Father Simeon Daly, OSB - Finding Grace in the Moment: Stories and other Musings of an Aged Monk


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The Yoke of Obedience
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One’s perspective of major moments of his or her life can shift over time. The drudgery of preparing for and exam turns into euphoria at a job well done when it is over. I recall a particular personal struggle I experienced as a young monk that I now look back on as time of grace. It was an interior struggle. I doubt that anyone else was aware of it. I record it now for the insight it provides to a stage in my own life. It may serve as an example of how perspectives of a given moment can change over time.

In our formation years, the young monastics of our house were encouraged to take some preliminary preparation for possible future higher studies. The superiors tried to respect preferences of individuals. Small groups of workshops were conducted in the various disciplines: theology, literature, Church History, Scripture, etc. Of course, not all of us could major in the area of our own choice. We understood that. However it was a genuine effort to stimulate interest in higher studies. I was in the Scripture group. Of the five or six in our group, only Fr. Martian Strange was assigned to go on in Scripture. He eventually got a doctorate in Sacred Theology, a Licentiate in Sacred Scripture, and a Master in Oriental Languages.

Right after Ordinations, the Fall semester of 1948, Fr. Kenneth Wimsatt and I went to Catholic University of a Licentiate in Sacred Theology. He went on to Toronto for further studies in theology. I returned home to teach. I taught religion in the Minor Seminary and Liturgy in the Major Seminary (1949-1950). During the first semester, I was assigned to help in the Abbey Library. In November, I was appointed to the Library staff. Later I went back to Catholic University for a degree in Library Science.

Some years later when Fr. Kenneth was teaching Theology and I was Head Librarian, I experienced some pangs of jealousy. He was able to spend many hours in the library studying and preparing for his classes. He was a most serious and diligent student. Frequently it was incumbent on me to provide material for his study. It grated on me that I was busy about many things in the library, stamping books, filing cards, etc., while he got to spend countless hours reading theology. The true demand of obedience came home to me as never before. I was to work out my salvation by making sure that others had what they needed to work out theirs. Slowly the supernatural point of view took over and I was at peace again, making it my joy to serve Fr. Kenneth, and others as well.

I hope I reveal this anguishing moment of my life for no other reason than to bear witness to a time struggle and grace in my life. What was at first a heavy burden became a work of joy and peace. The external circumstances did not change at all. The shift was in my head and heart. The shift in my perception of what was going made all the difference in the world.
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