I was on retreat at Quarr Abbey once many years ago, and when I came out of the church after Vespers a teenaged kid was slouching on a bench outside smoking.

Denims, punk haircut, nose ring.

So I asked him what he was doing there.

“I’m just hanging out here.”

“Do you come here often?”


“Do you ever come into church to hear the monks sing?”


“Why do you come here?”

He grinned. “This is where the power is man.”

Then he got up and walked down the lane to the road beyond and the outside world.

I’ve never forgotten that meeting with the English kid, and he’s one of the reasons I keep going back to the Benedictine monasteries.

The monks are ordinary men who have realized that their lives are sacrifices which oil the wheels and cogs of the cosmos. They keep the furnace stoked. They man the engine room of the great ship.

Hidden from the world, they are the beating heart of the church. Why does the Catholic Church keep going on its everlasting roller coaster ride? Because the Benedictines don’t give up. They’re like weeds. They come back.

Their vow of stability is one of the most important vows they can offer the world. We think times are tumultuous. They have always been tumultuous. We think the world is on a knife edge about to tumble into the pit. It has always been so. We think there is corruption and strife in the church. Read church history. It has always been a battle. Isn’t that what you signed up for when you decided to follow Christ the King?

So I come back to the monastery. Here is the still point of the turning world. Here there is stability in the turmoil and peace in the midst of battle.

If you do not have a spiritual anchor in your life–get one. By spiritual anchor I mean some fixed point in your Catholic faith that is a constant–that provides a star to steer by. For most this is a particular strand of spirituality–Benedictine perhaps or Franciscan or Carmelite. For some it is a devotion to the Divine Mercy, the rosary, the Sacred Heart or a special devotion to the Eucharist and Adoration.

For me, it is my commitment as a Benedictine oblate. This provides an extra rock on which I can build.

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