Old Monk by Mary Lou Kownacki

Journal Entry 226

Fri, 2020-04-03 09:08

All the sisters in the community were asked to bring “a memento, gift, quote, prayer, etc. that represents your own monastic life and explain its significance to the group.” This invitation was in preparation for a recent Lenten faith sharing at the monastery. Those of us who live in the city and were following the “stay at home” injunction during the pandemic, joined from a distance.

I brought a quote (surprise!) to represent what I think it’s all about. The quote is by the Cistercian monk Andre Louf:

Journal Entry 225

Wed, 2020-03-25 17:19

I think of myself as having the vocation of a solitaire. For most of my adult life I have risen before dawn and spent two hours in silence and solitude, reading and writing and daydreaming while looking out the window at the rising light. These two hours are the best of the day for me. When illness or travel or circumstances make these impossible, I am a bit bereft.

Journal Entry 224

Wed, 2020-03-18 09:57

How does one listen to the advice of Saint Benedict to “seek peace and pursue it” in a time of pandemic? The offices of Benetvision and Monasteries of the Heart are closed as requested by the governor and the staff is working from home. Like cities across the world, Erie’s schools, small businesses, restaurants, libraries, and taverns are chained shut. The monastery is on a three-week lockdown. Our Benedictine soup kitchen is preparing portable meals and handing them out at the door. Our food panty continues to operate under very strict safety guidelines.

Journal Entry 223

Thu, 2020-03-05 09:18

I had the chance to go South for two-weeks recently. I was anxious to see if I could hit a golf ball with one eye. And, yes I can. Life is good. Reading is still a pleasure and I managed half-a-dozen books, mostly on Kindle where the font size can be adjusted. Of course, writing is no problem, at least not an eye problem. Writing, for me, is always a problem of the will and of self-confidence. I did manage these thoughts.


On my shelf
a bowl
shaped by a master potter—
a gift
to hold my ashes

Journal Entry 222

Thu, 2020-02-13 07:49

This quote by Rumi surprised me:

To pray and fast,
to go on pilgrimages,
to give alms, and
to resist jealousy
are the gems
in our hearts.

Journal Entry 221

Mon, 2020-01-20 11:59

Saint Benedict had a soft spot in his heart for the young and instructed the seasoned monks to pay special attention to their ideas and opinions because “ God often reveals what is better to the younger.“ I thought of Benedict’s off- beat insight when I received a New Year’s card from a friend who is also a grandmother. The handmade card was a photo of a tablecloth upon which her 9-year-old granddaughter Lucy had printed this message with a ballpoint pen: Met Jane Goodall, got glasses, changed the world little by little & was awesome. Peace (read a lot) L.G.

Journal Entry 220

Wed, 2020-01-01 07:12

Thank God that Old Monk still has one good eye and that means she can still read. I still don’t know if sight will return in full or in part to my left eye, the one with the cancerous tumor. Loss of eyesight was one of the risks of choosing radiation treatment. Meanwhile, the tumor seems to be shrinking but I won’t know the final result until spring. And, yes, the cancer is aggressive with high odds saying it will metastasize. But Old Monk has always bucked the odds with gusto and will give this one a rousing effort.