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2015-05-27

Blessings to you! I am in the Monastery of Corpus Christi, in the Diocese of Tuxtla Gutierrez, Chiapas, Mexico. This is a monastery founded under the local bishop and I am an advisor to the local bishop about the monastery and a friend of the monks. One of the challenges of loving monastic life and encouraging monastic life is that I travel more. If we are to have monasteries in our world, they must be encouraged.

When I traveled from the United States to Mexico City on American Airlines on May 21st, my suitcase did not arrive at Mexico City. That can happen. So I filed a form for a lost piece of luggage and it was promised to me that it would be delivered to a location about 40 minutes away from our Monastery of Santa Maria y Todos los Santos. That would have worked out well. Then, after I was no longer in Mexico City but in the State of Veracruz at our Monastery of Santa Maria y Todos los Santos, I was informed that it would instead be delivered to the airport in the City of Veracruz. That means a round trip of about 7 hours so I was not happy with that. I asked if someone else could pick up my suitcase there and bring it to me, but was told that I had to be personally present with my ID to claim my suitcase.

I finally went to the airport and obtained my suitcase and only when I was back in the Monastery of Santa Maria y Todos los Santos did I open the suitcase and find that about half of my personal belongings had been stolen. I don't travel with valuable items, but nevertheless I was dismayed. Because the suitcase did not connect with my flight in Dallas, probably the robbery took place there and not in Mexico, but who knows. Why a suitcase marked with a priority card would not make the transfer in Dallas on time is a great mystery and speaks poorly of American Airlines.

Last year when I had problems with United Airlines, I felt good about my longstanding frequent flier status on American Airlines. I have traveled almost 5 million miles on American Airlines and have been a loyal customer since 1988. So I thought that I would file a complaint and did so. All I have received so far are general messages and a promise of a $100 travel voucher. So I wrote again to American Airlines, explaining that a travel voucher of $100 along with general messages is a poor way to have customer relations with a client who has been a frequent flier in their program for some 27 years and has been a loyal customer. So far there is no response to that. I had to obtain a car and a driver and the cost of the trip along to Veracruz to collect my suitcase was more than $150 and the items that were stolen were probably of a value of around $200. That also does not include any value for the time lost in my visit here in Mexico.

I share all this simply because we live in a time of enormous companies and corporations. Very few of them have any kind of customer service that really cares for customers. I think of the airlines and of Western Union and of so many banks and other corporations of these types. They all want our business so that they can have good income and make money, but they are not so good when they make mistakes.

Our Church and even our Monastery can fall into the same type of behaviors if we are not careful. The sexual abuse crisis is a good example of the same problem in the Church. In our monastery, we have to be careful to strive to relate well with all who write to us, all who help us in any way and all who feel offended by us in any way. The lessons of traveling are, for me, lessons about how to relate to people and to love people--rather than just use people.

To love others always has a cost. The cost is in using our time to be with others, in trying to listen to others, in trying to seek what is really good for others and sometimes in striving not to react to others and their needs and requests. To relate to another person means to be centered in Jesus and relating in Jesus to the other person--not being centered in ourselves.

Just this past Sunday we celebrated Pentecost and presence of the Holy Spirit in the Church and in us. The Holy Spirit, for me, sometimes is like electricity in my life, giving me energy and light and a capacity to relate to others and to see myself as I am. I had a dream on Pentecost morning about seeking a missing part of an automobile because without that missing part, the automobile would not work. As I awakened, I realized that it was the Holy Spirit that gives life and allow all things to work together for God. If I am not connected to that electricity, to the Holy Spirit, then nothing works, even though from the outside all looks well.

For me, so far in my life, the only way that I know to be connected to the Lord and to the Spirit every day is taking the time to be still and to pray, to sit quietly and be aware of God's love for me, to allow the depths of my being to be drawn to the Lord because He loves me. When I do not take that time every day, my life looks normal but is not. My life is reduced because I begin to live from my own energy and human capacities and not from the grace of God.

My personal challenge is to be consistent in prayer, whether it appeals to me or not. And lots of time it does not appeal to me. I would rather get my other tasks done than sit with the Lord where there is no sense of His presence. Praying for me becomes a choice of doing what I know gives life rather than doing that which appeals to my feelings of the moment. Sometimes I actually manage to live that way!

So I ask your prayers for me, that I may consistently choose to do what gives life rather than that which feels good at the moment. I promise my prayers for you and for your needs and intentions. I will offer Holy Mass for you this week. Please also pray for the sisters and brothers of our communities, that we be faithful to the Lord in our lives. I send you my love and prayers.

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