Some good that came from the flu

It’s Monday evening and I’m just about recovered from a bad bout of the flu.  I went to the doctor’s last Thursday. He gave me an antibiotic and told me to take it easy for a few days.  That was easier said than done, if only because I was assigned out for Mass on Friday, Sunday, and Monday.  I’m happy to report that three of my confreres rearranged their schedules to be able to cover for me — and so allowed me to stay in my room and wait for the meds to work. Today, I’m almost back to normal and will be taking Mass with the nearby IHM Sisters tomorrow.
Anyone who knows the Abbey knows the key word in our mission statement is communio. We keep it in Latin because it defies a simple translation. It is the call to be of “one mind and one heart on the way to God”, to quote from the opening chapter of Augustine’s Rule (as the Rule quotes from the Acts of the Apostles).  This description of our charism is described again in the Rule’s last chapter, when it says, “You will know that you have have made progress when you put the community’s interest before your own” — which is what my brothers did for me these past few days. 
While in my room, I got to read three books that had been siting on my desk for months.  (Since I couldn’t go to church for community prayer, I thought I’d catch up on some spiritual reading.) I read a novel about early Christianity, another about St. Bonaventure’s insights into the Holy Trinity, and the third a lovely little book that I would recommend to anyone who wants to learn more about God’s unconditional love. Its title is GOD FIRST LOVED US and the author is a New Zealander who teaches in Australia, named Antony Campbell, SJ.  He beautifully makes the case that salvation is never something we earn but rather “accept”, and then try to live that acceptance by treating others with some measure of the generosity the Lord has shown us. The book is an invitation to take seriously the heart of the Good News, “It’s all a gift”, and then revel in the mystery of the Prodigal Father who loves us out of our brokenness.