“Hear O Israel
The Lord our God
is Lord alone!”
Thus begins Jesus’ reply to the scribe. It is a direct quote from Deuteronomy of what came to be known as the shema. As a prayer, the Shema became central to Judaism beginning in the late Second Temple period. Even today devout Jewish men are required to recite this prayer twice daily. The Shema is held in the mezuzah which Jews place on the doorpost of their homes.
Unfortunately, Catholics only hear these words proclaimed more fully in the reading from Deuteronomy at Mass every other year on the 18th Saturday of ordinary time. This is generally not a heavily attended Mass in most parishes. Fortunately, we encounter the shema weekly in Night Prayer after Evening Prayer I on Sundays in the breviary.
From his reply here we recall that Jesus did not abolish the ten commandments. He perfected them. He placed them in the context of love; love for God love for one’s neighbor. Jesus shifted the focus of religious observance from the multiple laws governing diet, work and other minutiae of life, to love for God and neighbor.
One of the early rabbinic sages described these two commandments as containing all of the Torah with the rest serving as commentary. It is a good thought to keep in mind. Two commandments as opposed to six hundred plus laws? Sounds simpler on the surface. But, as is true of much of what Jesus taught, apparent simplification is, in the end, considerably more complex and difficult.
“Hear O Israel, The Lord our God is Lord alone! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart with all your soul, with all your mind and will all your strength.”
Nothing else is needed for meditation.
Heading to Bethlehem, CT on Saturday into Sunday. Am going to be the celebrant for the entire Triduum. As it will in Latin with large amounts of chant, this trip is to pick up the chants and rubrics necessary for the complicated liturgy.
Photos are all black and white. All of them were taken at one of three monasteries,Abbey of Regina Laudis, St. Joseph Abbey, and St. Vincent Archabbey.
Regina Laudis is a seriously active farm. The tractor is sitting in a barn awaiting its next job.
The monastic choir at Regina Laudis. The sun was dramatic.
A still life in the men's guest house at Regina Laudis.
Small chapel at St. Vincent Archabbey for adoration in AM.
The graveyard at St. Vincent. The archabbey was established over two hundred years ago. Many long rows of identical crosses marking the grave.
St. Joseph Abbey graveyard from the cottage.
One of the libraries at St. Joseph Abbey.
The monastic choir at St. Joseph.
My favorite. I did my final vow retreat at St. Joseph. With two days left in the eight day retreat it was time to write out three copies of each of the two sets of vows that a Jesuit pronounces. The paper with holes are practice sheets. Everything had to fit within the lines and on one page. No problem for the public vows but a real challenge with the five "simple vows" that I pronounced in the sacristy after Mass with eight Jesuits present, including George. Fr. General and I both signed them, a total of six signatures each.
Fr. Jack, SJ, MD