The Australian Trappist and well-known spiritual author Fr. Michael Casey wrote a book titled, Strangers to the City. In it he points to Chapter 4 of St. Benedict’s Rule, in which Benedict advises the monks “to make themselves strangers to the actions of the age.” Benedict himself had, as a young man, left the city of his studies, Rome, in order to seek the solitude of a cave in Subiaco. There he deeply experienced God’s presence while living in a cave for three years. Benedict also says that the monks are called to conversion, to taking on the values and beliefs of the gospel, and to viewing things with the eyes of Christ.
Not everybody can physically leave the world as monks do. But a cartoon I saw this week certainly expresses our truth: It is hard to hear the voice of the shepherd if the sheep constantly are distracted by so many other voices! This is not to say that a person necessarily should give up TV, smart phones, and Facebook (actually that’s where I found the cartoon!). Nevertheless, it is necessary to have some inner distance from what is clamoring for our attention in our modern world, to become quiet, and to listen inward in order for us to hear the loving voice of our Divine Shepherd who never condemns us, who rather seeks us out, carries us and guides us.
Going on retreat is one good way of becoming a “stranger to the city” for all of us: attending one of our scheduled retreats or just taking quiet time by oneself at St. Benedict Center of resting, arriving in the present moment, speaking to God in prayer and listening to God, may be even meeting with one of the monks for spiritual direction.
At the Center, you will meet new co-workers: Deb greets and serves you as hostess in the office; Karen and Julie have joined our kitchen team. As part of an ongoing effort to improve the Center, we have made the following amenities available to you this year: new softer pillows on all guest beds, queen sized beds in several rooms, automatic door openers at main entrance and lake side door; a cell phone signal repeater, which makes cell phone calls possible in the lobby for your convenience (please respect other retreatants’ need for silence); and two UHD smart TV’s for groups in the conference rooms.
Especially worth noting among the upcoming events of our program schedule is our nativity scenes display, inviting you for a pilgrimage to the Center at the start of the Year of Mercy. Our Valentine's Day Dinner on February 14, 2016, begins with Mass at 5:00 p.m., followed by a delicious 4 course meal. On April 9 – 10, Dr. John Gresham from St. Louis and his wife Mary Jane will offer Spiritual Intimacy in Marriage Retreat with ideas and concrete direction for praying together as a couple.