A Constant Companion

I remember well when I first moved as a monk. I had just finished my novitiate, had made my temporal vows, and had spent some time working in the Abbey’s guest kitchen, school, and archives. My next step was to begin the studies of philosophy and theology in Würzburg, just 15 miles away, but still far enough away to let me feel sadness because I had to leave the monastery and community I had chosen to be my home. As monks, we feel deeply connected with the place where we live, having taken the vow of “stability”. And here I was, I couldn’t stay but had to move on. In this situation, as so often, I found comfort in our liturgy:

HE is before all things. By HIM all things consist. (Col 1:17)

These words struck me. Jesus is the one who lasts no matter what changes happen to me or around me. So I wrote this sentence on a small piece of paper, in Latin, because it made sense to me – it was a deeper way to express my longing for stability: Omnia in ipso constant – by Him all things consist. In my new room, I put this little piece of paper on my desk, and looking at it, I knew I was at home.

Little did I know that as a Missionary Benedictine I had to move more often. After five years, I moved back to the Abbey. After three more years as teacher, I was granted to work on my doctorate in Tübingen. The little piece of paper went with me. It had become a bit feeble. I loved that this continuity was written on a fragile piece of paper. To hold on to Jesus is not a heroic act, but a humble, weak, longing, seeking, attempt to be with the one who never changes. Certainly, it went with me to America six years ago. This time I forgot to put it on my desk, maybe because I had learned to internalize its truth.

At this moment, I find myself at a new calling in Italy. I will begin to serve as Prior of Sant’Anselmo Abbey in Rome shortly. While packing, the little piece of paper fell into my hands again, and I was delighted. The writing has faded, one can hardly read it. I share this with all those of you who are undergoing changes, wanted or not wanted, and are seeking for a foothold. Here He is: “In HIM all things consist.” HE has been there before; even before things that could change existed.

Dear Lord, let me return to you, over and over again. When serious changes happen in my life, or even if nothing seems to change, you always stand. Let me stand by you. It is safe ground, peaceful, hopeful. Wherever you are, there is home. Thank you very much, dear Lord.

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13 thoughts on “A Constant Companion

  1. What a wonderful story Fr Mauritius ! I’m beginning my new job at a Family Medicine Clinic in one week. I’ve been feeling very sad and unsettled as I prepare to say good bye to my present coworkers. You’ve reminded me where my true stability comes from. Thank you for your encouragement.

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  2. Fr. Mauritius ; just re’d your words regarding change. very helpful. i’ll reflect on this writing going forward. it arrived as i was going over material from ” the Psalms ” weekend. prayers & blessings ! steve

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  3. A new companion verse for a daily reminder of who is important no matter where I am or where I may be called to go. What a lovely haven Jesus offers us. Thank you for sharing it from your new home in Rome.

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  4. I am thinking of your book “Zeigt Euch”, where you wrote that the missionaries’ rootlessness spurs them on to take their roots in God.
    May God hold His protecting hands over you and over all persons who worked and lived with you in Schuyler. Experiencing loss is also a kind of rootlessness….
    God bless you and your ministry in Rome, Fr. Mauritius! Good luck and thank you for your beautiful writing!
    Gisela

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  5. May God bless and keep you all the days of your life. I can’t find the words to tell you how much I’ve needed to hear all that you have to say. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. I will miss not being able to find you here, but I’m happy that you will be where God wants you to be for now. May you find happiness and fulfillment as you encourage and lead more souls to God who patiently awaits them. I’ll pray for your safe travel.

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  6. Dear Mauritius,

    I send best wishes for your move to Rome. I hope all is going well — what a change from Nebraska!

    Sincerely, Bruce

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  7. Dear Fr. Mauritius,

    As you are packing, and preparing for your move to Rome, I want to extend my gratitude, blessing and prayerful support. As the retreat master at St. Benedicts for both of the Sister’s retreat, your conferences were a source of inspiration and spiritual growth. Also the retreat for the Catholic Daughters was great. I will miss your presence and warm smile at St. Benedicts

    “The Lord bless you and keep you!

    The Lord let his face shine upon you, and be gracious to you!

    The Lord look upon you kindly and give you peace!”

    Numbers 6: 24-26

    Your Sister in Christ,

    Ann Ference, SFCC

    ________________________________

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  8. This is beautiful, Mauritius! It made me think of a favorite verse from the Mass- In you we live and move and have our being. No matter where we are are, we are are moving with Him and He with us. I have been thinking of you and praying for you in your new home and praying for your brother monks in Schuyler for a smooth transition.

    I am really feeling the power and also the peacefulness of Advent very strongly this year. There have been some hard things that I have had to deal with but I feel an overall peacefulness. I see the gift of the Christchild in the future and that reminder keeps me on the journey. I remember that sometimes the donkey ride is rough and I am feeling sick and tired, but I look forward. Sometimes I feel dirty and exhausted and all I want is a nice warm bath and a soft bed, but I can find peace even in a dirty stable with the animals around to keep me company. I am visited by many loving companions who keep me focused and who are also excited to share in the joy of Christmas. I count you as one of those friends! God bless you with the peacefulness and warmth of the stable. Denise

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