October 2016

New Melleray Garden Pumpkins


Saint Benedict in his Rule for Monasteries  tells the monk, “daily keep death before your eyes.” This is not one of the more cheery things Saint Benedict has to say. It is probably from this saying that arose the belief that monks dig their own graves, a shovelful a day throughout their lives. I’m here to say that monks don’t dig their own graves, and probably never have. Still, monks do in one way or another keep death daily before our eyes. What if life were like a double-scoop ice cream cone to someone who loved ice cream? If you remind yourself that your ice cream cone won’t last forever, you are more likely to savor with awareness and appreciation every lick and bite, and with the greater sense of love and generosity offer a lick to your friend or child or spouse, and be filled when it’s gone not only with ice cream but with gratitude for such a wonderful creation on earth. But if you take the ice cream for granted you’ll just mindlessly devour your cone and be left at the end only with sticky fingers and a lot of disappointment. When we keep in mind that things don’t last forever, we’re more likely to really enjoy those finite things. Hallowe’en has turned into a day of ghosts and living dead. That’s a good thing. For Catholics, Hallowe’en is the day before All Saints Day, the “Eve” of “All Hallows,” all the holy ones. There is death, yes; things come to an end. But there is also the promise of Eternal Life, the fullness of Joy in the presence of Life Itself. Keeping death before your eyes, then, is just a backward way of affirming life now, and Life to come.

Fr. Mark

Always read something that will make you look good if you die in the middle of it.

-- P. J. O'Rourke



Miss Hokusai, Keiichi Hara, 2016. Animated.

This film is a lively inquiry into the life of O-Ei Hokusai, a daughter of the 19th-century painter Katsushika Hokusai (one of whose most famous images, “The Great Wave,” is cleverly alluded to in an early scene). The ramshackle, sometimes squalid, occasionally madcap life in the studio where O-Ei apprentices to her father contrasts with the staid, cautious domesticity of the home where O-Ei’s enchanting, blind younger sister lives. O-Ei narrates occasionally, tentatively describing desires and enthusiasms. The creative realm is addressed with particular piquancy in the scary tale of a supposedly cursed painting. Criticisms meted out by the father are met by the daughter sometimes with boldness, other times with confusion. Hearts are broken, and they mend, but not completely. The stories are told with bold, coherent graphics and buoyed by music that’s sometimes anachronistic but always right. O-Ei is voiced with sensitivity and confidence by Anne Watanabe, daughter of the actor Ken Watanabe, and all of the other voice roles are beautifully done. While it’s not entirely kid-friendly, this portrait of an artist is both enchanting and thought provoking.

Trappist Caskets Blessing


Author: Fr. Mark Scott

Tags: Halloween, Miss Hokusai, The Great Wave

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