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Issue 116 - Kentucky Epiphany - October 2014

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Abbey of Gethsemani - Introduction.wmv
This video is a short introduction to life at the Abbey of Gethsemani.
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Thomas Merton from
This video is on Thomas Merton from "Who Cares About The Saints?" with James Martin, S.J.

Past Issues


2-Creating Sacred Space

3-Leaving Footprints


5-Ordered Life

76-Vanier Visit

87-Wondrous Fear, Holy Awe

91-Crater Lake



101-On Reflections 

102-Morning Moments

104-Into Self Into God

107-First Home

108-NBA Championship

109-Not Nice

110-On Freedom 

111-Electronic Dependency

112 Robin Williams 


114-Simple Acts 

115-The Seen Edge 

Link to all past issues  



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Kentucky Epiphany
                                                                    ~by Jan
          I wonder if God tricked me - Jeremiah* would say "duped me" - to get me there. God was quite successful in bringing me back to the "one thing" - God Alone.
          Lillie and I are friends since high school and through the undulations of friendship over the past 57 years we happily find ourselves BFFs again. She invited me to visit a mutual friend, Jeanne, in Kentucky. I had preached a parish mission in Jeanne's parish years ago and it would be great to visit her again. Plus, Sister Jeanne's home, St. Catherine Convent, is only 23 miles from the Abbey of Gethsemani in Trappist, KY.

     Long time good friends share long hours of good times: sightseeing Churchill Downs, Maker's Mark distillery, and golden tobacco drying in unpainted barns. Jeanne planned a "Three-Ring Circus" in which each of the 3 of us would take a turn and share the story of our lives since our last visit. What fun! A perfect blend of play, work, and prayer. As a Benedictine Oblate, I treasure the experience of community, hospitality, balance, peace, and prayer while a guest of the Dominican Sisters of Peace at St. Catherine's.

        It was like a field trip in a way, to stand on the corner of Fourth and Walnut in Louisville where Thomas Merton experienced an epiphany, his graced revelation of "immense joy of being human, a member of the race in which God himself became incarnate." A field trip then became a pilgrimage which included the days I spent at the Abbey of Gethsemani, Thomas Merton's monastic home, praying the Hours with the monks and, myself, praying in the immense solitude of the Abbey; solitude except for the rhythmic call of the bells. The Cistercian monks devote themselves to silence and prayer - ora et labora - and the work of their hands. The focus of their lives is "God Alone" as written in bas relief over the enclosure gate.

In the solitude, much like Merton's 'epiphany' I sensed the presence of God Alone. My reflection:

The Rhythm of Life

       The Rhythm of the Hours - is in proper order. It is we humans who mess it up. First it begins with the rhythm of the bells. Each hour: first 3 bells, then 6 bells, then 9 bells, and then the hour. It repeats over and over and, with confidence of its continued occurrence, that is all we need to know. To live in the rhythm of the hours - no late nights, no wasted days - is to live with intentionality. Everything unfolds properly with intentionality and awareness.

          The Rhythm of Life - flows with the day, into God's presence. Praying the Psalms every third hour offers our feelings (through the words of the Psalmist) to God and God responds to those feelings (through the words of the Psalmist). God prays back to us. It occurs over and over; hence, we pray constantly and the Holy Spirit prays with us.

          The Rhythm of Importance - God Alone is of sole importance. Nothing else matters. The sign over the Abbey enclosure, God Alone, reflects the reason for this place. To seek God Alone is the reason people have entered into silence for centuries. All else flows from the encounter with God in silence: our prayer and our work - ora et labora - and our recreation which is our celebration of joy.

            Prayer, work, play - all in rhythm, lead to God. If we allow ourselves be duped.


*You duped me, O Lord, and I let myself be duped; you were too strong for me, and you triumphed - Jeremiah 20:7.  


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Sincerely,  Bill Howden & Jan Davis
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