We went into the chapel to pray lauds. My heart thrilled with joy of God as we spoke the psalms together, singing in reverent harmony and listening quietly as one of the brothers read the Scripture passage. It was from Romans 14: “the Kingdom of God is not a matter of eating or drinking, but of justice, peace, and the joy that is given by the Holy Spirit.” A holy joy filled the chapel as we listened, but we were also mindful of the sumptuous breakfast that awaited after prayer. Eating and drinking with brothers is not a bad thing (Fr. Blaise brought a six pack of craft beers, Fr. Ryan had obtained two bottles of hearty red from the Trappists at New Clairvaux, Fr. Tom provided blackened ribs, Fr. Mark had bought some exquisite French cheeses, and I had packed a large jar of olives and … four boxes of macaroni and cheese.
The reading continued: “Let us, then, make it our aim to work for peace and to strengthen one another” (Rom 14:19). Where is the peace in 2020? It was certainly among us in that retreat house yesterday morning. We are quite aware that Mother Church has become deeply corrupt, and in some cases is handing her enemies (notably the Chinese Communist Party) a sword to slay her own children. We are painfully aware that our beloved motherland has become tragically divided and weak, unable to stop the coming totalitarianism. Catholics are handing a sword to those who have vowed to persecute the Church.
And yet, a lucid and holy joy fills us. How good it is for brothers to live in unity! If we are to survive the coming darkness, even to flourish, we must find supportive small communities: the family, priestly fraternity, strong parishes, reading groups, etc. Find your sacred community, built on the Word and the Sacraments, and be faithful to it.