Saint Rafael Arnáiz Barón an introduction

Here’s someone you may never have heard about. Rafeel was only 27 when he died in 1936. I repost here the words of the monks of St. Joseph’s Abbey: “Saint Rafael let himself be led by Christ through a series of bewildering contradictions- illness, war, the impossibility of ever pronouncing vows, difficult community relations. Humiliations were constant, but Rafael learned to surrender himself in peace and joy.” Rafael was declared a Saint of the Roman Catholic Church on 11 October 2009. In the Monks own words:

Saint Rafael Arnaiz Barøn

Saint Rafael Arnáiz Barón

Saint Rafael’s monastic life was hardly typical. Four months after entering the Trappist monastery of San Isidro in Spain, he was smitten by a very serious form of diabetes, and he had to return home for treatment. And so it was again and again between 1935 and 1937. And this was at the height of the Spanish Civil War.

On his final return to the monastery, Rafael was allowed only to be an oblate of the monastery, taking the last place and living on the fringes of the community. He died in the abbey infirmary on 26 of April 1938 after a final illness; he was only 27 years old.

Things often do not turn out as we had hoped or planned. And we learn that contradictions and dead ends are part of the journey. But what to do with them? Saint Rafael shows us a way. Despite all he had to endure, he simply refused ever to be selfish or self-absorbed. He simply loved- Christ, Our Lady, the Cross, his brothers.

POSTED BY THE MONKS AT 8:00 AM 27 April 2013

via ST JOSEPH’S ABBEY, SPENCER MA: Saint Rafael Arnáiz Barón.

Remembering Dietrich Bonhoeffer

This day (April 9) the Episcopal Church remembers Lutheran Pastor, Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Much has been written and more will still be written. His own words continue to inspire me and so many others:

Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline. Communion without confession. Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ.

A search will reveal just how much of his writing is on the internet. May the words you hear change the things you do: for the common good and the glory of God.

The Little Way

One of my favorite saints is Thérèse of Lisieux (“The Little Flower”). She is remembered by the Roman Catholic Church on October 1st. I encourage you to take 10 minutes of your day to hear Fr. James Martin, SJ tell the story of Thérèse. Within the video you will hear more about her “little way.” It is a way for you and me, don’t you think?

I do not have the courage to force myself to search out beautiful prayers in books. There are so many of them it really gives me a headache! and each prayer is more beautiful than the others. I cannot recite them all and not knowing which to choose, I do like children who do not know how to read, I say very simply to God what I wish to say, without composing beautiful sentences, and He always understands me. For me, prayer is an aspiration of the heart, it is a simple glance directed to heaven, it is a cry of gratitude and love in the midst of trial as well as joy; finally, it is something great, supernatural, which expands my soul and unites me to Jesus.
From Story of a Soul (via Wikiquote)

Read more about Thérèse

Therese of Lisieux on Wikipedia

Do all you can

Do all you can

How many of your “teachers” are people you have never met? How many of your teachers are persons you will never meet in this life? One word answer for me: “Plenty.” Longer answer: so numerous they are like the stars in the sky. I am grateful to be alive in this “Digital Age.”

One of my teachers, Nkosi Johnson, is a young boy who died in 2001 at the age of 12. Not only is he a teacher (I hear his wisdom frequently and have used one powerful teaching in my “About” note on Twitter), but he is also one of my heros: I hope to be as courageous and loving as this boy “when I grow up.”

The “Word for the Day” on 3 August 2010 was this: “Do all you can with what you have in the time you have in the place you are.” It was Nkosi’s final word to an interviewer (a well-traveled, accomplished, and much older reporter).

A few simple words, filled with a wisdom far beyond his years, crackling with a power that comes from knowledge gained by experience. I hope that you will read more about Nkosi. I hope that you may welcome him into your life as a teacher and hero and even a saint.

Read more about Nkosi

One boy’s heroism in the face of AIDS – the interview on NPR from which the Nkosi’s was spoken

Nkosi Johnson – the write up about Nkosi on the My Hero Website

St. Mary of Magdala: Apostle to the Apostles

July 22nd is the day that the Episcopal Church dedicates to the memory of Mary of Magdala. I offer you a fuller portrait of Mary, “Apostle to the Apostles,” offered by FutureChurch. Perhaps what you think you know about Mary Magdalene will be challenged:

Not a Prostitue. Mary of Magdala is perhaps the most maligned and misunderstood figure in early Christianity. In Christian art and hagiography, Mary has been romanticized, allegorized, and mythologized beyond recognition. Since the fourth century, she has been portrayed as a prostitute and public sinner who, after encountering Jesus, repented and spent the rest of her life in private prayer and penitence. Paintings, some little more than pious pornography, reinforce the mistaken belief that sexuality, especially female sexuality, is shameful, sinful, and worthy of repentance. Yet the actual biblical account of Mary of Magdala paints a far different portrait than that of the bare-breasted reformed harlot of Renaissance art. Intrigued? Read more: St. Mary of Magdala: Apostle to the Apostles.

May 16: The Martyrs of the Sudan

We remember the Martyrs of the SudanIf a reminder is needed about praying for peace in Sudan….

“The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church,” the third-century North African teacher, Tertullian, once wrote. And in no place is that observation more apt than in Sudan, Africa’s largest country, and a land long torn by violence.

Throughout the year the Episcopal Church remembers Holy Women and Holy Men. Witnesses to the faith, encouragers to grow in faith, and an inspiration to wonder, love, and praise, Holy Women, Holy Men remind me that there is more to life than having more and being safe.

Read more about the Martyrs of the Sudan: May 16: The Martyrs of the Sudan « Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music.

For further consideration

O God, steadfast in the midst of persecution, by your providence the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church: As the martyrs of the Sudan refused to abandon Christ even in the face of torture and death, and so by their sacrifice brought forth a plentiful harvest, may we, too, be steadfast in our faith in Jesus Christ; who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.  –The Collect on this day of remembering

The Lessons appointed for the Martyrs of the Sudan

Psalm 116:10–17

Wisdom 3:1–9

Hebrews 10:32–39

Matthew 24:9–14

A Season of Prayer for Sudan – a request of the Presiding Bishop; a request to prayer, study, and action

Image: Holy Women, Holy Men

A Great Cloud of Witnesses – 10 Apr 2011

The Columbarium at St. Margaret's Episcopal Church

Every Sunday is a pilgrimage. One goes to the Columbarium niche and renews the flowers for another week. One goes to a different Columbarium niche and pauses and prays and then touches that cold metal cover so tenderly, so tenderly. Each man remembering the woman who shared his life for so many years. Each man remembering a covenant “from this day forward … until death do us part.” Each man discovering, and teaching me, that even in death the touch and presence of the woman, the spouse, continues in grace and truth and power in the heart and in the communion of saints. They are quiet witnesses to me of the truth of scripture about the power of love: unquenchable (Song of Solomon 8:6-7), the greatest gift of all (1 Cor 12:31), that which never ends (1 Cor 13:8). These two open me to the joy and wonder of the truth that “God is love” and that the one who knows love, knows God. Knowing is not just for a moment, but for a lifetime. And, I give thanks for their witness.


  • be still
  • let the cloud of witnesses envelop you
  • find your witness or witnesses who lived/are living this truth
  • give thanks for their presence in your life
  • when ready, go with encouragement and renewed energy
  • go and witness this truth in your own life

Explanation and purpose

Introduction to my occasional series A Great Cloud of Witnesses