Monasticism

DC Abbey: But Jesus Got Up Again

Welcome to Part 5 of a blog series ‘DC Abbey’, reflections on my 3 days at a Benedictine monastery in DC NE, St. Anselm’s Abbey. I share to hopefully inspire others to a monastic retreat. I value critical feedback, so please comment below.

In Part 4 I explained that Jesus, fully divine, yet also fully human, understands our persistent desire to disobey God. The Spirit’s beautiful play on words that Jesus ‘fell’ on the way to Golgotha, helped me to see Jesus in a completely new light. Jesus knew what ‘falling’ – a word Christians often use to say we sinned – felt like. It was amazing to know that Jesus knew what I felt like in my moments of failure. Jesus was brought closer to me than I ever imagined he could be.

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DC Abbey: Jesus Fell Too

Welcome to Part 4 of a blog series ‘DC Abbey’, reflections on my 3 days at a Benedictine monastery in DC NE, St. Anselm’s Abbey. I share to hopefully inspire others to a monastic retreat. I value critical feedback, so please comment below.

Drawing to the end, it’s time to get more personal.

I went to the monastery to tackle a problem: I don’t live with enough vigor, and often feel prone to weakness. Not sure if you can relate, but it’s my struggle. Many times I’ve started on the way of righteousness and slowed down, not taken it seriously, even taken detours and at times, nearly derailed my faith. I wanted to learn to live vigorously. I felt in danger of living cowardly, and I knew this was not the Way. (more…)

DC Abbey: Chants and Prayers

Welcome to Part 3 of a blog series ‘DC Abbey’, reflections on my 3 days at a Benedictine monastery in DC NE, St. Anselm’s Abbey. I share to hopefully inspire others to a monastic retreat. I value critical feedback, so please comment below.

In my previous post I shared what God taught me in the monastery’s silence. Only prayer broke the silence, and you may remember from Part 1 that our schedule called for prayer at least 3-4 times a day. (more…)

DC Abbey: God in the Whisper

Welcome to Part 2 of a blog series ‘DC Abbey’, reflections on my 3 days at a Benedictine monastery in DC NE, St. Anselm’s Abbey. I share to hopefully inspire others to a monastic retreat. I value critical feedback, so please comment below.
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As I shared in DC Abbey 1, I went to St. Anselm’s with no real agenda, but I did seek something, which I will share in a later post. I had to first encounter an unexpected enemy: silence.

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DC Abbey: The Need for a Monastic Retreat

Welcome to Part 1 of a blog series ‘DC Abbey’, reflections on my 3 days at a Benedictine monastery in DC NE, St. Anselm’s Abbey. I share to hopefully inspire others to a monastic retreat. I value critical feedback, so please comment below.
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Quizzical, even amused, looks often greeted me when I had joyfully shared about my then upcoming monastic retreat in December 2013. A good friend gushed how counter-cultural it was, and surprisingly, other Christian friends didn’t understand why I would want to go. (more…)

Silence: The Quickest Fast I Ever Did

I once heard that a monk instructed his disciples to sit in silence in their cell, and it would teach them everything. I don’t have a cell, but my office at work is close enough, so I gave silence a shot: the results were staggering.

Breathing is critical, so I made sure to focus on it as it puts you in a meditative state. Five minutes became 10, ten became more. I had intended that to be the limit of my time in complete silence but it stretched to 40 before I knew what happened. But it’s about quality with prayer, not quantity.

Something within began to percolate. My thoughts rose up but I slapped them down and focused on achieving a silence inside to reflect that without. I don’t know what was rising up inside me. I only knew it was true, and it needed to get out.

I wanted to avoid the truth. Desire to run, to plug in to an iPod or YouTube video, to escape into something, anything exalted itself within me. My soul began to frantically search for a way to drown out the deafening din of my corruption. “Adam.. Where are you?” “Lord, I was afraid, and so I hid.”

Have you ever fasted from food for at least 3 days or more and noticed all this “stuff” coming to the surface within you? I think that is essentially what I was experiencing.

I began to silently scream. I cried noiselessly without tears. Had I been truly alone in a forest I would have sent the birds fleeing the treetops en masse with the roar I made. The range of emotions were incredibly deep. I had not been searching for them, nor did I have a clue how deeply they were felt. They were just there, gushing up from me like a geyser.

It was alarmingly cathartic. It was just what my soul needed.

So then I saw heaven, or at least how I imagine heaven to be. God spoke to me..”I am with you.” He tells me this often… I don’t truly comprehend how powerful and important ‘God with us’ truly is. “Rod and staff” flashed through my thoughts and my soul was quieted. I worshipped God, I smiled. I didn’t want to cry anymore. I sighed, exhaling soul’s poison and inhaling the breath of God. Peace – more elusive than I had realized – was within me. “He rebuked the wind and spoke to the waves, ‘Peace, be still’.”

That is what silence did for me. It was more incredible than I could have imagined. I am going to seek out silence again soon. What about you? What has been your experience with silence? Do you think we need more of it in our plug in and play society?

Religion Doesn’t Always Kill

As a young Christian I began with a love for religiosity — doing things that seemed for the betterment of my faith: serving in campus ministry, sharing my faith, giving up non-Christian music, a host of other things that cocooned me in a nearly exclusively Christian world. My worldview shifted eventually as I questioned evangelicalism as an effective means for the gospel to change all things. Sometimes I would become like a Galatian, thinking my religiosity would save me, bring me closer to God — I was foolish enough to believe in another gospel that was really no gospel at all. Most of us have this sort of love/hate relationship with religion. We cling to it for security, or avoid it desperate as we are to avoid hurt, or reject the denial of our self-determination. Religiosity became an anti-gospel in the struggle between law and grace, or a spiritual cover from criticism from overly-pious believers in the church. 

The new Christian fad is to be anti-religion. “We’re about relationship, not religion”, we say, among other cliches. We market a faith devoid of “religion” but the product is still the same. (more…)