Wednesday in the Thirty-Second Week of Ordinary Time at Mississippi Abbey

What a wonderful miracle Jesus performed, curing ten lepers of their terrible disease.  Only one expressed gratitude, but Jesus would have liked all ten to give thanks, because it’s our hearts that Jesus wants to heal far more than our bodies.     

Here’s a story about the inner healing of a monk of New Melleray named Br. Anselm Doyle.  He joined the community in July,1876, when he was twenty-nine years old.  He seemed to be doing well enough except for his temper.  One day, when he was working in the hay field, he lost his temper in a fit of anger.  He lashed out and struck the farm boss, who was a monk and a priest, with the handle of his hay fork!     

Abbot Alberic expelled him from the community but let him live in the Lodge nearby where secular men and lay employees used to reside.  John, for that was his legal name, was full of remorse. But he accepted his punishment with sincere humility. For the next forty years he would trim the hedges, keeping them in great shape, and do other chores for the monks.  He grew a thick white beard like that of our saintly Br. Joachim, and like him, John was regarded as a very holy layman. 

In September of 1927, when he was 80 years old, John became deathly sick.  He asked Abbot Bruno Ryan if he could receive the oblate’s habit in order to die as a member of the community.  Abbot Bruno told the monks in chapter that “he could not refuse such a charitable request.”  So, they brought him to the infirmary and gave him the brown habit of the brother oblates.  A week later while the community was picking grapes in the vineyard the great bell rang, signaling that Br. Anselm was dying.  The community gathered around his bedside to offer prayers for the dying until he passed away. He had a holy and edifying death because Jesus had healed his heart while he lived a life of penitence with such humility and gratitude. 

[Photo of Br. Joachim with a thick white beard like that of Br. Anselm]