Almost nine years ago, I embarked on my first monastic retreat. A clergy friend recommended that I make the journey into the heart of southern Indiana to stay and keep watch with the brothers of Saint Meinrad Archabbey, a Benedictine monastery. It was my first time visiting a monastery even after four years of attending a Catholic college.
My first retreat was just after my college graduation before I entered seminary in Ohio. I went with no real agenda expect to listen. St. Meinrad was one of those places where I heard God calling me so clearly. It was heard in the chant, prayers, and walks with God around the campus. I heard Jesus calling so clearly “Follow me”.
During my week long stay in 2007, I met Br. William, who was actually a Franciscan who was on retreat as well. It was like me to see the brown robed brother walking around in the midst of the black robed Benedictines and knew he was a brother of Francis. As I talked with him, he confirmed my call to ministry. It was a wonderful time of conversation and encouragement. He encouraged me to seek God above else in my life. We were both reminded of our common call to ministry.
It’s been nine years since my first visit, but during my most recent spiritual retreat last week, I can still sense God’s call upon my life. When I slow down and be intentional in listening for God’s call, I can suddenly hear again. I need to be reminded of that call again and again. I can hear God’s call as I search the Scriptures. God calls in the silence that monasteries offer. The corporate prayer of the brothers draw us deeper into
the heard and call of God.
Kathleen Norries, the author of Cloister Walks, wrote, “I have found that monasteries have a way of bringing me back to myself.” While this is true, I would add that monasteries have a way of bringing me back to God and God’s call upon my life. I suppose that’s why I’m drawn back to the monastery time and again. In those sacred places, I’m able to slow down, pray, and listen for God with my Benedictine, Franciscan, and Trappist brothers and sisters. Thanks be to God.