Sunday, March 25, 2012

At Holy Cross Priory, Toronto

I had a wonderful retreat at OHC's Holy Cross Priory in Toronto last month, and it is time to write about it.

I took Amtrak up to Toronto on Sat., Feb. 18, for an eight day individual retreat at OHC's Priory there. The train trip was quite restful, and while Amtrak is not the ne plus ultra of train travel, it was comfortable, the microwaved cheeseburger was more or less edible, the Canadian immigration people were polite, and we were only about an hour late getting in. Brothers David Bryan and Randy met me at Union Station.

I had started to develop a cold before I left and by Sunday morning it was in full flower. I actually spent the first three days of my retreat laying low, except for a planned visit to the Royal Ontario Museum with May Kong, a friend of OHC and an expert in Chinese art. The brothers were very kind, and I gradually began to emerge.

The prayer life at the Priory is simple but follows the full OHC schedule using our Monastic Breviary. David Bryan and Reginald work outside the house, Richard is engaged in scholarship at home, Randy is attending seminary at Wycliffe College, Christian is retired but still active, and Leonard was in Ghana teaching, as he has for some years. But everyone (except Leonard, of course) comes back for dinner every evening, and there is a warm family feeling to community life. I grew to love our Priory more and more every day.

My agenda for the retreat was to rest (which the cold forced me to do), learn a bit about Chinese and Canadian art, pray with the community, read a new theologian (this time Margaret Barker and her work on Old Testament temple theology) and have lots of time to pray quietly. All of which was exactly what I was able to do.

OHC's Fr. Turkington, who was resident at the Priory in Toronto for many years, was an unrelentingly positive person, and always said that whatever was being done just then by the community was the best he had ever seen. So I guess I am channeling him when I say, This was the best retreat I ever had!

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Abba John the Dwarf and Lent B

I preached at the Monastery on March 4, Lent 2B. The Old Testament lesson was God's promise of a child to Abraham and Sarah. The Gospel was Jesus' prediction of the crucifixion, to which Peter objects, and which earns him the famous rebuke, Get behind me, Satan! In looking for the common link, I thought of the old story of Abba John the Dwarf, whose own abba when he was starting out had him water a stick planted in the ground as a discipline. Pointless, or so it seemed.

The sermon was well received, so I thought I would include a link to it here.