St. Leo Abbey’s monks are celebrating the abbey’s anniversary. This abbey is a 120-year-old link in a chain of monasteries dating back about 1,500 years — to right after the collapse of the Roman Empire. It is too easy for my "educated" mind to categorize the anniversary event and the monks by using a corporate model in which I focus on corporate or business measurements of progress.
I was reading about the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church which survived while being hidden during the time it was outlawed by the Soviets (1946 to 1989). It was that invisible, illegal, and crushed church that emerged as a light in the East upon the collapse of the USSR. All during those years of killings, imprisonments, and theft of the Church property, the church was doing the only thing Jesus asked if he would find when he returns.(1) They were being faithful.
When I visit St. Leo Abbey monks on their anniversary, (map) I want to make sure I see clearly what is significant. I will be seeing Benedictine monks who have made a vow of stability, conversatio morum (fidelity to monastic life) and obedience. They live according to the Rule of St. Benedict under the authority of an abbot. They pray the divine office four times a day. So?
Monasteries are places of spiritual, not corporate power. Few if any organizations have been able to outlast the wisdom required for sustainable living together that is found at a Benedictine monastery. Indeed, in terms of the sweep of the history that counts — what groups will be around in year 3509? — it might be better for me to see how my American life measures up using St. Leo Abbey's standards of success. Monks have a far better Quarterly Report than the modern models for human organizations taught at any university. Maybe that's the point, monks give Century Reports and the only stockholder's dividend is faithfulness.
Picture is AYP0721424 by miyukiutada.
(1) Luke 18:7-8 "Will not God then secure the rights of his chosen ones who call out to him day and night? Will he be slow to answer them?
I tell you, he will see to it that justice is done for them speedily. But when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?"" NAB