Wednesday morning musing

Yesterday, we moved in a retired priest coming from St Meinrad Benedictine monastery, a seminary in southern Indiana, the tristate area including Ohio and Kentucky, along the Ohio River. Unloading the U-haul truck, the final two items we removed were a new casket, still in the box—one brother remarked ‘look it says body not included’–and a large painting packed in a wooden crate. The unseen painting titled ‘The Exodus’ was a gifted to the priest from St Meinrad’s for his years of service. It inspired and humbled me to realize the priest, shepherding a reputable career as monk/priest/teacher, appeared delighted to move into Assumption Abbey for his final years. Accompanied by his daughter, I believe, and her husband from Minnesota, the priest reinforced my conviction regarding the maturity residing at Assumption Abbey. These are solid religious men.

The community praying of the Divine Office proves efficient in bringing to rest my mind and soul. The reciting of the Psalms soothes, pointing a path to proper contemplation. I find the spiritual exercise physical in the sense of singing and speaking out loud, pacing breathe, focusing attention solely upon prayers, holding the body still, smelling incense, listening to readings rather than reading myself, and more prayerful experiences, coalesce to instill a physical training producing mental discipline, contemplation communally. It is more than religious and practical knowledge, theoretical knowledge .  Father Thomas Philippe identifies affective knowledge, experiential, opening to grace, knowledge that affects the soul–affective knowledge…is made present to the intellect in and through the very act of love; mystical knowledge is of this kind.  Internally during communal prayers, I am conscious of great unrest. The reading today wrapped me in its words like a strong hand coarsely massaging out tightness and stress–dreams last night of Ann immensely agitated.  Father James, a voice continually emerging as substantial, conducted the reading. I am adding a link to a PDF file he guided me to. It is a trip Father James took to India with his sister Sharon. It is a visual treat, an intelligent intimate glimpse into a foreign culture. I will post the reading from today when I am able to locate it. I thought it came from the Liturgy of the Hours Office of Readings, however conducting research I discovered that was not the source. I spoke with one of the fathers, who steered me to Brother Alban as the one selecting the reading for the morning. I will gather information from Brother Alban and complete this post. It is relevant to my discernment. Now it is off to work with Brother Louis.

Morning reading:

The vices of envy and jealousy destroy the soul. We should think, in this connection, of their minor forms: scandal-mongering and tale-bearing and spiteful gossip…which themselves lead, in the end, to the greater sins, and eventually perhaps to real hatred. We should beware here of unconscious motivations: it is so easy to persuade ourselves that what we say has to be said for the good of the persons concerned, whereas in reality we are only scoring over them or humiliating them. And what is the true use of the instinct here? You find in Saint Thomas’ courteously benign explanation of Saint Jerome’s advice to Laeta about her daughter’s education: “Let her have companions that she may learn with them, envy them and be nettled when they are praised.” “Envy,” he says, “here means that zeal with which we ought to strive to progress with those who are better than we.” There is such a thing as holy emulation, though no doubt it is not an easy thing to acquire.

There is the still worse sin of discord: still worse because if it is bad to hurt one of your brothers by destroying love between him and yourself, it is yet more diabolical–more characteristic of the devil–to hurt two or more of your brothers and destroy the love they have for one another. “Six things there are which the Lord hates . . . and the seventh his soul detests, namely, him that sows discord among his brethren.”  –-Gerald Vann ‘The Divine Pity

Fr Gerald Vann OP

Fr Gerald Vann OP


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