Abbey News

December 2, 2019

A Welcomed Guest

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We were delighted to have Father Pachomius Meade, OSB, of Conception Abbey stay with us November 11-22.  He gave us an edifying conference on “stability,” which is one of the vows we make as Benedictines, and it can bear much fruit in our lives if we live it well. Of course there are missionary monks (St. Walburga was one of them!), but that does not negate the pervading sense that monks thrive when rooted. After all, the missionary monks establish monasteries wherever they go; they are not roaming around forever.

Father Pachomius talked about how stability teaches us that the desire for novelty is fickle. As monks we learn that seeing beauty in life is a gift from God, and can be found right where you are. If you seek beauty, you will find it—Ask and you will receive. But the quest is a lifelong process, and is not catered tto our consumer culture that wants everything delivered within two days of ordering. It is all too tempting to escape, even virtually, when things do not go as we like. In the words of Father Pachomius' own Abbot, “The fantastic worlds we can click into are all good and interesting, but the world we live in here at the monastery, with its ups and downs, its tediousness and limitations, is the world God planted us in. Let’s not use the Internet or social media to escape this real world, or at least let’s not be fooled into thinking we can escape this real world.” The problem is not that all the options for escape are bad in themselves, but that distractions tend to spread us too thin. The stability of monastic life helps us to know our limits and live in the present reality.

He quoted a Shaker hymn that captured the essence of stability: “’Tis the gift to be simple, ’tis the gift to be free. ’Tis the gift to come down where we ought to be,” and Father Pachomius added, “Where you ought to be—to be simple. That makes you free.”

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