When one extends an invitation to God seekers with words like Come and See or Come and Experience Life in the Monastery it puts the one who invites in a rather vulnerable position. What shall they see? What shall they experience? This invitation was extended to women of the College of Saint Benedict and men of Saint John’s University in a cosponsored (Saint Benedict’s Monastery & Saint John’s Abbey) Spring Break Vocation Retreat. Three young men and two young women gave themselves wholeheartedly to the fullness of this invitation.
And what did they see? They saw doors being opened to them, releasing the mystery of the unknown and finding them to be places of home. They saw a community of mixed generations living with intentionality, being present to and extending genuine care for one another.
And what did they experience? They experienced the community at prayer. They discovered in the places of silence, that holds the prayer, that this is where God speaks. The rhythm of daily communal prayer, the work of God, both challenged and affirmed their desire for union with God. The practice of lectio divinia invited deep listening and an inspiring means for breaking open God’s Holy Word. They feasted daily at the Eucharistic table. The table where deep hungers are fed.
They experienced community as they lived with the monastics in settings that fostered the sharing of stories, leisure, play and rest. Community, a place to be at home and to trust one’s place of welcome in the midst of others.
They experienced service, the sharing of muscle, compassion and an openness to learn as they worked for Catholic Charities Food Shelf and Habitat for Humanity. They saw the faces of their sisters and brothers seeking dignity of service in their poverty of need. They worked side-by-side with generous individuals who give of their time and gifts in small and great ways.
Brother Paul-Vincent and I were particularly impressed with the generosity of these students in all facets of their time with us and the wonderful way in which they had come together to BE community. They were once strangers, and now they left us as friends in Christ.