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Abbot, Founder of the Camaldolese Benedictines (entered heaven in on this day in 1027)
I am a little concerned that your work for the forestry service may preclude your attendance at Mass this summer. Are there any chapels up there in the mountain fir woods? Hmm. Well, I will pray to St Romuald to take good care of you. He liked the forests and the mountains too, you know. As a matter of fact, he spent most of his long life walking from forest to forest all over the Italian peninsula, founding and reforming monasteries and inspiring manifold souls to dedicate their lives more fully to the Eternal Kingdom. His most famous foundation was in a Tuscan valley called Camaldoli, where he established a curious hermitage-monastery combination. The community of monks lived together, but at the same time each one had his own little hermitage (a cell, a garden, a chapel), and they dwelt in silence. Sounds a bit odd to our ears, but it is a vocation that God has been giving to a steady stream of holy, joyful, and radiant monks for a thousand years.
When you’re numbering trees up there in the wilderness, do you sense the presence of God more easily? I remember that I used to. Creation, the mysterious and sublime beauty of the natural world, is God’s first revelation. How I wish I could enjoy it again, the ocean breeze warmed by the noonday sun, the silent and self-assured immensity of the Colorado Rockies, the soft coziness of a pine forest… Well, at least I can praise God by relishing the memories, even if this prison of a cubicle debars me from direct contact.
Just remember, my adventurous and thoughtful young nephew, nature is not God: nature is God’s gift and revelation to us, who are his children. And as beautiful as the trees and mountains get, they are all doomed to pass away, but the sincere prayers of thanksgiving and praise that you offer from your heart every time you attend Mass will echo into eternity. Keep first things first, my dear forester, and you will never need to fear the last things.
Love, Uncle Eddy