“The monastery is the center of the world.” This drastic statement by John Eudes in Chapter this morning reminded me of exactly the same statement made by Thomas Merton when he came to the Abbey of Gethsemane for the first time. The monastery is just not a place to keep the world out but a place where God can dwell. The liturgy, the silence, the rhythm of the day, the week, and the year, and the whole monastic life-style with the harmony of prayer, spiritual reading, and manual labor, are meant to create space for God. The ideal of the monk is to live in the presence of God, to pray, read, work, eat and sleep in the company of his divine Lord.” –Henri Nouwen “The Genesee Diary”.
I read this book a couple of years ago. It is one of my favorites because I found that Henri Nouwen who is one of my favorite authors had actually lived at Genesee Abbey for seven months and this diary is his journal of life there. I found myself identifying with his experience in many ways. We have a monastery in my home. We live in community and my wife and I spend considerable time each day in prayerful contemplation. We meet for dinner, we work together, we sleep in our monastery. It is our hermitage.
Come down we beseech you O Lord upon this house and drive from all the snares of the enemy. Let your holy angels dwell in it and keep us in peace. And may your blessing be with us always. We ask this through Christ our Lord.–Compline Prayer-Mount Saviour Monastery.
monastery, henri nouwen, hermitage