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It's not like he committed a grave sin. It's nothing really, we all forget things. It's about 3:45 a.m., the monks are praying the office of Vigils, and Stanislaus forgot he is the reader. He is supposed to stand up and walk to the lectern about one minute after we finish praying the psalm.
“In September, 1930, he had his first contact with the Trappist monastery of San Isidoro. He was seduced by the silent beauty of the monastery and bewitched by the soaring melodies of the Salve Regina at Compline.” We are near the end of our celebration of the office of Vigils at about four in the morning.
We are a diverse group, we monks of New Melleray, and at 3:30 in the morning it shows. We are American monks and our individualism is apparent even though the church is scarcely lit. The brothers are gathering for Vigils, the first prayer service of the day.
I enter the chapel at a little before three thirty in the morning to find it almost completely dark. A single light in the guest section at the back is all that illumines the huge space. There isn't a sound.
Vigils begins at 3:30 a.m. It is 3:25 a.m. as I leave the washroom, and there are two routes I can take to get to the chapel: I can go through the basement corridor's to the main staircase to the sacristy, (not the scenic route), or I can go the outside way, along the sidewalk behind the monastery. It is Spring, and I want to be outside.
A man is entitled to a little privacy when engaged in the sometimes unlovely task of waking himself up in the morning. This can be hard – especially at 3:15 in the morning and you would prefer not to have others around when you do this. But a monk has no choice. We share a common washroom.
Sam, the manager at Trappist Caskets is heading home and says, on his way out: “Happy Birthday Carolyn!” I look up and say - “Oh – happy birthday.” She smiles appreciatively.“You want me to sing for you?” “No.” And then, after a moment: “Though I know you can sing very nicely.” I am copying names into the "Memory Book", the names of each person who was buried in a Trappist Casket this week.
I am copying the names of customers into the “Memory Book” at Trappist Caskets. Sam, the manager, is heading home and says, on his way out: “Happy Birthday Carolyn!” I look up from my book and say - “Oh – happy birthday.” She smiles appreciatively.
One day, a few weeks ago, leaving my cell, at about 3:20 a.m., I arrived in the Boot Room, before anyone else had arrived to turn the lights on and was startled to discover Brother Albert there – brushing his teeth in the dark.
Placido, sitting between two cabinets on the South side of the sacristy is seated and bent over what looks like a small stack of three by five cards in his hand. Watching him is making me a little nervous. The scene in the sacristy before the Easter Vigil is always a bit tense. The bell wakes us up at 11:45 p.m. which is something quite startling for a monk who goes to bed at 7:30.