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

30 July 2008

Legenda Fratrum, Pars XVIII

One day, many, many years ago, Brother Prudentius was perusing the photographs sent by some brothers serving in Africa. He was struck by the local women's apparently incomplete knowledge of the consequences of the Fall of Adam and Eve. For while they were covered with fig leaves (or the local equivalent) from the waist down, their upper halves were completely lacking in foliage of any kind. One might be tempted to say that they were defoliated, but that would imply that they had once been foliated, which they probably hadn't. Instead, one would have to say that they were unfoliated, which is not a word. Anyway. Mindful of the urgency of this problem, he felt moved to do something so he undertook a campaign to collect bras for the poor women of those villages. [As I said, this was a long time ago. We would never try this in the current environment. One can just imagine the headlines: "Monk Collects Women's Underwear", "O Bra-ther Where Art Thou", "His Cup Runneth Over", etc.] Once he had collected a goodly number, he packed them up in a large box and sent them to the brothers in Africa.

Upon receiving this unexpected gift from afar, the missionary brothers were speechless. As their way of thanking the brother for his solicitude, they arranged to send him a photograph of all the village women wearing their new... bonnets!

24 July 2008

World Middle Age Day

I was in Sydney, Australia, where I participated in World Youth Day '08. Taking my cue from the event's official logo, I began calling it, "Wide Side 08." It was natural, therefore, that when we began the 10 km walk from North Sydney to Randwick Racecourse for the evening vigil and final mass, I began to sing "Take a Walk on the Wide Side."* None of the young brothers caught the reference to Lou Reed's song.

I ask you, what are they teaching young people these days?!

* Now sing along with me...
Benny came from Rome Italiay
Took a plane and went to Botany Bay
Put on an alb made of lace
Wore red shoes and shaved his face
And said, 'Hey, babe, take a walk on the WYD SYD'
He said, 'Hey, honey, take a walk on the WYD SYD'
And the acolytes chant, 'Du Du du Du du Du du du du ....'

03 July 2008

Legenda Fratrum, Pars XVII

A meeting of 50+ brothers was being held under a large tent set up behind the monastery. When the wind picked up in the afternoon, there was concern that those in the last rows would not be able to hear the speaker. Before starting the meeting, therefore, the brother moderator went to the microphone and asked, "Am I audible from the rear?"


Some of the brothers took a little trip to Naples and the Amalfi Coast last weekend. I came across this sign next to Lago Averno, outside Naples. Very good advice indeed! Thank goodness for the English translation! (Click on the photo for a larger version.)