Friday, November 16, 2007

My Friend Came To Visit

This is Jeremy Driscoll. I love him. And I love his face.

Jeremy is a monk of Mt. Angel Abbey. He is also a priest. Ordination to the priesthood does not occur automatically with monks. In fact, in the old days even the Abbott wasn't normally ordained. St. Benedict of Nursia was born in 480 A.D. and is considered the founder of western cenobitic monastacism. The Greeks booked out their own form prior to Benedict. Prior. Get it? You might have to be--or have been--a monk to get THAT little joke. The Abbott would just have one of the monks kneel before a bishop for the laying on of hands so that the community could celebrate the liturgy of the eucharist without having to dial for a rent-a-priest from the diocese.

Monastic life is a calling. Sort of like being a doctor or an attorney or a writer or a police officer. Being a priest and a monk is regarded as a vocation within a vocation. Priesthood is secondary to that of responding to the call of being a monk. But here's a little bit about monasticism that most folks are not aware of:

There is no such thing as a vow of silence. Never has been. Never will be. I suppose some cultist could come up with such a thing. But the thought of such is just pure silliness. As with most cult tenets.

Monks live the cenobitic life. That means they live together in a community. In very rare cases, a monk may petition the Abbott to set off in a discipline known as the eremetical life. "Eremos," in Greek means desert. Only a monk who has done very well living within the contexts of community has a shot at becoming a hermit. Hermits are still joined to their community and in most cases it is insisted that he or she attend some community functions, especially Chapter. Chapter is where all the solemnly professed monks gather to vote on matters of various importance relative to the functioning of the house.

Monks take three vows: Stability, Obedience and Conversion of Life. They do not take Poverty, Chastity and Obedience as is often thought. No. Not so. Mendicants do that. A mendicant belongs to an order such as the Franciscans, Dominicans, Carmelites and Augustinians. These are not monks. These are mendicants. The word comes from the Latin meaning "to beg." The word "monk" derives its meaning from the Greek "mono," hinting at singleness or aloneness. But the monastic life has very little to do with going solo. It is all about being purged in the fire of community that one becomes holy.

The vow of Obedience literally means to "incline one's ear," to "listen up," to "pay attention." Ob-audire. Audio. Audience. Obedience. Get it? This concept is key to the beginning of St. Benedict's Holy Rule For Monks and you see it in the opening lines of the Prologue. If you go to the link, there follows a commentary by Father Philip Lawrence, OSB (Order of Saint Benedict). He is currently the Abbott of Christ in the Desert near Abiquiu, New Mexico. Phillip is also a former monk of Mt. Angel Abbey.

The vow of Conversion of Life embraces both poverty and chastiy. The latter is necessary to the function of celibacy. And it is celibacy which permits one to cleave to no single person other than God. It's a concept that has been lived out by millions of people over thousands of years. And not just Christians. The practice of celibacy predates any known manifestation of even the earliest far eastern philosophies. There are just some people who are called to be "set apart" for the sake of walking with the Creator. Even if there were a married clergy in the Roman Church, there will always be those who are called to celibacy. Many people are chaste. But that does not make them celibate. Celibacy is a way of life, a conceptual framework flowing from a sense of having been called and having responded to that call. People always ask me why I left the monastic life. Truthfully, I'm not sure what happened. It is much easier to answer why I entered and why I stayed as long as I did.

Besides cenobitic and eremetic monks (hermits), there are the anchorites. Julian of Norwich (not canonized, and so not a saint, but a terrific mystic of the 14th Century) was an anchorite. Julian speaks of Jesus as "the Mother of mercy." Anchorites literally anchored themselves to a church and in some cases were walled up and unable to leave their cell. But not so the cenobite, not so.

The vow of Stability refers to the monk's resolve to make vows to a particular community. That is the family he will live with until he dies. There is no putting in for a transfer. Jeremy teaches theology half the year in Rome. But he always comes home to his community and that will never change.

It was good to be able to spend some time with him. We took a walk along the edge of Yaquina Bay:

You will recognize the pintails and wigeon in this one...

The large birds are geese. Black Brandt. The others are wigeon...

