28 September 2009

And So It Begins... At Long Last :)

The above image was wantonly lifter from the Sub Tuum blog. Sorry, Br. Stephen. Tomorrow used to be know as Michaelmas: Feast of St. Michael the Archangel. It is now know as the Feast of the Archangels: Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael.

It is the 174th anniversary of the Founding of Mount St. Bernard Abbey. It is also the first day of my postulancy at Mount St. Bernard Abbey. Please pray for me.

God's peace and blessings to you all.

25 September 2009

The Time is Almost upon Us (or just me)

I have just come over to England from Ireland. I am on a double "Family Tour." First I am seeing all of relatives on my mom's side of the family, then all the relatives on my dad's side. At least as many of them as I can: a couple cousin are off on holiday in Africa, and some are just off. :)

At present I am in Sussex. Experiencing fantastic autumnal weather. While my cousin did gardening, her husband took me to the town of Lewes. Later on we will go to my uncle who has just turned 90. Tomorrow I go up to Sheffield; then on down to Dudley.

The Castle Gate at Lewes

And this coming Tuesday I enter Mount St.Bernard Abbey. While packing upmy house I felt a good bit of apprehension. This is the first time in my life that I am closing a chapter of my life so firmly. This is the first time since I was 8 years old, that I do not have any keys. No keys to an house or a flat. No keys to a car or even a bike-lock. I do not even have locks on my luggage, so no keys there either.

But that chapter is closed. And the apprehension is gone. The sale of my house is entrusted to a remarkable friend. The title to the car is signed over. That which I did not need at the abbey was given away, thrown away, or just left behind. To a great extent I got rid of every thing that was extraneous to my new life. In time I will probably get rid of more stuff.

Detachment from things is pretty easy for most people to grasp. Detachment from friends and family is a lot more difficult to graps. Unlike things, I do not want to get rid of friends and family. But their priority in my life changes, and it changes drastically. Before I prioritized things the following way:
  1. God
  2. Family
  3. Friends
  4. Job
In a dire situation, one could temporarily move up to a higher position; but things averaged out in that manner. Now the list is more like:
  1. God
  2. Worship of God in the Liturgy
  3. Conversio Morum (the changing of my ways)
  4. Family and Friends
I cannot now drop things and run over and help. It can even be difficult to lend an ear, sometimes. But this is the life I have chosen, and I realized it long before I applied. But I pray that my friends stay friends with me. I do not want to loose them; I just cannot possess them.

So now here I stand on the precipice of my metaphorical Cîteaux. The Journey does not end here. Oh no! It is just beginning. The terrain is getting steeper and, I have to pay more attention to my footing. Strap up your hiking boots, grab a staff, and join me.

God's Blessing and Peace to you! Please pray for me.

18 September 2009

How do you fit a life into a 24" x 24" x 17" carton?

How do you fit a life into a 24" x 24" x 17" carton? That is my task for the weekend. It is amazing just how much extraneous stuff that I have. The more I try to figure what is important, the more I realize that nothing I own is that important.

I have an antiques: clocks, Singer Sewing Machine from about 1923, etc. etc. and while they are worth money- blah, big deal. Now I am not obliged to disburse my property until I approach Solemn Vows, but why wait. I am trustful that I will become a monk, and that everything will work out. But even if it doesn't, it feels good to unburden my self of this stuff.

As the late summer morning sun shines through my stained glass windows filling my sitting room with an abundance of colours, I happily bask in my little slice of Heaven. I do not look on material goods as something evil. In their proper perspective, material goods are good things - but only things. When people decry material goods as evil, I enjoin them to take a stroll in the nude on a -25º (-32º Celsius) winter day. The goodness of material things becomes readily apparent in that scenario. Kidding aside, Holy Scripture tells us in the book of Genesis that God made the world. "and saw that it was good."

So back to my opening question: How do you fit a life into a 24" x 24" x 17" carton? by using plenty of packing peanuts. The carton is 17" tall, and I will not be able to fill it to the top.

God's Blessings to you and Peace!

14 September 2009

A Liberating Theology

Please allow me to begin with a disclaimer: I am not writing about "Liberation Theology." What I am writing about is the vow of obedience, or at least my understanding of it.

To most people obedience is a scary concept. For some the mind boggles with images of brainless, soul-less subservience. The Code of Canon Law (canon 601) defines it is as follows:

"The evangelical counsel of obedience, undertaken in a spirit of faith and love in the following of Christ who was obedient even unto death requires a submission of the will to legitimate superiors, who stand in the place of God when they command according to the proper constitutions."

The submitting of the will is not done under a bully or an adversary, but to someone standing "in the place of God." Wow! That is very deep: being obedient to someone serving you. The abbot or abbess of a monastery, using Christ as their model, is the servant of the entire community. Of course the needs of the entire community comes before that of the individual, and occasionally one has to accept a "no." I expect there to be some challenges as I transition into the monastic life, but eventually --God Willing-- it will just become part of the life.

Overall, however, I believe that the vow of obedience, as framed by the rule of St. Benedict, is liberating. There are two values prevalent in Western society that, to me, are obstacles in the spiritual life: Acquiring and Aspiring. The vow of obedience nullifies aspiriations, if you let it.