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The Spiritual Side of Our History


by Fr. Mark Weidner


Prayer and work: to balance these 2 elements is the quiet labor of a lifetime.

“We want

to get that

gold out.


When I look back over the 62 years since our Community was founded, I see three periods of unequal length. The first period reaches from our founding in 1948 until 1962 and the opening of Vatican II. During that period the stress was on work. Time for private prayer was limited. We always had the daily community sacrifice of the Mass. Surrounding it, the hours of the divine office. It was in Latin, though, and Latin was a foreign language. Some of our men knew the

language very well. But it never came through with the immediacy of our native English. For quiet, contemplative prayer, there was very little time. The lay brothers prayed their Mass and office apart from the choir religious on most of the days.

The second period embraces the decade 1962 – 1972.  More changes in this decade than in all the years before or since.  The prayer/work balance improved enormously.  There was a greater regard for the individual within this monastic family.  There was more time for quiet, solitary prayer and lectio divina or for work for those who preferred it.  And in our community, the choir religious and the lay brothers were combined.  We’re all together now around the altar for the holy sacrifice of the Mass.  Hopefully, “of one heart and one soul”.  One of the biggest helps for most of us was the vernacular liturgy.  Though, for a smaller number, losing the beloved Latin was hard.

The third period brings us to today.  Since Vatican II, tools have been offered to us.  We have fine study Bibles, the Catechism of the Catholic Church, the constant teaching of the Holy Father now available in Osservatore Romano.  Superb tools to work with.  Gazing to the future, it seems to me, we do not need to look further.  Rather, stop and appreciate what we have.  Stay put and dig.  We have a gold mine in the Mass, in the divine office, in the spiritual tools at our disposal, in our monastic family “of one heart and one soul” : a gold mine.  We want to get that gold out.  Dig!

Perhaps we can see Jesus’ last prayer before He went to His passion and death as applying to us.  “May they be one, Father.  With You in Me and I in them, may they be perfectly one”.

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