Here's what's going on here: About five years ago, I was headed out to the flats at low tide to harvest some Upogebia pugettensis for a planned sturgeon fishing trip the next day. I happened to glance up at a seagull flying overhead and carrying an object in its mouth. I watched the bird as it crossed the flats and when it reached the beach, it was as if it put the brakes on and almost came to a dead hover. It climbed about 10 feet and then began a descent. As it did so, it released the object which landed on the beach with a thud. The bird quickly landed and reclaimed its object whereupon it repeated the action. I realized that the bird had picked up a cockle and was cracking it open. I have lived here since 1981 and had never noticed this activity. It's as though the birds have learned this trick in the last 10 years or so. This is a picture of the increased sophistication they've achieved. One of them tried it on a roof. Apparently, a fad was begun. Can you imagine working inside this building and hearing the bombardments?...

Jeremy's most recent books are What Happens At Mass and A Monk's Alphabet.

I miss him already...


At Friday, November 16, 2007 at 7:20:00 PM PST , Blogger Van Dykes said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

At Friday, November 16, 2007 at 7:20:00 PM PST , Blogger Van Dykes said...

Found this fascinating, Gawpo. And glad to see something here - you must be busy busy getting back into the swing of things. What are you, like 90? With all you've done in your life, you've lived at least that long. And such a young soul, too. Amazing. :)

At Friday, November 16, 2007 at 7:25:00 PM PST , Blogger lime said...

oh gawpo, thank you so much for that! i really learned something that i never knew before and i so appreciate that. i do love yoru mind and the way you are able to communicate things.

and i think you used that picturer to capture jeremy well. he looks like he could either stare a hole through you or heal with his smile. so glad you had time together.

At Friday, November 16, 2007 at 7:32:00 PM PST , Blogger Gawpo said...

SARAH: Young soul. I can agree with that. I don't feel how I look. That's for sure. Yeah, had a couple days off, but did stuff and got some keyboard time. Stole some keyboard time. I can't imagine how you and Limers and the rest who have kids and hubby's ever find the time.

LIMERS: Well you are certainly very appreciated for saying such nice things. Good take on that man's face. That's exactly what it does. Both, of course.

At Friday, November 16, 2007 at 8:28:00 PM PST , Anonymous quilly said...

I loved the history lesson -- especially the distinction between monks and mendicants. Btw, I spent sometime in St. Andrew's Abby in Victorville, CA. There they have 12 hours per night of silence. From 8 p.m. to 8 a.m. (from after Vespers to the pre-breakfast prayer)they ask they everyone remain as quiet as possible. They say that silence is not enforced, but to please keep in mind that this is a time set aside for daily Bible Study, prayer and reflection.

At Friday, November 16, 2007 at 9:32:00 PM PST , Blogger Gawpo said...

QUILLY: Yes! Perzackly. That's what it's all about. It is referred to as The Grand Silence, a big way to make it sound important enough to at least try. We didn't always keep it. But for the most part, it is a time to be quiet. You get two things: an opportunity for prayer, reflective thought and studies, and you also give each other something that living in a house together needs----Q time. Like Quilly Time, yes?

Grand Silence usually begins after Compline, though. Not Vespers. After Vespers is dinner and then recreation. Compline "completes" the day and is usually at about 7:30 or 8PM. The first thing out of the monks lips is at lauds, early in the morning: "Oh Lord, open my lips. And my mouth shall declare your praise. Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be. Amen."

How could I not know that there is a house in Victorville? Is it Benedictine?

At Friday, November 16, 2007 at 9:35:00 PM PST , Blogger Gawpo said...

Oooops. I forgot the "world without end" before the Amen in the Glory Be.

Mea culpa.


At Friday, November 16, 2007 at 9:39:00 PM PST , Blogger mindy said...

you seriously amaze me.. the people you know, the things you've done.. i feel honored knowing you.

At Saturday, November 17, 2007 at 7:50:00 AM PST , Blogger Sheila said...

This enthralls me..!
I wish I could sit with you over a pot of coffee/tea, you choose, and talk about this in depth.
This life always interested me, and maybe next time I will experience it first hand. I will look for Jeremy's books.
Thanks so much for the insight Gawpy..!

At Saturday, November 17, 2007 at 11:40:00 AM PST , Blogger Scarlet said...

