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

26 May 2009

Legenda Fratrum, Pars XIX

Sometimes Brother Amadeus' mouth outran his brain, leading to statements such as:

"The Virgin Queen was about as much a virgin as you or I!" (spoken during a retreat he gave to a group of nuns).


"We should fill our holes with soap." (try swapping a few letters).


"Let us pray for the poor souls condemned unjustly to Purgatory."

04 May 2009

A day in the life - Mass

Among the brothers in our monastery is one I will call Brother Lunaticus. Among his other accomplishments, he is able to sleep meditate while standing. His customary prayer posture, however, is half-sitting, half-kneeling, elbows on the pew and chin resting on his arms. Occasionally, I have looked up from my prayer book to find him staring at me. It’s unnerving to say the least. I feel certain he will be the headline on the evening news some day: “He was always so quiet. He never bothered anyone. I never imagined he would be capable of mass murder!” [Note to self: update last will and testament.]

There is a door in the chapel that opens to the street, and this is unlocked each morning so people from the outside can attend our mass. We don't attract many, but those who do come are a colorful lot. One lady who occasionally joins us ... well, let's just say her ladder doesn't quite reach her belfry. She fancies herself the foundress of a new religious order, but unfortunately has not found anyone to join her yet. She is still trying to find the right look for her religious habit, and has come wearing smocks of varying styles and colors. She also has the habit of farting quite loudly and frequently—I'm not certain whether that is part of her Order's charism or merely a personal devotion.

For a short time, a frequent attendee was a gentleman dressed rather shabbily, as if he were homeless. He appeared to be quite unfamiliar with the rituals of the mass—when to sit, stand and kneel, how to make the sign of the cross, etc. Still, what the heck, converts are always welcome. We began to doubt the sincerity of his conversion, however, when we noticed that he always left mass right after our day's supply of fresh bread was delivered at the chapel door, and that several pieces of bread were missing from the sack on the days that he attended.