Up at 4:30 a.m. this morning. Showered, dressed (cassock), and in the chapel by 5 a.m. We prayed until 8:15 a.m. After the first two times of prayer—Mattins and Lauds—it was time for Low Masses. This one was completely new to me. There are a total of ten altars (let the Altar Guild beware!) and a Mass was said at each of them simultaneously, but… they were said silently (either that or my hearing is really shot.) If you think we bow and kneel a lot… wow. It is truly beautiful to watch and listen to, which is about all I can do, although I’m beginning to learn how to follow along in the various books. It also helps to sit behind someone who knows what they are doing. (Although we in the Episcopal Church do less of the bowing, etc. I am certain that for someone new to us it feels the same way as I feel here. It is an excellent reminder that we must be who we are, but we also be accessible to those who are unfamiliar with our practices.)
Breakfast: the food is actually pretty good, but it is easy to see why these fellas are all so skinny. Actually, they’re probably just really healthy. I don’t know that we’ve seen a piece of meat yet, which makes me glad I stopped for the Big Mac on the way here (there’s meat in a Big Mac… right?) And I do confess to having smuggled in a few snacks, along with some instant coffee. Speaking of which, the coffee here is brilliant! I plan on seeing if they have some for sale in the bookstore.
During each of the meals we have someone read to us. For breakfast we heard a few chapters from the Rule of St. Benedict. Lunchtime… now that was fun: I doubt it was for my benefit, but being the only Anglican / Episcopalian here I had to stifle a few chuckles. The reading was a bit of church history and we heard about that excommunicated apostate and heretic Queen Elizabeth I. Her daddy got raked over a few coals as well. I think it was just a timing thing—can’t see them hauling that one out just to smack the heretic priest around—but I could almost feel the eyes boring into me. When the Abbot shook his head at one particular Elizabethan atrocity, I made sure I had a clear path to the exit. If I see them stacking wood, I’ll be making an early exit.
I have a fifteen decade rosary that I prayed today, most of it standing before this statue. (She could easily be the statue in The Golden Fistula. Truly beautiful and cut from a single piece of white marble.) Don’t get me wrong, I love what I do as a priest serving at St. Matthew’s, but to spend an hour and a half praying the rosary is not something I would ever be able to do… and you know… that’s OK. I’m going to find some time today or tomorrow and take a walk with her. She always shows us the most remarkable things and always leads us to her Son. What a great comfort to know we have a Mother who loves and treasures us as she loves and treasures her own Son.
It is 4:15 p.m. right now and Vespers is not until 6:00 p.m., so I’m going to sign off for now and either sneak in that nap or take that walk… be back a bit later in the day…….
The nap won, but I made it up in time for Vespers. Supper, then Compline.
Found a delightful book: Sermon in a Sentence: A Treasury of Quotations on the Spiritual Life by St. Padre Pio of Pietreclina. A bit like the collection of sayings from St. Josemaria Escriva in The Way, et al.
“I hope that Jesus will not only be pleased to enlighten me in the guidance of the souls He entrusts to my care and to sustain and comfort me in difficulties, but that He will Himself make up for my deficiencies.” (L1 1369)
Blessings to you all. I pray for you many times each day.