Father Paul Mark comments on the General Chapter and the new normal: “I traveled to Italy this past month of February to attend our international Order’s General Chapter, Part I, held in Assisi. The General Chapter, Part II will resume this coming September. It was my first international trip in three years. I was not overly enthused about the trip given the paper work to prepare, Covid testing required, and the possible cancellation of flights, which indeed did happen. On one hand the trip was rather perfunctory, that is, drive to the airport, board a plane, land in Rome, board a bus to Assisi, sit through meetings for 11 days, and repeating it in reverse and arrive home to the monastery two weeks later.
As the jet lag recedes I unpack the experience of the trip, the meaning our General Chapter has for me and the Order, and my life as a monk in a post-pandemic, or at least nearly, post-pandemic world. Has our world changed these past two years as the pandemic has raced around the globe, disrupting what society thought was status quo? I can only answer this for myself.
I find myself thinking that life is no longer so certain. Established patterns in relationships and the routine actions of daily life are not the same for me as they were prior to the pandemic. On the material side, we experience supply chain shortages, empty shelves in stores, hear of extreme positions, and receive news of loved ones dying from Covid.
Moving to the interior life of the spirit do you experience a change? I think our inner life is so much more difficult to measure, indeed if it even belongs to us to measure. But I find peace, not fear, hope, not despair. And most importantly I simply abide.”
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