“Let all creation bend the knee, to the Lord”
The beautiful hymn, Jesus the Lord, by Roc O’Connor, SJ, has been sung by many choirs and soloists but this rendition by bassist Br. Gabriel Balassone, OFM, is truly a stand-out.
Recorded in 2014 at the St. Anthony Shrine when Br. Gabriel was a mere 81 years old, his deep voice expresses the song’s prayerful message of the Paschal Mystery.
Susan Quirk, the pianist for the St. Anthony Shrine, a long-time friend and collaborator with Br. Gabriel accompanies him.
Other stories and videos about Br. Gabriel:
Jesus the Lord, (c) 1981, Robert F. O’Connor, S.J. And OCP, 5536 NE Hassalo, Portland, OR 97213. All rights reserved. Used with permission.
It is amazing how the revelation given us by God in the Book of Genesis, the first book of the Old Testament, says so much in so few words. In fact, though Genesis is 50 chapters long, it is really the first three chapters that are the most important.
In Chapter One, the revealed word of God tells of God as creator first of the entire universe. Science has been exploring the universe and will continue to do so until the end of time. It’s no wonder that scripture says, “The heavens proclaim the glory of God.” (Ps. 19:1) We are so fortunate to live at a time when, with space exploration and unbelievably powerful telescopes floating in space, we can view God’s creation. And we are learning more and more each day.
But much more important than material creation, God is described as the giver of life. It begins with the lowest forms and continues to the very highest … the first human beings. And it is here in the most simple yet astounding imagery that we read this significant statement: “Then God breathed into Adam’s nostrils the breath of life and man became a living being.” (Gen 2:7) Eve, taken from the rib of Adam, comes to life. And both are made in God’s image and likeness. And as with the whole account of creation described in Genesis, we know it is the underlying truths rather than a literal understanding of the details of creation as recorded in Genesis that are important. That is especially true of the image of God breathing life into the nostrils of Adam. It is so powerful and direct that it leaves no doubt God is the origin of all life.
But what is most striking is what happens at the beginning of a human being’s life at the moment of birth. An infant leaves the protective womb of its mother and takes (inhales) its first breath which it must do in order let out a “cry of new life.” That little phrase, “takes a new breath” is significant because it seems a perfect image of God’s own first breath in the account of Adam’s creation. Some might say “big deal” and brush that first moment of life aside. But as it breathes in, the newborn is in a way “taking in the breath of God” described in Genesis as God breathed life into Adam.
You might be curious as to how many breaths a human being takes in and breathes out in one’s lifetime? On average, a person at rest takes about 16 breaths per minute. This means we breathe about 960 breaths an hour, 23,040 breaths a day, 8,409,600 a year. The person who lives to 80 will take about 672,768,000 breaths in a lifetime. Who could count? The body/person will be alive as long as he or she can continue breathing.
But then at the end of life there is a last breath that is exhaled and the person completes his life on earth. In other words, that last breath is the last time a person will say through his breath, “Yahweh”, i.e. God.
Even with all the physiology we can study about the process of breathing on the part of every human, it is astounding to think that each breath in (“Yah”) and each breath out (“weh”) proclaims our heavenly Father’s name.
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Meeting God in the Upper Room: Three Moments to Change Your Life
Monsignor Peter J. Vaghi
Recalling his own Holy Land pilgrimage experience, Monsignor Peter Vaghi explores three significant events in the life of the early Church that can be traced back to the Upper Room in Jerusalem (sometimes called the “Cenacle”) in order to guide us to a deeper appreciation and understanding of living the Christian life in prayer, worship and service.
Each of the book’s three parts is dedicated to one of these key moments in the history of our faith: the Last Supper and the institution of the Eucharist, the post-resurrection appearances of Christ to his followers, and the Holy Spirit descending on the apostles at Pentecost.
The walk with the Lord is a continued encounter with Him in the power of Holy Spirit. In Meeting God in the Upper Room, Monsignor Vaghi captures the various integral ways in which we continue in our day to meet the Risen Lord—in the sacraments; in our prayer lives; in our profession of Easter faith; in our works of charity and service; in our devotion to Mary, Mother of the Church and our Mother; in the experience of the gifts of the Holy Spirit; in the call to evangelize and our efforts to evangelize in our own day—in our homes, workplaces, places of leisure, in our travel. All of these make up the rich and continued spiritual legacy of that Upper Room and what happened there.
In writing about the Upper Room, Monsignor Vaghi tells of not just its historical significance, but its profound spiritual significance. It was there that Christ and his disciples retreated from the world in order to teach and learn, respectively, how they could carry on the faith. And as we set aside time to enter the “Upper Room” of our own life, we discover that Jesus is waiting to meet us there as well.
–Monsignor Peter J. Vaghi is pastor of the Church of the Little Flower in Bethesda, Maryland, and a priest of the Archdiocese of Washington.
Wendell Berry and the Given Life
We drive to work on the stored energy of ten thousand years of sunlight. Our daily bread seems to generate miraculously from store shelves. And our communities can be connected with a billion ones and zeros over fiber optic cables. For us, the idea of being a creature can seem passé. Yet in this lonely world of mastery, in a time so dominated by human desire and design that it has been dubbed the “anthropocene,” the human age, many of us feel that we are missing some essential truth about who we are.
The glimpses of this truth come when we lose cell reception on a long hike in the forest and our eyes are lifted to the simple marvel of trees. We feel this truth when we take up a shovel and sense the satisfying heave of dirt as we plant a modest garden. We hear this truth when we tune out the traffic and listen to the song sparrow’s melody, eavesdropping on a beauty that serves no human economy. In all this we hear a whisper of the truth that we are creatures—and we long to live in this reality. But how can we, when we have moved so far from our life source in the soil?
For the past 50 years, Wendell Berry has been helping seekers chart a return to the practice of being creatures. Through his essays, poetry and fiction, Berry has repeatedly drawn our attention to the ways in which our lives are gifts in a whole economy of gifts.
Berry presents us with the sort of coherent vision for the lived moral and spiritual life that we need now. His work helps us remember our givenness and embrace our life as creatures. His insights flow from a life and practices, and so it is a vision that can be practiced and lived—it is a vision that is grounded in the art of being a creature.
Wendell Berry and the Given Life articulates his vision for the creaturely life and the Christian understandings of humility and creation that underpin it.
–Ragan Sutterfield is the author of Cultivating Reality: How the Soil Might Save Us, and a memoir, This Is My Body.
Lost money could’ve been a real hardship but St. Anthony came through once again.
The parishioners in my church decided to provide chocolate rabbits for displaced children this Easter. We collected donations and I was going to do the shopping.
On the morning I was to go to the store, I could not locate the envelope containing a nice amount of money for the candy.
I searched the house, turning over the garbage on the floor, going through newspapers, every drawer, my purse, etc.
Praying to St. Anthony I promised to write a letter to you if the money was found. Several friends and family also prayed.
Although I am low-income, I thought I would make up the money which would have been a hardship for me.
After three days, I was going through a binder and found the envelope with the money.
The children will be so delighted and so am I. Thank you for your intercession, St. Anthony.
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