There are eight daily offices that the brothers pray here at the monastery: Mattins, Lauds, Prime, Terce, Sext, None, Vespers, and Compline. In 1549/1552, the first two editions of the Book of Common Prayer were released and it was through the edits of Thomas Cranmer that these offices were combined and simplified, with Mattins, Lauds, and Prime becoming what we know as Morning Prayer. All that to say—“When in Rome…” I am a happy heretic!, but I knew exactly what I was doing this morning.
The combining and shortening of the services may seem like cheating or even laziness to some, but I can see a great deal of wisdom in it as well. To pray the eight services as the monks do takes between five and six hours a day. That may work for those who have dedicated their lives to the work of prayer, but for those that must plant the fields, build the houses, work in hospitals… those things that all the rest of the world does in order to keep the world going… five to six hours a day in church just wouldn’t work. I suppose the hope is that everyone would simply say, “Prayer is more important and to heck with work,” but that’s not the way we roll. (I am reminded of 2 Thessalonians 3:10b) Instead, we would skip the prayer all together and do the other, which points to the wisdom of the combining and shortening of the services. Even as a priest, I don’t know that I could pull off five to six hours of prayer a day (maybe I should be), but I can give one to two hours a day with Morning, Noonday, Evening, and Compline. And, as I mentioned the other day, I may not be able to pray a fifteen decade Rosary everyday, but I can pray one that is five decades. Are we saying that prayer is not important or even less important than it should be? I don’t think so. The Book of Common Prayer has been around for five centuries and our Anglican tradition has produced some remarkable saints. A retreat like this is VERY good for the soul. It allows freedom to simply be with God without the external pressures of the world, but I believe God wants most of us out in the mix, not only doing the work of prayer, but doing the works of mercy, charity, and fulfilling the other duties of state. The Apostle Paul tells us that we are one body and that there are many gifts: the brothers here exercise those gifts in one way and we—outside the walls and the cloisters—exercise the gifts God has blessed us with. It is together that we form the Body of Christ.
As best I can tell, I am the only person here from Oklahoma. Some of the brothers are from France, California, and other foreign countries and the other nine guests are from Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Iowa, etc. The closest is one fella from Frisco, TX. I was not aware of this, but apparently it is a ‘thing’ to go to all the different monasteries. Many conversations along the lines of, “Have you been to ___ monastery in ___?” “The food in ___ monastery is really good, but they have a full time cook.” I don’t know that I would call them monk groupies, but they do know all the lingo, have the necessary books, and don’t appear to get lost in the services. Perhaps some are shopping around for one they would like to join, but I encountered one who goes from one to the next, working for awhile, then moving onto the next. He has actually travelled the world doing this. Also, the number of visitors at this monastery has increased considerably because of COVID-19. Many of the others have had to close, but Clear Creek has been fortunate so far. With guests coming from so far, I pray that they remain safe.
Apparently me going forward at communion has been a point of contention with some of the other guests (they’ve all figured out that I’m the odd one of the group.) What they did not realize until yesterday is that I have not been receiving (I know the rules), I just go forward for a blessing. Some folks get twisted up in their knickers knowing that they can’t receive in an RC church, but it has never bothered me. It is their house, but I am thankful that we offer the bread and the wine, the Body and and the Blood to any who are baptized (being baptized before receiving is a rule I stick with… we’ve all got our limits.)
In the image below, can anyone else hear Madonna singing Vogue? “Strike the pose…”
Next week she is not likely to speak to me. In addition to being left at the Cat Resort for ten days, on Friday she will be neutered, declawed, and chipped. If you see me with scratch marks all over my face, you’ll know that payback is an unhappy Queen. Perhaps I should get her that emerald tiara she’s been pestering me about (would make for a better peace offering than my arm.)
I pray you have joy. I pray you witness the miracles. Blessings.