Song du Jour

Song du Jour

Benedictine Thoughts, Teachings, and Prayers

"Gifts of the Risen Christ"

April 1, 2013

Today is Easter Monday and we are all catching our breath after experiencing the rituals of the Triduum.


We often hear people speak of their “gifts” which have been bestowed upon them from God or we recognize other people’s gifts and talents realizing that they had come from “above.”

But this year’s Lent and Holy Week was different for me from previous years in that the Holy Spirit gave me new vision in reading and hearing the same stories. It was an awakening for me and I am still recalling in my mind what was revealed to me from different sources. In this BLOG, I will try to relate my new understanding for 2013.


I am currently taking a course with the Scholastics from Bristow, VA on Liturgy/Church given by Steve Palmer. I am thoroughly enjoying the class as well as sharing our thoughts with each other. It is one thing to have thoughts and revelations in your mind but another when you actually verbalize what is going though your mind of which I find fascinating.

One of the books that is required for this course is, Meeting Christ in His Mysteries: A Benedictine Vision of the Spiritual Life by Gregory Collins, OSB. To say that this book is wonderful is an understatement. I cannot tell you how much in awe I am of what I am reading. I find myself dwelling on God and his relationship with me and my relationship with him.


When we read Scripture, we are told to think of God’s word as honey, allowing it to drip into our hearts. The monks from many centuries ago were told to eat honeycomb…it was difficult to chew. In following this ritual, the monks were to learn how to chew on the Word of God…slowly chewing on each word so that it would be absorbed into their beings. Well, I must connect this image to what I have experienced Lent/Holy Week/Resurrection. It has been awesome and I will never be the same. I feel as though God, through my metamorphosis, has turned me into an Easter butterfly of which I am so grateful.

In preparing my reading for class, we were assigned reading that pertained to the Mysteries of the Passion. Collins states that “the mysteries of Christ are our own mysteries; they are given to us by God to illumine our path, open our eyes, and bring new vision.” This is exactly what has happened to me in gaining this new insight into the Easter Triduum sixty-one years later.


 What first touched me was when Collins began to analyze the meaning of “the cross” in our lives. Collins states that “the cross as a revelatory sign of God’s love was already the beginning of Christ’s exaltation, as Jesus declared:


‘Now is the judgment of the world.

Now the ruler of this world will be driven out,

and when I am lifted up from the Earth,

I will draw all people to myself.’


Collins speak of the cross as a terrible instrument of torture whereby the cross assumes the character of a throne…O Tree of beauty,

                                        O Tree of light,

                                        O Tree of royal purple bright!


Collins states that ‘the tree of our defeat became the tree of victory where life was lost, there life had been restored. The very scourge which is the cause of death becomes the source of healing: that is the real mystery but also the true glory of the cross. God’s glory does fill the earth because the redeeming power of Christ’s cross radiated to the uttermost parts of the universe.’


What Collins now says has affected me forever: ‘this cross enters our lives.’


I began to think about this which transported me back two thousand years to Jesus’ crucifixion. The wood was so dry, so heavy, so splintery, so harsh, so loud, and so real. My five senses were awakened to the once tree, now cross, to be carried on a shoulder that would carry the world of this same shoulder. My mind travelled back to 2013 in Collins relating to how that same cross from Jesus’ crucifixion enters our lives in many ways:


~ at first, the cross is far away,

~but gradually emerges into sight,

~ we experience a sick feeling,

~ nothing can ever be the same,

~it can be anything at all –

~ a message from the doctor

~bearing news of an unexpected growth

~a cough

~ a lump in the breast

~ realization of one’s infidelity

~ telephone call from the casualty ward

~a suicide note

~unloved or unwanted sexual orientation

~ dreadful debilitating addiction

~ Myself: crippled by my own sense of meaninglessness and inadequacy


In all of these instances, the cross, carried up the aisle, arrives in front of me, speaking to me in the sung response: “Behold the wood of the cross.” It has appeared after two thousand years and will not go away because Jesus’ cross is also my cross to carry daily. Jesus’ cross is planted permanently into my inner sanctuary. There are three possible ways to react to the cross in my life when it arrives: Collins states,


“I may deny it totally, I may fight it, kicking hard against it or I may stumble forward to venerate it, embrace it, and even kiss it because in this wood, I will meet my Savior of the World.”


Collins states that, “the last option is the only one that will allow me to live with the cross in my life and let it lead me into glory. This is when and only the cross can be transformed from a dark tree of torture into a radiant tree of life. Now it can be elevated in my sight: when I learn to see it not just as an instrument of agony but as a glorious tree that bore and bears the world’s redemption.


As I pondered and absorbed what Collins’ concepts were, I began to connect the dots to “gifts” that have been given to us by God in our lives. Yes, all of nature has God’s signature on it but I realized that his dying was the greatest gift because within his gift were many other gifts. Just as we can now buy nested boxes beginning with the largest, next to the largest etc…a box within a box within another box and yet within another box…so many gifts. When I looked up the word “gift,” I found this definition:



1.       Something given: something that is given to somebody, usually in order to provide pleasure or to show gratitude

2.      Special Talent: A natural ability that somebody appears to have been born with, especially an artistic ability or social skill

3.      Act of giving: the act of giving something to somebody.

4.      Something easily gained: something that is obtained or achieved easily (informal)

5.      Give something: to give or concede something to somebody as a gift

(13th Century. Old Norse. Germanic.)


Word Usage

Marketers are fond of the expression free gift but because any gift worthy of its name is free, the result of using the two words together is unnecessary and should be avoided.


Synonyms: present, donation, contribution, reward, bequest, award, endowment, grant, offering, talent, skill, ability, flair, knack, genius, aptitude, bent


We often think of “gifts” as being part of our Christmas ritual because we not only receive but give as well. Now, in relating this gift-giving during the Triduum, what do I receive and what do I give in return? Now, this year 2013, has taken on new meaning for me.

On Holy Thursday, I am the beneficiary of the Institution of the Eucharist from two thousand years ago until now on a daily basis.


On Good Friday, I am the beneficiary of the crucifixion from two thousand years ago until now on a daily basis.


At the Easter Vigil, I am the beneficiary of our fire of light, our Baptism, of Jesus’ Resurrection from two thousand years ago until now on a daily basis.


It has become so real to me now and has entered my inner sanctuary permanently.

The big question is what do I do to give back for all that has been given to me on a daily basis? This is for me to ponder on a daily basis in my contemplative prayer. I am so grateful to be a Catholic, a sojourner, a disciple, a follower, and a pilgrim seeking more, yearning for more and more of the honey that is available to me from the spiritual honeycomb. I desire to chew and chew and chew until I take my last breath. There is so much to learn…Earth is our classroom where we will be promoted to eternal life with the Trinity. AMEN.


My song du jour is: “Behold, behold the wood of the cross, on which is hung our salvation,

                                    O Come let us adore.”



“That in all things God may be glorified”


Sr. Jo-El McLaughlin, OSB




Art: taken from

Definition of the word: GIFT taken from

Encarta World English Dictionary 2009regalo masculine 20092002000rkjggfjzdfknvfxnjlkc f




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