One of the treasures of western North Dakota is Assumption Abbey in Richardton. It’s about an hour west of Bismarck (the way I drive, at least), making it easily accessible.
I find myself spending a decent amount of time there, at least recently. Kari and I took our kids there for their open house some weeks back; I teach Bible there every now and then for deacon aspirants and candidates; and I go on retreat there.
It’s been a long year. Not a lot of drama, but a grind. For me, part of that’s been family, with the addition of little Max; instead of zone or man to man, my wife and I have been playing penalty kill 3-2 while I’ve tried to keep up a schedule involving teaching, administration, writing, and some speaking. Often I’ve been too busy or too tired to go fishing. To. Go. Fishing. That tells you something, because fishing is one of the things–perhaps the main thing–that keeps me grounded. Lately sometimes I feel like I should declare, “I will fish no more forever.”
The other thing, of course, that keeps me grounded, that refreshes me, is the regular rhythm of prayer that Catholics (and in similar ways, other liturgical Christians) practice–Mass, rosary, the liturgy of the hours, adoration, family devotions. But in the grind that was this academic year, I practiced those things all too often with too little consistency, too little depth.
So it’s time to retreat to Richardton. The first part of this weekend I’ll teach the letters of Paul to deacon candidates, and the second part of the weekend into next week our Theology department will have its now-annual retreat. For us, theology isn’t merely intellectual, but a matter of encountering the Triune God in prayer and liturgy; as St. Bonaventure said, Et non sufficit ad habendam sapientiam scholastica sine monastica; quia non audienda solum, sed observando fit homo sapiens–loosely, It does not suffice to have academic learning without monastic wisdom, for it is not only hearing, but doing, that makes a human being. (Note in the Latin the link between sapientiam scholastica sine monastica and homo sapiens which I’ve managed to occlude in the translation.)
And I need it. It’s time to recollect, to gather myself, to catch my spiritual breath, in the beauty that is Assumption Abbey.
(The picture is the main church at the Abbey, St. Mary’s, which functions also as Richardson’s community parish.)