Saturday, August 28, 2010

Time with Jesus

The circled window on the 2nd floor of the building on the
right nearest the tree is where I stayed.
I've just returned from a personal retreat. This was my sixth visit to Gethsemani (yes, they spell it that way) monastery West of Lexington, KY. God often grants me insight into myself and my service during these retreat times. This time I was fascinated by an invitation given by the “Guest Master,” Fr. Damien. He invited the retreatants to take part in an “Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament.” He said that both Catholics and Protestants were welcome.

When he made the invitation, he stated that they didn't do anything but pray for an hour. He also stated, “If you want to get to know Jesus, you have to spend time with Him, you know?”

I went to the chapel and got there early (around 4:05 p.m.) though I thought I was arriving late. When I arrived, there were already people there. Sitting. In silence. I waited. I read Scripture. When Fr. Damien arrived, around 4:20, he put on a stole, unlocked and opened a box on the wall, and removed a small, lovely jar/bottle sort of thing. This ornate container he placed on the altar and then took a seat. He said nothing. There were about 15 of us there together. A few people read silently, some watched silently, others prayed silently. Everyone sat in silence. (It looked as if Fr. Damien may have fallen asleep a time or two—but if he did so, he did so in silence.)

At around 5:20 another of the monks came in and sat next to me. I thought that it was potentially going to be a bit embarrassing to break the silence in order to explain to him—older as he was with a hearing aid and cane—that he should go up past me when it came time to partake. Since I'm not Catholic, I would not be allowed to receive the Eucharist. Around 5:25 Fr. Damien got up, approached the altar, took the container, made the sign of a cross with the bottle and put it back in the lock box. The “exposition” was over.

I didn't have to explain anything to the old brother monk because no one partook of communion at that time. We just sat with Jesus—we watched and we prayed. I wondered how many of my Protestant brothers and sisters would sit in silence with one another for over an hour receiving nothing more than Jesus' presence. I recalled Jesus' own words in another Gethsemane, “Could you men not keep watch with me for one hour?” (Matthew 26:40) and I thought that three times a week there is a small band in a chapel at a monastery in Kentucky where people are doing just that; silently watching with Jesus for an hour.

1 comment:

  1. So glad made the opportunity to go. Thanks for this story; it's a great reminder. I think most people I know (including me) struggle to sit for 60 seconds in silence, with or without the presence of Jesus! Especially in prayer.