Saturday, November 18, 2006

Monkish Ignorance ...

St. Joseph's Abbey Church

Thomas Jefferson urged his fellow 18th century Enlightenment thinkers to burst the chains of "monkish ignorance."

Every morning I haul myself over to the nearby dispensary of "monkish ignorance" in an ongoing and altogether inconclusive effort to be liberated from the mundane ignorance from which monasticism freed my ancestors and probably yours. Those thus liberated subsequently used their freedom to create a culture so robust that one of its brightest 18th century beneficiaries was able to look down his nose at the spiritual pioneers who laid its foundations.

It has been aptly said that the health of Christian monasticism is the best measure of the vitality of Christianity itself. Meanwhile, the health of Christian monasticism isn't measured according to the usual calculus. The best measure of it is the depth and palpable solemnity of the monastic liturgy. By that measure and many others, it is an enormous privilege to be able to attend daily Lauds and Mass at St. Joseph's Abbey.

The window over the main altar

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