Saturday, July 4, 2015


This past week I’ve been living with my brother and visiting lots of relatives a few
Antony of the Desert
hundred miles from my monastic cell and have enjoyed every moment of it. But in looking at my prayer journal this morning I saw my brief notes from the retreat conferences, and there was the word
“Gyrovague!” followed by this note:” We modern monks can wander from our cells without leaving our desk chair thanks to our computer.”

At the time of  of Benedict a monk was expected to love his monastic cell and stay in it as much as possible in order to listen for God’s voice speaking to him. The early monastics valued highly the quality of “stability” both of place and of heart. So in his Rule for Monks, when St. Benedict lists the various kinds of monks, he includes along with hermits and the monks who live in community under an abbot,  a category called “gyrovagues.” These were monks who wandered around from monastery to monastery and whose hearts were never at rest. They did not stay in their cells like virtuous monks should, but strayed outside, following their own whims. Benedict, of course, has no respect at all for these characters and refuses to discuss them further.

It was against that background that our retreat master ten days ago mentioned that  “We modern monks can wander from our cells without leaving our desk chair thanks to our computers.”

Yikes! I said to myself, He’s right! If you’re reading this blog post on your computer or phone, you know exactly what the retreat master was saying. Our computers allow us to wander off in search for information, check out the weather forecast, see what’s happening around the world news, watch videos that explain the mysteries of science, read blogs, and so forth. (This isn’t even mentioning some people’s addiction to the “cyber crack” or FaceBook, Twitter and so on.)
If you’re not a Benedictine then you may want to ask if the retreat master's words apply at all to your particular life circumstances; maybe the idea of "wandering off" or going about aimlessly through life (at least at times), will help you to become aware when you start, without realizing it, to get away from the Lord’s plan for you.

Having now been away from my monastery for a week I’m starting to feel a little like a “gyrovague.” So when I get home I hope I’ll be so glad to get back that I’ll be less tempted to escape or wander away again right away through my computer screen!
Woops! He's off again!

No comments:

Post a Comment