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About Us > Abbot's and Prior's Pages > Abbot's Notebook

2015-04-15

Blessings to you! Guess what? I forgot to even write a homily or a notebook this week and so now it is coming to you late because some people wrote to our Prior Christian asking what had happened.

So what has happened? Not much. I had an appointment to have my eyes checked out on Tuesday, which is one of the days on which I normally write the notebook. When I am out on Tuesdays, I usually write the notebook on the Monday. This past Monday I had brothers in and out of my office all day and did not even think about the notebook or the homily. So nothing got written.

Last Friday, Jay Thornton arrived to begin his postulancy in our community. He had spent time with us last year and we are happy to have him in the community now.

Last Friday also Father Martin Johnson from the Abbey of the Ascension in Togo left us to begin his journey back to his own community. He had spent a year with us and was a wonderful presence. He was always faithful in all aspects of our monastic life: present at the Divine Office, present at Mass, present at the meals, present for work and a good worker. It is a great joy to have such a monk in the community! We hope that later on he can return again for another visit.

On the past weekend, three of our brothers spent Saturday and Sunday at the Monastery of Saint Michael in Cañones. This is an Orthodox monastery about forty-five minutes away from us. Thus our brothers were able to celebrate their Easter with them, having already celebrated ours a week earlier. This kind of interchange and respect for another community always reflects how we want to build peace and harmony.

We have been trying to send money to an African country through Western Union but they want to protect us against ourselves and so will not send it. We have been through this before with Western Union and it is irritating and aggravating. A sister of one of our brothers just had surgery for a brain tumor and we are doing our part to help out, but cannot get the money to her because our government and Western Union protect us against ourselves.

There are many times that our community tangles with these huge corporations or with our own government because we are not allowed to do ordinary things. I can understand that our community looks suspicious. We are from so many countries, we all have the same phone number, we all have the same address. And we often send money to countries all over the world. These kinds of activities invite suspicion today. It makes it very difficult to do the normal acts of charity which we have always done.

Spiritually, the happenings in the Monastery keep me on my toes. I get deeply frustrated at times with these large corporations but also recognize that it is a waste of my time to react to them. Even though we send quite a bit of money through Western Union, it is nothing compared to the total amounts of money that others send through them. We do not count. It is the same with airlines. It is the same with embassies and consulates. I could make the list very long. What is important, however, is that I personally recognize that I am nothing. This is the teaching of our Rule of Saint Benedict. It would be foolishness on my part to talk about the Rule and then when such a good opportunity comes my way, to shun it entirely and insist that I am somebody!!

One time I waited five hours in a doctor's office in order to see him. When I finally got in, he apologized to me. My response was that everyone else had waited and so I should be part of that great crowd of people who have no claim for special treatment. Most of the time, I can do this but there are times when I want to speak out, just as truly poor and unnoticed people do from time to time.

Benedict in his Rule refers to the treatment that monks give to the wealth--and insists that the poor should be treated the same way. We all know what he means. If someone who could be a major benefactor shows up at the Monastery, that person might end up with special treatment. It is that same treatment that Benedict insists should be given to all.

At times I have to examine my conscience because I am just as guilty in this area as anyone else. I can prefer the company of those who are better off. I can prefer the company of those who have better manners. I can prefer the company of those who can be my benefactors. And so on our life goes.

If I want to follow the poor Christ who gave His life for me, then I must choose to live like the poor Christ, not using powerful connections to obtain what I want; not seeking the glory of a situation when I can be hidden; not always taking the easier way to get things done.

People treat me well because I am the abbot! Always I have to recognize that and not make anything important of it. Someday I will no longer be the abbot and will be treated like any other monk. Better that I be treated now like any other monk and thus be used to it, rather than look for the perks of my station in life and getting upset when I don't receive special treatment.

I send you my love and prayers. As I do each week, I will offer a Holy Mass for you and for your intentions. Please pray for me and for all of the sisters and brothers of our communities.

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