The first few days at Silverstream I enjoyed the beautiful chant and followed the text with my rusty college Latin as best I could. But I was still “outside” of it. It was only water, good, life-giving and necessary, but lacking the heartwarming power of wine.Share
It was on our outing to the nearby ancient ruins of Monasterboice that this changed. Monasterboice felt as if we had really reached old Ireland at last, the isle of saints and scholars. Surrounded by gravestones, by high crosses and only a few feet from the sky-high round tower, in the ruins of a 10th-century church we — my family and part of my monastic family (three of the monks, two aspirants) — chanted the office of None. Kneeling on the damp grass to sing the praise of Christ in the Most Blessed Sacrament, the grace of St. Benedict’s love for the Office entered my heart.
Monasterboice is a tourist attraction. I am sure we got a few stares that afternoon. Certainly, we were a spectacle to angels and to men, as Dom Benedict had preached that very morning for the feast of St. James: “For I think that God hath set forth us apostles, the last, as it were men appointed to death: we are made a spectacle to the world, and to angels, and to men. We are fools for Christ’s sake” (1 Cor 4:9-10). But I think also that the souls of the Irish faithful who had prayed on this consecrated ground before us were pleased to look down and hear the praise of God rising again. (Read more.)