Monastery architecture

Hello Rosary lovers! We have all seen things in our lives which have shocked and amazed us. Not too many times, but enough to leave a lasting impression. In this post I want to tell you about the most shocking thing I’ve ever witnessed.

It happened before I became a Catholic, so it was a few years ago now. I was extremely interested in the Catholic faith and I really wanted to become Catholic. I wanted to spend my birthday at a monastery.

For a long time, I have had something of the monastic spirit in me. This began when I converted to Christianity in 2008. Within a year, I was desperately seeking God in deep prayer. So the Roman Catholic tradition of prayer was something that attracted me from early on.

It wasn’t surprising, therefore, to find me staying in a Catholic monastery in 2018. I was due to stay 2 nights.

The experience was wonderful. I prayed with the monks for all of their times of prayer, as they worked their way daily through the Divine Office. It was a privilege to be with them and they were so warm with me, treating me as one of their own.

But one event happened whilst I was there, on the last day, about an hour or two before I had to go home.

It was just after lunch and the monks were having a time of recreation and chatting. It was a rare occasion to speak to these incredible men, since the rule of the monastery most of the time was silence.

So there I was, chatting to a middle-aged priest-monk. I was asking him why he became a monk and I received the common answer that he felt like it completed him, that it was what he was always meant to do.

We chatted about all sorts, I can’t remember now.

We weren’t the only ones in the room. The room was filled with monks, scattered around the edges of the room. In the middle was an open space and a table. No-one was there.

It wasn’t a large room, but it wasn’t small either.

Suddenly, out of nowhere, without any warning, the centre of the ceiling came crashing down to the floor! There was a huge hole in the ceiling, about a metre long. Huge amounts of debris fell to the floor and made an almighty crash in one go. And then it was over.

I turned to look at this and everyone went quiet. There was no screaming, no shouting. Nothing. Just quiet. And then one of the monks cracked a joke.

It’s not this event that amazed me, it was the reaction of the monks. For as I gazed around the room to look at them, not one of them looked scared or anxious. The monk opposite me had been sitting cross-legged, and he hadn’t even uncrossed his legs. He just sat there, quiet, with his legs crossed.

One of the monks then remarked how fortunate it was that no-one had been under that part of the ceiling. Indeed! Had anyone been under it, they might have been killed.

The reaction of these men to this event struck me considerably. I immediately compared their reaction to what I would have found in the rest of my country. It wasn’t hard to imagine that in other contexts, you would have easily heard people reacting with screaming or yelling, or the like.

But absolute quiet? I’m not so sure.

And what about the reaction of my monastic brothers, just continuing to sit down? No-one stood up, no-one moved, they just remained seated exactly as they had been before it happened.

Soon, of course, there were many men offering to clear up the huge amounts of debris.

Before I left, the Abbot gave me a warm goodbye and asked me to come again. I remarked to the Abbot that I had really enjoyed it and that what happened in the recreation room was the thing that was going to stick with me, because of the reaction from the community. I felt this was just so otherworldly.

The event proved to me the reality of the monastic life. That what these men do actually works. It’s not pretend and it’s not fairy-tale stuff. This is reality, it is real.

It’s no joke that being a monastic and following Christ this deeply makes you so much calmer in potentially devastating situation. I came away realising just how real God is to these men, and I wanted God to be that real to me.

To this day, I don’t think I’ve witnessed anything so amazing or impressionable.

I would highly recommend anyone to visit a convent or monastery. These are people living for another world, and it’s only by being with them that you can experience something of the spirit that they live by.

God bless you!

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