Rest

From the Gospel reading at Mass this morning:

Jesus said:
“Com e to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for yourselves. For my yoke is easy, and my burden light.”

Matthew 11:28-30

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Saint Benedict

Today is the feast of Saint Benedict, father of the Monastic Life.

St Benedict (480 – 547)

Benedict was born in Nursia, in Umbria, and studied in Rome; but he was unable to stomach the dissolute life of the city, and he became a solitary hermit at Subiaco. His reputation spread, and some monks asked him to be their abbot; but they did not like the discipline he imposed and tried to poison him.

Benedict organised various small communities of monks and nuns in various places, including the great monastery of Monte Cassino. He drew up a set of rules to guide the communal life of monasteries. Although this was not the first monastic rule ever, the Rule of St Benedict has proved so wise and balanced that it has served as the foundation of practically every attempt at communal living ever since – and not only in religious communities. The Rule of St Benedict recognises that people aim at perfection but often fall well short of it, and aims to be a “rule for beginners” in which even the least perfect and least able can grow in spiritual stature. To visit a Benedictine monastery of almost any kind is to find oneself spending time among a group of people who, by their strivings to live and grow together, have become more and more themselves, as God intended them, instead of being crushed into false uniformity by some idealistic and authoritarian regime.

For those of us in the world, too, the Rule of St Benedict has much to say: it drags our eyes up to the stars but keeps our feet firmly on the ground; it calls us to perfection but keeps us sane.”

(From “About Today” in Universalis)

I’m an Associate of New Melleray Abbey, near Peosta Iowa. (Their website) I’ve always had an attraction to the Monastic life. These people are the most happy I’ve ever met. When I’m there, I live as a Monk, praying with them 7 times a day, working in the fields at simple manual labor. My “boss”, Brother Placid (now deceased) was one of the most joy filled men I’ve ever known, filled with the love of Christ, always with a smile on his face. Here are a few pictures from over the years.

Monastic life

Brother Placid.

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“Brother Jon and Brother Dan” (My son and I on our most recent time at New Melleray)

Working in the wood shop

New Melleray Wood Shop
Headed off to work.
New Melleray Abbey
New Melleray Abbey

Vanity

Indeed, the greatest vanity is the evil plague of empty self-glory, because it draws one away from true glory and robs one of heavenly grace. For when a man is pleased with himself he displeases You, when he pants after human praise he is deprived of true virtue. But it is true glory and holy exultation to glory in You and not in self, to rejoice in Your name rather than in one’s own virtue, and not to delight in any creature except for Your sake.

…. Thomas à Kempis , The Imitation of Christ

The best part

I did a photo shoot for a local Rotary Club event yesterday. I took the usual “event shots”, people dancing, eating, posing, etc…

But I always try to find the “good stuff”, like these:

Here’s the entire album:

LobsterFest

Photography for me…

This video by Thomas Heaton is exactly what I love to do in photography. Thomas is a contemplative, at least it seems that way to me.

And a couple of mine:

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Feelings

MY CHILD, do not trust in your present feeling, for it will soon give way to another. As long as you live you will be subject to changeableness in spite of yourself. You will become merry at one time and sad at another, now peaceful but again disturbed, at one moment devout and the next indevout, sometimes diligent while at other times lazy, now grave and again flippant.

But the man who is wise and whose spirit is well instructed stands superior to these changes. He pays no attention to what he feels in himself or from what quarter the wind of fickleness blows, so long as the whole intention of his mind is conducive to his proper and desired end. For thus he can stand undivided, unchanged, and unshaken, with the singleness of his intention directed unwaveringly toward Me, even in the midst of so many changing events. And the purer this singleness of intention is, with so much the more constancy does he pass through many storms.

… Thomas à Kempis, “The Imitation of Christ”

Essentials

MY CHILD, I will teach you now the way of peace and true liberty.

Seek, child, to do the will of others rather than your own.

Always choose to have less rather than more.

Look always for the last place and seek to be beneath all others.

Always wish and pray that the will of God be fully carried out in you.

Behold, such will enter into the realm of peace and rest.

… Thomas à Kempis, “The Imitation of Christ”