Father Gregory writes...
I write this reflection on the anniversary of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. I am sure that all of us can remember where we were when we learned of those awful events, and we can recall the mixture of emotions we all felt in the hours and days that followed.
The unfolding events and persistent threats to the world in the Middle East remind us that terror is now a part of everyday life. I am reminded of this when people ask me what is different about Priory since the time I first assumed the responsibilities of Headmaster twenty years ago. I tell them that in those days we did not think about the possibility that someone might come on to our campus with the intent of doing grave harm to our students. We now have security measures in place that twenty years ago would never have been thought necessary.
The challenges we face encompass other areas of life, as we watch the unfolding tragedy of the Ebola virus outbreak in Africa. I am particularly aware of this, as a friend of mine, who is an infectious disease specialist, has untaken to travel to Liberia and spend the next several months there assisting in the efforts to control the epidemic.
The challenges which the world faces are brought close to home, as we have all experienced in these past weeks the distress in our own metropolitan community, caused by the events in Ferguson.
The world we live in can seem quite precarious; in many ways it is not very different from the world Saint Benedict found himself living in. His vision of monastic life sought to create places of peace in such a world, where people might seek God, and thus live together in a way that gave witness to the enduring reality of the presence of God in our midst. Saint Benedict’s monasteries were indeed islands of refuge.
There is a way in which our school is like that. Despite all the challenges we face, Priory is a place of security and peace, where the young men who come to us can grow in mind, body and spirit in an atmosphere that nurtures their awareness of the presence of God. Such a place can serve as a witness to the reality of God in our midst.
But it is important that such a refuge not become simply a fortress against the world. It is important that we stay connected to the world which is so in need of the healing presence of God. So we all must find ways to keep ourselves aware of and engaged in the realities of the world, and bring the pain and suffering of so many to the Lord.
One practical way to unite yourselves to the Church’s ongoing work for peace in the world is to join the monks at one of their regular Masses: Monday through Thursday at 5:45 p.m, Fridays at 8:15 a.m., Saturday at 8:45 a.m., and Sunday at 9:00 a.m.
The Church’s prayer from the Mass for the Preservation of Peace and Justice seems a fitting way to sum up all our aspirations:
“O God, who shows a father’s care for all, grant, in your mercy, that the members of the human race, to whom you have given a single origin, may form in peace a single family and always be united by a fraternal spirit.”