3714072103_fdb1cdb23d_zI was blessed last week to have a few days at Belmont Abbey in North Carolina. Belmont is the Abbey where I am an oblate, but for various reasons I have not been there on retreat for some time.

It was great to be back.

In the midst of all the change and turmoil in our world it was a wonderful balm to spend a few days with the Benedictines. As I walked down the monastic corridor I thought of all the monasteries I have visited since my first visit to Douai Abbey in the Lent of 1980.

In each one of them I connected with a culture, a spirituality and a life that transcends our own age, culture and the worries and fears of our age.

When you visit a Benedictine monastery you are connecting with a life, a philosophy and a wisdom that is 1500 years old and which has stood the test of time.

I went feeling confused, dismayed, upset and stressed about various things: the state of our Catholic Church, the constant fighting not only between liberal and conservative Catholics, but amongst conservative Catholics themselves. I was stressed and annoyed by the disastrous and ludicrous American presidential election. I was stressed and confused about some personal issues that are (ultimately) transitory.

While there I connected with the one thing that really matters: as St Benedict says, “To prefer nothing to the love of Christ.”

I came home determined to blog again, and to use what little insights and wisdom I might have to help others see past the fleeting confusion and fear of this present time and to put their roots deep into their Catholic faith, into the love of God and neighbor and to move forward with the words of Pope St John Paul II in mind:

“Do not be afraid! Open Wide the Doors to Christ!”