Thanks for the intro to the life and times of Jeremy. What an interesting post, and the last photo should be on the cover of one of his books.

At Saturday, November 17, 2007 at 2:00:00 PM PST , Blogger Gawpo said...

MINDANCE: You have total and unequivocal reciprocated respect, my dear! Wish I knew how to put links in comments. I would link you to the definition of QUEEN.

SHEILA: I wouldn't completely reject the notion of a visit to the northern portion of the continent, MOB. Gawpy loves his MOB and would love even more being able to sup with her.

SCARLET: Hora le! You just made my stomach get the mariposas with that comment about the picture I took of Jeremy with my new picturer. Siento yo como el hombre mas macho.

At Saturday, November 17, 2007 at 6:49:00 PM PST , Anonymous Brooke said...

Gawpo, thanks so much for the education! I found this fascinating! I once got to tour a convent in Guatemala built in the early 1700s and the tour guide was really wonderful at painting a picture of what the life of the nuns was like. (I know, totally different situation, but I found it fascinating... and your post led me to think of it.)

At Saturday, November 17, 2007 at 6:51:00 PM PST , Anonymous Brooke said...

I meant to also compliment you on the great photography! :)

At Saturday, November 17, 2007 at 9:38:00 PM PST , Blogger AnnieElf said...

Before I read one more word, I have to tell you that "I got it". Now I will continue reading. I'll be back.

At Saturday, November 17, 2007 at 9:57:00 PM PST , Blogger AnnieElf said...

I'm back. Jacob, this was a fascinating read. I found myself clicking on links and studying references as I followed your post. Silence may not be required but it surely is a great gift. I've gone on three silent retreat weekends and they are so restful. I'm sending the link to Quanah. I know he will enjoy this.

At Sunday, November 18, 2007 at 8:13:00 PM PST , Blogger Claire said...

What an interesting life you've had. Always an education here at casa de Gawpo. You are one of the reasons I love blogworld.

At Sunday, November 18, 2007 at 8:20:00 PM PST , Blogger Candace said...

I think you actually traveled into the future to meet Somewhere Joe. Mixed with my uncle.

I'm going to try to get my hands on these books.

Maybe you should start wearing a helmet to the beach. ^_^

At Monday, November 19, 2007 at 9:02:00 AM PST , Blogger Nessa said...

Very interesting, Gawpy. Your friend looks very nice. I would not make it as a monk in any form. I not very good with groups.

At Monday, November 19, 2007 at 3:44:00 PM PST , Blogger Jay said...

What an interesting person to know.

At Tuesday, November 20, 2007 at 7:58:00 AM PST , Blogger Gillian @ Indigo Blue said...

My mother and you are like two peas in a pod. She has always been drawn to monastic life; wishing herself vanquished off to a nunnery to study in silence whilst birds chirped and a Gregorian chanting fills the air with melodies....
Sigh. She is right. She will next time. But this time she is banished to the real world, like the rest of us.
When growing up with mum, she often often OFTEN played Gregorian chants, and we would at first be Forced to listen, and then, with age and a growing awareness...tend to actually listen because we enjoyed it too.
It resonates in the soul! You left for reasons that only you know, well, you and I suspect one other person (pointing to sky repeatedly...)~!
So, now I know why you love Joe so much, he reminds you of a young Jeremy perhaps?
Thank you for the lectio divina~~~
xoxoWith love, liturgy, lectionary~

At Tuesday, November 20, 2007 at 11:36:00 AM PST , Anonymous Cameron said...

It's such a special gift to have inspirational people in our lives like Jeremy is in yours.

Thanks for the upliftment!

At Tuesday, November 20, 2007 at 3:30:00 PM PST , Blogger Gawpo said...

BWOOKIE: Not that different at all. Cool op to see that in Guatemala. Glad you found the post info-rich.

BWOOKIE: And thanks. I love my picturer.

ANNIE: I knew you would get it!

ANNIE: Glad to hand over the scoop, Annie. Hello to Quana!

Oh, CLAIRE: Thank you so much. And there's more!

CANDACIA: Ha! Yes on the helmut. Fo sho. Love the linkage with Joe and Uncle.

NESSIE: Me neither! Group, schmoop! I'm with you, Sistuh!

JAY: Jeremy. Yes.

