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.)
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!
A sign in one of the Abbey elevators:
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.
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.
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.
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!