Let the Redeemed Pray the Psalms – A Reflection for the Fourth Sunday in Lent

Scripture Readings for Today

Why do monastics spend so much time with the Psalms? I think the following reflection by Kerry Hasler-Brooks goes some way towards answering that question.


Two years ago, I heard Kathleen Norris read her poetry, and I immediately got a copy of her much-loved book Dakota: A Spiritual Geography and read it straight through.

South Dakota

I have since read the book three times and some portions many more, used it in a sermon, and discussed it with first-year college students in a class on reading, faith, and place. In the book, Norris tells of an abandoned faith resurrected in a small South Dakota town and in an ancient monastic liturgy that taught her to read, recite, hear, and know the Psalms deeply, beyond time, beyond herself.

First Sunday in Lent

Readings for Lent 1B 

The compilers of the Lectionary clearly want us to think about water and baptism today. And, I have to admit, knowing that I am meant to think about it makes me want to think about anything but baptism…  

Rebellion is not a bad place to start. After all, it was rebellion that set the stage for Noah and the flood which leads up to the passage we heard from Genesis. Those Lectionary Compilers opened the door on the Story of Noah… so let’s spend some time with it. We, not us personally, but we the human race, rebelled against God to the point where God really lost it. 

Sermon for the 5th Sunday after Epiphany Year B

Readings for this Sunday

Some passages in the Gospels all but preach themselves… today’s passage from Mark is not one of those passages… Some passages grab us with inspiring prose… and also, today’s passage is not one of those… I find this passage from Mark a bit pedestrian. And as I looked around the internet at other people’s sermons for today, I discovered that I’m not alone. For many this Gospel passage seems to sit somewhere between dull and annoying.

The First Sunday after Epiphany – The Baptism of Christ

Christ is bathed in light; let us also be bathed in light. Christ is baptized; let us also go down with him, and rise with him.

John is baptizing when Jesus draws near. Perhaps he comes to sanctify his baptizer; certainly … he comes to sanctify the Jordan for our sake and in readiness for us; he who is spirit and flesh comes to begin a new creation through the Spirit and water.

Benedictine Stability?

“Monk” by Br Robert James OHC

Benedictine monastic tradition values stability above just about everything. Our single monastic vow is stability, obedience, and conversion of life. Our monastic lives, like our baptized lives, lead to conversion of life – Jesus calls us to be made new. I believe that Benedict included stability and obedience in the vow because without them conversion of life is nearly impossible.

So here we are at St Benedict’s Priory, moving house for the second time in as many years… Where’s the stability in that?

Sermon for Advent II – exploring the season, COVID, and the apocalypse…

Today’s Readings

Here we are – part way through Advent. How did that happen?

At this point in the year 2020, it’s become pretty much a cliché to say this year is like no other we have known. And it’s true that most of us have not known such a year, but our forebears certainly have known years this bad and far worse. Even some alive today will remember the Advent seasons during the Second World War – which were no doubt more somber. Still – this is a different Advent then we’re used to and that should prompt some different reflection.

Sermon for Nov 26 – in which we explore American Thanksgiving, the Order of the Holy Cross, Advent, and the challenge of saying goodbye to dear friends (all in one sermon)

Today we have an intriguing confluence of things to talk about. It is American Thanksgiving. As an American, I can’t let that go unremarked… Yesterday was the feast of the Founder of the Order of the Holy Cross. And as a member of the Order, I can’t let that go unremarked either… This coming Sunday is the First Sunday of Advent, New Year’s Day for the Church. A big deal… But of all these things there is something that is an even bigger deal here at Volmoed.  

Today we acknowledge the powerful presence of Bernard and Jane Turkstra and face the reality that they are moving on – and so Volmoed, too, will move on…  

It’s a lot to cover… so I’m thinking we should have coffee now… 

Thursday 25 November – The Feast of James Otis Sargent Huntington

This week saw our celebration for the second time at Volmoed of our Order’s Founder’s Day. We were pleased to host the other Volmoed residents and staff to a festive lunch following the midday Eucharist.

Fr. James Otis Sargent Huntington was the first member of the Order of the Holy Cross to make his life profession, doing so on 25 November 1884 in New York, NY, USA. James Huntington was a passionate advocate of social justice, seeing prayer and action as inextricably intertwined. He has been described as forward-reaching, looking for enriching change and development, interested in the future.

We ask for your prayers for us and for our brothers throughout this Order that was established by the confident endurance of that remarkable man, that we may continue faithful to the spirit of our Founder.

Sermon for 28th Sunday after Pentecost – O those talented slaves…

Readings for today

One of the marvelous aspects of Jesus teaching throughout scripture is that it is generally in the form of parables… Marvelous and frustrating. It’s marvelous because parables don’t go out of date. And frustrating because there is always ambiguity in a parable – even those that seem to have a nice little summary of the meaning at the end. The parable we heard this morning is one that has shaped us in ways we may hardly realize.  

We hear of a very wealthy man who, before going away for a long trip gives certain amounts of money over to three of his slaves. And the parable seems to concern itself with how the slaves proceed. 

Part of the ambiguity of a parable is that we can look at what the parable might have meant when it was told – in that time, in that place, and to that audience. We can also look at what it means to us, in this time, in this place. Both ways of understanding are important, but the second one may be the most important. It focuses us on what we are going to do in response. 

So, lets dig in.