If Max ever makes a time-lapse of the lunar eclipse, I will share it. Alas, he's been busy with school and football and robotics and enjoying it all thoroughly. What a sight to behold, the moon so close to us, and the earth's shadow darkening it. And the more the moon was shadowed, the greater its reddish hue. Although we had clouds flitting about, we had a wonderful time hanging out on our porch watching this celestial event. I still remember the time when our kids were little and we brought our sleeping bags outside so that we could watch the meteor shower. To see dozens of them one after the other, well, we don't even have that many wishes!
I didn't make my goal of finishing up the revisions by the end of the month, but what a glorious month nonetheless. But we had birthdays, saints and angels to celebrate. I didn't realize how busy these past two weeks were with extra choir practice because although I thought I'd get back to my novel, I've been spending a lot of time relaxing on my back porch, soaking up the beauty and songs of the birds. With high tide and Joaquin pounding us with rain, the water level is right up to our grass. It's beautiful ... and I find myself humming the Kyrie and Agnus Dei (my two favorite movements) from St. Bruno's Mass. We had a soprano soloist to sing the Benedictus and truly, truly what glory she gives to God with her voice! Just heavenly.
Mass gives us a taste of heaven here on earth. So briefly I will share what Fr. Folsom had to say.
The homily was on the prayer to St. Michael the Archangel composed by Pope Leo XIII with the many Scriptural references (Daniel, Jude, Ephesians, Revelations). Fr. Folsom recounted how the angels were all created good, but by their own choice, some of them rejected God. "I will not serve." And so they cannot be in heaven. Hell is their dwelling place, a place completely devoid of God. I've always wondered why God did not destroy the bad angels given the horrors they have produced for mankind, but God permits them to live and allows them to test us. We too have to make a choice. Whom shall we serve, God or the devil? And even if we choose God, the Christian life is a constant struggle because of our fallen nature. We seek help from the good angels because we cannot do it ourselves. It's too dangerous. It's spiritual warfare, folks.
It's worthwhile to remember all of Ephesians 6, but especially verses 11-17:
After Mass, we had a wonderful potluck supper with the monks providing the beer. Michael said it gave him flashbacks of living in Belgium, where they make 300 varieties of beer. I never did develop a taste for it but from all the approving looks I could tell it was pleasing to all. I was most excited when I heard we'd get to bring the glasses home as a gift from the monks!
Fr. Folsom spoke about the Benedict Option. Rod Dreher coined the term as a response to "pioneering forms of dropping out of a barbaric mainstream culture that has grown hostile to our fundamental values." However, there has been some confusion about what this really means. Does it mean to retreat from society? Yes and no. For a monk, yes. But not for the lay-people. In short, it is about following in the footsteps of St. Benedict and following his rule: ora et labora. It is a grassroots movement where Catholics endeavor to live in a community where Christian moral life can flourish in a post-Christian world.
There is a fundamental tension of a Christian living in the world. We are to live in this world but not be of it. It is a nice saying but how do we achieve this? Ideally, it would be a Catholic society governed by the Gospel. In the middle ages we see the joining of Church and State and all the benefits it provided. Life, liturgy, schools, hospitals. That no longer exists anywhere.
There are places where Catholics can reside peacefully. The Church is the heart of a town. But more and more, there are conflicts. There are laws banning manger scenes at Christmas. Or banning of crucifixes in Italian public schools. From hidden persecution, you can have overt persecution, such as in the Middle East, where you will be martyred for your faith. If martyrdom is a real possibility, many Catholics go underground.
Right now, it is difficult to judge what will happen in our country but in both Europe and America, there has been a silent apostasy through absorption into the culture that no longer holds Christian values.
Fr. Folsom said everywhere that a monastery has sprung up, it is a place where Catholic culture and tradition is preserved. People are attracted to the orderly life in stark contrast of a chaotic society. Families form small communities around the monastery to join them for Mass or other devotions. It's real, genuine and of God because it is Truth, Goodness and Beauty.
Here's an interesting article that quibbles about the terminology but in reality is exactly what people are speaking about when they talk about the Benedict option: following in the footsteps of St. Benedict.
We ended with a chanting of Salve Regina. I love our parish -- it's a little oasis where Catholic faith and traditions are flourishing -- where Christ is King!