Wednesday, January 6, 2010

January 7 - Refectory Manners

The flatware on the refectory table may be simple and unadorned, but refectory manners are very well burnished. Many monasteries, in fact, used to provide wooden utensils that were made by Trappist monks and were much sought after, even in the public domain. How carefully they were cleaned after each meal, all according to rule! Monks and nuns have dined for centuries, and some do still, in the ancient manner, using wooden bowls and wooden spoons without disinfectants!

However primitive the table settings may have been, the customs were polished to a sparkle.

While they stood to eat their breakfast, in certain orders, the crumbs were gathered in the napkins which the Sisters held and consumed when the bread was finished. More than a "waste not, want not" practice, this was a reminder of the woman who got what she wanted from the Lord by asking the privilege of the crumbs. A brioche of a reminder at the beginning of each day!

Shall we take their example this morning and pause to remember that, as with the little mustard seed, what matters is not the size of the kernel of our faith, but where we plant it?

The largest part of our "conversatio," no matter how small our transforming practices, will always be that, "with God, all things are possible." (Matthew 19:26)

"Be hospitable to one another without complaint."

(1 Peter 4:9)
Photo by Kerry

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