I’m back

I’d like to thank Neil for holding down the fort the past few days, and of course, to those commenting in the boxes. By the way, please don’t be intimidated by my reference to other bloggers’ “commentariats.” Naturally, I believe I have a more discerning population inhabiting my boxes. So if you’d like to comment more often, feel free to do so.

Returning from retreat is always disconcerting. I usually feel calm and collected. Yet when I come home there are people I’m anxious to see (and a few I wish I didn’t have to see) plus bills to pay, meals to prepare, and naturally, work beckons all too soon. I feel yanked from what is essentially a monastic experience back to the secular world. My wife suggested we view a new video Brittany bought (Because of Winn-Dixie–she read the book earlier this summer). But after five days without television, I couldn’t really hide my low enthusiasm for watching something on the boob tube.

The rhythm of daily Eucharist and five of the hours (Vigils & Lauds at 6AM, Daytime Prayer (Sext) at noon, Vespers at 6:00 and Compline at 7:15) was a good backdrop for lots of rest, reading, walking, journal, and life’s necessities like eating and sleeping. The older I get, the easier it is to blend in to the monastic routine on retreat. I used to go to different places on retreats when I was younger, but it’s been a long time since I retreated at a non-monastic setting.

If you’re in the neighborhood, I strongly recommend the Benedictine Retreat Center in Schuyler, Nebraska. Father Germar, the prior, told me a donor gave them $10M gift with the stipulation they not spend it overseas. (That struck me as a curious condition for a community so oriented toward mission work.) So they built a huge and wonderful retreat center west of Omaha in the mid-90’s. I wish my parish had such a facility. The things we could do!

Compared to my other favored retreat location, this Nebraska community is rather small. But they had lots of plainsong, chant, and a cappella hymnody. The only time the organ was used was for Sunday Mass. My reform2 friends would have been edified, despite my locating a first volume of FEL’s Hymnal for Young Christians in the library.

The liturgist in me knows the priority of Vespers over Compline, but I most looked forward to the nightly celebration of the latter. The really nice plainsong for the Gospel Canticle antiphon always strikes me as overshadowing a Nunc Dimittis set to chant tone. But I just got over it and enjoyed the ride. There’s nothing like ending a liturgical day with the Salve Regina. With electric guitars and drums, of course.

Just kidding on that last point.


The priory is about a third-of-a-mile walk across the road from the retreat center. That, plus the walk around the artificial lake and the outdoor Stations on the hill, kept my feet active these past few days.

In the coming days, I hope to post a bit about some insights from my time away. I discovered a Benedictine writer from Germany, Anselm Grün, who, via the written page, offered some inportant pieces to my retreat. The prior referred to him as the “Henri Nouwen of Europe.” There are certainly a lot of web links for him. I tried reading something of his in the original German, but fortunately for my fading language skills, there was a good bit on hand in English translation.

Off to finish my reimmersion in the world: errands at the doctor’s office, pharmacy, grocery store, and a parish meeting tonight. Lumen Gentium starts Friday. Meantime, ora et labora.

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in Minnesota, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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