I’ve returned from two days of retreat at Mt. Saviour Monastery. It was a rich experience. They have a great bookstore but much of what I read wasn’t really what I needed. I just wanted to come again and experience the quiet. After spending a couple days or more on a retreat one could easily remark that one has to return to the real world. Benedictines and Franciscans have much in common and one of those aspects is the absence of dualism in their thinking. Francis and Benedict saw God and goodness in the world that surrounded them. There is and was no dualism for either of these men. I’m more familiar with St. Francis, but in nearly all cases Francis spoke of all creation as brother and sister. This is the Incarnation. The presence of Jesus Christ in all things created. Mt. Saviour and other holy places are holy then for me because they really represent the truth. What I can bring back to the valley from Mount Saviour and from Mt. Irenaeus is the interdependence of all creation.
As societies became less and less Christ centered there was a concomitant movement away from the incarnation into a dualism of holy vs worldly. In actual fact this dichotomy is a lie, but it is a lie that has been practiced for so long that it is perceived as truth. There was a time in history when workers stopped for the Angelus bells to pray at midday. In monasteries and other communities that pray the divine office these prayer and work cycles continue to be practiced. In fact work is a part of all these prayers. Benedict and Francis both saw work as a necessity for their followers. In these communities work as seen as a necessary part of prayer. Work is not seen as an end for its own sake. When work becomes an end in itself, money is valued more than the laborers. Monasteries. friaries, convents and other retreat centers are then again models of the real world. A world of work and prayer. Peace.