A total of 17 Juniors attended the 2 weeks’ seminar at Mepkin Abbey. The 13 monks and 4 nuns were from 9 houses of the American Region.
The first presenter was an Augustinian priest, Fr. Martin Laird, who teaches patristics at Villanova University. He conducted a silent prayer retreat for the first week. It included 4 and a half hours of silent prayer in common spread throughout the day, each hour divided into (2x25 minutes; 5 minutes walking meditation in between.) There was a conference and discussion each afternoon. The purpose of the silent prayer retreat is to enable the stillness of heart, to negotiate the world of inner chatter and to help meditator to be here, to be present to the now which is always changing. We have to learn to be focused and invest in the now. We have to learn to meet distractions and enter our mind into the quiet and be still. The monk or nun who continues and persevere with this inner stillness will be a great gift to the community through their inner changes. God is hidden within the soul and the true contemplative will seek him there in love.
The 2nd week was Scripture sessions with our Cistercian Sister Anne Elizabeth Sweet from Tautra Maria kloster in Norway. Sister’s theme was on St. Luke’s Gospel and Acts of the Apostle. We learned to identify different themes and title found in Luke-Act such as Prayer, theme of the Heart, the Holy Spirit, compassion, repentance, joy. There were passages that are unique to Luke’s Gospel such as genealogy of Jesus, John the Baptist’s teaching, signs of the time and the Emmaus encounter amongst other passages. What is Luke’s message for me and my monastic community?
David George, the Mepkin Infirmarian, presented information about the Mepkin Wellness program on two afternoons. He drew our attention to food, nutrition and care of our body. He specified “brain food” nourishment for the brain with an emphasis on eating more fruits, vegetables, grains, olive oil, nuts, and seafood. He also spoke about the importance of exercise and posture.
Account by Br. William Chng of Vina