The Norbertine and The Shabbat

Shabbat, the Hebrew word for the Jewish Sabbath, is celebrated every week from sundown on Friday to nightfall of Saturday. Many of us as Christian are familiar with this term.  But how many of us really get to experience it.  Today I did. Oh how wonderful it was.

In Hebrew, Shabbat means “resting.” Following the special Friday night Shabbat evening prayers the Jewish faithful partake of a festive meal which is opened by the Kiddush blessing over a cup of wine or grape juice, and the Hamotzie blessing over two whole loaves of bread called Challah. Do any of these realities help you appreciate the Jewish-Christian beginnings that comes out in our Christian Catholic Spirituality…it did for me, experiencing it today for the first time was such an awesome experience.

The book of Deuteronomy was the focus of the Torah studies for an hour this morning.  This was followed by The Sabbath Worship on this Shabbat morning ….it’s prayer time again…just like in monasteries around the world and even my own Norbertine Abbey—this Jewish service also featured the weekly public Torah reading. No different from any Sunday School Service I ever attended…it was great. 

All throughout the Jewish Worship Service I could not but help to see the connections … the yamaka for the Jewish male and the skull cap for the Christian consecrated male; the prayer shawl for the Jewish Rabbi and the choir cape for the Christian Religious/Priest; the Jewish Cantor sang in Hebrew and the Christian Cantor often sings in Latin; the reading of a portion in the Torah is the first half of the liturgy and the readings from the Bible is the first half of the Catholic liturgy as well; both share in a meal in the second half of their time of worship and fellowship together. Shabbat ended today after nightfall, as it always does and it was marked with the brief Havdalah, (separation) service which marks the departure of the holy day of rest.

And you thought the life of a monastic was sheltered…stay tuned. I cannot wait to share my experience in my Wednesday morning class on Judaism with my peers.

A. Gerard Jordan, O. Praem.

Persevering as a Norbertine Novice…

A warm welcome to all my brothers and sisters in Christ Jesus, and welcome to my very first blog entry…I hope this finds you well. The last few weeks have bestowed many blessings on me as I continue my discernment with the Norbertines at Daylesford Abbey. I entered the Novitiate a few weeks ago during the feast of St. Augustine, receiving the white habit and the constitutions of our Order. Now, I begin my class work with the Norbertine Fathers and will continue these studies throughout the canonical year. One class will focus on Norbertine history and the life of St. Norbert and the other class will delve into all things St. Augustine from whom our rule comes. I seriously recommend the reading of “Augustine of Hippo”, a biography by author Peter Brown if you’re interested in learning more about this iconic and influential saint. I would like to share with you what St. Augustine says about the gift of persevering, for this is a key concept into the pursuance of any religious vocation. St. Augustine says that through perseverance we are joined forever with the divine and can take solace in knowing that God will protect us from all that the world can throw at us (Brown 407). I find this phrase so comforting and reassuring, especially in times of self-doubt or times when I’m needing strength both physically and spiritually. Although I’ve been actively pursuing my vocation to the priesthood with the Norbertines for a few years now, I’m actually at the beginning of my spiritual journey and pray that God will continue to provide me with this gift as I head into the future with my new family. God Bless!

An Introduction to the Formation Community

As the Director of Formation, I would like to introduce you to the Formation Community here at Daylesford Abbey.  The Formation Community is composed of those men who are currently in the Formation Program from the beginning of their Affiliate Status through their Solemn Vows and Ordination.  Currently, we have six men in our Formation Program, learning to journey, together and individually, discerning the will of God in their regard.  We have two men, Fraters Gerard and James,  studying in Chicago, IL at the Catholic Theological Union, two priests, Fathers David and William,  in simple vows doing their apostolic ministries in the context of Abbey apostolates while still in Formation and we also have a first year and a second year novice.

During the first year of the novitiate, the novice, Jeffrey Himes, who received the Norbertine habit on August 27th, just yesterday began his studies on the Rule of St. Augustine, the History of the Order, and Religious LIfe in the 21st Century.  In addition to these courses, Frater Jeffrey will also be a part of INSEARCH and that is an intercongregational program for candidates in formation for all religious Congregations and Orders in our Region of the Religious Formation Conference, a national organization helping candidates in Formation to discover their call to follow what they believe is a call to community life in a religious Congregation or Order.

It’s been a hectic couple of weeks for Frater Jeffrey, but now he is settling into the rhythm of Abbey life.   Along with Frater Jeffrey is Frater Samuel who as a second year novice will continue his philosophy and theology studies in preparation for his entering full theological studies next year. Also, later this year, Frater Samuel will take on an Abbey apostolic assignment in order to familiarize himself with the various works done in the Abbey.

