I think my head is going to explode with Black Friday, Cyber Monday, ‘see how much money I can spend Tuesday.’ As the world continues to believe that adding more things to the ridiculous amount of stuff we already have will bring happiness, it is a blessing and a great gift that there are houses of prayer like Our Lady of the Holy Cross where adding anything to our stuff takes consideration and where we are still using some items in the monastery that came with us from Rhode Island some 60 years ago.
A monastic community is the anti-black Friday and cyber-Monday. A monastic community under the Rule of St. Benedict considers every object, every item as important and to be cared for and so longevity for objects is the rule not the exception. Benedict said ‘…regard all utensils and goods of the monastery as sacred vessels of the altar’ (RB 31:10). Here our Holy Father Benedict is telling us all things come from God, all that we have and use is a gift from God and so should be seen the same way we view the chalice or altar cloth or the Eucharist itself. When we think about our ‘things’ in these terms, it makes responding to black Friday a moot point.
At the monastery we don’t buy the newest gadget. We get by with the old one for as long as it can last. At the monastery celebrating a season of anticipation like Advent has absolutely nothing to do with stuff and everything to do with discerning real meaning to the season. I guess you can say here at HCA the yard sign you sometimes see that says ‘keep Christ in Christmas’ is lived out fully.
If we take nothing else from the Rule, RB 31:10 is worth savoring because it helps by providing some protection from a world bombarding us with messages of excess and conspicuous consumption.
Advent is a perfect time for you to visit and absorb this attitude from the monks, to bolster your personal battle against all that Christmas has become. Our Retreat House has rooms available for you to spend a weekend, a week, even a day. Or just come out for one of the Offices or mass. While here you will be blessed to at least temporarily be part of a way of life that responds only to the bells of the Abbey Church calling us to prayer…a prayer you can join and sit in silence and begin the Advent-process of preparing for the birth of our Savior.
Come visit us. You won’t be sorry you did.