Historical setting: 590 C.E. The path to Annegray
On this very cold morning Brother Servant and another monk and I put the silks back on the four imperial horses and walk them back to Annegray. The ice on the creek is solid enough today even for the horses the walk over.
“It’s a good thing the messengers had a night to spend with Father Columbanus,” observes Brother Servant. “This envoy will be able to deliver a letter from the Irish father back to the new pope. It will help in our acceptance with the bishops to have the pope behind us.”
My hope, “Maybe Father Columbanus will send along a scroll with the Irish rule.”
“Why does the particular rule matter so much to you Brother Ezra? You don’t even live by it here in your little cottage on the hill. And there is nothing in either of the rules about the proper tonsure or the correct date for Easter which seems to be the issue.”
The other monk chimes in, “I can’t see how approving of a Rule would solve anything among the bishops.“
“The distinctions between rules are subtle.” I defend. But when lived out the distinction is huge. Columbanus expects the required obedience to be to God, while Benedict’s rule directs the obedience to the bishop or abbot.”
“But of course,” adds the monk “In one way or another that becomes the same thing because the one who oversees the activities of the monastery is doing so in God’s name while God is way off in heaven somewhere.”
“Father Columbanus spends his hours in prayer begging the nearness of God and if God is present with us why would we need the father or some bishop in charge to stand in for God?” Brother Servant speaks my own mind on this and he asks, “Is that what you were thinking Brother Ezra?”
“Exactly, I only hope the new pope takes notice of that little nuance.”
To change to a more agreeable topic I ask if the others have visited Luxeuil yet. “Have you heard it could be a double monastery when they are done? With baths?”
“Yes! I’d heard that” answers the second monk.
“When our midwife spoke with the father he mentioned that they would have both a men’s monastery and a women’s, and I’ve seen the baths there for myself.”
Brother Servant explains, “They are building separations and planning the divisions for everything but worship.”
(Continues Tuesday, January 10)