Thoughts from a young theologian

Into the Silence


Sorry for the lack of updates!!! It’s been a pretty busy week so far because we just came out of a silent retreat last weekend… Now before you jump in and say “Why on earth do we, who live in a monastery/seminary need a silent retreat?” let me just say that for the most part, especially among the majors (but even more so among the minors), the seminary isn’t that quiet of a place. You can imagine what putting 26 guys all together under the same house might do… Hehehehe There’s lots of quiet times for sure though–every time you’re at the church or hallways, when someone else is praying, during most of the meals, nobody talks. But for the rest of the day, it’s all fair game. That’s why one always needs to be ready because there’s always a lot of jokes that go on in the seminary too. This week, because I didn’t lock the door to my room, a couple of guys snuck in there, hid under my desk and in my bathroom and tried to scare me when I walked in. Only the guy under my desk worked (because he jumped out first)… After that, I knew that there was someone else in the room… Hehehehe In any case, these sorts of things goes to show that sometimes, it’s nice to have a little quiet here too… 🙂

But this retreat wasn’t just a little quiet… It was the most quiet I’ve ever had!! I’ve been on silent retreats in the past but in them, there were always these discussion groups and question and answer sessions where we could talk and they’d normally only last for a weekend (Friday evening to Sunday afternoon). This one lasted for 4 days and there was absolutely no talking AT ALL!!! All classes we had were cancelled (Thursday and Friday class). All we had were 3 30 minute conferences a day in addition to the times for normal prayer (midday prayer, vespers, office of reading). The rest of the time, we had all to ourselves! I almost finished a 450 page book in 4 days, because I had so much time on my hands.

Sometimes, in the afternoons, we were asked to spend some time helping out in various chores around the monastery, like cleaning windows, shovelling snow, chopping wood or, in my case, stacking hay. I promised before that I would go back to the farm and take lots of pictures… Here’s my promise!! Hehehehehe The Thursday afternoon, about 7 of us went out to the farm to help Brother Emerich transfer these stacks of hay from one big enclosure to another. We were to stack them one on top of another, spreading them across the floor of this one big room. Despite how tightly we’d try and pack all these stacks together and work our way up, there were always these little gaps that I’d sometimes have my leg falling through… I really enjoyed myself in this, even though it was definitely fairly hard work. The cows around us also had such a blast watching us stumble our way through all these huge stacks of hay.

The conferences themselves were very good. They were all led by Fr. Fernando, my old spiritual director who is the chaplain at SFU and a priest of Opus Dei. He talked to us a lot about the different mysteries of the rosary, which was the theme of the retreat. With him, we worked our way from the joyful mysteries all the way up to the glorious mysteries as he gave us lots of commentaries and insights he had taken on meditating on these mysteries.

Honestly, the silence was pretty interesting at first and I had no trouble managing it until around the Saturday. By that point, I was soooooo tired of the quiet. It’s really great for praying, reading and reflecting and believe me, I got lots of that done, but I’m so used to noise that it was very tough to give it up. That’s the amazing thing I think about living in the world, even the generally more quiet world of the seminary… we’re always surrounded by noise and uncomfortable around silence. Before I came in here, I’d always be plugged in to my iPod everywhere I went and I’m most definitely not the only one. One of these days, I’ll have to go again on the skytrain and see how many are plugged in too… just for fun. c”,) Anyway, that’s all for today!! Hope all is well with you!! God bless!!!

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