This year, three exceptional young people took part in the Monastic Internship Program, living, worshipping, and working alongside the community for nine months. We asked them to reflect on what they would take away from the experience. Here is what Matthew Tenney had to say:
In reflecting on my time living and working and praying alongside the Brothers of the Society of Saint John the Evangelist, I’m reminded of Canon Henry Parry Liddon’s praise for the Father Founder:
Now, Father Benson is one of the few elements of resistance to the new order of things … Any clever man who believes in Christianity … can give lectures which will impress a great many people. I do not depreciate this sort of work – far from it – but it is infinitely lower work than that which is achieved by merely belonging to a Society in which everything has been given up for God, and the silent eloquence of whose Rule is worth a thousand Sermons. . . .
How can one bear witness to this way of life, to the “silent eloquence of whose Rule is worth a thousand Sermons?” The Grand Silence that is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit is most palpable, most discernibly present in the everyday graced moments of this life. Easter breaks into the ordinary, the quotidian breaks open to reveal the extraordinary, and so daily we glimpse the marvelous in the mundane.
In choir, in the generous smile of a Brother sitting opposite as we both move to the music.
On a gloomy late winter’s eve whilst shoveling snow, when a Brother playfully hurls a snowball my way and a full-scale battle breaks out moments before mass. Peace be with you, Brother!
On a Friday morning when, after delivering boxed lunches to a neighboring feeding program, the Brother chauffeuring us jokes about making a run for it and hitting the road in search of adventure. You have your Monastery credit card, right Brother?
In the kitchen, as we clean up after supper, when a Brother launches into his heavy metal power ballad inspired rendition of the Magnificat. Let everything that has breath praise the Lord!
These graced moments – these unanticipated moments of playfulness and delight, these moments in which we are surprised by joy – nourish and sustain us when our prayers are dry, when our patience runs thin, when our minds are eddied and muddied with myriad distractions, when we mistake Silence for absence, and when the Christ that plays in ten thousand places hallows everything with his abiding love – everything, it seems, but our own hollow hearts.
Brother, can you spare a word?
Well, neither can I.
The Greater Silence is
A simple smile worth a thousand words is
Brother, thank you.
Thank God for these graced moments. By them and with them we ever strive to make Dag Hammarskjöld’s simple yet eloquent prayer our own.
“ – Night is drawing nigh –”
For all that has been – Thanks!
To all that shall be – Yes!