God act, purifying, transforming, healing…

Sunday, April 8, 2018

The Transformational Power of Easter

In the gospel reading of St. Luke, which we heard during the octave of Easter, the disciples recognized Jesus in the breaking of the bread.  Here in today’s gospel of St. John, before Thomas arrives on the scene with his doubts, Jesus shows his wounds and the disciples immediately recognize him.  What do these two recognitions of the Risen One tell us would be believers?

Before Jesus shows his wounds he greets the disciples with the word “Peace be with you”.  He then shows his wounds and once again says “Peace be with you”.  He concludes this encounter by saying as God has sent him he is now sending his disciples forth…then he breathes on them and says: “Receive the Holy Spirit”.  Peace, wounds, receiving the Spirit and go forth, live the gospel way…a way not disconnected from suffering and our own wounds, wounds that we receive in life early on, now, wounds that are part of the mystery of bringing forth God’s life, of revealing a love that transforms suffering and brings one to know, existentially, this transforming love that is stronger than any darkness or death.

To me it is striking that two of the major resurrection appearances involve the breaking of bread and showing of wounds accompanied by Jesus breathing the Holy Spirit upon his disciples.  Pope Francis on April 4thgave a catechesis on the Eucharist.  He is saying that the Mass is to enter our heart and when we leave the Mass our Christian witness begins: “Every time I go out of the Mass I must leave better than I entered, with more life, with more strength, with a greater desire to give Christian witness” (The Holy Father’s Catechesis, April 4, 2018).  For my Holy Thursday chapter talk I ended with this saying of Br. Christophe: “If we understand the Eucharist we understand everything” (Born From the Gaze of God, p.29).  Here is something of what Eucharist means in the words of Pope Francis:  “Christians are men and women that let their soul be enlarged with the strength of the Holy Spirit, after having received the Body and Blood of Christ.  Let your soul be enlarged!  Not these narrow and closed, small and egoistic souls, no!  Wide souls, great souls, with great horizons…Let your soul be enlarged with the strength of the Spirit, after having received the Body and Blood of Christ”  (The Holy Father’s Catechesis, April 4, 2018).

My sisters: we have no excuse!  Easter tells us to put away these attitudes that diminish us: such as, I am this way because of this person or those events of the past.  This Love, which is the gift of Easter, has the power to transform, to change us from inside.  Our wounds can become a strength, if we only believe, which is to say, if we live into the Love God gives us through Jesus, through following his way, growing into the consciousness that he embodied.  No, the Life of God is so much greater and this Life is given to each one of us.  With this Gift of God we can put aside our narrow, closed, egoistic souls and let them be enlarged.  This is the risen life: rising out of suffering, rising out of our hopelessness and disbelief, yes, rising up out of our wounded-ness.   Do we carry this precious life of ours with the dignity of being sons and daughters of God?  Or, do we carry it bent over by criticism, anger, resentment, hopelessness, obsessive worry?  Yes, we have our crosses; however we are to carry them with heads held up high, carry them, not be dragged down by them.  Eucharist is the celebration of the Resurrection.  No wonder the Pope focuses on it for part of his continued Easter message.  Eucharist, if we let it enter into our hearts, is a sacrament calling us to be enlarged in mind and heart.  It is calling us not to let God’s Gift be tossed away by our disbelief and failure to connect to what is happening as we enter this daily ritual.

To quote Pope Francis: “The fruits of the Mass are destined to mature in everyday life.  We can say so, forcing somewhat the image: the Mass is as the grain, the grain of wheat, which then grows in ordinary life, it grows and matures in good works, in attitudes that make us similar to Jesus.” Growing in attitudes that make us similar to Jesus: we are given the grace and the Love so let us go forward letting our souls be enlarged, this is living the Easter gift!

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Holy Thursday 2018

‘He goes before us…’:  Do we desire life, do we long for freedom, do we want the love that is stronger than death, and the joy that makes our lives complete, then we must follow.  Holy Week is like a ‘bas relief’ painting:  it puts front and center the Paschal Mystery, a mystery that is woven in our lives.   Our lives are stamped with the ‘paschal mystery’, stamped with this paradigm of Life that rises up out of death, the precious life that expands, with each surrender to the Divine will.  We are to follow with a living faith…a faith alive, a faith that can move mountains of doubt and transform negativity, despair, and hopelessness.  He goes before us showing us the Way, embodying the Way that is to be our way to life and unconditional love.  He goes before us right now.   What will this ‘renewed encounter with Jesus’ offer us, what will it ask of us, what will it open up for us as we follow? 
The Holy Thursday liturgy revolves around two rituals: the Eucharist and the washing of the feet.  I continue to re-read Br. Christophe’s journal, Born From the Gaze of God.  It is one of those books where entries that I did not focus on before suddenly jump out and speak new things that were not there before!  The three short, pithy texts that I will read give us a glimpse into Christophe’s encounter with Jesus.  To me these texts express Eucharist and what Jesus is communicating in the washing of his disciples’ feet.  The first: “To be sowers of love just where we are” (p.xiv).  Next: “It’s better to be the Body of your Presence resolutely and simply, to be simply there in a relation of love, vulnerable, exposed” (p.xiv).  The third: “Yes, to be your body here” (p.8).  These words of Christophe bring Eucharist into daily life; they are a way of washing another’s feet in whatever relationships we meet in ordinary moments of our lives.  We are called, each one of us, to be Christ’s body, the body of his Presence as we follow the Way of the gospel. 

What is the force, the power behind the Paschal Mystery?  It is Love…unconditional Love.  This is what comes to us in the encounter.  As we receive this Gift, we are transformed within our heart’s depths and almost imperceptibly we begin to embody this same unconditional Love….Of course, we will fall many times along the way.  Still, with each ‘renewed encounter with Christ’, we will once again be met by unconditional Love.  What will be the outcome if we engage in this living encounter with Love?  It will be impossible not to live by and give what we have received.  We will be more like Christ in mind and heart, and this will spill over into our choices and relationships.

Listen to another encounter of Br. Christophe: “Since here you are hard at work in my heart.  Ah, first of all: disarm it.  And if the thing is not too hard—this whole self of mine—purify me then I may perhaps be able to help you a little to LOVE” (p.201).  To pray: disarm my heart puts us in relationship, in an encounter with Love.   Such an authentic encounter with Christ will disarm us of our defenses, of our false sense of self, of our self-righteousness, of whatever keeps our hearts hardened.   This disarming, this opening of the heart, then enables us to receive the Love that is always coming towards us…the Love that can heal and transform the powers of darkness and death.  Yes, with this disarmed, converted heart, we become co-workers with Christ, helping to build up this body of God’s Love and Life!  And it does not matter what we are doing or how small the act: ‘sowing love right where we are’.

The gift of God’s Son: what we meet in the Eucharist is the gift of God’s unconditional Love…Love incarnate.  Through, with and in the One we are following, we encounter a Love that is fully surrendered, the only Love that is stronger than any power of evil and darkness. 

I conclude with yet another encounter of Christophe with Jesus:

“Today you tell your terrified disciples to row with the wind against them:
Courage: I am.  Do not be afraid.
If one understands the Eucharist, one understands everything” (p.29).