Message from the Monks

For several days I’m doing a private spiritual retreat at a monastery near Dubuque, Iowa (from where I’m writing this). The New Melleray Abbey is home to some 30 Trappist monks.

The monks are committed to a life of reflection on scripture, prayer, and worship. At first I thought it seemed such a waste to spend all your time growing in your personal faith and yet not really reaching out to others. In spite of the 90 plus degree heat I’ve been able to think clearly enough to straighten out such thinking.

The monks do reach out, to each other (their family are the other monks in the Abbey), they pray for people who send requests for prayer, they can host up to 18 people for retreats (the gift of hospitality), and they make caskets as a business which they see as a way to bring comfort to the sorrowing.

But, for me, their biggest “outreach” ministry is reminding the rest of the world that the Christian faith is not first about doing but about being. They are cloistered for the purpose of being with God. Those of us who seek to serve the Lord in our daily lives, wanting to do something for Him, can forget that first and foremost of all we are to be with Him! The monks remind me of this all important fact.

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