Under the direction of the Novice Master and Director of Formation, along with the Formation Committee, these men continually pray, live, and work together towards seeking the will of God in coming to a union of minds and hearts along their journey. It is a fantastic and exciting experience, no doubt with its “ups and downs”, but formation affords all the candidates an opportunity for self-growth in their spiritual lives.  It is great for me, as their Director, to journey with them in this adventure.

From time to time, you’ll be hearing from me on what these men are doing and how their “routines” are helping them in the journey of self-discovery.  Have a great day and God Bless!

This Past Monday…

This past Monday(8 sept.) fifty years ago, I entered St. Charles Seminary.  Where has the time gone?  During these years the Church has radically changed.  John XXIII called for a Council.  I was one of 125 “New men” .  I was sixteen years old.  I have been a priest for forty years.  I have worked in the city and the suburbs. I have been in the mist of joyous and sad celebrations.  I have worked with people from all backgrounds and nationalities.  I have made friends in many states and countries around the world.  I have been certain at times and at times have doubted my vocation.  This past year I spent as Norbertine Novice.  Again beginning over in formation.  Monday I travelled to St. Gabriel Church to begin a new venture as a member of the Pastoral team.  God certainly has a sense of humor.  Who would have thought it?  Be open to God!  See what happens.  It is GREAT!

New School Year

After a summer of physical activity – CPE and landscaping at the Abbey – it’s a welcome change to return to academia.    But I know I will tire of this too.  Entering my final year my course work is more pastoral – Presiding 1 & 2 as well as Catholic Social History and Old Testament.

Life at the house consists of 8 students from De Pere, Albuquerque, and Paoli.  We are developing relationships with our other abbeys that will sustain us through our vocation.  We pray, cook, eat and harass each other.

Tonight is a house meeting – preceded by a house Mass – where we will choose some house assignments, establish some policies for the new year and hang out.

It’s all looking rather good.

A Norbertine and a Gentleman – The Introduction

THE INTRODUCTION OF A NORBERTINE AND A GENTLEMAN

My name is Gerard, and I am not a professional blogger like most. I have decided to do this for fun. So I would put on my fun but interesting, party but can be serious, silly but caring hat of laughter and love for life, if you plan to read my blogs regularly.  I decided that if I was going to blog, then I wanted to be among the people who decided to take a break from the rat race and find meaningful words of sharing that they love to do through a high quality blog.  Daylesford Abbey has given me the opportunity to do just that.  My prayer for you as a reader is that this blog would not only improve your outlook on life, but change it.

I was really hesitant to become a blogger at first because many blogs are filled with the “systems” approach. Systems are fine, if you are in the business world. In fact, I am a supporter of the business world and I even had the privilege of receiving my undergraduate degree in business and organizational management.  Please know that religious life is not a business, but a way of loving God. This type of life is less about systems and more about content, great content.

So without great content, a blog system isn’t going to do much to help you the reader in the long run.  I hope you, as a reader of my simple thoughts, will give me good feedback so that we can create great content together.  My attempt to focus on high quality content as the key to my blogging approach is what I hope separates this site, sponsored by Daylesford Abbey, from the herd out there in cyberspace.  So that means that I will try to stay away from a lack of information on content typically found on other blog sites. I will always remind myself this is not the place to provide shallow advice and I hope you, the reader, will honor that as well in your feedback. Daylesford Abbey is home, but I am a Southern Gentleman at heart…so let’s agree to be kind to one another in our exchange.

My goal is really one of sharing with, you as a user of this site, that the joys of religious life are available to anyone who prayerfully read it with an open mind and a love for life. You need not be a Christian to join me in this fun. All readers are welcome.

Oh yeah, there’s a few other thing to consider…

I am …

46 years old;

happily baptized as a Christian and Catholic for all of those 46 years;

an African-American (Louisiana Creole);

the last child of three siblings;

sorry to say that I was orphaned at the age of 32;

a (retired at 38) successful former businessman by profession;

a very proud father of two adult children (male and female);

a former United States Marine;

a graduate student in my 4th year theologian;

starting my ninth year of my relationship with Daylesford Abbey and a consecrated religious who has joyfully bound himself by Solemn Vows to God and to the Church of the Assumption at Daylesford Abbey;

a supporter of one of the greatest apostolic service ministries of healing and reconciliation happening in the Church today…the Cause for sainthood of the Servant of God, Father Augustus Tolton; and

my home away from home, until I graduate with a Masters of Divinity Graduate degree, is at our Norbertine House of Studies located in Chicago, Illinois.

I’d love to hear from you.

God’s Peace Always,

A. Gerard Jordan, O. Praem.