Monastic Traditions, Patch Adams, Random Quotes

I’ve learned a few things today. First of all, I learned that monks, monasteries and that whole realm of Christianity that we kind of tuck away in the corner–they just might be on to something. Often times we as Protestants (I’m speaking for myself here, so don’t feel that title has to apply to all of you) look down on the monastic fathers and that whole tradition as a bunch of routines that aren’t heart felt. You say a prayer, you read a psalm. What’s the deal?

Yeah, I’ve been reading more of St. Benedict. Today in the commentary I read a story from a collection of monastic tales. A visitor asks a monk, “What do you do in the monastery?” The monk replies, “Well, we fall and we get up and we fall and we get up and we fall and we get up,” (100). Isn’t that the case in every Christian life?

“The spiritual life is a process, not an event,” (Chittister, 100). And I couldn’t agree more. We see this monastery life as some kind of a dull routine. All these chapel services and songs and readings and prayers. Do you know Benedict set it up so they read the entire book of Psalms once a week? Once a week. He thought that was the least they could do. Do you know how many times I’ve read the entire book of Psalms? The entire thing? Once at best. Maybe twice if reading my favorite one can count for those ones tucked away in the back. Do you know why they place so much emphasis on reading the Psalms? Because the Psalms are a response to life experience.

“Prayer… become a furnace in which every act of our lives is submitted to the heat and purifying process of the smelter’s fire so that our minds and our hearts, our ideas and our lives, come to be in sync, so that we are what we say we are, so that the prayers that pass our lips change our lives, so that God’s presence becomes palpable to us. Prayer brings us to burn off the dross of what clings to our souls like mildew and sets us free for deeper, richer, truer lives in which we become what we seek.” (Chittister, 90)

And I could just keep pulling these quotes, but my hands would get tired and my roommate would get cranky. I have a new respect for these founding fathers of Christianity. So often Protestants think that we have it all. We assume that Catholics aren’t Christians. Now granted, I don’t agree with all of Catholic doctrine, but we came from them. We are brothers and sisters in Christ. And they do have quite a bit to offer us. Benedict and Chittister seem to have a better handle on what the Christian life is all about than I could ever hope to.

Another thing I learned today is that I can fall so easily. I realized that for the past two days I’ve hardly spent a minute with the God I claim to serve. This is where I envy the St. Benedict’s monks. They have daily time set aside at seven increments for prayer and readings. We scoff at their routine, but it works for them, and my pitiful attempts are certainly failing. Thankfully, like those in the monastery God has given me the grace to get up again, if only to fall down tomorrow. And get up again.

I also learned that it’s just plain wrong to eat a kitten. Wise words from the Tick.

And I suppose I should also mention the really good movie I saw this evening, Patch Adams. Yet again, Hollywood has surprised me with another quality movie that actually has something to say. The only reason I went to see it is because I heard one of the characters looks, acts, and talks exactly like my roommate. It was true. From what I remember of the previews, this movie looked like another really funny Robin Williams movie where he tries to impress some girl. Little did I know it had a real message to it. Patch Adams wanted to help people. He had a dream of helping people, and he was brave enough to ask why. He was also brave enough to laugh, and do whatever it took to put a smile on the faces of people who were in pain. If that’s not the calling of every Christian, I don’t know what is.

Sometime in the near future I’m going to have to publish a list of really good movies. Every time I walk into the video store, I see nothing but crap. But there are a few gems out there, and they’re well worth your time.

And now, at I leave you with a final quote:

“If I had more of the qualities of Kermit the Frog, I’d be a great guy.” (Josh Lewis!)

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