Saturday, July 23, 2011


I think I must have the best job in the world. Actually not one job but several. Today is a good example.
I got up at 5:00 a.m. and spent some time in lectio (reflective reading of Scripture). I’m reading my way through the Gospel of John, and spent my time praying over the story of the raising of Lazarus. I reflected that I might be called to call people to life with my own words today. Then I went down to church and prayed Vigils and Lauds with my brothers. A couple of the Psalms helped me to focus on that whole other level of reality, salvation history if you will, that is constantly running beneath the surface of our lives.

After breakfast I went to my room and did some housekeeping things but was back in church at 8:45 for community mass, celebrated by Bishop Anthony Obinna, of the diocese of Owerri in Nigeria.

After mass I spent a couple of hours preparing worksheets for my course , “The Wisdom of Saint Benedict,” that starts on Monday July 25. I really enjoy preparing for this class because it’s an opportunity to challenge high school kids to look critically at the values that our culture tries to sell them, and to ask them to come up with a much more satisfying set of values by which to run their lives. We’ll be using Joan Chittister’s “The Rule of Benedict: A Spirituality for the 21st Century.”

The parents of new students were here for a long orientation session today, so I stopped over to the auditorium and showed my face for a while before going to Midday Prayer.

After Midday Prayer and a quick lunch I returned to the auditorium. As the meeting broke up I got to meet and chat with a lot of the parents. This is something I really do love. These are all people who love their kids enough to sacrifice to send them to school here. I enjoy putting people at ease when they’re more comfortable speaking in Spanish or French. I did that with one mom who then took me to the side and explained that she was worried because she’d just been laid off of her job and would have trouble with the tuition. I was able to comfort her and give her the name of the person to call on Monday.

I also enjoyed meeting with a former student who will now be sending his son here. That's always an upper.

Then I came back to my office and did some more course planning, still enjoying it.

Later on I’ll prepare my Spanish sermon for tomorrow’s bilingual mass, do some exercises (it’s too hot for my usual walk) and read some more scripture.

I’ll play the guitar to accompany sung Vespers at 5:00. I love playing the accompaniment for Vespers -- sometimes I make believe I'm David playing his harp.

Supper at six will mean sitting with four young college grads that are starting a year of volunteering here at Newark Abbey and St. Benedict’s Prep. Since it's Saturday, there'll be talking at table, so I'll get a chance to get to know them better.

Then after supper there’ll be Vigils for Sunday (the Church likes to celebrate Sunday as early as possible).

Finally I’ll celebrate Saturday Evening Eucharist with the lively Neo-catechumenal community that meets here at the Abbey; more than half those in attendance will be teenagers, who will play guitars, sing, and help with the readings. Their energy is a real gift to me and to the other monks who pray with them.We've been doing this for less than a year, I think, but it's becoming clearer that the Spirit has sent them as a special gift to Newark Abbey,

Yeah, this has got to be about the most satisfying job in the world. I’ll have lots of opportunities to thank the Lord by the time I get to bed at 10:00 tonight.


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