Monday, January 08, 2007

The Benedictine Monks

I spent a couple of days with the Benedictine Monks in Rostrevor. I wanted some time alone to reflect on 2006, set goals for 2007 and pray for friends. This was just the place.

Guests are encourgaed to be silent during their stay. I found this quite difficult but extremely helpful in the end. It was quite amusing at dinner time on Friday. The monks cook up a big feed every night for themselves and their guests. Silence has to be observed during meal-times. It's like the awkward silence that can occur when you're at a person's house for dinner, except it carried on for the whole meal. I noticed that the monks were looking at me strangely and smiling to eachother. I was feeling a bit uncomfortable and felt like asking what the hell the big joke was.
The next day I was at a friends house wearing the same new jumper I had received for Christmas. It says 'Putta Madre' or something on it which she translated as 'Son of a Bitch'. I'm glad the monks saw the funny side!

I joined the monks for their prayers in the evening and the morning. This involved amazing singing and chanting of the Psalms and lots of incense. I immediatly thought of the things in the Catholic tradition that are missing from the Protestant tradition that I was brought up in (though I don't consider myself either now).

We have focused on a personal relationship and intimacy with God which is true and wonderful but I wonder has familiarity bred contempt in some cases. There was a sense of mystery, awe and fear in the monk's worship service that I feel we may have missed.

By the time Saturday morning came the silence was doing my head in so I found Brother Thierry and we had a great chat. I'll write more about this later.

Ciao Putta Madres


indya said...

There's only one 't' in 'puta'...

Ivonne said...

Nice blog - I wish I had thought of going to a monastry for the first few days of the new year. It really seems to be an ideal and admirable choice to refocus,meditate and reassess.Well done for the choice of clothes too!Doh!

Mark Russell said...

Hi John. Couldnt agree more. I think we have sometimes made God so almatey, we forget he is almighty.....delighted you had such a challenging and inspiring time!