Across the Ages of Time

Saturday, November 1

11-1By JoAnn Condit of Phoenix, Arizona, USA

The Lord is exalted, he dwells on high; he filled Zion with justice and righteousness; he will be the stability of your times, abundance of salvation, wisdom, and knowledge; the fear of the Lord is Zion’s treasure.

—Isaiah 33:5–6 NRSV

On November 1, 1992 (All Saints Day), I visited the cathedral town of Alcobaça in Portugal. The town is small, and the cathedral is vast, of remarkable construction, standing firm since its establishment in 1138. This was an abbey of Benedictine monks, the Black Monks—named for their black robes. There were always 999 of these farmer monks—no more, no fewer—living in the cloister attached to the cathedral.

The kitchen, cleverly designed, served the purposes of the cloister. Flues over the fire pits carried off smoke. A small river, diverted through the kitchen, brought fish speedily from water to table. The river carried away the refuse. It still flows deep and fast. The sound is pleasant as it rushes through the cave-like room and away under the wall.

The small choir room boasts impressive acoustics. Disclaiming his musical aptitude, our young guide, Pedro Pinto, sang a few lines of a Gregorian chant that nearly brought me to my knees—his voice as clear as crystal and incredibly pure. Memory of our visit, gives me a sense of the devotion to God that remains there throughout the centuries.

The reasons Portugal dissolved all religious orders in 1834, were complex and real. The dedication of the monks was also real. It was as real as the lingering scent of incense that permeates the very stones of the cathedral.

May we, too, live that generations who come after us will grasp the essence of our devotion. May they feel our joys and our sacrifices and find in them strength and renewed courage for their own journey of faith. Help us be a pattern of grace, a living song echoing peace.

Prayer for Peace Creator God, stability of our times, help us have the courage and devotion of our ancestors. Give us the endurance to work for justice and the generosity to share Christ’s peace.

Spiritual Practice: Offering Blessings of Community Receive and share Blessings of Community. Begin with a prayer of gratitude for the relationships in your life. See and feel connections with family members, spiritual friends, people in your congregation and community, and people and creatures in God’s sacred web of life. What blessings flow to you from these circles? How have you felt the love of the community?

Reflect, pray, or write in your journal about the call to be “Community of Christ.” Go deeper each day as you discern what act of blessing you are invited to complete.

Peace Covenants Today God, I will remember whose shoulders I stand on and be mindful of those who will stand on mine.

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  1. Sharon

     /  3 November 2014

    As I’m reading this, I’m also listening to a CD of Gregorian chants. Your description of this visit is vivid. The scents are palpable. We must never take for granted our religious freedoms or our spiritual heritage. Thank you for the reminder to share our own witness, to endure the times, and to share the Christ.

  2. Carol Norris Vincent

     /  1 November 2014

    Thank you for this lovely reminder of the importance of our role in carrying on the message of Christ. It was an epiphonal moment years ago that brought me back to Christ, realizing that it was the beliefs of millions of people throughout time (including my own personal ancestors) who kept alive Christ’s teachings through their faith and witness.


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