Saturday, September 27, 2014


I had an interesting two hours this morning at meditation and Morning Prayer.

It started with tomorrow's first reading for Sunday, in which Ezechiel, speaking for the Lord, says "My ways are not your ways nor are your ways my ways." I started reflecting on those words, and on the mysterious ways God has of working in our lives, ways well beyond our ability to understand.

Then I started to hear music in my head. It was Frank Sinatra singing:

And now, the end is near; And so I face the final curtain.
My friend, I'll say it clear, I'll state my case, of which I'm certain.
I've lived a life that's full. I've traveled each and ev'ry highway;
And more, much more than this, I did it my way.

It’s a nice song that celebrates the idea of being your own person, following your dream, marching to your own drummer, and all those things. But from the very first time I heard the title I was uneasy with it. I kept thinking about the shadow side of “doing it my way.” Maybe that comes from living under a vow of obedience for 52 years...

Yesterday we brought the whole student body back after school because at morning convocation too many kids were talking during the prayer. Too many kids had their own agendas instead of praying with the community - they were doing morning convocation not in the community’s way, but doing it their way.

When I go to confession what else am I confessing than the times when I decided to “do it my way” instead of God’s? When I appear before the Lord on judgement day I sure want to be able to point to something more than just "I did it my way."

St. Vincent de Paul
Forty-five minutes later my brother monks and I were in our choir stalls celebrating Vigils. Today is the feast of St. Vincent de Paul. Suddenly I was listening to a reading, a sermon preached by St. Vincent, the champion of the poor and orphans. He spoke passionately about how important it is for us to put ourselves in the place of the poor we are serving and to see Christ in each of them no matter how unlettered, ungrateful or ill-mannered they are.

Vincent de Paul spent his life in the service of the poor. I tried to imagine him singing “I did it my way.” It didn’t work -- Vincent would never have even thought of his life in those terms.  

I looked at the cross nearby and tried to imagine Jesus hanging there on Calvary and saying

I planned each charted course;
Each careful step along the byway,
And more, much more than this,
I did it my way.

Instead, it seems to me that he would have repeated the words he spoke in Gethsemane, “Father, if this cup cannot pass from me, then not my will but yours be done. I’ll do it your way.”

So there I was sitting in the choir praying with my brothers, but also with Ezechiel, Frank, Vincent and Jesus. We made quite an interesting group. I found Frank's singing a little distracting, but it actually made an interesting contrast to the psalms, canticles and readings, which were all celebrating doing things not one's own way but the Lord's way.

Let's see whose voice wins out by Vespers time this evening.


  1. I am watching a show on the world channel with my husband about all of you there at the monastery. God bless all of you for what you are doing fro these kids and we will be praying for you!

  2. Thank you, Father - funny you should mention this. I was watching a Sinatra retrospective recently and was struck by the "singularity" of that very song. I, too, have seen "The Rule" and was intrigued to look for and now follow your blog. We are working to introduce and practice "The Rule of Benedict" in my Episcopal parish at adult education programming this fall. The work of the Abbey School has inspired me. Many blessings...