The Chapel Unchanged

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Location: Illinois, United States

I'm a junior English/Philosophy major who's looking forward to my senior year and looking back on the path that led me here

Thursday, May 18, 2006

The End of a Semester

I just finished my last big paper of the semester -

it has been difficult.

I stand in the Song of Simeon:

Lord, now you let your servant go in peace;
your word has been fulfilled:

my own eyes have seen the salvation
which you have prepared int eh sigh of every people:

a light to reveal you to the nations
and the glory of your people Israel.

May the all-powerful Lord grant us a restful night and a peaceful death.


Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Nighttime Prayer

You're usually supposed to pray Compline right before you go to sleep; I still have some "miles to go," to quote Robert Frost. I'm finishing up a final for my Philosophy of History course, and I need to write about 2 problems that postmodern historians have with modern historiography. Tonight, this morning, I am praying Psalm 31, verses 1 - 6, as a way to rest in my work and continue the work of sanctifying time that our brothers and sisters in other places and communities do through daily prayer:

In you, o Lord, I take refuge.
Let me never be put to shame.
In your justice, set me free,
hear me and speedily resuce me.

Be a rock of refuge for me,
a might stronghold to save me,
for you are my rock, my stronghold.
For your name's sake, lead me and guide me.

Release me from the snares they have hidden
for you are my refuge, Lord.
Into your hands I commend my spirit.
It is you who will redeem me, Lord.

May the Lord bless us, keep us from all harm, and lead us to everlasting life.

Friday, May 12, 2006


I'm trying to be more accountable to remembering my thoughts and interactions with others, and I think that the best way to do that is to follow the Benedictine rule for the Oratory of the Monastery: it was usually the center of the monastery, where monks and nuns met in after the work of the day was over:

"After the Work of God, all should leave in complete silence and with reverence for God, so that a brother or sister who may wish to pray alone will not be disturbed by the insensitivity of another. Moreover, if at other times someone chooses to pray privately, he may simply go in and pray not in a oud voice, but with tears and hearfelt devotion. Accordingly, anyone who does not pray in this manner is not to remain in the oratory after the Work of God, as we have said; then he will not interfere with anyone else." (Chapter 52, Rule of St. Benedict)

The best way for me to understand this is to note that the Oratory is not a compartmentalized space within the monastery, nor is its work entirely separate from the rest of the work of the community; "Work of God" includes a wide range of activity within the monastery or convent, including scholarly writing, writing poetry, cooking meals, and cleaning bathrooms. It is all sacred work because it seeks to prepare a place for God, for Christ, in all that it holds - the Oratory becomes a welcoming space for quiet reflection and prayer, and it is most definitely open to all (guests, members of the community, and pilgrims) who desire to sit and rest in it. For whoever's reading this, I welcome you to this space, and hope and long for your rest here.

Which means that there'll be a lot of poetry on this blog.

Here's a poem by a Benedictine Oblate whose title serves as this blog's name:

The Chapel Unchanged

The middle of this city
was once the edge of town.
A chapel rose up from hard, gold earth.
A steeple bell rang against a changing sky,
summoning monks, reminding
working people to pray.
Your house is now surrounded
by a hundred humming avenues,
but the chapel remains unchanged. It's still
a cool, hallowed hall, tall and buttressed,
blessedly singular in purpose.
-Rachel M. Srubas