Monday, June 23, 2003

Mass, dinner, and vespers

Those of us who are Southern Baptists are used to doing the Lord's Supper (aka, Communion or Eucharist) about once a month or so. We're a non-sacramental people and so the Lord's Supper is not the focus of what we do. The Abbey has Mass every day, which means that Eucharist is conducted ever single day. For Catholics, there is no Mass without Eucharist. So these monks experience Eucharist every single day. It is really the focus of Catholic worship.

After Mass, we had dinner, which was silent, except for one brother who was reading from a lecturn. The Abbot, in consultation with the members of the community, picks a book to be read over dinner. After about 20 minutes of reading the book, a bell rings and the reader selects a passage from the Rule of Benedict to read -- thus always keeping the rule in front of the monastery.

Tonight's main reading was a selection of essays in response to 9/11. Most of it was semi-Marxist ideology hiding behind the skirts of theology. What was particularly funny about it was my classmate Trish watching me react to it. She knew from being in class with me all year that this kind of liberal theology drives me batty and that I can't keep silent in the face of it. In this case, I had too. But she enjoyed watching me squirm. I thought it was kind of funny too.

After dinner was Vespers, which was a special one that began a feast day in celebration of the birth of John the Baptist. So the responsive chants revolved around John's special import as a blessed man of God.

I began the day by complaining about Benedict's bed, but right now I think I could sleep on anything.

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