(cyprian) I think it’s very instructive and no accident that the day after we celebrate the feast of the conversion of Saint Paul we celebrate the feast of two of his disciples, Timothy and Titus. Both of them accompanied Paul on some of his apostolic journeys, preached the gospel and mediated some disputes for him; both of them are remembered for the pastoral letters that Saint Paul wrote to them; both of them are remembered as bishops, obviously some of the first bishops in the church. Why it’s instructive that we celebrate them the day after we celebrate Paul is that for Paul it was always about the Body, the whole Body of Christ. Before his conversion, remember, Paul was persecuting the members of this new sect. When he has his encounter with the risen Christ outside of Damascus, Jesus doesn’t say to him “Why are you persecuting my followers?” He says, “Why are you persecuting me?” Whatever you did to the least of these you did to me. This is my body; they are my body. And so the great writings about the body especially in the letters to the Corinthians––this is not just a metaphor for Paul. He really does have an experience of all the members as one Body. And so right after his own feast day, we celebrate two of his famous disciples. Raniero preached beautifully on the Feast of the Conversion of Paul about Paul’s three years in Arabia when he does what we like to call his “inner work,” which Raniero said was like the inner work of the monk, the inner work of the contemplative, ‘til that outer experience of meeting the risen Christ on the road becomes a living inner reality in his life. But that still wasn’t the end of the story; in some way that was the beginning. What I was struck by in the gospel reading that we heard for the feast (Lk 10:1-9) was that when Jesus sent the seventy out to proclaim, they were always sent out in pairs. That inner experience with Jesus immediately becomes relationship, like Paul’s relationship with Timothy and Titus. And Jesus tells them, ‘And say to them, “The kingdom of God has come near to you.”’ The Spanish scripture scholar Jose Pagolà thinks that those words have not always been understood well. He doesn’t think we shouldn’t translate them the way we monks and certainly the eastern fathers liked to translate them, which is ‘The reign of God is within you.’ Somehow just “within” is not enough. The Greek expression entos hymin can mean “within you” but modern researchers now generally...

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What is madness but nobility of soul at odds with circumstance. The day is on fire and I know the purity of pure despair. Theodore Roethke   Today we heard one of the shortest gospel passages we are offered in the lectionary (Mk 3:20-21). It’s even kind of weird that the compilers would leave it so open-ended! My friend Jeff sent me a link to a YouTube video called “Lessons on Leadership from the Dancing Guy”;  I watched it just yesterday. And as soon as I read this gospel it seemed absolutely fortuitous and synchronistic. It’s meant to be lessons about how to start a movement; I will let you draw your own conclusions about Jesus and the Jesus movement of which we are all a part. So it starts out at a large gathering of people, the Sasquatch Festival (I assume there is music playing somewhere) and a shirtless guy wearing nothing but a pair of black shorts is dancing freely in the middle of the crowd, obviously having a very good time. So the voiceover says that first of all a leader needs the guts to stand alone and look ridiculous. But what the shirtless guy is doing is pretty easy and that is the second lesson: You must be easy to follow. Then suddenly someone else gets up and starts dancing with him. Now this is a pivotal moment: the first follower has the crucial role. And the dancing guy does it right: he embraces the follower as an equal, so suddenly it’s not about the leader anymore­—it’s about them, and equally important, it’s about the dance. The first follower then calls to his friends to join in. Now, the point is, being a first follower is an under-appreciated form of leadership. It takes guts to be a first follower (!) because that’s when you stand out and you brave ridicule yourself. As the voiceover says, “The first follower transforms a lone nut into a leader. If the leader is the flint, the first follower is the spark that really makes the fire.” The second follower, then, is the turning point, proof that the first follower has done well. “Now it’s not a lone nut and it’s not two nuts: three is a crowd and a crowd is news.” The lesson for leaders, of course, is to make sure that outsiders see more than just the leader: “Everyone needs to see the followers,” because new followers don’t emulate the leader; they emulate the followers. If you are a version of the shirtless dancing guy all alone, remember the importance of nurturing your first few followers as...

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recognizing the anointed


Posted By on Jan 20, 2016

(cyprian, tues 2nd week of ordinary time) It’s interesting to have David appear in both readings today, first in the story of the recognition of David as the anointed one (1 Sam 16:1-13), and then Jesus doing his own exegesis on 1 Sam 21, when David ate the holy showbread while fleeing from Saul (Mk 2:23-28). It’s a striking archetypal image, really; we have learned that David is the anointed, maybe in a way that surpasses the high priest, a king and priest in the line of Melchizedek rather than Aaron, and so in some way has the right to eat this bread. He’s not the obvious priest, just as he wasn’t the obvious king, but he is the real one. The beautiful coincidence is how these two Scripture passages carry a common theme, perhaps approached from different angles. On the one hand, the obvious point of the story of David’s being recognized as the anointed ahead of all his other brothers is that ‘The Lord does not see as mortals see; they look on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.’ Even the fact that David is described as ruddy and handsome with beautiful eyes, like some kind of teen idol, can be distracting. He was the youngest, a gangly kid with a sling shot who reeked like sheep. In the gospel reading we have the other side of the story. We inherit from the Jewish tradition the idea that if something is holy we set it apart, or else that we make something holy by setting it apart, putting it on a pedestal, behind a veil, behind walls. That was the history of Israel’s relationship with God’s own self in some way: they start out walking with God in the garden in the cool of the evening, and gradually God is portrayed as farther and farther away, by the time of Moses shrouded in cloud and darkness on top of a mountain, and even to touch the mountain was to risk death! But in Jesus, the veil is removed: We have drawn near to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable angels in festal gathering.[1] God comes close to us in Jesus: ‘If you have seen me you have seen the Father… I no longer call you servants but my friends.’[2] I was no more drawn to the sacred in the Gothic cathedrals of France and England than I was sitting on the floor around the puja stone in the humble little chapel at Shantivanam. To bring it closer to home yet, this is one...