BLEU TeeEssGEE!!!: Wowzers. You speak-uh my language. Lectio divina. Liturgy. Lectionary. Love!

Eyelids fluttering, fingers intertwined and held up to side of chin, looking up and batting eyelids furiously.

We had to listen to Louis Prima, Jonathan Winters and Bob Newhart.

CAMERON: Hello there, Brother Cam. Yes. And it's been many Dias Cameron, since we spoke.

That was funny.

I kill me.

At Wednesday, November 21, 2007 at 1:34:00 AM PST , Blogger Bazza & Wifey said...

Interesting stuff Gawpo, I always come away feeling educated, and the bird shots are great too.

At Wednesday, November 21, 2007 at 4:46:00 AM PST , Blogger Pam Aries said...

Gawpo..what a sweet and wonderfully informative post! I learned a few things! I agree that he has a lovable face. You can feel the softness and kindness emanating from his soul.. thank you for sharing ...The scenery you show is beautiful. Wow! I canot wait to get to Oregon. Wheee! ps: Don't stand under any flying Seagulls!!!..uh...for more than one reason..!

At Wednesday, November 21, 2007 at 6:52:00 AM PST , Blogger Katie McKenna said...

This was a wonderful read. I know I fail at Obedience
I'd never have made a monk nor nun...truthfully, am thankful being me.. not always easy but definitely evolving.

I love your pictures..I read back a bit since I was busy moving.. So many beautiful photos.. and your poor plane! It sounds like your life is continously flowing and balancing.

Thank you for sharing. I haven't been posting in my poetry corner.

I wanted to say Hello.
Happy Thanksgiving! :)

At Wednesday, November 21, 2007 at 6:32:00 PM PST , Blogger Lisa S. Oceandreamer said...

I,like Sheila, would love nothing more than sitting quietly with you to hear more. You have this sweet soul and it resonates with every post and with the fondness for Jeremy. I do believe I could learn a lot from you dear Gawpo. So many things I'd tell you and ask you....and I'd probably cry. But in my heart I believe you'd understand. It makes my wanting to get up there even more important. One day, one day....over a glass of wine perhaps? AND you must play the guitar.
I feel calmer just having been here.
Love to you and a very Happy Thanksgiving!
Lisa Oceandreamuh

At Wednesday, November 21, 2007 at 7:04:00 PM PST , Blogger Candace said...

Happy Turduckenday Eve Gawpy!

At Thursday, November 22, 2007 at 10:06:00 AM PST , Blogger Logophile said...

I want to meet Jeremy and sit down and talk to him and listen to him, mostly listen to him. He looks like someone worth listening to very carefully.

I LOVE me some Gawpo, have I mentioned?

At Thursday, November 22, 2007 at 12:34:00 PM PST , Blogger Gawpo said...

BAZZA: Same to you, but more of it.

PAM ARIES: Ha! I had never thought about a second reason for not standing under a seagull. But now that you mention it, a person could be knocked out nowadays for same. We'll meet in Newport some day. Bring family. Plenty to do.

LA KATIE: Well, I suppose a person receives many callings if they are truly obedient. And seeing you here is something I hear.

LEESUH OCEANDREAMUH!: Talk with wine---any, any, any day. The guitar I shall play. For retreat shall you stay.

CANDACIA: Gawpy wishes same to leg causing all heel to break loose. HTG 2 ewe 2.

LOGOPHILE: This can be done. Oh yes, it can be done.

And Gawpo loves him some Logo!

At Thursday, November 22, 2007 at 2:47:00 PM PST , Blogger Paul said...

He's a man with a great smile.

At Thursday, November 22, 2007 at 7:23:00 PM PST , Blogger Dan said...

I have often thought about becoming a monk. Honest! No, honest! Stop giggling. Really! I mean it.

OK, so maybe I'm not that serious about it, but still.

This was an awesome post. Jeremy seems like a really cool guy. You too.

Happy Thanksgiving!

At Thursday, November 22, 2007 at 11:35:00 PM PST , Blogger Gawpo said...

PAUL: Yes. A face exuding beauty. And quite the clown.

DAN: I wouldn't giggle. At all. No, really.

Cool guy to very cool guy: Happy Thanksgiving, Dan! G

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