A Christmas Visit to a Monastery

      By Vic Odarve

I am always fascinated with the life at the monastery. Here, the monks spend their lives in solitude, in reflections and prayers, and abandon the outside world for religious reasons. That is, living in harmony with nature and to the one in the Highest!

Father Pius - Elele Monastery In Charge

Father Pius – Elele Monastery In Charge

Last weekend we visited the Elele monastery. When we arrived, the place was calm and serene as if nobody was around.

A sharp contrast to the outside world where humming Christmas carols are often heard, people are seen shopping lazily in malls, and children’s laughter are heard everywhere you go.

“Nobody is around,” I told my colleagues. Only a few minutes after, Father Pius opened the entry doorway and greeted us Happy Christmas. He was a Saviourite priest in charge of the monastery. Happy and smiling, he thanked us for coming. We knew then that the monastery opens its doors for expats for a visit and for those who don’t have anyone to share the holiday with or to people who don’t have family or would feel lonely to celebrate Christmas.

Elele Monastery, Rivers State, Nigeria, Africa

Elele Monastery, Rivers State, Nigeria, Africa

Life was so simple then. Monks were hospitable. With some foods and the special recipe they offered, we dined and also shared together splendid bottles of wine around a dinner table. We had a pleasant conversation and enjoyed the meal, too.  I had learned that besides from daily reflections and prayers, their times were also devoted to reading books, raising animals, and cultivating plants and fruit trees. We spent several minutes sightseeing on their gardens and livestock raising projects. It was enjoyable to see several of the fruit trees bear fruits and hundreds of chickens jostling each other over the feeds at the poultry. After we saw these things, we draw to a conclusion how the lives of the monks are being spent.

Filipino Expatriates

Filipino Expatriates

As we left, the monks returned to their cells and prepared to retire for the night; then the place was quiet and serene as their world would be. We bade goodbye as the sun sunk to the deep of the African sunset and the surrounding air began to cool. Then they would be living with nature and to God.

A visit to the monastery with our monks seem to spend our lives back to the old medieval periods. A monastery is a good place for those who retreat from the heavy traffic of our everyday life, bringing some meaning of our lives why we are here, embrace solitude for those who found the vices of the world intolerable. These are some small details of monastic life that people in the world do not see.

Life is too short. Sharing some moments during Christmas with our brothers who have built in strength and mission to live in monastic life; never to marry; obedience to God, and banned from possessing worldly goods is virtuous and memorable. That is, peace to our soul, minds, and heart! A visit will lighten your heart and reframe your perception of the holidays.

Merry Christmas and a happy new year to all.

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