• A&H

Ep. 12 | Benedictine Monks: "Just be a good person, goldarnit!"

Well, now. This was an interesting episode, wasn't it? Took a few turns we hadn't expected, but that's what the show is all about.

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They pray! They work! They chant! But who ARE these fellas and why do they choose to enter this life? The answers to these (and the age-old Catholic question, "Can married couples perform oral sex?") are all in this episode.

(Warnings: Religious discussions lie ahead. Marked explicit for one of the questions above. We'll let you guess which one.)

To reiterate, our skepticism and questioning is not meant to offend. We both have a genuine curiosity about all religions and enjoy learning about them and participating in some religious acts and ceremonies. Tell us what you love about your own religion and some of the traditions you enjoy. We'd love to hear about it!

Before we properly dig into the episode, how about a brief moment for meditation? The Beeb found inner peace, and you can too! (More later.)

After recording, we stumbled across this BBC article: Tomorrow's Gods: What is the Future of Religion?

Throughout history, people’s faith and their attachments to religious institutions have transformed, argues Sumit Paul-Choudhury. So what’s next?

"If you believe your faith has arrived at ultimate truth, you might reject the idea that it will change at all. But if history is any guide, no matter how deeply held our beliefs may be today, they are likely in time to be transformed or transferred as they pass to our descendants – or simply to fade away.

"If religions have changed so dramatically in the past, how might they change in the future? Is there any substance to the claim that belief in gods and deities will die out altogether? And as our civilisation and its technologies become increasingly complex, could entirely new forms of worship emerge?"

Turning from the future and back to the past, the Monastery of St. Benedict in Subiaco enshrines the cave (Sacro Speco) in which St. Benedict lived as a hermit before he organized his first monastic community. It makes a great day trip from Rome. Read more here.

We promised we'd post daily schedules of Benedictine monks. Do you think you'd be able to do this every day?

A sample of a schedule from the Middle Ages:

And one from the Monastery of Christ in the Desert (New Mexico):

Oh, hey -- is Mother Teresa a saint? She sure is! But should she be? Some don't think so (you can read more about it at that link). “If I ever become a Saint–I will surely be one of ‘darkness.’ I will continually be absent from Heaven – to light the light of those in darkness on earth,” she wrote.

Back to the BBC: Christa mentioned the 3-part series they had about Benedictine monasteries. You can watch (or listen) to all of them. With no narration or background music, they're quite relaxing to have on while you're doing other things.

Remember this? Christa's been singing the wrong lyrics for decades ("Our way," not "always"!). But at least she knows the difference between a schlemiel (a clumsy, awkward person) and a schlimazel (someone who's really unlucky). There's a funny Yiddish saying that translates to, "A schlemiel is someone who spills his coffee on someone. A schlimazel is the person he spills it on.”

What about this one? Sage thinks Sarah Brightman has the best version of Ave Maria. It's hard to disagree.

How about the singing monks of the 1990s? (Anyone also remember the German group Enigma? Chants should not be so sexy!)

Here's an article from 1994, and a flashback article from Rolling Stone in March 2019:

Christa spoke of her time in India and learning about the Sikh religion. Here are some videos of Christa in Ludhiana, Punjab. The first few are at a gurdwara and the last one is a brief shot of her receiving an orange sash--they're given as a sign of respect for those who do good deeds. She was honoured and humbled to receive three of them that night.

Washing the hands (heads must always be covered):

Then the feet:

Inside the gurdwara during closing ceremonies. It was louder and busier than usual:

And receiving the orange sash:

Here's Christa at the Golden Temple (the pilgrimage site for Sikhism); speaking at the San Jose Gurdwara; and in front of the San Jose Gurdwara.

And part of the Sunday service in San Jose! Isn't the music just beautiful?

And two more videos!

1) The evening vespers at the Engelberg Abbey, which is a Benedictine monastery! Here are a couple interesting columns/reviews/thoughts about the Kloster.

2) Sunday services at the Jesuit church in Lucerne, Switzerland.

We hope you enjoyed our Benedictine Monks episode!

P.S. If you're ever in Kennebunkport, Christa recommends staying at the Franciscan Guest House. It's quiet, beautiful, inexpensive, and has all you need.

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