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New Camaldoli Hermitage is featured in the newest edition of the popular Moon travel guide (Monterey & Carmel edition). You’ll find our hermitage and bookstore mentioned on pages 191, 208 and 209. The guide is a great resource for other destinations, sights and food in Monterey and Santa Cruz counties as well. A description of the guide can be found here! You may purchase a copy from us at our online store under “Books & Journals”.  ...

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(cyprian, 6 Jan, 2016) Because of all the study and work I did for so many years I always think of this as the feast day of inter-religious dialogue. There are different theologies of or, better to say, different approaches to inter-religious dialogue. One, the most conservative and one that is not in line with Catholicism, is the theology of replacement, which means one religion just comes in and completely wipes out the other. But Catholicism is so rooted in the fact that grace builds on nature that we don’t teach that, though we did operate out of the model for centuries. The mainstream view, in Catholicism at least, is a theology of fulfillment, which means that all other religious traditions are brought to their fulfillment in Jesus. And so, as the late Jesuit friend of Camaldoli Jacques Dupuis put it, other religions are not just pre-Christian, they can be seen as pro-Christian, pointing to Christ in some way. That was the point of view of even such a stalwart of Christian orthodoxy as G. K. Chesterton, concerning both the philosophers and sages such as Confucius and the Buddha: what they intuited is brought to its fulfillment in the Christ event. Now, there are more liberal and progressive theologies of inter-religious dialogue (such as the theology of mutuality, and the theology of acceptance) but I will just stay with this one for now. And a favorite image for this, and this is why I bring it up on the feast of the Epiphany, is these three wise men from the East, who come bringing gifts, lay them at the feet of Jesus, and they are accepted. That’s a whole other homily, which I must have given before, but just keep that image in your mind for a moment: these wise men come from the East, but they don’t just come to receive; they bring gifts, and their gifts are received and welcomed. Now I want to take even that one step further by telling you this story. When I was passing through Delhi, India in 2007, I visited a monastic community known as the Brotherhood of the Ascended Christ of the Church of North India (the Indian version of Anglicanism). Their monastery is where Abhishiktananda stayed often on his way through Delhi and is also the place where his scant archives are housed. The head of the community at the time was a man named Fr. Monodeep Daniel who was also the secretary of the Abhishiktananda Society. We had a long conversation and Monodeep was telling me how influential Abhishiktananda had been on their community. We spoke some about...

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proclus and the prologue II


Posted By on Jan 3, 2016

(cyprian, 2nd Sunday after Christmas) I feel like I didn’t really start to understand the true meaning of Christmas until I moved to Arizona. I remember clearly driving down Greenway Avenue in north Phoenix, passing by Our Lady of the Valley Church overflowing with cars on Christmas morning and suddenly realizing that there was no snow, no sleigh bells, no Jingle Bells. There was still Santa Claus, but even he didn’t make as much sense in the sunny desert at 90 degrees Farenheit. I kind of get annoyed at the bumper stickers that like to remind us that “Jesus is the reason for the season,” because they sound a lot more angry and strident than evangelical, but yes, that’s right. I really got that when the secular commercial trappings were taken away. Yes, but that is only the first step. I feel like I got another step closer to understanding Christmas here in the monastery. Finally I was in a place where not only did we savor every last drop of Advent––in other words, we didn’t start Christmas until after December 17th and the we started singing the O Antiphons––but also we kept on celebrating the whole season of Christmas. I even felt justified in not sending out my Christmas cards until January 6th. At the same time––and I am aware of this even more as the one who plans the music and the readings for our liturgies––it’s kind of hard to keep celebrating Christmas as long as the Church wants us to, while all the world is getting ready for the President’s Day sale… This year I was thinking, liturgically speaking, Christmas is kind of a like a distant relative who comes to visit, one who’s really fun and entertaining, but then stays too long. Three or four days later you’ve run out of things to talk about, and there’s jolly old Uncle Nick still sitting at the kitchen table waiting for his cup of tea and telling the same stories over and over again. But that makes me, and asks us to, and the Church asks us to, go deeper. After we’ve read the charming stories about Jesus’ birth from Matthew and the whole infancy narrative of Luke, we then get asked to listen to the Prologue of John, not once, not twice, but this year three times! This reading that we heard the other day from Proclus of Constantinople was really helpful to me: “Christ did not become divine by advancement… Christ was always divine, but became human… We do not preach a deified human being; we confess an incarnate God…”[1] The other day I preached...

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