If Saint Pachomius (d. 346) had known Greek then maybe yesterday’s lunchroom encounter between Glenn and Dominick would never have happened.
|Pachomius (292-348 A.D.)|
But Pachomius, a Copt, did not know Greek, and so was not influenced by the main-line Greek-influenced monasticism of the day with its emphasis on intellectualism and individualism. Instead he went right to the New Testament and modeled his brand of monastic life on the life of the Early Church as recounted in Acts 4:32-34:
This might seem pretty abstruse and unrelated to modern life, but I was reminded yesterday that it’s actually very much alive here in inner-city Newark.
Glenn: Dominick, sit here a minute. What kind of a relationship do you have with Larry [fictional name of a freshman in Dominick’s group]?
Dominick: Good. We talk; a while back he told me some pretty private things. He trusts me.
Glenn: Great! He’s in some trouble right now because of an incident this morning. Can you sit with him and me and maybe you can help us sort it out?
Dominick: Sure. Absolutely.
Glenn then asked another student to go and fetch Larry, who was sitting in the hot seat upstairs awaiting his fate. I got up and excused myself, confident that Larry was in good hands.
What was amazing to me was that this conversation was treated as so matter-of-fact and ordinary. This adult was asking a sophomore for help in dealing with a freshman on the basis of a trust relationship that had been built up as a direct result of the freshman program. Dominick’s response was really gratifying to me, but I’m sure he saw it as just an everyday part of his job responsibility: Sure, Larry trusts me; we’ve spoken about some serious stuff before. That's what I'm spozed to do.
I guess you might say that our approach with freshmen around here is not very Greek (individualistic and abstract), but more New Testament (communal and interpersonal). This is no accident, of course -- it’s our Benedictine cenobitic tradition being lived out in our school. Kind of makes me glad that Pachomius never learned any Greek, you know?
I'd like to think that Pachomius, Basil and Benedict would be delighted to see the way Glenn, Dominick and Larry care about each other as members of a community.
"A DWELLING PLACE FOR GOD"
The following passage from Ephesians, part of the first reading at mass this past Tuesday, seems an appropriate way to end this post.
So then, you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God in the Spirit. (Eph. 2:19-22)