Monday, October 30, 2006
Leaving Las Vegas
Or rather, the Monastery.
The monastery may be likened to a spiritual meadow, or oasis amidst the spiritual wasteland of our world. Shown here is a rather bleak photo of the monastery I was a member of for a short time as a novice, New Melleray Abbey. It's an old community living there now, very small compared to the 150 members residing there in the 1950's. (With approximately 35 monks or less today, some believe it is a community heading for extinction, but the monks have experienced such a drought of vocations in the late 1800's or so as well.)
When I left, one of the monks drove me into town so that I could get my connection home. His advice for me came in the form of a psalm, Psalm 1 to be exact. (He had memorized the entire psalter.) Today's responsorial psalm is Psalm 1:
Happy the man who follows not
the counsel of the wicked
Nor walks in the way of sinners,
nor sits in the company of the insolent (scorners)
But delights in the law of the Lord
and meditates on his law day and night.
I haven't always followed these counsels. Most of my friends, well, many of my friends, have been relatively irreligious people, they would say they were 'spiritual' but not religious. Most of these friends are no longer part of my life - due in part, to irreconcilable differences. I never preached to them, but my faith seemed to have been an irritation to them in many cases. Others may have been able to "blow it off" - my Catholicism that is, nevertheless I realized they were not a good influence in my life.
A co-worker said I was influenced by my liberal friends and their political views; to some degree I am, yet not governed by them. A person may speak and understand French, but that doesn't mean he is French. One may be sympathetic to liberal ideas, even understanding them, without adhering to them, or being ruled by them. I no longer sit in the company of scorners, nor the insolent self-righteous.
Another dear friend mentioned in an email that he and his wife wondered why I am so solitary, why I am not very social. I rarely find any rapport with the religiously doctrinaire either. They can be just as annoying as my more secularized friends. Both groups have a propensity for absolutes. The way that leads to eternal life is indeed narrow, and sometimes those on the way of perfection are as well. The scorners, the scoffers, and the insolent are not always those outside the Church. especially when they believe they are more Catholic than the pope.
I don't like to debate and argue and scoff all of the time - it's annoying. My best friends respect my solitude, and they know I love them.
I like my solitude. A Carmelite once told me that solitude does not preclude friendship. Neither does silence imply one does not speak.
(The meaning of Las Vegas is 'the meadow' or a sort of oasis.)