January 2017

Statue of Our Lady at New Melleray Abbey



Fifty years ago, in 1966, Pope Paul VI inaugurated the annual World Day of Peace. The Word Day of Peace has been observed on January 1 each year ever since. Some weeks before January 1 the Pope issues a message stating the theme of the next World Day of Peace. The theme this year is “Nonviolence: a Style of Politics for Peace.” As if on cue, a gunman in Istanbul killed nearly 40 people at a New Year’s Eve celebration and on Jan. 1 the leader of N. Korea announced his country’s ability and threatened intent to launch a nuclear missile that could reach North America. Even so, Pope Francis did not and certainly will not retract the words of his message, In the most local and ordinary situations and in the international order, may nonviolence become the hallmark of our decisions, our relationships and our actions, and indeed of political life in all its forms. Violence has its source in the human heart. So nonviolence begins with each single person. Monks also have hearts. A lot of a monk’s life is just the discovery of ever new possibilities of violence in his heart. It is a scary discovery. But Saint Benedict, who wrote the Rule that monks live by, was so honest about the reality of violence that he included a word, the third to the last chapter, against monks clobbering one another (RB 70). He said that because he knew it actually sometimes could happen. Nonviolence does not come easy and it even has its costs. Saint Benedict also says, “Do no harm, but patiently endure what happens” (RB 4). In fact, as anyone who has tried this knows, trying to live nonviolently feels like doing violence to yourself. Yet in the end, the nonviolent person has a happy conscience, and his enemies are his friends because he loves them.

Fr. Mark

If violence has its source in the human heart, then it is fundamental that nonviolence be practiced before all else within families.

-- Pope Francis


Mr. Blue, Myles Connolly, with an Introduction and Notes by Stephen Mirarchi


Mr. Blue, Myles Connolly, with an Introduction and Notes by Stephen Mirarchi (Cluny Media, 2015 1956).

The message of the book is simple. First, consummation of joy comes from total self-offering to God and neighbor. Second, complete self-giving is a slow process that takes place in communion with others. Third, everything in creation participates in the glory of God. Mr. Blue reminds us that saints are not made overnight, that there’s no “one size fits all” path to holiness. The author is convinced that every created thing can be a help on the path of Christian ascent. Spiritual warfare is not reducible to psychology, nor merely to battles with the demonic, but involves the world and the flesh as well. Throughout the book we see the protagonists struggling to discern which spirits are acting upon them, and which to reject and which to accept. In one passage, the narrator remarks how Blue reached out to those whom others would consider “wastrels.” Connolly’s point is that Blue saw Christ in those we easily overlook or disregard - not because we look down on them but simply out of our own preoccupation, like the rich man with the poor Lazarus at his gate. There are all kinds of wonderful moments to discover in the book, such as when Connolly makes architectural puns, appreciates with a keen eye his native Boston, or takes his two characters on an American Revolution-inspired Way of the Cross. Mr. Blue is the product of a lively, powerful mind steeped in a love of the fine arts, with a view to their power to draw us to intimacy with God and neighbor.


Author: Fr. Mark Scott

Tags: Nonviolence, Pope Francis, Mr. Blue, Myles Connolly

This simple communication is one way for me as abbot of New Melleray Abbey to communicate with the abbey’s employees and volunteers. My intention is to give our stakeholders some idea of the values and lifestyle of the monks and to share things that I have found worthwhile, thoughtful, and/or humorous. It is hoped that this sharing from the abbot will strengthen the bonds of partnership and collaboration between the monastic community and our extended community of employees and volunteers.

Fr. Mark