7 Quick Takes Friday (vol. 196)

— 1 —

I hope nobody thought that I wouldn’t do Quick Takes just because I’m up at a monastery! I’m putting the labora in Ora et Labora. (Perhaps a little lame that my labora is blogging, but we take the talents that God gives us, however unimpressive they might be.)

— 2 —

One of the neat things about being here is that Mt. Angel also has a seminary. To make things easier on the guest house staff, we volunteered to just eat all our meals at the main cafeteria with the seminarians. I’m so glad we did, because that’s been one of the highlights of the trip. It’s so neat to be surrounded by a hundred future priests at every mealtime. These guys give me hope for our civilization. They dress in collared shirts and ties, per the seminary dress code, and are some of the most well mannered people I’ve ever encountered. The other day I found myself eating lunch alone, and a group of young men, some of them as young as 18, offered for me to sit at their table, and were wonderful conversationalists. Not only is it exciting to see such solid young men in the formation process to become priests, but it’s refreshing to see that there are still plenty of gentlemen in the world!

— 3 —

A sign in one of the Abbey elevators:

— 4 —

When we were headed to the airport last week, my three-year-old suddenly announced that she didn’t want to go on this trip. All this travel seemed scary to her, and she wanted to stay home with Yaya where she can live a life of chasing the dog around while eating ice cream straight out of the bucket. We tried a bunch of strategies to get her excited about it, including building up the thrill of air travel (cough-cough), all to no avail. But then someone happened to mention that the guestmaster priest takes care of a couple of cats who live on the guesthouse grounds, and she did a 180. She could not wait to get up to Mt. Angel to see these animals, whom she has dubbed the “church kitties.” As soon as the plane took off she looked eagerly at the ground below, and asked if we could see the church kitties from here. She asks to visit them about 20 times a day. And when people ask us why we’re here, before we can explain that we came to soak in the prayerful atmosphere of monastic life and visit our cousin, Br. Claude, she chimes in, “We’re here to visit the church kitties!” That’s right. We packed up the family and flew over 2,000 miles to see some cats.

— 5 —

My son, on the other hand, is under the impression that we’re here for the free drinks. The seminary cafeteria has a soda fountain that has Pepsi, Mountain Dew, as well as a dispenser of all sorts of juices. When he first saw this, and realized that he could fill his cup to his heart’s content, and it was all free, he just stood there for a moment as if seeing a vision of heavenly angels. I think this changes the entire vocation calculation for him: in all the times we’ve told him about the option of the priesthood, we neglected the EXTREMELY IMPORTANT FACT that seminarians have access to soda machines.

— 6 —

We got a tour of Br. Claude’s iconography studio, and I got to check in on my favorite of his icons, which I’ve been dreaming of since the last time we were here:

Isn’t it gorgeous? I’m trying to convince him to sell prints.

— 7 —

If you’re in Austin, I hope you’ll join us at the benefit for the John Paul II Life Center on Wednesday, December 5. This center is doing such important work (their Vitae Clinic is one of the places I visited for the show), and it should be a great evening!


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  1. says

    #2 fills my heart with hope! Wheeeee!

    This post makes me want to sip a soda while playing with a kitty under a beautiful icon. That’s the feeling it evokes in me somehow. Hmmmm.

  2. Suzanne Beck says

    Seriously does he sell the Holy Family icon? I have to have it! I have an extensive Nativity collection and that has to be the next addition!!

  3. says

    I hope you feature photos of Brother Claude’s iconography studio in future posts. His work is beautiful! (and that elevator sign kills me!)

  4. says

    All the seminarians I’ve met make me feel the same way: hopeful! The sign by the elevator is hysterical and that icon is gorgeous. Have a great rest of your trip!

  5. says

    #4 cracked me up, because mine would be the exact same way. Cats! Woo hoo! I have several photos of my girls in Turkey, both touring the ruins of Ephesus and outside the house where Mary spent her last years, and they are completely captivated by the stray cats running around. Holy space? Biblical history? Once in a lifetime visit? But have you SEEN this cat????

  6. says

    The elevator sign cracked me up because you have no idea how many times I have gotten stuck in an elevator–and I’m claustrophobic! I used to work in a hospital and so would have to ride the elevator up and down all day, bringing patients to their medical tests. I stopped counting the times I’ve gotten stuck after 16…I will have to remember those two quotes; they will help me keep calm and make me chuckle too!

    Ok, back to real life and feeding the kids their breakfast. Sigh.

  7. Theresa in Alberta says

    “Isn’t it gorgeous? I’m trying to convince him to sell prints”
    Dear Jen…..PLEASE let us know when you do!!! I have my credit card waiting to buy a copy of that lovely icon!!!!
    I wonder if the church kitties are catching any church mice 😉

  8. says

    I used to love visiting my brother when he was in college seminary for that very reason! My brother and his fellow seminarians were incredible guys! I always left with a renewed hope and sore muscles from laughing all weekend. :) I didn’t get to visit as much when my brother was at major sem, and I miss it! I think I’ll miss the seminary more than he will once he’s ordained in June! lol!

    And the icon is incredible! Let me know if you are able to convince Br. Claude to sell prints because I’d love one! :)

  9. says

    I had a similar reaction to the college dining hall, deciding tuition was probably worth the expense if I could fill my Nalgene with diet coke 3xs a day.

  10. Chantal says

    Your 3 year old is my daughter, who has always been like Alvira from Loony Tunes. I will never forget the day I asked her ” What sound does a cat do” ” Grrrr and Hisss…!” was the answer…

    Love your daughter..

  11. says

    Your visit sounds amazing. What a gift to you and your family. When we travel to our favorite Benedictine Abbey & Seminary, I love to soak up the chanting – both during Mass and LOTH. Such a rarity these days.

  12. Laura M says

    Awesome quick-takes! Love the kitties, love the sign in the elevator and I really love the seminarians story. It does give you hope for civilization, however, I wish Mother Church hadn’t taken all the gentleman for herself 😉

  13. LPatter says

    Oh, thanks for the laugh Jen! I once stayed in a seminary with my family on a trip to DC (I was 14, my sister was 12 and she complained NONSTOP that there was no pool in our “hotel”…) so I could totally picture the cafe. I also have 2 children (4 and 1.5) who are obsessed with juice (the 18 month old has a limited vocabulary but be assured, “ju” is not her name, Juliana, but you guessed it,any liquid or cup she can locate!), and we also recently traveled on an airplane, so quick takes 4 & 5 REALLY had me laughing out loud, I could just picture the scenarios and your perspective – and especially theirs! (To be honest, I totally remember being a kid and being SO excited about things like free soda or just getting to use the fountain soda machine myself for the first time!) Oh, the little things… :) THanks for sharing…Enjoy your stay!

  14. Claire says

    #4: reminds me of my son, who, when asked what his favorite part was about our vacation on Cape Cod, responds: “the vacuum”. Like we don’t have one of those at home!