Monday, October 13, 2014

Manual Labor, Prayer, Progress

Today two very nice young men arrived at the Te Deum Hermitage.  They came to install the counter tops after nearly a year of having ordered them and appliances.  Who would have thought it would take 11 months to finally have one small room gutted, plumbed, wired, floored, insulated, drywalled, ceiling in, and cabinets set, plus sink and appliances in place to come to the counter top installation?

The rest of the hermitage is in shambles, yet, but a conversation with the dear and prudent financial advisor this morning resulted in renewed verve (and nerve!) to keep at this process.  He asked if it was moving now to the other side of dilapidated, and yes, there is progress, and the worst is over.  However, the finances are running dry quickly, and that can be stressful particularly when eight days were spent in bed with a sick headache, not knowing if an aneurism, tumor, or the back pain out of control.  It usually is the latter, and again, although the worst headache thus far and relentless, the nothing Catholic hermit finally had relief yesterday and is "back in the saddle."

The two young men worked all day.  They did have to add some shims, but they said the cabinet install job was definitely above average.  How positively positive!  For a son-in-law, a daughter, and an old hermit with bad back, shoulder, wrist and neck--all novices at cabinet installation--the above average rank seemed a grace from heaven.  Well, surely it is!  Praise God!

Now there are six more years of payments for it.  And, yet to do:  Get shims under the fridge, set the pantry cabinet for the fourth time, plumb the faucet and dishwasher, paint the ceiling, nail in kick plates, nail a finished cabinet piece on the back of a cabinet that is showing, cut and nail in crown molding at ceiling, install knobs and pulls.  That is plenty.

The work goes slowly as rest breaks are necessary, but with praying while working, the soul is really never at rest in a certain sense.  However, prayer is at another level, total rest.  Praying while working takes the soul out of the actual labor and into the Sacred Heart.  One goes deep within to where His Real Presence has made His abode:  Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

So when out mowing (going to get a rare rain after much drought, or so forecast), when Luis shouted behind without seeing him, this hermit jumped and brought the mower to a halt.  It was a blessing to be startled like that, for the soul had been deep in prayer for a friend in another part of the country and for her adult sons and their families.  The young men had concluded the counter top install and were ready to depart.

Back to mowing, and the prayers shifted to Fr. V. who had emailed from Nigeria last evening.  He commented on this hermit's having shared with him finding a Nigerian confessor at the parish, but that the young priest recently ordained, was not equipped to handle this vocation or aspects relating to it that interfaced the confession content.  Fr. V. did suggest Mass and confession but once a month and only if this body was able to make the long drive to the Catholic parish.  He also asked for prayers for his family, specifically, for the divine protection.  But we shall see what is his response with the news of the little monastery nearby.

There is great concern here for Fr. V's well-being, his family, and the young men in his religious community's seminary.  They have several thousand who apply each year and can only take a couple hundred.  (What a shift from the seminary numbers in this country, be it diocesan or religious order seminaries.)  The concern is the Ebola virus that is plaguing the West African countries.  The return to mowing the rest of the grounds here, turned to prayer to Our Lady of Good Remedy whose feast day is shared with Bl. Dositheus the Elder, hermit of the Kiev caves (Oct. 8).  May the Divine Protection blanket all of Fr. V's family, his seminary and fellow priests, and all of the people in Africa and around this earth, who are at risk of any number of illnesses but especially this deadly virus!

The hermit priest yesterday reminded this hermit of how he prays the Jesus Prayer while working.  They are of an Eastern Church so lean heavily to the writings of St. John Chrysostom.  Their chapel was filled with beautiful icons.  As he and the other priest and monk at the monastery do their tasks, they pray:  Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.

While this hermit prays spontaneously and goes deep within the soul to the inner abode of His Real Presence, today there was an inclusion of the thought of penthos, of contrition, and the Jesus prayer.  At a hermitage two hermitages ago, and the one where this nothing Catholic hermit resided when first making profession and vows as a Catholic hermit, the Jesus Prayer was scripted on the wall above the stairway, to be read each time one descended from upstairs to down, to begin anew.

Manual labor, prayer, and progress each provide, and in sum total, a glorious effect on the soul.  If done with humility and also a good attitude, the soul hums along with the efforts.  Today this hermit declared that mowing is now the most favorite of the manual labor.  Admittedly, it had been putting off mowing for a long time and dreaded mowing most of all tasks, until the attitude needed to rise as prayer to His Real Presence, and most certainly, with expressions of affection and praise along with the penthos and petitions.

Penthos:  to weep, mourn, have contrition for ones sins; and in New Testament usage, to grieve and mourn ones past mistakes but with determination to make changes and improve.

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