Friday, October 17, 2008

Back to the Country

I write you from the Abbey of St. Walburga, Virgina Dale, Colorado, where I am spending just over a week filling in for their regular chaplain. It is also a welcome break for me from the stresses of building and otherwise trying to cooperate with grace to build (metaphorically now) a monastery in the city. Aside from resting, I have been reading Belloc's Richelieu, Thomas Mann's Doctor Faustus and Letters Written in Good Faith, a fantastic collection of correspondence between the Praemonstratensian founders of St. Norbert Abbey (three miles from my childhood home in Green Bay, Wisc) and their founding abbey in Berne, Holland. The letters of this first volume span 1893-1904 and are mostly composed by the future Abbot Pennings, who, among other impressive works, founded my high school. The three founders are pictured here: Fr. Bernard Pennings, Br. Servatius Heesakkers, and Fr. Lambert Broens, O.Praem.

I also have been taking the opportunity to hike the beautiful property of the monastic community. I can't say enough how important it is, at least for me, to remember that there is a huge sky above us, that there are animals besides house pets, starlings and squirrels (I've encountered a pig, cows, llamas, chickens, and a variety of birds; I've not yet come across a bobcat, mountain lion or any deer), and to be far away from the constant noise and bustle of the city, much as I love the city. There is, in the desperate hurly-burly of urban striving, something unavoidably secular and anxiety-prone. The modern city is a monument to human genius, no mean thing, mind you, but nature is a sacrament of God's mysterious majesty.

Peace to you all!

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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.

Origen of Alexandria
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