The Abbot’s Notebook for December 12, 2018

My sisters and brothers in Christ,

Blessings to you!  This is the day of the election of the abbot here in our Monastery of Christ in the Desert.  This Notebook goes out before that election happens.  If you want to find out what has happened, you will need to check our website:

Monastery News

This is a very important time in our community and we continue to pray up until the last moment.  My own personal time is limited because so many want to speak to me in these last hours of my service as abbot.  Lots of letters and cards are arriving as well.  I went for a long walk yesterday, with the dogs, just to be outside and away.    Lots of friends and other monasteries have offered me places to stay, places to go, things that I can do, etc.  In my own heart, I want only to stay right here and live the last years of my life as a simple monk in the community.  We shall see if that is able to happen, because my own desires may not be the desires of my new abbot.

Obedience is at the heart of our monastic life:  obedience first of all to God but always also to a human superior.  When I was a young monk, my abbot was not sure that I could ever obey anyone.  When we talked about it, he finally agreed that always I did obey.  But, he said:  “You always have to talk!”  My response was simple:  “Put me under obedience not to talk and then I won’t talk, but I am not so good at trusting authority and talking helps me.”

As I look back over the years, I had so much growing up to do and so much learning about how to help others seek the Lord.  I was 32 when I became the superior of the community and now I am 74—lots of time to learn and to grow up.  And even now I continue to learn, to mature, to grow up.  God has blessed me in so many ways.

Last night I asked pardon from the community for all my failures, my faults, my sins, my bad judgments.  And I was able to end with a “thank you” to the community.  Now we wait for what comes next, but always it is a blessing that will come, both for me and for the community and for the one who will lead our community.  Let us pray for him.

I ask your prayers for me and for the community.  I promise again to continue to celebrate a Holy Mass each week for all of you who have read my Notebooks over these many years.  May we be blessed abundantly by this God who loves us so much.  I send you my love and prayers.

Your brother in the Lord,

Abbot Philip