Tuesday, April 12, 2011

A Trappist Retreat (part 3)

Fr. Ed’s Trappist Retreat (part 3)
Fr. Jerome, the Prior (second in charge) of the Abbey of Our Lady of the Genesee, was from Cleveland and admittedly was raised in a conspicuously ethnic (Polish-American) family.  I had met him before on a prior visit (no pun intended) and he told me how he came to the monastery to find God.  He objected and complained when the abbot initially told him he was to be in charge of the bakery.  It wasn’t what he entered the monastery to do.  The abbot had great sympathy for him.  He was told politely:  “Go find God in the bakery.”  That obedience thing is a real killer at times!  And so he learned to operate the bakery and to bake bread.

During the retreatants’ two spiritual conferences with Fr. Jerome, he shared with us many insights.  Much of his life had been spent counseling those addicted to drugs and/or alcohol.  He was a big advocate of the Twelve Step Programs made famous by Alcoholics Anonymous (AA).  He told us to remember an acronym (HALT) to help analyze whenever we may fall into our own personal addictions (whatever they may be.)  Often an addiction can result from one or more of the following causes:  HUNGER, ANGER, LONLINESS or TIREDNESS.  I filed this info in my memory for future reference.
He talked to us about the upcoming revised English translation of the Mass that will be implemented Advent, 2011.  He explained that when the first translations were made into English years ago, they used a more common language--perhaps pedestrian translation--that was not exact from the Latin.  The most recent translation will be much more exact and the language will be elevated.  We all agreed that there will be some adjustments (growing pains) to what we have become comfortable with on the part of both priest and people.  And with your spirit” will become our response to “The Lord be with you” once again.
Interestingly enough, some of the frustrations of parish life have even found their way to the cloistered monastery.  Fr. Jerome made a point about people coming to Mass at the monastery and leaving early:  “Let them go to their parishes for Mass if they want to leave early.  This is a monastery!”  Father, I feel your pain.
So what was the bottom line regarding my monastic experience?  I was renewed in my prayer life—especially reciting the Liturgy of the Hours (Divine Office) in a more reflective, deliberate manner.  I was strengthened to face some matters back at the parish that would involve difficult, painful decisions.  Doing what is right is not always easy or popular.  I wanted somehow to take back to the parish what I experienced in prayer before the Blessed Sacrament because I knew that it was before the Real Presence of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament that I found my strength, my peace and could see spiritual matters much more clearly.  Additional Eucharistic Adoration will begin at Our Lady of Victories.  Finally, I fell in love more deeply with Mary, my Mother.
I understand why Jesus went to the desert, or to the seashore, or to the mountain to pray.  While we have to find God wherever we live, the experience of a retreat from the ordinary routine and from the ways of the world can help one to refocus and renew.
--Back to reality!
(Maybe they could use another bread-baker?)
Fr. Ed Namiotka

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