The Path of Life

The Path of Life

Saturday, February 4, 2012


My vow chart.

Lately I've had the opportunity to reflect on my vocation as a Benedictine monk, and to grow even more deeply grateful to God for it. It's always a worthwhile exercise to review one's day, week, year, or life, and to consider who you've been, who you've become, and who you still need to be in God's sight. The beginning of each year often prompts such reflection, whether you're a monk or not. For me, it has been the one-year anniversary of my solemn profession on January 25, 2011.

While this blog is not the proper forum to discuss that in-depth, I would like to express my gratitude to all those who have supported me on this journey--which, as St. Anthony once said, I begin again each day. I appreciate and am strengthened by your prayers. Many have remembered the date of my anniversary, and have sent along warm wishes via phone, letter, or email, and I ask God's blessing on each of you.

This past year--as it has for many people--has been full of incredible joy and wonder, sorrow and distress, success and failure, discovery and disappointment, struggle and serenity, and of course, sin and redemption. But most of all, it's been full of warm and abiding love in myriad and unexpected ways. I've come to understand and value more deeply my vows and what it means to sacrifice and to serve. Undoubtedly, I have much more to learn in the years to come. All is grace, and I am deeply grateful for every drop--as if I am standing beneath a waterfall of divine love.

In recent days we have celebrated the passing of death to life of two monks here. When that happens, we are each reminded of the solemn vows we've made since the symbolism is so rich and unifying in both the monastic profession and funeral liturgies: the pall draped over the casket and the newly professed, the cucullas worn by the deceased and living monks, the paschal candle present during both liturgies, the display of vow charts, the singing of the Suscipe (or profession formula), and the ringing of all six bells in the church's two towers.

On the day of my profession a little over a year ago, I received dozens of cards and notes full of well-wishes. But one really stood out, a short  note from a very learned and well-respected confrere whom no one would mistake for being sentimental. He wrote: "May the bells of this morning always ring in your heart." That short sentence really struck me, and I've carried it with me daily. And when I forget, I am reminded each day by the bells themselves.

Each day, I begin again...

[P.S. Coincidentally--or not--I recently ran across an alumni newsletter article for which I was interviewed last fall by a student of Bowling Green State University, my alma mater. After the interview, I never heard another word about it, then stumbled across it by accident online. If you'd like to read it, please click here .]

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