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Saturday, 1 February 2014

Highlighting A Monk at Norcia, Two


Ifirst met a monk when I was six years old. At the time, all I knew was that a monk was someone who, like a parish priest, served the King of Heaven, except that instead of residing at a parish by himself, he lived in a large castle called an Abbey together with many other brothers who were just like him. It made me think of the knights of King Arthur and the brotherhood of the Round Table. Throughout my younger years this ideal of perpetual brotherhood grew within me and drew me on. Growing up in a large family of nine, with two older sisters and six younger brothers, I was no stranger to brotherhood on a large scale, but I wanted that same brotherhood on a deeper more spiritual level, with not only younger brothers, but older brothers as well, serving under the most loving Father and noblest King of all, Christ the Lord.

So it was that as soon as I had completed my four years of liberal arts at Thomas Aquinas College in California, I left friends, family and fatherland of Butte, Montana and became a monk of Norcia.

Once I had entered into the tranquility and rhythm of the monastic life, however I soon came to realize that the exterior quiet of the monastery was there to allow the monk to focus his energies on the deeper and far more intense battlefield of the thoughts. I came to see that my boyish image of monks as warriors was very accurate. Being still young and inexperienced, I knew that I needed help and guidance in this spiritual combat, so when I found the writings of my patron, St. Evagrius Ponticus, written precisely for the monk as a warrior of the interior life, I became a devoted disciple. However, as I read on, I found that my image was incomplete; not only must the monk be a vigilant warrior, but also a loving shepherd, caring for those around him as a good shepherd would love his sheep and gaurding the inner world of his imagination with all gentleness and humility, striving with all his might to pray as he ought. Thus, when I made my simple vows, I asked for the name Br. Mary Evagrius,commemorating my two great models of the spiritual life.

Although the interior life of prayer is of essential importance for the monk, yet the exterior life is very important as well, the life of fraternal relations and manual labor. Since I arrived, I have had many different jobs, from floor cleaner and laundry-man to guest-master and store-manager. Right now I work in the monastery brewery, trying my best to praise God with the work of my hands. The good that I accomplish is completely His, To Him be the honor and the glory.