"The brethren who are at work too far away, and cannot come to the oratory at the appointed time, and the Abbot hath assured himself that such is the case -- let them perform the Work of God in the fear of God and on bended knees where they are working. In like manner let those who are sent on a journey not permit the appointed hours to pass by; but let them say the office by themselves as best they can, and not neglect to fulfil the obligation of divine service" - Rule of St. Benedict, Chapter 50.
I have to admit my career as an interim pastor does not make me an ideal Benedictine. St. Benedict wanted his monks to be stable, to stay, live, and die in one place; in one community. But the high stacks of packing boxes surrounding me at this moment, show that this interim call will soon end. I am off on the road again after December 27th. This time I am looking for my seventh interim pastorate.
Early in my time as an Oblate, I was wrestling with this fact with a fellow Oblate. "Should I simply find one congregation and stay there for the rest of my life," I wondered aloud. "But if I do that, I know quite well I will be entering a life that does not suit me. I am a wanderer, a pilgrim if you wish, in the depths of my heart." My brother in Benedict simply smiled and said, "but your stability is to your profession."
Suddenly it all made sense. And it has brought me to contemplation of Chapter 50 of Benedict's Rule. I am almost always too far away from the Oratory (chapel) to join in the hours of prayer. But I can join in them, and in the reading of the rule, wherever I am at the time. In a sense I revolve around the abbey, connected by lines of prayer, work, and study. There are times when the tug of those lines is too strong, and I must go home and live for even a short while in the midst of my community. After that recharge of my spirit, I am once again ready to begin wandering.
There may be some others of you who read this who have lives who are in someway rootless. Perhaps your circumstances or your profession has stopped you from joining a spiritual community. If that is so, simply look to the google search bar on this page, and begin searching under abbey, oblate, monk, nun, and your own geographical location. Once you've found a listing, go physically and check it out. If it is not the place where your heart, to quote John Wesley, is "strangely warmed," start the processs over again and continue it until you find your spiritual home. And if by any chance you live near Peoria, Illinois, I can save you some searching. Just check out http://www.SBAbbey.com. You will find a warm welcome there
Brother Oscar Romero, Obl OSB