Monday, April 6, 2015

Pointing the Way

This Easter I ran across an article online that caught my attention. (you can read the whole article here) It was about Lasse Sprang Olsen, a stunt man and self acknowledged atheist, who because of his near brush with death, set on a course to learn how to truly pray.  This search brought him to the cross - literally.  On Good Friday, 2014, he was one of those who participated in the annual crucifixion event in the Philippines. God answered his deepest desire and become present to Olsen in a way that he could "talk" to God.

Although I would never recommend his path,  Olsen's story intrigues me because I feel that his journey mimics the monastic journey.  Granted the monastic journey takes a life time - not 14 minutes on the cross. (One could also argue that Olsen's experience of God was also the product of his life's journey.) But I believe that the result is the same: with God's grace, one is freed from the fear of death and can become a friend of God - an intimate like Moses and Olsen who talked to God face to face.  This is what the monastery as St. Benedict's School of Love can teach those who have faith and perseverance.

Olsen did not "believe" in the traditional sense of the word.  He was not even "churched." But even in his atheism, he had faith.  This is the true Faith that St Paul speaks of in Hebrews 11:1 “Faith is the realization of what is hoped for and evidence of things not seen.” Many people think they must be solid beliefs in God before they really start an effort to find God.  This is blatantly untrue and Olsen's story attests to this.  More important than any adherence to dogma is a heart openly seeking truth.  God who is Truth will answer that search.

I do not know how or why Olsen suddenly was absorbed into the love of God - but the experience happened.  And if it did so once - it can and will happen again.  His painful agony left him and only God remained.  He left his "old self" behind and put on Christ, the crucified.  He was transformed.

The monastery also offers a way to union with  God.  It does so through a life that is ordinary, laborious and obscure.(Constitution of the OCSO, chapter 3:5)  Through this life we seek the grace to leave behind the old self with its well worn ego and put on a new self that is made in God's very likeness.  We do this slowly; in community; and with prayerful attention to our manner of living and the movements of our hearts.  We seek a life in union with God so that we may offer the world a place of continual prayer.

If you are a young woman seeking to find out more about our life of prayer and our contemplative path to God, email  and attend a Monastic Experience Weekend happening this year - May 28th - May 31, 2015 .

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