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

29 September 2011

Ponte fixed maximus!

In what has become a staple of my Sunday mornings in Rome, I bicycled northward along the Tiber River last Sunday. When I reached the ill-fated bridge over the ravine, what did my wondrous eyes perceive but that the bridge had been repaired, a little less than a month after it was damaged. In Roman terms, that is the blink of an eye. Mira culo!, as we would say. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the freshly repaired bridge.

Most Sundays, my goal is to reach the Ponte Castel Giubileo, which is almost exactly 18 km from the monastery. It isn't easy to see in this photograph, but there is covered bicycle path on the side of this bridge that shelters riders from the elements while giving them a wonderful view of the river valley. While it is true that there are many cities in the world that have a much better infrastructure for bicyclists, it isn't as if Rome has done nothing for us.

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25 September 2011

Tales of a city priest

So this couple comes to see one of our brothers, the pastor of a large, city parish in southern Brazil, and asks to have a Medieval-style wedding. What could possibly be wrong with that, he thinks. Then comes the day of the wedding — everyone, from the wedding party to the guests, shows up wearing Shrek costumes! There was even someone dressed as a donkey (unfortunately, it was not Eddie Murphy).

To make matters worse, a journalist from the local newspaper was on hand to cover the wedding, which was given coverage, including photographs, in the following day's edition. That resulted in the priest receiving a rather unpleasant call from the bishop.

I get the bishop's point about movie-themed weddings in church. Today you allow Shrek, and tomorrow it's Planet of the Apes. On the face of it, however, if the newspaper had not reported that this was a Shrek-themed wedding, it is possible that no one would have given a second thought about the choice of attire. Have you seen some of the outlandish things people wear to their weddings these days?! In fact, this wedding party is dressed quite modestly, although their color coordination is somewhat lacking.

All in all, it could have been worse:

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01 September 2011

Mourning becomes BroLo

I was in a god-forsaken corner of the world on July 4th so I missed the news about Otto von Hapsburg's death. Just because we Americans threw off the shackles of monarchy (and replaced them with the shackles of the masses) doesn't mean that I am insensitive to these things. As a full-blooded Austrian, I had great respect for Otto ... even though I heard about him for the first time today.

There is a traditional ritual used when burying a member of the Hapsburg family in the Imperial Crypt in Vienna (if you can read German, you can read the transcript here). Maybe it is due to the last, dying remnants of the hippy in me—I'm always happy to see "the man" taken down a notch or two— but I really like this ceremony. It somehow feels right that the playing field should get re-leveled before the Final Judgment. None of our titles or accomplishments matter; we all stand before our Maker denuded of everything except who we really are.

Come to think of it, I'm not sure I find that very comforting.

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