Sunday, February 7, 2010
February 8 – Exquisite Care – The Welfare of the House
Like any other family, the monastic community has to keep a roof over its head.
Unlike other families, fledglings do not fly the coop in monastic living. They stay until the day of their death, and the community cares for them as they age and meets all their needs. The expense can be staggering, even among those who live most simply, when they simply have no source of income.
Added to this, of course, is the consideration that the work of the house is the worship of God, not the maintenance of a residence. The Divine Office alone can consume as many hours as a marketplace work day, but sometimes the Abbey requires more upkeep than even an avid suburban householder would or could consider.
In times past, the community would support its “religious,” often quite willingly, in appreciation for their prayers and the atmosphere of worship which their monastic neighbors kindled among them.
Today, lots and lots . . . probably most . . . monasteries have turned to “cottage” (or shall we say “convent”) industry in order to survive.
While work has always been a designated part of the “rule” for most orders, monks and nuns often labored only upon ecclesiastical pursuits, such as the translation of Scripture and the weaving and embroidery of fine altar linens. Their customers were usually other monasteries or dioceses. Nowadays, abbeys sell everything from altar breads to honey, from musical instruments to trained seeing-eye dogs, and lots of them have Brothers or Sisters who help run the house like any other retail outlet.
Sometimes the “Opus Dei,” the “work of God” which drew the nuns to the cloister, suffers while the Sisters must carve off some of the “Office” in order to work in the office, or the bakery, or at a sewing machine.
Our situation is different in Cor Unum, almost inverse. For us, we try to find time in the business of the day for worship, while their work of worship is interrupted by business. As we become more and more proficient, and more and more dedicated to the care of the souls we have been given, let us adapt our “conversatio” in ways that will allow us both to keep our houses and make them places of prayer and glory. We will consider some of those practices, just fitted to 21st century life, in the days ahead.
"Home Sweet Home"
photo by Kerry