Two photos from the recent icon writing workshop at New Camaldoli.
One participant wrote: “…in my humble opinion, I thought the workshop was fantastic. I did have to adjust to the silence, but once I learned to keep my mouth shut (most of the time) I really enjoyed the silence and peace. As for the Monastery site – it was superb. I loved the everything about the Camaldolese Monastery, especially the opportunity for worship. All the staff and brothers were helpful and kind. I thought the food was perfect – especially since I didn’t gain any weight!”
There seemed to be a kind of odd juxtaposition in the two readings that we had at Mass yesterday (Friday of the Octave of Easter), between exclusivism and inclusivism, at least at first glance. The very end of the first reading from the Acts of the Apostles is one of those lines that makes people go “Harrumph” and stomp out of church in protest, and makes progressive theologians and preachers squirm in their chair: ‘There is no salvation through anyone else, nor is there any other name under heaven given to the human race by which we are to be saved (Acts 4:12).’ But we can’t get around it! It’s scriptural and really is the teaching of the church. I was going to baptize the young son of a friend of mine after Mass, and I knew that his wife, who was going to be in attendance at Mass, was particularly sensitive to what she sees as the exclusivism of Christianity, so I was paying particularly close attention, and even warned her beforehand of those last lines of the first reading, assuring her I hadn’t picked them on purpose to goad her!
I’ve been thinking about two different songs as I approached my Holy Thursday homily. The first one was written by a very talented contemporary Christian musician named Rich Mullins who died, tragically and way too young, in a car accident some years ago. It’s called “Awesome God.” The refrain goes like this: “Our God is an awesome God! / He reigns from heaven above / With wisdom, power, and love: / Our God is an awesome God!” And then the verses go on to describe some of God’s actions in our world in the same vein: “When He rolls up His sleeves He ain’t just putting on the Ritz. / There’s thunder in His footsteps and lightning in His fists. / And the Lord wasn’t joking when He kicked ‘em out of Eden, / It wasn’t for no reason that He shed His blood. / His return is very close and so you better be believin’ that / Our God is an awesome God!” It’s a very muscular rock anthem with an Old Testament image of God, a perfectly valid one. The other song I’ve been thinking of was written by our friend Bob Hurd. It’s a bilingual song, English and Spanish, called “Pan de Vida.” It starts out in Spanish: “Pan de vida, cuerpo del Senor (Bread of life, body of the Lord)”; then English: “Cup of blessing, blood of Christ outpoured.” And then he goes on to explain the meaning of the Eucharistic gathering: “At this Table the last shall be first”; and this is the line that gets me and has been like a mantra rolling around in my head for many months: “Poder es servir, porque Dios es Amor”––Power is to serve, because God is love.