Day Three: Clear Creek Monastery

I made it through Mattins, Lauds, Low Masses, Prime, breakfast, and… two hour nap. My goodness these fellas can pray. Today it all started with a 4 a.m. alarm and we were in the pews by 4:50 a.m. Mattins on Sunday is especially long with at least fifteen to twenty Psalms recited (I’ll have to count them up).

I actually did much better at keeping up with the service. I pace myself reading the English version while listening to the monks chant. I did get a bit lost in the Third Nocturn of Mattins (we were about an hour and a half in at that point), so I finished reading the English and then sat back and let the chanting sweep over me. You would think that the chanting would put you to sleep, but there is a ‘hum’ to it that enters the body and soul. Not irritating… somehow narrows and focuses the mind.

Prior to Mattins, I read Book One, Chapter Eighteen of The Imitation of Christ: the Examples of the Holy Fathers. A part of which reads: Oh, how great was the fervor of all religious in the beginning of their holy institution! Oh, how great was their devotion in prayer! How great their zeal for virtue! What great discipline was in force among them! What great reverence and obedience in all, flourished under the rule of a superior!

I am not so naive as to think that these fellas are perfect or that they don’t struggle with the same daily issues as the rest of us. It is just that they are outward and visible signs of intentional obedience to God’s commands and it is fascinating to witness. For example, they sit in the choir so we see all the movements. Early in the morning, the younger members’ heads bob up and down trying to stay awake, and when any makes a mistake (whether in pronunciation of the Latin, chanting a wrong verse, moving at the wrong time) the individual monk will stop, step forward, and briefly kneel as an act of penance. Is pronouncing instificationibus a sin? Lord, I pray not!, but for them, they missed the mark—“He who aims for the stars shoots higher than he who aims for the trees.” I believe many aim for the stars… I know that many of you do, perhaps its just that we’ve got different constellations we’re shooting at.

Sunday… there was meat for lunch!

I went for that walk with her today. (I’ll work on my handwriting.)

The I become Him

The we become You

The circles are not rippling out, but in. We must pass through the excess, the noise, the ego…. so that we become Him. As I (we) individually become [in] Him (Jesus), then corporately (we) become You (plural / Holy Trinity). We have lost our focus. I’ll work on the sermon version (give you a heads up as to when I’m planning to preach it so that you can stay home.)

There wasn’t a place to add this above, but I wanted to mention the soup we had last night for supper. It was cold milk. Milk served in a soup pot and ladled into soup bowls. Yep. Milk. Trust me: I had a few Dots Pretzels when I got back to my room.

These are the icons in four of the side altars. The other four altars are windows:

Following None (the 3:00 p.m. time of prayer), there was Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament. Time with the Real Presence of Jesus.

I want you to know that I prayed deeply and passionately for St. Matthew’s today. I think that is where her message came from. I prayed for my soul and the soul of St. Matthew’s to become Jesus. Just as the Real Presence was on the altar during Benediction, I want for us to become a Living Sacrament, the Real Presence of Jesus in our community. We have work to do, but it is the Lord’s work and He will see it through. Someone say, Amen!

2 Replies to “Day Three: Clear Creek Monastery”

  1. Hello John,
    As I read your day I’m struck by the similarity of the process to that of basic training in the military back when I was young. Your focus was on the tasks at hand without outside influences to distract you from your goal. The military’s goal was to produce an obedient solider who had mission focus. The monks goal seems to be similar. The military used singing as motivation, food as a tool and other things similar to what your seeing to sharpen the focus. That is the goal I think I’m hearing, to sharpen your focus…interesting. You may be making yourself into a foot solider for god….

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