A Monastic Life Experience: Edward Christian
By Edward Christian
The Monastic Life Retreat is a month-long immersion into an ancient way of life that remains vital and compelling in our own day. It’s an opportunity to step away from the commotion of the world and step into the reality of living in accord with St. Benedict’s three-fold dictum, “Ora, Labora et Lectio”– prayer, work and reading/study. Even if you’re not called to leave the world and enter the monastery, an encounter with this place may well make it possible for you to bring a little of the monastery to the world.
For me, the experience proved to be both challenging and clarifying: it challenged assumptions about monastic life that I’d acquired from travel, literature and film; and it presented me with an unexpected clarity that I expect I’ll continue to process for some time to come. I’m reminded of St. Hilary’s remark, “I have a firm grasp of something I do not understand.”
It’s clear that religious life is first and foremost a life lived in community. Of course, much of the day is passed in silence at Our Lady of Guadalupe. But whereas in secular life we tend to think of sociability as primarily a verbal encounter, at the monastery silence is a shared experience that contributes to a sense of togetherness. The monks are easy-going and tolerant. So relax and be yourself–just your ordinary self. You’ll notice that the monastery accommodates a range of diversity in uniformity.
Two practical suggestions:
1. Bring a sturdy pair of shoes or boots for out-of-doors work; 2. Don’t be overly concerned about making mistakes. If you get lost during the Divine Office and fumble over your choir books (it happens), a brother is there to offer patient assistance.
And one more suggestion–cease to put off any longer what your longing heart tells you it requires. Peace to you.