Soliloquy in an International Cloister

Watch your step as Brother Lawrence takes you inside the monastery walls of a five hundred year-old international order. You'll laugh, you'll cry, you'll wish you had ignored your hormones and joined the monastery.

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Location: Rome, Italy

01 June 2008

Legenda Fratrum, Pars XVI

We try to keep our elderly and sick brothers in the monastery as long as possible, resorting to the use of nursing homes only when we can no longer care for them ourselves. This worked very well when new vocations were plentiful because there were always a few zealous, young men around who were eager to score points, if not with God then at least with the superior.

As vocations have dwindled in the past years, however, the "younger" brothers now tend to be in their fifties and sixties. Which is to say that they are they noticeably lacking in the zeal department, and could give a flying f**k about scoring points. Although there are some kind souls who are willing to help the older brothers out of charity, others see it as an imposition. This sometimes leads to situations like this story I heard recently.

Brother C, the senior member of the monastery, had been confined to a wheelchair for years. He was generally depressed, spoke little, and spent most of the day slumped in his wheelchair. Brother S, the brother assigned to look after him, tried in vain to cheer him up and get him to take an interest in some activity. He was beginning to feel that Brother C was being purposely cantakerous, and it annoyed him.

One day, he came into Brother C's room to take him to the dining room for lunch. As usual, Brother C was slumped in his wheelchair. Brother S greeted him, but as usual, Brother C did not respond. Brother S chided him for not sitting up straight and for being so morose, then wheeled him into the dining room. He parked him at his regular table, told him again to sit up straight, then went to sit in his own place.

Just another day in the monastery. Except for Brother C. For as the other brothers at his table soon discovered, Brother C had already passed away, sitting in his wheelchair. One of the brothers loudly announced, "I believe Brother C is expired."


Anonymous On a limb with Claudia said...

Oh my. Did this really happen? I'm sorry for my chortle.

I do love these stories.

08 June, 2008 20:43  
Blogger heartinsanfrancisco said...

Just another day in the monastery indeed.

I think perhaps it won't go well for Brother S when he is old and frail.

13 June, 2008 09:04  

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