labora, in a good way!
"ora et labora" = "pray and work"
According to Brother Joseph in the video below, who is in charge of cultivating Clear Creek's 1000 acres, to complete the necessary projects it would take the monks by themselves 137 years! Holy Smokes.
CC Workday Video HERE.
I must have knocked off some significant purgatory time yesterday, getting up at 4:30 am to leave by 5:15, which is rather early for me, to make it for the Office of Lauds and Low Mass. This monastic, silent Mass is offered in the large, long, monastic crypt chapel of Our Lady of Clear Creek. Driving out there on the "north route," the 1+ hour drive in the dark was contemplative, musing about the happenings of work, family life, and memories past visiting the monastery.
If you have never been to a monastic Low Mass at Clear Creek, but have discovered the richness and quiet beauty of the Tridentine Low Mass, then you will be doubly edified if you can one day attend! Each priest says Mass at the same time at a side altar; whereas for most of us laity, we were really attending the main Mass, focusing our attention on the high altar where it was offered.
The experience reminds me of something then Cardinal Ratzinger once said after visiting Fontgombault Abbey in France, circa 1990s, paraphrasing from memory: you can really see the vitality of the preservation of the liturgy today at Fontgombault, by witnessing the beauty of all the monk priests at the same time offering the traditional Mass at their side altars.
If Cardinal Ratzinger--later Pope Benedict XVI--would be such a patron of Fontgombault and preserving the traditional Liturgy, Bishop Slattery himself has been comparatively the driving force behind Clear Creek, and traditional liturgical restoration in our Local Church.
Quite the parallel.
In fact, to me, as I think to others attending from talking to them, Bishop Emeritus Slattery's benediction to kick off the workday was a booster shot in the arm, an encouragement for Catholics trying to maintain our Catholic heritage in today's world. The crowd must have been 200-300, all gathered together after a light breakfast of coffee and bagels at the guest cabin, then standing behind the tail end of a pickup truck in the middle of the nearby pasture.
Standing in the back of the truck, so all could see them, to the right stood Abbot Anderson, and to the left our beloved Bishop Emeritus Slattery, who gave the final blessing in Latin, and wore the traditional cassock of a bishop. He seemed to glow with cheerfulness and contentment.
And off we went, to build, I don't know, maybe 2000 feet of electrical fencing, while other parish groups planted pecan trees, burned large piles of wood debris (cush job 😏), prepared a BBQ lunch of smoked pig (mmm), etc, etc.
Our group of Latin Mass-attending guys and a few boys, joined by an older gentleman from Holy Family, and an adventurous, young man from the Owasso parish, first gathered a large, heavy pile of rebar (long iron rods) at the work site, and then drove in one rod every 20 feet along a couple roads and across a stream (one of the youngsters suffered a face forward splash crossing the stream, ouch).
After lunch, we rolled out large, heavy spools of electric wire down the roads, with the boys dutifully placing three clips on each rod, and then later fastening three levels of wire. At the end of the line, as it were, we made a gate, the idea being to prevent the sheep from wandering off into the woods.
Later in the afternoon, I was pretty much dead after some laborious axe work, despite our group trying to maintain a "Catholic work ethic" (vs the Calvinistic, Protestant variety), with periodic breaks to wax and wane about St. Thomas Aquinas and our favorite priests.
Lunch was great, re-connecting with Catholics I know, and I sat down with a Lebanese man to my left, and a Bavarian woman to my right, for a delightful, informative conversation over BBQ, coleslaw, potato salad, and baked beans (I skipped the starches, being back on low carb). Talk about the Church Universal. Catholics from different cultures around the world, talking recipes, liturgical rites, and Catholic culture.
Highlights: the graces of a silent, beautiful, monastic Low Mass; the honored visit of our beloved, retired bishop, Bishop Edward Slattery; successfully completing the project assigned to us by the monks; and some good old-fashioned fellowship. Plenty of good humor, and even some cigars after the work was done!
Get thee to Clear Creek! It is an Oasis for all seeking the sacred and contemplative side of life! It was for Cardinal Burke, who recently, a year ago or so, took a week long retreat at CC.
Onward and upward! Ora et labora!