Friday, December 01, 2006

Far and Near

The Three Massketeers - For Liz Bailie in Prayer

Even while the secular (albeit British) press sizes up the Holy Father's pilgrimage to Turkey , it is vital to keep our prayers active and alert for friends close to home.

At Holy Cross Abbey, Virginia, I, Athos, began my journey into full communion with Christ's historical Church in 1980. Two monks there, Fathers Edward and Andrew had an ecumenical book study for nearby pastors of various denominations. We would convene for afternoon prayer in the monastery chapel, listening to the monks' chants at 2:00 p.m. Then we'd gather in the Chapter Room / Library. After twenty minutes of centering prayer, we'd break for cookies and coffee, then down to business: The Cloud of Unknowing, Theologica Germanica ... you know, the basic contemplative literature.

Once in a while we were treated to lectures by such persons as Father Flavian -- Thomas Merton's Abbot at Gethsemane in Kentucky. We Protestant pastors were polite and attentive, sniffing a little at both our attraction to this foreign palette and our superiority as going beyond such medievalism.

Another fellow entered the picture, Father Mark Delery. He had already served a stint, like Father Edward, as Abbot here. And he, too, had an interesting past and present -- medical doctor, poet, artist, lyricist.

What I did not know was that he was also a spiritual director to a young lady named Elizabeth, up in Spencer, NY, at the Cistercian Abbey there.

And in the mean time, I went on retreat after retreat at Holy Cross, kneeling in the Chapel often at 3:00 a.m., before the Tabernacle, growing more aware of the Real Presence of our Eucharistic Lord and his Lady and Mother as years rolled by.

I finally received private catechesis with Father Jack Peterson on the sly in Fredericksburg, Virginia while he was serving as director of the Catholic Campus Ministry on the campus of Mary Wash College (now University).

I received the Sacrament of Confirmation there at the Abbey in the summer of 2001, and started teaching at Saint Charles Borromeo School in Arlington, Virginia that Fall. I've been there teaching in the Middle School ever since.

I gave Father Mark a copy of a videotape of Gil Bailie interviewing Rene Girard during a spiritual direction session while I was there on retreat.

Now, in these dwindling days of 2006, all of us have a remarkable opportunity. That directee and dear friend of Father Mark Delery, Liz, happens to be married to a cherished pal, teacher, liaison of wisdom and fellow sojourner: Gil Bailie.

Liz is struggling with brain cancer. She has seen her way through a rigorous series of treatments in the past year leading up to surgery, which recently took place.

It's our privilege to bring Liz, Gil, and all who care deeply for them (like Father Mark) before the Mercy Seat as powerfully as we are able.

Won't you join us in doing so? As you go to Mass, lift up Liz Bailie. Bring her before the Good Shepherd. And all of us will know we have done our part in seeing to it that, in the words of Julian of Norwich, "all shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well."

Thank you for your prayers.

The Three Massketeers via Athos


Porthos said...

A nice recollection, in all senses of the word. Will keep Liz ever more recollected in prayer, typically rosary, in my case!

(BTW, I've been slowly making my way through a borrowed Merton, The Ascent to Truth. There is an awful lot of good stuff in there, though it's kind of for spiritual heavyweights in the contemplation department . . .)

Athos said...

I found his spiritual autobiography, The Seven Story Mountain, much more helpful on a personal level before digging into his weightier tomes, Porthos.

Bit of a personalist, I suppose, truth be told, and I needed to hear where he was coming from before I could appreciate his theological prose.