Tag Archives: Egypt

A Monk’s Story Part 1

I had the pleasure of meeting Becket while I was doing some personal soul-searching at St. Joseph Abbey. At the time he was a professing monk who had not taken his final vows. He has since left the monastery and to become the personal assistant of the writer Anne Rice. In a recent conversation   has given me permission to reprint his story as he is posting it on Facebook. I hope you find these installments as fascinating as I do. I will be posting these installments on Monday.       Irvin

A Monk’s Story Part 1

by Becket

 Some here have asked about my life before meeting Anne Rice, namely from what I’ve shared previously — that I was a monk.

If you’re interested in it, here’s some of the story:

In 1997 I moved to New Orleans. I had been a fan of Anne’s for years, having read her books in high school. I remember the first time I walked down St. Charles Ave., with the streetcar passing by, the old double gallery houses, and the branches of the large oak trees canopying over the Garden District. My first thought was: Lestat hurtled down this road on a motorcycle, listening to Bach’s Art of Fugue through a Walkman. I was agog at the magic of that ancient and beautiful city.

New Orleans’ spiritual heritage encouraged my eagerness to grow closer to God.

I entered a little monastery not too far outside the city, across Lake Pontchartrain, on the North Shore — St. Joseph Abbey, a house of the Benedictine order (an old order dating back to the 5th century). St. Joseph Abbey is about 100 years old. But, for 1500 years, the Benedictine Order has lived by two fundamental rules: Work and prayer. That’s all I really wanted. I sought to work, to pray, and to use both as tools for deepening my relationship with a power greater than myself.

That lasted eight years.

If you’re interested in the daily routine of my monastic life, I can explain it in days to come. I fear this is getting too long.

Let me leave with this: I met Anne shortly after I became a Benedictine monk. When she began writing Christ the Lord, Out of Egypt, she emailed me with a question. A delightful email correspondence began shortly thereafter.

In 2005 when I left the monastery, Anne offered me a job on her staff.

An amazing 8 years later, here we are……….

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Filed under Benedict of Nursia, Benedictine Rule, Christian Journey, Monasticism

Denial

All Giza Pyramids in one shot. Русский: Все пи...

An Egyptian brother came to Abba Zeno in Syria, and accused himself to the old man about his temptations. Fill with admiration, Zeno said, ‘The Egyptians hide the virtues they possess and ceaselessly accuse themselves of faults they do not have, while the Syrians and Greeks pretend to have virtues they do not have, and hide the faults of which they are guilty.’

——-sayings of the Desert

One the hardest tasks of the Christ walk is the recognition of our own faults and failures. We find ourselves so wrapped up in our journeys that we often see the sins of others and overlook our own. The humble Egyptian, on the other hand, looked directly into his own soul and made confession. Jesus states in scripture, “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.” This pattern of self-denial, as exhibited by the Egyptian, is the model for all Christians.

Interestingly enough Abba Zeno gives us another little morsel of truth here as well. Our inability to perceive the reality of our circumstances and the hiding of virtues is played in contrast to the overstatement of our place in life. In short, the Abba saw the “greener grass” in Egypt while giving a blanket condemnation to his home region. We must never forget that God has given all that we need, and it is our calling to live into the opportunities that surround us.

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Filed under anchorite, Ascetics, Christian Journey, Christian Living, Desert Fathers, Self-denial

God’s Commands vs. Man’s Commands

Moses with the tablets of the Ten Commandments...

Once the order was given at Scetis, ‘Fast the week.’ Now it happened that some brothers came from Egypt to visit Abba Moses and he cooked something for them.  Seeing some smoke, the neighbors said to the ministers, ‘Look, Moses has broken the commandment and has cooked something in his cell.’ The ministers said, ‘When he comes, we will speak to him ourselves.’ When the Saturday came, since they knew Abba Moses’ remarkable way of life, the ministers said to him in front of everyone, ‘O Abba Moses, you did not keep the commandment of men, but it was so that you might keep the commandment of God.’

—–sayings of the desert

It is a difficult thing to discern sometimes whether we are acting out of religious piety or truly following the commands of God. Our community, like the community of Scetis, can confuse the two. Men have a way of making so many rules, and often these rules are just a pretense of following God. The practice of His presence is far greater than keeping the commands of a church, a class, or a community. God’s commands are made for the good of His creation. Jesus tells us, “The Sabbath was made for people, not people for the Sabbath.” The commands of God are not meant to burden, punish or diminish our value, but to allow us to know God’s love and mercy and share it with the world.

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Filed under Christian Living, Commitment, Dedication, Desert Fathers, Faithfulness, Fasting

Evil

Saint Macarius of Egypt and the Cherub. Venera...

Saint Macarius of Egypt and the Cherub. Venerable Saint Macarius (ca. 300- d. 391, Scetes, Egypt) is one of the most prominent desert Fathers of the Church, known also as Macarius the Great. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

‘A mother came here with her little child, possessed with a devil, who said to his mother, “Get up, woman, let us go away from here.” She replied, “I cannot walk any further,” and the little child said to her, “I will carry you myself.” I wondered at the devil’s tricks and how eager he was to make them flee.’

 ——-sayings of the Desert Fathers

I would be the first to say that this story is a myth, but we must be reminded that myths and legends put forth great truths. The actuality of this story is that evil can appear to be helpful. If all that was destructive in our society would hurt and destroy, then most of us would never go in that direction. Sin, evil comes in various disguises that fool us into thinking that it is the proper thing to do.  The wisdom of the fathers is that evil will do anything to get away from good. It will promise success, fame and fortune but it will always flee from what is good and right.

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Filed under Desert Fathers, Evil, Missional Living, Persistance, Prayer, Sin

A Week with the Desert Fathers

St Anthony the Great

St Anthony the Great (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Desert Fathers were monks, asethics and hermits who lived mainly in Egypt beginning around the third century. Their objective was to remove themselves from the many corruptions of the world and to seek God in the “emptiness” of the parched dry desert. The greatest of these was Antony who live a remarkably long life of 95 years and is considered the father of monasticism. Their main practices were: love for all men, silence and stillness to wait for God, recitation of scripture and withdrawal from society. They truly tried to get as close to God as possible.

Irvin J. Boudreaux

  • Silence (friarinphiladelphia.wordpress.com)

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Filed under Advent Devotional, Antony of Egypt, Desert Fathers, Monasticism