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

2014-04-23

Blessings to you! Christ is risen! Finally we celebrate the joy of Easter once again, singing the Alleluias with joy and delight, listening to the stories of the Resurrection of Jesus, delighting in having the life of Jesus in us.

We monks were able to stay home for the final days of Holy Week and the Sacred Triduum--almost. Only one trip went out. That is a huge accomplishment for us.

We also try to stay home during Easter Week, the Octave of Easter. We have been less successful in this. Brother Bede has been suffering from impacted and infected wisdom teeth and early on Monday of Easter Week, Brother Noah drove him to an oral surgeon in order to plan for the removal of all of his wisdom teeth, which happened on Tuesday of Easter Week. Brother André was the driver this time.

One of the most notable aspects of Easter Time is the joy that comes to the community. We usually have been very serious about Holy Lent, working at lots of disciplines in the community such as simplifying our lives, deepening our practice of private prayer, working at common lectio (a particularly Benedictine way of reading Holy Scripture), and so on. When Holy Easter comes, there is an enormous time of joy because we can now sing the Alleluia once more and life is filled with lots of food for the first days and a bit more sleep and more recreations.

When I arrived at Christ in the Desert, we had a special meal and recreation every Sunday night. Later we introduced a time of recreation for the community several times a week. Now we have recreation twice a week as a regular part of our lives. Don't think for a minute that recreation is always fun! Remember that the point of recreation in a monastery is to have a time to be together and to share with one another more informally. But it means that we must learn how to recreate with each brother in the community.

How well I remember when we introduced recreation and some of the brothers that that the recreation period would be a period of time when each brother could do just what he wanted. That has never been a part of a solid monastic tradition. Recreation is a time together: sometimes just sitting and talking, sometimes brothers play cards, sometimes brothers sing, sometimes we watch a movie together, and so on. It is a community time--not an individual time.

Today I think that all of us accept the challenge of living in community. It is a daily challenge and not always easy. On the other hand, there are times, such as at Easter and the few days right after Easter, when we feel the joy and the delight of striving to live this life, striving to pray, striving to love one another in Christ--and it is good.

My own inner struggles--and every person has struggles--sometimes put me on an emotional roller coaster. I did not have this when I was young, but it seems to be part of my getting older. Perhaps it is because I worked so strongly as a young boy and a young man to maintain joy and happiness and sanity in my life and in our family. Who knows all of the reasons? Now, I find the ups and downs of emotions somewhat off-putting at times, but quite livable. So often, when I do recognize that I am down or have been down, it is a simple decision to work at rejoicing. Always learning and always striving to be faithful to the Lord--that is how I see so much of my life.

When the sun comes out, all of the earth rejoices. If there is too much sun, then there is a desert. If there is no sun, all life dies. When it rains, the earth rejoices. If there is too much rain, the floods destroy. If there is not rain, everything dies.

My own life has a very similar pattern and the spiritual challenge is not to get rid of the variations, but to learn to live with them creatively. In order to do that, I have to recognize that it is a day without sun in my life, or that it is a day with lots of sun. I must learn to know when it is raining and when there is a lack of rain. Just as with nature, there are ways of living with the extremes and living well.

Easter has been a time of joy for me. There is sunshine and there is rain. Easter is a time when I have been able to see a shift from clouds to sunshine and from drought to sufficient moisture.

Do I learn and benefit from learning? Only at times! One would think that enough years would make one more aware of the ebb and flow of one's own personality and nature, but for me, I am still very often surprised. Finally, I must simply accept who I am and learn to live with this daily striving. I no longer see it as a striving to come to some state in life in which I am without changes or in which I never am attracted to that which is not good for me. Rather, from my point of view, I am on the road and I know where this road will take me. No matter how often I get tired and stop to rest, no matter how often I get distracted and walk off the road--I still know the road and that road is my life.

In the early Church, the road was called simply: the way! It is the way of Jesus Christ. It is the way of suffering for the good. It is the way of sacrifice for others. It is the way of forgiveness at all times. It is the way of trying to good and avoid evil. But ever so much more than all of this, it is the way of encounter with the Risen Lord Jesus. He is risen. He is my Lord. My life is about following Him, no matter how poorly I may do it. Alleluia.

As always, every week I celebrate a Holy Mass for you and for all of your needs and intentions. Please continue to pray for me and for all of the women and men associated with our communities. We are all united in Him, who is our way. He has risen and is the Savior of us all.

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