From Tuesday to Friday morning, we shared our contemplative days with about seventeen guests this week.
Contemplative Days are an opportunity for our community to slow down, hunker down in prayer, study and meditation. We observe greater silence around the clock, simplify our liturgical schedule and try to stay away from work tasks that can wait. During those weeks, the silence is deeper and some guests particularly like the quieter, calmer atmosphere even if that means less interaction with the monastic community.
During Contemplative Days, we connect with God in God's primary language; silence ("Silence is God's first language," wrote the 16th-century mystic John of the Cross).
Articulated language is a wonderful thing, but at times it can get in the way of discerning God's voice in our life. A daily practice of meditation or silent prayer is a great way to keep that discernment going but, at times, it is good to use that in larger doses.
We observe Contemplative Days four to five times in the year (check out our Retreat Programs page to find out when the next ones are).
After the silence of contemplation, I experienced a burst of social activities. Both things are a good mode of experiencing the presence of God. One evening, I got together with a priest friend who lives in Albany. It's become a summer tradition for us. We both drive to the village of Catskill and have a nice dinner in a lovely Italian restaurant bordering a large pond. We catch up on our lives and respective ministries.
Then on Saturday, I represented my community at important events of two religious communities that are dear to us and very different from one another.
Together with Br. Joseph, I attended lunch and two initial professions of the religious vow at the annual congregation of the Brotherhood of St Gregory. They are a Christian Community in The Episcopal Church. Their members are dispersed throughout the church and support themselves through secular or church jobs.
They were meeting nearby at the Mount Alvernia Retreat Center in Wappinger Falls for their annual congregation. Forty four of their forty five members were assembled in the presence of their Bishop Visitor.
It is always touching to see people committing their lives to God in their initial profession of the vows. Blessings on Brothers Max and Scott who took the plunge that day. It is also an opportunity to reflect back on our own journey of commitment to our Beloved. It is very similar to what married people may experience when they attend someone else's wedding.
In the afternoon, I dropped off Br. Joseph at the monastery and picked up Br. John to make our way to Accord to celebrate their patronal feast with the Companions of Mary the Apostle. They are a small ecumenical community, open to people of all genders. They share a God that is beyond categories, beyond masculine and feminine, and that the power of the Divine is accessible to all.
It was a lovely gathering of a dozen souls for a "coffee table Eucharist" and a potluck dinner. In a few years of religious life as the Companions, Sisters Shane and Elizabeth have garnered a beautiful community of kindred souls.
All counted, I attended three Eucharists of the feast of Mary Magdalene that day. I joked that I glowed in the dark that evening...
This Sunday morning, Brothers Robert James and Josép accompanied me to visit our Brothers Lary and Rafael at their nursing home. Both were in good spirits but had modern issues of connectivity, what with their mobile phones or computers. We dealt with each of those and brought them communion.
I thank God for all our connections, at home, around home and throughout the places where our Associates and our guests live.