By A. Hosack, P. Berman & K. Hecht,
I have so many questions. Is it safe to ask any?
Larry’s mind was in turmoil; He felt his past pain and suffering now as if his body was still being torn apart by his father. Yet, during some of his prayer sessions with the monks – he felt a sense of healing. Where was it coming from? He would look around and see nothing, just a room full of bowed heads. Sometimes the prayers were internal to each monk, so the silence was profound, yet in some way he felt he heard their prayers.
At meals, and during chores all of his attention was focused on protecting himself, yet the monks would look back at him so relaxed and calm; did this mean Larry didn’t have to be alert all the time? Did they really mean him no harm? It was hard to imagine there wasn’t something secret that they wanted from him that they hadn’t told him about yet. There were times Larry felt ready to explode from the pain inside him; yet another prayer session was always around the corner. He would join them in their prayer, just kneeling there trying to look invisible – but somehow, he would feel pulled into their words. Larry wasn’t sure if he believed in God. But he did know that somehow praying was keeping him from falling apart. Somehow being with the monks felt right to him.
The life of the monks was so strange yet so boring when he thought about it alone at night. They did the same routine every day -with few complaints. When discord arose, other monks would step in and help resolve whatever the dispute was. They were always helping each other – without the use of punches, kicks and straps. Larry helped Ted so there was more variety to his day. Sometimes Ted would swear when he hit his head on something and this would make them seem more “normal” to Larry.
Their faces look so calm. Sometimes they’re tired but they never look despairing. Could I ever feel this way?
Larry had heard from Ted that a monastery was to be a sanctuary from the cares of the world. Thinking about money, entertainment, sex…. were traps to be avoided. A simple life allowed total dedication to following the precepts of the faith and helping all humanity through the power of prayer. Larry didn’t want to be a monk, but he didn’t want to leave.
Why did Larry want to stay? Was it just to be safe from the gang? Was it because he could finally sleep without fear?
Ted had asked Larry to help him fix leaks in the irrigation system the monks had built around their garden. He could tell that Larry was in turmoil about something, but he wasn’t sure what to do. Ted was very protective of the monks at the monastery. He very much appreciated how they had saved his family from financial ruin. They were so understanding about his troubles driving the bus in Cincinnati even though they needed someone to drive them in the city. Was Larry the right person to help with this? Ted decided to reach out and learn a little bit more about Larry.
Ted looked carefully at Larry, waiting patiently until Larry looked at him and returned his gaze. “Can I help you with anything Larry,” Ted asked, “I don’t mean to pry into your personal business, but you look like somebody with the problem.” Larry sighed and thought for a moment, He had trusted Martin and then it ended up dealing drugs. On the other hand, he trusted Manuel and he’d met a network of people who helped him without seeming to want anything in return.
I’m in violation of my parole just by being in Ohio. I need more help. Can Ted help me?
“You probably wondered why I‘m here Ted. (Larry looks down for a moment) I am not a good man (Larry looks into Ted’s eyes). I don’t have a family that’s waiting for me. (1-minute pause) In fact, my girlfriend and son are afraid of me and maybe I deserve that. (Larry looks down and punches his leg a few times) I punched my girlfriend in front of my son; it seemed like the right thing to do at the time (Larry looks down). I ended up in prison. I might have been killed in there, but I was brought into a gang and they protected me but only on the condition that now that I’m out – I have to sell drugs for them. They had me set up in front of the school- to make it easy to sell drugs to kids. I ran from that life.”
Ted had experimented with drugs both in high school and then again when he was deployed. It’d been an escape from the horrors that he was witnessing. Larry seemed genuinely repentant. This is what he’d always been taught to look for by the church. Larry had done a lot of evil. He had a lot to make up for. Ted didn’t know if he could recommend him to the abbot as a driver. But, keeping him close to the monastery might be the best way for Larry to find a path is a good man.
Larry had been so deep in thought that he hadn’t noticed the conversation had stopped. He looked at Ted and said, “The Catholic Church helped me escape the gang by bringing me here. But I am on parole in Philadelphia. Just by being in Ohio I have violated my parole. I have an appointment in two days with my parole officer in Philadelphia. I don‘t know what to do Ted. I don’t want to leave here. But I’ve got to figure this parole thing out.” Larry has put his head down in his hands. Ted didn’t know what to say.
What would the monks do? What should a Christian do?
According to research by the PEW Center, 70.6% of people in the USA identify as Christian. Of these, 20.8% Identify as Catholic (https://www.pewforum.org/religious-landscape-study/). While many people have found spiritual support in their religious institutions, few take the road of the monks and dedicate their entire lives to prayer and religious observance. Some people have found a haven within religious institutions. Others have been spiritually and sexually abused.
Are the monks in the monastery safe from Larry?
Larry was raised in a violent family and has used emotional, physical And sexual violence in all of his adult relationships.
Is Larry safe from them?
While the monks spend their day in prayer, seek to be humble at all times, and do labor in support of their brothers, not all religious leaders embody the precepts of their faith.
Cases of Clergy spiritual abuse have been found around the world. Sheila Vilvens and Jessie Balmert, of the Cincinnati Enquirer (October 9, 2008), reported on how The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) protested in Cincinnati Ohio calling on Atty. Gen. Mike Dewine to take action against clergy abuse.
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