Thursday, July 06, 2006

Home Again

Blessed be God, I am home again from another conference. This time, I sat on a panel of 'newcomers' to religious life at the annual Monastic Institute at St. John's Abbey in Collegeville. The term 'newcomer' was used somewhat loosely in my case, as I have had more time in the monastery than the other three panelists did combined. In any case, it was a very fruitful event.

Especially gratifying were the positive comments from Benedictine sisters after we spoke. There was a sense of common mission and values between us. There has been a certain amount of tension, not to mention hostility, between 'male and female monastics' in the United States. This results from a history that includes real injustices against Benedictine women. Abbot Primate Notker even joked about this history at one point in the conference to great applause, saying that his goal was to bring people together, 'even men and women!' With this background, to be received so warmly by my Benedictine sisters was quite meaningful.

The community at St. John's is dear to me, in large part because I did my seminary studies there and lived in the cloister during the school sessions. In part, I also love visiting because our two communities are living proof of the remarkable adaptability of the Rule of Benedict. The two communities could hardly be more different: we are eight men in the middle of the city, they are 180 men and countless other organizations out in remote central Minnesota. We are different in other ways, too. On July 4 at Morning Prayer, they chose to read (where the rubrics instruct us to read a writing of one of the Fathers of the Church or other 'ecclesiastical author') an essay from America magazine on the founding and current political status of the United States! That sort of liturgical reading would never occur to us!

My goal is to limit these sorts of travels in such a way to honor the Constitutions of our congregation that require me to be home 11 of 12 months per year. But I do believe that, well chosen, such travels can be a real help to the community, creating closer bonds with our fellow Benedictines, offering what we can to edify our sisters and brothers in Christ, and of course, to give the brothers a break from me!

Blessings and peace in Jesus Christ.

1 comment:

BreadintheWilderness said...

I'm a blog novice, so forgive me if I am not honoring a format.
I wasn't able to attend the conference though the topic speaks to my heart and my heart listens.

In 7 years
Every day
10,000 people will be turning 65.

I believe the lay monastic movement may at least be in part a kind of formation that will bear fruit in those days. Being Monks in the city, are you a bridge to lay monastics?

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If I, who seem to be your right hand and am called Presbyter and seem to
preach the Word of God, If I do something against the discipline of the Church
and the Rule of the Gospel so that I become a scandal to you, The Church, then
may the whole Church, in unanimous resolve, cut me, its right hand, off, and
throw me away.


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