Saturday, January 26, 2013



At 6:00 a.m. last Wednesday we began vigils with the invitatory Psalm 67. We kept repeat- ing the re- frain “Let the peoples praise you, O God, let all the peoples praise you!” Now that’s a refrain that I’ve sung hundreds of times, but for some reason it struck me in a new way that morning. I suddenly had the feeling that we were praying with and in the name of “all the peoples.” It felt as if I was praying with millions of Muslims and Jews and Hindus and Buddhists and all other people who are sincerely seeking something beyond the limits of this material world. Each time we repeated the refrain I felt this more deeply.

When we sat down and began reciting the psalms the feeling was still with me: I was praying with untold millions of people who did not even know Christ. Then came the scripture reading. It turned out to be the story of Abram (Abraham) on his way back from a victorious military raid, as he encountered a strange figure who appears only this once in the Old Testament, Melchisedek:
 After his return from the defeat of Chedorlaomer and the kings who were with him, the king of Sodom went out to meet Abram at the Valley of Shaveh (that is, the King’s Valley). 18And King Melchizedek of Salem brought out bread and wine; he was priest of God Most High.* 19He blessed him and said,
‘Blessed be Abram by God Most High,*
   maker of heaven and earth;
20 and blessed be God Most High,*
   who has delivered your enemies into your hand!’
And Abram gave him one-tenth of everything. (Gen 14:17-20)

This pagan king recognized the God of Heaven and Earth as the one who had delivered Abram from his enemies, and offered those strangely prophetic gifts of bread and wine. Another note in the chord that was already playing in my heart that morning.

After three more psalms we had a second reading, a commentary on the Genesis passage, written by Cardinal Jean Danielou. It began this way:

Melchizedek is the high priest of the cosmic religion. Gathered in him is all the religious worth of the sacrifices offered from the beginning of the world until Abraham and he is witness to its acceptance by God. He is a priest of that primitive religion of humankind, which was not limited to Israel but to embrace all peoples. He does not offer sacrifice in the Temple at Jerusalem, but the whole world is the temple whence rises the incense of prayer.

As the reading continued in that vein for a few more paragraphs I began feeling even more at one with my brothers and sisters around the world who are searching or who already acknowledge the sovereign dominion of God in their lives.

Slowly the gray, diffuse light of a January dawn began to brighten the stained glass. windows. I could make out St. Ann and her little daughter, Mary, in the window opposite my place in choir. As we stood and chanted the psalms of praise I knew that we monks were not the only ones involved. The people on William Street or King Boulevard outside the church were somehow in on this, as were the thousands of people on their way to work in downtown Newark. So were people all over the United States and in fact all over the world. Our music sounded  a bit fuller that morning, a bit richer. I could hear other voices singing with us, voices of sisters and brothers who were not physically present, but were singing God’s praises by doing what they were doing: driving a truck in Manhattan, nursing a sick child in a clay hut in Tanzania, or spinning a prayer wheel outside a Tibetan monastery. It was a beautiful sound.

The music followed me to my classroom and later to my session with Novice Brother Thomas. 
Yes. Wednesday was a good day.

"Let all the peoples Praise you! - Psalm 67


  1. God is three in one, God the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost. Given, "No one comes to the Father except through me", How can:

    Jews, who rejects the Christ the Son,
    Muslims who reject Christ and say he is only a prophet,
    Hindus who have many gods and reject Christ,
    Buddhists who reject Christ,

    pray to the same God?

    Why do you put your religion on the same plane as these pagan religions? Saints died rather than do this, were they wrong?

    If it is all the same, perhaps I should just become Hindu, or Buddhist. It's all good, yes?

  2. Such ecumania is par for the course in the new Conciliar religion.