Slideshow image

Half-Full, or Half-Empty?

After our unexpectedly extended time away, life has just picked up from where it left off. It is like old friends. Flo and I look forward to “picking up” with our friends at St. John’s Duncan. Today, Flo and her crew are busy designing Christmas Floral pieces. I will be putting the final touches on items for the Christmas Bazaar, and will prepare for Sunday, Advent II.           

One of our stops along our Danube trip was a visit to St. Stephen’s Church: site of Gottweig Abbey. The Abbey houses a community of Benedictine Brothers. It is situated on a high hill (actually three hills: a symbol of the Trinity) and is surrounded by 1800 hectares of vineyards and forest, owned by the Abbey. The forest is selectively harvested to sustain it. It, and the vineyards are designed to support the work of the Christian gospel. 

We were greeted by Fr. Pius, one of the senior monks of the community. When we entered, we were offered apricot schnapps or apricot juice. Yes, I had the schnapps and Flo had the juice! These treats are actually made at the Abbey, using the distinct type of apricots grown on the property.     

During our visit, Fr. Pius told us that they have recently welcomed two novices. “So, we are growing. It is exciting!”

I was impressed by the substantial number of buildings on the property. Curious, I asked our host, ‘how large the community at one time was.’ History lesson #1: The community was only designed for thirty members. (Thus: thirty choir stalls in the Cathedral.)

Now they have 40+ members. They are very happy!

So, who lives in the rest of the buildings? You will have to ask me! 

I was struck by the positive nature of Fr. Pius, and his excitement for this very small community of men sharing in common life. Often in parish life, we deem our successes by how large we are: the numbers of people in the pews on a Sunday morning. AND, yes, we can be left with a negative feeling when it comes to membership numbers.           

This Saturday, we will host the community of Duncan at our Annual Christmas Bazaar. It is our opportunity to exercise the gift of hospitality. When I survey the tables, and see all the preparations, the generosity of so many, the offering of their three “T’s” comes to my mind. And so does Fr. Pius’ excitement about two new community members!

“Is the glass half-full or half-empty?” 

I continue to see all aspects of my life, personal and vocational, at measuring above 'half-full', like those shot glasses of Schnapps offered at the Abbey!

Scripture tells us that the shepherds were “abiding in the fields,” watching over their flocks. We are to abide in the fields of our Lord, watching over His flock.

Archdeacon Brian+