The idol of body image is very common in the world today. If people cared half as much about what their souls looked like as what their bodies looked like, we would be one holy people! But the monastic diet is different—we receive whatever we are given, and with gratitude. It is one of the ways in which we express monastic poverty. Monastic poverty regarding food is to accept what you are given with thanksgiving (except if you have a serious allergy!). According to St. Benedict, there should be balance and moderation in all things, and that means there is a time for fasting, and a time for feasting. Haven’t you heard that the acronym BMW stands for “Benedictine Moderation Works”? For we know from St. Gregory’s writings that the Lord sent a priest to St. Benedict on Easter Sunday with prepared delicacies, in order that His servant (St. Benedict) got a share in the feast day meal. So it isn’t that God doesn’t want us to have feast days, but rather that He doesn’t want our bellies to be our gods. Let us be aware of this temptation, so that we can fight the idolatry of body image in our world. It is a great witness today that we are just grateful for everything we get, and in this way we not only feed our bodies, but our souls as well.
A feast day specialty — a berry tart in honor of the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart
A reflection on the joy celebrating Holy Week by Mother Maria-Michael Newe, OSB
But Zion said, “The LORD has forsaken me; my Lord has forgotten me.” Can a mother forget her infant, be without tenderness for the child of her womb? Even should she forget, I will never forget you.
-Isaiah 49: 14-15
This reading from Isaiah reminds us that we are never forgotten. Everything is done, or allowed, for our good. But when you think of all the sorrows of Holy Week you might say, “How in the world is this about rejoicing?” Because Somebody has come to save us. We could not do it on our own. We couldn’t bear that weight. God alone could bear the justice; and so there is rejoicing. If Jesus were to go into a prison and say, “You are all free, because I’m going to undergo the death penalty for you,” I don’t think the prisoners would just shrug their shoulders. There would be a real sense of freedom and gratitude. Holy Week should bring gratitude for what He has done, and we should express that gratitude throughout each day. I’m sure you already tell Him many times throughout the day, “I love you, Jesus,” but maybe do it a little more. I think that’s what encouraged Him during His Passion. I read that at one point in His agony He heard all the voices throughout time expressing gratitude. Make sure your voice is there. Make sure He hears how grateful you are to serve and to love Him.
The Trinity holds nothing back, but pours forth abundantly and completely. We should marvel at that, because that is so unlike man. The world teaches us to protect ourselves, and hold all our cards so nobody can take them—but the Trinity lays them all out. Try to live at that supernatural level. Be brave enough to not hold back. Be brave enough to serve and to be the servant of all. That takes true courage, because it is not the way of the world. Climb. Always climb, and you truly will rejoice. When you die, you won’t be saying, “I wish I had…” You’ll be saying, “I’m so glad I did.”